Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
August Thursday 1. Rosyth.
The weather is still very murky. Farncombe left to go up to the Viscount & so I became temporary senior mid. In the forenoon Gray & I went round with Hampton whilst he did a volt drop test with the elevation & bearing circuits. I only had one round at boxing. I didn't go ashore but tried to do some study. After tea I did some skipping and running. We had an exam in navigation after dinner re a dog watch lecture. No mail from home or Harold yet. No word either about the boxing. Richardson came back from destroyers. The 1st BS has the 11th flotilla now. They are mostly new destroyers. The 2nd BS left here. I think they are on a stunt like the one we went on. I may try & do some gunnery whilst we are doing navigation & seamanship.
Friday 2. Rosyth.
Still murky weather. We had GQs at 9-30 and I went to B turret. After GQs I went to boxing and did some training. I don't think now up that I will be able to get down to featherweights. I don't mind fighting lights as it would be over all the sooner. The French are advancing. I didn't go ashore but did some torpedo & gunnery. I read up hydraulic notes & turret drill book. After dinner we had an engineering lecture till about 10-00 p.m. I am reading rather a good book called the sixth sense. No news. I wish I could get my exams over & finished. I am sick of studying but it must be done. The Dreadnought went into the basin but the Renown or Repulse is still in the basin. The persistent buzz is that we go in about 24th of the month. No word from Harold. Hope he's all right. Nothing doing in the fleet.
Saturday 3. Rosyth.
We had a construction lecture till 10-15. I received the proofs from Crooks. They were rather better than the last ones. I also received a letter from Eric written at the end of May. No others arrived. I was given the loan of a bike & Watkins & myself went to Edinburgh on our bikes & we kept clear of the main streets. We managed to do about 20 miles or more & got back to Queensferry at 4-30 & had a long shandy & a good tea. We spend a little time at the JOC & returned to the ship about 7-30. No more mail has arrived. We had a signal exercise after dinner & I turned in fairly early. We do N & S for some time to come. The 2nd BS are still out. I am getting real sick of life & want a change of scenery. I have had enough of the GF.
Sunday 4. Rosyth.
A fair day. I started watch keeping today. As above the fourth anniversary of the war. I hope there isn't another year to go. We had divisions & church. I kept the afternoon watch and it went fairly well. In the first dog I readdressed three papers to Harold. The 2nd BS returned to base this morning. The TL inspected my notebook & popped me a few questions. I also kept the last dog. The side boys were given a little exercise because they were absent being at a lantern show. After dinner I finished my book and arranged watch keeping & in & out of harbour stations. No mail arrived. I have only received one so far this mail. No naval news. The advance is pretty consistent. The boxing comes off on the 19th & 20th & the regatta on the 14th I think. Leave about the 24th.
Monday 5. Rosyth.
A fairly rotten day. I turned out at 6-20 & had a bath. I started NI by doing work from 7-00 till 8-00. After divisions I did a little more & then all the senior mids went up to the chart house & did practical work. As we were to do a gunnery dog watch lecture no one went ashore. I did some study in the afternoon. We had a lecture on director tests in the dogs by Mr Elsdon. I have been told off to keep PIL (position in line) records tomorrow. I arranged a new scheme of watch keeping. After dinner I wrote letters to Mother & Gladys. I received two more letters one from Mother & the other from Gladys & I was very glad to get them. Have an early turnout tomorrow. We start training again on Wednesday for the boxing. Rotten weather at present.
Tuesday 6. Rosyth.
I turned out at 6-00 when "cable officers" was sounded. We unmoored & proceeded into the Flow. I had breakfast & then we went to 6" GQs & 15" control only the weather was so misty that it was postponed. We anchored in pouring rain. It cleared up fine in the afternoon so we went out again & did 6" barrage firing & 15" control. Guns told me off well with a good few "bloodys" for doing the PIL on the Resolution instead of Revenge when I know as well as others in the top that he told me so. Still I am quite used to it. We moored about six. I think I know how to do it now. I had a wash & tidied up for dinner and afterwards we had the pictures which were very good & included Charlie. I received a letter from a Miss Violet Wedgwood, one of the Girls (?) Guild at High Church. It was a very good letter & it seems that they write to fellows on the Honour Roles. No other mail.
Wednesday 7. Rosyth.
