Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
July Monday 1. Scapa. At sea. Scapa.
We weighed & proceeded about 7-00. As I am doing engineering for three weeks I didn't have any day defence watches. We operated with the 2nd division. We went to GQs about 11-00 & engaged the 1st Div firing torpedos at them. One of the Benbow's torpedos circled & struck the Marlborough. I had to work the Langley & obtain information as to inclinations. Guns roared at me a bit for not getting them at each exact minute. They attacked us in the afternoon. We returned to base about 6-00 p.m. I had a rubber at bridge and had a bath. I posted all my letters. After dinner I read a book & turned in at 9-30. We have anchored at the North Shore at Houton. The weather has bucked up & was quite sunny. Usborne returned from the destroyer.
Tuesday 2. Scapa.
I have given up the galley. The weather was absolutely topping. I started engineering and was in the workshop nearly all the forenoon. I didn't go ashore after lunch and I took the afternoon very easy. The big flying boat was knocking around all day. The 2nd BCS were Flowing. I went ashore with Watkins and did some walking & running. It was very good training. We returned from Smoogro at 6-15. I read a paper from A C Australian squadron for volunteers for the Australian Air Force to be attached to the RAN. I don't think I will go in for it. After dinner Weedon passed the port. We had the pictures in the wardroom including Charlie in "The Immigrant" they weren't bad. No more letters. It was a very short mail. No war news.
Wednesday 3. Scapa.
I turned out at 7-15 had a bath. The Fxle division landed for a route march but I didn't go as I was doing engineering. The good weather still continues. I was down in No. 2 diesel room whilst a piston was removed and overhauled. The Borodino came alongside and I bought some butter & blades. I was down in the diesel in the afternoon till 2-30 when I did some boxing. I am still in fairly bad training. We had a navigation exam in the dog watches after which I dressed for dinner. We had the band for dinner & afterwards I wrote up some gunnery notes. The Yanks came back last Tuesday morning. Not much news. A good few of our fellows are applying for this air scheme but I'm not. Expect news from Harold shortly.
Thursday 4. Scapa.
Another fairly fine day. In the forenoon I was down in the boiler rooms whilst a stop valve was stripped down. No mail. In the afternoon all except the engineering mids were given a make & mend. I mustered about 15 stokers bags and had the rest of the afternoon off. I played bridge till tea. After tea I did some skipping & had a little bit of boxing. I got dressed up to go to the Monarch's show. We went to the Benbow in the picket boat & then went by drifter to the fleet anchorage. It was one of the best shows I have seen especially the female part. It finished about 12-00 & after a stormy trip back in the rain we arrived at the Sovereign about 1-30. There was a bit of a mutual admiration between the C in C & the 6th BS because of Independence Day. Lord Rhondda died.
Friday 5. Scapa.
Not a very nice day but a good wind for the sailing race. We didn't go to GQs in the forenoon. I was down in the PWER in the forenoon & wrote up some notes. I was given permission to sail the whaler. We got a bad start but we finished 6th in the whalers. We weren't too far behind - didn't have the best of luck. I quite enjoyed the sail. Our De Horsey cutter won. I did a little skipping had a bath & went over to the Benbow's show but it was like their other ones absolutely rotten. I didn't turn in till about 12-00. We go out in the Flow tomorrow afternoon to practise day defence. The Royal Oak came back from refit yesterday. She only got one week I think. My mess bill came to £4-10 this month rather low. Australians were in action again & we are quite successful.
Saturday 6. Scapa. At sea.
It was a very fine day. I didn't get up till 10 to 8. We had a construction lecture by Mr Apps after which I read & tried to do a little study. We went to 2½ hours notice at 11-30 a.m. In the afternoon I did a little printing. The Australians seem to have done very well on July 4th. At about 3-00 we got steaming signals to have steam at 6-00. We received our orders. Eventually we are going to PZ off the Naze ie on the south west of Norway, all tomorrow & then we are going to Rosyth. I think we are trying to coax the Huns out. I kept the last dog in at the CER. We are working watch & watch leaving out the middle. Thus I have the morning tomorrow. It was a beautiful day & we proceeded out of Scapa at 7-00. It was very calm out side. I turned in a fairly early. I don't mind going to Rosyth.
Sunday 7. At sea. PV’ing.
