Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
May Wednesday 1. Rosyth.
A fairly good day. I was down at the switchboard from 7 - 8. After breakfast I was with Tonkin looking round dynamos. I went to the sick day & got a recipe for syrup. I gave them some sugar to make it with. We had a lecture on the torpedo firing in the Battle of Jutland. I didn't go ashore. I received a letter from a Gieves for £4/11. I think & hope that Miss Living paid it with the money I left her. I wrote to her & also Amy Martin during the afternoon in a the TL (?) room. In the dogs I had a good sleep. I won about £4 last month at cards. We had the band after dinner & I played poker turning in about 10-15. No news from Harold. Maclean returned from the destroyer. I shoved my name down from (sic) the boxing.
Thursday 2. Rosyth.
I received a letter from Harold to say that he had been in France but not in the firing line yet. The Commander N heard some reports about discontent with leave & is going to stop the present system to everybody disgust. We attended whilst at the torpedo dept went to their GQs after which everything was explained. We played the Repulse hockey on a ground at Dundas Castle. We were about twice their size but they licked us 6-2. I had tea at the Queensferry Arms. Watkins went to the Mameluke. I arrived back on board at 7-30. I was paid £3. I thought I would get more. After dinner we had a signal exercise after which I played bridge. Posted my letters. Can't get any stamps. It costs something to live down here.
Friday 3. Rosyth.
I did ring main before breakfast & afterwards we had GQs. I worked at the RF plot. It is my permanent station. Afterwards we had a lecture by Dove on motors. I went ashore at 12-30. Had tea at the JOC. Met Long & Burnett. Went for a walk after tea & returned to the ship at 7-30. After dinner I played bridge. Succeeded in coming square in a rubber after an hours play. The destroyer Rigorous came alongside. We received a notice re bills at Gieves. I prefer to pay as I go. We have started watch keeping. We keep watch and watch. I start with the morning tomorrow. The weather has been colder of late & pretty dull. No news. Another attack expected on the Western Front. I hope Harold comes out all right. He will be shortly in the firing line. My cough & cold has improved.
Saturday 4. Rosyth.
A rotten day. I got up at 5-40 & kept the morning watch. After breakfast we had for a gunnery lecture one by Usborne on silhouettes. For the rest of the forenoon I did a bit of study. I went on watch again at 1-30 after having seen some developing or attempts at such. It rained all the afternoon. There were a lot of ladies aboard as guests. They should keep them off. I did some navigation during the 1st dog & kept the last dog. It was raining very hard. After dinner I played bridge & turned in at 10-30. The Dreadnought arrived in the Grand Fleet in place of the Superb. She seems a wonderful ship. Rather a crush of boats tonight. Troup chatted me up about the boxing. Absolutely nothing to report.
Sunday 5. Rosyth.
A nice sunny day. Nothing occurred of importance. We had church and divisions as usual. Two GC badges were presented. It is a waste of time all marching down aft to see it done. I didn't go ashore in the afternoon. I looked over some exam papers & did some study during the afternoon. I wrote a letter to Mother my 50th. The Rigorous shoved off at six. I had a very fine supper. It is the best meal we have in the week. They were picking the galley’s crew etc. I am not in it being too small. We play soccer tomorrow. I turned in about 9-30. Larkins & Thompson got very good reports from their destroyers. Started to rain when I turned in. Don't think I will go ashore much next week. Plenty of greens for supper.
Monday 6. Rosyth.
The usual torpedo routine. We were going to play the Ramillies hockey but as it rained all day it was put off. In the forenoon Torps lectured on interpoles etc & in the afternoon we went into sections. The Commander N gave a dog watch lecture. He was quite humorous. I had my hair cut. After dinner I played bridge & turned in about 10-00. There is a buzz that exams which were to take place in September come off in July but I don't suppose it applies to us. We go out in the Flow tomorrow. My mess bill came to about £4/10. The Commander N asked for more to go in for the boxing. I hope I can get down to lightweight. Haven't been ashore for some time. The heard that the Resolution has left Portsmouth.
Tuesday 7. Rosyth.
