GWENT's Old Salts are preparing to grapple with pub giant Wetherspoon over the naming of a Newport city centre pub.

But, in a move which could avoid cutlasses at dawn, J D Wetherspoon have run up a signal showing a willingness to parley.

The veterans, who are all members of the Newport branch of the Royal Naval Association, want the Cambrian Road Wetherspoons to be officially known as the Commander Tubby Linton, VC, in memory of the city's wartime Victoria Cross hero.

"As far as is known, Commander John Wallace Linton, who was born in Malpas and was known as Tubby, was the only Newport person to be awarded the Victoria Cross during the Second World War," said former chief petty officer Doug Piddington, of Brynderwen Road, Newport.

"The pub is popular with men who served in the Royal Navy, and the idea of calling it after the city's hero came from them.

"Despite the magnificent effort Tubby Linton and the crew of his submarine, HMS Turbulent, made during the war, very little has been made of his name.

"About 15 years ago Newport Maritime Trust placed a bollard with a memorial plaque near the Newport Wave, for which we are very grateful, but the bollard is regularly vandalised, and we feel the city needs something which will keep this gallant sailor's name in the public eye."

Commander Linton joined the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1923, and the submarine service four years later.

By the time war broke out he was one of Britain's most experienced submarine commanders, an awesome figure, with a huge black piratical beard and a reputation as a perfectionist.

In May 1940 he was commanding officer of HMS Pandora and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for sinking two Italian freighters in the Aegean. A year later he was given command of HMS Turbulent, which sank another 9,000 tons of enemy shipping. For this feat Commander Linton was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

The Turbulent was spotted off Corsica on March 12, 1943, when it was fired upon and depth-charged by Italian naval units, and was declared lost two days later.

In his last year Commander Linton had spent 254 days at sea, submerged for almost half this time, and had been hunted on 13 separate occasions, with 250 depth charges having been dropped on his submarine.

Although the exact time and location of her sinking is unknown, the Turbulent is thought to have fallen prey to Italian anti-submarine mines off Corsica.

"We hope to persuade Wetherspoons that renaming their pub after this brave sailor would go down very well in a city with such strong naval traditions," said Mr Piddington, who served in the Royal Navy for 22 years, including aboard HMS Vanguard, Britain's last battleship.

"I'm 71, and some of our other members are a lot older, but in the best fighting spirit of the Royal Navy this is an action we expect to win.

"We are making plans to get up a petition and to enlist the support of other ex-service organisations.

"What Commander Tubby Linton did for this country during the war was incredible.

"I think we should be able to remember him and his crew as we raise a glass." A spokesman at JD Wetherspoon headquarters at Watford in Hertfordshire promised the RNA men a sympathetic hearing.

"The Cambrian Road pub was the first Wetherspoons to be opened in Wales, and, to be honest, the brand name was thought more important.

"They didn't give a lot of thought to any other names in those early days," he said.

"Sometimes at airports the brand name can be a big puller, but we do like to reflect local history and characters if there is demand.

"Personally, I think naming it after Commander Linton is a marvellous idea."

Landlord Paul McDonnell, who mans the pumps at the Cambrian Road Wetherspoons, said: "Why not? Tubby Linton was a genuine Newport hero."