Diary of Midshipman N K Calder
November 1 Thursday.
One of the best days of that we have had since we have been up here. We did 6" stripping till 11-00 a.m. and then the relief parties for the sweeping parties went to lunch. Another torpedo was found down near Waulkmill Bay. Before going on the boats we had to go up to the forebridge & spot a submarine which was submerging nearby. I had charge of the 1st picket boat and took the cutters, reliefs etc to Snoogro Bay. It was a very calm day and we could see the bottom. I knocked about in the boat whilst they swept without success. However whilst one of the cutters was near the shore they found it in about one fathom. An airman who was up flying didn't make a very successful landing and I think hurt himself. I picked up officers & got back to the ship about ¼ to five. I received a letter from De La Rue saying that it would cost me 2/- to have my pen mended. I played poker till about 10 and then I turned in. Some more records arrived.
We were going to do a 6" shoot in the morning but on lining up & checking sights it took such a long time and some of the guns we(re) far out. We went out in the Flow about 10-30 and after lunch we had 6" control. No supply parties were closed up and when the order to load was given it wasn't till about ¼ of an hour after the order that they were. It was a rather successful shoot as regards the loading and the starboard battery had a very good run also. There were a couple of back flashes in the starboard battery but no damage was done although plenty of cordite was knocking around. We were allowed to go ashore but I didn't and with a few others had to test telescopes. After I read most of the afternoon. I received a letter from home via America. Eric has a nervous heart and snow fell in Ararat. I received a letter also from Tracker Young who is a private at Salisbury and I wrote a reply.
It was a very fine & sunny day and the majority of the gunroom went ashore. However the wind was very piercing what little there was of it. I read mostly all forenoon. We were paid. I got £7/15. I wrote my letter home to Mother. We left the North Shore about 3-30 four of the new lot missing the picket boat. I was up at the cones. The 1st BCS came in during the forenoon & the 2nd BS came in about 6-00. We heard reports about a scrap up in the North Sea and heard that prisoners were up here from the sunken ships. I received two papers from home, one from Eric & Willie. I started a letter to Eric and read the news from the evening papers. My mess bill for this month came to £3/4. The Campania was out in the flow and two seaplanes ascended from her. I wrote a letter to Tracker and posted it to him. We haven't had a decent mail from home yet only stray letters arriving. The BCs left again during the night.
I had to keep the relieve decks. We started navigation & seamanship today. We had divisions but the captain didn't go round the ranks. We had Church after divisions and after I wrote letters afterwards, one to Eric and I also sent a postal order of 2/- to De La Rue's for my pen. I posted these letters. Very ambiguous reports were announced re the naval operations in the Baltic so no definite news can be elicited. I played poker after lunch & was rather in luck winning a few bob. I wrote a letter to Gladys & posted it. A pretty authentic buzz is going round that we are going to have blisters put on us ie. hollow bumps so as when a torpedos strikes no damage will be done. The Revenge is going first, then the Resolution and then us. It takes ten weeks to do & some say we will be drafted to other ships which I hope won't take place. However it is only a buzz. I received a letter from the Bank stating my balance is £22/0/10. I turned in about 9-30.
We have had better weather for the last few days, much warmer. I went up to the sick bay to get something for my cough & cold. I could have got a cabin but I didn't want one. We had Schoolie during the forenoon & he kept up to his reputation & gave us a problem which kept up (sic) going the whole of the forenoon. However in the afternoon we had seamanship and after writing out a list of the messes & numbers of them we had the afternoon off which was spent in playing poker. I have had very good luck of late. We had a further lecture on the compass by the Lieut N and after I kept the last dog. After dinner I played poker & won slightly and turned in about ten. I think the rumour about putting blisters on us is true as all the rest of the squadron know about it. Dalmeyer & Richardson have both left the ship to recuperate. They give leave very liberally here. Nothing more has come out about the naval scrap yet.
