Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
June Saturday 1. Rosyth.
We were at 2½ hours notice and later went to 2 hrs. A really warm day. We did an hours construction with Mr Apps & then had a gunnery dog watch lecture by Guns. Restricted leave was given so four of us went to play tennis. The court was rather crowded but I managed to get in five sets. I had tea there & we came off at seven. I had a cold bath. We did a signal exercise after dinner. I wrote letters to Harold & Mother. We reverted to usual notice about 9-30. A great case is the Pemberton Billing one. They have a book the "47,000" of weak people on whom to act. I turned in after ten. We do gunnery next week but have to keep watches. I have received the £5 that I wrote to the Bank for but no letter from Miss Living.
Sunday 2. Rosyth.
We reverted to original notice during the day. We had divisions & church. We have to fall in on the forecastle now that the summer is here as we did before. I didn't go ashore but wrote up my hydraulic notes and also wrote letters to Harold, Mother, Eric & Gladys. The day was quite warm, in fact one of the hottest days that we have had. We start gunnery tomorrow. I did some studying up after tea. After supper I played bridge but managed to lose. I couldn't win. The advance of the Huns still continues although they are being checked. The Pemberton Billing case is proceeding with Asquith etc being accused as traitors.
Monday 3. Rosyth.
I turned out & did rifle exercise before breakfast. During the forenoon Farncombe & I had to test the eversheads of the top & aloft director. We were at it all the forenoon. I was told that I had to do 6" gundrill with an OS training class on Wednesday. I went ashore at 1-00 & played tennis consistently for 5 - 6 hours. I got in 11 sets. After dinner I swated (sic) up 6" gundrill. I was told that I had to go away in the rake party tomorrow at six. The destroyers Onslaught & Marvel came & tied up alongside. I turned in about ten thirty. No mail from home. I bought a monthly ticket for tennis price 3/9 which is very cheap. I was playing quite successfully towards the end of the afternoon. Usborne left for the destroyer Scotsman.
Thursday 4. Rosyth.
I got up at 5-30 & left with the rake party on the Onslaught at six. It was very calm & sunny. We transferred to the tug Grange & I plotted the flashes (sic). We were at it hard all day, marking for the 1st Div, Canada & Comus. We didn't have time for the Agincourt. We had to have our meal when we could & had an interval of two hours in which we slept. We came back in the destroyer & arrived on board at 9-00 p.m., had dinner & went to pictures which weren't much. I turned in at 11-30 & was dog tired. I am not prepared for my lecture to the OS tomorrow. The 12th flotilla were put at short notice. I was booked for a game of hockey tomorrow & I don't know how I will get through with it. The Hun advance is almost checked now. They still advance slightly.
Wednesday 5. Rosyth.
I did a rifle exercise before breakfast and after divisions had to take a class of OS at 6" gundrill. I didn't know much about it and I got fed up of shouting orders. I am sick up of the whole show at present. I stayed aboard till 3-30 & had to take another class for my trouble. Guns roared off about. I was again fed up with it. I went ashore to play hockey. We played the Royal Oak & we won 11-1. It was a good game but we walked over them. I had tea at the club afterwards. Returned on board at 7-30. We had the band after dinner. I studied up the 6" gundrill. I volunteered for the galley to get out of gundrill. I turned in early. Pemberton Billing was found not guilty. The "47,000" fell through although there may be something in it.
Thursday 6. Rosyth.
A fairly warm day. I did squad drill etc before breakfast. Afterwards I went away in the whaler whilst our boats & those of the Royal Oak did manoeuvres etc from signals from our ship. I was glad to miss gunnery. In the afternoon I went ashore & played tennis till 3-30. I then went up to Dunfermline & had a bath. I returned to the ship at 8-00. We had a navigation dog watch lecture on winds, compass etc. It was fairly easy. All the mine layers left harbour so we expect to go out shortly. I am included in the galleys crew. Had a big chat about it last night. Saw & read the latest papers. I think I could have passed. The new rates of postage are the same for us in the fleet. No news from home. I received my pay £5 this month. The fleet pay was very sarcastic about my lateness.
