Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
July 1 Sunday.
A bright warm sunny day. The captain went the rounds at divisions. After divisions we had Church and after Church we were paid. I received £5/17 and £5 have been paid into the bank. I am going to be shown the different additions & deductions tomorrow. I wrote a letter to Gladys but I am leaving them till the mail arrives from Australia. After lunch I took the launch with ships visitors during the afternoon & went all round the fleet. I read & finished a yarn during the intervals. After tea I brought back the ships visitors and delivered a note to the Canada. I had a hot bath and dressed for dinner or at least supper. After supper as there wasn't anything did do I turned in early & went to sleep although the pipes near my hammock were very hot. No mail arrived from Australia, probably a few days late. Hallets appointment has been confirmed so he is alright. The Fleet paymaster is going on sick leave so Farman might be made temporary paymaster. I would like to see him made as he isn't a bad sort at all. The Revenge is due to refit any time now.
A nice warm day which all the other snotties said was a very hot day. I did jerks before breakfast and after divisions we had a lecture on the ring main and the auxiliary power the direct feed by Mr Panteney. After lunch we had a few notes from Torps and then we went over the different instruments and machines in A space. After quarters we had a dog watch lecture on navigation by the Commander N and then I dressed for dinner. This morning early I woke up nearly roasted as the pipe near me was very hot. I am getting my hammock slung by Gartrell some other place. I was shown our money account. We are paid from the 5th April at 6/- a day. After dinner I played bridge till 10 but as no mail arrived I turned in. The Queen Eliz arrived back from down south. I paid Gartrell his wages but haven't paid my mess bill which amounts to £2/16/9 which is just a nice amount. Our messing has been lowered from 1/3 to 1/2 a day.
Did gunnery drill before breakfast. We were given a lecture on phones etc by Sub Lt. Clarke and he did it very well. After dinner we went over the different boxes etc connected with the phones and we looked over the exchange in the TS. I received my parcel from Gladys which contained cigarettes, chocolates & a pair of socks. It came as a great surprise & I was very glad to get it. I finished my letters to Mother & Gladys. Feldt came over to dinner. No mail arrived. We had a gunnery dog watch lecture. I wrote up some torpedo notes. I might go in for torpedo. I am beginning to like it. I went down to Larkins cabin where Thompo, Hirsty, Mr Shoot & Larkins and myself had a long yarn till about 11 p.m. I turned in straight after as there wasn't anything to do. We were refunded £1 of the £2 that we lent to finance the mess with so that's not bad. The Fleet Pay has left the ship on sick leave. Our advance parties have commenced.
Another fairly nice day. We did jerks before breakfast and after we had a lecture on fire control by Clarke. 15" control went about 10-40 so I had a loaf after that but wrote up notes on engineering. In the afternoon we started on torpedo and we went down to the after submerged flat & had a look round. The football team went ashore at 5-10. The Furious came about that time and looks very funny. It had a raised platform in the bows for aeroplanes and a 15" single gun turret. I think also she has some 6" beside her usual 4". I wrote up some notes after tea and then had a bath. We had to entertain some guests who arrived over since the team didn't show any signs of returning. They returned about 8-00 & were beaten by about 40 to 10 by the Resolutions officers. After dinner I turned in as no mail arrived for me. Captain Hunt has been promoted to rear admiral & I hope he doesn't go. The Revenge has gone down to refit so our hopes have gone up. Not much longer to wait.
The destroyer Nessus came alongside yesterday. I went about as cox in the galley before breakfast. We did some wiring up on transmitters in the torpedo lecture room & in the afternoon we were shown about the destroyers torpedos and tubes. I played bridge after tea but had very bad luck. Newman came over to dinner & after we played bridge at 1/- a dozen. I won 4/6 on the evening. We didn't pack up till after 11-00 & I had a very fitful sleep. Bolton has been removed from the gunroom for threatening the steward. The weather for the last week has been nice and fine and I quite enjoy it. No mail has arrived. All the junior officers of the destroyer were in for dinner. Very little news to put in a diary. The same thing day after day. The Russians obtained a bit of a victory but not much. We seem to be attacking nearly all the time now. The boxing was postponed till tomorrow.