When I got up at four the sun was up & it was a beautiful day. I was in at the PWER till 6-00 a.m. when GQs went & I was in the top till 7-30. I had a bath & had breakfast. I took a sight at 8-20 & we went to BJ stations at 8-30. We manoeuvred against the battlecruisers & 5th BS all the forenoon. The visibility was about 40,000 yards. We weren't supposed to leave our stations and had our meals sent up to us. In the afternoon we had another attack at the battlecruisers etc who were supposed to be the Huns. We were a good way out. We finally packed up at 4-00. At 6-00 I was down in the PWER again till 8-00 p.m. We expect to get in to Rosyth at 6-00 a.m. tomorrow. After dinner I wrote a letter to Eric & turned in. Nothing exciting happened this time. The weather was magnificent.
Monday 8. At sea. Rosyth.
I had a good lie in till 7-30. We came to anchor in the Forth at 7-30 to 8-00 & it was raining & dreary. We went to 2½ hours notice & all the fleet coaled & oiled. In the forenoon I was down in the CER. We were given a stand easy in the afternoon & I wrote letters to Gladys & Edie. The King & Queen of the Belgians past down the lines in the Oak. I saw them both. After tea we had a gunnery dog watch lecture. We went to 4 hrs notice during the dogs. After dinner I wrote to Harold & Miss Living. We may go on leave on August 4th when the Tiger comes out. The King & Queen celebrated their silver wedding on the 6th. Australian troops were again mentioned in the fighting. No news from Harold yet. The weather cleared up in the afternoon. The 4th BS was sent up to Rosyth for six months because there were 200 leave breakers.
Tuesday 9. Rosyth.
The weather improved considerably. I received a letter from Harold written on the 2nd. He is working with the engineers. I did some rather strenuous work in the smithy swinging the sledge hammer. In the afternoon I went ashore & went to Dunfermline. I played Watkins & Hirst billiards & although it rained it cleared up & we listened to the band. Afterwards we were chatting with some from the Agincourt. I bought a cup for myself as we are rather short of them in the mess. I got back about 8-00 & we had the band. I had to attend the rehearsal for the new show. It won't be much. I'm going to chuck it up as it will interfere with my exams. This is a big buzz that we are going into dock after the Tiger. I posted letters to Harold & Miss Living. Leave comes in very handy doing engineering.
Wednesday 10. Rosyth.
A very dull day. In the forenoon I knocked round the ship & tried to find out information but couldn't find any. I didn't go ashore but I wrote up a lot of seamanship notes. After tea I had my photo taken by Weedon & had my hair cut after which I did some skipping and had a bath. We had the pictures after dinner and they were rotten. I didn't turn in up till close on 12-00 p.m. We received an invitation to stay or go to dinner with a some Australian ladies in London. I may call on them. Absolutely no news. The best of this place is that one sees all that is going on. I am looking forward to leave. Hope to go to Edinburgh tomorrow. No news from the front. Exams are getting unpleasantly near. Haven't done any tennis yet. Watkins is going to introduce me to a girl in Edinburgh.
Thursday 11. Rosyth.
A nice warm day. I knocked round the ship in the forenoon. In the afternoon Hirst and I went to Edinburgh. We went to a place in Edinburgh to have our photos taken & the placed turned out to be the place where the King & Madden etc had theirs taken. Some photos cost £3/3 a dozen & we had ours taken at £2/6 a dozen. We had to leave £1 each as a security. We met Mrs Creal in the street and we had a yarn. After that we met a lot from the Australia. We with Esdaile went to the pictures after which we had tea & returned by the 6-18 train. After dinner we had a signal exercise after which I did a sketch of the 15" gun circuits and turned in. It seems that all the others are studying hard for their exams so I am going to buck up. A lot of Australians were on leave in Edinburgh.
Friday 12. Rosyth.
A fair day. The usual routine. We had GQs as usual. I went round the ship and had a yarn with Mr Apps & the chief boatswain very important people when going up for a examinations. Two more Australian VCs. I didn't go ashore in the afternoon but wrote up torpedo notes & after tea I did some gunnery notes. I then did a bit of a skipping & had a bath. After dinner we had the usual torpedo dog watch lectures. I turned in at 10-30. I don't think that the St Vincents go up for their exams till January. I hope so. No mail. Little war news. Nothing more about leave. The boxing will probably come off early next month. I may go in for it. Absolutely nothing to put in. Australia has now 48 VC compared with 40 to Canada. I think there will be a lot more decorations shortly.
Saturday 13. Rosyth.
We did construction in the forenoon & in the afternoon I went ashore. As Mrs Doughty had a store in the Red Cross fê te in the Glen I was given £ 1 to divide up amongst us & spend it at her stall. I had a couple of games of billiards & then went to the fete. It was awfully embarrassing buying things as Mrs Doughty had the childrens clothing stall. We were all invited to take tea with the elite which we did. We had a good few rides on the donkeys. We had a decent tea after that. I met Mr Dix for the first time. He is a good sort. After dinner I wrote a letter to Mother. We have landed troops on the Murman coasts. Australians have been in action lately. No mail yet or parcels. This is a buzz that we don't go into dock until the middle of August.