We turned out at 6-20. I had a bath & did NI till 8-00. After divisions we did some signals and then changed for boxing. I had three good rounds. After lunch lower deck was cleared and the Captain told us that the ships company go on leave on the 16th of this month. Received word that we have to do our oral exam in gunnery, oral A, before the 13th of this month in the Royal Oak. Navigation, seamanship, torpedo & engineering in the Benbow before September 7th & the rest of the gunnery in the Resolution. I had much talkage with Commander N about it. We want to stay on board during refit, do our orals as they come & go on leave after the exams. He wants us to do all our orals before refit. He is to speak to the captain about it. I kept the afternoon & last dog. We had the band. We stop watchkeeping & boat running. We do gunnery in the forenoon & torpedo in the afternoon. We have to get 80% to pass in this oral.
Thursday 8. Rosyth.
We made a real gunnery day of it. We did turret drill from 7-00 to 8-00. After breakfast we did some control in the TS with Denny. We received word that our exam was coming off tomorrow. It shook us up rather. We then did HA gun drill with CPO Smith and without stand easy switched over to maxim. After lunch we then did 6" stripping with PO Bedford. After tea we did rangefinders with Mr Elsdon & that finished our instruction for the day. Needless to say we were at the drill books all our spare time, Farncombe was brought back from destroyers. Whilst he was out one submarine was sunk & his destroyer chased & drop depth charges over another. A big British attack & advance started included Australians. Turned in at 10-00. No time for letter writing. I think it rather sudden to the spring an exam like that with one day's warning.
Friday 9th. Rosyth.
I did a bit of resume with the drill books till 9-00 a.m. & all six of us went over to the Royal Oak. We were split up into twos and Larkins & I did 6" stripping & 6" drill & HA with a Lieut. G just up from Whale Island. The questions weren't too easy. I don't excel in oral exams. After stand easy we two went to maxim & squad & rifle drill. The maxim wasn't too easy either & I had to give the detail for inspection port arms. We came back to the ship for lunch & went back at 1-30. Larkins & I then did turret drill with a Lieut. Com. Holland, a very nice chap. After that he said he would tell us our marks in half an hour. We got a boat back at 3-15 & before going we lined up on the QD & he told us we had all passed. Thompson got 89%, I got 83% & Hirst 80%. I was greatly relieved to hear we had all passed. I am starting for the next exams. I hope I beat the rest. No more mail.
Saturday 10. Rosyth.
We didn't do any construction. I was in a the UCT and learnt how to set a director and then drew some sketches of Hun ships from those in the aloft director. Hirst & I decided to go to Edinburgh & interview Mr Crooks. We caught the usual train. For once I felt hot. I don't know how I will stand it when I get back. Crooks was closed. We then went to the pictures. After tea we decided to go to the zoo. The tram was so slow that we only had ten minutes there. I didn't think much of the zoo. There are plenty of Australian soldiers in Grad (sic). We returned by the 6-18 train. I did some signalling after dinner. The Chief Yeoman volunteered to give us some lectures on it. The Abdiel & Vehement were sunk a week ago. The big Australian & British advance continues. The French are also advancing. We have asked to do gunnery & torpedo. I hear Britt failed. Unfair play.
Sunday 11. Rosyth.
Another warm day, fairly close in fact. We had as usual divisions & church. In the afternoon I was studying up gunnery & torpedo notes & I managed to write letters to Mother, Eric, Gladys & Harold. I haven't got much time for letter writing. I think that it is certain that we stay behind till after exams. I hope I pass this time. Nothing important. We still continue to advance I don't know how things will turn out. We do gunnery & torpedo next. During the dogs I was down in the TLR & fooled around with a telephone & branch breaker. We go out in the flow tomorrow. I hope I can get the loan of one of the officers cabins whilst we are in dock. I haven't had the opportunity of asking anybody yet. Turned in early.
Monday 12. Rosyth.
I did some study before breakfast & after divisions Hirst & I were down in the working chamber till stand easy. We weighed at 10-30 & 15" control went. I went to B turret whilst we shipped sub calibres. I had to con the ship for half an hour about noon. The Captain didn’t make it too easy for me. After lunch we fooled around till 2-20 when we went to 15" control again & practised the new concentration. We then fired two torpedos with new gyros in them. We then packed up & came to anchor about 7-30. After dinner I did a bit of seamanship & turned in. The advance still continues. The Australians are in it alright. No mail from Harold. He may be too busy to write. We have our regatta on Wednesday & Thursday.
Tuesday 13. Rosyth.
