Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
January Tuesday 1. Scapa.
New Year's Day. I was down in No.1 boiler room all the forenoon except for the time that I was up in the gunroom. We went out into the Flow about eleven to fire torpedos. Thompson & myself were stranded in the lift for about 25 minutes & the air got a bit thick. In the afternoon I wrote up some engineering notes & afterwards paid a visit to the different boiler rooms. We had an engineering dog watch lecture and afterward I did my exercises and had my bath. We had a band rehearsal after dinner. We received a mail at last. I received one from Mother, two from Gladys. In Mother’s was a letter from Grandpa & it was a marvellous letter for one of his years. All are well at home, Harold is leaving shortly I think. I expect my parcels shortly.
Wednesday 2. Scapa.
In the forenoon I was down in the CER but that did not do much work. There is never much to do. I was in the gunroom a good part of the time. After lunch I wrote up some notes and then I was with Mr Hall. We had a look at the fractured steering engine which prevented us from going out with the 1st BS last November. The Commander (N) shows his kind nature by picking fault with us as soon as he returns. He prevents us having baths after 8-00 a.m. I played bridge after tea & did a small amount of exercise. We had the band and I wrote up my gunnery notes. I received three more letters one from Mother, Eric & Edie. Jack Crouch has a bad turn with his heart. Harold is in the pioneer unit at the Bendigo camp.
Thursday 3. Scapa.
I rose early in order to get a hot bath and then I went to the CER & reported as we have to do so nowadays. In the forenoon I was down in the CER making notes on the steering engine. After lunch I wrote up my notes in the engineers office and then I went down to "O" boiler room where they were having their quarterly inspection. Took on a bet to work out factorial forty. It is some work though. We had a small rehearsal and then I did some exercises. We had a signal exercise in the gunroom before dinner. After dinner I went engineering rounds & we visited all over the ship & the different machines. I went to another rehearsal at 9-00, I received a letter from Miss Living saying that she had received my letters and that she had sent me a parcel for the New Year. I did some more gunnery notes.
Friday 4. Scapa.
I went down to the boiler room & rang up & left again but Watkins dressing at 7-30 was found by Mr Squirrel & we were given a lecture on it later. As a result we have to go down there now or else go before Commander N. We had GQs in the forenoon but we didn't go to them as we were down in the boiler rooms. I made notes on the defective fan engine. I wrote up my notes as usual & then I was down in the CER till 3-30. We had a navigation dog watch lecture by Lieut N. After dinner I went to the pictures in the wardroom but they weren't as good as usual. Charlie Chaplin was shown in I AM but I had seen it before. The Commander N found some snotties in the gunroom during stand easy so he made an order that we weren't to be in the gunroom between 9-15 to 11-30 & 1-15 to 3-15. He referred to us as youths from of the antipodes.
Saturday 5. Scapa.
I went down to No. 2 diesel room from 7-00 till ¼ to 8. In the forenoon when I went down to No. 3 dynamo room Main caught me sitting down & I had to write out all about the governor & how it worked. After lunch I wrote up my gunnery notes and finished them off before tea. We can order eggs for tea now. After tea I wrote up my notes for Main and then I tidied up for dinner. After dinner I played some bridge and won slightly. I turned in about ten. I started my letter home. This diary arrived by this evenings mail. The Commander N is really making a nuisance of himself. He has brought out a list of complaints about us which are entirely uncalled for. I wish he would get out of the ship quick. We have struck our fore top mast. It will hinder range taking I think. It rained a bit during at the day.
Sunday 6. Scapa.
In the forenoon I was down in the CER but did not do much. The above wrong (sic). We had muster by the open list instead of divisions. The officers didn't have to salute as we used to do at the college. We had church and the special prayer for peace by the King was the sermon. After lunch I wrote letters home and after tea I went down to Mr Days cabin & helped make different things for the show. We couldn't have two shows tomorrow because the Gourko isn't going to be alongside till noon. We are going to the North Shore tomorrow. After dinner I continued my letters writing one to Mother, one to Eric & one to Gladys. I wrote to Grandpa in Mothers. It snowed heavily all day and all the decks were covered with it. I paid my mess bill it came to £5/7. The biggest I have had but it was Christmas.
Wednesday 9. Scapa & at sea.
