Extracted from The Log of HMS Repulse
1902-1904 by J. Brown.
Log of HMS Repulse
After serving some time with the Channel Fleet, we received orders
to join the Mediterranean Fleet, so on Sunday April 5th 1902,
we left Sheerness at 10.30 a.m.; nasty strong head winds all day; saw
large wreck on Goodwin’s which has been there slowly sinking since 1893. Passed Dungeness at 4 o’clock.
Torpedo boat destroyer “Flying Fish” is going with us to the
Sunday 6th-Fine day, sea calm and no wind; passed Ushant
lighthouse at 10 o’clock.
Monday 7th-Had cannon tube aiming practice during the
forenoon, the Flying Fish” towing our target.
Tuesday 8th-Splendid day; started wearing whites.
Wednesday 9th-Started to smarten up the ship’s company
in evolutions; Commander read out stations for nearly every evolution that
is carried out in the navy, and manned and armed boats, or rather went to
stations for that evolution. Had
physical drill at 4.30
Thursday 10th-Carried out some heavy gun firing in the
forenoon, all 6-inch guns firing six rounds each, some very good shooting
being done. We passed Cape
St. Vincent at 4.30.
Friday 11th- We went to night quarters, which is the
same as general quarters, only of course, it is dark and night sights have
to be used. Night sights are
small sights which fit over the ordinary ones; the beads on the sights are
small electric globs which are connected by wires to a small battery, so
that the lights can be switched on and off at will.
One burns red and the other white, and the shooting with night
sights is just as accurate as shooting by day.
We had a rough day, for it rained continuously.
We anchored alongside the Old Mole, Gibraltar, about dinnertime and
started at once to coal ship, taking in 500 tons; we finished coaling at
3.30 and washed down the decks. The
Rock looked very dismal when we came in, or at least what we could see of
it, but it looks a little plainer now, for some of the mist has lifted.
I had seen the Rock before, but I did not take much notice of
anything, as I was only a few hours there coaling; but it is far prettier
than I thought it was, and looks everything that is said of it, for it
seems as full of guns as a cat’s back is of hair; look where one will
there are holes in the rock, and everyone contains a gun, at least report
says so. The Rock itself is
very high and has several peaks, the highest being 1,430 feet, so that it
might be called Gibraltar Mountain; one side of the Rock rises from the
sea as steep as a wall, the other in a slope.
At the foot is the town, most of which is on the slope.
There is nothing remarkable about the town as far as can be seen
from here, but the signal stations are readily seen, also the Moorish
castle, which looks very interesting; it was built in 1725 by one of the
old Moorish chiefs. The castle seems to have been a very substantial affair once,
but it has now several breaches in its walls, which were made during
different sieges, for it must have seen more than one.
The Rock is three miles long that is to the Spanish lines, and is
about six miles in circumference; its population is about 25,000, of whom
6,000 are civilians. The
climate is very healthy. I
should have said before that the “Royal Oak” was waiting to receive
us, as she is leaving for home to pay off.
Saturday 12th-It rained all day.
We left at 12.30 for Malta. The
weather is a little better now, and the sea is nice and calm.
Tuesday 15th-Sea very choppy, and the “flying Fish”
is flying very poorly, for she had run out of coal, and it is too rough to
Wednesday 16th-We arrived at Malta during the dinner
hour. This is a fine looking
harbour, as fine a natural harbour as I have seen; it is called the Grand
Harbour, and it deserves its name. One
thing that struck me was the stonework; everything is made of stone; in
fact, it might be called a city of stone, and with the sun on it almost
dazzles the eyes to look upon. We
were scarcely inside the harbour before we were surrounded by boats,
rather curious looking affairs, like the gondolas in the pictures of
Venice, they call them dysos, of at least, that is how it is pronounced,
but it is spelt dhacsis. Most
of these had fruit onboard; others were collecting dirty clothes to take
ashore for washing. We have
just received news that the mail for the ships gone adrift somewhere.
Friday 18th-Had a run ashore yesterday, that accounts
for no entry in log. Landed
at 1.30, and after a short stroll over part of the town (Valetta), hired a
cab, or rather three cabs, for there were exactly a dozen of us, and we
went four in a cab, and drove to a place called and pronounced “Cividy
Vick) (proper name Citta Vecchia), which is, I should say about five or
six miles from Valetta. We
remained there about a couple of hours, saw over a fine church (St. Pauls)
and some catacombs-the church was interesting enough, but the catacombs I
did not greatly enjoy,. The
church had, at one time, several tons of silver candlestick, etc., but the
French soldiers took a fancy to them when they raided the Maltese public
buildings, just previous to the English occupation of the island in 1800,
so that the island has been English just over one hundred years.
We were also shown a very old picture of St. Paul.
The verger who showed us round said that it was some hundreds of
years old, I forget how many. There
is also a very fine bit of painting of the shipwreck of St. Paul at Malta
in A.D. 60, when he was on his way to Rome a prisoner.
There is also a picture in which he (St. Paul) is defying a snake.
I have already spoken of the amount of stone that is used; the
houses are all built of different heights and sizes, it is a puzzle to
find two of the same size, and from the harbour, they look very mixed up,
tall houses next door to one storey ones, and vice versa; the only places
which look at all uniform are Government buildings, but these are some
fine buildings besides, such as the Royal Opera house in the principal
street of Valetta (Strada Reale), and the Armoury, Palace, and municipal
buildings. Adjoining the
Palace is the Queens Square, with a fine statue of the late Queen Victoria
in the centre, very like the one at Manchester in size and position; there
are also flower plots nicely laid out around the base of it, and on one
side of the square is an hotel with seats and tables outside, where one
can sit and drink in the glorious sunshine, for it is difficult to picture
Malta otherwise. The people
are a very hardy looking race, and there are some very nice looking girls.
The lower class girls wear a rather ugly looking affair like a
hood, shawl and hat combined. The
people are all very devout in their religion; you can always see old men
and women, children and middle aged, going and coming out of the churches,
no matter how poor they may be; and when a funeral is passing, every male,
irrespective of age or position, even the beggars, take off their caps or
hats, a thing I have never seen at home.
I must say something of the goats, for no one visiting Malta could
fail to see them as they are everywhere; in fact, Malta is noted for
goats, and service men generally call a Maltese a goat.
The streets with perhaps, the exception of Strada Reale, are merely
alleys, some of them being all steps like a very long stone staircase.
Strada Reale is the principal street of Malta, and is asphalted
like the streets of London. Its
inhabitants are for the most part English; in fact, there are always more
English in the street than Maltese. There
is a large United Service club about the centre of it, on the left going
towards the Palace, which is always pretty full of army and navy officers.
We got in 250 tons of coal in the forenoon, starting at 7 a.m. and
finishing at 11.30 a.m. and washed down decks after dinner.
Saturday 19th-routine as usual on Saturday; left at 9.30
for Aranci Bay; fleet were engaged in steam tactics al forenoon.
Sunday 20th-Mustered by the open list this morning; that
is, a table is placed on the after part of the quarterdeck, at which sits
the Paymaster with the ships books. Standing
around are the Captain and all the officers, and, when all is ready, the
Paymaster calls each man’s name from the book before him, and as it is
called the man steps two paces forward, stands to attention, looking at
the Captain, and gives his official number, rating, and everything he
draws pay for. Thus the
Paymaster calls “Thomas Jones.” The
man steps forward and replies, “Number (giving official number), Petty
Officer, 2nd class, two badges, seaman gunner, captain of
gun”; then turns and marches forward.
This is continued until every soul on board has been accounted for.
The fleet has been at steam tactics again today.
It is very nice to watch how easily and accurately a fleet can be
moved about, the ships moving together like a brigade of infantry.
Monday 21st-Fleet stopped just after divisions this
morning, and got out and manned and armed boats.
We did not get any signal as to time, but I think we were third
ship finished of thirteen battleships; cruisers are timed separately by
the cruiser flagship, as ours is timed by the battleship Admiral, who is,
of course, senior, being full Admiral, while the other is a Rear Admiral.
Our present Fleet Admirals are: Sir J. Fisher in the “Renown,”
Burgess Watson in the “Ramillies,” and Sir B. Walker in the “Andromeda.” Arrived here (Aranci Bay) at 2 o’clock this afternoon.
This is a very quiet lo0oking place-all hill and holes. The
only thing I should recognise again is a signal station on the top of the
highest hill of all, which is like a draftboard painted in black and white
squares. A good deal of the
land is under cultivation, in spite of the hills, which look from here
like ironstone. We have a
fine fleet here; thirteen battleships, about the same numbers of cruisers,
and a number of small ships, destroyers, etc.
Tuesday 22nd-All battleships went out to towing target
practice, or rather, aiming practice; came in again at 1.30.
Wednesday 23rd-Practically the same as yesterday, with
the exception that they piped hands to swim on the portside.
This is fine water, beautiful and clear; you can almost see the
bottom of the harbour.
Thursday 24th-Went out again this morning, and fired
heavy guns at towing target. Perhaps
I had better explain what towing targets are.
Each ship tows a target of canvas rigged on two sticks, which are
struck into a couple of baulks of timber, and which somewhat resemble a
small boat with a square sail set long ways (fore and aft), which is let
out about a couple of ship’s lengths astern, so that the shell of
whatever you are firing will be well away from the ship.
The ships steam round and round in an oblong sort of course so that
those on one side of the oblong engage the ships on the other side; they
are thus firing from both sides at once, and ships are always passing each
other. When the top of the
oblong is reached, the cease firing is sounded until the side is reached
again, and then commences again as soon as a ship is within a certain
range. Of course, in heavy
gun firing the targets is let out a good way from the ship.
We returned at 1.30; then the usual “make and mend.”
I forgot to mention before that Thursday is what is known in the
Navy as “rope yarn Sunday,” as it’s the sort of early closing today,
or half day off given for keeping clothes in repair, but taken for sleep
usually, or an afternoon ashore. It
has rained all day.
Friday 25th-More firing.
Some very tidy shooting done, but don’t know any results yet.
After firing, each gun had a turn at the loading machine, an affair
for practising rapid loading.
Monday 28th-Fine day; spent all the forenoon at
evolutions “out and in nets,” “abandon ship” and “man and arm
boats,” and left them armed till after dinner; then all No ones and
sixes went away and did some firing, and returned at 2.30; then unarmed
and hoisted in boats. We’ve
just heard some very sad news of the “Formidable”; it seems that when
they were getting one of the boom boats in, the topping lift of the main
derrick carried away and killed three men on the spot, an officer, and an
Tuesday 29th-Manned and armed boats, which went away
after dinner again, same as yesterday.
About 3 o’ clock all hands fell in aft to give the last salute to
the remains of the poor fellows who lost their lives on the
Wednesday 30th-Splendid day; in fact, it has been
glorious since the rain we had on Saturday; did no evolutions today.
Thursday, 1st May-Marines had usual gun drill in
forenoon, paid money during dinner hour, and went to stations for weighing
anchor by hand this afternoon. As
I write this fleet are at searchlight practice, and it’s a fine night
for it, nice and dark, and there’s about 30 ships using their
Friday 2nd-Fine day.
After dinner, weighed anchor by hand and went to sea; had some
tactics during afternoon and evening, and at 9 o’clock started night
firing at a target with searchlights playing on it, only 6-pounders and
upper deck 6-in firing, the 6-pounders using proper ammunition and the
6-in using tube ammunition. Came
in again at 11 o’clock; the firing seemed to be very good.
Tuesday 6th-Nothing worthy entering since Friday; only
the usual routine. Last night the cruisers were at searchlight practice.
Admiral Fisher was aboard this morning to see the craft, and left
about ten. At 11 o’clock
the battleships went out to carry out some rapid firing, each ship to fire
the same amount of ammunition, all hits counting to the ships, and the
ship with the most hits gets a trophy of some sort. We went out fully expecting to get the trophy; in fact, to
hear most of us talking one would have thought the job was settled, but,
when a couple of guns had fired and hit nothing, we felt a little
downhearted, and most of us lost interest in it.
After two had finished it turned out that out of several rounds we
got one hit, and now it turns out that the one hit must have been about
the worst shot fired, for the rangefinder was showing a thousand yards
over; but better luck next time.
Wednesday 7th-Aired and laid out bedding for inspection
this morning, and scrubbed hammocks this evening.
Thursday 8th-Fleet went out at 8 this morning and
practised tactics at 12 knots, and came in again at 4.30.
Saturday 10th-Nothing yesterday only rain, and the same
up till dinner today; left for Malta at 9.30 this morning.
Sunday 11th-Not a bad day, but hardly so good as we’ve
been having lately; fleet let go lifebuoys at 4.30 we were second ship to
pick them up. I had better
explain a little of this evolution. Each
ship drops a couple, or, if ordered, one lifebuoy, as would be done in the
case of a man dropping overboard and the sea boats in each ship are
lowered and pull to the lifebuoy, and pick it up, bring it back, and the
boat is hoisted; then the ship breaks her pennant or lets flag loose to
show she has finished, and all ships are timed on the flagship.
Monday 12th-Arrived at Malta at 11 o’clock this
morning. This place almost
seems like home; it’s getting so familiar to us now.
We had a little excitement last night, or rather at 1.30 this
morning. It seems that one of
the electricians wanted to test the bells that warn the sentry to let go a
lifebuoy, and told the sentry, but evidently he didn’t understand him,
for when he rang them the sentry let one go and made a dive for another,
but the Signal Petty Officer stopped him. Then the ship had to be stopped and the boat lowered, but the
joke came when they called all the marines to hoist it, and didn’t some
of them “go.” The sentry
had to see the Captain this morning, but instead of getting punished as he
expected, the Captain praised him for his smartness.
Tuesday 13th-The ship’s company have started a course
of musketry today.
Thursday 15th-Had a very busy day painting, as the
Admiral is coming to inspect the ship on Monday.
Sunday 18th-Everything ready for the Admiral’s
inspection tomorrow except myself, and I’ve nearly a week’s growth of
whiskers, and my face is about half a size too big.
I saw the doctor this morning, which is going to take a tooth for
me tomorrow and excused me from parading before the Admiral.
Monday 19th-Had the tooth out, or rather, the wrong one;
but it came out so reluctantly that I didn’t tell the doctor and have
the other out, so I’m just as well off after all; but it will ache a lot
more than it does before I go again.
I saw the Admiral when he came into the sick bay; he is a fine
looking man, quite six feet high, and well made with a very happy looking
face, something of the Beresford type; his name is Watson, second in
command. After he had a good
look round the ship, he mustered by open list, excusing marines, whom he
saw when he came aboard, as the whole detachment was up for guard.
After that he saw three evolutions, “Out nets,” “General
Quarters,” and after all this cleaning we are to coal tomorrow.
Tuesday 20th-Hands turned out at 4 this morning, and
coaling started in earnest about 6 a.m. and finished at 6 this evening;
took in just under a thousand tons.
Wednesday 21st-Had Saturday’s routine today, but it
was rather awkward as there were so many our of the ship at musketry, but
it’s finished now and forgotten. A
ship’s corporal, named January, whom was left here ashore in hospital
with consumption, died yesterday. He
leaves a wife and a couple of children; but although it is only a day
since he died, the canteen has sent the widow £10, and nearly every man
in the ship has given a day’s pay, and, in addition, there is to be a
concert given for the widow’s benefit.
He is to be buried tomorrow.
Thursday 22nd-Spent most of the day in getting ready for
the Major tomorrow.
Friday 23rd-Major’s inspection passed off fairly well.
The “Maine” left for home with invalids about dinnertime. She is a very pretty packet, and from what I hear from chaps
who have been aboard her she is everything that could be desired for
invalids, and has every comfort obtainable, but it seems hard that it
should have been left to the ladies of America to provide our sick with a
comfortable passage home.
Monday 26th-Nothing since Friday out of the usual, but
today we thought we were in for a picnic, but it was spoilt a few minutes
after. It was a signal from
the flagship for us to proceed with the “Diana” and “Andromeda” to
Palermo to represent England at the King of Italy’s review; the
“Irresistible” goes instead of us.
Tuesday 27th-The two Japanese cruisers that are to
attend the Coronation arrived. They
are rather heavy looking for cruisers, but are both English built and
armed at Elswick. The hulls
are painted the same as our own, but the masts and funnels are black, and
one has three white bands around her funnels.
There was an amusing five minutes aboard when they came in.
Our band was up on the quarterdeck, and as soon as the saluting
started they were to play the Japanese Anthem, and they did; about half of
the band completely broke down, and the other half nearly broke their
instruments up trying to make up for the others.
Wednesday 28th-The first musketry
party finished yesterday, so the second went this morning; we landed at
the steps of Hamilton Dock. The
foundation stone, which was laid by the wife of Admiral Tryon on February
12th 1892, is at the head of the steps. The
Japs are both coaling today. We
got back from musketry at 4 o’clock and enjoyed it thoroughly, it almost
seems like being on leave, to be out of the ship for a day.
Thursday 29th-We had another day at the range, but we
did not start firing as the first two days are spent in drill, skirmishing
etc; everything is new to us now, as the drill has been altered since we
left barracks, everything is on the South African principle.
This morning the Lieutenant of the range had us skirmishing, the
object of attack being a marine hiding behind a small bush with
instructions to bob up and down every few seconds while we advanced; as he
dropped down, we were told to take all possible cover and aim at him.
Some of our party got their little joke in by hiding behind empty
condensed milk tins and small stones.
While we were waiting on the jetty for the boat to take us abroad,
we saw Prince Louis of Battenberg, who is Captain of the “Implacable,”
which is in dry dock; he is a fine looking man, tall, and as straight as a
lifeguards man, he wears a pointed beard, and seems very popular aboard
his ship, and she is certainly a smart looking vessel.
Saturday 31st-Nothing yesterday, only, the trip to the
range. The Japanese ships
left at 10.30 a.m. and all our fleet manned ship and cheered them out, and
they did not forget to return it. They
may be little men, but they have a big shout.
The “Irresistible” arrived here from Palermo at 4 p.m. Paid money at 1.30, as tomorrow is the first, and they do not
pay on Sunday.
Monday, June 2nd-Nothing yesterday up till dinner, when
we went ashore, but saw nothing hardly worth mentioning, only a religious
procession which was a mile long, mostly composed of boys and old men
priests, they seemed to be all in similar dress, a sort of coat and cape
combined, embroidered according to rank in the church, as the most
important seemed to have the most embroider.
In the centre of the procession was a young girl carried in a sort
of rickshaw affair and on either side of her an old priest; these seemed
the most important of all. Every
now and then they would stop a few minutes, and all the people on the left
of them knelt down while the others remained standing.
These processions and festivals seem to take the place of our bank
holidays with the Maltese, for they drink and merry after the religious
parts are finished; the men were having a regular spree during the
afternoon. We were rather
struck with the different kinds of people we saw in the town of Valetta;
Moors, dressed in their native dress; Jews, dressed in their native robes;
Indians, from nearly every province of India; in fact, I should think we
saw a man from nearly every country in the world, even Chinese and Japs;
of course, Malta is not always quite so mixed as it is now, as there is a
lot of shipping here just at present.
Everything is as English as the Maltese can get it; all the public
houses are named after something English, such as “Flagship,” British
flag,” “British Crown,” then there are ships: H.M. ships
“Implacable,” “Illustrious,” “Ramillies,” etc.
We saw a group of children drawing Union Jacks on a wall-how’s
that for loyalty! About 9
o’clock I was having a drink with some pals I picked up, when we heard
some cheering, and on going out to see what it was, a soldier told us that
the war was finished, the Boers having surrendered; well of course, we
joined in. The ships of the
fleet dressed this morning, and everything looks happy and gay, and most
of us are as pleased as what the Boers must be.
The Maltese are making gay over it as well as us, for there are
plenty of flags flying ashore. We had another day at the range, but it blew a gale all day,
so we could not fire. Today
is the first day of the annual sports, but only heats were pulled off, so
I think I will have a run tomorrow.
Tuesday 3rd-No range parties today, we went to see the
sports instead. We saw
several races; our Lieutenants of marines (Blunt), was second in the mile
race, and the “Victorious’” marines won the 12-pounder competition,
and the bluejackets of the “Caesar” the 9-pounder.
The “Bulwark” arrived this morning, she is the flagship of
Admiral Compton Domvile, who is relieving Admiral Fisher.
Wednesday 4th-Range today and not good shooting. The “Renown” left for Geona with admiral Fisher onboard
on his way home, he has finished his time on the station. Of course, we have not been long enough with him to know him,
but he is immensely popular in the fleet, and is known only as “Jacky”
Thursday 5th-Last day of musketry.
The “Cruiser” left at dinnertime for a cruise to Naples.
Friday 6th-Only the usual general quarters and talk of
the surrender. I should like to know the terms, but I suppose I soon shall.
I hear that our fellows have again done well at the Agricultural
Hall this year.
Monday 9th-No evolutions this forenoon, and only routine
this afternoon. Heard of a
poisoning case aboard the “Pegasus,” a small cruiser here.
A gunnery instructor swallowed some caustic soda, which he mistook
for rum. There was an inquiry
held, as it was suggested that someone had put the caustic soda in the
bottle for spite, but nothing to this effect was proved.
Tuesday 10th-The Japanese cruisers have arrived at
Portsmouth for the Coronation. At
the range today, one of our sailors got too far ahead in the skirmishing
line, and got a shot in the fleshy part of his leg; he is in the hospital
now, but not very bad.
Wednesday 11th-“Renown” arrived last night from
Palermo, and went into dry dock this morning.
