HMS Drake, Cruiser 1901
Drake. Photos and history of HMS Drake, the Drake Class cruiser
launched 1901. Including crew list and photos of ship and crew.
HMS Drake was torpedoed by U-79 of the Coast of Ireland on 2nd October 1916. HMS Drake had been involved in escort duties when she was torpedoed The captain. Capt. S H Radcliffe decided to go to Rathlin Island while the ship could be navigated. Her escorting destroyers returned to her aid. until she made Church bay. Shortly after arriving HMS drake begun to list heavily. and it was thought best to abandon ship. later that afternoon she capsized and sank with no loss of life.
The twenty-third ?DRAKE? is an 18-gun twin-screw cruiser launched at Pembroke in 1901. She is of 14,100 tons, 31,450 horse-power, and 24 knots speed. Her length, beam, and draught were 500ft., 71ft., and 26ft. On February 27th, 1905, the ?Drake,? while commanded by Captain Mark Kerr, and flying the flag of Rear-Admiral H. S. H. Prince Louis of Battenberg, who commanded the second cruiser squadron, had the honour of a visit in Portsmouth Dockyard from His Majesty King Edward the Seventh, who spent the night on the ship.
HMS Drake, 1903.
HMS Drake, 1910.
HMS Drake c.1914.
HMS Drake with crew standing on deck.
Rear-Admiral W L Grant pictured c.1910
HMS Drake at her launch at Pembroke on 5th March 1901.
HMS Drake pictured c.1903.
HMS Drake - Ship's Cat "Beefblock"
The signalling staff of HMS Drake.
HMS Drake c.1904/05.
HMS Drake, with Mount Vesuvius erupting in the background.
The caption for the original photo states 4th April 1906, but the cruise diary would suggest this is more likely the 5th June 1906, when HMS Implacable sailed past HMS Drake at Naples. The ship on the right then would be HMS Implacable.
Crew members of HMS Drake.
State Ball on HMS Drake, at New York, 14th November 1905.
HMS Drake - Twice Winners of the Battenberg Cup, with their Trainer, Lieutenant Rankin.
HMS Drake display party at Ontario, Canada, September / October 1905.
H.M. The King, Admiral Sir John Fisher, Rear-Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battneberg, and Officers of HMS Drake at Portsmouth, 28th February 1905.
Ship's Company, HMS Drake, 1905/06.
Detail from the Ship's Company photo above.
The following is extracted from The Cruise of HMS Drake 1905 - 1907.
of officers who commissioned HMS
31st January 1905
Following are the names of all Officers who served in HMS Drake, whilst flying the flag of Rear-Admiral Prince Louis Alexander of Battenberg, commanding the Second Cruiser Squadron, Knight Grand Cross of the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, Knight of Justice of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem in England. Personal Naval Aide-de-Camp to His Majesty the King.
Rear Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg, G.C.B., G.C.V.O.
Flag Lieutenant Gerald Sowerby
Secretary Edward H Shearme
Clerk to Secretary Francis R. H. Drake,
Andrew J. Carter
Captain Mark E. F. Kerr, M.V.O.
Commander Henry T. Buller
Lieutenant John E. Cameron
Arthur C. H. S. D?Aeth
Thomas L. Goldie
Humphrey T. Walwyn
Norman H. Rankin
Henry F. H. Wakefield
Frederic E. E. G. Schreiber
Harry L. L. Pennell
James M. Pipon
Geoffrey S. F. Nash
Tim M. Barrett
John A. M. Sturges
Eng Commander John W. Ham
Albert W Ham
Eng Lieutenant Percival R. T. Brown
William B. Lakeman
Archibald D. Worth
Major R.M. Horace C. Evans
Lieutenant, R.M.A. George Rutledge
Chaplain Rev. Walter McL. Tod, M.A.
Rev. Alexander H. Gage, M.A.
Fleet Surgeon Richard A. Fitch
Paymaster Henry M. Ommanney
Naval Instructor Maurice A. Ainslie, B.A.
George C. Avery, B.A.
Surgeon James A. Thompson, M.B., B.A.