A rather misty day so we didn't weigh. I did torpedo during the forenoon & also torpedo spotting table. Hirst & I went up to Edinburgh. The weather was all right. We went to some pictures & had tea. Took the train both ways. We arrived back about seven thirty. I went to the pictures after dinner but they were very rotten & I left & turned in at half-time. I received a letter from Tracker. He is in hospital suffering from Trench Fever. No news. We will probably go out again this week. Playing in a rugby pick-up next week. The Australians had another success yesterday. They seem to be in it nowadays.
Wednesday 8. Rosyth.
We did the usual routine. We received a list of ships in quarantine, no less than twenty. We had 15" spotting table. Did a couple of stiff runs. We had lectures by Dove on motors. I don't think he knows much about it. I didn't go ashore and fooled around down in the lecture room. After tea I read through a gunnery book & had a bit of a snooze. We had the band & after dinner I played bridge. The mess has run out of all sorts of drinks not even lime juice can be obtained. I didn't turn in till about 10-15. Absolutely nothing to put in. Weathers been very misty. Haven't paid my mess bill yet. It is pretty rotten staying aboard nothing to do. I think I'll go ashore tomorrow.
Thursday 9. Rosyth.
A nice & sunny day. We had searchlights explained, both kinds. After stand easy we had a lecture on shunt regulators etc. I went ashore in the afternoon. We had a walk & lay in the sun which was nice & warm till tea time. I met Paddy & Joey & after tea we went along the beach & had a sit down. I returned to the ship about 7-00. After dinner I played bridge. Turned in shortly after ten. No news. Playing rugby tomorrow. Australia is in strict quarantine. We ought to go into quarantine any day now. Plenty of cases of influenza & many fresh ones. All the fleet have got it. Australians did a bit of attacking. They seemed to be doing it all. Going to limit myself down with cigarettes. A galley goes out every morning now.
Friday 10. Rosyth.
A bright sunny day. The usual routine. After we had finished the lecture on SLs by Torps we all were fumigated in the fan flat against influenza as the number of cases still increases. Nearly all the gunroom and went ashore for rugger. I met Paddy & we played billiards and had a walk before tea. During the afternoon in the JOC I read the Sentimental Bloke through & thoroughly enjoyed it. Everyone turned up but there was no ball so we packed up. I saw Sadlier & Conder but I don't go much on the pair of them. The Captain made a mess of the boats. We got back alright but those at N. Queensferry had to wait. After dinner we had a signalling exercise & then I played bridge. Turned in about ten.
Saturday 11. Rosyth.
A slushy day. I worked at gunnery all day principally on the theory stuff. I didn't go ashore. I wrote letter to Eric, Gladys & to Tracker. After tea I did some more gunnery. No news. After dinner I played bridge and turned in at 10. The Vindictive has finished up by depositing herself in the canal at Ostend. She was filled with cement. Influenza is still spreading. The Commander N has got it & is in bed. No mail yet. The front is again quiet. I am getting a bit tired of this life, too monotonous. We do night firing on Monday night. I wish Miss Living would reply to my letter as it is rotten keeping back an amount. It will be a terrible sweat studying up for our final exam. It is bad enough as it is. There is a terrible amount to learn.
Sunday 12. Rosyth.
A fairly good day. We couldn't have church on the mess deck owing to infection so we had it on the QD. I played bridge after it. In the afternoon I wrote letters to Mother and Edie. No mail. I didn't go ashore. It rained during the rest of the afternoon. I played chess after tea. I didn't do much study. After supper I played bridge again & turned in about 11-00. The Grenville has been alongside for a couple of days. I don't know how we will get out tomorrow without the Commander N who is still in bed. Had a very good supper. It is the best meal of the week. A bit of a show kicked up between a snottie and coxswain of the picket boat. It is a very tender point. No war news. The Canadian aboard gave a lecture on aeroplane.
Monday 13. Rosyth.
We had our usual instruction. I went to 15" spotting table before doing torpedo. We packed up at eleven fifteen. We weighed shortly after lunch & went out into the Flow. We got out all right & anchored between the booms. It was very misty & drizzly. I was instructed in the method of using the Evershead for the destroyer attack. We put off weighing for the afternoon shoot till 7-30. We had GQs. I was on the bridge. We fired 6" full calibre. We packed up about ¼ to 9. At 10-00 we all weighed again & went to night action but owing to the weather we returned to harbour at 11-00. I turned in & read a bit but soon got to sleep. Mr Walker had a rather busy time conning the ship all day.