I did some studying up before breakfast. We had 15" control all the forenoon & didn't finish till 11-30. After lunch I did some more & wired up a branch breaker & tried to do a telephone but it wouldn't work. Nothing to do in the afternoon so I did some more study and then some skipping, the first bit of training for ten days. I received a letter from Harold dated 6th but I can't tell whether he has been in much fighting or not as he doesn't tell me much. I had just sent a letter to him. I went to the pictures after dinner. It was "Old Bill" and was very good. I turned in till 11-30. Regatta comes off Wednesday & Thursday. This studying up wears me down. I will be glad when exams are over. I have got the loan of Mr Welmans cabin during docking. Stewards will be very scarce.
Wednesday 14. Rosyth.
The day was fairly calm in the forenoon but a wind sprang up later. The regatta for 1st BS was held today. We got a third in one race & by dinner time we were 4th in the total. When the tide turned against the wind the chop was too much for the boats to line up & the regatta was postponed. I received three or four late letters from Edie, Brenda, Auntie Martin & Mother. In the afternoon I did resume all day & in the dogs the Chief Yeoman took us & gave us a run through with the more important signals. We didn't have the band tonight so after dinner I turned in. We start deammunitioning at four on Friday morning I hear and we stay alongside the wall till Sunday. I hope to have a fairly decent time on refit. I expect a parcel from Edie any day.
Thursday 15. Rosyth.
Today was practically the same sort of day as yesterday. The regatta was continued all day & we won stoker's & AB's cutters & also the launches. We finished up 4th in the grand total. I received another letter from Edie & during the day I wrote letters to Brenda, Edie, Cranmer & Auntie Martin. The weather moderated in the evening & we got up the 6 pdr & 3 pdr & SA ammunition & into the lighters which arrived alongside in the dogs. We were given our railway passes & food tickets but I think we give them back till we go on leave. After dinner we started to deammunition. The band played alternately at each hoist. We got all the 6" up except 80 by 11-30 p.m. when we had to stop. We all turned in then. We start again at 4-00 a.m. I lot of the POs had their wives on board. Not a bad idea.
Friday 16. Rosyth Basin.
I got up at 4-00 a.m. and we finished the 6" by 5-00. We then had to attend on the upper deck but I turned in at 5-30 & slept till 7-00. We weighed again & with the tugs proceeded into the basin. We got in alright and made fast alongside the wall. All the officers & ships company went on leave during the day. Hirst and I went to Edinburgh I arranged for my photos & we visited Nelson's monument. We had supper in the wardroom. It is trê s bon being on board during refit. We go into dock on Sunday. I took possession of Welman’s cabin & got my gear in there. It is OK but awkward for latrines. I wrote a letter for £ 5 from the Bank. The C.O. Walker is very generous with his leave. We can have the whole night out tomorrow Saturday so I suppose I will go to a theatre. No darken ship. Breakfast at 8-00 or later.
Saturday 17. Rosyth Basin.
I did not get up till 8-00 & had a wash & swill. We get much better meals in the wardroom. After breakfast I did some study & knocked round. After lunch Hirst Watkins & myself went to Dunfermline. We met some of the Canada's. Listened to the band, had tea & went to the pictures. We could have had the night off and gone to a theatre but I didn't have any money. I have written for five pounds. I turned in about ten, did some study & read a book till 11-00. Not very pleasant weather, rather chilly. No one seems to be doing any work & thousands of dockyard mateys come on board & do absolutely nothing but read & slack. I am in rotten training for the boxing on Monday, but I hope I win a fight or two. This cabin is very good & I am quite enjoying this refit.
Sunday 18. Rosyth Basin.
I got up at 8-00 & had a lot of difficulty in finding water to wash. We didn't have any divisions or church. I started to write letters & did a bit of study in the forenoon & also read & study in the afternoon. We heard that our oral exams come off on Thursday so I will go all out for them. We shifted into the gunroom & it is very rotten. After supper I played a couple of games of billiards, finished reading the torpedo drill book & went to sleep. We go into the dock tomorrow. I got everything ready for tomorrows boxing. I am looking forward to next leave. Found an extra ten bob that I thought I had lost or didn't know I had. It is very remarkable the way the mateys work on Sundays since it is overtime.
Monday 19. Rosyth Basin & Dock. Boxing.
I got up at 7-30 had an early breakfast & we caught the Canada's boat at 9-00. We were all weighed in. I went 9-2 but the scales were weighing light. There were plenty of entries. We started boxing at 10-30. I fought a fellow 9-9 beat him on points in three rounds. My wind was awful. We all had lunch aboard there. A good few others of our chaps went in. I fought again at 5-00 but the other fellow was too fast and my wind went & I was beaten on points in three rounds. I wasn't sorry. We arrived back aboard about 7-30. I after dinner I wrote letters & studied up. We went into the dock but it is still flooded. I quite enjoyed smoking my first one. I wish I had been in better training. Four Australians have been awarded VC's. Turned in a fairly early. No damaged done it to my face.