I sent a letter to the Bank asking if they had sent Mother the £
5 & also to Pelmans asking for conditions of their study. I didn't do navigation in the forenoon but went down to Y working chamber & kept records of the pressures there. They tried working the whole eight guns together. Guns swore at me afterwards for not having the gauge opened properly, the ERA having previously set it. I also didn't know anything about the gauge. However I am quite used to Guns and laugh at everything he says. In the afternoon we were allowed to go to the Borodino and I bought some eatables etc. However I don't think that it is a very cheap concern. We played poker after we came back and I lost a trifle. After tea we had an engineering dog watch lecture in the gunroom and after dinner I played more cards and turned in about 9-30. The weather has been much warmer this week. I have heard that the Revenge is going to be blistered when the C in C comes back.
I had the forenoon today and during the morning we tilted ship. It is always rather uncomfortable. I don't remember doing anything till after lunch we all went to GQs. It was a bit better in the battery this time but not much. We got everything ready for our shoot in the evening and we also did sub calibre firing. We had the list on till we anchored about 3-15 and then we righted ourselves. I played poker during the dog watches and we got underway & went to GQs again about 6-30. I had watched the Revenge doing night firing and her star shells were very successful. We did ours & things went fairly well. We fired 2/3 charge and & packed up about 10 to 8. We didn't have our band but we were allowed to smoke. I played more poker and turned in about 10-00. I sleep in the office flat now as Mr Lovell says he can't get to sleep because of the row which he attributes to me. The Italians have a evacuated their new line.
Today was nice & sunny about the best day we have had since we've been up here. We all doubled round the QD after divisions. There were only five of the FX. I did navigation during the forenoon and in the afternoon the football team went ashore to play the Resolution and we were beaten 44 to 0. I played poker during the afternoon and lost a bit. In the dogs I continued to play and we had a signalling exercise. I had the first watch but Mr Woods let me off most of it. They have shifted the bathrooms we taking over the WOs & they taking ours. None of us like the change. Chests have been shifted from the chest flat to the capstan flat also. The Italians are still on the retreat but we are more than a holding our own in France & Mesopotamia. I wish I could go out somewhere where things are a bit more lively. The Shannon has been camouflaged and we are all to be done I think.
We had to read up seamanship during the forenoon and I studied up how to find out about a ship turning etc. We got underway about twelve & went out into the Pentland Firth. It was a very good day & we fired our six dud shrapnel. We are also fired our high angle & you could trace their passage with the aid of day tracers. When they burst they left a white cloud. They were a real success. There was a big swell on just outside and we pitched and rolled tremendously. We came in again about 3-30. We had our usual signal exercise our ship conducting and I did very well. It rained a bit. We received a mail from home and I received letters No. 26 & 27 from mother, one from Eric & one from Gladys. Eric is much better and Harold has been accepted for active service. They all wished me many happy returns for my birthday. I turned in a little after 9-30 and re read my letters.
Not a bad day today. I had to keep the forenoon watch and had plenty to do. We were all sent ashore in the afternoon & we landed at Flotta. I went for a walk with Usborne & had tea at the golf club but it was pretty rotten. We returned about 4-00 & I had a bath and a shave. Newman came over to dine with Larkins & after dinner we had a game of poker and my luck changed and I won for once. Wauhope passed the port as it was his birthday. Hirst took bad during the forenoon and his case was diagnosed as appendicitis. He was taken to the hospital ship "China" about 7-30 p.m. as I think it got serious. I said goodbye to him before he left. I started my letter home. I got 92.8% for the last signalling exercise. The cinematograph has arrived and I think a show was given to the men tonight. I think the Italians have at last stopped the retreat.