Friday 7. Rosyth.
Another fairly warm day. I went out in the galley before breakfast. We had GQs after breakfast. A & B turrets had to place collision mats I was in B turret. We placed mat port side. After stand easy I took a gunnery training class. I did some boxing after lunch & went ashore & played tennis. I had some good sets. I came off at 7-30 & had a hurried dinner and kept the first watch. I dodged the 1st dog by keeping the morning tomorrow. No notice. I think I will start training shortly & knock off cigarettes. There is generally a wind which spoils tennis. I sent Eric a letter with Aussie in it. No mail from home. The Hun advance has been held up. Slight advances in counter attacks by us.
Saturday 8. Rosyth.
I got up at 5-30 & kept the morning watch. I had breakfast and afterwards attended a lecture on construction. Afterwards I continued my gunnery notes. I went ashore & went to Dunfermline with Thomson. Had a pretty rotten day. Nothing doing at all. I bought a pair of flannels for 21/-. I hope they are alright. We returned by the 7-20 boat. After dinner we had a signal exercise & I finished my hydraulic notes & put them in the gunnery office. No news. Leggatt returned. No mail from home. We received the official notification that we are doing our exams in September. I think the St Vincent will go up then too. I hope later. I came 4th with a 90% in Troups last exam. He said I did a very creditably.
Sunday 9. Rosyth. At sea.
We were at 2½ hours notice when I got up. We had divisions in the battery. During church we received orders to leave harbour. We weighed at 3-00. I was in the UCT going out. The battlecruisers were at 2½ hours notice. All the fleet left. I kept the first dog on the forebridge. Very good weather. After supper I had a smoke & turned in early as I have the middle. We received a mail. I got four letters one from Mother, Eric, Gladys & Edie. I got a photo of Harold in Mothers. It was a very good one. No war news. We received our berths for Scapa tomorrow. We are doing a full calibre shoot on Thursday. The I am really fed up with life at present & as soon as I can get back home the better. We only had our starboard PV out. I was called at ¼ to 12.
Monday 10. At sea. Scapa.
I kept the middle nothing much happened. I had a good sleep from 4 to 8. The weather got rougher but we didn't have any motion on the vessel. We had 15" control till about noon. Day defence packed up after it. I was in the UCT coming into harbour. Rotten weather here in Scapa. No ships other than the Grand Fleet in here except the Commonwealth & some cruisers. We were supposed to do work in the afternoon but I wrote letters. I had to mark some hydraulic notes. Rather a sweat. I had dinner early & kept the first watch till 9-00. I turned in at 9-30. We have a strenuous gunnery week before us. We have gone back to the old routine. I paid my mess bill which came to £4 roughly. We expect to be up here for three weeks.
Tuesday 11. Scapa.
We went out in the galley at 7-00. It is fairly cold up here. We had 15" control in the forenoon & practised the run we were to do in the afternoon. No mail has arrived since we have been here. We weighed about 2-00 & 15" control went. I was in the top intercommunicating. We fired at the Marlborough with 5º deflection on the director. It was very cold up there. After tea I played bridge. We had the pictures after dinner. They weren't bad. The weather is dull & sultry. I posted all my letters & one to the Bank telling them to send Mother £ 10 for her birthday. The Australians carried out a local success. I think it was where Harold is situated. I really think that the Australians are the best troops on the front.
Wednesday 12. Scapa.
We didn't go out in the galley before breakfast as it was drizzling. We went out in the Flow at 10-30. It was drizzling and pretty miserable in the top. We returned in time for lunch. After 1-30 we had to make up a programme for tomorrows shoot. I kept the afternoon watch and was told off by Guns for not reporting of some intercommunication report. We had a torpedo lecture in the dog watches. We had the band & after dinner I read a book & turned in early. I received a letter from Mother. It was late in arriving. The weather still remains rotten. The Australians continue to do well at the front. The French gained a big success. I felt pretty dizzy & queer during the afternoon. I couldn't account for it. I received a new station keeper for the use of the intercommunication expert.