Sub Lieutenant Guy L. Coleridge
Fischer B. Watson
Richard H. L. Bevan
Edward O. Broadley
Sydney W. Beadle
Henry H. G. D. Stoker
Eng Sub Lieut Norman Roberts
Norman S. Richardson
Henry G. Moon
George F. Croker
Asst Paymaster Hugh M. Richardson
Chief Art Engineer Albert W. Rea
Boatswain William Lyne
Carpenter George H. H. Crook
Signal Boatswain Joseph. A. Minter
Gunner James E. Brister
Thomas A. Herriott
Frederick J. Moon
Art Engineer Albert Wilkes
William M. Shepherd
Midshipman Percy L. A. Chapman
Edward N. Mortimer
Eric W. E. Fellowes
H. H. Prince Alexander of Battenberg
Lionel G. Dawson
Edgar. W. Pegler
Charles C. de M. Malan
Arthur G. Holmes
Charles L. Kerr
Francis V. H. Mackenzie
Hon. Roger Coke
Hugh H. G. Begbie
William E. C. Tait
John F. B. Barrett
Stephen C. Lyttleton
Tom S. V. Phillips
Edmond M. Bowly
Edward C. Denison
Philip. L. Neville
Edward O. Priestley
John B. May
Cyril G. B. Coltart
Vincent P. Freeman
Hugh S. Hornby
Walter L. Landale
Clerk Leslie C. E. Ayre
Assist Clerk Lionel D. McKean
Marine Tattoo Party
Act. Bombr. T. M. Brennan, R.M.A., Gnrs. F. Aiken, R.M.A., A. H. Jenkins, R.M.A., F. W. H. Cousins, R.M.A., C. Nunn, R.M.A., A. F. . McGuire, R.M.A., G. Teedball, R.M.A., A. E. Bennett, R.M.A., E. G. Chinn, R.M.A., A. Weir, R.M.A., T. W. Sparrow, R.M.A., R. Greenwood, R.M.A., Bglr. T. W. Davey, R.M.A., Sergt. D. C. Grenning, R.M.L.I., Pvts. S. Kingswood, R.M.L.I., H. Basnett, R.M.L.I., H. H. Lamb, R.M.L.I., W. T. Fleet, R.M.L.I., G. H. Gee, R.M.L.I., F. C. Clayton, R.M.L.I., J. D. Jasper, R.M.L.I., S. J. James, R.M.L.I., Bglr. J. W. T. Roderay, R.M.L.I., Pvt. F. L. Duvick, R.M.L.I.
Ch. Bandmaster C. J. Riseam, Corpl. R. Harbinson, Lce.-Corpl. A. Kemp, Muscns. R. J. Jenkins, G. Landry, E. Monks, H. Rivers, T. Yetton, H. Trass, W. J. Andrews, H. M. Dutton, A. T. Hayward, G. Gilead, W. McBean, J. G. Beecroft, S. Selby. Maj. H. C. Evans in charge.
P. O. Gym Inst. W. Thompson, P. O. Gym Inst. P. Gallagher, P. O. R. Lambert, I. S. G. Hurt, A. B. E. Campbell, A. B. G. Ross, A. B. E. Heald, A. B. G. Hennings, A. B. C. Mackrel, A. B. F. Horn. Lieut J. S. Cameron in charge.
Cruise of HMS Drake 1905 - 1907
HMS Drake paid off on January 30th 1905,after having been employed with the Cruiser Squadron, with the ?Good Hope? as flagship, and re-commissioned at Portsmouth the following day at 9 a.m. with a complement of 917 officers and men, as flagship of Rear-Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg, G.C.B., G.C.V.O. commanding the second Cruiser Squadron which consisted of the ?Drake,? ?Cornwall,? ?Berwick,? Essex,? ?Cumberland? (and five months afterwards by the ?Bedford?), making a fast and serviceable squadron of six first class armoured cruisers, five being county class cruisers, affiliated to the Atlantic Fleet under the new naval redistribution scheme.
It was a hardy frosty morning when the various ratings which make up the a ships complement joined the ?Drake? from the cruiser ?Powerful,? Whale Island, and Royal Naval Barracks; while the Royal Marine Artillery and the Royal Marine Light Infantry embarked from Eastney and Forton Barracks respectively. The ship was moored in No 5 basin, close to the Unicorn Gates. Already some 200 officers and men were onboard, mostly volunteers from last commission.