Sunday 14. Rosyth.
We had the usual divisions & church. It was lovely weather during the forenoon. I didn't go ashore in the afternoon but wrote letters to Mother Eric & Gladys. We received tons of papers from home & it took up a good part of the afternoon in getting through them. I did a slight amount of study in the afternoon. After supper I made arrangements about keeping engineering watches. I keep the forenoon tomorrow. Absolutely no news. The Courageous went into the basin I hope she doesn't go into dock. No news from the front. We get green stuff for supper nowadays which is alright. It is much better here than at Scapa. The influenza is decreasing in England.
Monday 15. Rosyth.
A nice warm day. I got up at ¼ to 7 had breakfast & went down to the CER at 8-00. We did torpedo running and returned about 11-00. I was down of the CER till 12-00. I went ashore on my own at 1-00 and knocked round Dunfermline all day. It was rotten being on ones own. There was a terrible crowd as Scotland celebrates it's weeks holiday about this time. I met Hirst & some of the others. The great German attack began this morning and they advanced 5,000 yards at Chateau-Thiery (sic). I hope Harold doesn't come into this. It looks rather serious. We had a navigation exam after dinner. I came second in the last exam. I turned in shortly afterwards. Nearly all the decent looking girls in Dunfermline are very hard to catch. All rotten ones could be had for a smile or less.
Tuesday 16. Rosyth.
Another warm day. In the forenoon I went round the ship inspecting the telemotor gear & the revolution & telegraph indicators. I went ashore at 3-30 and & Thompo & I went to Dunfermline. We went to the fair that was being held. We had our fortunes told by a supposed gipsy. It was pretty well all rot. There were plenty of girls knocking round. When we got back we were told that we had to weigh about ten. I made arrangements about engineering watches. We work in three watches leaving out the middle. I went below with Gray at ¼ to 10 for the first watch. We kept putting off weighing and when I turned in at 12-00 midnight we were to weigh at 1-15. I received a letter from Eric & two parcels one from Mr Hooper a very nice one & one from Mother & Gladys a beautiful iced cake with good luck to the Royal Sovereign on it. It was really a topping cake.
Wednesday 17. Rosyth. At sea. (Note: The Raid on Trondern next 3 days.)
We weighed & proceeded about 1-00 a.m. I turned out at 7 & had a wash. I had the forenoon off except when I closed up in the Top for night action & practised flashing the SL on the Revenge. The day was nice, warm, calm & sunny. I kept the afternoon watch in the CER at the regulating valve. After having a small tea we closed up at GQs till about five thirty. We cleared lower deck in the forenoon & the Commander told us that after 7-00 p.m. we may meet with the Zeppelins & after 2-00 a.m. aeroplanes with torpedos. We are going very near the Schleswig-Holstein coast. The Furious’ planes are bombing Todeun (sic). I hope they are successful. We practised with the high angle guns crews & rigged & fired the maxims. We are going to GQs at 3-00 a.m. tomorrow. I hope we strike something. I think we are sure to. After dinner I turned in as I have the morning watch tomorrow. A couple of mines were sighted today going past.
Thursday 18. At sea.
We were within 35 miles of the Norwegian coast last night & at 3-00 a.m. this morning 35 miles from the Danish coast. The furthest we went was about 7º E & 57½ N. We went to GQs at 2-30 a.m. this morning. The weather was bad & a thunderstorm prevailed so the operation was suspended for 24 hours at 6-00 a.m. The Furious was 17 miles from the Danish coast and she was steaming with us about 6-00 with her planes on her deck. At 6-00 I had breakfast & we steered roughly NW out of it. We packed up CBs at 7-00 & CB1s at 11-00 a.m. & we then packed up GQs. The weather still continued rough. I slept till 4-00 p.m. when I kept both dogs in the CER. At 6-00 we altered course to 167 roughly but at 8-45 we altered course to 340 approx so I don't know what happened. Tomorrow we may see some fun. We passed a mine quite close on the surface this morning. I turned in a soon after dinner. The weather is calming down.
Friday 19. At sea.