All the picket boats of the fleet went outside the harbour this
morning for tactics.
Friday 13th-Last of the musketry parties finished today.
Some of our marines have entered for the Marine Jewel, which is to
be fired for tomorrow.
Saturday 14th-Our Captain of marines (Muller) won the
jewel today, and of course all of us are pleased over it: he seems so
Monday 16th-Went alongside the wall this morning, and we
have had a quite a small army of Maltese dockyard maties aboard all day,
getting out parts of the condensers which are to be overhauled.
Wednesday 18th-turned out at 4.30 a.m. and left the ship
for some infantry drill at ten minutes to six, returning at 8 o’clock,
with dusty boots and a big appetite.
The rest of the fleet left here this morning for Corfu, leaving is
and the “Hood.”
Thursday 19th-Left the wall and tied up to the buoy at
11 o’clock; we spent the afternoon preparing for coaling, as we are to
take in 360 tons tomorrow. There
is a lot of complaining among the Maltese over the fleet going away-they
expect the fleet to be away more than ever now that Admiral Domvile is in
command, and as the people of Valetta depend mainly on the fleet for a
living, this means a lot to them.
Friday 20th-Strated coaling about 6 a.m. and finished at
dinnertime; the Maltese did most of it from lighters, and carried it up to
the side shoot on planks. The
“Ramillies” arrived at 8 a.m. and remains here over the Coronation.
Sunday 22nd-nothing yesterday, only that a Yankee armed
transport came in at dinnertime and took in some stores and coal.
Today has been as per routine up till 4 o’clock, when we had
early supper, slipped the buoy, and steamed to a place a little further
round the coast, so as to be ready to start prize firing tomorrow early.
Monday 23rd-Umoored ship at 4 a.m. and started firing
about 8 o’clock; we have been messing about all day, breaking and
repairing target, and have only just managed to finish the big guns; it
was 8 o’clock when we got in again and dropped the anchor.
Tuesday 24th-Left again at 4 a.m. or a little after and
got the 6-inch guns started. We
got off nine rounds in the two minutes run and had a mass fire; we had
another delay when a pin came out of the elevating wheel.
We had a misfire at nearly every gun, one gun had two and after
hearing of the accidents lately, it makes one wish they would “abandon
ship” after a misfire; most of our crew were inclined to leave it in the
gun for a day or two, but, of course, it had come out, and then the primer
had to be removed, I am afraid I was giving it a very suspicious look, but
I am still alive and the log is not finished yet.
We finished about 5.30 and returned to Malta; tied up at 7
o’clock; no leave tonight, too late.
Wednesday 25th-Awful news this morning.
We landed to rehearse our programme for the coronation, and after
we got ashore and fell in, a telegram arrived saying that the King was ill
and that the Coronation was postponed.
I hope it is nothing very serious, although it is hard to think
otherwise, as they would not stop the Coronation unless he was very bad;
it seems hard to believe it even now; anyhow it is a great pity,
everything looks so bright ashore, everywhere one looks there is something
to remind one of the Coronation; there are flags, flowers, festoons
everywhere, and all for nothing, but perhaps it will not be postponed for
long, but the telegram said indefinitely, so it must be something serious.
Thursday 26th-This has been a rather comical sort of a
day, for although it is definitely known now that the Coronation is
postponed, the soldiers ashore, and the seamen and others of the fleet,
have to go through the programmes just the same as if it was actually
happening, the half holiday, extra rum, and concert this evening.
But it all has been very half hearted, and the news seems to have
put a cloud over everything; but the question some are asking is, will
they get anchor lot of rum when the King is better and the Coronation done
in reality. One seamen’s mess will remember today for some time, they
had rabbit (tinned) for dinner, and now they are all, or nearly all, in
the sick bay, but it is nothing very serious-accidents will happen.
Monday 30th-All hands turned out at 4 a.m. for early
morning evolutions; first, we cleared ship for action, then away all boats
and pull round the fleet (three ships), and while they were away the fire
bell was rung, and, of course, the boats have to return to their ships and
the crews go to their stations, and as the evolution is not counted as
finished till every man is at his station and reported, the quick return
of the boats has everything to do with the rapidity of the evolution.
We finished second. Had
the usual make and mend clothes this afternoon, and left at 5.30 p.m. for
Tuesday July 1st-Dropped a target this morning, and the
6 and 3-pounders did their prize firing; let go and picked up lifebuoys at
Wednesday 2nd-Fleet separated to twenty miles between
ships at 9 o’clock, and had wireless telegraphy practice; we also had an
evolution; land every available man.
Of course we did not leave the ship, but everyone had to get into
marching order. The fleet got together again at 3 o’clock, and at 5
o’clock the fleet prepared to take and be taken in tow.
This evolution is for practice, in case a ship breaks down and has
to be towed into harbour. We
were second in that evolution, our time being 12 mins, 15 secs; the first,
8 mins 30 secs.
Friday 4th-Nothing for yesterday, just the same as any
other Thursday. In the result of the 6 and 3-pounders prize firing, the
seamen’s gun was first, ten rounds six hits; marines, second with ten
rounds five hits. I should
have said before that we are to send a week at sea and get into Corfu on
the 8th. We are
getting our mails at sea just the same as in harbour, the cruiser
“Barham” is running them, and is due with one tomorrow.
Monday 7th-Nothing but routine and a few well-worn
evolutions since Friday. As I
write, we are thumping along as fast as this ship is capable of going
(about fifteen knots), the battleships opened out to fourteen knots at 4
o’clock, and we steamed all night at that.
We are expecting a torpedo attack during the night.
Thursday 8th-Arrived at Corfu at 6p.m.
This seems to be a very pretty place, and like most of the places
we have been to, is very hilly, but the town seems to be on a flat, and
the hills are dotted with houses; and as most of them are white, the
effect is very pretty. We did
not get the torpedo attack, it seems that it was a bit too choppy for the
destroyers, so they remained in harbour, for they have been in Corfu some
days. We managed with the
best of them at the steaming test last night-the “Vengeance” had to
drop astern. We had a little
accident at 9.30 the shaft of the steering gear that leads below to the
steering engine broke, and delayed us a little time, but it was soon put
right. Shortly after one of
the Engineers Lieutenants got hurt, an electric battery box falling down
on to his head, but it is not serious.
We steamed all the night without lights, and all guns crews were at
their guns, which were loaded with blank ammunition.
The “Barham” is here with 476 bags of mails for the fleet.
I am wondering how many letters there are there for me.
Wednesday 9th-Fine day; had bathing this morning and
evening. Usual routine all
day, and no signs of getting any leave here yet.
Thursday 10th-No leave yet; spent the evening on deck
watching the glorious scenery and sunset.
This is a very foreign looking place.
There are large palm trees, prickly pear trees, and large
windmills-surely that is foreign enough for anyone, but I would like a
Saterday 12th-Yesterday was mostly spent in preparing to
coal ship; of course we had the usual general quarters in the forenoon. We got the collier after the “Barham” had finished with
it, at 6.30 p.m. and finished taking in 580 tons at exactly 12 midnight.
Had the usual routine today, and the ship is looking quite clean
Monday 14th-Leave at last.
We got leave from one o’clock yesterday till eleven last night.
We found a carriage, which was fairly clean, but the man who drove
it was not. The streets of
the town and everything in them are dirty and smell awful, but the roads
in the country parts were better. When
we came across a habitation-I will not say house, for there are not any
outside the town, the people live in huts, made of branches of bushwood
covered with straw-we got the same twang as in the town.
The carriage took us (four) to the Palace of the King of Greece, or
rather small country residence, but these people like high sounding names,
hence “palace,” but although small only two floors, it is a very
pretty and interesting building. A
very nice sort of a fellow showed us over the rooms, and what struck me
most was the amount of English things and pictures with the titles in
English, and English oak furniture which was worth the trip to see.
We were shown the drawing rooms, dining room, billiard room, and
the Queen’s study, in which there were autograph photos of nearly every
member of our Royal Family, and of Russia and Denmark, also the bedroom
that is used by any foreign royal visitor, and in it there is a large
mirror, on the side of which is scratched some of the names of royalty who
have stayed in the room. Heading
the list is “Teddy,” the present King; than the late Queen Victoria,
the present Queen, and “Eddie,” the late Duke of Clarence; “Georgie,”
the Prince of Wales; and several others, including Prince George of
Greece. After a good look
round the palace, we went round the grounds and saw some very pretty
flowers, then we got thirsty and had some very nice Marsala wine.
The soldiers are a curious looking lot here, the infantry seem to
do nothing but lay about the public seats, smoke and play cards, the
officers do the same, and argue with the men in the streets, the only
difference is that as a rule the officers are better looking men, bigger,
smarter, and better dressed; they always carry a long sword with them, on
or off duty. Our little party
got quite proud, for nearly every soldier we saw saluted us, and a sentry
gave us a shoulder as we passed him.
The civilians are a motley lot in all sorts of rigs, and there
seems to be almost as many Albanians and Turks as there are Greeks. The dress of the Albanians looks rather comical; short
jacket, lampshade skirt, baggy pants underneath and showing at the knees,
football stockings, and punt boots that turn their tasselled toes up at
you, for all the world like the toys the youngsters hang on Christmas
So much for yesterday, today has been just the same as any other
Monday; first, the early morning evolutions, nets in and out; then away
all boats and fire quarters, while they were away a couple of seamen were
hurt by one of the net booms swinging out and hitting them while they were
getting the launch out at fire quarters-it had not been properly secured
after the evolutions of this morning.
Wednesday 16th-There has been leave again each night
since Sunday. I went again
yesterday for a drive, but saw nothing different to Sunday, only a lunatic
asylum and soldiers barracks; the former was not very interesting, but the
barracks were a little better, stone floors, whitewashed walls, with
nothing but a plank bed, rug and wooden pillow, and a rifle back for each
man. The rifles are very much
like the old Martini Henry that we used to have, and a long bayonet.
One of the soldiers showed us their bayonet exercise; a curious
affair to us, and ours seemed just as comical to them, though of course,
they were all agreed that ours was the best.
They knew that was the best way to get a drink, so we took about a
dozen of them to their canteen and nearly bought it out, in fact, we did
of Marsala. We went out to
hear the band play on the promenade, and has waiters racing about for us
with more Maesala. The
promenade is just outside the town, and is a fine a part of the place as I
have seen yet. All the
fashionable classes and officers of higher rank sit and listen to the
band, and sip wines under the trees.
There is a large hotel at the end of it called the “St. George
and Dragon,” where all the officers of our ship go.
I fancy it is a branch of the Junior Army and Navy Club, and seems
to be mostly patronised by English gentlemen.
Yesterday we had a little excitement about dinnertime.
Three large houses in the town were on fire, so the ships of the
fleet landed parties with hand engines, but they were not of much use, as
it was too far from the sea to use salt water, and the supply of fresh
water ashore was not enough to keep their own engines working, so the
parties from the ships had to watch the fire burn.
Saturday 19th-A very busy day and very hot too, most of
us scrubbed the mess deck, clothed in bathing drawers, a very comfortable
dress this weather. A fine
Yankee yacht came in today.
Sunday 20th-Dressed ship at 8 o’clock this morning as
the King and Queen of Greece were to steam down the lines in their yacht.
They arrived in the harbour at 2 o’clock, and then the saluting
started, the bands on each ship playing the Greek Anthem, and all at
different parts of it at the same time, and the guns banging out royal
salutes; but if the sound wasn’t up to much the sight made up for it.
The smoke from the powder made it look almost like war, and the
bright flashes when they fired looked grand.
The king and Queen went aboard the flagship and thanked the Admiral
for the splendid help the ships gave at the fires; the royal party then
went ashore again, and there was more Grecian Anthem mixture.
Altogether, it was a very pretty sight and worth seeing.
Undressed ship at 4 o’clock; special leave was given from 1
o’clock till 11.
Wednesday 23rd-Some of the boats were armed this morning
and went out firing. It’s
now dinnertime, and I’ve to land at 4.20 with nine other marines for
Thursday 24th-Our temperance party went ashore this
morning for a day’s picnic, and seem to have had a fine time.
Had the usual “make and mend.” I thoroughly enjoyed the patrol
last night; when we were not actually on duty (for it is done in hour
spells) we were in a sailor’s home, which is quite near where the land,
and they have plenty of books and papers to read, and we found a decent
place for a bit of supper called the “Abundance Hotel.”
Friday 25th-Usual general quarters, and after that got
out stream anchor and hawser; we were fourth ship; finished this evening;
had a swim and game of water polo, onion for a ball.
Sunday 27th-Left Corfu at eight o’clock this morning
for Malta, the “Ramillies”, “Hood,” “Canopus,” and ourselves;
the other division remains at Corfu.
Monday 28th-Went to general quarters during the
forenoon, and did the usual drills. At
12 noon we were 145 miles from Malta, and expect to arrive at sis tomorrow
Tuesday 29th-As expected, we got n a few minutes after
six; there’s one thing about Malta, we always get fresh food here, and
can run over to the naval canteen in the evening for a quiet drink and
chat. We expect to coal on Thursday, so had the “make and mend”
Thursday 21st-Have not started coaling, so had another
“make and sleep.” Well,
some don’t like the Navy with two “make and mend’s” a week; why,
its grand! I’ll never leave
Friday 1st August-Paid at 1 o’clock; otherwise the
same old routine.
Saturday 2nd-“Victorious” came out of dock this
morning, and we go in on Monday.
Monday 4th-Got the nets out about five
this morning and swept shelves down; then got the nets back again, and
went into dock at 9 o’clock. Most
of the hands have been scraping the ship’s side and bottom all day not
much like Bank Holiday Monday. Still,
I hope it’s a nice day in London. Half
of the ship’s company are ashore tonight.
Thursday 7th-No “make and mend” today, too much work
to do, but the ship’s side is nearly finished.
There is a religious carnival ashore tonight; there are hundreds of
small coloured lamps burning, and they look very pretty from here.
I, with a couple of chums, had a look over the “Vulcan,”
torpedo store ships; she is more like a large machine shop than a ship,
for there is machinery everywhere. She
also has two large cranes, one each side mear her funnels, that will life
a torpedo boat out of the water.
Friday 8th-No general quarters this morning.
Floated out of dry dock at 4.30 this evening.
I don’t know what sort of routine we’re to have tomorrow, as
it’s the real coronation day, or I hope so.
It would be very hard to hear of it being postponed again, but I
musn’t think that. The
“London” and “Irresistible” left last night for Palermo.
Saturday 9th-Coronation Day!
I expect there has been some lively scenes in London today, or in
England I should say, but the delay has taken most of the Polish off it
here as regards the outward show, but everyone is glad that the King is
better. Of course, the ships dressed, and there was a fairly good
display of flags ashore, but most of the decorations that were put up
before were ruined, so couldn’t be used this time; but the illuminations
were fine, and there was also a good display of fireworks.
We had electric lights all over the ship, the outline of her was
lit with small arc lamps, masts, yards and rails round the upper deck and
water line, and up the bow and stern.
As the lamps are only two feet apart the effect is very pretty, but
I have yet to see a large fleet illuminated for we are the only ship here
bar the old “Hibernia” and some merchant ships.
At 12 o’clock we fired a royal salute of 21guns, and the band
played “God save the King.” It
was exactly 12 o’clock (London time); the whole detachment was on the
bridge, and in new tunics, gave a royal salute (presented arms), and
directly our guns finished the soldiers who lined the ramparts all round
the harbour started a feu de joi, that is, each man fires a round of blank
ammunition one after another all round the harbour, or nearly.
The rifles are already loaded, and as one fires the next man
let’s go, and so on. This
is done three times, and is like a roar of thunder, the noise increasing
as it gets to the part of the ramparts one in nearest to, and then gets
hear that there was plenty of fun ashore yesterday.
Strada Reale looks fine, they tell me, but I would sooner see how
Piccadilly looks. Its very
hot just now, over 90 degrees on our mess deck, and the Maltese seem to
feel it even more than we do.
Tuesday 12th-coaled ship yesterday, 850 tons; Maltese
assisted, and we finished at three in the afternoon; then washed down and
gave the usual special leave to the watch and canteen leave.
Has a mixed routine today; had a sort of Saturday’s routine after
dinner, for we were all the forenoon getting ready to leave, which we did
at 11 o’clock, for Piraeus.
Wednesday 12th-Mustered and aired beds this morning, and
spent the rest of the day getting ready for marching order tomorrow.
This parade is done y the detachment once a quarter.
Thursday 14th-first and most important was the marching
order parade, and that passed off all right; stopped the ship this evening
and has a swim, for the Captain is great on swimming.
Friday 15th-Arrived here (Piraeus) at 7.30 this morning,
and went out again with the rest of the fleet for towing targets at 9
o’clock; came in again at 4 o’clock and got a mail aboard.
This is not much of a place, bare hills and barer valleys, with
scarcely a house in the whole place; something like Berehaven.
Sunday 147th-Mustered by open list, and then the Captain
read the thanks of both Houses of Parliament for the services of the Army
and Navy during the late wars in South Africa and China.
It has been read in all ships and to all regiments in the Service,
Monday 18th-Went out this morning with the fleet and
carried out steam tactics. We
are going right on to Lemnos, and expect to get in on Wednesday after
dinner; the fleet got out towing targets, and the 6 and 3 pounders did
some firing. We are expecting a torpedo attack tonight.
Tuesday 19th-Again the torpedo attack fell through, it
was too moonlight last night, and they could have been seen for miles. Had the usual Tuesday morning infantry drill.
Fleet did the towing ship evolution in the evening; the
“Formidable” and “Bulwark” had a slight collision, and the
“Bulwarks “ anchor bed was damaged a bit.
Wednesday 20th-Arrived at Lemnos at 9 a.m., and one
would think we were still in Piraeus, for there is scarcely any
difference, only perhaps there are even more hills and hollows.
The fleet started a sailing regatta in the afternoon; the weather
being splendid for it, nice strong breezes, but not too strong.
One of the “Victorious” boats capsized as she rounded one of
the buoys, but before she was properly over, a steamboat from nearly every
ship in the fleet was around her, it was hard to see her from where we
were. No one was hurt or
Thursday 21st-Usual gun drill, and make and mend. We went sailing in the afternoon and had another spill, with
the same result as yesterday.
Monday 25th-Nothing only routine since Thursday.
Today is the first of the pulling regatta; in these races the boats
are rowed instead of sailed. Our
boys jolly boat’s crew were third in their race.
When the cutter was being hoisted a couple of hands fell overboard,
and though the water was very choppy, they were soon got out, none the
worse for their dip.
Tuesday 26th-More racing.
Our galley won the English galley race, for there are separate
races for Maltese built boats, which are much lighter than the English
built. We also had a boat going away for the all comers race, but as
the Commander would not allow the band to go, it fell through.
Some of the boats in that race were very comical; in one they had
an old barrel organ, the hands being all dressed in comical rigs.
We have not any list of ships that won different cups and prizes in
the regatta, so I only know of our own doings, and that is, galley, first,
and boy’s jolly boat, third.
Thursday 28th-Had the British Ambassador at
Constantinople in the harbour this afternoon. He
is on the “Imogene,” a small dispatch boat, a pretty little thing like
a yacht. He went aboard the
flagship. The hands had the usual make and mend.
There was also a sailing race in the afternoon.
Friday 29th-Our gunnery Lieutenant lost yesterdays race
by about one second and a half, but they got the second prize (£5), so
the hands are satisfied.
Saturday 30th-Left for Nauplia, where we are to coal and
await the arrival of the channel fleet.
The “Hood,” “Caesar,” and “Renown,” and ourselves are
attached to the Channel Fleet to equalise the fleets, as the channel is
only six battleships strong.
Sunday 31st-Arrived at Nauplia at 7 in the morning; more
hills and hollows. I am
beginning to wonder if every place is the same on this station.
The only thing any good is the bathing.
Monday, September 1st-Went out at 5 a.m. and did some
tube firing; came into harbour about 2p.m.
It is very hot just now. Paid
money as usual. About four
ships are coaling or have been today.
Wednesday 3rd-It is now dinner time, and the ship is
about half coaled; we got a half empty collier last night at six and
carried on till, we then laid down for a nap in all the glory of our
coaling rigs. Called the hands at 4 a.m. and started coaling again at 5
a.m. We finished the collier
at 8 a.m. and now we are waiting for another collier.
Thursday 4th-We started on the second collier at six
last nights, and finished at 9 p.m., taking in altogether 650 tons, and
two days over it. Washed down
with salt water and turned in. Today
we had the usual Saturday’s routine.
Leave has been given, but not many are taking advantage of it.
Monday 8th-Usual evolutions, “out and in nets,” in
which we were 1st and 5th respectively; “prepare
to be taken in tow,” in which we were 2nd.
Left at seven this evening to meet the Channel Fleet.
Tuesday 9th-An accident happened on board the “Hood”
as we left last night. A man
got jammed in the cable somehow and was killed on the spot.
He was buried at sea this morning.
“Let go lifebuoys” during the dog watch (5 o’clock) and
picked them up; we were 4th ship.
Wednesday 10th-I happened to go on deck this morning
about six, and got about the first view of the Channel Fleet; they were
just specks on the horizon, and I watched them until we met and joined
with them. There are six battleships and ten cruisers.
We formed up with Vice-Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, the Admiral of our
fleet (Channel), and were met by the Mediterranean Fleet at eleven this
morning, and a fine fleet we are. There
are twenty-five battleships, the same number of cruisers, and any amount
of torpedo boats and destroyers. We
got the worst licking we have had yet.