A little warmer today the temperature up being 30º F. We had an oral examination by the Engineer Commander. He asked us awful questions. About 11-00 we received the signal to have steam ready for 18 knots at 2-30 ie the 2nd Sub-division. We all guessed it was convoy. The scenery from the ship of the shore all covered with snow was magnificent. We managed to get engineering watches for the evolution. We weighed about 3-00 p.m. We didn't get any mail aboard. We picked up our destroyers outside the booms about 4-00. Larkins & I kept the first dog. I was in the CER at the wheel. I washed & tidied for dinner. We had dinner at seven after which I loafed around & turned in. There is a bit of motion on the ship but not much. We are due to pick up the convoy tomorrow. Submarines have been knocking around up here a bit. Hope we see something. We have a very good engineering watches.
Thursday 10. At sea. off Norway.
We went to GQs at 7-00 a.m. as that was of the most likely time for us to be attacked. I kept the forenoon watch partly in the boiler room & partly in the engineroom. We had plenty of motion on the vessel & I was sick couple of times. They say we were in sight of the convoy all day. When I had lunch the coast of Norway was visible a good distance off & looked like blue mountains covered with snow. I slept mostly all the afternoon & kept the last dog. I was sick a couple of times. We picked up another convoy & convoyed them back. We kept a long way off the convoy. The weather was very rough & we shipped a lot of water. I turned in about nine feeling alright. The majority of the gunroom were sick. One of our destroyers went back to Scapa. So far I haven't had any morning watch. Half the ships company were sick. I wasn't feeling miserable at all.
Friday 11. At sea. Scapa.
We had GQs again at 7-00 & although we had plenty of motion I didn't feel at all sick & had all my meals with relish. It snowed a good part of the day & the sea died down a bit. I kept the afternoon watch and then afterwards I had a good wash. We came to anchor about 8-00 p.m. & many buzzes percolated round as to going out on a PZ & also to Portsmouth but I don't think that there is anything in them. I had a game of bridge & the mail arrived. I received two letters from Mother one from Edie & one from Gerald Cadden. Harold was on his final leave so I suppose he will be over here any time now. All were A1 at home. I read my letters in my hammock. Gerald Cadden is in training at Canbridge. Miss Treloar’s fiancee was killed in action. We received tons of papers. I hope we stay here for a few days at least. There are big changes at the Admiralty.
Saturday 12. Scapa.
I received a very nice parcel from all at home, a very useful one altogether. I also received a letter from Gladys. We couldn't get a stand off in the forenoon but we had to go below. It was a marvellous day sunshine & not a breath of wind so Thompo & I went ashore at 1-00. There was plenty of snow in some places feet thick. We had our seaboots on. We went for a walk & then bought some eggs, ties, biscuits etc. at a canteen. Snow is very like sand to walk through. It got rather chilly about 3-30 after the sun had gone down. I had tea when I got back and then started my letter to Mother. After dinner we went in to see the pictures rather poorer than the last. I received a long letter from Eric. I wish he could get a more open air life. Harold was to leave about the beginning of December by his letter. I think one sub of the 2nd Division went out convoying.
Sunday 13. Scapa. 25º F.
We had the usual routine only divisions were in the battery and we had prayers instead of church. Everyone expected to go out to sea at 2-00 p.m. in fact we kept an engineering watch but about 2-00 we received a signal to cancel it. It snowed pretty heavily during the day. I finished off my gunnery notes and finished my letter to Mother. I also sent one including 6/6 to Le Sourire de France for six of those series. After supper I wrote a letter to Gladys & Eric before turning in. We reverted back to our original notice. According to reports the destroyers Opal & Narborough have been lost. The Opal went aground & the Narborough lost. We received a notice about a book "Fighting Australasia". I think I will get it. It was very cold towards the evening, couldn't get warm. Very hungry too. Had to buy some biscuits.
Monday 14. Scapa.
I went down to the turbo generator before breakfast. In the forenoon I went round with Mr Roberts round the rising mains in the forenoon & wrote up notes after lunch. All those who hadn't had their gunnery note books in have to rise at 5-00 a.m. do gun drill & write up the notes. I was one of the lucky ones. I was down in No.1 CO2 machine all afternoon. I posted a letter to all at home & one to Gerald Cadden. After tea we had a navigation dog watch lecture. the gater (sic) lectured us a bit but we don't go much on him. I played bridge after dinner but I didn't have any luck. I turned in about ten. The weather is a bit warmer. There is a buzz that we are going south this week. Yesterday's affair was serious so I heard. The mail seems to have been held up. We haven't had one for some time. Rises in pay to WOs & officers are being given.