We did gym before breakfast. The destroyer left during breakfast. We had to go down into the different spaces where they practised direct feed system. In the afternoon we had a further lecture on torpedos. It was a beautiful day and quite warm. An airman gave some very good flying near us doing the S dive and corkscrew as well as some very good banking. We did boxing at 5-30 and then I had a bath. I dressed for dinner and after we had a signal exercise and I turned in a soon after & read the book called Rodney Stone that Mr Hall lent me. The weather seems to be quite nice and warm now. They say that it is warmer this and next month than last. No mail arrived. I hope we get a mail this weekend although the odds are against it. There is absolutely no news to put in as the routine goes on the same day after day and we do the same old work.
I slept in till 7-00 & we had a whole day off. I wrote up my torpedo notes and put in my gunnery notes. I read a bit and after lunch I took a football party over to Flotta in the launch and then I had a good sleep before tea. After I went and brought back the party and did a few more messages and then I had a bath before dinner. I waited up till the mail came and after as none came for me I turned in and read. The day was another very nice & warm one and I hope it continues. We heard reports that we aren't to go into dock before the Royal Oak but I hope it isn't true. The Captain hasn't worn his new stripes but I don't suppose he will wear them while he is on board here. I received some instructions from Guns about director missfires & individual missfires so I suppose I will have to learn them up so I will know all about them in case I have to take charge.
Attended divisions and had prayers on the QD. The captain spoke to the men about not practising for the regatta. I played auction bridge nearly all morning and afternoon, coming out winning a bit. The weather still keeps the same and I hope it continues till after next weekend as we are over at the north shore. I read a bit after dinner and wrote up some gunnery notes on the missfires that occur in the 6" battery. As no mail came for me I turned in about 9-15. Mr Gill has been appointed to the Birkenhead one of our modern cruisers so he will have a good chance of promotion. No signs of any movement of the fleet have been exhibited. It looks as if we will be here till we go down south. Kimlin seems to be keeping up his reputation over in the Canada. He oughtn't to be over here. Two oil ships were sunk off Cape Wrath last week so I suppose that is the reason for a our shortage.
We did jerks before breakfast and after we were given a lecture on the torpedo by Mr Stevenson. In the afternoon we went down to the torpedo flat where we did a some rudder tests. After tea, the footer team went ashore and I read mostly all the afternoon. I dressed for the entertainment in the Royal Oak & we went over there at 8 and met the chaps from the Canada. It was a very good shallow and just as the curtain was going up for the last time there was a hell of a bang and the sky was all red. There was a bit of a stampede among seamen at the back to see what was up but order was restored amongst the officers, when I got on deck there was a big cloud of black smoke and the search lights were playing on the scene. All the picket boats went over to the scene and reports said it was the Birmingham. I didn't think so & it turned out that it was at the Vanguard. Patrol & sweeping parties went out and night action was sounded. I had to go up to the spotting top to keep B watch i.e. from 12 to 4.
I went on watch from 1 till 4 p m with a break in between, up in the spotting top all the while, looking for a submarine. Picket boats also went on patrol & during the day parties went ashore looking for remains & confidential books. No sign of the wreck is visible & buzzes go round that only one was saved barring those away from the ship & some say 4. We did torpedo in the morning in the after flat and also in the afternoon. We took a torpedo to pieces roughly & we were explained how it worked. We were given a dog watch lecture in engineering by Mr Squirrel & after that I dressed in my No. 1s as I was invited over by D'aeth one of the RN snotties. We got the boat about 7-30 & Larkins and myself went over there. I had a very good time and had a game of nap & had a yarn with them all. About 10-15 we received a signal that we had to be prepared in 1½ hours time. We got back here about 10-30 & I turned in. I wonder if it is at all serious. I hope we go out after the Hun & see something at last.