This evening the fleet let go lifebuoys and picked them up, and we
were no nearer the top than 17th.
Thursday 11th-Gun drill for marines; make and mend for
everyone as usual. At 4.15 we
had towing ship, the “Magnificent” and ourselves being the first pair
Friday 12th-Arrived at Nauplia at 5.30 this evening, and
after mooring, in which we were sixth on the list, we got out nets and in
Monday 15th-Unmoored ship at 6a.m. and left for battle
tactics. After dinner we
cleared for action and had a sham battle; went to general quarters, but
only 6 and 3 pounders were fired, using, of course, blank ammunition.
It was very pretty to watch the ships engaging each other, the
firing looking very real, as there is always plenty of smoke from blank
ammunition, it being powder and not cordite.
Came in at 5 o’clock; we finished 11th in mooring
Tuesday 16th-Practically same as yesterday.
We were 7th ship out of ten (Channel) in clearing for
action today; did not get the times for mooring when we came in at 5.35.
Wednesday 17th-Remained in harbour all day; had
evolutions this forenoon, “out and in nets,” the “Ramillies” left
about dinner time for Malta with Admiral Watson, who is ill.
Had our make and mend today instead of tomorrow.
Had the usual dog watch evolutions; at 5 o’clock it was away all
boats and pull round the fleet. We
were 5th ship to get our first boat back.
The “Renown” was first each way-she is a very smart ship and
generally heads the list.
Thursday 18th-Went out at 5.20 this morning.
At 9 o’clock the fleet divided, and are to meet again at about 3
o’clock this afternoon to fight a duel.
After dinner we had a sort of “make and mend,” waiting for the
fray, and at 2.30 cleared for action, meeting the enemy at 5.
It was grand to watch the cruiser manoeuvres long, before we got
into action; we could watch them fighting and steaming about doing their
different evolutions a long time before we started, and when the
battleships got together the cruisers retired under cover of their
battleships, and the torpedo boats and destroyers under cover of the
cruisers. Altogether, it was
worth a little extra work to watch the fighting.
We are to remain at sea tonight, and are still “cleared for
action,” so may, have to turn out tonight.
We were third ship clearing for action this afternoon.
Friday 19th-Met the enemy again just after nine this
morning, and used torpedoes this time.
The fleets did some very close manoeuvres, and I often wonder how
they avoid a collision now and again, but there has not been any.
Came in again today at 4 o’clock, and spent the evening listening
to the sailors band. I have
not mentioned it before, but the band plays every Friday night for the
amusement of the ship’s company-other nights it is the officers-and the
sailors take the upper deck for a ballroom, and some dance well.
Sunday 21st-Left Nauplia at 7 o’clock this morning for
Argostoli in the Ionion Islands. Something
went wrong with the “Caesar’s” steering gear this morning, but she
soon made it good and picked us up again.
There are plenty of islands about these parts; we have passed
several this afternoon.
Monday 22nd-Arrived here (Argostoli) at two this
afternoon. This is certainly
a little better than the last couple of places we have been to.
The principal sight here is a military road that runs all round the
harbour, and can be seen nearly the whole way.
I believe our soldiers made it when we owned the Ionion Islands.
Three ships have started coaling; we were all prepared now.
Wednesday 24th-Started coaling yesterday at 2.30 p.m.,
and finished taking in 740 tons at 1 o’clock this morning.
Then laid down and had a short nap, and a sort of spoiled
Saturday’s routine today. It
rained nearly all the time we were coaling, and, of course, made it very
uncomfortable. We have heard
very bad news; Admiral Watson has died at Malta of pneumonia.
Friday 26th-Went ashore yesterday at 1.30.
I cannot say much for the place; it’s about the worst I have
landed in yet.
Tuesday 30th-Nothing worth mentioning since Friday, only
that it has rained and blowed ever since.
The sea has been very rough, and a collier that went aground on
Thursday has completely broken up; no one was lost from her.
The Great War between Prince Louis and the rest of the Admirals has
commenced. It started at
10.45 by our time this morning; the first thing we did was to move further
into the harbour so as to be out of sight from the sea.
I had better start properly and tell you the object of it and what
we are to do. In the first
place, the combined fleets (Mediterranean and Channel) have been split up
into three, and are A, B, and X respectively: A is the English Channel
fleet and B Mediterranean, while X is a Russian, I believe, or foreign
fleet of some sort, and we, X, are to get through if we can and get to a
place called Palmas, where there is supposed to be a large fleet waiting,
who are our allies, and if we manage that, all is over.
A fleet is at Suda Bay and B fleet at Nauplia, so that they have
both got a couple of days steaming to get to us, but through a mistake or
accident we were 15 hours late in getting the declaration of war, so that
we are almost sure of getting blockaded here, and a signal has been made
from one of our destroyers that they have been out and seen the fleets,
who have combined, so we shall have to stay here till Prince Louis can
find some way out. A small
cruiser of the enemy’s came in at 4 o’clock under a flag of truce with
an urgent message for the Commodore (Prince Louis), and it turned out that
it was only a trifling message from the Commander in Chief (Admiral
Domvile), saying he was sorry about the declaration being late for our
fleet, but to carry on after the signal was made.
She went out at full speed, and it now appears that she broke all
rules of the game, as the entrance of the harbour is supposed to be mined
out to 8,000 yards, and any signal she had she should have made from
outside the limit. The
Commodore has sent in a strong protest about the action of the cruiser,
which, of course, has gone back to the fleets and given all the
information she picked up. Prince
Louis has given orders that every ship is to have all the days doings put
on the notice board for the information of all hands, and I am sure it
will pay repay him to see how well most of us appreciate it.
A signal was made about dinner time for each ship to land a party
of 50 from each battleship, composed of seamen, stokers, and marines in
equal numbers, with an officer of each to watch the coast and prevent the
enemy landing spies; they are to remain until he decides to break out of
here. About six destroyers
went out this morning to reconnoitre, and are still out. When they went past us to go out, although they came within
about 50 yards, I could scarcely see them.
The names of each fleet are: -A, “Bulwark” (flag),
“Formidable,” “Irresistible,” “London,” “Vengeance,” and
“Canopus”;B “Majestic,” (flag), “Magnificent” “Mars,”
“Hannibal,” “Jupiter,” and “Prince George”; and on fleet X,
“Implacable” (flag), “Victorious,” “Illustrious,”
“Caesar,” “Hood,” “Renown,” and ourselves.
The “Ramillies” should have been our flagship, with Admiral
Watson, but through his dying it fell to Prince Louis of Battenburg.
Got special leave this evening till 10 o’clock.
Wednesday 1st October-The cruisers and destroyers
sighted several of the enemies cruisers last night and came in and
reported this morning, and soon after ours came in one of the enemy’s
destroyers steamed right into the harbour and was captured as soon as she
got in. Nothing else worth
mentioning today, only that money was paid after dinner.
Thursday, 2nd-Prince Louis tried a new move last night.
He chartered a collier that has been here a few days and put a
Lieutenant in charge of her, who can speak German, and lashed a torpedo
boat to her side and sent her out. She steamed between a couple of the enemy’s cruisers and
torpedoed one (“Sutlej”) and the other, the “Minerva,” went off as
fast as she could. The
Lieutenant in charge of the collier was to be a German captain if he was
asked any questions, and his ship was to be a German trader.
The torpedoing is done by the destroyer or boat firing a red light
at the ship between her funnels or thereabouts, and she then out of action
and returns to the base. There
were also a couple of destroyers captured, but neither admitted it and
steamed off as fast as they could. Our
Commodore is protesting against the way they are playing the game.
Leave was given again from 4 till 10 this evening, and the officers
are having a ball or something ashore, and a massed band has landed; two
from ours went and our big drummer (marines).
I ought to have said before that no lights of any sort are shown
from the ships after 8 every night; while we remain here no lights of any
sort are allowed on the upper deck, but the decks below are just as usual,
as the deadlights (they are the iron shutters that cover the portholes)
are put down, and smoking is done behind a screen that is put up for that
purpose on the upper deck. We
had a couple of the coastguard party aboard for letters, and they say
they’re having a glorious time of it ashore.
day; had usual general quarters. The
destroyers and cruisers had a decent haul last night, capturing four
destroyers in addition to one in the morning, so that we are six to the
good now. Today all ships
were ordered to make as little smoke as possible until 3 o’clock in the
afternoon, when they were to make as much as they could, with the object
of leading the enemy to suppose we were firing up ready to go out at night
and cause them some trouble. I
expect they are getting tired of it, for the Prince has led them to think
that we were leaving every night up till now.
Of course his only chance is to get away unseen, for the blockading
fleet number two to our one. One
thing I almost forgot to say is that all ships funnels, masts, and
ventilators have been painted black, so as not to show p too prominently
when we do go.
Saturday 4th-Routine as usual up till 8 p.m. when we
made a start to break the blockade. I
have just left the upper deck, and it si now 11 o’clock; so far we are
safe. We started out in
single line ahead, that is, in a sort of follow my leader fashion, with
the flagship leading; we are not showing a light of any sort.
This has been Prince Louis finest strategical movement.
He had sent his cruisers out earlier in the evening, each ship
burning double navigation lights, and gave them orders to draw the enemy
in the opposite direction to that which we have taken; and we could hear
heavy firing as we got clear of the mouth of the harbour, and could
sometimes see the flashes from the guns.
As I write this, we have just received the news that the “Hood”
had gone ashore just inside the harbour, so we are now one ship less; but
I expect she’ll soon be off and with us again unless she’s high and
are pretty clear of Argostoli now, but of course not yet quite out of
danger, though most of us are feeling confident of a great victory over
the allies. All hands are
loud in their praises of Prince Louis, and there’s no mistake he has
done well. We learnt today
that we were seen by two destroyers as we left, but changed course just
before we got outside the limit-destroyers could not torpedo any ship
before she was 8,000 yards outside the harbour-and since then we have, I
believe, not been seen by any of them.
But we are not out of danger yet.
The collier was out again last night, and steamed between the
“Bullwark” and “Formidable,” saluting them by dipping her German
ensign. Prince Louis treats
it as a great joke, and says in his signal that the two ships “politely
returned the salute.”
We passed through the Straits of Messina in the afternoon, and I
never saw scenery like it in my life-it is quite out of my power to
describe it. Both banks
sloping down to the water’s edge are beautifully laid out in cultivated
land with her and there patches of woodland.
Here and there are pretty churches perched on the slopes, which are
also dotted with houses. It
would make a glorious picture, and I wish I could paint it.
I also saw two interesting sights just before dinner.
I was shown the smokey peak of Mount Etna previous to our entering
the Straits, and Stromboli, a well-known volcanic mountain that seems to
rise out of the sea. It is in
a state of eruption, I believe, for the clouds of smoke issuing from it
can be seen for miles. We
have been steaming very badly since we left Argostoli, mostly at 15 knots,
and that is just about as much as we can manage.
Monday 6th-We passed Stromboli again last night at 9.30
being much nearer to it than we were in the afternoon.
It proved to be in eruption, belching forth flames and smoke as it
from a huge furnace. We had
finished our share of the war at 7 o’clock, when we were in the
neighbourhood of Palmas, where we were supposed to pick up our allies, and
the victory was ours!
We are bound for Malta now, and expect to get in there about
Thursday. Prince Louis
thanked the officers and men of the fleet, and said he was thankful for
the hearty support he had received from all, and that the ships had
impressed him very much by their general smartness.
The “Hood” is still aground at Argostoli.
I should have mentioned that the parties, which had been landed for
coast guard duty, came aboard their respective ships before we left.
Wednesday 8th-Arrived here (Malta) at 4 o’clock this
evening; no leave-too late. We
Friday 10th-Started coaling at 2 o’clock yesterday
afternoon, and finished the first collier at 8 p.m.
Special leave to the watch, also canteen eave, last night.
Got another collier at 4 o’clock this morning, and started
coaling at 5.30 finishing finally at 10 a.m.
The ships of the Channel fleet left for home yesterday.
Saturday 11th-A very busy day, cleaning for tomorrow;
but the ship is nice and clean again.
Monday 13th-A large ship of the Anchor Line came in this
morning with the Yorkshire Light Infantry onboard; they are relieving the
Lancashire’s, who have been three years here.
The Yorkshires have come straight from South Africa, and have been
out there a considerable time I believe.
It seems a little hard on the troops to have to go to another
station instead of going home on furlough.
Some of our ate enemies came in yesterday, the flagship
“Bulwark,” and “Formidable,” “London,” and “Vengeance.”
Wednesday 15th-Went ashore last night and saw several of
the new troops (Yorks); most of them have the two South African medals,
and a number have the Indian frontier medal also.
At noon leave was given to the port watch till 7 o’clock next
morning, the starboard watch having been on leave from 9 a.m. yesterday
till 7a.m. this morning.
Thursday 16th-Left Malta for Suda Bay (Crete) at 11.30
this morning, and had the usual make and mend in the afternoon.
Friday 17th-first thing this morning the ships got out
towing targets, and at 9 o’clock went to general quarters and started
firing, using aiming tubes. Nos
1, 2, 3, and 4 fired. Got in
targets and secured at 12 and had dinner at 12.30.
Stopped the fleet again tonight for ships companies to battle.
Saturday 18th-Arrived here (Suda Bay), at four this
afternoon. This is a nice
looking place from the harbour, at the entrance to which is a small island
that lies almost in the centre. Ships
only pass on one side of this island, the water on the other side being
very shallow. On the seaward
side of it are the flagstaff of the Powers who put down the Cretan
insurrection. Their flags were flying when we went in; they are the
Italian, Russian, Grecian, French and our own, and each of the five Powers
have some troops on the island. The
Seaforths are at Candia, about seventy miles from here.
We had to salute each individual Power on our arrival.
There is a French torpedo cruiser (I think they call her so) and an
Italian gunboat here; the latter is rather a business looking boat, but
the French boat seemed strange to most of us, and like all their ships she
is nearly all ram, and seems to have her foremast planted half way along
it. From here she looks like
the men o war one sees in a toyshop.
She has three masts, and is painted a light grey, which looks white
with the sun upon it. Just
off where we are lying is a pretty churchyard, about halfway up the side
of the hill; in it are buried nineteen Russians who lost their lives
through a big gun exploding on a Russian battleship in 1897.
Monday 20th-General evolutions; nets out and in, away
sheet and kedge anchors; away all wire hawsers.
Replaced gear at 11 o’clock, and after dinner, manned and armed
boat. They went away and did
some firing, returning, at 2.30 p.m. and were hoisted, except the steam
pinnace, which, with the Gunnery Lieutenant in charge, took all the Nos. 1
and 2 of 6 and 3 pounders away for some practice.
Before they had been away half an hour, they went aground at the
shallow side of the island at the entrance of the harbour, and it seems
they were there two hours and a half before the “Illustrious” saw them
and sent a steam and sailing pinnace to their assistance with a party of
armourers and carpenters. After a little time they towed her off, and she seemed little
the worse for it. The fleet
is to be visited tomorrow by Prince George of Greece who is going abroad
Tuesday 21st-The fleet dressed ship at 9 a.m. in honour
of Prince George of Greece, the French and Italians doing likewise. Unfortunately it started raining when everything was ready,
and it continued all day, but that did not prevent the Prince from paying
his visit. The first salute
started at 1.30 p.m. when he went aboard the flagship.
He remained aboard till a quarter to five, and then there was more
Wednesday 22nd-Grand day after the rain.
There was a funeral from the French ship this afternoon, and each
ship sent a dozen men to it. Four
ships went out firing this morning, returning at 4 p.m. they were the
“Victorious,” “Illustrious,” “Implacable,” and “Canopus.”
The Pegasus” came in with mails just after dinner.
Thursday 23rd-Went out firing this morning, with the
“Pegasus” to mark for us; dropped the target almost as soon as we
cleared the harbour and started. The
four big guns fired two rounds, and the 6-inch four rounds each.
After the target firing was finished, we got two rounds of lyddite
for each 6-inch and fired it at a cliff on the coast of the island
(Crete). I could see nothing
remarkable about the effect of lyddite; it seemed to enter the cliff and
then explode, but there was no masses of stone hurled in the air, like I
have seen in illustrated papers of firing; the only thing we could see was
a yellow cloud when the shell exploded, and a hole in the face of the
cliff when the smoke cleared away. We
returned to harbour at 4.30 p.m.; the fleet had searchlight practice this
Monday 27th-I will start at yesterday first.
Went ashore at 1.30 p.m. with a chum; directly we got out of the
boat we hired a couple of horses and went a ride to Canea, which is about
six or seven miles from where we landed; had a couple of stops on the way
for refreshment. This place
is not much class in the way of scenery, for everything looks so dry and
dirty, and the houses, or what remains of them, are just as they were left
after the fighting in 1897-98. Canean
is a little better, but not much. There
is a square with a few shops of a sort, and a lot of beer houses, or
perhaps they are only beer houses while the fleets are here, and then
return to oil shops, for it is queer stuff they sell.
On our way to Canea we passed Prince George of Greece, who was in a
carriage with only one officer besides the two liveried coachmen on the
box. He laughed at my chum,
as we went by, for when he tried to salute he almost fell off his horse.
I was doing Tod Sloan part of the way, not riding on his neck, but
hanging round it. It is very
laughable to see sailors and marines on donkeys, sometimes two on one
donkey facing each other. Now
for today, which has been a very busy one.
Every available man in the fleet was landed this morning to be
reviewed by Prince George of Greece, Prince Louis being in charge.
We marched in fours to Canea, and after forming up on a sort of
common-or desert would be more correct, not for its size, but for the sand
which was a foot deep-after forming p we went past the saluting point in
quarter column, and taking everything into consideration it did not look
so bad, and must have impressed the natives a good deal.
Got aboard at 12.30, quite ready for our dinner.
Wednesday 29th-nothing yesterday, only some rain
in the forenoon. The
“Implacable” left with Prince Louis, who is going home; she takes him
to Genoa, I believe, and the rest he will do overland.
Before leaving, he signalled a good bye to everyone, and the bands
of the ships played “Auld Lang Syne” and “He’s a Jolly Good
Fellow,” which he is! We
have a temperance party in the ship, and they played a polo match tonight
with a side that was called the “moppers,” meaning, of course
The “moppers” won. Our
football team has done very well lately; they beat the “Illustrious”
this afternoon by two goals to nil.
Friday 31st-Usual general quarters this morning, and
afterwards each gun’s crew had a two minutes spell at the loading
machine, which is for practice in rapid loading.
The loading is exactly the same as at the gun, and we managed
twenty in two minutes, the best done in the ship yet.
A French trooper came in about 10 this morning with some troops, I
suppose reliefs and landed them at 4 this evening.
Paid money at the usual time (1 o’clock).
Captain had a goat brought aboard this morning as a pet for the
ship. It is very young, and
is a pet already with most of the hands.
Monday November 3rd-Left for Malta this morning at 9.30.
The remainder of the fleet are going to Corfu.
When we were clear of the harbour we dropped a target and did half
quarterly firing; 6-inch guns fired four rounds each, and 13.5 two each.
Started again for Malta at two o’clock.
Wednesday 5th-Guy Fawkes day.
Arrived here (Malta) at 9 this morning.
Had the usual infantry drill yesterday; nothing worth mention.
Thursday 6th-The usual gun drill and make and mend
Tuesday 11th-Went over to the Naval Canteen last night
to see our variety party; they are very good; at least the Maltese
Chronicle says so. This is a
newspaper printed for the garrison with most of the latest news in brief.
Wednesday 12th-H.M. ships “Vulcan” and
“Vengeance” left for Plataea to do annual mining.
This is all electrical work, laying mines and exploding them.
The “Renown,” which has been selected for the Duke and Duchess
of York’s tour, is looking very smart now in white paint, and she looks
like a yacht against the other ships.
Monday 17th-Usual routine since last Wednesday; had
usual drills this forenoon; out and in nets, man and arm boats.
It is getting rather chilly here, and we have had a good deal of
rain during the last few days.
Thursday 20th-Seamen landed for drill this forenoon, and
took the goat with them. He
looks very smart in his new clothes, for they have made a coat for him,
and a smart little bridle, also a feather plume that sticks up between his
for every evolution that is done in the navy except the one signalled this
morning, which was “land naval brigade,” and we managed to be the
first ship’s company ashore, the flagship being second.
Tuesday 25th-Got a signal yesterday saying that the
Admiral would be aboard tomorrow, and we have to be “cleared for
action.” This is about the most elaborate evolution that is done, for
all woodwork is supposed to be thrown overboard, but instead of doing this
they put a white cross on everything that is supposed to go. All ladders have to be taken down and rope ladders put in
their places, besides a heap of other things, as the book says, “too
numerous to mention.” The
“Renown” left for Genoa, where I believe, she picks up their royal
Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught.
Wednesday 26th-Admiral Domvile got aboard at 10.30, and
soon finished with us, and said he was very well satisfied with
everything; he left again at 11.30.
Friday 28th-General quarters as usual.
Our cricket team lost the final against the “Hibernia” for the
shield by eight wickets. We
were the runners up for the season on this station.
The “Bulwark” has nearly finished repairing her damaged anchor
bed, which was done by the “formidable.”
Monday 1st December-Queens birthday; ships dressed
today; it also rained all-day; usual guards, salutes, etc. Has a little
diversion this evening; it seems that the Captain spoke of the amount of
cockroaches in the ship when he went round the ship yesterday, and the
Commander has ordered the men who are doing punishment to catch
cockroaches, and there are about a dozen of them on the job-new rating,
“Royal cockroach Catcher”!