We had the usual Sunday morning routine. I wrote letters to Mother, Gladys & Eric during the afternoon and then I kept the first dog. The skippers of the Oak and Conqueror came on board and kept me on the quarter deck all the while. Lieut Com. Kimmel USN arrived on board about five o'clock. I'm beginning to do a little amount of study each day as one never knows when we might have to go up for our exam. I received a letter from Tracker & he wished me many happy returns of my birthday. As there was nothing to do I turned in the early and received a registered letter which happened to be my pen & I was very disappointed. I thought it was some splosh. We have got the North Shore billet for the next fortnight & I think we are going to do some road making so it won't be bad. Shadwell relieved Arbuthnot for the month on the destroyer.
We got underway about 6-30 and went across to the North Shore nearest the first nets approaching Stromness. We did our usual instruction in the forenoon and we did the usual seamanship in the afternoon ie poker. We went to two hours notice about 3 and about 4-00 we all weighed ie the 1st BS who were over with us & proceeded to the fleet anchorage, when we went to 1 hrs notice. We reverted to 2 hrs again about 5-20 & we have been there ever since. We did a gunnery dog watch lecture at 5-30 and went on till 6-30. I had the first watch and everything went well. I played poker after nine and won 102d after getting four kings on a five card buy, the very last hand. I turned in about 10-30. I sincerely hope we don't go to sea as I would like to stay here & swing around our anchor till we go on next leave. The weather is much better.
We went back to 4 hrs notice again during the forenoon. Our division except the Revenge did concentration & sub calibre. There was no six inch so I had an easy morning of it. I studied up some torpedo stuff instead. In the afternoon I went up to censoring and after we had signals. We packed up about 3-15. After tea we had a torpedo dog watch lecture and I didn't learn much in it. Torps read out the last paper and it was pretty stiff. I don't know how I'm going to pass the way we are going. After it I had a bath and after dinner I played poker winning again. My luck seems to have changed for the better. We have come over to the old place where we were yesterday. All the 1st BS and are over here. I think I have been put in to a chorus in the next show. I tried hard to get out of it but somehow they got me in. I'll try & get out again. The weather still continues to be far from cold.
I had the forenoon this morning and it rained a bit and a bit of a chop on. In the forenoon we did signals and I also wrote up gunnery notes. I went up to censoring after lunch and in the afternoon we were with the naval instructor and we did composite sailing etc. After tea I played poker and had to go down to do a sort of rehearsal and I am one of the chorus girls and have to wobble my stern about etc in a Japanese dance & join in the choruses, in general make a fool of myself. I don't know how I am going to do it. We had a our band night and I played poker again. It is one game of poker from the beginning till in the end of the week. I think the Italians are making a mess of things still in Italy and fighting is going on in Petrograd & Moscow. We are not too well off at present and Lloyd George wants more cooperation and unity among the allies. A Canadian officer joined the ship last night.
A pretty bleak day and nothing much to do. In the forenoon we were doing navigation but Schoolie wasn't there and so not much work was done. In the afternoon we didn't have anything to do. I posted a letter to Tracker Young and wrote up some gunnery notes. I had a look in at the movie show and also had to go down & rehearse and make a fool of myself. I kept the last dog and Mr Wood let me off most of it so I had a bath before dinner. Three of our lot went on the rake party & left the ship about 7-30. After dinner I went down to the rehearsal of Act 4 of the play. It is alright but doesn't swing together properly. We finished up about 10-00. I received a letter from the bank stating that they had remitted £5. The weather hasn't been as cold as I thought it would have been & has had no effect upon me except a cold in the nose. Our picture show is on tomorrow night.
A pretty dull day it is a good sight to see all the hills covered with mist and cloud. In the forenoon we did the last seamanship paper & it was very easy. We went to two hours notice in the afternoon, the whole fleet did. I went to the cinema show and it was very good and included Charlie Chaplin in "His Trysting Place". We went to 1 hr during the show & we went over to the fleet anchorage. We are going down south as soon as the notice has been removed probably on Monday. We did the usual rehearsal stunt after tea & I think it will be alright altho I don't know how I will keep from laughing. After dinner I played bridge and I had a very good game. I received my stations if we go to sea and they are very good, the GCT and spotting top. I had to pay 1/- to have my watch the last dog, as I wanted to see the pictures. Larkins received a letter from Mrs Morgan. They're both over here now.