Thursday 13. Scapa. At sea. Scapa.
We weighed about seven thirty & went to 15" control. About 9-00 we went to GQs and stayed there expecting to meet the Marlborough. As she was very late we packed up for about an hour. We opened fire on her about 11-00 a.m. Destroyers rushed out & put up a screen from smoke boxes with the result that she was obliterated. We were almost struck by a torpedo fired by her destroyers. We continued firing when she reappeared. We were about 50 miles out. In the afternoon the 2nd Div had a go at her. I had "B" watch during the afternoon. We got back about 8-00 p.m. Went to sick day & got some aspirins as I wasn't feeling up to scratch. The weather got up & it was blowing very hard when I turned in. No mail arrived. Two Austrian battleships torpedoed one being sunk.
Friday 14. Scapa.
I had a lie in & felt much better when I got up. I kept the relieve decks. In the forenoon we went with Denny & had a lecture on hydraulics in Y turret. I received a letter from Harold. He says he is behind the line in a pretty but quiet place. I wrote him a letter for his birthday & made him up a parcel. Billy Hughes & Cook have arrived in England. The weather was drizzly & blowy all day. In the afternoon we did turret drill. I changed to played deck hockey but the rain spoiled it. I had a bath & dressed for dinner. The 1st advance party returned from on leave. The 2nd were held up by the weather. The Oak is expected to go down to refit any day now. I expect a couple of parcels from home any day. Absolutely no news.
Saturday 15. Scapa.
An uneventful day. The weather continues cold & squally. The Oak has not left yet. The 2nd advance party left. I studied up some gunnery in the forenoon & sent a letter & a parcel containing strop & blades, cards & cigarettes to Harold for his birthday. I was allowed to send it duty-free. In the afternoon I studied up some gunnery & navigation but I don't seem to learn much. After tea I changed for deck hockey but the rain spoiled it. I had a bath & had my hair cut. I kept the first & attended a signal exercise after which I turned in early. We do a big gunnery programme next week I think. We stop watch keeping next week. I have heard that the St Vincents do their exam in November. I hope so.
Sunday 16. Scapa.
The usual Scapa routine. The weather was still very rough & squally. We had divisions & church. I didn't do anything all day. The heard I have to ago as rake party tonight. In the afternoon I studied up a little and after tea I played deck hockey after which I had a bath. After supper all the rake party about 50 strong including nine snotties left in the drifter and proceeded to Long Hope. We called alongside the "Oak" & then the King Orry. I had my hammock slung & then we had a read in their wardroom before turning in. Viscount Curzon is a RNVR Commander aboard her. The "Royal Oak" left Scapa to go on leave. We go next I hope. I received a letter from Edie. Absolutely no other news. No war news.
Monday 17. Scapa. King Orry.
We were underway when I turned out at 7-00. The weather was fairly fine but there was a bit of a sea on. One target broke adrift. I was sick just before breakfast. After breakfast we closed up at our jobs. Mine was to take sextant angles of the "Oak" in order to get her distance. About 10 ships fired and it was a good sight seeing the full calibre falling. Photographs were taken of the fall of shot. We packed up at 4-30. I had a sleep & we left the King Orry at 6-30 arriving back to the ship in time for dinner. After dinner I went to the Revenges show but was too tired to enjoy or appreciate it. I turned in about 11-30. I received three more letters. They were very late in arriving. We do a fairly big gunnery programme this week I think.
Tuesday 18. Scapa.
I went out in the galley before breakfast. We had a big pull. After divisions we had to correct the records that I took yesterday owing to the height of the Oaks mast being signalled wrong. After that we did turret drill with Denny in Y turret. After lunch we did director with Ch.G.I. Croxford & there was plenty to learn & grasp. After tea I read & then we had a dog watch lecture on engineering. We had the pictures after dinner. They were very good. Judex was brought to a finish. I was glad when I turned in. The weather is much better now and the days are calm but foggy. We went to 2½ hours notice about 6-00. I don't know why. Billy Hughes got a great reception when he arrived in London.