The flag of H.S.H. Prince Louis was hoisted on board H.M.S. ?Colossus? at 9 a.m. for saluting purposes (as ships in the dockyard are not permitted to fire salutes), and saluted the Commander in Chief, Vice Admiral Sir A Douglas, K.C.B. with 15 guns. Later at 9.30 a.m. we struck our commissioning pendant and hoisted the Admiral?s flag, which was struck at sunset. (This flag was a special one, being a present from Prince Henry of Prussia.) The men were quietly and quickly detailed for their messes, duties, etc, each man being given a card containing all details. As each man?s name was called out that individual quickly doubled up the gangway and saluted Commander Buller, the Executive Officer, and repaired to his allotted station, and by noon every man was onboard, and acquainted with his various duties, stations, etc.
The first day of commissioning is obviously a busy one, but experience and discipline blended together enabled the necessary work and customary evolutions to be satisfactorily completed by 4 p.m. at which hour liberty men were permitted to land; those remaining onboard being exercised at fire stations.
Next morning our captain, Flag Captain Mark Kerr, assembled all officers and men on the quarter deck, and gave us a little speech, informing us what he expected from his command, and enjoined everyone to promptly obey all orders and commands of superiors of every rank, by which method efficiency, discipline, and general comfort would be assured, and finally suggested that the ship should establish the reputation of best shot in the Navy. Our ship was named after the famous admiral, Sir Francis Drake, the hero of the Elizabethan period, who defeated the Spanish Armada, and the ?Drake? was the flagship of one of the finest admirals in the world, who had already earned a pre-eminent naval reputation. Every privilege consistent with the service custom and regulations was promised to all those who were entitled to such, and also swift and severe justice would be meted to that hapless minority who are found in every sphere of life, but whose existence are within the narrowest limits in the British Navy of this period. On February 6th we coaled ship and took in 1,400 tons, averaging 250 tons an hour, which smart performance elicited from our Commander a speech of appreciation to the assembled crew. Next day a new Truck Semaphore was fitted in the ship to facilitate cruiser signalling. On the 8th we were shifted to the South Railway jetty, commonly known as ?farewell Jetty,2 where we shipped ammunition provisions, stores etc. On the following day Prince Louis came onboard and had a thorough inspection of his flagship, when all the officers were assembled on the quarterdeck, and each introduced to the admiral by the flag captain. Six days leave by watches was then given to all the men who had re-commissioned the ship.
As is usual, all manner of rumours, newspaper reports, etc, were in circulation as regards our first cruise, one of which stated we were going to act as escort for his Majesty the King during a trip in the Mediterranean. While lying here, Admiral Lord Walter Kerr was shown over the ship by Prince Louis, and lunched onboard after his informal inspection. For several days all hands were kept busy cleaning and painting the ship to give her a smart man of war appearance, as it was now officially given out that his Majesty the King would honour us with a visit on the 27th.
Prince Louis finally hoisted his flag onboard on the 23rd, when the Princess Henry of Battenberg, accompanied by Princess Ena, visited the ?Drake? and lunched onboard with Prince Louis, and next day Lord Goschen paid the ship a visit and dined with Prince Louis, remaining to sleep onboard. The day previous to the arrival of his Majesty every officer and man rehearsed before our Admiral the ceremonial for the Royal visit.
At 6p.m. on the 27th H.M. King Edward VII arrived, dressed in the uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, the Royal Standard being instantly broken at the main as he stepped onboard, but no salute was fired as it was then past sunset. The officers, in full dress, were already drawn up on the quarterdeck in the order of their rank, while his Majesty took up a position on the top of the Admiral?s companion, and Flag Captain Mark Kerr called out each officer?s name as he passed before his Majesty and saluted. The quarterdeck was gaily decorated with flags and electric lamps, so arranged that the lamps, red and white, formed a device of a Japanese ensign. The Royal Standard, which was flying high above on the wireless pole, uniquely illuminated, formed the centre of attraction during the night. Portsmouth Hard was crowded till early hours of the morning. His Majesty conferred a great honour on the ship, and indeed the Navy, in sleeping onboard that night. He occupied Prince Louis ordinary sleeping cabin, and rose next morning at 8.50 a.m. Accompanied by Prince Louis and Admiral Sir John Fisher (the latter having slept onboard the ?Enchantress,? which was also moored at the South Railway jetty), at 9 a.m. His Majesty witnessed from our after shelter deck the dressing of all ships in the harbour and the booming forth of a general Royal salute, all ships taking their time from the historical old ?Victory.? Afterwards the whole ship?s company field past his Majesty, who then minutely inspected the ship, visiting the officer?s messes and cabin?s, and the mess deck. He expressed attention to the new foremost signal bridge galley. During the forenoon, and accompanied by Admiral Sir J. Fisher, Prince Louis and Flag Captain Mark Kerr, his Majesty steamed round the harbour. Royal weather prevailed throughout the day.