Tuesday 14. Rosyth.
We weighed early & came and moored in the old place again. We did instruction during the forenoon. I had watch & watch so I didn't go ashore. Stephenson the crack billiardist is aboard. I kept the first dog. We had a terrible lot of gold lace aboard. Madden & Burne. Clayton, Baker, Hunt & many captains & commodores. I kept the first watch & then watched Stevenson playing the Admirals. Hunt with 300 beat him 500 up. It was the first time that he had been beaten in the fleet. I turned in at 11-00. No news. Big casualty lists. Did a bit of study but not much. I played a little bridge before afternoon study. I think I will do pretty good in the exams. No mail yet. The R O made a bad shot at mooring this morning.
Wednesday 15. Rosyth.
We are having very fine weather of late. I was called at 5-30 & told I had to coal. It was a terrible strain. We coaled 50 in about two hours. It was calm & very clean coal. I had a stand off till 10-00. I attended the TLs lecture. I went ashore at 12-20. I played billiards and went for a walk. It was very hard walking in my new boots. I met Kimlin after tea & we had a yarn etc. I returned to the ship about 7-30. We had the band which was very good & I played poker but lost a bit. I can't stand poker now. I received a letter from Eric & one from Tracker. The Australians restored the line that had been lost by the Allies. I think that they are something to be proud of. I am getting rather good at billiards on a small table. I don't think that we are blistering this summer.
Thursday 16. Rosyth.
The usual routine. We had a torpedo breakdown drill everything being controlled from the lecture room. It was very interesting. I didn't go ashore as I wanted to write letters. I wrote most of the letters during the afternoon. No news has arrived from home yet. Miss Living seems to be taking her time over sending me the answer as to whether she has paid my bill. I played billiards after tea till about six. I then looked up a bit of gunnery. While scruffing in the bathroom I fell and ricked my left leg. I can hardly walk now. I went to the pictures after dinner. One of the films was good. The serial is rotten. I wrote letters to Eric, Harold, Gladys & Tracker, I sent a letter to Gieves.
Friday 17. Rosyth.
The good weather still continues & it was quite warm & sunny. The boxing competition for boys was continued alongside us. There were some good fights & we had a lot of entries in. I received a letter from Mother & Gladys & Mollie. We could watch the boxing all day. I didn't go ashore owing to my leg. I did a bit of study. We received a memo from Troup about the coming exams. We will be worked according to how we do in them. I wrote letters to Mother & Mrs Anderson. We had a torpedo lecture by Torps after dinner. It was very close in the lecture room. I received a paper from Amy Martin. I turned in about 10-15. My leg is much better due to the massaging. We won't get ashore next week very much owing to exams. We have six 2 hr papers.
Saturday 18. Rosyth.
We had a lie in this morning. I watched the finals for the boys. We got to firsts & the most number of points. It was real warm today quite like home. The sun was nice & bright. I wrote a letter to Miss Living & also one to Willie. I did some studying especially rule of the road. I put in a chit this morning saying I knew all about it. I had a caulk in the afternoon. After dinner I played poker & turned in at 10-15. It was very stuffy in the office flat. I hear we go out into the Flow on Tuesday which of course is the day I have a watch. Pilcher was given watch & stop on for not being in his boat when she piled up on a pier. I think the mail has stopped. No news from the front. The weights for light weight is 135 lbs I think.
Sunday 19. Rosyth.
Another warm day but I didn't go ashore. We had divisions & church on the QD after which every man had to air his bedding. I wrote out a list of the distinguishing signals after lunch & also spent time at other subjects beside having a game of billiards on the Captains table. After tea the I had another game & at the same time I did some study. We have engineering & navigation tomorrow. The government have arrested all of the leaders of the Sinn Fein movement. After supper I played poker & won a little. The weather is marvellous & is quite warm. There is no news to speak of. I sent on two bulletins to Harold. I hope I do well in the exams. The "Curacao" is now in the river. She is one of the late class.
Monday 20 Rosyth.
