Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
March Friday 1. Scapa.
I didn't go to gun drill. There was a bit of a fuss kicked up. We got underway about 10-30. I was up on the FXLE when we weighed. Larkins & Thompo left for their destroyers. Guns told me quite suddenly that I have to take Larkin’s place in inter communication. I had to find the corrections. The 15" fired at a canvas target, 6" at the splash target. It was a very fine & calm day. Coming to anchor the Texas crossed our bows from port to starboard. We had to go full speed astern. In the afternoon I played poker till 3-30 & I kept the first dog. Had to fix position of anchor from C3 berth. Raining all the time. 30 men from Arkansas over. Had usual signal exercise. Good pictures in the wardroom. American officers as guests. 6 gunroom officers invited over to Wyoming tomorrow night.
Saturday 2. Scapa. Visit to USS Wyoming.
The usual Saturday routine. A very fine & calm day. The theatrical company had numerous photos taken. It was very cold getting them taken. I kept the afternoon watch. I dressed to go to the Wyoming. 6 GR & 9 WR & some WOs were invited to the Wyoming. Farncombe & myself & others went over. We went to the junior officers mess. Yarned to them all. There are 11 junior officers some 1 stripe & others 1½. We had a topping dinner with the asparagus & ice-cream, fresh bread & butter. There mess was for’d & twice as big as ours. They are much older about 21-25. Very fine fellows. I was shown over 12" turret. Thought it very primitive. Special vaudeville concert given for us. Not bad. 1 striper named Preston showed me over his cabin. Very good. They have a pianola & gramophone. Filipinos are their servants. We left there at 11-00. Turned in a 11-30. Thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Sunday 3. Scapa.
I kept the forenoon watch. Plenty of work to do. The "New York" entered harbour about 11 & the "Revenge" blistered & camouflaged about 10 to 12. Plenty of buzzes as to who is going next. Captain was aboard the flag during the forenoon. I also kept the afternoon watch after having had lunch and by the end of it I was rather tired. The day was fairly fine & calm. In the dogs I took it easy & had a smoke & read. Had a very good supper & after playing a little Minaru I turned in an early & read. The Cochrane left early this morning with supplies & stores for 1600 men. Presumably she is going up to Russia round the North. I had a party of Yanks aboard. I have heard that Larkins destroyer has gone convoying to Ireland. The Revenge said that she had a torpedo across the bows.
Monday 4. Scapa & leaving harbour.
I kept the forenoon watch. Rather cold. I heard officially that we are going convoying tonight. We have beautiful weather for it. I did navigation during the forenoon. After lunch we had 15" & 6" controls testing circuits etc. I then wrote up some construction notes. We received our stations. I am B watch night defence. Evershed mid on the fore bridge. I also keep 1 hr tricks in the spotting top by day. My action station till Larkins returns is 15" concentration in the spotting top. We had our usual gunnery dog watch lecture. Pretty monotonous. We have to make out a list of the names of men & their numbers on the ships books & give them in to the Captain. After dinner as I have the morning watch I turned in pretty early. We weighed at 9-00 & proceeded out on convoy. Weather calm.
Tuesday 5. At sea. Convoying.
I turned out at four. There was a slight motion. It was very cold on watch. I was on the starboard evershead. The wind & sea gradually increased all day but it was never very rough but it was cold. We closed up at 6-00 at GQs. It was much warmer in the spotting top. The 4th L C S was sighted about 6-00. We packed up GQs at 7-00 & I kept submarine lookout from 7-00 till 8-00. I had the forenoon off except when we had 15" control at 10-00 a.m. I was up in the spotting top again at 1 to 2. Convoy was in sight. About 32 ships all told. All very small. Three of us out. Royal Oak & Canada. Sighted Ithuriel & two of our destroyers. I wrote up some notes & had a game of bridge. Haven't been at all sick. We packed up day defence about 6-15 p.m. As I have the middle tomorrow I turned in in the gunroom. The sea is getting up a bit.