In the afternoon his Majesty was photographed with all the officers grouped on the jetty. Outside the ship numerous photographers with their paraphernalia had remained hovering about from the early hours of the morning. When all was ready his Majesty very humorously shouted out on two three Fire! Directly this inevitable function was over, his Majesty commanded Stevens, chief torpedo instructor, to be presented to him, as he had noticed he was wearing the ?Royal Victorian Order,? and Able Seaman Hollinghurst, from whale Island, the man who made such a record shooting with a 6in gun, was also similarly honoured, the presentation being made by Captain Percy Scott.
At 3.30 p.m. his Majesty took his departure in the Royal train from the South Railway jetty, the usual Royal Guard being drawn up and a Royal Salute fired as the train steamed off. Then for a few hours all was bustle preparing the ship for sea, and everyone anxious to have a last farewell with their wives, sweethearts, and friends onshore. Leave was liberally granted to all who could be spared till 6 a.m. next morning.
March 1st at 7.30 a.m. we slipped from the jetty and proceeded to Spithead to adjust compasses and run a steam trial, which was satisfactory. The cruisers ?Berwick? and ?Cumberland,? having arrived previously, were waiting our departure.
At 1 p.m. having obtained permission, we formed up in line and proceeded down Channel at 13 knots en route for Arosa Bay. Before leaving Spithead his Majesty the King wired the following message to Prince Louis: -
?The King sends his best wishes, and hopes you will have a good journey.?
At 5.30 a.m. on the 2nd, we rounded Ushant, and at 8 a.m. the admiral carried out some turning movements, the officers of the watches taking charge of their respective ships.
A strong N.E. wind was encountered, with heavy sea, and being on our quarter we rolled somewhat heavily during turning movements. The gun room officers happened to be at breakfast, and when the helm was put hard over their mess was flooded, washing everything off the table, doing much damage, clothes being spoilt, sextants damaged, but the middies took it all as a good joke, especially as the ward room officers were even worse off, a huge sea finding its way down the hatch over the table. Moral keep hatches and scuttles closed during turning movements with a rough sea on. The majority of the boys ad young sailors were sea sick, walking about the decks pale and dejected looking, not having acquired their ?sea legs? yet. Although a big cruiser, she was very lively in a sea way.
At noon next day we passed H.M.S. ?Caesar,? homeward bound, flying the flag of Lord Charles Beresford and shortly afterwards we passed the German corvette, ?Moltke,? going north, which ship saluted our admiral with thirteen guns, a like number being returned, as is customary.
At 4.38 p.m. we dropped anchor in Arosa Bay. The squadron was ordered to carry out exercises independently till the 8th.
The bay is an ideal anchorage for exercises, and a favourite spot of the Channel Fleet to shake down the new crews before arriving at Gibraltar.
After tea the ships carried out several minor evolutions, boat pulling etc.
The following morning broke rather chilly, but by 9 a.m. we had glorious sunshine, which cheered everyone after the cold, dull weather experienced in England. In the afternoon officers and men were granted special leave until 7 p.m.
After luncheon on the 4th about 30 officers landed for a ?paper chase.? The hares and field started from the caf?t Villa Garcia and led off after many false trials up towards Serpent Hill (this bill is called after the ill fated H.M.S. ?Serpent,? and an obelisk is erected there to record that sad disaster). Here the field were somewhat confused, some went left, others went right; the latter, however, ran into the hares about 1 ? miles fro home. The whole run was a good one of about eight miles, and afforded good humoured sport.