Tuesday 2nd-Landed for drill this morning as usual.
The “Diana” left for Tetuan, where the trouble is among the
Moors. She is to watch our
Thursday 4th-Gun drill for some, laying out kits others,
afterwards “make and mend” for all.
How’s that, eh? The
goat has been queer this day or two, and the Captain had him sent ashore
to see a veterinary surgeon. I
suppose he has been cockroach hunting with the men.
Prepared for coaling tomorrow, but I don’t think there is much to
Friday 5th-Took in 450 tons of coal and swept down by
dinnertime; washed down decks in afternoon.
Saturday 6th-routine as usual.
The “Venerable” (the new second flagship) came in about ten
this morning; she is painted the new colour (grey), and she does not show
to advantage with the others, but we will all be the same soon I suppose. It may be more useful, but it does not look so nice and clean
as the old fashioned colour.
Monday 8th-The same old evolutions this morning, and
after dinner we started to paint the masts and yards the new colour.
The “Venerable” is coaling today.
Wednesday 10th-No landing yesterday on account of the
painting, which is nearly finished now.
The Captain had a letter this morning from home saying that there
is no chance of us leaving the station before the “Canopus” has been
home and refitted to relieve us, and as she does not leave for home till
March we look like having another twelve months here.
Monday 15th-Usual evolutions up to dinnertime.
Our Sergeant Major, who has completed his time for a pension, left
us this morning and went aboard the “Andromeda” for passage home, and
we received a red sergeant in his place.
Tuesday 16th-Landed for drill at Corodina Parade;
returned to the ship at 12.15; rest of the day as usual.
Thursday 18th-Left at 12 o’clock this morning for
Gibraltar. Had usual “make
and mend” this afternoon, and manned and armed ship this evening.
The weather is not very grand; we have had a very rough day so far
and the sea is very high.
Friday 19th-another rough day, so rough that we have had
to run into Tunis; we have only stopped to batten down properly, as it
could not be done at sea; it was one o’clock (dinnertime) when we came
in, and we remain till the morning, I believe.
It is almost as rough here as outside, for this is not much of a
harbour for shelter; the sight posts of the fore barbett are smashed with
the force of the seas that broke over them.
As soon as we got inside a French officer from a cruiser lying near
us came alongside, but out skipper would not allow him aboard until we
were properly moored.
Saturday 20th-Left at 7 o’clock this morning, but it
has been about as rough as ever all day, and nearly all hands are more or
less seasick, she has been pitching a good deal all day as the wind is
right ahead. The French
cruiser has been following us at a respectful distance since we left,
watching our movements I suppose.
Sunday 22nd-Mustered by open list.
Lost sight of the French cruiser during the night; had a fine day;
sea much better.
Monday 28th-Had some cannon tube aiming this forenoon at
a dropped target; sea very calm and no wind’ only fired about 40 rounds
of tube, so were soon finished. Got
into communication with the “Andromeda” by wireless.
She left at midnight also for Gibraltar.
Tuesday 23rd-Went to night quarters last night, and
there was heaps of trouble at our casemate over a sight which had got bent
somehow or other during the last few days; finished at 11.30; arrived here
(Gibraltar) at 10 this morning.
Wednesday 24th, Christmas Eve-Nearly all hands have been
busy decorating the messes for tomorrow; the mess decks look like a scene
at a pantomime-green and coloured paper chains everywhere.
The “Andromeda” came in this morning and left again at 4
o’clock for home; our band played the usual parting tunes, “Auld Lang
Syne” and “Home, Sweet Home.” The
“Thetis left for China this morning.
Sunday 28th-Just recovered from the effects of
Christmas. We spent a
glorious time; plenty to eat and drink and heaps of enjoyment on Christmas
Day. About a dozen marines
and seamen rigged up in comic clothes and played the Captain round the
ship. Some had drums, and one
a fog bellows, used for sending the hands to collision stations, and
another a pair of bagpipes-the only one capable of giving a tune. The Captain couldn’t help laughing when he saw us, for I
was one of the party, and several of the officers snapshotted us.
I have to land with a picquet at 1.30.
The hands are all at church now.
Monday 29th-My first run ashore at Gibraltar was
yesterday. I must say it is
not a bad little place, and seems very English.
The shops advertise and price everything in English; Spanish seems
the exception. Most of the
people we saw were service men, but still there are plenty of others-Jews,
Indians, and Arabs, mostly the keepers of cheap bazaars along the main
street, where one can but Indian shawls, tablecloths, etc., all fresh from
the Midlands. We heard while
we were ashore of the Sergt-Major of Marines of the “Ramillies”
shooting him through the head; they buried him this afternoon. A marine of ours a fine, healthy looking fellow we went sick
this morning, and the doctor found that he was consumptive, and sent him
straight to hospital. We have
to take in 1,200 tons of coal tomorrow, so have a busy time before us.
Wednesday 31st-We finished coaling at 7 o’clock last
night, which task was accomplished in fairly quick time.
Natives, who caused a lot of trouble about an hour before we
finished, assisted us; they thought the requisite amount of coal had been
got on board, and refused to carry more.
Being civilians, they could not be forced; but after a lot of
jibbering in Spanish and spoilt English, they started again.
There have been dozens of yarns knocking about the shi anent the
Morocco affair; it is said that there are four ships on their way here
from Malta to proceed to Tetuan as soon as possible, and we leave tomorrow
for the same destination; in fact everyone is Morocco mad, and the air is
full of visions of war medals.
In the swirl of the flowing tide a gaunt dilapidated figure floats,
nearly motionless, moored to a buoy.
The thing is ugly; it is painted grey, disfigured by long irregular
scars of red. No streaming flags relieve the picture of its abject
desolation. Yet shortly, if
only one condition is properly fulfilled, this “it” will be talked of
with pride by the majority of a great nation as “she.”
Her capabilities will then be the subject of great concern amongst
people who at present are ignorant of “it’s” existence.
A little paint, a few flags, gold-laced officers, and smart men in
blue, will soon make our ship (for such she is) that potential item-a
battleship. At present,
however, there is one condition to be fulfilled; it is-“she must perform
properly under trial,” before she becomes the first class battleship
“Briton.” There is no
room in the lines of our fleet for a “waster.”
Will the “Briton” be a “waster”?
It is thought not. Designed and built under expert supervision, she represents
the ideal ship of the present day admiral.
Today the trials are to commerce.
We on board wait to be put in position fo9r the basin trial. The big paddle wheel tugs from the dockyard sweep round the
corner of the harbour, and the labourers on our foc’sle and quarterdeck
busy themselves with the big hawsers.
And now the tugs are alongside, churning the water into seething
foam as they turn practically in their own length, as few other ships can.
They are soon made fast. The
big shackle of our mooring chain is cast off, and we are turned slowly but
surely towards the dockyard. As
we approach, the inside tug slips, and the other manoeuvres us until we
are alongside and made fast. Now
we are secured by many hawsers, and are ready for our basin trial.
For the last three hours the navigating party of stokers from the
barracks have been raising steam, and the contractors men, the makers of
the engines, have been preparing them.
The Belleville boilers have, since four o’clock this morning,
been gradually, “warming up”; the water in them has commenced its
round of circulation, which it is destined to repeat many timed today; the
fires, which started a few pieces of oily waste, are now an acre of
flaming coal; the ship contains living kinetic energy of steam, generated
by a small part of the enormous potential energy of her coal.
This is the birthday of her engines, creatures of steel, brass, and
various other metals. Until today they have been inanimate; but even now the
foreman contractor opens the steam valve, the little starting engine runs
merrily round, the great pistons seem to sigh, down comes two great
connecting rods, up go the other two-one engine is started.
The other engine, on the start of the first, seems also anxious to
be away. It seems to jump and
start like a restive horse, until the foreman opens the valve and starts
it. Outside in the water the
great propellers “heave round” slowly, but since they are baffled in
their true purpose of driving the ship ahead by the great hawsers, now as
taut as bars, they devote their attention entirely to the water.
Churned waves rush up the river behind us. The craft moored astern of us swing and surge on their
hawsers. Now engines go
astern, now ahead, now stop, and the steel creatures are obeying properly.
Nothing is wrong; one or two bearings must be readjusted; they show
a tendency to overheating, so often the cause of serious breakdowns,
otherwise all is well. Now
for the sea trials.
The second day has arrived. We
are to do a low power run in the Channel.
Escorted by the tugs, slowly and majestically we steer through the
narrow harbour mouth and into the open sea, manned by captain, officers,
and men from the barracks, who only came onboard this morning.
Only a few of our forty boilers are lit up, for this test is to
show them capable of their share, and the main engines capable of taking
their share and converting it to a certain speed properly.
Already we are working up to the power, the swallow tailed trial
flag flies from our fore. The
other ships upon it will follow the courtesy of the sea; they will steer
clear of the babe, leaving her unhampered in her first attempts to master
the sea. No we are on the
measured mile. Mysterious
instruments are being brought to bear from the bridge on known marks on
shore, the telegraph clangs “full speed,” and the trial has commenced.
An officer stands by the indicator of the patent log on the
quarterdeck, which informs him by its little gong the knots the
“Briton” has run through the water.
Down below a large staff of dockyard mechanics are taking many
records of the performances of the engines.
Curious little figures traced by pencils on paper reveal to them
the horsepower of the steam. In
the stokehold the stokers feed, rake, and otherwise tend their fires to
produce the steam. They must produce the steam in such quantities and at such
pressure that its horsepower, as indicated in the engine room, will be as
required. Until now, the task
has been found easy. The new,
clean fired have burnt so fiercely that they even have to be checked; the
boilers are not required to do as much as they now seem willing to do.
And so for hours we steam along the measured path, turn about, and
retrace our steps, and still we are getting our horsepower.
But the difficulty of the task is increasing.
The impurities of the coal are becoming unpleasantly evident.
Instead of brittle, fiercely burning coal on the fire bars, we now
have fires largely made up of great masses of red-hot slag, blocking the
ingress of air to the new coal as we put it on.
The steam gauges, which have been showing full pressure, show a
tendency to “walk back,” in these last few hours of the trial, and the
fires are responsible; they require cleaning.
But the work of cleaning must not be undertaken lightly, for a
while cleaning a fire we shall deprive ourselves of its impaired but
important aid. Remembering
this, the energetic engineer gives certain orders concerning the
“devil,” which we are surprised to see is but a formidable looking
pronged rake, which, as we remove ourselves as far as possible from, a
burly stoker plunges into the flaming furnace.
Propelled by the sweating man, it dashes through the fire this way
and that, until the order comes, “that’ll do.”
All the fires are now being similarly treated in order, while all
concerned look anxiously to the gauges.
Do they mark improvement? Our
unpractised eyes note nothing; but when a chief stoker mutters with
pleasure, “walking up,” we accept his decision.
And now with pressure to “fall back on,” the cleaning
commences. A great iron tool
is brought by two stokers to a furnace door, the door is opened, and
immediately the two seem to dive into the furnace with the “slice,”
for so we hear it called. But
they only reach the mouth. Withdrawing
the tool they make more plunges, they lever it up and down, their faces
streaming with perspiration, the rags in their hands burning on the nearly
glowing bar, finally they break the slag or “clinker” as they call it
and withdraw the “slice.” Now
another stoker dashes forward with a rake, and in a moment we see glowing
masses of clinker on the floor plates before us.
The heat they shed about them seems overpowering; but the stoker is
not deterred from continuing his job.
The pile of blazing clinker increases until now we see another
stoker waiting with coal in his shovel.
The rake is withdrawn, the shovel flies to the furnace, the coal is
“sprinkled” over the thin, cleaned fire, and we have a new fire.
The steam has not materially suffered.
The operation is repeated on the worst fires, and we “keep
steam” until now we hear the telegraphs clang-the trial is over.
The “Briton has got through” her preliminary trial.
Three days have passed; then the great run commences. It is the “thirty hours coal consumption trial.”
This will be one, the conditions of which most nearly approach
those, which may be expected in warfare.
It is the full speed of the Admiral short of coal, of a weary fleet
broken down by overmuch steaming, the speed at which some limitation, such
as coal supply, makes care of every detail of the engines and their
working, essential. The trial
has commenced. We are moving
at a speed of 18 ¾ knots against a head sea under 14,000, and more horse
power per minute; we must keep up for the next thirty hours.
The ship at last is really moving.
Her irresistible rush into the quickly succeeding waves is
magnificent, but is apt to fill the landsman with dismay, for the ship
herself is vibrating as though the plates and frames of her whole body are
already strained to the utmost by the tremendous driving force below; her
masts seem to sway in rhythm with the engines throb, her boats jump up and
down as their steel davits move with elasticity to the general throb of
ceaseless energy. So on we
rush. On deck all is grand; the fast receding shore fills us with a
sense of exultation, for tonight we shall be 200 miles away in the
Atlantic before we retrace our steps.
Down below all is monotony and hard work.
Shovelful after shovelful of coal goes on from the measured heaps,
the watchful engineer carefully, seeing none is wasted; can after can of
oil is placed in the lubricating boxes; its hard to raise enthusiasm in
such a place. But, strange to
say, a wonderful spirit begins to show itself as the difficulties
increase. The more work there is required, the more the stoker seems
capable of, and anxious to do. The
work is not merely of shovelling coal, though from the dim recesses of the
bunkers to the fire there seems too much of that.
The stokers task is to make every pound do its best; no rushing
forced draught is making the fire “wolf” the coal it is fed with; we
are under natural draught, and to do our best, we can only assist the
natural means by regulating the fires according to our knowledge of them.
We keep the steam as its proper pressure; but again and again the
dreadful fall seems imminent, and as often fresh bursts of stokers energy,
or some subtle trick in management saves the situation. And so we complete the trial, returning to harbour in need of
rest for the engines and the men. The
“Briton” is doing well. Next
week will see her far advanced towards the time of her commissioning, if
her progress so continues.
The day has arrived for her “eight hours full power.”
This is the supreme test. Limits
are to be reached beyond which would be unsafe and at the same time
impossible to proceed. Already
we hear, as we stand near the air supply cowls to the stokehole, the
“jogging” of the forced draught fans.
Once this morning the bottled steam for a minute escaped through
the safety valves until its excess pressure was relieved.
All is ready, and we slip- our buoy and steam to the clang, the
trial has commenced. We rush
along, but beyond the smoking funnels there is little evidence of the
cause of our movement. We
must go below; soon we are in the engine room.
“No place for a Christian” says one, and truly tis a fearsome
place; everything seems to be moving, a rain of oil and water seems to be
falling, and the temperature makes one gasp.
But what is that knot of men gathered about that particular place
engaged in? “A hot
bearing,” and as we look we see the smoking of the oil.
One man works a mighty spanner amongst the rods, and we fear for
his life in this moving maize. But he seems only concerned with the bearing.
Cranks rushing round at 120 revolutions per minute do not seem to
trouble him. He is “easing
the bearing,” so we are told, and we all trust his action will be of use
in coaling the bearing, for should it get hotter the shaft may snap, and
the “Briton” will be long delayed in joining Britain’s fleet.
It has “turned out” as we wished, the bearing was cooling, and
is now so cool that further cooling by cold water is safe.
This is done, and a mishap averted; the engines are running well,
let us go to the stokeholds. We
reach the door, but question the advisability of entrance.
Through the glass in the iron door we see the glare of the fires,
the frantic movements of the stokers.
But we dare, and opening the securely fastened door are met by a
terrific blast laden with coal dust.
The door is rapidly closed behind us, and we stare into the
blackness. We find it hard to
breathe, the extra atmospheric pressure, poured in by the fans above us,
seems to frighten our lungs from their proper purpose.
But we get used to it, the sublime indifference of the stokers to
the unusual conditions makes us grin and bear them as well.
There is little room for idlers in this place; a warship is always
allowed the largest possible number of boilers.
As we stand we are in unpleasant proximity to a groaning pump as it
steadily feeds the boilers with water,.
In front of us 2-cwt skids of coal are being slid at what appears a
dangerous speed across the plates, until they are tipped before the
boilers. The furnace doors
open with astonishing regularity, and the stokehold is lit each time by
the leaping flames. “Devils”
and “slices” are being used in a furious manner; the pressure is kept
up until the eight hours are up. A
“solid 19 ½” knots has been kept up, and the “Briton” has further
qualified herself for promotion to the Fleet.
But still there are other trials, “gun,” and “circle
turning.” We will attend them.
The day has arrived for gun trials.
We are steaming at ordinary speed to sea, select staffs of gunnery
experts occupies the turrets, and the latter are already revolving under
the influence of the hydraulic pressure, the big pumps are supplying. We are now able to fire-nothing is in the range of fire.
The ammunition hoists shoot up from the magazines and shell rooms.
The turret swings-a mighty roar startles us.
The ship trembles and seems to momentarily stop.
A full charge has been fired on the beam. And now the guns are all being fired together.
We are defended, but everything stands the strain and the
“Briton” has scored another success.
Now for the “turning trials.”
These are made the subject of accurate timing and mathematical
calculations. First the great
ship is suddenly ordered to run “full astern” from “Full ahead.”
Her engines are reversed. She
trembles and quivers as if the objected to the treatment.
Her momentum is checked, she slowly moves astern.
Now she turns circles of various diameters at various speeds, and
goes through many other movements, the practical use of which are only
known to the naval tactician. She
obeys her great rudder perfectly as the sturdy little steering engine
pulls its tiller from side to side, and all that is required of the
“Briton” has been got out of her. In a few months she will leave the harbour, perhaps with an
Admiral’s flag at her fore, to grace some station and “to show the
world that England still is mistress of the seas.”
Friday January 2nd 1903-went ashore yesterday at 1.20
for the New Years Night and had a fine time.
We are still in the shadow of the Rock, and have not waded in blood
yet. The “Diana,”
“Victorious,” “Bacchante,” and “Canopus” came in at 9.30 this
morning. The Captain of the
“Victorious” was on leave at Malta when his ship got order to leave,
and the Admiral (Domvile) sent her away without him.
He is to come round in a destroyer, I hear, and three ships are to
remain here to be handy in case anything should happen at Morocco.
Oh, this Morocco! It’s
getting painful-one can hear nothing else.
Monday 5th-started to survey cable, which was spread out
on the upper deck. Nearly all
hands are fishing just now, and some do fairly well.
I sent two hours on the jetty and caught one.
Wednesday 7th-Landed this morning for drill.
There is a fine parade here in the Almeda Gardens.
After we had done about an hour’s drill the Captain of Marines
dismissed us. Finished the
cable survey this afternoon.
Thursday 8th-Left this morning at 7.30 to carry out some
firing. We have done very
well today; all the big guns have finished, and the 6 and 3 pounders fire
tomorrow morning. We had
several Army officers onboard to witness the firing.
Anchored just outside the breakwater at 6.30 p.m.
Friday 9th-Went out at 7.30 and finished fuiring the 6
and 3 pounders at 10 a.m.; then did some torpedo runs, and came in at 3.30
p.m. The great event today is
the arrival of my Christmas pudding; it had been travelling nearly a
month, but tasted none the worse for it.
I was beginning to think the Post Office had kept it for next
Sunday 11th-Mustered by the open list and assessed
characters. I got my two
V.G.’s. Went out fishing
this evening and spent an hour outside-caught nothing; so came onboard and
bought a tin of sardines.
Monday 12th-the ship’s company were ready for about
twenty evolutions this morning, trying as usual to get a bit ahead of
other ships; and most of our detachment were ready for landing in marching
order, but we were all sold, for it was: “Let go port anchor, and weigh
Wednesday 14th-Landed for drill at Almeda Parade this
morning. Our drill day
(Tuesday) has been altered while we are here, as the soldiers use the
parade on Tuesdays. The
“Ramillies” is under orders to be ready to leave any moment with steam
for 12 knots; consequently more Morocco yarns, with a little of the Aden
boundary Question thrown in.
Friday 16th-A large American training ship came in this
morning and fired her salute, which was returned by the “Bacchante”
(flag of Admiral Walker).
Sunday 18th-Great excitement today.
A German mail boat, the “Laku,” from Marseilles to New York,
was trying to enter the harbour last night; it seems she was five miles
out of her course, and it being very misty, she ran aground.
The Yankee ship was first to her assistance and landed her
passengers, but could not tow her off; and although three different ships
tried today, she is still there.
Tuesday 20th-The German ship was towed off this morning,
just in time to save us the trouble of going out to try and get her off.
She steamed past us just after, and seemed none the worse for her
Thursday 22nd-New Accession Day; ship dressed today.
Had infantry drill; we had gun drill yesterday, so just reversed
the routine. The “Diana”
left for Malta this morning.
Saturday 24th-Went ashore last night and saw the
garrison keys carried through the town-it is a custom carried out similar
to the one at the tower of London. The
keys are carried by a sergeant major that has a big escort and fife band;
it is done at sunset every day.
Monday 26th-Landed every available man this forenoon.
We did not have far to go, for we were lying alongside the jetty,
and marched straight out. The
“Gladiator” arrived this morning from Malta.
Tuesday 27th-“Canopus” arrived this morning from
Malta on her way home; she leaves here as soon as the “Russell”
arrives to relieve her. We
had a night attack at the Rock last night by the small steamboats of the
ships that were supposed to be landing, or trying to land parties.
All but one managed it before the searchlights of the Rock found
them, then the guns started. It
was very pretty to watch the flashes of the guns and the rays of the
searchlights, as the night was very dark.