Wednesday 6. At sea. Off Norway.
I had a good sleep till 12. Kept the middle. Very calm weather. Not a breath of wind. Packed up at 4. Closed up at GQs at 5-30. Packed up about 7-00. Beautiful sunny day. Couple of subs knocking around. 2nd BS left Rosyth. During day tons of sun & star sights. 15" control about 10 to 11-30. Norway in sight about 2-05. Very pretty sight. Convoy always visible. Very hard to define coast. Convoy went into the harbour Bergen. We cruised round waiting for the return convoy. Still fine Norway visible. I was up as submarine lookout. Sighted convoy myself 29 ships, 1 armed yacht, 9 trawlers, 2 destroyers. We had been running into fog banks all afternoon & had decreased speed. I sighted an open boat Minion inspected it. Reported waterlogged belonging to SS Cotesmore. 4th LCS in sight. Very imposing sight. Obtained DRs for my sights. Took star sights. Kept first watch. Ran into fog banks twice. Very calm & easy watch. Submarines all round us couple crossing our bows. Turned in half dressed.
Thursday 7. At sea. Convoying.
Turned out at GQs at 5-30. A moderate breeze had sprung up. Sighted the convoy about 6-15. We packed up GQs again about 7-00. I was in at the spotting top from 10 to 10 till 10 to 11 when we had 15" control. We had rather a big roll on during the afternoon but I didn't feel in the slightest way seasick. The cruisers were knocking about with us. I was again in the spotting top from 10 to 3 till 10 to 4. I had the last dog as Evershead midshipmen. I fell foul of Torps & the Commander N the latter undeserved. We had rather a list on & the wind had sprung up to a moderate breeze. At 8-00 p.m. we left the convoy about 80 miles from Rosyth & steered for Scapa. As I have the morning I turned in after dinner & soon got to sleep. Steered NW for Scapa. We got our PVs out about 10-00 p.m. No more submarines reported. I really enjoyed this convoy. We had plenty to do & little sleep though.
Friday 8. At sea. Scapa.
I kept the morning watch till 6-30 a.m. when after having passed the Skerries we packed up night defence. We dropped anchor at 7-30. All the fleet were in except QE, Resolution & Agincourt. Achilles was also here. We were allowed a stand easy all day. I wrote up notes & also in the afternoon I sorted out all the certificates of the Fxle division as each man has to be interviewed. We oiled. The Napier came close to us & Wauhope returned. It was blowing nearly all day. We received a big mail but there were none for me. We had the pictures in the wardroom but they weren't very good. We had a torpedo dog watch and it was very interesting mainly about Jutland Report. The Yanks went out convoying. I am very pleased about myself with the last convoy. Quite a seaman now. I saw Torps about last night's incident but he didn't say much. Fairly cold weather.
Saturday 9. Scapa.
I kept the relieve decks. We weighed about 10-30 & went out into the Firth with the Oak. We passed the Ramillies & Canada who were returning. It was rather misty. We fired 6" main armament. I was applying corrections in intercommunication. We closed up a GQs. I felt the concussion a bit as well as fumes from the funnel & cordite smoke. We packed up at 12-30 & returned to the Flow. I played poker after lunch & after tea I played deck hockey. It was very good exercise. We started summer routine. I had a bath & dressed for dinner. I nearly nipped off my left thumb nail. Had it bandaged at the sick bay. We couldn't fire at the splash target as it carried away. As I have the morning watch I turned in early. The mail arrives very late now. Comes by the late train. Air raid on London. Farncombe passed port on account of his 19th birthday.
Sunday 10. Scapa.
