Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
June 1 Friday.
We had to wear a cap covers this morning and some of the caps looked like sun shades. After divisions we went down to the walking pipe space & in the working chamber of X turret and we had a lecture on the different things. We were down there again during the afternoon. I saw a dirigible over the other side of the bay, the first I have ever seen. We gave in our engineering notes in the morning. We were given our places for seamanship and navigation. Two came level for 1st with 80%. I tied with another for 2nd with 75%. We were paid £8 at the end of the month. I was paid £5 as the bank receives the rest. I paid my mess bill which totalled £3/7/10½ so that's not so bad. After dinner we had our usual Friday night signal exercise but I didn't do as well as usual. I read the papers before I turned in and then read for about ½ an hour before going to sleep. There is some talk about volunteering for destroyers & submarines. I would volunteer if I could.
A couple went ashore in the morning but I stayed back & loafed around. We had to make out some spotting charts for the 15" guns. The shooting was pretty poor. After lunch I was given lecture with Shadwell by Lieut Steel on the Division telling us that we had to know more about the men etc. I am afraid that he will be disappointed slightly. I played a few hands at bridge & wrote a letter home to Mother. A couple came over from the Canada as guests, Collins & Armitage & we all had a good yarn etc. Bill seems to have had a fairly exciting time of it. I received a letter from the Commonwealth Bank stating that they had opened an account & it was accompanied by a receipt for my book & a withdrawl form. I had another hand at bridge before I turned in. I was paid 4/6 for the last two months cards. I won really 4/11. During the last three days I have won another 4/-. Smyth has received his appointment & he will shortly go, Mansergh returned in time for dinner. I had to sit on the big table for dinner.
3 Trinity Sunday. (this page carries the imprint King George V, born, 1865).
As above, the King's birthday. We had divisions & Church & then we had to fall in on the QD and the Commander told us that there was too much drinking going on & singing of baldy songs in the gunroom & it was a very serious matter. The subs were also roused up about it. It means that it will have to cease. Larkins & Thompson & Wauhope were the chief offenders & then it was nothing and only happened when someone was leaving the mess. I wrote a letter home during the afternoon expecting a letter from home tonight but none came. I read & played cards mostly all the afternoon. I had to go out in the cutter as an emergency & my arm felt very tired after it but my wind was better than I expected. After dinner free drinks were given out by Smyth who is leaving in the morning I played bridge up till 10-15 & was very successful. Our Commander has been promoted to acting captain of the Blonde so I suppose he will be leaving soon & I am very sorry in one way as he was a good commander in my opinion.
The usual routine but we didn't do any gymnasium. We all went down into A turret after divisions where we had a further lecture on the hydraulics and we continued it after lunch up till 3-00 p.m. when a tug'o'war party went ashore. I didn't go ashore but I had to draw a sketch of a drawing that the Gunnery lieutenant gave me. He said I did it very well. I looked up a few sketches of interlocks etc & then tidied myself for dinner. We were given a lecture by Denny on the report of the Commander but I don't know how it will get on. I played bridge after dinner & after three long & close rubbers lost eightpence. We waited up till about 11-15 in the hope that the Commander would come in the gunroom but he didn't. He was being given a rousing send off by the Wardroom. He is going over to the Blonde tomorrow. No mail has arrived yet. Probably it will arrive tomorrow. The King’s Birthday honours came out today and it was a terribly big list. A few Australians were honoured.
Usual routine. The Commander left after divisions. We had the evolution "out bower anchor". I was in the launch and we provided the strongback and we took the anchor but did not pull away from the ship. After lunch we went down into the well of B turret & had the usual lecture on hydraulics. After tea I did a bit of writing & then we had a gunnery dog watch lecture. I had a bath after it. The first belting of one of us occurred. Watkins got three for not pulling his best in the cutter although he says he did. He shouldn't have taken them. He advised me before when I thought I was going to get some when I deserved them not to take them. It looks as if we will have to revolt. After dinner I played bridge up till about 10-15 and then I turned in. The Major was given a sent off as he is leaving the ship tomorrow. The Resolution has gone down to refit. The Revenge follows and then we go down so it will be about the end of July. No mail has arrived so I suppose that it has been lost at sea.