Wednesday 28th-Landed for drill this morning and had the
luxury of a band; the “Ramillies,” “Victorious,” and cruiser
“Brilliant,” were with us. The
“Isis,” tender to the “Britannia,” cadet ship, came in this
morning from home. It seems
that there are measles aboard the “Britannia,” and the Broderick
arrived here on a visit and landed this morning.
Coaling tomorrow, 500 tons I hear.
coaling (480 tons) at 5 this morning, and washed down decks.
A boy was hurt during the coaling by a lump of coal dropping out of
a bag that was hoisted up, hitting him on top of the head.
Another torpedo attack tonight.
routine all day to get rid of the coal dust.
Had the promised attack last night.
It was done to amuse, instruct, and interest Mr and Mrs Brodrick,
who are inspecting everything on the Rock.
Monday February 2nd-Landed every available man this
morning. We received a
telegram telling us of a collision between the “Pioneer,” a small
cruiser, and the “Orwell,” a destroyer.
The destroyer was cut in two, and two men are reported dead and
thirteen missing. The
“Pioneer” towed the after half of the “Orwell” into Corfu, as the
accident happened near there.
Wednesday 4th-Left at 9.30 a.m. to carry out sea
exercises, steam tactics, etc; have been at the latter all day.
Thursday 5th-Spent the night anchored just outside the
Mole. It seems that while we
were at sea yesterday, the Admiral (Walker, of the “Bacchante”) got a
wireless message to proceed to Malta-his ship only-and he had to take the
ships back to Gibraltar and turn them over to the senior Captain, which is
the Captain of the “Victorious,” so although the “Victorious” was
with us, he had to take the ship back as he had brought them out.
We left again this morning with the Captain of the “Victorious”
in charge, did our quarterly firing in the forenoon, ran a few torpedoes
during the afternoon, and came in at 5.30 p.m.
The Senior Captain signalled optional leave-the other ships got it,
but we did not.
Friday 6th-Went out at 7 a.m. and did the remainder of
our torpedo runs and came in at ten o’clock.
A Yankee cruiser or gunboat came in this morning, one of their
Spanish capture, the Isle de Luzon.”
She is a very out of date looking packet, and her Stars and Stripes
are as big as she is; in fact, I expect the signalmen saw her ensign
before they saw her.
Saturday 7th-The “Cleopatra” came in last night, she
looks even more ancient than the Yankee.
The “Hyacinth” and “Minerva,” the two cruisers which are
testing the steaming powers of the rival boilers, Belleville and Scotch,
came near the entrance last night, but steamed away again, as they have to
exhaust their coal before they come in; the coal, and leave here for a
fast run home.
Monday 9th-Just the same evolutions as ever.
The Yankees were ashore painting the town red last night and
Saturday night; they are coaling today, and seem to have learned something
from our navy, for one watch is coaling ship and the other painting masts
and yards; they have also got clothes on the lines to dry in the coal
dust. The “Hyacinth” and “Minerva” were seen again today.
Tuesday 10th-The two cruisers came in today; the
“Hyacinth” at 8.30 this morning, and the “Minerva” at 9 this
evening. The “Calliope”
came in during the forenoon.
Wednesday 11th-Landed for the usual weekly drill this
morning, but had a bit of climbing instead.
The Captain of marines took us to Lloyd’s signal station, about
the second highest point of the Rock.
It took us just an hour to reach the top.
Coming down we passed the Moorish Castle.
A very interesting looking old building, which has been severely
mauled during the siege of the Rock.
I should think the walls are quite six feet thick and the castle
itself is, I should say, about fifty feet high and about thirty wide each
way, for it is square, and is built on a slope about halfway up the Rock.
Then we passed the cemetery, which is near the South Gates, and
here are some very interesting graves of men who were wounded at Trafalgar
and who died of their wounds in hospital at the Rock; also men who died
during the siege. In one
grave are the bodies of two marines who were killed by one shot.
The graves are well looked after, and the inscriptions are all
quite plain, as they repainted now and then.
Friday 13th-Usual general quarters this morning.
The Yankee left this morning and she played our National anthem,
ourselves playing theirs. Left
for Malta at 5p.m.
Saturday 14th-St Valentine’s Day.
Went to night quarters last night, and finished at 11.30.
The “Ramillies” and ourselves started a steam trial at 4 p.m.
and she is a good six or seven miles astern of us now (8o’clock).
Sunday 15th-Mustered by the open list this morning.
We are still a long way ahead of the “Ramillies,” our average
since we started being 15.8 knots.
Monday 16th-Sea very heavy; we have completely lost the
“Ramillies”; have not seen her today.
Had an inspection of bedding.
Tuesday 17th-Arrived at Malta at 4 p.m., and while the
seamen and marines were mooring ship the stokes were getting ready for
coaling; the sea was very high all day.
Our detachment went to marching order this morning; coal tomorrow.
Thursday 19th-Took in 650 tons, started at 11 yesterday
morning and finished at 9.30 last night; it was a very wet day, raining
from start to finish, and was about as miserable as possible.
Swept down and turned in; had Saturday’s routine today, and
nearly all signs of coaling have vanished.
The “Arethusa” came in about dinnertime; she is on her way home
to pay off from the China station.
Friday 20th-Usual general quarters.
The “Orwell,” or what remains of her, was towed in this
morning; her nose is quite missing, and she looks quite a curio.
She was towed by a sea going tug from Corfu.
Saturday 21st-The “Arethusa” left at 9 this morning.
Monday 23rd-Left at 5 this morning for Plataea, for
Wednesday 25th-Arrived at Plataea at 9 a.m.
It is a very barren looking place, not a house in sight; there are
a couple of sheds, but they do not seem to be occupied.
Thursday 26th-Mining up till dinnertime, then had leave
from 1.30 to 7.30, so had a run ashore.
Our marines had a football match, Red vs. Blue, and after a good
game, ended in a draw of one goal each, so it is to be played again.
The huts I spoke of yesterday are beer sheds, where you can get
very decent beer at one penny a glass; it is English beer, too.
This is not a bad sort of place to be in, for there are three
football pitches and a tennis pitch for the officers, which is all
enclosed with wicker cane work. The
natives, from a village the other side of the hills, came over and were
selling fish. I got about a
dozen for six pence, each about a pound in weight, and very nice eating.
Friday 27th-Usual routine all day.
Ten of us went away in a cutter for a little exercise during the
evening, and we got behind some small butts where there was firing going
on. One of our sergeants, who
was coxswain, noticed that the water was splashing somewhere near us, and
found that it was the bullets from the ranges, so we put on an extra spurt
and got out of the way as soon as possible.
Monday March 2ns-No evolution today, the mining stops all that.
Marines and stokers tug of war teams have both been ashore today
for practice; paid at four this evening.
Tuesday 3rd-Rain all day; so instead of landing as we
should have done, had gun drill; searchlight practice this evening.
Thursday 5th-More usuals.
Our marines played their return match and did the same as
before-draw of one goal each. The
“Vulcan” is giving a concert tonight, and has invited some of our
hands, thirty-one, I believe.
Friday 6th-General quarters this forenoon .
Our officers are giving a gymkhana to the officers and men of the
other ships tomorrow afternoon.
Sunday 8th-Went ashore yesterday afternoon, but did not
see very much of the sports, only about three events; tug of war, which
was won by the marines of the “Bacchante,” ours being second, losing
to the former by two pulls to one. The
costume race was a bit of a failure, as only two were there at the time it
was to start, the remainder of us, for I was one, had forgotten all about
the race, turned up when the prizes were being distributed, all very happy
and playful, and all in comic rigs, one as a policeman looked very funny
and caused plenty of sport.
Monday 9th-Rained all day, and this is a glorious
looking place when it rains; beats Berehaven any time.
Our stay here is drawing to a close, for we leave on Wednesday.
Most of us are sorry to go, for we have had some happy times here;
plenty of sport. Our marines
lost a football match with the “Vulcan’s” (2-1), all in the rain,
this afternoon. I hear it was
more like a skating match; the pitches are pretty good though and are
nicely turfed; where the mould comes from I don’t know, for away from
the grounds the sides of the hills are all strewn with large boulders of
sandstones, and it looks just as one would expect to see a place after an
Tuesday 10th-Rain all day, with very short intervals.
A haze has been over everything all day.
We have had cauliflower every day since we have been here.
Figs are another speciality; everyone ashore seems to be in the fig
line, for men, women, and children all sell them.
Wednesday 11th-A little accident occurred in the harbour
today. A small steamboat of
the “Vulcan” ran a small rowing boat down, and the occupant, a Greek
went straight down, and is still missing.
One of our cutters raced with one of the “Bacchantes” and won
easily by six lengths. Our
“reds” and “blues” played a game this afternoon, and neither side
scored; the “Vulcan’s” then played the return, and won by 3-0, so we
are not doing much at present. The “Bacchante” is giving a concert tonight, forty from
us being invited. We were to
have left today, but leave tomorrow instead.
Thursday 12th-Went out and did the torpedo runs and
returned at 12; left finally at 4 o’clock for Malta; saw some fine coast
scenery during the evening and a snow capped range of mountains.
Friday 13th-Bad day, wind and sea all heavy, and all on
the port side of us, which has made her roll.
Saturday 14th-Went to night quarters last night, and did
some night firing with the six pounders, searchlights playing on the
target; some good firing was done. We
arrived here (Malta) at 8 this morning, and the weather has been glorious
all day; it seems to me that Malta gets the best weather there’s to be
got on the station. We are
lying near a large Italian training ship called the “Carrlocollio”;
our people have already rechristened her the “Carry Cocoa.”
We are to have a Royal visit tomorrow; they’re Royal Highnesses
the Duke and Duchess of Connaught are expected at 8 a.m.
All the detachments are to fall in at 7.45 rigged for Royal guard.
Sunday 15th-A royal day with real Royal weather.
The fleet dressed at 8, and a few minutes after the “Renown”
steamed in and the saluting started.
By the time the guns had finished, the “Renown” was almost
finished tying up to her buoy. The
Italians manned masts and yards and cheered as they came in; our ships
manned but did not cheer. We
had another surprise while church was on, for the Queen of Portugal came
in the Royal yacht “Amelia”-same name as herself-and the guns in the
castle fired a royal salute for her, and the Italians cheered her in.
We were at church, bur gave her a salute at 12 noon, and the bands
played the Portuguese Anthem. Malta
looks very gay and would be all right if they would only stop ringing the
church bells, for no two bells in Malta sound the same, and as there must
be some hundreds, and are all rung together, the result can be better
imagined than described. We
are to land every available man tomorrow and march past his Royal
Monday 16th-Went ashore yesterday and saw the
decorations; they are splendid, especially along the route from the
Dockyard to the Palace Square. Poles
have been planted about twenty feet apart, with garlands, Chinese
lanterns, flags, and words of welcome all along the route.
After seeing all there was to be seen, I met some chums of mine,
and we spent a very enjoyable evening.
This evening we landed and were marched to a place near the
dockyard called Florian, and took up our position on the kerb, for we were
to line the road. It was 9.30
when we landed, and we were in our position a little after ten and had
about an hour’s wait, but it passed pleasantly enough.
First we had the different troops of the garrison marching down the
route to take up their position; the Cameron Highlanders looked fine as
they went past and the Rifles also looked well, and their medals show up
well against their dark tunics; most of them have three, and not a few
four. Of course, South Africa
supplies two, for they all have the King’s medal, and most the medal for
the Tirah Campaign (India). Then
there were the garrison regiments-all seasoned men and big ones, too.
These men are all pensioners.
Another little diversion was watching the dogs that got hemmed in
the road, and the troops were shouting and making a noise on the kerbs
with the butts of their rifles, and the dogs were racing from one end of
the route to the other, and sometimes back again.
Well, a little after 11 o’clock we heard the troops towards the
dockyard getting their orders to slope and then present, and as the
carriages came nearer we got our orders. When the carriages passed us (the escort of mounted infantry
were, of course, first), the Duke and the Govenor (Lord Grenfell) and a
couple of officers were in the first carriage, and the Duchess and Lady
Grenfell in the second, and then were four more officers of some sort in
another, but I don’t know who they were.
The Maltese did not make any demonstration, and when they do they
only clap their hands, for they are not like ourselves, cheering whenever
we welcome royalty; but they looked just as pleased to see them, and were
all in their best clothes, and I never saw so many people together ashore
here before; in fact, I did not think there were so many in the island.
The main streets were crowded but very orderly; no pushing like we
got on a big day at home, and no one drunk in the streets.
Well, after a short wait after the carriage passed, we were formed
up in the middle of the road and marched very slowly along to the Palace,
where the Suke and Duchess were to watch the troops, seamen, and marines
march past. The Royal party
were on a stand erected in front of the Palace, and we marched past them
in fours. Of course, the
soldiers, who were nearest the Palace went first past; then came seamenm
then blue marines, and then the reds.
There were just over 5,000 landed from the ships, and 1,000 of
these were marines. I do not know how many soldiers there were, but I should
think about the same number, for we kept about half the route.
After we went past we were marched down to the Customs House steps,
where the boats were waiting to take us aboard, and we were given the rest
of the afternoon to get over it. It was about a quarter to one when we got aboard.
The Duke and Duchess are to have a busy time while they are here;
the Duke dines with the officers of the Malta Artillery this evening, and
the Duchess and the Queen of Portugal have been sight seeing today.
Malta is very festive over it all, and it should mean a good thing
for some of the big shopkeepers in Strada Reale, for they are sure to sell
some Maltese lace to the ladies.
Tuesday 17th-Musketry parties started these morning-only
seamen and stokers-the marines start with the next batch.
The Italian ship left this morning, and nearly ran on the point at
the entrance to the harbour. She
was being towed out by a dockyard tug, and the hawser parted out, and of
course, being a sailing ship, she could not go astern, and they did the
only thing possible, let go the anchor, and just in time; another minute
would have been too late. Another
hawser was provided, and they got all rights.
The “Illustrious” and ourselves landed searchlights this
morning and put them into position at the entrance to the harbour, one
ship each side; they are to form an arch of light for the “Renown” to
steam under as she leaves tomorrow night.
Their Royal Highnesses are holding a reception at the Palace
tonight, and have been visiting the principal public buildings, hospital,
etc, during the day.
Wednesday 18th-Their royal Highnesses witnessed the
trooping of the colours this morning, lunched with Admiral and Mrs Hemmet,
and dined at the Admiralty House with Admiral and Lady Domvile, afterwards
holding a reception aboard the “Renown.”
While that was in progress the fleet was illuminated, and masses of
rockets were let off ashore, but the searchlights hardly came up to
expectations; and when the “Renown” left a little before 11 she could
hardly be seen, but they got three good ringing cheers from the ships and
also from the troops on the forts and ashore at the Customs House steps.
The Governor leaves for home tomorrow, and General Lane, the second
in command here, is to take charge until Sir Mansfield Clark, the new
Thursday 19th-Lord Grenfell, the retiring Governor, left
in the “Surprise” at 9.30 for Genoa or Naples, I do not know which,
and then does the overland route. He
seems to be a very popular man here, for the soldiers cheered long after
the usual three had been given, and the Maltese were in masses all round
the harbour and waved their handkerchiefs and clapped their hands till the
yacht was lost outside. The
bands of the ships played appropriate tunes, such as “Auld Lang Syne,”
“Home, sweet Home,” etc. The
guard gave him a general’s salute as he passed us.
Admiral Domvile left at 4 o’clock this evening with the remainder
of the fleet for a short cruise, Corfu, being the first call, I believe,
and are expected back in about ten days.
The “Gladiator” came in at 4.30 from Gibraltar.
Friday 20th-Shifted to our proper moorings at 9 this
morning; we were moored in Bighi Bay when the fleet were here, for the
harbour is too small for the whole of the fleet now.
The “Venerable” (second flag) is still here and
“Bacchante,” but her Admiral transferred his flag to the “Aboukir,”
and has gone on the cruise in her. Saw
in the Malta Chronicle that the “Russell” arrived at Gibraltar on
Wednesday and the “Canopus” left same time.
Monday 23rd-Nothing since Friday, and nothing today; not
even the evolutions, as the ship is out of routine on account of the
“Victorious” arrived at 3 this afternoon from Gibraltar and brought a
marine of ours from hospital.
Wednesday 25th-Marines landed yesterday for drill; did
not go myself, but hear it was a sham fight and a very mixed affair, but
as it was only blank ammunition no one got hurt.
Thursday 26th-Another sensation: 2Fighting Mac” has
shot himself, according to a signal we got this morning.
What a miserable end to such a grand career; it seems hard to
believe, but I suppose it’s true enough.
A Greek battleship came in the morning-a very small ship for a
battleship and curiously armed; nearly all her guns in one place in the
forcastle in a sort of citadel or turret, and one well-placed shot from a
9.2would wipe the lot out. The
constructors must have curious ideas of distribution.
Friday 27th-Fleet under Admiral Domvile came in at 10
this morning from Corfu. No
more news of MacDonald’s suicide.
March-Nothing since Friday. The
ship is still out of ordinary routine through musketry, so we did not have
the usual drill today. I had
a run ashore last night, but saw nothing new.
Wednesday 1st April-Went into dry dock at 9 this
morning, and paid money during the dinner hour.
I got more money today than I have had in one visit before £5 8s,
the result of the extra 2d the Admiralty have given us.
Thursday 2nd-The new Govenor, Sir Mansfield Clark,
arrived at 11 this morning in the “Surprise.”
More rumours of going home-the rudder has dropped 18 inches, and it
cannot be put right at Malta, so runs the tale.
Saturday 4th-Nothing but the usual Saturday routine,
slightly spoiled, as the pumps are out of order so we scrubbed the decks
without water, or nearly so. The
papers say that the King is coming to Malta after he leaves Gibraltar on
his Lisbon visit, and everyone is talking of it now.
It has clean displaced the Morocco turn out and the rumours of home
and dropped rudders.
Monday 6th-The “Russell” came in at 9 this morning
from Gibraltar. Our ships company have not done very well in the shooting
matches which were held on Friday and Saturday; our Captain of Marines got
£2 for a fourth place, and one of our detachment got 2s 6d, about the
only two in our detachment. Just
got news of an old shipmate committing suicide by blowing out his brains
in the “Vengeance,” a blue marine, as good a marine as ever came out
of Eastney as regards his work, a good shot, and a V.G.I. Gunner, which
entitled him to promotion. Signal
just made from the Admiral that ships are to make their own devices for
illuminations for the King.
Tuesday 7th-Went out of dock at 7 this morning, and
started to get in 750 tons of coal at 10 a.m.
It is now suppertime, and there are over 200 tons to0 come in, so I
will tell you what time we finished tomorrow.
Wednesday 8th-Finished coaling at 11 last night, and had
Saturday routine all day. Our
Lieut. Of Marines (Blount) got orders to leave for home as soon as
possible to take on Gymnasium Instructorship.
His servant left at 4 this afternoon and went aboard the mail
boat-a French packet-that is taking them both home, and the Lieut goes
tomorrow just before she sails.
Thursday 9th-The final day of the shooting meeting at
Pembroke Camp; our ship has pulled off about a dozen small prizes.
The Rifle Brigade won the Pembroke Cup, about the most important
trophy of the meeting. Lieut
Blount left, amidst cheering, about 4.30; he was one of the best-liked
officers in the ship among marines and seamen, as well as by all who knew
Friday 10th-Very good Friday, Sunday routine
after 9 this morning; up till 9 it was Saturday according to routine.
A general landing tomorrow for rehearsing the march past for the
Saturday 11th-Landed this morning and did the glide
past; there were 800 of us altogether, and the weather was glorious.
I hope it will be as fine on Thursday when the King will be on the
island, but the weather is always fine here, so we will not worry over
that. It seemed a bit comical
to give three cheers for the King while the royal stand was empty, and the
cheers were given twice, as they did not keep time at the first attempt,
but I expect they will be a bit louder for the real turn out.
Got aboard at 1.30.
Monday 13th-Easter Monday, and no holiday.
Oh, for a good day’s sport like I used to have at home, but
“There’ll be a time some day.”
Nearly all hands have been hard at it painting the ship’s side
and everything that shows from outside, and it is just about finished now;
of course, the fleet must look smart for the King, but as he will not come
aboard us the inside can wait till af6ter he goes.
The bands are landing again tomorrow for another rehearsal.
Tuesday 14th- Seamen and marines landed today and did
just the same on the Marsa as last Saturday; got aboard at 11.30.
Wednesday 15th-Saturday’s routine.
The ships are all ready to receive the King, and the people ashore
are boiling over with excitement. I
have not been ashore to see the decorations, but I hear they are grand;
there was not much on the road to the Marsa, but it is a very quiet place
and away from the town. The
ships have built various sorts of old fashioned ships, galleys, Noah’s
Ark etc, to form a sort of water carnival.
The “Venerable” and ourselves are to supply 200 men each to
form a party to pass by the Royal Yacht on a couple of lighters lashed
together, and we are to sing “God Save the King” and a few choruses;
of course your humble is in it, but more to see the carnival, as we will
be in the thick of it. I
expect. We are landing
tomorrow to line the streets similar to what we did when the Duke and
Duchess of Connaught were here , so we look like having a lively time, but
no one grumbles, for it seems a pleasant change from the grind of ordinary
Thursday 16th-I hardly know how to begin, for it has
been a very eventful day, and one which most of us who have witnessed,
will not forget in a hurry. But
to begin; we landed at 9.30 to line the streets, and just as most of the
boats were clear of the ships and on their way to the Customs house steps,
the Royal yacht appeared in the mouth of the harbour, and ina
few minutes was inside. Then
the uproar started, the bands playing the National Anthem, each ships guns
trying to make more row than the next one, and the beautiful bells of the
Maltese churches making as much noise as possible, far more than the bands
and guns combined, and not clear so sweet, for the bells of Malta are
noted for their variety of tone. As
soon as the smoke cleared we could see the yacht and her escorts, the
following ships; “Bacchante,” “Aboukir,” “Vindictive,”
“Diana,” “Venus,” and “Minerva,” followed by a flotilla of
destroyers. By the time she
got to her buoy we were on the jetty and on the move.
