Masthead crest of HMS Tiptoe

Masthead Tiptoe

It was deemed too raunchy by Winston Churchill and the skirt was lengthened in later versions!a??

This statuette sat atop the pennant flagpole at the rear of the submarine HMS Tiptoe. It is based on the badge of the submarine. The badges helped identify the submarine, and were often kept by crewmembers as mementoes.

British submarines were originally given numbers, not names. In 1926 Winston Churchill realised that submariners would find it hard to foster a sense of pride towards a number, and promptly ordered that all submarines should be named. He put forward several suggestions, including ‘Tiptoe’.

Churchill also suggested the idea for the badge. It depicts Marie Taglioni, prima ballerina of 1832, one of the first dancers to excel at the ‘pointe’ technique in the romantic ballet era.

You will notice that the skirt on the badge and statuette are different lengths. The statuette shows the original design of the ballerina. It was deemed too raunchy by Winston Churchill and the skirt was lengthened in later versions!

HMS Tiptoe was launched in 1944 and saw action in the Far East during the Second World War. When she was decommissioned in 1969, she was the oldest submarine at the time in Royal Navy.

Quick Facts

  • Dimensions Height 13.5cm, Width 6.5cm, Diameter at base 6cm, Width
  • Accession number RNSM 2011.25.2
  • HMS Tiptoe launched 1944


  • Tiptoe was used in the 1950 film, Morning Departure, a naval film directed by Roy Ward Baker.
  • In 1952, ballet dancer Moira Shearer gave the submarine a pair of satin ballet shoes that she had worn in the 1948 film 'The Red Shoes'. These are now on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.
  • When Tiptoe left for her final commission in 1967, six ballet dancers from the Royal Ballet attended the departure ceremony.
  • As she arrived for decommissioning in 1969, a 13 year old ballet dancer named Judy Wright danced on her upper deck.

Did you know?

The submarine’s naming committee were unanimously against the name ‘Tiptoe’ believing it to be derogatory to one of His Majesty’s ships. Churchill apparently meant to imply that she could slink silently by the enemy, as if on tiptoe – but few other people saw it in these warlike terms. Nevertheless, Churchill got his way.


Masthead crest of HMS Tiptoe
Back view of Tiptoe
Badge of HMS Tiptoe
HMS Tiptoe
Judy Wright dancing on HMS Tiptoe
360 degree spin of dancing Tiptoe

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