Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
August 1 Wednesday.
I didn't do many trips in the picket boat. Did the usual gym in the morning. We did signals in the morning with morse & semaphore as well. A lot went ashore & we didn't do any work during the afternoon but played bridge. I did the officers trip at ¼ to 4 and then we were paid. I received £3 bringing my total as well as that which should have been remitted to the bank to £55/17. I kept the last dog for Usborne while Hirst took my picket boat. Our band night, after dinner I played bridge right up till 10-30. I hear that the 2nd picket boat is coming in for three days so I will get ashore alright next Friday. No mail has arrived & no letters from the Bank in answer to mine. I sent a PC to Cranmer, Edie & Mollie of the Forth Bridge. I hope they jerry that I am somewhere near the bridge. All the divisions are being altered Legatte is now with my division so he will take the port watch while I take the starboard. We all have to be able to box the compass in ¼ points before we go ashore next Saturday.
I took the gunroom galley’s crew out before 7. After divisions we had 15" & 6" control. The divisions has been altered. There is a special ODs division. After control we did evolution tow forward which went off fairly well. As very few were going on leave and as my picket boat is in for three days I put in for leave and landed at N Queensferry at 4-00 with the Russian Lieutenant and we walked across the bridge together & then has some tea at the Queensferry Arms. I had quite a good yarn with him. After tea I went round & up the river side and came across quite a nice bit of scenery near the naval hospital. I returned at 8-00. D'aeth didn't come over to dinner so I suppose he didn't get the letter. I paid my bill which came to £3 this month so that's not so bad. We had a signals exercise at 9-00 & after that I had a hand at bridge. I sent three PCs home but I don't think that they got through.
I did gym before breakfast and after divisions we had GQs. The battery went off fairly well. I was in charge most of the time. After GQs we didn't do anything. We went for afternoon leave about 12-30 but as it rained I didn't go round to Dunfermline but went up to the Queensferry Arms. Some of the Australias came ashore and after tea I went for walk with Joey. We returned to the ship about 8-00 & after dinner I had my hair cut and then played cards till after ten. I have heard that the battlecruisers are going up to Scapa for their firing & I hope they stay up there. The Royal Oak is coming out of dock now and the Bellerophon is in I think. We haven't got any hope for at least six weeks. I think we are going to go out in the Flow next week I think when the battlecruisers have gone. I haven't received an answer to my letter to the Bank. I hope they received it. The Russians are still falling back by leaps and bounds.
4 Saturday. (The page header contains a printed note (War declared between Great Britain and Germany, 1914))
As above, the third anniversary of the war & the end seems further off than ever. Germany still holds her own on the Western Front & the Russians are retreating. I hope it is over before next year altho I don't see how it will be. Well no work was done during the morning but after putting in my gunnery notes I played bridge. I had the luck to go ashore again today & I landed at N Queensferry and walked round the place & touched Inverkithing and then came back to the Queensferry Arms by way of the bridge & station. I quite enjoyed the walk. I had a rest and then had tea. Bill Armitage came in and we had a drink and a yarn and then went down to the pontoon. Our boat was second last to arrive but we got back about eight. We toasted the King at dinner and after I played bridge till about ten. I have had real good luck at cards so far. Already I am over 5/- to the good this month. As I was pretty tired I turned in soon after tea & soon got to sleep.
We had Church on the quarterdeck and then divisions. After Church I received a bonzer parcel from Gladys which consisted of a balaclava, mittens, chocolates, toffee & some shortbread. I was quite surprised to get it and was highly delighted. I played cards most of the rest of the morning. After lunch I had a bit of a doze till tea and then we had quarters. A bank of fog came over just after we had it, and all the rest of the day it was a dense fog. My picket boat was still in so I had no trips to run. I played more bridge & started a letter to Gladys. After supper I played more cards but lost and then I turned in. We were going out firing tomorrow but if the fog continues I think it will be put off. During the afternoon we all had an interview with the Captain. He seemed very nice & asked me about myself & my friends. He is going to make further arrangements about next leave.