Tuesday 15. Scapa.
I went down to the CER before breakfast. I went around the fore part of the ship in the forenoon. Went into a double bottom. I am getting to know a bit about the ship now. There is a lot to learn. I wrote to Miss Treloar sympathising with her over her loss. On the afternoon I finished the S W main with Mr Roberts in the afternoon. We were let off an engineering dog watch lecture in order to visit a lecture on submarines by the major. I played bridge and lost consecutively for five rubbers. We had a band rehearsal as we are going to have two shows on the next two days. The 6th BS & QE arrived back from Rosyth. We might go down when the 5th BS come back. We were exempted from going out into the Flow with the BS on account of the show. The weather was a bit warmer the snow is beginning to thaw.
Wednesday 16. Scapa.
We proposed having to shows today. I was let off engineering but as there was no work to do I had a good rest. The Gourko didn't start to unload till about noon alongside E of I so we didn't get her till about 3-30 in consequence of which no show was given. I was painted & dressed at 1-00 but I untogged again. I was done up again later. No mail for me. We had supper at 6-30 & although there was a stiff breeze blowing we gave a show to our own officers & men at 8-00. Things went off fairly well. We finished about 11-00 & we had drinks & sandwiches in of the wardroom afterward. I got to bed about 11-30. We received a notice from Guns with a list of those who didn't get over 50% in note books. We have to turnout at 6-00 & do notes till 7-00 till further orders from Monday. I don't mind much. No news of the war. Rather a bad headache today. Have not been up to scratch.
Thursday 17. Scapa.
I got up fairly early and had a bath. We were underway all the forenoon. I wasn't feeling up to scratch so I had a bit of a sleep in the engineroom. We got ready for the show in the afternoon and gave it at 4-30. A pretty good attendance turned up including Admirals Madden & Nicholson. The show went off fairly well. We had time to get dinner & give the next performance at 8-30. Only those of the ships company who hadn't seen it before were supposed to be present. Day was very sick. Wellman took his part in the last act. We all went down into the audience to watch whilst we weren't required. Everything was a bit ragtime but we amused ourselves. I had a drink in the wardroom and turned in about 11-15. Having grease & paint on my face gives me a headache over my eyes. I am glad that we have finished our shows. They say it was a success.
Friday 18. Scapa.
We had a lie in till 7-30. I was down in the CER all the forenoon & as I was very tired I had a good sleep. After lunch I wrote up engineering notes and did a sketch that we have to do for lectures. I played bridge after tea. We are running short of butter in the mess. The butter that they sent to me from home came in very handy & was very good for tea. I was invited in to dine with Mr Wells & I was let off signal exercise in consequence. I had a very good time in the wardroom. After dinner we had the pictures. We had "Charlie as the Count." and he excelled himself. He was terribly funny. I turned in shortly after the pictures. Some of my coupons arrived back from the Universal Stores. I expect my present anytime now. The 5th BS and are still down at Rosyth. The Commander N is looking out for our destroyer and submarines.
Saturday 19. Scapa.
Still the same old routine. The weather has not been so cold of late but still the hills are covered with snow. I made an appointment with the dentist. Farncombe was tested by the doctor for the air service. I was with Larkins in the SWER all the forenoon. After lunch I wrote up some notes (torpedo) & then I went down to the engineers office & copied off four bulkheads. I was working till 6-30 & I am going to try & get some more tomorrow. I tidied for dinner & after I played bridge. I won all three rubbers. My luck in cards is once more reasserting itself. No 5th BS up here yet although they should have had the Flow today. There is something in the Dockyard Liar about substantial increases in the Australian Navy to date from Jan 1st. I hope we are included. An extra bob or two I won't mind. We will soon be going to submarines & destroyers.
Sunday 20. Scapa.