I turned a out at 5-40 & kept the morning watch. The day turned out to be very fine & sunny. The articles of war were read out to all divisions. We had church as usual. I wrote letters to Mother, Eric & Gladys before tea & after perused some examination papers. We received word that our exams come off definitely in September. The Princess Marguerite & Paris armed merchant cruisers came in to the Flow owing to the bad weather outside. I kept the first & then it turned in shortly afterwards. Finland has asked the Kaiser's 5th son to be their King. Shadwell got off fairly lightly for cheeking the gunnery Lieut. Mr Smith has been promoted to lieutenant. The QE returned & resumed Fleet Flag. We all hope to go to Rosyth shortly.
Monday 11. Scapa.
We went to a 2½ hrs notice during the forenoon. I was given to the job of making a convergency slide rule for the Commander N instead of navigation. The French cruiser "Amiral Aube" came in during the night. She looks very huge & high are out of the water. I continued my work with the slide rule. We embarked practise ammunition. We are doing a big shoot shortly. We had another navigation dog watch lecture in the dog watches. The Commander N was a very amusing. We paid our mess bills. Mine was about £3. Very good weather of late. No mail for me. Princess Marguerite & Paris went out minelaying in the forenoon. Received a some papers from home. Signal exercises are coming off in future at 9-00. Perhaps the pictures will be altered. I hope so. No war news. Posted all letters to home.
Tuesday 12. Scapa.
I kept the forenoon watch and then continued & finished the Commander N slide rule. The day was very bright & sunny & leave was given but I didn't go ashore. I wrote up some hydraulic notes. I jumped on two men of the division for being cantankerous. Told them to have their bags ready to be mustered but they didn't do so. I'm going to inquire into it. We had an engineering dog watch lecture by Mr Noakes on turbo generators. The Yanks returned from Convoy at 5-45 p.m. 4th BS left at 10-45 p.m. They are then proceeding to Rosyth. I'm reading a very good book "No X". I turned in early after dinner. No war news. Expect a mail from home anytime now. I have to have my thumb bandaged in case I tear the nail off. In good health. Saw the interior of a swash plate in Y turret. Have Flow tomorrow & Thursday afternoon.
Wednesday 13. Scapa.
A very fine day. I ran in two more of the division for slack doubling round. I worked out a few sights in the forenoon. After lunch we were in the Flow & had 15" control. We had intercommunication & I had to work out the convergence as well. I had a pretty smart time. We packed up about three. After tea I played deck hockey & had a very good game, then I had a bath & dressed for the pictures. This morning I received a letter from Eric, Edie & Brenda Miller & one from Harold. No mail from home by tonights mail. The pictures were very good. We finished the drama & had a Charlie Chaplin. The French cruiser left Scapa about 7-00 p.m. We went to 2½ hrs notice about 10 p.m. I turned in about 11-00. The weather is extraordinary for March. Quite warm & fine & cloudless.
Thursday 14. Scapa.
Still at 2½ hours notice. Kept the forenoon watch. I worked out Admiralty sights for navigation. A beautiful day. Not a ripple. In the afternoon we had to do seamanship in the fan flat. I couldn't play deck hockey as I had to bring Evans up before Mr Wells. I tidied for dinner after which we had a signal exercise on the boat deck at nine. I did fairly well. I wrote to Brenda Miller, Edie & Miss Living before turning in. There is a buzz that we refit in May & blister in September. I hope so. The mail arrives very late now after ten. I should have got some letters from Gladys & Mother. Our gunnery programme today was cancelled. Nothing of note has occurred. I finished off my hydraulic notes. We have lost over 50 submarines. The submarines still continue to sink about 16 a week.
Friday 15. Scapa.
It was rather cool today. As usual I had the forenoon watch. The two of the FX division who were before the Commander got 10A. We had GQs after divisions & we practised intercommunication with the Oak. We packed up about 11-00. We were still at 2½ hours notice all day. In the afternoon I did some study also after tea. There has been nothing of importance. I received a letter from Eric this morning. He is getting very republican in his ideas. We had the band tonight. We had some very good music. We had a signal exercise at 9-00 p.m. The Benbow made it very badly. I turned in at 9-45. We expect to go down south in May. I can't put myself to studying. It will be a great strain. I posted all my letters. Commander gave us an order to take more interest in watch.