Our detachment was marched to Florian, halted and took up our
position on the kerb in the same part as we lined for the Duke and Duchess
of Connaught. In the meantime the King had landed at the Customs House at
10.30, and inspected the guard of honour of picked red and blue marines,
about eight from each battleship. After
being received, or receiving, a host of the elite of Malta, the King
started his drive to the Palace, passing our part of the route at about 12
o’clock, as near as possible. The
mounted infantry formed the escort, assisted by a few mounted Maltese
police. The King was laughing and chatting as he passed, and looked
very happy. He kept nodding
to the people who clapped their hands sore, I should think, but too
excited to feel it, and I must admit there is something about him which
gives you a good feeling towards him.
I do not think anyone who has seen the King could very well dislike
him. Well, after he passed us
we were formed up and marched back to the ships and were pulled aboard;
finished as far as ceremony goes for the day.
Malta looks very gay indeed; flags everywhere, and the ships are
all dressed with bunting, looking as clean and smart as it is possible to
make them. Ashore, as far as
I saw this morning, was splendid. All
along the route poles were erected about twenty feet apart, with garlands
stretching between them with hundreds of Chinese lanterns fastened, and
nearly as many union Jacks. Every
few hundred yards, stretched across the road, were words of welcome from
the people, who seem to have done all in their power to give the King a
loyal welcome, and to make it better the weather is glorious.
Friday 17th-Weather as yesterday, grand; ships and
decorations ditto. Each ship landed marines to line the streets between the
Customs house and the Marsa, for the King witnessed the review of troops
of the garrison this morning. The
Malta Chronicle of yesterday said there would be nearly ten thousand
troops, so it must have been a gfine sight.
There was also a cycle section of each regiment, who were to ride
passed after the review. The
King drove to St John’s Cathedral and had a look round, lunched at the
Admiralty house, and witnessed a polo match, Army Vs Navy, the latter
winning, so I hear, by four to three.
This evening he dines at the Palace-a very busy day for a man his
The fleet were illuminated last night, only for a few minutes to
see the effect, or rehearse. Some
are very pretty, for in addition to the uniform illumination, in which the
lines of the ships and masts, funnels and yards are marked out by small
electric lights, the ships were asked to make devices, which hang between
the masts right over the funnel. The
flagship had a huge crown with E.R.I. monogrammed around it, all on a
large frame picked out with coloured electric lights.
The “Russell” has a monkey with red eyes and a wagging tail,
which is wagged by someone pulling on a rope.
The “Illustrious” had “God Save the King”; the
“Vulnerable,” a bugle; the “Gladiator,” a gladiator; and us, E.R.I.
Went ashore last night at six, and saw the King drive up to the
Palace. The Maltese were
there in thousands to see him, and clapped and cheered him all along
Strada Reale till he disappeared into the palace yard, and even then the
people were not satisfied, and I left the crowds waiting to see him leave
again for the Opera, where he attended a gala performance.
A little fellow near me was boasting that he had been out all day
and had seen the King seven times. I
left him there waiting to make it eight.
Everywhere you can hear good opinions of the King.
I supposed it is happy, contented look that gives people that
feeling. The decorations in Strada Reale and the Queen’s Square, and
Palace Square, are splendid, the whole place being roofed in with
garlands, flags and electric lights.
I saw them all lit up, which was like a scene in a Drury Lane
pantomime, only so much more of it, and so many people.
The streets were thronged, and everyone in their best clothes and
behaviour, not like some of our festive days at home.
I did not even see a service man the worse for liquor, and everyone
seemed to have caught the smiling fever from His Majesty.
Altogether they are as good tempered and mannered a crowd as I have
seen anywhere. I am sure the
King must be deeply gratified by the welcome he has received here. The “Victorious” left at dinnertime.
Saturday 18th-We were to have landed for the naval
review this morning, in fact we were in the boats, and ours was just
passing the Royal Yacht when she (the yacht) signalled “Negative
landing,” so we had to return to the ships, and it was just as well, for
it started to blow a gale just after, and the dust on the Marsa, where it
was to be carried out, was blown right across the harbour in clouds, and
would have blinded us if we had been there; so the review and water
carnival are postponed till Monday. The
King was to lay the foundation stone of the breakwater, but the stand has
been washed away, so that he will have to wait till Monday.
As I write, he is giving a smoker to the senior officers of the
fleet, also a couple of officers of the Greek battleship “Hydra.”
Sunday 19th-today has been very much as usual, no
bunting in the feet today, but the church bells made up for the loss of
the bunting. The harbour
looks just the same, except for the Royal Yacht.
A steamboat belonging to one of the fleet is steaming round the
yacht, to prevent small boats going alongside’ each ship is doing a turn
at supplying the guard boat, for there is one every night.
Yesterday’s wind has spoiled a lot of the decorations; the hard
lands are strewn about the streets and hundreds of electric lamps broken.
We have lost a good few of ours, especially the ones on the
waterline. It seems a great
pity after all the care and expense the people have been put to; but the
weather is all right today, and the sun has been just as hot as ever.
The great event, least for us, is tomorrow on the Marsa., and I
hope the weather will be as fine as it has been today.
Monday 20th-A glorious day.
Landed at 9.15 and marched to the Marsa.
There were crowds of people there when we arrived, and during the
twenty minutes wait for the King, hundreds more arrived, the bright
colours of the women’s dresses made things look quite gay.
As the King came along the narrow road leading to the Marsa, the
cheering and the clapping got nearer, and then when he got on the ground,
the crowd set up a round of cheering which kept up till he mounted the
dais from which he was to witness the march past.
We were fell in in quarter columns, the gun batteries (five) on the
right, brigade of seaman in the centre, and marines on the left reds on
the extreme left. In a few
minutes after the royal salute, we were swinging past the saluting point.
The King seemed very pleased with the marching, and kept asking
questions of the Admirals who were on the dais with him.
After the march past (which was in the following order; gun
batteries, then seamen, then blue and red marines), we were formed up in
the same position as we were before the march past, and the King rode by
in his carriage. He was
smiling and asking questions, and seemed little the worse for the illness
he had had. He drove off the
ground amid a roar of cheering and clapping from the Maltese, and we were
marched back to the ships. We
got onboard just in time for the usual dinner hour.
There were about 1.500 of us (marines) and about 6,000 seamen, and
a small donkey from the “Bacchante,” which marched at the head of that
From the review the King drove to the Public Library, and in the
afternoon he laid the foundation stone of the breakwater.
This evening the carnival comes off, and I am in the sing song
boat, or “Hurrah Boat” as it has been christened; 200 of our ship’s
company any 200 of the “Venerable’s” are to man it, or I should say
them, for “it” is two dockyard lighters lashed together.
Tuesday 21st-We is rather tired this morning, for it was
one o’clock before we got back with the “Hurrah” boat.
The ships lit up at 7.30 last night, and the devices, which I have
mentioned before, looked splendid. The
“Russell’s” monkey started wagging its tail at 7.30 and kept right
on till 12 o’clock. It
looked very comical and must have caused a great deal of laughter ashore. The yacht looked the best of all, for her lights were in
different colours all over the ship, and she had more of them than any
other ship; but still, all looked grand, and the harbour was like day one
could see every little boat for miles.
About 9 o’clock, a signal of 400 rockets was fired from ashore to
show that the King had left the Customs House for the yacht.
Then all lights went out and the searchlights switched on, some the
proper white and some coloured red and blue; the rays were kept between
the lines of ships and on the yacht.
By the time the King was aboard the yacht, the first of the
procession of fishing smacks passed; the Ark (but I do not think it was
the original, for the one last night had a nigger party on it and a
chicken nearly six feet high), then came a Chinese war junk, then a
Phoenician galley built by the “Bulwark,” then a Greek galley or slave
ship, then “Caesar’s” war galley, then a Roman Tirene, by the
“London”; the “Great Harry,” by the “Russell”; a Maltese
galley, built by the Maltese in the dockyard, a very curious looking craft
with as many oars as a cockroach has legs; then another comical yacht,
“Grenville’s Revenge,” a frigate, by the “Vengeance”; the
“Victory” (which fell in for a lot of cheering, and with a little boy
on the poop as Nelson), built by the “Hibernia”; and our most up to
date ship the “King Edward VII,” by the “Implacable.”
All these models were built over and about the small steamboats
belonging to the ships that built them.
We steamed passed in good order; and following the “King Edward
VII” came our party towed by a steamboat.
As we got abreast the yacht, we started the National Anthem, and
the King, who was on the promenade deck, uncovered his head while he sang,
and bowed and smiled to us, and came to the top of the accommodation
ladder when we started on “Hearts of Oak”; so now I am going to tell
everyone I have sang before the King!
After a run down the line we returned to the ship and all lights
went out; after a snack of supper I turned in at 1.30. the first thing this morning was to prepare for sea, and the
fleet, accompanied by the Royal Yacht, left at 9 o’clock.
A mist was hanging over everything.
The people gave the King a good send off, and though so early and
the weather so uncertain, there were crowds of people on the heights
surrounding the harbour. Handkerchiefs
were waving till the yacht disappeared outside.
The King remained with the fleet till 10.30, watching the various
evolutions, and a left us at sea, steaming through the centre of two long
lines of ships. We, the “Ramillies,”
“Illustrious,” and “Caesar” returned to Malta.
I do not know yet, but think the remainder have gone to Naples.
It was 2.30 p.m. when we got back, and raining hard, and is now.
Wednesday 22nd-Back to usual routine again; out and in
nets, away sheet anchor, away all boats, and fire quarters.
Our marines have formed a 9 pounder gun’s crew for the annual
sports this year; the seamen also have a crew.
Both crews went ashore for practice this evening.
The programme is out for the sports which come off on the 11th
and 12th of next month. We
have several chaps training for races.
Our new Lieutenant of marines came aboard a couple of days ago, and
started duty this morning. It
has rained frequently today.
Thursday 23rd-Marines musketry party started this
morning; weather still threatening.
Saturday 25th-No range party; yesterdays routine as
usual. The Greek battleship,
“Hydra,” left at 4 this afternoon; a lot of the chaps have gone to the
Manoel theatre tonight, as there is an English company on tour playing
several of the well known comic operas.
The Bell of New York, Florodora, San Tay, etc.
It is Sun Toy tonight.
Tuesday 28th-Routine as usual; no evolutions yesterday
on account of the musketry parties, for there are seamen, stokers, and
marines going through now. The
“Vulcan” left for Plataea yesterday afternoon, and the
“Illustrious” went out for firing today.
Thursday 30th-H.M.S. “Aboukir” came in yesterday
morning, and the “Bacchante” in the evening.
Our marine’s first musketry party will be finished tomorrow.
Had the usual make and mend cloths this afternoon.
Friday May 1st- The weather has been splendid today.
While we were waiting to leave the range for the ships, we saw the
fleet in the distance coming towards Malta, and when we got to the
dockyard the fleet was just coming in; they have only been to Corfu since
the King left. It was three
o’clock when they came in.
Monday 4th-Went to the range today, and instead of the
preliminary drill we went straight in with the firing, and are now one
clear day ahead. It seems that we are to leave on the 15th; so they
will not finish in time, as there are two more parties to go through.
Fired at 200 and 300 yards this morning; we do 500 and 600 yards
tomorrow. The “Caesar”
went out firing today, and returned to harbour at 4 o’clock.
The Ramillies” hoisted her paying off pennant this morning, so
will not be here long, the it may be our turn.
Tuesday 5th-Another day’s shooting finished.
Got a signal today to say that the sports are postponed till the
autumn so all the training has been done for nothing.
Wednesday 6th-A very sudden ent to our musketry parties.
We were just thinking about dinner when a signal came to the range
to say the ship was laeaving, and after a hurried dinner we were marched
back, and got aboard at 1.30; left Malta for Gibraltar at 4.
Of course, we have got the usual rumours going around, Morocco or
Salonica are generally voted, a few are making it Volo, and a few more are
certain it’s Chatham, but I saw the signal, and Gibraltar is our
Thursday 7th-Fine day, went to general quarters this
morning; passed the “Vindictive” on her way to Malta at three this
afternoon. Saw some very
pretty scenery this evening; one place, called Bizerta, the town lays in a
hollow, and it has a river which is spanned by a bridge very like the
Tower Bridge in the distance. I
do not think it can be far from Cape Bon; the signal station, with its two
white towers and the green pasture for a background, made a pretty
Sunday 10th-It is now 9 p.m. and we are about an
hour’s run from Gibraltar, so I will talk of the arrival tomorrow.
We got a signal (wireless) at 6 o’clock, and it seems that the
“Renown” has landed some hands at Tetuan, and now the air is thick
with war rumours; we are to do all sorts of things coal, and join the
“Renown” and land men and guns. The
signal we got tonight read, among other words, “Morocco, war@
‘Renown,’ men landed,” so there is a grand foundation for any yarn.
Monday 11th-Anchored outside at 11.30 last nights, and
went alongside the mole and started coaling at 6 this morning.
The scorpions helped the watches, and the 700 tons were finished at
4 o’clock, and has, I believe, a few refugees aboard.
Tuesday 12th-Saturday’s routine, and most of the coal
dust is gone. The “Assaye,”
a small gunboat from the East India Station, came in this morning on her
way home to pay off.
Wednesday 13th-The “Renown” went out and did some
firing today, and came in again at 3 this afternoon.
The “Vindictive” arrived here at 5 from Malta, and the same
theatrical company, which were performing at Malta, have arrived here, and
are playing florodora tonight. Shifted
the ship from new mole to the buoy this morning.
Thursday 14th-The Captain is giving prizes for quick
loading on the loading machine we have on the upper deck, and the four
marines 6 in guns topped the list for this morning’s practice; the gun I
am at is first with 19, and 21 rounds in two minute spells; the first we
put on 17 and the next two spells 21 each; next best one 12, one 20, and a
21. One round each separated
the next three. The new cruiser “Drake” came in during the forenoon, and
she is a fine looking ship, and is the fastest we have, I believe, for she
did over a knot more than the contract speed (23 knots).
In appearance she is the same as the “Aboukir” or
“Bacchante,” but I believe she is a bit bigger and has several
improvements over the others. Had
the usual “make and mend” this afternoon.
Friday 15th-I have seen the list of results on our
notice board, and find I was wrong in the number of rounds of the second
gun’s score; it was the same as out own, their last sell being 22 rounds
instead of 21, and we are to pull off the tie as soon as possible, about
Monday, I except. The
“Vindictive” went out for some firing and came in again at 3.15.
We had the usual general quarters.
Monday 18th-Usual evolutions, out and in nets, away
stream and kedge anchor. This
is simply putting the small anchors into the boats and pulling away with
them. We also “cleared for
action.” The “Renown”
left for Malta at 5.30. Yesterday
was the King of Spain’s birthday; all the ships were dressed.
Tuesday 19th-Went out at 6 o’clock this morning to do
some firing, but only managed about three rounds (tube) as there was so
much shipping about; a couple of sailing ships never left the target.
Anchored just outside the entrance at 3.30 this afternoon.
Wednesday 20th-Made another start for some firing this
morning at 6, with better results than yesterday, and did heavy firing
this time; the forenoon was spent over the big guns, and directly after
dinner the 6in started and finished, the four marines guns and three
seamens leaving three for tomorrow. The
firing was not so bad, but the first marines gun only got off 8 rounds,
the next fired three and had a misfire, which knocked off half of their
time; the last marines guns to fire fired 5 rounds; 4 of them were
signalled hits. Anchored
outside at 6.30.
Thursday 21st-Got up anchor at 7 this morning and
finished the other three rounds, and came into harbour a 10.45 this
morning. One of the 6in got off 10 rounds with 6 hits, the same as one
of the marine’s guns did yesterday; but the other two had misfires, and
only got about 3 hits each. The
6 and 3 pounders are to fire yet. We
had the final for the loading machine this morning, and a very exciting
event it was, for we had two tries each before it was settled; our gun
topped it with 21, 21, and 22 against three 21’s.
There was a big crowd around, and the chaplain timed us, and when
it was finished we got a cheer from the chaps.
A large French cruiser passed this morning a six-funnelled ship,
with three forward and three aft. She
looks a curious looking packet, and is the “Jeanne D’Arc,” the ship
that the President has been travelling in just recently.
A Spanish ship, the “Infanta Isabelle,” also passed during the
forenoon; she is looking out for the Spaniards at Tetuan over the Morocco
Saturday 23rd-Usual routine yesterday and today. The weather is very unsettled just now; I suppose we are too
near home. It is blowing a
gale; the haze completely hides the rock, although we are lying near.
Monday 25th-The usual evolutions this morning-nets,
sheet anchor out, and finished by hand, an evolution no one likes, as the
capstan is liable to take charge. A
large Yankee cruiser, the “Buffalo,” came in this morning; she is
painted white, and looks more like a yacht than a warship.
Tueday 26th-Marines excused landing on account of rain;
were all ready when it started, so laid out kits for inspection instead.
The Commander has been sick this last week or so, and the First
Lieutenant is Commander pro tem.
Thursday 28th-All as usual; gun drill, “make and
mend,” etc. No list up yet
as to result of prize firing. Yankee
cruiser left yesterday afternoon.
Friday 29th-Usual general quarters.
“Good Hope” came in at 3 o’clock this afternoon, and lays
just ahead of the “Drake,” her sister ship; they are as much alike as
two peas. The “Good Hope”
belongs to the Cruiser Squadron.
Monday 1st June, Whit Monday-No evolutions today,
raining all day.
Tuesday 2nd-The last musketry party started at the range
today, and our party, which had 10 rounds to fire, and to go to the range
on the last day’s shooting.
Thursday 4th-Went up to the range and finished course of
musketry. The shooting for
the ships company is far better than last year and the Captain is giving
small money prizes to men who improve most on their last years score.
A Yankee gunboat came in at 4.30.
The remainder of the party finish tomorrow.
Friday 5th-No general quarters this morning.
The musketry party finished today.
The most important event today was a cutter race between the
“Vindictive” and ours; the former challenged, and lost by about 21
lengths, but our boat is a Maltese built boat and is much lighter than
Monday 8th-The Captain entertained a party at Algeciros
on Saturday, a small town opposite here on the Spanish mainland.
The band was landed to play to them during the evening.
The “Good Hope” left at 1.30, and our Gunnery Lieut, who has
been promoted to 1st Lieutenant, left for the “Diana” his
new ship-at 4 this morning. He
was well liked in the ship, and got a good send off as he left the ship.
Tuesday 9th-Went out 7.30 this morning to carry out the
prize firing for the six and three pounder Hotchkiss guns.
I think the firing has been fairly decent.
It is nearly twelve now and we have only just anchored, and are to
run torpedoes tomorrow.
Wednesday 10th-Left at 7 this morning to run torpedoes;
finished at 11 o’clock, and came inside the harbour and tied up
alongside the new mole at 1.30. During
the afternoon we got the sad news of a boiler explosion aboard the
“Blake” yesterday; two were killed and four injured two of who are not
expected to recover. The two
who were killed were buried this afternoon.
An Italian cruiser came in at 5 o’clock.
Thursday 11th-Seamen landed for drill this morning, and
while they were ashore a signal was made from the “Blake” that one of
the injured men had died last night.
He was buried this afternoon, each ship sending a party, as they
always do, no matter how many ships there may be.
A party of temperance men we have in the ship went for a picnic to
a place called Cork Woods (Spain), leaving the ship at 8.45 this morning,
with the chaplain in command. The
party were about 50 strong, and seem to have had a good time, for they
have just got aboard and are all sober that is more than some ships
temperance parties could do!! I
have just been told that the other poor fellow-an engineer officer who was
so seriously hurt by the explosion on the “Blake,” is dead, and is to
be buried tomorrow.
Friday 12th-The officer who died of his injuries on the
“Blake” was buried this afternoon, and nearly all the officers of the
Monday 15th-Nothing yesterday, only that we mustered by
the open list; this morning landed every available man on the jetty.
The cruisers left here this morning for Lemnos, where they assemble
for their cruise. Lisbon is
one of their ports of call. Our
variety party, managed by the Chaplain, are giving three entertainments at
the Assembly Rooms, opposite the Almeda Gardens, tonight being the last
Tuesday 16th-More sensational news; the Admiral is going
to inspect the ship on Thursday and Friday; wet paint everywhere for the
next two days.
Wednesday 17th-Spent all day cleaning up for Admiral; it
is marvellous the change that has been made in only one day; we are quite
ready for him. The
“Victorious” came in this evening to wait the arrival of her relief,
the “Exmouth,” when she proceeds home to pay off.
We have just heard that the “Vengeance” has left the station
for China; there only used to be one battleship on that station, now there
must be about four.