My 18th birthday. Still at one hours notice. I played bridge during the forenoon and we heard that the German fleet is out. We all started to weigh about ¼ past 11. The Commander told the men on the QD that the fleet is out. I had to go down whilst the telescopes were tested. We proceeded out of Scapa about 12 - 1-00 this afternoon, the 5th BS then the 3rd BS, the second BS & then the Ramillies & ourselves the last ship to leave. The Q E is still at her buoy. We heard that the 1st BS sighted some German ships. I hope we go into action but I think the batteries will suffer. However I will try and do my duty and if I don't come out of it I suppose we must take it as it comes. However I don't suppose they will be out when we get there. This afternoon heard that cruises Calypso Caledon & Cardiff had been in action. QE passed us & took head of line about 4-00. Great hopes of intercepting the Hun fleet. Steering S 56 E straight for Jutland. Keeping first dog in the GCT after GQs at 4-00 p.m. Nothing further to report. I had the first dog night defence & turned in after eight. Turned a out again at ¼ to 12-00.
I kept the middle in the GCT & I turned in again at 4-00. GQs went at 6-15 and we got everything ready. The 1st Div. 1st BS was astern about 7-15 and we were drawing together. We joined up in battle line. I was up in the spotting top from 8-30 to 9-30 but didn't sight anything. Fine day, sunny, not much wind, a bit of a mist. We went to GQs again & also control. About 11-00 we turned 8 pts to North. About 11-45 hoisted QP and BJ1 (steam for full speed & prepare for immediate action). Great excitement. Course SSE 15½ knots. I donned flash proof gear. Retired for dinner 12-15. Still going south. Expect to close up soon. I hope I come out alright but I leave everything in God's hands. Not much time to have an action. Not closed up when I went up to spotting top from 1-30 - 2-30. Fine weather & clear. About 2-15 we all turned 16 pts to starboard so I suppose they have got back to port. Nothing sighted during watch. DR at turn 5º 50’ East 55º 37’ North. 100 miles from Helgoland (sic), 320 Rosyth, 360 Scapa. The 1st BS parted company about 3-45 and we steamed for Rosyth. I took some star sights and I had the first watch in the GCT night defence. Some gun flashes were reported astern during the last dog.
I didn't get up till 7-30. When I went on deck there was a fairly stiff breeze blowing. The 2nd division were astern of us. We sighted land about 8-00. I was up in the spotting top from 8-30 to 9-30 & reported May Island & land & also fishing smacks and drifters. We passed through the gates about 11-00 and came to anchor above the bridge about 12-00. The Australia & Repulse are in dock. The QE is also here. We all oiled as soon as we came in and reverted back to the original notice. I am taking the 1st picket boat with Evans so we will have alternate days. We had the rest of the day off and during the dogs I had a hot bath and squared myself off. When I think of yesterday I marvel at the way everybody took things calmly. I know now what it is like going into action. We are allowed leave till 6-00 each day, 33% of officers being allowed each day. After dinner I played bridge and turned in a little after 10. No mail arrived. I am looking forward to getting ashore again at Queensferry.
I got up early and did gun drill. In the forenoon I was working on my sights that I have taken during the last few weeks. A pretty rotten day. We received two mails today and I got sundry papers and a letter from Gladys & one from George Searle. In the afternoon Dalmeyer & Mr Panteney arrived back. Hirst was operated on successfully & is now at Chatham. Manseugh has been made a Sub Lieutenant and Denny got his second stripe. We did signals in the afternoon. Thompo received a letter from Showers. The Glorious has been very busy of late; said he was in action on Saturday. We had a bit of a rehearsal at four and had an engineering dog watch lecture. Manseugh passed sherry & port and I also passed it. Afterwards we had a band rehearsal in the fan flat and everything went off well, although it was very hot down there. We packed up a little after ten. The Australia & Renown rammed each other going out last Friday night.