Thursday 20. Rosyth Dock.
It was pretty rotten day. In the forenoon I was studying most of the time. We pumped out & are now in dry dock. In the afternoon I went to the boxing. Mac won his fight. Tate & Kimlin got a second in their weights. Arbuthnot won his weight & the fellow who beat me won his weight. I met all of them from the Glorious. We returned by the 6-00 boat. In the evening I studied engineering & turned in early. There isn't half the row going on that I expected. We look huge in dry dock I am enjoying myself immensely. We do our oral exams on Thursday in the Benbow. I hope I pass. There is a terrible lot to learn. The food has gone off of late. I wish we would shift back to the wardroom. Posted all my letters. I am just getting back my liking for smoking. Dickson & Arbuthnot went on leave.
Wednesday 21. Rosyth Dock.
A much better day. I did a bit of study & about 10-30 I went to the Officers Recreation Club & had a nice hot bath & felt much cleaner. In the afternoon I was on board all day & had much trouble with the lock to my door. I was at it till after dinner. I will have to have a new lock fitted. I received a letter from Eric so expect an Australian mail has arrived. Do our exams tomorrow. I went down into the dock & realised what a huge thing we are. It is something awe inspiring to go under her huge bilge keels & to look at her from underneath. I turned in a very early. We advance slightly now & again. The French have been doing a lot of advancing of late. No naval news. Tyrwhitt is up here in the Curacao having a conference with Beatty. Maybe something doing.
Thursday 22. Rosyth Dock. Exams.
We are all went over to the Benbow at 9-00. The fleet was at 2½ hrs notice. I first did seamanship with the Commander. He tied me up with rigging etc so I don't expect to pass. I did very well in torpedo & engineering. As they were going to sea at 2-00 we didn't have time to finish. I haven't done navigation yet. Watkins & I decided to go to Edinburgh. We went up by the 2-30 train & had the great pleasure of seeing the Fleet steam out. It is the first one I have missed. We knocked round Grad, met two well unknown ladies of easy virtue & I was quite fed up with them. We soon left them. We had dinner at the YMCA for officers & returned to the ship by the 9-25 train getting out at Rosyth Halt. I received a letter from Mother & Gladys but no others. Another big advance on the whole of the front.
Friday 23. Rosyth dock.
The fleet still at sea. Nothing doing in the forenoon I went up & had a bath at the recreation club in the forenoon. After lunch I went to Dunfermline & listened to the band, had tea & a game of billiards & returned about 6-00. After dinner I played chess with Mr Squirrel. Quite a wasted day but I managed to do a bit of studying now & again. I hope I have passed in seamanship but I am very doubtful. We shift back to the wardroom tomorrow. Not much work being done on board in comparison with the amount of people on board. The weather has been very blowy. I hope to go to a theatre on Saturday night. No more mail. The messing has been very bad most of the food being rotten due to no refrigerators. The officers aboard are jolly decent. I was CO for a few minutes the other day.
Saturday 24. Rosyth Dock. Exams.
We received a signal at 9-20 to go aboard the Benbow & finish our exams. The fleet came in at six a.m. & had a pretty rough time outside. The three of us got over there about 10-00 & they were coaling. I did my navigation oral & the Commander N told me I had done of the best so far. I hope I have passed in seamanship. We went to Edinburgh after lunch, had all night leave. Hirst & I went to Portobello but it was very dud so we came back went to the pictures & as we were fed up by then we returned by the 6-18 train. After supper I played snooker & turned in about 11-00. The advance still continues. Albert was taken yesterday. Australian troops are fighting. I read that Joe Cook was relieved by Beatty & visited the fleet. We go about of dock next Friday.
Sunday 25. Rosyth Dock.
A very quiet day except for the workmen who always work on Sundays as they get more pay. I stayed aboard all day. I wrote a letter to Poppy Doig telling her that I could get up any evening till Wednesday. In the afternoon I studied up hydraulic & gunnery notes. I intend to pass in gunnery. I played a few games of billiards and studied up after tea. It rained very hard during the night. I turned in about ten. The others finish their exams tomorrow. We will then probably know the results. The time seems to have gone very quickly since we came into dock. The Thunderer as well as the Dreadnought is in the basin. No letters from home. I will wait till I hear the results before writing home. The front seems to be just the same.