The warm weather still continues. We didn't do any early morning work. We started the test exams today. We had engineering in the forenoon, a good paper, plenty of choice but it took all my time. We had it in the Captains fore cabin. In the afternoon we had navigation which was the same as the engineering but two hours wasn't enough. I took over the 2nd PB for a week. I had plenty of trips & almost had to go in a dispatch boat trip. I had a game of billiards. I did fairly well in the exams. I had a game of poker after dinner. I am in the UCT. for going out of harbour tomorrow morning. Turned in at ten. Australians did a big capture yesterday. We do gunnery & torpedo next two exams. I hope I do well in them.
Tuesday 21. Rosyth.
I got up at six, had a bath & went up into the UCT. at 6-20 & stayed there till we went out of harbour. We closed up at 15" control about 8-15 but I didn't take the RF plot but Pilcher so I had the morning off. I saw a whole flotilla with a light cruiser steaming in line ahead & it looked a very pretty sight. We came straight back after firing & moored again about 1-30. I didn't go ashore but read up my notes. I came 2nd in Commander Ns bit of the navigation paper with 26 out of 30. Played bills after tea. After dinner we had the pictures. They weren't at all bad. We do gunnery & torpedo tomorrow. I think my PB will come in shortly. The Glorious is anchored up the river. I took some photos of the BCs.
Wednesday 22. Rosyth.
I had a lie in till 7-45. We had a gunnery exam in the forenoon & it was a very fair exam. I did fairly well. In the afternoon we did torpedo and it was a rotten paper & I thought it very stiff. I didn't do at all well. I heard that I came second in the navigation paper & did very well in the engineering paper. I boxed after quarters & found out I was very much out of training. I enjoyed the exercise. I had a cold bath after it. We had the band & it was trè s bon. No war news. I played poker after dinner and turned in about ten. The weather is very warm and nice. No reply from Miss Living yet. I'm going to train after this. I hope I can get down to lights. Some results came out for gunnery but not ours.
Thursday 23. Rosyth.
We finished our exams by having seamanship and it was a very good paper & I did fairly well. It was raining nearly all day but I went ashore at 12-20 & had a walk at S. Queensferry & tea besides a game of billiards. We came off at Hawes pier. No more results have come out re our exams. I played poker after dinner & won a bit. Had a yarn with the MAA when he came to turn us out. Didn't see anybody ashore. My picket boat has been in for a couple of days. I think I might come out nearly top in the aggregate of the exams unless torpedo has pulled me right down. I had to go down to spotting table before doing the exam. Hope the weather clears up. We are going up to Scapa for three weeks I think shortly so I have heard.
Friday 24. Rosyth.
We had divisions & prayers. We had GQs afterwards and then we had to go over our exam with Schoolie. I was second with 81%. Farncombe 1st with 85%. I didn't go ashore as I had to take the picket boat. There was no work to do so I played bridge in the afternoon. I only got 50% in torpedo came nearly bottom. Only for that I would have come pretty near top. I was running the 2nd PB all day & was hoisted in with it. The seamanship marks came out. I got 76% coming about the middle. I think I will pull up in gunnery & engineering. I played bridge after dinner and turned in about ten. There is a buzz that we are going into dock shortly. Put in our torpedo note books. Subs think they are going to buy a piano with the surplus.
Saturday 25. Rosyth.
Saw revised list of seamanship. I came 4th with 81%. We had divisions at 8-30 & aired night clothing. Went over our navigation papers with Commander N. I really think he is conscientious with us. Thompo & I went to Dunfermline. We went by train & had a game of billiards & then heard the band & had tea in the Glen. Saw a very pretty girl, quite an astounding thing. After tea we went to the Carneigie baths & had a swim. It is fresh running water & similar to the Cape Town baths at Camps Bay. It was 2d for everything. We had another game of billiards & left by the 7-4 train & arrived back on board at 8-00. I came 2nd in gunnery with 81%. I wrote letters to Mother & to the Bank after dinner. The Sinn Fein plot revealed Lord George was in Dunfermline but I didn't see him.
Sunday 26. Rosyth.