I got up in time for physical drill at 7-00 but nearly all the others weren’t & the Commander N came up & we had to go on & drill till 20 to 8. After breakfast we had to attend the evolution "Tow Forward". I had to attend at the 6½ " wire but barring that I saw a lot of wire & hawsers flaked down on the deck I couldn't make out much. I wrote up a few notes before lunch. After lunch we had the breach mechanism explain to us and then we had a dog watch lecture in navigation after tea. I played cards after dinner but I couldn't get anything in my hands & I lost easily. No mail arrived. I posted my letter home in time to catch the mail. Today was a very windy day & only a third of the boats finished in the sailing race. There was a German destroyer sunk in a running fight. There was another air raid over England similar to the very successful one at Folkestone the other day. However only two were killed and two of their machines were brought down.
I did gun drill before I had breakfast. After divisions we had a lecture on control by the marine gunner and we visited the aloft director tower. After lunch we had Sergeant Sterling for our lecture in the turret. I read mostly all the afternoon and we had a signal exercise before dinner. After dinner I played cards up till about 10 but I never seem to win. I turned in early and read a bit. I forgot to mention that I received back my keys. It seems that the Commander had found them & waited till he left before he gave them back. I am very glad that I have got them. We saved £28 last month by messing but I wish that they would put it to something useful and provide more food. No letters arrived but I hope some arrive at the end of the week. Fogs are beginning to exist and I am told that they get numerous as the summer goes on. No more news.
We had physical training before breakfast. We got underway at 9-00. We had a bit of a lecture on the follow the pointer sights until about 11-00 a.m. 15" control sounded off so I had to go to the turret. I was second officer of the turret and in consequence I didn't see anything. In the afternoon we had a torpedo boat attack & I didn't see anything of what was going on. After that I had a game of bridge in which I had my usual luck. After tea I wrote up some navigation notes and did some reading. We have come to anchor over near where we embarked after our route march. It is near the Sports ground. The Sports are coming off tomorrow. Hulton left last night for a destroyer in the Mediterranean. There is only one more to go. After dinner I played vingt-et-un with my usual luck. I turned in about 10-30 & read for a few minutes. I think I have been put down for some races tomorrow. I hope not.
The day turned out fairly fine for the sports. Nearly everybody left the shore after breakfast & were landed at the jetty near the aerodrome. I landed one of the first & when I went up to the ground, I had a great surprise for there were a lot of side shows such as Aunt Sally, Bill the Bobber & also a shooting gallery and houp la etc. All day long they were thronged with matelots and a fair sum must have been raised. All profits of go to the Chelsea Hospital. The races were run off with great success and went right through the day without a hitch. The Anzacs carried off our little stunt, Watkins getting 1st in the 100, Farncombe 2nd & Larkins 3rd so we are alright in that respect. I went in for the marathon. We had to go up to Wart Hill & back and it was a devil of a run. I ran to the foot of the hill but my wind gave a out & I had to walk to the top. I had a good view of the Orkneys from on top. I returned to the ship and had a hot bath. I did fairly well considering the training that I had had. After dinner I turned in and read for a while but I soon got to sleep.
We had the usual divisions and Church. We are still over near the north shore. As I was pretty tired I did not go ashore but I had to take the liberty men ashore in the launch and took a letter to the St Vincent. I drew a fair drawing of the run in and out cylinder into my fair book & it took up most of my time. The day was one of the warmest that we have had. The gunroom is getting up a rugby team to play the wardroom. I may be included as a half. I hope so. I went into the wardroom for supper with Lieut Steel and quite enjoyed it. I played a game of snooker and billiards and I turned in about 10-30. No mail arrived and I was very disappointed. Perhaps there will be one next Sunday. We start engineering tomorrow and go for a fortnight. I am quite satisfied with everything and like the life very much. A few of the gunroom went in swimming yesterday and today but you don't catch me going in. I don't see the sense in it. However they seemed to enjoy it alright.