Monday 26. Rosyth Dock.
Raining nearly all day. In the forenoon I went and had a bath at the club. The new RNVR lieut-com in place of Mr Wells arrived. I played a few games of billiards & spent most of the afternoon in my cabin reading up gunnery & hydraulic notes. All of the Glorious lot came on after the boxing. All of them are in it and Showers had won two fights. Commander Favel was over here and said we all passed in navigation. I don't know about the rest. It is a hell of a strain studying up for these exams. We flood on Thursday. Hope the rain stops. Very overcast. The rest of them finished their exams. The next gunnery paper is going to be the hardest to pass. After supper I played Russian pool & turned in about 11-00. I never turn in a much earlier.
Tuesday 27. Rosyth dock.
I got up at the usual time and it was raining nearly all the day. Major Bamford VC, DSO arrived in place of the old Major. We were sent for by the Benbow to complete our exams but we didn't do anything as there was nothing to do. I studied up during the afternoon. Received a letter from Poppy saying to meet her tomorrow evening at 7-30 p.m. The Glorious crowd looked in after tea. They got 2 2nds. I didn't go & see the boxing. I played billiards after tea. Sinclair was a bit squiffed after dinner & was almost insulting at times to the Major & the new RNVR lieut-com. I played three sets of bridge after dinner & turned in after 11-00. In a way the time seems to have gone up very quickly since we have been in dock however we have our leave to look forward to.
Wednesday 28. Rosyth Dock.
The morning was very fine and I went up & had a bath but it started to rain in the afternoon. However Watkins & I went up to Grad by the 2-55 train. We booked a room in the YMCA for officers and then I bought a pair of boots 35/-but they fit me fairly well. I then ordered a new suit at Gieves as I have heard that prices are going up. We had an early dinner at 6-30 & met Poppy outside the New Picture House. I unfortunately her friend didn't come so it rather spoilt things. We went to the pictures and afterwards took her home. We had a fine time. We missed the last tram & had to walk back & arrived home about 12-30. Shaw & Thompo were in the same room. It cleared up wonderfully & I am hoping to get up tomorrow till 9-25 if it can be managed. The time seems to have flown. I am very sorry it is over.
Thursday 29. Rosyth Dock.
We flooded the dock & did a tilt test. We went alongside the wall about 5-30 but I was not on board. We were given leave till 9-30 train. It was a nice day and I did a little study before & after lunch. I went ashore at 4-00 caught the 4-45 train to Grad and had a clean-up up there. I met Poppy at 6-20 & we had something to eat & went to the pictures at the New Picture House. How I did curse that we didn't have all night leave. I had to leave there at 9-00 & caught the 9-25 and arrived back in plenty of time. It seems awful to think of the others coming back tomorrow. I shifted out of Mr Welmans cabin and slung my hammock. Nothing is finished yet & the mateys seem to realise it and are trying to get things finished. The wind got up during the evening. The advance continues.
Friday 30. Rosyth.
The fleet was at 2½ hrs notice but reverted about 10-00 a.m. All the push arrived on board & it was very rotten. We then after lunch which was very meagre went out of the basin & proceeded to AP berth. We were then told off at 4-00 p.m. to embark ammunition. We were busy with 6" up till 8-30 when we finished. During this we went to 1 hours notice so that shook things up a bit. No one wanted to go to sea. I was told off at one of the mids of watch for night defence. We oiled 600 tons and had everything stowed away by midnight. The remainder of the 1st Division were out firing. I had the middle if we went to sea so I turned in early. The gunroom looks very nice & well arranged but I was sorry to leave the wardroom. We are getting a new act sub. Some papers arrived.
Saturday 31. Rosyth.
I had to get up at 5-45 and coal ship. It was a great strain. We were still at 1 hrs notice. In the forenoon I wrote letters home. I received one mail from Mother but none in the afternoon. We heard that we all passed in our oral exams. I studied most of the afternoon at gunnery since we have our gunnery B on Wednesday forenoon. We went to 2½ hours notice during the evening. The weather was pretty cold. We went up to 15" control & did a director test. Gartrall tidied up my chest & has got everything into working order again. Not much news. No leave. Had a fire going in the gunroom. The gunroom is much better arranged now. I got off letters to most a(t) home. We swung ship for deviation. No parcels yet. The attack seems to have died down slightly. Peronne has been surrounded.
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© Michael Calder February 2003