The fog was still thick so we didn't get underway but we were at two hours notice. We did navigation during the forenoon. My picket boat is a out again & I did the stewards trip. We started to get underway at noon owing to the fog having lifted. It was rather funny going under the bridge you would swear that the foretopmast would strike the bridge. The 6" closed up for a while but fell out for a spell a little later and didn't close up any more. We went out past the battlecruisers and then did some sub calibre firing which was very good. We returned about five & I played bridge till I was called away & went to Hawes Pier & Port Edgar. After dinner I wrote a letter to Gladys & played the gramophone till 10 when I turned in. No war news except China has joined in and the Russians are falling back. We are rather in a worse state than before. I only wish that it would end and as I would rather be out in Australia.
The fog came down again and all day it was rather thick. My picket boat was DSB. We did navigation in the forenoon and in the afternoon signals. I sent a letter to Gladys and wrote one to Mother. No mail has arrived yet. After tea I had a read & we then had a dog watch engineering lecture. I played more bridge after it and also after dinner. I have been doing fairly well in cards lately. Our turn ashore tomorrow and I will take care to go ashore alright. Some say the fog will keep on for days but I hope it clears up. A big railway strike is on in Sydney & I hope the government successfully crush it out. I also saw in the papers that Australia intends to produce benzol & toluol. I was weighed & measured & I have put on 9 lbs bringing my weight to 147 but I don't know to what extent reliance can be placed on the scales. I am fast catching those ahead of me.
I posted my letter to Mother. No mail arrived. After divisions we had the evolution tow aft & after that we had a bit of signalling. I went ashore at 12-30 landed at North Queensferry caught the 1-15 train and went to Dunfermline. Had a drink with Wood & Green & then went & wandered around "the Glen" a park given to the town in which he was born. It is very expansive & well kept and very pretty. A band plays during the afternoon and there is a tea house close by. There are plenty of girls knocking around but you want to be with someone. I had a bit of a chip to an AP RNR of the Chatham and then I caught the 6-45 train. I caught the boat at 7-15 and arrived back in time for dinner. I saw my first Hun prisoners today at a brickworks & they didn't seem to be doing much work & looked quite happy. I played cards till 10 & turned in. There is a buzz that we are going up to Scapa next week for our big shoot and the regatta.
The fog had cleared up & it was a fairly fine day. I was MOD and fulfilled all my arduous duties. In the forenoon we had navigation. I went up censoring after lunch and then we had the afternoon off. I played bridge and then before tea I had to go away in the picket boat. I read after tea and had a few more calls. I took Farman to the Temeraire and after dinner I played bridge & turned in at 10-15. It was raining mostly all afternoon although it clear up later. There is no news at all here as to what is going to happen. My idea of life in the British Navy has totally changed. I remember how I looked forward at seeing active service. I don't think the Germans will ever come out. We ought to be getting a mail shortly from Australia & I am looking forward to its coming. The Russians are still on the retreat on both sides are holding each other on the Western Front.
We went to GQs after divisions and we had a run in the battery & during the rest of the morning I read. I went up to censoring after lunch & then the rest of the afternoon I didn't do anything. I kept the first & last dogs after having spent all my time in running the picket boat. The submarine G 13 came alongside after dinner. I had to take a prisoner down to the Caledon a light cruiser which was right down at the end of the battlecruisers. I had a port down there. After I returned I had to go for Denny & was told the wrong ship. However I got alongside the destroyer having had to run alongside submarines etc & I got to bed about 11-30. There is really no news to mention. Probably the little visit to Scapa has been put off since they intend to have the regatta down here next Saturday ie if we are here.
We had a torpedo dog watch lecture during the forenoon. I had previously done the stewards trip. I couldn't get ashore as no one would take my boat. Nearly all afternoon I was reading and loafing about. The destroyer G 44 came alongside and the submarine after shifting around to the starboard side shoved off later. I had to do a good few trips in the picket boat. One of the coxswains, a new one really got on my nerves the way he would get blue funk if anything was likely to pass close. I did the officers trip and another one to the Resolution before dinner and after dinner I had to fetch back Denny from the Resolution and then go for the Captain to the Agincourt. I had a good wait there and arrived back in the ship about 11-30. As I had to keep the morning tomorrow I didn't get much sleep.