We started engineering course this morning. I went down to the middle engineroom at 7-00 & turned over to Eng. Sub. Lt. Squirrel. I was shown over the boiler rooms before breakfast. After 9-00 I was stationed down in the A boiler room. We got under way during the morning but from what I have seen, the engine and boiler rooms aboard here are like palaces. After 1-15 we wrote up notes on what we had done & we put them into our fair book. After that I had the turbo-generator explained to me. I had a game of medicine ball after tea and enjoyed it. I had a hot bath after it. As I was next of kin I turned in the early and had a read in my hammock. I am not in the XV but I am a reserve half. Evans is playing as a half. No mail arrived so it is over three weeks since we had a mail. We are just about in midsummer now and today was quite warm. The advance parties for leave go during the week. The gunroom goes with the main body. I am looking forward to next leave with much anticipation.
I went down to the engine rooms before breakfast. I was MOD so I had to call the subs. After breakfast by went with Lieut Gill & Larkins to the turbo-generator where we stayed all morning. After lunch I wrote up notes on the previous day's work and then went down with Art. Eng Gauss to the enginerooms and I was shown the different steam pipes. After tea I attended the engineering lecture and we went at some pace. I read after until dinner. After dinner I had to play the gramophone and I drew some sketches of the turbo-generator during the time. I turned in about 10-15. It was very warm between decks but I soon got to sleep. No mail arrived. A big battle took place on the front where we got the best of it but the casualties were large. No mail arrived for us so it will be next Sunday before one arrives. Engineering seems to be a lazy sort of thing as we don't do much work. We all have to do some boxing each Thursday afternoon with PO Driscoll but I don't think I will do very good. The destroyer the Relentless came along side during the forenoon.
I went down to the engine room before breakfast. I drew the arrangement of the turbines and put them into my fair book after lunch. During the afternoon I had the evaporator explained to me. It is of the same pattern that the Australian destroyers have got. We had a torpedo dog watch lecture and had dinner at 7-15. I togged up and went over to the Calliope where a concert was given aboard the Gourko. It was very good for a light cruiser and I met the Canada's crew over there & I had a good yarn. I got to bed about 11-30. I will be glad when engineering ends as the times are too awkward to be satisfied with it. The Australia will probably be up tomorrow. Another successful air raid took place on London. About 50 killed. There is also another big offensive on and we seem to have got the best of it. Armitage & Collins have got the job of being up in an observation balloon. They are up in it when at sea & get 5/- a day extra when up. They are very lucky.
The usual engineering routine. I went over the evaporator in the morning. We were given a stand easy during the afternoon. After writing up some engineering notes I went over to the Borodino where I bought some jam and necessary requisites. The sailing race took place today. Our galley came second but our whaler was upset & capsized but no harm resulted. Evans was in charge. A torpedo PO dropped dead about dinner time. There is going to be an inquest held. The new Commander named Casement joined the ship. He seems to be a pretty strict. He was cousin to Sir Roger Casement. Another big air raid over London occurred. Over 400 casualties. The Australia, New Zealand & Inflexible came in this morning so we will be having some of our chaps over. We all had to do some boxing on the quarter deck with PO Driscoll. Wuski and myself boxed each other & I did a bit of skipping. I am getting tired of doing nothing up here. We are about due for another PZ.
I got up at a ¼ to 7 & my nose started to bleed and it bled for about 20 minutes. I hurried up & got dressed & had an early breakfast but I found that the launch for the funeral party wasn't wanted so I didn't go away. I took the division & instead of the Church service we had the burial service read out by the skipper. After that I wrote letters home to Gladys & Mother and I also wrote up engineering notes. I played bridge after lunch up till tea when I again wrote letters. I didn't do anything much during the afternoon. After dinner I took down my engineering note book & wrote up the engineering rounds chit. I received a letter from Eric & a letter from Edie. Eric tells me that submarines are believed to be knocking around Australia & tugs are being fitted with minesweeping arrangements. All of the Australias were ashore. Four of our chaps went ashore with them. I have heard that our leave commences on the 1st September.