Wednesday 19. Scapa.
We went away in the galley at 6-30 & it was a stiff pull. After breakfast we had stripping with the marine sergeant. After lunch we went over the inter locks in X turret. We received the programme for the boxing. I may go in for it. We had a navigation exam in the dog watches. It was fairly easy. The 1st BCS came in & anchored. We are still at 2½ hours notice. The officers cutters have commenced. We had the band for dinner. Pilcher passed the port. I received the programme for tomorrows firing. I have to take records. We do 6" full calibre barrage fire. I turned in shortly after dinner. I received a letter from the Bank. My account now stands at £25/0/10. We may be up here for the boxing maybe we will refit.
Thursday 20. Scapa. At sea. Scapa.
We weighed at 7-30 & proceeded out to sea in order to do the same stunt as we did last week. The 1st Sub fired full calibre at the Marlborough & usual smoke screens were used by destroyers. I closed up at "B" day defence when we got out. We went to GQs. I was on the bridge telling Rawson was (what?) destroyers we were firing at. I got my lunch about 1-00. We closed up again at 2-00 and did 6" barrage firing against the "Oak". We packed up at 3-10. We then returned to harbour. Luckily day defence packed up before six so I didn't go on watch. I did a plan of the mess decks. After dinner we had a signal exercise and I turned in shortly afterwards. The weather is a bit better but still blowing. The Austrian offensive in Italy seems to have broken down. Nothing of importance doing.
Friday 21. Scapa.
It seemed a good day for sailing, a very nice breeze. I didn't do anything before breakfast. Afterwards we had to take those rotten gunnery training classes but I managed to get out of it by being instructed in maxim jams. I got permission to go away sailing. I went in the whaler. But for the wind dropping we might have come in near first. Wauhope & I had tea in the wardroom with Dicken. After dinner I played bridge and turned in about nine thirty. We had a lot of Yank officers in the wardroom. The BCs are still up here. We all hope to go down to Rosyth some time next week. The sailing race for midshipman is coming off next week. Absolutely no news.
Saturday 22. Scapa.
A very windy day. I had a good lie in. The gunnery mids had to go into X turret for some instruction. We packed up at eleven. I can't be bothered going ashore up here. In the afternoon I wrote up some seamanship notes & also started a letter to Mother. After tea I played deck hockey had a bath and after dinner I played poker but didn't do any good. I ran in three sweepers who weren't at quarters. One got Commanders report. It is a distasteful sort of job but the sweepers do loaf around. A new Lieut (eng) joined the ship. War news remains the same. We start torpedo next week. I have to turn out early tomorrow & see that the torpedo quarters are cleaned. The crews for the sailing race came out. I came 4th in the last navigation exam with 85%.
Sunday 23. Scapa.
The weather is still very chilly & blowy although this is the middle of summer. I rose at 5-45 and was there when the torpedo hands were told off. I visited their cleaning quarters. I had a bath at 7-15. We had muster by the ledger. I affixed myself to the POs and was soon finished. We had church afterwards and then after lunch I wrote up letters to Mother, Gladys & Eric & posted them. I did a bit of studying up but not much. There isn't much incentive to work. After tea I played deck hockey & after supper I read till the mail came and then turned in. We have the Flow on Wednesday. The hope to go down afterwards. This place is deadly. No news up here. Heard there was a strike at Rosyth but there was no truth in it. My parcels ought to arrive shortly from home.
Monday 24. Scapa.
We never turnout early for torpedo which is its best feature. In the forenoon I was down in the fore flat till stand easy & then went up whilst "A" watch SL crews had practice. The weather still remains rotten & no signs of clearing up. In the afternoon I tried hard to look for work but I couldn't get anybody to take me round so I packed up & read my notebook in the gunroom. After tea we had a gunnery dog watch lecture and we worked out a couple of problems. After dinner I played poker but didn't succeed in winning. The Italians seem to be pursuing the Austrians. We are getting hard up for food in the mess, milk cheese & sugar were short today.