Thursday 18th-Rear Admiral Dyke Acland came on board at
9 a.m. or a little after, and after inspecting the guard (the whole
detachment), went round all the storerooms and flats, engine room, etc,
and then mustered by the open list. As
he started the open list, it commenced raining in torrents, and kept on
till he left the ship at 12.30; he calls again tomorrow to carry out some
evolutions; he left word that we are to be “cleared for battle” when
he arrives tomorrow. After dinner, all hands were into it, and we have finished
now, as far as it is done in practice.
Friday 19th-The Admiral came onboard at 9.15 a.m., and
after a walk round to see if there were any flaws in the “clear for
battle” evolution, he had out nets, at least half, for the starboard
side of us is alongside the Mole; then went to general quarters, and while
we were at the guns he came round each gun and saw us do a little drill.
Next man and arm ship (starboard watch); and port watch out, diving
gear; it was then 12 o’clock, and he left half an hour later.
During the afternoon the watches were replacing gear, which was
worse than the actual drill this morning.
Morning 22nd-Let go port anchor and weighed by hand this
morning; and then away boats crews; marines spent all the afternoon
getting ready for the Major of Marines inspection.
The Major is an officer serving on the Rock in the Intelligence
Department, and this is an annual inspection.
We got a telegram o Saturday saying that seventeen men had been
killed at Woolwich Arsenal through some lyddite shells exploding, but it
appears now that it should have read ten; but that is ten too many.
Our new Gunnery Officer, Casement, came onboard today.
Tuesday 23rd-Major’s or Captain’s inspection passed
of all right; he did not give us much trouble.
Our pet, the goat, died this morning; it had been rather queer for
a few days, and the sick bay steward seems to think it had been poisoned. The “Europa” came in just after dinner with reliefs from
Wednesday 24th-The “Exmouth” came in at 3.30
followed by the “Spartiate” and the “Victorious,” which was
relieved as soon as the “Exmouth” entered the harbour.
After presenting five kittens, and us with a cat she left at 5
o’clock amid cheers and the tunes of “home Sweet Home” and “Auld
Thursday 25th-Spent forenoon preparing for coaling
tomorrow; the usual make and mend this afternoon.
Friday 26th-Started coaling at 6 this morning, and
finished the 720 tons at 3 this afternoon.
The chaplain did no part in this coaling, as he usually does, as he
was officiating at a funeral from the “Cormorant.”
The “Spartiate” left for home this evening, and the Europa”
leaves tomorrow, both of them have China reliefs onboard; no general
quarters this morning.
Monday 29th-Went to general quarters to make up for
Friday; shifted from the New Mole to the buoy; manned and armed boats
Wednesday July 1st-Marines landed for drill yesterday,
and steamboats went away and did some firing this morning with Nos. 1 and 2 of 6 and 3-pounders.
Things are very quiet just now.
Saturday 4th-There is a bull fight coming off tomorrow
at a little place called Lenia, just over the neutral ground, and in
Spanish territory. I have
borrowed a suit of civilian clothing, and hope to see it-at any rate I
Monday 6th-Was successful yesterday in seeing the bull
fight, but if I had known what it was like I would not have gone.
Two of us landed by permission at 11 o’clock, changed our clothes
at a eating house called the “Welcome,” and then rode over from
Gibraltar to Lenia in a cab. Got
over there about one o’clock, had a walk round, and as it was a sort of
carnival time or fair, we had plenty of feast our eyes on.
The bull fight had not started but the proprietors of stalls and
aunt Sally, where one stood about four yards from the figures and threw
bag balls at them, were doing a roaring trade; if you hit one of the
figures they present you with a real Egyptian cigarette, which gives off
smoke similar to lyddite; but at all the stalls the only way of doing
business is by gambling.
When the show opened we got s good seat, right against the
presidential gallery. The
place inside is just like a roman amphitheatre, a ring or arena rising all
round, tier of stone, the top dozen or so being covered by a tin roof to
prevent anyone seeing the ring from the rising country around, more than
to protect the people at the top, for they pay the least to enter, so it
is hardly likely they would be covered and the other seven eights of the
people get wet if it rained. We had not been in many minutes before the people began to
pour into all parts of the ring. We
were on the shaded side, for which we paid three pestas; the sunny side is
two, but it is worth the other 7 ½ d to sit in the shade, especially as
we had to sit there till 6 o’clock.
Before half an hour had elapsed, the whole of the ring was full,
also the inner ring around the arena.
Watching the fans waving and fluttering all over the place, like
flocks of different coloured birds, and drinking Marsella wines, we passed
away the time till 4.30 when a fellow in the band with a bugle sounded
some call, which brought all the fans to a halt.
It was the signal for the start.
Right opposite where we sat were three doors, the centre one higher
than the other two, and out of it into the ring or arena streamed the
procession of Matadors, Toreadores, Picadores, and Peones, headed by a
little boy, about six years of age, I should fancy, dressed as a Matador.
The Picadores are mounted and armed with a lance with a point, so
that it just pricks the skin, or perhaps goes in half an inch, just enough
to madden the bull. The
Toreadors are on foot, and carry a red lined cloth, which is used to
madden the bull still more. The
Peones are also on foot, and carry short, dart like sticks, decorated with
coloured paper like you see on the gas pipes in shops at Christmas time,
and these have a small steel arrow shaped head, and are driven or thrust
into the shoulders of the bull, while the Matador, who is principal of
all, is armed with a sword, with which he finishes each bull.
After the procession had marched to outside of the ring, and the
Matador, or is should say, the senior, for there were two, a man,
Mazzentini, a very well known and popular man, bowed and said something to
the President, who is the governor of the place, the ring was cleared and
the Picadores, who are mounted on what you are bound to call horses, as
they are the same shape or some think like, but with many points, and are
blindfolded in one eye, took up their positions round the arena; the
Toreadors and Peones also got to their stations, and the door on the right
was thrown open, and out rushed a fine black bull in splendid condition.
After a moments halt in the centre of the ring to get his eyes used
to the light-for he came out of a dark cell-he made a mighty rush at the
first Picadore on the right of the door, and buried his horns into the
side of the horse, and lifted it clean off the ground.
After he got his horns clear he made another charge at another
horse and served it the same. I
have seen some nasty sights, but that was the most revolting I have seen
them or it struck me like that then, and had there been a chance I should
have gone out, but that was just about impossible, so I had to bear it.
Well, as the bull charged the horses, the Picadore endeavoured to
keep him off with his lance, but I do not think that the lance took an
ounce weight off the force of the charges, but the blood started to
trickle down his shoulders. Each
time after killing a horse he got an extra thrust, which maddened him more
than ever, and as a horse was killed another was led up to be served the
same, and as the blind eyes is kept to the bull the poor horse has not the
proverbial dog’s chance. At
each charge the impact unseated the Picadore who was assisted out of the
arena by the Peones while the Toreadores kept the bull’s attention off
him (the Picadore). After a certain time (about 20 minutes), the horses, or what
were left alive, were led out of the arena and the dead ones drawn to the
side out of the way; the bugle sounds and the Peones did a bit of
performing; one advanced to the centre of the arena with a couple of
banderillos-the arrow pointed sticks I have mentioned-and planted them one
at a time in the bull’s shoulders.
This seemed very clever work, and I should think requires coolness
and no little courage. Four
of the Peones stuck two in each, and by that time the bull was bleeding
awfully and getting exhausted, but as brave as ever.
Then another bugle call, and the Matador, who was dressed in silk
and gold, advanced to close quarters, and sword in one hand and a red
cloth on the other, played about with the bull, making him charge at the
cloth and jumping smartly out of the way, and so completely wore him down
and puzzled him. Then the
bull paused, fairly exhausted, and with a lightning thrust the Matador
buried the sword to the hilt into the bull’s shoulders right between the
blades; the bull, with a gurgling sound coming from his throat, sat slowly
down, streams of blood pouring from his mouth.
Even then he jumped up for another bout, but fell down again, and
one of the Peones stuck a knife into his back and finished him.
Then the people cheered for all they were worth, and the Matador
went round the arena bowing to the people, who show their appreciation by
throwing their hats and caps into the arena, and the Matador throws them
back. I don’t know what the
idea is, but the Matador seemed to take it as a great compliment.
Then two teams of gaily ribboned and decorated mules were trotted
into the arena, one was shackled on to the dead bull, the other to the
dead horses; there were five in the first fight; then the dust was spread
over the blood, and just the same happened again; in comes the second bull
and everything I have told is repeated.
Some bulls kill more horses in the time allowed than others, and
whenever a horse is disembowelled the audience cheer like mad people, and
should a man get hurt they cheer even more.
I should have told you that when the Matador bows to the President
before he kills the bull he makes a bit of a speech, in which he says that
only one of them-he or the bull-will leave the arena alive, but I would
not put much on the bulls chance in the fight yesterday.
There were six bulls, and they killed 14 horses and completely
wrecked twice as many more, but whether they killed them after they left
the arena or not I do not know. Sometimes
during a fight the people would all burst out into a rage, and dozens of
large wine bottles were thrown into the arena, some going very close to
their famous Mazzentini, and he got more afraid of the people than of the
bulls. The last bull was
killed just after six o’clock, and then there was a rush for the exits,
but the place was empty before one could look round.
It seemed hard to realise where and how they had escaped, but we
soon found out the reason, for although there are only about four doors to
go in by, and small ones at that, there were nearer forty to leave from.
I heard it said that there were 11 or 12 thousand seated, and I
should not think it was far out.
After we left we had another walk round the fair, which was then in
full swing. One could not
help noticing the love for gambling these people have, for there were
crowds around every case it is the owner of the stall that does all the
gaining, as he always gets twice the amount of money on the table as will
cover the winnings of the lucky person.
But it is excitement, and that is food for these people.
I do not marvel at the Yankees beating them in the war they had,
for I never saw such a backboneless crowd of men before; the women seem to
have all the muscle, for they are just as robust as the majority, but a
large majority of the men are thin and weak looking.
After a look round-for we did not see anything worth buying-we
jumped into a cab and drove back to the place where we shifted clothes and
became marines again, and got aboard at 11 o’clock, just about tired
Now for today’s. We
went out to sea at 6 o’clock and ran some torpedoes; then dropped a
target and did some firing. We
are remaining at sea tonight to do some night firing at 10.30; it is now
Tuesday 7th-Did the night firing last night (only tube),
and drifted about all night. We
have been firing ever since we turned out this morning; tube in the
forenoon, and heavy ammunition in the afternoon.
Some decent firing was done this afternoon, and after it finished
(5.30) we started back for the Rock and got a thick fog to give us as much
trouble as possible. Coming
to anchor at 8 o’clock or a little after, we nearly had the
“Vindictive” aboard. We
have had three army officers aboard during these two days to see the
firing, a Major and two Lieutenants; as I write this, the hands are busy
tying up to the buoy.
Thursday 9th-A large party went to Cork Woods today for
a picnic, the chaplain again commanding-but anyone this time; it was only
TT’s who went last time. As
all came off to time, it may be continued on Thursdays while we are here;
it seems a popular place with these parties.
Monday 13th-Early morning drill started this morning,
and we did the same old evolutions; out and in nets, away all boats, and
away stream anchor. The drill started at 6 and finished about 7 o’clock; rest
of the day per routine.
Thursday 16th-Got a signal to coal on Tuesday evening;
started at 6 yesterday, and finished taking in 330 tons by 9 o’clock;
washed down decks, then had our today’s make and mend.
In the afternoon had Saturday’s routine, which always follows a
coal ship day. A party
(twelve) of Greenwich School boys came onboard today for distribution
round the fleet. The
“Caesar” came in at 6 this morning.
Friday 17th-The “Caesar” coaled this morning;
average about 171 tons an hour about a record, I fancy.
Monday 20th-Left harbour and anchored outside at 6 this
morning. The Mediterranean fleet came in at 9 o’clock; the two hours
for dinner started today. I
have said the dinner hour is two hours from today, but on coal ship days,
the quartermaster pipes that the dinner hour today will be forty minutes,
or in some cases half an hour.
Tuesday 21st-the Cruiser Squadron came in at 4 this
Friday 24th-General quarters as usual.
We leave in the morning for Madeira, where we wait for the Channel
Saturday 25th-Left for Madeira at 9 this morning and
anchored quite close to a large Castle liner (“Dunottar”), in fact,
too close, for we had to get out our kedge anchor to keep us from bumping
her when the tide slewed us round. The
passenger seemed very interested in us, for they were on deck all the
forenoon watching our boats come and go.
She left at 2.30 for home from Cape Town.
Just after she left an Italian cruiser came in.
This is a very pretty harbour, the hills, all nice and green,
dotted with houses and churches, make a very pleasing picture to the eye;
this would be a fine place for an artist, the colour is splendid.
Leave for chief and first Class Petty Officers, from a 2 p.m. till
Wednesday 29th-A rather comical incident occurred; the
Italian ship sent an officer aboard to ask if we would half-mast the
ensign as the Pope is buried today. Our
officer misunderstood him, and instead of doing as he as ked we dressed
ship; but the mistake was soon discovered, as someone noticed the
Italian’s own ensign at half mast, and then they tumbled and did
likewise, and stowed the flags away again.
The Lieutenant who made the mistake went aboard the Italian ship
and apologised. The
“Ramillies” came in at 10.30 this morning and, like us, is attached to
the Channel for the manoeuvres. A
Portuguese training ship came in at 4.30 this evening.
Thursday 30th-A sad accident occurred aboard this
morning; a stoker, who was cleaning some bright work in the after
barbette, somehow managed to release the lever for running the gun in; it
came in with a rush and jammed him against the after part of the barbette
and crushed him terribly. He was carried to the sick bay, but from the first the case
was hopeless, and he died during the dinnertime; it has cast a gloom over
the ship, everyone seems affected, for he was well liked among the
stokers. It seems rather
hard, for he was to me married when the ship got home.
This is the first fatal accident we have had in the ship.
Friday 31st-No general quarters on account of the court
of inquiry on the accident, which resulted in no one being blamed.
The hands were allowed to view the body in the dinner hour before
the coffin was secured down; the coffin was of oak covered with cloth;
volunteers were taken for firing party and funeral party.
The Italians and Portuguese also sent parties, also the “Ramillies.”
Our marines, seamen, and stokers sent wreaths, beside some from the
officers; a very pretty one came marked, “From three little English
girls,” from the consul’s little daughters.
I hear several of the people ashore also sent wreaths.
The Portuguese were celebrating some national day, but when they
got the news that we were burying a man they hauled down their flags (for
they has dressed ship), and sent a large party to attend the funeral.
Their party fired three volleys as well as out own party. The Governor of the Island also attended, so that if a
splendid funeral is any consolation to his friends and relations, they
ought to feel some satisfaction.
Saturday August 1st-Got a sudden order to coal; started
at 10 a.m. and finished putting in 70 tons at 3.30 p.m., our best for one
hour being 123 tons, the best, I think that has been done since we were
first commissioned. The
Italian cruiser left at 8.30 this morning.
Sunday 2nd-A sort of Saturday’s routine up till 9 this
morning; then divisions at 9.30. During
the afternoon we had pleasure parties steaming round us, cheering and
Monday 3rd-Three of the cruisers of the Channel fleet
came in last night, and remainder at 9 this morning; no evolutions.
Tuesday 4th-The terrible war started today at noon.
The composition of the fleets is as follows: B1 fleet under
Vice-Admiral Wilson, “Revenge” (flag), “Empress of India,”
“Royal Oak,” “Royal Sovereign,” “Hood,” “Benbow,” and
“Sans Pareil.” B2 under
Vice Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, “Majestic” (flag),
“Magnificent,” “Mars,” “Jupiter,” “Hannibal,” “Prince
George,” “Ramillies,” and ourselves.
X fleet under Admiral Sir Compton Domvile, “Bulwark” (flag),
“Venerable,” “London,” “formidable,” “Implacable,”
“Irresistible,” “Russell,” “Exmouth,” “Caesar,”
“Illustrious,” and “Renown,” that is, of course, only the list of
battleships; there are also twenty-one cruisers attached to X fleet;
fifteen to B1, and seven in B2. Now
for a rough idea of the war. We
B2 fleet are supposed to have been defeated by the X fleet in the sea
between Gibraltar and Madeira, where we are to be safe as the harbour is
supposed to be strongly defended. B1,
our other fleet, has been fighting in the north and been victorious.
The Admiral in charge is supposed to send a wireless to the Admiral
of our fleet that he will reinforce him at a certain place if he can evade
X fleet, who are at Lagos, but of course, will soon be on their way here
to blockade us. If we can
escape and join with B1 fleet, then we shall want a lot of beating; but of
X fleet can prevent the junction, it is strong enough to first destroy us,
and then attack B2. The
Admiral of X fleet is supposed to get information by cable that three
squadrons had left their home ports-Berehaven and Portland-to join at sea
and then join B2 at or near Madeira.
X Fleet’s battleships are supposed to be ready for sea twenty
hours after B1 Fleet leaves Berehaven; the rest of the fleets are not
supposed to get the news until 8 a.m. tomorrow morning, so that B1 and B2
have the advantage of twenty hours time. Our instructions are to steam to the Azores for all we’re
worth, join B1 Fleet, and then endeavour to meet and fight X.
The chances are that we shall get overhauled by X’s ships, which
are faster than ours.
Wednesday 5th-The clocks were put on an hour and eight
minutes last night, so that we lost some sleep.
We have been loaded up with empty boxes belonging to ships of the
fleet, which we are to drop overboard when we go to sea.
The boxes are all marked with the names of the ships that they have
come from, and we are to steam away and drop them so as to lead the other
fleet astray, for scouting cruisers always look out for anything floating
about with a name on it.
We had another funeral today, this time from the “Ramillies”-a
fever case; and there are over fifty aboard her suffering from the same
complaint. We sent our band
to play the Dead March. Not a
very pleasant time for the poor fellows who are sick; they are all over
the ship, for the sick bay won’t hold them.
A large Yankee training ship came in this afternoon.
Thursday 6th-Left Madeira at 10.30 in company with our
fleet, which arrived at eight o’clock this morning.
The “Ramillies” is exempt from duty till her crew are in a fit
condition, that being Lord Charles Bereford’s order.
The fleet cleared for action just before dinner.
As we left, our band played “Hail Columbia” to the Yankees.
Man and arm ship this evening at five o’clock.
Friday 7th-Have been steaming at a little over 14 knots
since we left; Lord Charles signalled that evidently we were resenting the
duty of carrying the rubbish (boxes) of the fleet, and that he did not
think the ship could manage the speed.
He complimented the Captain, engineers, and stokers, and said we
were doing excellently. Our
Captain signalled back that he had steam to spare, and could stretch
another knot if necessary. We
have had four of the enemy’s cruisers follwing us all the afternoon and
evening, sometimes coming close enough to be within rifle range, let alone
our guns; but I suppose there’s some clause in the rules that allows
them to come close to us. Went
to fire quarters at 5 o’clock, our ship finishing first.
The “Majestic” (flagship) broke down for a few minutes about
seven o’clock this evening-only steering gear; she was soon with us
Saturday 8th-Passed the Azores at 12.30, and joined B1
at seven this evening. We are
now fourteen battleships strong, but of course Admiral Domvile’s are
much faster. We have the
advantage now, though our decks have the appearance as after coaling ship;
but we are still showing them we can steam, and are well to the front.
Sunday 9th-Nothing unusual until dinnertime, when the
“Good Hope, one of our four funnelled cruisers, was reported captured;
and then the “Europa,” a similar ship, signalled for assistance, and
reported that the enemy were thirty miles to the southward.
At 2.30 our scouts fell in with the enemy’s and fought, but when
the battleships of each fleet came together, the cruiser scouts retired,
and it was our turn. It was
3.30, and we had been at general quarters half an hour; we started at
4,700 yards and Admiral Domvile fought a retiring fight, not allowing us
closer than 3,000 yards, and only as near as that for a few minutes.
The movements of the fleets were particularly clever, both Admirals
manoeuvring splendidly, each trying t keep his ships point on and to keep
the others broadside to him. After
about half an hours firing, the “Mars” and “Majestic” succeeded in
cutting off two of Domvile’s battleships, and then a battle royal
started, for the two that were cut off steamed away from both fleets as
fats as they could go, two of our ships after them; then Admiral Wilson
sent a couple of cruisers to assist, and when Domvile, saw that, he sent
two of his cruisers followed y two of ours.
By that time the four battleships were nearly out f sight, and
though I don’t know the result of the fight, I should say that Wilson
won easily when the umpires decision is made known.
The action lasted altogether about an hour and ten minutes.
We have now finished, and are bound for Lagos, where the combined
fleets are to carry out evolutions.
Monday 10th-Lord Charles Beresford signalled that the
“war” was finished, and that we were on our way to Lagos; he thanked
everyone for his or her support. The
two battleships, which were cut off from Domvile’s fleet, were captured
after all. This morning the
fleet let go life buoys and picked them up; we were third ship.
While the boats were out the Admiral signalled hands to bathe,
which was much appreciated.
Wednesday 12th-Fleet did firing target practice
yesterday, and today the same routine till five this evening, when the
Admiral signalled away sea boats, pull round sub divisions.
We were first ship to pull round a full subdivision.
The fleet stopped to bathe, and the “Sappho” (cruiser) buried a
an who had died of fever during the day.
Thursday 13th-Arrived at Lagos at 9.30 this morning.
This is not much of a place. The
King of Portugal followed the fleet in with his yacht. Admiral Domvile’s
fleet joined us about six this morning.
We now number nearly seventy ships and right Admirals-as fine a
fleet as has ever been got together away from home.