A very mild day. We had divisions in the battery. I attended church. After lunch I did a few notes on torpedo & gave in my book. Then I did two big sketches of the profiles of the ship. I was working all afternoon. After supper I did engineering rounds of the after part of the ship & then I wrote a letter to Mollie for her birthday. We have a big gunnery programme for next week. 15" via (?) the battery. We also start our 6-00 a.m. stunt. I have my construction sketches to ink in. The 1st BCS came into the Flow about 10-15 and anchored at the fleet anchorage. We are giving a show to the Yanks when we go back to the anchorage. My harbour station next week is the USLP. We will probably do a PZ next week & then we will go down to Rosyth. My results in my certificate aren't up to much for last year.
Monday 21. Scapa.
I turned out at ¼ to six. I did some inking in of sketches and then I had a bath after which I did gun drill. We started torpedo today. We had a lecture on it by Torps during the forenoon. We were under weigh all afternoon and the port battery were closed up. We did some practice at main armament firing for Thursday when we fire 6" full calibre. I was in a the USLP for harbour stations. We anchored at the fleet anchorage. Very blowy. I went to tea with the Captain. It was a very tame affair. He is very unentertaining. I missed a gunnery dog watch lecture. The Breslau was sunk, the Goeben ran ashore after an action with a our monitors. Two of our monitors were sunk. After dinner I played bridge and lost all but one rubber. I turned in about ten. No mail for me. Expect my parcel soon.
Tuesday 22. Scapa.
The sentry forgot to put me down for a call so I wasn't called & did not get up till 6-45. Nothing happened. I received my present from the Universal Stores, an attaché case & a very good one at that. As the QD were coaling ship we started stripping down torpedos. It was very interesting. We stripped the ER & tail. In the afternoon we were given a lecture by Torps. The Commander N had a lot of us down in his cabin & spoke about our records. Mine was gunnery. We have only had one exam in that. After tea I inked in a couple of my drawings of the ship & it took me till dinner to do it. I played bridge after dinner & I had my usual luck & lost most of the rubbers. I turned in about ten. We were let off a torpedo dog watch lecture. Nothing further about the Dardanelles incident. Dicken expects to get his promotion any day now. Weather still milder.
Wednesday 23. Scapa.
Still the same old routine. I was down in B space in the forenoon whilst the torpedo staff practised breakdowns. It was fairly interesting. After lunch we continued our stripping down of torpedo which also very interesting. After quarters I inked in some more of my plans of the ship & then a tidied up for dinner. We had the band which was very good. I wrote letters to Mother, Eric and & Gladys before turning in. No mail has arrived. It seems that the Goeben & Breslau were mined after the action with our monitors. Life is very monotonous of late, nothing to cheer us up & not much prospect of going to destroyers. The Commander N doesn't treat our lot with much fairness. The Battlecruisers are still up here. All the subs went to dinner with the Captain. We have got some more extras in the mess. Nothing interesting to put in.
Thursday 24. Scapa.
I turned out at ¼ to six as usual & wrote up some gunnery notes. The junior lot went out with the 2nd Division firing. We stripped down the balance chamber of the torpedo. After lunch I inked in my sketches of the ship. We started to resemble the engine after lunch & ran the machine whilst it was out. We almost finished reassembled the whole lot. I went to a show given by the Benbow and I thought it the worst show that I have seen up here. A our boat was the last to arrive to bring us back so I was in their gunroom for some time. We had dinner when we arrived back. No mail for me. I turned in early & read the Navy List before going to sleep. The weather today was quite warm & calm. The BCs are still up here. The Yanks have good rangefinders but they have a big deflection spread.
Friday 25. Scapa.
I did gunnery notes at six after which gun drill. We had GQs in the forenoon. I went to the 6" GCT Port as it was my temporary action station. I had to control a couple of runs. After GQs we went down the after flat. We were down there all afternoon and we finished reassembling the engines & whole torpedo. After tea I played bridge & had my usual luck this month & lost. We had a signal exercise from the Benbow. I did fairly well. After dinner we had Charlie Chaplin in the wardroom. He wasn't as good as usual but still very good. I received a couple of papers from home & those PCs from Paris. They aren’t much. We also received the books "Fighting Australasia". I received a letter from Harold written aboard the transport but where he is I don't know. He left the end of November.
Saturday 26. Scapa.