I was away in the 2nd PB most of the forenoon. We received the new syllabus of training. Farncombe is senior mid & I come next of the senior section. We get a good few extra privileges. We had a rather easy afternoon. I wrote letters to Eric & Gladys. I did one trip before tea and then swapped the PB for a cutter. I went in for liberty men who came off at 5-30. I had supper & then took Sinclair to the Maenad. I played bridge till 10-15 & went to bring Sinclair off. He was pretty bottled. I was down in the wardroom till 11-15. Turned in when I got back. I am not feeling too easy over this new scheme of work. I admire the way in which the officers take an interest in us.
Monday 27. Rosyth.
I had a lie in till 7-30. The Commander N told the senior section about what we had to do and about leave & we get a good few advantages out of it. I posted all my letters. After divisions I did some work in the chart house. We weighed at 12-00 & went out in the Flow. I thought we would have to control a 15" sub calibre shoot but luckily we had the destroyer attacks. I was in the top intercommunicating. We were struck by one torpedo. Nearly all of them crossed the track. The Revenge was just missed. We returned about seven. After dinner I played bridge & turned in at 10-15. I keep day on for two days this week. The reports on our exam went in to the Captain. The weather is now nice & sunny. I'm not feeling at all contented with myself at present. We have to lecture at torpedo dog watch lectures.
Tuesday 28. Rosyth.
I did navigation from 7-00 to 8-00. All our boats had to go to the flagship. I was in the whaler. We had to anchor then up masts & sail. I took the helm. When I got to the ship I had to go down to Port Edgar for the steward. I got back a little after noon. We did signals in the afternoon and I kept the first dog & also went in a duty trip in the whaler. I kept the first watch. Had to hoist in both cutters. We had the pictures. They weren't at all bad. I received two papers from home. My knee isn't better yet & I will go to the sick bay about it shortly. About the warmest day we have had so far. 72º. I have to lecture on direct feed for my torpedo lecture. All except the senior section & the Wonks (sic) have to stay aboard till 3-30. We can go at 12-20. The Germans crossed the Aisne.
Wednesday 29. Rosyth.
A bit of a wind up. I did navigation from 7 - 8. I attended divisions. Afterwards we did signals in the study & on of the boatdeck. I managed to get ashore at 1-00. Dickenson & myself went up by tram to Dunfermline. We went into the City Hotel. I played billiards with Mr Shute & then we went into the Glen & listened to the band & had tea. After the band we went to the baths & I quite enjoyed my swim. A lot of other snotties were there too. We picked up Britt & went & had tea again in the D.C.I. We took the tram back. I met most of the others from the Agincourt. We had the band tonight. I received a letter from Harold. He wrote on the 26th of this month. After dinner I studied up navigation. I read the report on the inspection of our boats. The whaler was mentioned as the best boat which sailed. Plenty of hair on my chest. The other boats were rotten.
Thursday 30. Rosyth.
I did navigation from 7-00 to 8-00. I went up to sick bay & had my knee painted with iodine. In the forenoon I was working in the chart house at navigation. In the afternoon I went ashore with Dickenson at 1-00 & we went to Dunfermline. We listened to the band & had tea & then we went up to the baths. I thoroughly enjoyed my swim. We met Hirst & went & had a game of billiards. I bought a tennis racket & press for 28/6. We returned to the ship at 7-30. I met a RANR snottie & had a yarn with him. The German advance continues. They have advanced many miles & have captured Soissons & are pressing on to Rheims. Harold is resting behind the lines. I played poker after dinner. Drank Dickenson's health in champagne. His 17th birthday yesterday.
Friday 31. Rosyth.
I received another letter from Harold with a copy of "Aussie" in it, the Australian field paper & it was very good. He expects to go into rest for two weeks shortly. The great attack on the front continues. They have advanced about 20 miles. We did navigation before breakfast. Afterwards we had GQs. I went up to A turret & learned a bit of drill. After I studied up some tides. I went ashore about 1-00 & played tennis till 3-20 getting in three sets. I got back about five, had a bath & did some exercise & kept of the last dog & I was very tired afterwards. After dinner we had a torpedo dog watch lecture till about 9-15. We have been having really good weather, nice and warm, in fact slightly hot. A big case is the Maud Allen & Billing case. A lot of high personages are concerned in it.
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© Michael Calder February 2003