We were still at 1½ hour's notice when I got up but later on we went back to the usual routine. The Indomitable came in about breakfast time. Also three more of the K class came in about midday. We did torpedo during the morning and afternoon down in the flat but you get very sleepy down there and tired. About 3-00 all the ships had a memorial service for the Vanguard and be band played Chopin's dead march. It was very inspiring. We have received a list of survivors. About 100 officers and men were missing from her on other duties at the time and only 2 were picked up by the Bellerophon, one marine and one stoker, both burnt and suffering from shock. It seems too awful to think off. I wrote up my torpedo notes and after dinner I played bridge winning very easily & turned in about 10-30. Armitage was in the gunroom about 10-15 having come over in the picket boat. No mail arrived so we are all now back to the usual routine.
Nothing doing. There was no drill before breakfast. After we went down to the torpedo lecture room where we had a lecture on explosives for torpedos. In the afternoon we nearly all had a go at the spotting table for a torpedo run & I think that the present method is very crude. After tea I did some torpedo notes and read a bit and had a hand at bridge. After dinner I was MOD. I had to run the gramophone but I turned in about 10 to 10-30. We have had the dog watch baths stopped and can only have one in the morning & then the bath has to only be 1/3 full. Air raids are now becoming the usual thing in London. There are reports that the GPO & Buckingham Palace were caught. Ever since the King's visit the weather has been nice & fine and quite enjoyable. There is some talk of advancing 10/- for an extra extra bill but I'm not going to have one. I saw in the paper that an Australian ship was bombed of Gabo Island & was towed in. Probably the same as in Cape Town.
There wasn't and drill. I had a bath before breakfast and as the fleet boxing tournament was on we were all given leave but I had to take the 1st picket boat. I did a few runs to the beach and also one to the Borodino. In the afternoon I was caught out in a rain storm but soon got dry again. I had to bring back all the ships company in the different boats and got back about 7-30. I played a bit of vingt-et-un after dinner & turned in about ¼ to 10 as there was no mail for me. The crowd are now very quick to pick up anything I say but I will get even with them all yet and it has no effect on my outward appearance. I passed over the scene of the Vanguard & there was a terrible amount of oil knocking around. There is a rumour going round that a dockyard matey has been arrested as he was aboard the Natal before she went up and this time he sent a telegram to his wife saying "safe". However it is only a buzz.
We had our exam in torpedo & I think I did fairly good. We should have known all about the paper. I played cards during the afternoon and landed the liberty men and brought them off again about 5. We had to tidy up the mess as the admiral is coming in to dine. I dressed in my No.1s and we had a very good feed and champagne went round. I turned in about ten as no mail for us arrived and soon got to sleep. There are many indications that we might be going out next week as all the ships have coaled & oiled. They are still diving over the Vanguard & near it the water is covered with oil. We start navigation and seamanship next week. I don't like the idea of keeping watches. I had a bit of a yarn with the Rusky & he was surprised to find that I was an Australian. Clarke received his appointment to the Vernon so we will be down to our correct numbers at last although Clarke isn't so bad.
We started navigation and seamanship today. I was to have had the first watch. After divisions we had Church after the prizes were given out for the sports. I received a letter from D'aeth saying that he would be over tonight. I played cards all afternoon and about 6-30 we received orders for steam in 2½ hours and rumours were rife about what was going to happen. However we all knew we were going out for sure so D'aeth didn't come over and all the boats were hoisted in. I kept watch from 8 - 9 and as no mail arrived for me except one from Gieves I turned in. The letter from Gieves apologised for not answering my letters & said they would send my reefer & the gear and as soon as possible so that's alright. I am getting my trousers shortened as they are too long. News of the loss of the Vanguard has been published in the papers with the survivors etc. There was one officer picked up by he died of injuries. My weight in my pyjamas was about 10-2½.
When I awoke I found that we were leaving the Orkneys & then I heard that we were all going down to Rosyth. I kept watch up in the spotting top from 2 till 3-30 & I saw a couple of our Zepplins. It was a nice fine day and no sea came up at all. We had PZ exercise at 3-30 & we sounded off general quarters after divisions in the morning and control at 3-30. We met at the battle cruisers and we all formed up in one single line and steamed down south. I don't know what we are going down south for. Some say that we will be at short notice all the time but I hope not. I kept watch in the after hut from 10 to 12 and had a very easy time. Then I turned in after having shifted my hammock from the WOs flat to up above. We didn't sight anything at all coming down, the only thing being at that we thought a floating mine passed by as it looked very like one, and one of our destroyers opened fire on something with her pom-pom but I couldn't make out what it was.