General quarters went at 4-00 & we were closed up with a spell for breakfast till 10-30 a.m. The weather had moderated only slightly. However the operation was carried out but we didn't see the Furious. We were within 30 miles of Horns Reef. The day was nice & sunny. I sighted two mines on the surface. We steamed west about 6-00 a.m. & I didn't go below for the forenoon after packing up. I took some sights during the day. We were told to look out for aeroplanes in the afternoon but none turned up. We received a report from A.C.A that the raid was quite successful but four out of seven pilots failed to return. It looks very fishy & seems a terrific waste of fuel etc for only seven planes to go up. No one goes much on it. I kept the first watch in the CER & took a sight at 10-30 p.m. of stars. We are steering straight for Rosyth.
Saturday 20. At sea. Rosyth.
We had anchored at 7-00 a.m. when I got up. All the forenoon I was trying to find Mr Squirrel as he said we had to stay aboard whilst a leaky condenser was rectified. He said the MOW had to see it done & I cut Gray & won so I went ashore at 1-00. No letters from Australia were in the big bundle that were awaiting us. We all oiled. I received the proofs from Mr Crooks. The photos were good but my face was rotten. I went ashore with Hirst & Watkins. I had a game of billiards & then listen to the band. It drizzled slightly. After tea we went to the pictures & then returned by the 7-35 boat. I could have caught a girl or two if I wanted to. An announcement said that three Zeppelins were destroyed at Tondern. I went to the show in the Malaya after dinner. We didn't get back till about 1-00. It was a very good show. I think two airman landed in Denmark & two were picked up later.
Sunday 21. Rosyth.
It was raining all day till about three. We had church before divisions. After divisions I finished off letters to Mother & Gladys & posted them. As I was very tired I had a sleep till tea & after tea I almost read through the torpedo drill book. The Commander N spoke to us all about no one being on the FX for in & out of harbour stations & said everyone except those doing engineering had to go to those stations. There was nothing doing after supper & I turned in at ¼ to 10. The King is visiting the fleet tomorrow and Tuesday. We aren't going out on Tuesday. Nothing much in the papers about Tondern. We start torpedo for a fortnight. The exams appear quite huge & very near. No news at all.
Monday 22. Rosyth.
We practised manning ship at 8-00 a.m. & then had a short stand easy. It was a beautiful sunny morning. About 11-15 we manned ship & the King went down the lines in the Oak preceded by the Scythe. We cheered him as he went by. It started to rain after lunch. No leave was given to officers. In the afternoon I read up the torpedo manual, the latest one of 1915. In the dog watches we had a lecture by Guns on magazines. 200 men & officers went over to the Revenge & were inspected by the King. After dinner I wrote a letter to Edie & turned in early. I am playing cricket I think on Wednesday. I am going to try & get another sitting with Mr Crooks on Thursday. The King leaves tomorrow evening. A full account of the raid came out in the Scotsman.
Tuesday 23. Rosyth
A fair day but cloudy. In the forenoon I read up the torpedo manuals. I know a bit about a torpedo now I think. We have started doing boxing at 11-15 each morning. I had three rounds this morning. After lunch & all the afternoon I was doing torpedo. I prepared my lecture to be given on Direct Feed on Thursday. The King left in the afternoon. It was raining in the afternoon. We had an engineering dog watch lecture. I am picked to play cricket tomorrow afternoon against the POs. After dinner we had the pictures & they were the best we have had for some time. I turned in about 11-00. Printed applications came to those who were trying for the ANAS. I'm not sorry I am not going in for it. No mails. Food is getting short in the mess.
Wednesday 24. Rosyth.
A fairly fine sunny day. A few showers in the forenoon. I was down in the TLR all the forenoon till 11-15 when I did some boxing. My training is still very weak. I after lunch the cricket teams went ashore. We played the POs on Hopetoun ground, a beautiful cricket ground and the afternoon was perfect. The captain & five wardroom offices were playing. We played 13 a side. They went in first & we got them out for 40. I was 7th man in. We were about 13 runs when I went in. The Padre and I brought the score
up to 43 before tea. I was caught out in the long field after tea for 11. They made 30 in the 2nd innings. I took 2 for 12 in 8 balls. We then drew stumps. A most enjoyable day. We had the band after dinner. I read up some gunnery notes. I have made my name in cricket now. Six VC's were given for Zeebruge. The list came out today. The kings visit also was published.
Thursday 25. Rosyth.
I was down in the TLR all the forenoon & then I did some boxing. I was hit about a bit and I must say I don't like it. My wind is so bad. We weren't supposed to go but Hirst & I went to Edinburgh. We went to Mr Crooks and I arranged another sitting for next week. My eye prevented me from getting it taken that day. We went to the pictures & to the art gallery & returned to the ship via Port Edgar. I had to give my torpedo lecture at after dinner. I couldn't make it last longer than ten minutes. Torps gave us one on problems afterwards. Nothing doing. My eye is swelling up. No war news. Plenty of Australians on leave. The Justicia 32,000 was sunk. Our mail is taking a very long time to come. I wish I were out of the boxing now.