We didn't have to turn out early this morning so I slept in till ¼ to 7. In the forenoon I finished off my gunnery notes and put them in the office. I read Fighting Australasia till after lunch. I was down in the engineers office all the afternoon and put in two more sections. I had my hair cut. After dinner I played bridge. I received 95.3% for the signal exercise last night. Dicken was made an acting lieutenant. We all drank his health. They are still bombing the Goeben. The 1st BS played the Battlecruisers and beat them. Two German destroyers were mined the other day. I lost my shaving gear. I must have left it out and someone relieved me of it. I didn't turn being till about 11-00. They might send some of us to destroyers but there isn't much hope. The weather still remains a nice & mild. The 5th BS are still at Rosyth.
Sunday 27. Scapa.
We had Sunday divisions and church afterward. It was a very fine day ie for up here. After church I read & fooled around. I went down to the engineers office after lunch. As there was a typewriter there I tried my hand at it and typed a letter to Harold & also some forms for Sunday divisions. I then did sketches till 6-30 p.m. with only a break for tea. After supper I turned in early and soon got to sleep. We were all asked whether we Anzacs would like to go to a destroyer. We all replied yes so we might be going shortly. I wouldn't mind if I had to wait till the summer months. There is a belief in the BCs that the 5th BS & ourselves will change places sometime next week. I discovered that my razor & attachments have been stolen. I don't know when & where.
Monday 28. Scapa.
We had the usual routine. After divisions we had a torpedo lecture by Torps. A lot of American officers came aboard for lunch & were shown all over the ship during the afternoon. I was down in the after flat and we did the preparation test. We received a our gunnery note books back. I received 60%. Dicken was made acting lieutenant. Some of the teams picked up amongst the squadron played today. I sent a letter to the Bank telling them to remit £10 to Mother for Easter. The Yanks have got some fine motor boats but their picket boats don't come up to scratch. The Sydney was in the Flow today I think. I don't know if the Melbourne is up here yet. It seems that the Canada's had a very good time on leave. They have just returned.
Tuesday 29. Scapa.
The weather still continues to be mild & free from snow & cold winds. We had doubling round and it shook me up. We go at a terrific pace on the FX. We were lectured on torpedo by Torps during the forenoon. After lunch I managed to win a bit at bridge but I am still down more than 10/-. We finished the preparation test on our torpedo and everything is ready for running it tomorrow morning. We had an engineering dog watch lecture by Mr Squirrel. I managed to see a diary kept by a German officer in the submarine UC 29. Very interesting. Received four papers & two letters from home one from Mother No. 31 and one from Gladys. Harold had left on the 21 Nov. I played bridge and one rubber in my favour came to 80d. Big air raid over London. Many casualties.
Wednesday 30. Scapa & at sea.
We carried out the usual routine. We had to go down to the aft submerged flat and fire a torpedo. We worked in a overalls & seaboots. We did a few trial runs. There was plenty of water knocking round. We fired our torpedo quite successfully at range 400 yards. We were at anchor. We then got the torpedo back on board & after lunch we helped to get her back into the flat where we did tests on her. We received notice that we are to weigh in at 8-30 p.m. tonight ie the 1st Division 1st BS, do a convoy presumably Dutch, then do a PZ with the rest of the Fleet & then return about Saturday morning. I hope we go to Rosyth afterwards. My station is now a mid of the watch & I have the morning watch. I have the best watch as we go to BJ1 at 6-30 a.m. tomorrow. I received many papers & a letter from Mollie. We weighed at 8-30. We had our band.
Thursday 31. At sea Convoying.
I was called at ¼ to 4 and went up on the bridge. I had to call the Commander N & Captain & rig the fog buoy. The day turned out to be very fine, sunny, cloudless & fairly calm. We closed up at GQs at 7-00 and also about 10-00. We packed up about 11-00. We had some of the 2nd LCS with us. I saw the convoy in the distance all sorts of tramps. There were many reports came in. We expected to meet Hun submarines but none turned up. We picked up the convoy down south and we convoyed them up towards Norway. We steamed up & down after showing the convoy in. I kept the last dog. Nothing occurred. We expect to meet the main battle fleet tomorrow about 7-00. I started my letter home & then packed up & went to bed. I lost about 8/- in this month the first month that I have lost. I saw the Northern lights which were visible about 7 - 8.
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© Michael Calder February 2003