I didn't do gym this morning. In the forenoon I had to do the stewards trip and after that I did signals & morse & semaphore. The day was a very nice one & fairly sunny. Nearly all the gunroom went ashore to play hockey. I did and had a fair time although I didn't get much work to do. I passed Beatty in his car at Rosyth and he returned my salute. We played on the new recreation grounds & afterwards had tea there. It is a very good place & they have six fine new tennis courts. The Australia's bows were knocked about a bit & the Glorious and went into the basin. I got back to the ship about five and had a bath and tidied up. We gave a farewell to Denny & many toasts were drunk. Fizz was passed and also whiskies, the result being that many were tight. They all sang these choruses but I am not in favour with them myself. Thompo was shicker and I had put him to bed about 10-30. Letter No. 26 arrived from mother.
I didn't get up till late and in the forenoon I was working at my sights. In the afternoon we were supposed to do seamanship but I wrote a letter to Gladys. I have become very lazy of late and feel to tired to do anything. I went ashore with Thompo after 3-30 and we had tea at the Queensferry Arms. I met Britt and Jarge. From all accounts they were very nearly in action last Saturday. We did a bit of shopping before we returned by the 6-30 boat. I had a hot bath before dinner and I received a letter from Edie and one from Cranmer with a photo of the baby. I read the report on our last 6" full calibre and it was very unsatisfactory although we weren't the worst of the squadron. I wrote & continued my letters home. Dicken is now the President of the mess. We are having a rehearsal in the YMCA hut ashore on Saturday morning. Not much news of importance.
An awful day, blowing and squally. We had GQs in the forenoon and the skipper was in the battery most of the time. The supply party managed to supply one round per gun per minute. I posted my letters to Mother & Gladys & started one to Eric. I was going ashore to play hockey but at the last minute was told I wasn't needed. Vertue found my keys that I had lost on the hockey ground. I had to run picket boats & left at 5-30 & went to dockyard then N. Queensferry then south & back & then to the dockyard again. I have never been in rougher weather in a picket boat before. It was something awful & my face was lashed by the water. After dinner I went to the cinema show in the wardroom and it was very good and the Charlie Chaplin was really good. They wanted me to rehearse and leave during the middle of it but I wasn't having any. I turned in about ten thirty and soon got to sleep.
It was raining & blowing all of the morning and the concert party should have gone ashore but owing to the lack of picket boats etc it had to be abandoned. I wrote letters during the forenoon. In the afternoon I loafed around all day and played bridge & poker. I wrote a letter to Cranmer and finished one to Edie & also want one to Miss Living and posted them all. The weather got a bit better towards the evening. I had a bath during the dogs. After dinner I continued my letters and turned in about ten. It seems in the last scrap that the Glorious fired about fifty rounds but didn't suffer any damage except due to one of its own shells which burst just out side the gun. I have bought a ticket for a raffle in aid of some relief fund. There is really very little news down here but I rather be here than up north. I don't think I'll go ashore much though. News from the front is much the same. We have advanced a little on the Western Front.
My day for picket boats. I had to have my breakfast in five minutes & go to Hawks pier & bring off the Captains wife. It was bitterly cold all day it having snowed during the night. I brought her off about 9-30 - 10-00 & was wet through. I had to go away again & take Church parties & bring them off again. I had to take Captain to Revenge & then take Galley to Lime Kilns to bring off another lady friend of the skippers & I didn't get back till 1-30, too late to go ashore with Mr Wells. Dickinson took it for me during the afternoon & so I had a chance to read my mail. It was the official Christmas mail & I got two letters from home numbered 28 & sent 3/10/17 & 13/10/17, a Christmas card from Mrs Williams one from Mrs Eaton & letters from Gladys & Eric. I wrote a letter to Eric. I had to do some more trips in the picket boat before supper. I wrote letters after dinner home & turned in a little after ten. I had a pretty strenuous day today.