After breakfast I went down to the after steering flat where I slept most of the morning. I had a yarn with the PO sent down about the machine. After lunch I wrote up notes in the office and then went down to the capstan flat & knocked round the boiler rooms a bit. We had a navigation dog watch lecture and after it I had a bath & got tidied up for dinner after it. Joe Burnett came over for dinner. I watched Hirst and Thomps shooting & wrote letters to Edie & to Eric & posted them as no papers or parcels came. I hear that I am shifted out of B turret into the starboard battery and I am going to find out the reason from Guns. I don't want to shift if I can help it. We go to General quarters tomorrow. We heard from the warrant writer that we don't get any rational allowance but Joey said we get 1/5 so I am going to write and ask the naval representative about it. We should get it. He said that my allotment should have been paid into the Commonwealth Bank so I will write and ask them.
I went down to the engine room and did a sketch of the drains. We had to go up on deck and practice cheering ship and it was pretty cold & raining and blowing hard. We did more engineering during the afternoon and heard that the King had put off his visit round the fleet till tomorrow. I think that he has arrived. I played cards & a new board game called L’Attaque. During dinner the weather increased to a thunderstorm and the observation balloon attached to the Campania which had anchored near us, was set on fire by the lightning and it was a great sight to see it come down in flames as I did. I can imagine what it is like when a Zepp comes down. I waited till about a ¼ to 10 but as no mail had arrived I turned in. Today was midsummers day and it was rather on the cold side. We have a Russian Commander on board and also a Canadian officer. They get a very good time when they come up here.
The weather had slightly moderated and by the afternoon it was fairly calm. We had engineering during the forenoon. After lunch the officers & men from our ship went over to the Revenge and were presented to the King. Farncombe represented the Anzacs. I received two letters this morning, one from Mother dated 4/4/17 and numbered 9 & one from Willie dated 11/4/17 so they must have gone astray somewhere. We didn't do any engineering after we had written up notes but we had to fall in at different times when they thought the King was coming. However he didn't go round the fleet. I wrote up some gunnery notes and then went down to the boxing. I had a pretty stiff go with the clerk. But I want training. I had a bath & dressed for dinner. After dinner I wrote up notes and listened to the Russian Lieut-com. who came in the gunroom. We received our discharge chits from the HMA London Depôt saying that we had been under his command from 17 Jan - 4 Apr in passage to England.
A fairly fine day although it was a bit showery. After breakfast Larkins and I went down to the hydraulics room & as there was nothing to do we read a book. We were coped by Mr Gill and sent down to the other hydraulics rooms one to each. After lunch I read Hughes speech and loafed around all afternoon. I played bridge after tea & then went down & dressed for dinner. The Q Es went out firing their 15". The King went out with the Q E. After dinner I played vingt-e-un but as no mail arrived for me I turned in and read a bit. I posted my letter to Willie this morning. We finished engineering today and we start torpedo on Monday. We ought to be going out on another PZ soon as it is some time since we went out last. It might be next weekend. The Resolution has arrived back from refitting. We go after the Revenge who goes next. All our gunnery & engineering notes were put in yesterday. We do as much study in a way as we did at the college. I wish I could go to the destroyers or light cruisers.
Pretty windy day the King is still up here. The usual divisions and Church. I wrote a letter home before lunch. After lunch I loafed around and read & played cards and after tea I had a game of deck hockey. I dressed for dinner and after having waited up for the mail & as no letters arrived for me I turned in and read till 10-30. An armed merchant cruiser the Alsatian came in about nine forty five and looks a giant compared to the Iron Duke class. Newman came into the gunroom about six as his launch had broken down. We received our appointments from the Australian Navy Board today & we have to answer them. This is a very easy life up here but I'm getting restless with it and would like to get away & do something new. Something where there is excitement. A pretty heavy shower came down soon after divisions and it was very thundery weather.
I got up and did jerks before breakfast. After breakfast I finished my letter home & included a note to Mollie. We had to man ship but it came on to rain. After it stopped we again manned ship and the King in the Castor went round the lines. He was cheered by all of the ships companies. After that we had a lecture on switchboard by Lofty. We went to GQs at 10-30. We were there till 12-15. After lunch we went down to the torpedo lecture room & were given a few words on the minolto. We packed up about 3-15. After tea I played cards and then went down to the bathroom with Thompson & did some of Mullers exercises. They are very good. We had a signal exercise before dinner. After dinner I played 21 & won about 3/-. I turned in at ten. We came over to the north shore Orphir Bay this morning & we are here till Thursday a.m. All day long we have had a 10º
list to starboard and things were rather awkward. We righted again about five or six.