Saturday 16. Scapa.
We went back to original notice at 9-15. I kept as usually the forenoon watch and at 10-40 six inch control went & I had to go whilst sights were checked & telescopes tested. We packed up at 12-00. Nearly everybody went ashore. The weather continues to be fine & sunny. The 5th BS & 2nd cruiser squadron went out convoying during the afternoon. We are doing a big shoot on Tuesday so it seems. Lt. Smith started keeping watches today. Court-martial was held aboard Benbow. Nothing exciting occurred during the afternoon. I turned in about 9-30 & had a read. A couple of other ships are trying splash targets. None have been a very great success. I obtained a finger stalk for my thumb. I can't find any definite work to study up. I wish I could. The Commander has taken seriously to seeing that that we do plenty of work whilst on watch.
Sunday 17. Scapa.
Another beautiful day. We had divisions & church. I went to Communion after church. In the afternoon I read & fooled around. Nothing to do. We were at 2½ hours notice all day. I think we are going to stay at notice right through the summer whilst convoys are in progress. We had the military officer who was on board in to dine. He was pretty near bottled. I kept the last dog. It was rather cold on watch. I had a smoke, wrote a letter to Mother & turned in at 10-00. My harbour station for the next week is on the FXLE. Nothing doing up here. Almost a serious accident occurred with a rifle "Didn't know it was loaded" sort of thing. Borodino alongside us tomorrow. One of the Admiral Class up here during summer. A coal ship I hear.
Monday 18. Scapa.
Today was fairly calm. "Cable Officers" went at 6-00. I was on the FXle. We shortened in two shackles and about 6-45 we weighed & proceeded to the North Shore. I had a hurried bath & went up again on to the Fxle when we anchored. We did an exam in navigation during the forenoon. We coaled ship. The Borodino came alongside during the afternoon. I bought some eggs & tooth paste. Nearly all the 1st BS are over here. The weather got very fine during the afternoon. I read up some seamanship & then after tea we went to a hydraulics lecture by Lt Smith. I kept the first watch thus escaping from the relieve decks tomorrow. I read the journey of the "Wolf". She must have laid the mines off Gabo. She says she did. Flew a seaplane over Sydney.
Tuesday 19. Scapa. 15" firing -Pentland Firth.
Cable officers was sounded about 8-15 & we shortened in to five when a fog set in & we did not weigh. I continued the navigation paper. It was a beautiful calm day otherwise. The 1st BCS arrived in the Flow about 7-00 a.m. At 11-00 we veered to eight again. At 12-00 as the fog had lifted we weighed again & with the Oak went out into the Firth. We opened fire on our port bow & turned 19 points & fired on our starboard side. The scene was grand from where I was ie outside the spotting top. We fired 6" & returned & anchored about 4-30 at the North Shore again. Officers going aboard other ships on duty are recommended to take their own meals. We didn't have a dog watch lecture. We had a picture after dinner. Not much of a show. Turned in soon after. I would like to stay up in the spotting top in action.
Wednesday 20. Scapa.
We did signals after divisions and then Sinclair took us and the signal boys ashore to Houton bay and we did marching manoeuvres. We came off to the ship again at noon. We were given a make & mend and I played poker & bridge & for the first time in three months I won a few bob. I kept the first dog & had to fix the position of the ship & do odd jobs. We had the band and after dinner I turned in & read. Looked over the paper that the snotties had in March. Wasn't as easy as usual. We have another splash target for tomorrow & the forecastle division is going for a route march. I am going to do some shooting when the weather is fine. Some of the theatrical party went over to the E of I show. I hear that the Commander is bringing out a new order for us.
Thursday 21. Scapa.