I finished with picket boats and had the bad luck of having to keep the morning watch. However I didn't mind much. We had Church on the quarterdeck and then had divisions. After church I had a hand at bridge and then changed into greys as I was going ashore. It rained a bit at different times during the afternoon but I had the luck to be under cover. We met the Australias and we all had tea together at the Queensferry. We then went along to the JOC where I had a bit of a read & then I got back to the ship about a ¼ to 8. I had a very hurried supper and then I kept the first watch till 9-00 p.m. I turned in a soon after as I was pretty tired. Farman has received his appointment to the Q E & is leaving shortly. I have heard that our subs exam is fixed for September so it is over a year to wait. I don't think that we are being fairly treated in a way after doing 4 years at college.
The usual routine. I did the usual navigation but one never learns anything new. In the afternoon we did a bit of seamanship with Mr Horsefield. After tea we had a dog watch lecture in navigation and then I kept the last dog. It rained a bit during the watch. A flight of aeroplanes, five in number flew across. Yesterday when I was ashore I saw one of our Zepps & I must say I was taken by surprise. It looked huge and dead like a long cigar. I suppose the Germans are bigger but ours look quite formidable. It circled over the fleet & then returned. It only went at a slow pace. I wish I could go up in one. Well after dinner we had a bit of signals and I played cards winning both times and also winning some side bets. I turned in soon after. I think I would rather keep watches than run picket boats as one is always certain that he will have his meals in peace.
It was raining slightly mostly all the day. We coaled ship for the picket boats. I think we get in about 50 tons. As the FX division was coaling they did not attend divisions. After divisions I went up to the GCT for a while and then had a run on the spotting table myself. No mail has yet arrived. After lunch the first lieutenant took us for signals & gave us the last signal paper but I'm afraid I don't know much about them in fact very little. We packed up early & then had a game at bridge. I kept the first dog but packed up early to go to the dog watch lecture. After it I played bridge up & after dinner till 9-30. Richardson celebrated his 17th birthday so port was passed. Owing to Maclean been found in his hammock at 7-30 we all have to report to the OOW at 5-00 a.m. tomorrow morning. The 3rd advance party returned this morning & the 2nd left about 7-00 o'clock p.m. No war news.
Today it drizzles again part of the time. After divisions all kit bags had to be packed according to the alphabet & then all were lashed together. We did signals all the forenoon & we had the afternoon off during which I played bridge & won about 5/-. I kept the first dog and it was raining most of the time. Another destroyer G 43 the Prince came alongside the Strongbow G 44 during the watch. After dinner we all had to go to the lecture on torpedos as used in the Russian Navy given by Lieut Polidorff in the Captains cabin. It wasn't a bad one although a bit hard to understand at times. I turned in soon after at about 11-30. We all got up at 5-00 a.m. this morning but it turned out that only Maclean was wanted. The Commander again found him in his hammock at 6-30 as he had turned in again. There doesn't seem to be any signs of activity in the fleet at present. It is a big fraud.
We were put under 3 hours notice about ¼ to 9 presumably to cover an attack by monitors. However we went on with the usual routine. I was in the battery all the forenoon and we had the usual rigmarole except the supply of ammunition. I had to write out a list of orders given before line & check to see if I knew them. After lunch we were supposed to do seamanship but we played bridge all afternoon. I went ashore at 3-45 had tea at the Arms and then went for walk, but as I met Britt on a motorbike I had a ride behind and went for a jolly good ride. I returned about 6-30 & left shore about 7-30. The detached squadron (1st) destroyers were to raise steam for 25 knots in 2 hours when we were coming back but the battle fleet went back to the usual routine again. Farman is leaving tomorrow morning for the Q E & he had his health drunk. He was a very good chap. I played bridge after dinner and turned in as I was fairly tired.
