I had the great fortune this evening to meet with my cousin Bob, whose father, my Uncle Gene, was the man who told me back in the early Seventies about Errol Flynn giving him and his shipmates in San Diego a show they’d never forget.
Here are the details, all (again) verified tonight. Uncle Gene was in San Diego with his ship (the USS Duluth, I believe) twice, once in ’45, on its way to fight in the South Pacific, and again returning from the war, either in ’45 or ’46. During one of the ship’s cruises through San Diego Harbor, they passed Errol in a boat (possibly the Sirocco, but, for some reason, it is believed he was actually on a Navy ship of some type.) The sailors were mightily impressed to see Flynn, and gave some big cheers. Errol, in turn, gave them a big smile & wave, then – to their extreme delight – stepped away from a Naval officer he was apparently speaking with, took off his shirt and shoes and dove off the ship! My Uncle Gene – a very no-nonsense guy, who embellished less than anyone I’ve ever known (if ever at all) – said it was an absolutely incredibly impressive dive, to which everybody hooped & hollered – and talked about the rest of their tour (and surely beyond.)
That was the Errol Flynn that so impressed my Mom & Dad’s generation, men and women alike.
Here’s what San Diego Harbor looked like in those days. Errol’s dive most likely took place right between downtown and the North Island Naval Air Station on Coronado, which can be seen in both the second & third images, and where he filmed Dive Bomber. Errol often stayed in San Diego, from where he would also travel to Mexico. The fourth photo is of Errol signing autographs for sailors on North Island (Coronado)
— Gentleman Tim