The FXLE division including OS & torpedomen etc all landing at Houton pier. We marched about 2½ miles had a stand easy and then marched back. It drizzled some of the time & made the roads sloppy. We returned to the ship at 12. I thoroughly enjoyed the march. In the afternoon I tried to do some study & after tea I wrote up some gunnery notes. The battle cruisers were out flowing (sic). The day was very calm. The weather is marvellous. There was an action off Dunkirk. We got two destroyers & two torpedo boats. No details. An order came from Whitehall that summer time will be three hours in advance this time. Did nothing after dinner. Canada & Revenge did full calibre firing. The splash target was quite successful with the destroyer this morning.
Friday 22. Scapa.
A very fine day. I had the morning watch & got up at 5-40. During the forenoon I wrote out the stations for abandon ship, fire & cleaning etc. There is a big Hun offensive going on, just started. There was a great cag (sic) about shore going. Hirst & myself were stopped going ashore with rifles by the Commander so I played poker & won a bit. Had fours. I took the 2nd picket boat to Scapa pier for the Captain. I didn't get back till near dinner time. We had a signal exercise I did very well. I am reading one of Stephen Leacock’s books. It is very funny. I turned in fairly early & read & managed to almost finished my hydraulic notes. We are over here for another week. Next Monday there is going to be a marathon of four miles for officers & men of four miles. I am too much out of training to go in for it.
Saturday 23. Scapa.
I kept the forenoon watch. R-A Nicholson & Flag Captain of Revenge came aboard to witness the Dove’s patent gear. I was up on the bridge till 12-30. We fired with B turret. I played poker again. We weighed again at 3-45 for torpedo running. Six spotting top mids were sent to spot torpedos. We made a muck-up of it. Couldn't see it at all. Captain swore at us. Shadwell was caught laughing. Given watch & watch for a fortnight. Rest of us had to stand on the QD for half an hour. Very cold. After dinner I finished my hydraulic notes. Serious news from the Western Front. We admit losses. We are retreating slightly. Germans claim 15,000 & many guns. Mild excitement. The Battlecruisers left about 5-45 p.m. Summer time starts tomorrow. Clocks to put on. Had a very strenuous day. A mail is expected any day. Rather cold today.
Sunday 24. Scapa.
A fierce battle is raging on the Western Front. We are retreating slightly. Things are looking serious. The Glorious came in to harbour about 9-00 a.m. Good weather continues. We had divisions & church yesterday we had to fill in forms stating our next of kin. Chapman told us that we have been given a rise of 1/- a day to date from Jan 1st. Not so bad on the whole. In the afternoon Evans, Dallmeyer & myself sailed the skiff in & landed & returned at 3-30. After tea I played hockey & had a very good game. Had a cold bath after it. The clocks were put on one hour this morning. After supper I played poker & won a bit. I am gradually reducing my loss in cards. I turned in about ten. I hope we can get the Glorious crowd over here. My nail came off. The is a little deformed one underneath. I hope I don’t have any trouble with it.
Monday 25. Scapa.
I kept the morning watch. We were at 2½ hours notice when I got up. It is very probable that we will go to sea this week. The Germans bombarded Paris from a range of about 70 miles. The gun must be terrific in size. They have pushed us back a bit but we will hold them I think. We weighed the starboard anchor by hand. Not a bad evolution. In the afternoon we did navigation I received 90% for my paper. We had Commander N’s lecture in the dog watches. We were on the forebridge part of the time. I wrote letters to Mother & Gladys. Weather a bit cold & wet but not bad. A match was put off on Wednesday by AC1 what for I don't know. We were starting a serial in the pictures. I hear it is pretty rotten. There is really nothing to put in a diary now.
Tuesday 26. Scapa.