Friday 14th-Got ready for coaling this morning, but the
collier had a slight accident, so we did not start till 2.30 taking in 550
tons by 6.30, and then washed down decks.
Monday 17th-Left harbour for battle tactics under Lord
Charles Beresford and Admiral Custance.
The two fleets came into action at 2.30, and after a running fight,
met again at 4 o’clock. Custance
seemed to have the best of it as far as we could judge.
The king of Portugal witnessed both fights from his yacht.
Tuesday 18th-spenf the day in harbour, the forenoon in
evolutions, out and in nets and away sheet anchor.
The King of Portugal remained in harbour with us today.
Wednesday 19th-Went to sea at 9.30 for more battle
tactics-Admirals Walker Foulkes of the “Good Hope”; first action
lasted from 11.30 till 1.30, in which we were put out of action or sunk by
being torpedoed right amidships. It
was more interesting and exciting than Monday’s manoeuvres.
The other ships met again at 3.30 but we were only spectators this
time. In the evening the
fleet replaced the gear from “clear for action,” and then spread
awnings; our ship finished first, and we were fourth at mooring when we
came in at 6.30. This morning we were the last of twenty-five battleships in
unmooring, but it was through an accident with the cable.
The King of Portugal has been with us all day, also a cruiser of
Thursday 20th-Remained in harbour today for drills;
first evolution was, clear for action, and we finished 1st, our
time being 4 mins 15 secs, our fastest time yet; but in replacing gear we
were 11th. Next
evolution, out sheet anchor, again 11th.
In weighing the same, we were 8th on the list.
We then got out all pulling boats, and were 9th this
time. After dinner, Lord Charles Beresford came on board and stood
on the quarterdeck a long time talking to our Captain and our Chief
(fleet) Engineer, I suppose complimenting him on the steaming from Madeira
to the Azores.
Friday 21st-Went to sea at 9.30 for more war, this time
between Admirals Domvile and Wilson.
The fleets met and fought at 1 o’clock; plenty of steaming
tactics thrown in, and returned to harbour at 4 o’clock, searchlights
Sunday 23rd-All as usual for the Lord’s Day.
The “Ramillies” left for home and got a splendid send off.
I ought to have mentioned before that she joined the rest of the
fleet here the first day we came in, as she missed the manoeuvres through
sickness. Some of the home
fleet also left for home at the same time. We have seventeen battleships and about the same number of
cruisers here now.
Monday 24th-Went to sea again today, Captain Winsloe and
Captain Callaghan are the rivals this time.
We met at 11.30 first times, and at 3 o’clock the second fight.
We were torpedoed again; this time by a battleship-it was a
destroyer last time. Went in
again at 6 o’clock, and the “Caesar” left for Gibraltar, where she
coals and then proceeds home. We
are wondering when our turn is coming.
Tuesday 25th-Harbour all day and usual drills; out nets,
we finished 6th; in nets, we finished 1st; then out
boom pulling boats, we were 6th ship; next, pull round the
fleet, in which we were 2nd.
We were 1st in the clear for action and 2nd
in replacing gear-not so bad.
Wednesday 26th-Went out of harbour with the Fleet at
9.30 for towing target practice, and returned at 4 o’clock, leaving
again at 5 o’clock for Gibraltar with seven of our own fleet
(Mediterranean). The Channel
Fleet left at the sae time for home.
Thursday 27th-Arrived at Gibraltar at 2.30 p.m., and are
now all ready for coaling tomorrow; had rather rough weather on the trip
Friday 28th-started coaling at 6 this morning, and the
first thing that happened was an accident to out Temporally transporters,
a sort of overhead trapeze for running the coal fro the collier to the
ship. However, after a short
day, we managed to put things right, and got in our 650 tons by 4.30, so
did not do so badly.
Tuesday September 1st-nothing worth mention since
Friday; there were no drills yesterday.
The cruiser fleet left this morning for a cruise, and we leave for
ours tomorrow, our first is Almeria, in Spain.
Wednesday 2nd-Left Gibraltar at 9 this morning for
Almeria; only routine all day, but got out nets at 5 o’clock.
This is the first time we have done it at sea since I have been in
the ship; the searchlights are being used as I write this (9 o’clock).
Thursday 3rd-Arrived at Almeria at 6 this morning. During the forenoon we did some of our quarterly firing, and
had the usual make and mend in the afternoon.
In getting out nets, last night, we broke the record, which was 5
mins 20 secs, and held by the “Canopus,” our time being 5 mins 15 secs.
Friday 4th-Remained in harbour all day; had the usual
general quarters, and went to fire quarters this evening; a Spanish
cruiser came in this evening. This is a rather pretty harbour, the principal thing in sight
is a cathedral; it is embattled, and has four large towers, one at each
angle; the houses on the slopes also look very pretty.
Saturday 5th-Left the harbour at 5 this morning and ran
torpedoes; returned to harbour at 5 o’clock; finished mooring, 1st
ship, in record time, 14 mins 30 secs, but there are only three of us
here, viz “Venerable,” “Illustrious,” and ourselves.
Sunday 6th-Mustered by the open list, after which we
prepared for sea, leaving for Valencia at 2.30.
At 4.30 our steering gear broke down one of the links parted, and
took till 9 p.m. to repair-in the meantime the ship was steered by hand.
After the above accident we picked up Admiral Domvile and his fleet
Monday 7th-The fleet had towing target all the forenoon,
and arrived at Valencia-a fine place-at 5.30.
This is a large and prosperous looking town, the capital of the
province of the same name. At
one time a river ran through the town, but this has long since dried up.
The only signs of its previous existence are the large bridges
still over its bed. The
streets of Valencia are narrow, though not unclean, and the air is
beautiful and clear.
Wednesday 9th-Nothing yesterday, only leave for Chief
and First Class Petty Officers; left for Barcelona at 6 this evening.
Thursday 10th-Had night quarters at 12 midnight, last
night, and arrived at Barcelona at 6 this evening.
Gave leave to Chief and first class Petty Officers.
Friday 11th-No general quarters; ships all dressed in
honour of the King of Spain, who is here; nothing but guards turning up
Sunday 13th-Today the Admiral gave leave to men with
badges who had never broken their leave.
I went, and although it rained hard and I got wet through before I
got ashore, I do not feel sorry that I went, for it is a grand city, and
is, without doubt, the best place we have visited since we have been on
the station. The first thing
we saw was a fine statue of Columbia, mounted on a tall column which can
be seen miles away; then a walk of about 200 yards brings one to as fine a
street or promenade it is possible to conceive, called the Rambla.
I found the streets, with very few exceptions, similar to this one;
it is really two roadways with a sort of arcade between, with seats at
intervals and kiosks, where newspapers are sold, at every few hundred
yards. The shops are all up
to date, and would compare with those of most big towns at home.
This is said to be the most prosperous town in Spain, not excepting
even Madrid. There are many factories, but these are almost hidden by the
splendid country where they are built, only the long chimneys tell the
tale, as they can be seen sticking through above the trees and vinery in
the valleys. The harbour is
also a very busy one, and there is as much merchant shipping as is seen in
some of our big seaports, and fine covered wharfs for cargo, similar to
those at Liverpool. I saw
some fine hotels ashore, one called the Hotel Colon, would put a good many
of our London hotels in the shade; another, the Colombo, a fine building.
I went through the Rambla, which runs right across the city N.S.
and turning to the left, found myself at the gates of a large park, where
a Spaniard, who could speak English, asked me if I would like a look
round, an offer which I gladly accepted.
There is also a zoological garden inside the park, and I saw some
fine animals, all beautiful and clean; also a large ornamental lake. As I came away, my Spanish friend showed me a large triumphal
arch, all built of terra cotta, a fine piece of work, but of little use.
We then had a look over the cathedral-a splendid building with a
rather small front, but very pretty.
Monday 14th-Had the old evolutions this morning, out and
in nets; 3rd ship finished in each.
Out boom boats and pull round the fleet; 5th in getting
them out, and 6th getting round the fleet.
Wednesday 16th-Left this morning for Rosas Bay, where
the sailing regatta is to come off, and we are to get in tonight or early
in the morning.
Thursday 17th-Arrived here (Rosas Bay at 7 this morning;
nothing worth mentioning-only routine.
This is not much of place-hills and hollows.
Friday 18th-Everything as usual.
The race (sailing) for the Commander in Chief’s cup started at
1.30, and was won by the “Russell.”
Saturday 19th-Left Rosas Bay for Polensa in the island
of Majorca, one of the Balearic Islands, at 5 this morning.
Usual routine all day.
Sunday 20th-Arrived here (Polensa) at 10 this morning,
with one watch in whites, the other in blues.
These islands are connected with one of the most lamentable and
tragic events in British naval history.
In 1756, at the opening of the seven years war, the French set
themselves the task of recapturing the Island of Minorca, which belonged
to us, and was at that time held by a force of 3,000 men, under General
Blakeney. Admiral Byng was
sent out with a fleet of 12 ships, and on reaching Port Mahon found it
besieged by the French. After
an unskilful attack, Admiral Byng returned to Gibraltar, leaving the
garrison to its fate. For
more than a month they held out, but seeing no hope of relief, General
Blakeney surrendered. Byng
was recalled, tried by court martial, found guilty and condemned to death.
Shortly afterwards he was shot on his own quarterdeck.
Monday 21st-Today is the first day of the regatta, and
our cutter has won two races-boys and racing crews-and the galley also got
a second prize.
Tuesday 22nd-Another exciting day watching boat races.
Our cutter won again today with the stokers crew in her, and got
third with the marines crew. The “Russell” got the cup.
Wednesday 23rd-Four ships left for Malta this
morning-“Formidable,” “Russell,” “Renown,” and
Friday 25th-General quarters this morning, and left at 4
this afternoon for Malta.
Sunday 27th-We was expecting a sham torpedo attack last
night, but somehow it did not come off.
The weather has been splendid since we left.
A rather amusing incident occurred about dinnertime.
It seems that the Captain sent his messenger to the officer of the
wash to ask if he had sighted Cape Bon, but the boy asked him from the
Captain if he could play ping-pong, and returned to the Captain to say
that he (the officer of the watch) could play ping-pong.
Of course, the Captain had to smile, but told the boy to be more
careful in taking messages, and to ask again if he did not understand.
Monday 28th-Arrived here (Malta) at 9 this morning and
got ready for coaling, but there is no sign of the collier yet.
I hear we do not start till tomorrow morning; it has been raining
all day. The “Renown”
left this afternoon for Suda Bay, and the “Illustrious” goes tomorrow.
Wednesday 30th-Did not get the collier until this
morning at 6, so started getting in at 7, and finished the 650 tons at
5.30; then washed down.
Thursday October 1st-Paid money during dinner hour. Today we started the new rations-jam, marmalade, corned beef,
vegetables, etc-and also new meal times.
Instead of having “stand easy” just before divisions we have
breakfast, and suppertime is now teatime.
It is all strange at present, but we shall soon settle down.
Friday 2nd-Started 48 hours general leave to the Port
watch this morning at 7 o’clock; nearly all the watch have taken
advantage of it. There is a
rumour that we are to be home before Christmas, and it seems to have truth
in it, as some of the chaps have had letters from people in Chatham who
say we are to be in dockyard hands before Christmas.
No general quarters this morning on account of the leave.
Sunday 4th-Yesterday we were taking in provisions all
the forenoon, and scrubbed decks in the afternoon.
The Port watch returned off leave at 7 this morning.
One of our marines has a damaged face through jumping out of a
train going to Citta Vechia; his chum (also a marine) fell out of the
train, so he jumped out after him, and landed in a cabbage field, face
Tuesday 6th-The starboard watch started their 48 hours
this morning at 7.
Friday 9th-The watch returned off leave this morning;
only a couple absent, which is very good.
Monday 12th-Landed every available man this morning, and
had a march past on the Marsa; returned to the ship at 11.30.
Tuesday 13th-Left Malta this morning at 11 for Corfu,
and steamed round about the island during the dinnertime.
After dinner each 6in gun fired a round of experimental lyddite at
a large rock just off Gozo; all we could see was the thick yellow fumes
and a little crumbling of the rock as the shells exploded.
Wednesday 14th-More firing today; 6in fired two rounds
each; the second round fired smashed up the target-good shooting.
Thursday 15th-Arrived here (Corfu) at 10.30 this
morning. Great joy in the
ship when the mails were received, as we learn that of November, or
rather, commissions to relieve us on that date.
Friday 16th-Had a very enjoyable time ashore yesterday;
saw over a large palace of the Emperor of Austria.
It is quite a new looking place, with some lovely grounds, and in
the grounds at the head of some stone steps is a statue of Lord Byron,
seated in a chair with a book open on his lap.
There were other statues-one of Achilles, a fine piece of work, all
marble; another of Bacchus, with a sort of cupid holding a bunch of grapes
near his (Bucchus’s) face. There
are also two running lads over a staircase, facing each other, and these,
I believe, are very well known statues, and are supposed to be
masterpieces of some great sculptor.
The flowerbeds are well laid out, and the flowers were all in
bloom. Another thing worth
mentioning is a large picture just inside the entrance.
The subject is a Roman chariot with a man lashed to one of the
wheels and being dragged along at full speed and a howling mob following.
The picture is about 40 ft by 20 ft, and the colouring is splendid.
Altogether we spent about an hour in this palace, and saw over most
of the reception rooms, which are beyond my powers of description;
beautiful panelling, statuettes, flowers painted on the walls, and
electric lights. After our
visit we drove back to the town, and came aboard at 11.
The “Diana” and “Exmouth” left for Suda Bay this morning,
the latter to relieve the “Russell.”
Monday 19th-Usual routine since Friday and again this
morning; in getting out and in nets we were not smart enough first time so
had to do it again; rained nearly all day.
Wednesday 21st-Nelson’s day; band played “Trafalgar
Bay.” Aired and mustered
bedding this morning, and prepared for coaling this afternoon when we take
in 500 tons.
Thursday 22nd-Coaled ship; started at 7 a.m. and
finished by dinnertime, then washed down decks.
The fleet left for Argostoli, and the flagship’s band played
“Auld Land Syne” to us as she left; we remain here till Sunday, and
then go to Suda Bay; the cruisers are also remain here till Sunday, and
then go to Suda Bay; the cruisers are also remaining.
Saturday’s routine, and went out at 9 this morning to run torpedoes; did
twelve runs, and came in again at 5 this evening.
Saturday 24th-All as usual; left for Suda Bay at 8
o’clock this evening.
Monday 26th-Arrived at Suda Bay at 9.30 this morning,
and as we steamed in the “Russell,” whom we have relieved, steamed
out; the “Exmouth” was to relieve her, but she went to Plataea for
mining. The “Russell”
proceeds to Malta to provision and take in stores before she leaves for
China. Mustered by the open
list yesterday; otherwise normal.
Wednesday 28th-Marines landed yesterday for drill. This afternoon our Captain gave away about a dozen turkeys as
prizes to boats of “Renown” and “Exmouth”, which ships arrived
here yesterday from Plataea.
Monday November 2nd-Usual evolutions and a lot of rain.
We have four army officers from Candia aboard three of the
Dublin’s and one of the Army Service Corps.
Thursday 5th-Had sports ashore this afternoon, and a
concert on the quarterdeck this evening.
One of the army officers gave a very good song, and was very
amusing with some patter; some of our officers were very good too.
An able seaman of ours (Sageman), is a George Robey Mark, II, and
sings his songs grand. Out
lights at 11 o’clock. The
weather has been pretty chilly these last four days.
Friday 6th-Landed every available man this morning for a
sham fight; each man had twenty rounds of blank ammunition.
Came aboard again at dinnertime.
Monday 9th-The weather is very wet, and is raining now.
Dressed ship today for the King’s birthday; did not work after
Wednesday 11th_At last, we have got fine weather. King of Italy’s birthday today, and we fired three salutes
of twenty-one guns, morning, noon and sunset-that is their custom, our
royalty has only one at noon. Marines
were to have landed yesterday, but it was too wet.
Thursday 12th-this afternoon our marines played and
settled the series of drawn football matches; the blues won by two goals
to nil, after four drawn games.
Monday 16th-“Renown” left for Malta, and
“Illustrious” arrived in her place.
Went to general quarters instead of the usual drills.
Tuesday 17th-Went out to run torpedoes and do the
quarterly firing; finished the torpedoes at ten o’clock and started
firing from the barbettes, finishing them before dinner; then 6in and 6
and 3 pounders at 2 o’clock, so finished, what we expected to take two
days, by 5 o’clock. The snow on the mountains reminds me of Chatham, for I expect
we will find it cold when we got home.
Thursday 19th-More birthdays; Queen of Italy’s this
time, and the same number of guns fired.
“Hermione” came in last night.
Saturday 21st-Dressed ship; Prince George of Greece paid
a visit to the “Exmouth” this afternoon at 1 o’clock, and left her
at 5 o’clock.
Monday 23rd-Usual Monday’s drill; weighed sheet anchor
twice by hand; first time was not smart enough.
Thursday 26th-Received a cable telling us to leave at 9
last nights, instead we left at 9.30 this morning for Malta, doing a
twelve hours speed trial on the way.
Saturday 28th-Arrived at Malta at 6 this morning, and
got orders to coal and leave tomorrow for Gibraltar.
Went to general quarters at 12 last night, consequently most of us
are a bit tired today.
Sunday 29th-Left at 11.30 for Gibraltar, getting a
splendid send off by the fleet, especially the “Aboukir” which, like
ourselves, is a Chatham ship. As
we left the harbour, the people ashore were waving handkerchiefs at us,
and the merchant ships also gave us a cheer as we left.
All the bands played the usual tunes-“Rolling Home to Merry
England,” etc. We are taking home a lot of supernumeraries.
The weather is getting very cold.
Monday 30th-Sea very rough all day, and most of the
hands have been sick.
Tuesday December 1st-routine only; saw a couple of
waterspouts this evening-a wonderful sight.
I had read of them before, but never saw one till tonight; we could
see the column of water reaching right into the clouds.
The last one was not far from a merchant steamer, and must have
poured water all over her; then we had thunder and lightning, but did not
Thursday 3rd-Arrived at Gibraltar at 8 a.m. and as we
are to be inspected by the Admiral tomorrow forenoon, and by the Major of
Marines in the afternoon, we have been busy today.
Friday 4th-Admiral Hamilton came aboard at 9 o’clock,
and the first thing was, muster by the open list, then a walk round the
ship; then, general quarters and fire quarters.
He left at 12 noon; then the marines had to parade before the Major
(White) at 3 o’clock. During
the evening we prepared for coaling tomorrow.
Sunday 6th-Left Gibraltar for home at 7 this morning; we
finished coaling yesterday at 4 o’clock, and then got the ship ready for
a rough passage home, but it does not seem as though it was necessary, for
the weather is splendid today, but, of course, there is heaps of time yet;
some of the mail boats have been as much as twenty-four hours adrift on
the trip out. We have has
Saturdays routine all day, in fact, the Commander had it piped this
morning that today is Saturday, and tomorrow will be Sunday.
We have not had much chance to forget it today, for all the hands
have been at work all the afternoon as for Saturday.
Monday 7th-I should say Sunday, for we even had the
Sunday’s church and divisions; it is hard to believe that it is not
Thursday 10th-Arrived at Plymouth at 8.30 this morning,
and landed supernumeraries for that division; got in a supply of good
English fresh food, and left again at 6 this evening.
It rained nearly all the time we were at Plymouth.
On December 14th we arrived at Sheerness from
Portsmouth, and at once commenced to get out powder and shell.
This is a hard, laborious task, but we all set to work with good
hearts. Two days were taken
to complete it, which is smart work, and on the morning of the 16th
we left for Chatham, arriving there at noon the same day.
And now started in earnest our work of preparation for paying off.
Commencing early each morning and working till late in the
afternoon, we rapidly returned our stores to the dockyard.
This went on daily till Christmas Day, which, owing to
circumstances, could hardly be kept up onboard in our usual style, but
leave was freely given, and a great number of the men had the pleasure of
spending Christmas Day at home with their friends.
Although we were not to pay off till February 12th, our
work of preparation for that event had progressed so rapidly that it was
decided to pay off 150 of the ship’s company on January 22nd,
their services being no longer required.
After this, things were fairly tame.
There was, of course, still plenty to do, as work is never wanting
onboard ship, but we were all looking forward to the 12th, and,
I am afraid envying those 150 who were already at home.
I have not attempted to give a detailed account of our daily doings
since we arrived at Chatham, as our routine may be said to have expired on
the day we left Sheerness. I
do not mean from this that confusion reigned onboard, but once in the
dockyard hands, drill and usual ship routine ceases, and all efforts are
devoted to the return of stores and preparing the ship for the day decided
on by the Admiralty for hauling down the pennant.
As my task is mainly completed, I may perhaps be excused for giving
one glance back over the time we have spent together since leaving
As a commission, I think we have not much to complain of. Certainly it has not been all pleasure, neither has it been
all pain, and being Navy men we have taken the rough with the smooth
without much grumbling. If
there have been times when the jars of ship life have seemed acute, we
have forgotten them in anticipation of the pleasures that lie before us
doing the weeks we shall spend on leave.
For my own part, I have endeavoured to keep a daily record of our
ship life, which I trust will prove of interest to the friends of my
shipmates, and also to be of value, as a book of reference, to those who
with me have spent the past two years onboard.
February 12th 1904, the “Repulse” was paid off, and
those of us remaining dispersed to our homes on leave.
In bidding a final farewell to my shipmates, I would express a wish
that they may thoroughly enjoy the holiday before them.