Next day the flag captain and a party of officers went away early for a day?s fishing. They had a very wet day, caught nine sprats, and saved ?Saltash?, but over the dinner table the catch of sprats had developed into whales.
At 9.40 a.m. Rear Admiral inspected the ?Berwick,? mustered the ship?s company by the open list, and remained to Divine service.
On Monday 6th the sun rose beautifully and poured forth his warm rays on the green, low lying hills, which seemed to invite the crews to forsake their ships and revel in their charms, but the forenoon was spent at general exercises. First, the bower anchor, then the sheet anchor was got into the launch, and then the remainder of the day was devoted to ?station reading,? etc, while the ?bunting tossers? (no, we won?t offend them with that name), the signalmen, I mean were exercising flag wagging and talking to her ships with their Truck Semaphore erected on the top of the mainmast, at an altitude of 160 feet.
During the forenoon Prince Louis inspected the ?Cuberland.? In the evening the forecastle men and foretop men rowed a race in fourteen oared barges, and the latter won, and the next day the quarterdeck men tried their strength against the winners of the previous day, defeating them easily.
Some forty-five officers from the squadron, accompanied by Prince Louis, had a special train to Santiago where they lunched together, and generally roamed the town. Three of our officers went for a day?s shooting. Unfortunately the boat ran high and dry up the creek, where they remained till one o? clock in the morning. As no tidings were forthcoming things looked rather awkward, as we were due to sail at 6 a.m. The party, however, turned up at 4 am. Little or none the worse for their escapade.
At 6 a.m., 8th, left for Gibraltar. H.M.S. ?Tarangu? was passed at 8 p.m. homeward bound from Australia. Next day our three cruisers were spread out, and distant signalling exercised. On the 10th we passed the German gunboat ?Gier,? and the usual salutes were exchanged.
At 2 p.m. the squadron at Gibraltar saluted Vice Admiral May (Commander in Chief of the Atlantic Fleet) then all three moored alongside the detached ?Mole.? Here we found the ?King Edward VII? (Flag) in No 3 dock, ?Victorious,? ?Mars,? ?Illustrious,? ?Majestic,? ?Magnificent,? ?Doris,? ?Assistance,? ?Thistle,? and ?Dwarf.? During our here we coaled from the collier alongside commencing early in the morning, when we took in 660 tons of coal, and also 200 tons of patent fuel from lighters.
On the 14th Vice Admiral May took his fleet to sea to adjust helm angles, etc. We were busily engaged cleaning ship after coaling; 48 hours is always allowed for this purpose, the ship being out of routine for drills.
In the evening the first accident happened, when an armoured hatch fell down on able Seaman Jackman?s foot. Smashing it severely. He was conveyed ashore to the Naval Hospital, where he was surgically attended, and was sufficiently convalescent in a month to be invalided out of the service with the loss of his foot. Besides regulations pension awarded, a subscription was raised in the ship, and ?91 was placed to his credit.
The Governor of Gibraltar, General Sir George White, paid an official visit onboard, being saluted with 19 guns once leaving the ship. In the evening our cutter, manned by ordinary seamen, rowed a two-mile race against the Berwick?s boat, the latter winning by 22 seconds, which was a rather unfortunate beginning for our first race. The Atlantic Battle Fleet returned, except the flagship, which remained over at Tetuan, carrying our practices until the following day. As usual, leave was being granted to the ship?s company nightly. The accommodation ashore, when such a large fleet here is insufficient; but the soldiers are always very kind, allowing the men to use their mess, canteens, billiard rooms, etc, otherwise there is little or no place for the sailor, and now that Gibraltar forms the base of the Atlantic Fleet, a Sailors Home, similar to those at the home ports, would be a most desirable institution.
At 2 p.m. the 18th the ?Essex? arrived with their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Connaught onboard. The ship was met off Europa Point by the torpedo flotilla, which formed an imposing escort for their Royal Highnesses. Directly the ?Essex? was secured to the buoy inside the Mole, the Governor and all the flag officers repaired onboard to offer their official respects to them. On the 20th they?re Royal Highnesses and the Princesses Margaret and Patricia, accompanied by Sir John Maxwell. Miss Pelly, Prince Alexander of Battenberg, and the captains of the ?Essex,? ?Berwick,? and ?Cumberland,? dined onboard the ?Drake? with Prince Louis.