Nothing new to put in my diary. As we were keeping watch and watch so as to facilitate leave I had to keep the forenoon, 1st dog & first watch & everything went off well. A lot of destroyers went out about 9-00 o'clock and both of the destroyers alongside us have shoved off. At last a mail has arrived. I received one from Mother, numbered 15 and dated 6/June, one from Gladys & one from Mr Maguire and I can tell you I was jolly glad to get them. Everything was going on very well at home and all were in the best of health. We prepared for sea during the first watch as we are going out firing a sub calibre tomorrow morning early. I played bridge after I was relieved and turned in about 10-30. I think we will be back in time for leave tomorrow afternoon. I hope so. We had general quarters during the forenoon and Guns was a bit ratty in the starboard battery but otherwise it went off alright.
We got under way about 4-00 a.m. & we anchored out in the Flow till about 8-00 a.m. when we got underway again. We did sub calibre all morning and the 6" up was closed up. After lunch we did concentration but as usual at the 6" wasn't wanted and so we had an easy time. I wrote letters to Mother, Gladys & Mr Maguire during the afternoon and then played cards losing a rather heavily. We moored again in the usual place about 4-00 p.m. It was slightly raining during the afternoon. We didn't go ashore as it was raining. A few more Australian letters have struggled in but I haven't got any but I received a magazine from Gladys. After dinner I played 21 and came out fairly even and then I turned in about 10-00. A kite balloon broke away yesterday afternoon and floated away. Very little news to report.
I went away in the launch to the dockyard during the forenoon and so go out of cleaning up and also of Church. I received a paper from Eric, a Steads review. I went ashore at 12-30 with Larkins and met Getting from the Glorious. We all had tea and a yarn & went for a walk. I met Mr Weeks on the pontoon and had a bit of a yarn to him. He knew me straight away. I played bridge after supper & so made up for my small loss yesterday. I posted all my letters to Australia & wish them good luck. Mansergh has taken over the FX division and I think it is a change for the better especially regarding the work I have to do. The Australia is in the basin so prospects of leave are much better & hopeful. Mr Weeks said he was on leave during Jutland in fact he said he hadn't yet heard a gun fire in action so he had rather skiff luck. There was a bit of a scrap in the Bight without any results and that seems to be all the news this month so far. The weather has taken a change for coolness.
I had the morning watch and got up at 5-30 and went out rowing the galley. I kept watch and watch all day. I did navigation all morning and in the afternoon we had the day off as we had to write up our note books. I played a few games of cards and there was no dog watch lecture as the boxing competitors had to go and get weighed aboard the Revenge. I kept the last dog & after dinner played bridge till 6" control was sounded off when we tested circuits for tomorrows firing. I turned in soon after as there was nothing to do. There is very little news nowadays and it has got like the college routine in a way, the same thing occurs each day. But I would rather be aboard ship than be back at the college. I am looking forward to our next mail which ought to arrive next Saturday or so. The war news is very quiet the Russians having at last ended their retreat.
When I awoke we were knocking around in the Flow. 15" & 6" control was sounded off at ¼ to seven and I was the only officer in the starboard battery as the others were asleep. However we did a sub calibre shoot and all the guns went off alright. I had breakfast about 8-15 and about ¼ to nine I had to go up on the bridge. I conned the ship and got quite expert at it. I was up there till we anchored inside the boom ie 1-30 & then I had my lunch. Soon after I had to go up to the GCT and control the 1" electric aiming. Although I mucked-up at the first in my second run I got hits, the first of the day. I got off for tea and after tea I played bridge. We came back to our old moorings about 5-00 p.m. I played bridge after dinner till about 10 and turned in after a hard day's work. The subordinate officers boxing is coming off aboard the Ajax on Wednesday & Thursday & I am going to see it.