The German offensive & advance still continue. Paris was again bombarded at 90 miles range. Great aerial activity. We had the evolution out kedge anchor. It was a beautiful calm day. Things went very well. We finished up the forenoon with navigation. The Commander N showed all of us who haven't been to destroyers Wauhope’s report. He said it was rotten but it wasn't so bad. In the afternoon we did signals in the fan flat & after quarters we had an engineering dog watch lecture. At cards I have managed to get winning a bit. I played cards after dinner & then we had the pictures. We are having a long detective series entitled the "Black Box". I didn't turn in till 11-00. I have the morning watch every alternate morning. The Marathon takes place tomorrow. We lost a destroyer & sloop. No naval news. I received a lot of papers.
Wednesday 27. Scapa.
I had the morning watch. Very nice day. Nothing happened. In the morning those who were with the kedge anchor yesterday got out coalition mat. It was done very well. We finished up the morning by doing notes. After lunch Hirst & myself went ashore to watch the Marathon. They had the final of the 1st BS soccer. Canada won from the E of I. Mr Dove finished fourth in the Marathon. The Sovereign didn't distinguished itself very well. Newman, Collins & Kimlin ran from the Canada. We returned in time for tea. In the afternoon I played poker. I am winning now. After dinner we played bridge. We had the band. It was very good. Shadwell has dropped out of watch keeping so watches will come more frequently. The Germans are still advancing but at a good price. Albert has been taken. Still 2½ hrs notice.
Thursday 28. Scapa.
A rotten cold day & very rainy. I kept the relieve decks. In the forenoon we saw the swash plate engine working & then we did navigation. I finished off my first year sights & am not allowed to take sights for my second year till after April 1st. In the afternoon I wrote up the Commander’s stations in my seamanship book. We went out in the Flow at 3-30 firing 6" ¾ charge gunlayers test. We anchored again about 6-30. The 2nd BCS came in. It is a pity we are back in the fleet anchorage. I played poker after dinner. There were plenty of buzzes that we were going to sea tonight but nothing came of it. The German attack still continues. I wrote letters to Eric, Edie & Harold. Nothing out of importance has happened. I am winning about 10/- now in cards.
Friday 29. Scapa.
I kept the relieve decks. We had Sunday routine for the morning. Divisions at 9-30 and church afterwards. I played cards before & after lunch. I took the day easy. After tea I played deck hockey and had a very good game. We had a hot & cold bath afterwards. Goodman passed port at dinner it must have broken his heart. The 4th Division went out convoying in the forenoon. We didn't have any signal exercise. After dinner I played bridge with Mansergh & lost a bit. I turned in about ten. We were given a stand easy in the afternoon. We don't go back to the fleet anchorage till the end of the week. The Germans are still attacking. Not as much progress reported. Still at 2½ hrs notice.
Saturday 30. Scapa.
We finished our last day of N & S. I as usual had the relieve decks. Today was a bit better. Still a bit of a breeze up. I at last grasped the theory of the dynamo. I came out winning 7/- in cards this month. I played rugby for the officers against the ships company. We landed at Snoogro. I played forward. We won 11-0. We returned to the ship about five. I had tea early & had a bath. After dinner I had a yarn with the rest & turned in about 10-00. We do engineering for the next fortnight. Probably we will go out on a convoy. Still at notice. The steward has obtained some good chocolates. I have been having very good exercise of late. I received a letter from Harold in London. He left Australia in Nestor, stayed at Suez. Left in Kasghar disembarked at Taranto - train to Boulougne thence to England. He expects to go to France in a month.
Sunday 31. Scapa.
We had divisions & church after which I went to Communion. The day was very dull & misty. I studied up some torpedo during the afternoon. I am gradually improving in it. After tea I played deck hockey but the decks were very slippery. I had a bath and after supper I played poker & turned in at 10-00. Some of the new lot have been appointed to the Canada. I don't think that any will come here. We are underway tomorrow & we go back to the fleet anchorage. We are having a test exam after doing two weeks at engineering, torpedo & gunnery each. We ought to go convoying this week. We should get a nice little sum at the end of this month. We left off watch keeping. Absolutely no news. I hope I don't have to go back to the battery.
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© Michael Calder February 2003