When I awoke we were in the Forth not very far up past the bridge which looks huge with its three spans. On the right side of the river there is a lot of trees and some nice houses and on the left there are some docks where the Revenge is now. We didn't do any work all day but I was brought up before the Commander by Guns for not being at my post of duty last night. I was there and when I was calling my relief at ¼ to 12 the Major arrived & reported me for not being there at ½ past 11 which was a lie. I left at 12 thinking he was my relief when Evans was, who didn't turn up till 5 past 12 so that was another charge. However despite Guns attempts at a big punishment I was cautioned but I don't think anything was necessary as I didn't know what to do in a hut. We had a couple of destroyers alongside during the day and I loafed all day. No leave has been granted yet. The BC & 5th BS are the other side of the bridge. All the rest including a lot of destroyers are this side. There is a strong tide flowing, a tidal stream. A few aeroplanes were knocking around before I turned in. I received a letter from Ash Yuille who is a pte at Salisbury Plain.
We carried on with the usual routine. We had the odd doubling around after divisions as usual and then the morning was in a way wasted in doing signals. It started to rain about the middle of the day and kept up till about 6 - 7 p m. In the afternoon we were given the paper that the last lot of mids did to pass for their exam and it was ordinary 3rd or 4th year work. After quarters I went on watch and had to make out a time table for the next week of all the high & low tides of this river which I did. We had a navigation dog watch lecture and I played bridge after it. All my collars are up at Scapa Flow so I have to wear a soft ones. We have received a notice stating that while we are at 3 hours notice 33% of officers are allowed to go ashore from 1-30 to 4-30 but only within a radius of 5 miles from here and not into Edinburgh. I think I will go ashore tomorrow or the next day. We had the band tonight and they played very good music for a change.
Still at anchor in the Forth. It turned out a fair day. I was roused up by Steel for not reporting if any were away as some were found on the messdeck but I told him that reading out the names was a farce. We finished our paper and I would have done very well only I made some very silly mistakes which if I hadn’t hurried I wouldn't have done. In the afternoon the RN snotties went on leave for the afternoon. The rest of us did seamanship with Mr Day. I played bridge after tea and went on one trip in the launch. The tide here is very strong. After dinner we received the Edinburgh leave book and as the RAN are to go ashore today, I picked an ace so my name went down and I hope I get up there. We had a signal exercise after dinner & I turned in soon after. There are many reasons why we are down but none of them seem to have much foundation. Anyhow I am glad we're down here. The Royal Oak went into dock yesterday as the Revenge came out the day before.
It turned out a very nice day. I had the forenoon watch and all morning we had to muster bags and it was a tiresome job. I dressed in No.1s & I was allowed to go into Edinburgh. I caught the bus (motor) and got in there at about 2-30. I had a bit off a look round and visited a some cinemas. I had tea which consisted of two small cakes so I went through it again. I had a chat with some Australians I met in one of the shows. There are hundreds in Edinburgh. I called at the Caledonian Hotel to enquire whether we were recalled or not & had a good view of Edinburgh Castle. I returned about 7-00 and caught the picket boat at 7-30. I enjoyed myself but would have done more if I had have had someone to go with. After dinner received the parcel from Gieves so that's alright. Ginger the ships cat committed suicide today by making a flying leap off the quarterdeck. I turned in fairly early and finished the book I was reading.
A nice day. We had divisions at 8-30 and all night clothing was hung up. I took over some bones & fat in the launch to the beach and while there I was shown over the K10 by Mr Angel who was mate aboard here before we came and it was extremely interesting to look over. The wardroom was quite spacious. I returned about 12-00 and all afternoon I read until 20 to 7 when I took the picket boat over to Queensferry & then to Port Edgar where all the officers were picked up. After dinner I played vingt-et-un and won 2/6. I turned in soon after as I have got the morning watch. It was rather close down in the WOs flat but I soon got to sleep. I haven't received any notification if any allowance was placed in the bank this month so I will write and inquire. We are to be here for another fortnight I think but I wish we were to stay here all the while. The snotties from the battle cruisers wish us to blazes.