I went out as usual in the galley and we had did signals all morning. In the afternoon we went over to the Ajax where the Grand Fleet Boxing was on. Four entered from our ship & over there we met those from the Glorious & Australia. Watkins was beaten in his first round much to his own surprise. Larkins lost his fight but all say he should have won. Arbuthnot won his heat. Showers won two heats in fine style and Mackenzie won his heat by terrific plugging. These were all in the Middles. Getting won of the admiration of the crowd in his fight in the light heavies & the fight had to be stopped in his favour. Cunningham by sweating down & starving got into the bantams & has to fight in the final tomorrow. So in every weight that the RANs entered representatives are left for the finals. The rain kept off splendidly. The Glorious entered five & five remain in the finals. Grey was beaten after a hard fight in the Welters. I played vingt-et-un after dinner & turned in early. I think I will send the results to the Commander at the RAN College if all goes well.
It looked as if it was going to rain again but cleared up lovely about 12-00 noon. I had to keep watch and watch & I kept the morning. We fooled around with our sextants during the forenoon. I went over to the boxing and witnessed a great victory for Australia. Cunningham won the bantams & Getting’s fight was stopped in the first round in his favour. Showers & Mac had a great go between them but Mac won on points. Arbuthnot had a bad decision given against him & I felt very sorry for him. Mac met his victor & beat him easily winning the middles in grand style. So for three classes that we entered for we won. Beatty & Madden were there & Beatty presented the cups to the winners & made a short speech. He looks like the photos you see of him. Roebuck was also there. Showers, Grey & Arbuthnot received good losers prices. We missed our boat, not our fault, but came back in the Oaks launch. I kept the first watch and then turned in after having a smoke. The Glorious carried off four out of six prizes & also a good losers prize.
Today is the Grand Fleet Regatta and it was blowing fairly hard. We had divisions and then we had the day off. We received an Australian mail and I got five letters, one from Mother, Eric, Gladys, Edie & Auntie Jo. I was jolly glad to get them & everything is well at home & they have received my brooches & papers etc. Although we didn't win any races we are running fourth at the end of the first day with the Iron Duke, Marlborough & E of India in front of us. I coxed the gunroom galley that although we had a good start we couldn't get a place & came 7th. The Resolution won & the Canada second. The Sydney came in during the day & then went out again after only being in about two hours. I receive four papers from home and read them till dinner. All the galleys crew were invited in to have a cocktail by No.1 but I only had a ginger beer. We had a bit of a yarn. After dinner I had a bit of a read & turned in about 9-15. The day was a rotten one for the regatta.
It was blowing fairly hard all day so the regatta was postponed till further notice. There was nothing to do all the forenoon so I wrote letters to Mother & played cards & read. I didn't go ashore but wrote letters to Eric & Gladys & then fooled around all day doing nothing in particular. I had a few hands of bridge but it was a wasted afternoon. Some of the officers wives came aboard during the afternoon but I didn't see them. There was very little activity at all on board today. After dinner I had a yarn and then turned in about 9-15. Baden Powell is visiting the fleet & wishes to see all old scouts but I don't think I will go over. The winter is approaching & the days are losing their warmth but it will be over a month before it will be anywhere near cold.
We had the usual routine, divisions & then Church. The new skipper always goes round and inspects each division. After Church Thompson & myself thought we would go to Dunfermline. We landed at N Queensferry but as there weren't any trains we walked to Inverkeithing to try & get a motor byke but having failed we went by the naval train to Dunfermline & met one of the RNR snotties who is now a Sub who went across with us in the St Ninian. We went to the Glen & had a walk round & met Joey & Chollie also Newman & Esdaile. We had tea & returned to Dalmeny about five & had a drink at the Arms & met Jarge. It drizzled slightly and we returned to the ship at 8-00 & had a good supper. I wrote a letter to Edie & posted it & as I had the morning watch & had to call the Commander at 3-45 I turned in and soon got to sleep. I had rather of a fine day today & had a bit of exercise & walking. I think Dunfermline is miles far superior to Edinburgh. I think our leave starts on the 17th of Sept and we go into the basin on of the 12th.