A very chilly & cold day. It snowed during all the day lightly. We arranged a rugger match between the Benbow & ourselves. We did navigation during the forenoon. We all went ashore in the afternoon. It was fairly cold & snowing. As the Benbow's team did not turn up we all went to the Queensferry Arms & had a smoke & read and had a good tea. We returned to the ship at 6-30 and I had a wash & a bath. We had to have a gunnery dog watch lecture after dinner from 8-30 to 10 and we had hydraulics by Mr Smith. I sent a PC of the bridge to Mollie so hope she gets it as it will let them know that I am up here. We were going to have a rehearsal but the lecture prevent us. I turned in about 10-00. Saw Gilling ashore. He is enquiring as to when and we go up for a our subs exam. Soon will have to ordering my diary for next year. Have to write a lot of letters but cannot find the (sic). We have received nearly all our Christmas numbers.
As usual I had the stewards trip as well as the postman and the result was that I didn't get my breakfast till 9-45 and missed going into the rehearsal. The weather was worse & there was a fair gale blowing. I finished off my sight and started on the next. In the afternoon we had signals and I learnt a bit about them. I don't mind signals in the least. We had a torpedo dog watch lecture and after I tidied up for dinner. I played bridge after dinner with Mansergh & Evans & Wauhope & although I lost I had very good hands. I wrote a letter to Mother & one to Mr Williams and posted them both. The show is coming off in a fortnight's time but I think it is a bit too early. I think we leave here on the 16th next month. Five Australians out of 7 colonials obtained the VC & were announced today. Also the appeal to soldiers re conscription by Mr Hughes was in today's paper. No news about the war.
Still bad weather continues but it was my day off from picket boats. We had signals in the forenoon and I didn't go ashore in the afternoon but wrote up gunnery notes & letters. I received a letter from Gladys & Edie & also one from Mrs Morgan. Why she wrote to me I don't know. I wrote a letter to Edie & in the dogs I had a bath after which I tidied up for dinner. Our band tonight and we had to go down and rehearse the Javanese dance after dinner. I played poker in the evening and lost a bit. Both our steering engines have been condemned and we have high hopes of going into dock to have them seen to. We have arranged a match against the Benbow at hockey for tomorrow. The Revenge is making preparations for going down south. Really no news to put in the diary. Awful blowy weather and fairly cold. Reading a good book called Septimus by look.
A bit better weather. It cleared up & calmed down a bit during the afternoon. As usual I had the stewards trip and during the forenoon I worked out another sight in navigation. We all went ashore in the afternoon to play the Benbow hockey. We had a very good game. They won by two goals to nil but I think we should have won. We returned to the ship about 4-00 p.m. and after tea I had a bath and then finished my letter to Edie & wrote a reply to Mrs Morgan and posted them both. We didn't have a signal exercise as it was too wet. After dinner there was a band rehearsal but I'm no good as a dancing girl. I can't imitate anything. I turned in about 10. Russia is making peace with Germany on Sunday and firing has been ordered to cease on the front. We are going out in the Flow tomorrow. Nothing to put in a diary.
A bit calmer but not much. My day off for picket boats. We got underway about 9-00 a.m. and went out in the Flow. The 6" was closed up from 9-00 till about 12-30 and we had sub calibre firing. We returned to anchorage about two to three. Richardson arrived back and we got our mail late at night. There was one for me from Tracker. There was a cinema show in the wardroom but it wasn't as good as usual. A couple of whalers overturned I think during the dog watches but I don't know if any were drowned or not. One of the destroyers whalers which went to pick up the crews, came aboard here and he said it was pretty serious. We were weighed today. I turned at 150 lbs. I don't think I increased much since last time. I won 31/2 at cards for this month and my tobacco bill was pretty big but it was due to persons putting down things to me. The weather died down towards the night.
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© Michael Calder February 2003