It was quite a summer's day and I felt quite warm due to the fact I suppose of being up north for so long. I took the launch away for a few trips in the morning & also took ships visitors in the afternoon. I read mostly all the rest of the afternoon. I received my new monkey jacket from Gieves & it is a fairly good fit. I wrote letters to Mother, Ash Yuille & the Bank saying to remit £10 to Mother. Nearly all the ships except a ourselves piped hands to bathe. I played a bit of bridge during the afternoon and won a little. I have high hopes of going up to Edinburgh before we leave. It seems we will have to wait another week before we get our next mail as it should have arrived by now. Our Engineering mark came out. I came 2nd with a 70% so that's not bad. I think I did fairly well in the torpedo exam and 2nd seems to hang to me.
Another warm day. I did gym in the morning and I dressed in my new suit. I am putting the other away. After divisions we had navigation. I worked out my Admiralty sight and by necessary faking obtained a correct solution. It was our day ashore so we all put in for leave. I went to the Queensferry Arms and had a drink and a read till the Australia's crowd came over. Then we had a real bust up and had a good afternoon tea consisting of eggs, biscuits, cakes & strawberries. After tea we all went for a walk over the bridge and it is marvellous to see the gigantic structures of it. We returned about 7-00 after paying a visit to the Junior Officers Club & we pushed off from the beach at 7-30 & had dinner at 8-00. While we were victualling with meat from a supply ship a shackle at the end of the derrick broke & the derrick fell & struck OS Jelly of my division on the head & killed him, injured another man's face & broke a stoker's thigh. It was very hard luck. After playing bridge I turned in but it is very warm down there.
Another warm day and the doubling round nearly knocked me out. However after divisions I went up to the 6" GCT and was shown the rough procedure. After that I did another navigation paper and was overwhelmed because the two letters waiting for me namely one from Mother and one from Eric and they were large letters also. Two letters of Mothers are missing and one of Eric’s. I expect a few more letters any day now. They received my first letters from England alright & Mother as received her brooch. They're all keeping well & I enjoyed reading them immensely. Thompo and I went ashore again at 12-30 and had a walk round. We intended to go to Dunfermline but we missed the train. We had tea and returned at 8-00. The new skipper arrived on board and the old skipper left. I wrote a long letter to Eric & I will write another to Mother following Eric's. I received a letter from D'aeth with the bet I won. He is a terror to stick to a chap but I will try & lose him.
The weather was a bit cooler than yesterday. We did signals and marching manoeuvres during the forenoon. I received a letter from Gladys and sent one to Eric. They are sending me some woollen things. I landed liberty men after lunch and then I did some navigation. I hope to get ashore tomorrow & go to Edinburgh with a bit of luck. I kept the afternoon watch and after played bridge, brought back the liberty men and finished my letter to Gladys & started one to Mother. We had our band night and I turned in soon after 10. There are no indications that we are leaving so I hope that this is a fixture. I have finished one Admiralty sight and it comes pretty correct. One of our latest Zepps came over the fleet and looked alright although I was a bit disappointed in it. It is of the rigid type I think but it wasn't going at a very fast speed. There is going to be a ball & music selection in one of the ships on Friday night and I hope I can go.
A cooler day but still a bit close. In the morning we had the usual navigation and in the afternoon I got up to Edinburgh. I posted a letter to Mother & one to Gladys before I left and in Edinburgh I knocked around a bit and had tea and went to some pictures. I returned about 6-00 & met Joe Burnett & Cocky & a few other from of the Australia. I met the others from our ship & we got back on board about ¼ to 7. It blew pretty hard but died down again at about 9 - 10. I was MOD today but didn't have to do a thing. Thompson celebrated his birthday today and passed round the port. We had a signal exercise at 9-00 p.m. I have seen a couple of drifters down here from Scapa so I hope that that means we are going to stay here for some time. I think it is going to be a good show in the Benbow tomorrow night but I don't suppose that snotties will be able to go. I will probably going to the funeral tomorrow which is going to take place in Dunfermline. The Revenge went out during the afternoon but has returned.