I did gun drill before breakfast. We all got leave for the whole day. I went with the picket boat to Stromness. Left at 10-30 and & arrived at Stromness about 11-15. It is smaller than Kirkwall. Has a big hotel near the wharf and then there are the shops. I bought some gingerbread & then walked about five miles to the cliffs where a very good view was obtained Scotland being visible in the distance. I had a sleep for about two or three hours & then walked back. I had tea at the hotel and bought a couple of packets of post toasties. I left the by the 5-00 o'clock boat & arrived back in time to have a bath & then I dressed for dinner. I watched the machines flying. There is a twin engine flying boat knocking around and she is a real beauty. She was landing & rising near us. The Campania is very near us. After dinner I played 21 but lost tonight. I turned in at 10 & read a bit & then got to sleep. I had a very good day. All day we were swinging ship doing the tilt test.
I did it gymnasium before breakfast. Today was a bit chilly but not bad. We went to the torpedo lecture in the forenoon & had about dynamos etc. I am not much good at that sort of thing. The King's message to the fleet was published this morning. We saw in the papers that the mail for Australia which left London May 31st was lost at sea so probably letters of mine 10,11& 12 may be lost. We got underway in after lunch so we didn't go to torpedo. I wrote a letter to George Searle & posted it and also an acknowledgment of my appointment. We did some 6 pdr firing and came to anchor at our old billet. The mail came early. I received a reply from the Naval Rep saying it that we get 1/8 a day for seagoing ships & 1/5 a day for harbour ships. The amount to be paid to the British government is a 1/6¼ so we don't draw anything at all. They are raising the price soon to be paid to the government. I was MOD and went to censoring. After dinner I played a vingt-et-un but didn't have any luck. I turned in about 10-30.
Did gun drill before breakfast. After it we went down to the search light store room where we had a lecture on busbars & ring mains but I don't grasp much of it. After lunch we were all given leave to go over to the Oak to see the boxing Oak v Sovereign. We all went over there & there was some very good boxing. We had afternoon tea in their gunroom. We won 8 contests and lost 10. I had a bath after I returned and had to go out in the cutter after it. I didn't mind the exercise. After dinner I played bridge with the clerk and I won a couple of bob. The Mongolia was mined and sunk off Bombay. I suppose our mail was aboard her. The Mesopotamia inquiry is now in progress and Nixon & Hardinge are in the blame for it. In all probability we will be going out for another PZ. I hope we do. My razor has been lost. I do know where it could have got to. There is no news of any importance up here.
We did physical jerks before breakfast. We went over the main ring during the morning and had branch breakers etc explained to us. We did the same after lunch. After tea we had an engineering dog watch lecture up till 6-00 when we did some boxing. I had a go with Hirsty. After that I had a hot bath & dressed for dinner. After dinner I played vingt-et-un. There was only one Sub at dinner all the rest were dining out. I packed up at 10 & turned in and soon got to sleep. There doesn't seem to be any indications that we are going out on a PZ tomorrow. It does seem funny to think that we have only been to sea once since I came up. You would think that we would do more sweeping work. Things seem to be settling down quieter than when we first came up. We received a lot of strawberries which were sent to the fleet and we had them for lunch. They were quite good. Absolutely no interesting news at all.
I didn't get up till 7-00. All the morning I was doing torpedo notes. We are not going out on a PZ since oil is scarce & if we went out & returned & the Germans came out we would not have enough oil to go straight out again. After lunch I wrote up some engineering notes and started my letters home & one to Gladys. The day was very nice & warm. Our mess bills are almost out. £4 ought to cover all my expenses this month including servant. Our messing has been reduced from 1/3 to 1/2 a day. I only won 3’ on cards this month as vingt-et-un pulled me down. I had a bath & dodged going out in the cutter and dressed for dinner. After dinner I waited for the mail. I received two Punchs from Edie & a letter from the Bank in reply to mine of a week or two ago. I turned in early & soon got to sleep. Larkins is laid up in bed with boils. The Q E left in the afternoon to go down south. Our fortnightly mail is due tomorrow night so I hope we get a big one.
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© Michael Calder February 2003