At 2 p.m. on the 22nd their Royal Highnesses departed in the ?Essex,? and the following message was signalled to them from the ?King Edward VII?: -
Commander in chief, and Officers of Atlantic Fleet wish your royal Highness a good passage, to which the Duke replied: -
Best thanks; hope we may son meet again.
In the evening the first of our impromptu concerts was held, arranged by our chaplain (Rev W. Todd,) who had organised boxing, wrestling, singing, etc, which varied entertainment was much appreciated by all present. Another boat race between fore and maintop men took place next day; the former won by 31 seconds, and were entertained to supper by the defeated crew.
It was while lying here that Chief E.R.A. Lightfoot received his promotion to artificer engineer, and was warmly congratulated by his messmates and the engineer officers.
Vice-Admiral Sir W. May and officers of ?King Edward VII? were ?At Home? to the admirals and captains of the fleet and garrison, which function was numerously attended. The visit of her Majesty the Queen to Gibraltar, announced for the 28th, gave all ships a busy period preparing and rigging illuminating circuit for a grand display, while the destroyer flotilla rehearsed the escort duties for her Majesty. Petty officers messes numbers 36 and 55, created a little diversion one evening in rowing a race of two miles in gigs, when No 55 mess won by ten lengths, which victory was signalised with a good supper at the expense of the losing crew, who concluded the repast a dead heat with their opponents!
After the usual next Sunday?s inspection all hands assembled on the quarterdeck, when they were informed by the flag captain that he had provided a silver cup for the stokers, to be kept on their mess deck so long as they maintained 30,000 horse power, but if they failed to do so the trophy would be taken away, and as the fleet surgeon suggested, placed in the sick bay.
The 27th was General Exercise day. Drills were carried out independently; the ship was cleared for action and afterwards all boats pulled round the fleet. After supper racing boats crews went away for exercise, while small groups assembled here and there on the upper deck, being taught the art of self-defence, while on the after shelter deck some of the midshipman were going strong on boxing, having the gymnastic instructor for an opponent.
At 2.45 p.m. next day her Majesty Queen Alexandra arrived from Cadiz in his Majesty?s yacht ?Victoria and Albert,? flying the Royal Standard at the main and escorted by the first class cruiser ?Essex? (Captain Farquhar) and a flotilla of destroyers and torpedo boats, under the command of Commander A. F. Everett, in the ?Exe,? which were sent out some hours previously by Admiral Sir W May, the Commander-in-chief. All ships were resplendently dressed, and when the yacht got within one mile of the ?Mole? a Royal Salute was fired by all ships present, consisting of ?King Edward VII,? ?Victorious,? ?Magnificent,? ?Mars,? ?Majestic,? ?Illustrious,? ?Prince George,? ?Drake,? ?Berwick,? ?Cumbernauld,? ?Assistance,? ?Tyne,? and ?Diadem,? which latter ship was en route to China. The yacht entered by the southern entrance passing directly under our bows; all the ships were manned and the National anthem played. Her Majesty, who appeared in the pink of health, could be observed snapshooting, her first shot being the ?Drake,? where Admiral Prince Louis was standing on the fore bridge, in full view of the Queen. Shortly after the yacht made fast to the buoy, all flag officers repaired onboard. At 4 p.m. her Majesty landed in the state barge for a drive through the town, receiving a great ovation from the cosmopolitan crowds, which thronged the gaily-decorated streets, a royal salute being fired from the ships. From the yacht to the dockyard an avenue was formed of fourteen oared barges, twenty-four in number, for the royal barge to pass through, Flag Captain Troubridge, of the ?Victorious,? was in charge of them, and a very pretty sight they presented. At 6.30 p.m. her Majesty returned to the yacht, and his Excellency the Governor, Sir G. white, and al the flag officers, received the royal invitation to dine with her Majesty. The fleet was illuminated from 8.30 p.m. till 11.30 p.m. the phantom like ships now laying quietly at their moorings, with not a ripple on the water, looking grim monsters of the deep.