I had a cold bath & then after breakfast, I went to the funeral. We had to wait over an hour at Rosyth and then we went by buses to Dunfermline. We stopped near the cemetery & I went down and saw everything was ready & then we marched with the band in front. We arrived back about 1-30 & I had lunch and didn't do any studies during the rest of the day. I played a little cards after tea & then went away in the picket boat for officers. After much stopping I got there & coming back it poured. Coming alongside I allowed to much for the tide & made a hash of it. Result, I broke the boom. I felt a bit of a fool & Denny said he is going to see me later, but if it isn't in the Commanders orders about cuts I'm not going to take them. After dinner I went to the show in the Benbow. It poured with rain the whole time but I arrange to meet Joey and Cocky so I went up on the turret & had a yarn. The concert would have been alright for a warm night but as it was it was rotten. I returned about a ¼ to 12 and soon got to sleep.
I got up at 7-00 & had a bath. We had a torpedo dog watch lecture from 9-30 - 11-30 and we had the afternoon off. We have had a new schedule drawn up about our leave which we will perform next week. There was nothing to do all day. I read mostly all the time. I had a few hands at bridge after tea and came out quits on the whole proceeding. I had to go & fetch off offices and made a better performance than yesterday. Denny hasn't said a word about yesterday's performance so I suppose it will fizzle out. After dinner I took the first watch and turned in soon after nine. There are still no indications that we are leaving here. It seems to me to be to our advantage down here. I am getting tired of being here in a way. There is nothing to look forward to & I am not even looking forward to leave. I am only looking forward to when the war ends & we get back home. We have been told not officially that we go up for our exam in March.
I had to go away in the 2nd picket boat before divisions but I returned in time for the inspection by the captain. After divisions we had Church and then I got into greys to go ashore. It rained a bit before I left. We went to the Queensferry Arms and waited there. The Australias came ashore, 3 of them and then Kimlin. Then we all went along towards the bridge to meet those from the Glorious. I was closely stuck to by D'aeth but Britt told him to P. O. when we got back. Ting & Circus came ashore and then we all went back & had a good tea. We then went for a walk to Dundas Castle. It covers acres of ground & has a beautiful approached. The Castle itself is very nice although a bit small. As soon as we got near it we were met by a lieutenant and told to come in & have some strawberries. We had to go in & it was very nice inside. There were Rear Admirals & Captains etc in there. Then we had a game of rounders & then we left. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. The Castle is owned by a Mr Stewart Clarke. We returned to the ship & I played cards after supper before turning in.
I did the usual gym before breakfast. I was away in the picket boat before divisions and returned about 10. I had to go to the battery where a couple of loading runs were done but which were spoilt by the cases not being returned. We repeated the run after stand easy. As Mr Walker was on shore we didn't do any seamanship but I played cards all afternoon. This month I topped the card list with 7/4 to my credit. I haven't lost yet. We had a gunnery dog watch lecture and then packed up at 6-30. I took the picket boat for the officers and there were no other trips to do. After dinner we had a few signal signs down in the study and then I read a good book that I have got called "Six Women". The weather is getting much warmer now and it doesn't get anywhere the warmth of last week. No letters have arrived for us yet so I suppose that we have missed have gone down.
I did gunnery at 6-30 and did the Stewards trip to Port Edgar at 8-15 & did some other trips. I had to take charge of the GCT for the port battery for the first time and after a bit of mucking up it went off alright. After that I did a bit of navigation. It was our day on board so we didn't go ashore. In the afternoon we did signals all day and I had to do a few more trips. The bows are smashed in owing to the coxswain been washed against a pontoon and there is a hole in the 1sts bows also. We did a navigation dog watch lecture and after that I had to land the 3rd advance party and then do the officers trip. As soon as they were on board I had to take the diners out and returned at 8-30. I turned in soon after dinner as I felt pretty tired. The 2nd advance party returned early this morning. Our mess bills are now being made out but I don't think it will be much this month. The chocolates that we have got in the gunroom now and a pretty expensive altho good.
Next month >>>
^ back to top ^
© Michael Calder February 2003