...when a Brit warship steamed past with an ensign on the stern.
To make it worse for warships visiting Dartmouth, there's a good number of retired admirals living on the hill facing the college who like nothing better than voicing their displeasure to the hapless commanding officers if their ship has a visible Irish Pennant.On the topic of ensigns... back in the day HMY Britannia visited Dartmouth. A friend who was then a Trinity House pilot was aboard as the ship made a stately progress up river past the town and BRNC to be turned between Old Mill Creek and Lower Noss Creek. A tight squeeze for it even at high water.
The firm of shipbuilders I then worked for had a jetty just below BRNC. On the jetty was a flagstaff from which we had been authorised to fly a red ensign along with house flags. We took the opportunity to 'dip' our ensign in salute as the ship passed and the compliment was promptly returned. The exchange took place at the point of maximum risk during the ship's turn. My pilot mate remarked that the atmosphere on the bridge was understandably tense during the turn and that our little distraction drew an exasperated "Christ almighty! Can't they see we're busy?" from the CO when it was drawn to his attention.