Tuesday 25. Scapa.
The same weather continues and there isn't any fresh news except that the Italians are pushing back the Austrians & Britain presented Chile with 6 submarines & 20 seaplanes. In the forenoon I visited the flats trying to find work which I couldn't do. It was the same in the afternoon. I studied up explosives. We had a torpedo dog watch lecture till six after which I did some skipping & exercise. We had good pictures after dinner "The Vampire" & "Charlie at the Rink". I didn't turn in till 11-00. No mail from home. Expect one from Harold. A big attack expected shortly in the West. Battlecruisers still here. We aren't going down south till next week at least. A sailing race comes off on Saturday circumstances permitting.
Wednesday 26. Scapa.
The weather still continues rather rough. I turned out at 5-45 & saw that all of the gear for picking up the mouldies was correct. In the forenoon I was down in the flat & also preparing my lecture for Friday afternoon. We weighed at 12-00 noon. I was on the FX for in & out of harbour stations. We fired two torpedos & came to anchor again about four. I was down in the flat whilst the tests were made or on the torpedo after running. I did some skipping after tea. We had the band & after dinner I studied up torpedo. The Glorious & Courageous came in to Scapa. Not much news. Something about the Italians & Austrians. We paint ship tomorrow. Nothing about Rosyth yet. Expect a letter from Harold. Weather it a bit warmer.
Thursday 27. Scapa.
A rather calmer day calm enough for the galley crew to go away. We had rather a long pull. I was down in the flat all forenoon whilst we ran two torpedos from the starboard tube from anchor. The Captain was down in the flat. I had to get one torpedo inboard & tell Torps how it would be struck down. We obtained permission to go to the 1st BS boxing championships held in the Ramillies. The boxing wasn't up to much. We still lead the Revenge in the total number of points. We got back about 6-30. Afterwards I did some training. In all probability I will go in for the boxing. After dinner we had a signal exercise & then I did some torpedo notes. I turned in about 10-00. The Glorious & Courageous are in the Flow but the Glorious is still in quarantine.
Friday 28. Scapa.
A very nice sunny calm the best we have had since we have been up here. We are painting ship & have chosen a good time for it. I went away in the galley. The 1st BCS left Scapa for Rosyth. In the forenoon I was down in the torpedo lecture room & read up the confidential torpedo manuals. In the afternoon I was down there also. I went over to the boxing in the Revenge at 4-00 & saw some very good fights. We will lose the cup by a very narrow margin I think. We have two winners. I thought I would give up the galley as it is a bit of a strain where I had my operation. After dinner I played bridge with the subs and turned in at 10-30. There won't be any wind for tomorrows sailing race. Received a big mail from home.
Sunday 29. Scapa.
A very calm day. I slept in instead of turning out at 5-45 but nothing startling happened. I had to do a tracing for Torps & the rest of the forenoon did some studying. The sailing race was postponed as there was no wind but later in the afternoon it sprang up & the race started at 3-30. I was in the whaler from the Comus. We were going well & there was a good breeze until we crashed into the Courageous when we were beating into the wind. After that we were becalmed. We were 4th after the first round but soon dropped behind & finished near last. Our bows were beggared up. A whaler won it. We had dinner at 7-00 after making up the gear. After dinner I wrote some letters & turned in about 10-00. We go out in the Firth on Monday.
Sunday 30. Scapa.
I had a good lie in. Guns was promoted to Commander & I think he deserves it. The inclinometer or Langley was explained to me by Guns as I have to work it tomorrow. We had divisions & church. I wrote letters during the afternoon and did a bit of torpedo. The weather got up suddenly which prevented us asking the snotties from the Australia over. The 2nd BCS came in this morning & the 6th BS left for Rosyth. We go out in the Firth tomorrow to practise inclination tests. The senior section does engineering when not doing gunnery. We are allowed to write active service on our letters and get free postage. I did not receive any extra mail accept a Bulletin. The weather died down remarkably at supper time.
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© Michael Calder February 2003