I was called at 3-40 & called the Commander & then dressed. We proceeded to unmoor at 4-00 & after BW fell in I had a bit of a doze till about five. We shortened in to 3 on the starb’d & about five-30 we proceeded out to sea. I was up on the bridge after that till 6-30. It was misty & rainy going out but later it turned out a beautiful day. 15" & 6" control was sounded off about 6-30 but the starb’d side weren't required so I had the rest of the morning off in which I slept most of the time. We did firing etc & then anchored inside the boom. The 6" mids, we controlled 1" firing & the 3 pdr also fired. We returned to our usual place about 5-00 & I kept the last dog watch. After dinner I wrote a letter to Dick Living and also to Auntie Jo’s uncle as she sent me his address. I believe in making friends as sometimes they come in useful. As I was rather tired I turned in a straight after. I am reading "The Pools of Silence" and it takes in the Belgian massacres in the Congo, just as bad as the Germans.
It was raining and blowing like the last day of the regatta. We pulled off a 1st in the cutters OS & in the officers galley we lost through bad steering partly. In the officers cutters we got 4th & 6th. We finished up 4th in the total, Marlborough winning with E of I & Iron Duke next as 3rd & 2nd. We didn't do anything all day but had an engineering dog watch lecture. They look for work here and we needn't have half the extra work we get. After it, I played bridge and also after dinner up till about 10. I won 11/- at cards this month so I came out fairly well & have started well for the next. The weather has been very bad of late, windy & rainy & it seems as if summer has disappeared. The 5th advance party went on leave today. The Australia came out of the basin, the Canada & Iron Duke went into the basin. The Erin is still in the basin. The Australia is moored near us. There is a rumour that our leave is being put back a week, we'll never get it.
It was a bit better day than yesterday. I received a letter from Mrs Living of London telling me to come & see them. I did signals all forenoon & in the afternoon went ashore. I walked about eight miles round the country & quite enjoyed it and arrived back at S. Queensferry about 3-15 where I met Thompson. We had tea at the Arms & after it, we each bought a book & some fruit and went along the beach where we read & eat & watched the antics of an airman and also watched an artist who was painting the bridge. Going back to the arms we met Hirst & his brother who is a private in the Australian Forces & we had a yarn & then left for the ship at 7-30. We played bridge after dinner and I won a bit. I turned in early as I was fairly tired after my walk. No activity has been shown yet in the fleet and we seem to be doing a great deal now. The Canada is getting armour put on her turrets but I don't know the reason other than for strength.
We had the usual routine and it was my day on for watch & watch. I kept the forenoon, 1st dog & first. In the morning we had schooly for navigation but I didn't learn anything, I never do. In the afternoon we had to attend collision stations & we got out the mat each side. After that we had to draw a sketch of the firemains ie. the rising mains. I didn't go ashore as I had watches so read all day. I had to see the Captain about my leave. He said he received a letter from them saying that they had good hostesses at Newcastle on Tyne but I told him I preferred London so he is writing about it & telling them. We had a signal exercise at ¼ to nine & I turned in after it. Our cutter had hard luck in the inter-squadron cup just being beaten by a couple of strokes after having pulled up wonderfully. It was for who would represent our squadron. We have received samples of Christmas cards with the ships crest on. There are very good.
In the forenoon we had to draw sketches of the bulkheads of the different decks which took up all my time. We had nothing to do in the afternoon and I didn't go ashore. I kept the last dog for Hirst for the loan of his scissors to cut my nails as I haven't got any. I had dinner at 7-15 and then I went over to the show given by the E of I which wasn't too bad, but not as good as any of the others accept the Benbow's show. I didn't get back till about 12-30 so I was very tired. A few of the cruisers were put on very short notice & went out but I don't know what for. We have a couple of little pups aboard bringing the number of dogs to six I think. The Australia & her squadron have gone up to Scapa I think. I hope we don't go up there any more. Our leave has gone on to the 27th of next month but I hope that’s the final date. They say we will receive a our pay in advance and I hope so. I wrote to Gieves for a new cap & badge today.
Next month >>>
^ back to top ^
© Michael Calder February 2003