Friday 26. Rosyth.
I was down in the after flat until after divisions when I went to "B" turret for GQs. We packed up about 10-30. I did some boxing at 11-15. I didn't go ashore in the afternoon but read up my torpedo notes. After tea I borrowed the KR&AI's and copied out a lot to do with organisation and pay etc. A nice warm day. My eye is going down. I wish I could smoke. Newman was over here from the Canada. No more word about docking. No news or mails. I am doing rather a large amount of study but I will want it all especially in gunnery. The Yank squadron was mentioned as being here when the King visited the Fleet. I feel much better after doing training. Hope to go to Edinburgh on Tuesday & to have my photo taken again. We go out on Monday into the Flow.
Saturday 27. Rosyth.
I turned out at 6-00 & went round the torpedo quarters. We didn't have any construction lecture and I did a few notes & had a good bit of study. It was a very nice day. I was persuaded to go ashore & play tennis & I had some very good games till 3-30 when after tea Hirst & I went up to Dunfermline & went to the pictures. We returned at 7-5 & after a hurried dinner I went to the Texas show. It was a typical Yank show but very good. I met Mac, Ting & Circus & had a good yarn with them. They are intent on submarines. They are training for boxing. I got back to the ship about 1-00 a.m. & soon got to sleep. I will probably be going up to Grad (sic) to meet a friend of Flerties tomorrow. Hirsty & I have decided to go to Brighton for a few days next leave. Saw a lot of snotties from the Australia. Nothing doing.
Sunday 28. Rosyth.
A beautiful sunny day. We had divisions & church. The Captain had quite a crowd of visitors on board. A rotten lot of specimens. After lunch Watkins & I went ashore and went to Edinburgh by the 1-30 train. We waited at the Mound & at 2-30 we met Watkins’ pals. He introduced me to his friend & the bit ordered for me. My piece was a bit of alright. Very small but quite pretty. We went out to Braid Hills way Marchmont hills. We had a good yarn & came back & had a very poor tea at the Old Waverly. My girl's name was Poppy Doig. I left her with my address. I wish I could see more of her. We returned at 6-21. The minelayers & 2nd BCS go out minelaying tonight. I went up & weighed stripped in the sick bay. The weather kept A1. Watkins’ pal wasn't so bad either.
Monday 29. Rosyth.
We got underway about a 8-30. All of the mids had to go on the Fxle. We proceeded to Burnt Island and anchored there. The USS Arkansas lately come over from USA went up the river & played "God Save the King" as they went by. We went out into the Flow shortly after lunch & fired 6" at a splash target. I had to take direction records. It was very hard as the Oak fired at the same time. We returned into our old billet at 7-00 & finished mooring by 8-30 p.m. The 2nd BCS went out covering the minelayers. The weather lately has been tip top. I go 130 lbs stripped & I think I can reduce it an extra 4 lbs & get in the feathers. The GF men's championships come off tomorrow. Ours come off next week I suppose. No mail. Our advance still continues on the front.
Tuesday 30. Rosyth.
Still good news from the front & weather was nice & sunny. In the forenoon I lectured the act ST class on rudder adjustments. I packed up at stand easy. After I studied up some notes and got ready to go to Edinburgh. I landed at 12-20 & went up by the train. I had two more photos taken by Mr Crooks. It was pretty rotten on my own. I went to two sets of pictures & returned by the 6-18 train. We had the pictures after dinner & they weren't too bad. The Delaware left for USA. We are doing fairly well in the boxing. I wrote a letter home. I haven't had much time to write many letters. I hope my photos are successful. Nothing exciting. I hope the boxing comes off soon. Another relief party went. We have 4 ships going into dock before us.
Wednesday 31. Rosyth
Got up at 5 to 6. In the forenoon I gave a lecture on preparation tests. I didn't have much to yarn about. I did a few notes & then had a couple of rounds at 11-15. I didn't go ashore but read up electrical work. After tea I did some skipping & running. The minelayers returned. The champions from this ship were both beaten in the finals of the opens today. They were held on the pier near the Sutlej. Received tons of papers. We had the band for dinner and afterwards I wrote letters to Eric & Gladys & enclosed the photos of Chu Chin Chow. The boxing may come off any week now. I won't go ashore much now till after the exams. I received £5 pay. £5 is still being remitted. The Australians mentioned in all the fighting.
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© Michael Calder February 2003