Next morning broke with beautiful sunshine, rather warm at first, but after midday a slight breeze made it somewhat more comfortable. At 11 a.m. her Majesty landed quietly and unofficially for a ride, and afterwards lunched at the Convent. In the afternoon her Majesty visited the ?King Edward VII? and remained on board till 5 p.m. looking over the powerful flagship of the Atlantic Fleet. The wireless telegraphy room was visited, and the following message was sent to the Naval Signal Station on the Rock, and then transmitted by cablegram to his Majesty the King: -?Here I am on board the King Edward VII, she is a beautiful ship. Send my love from here-Alexandra. Time, 4.30 p.m.? Our wireless operator, ever on the alert, intercepted the above message. Her Majesty then honoured the ?Drake? with a visit, and as we were berthed alongside the detached ?Mole? a temporary landing stage was erected. Her Majesty was received by Prince Louis and the flag Captain, the Royal Standard was hoisted, and a guard of honour of one hundred Royal marines under Major Evans, royal Marine Light Infantry, presented arms, while massed bands of our cruiser squadron struck up the National Anthem. All the officers were drawn up on the quarterdeck, and Flag Captain Mark Kerr presented watch officer to her Majesty. This ceremonial over the Queen, with Princess Victoria, Princess Maud, and Prince Charles of Denmark, retired to Prince Louis cabin, and there partook of tea, after which the royal party left for a trip to Algeciras. Within seven weeks left we commissioned many exalted personages had visited the ship, among them being the King, Duke and Duchess pf Connaught, and her Majesty the Queen and her daughters, the Princesses.
During the visits of royalty our chaplain never relaxed his efforts for the promotion of sport as he took the football party on shore, and in a match played between ordinary seamen and boys the former won, both teams afterwards sitting down to a substantial tea.
At noon on the 31st, her Majesty left Gibraltar, the battleships being moored at the buoys and the cruisers at the Moles. The yacht steamed slowly between the lines, each pair of ships cheering lustily as it passed. On clearing the northern entrance the fleet fired another royal salute.
At 5 p.m. his Imperial Majesty the German Emperor in the ?Hamburg,? arrived, escorted by the cruiser ?Frederick Karl.? All ships were dressed with the German ensign at the main, and a royal salute was fired. The ?Hamburg? made fast to the buoy, which the Royal yacht had vacated a few hours previously. His Excellency the Governor and all flag officers went onboard to pay their respects. When proceeding alongside the New Mole, the ?Frederick Karl? collided with the ?Prince George,? necessitating that ship being docked next morning, a large hole having made on her starboard bow below the water line. Immediately the flag officers left the ?Hamburg,? his Imperial Majesty visited the King Edward VII, and after inspecting the guard of honour, he inspected the ship and the guns crews at exercise. On leaving at 7.30 p.m. our flagship saluted him with 21 guns, and all ships immediately switched on illuminating lights, the circuits having been rigged for her Majesty?s visit. Today had been a real royal day. During the afternoon our midshipmen and the Victorious rowed a one-mile race in six oared galleys, the latter winning by several lengths.
On April 1st, his Imperial Majesty paid an official visit to the ?Drake,? as honorary admiral of the British Fleet, his Imperial standard flying side by side with the Union Jack at our main, while Prince Louis flag was temporarily transferred to the ?Berwick.? All the officers were drawn up on quarterdeck and marched past the Emperor in single file, each officer being personally presented, after which he then had a quick look round the upper deck, and retired to Prince Louis cabin. On leaving he received a salute of nineteen guns as honorary admiral of the British Fleet.
At 6 p.m. the ?Hamburg? sailed with his Imperial Majesty, escorted by the ?Frederick Karl,? another royal salute being fired on his departure. Next day the battle fleet and our cruiser squadron prepared for sea.
At 6 a.m. on the 3rd the ?Drake,? ?Berwick,? ?Cumberland,? with the destroyers ?Exe,? ?Dee,? ?Ettrick,? and ?Arun,? under the command of Prince Louis, left Gibraltar, the battle fleet following two hours afterwards. We shaped our course to the southward and eastward with the following object in view, viz, the cruisers ?Essex? and Doris? were up the Mediterranean and they had to endeavour to break through without being caught and join the battle fleet. The plan devised by our admiral, of course, cannot be disclosed (even were the author acquainted), although commanding officers were requested to explain to the men what was being carried out, except the confidential part, but it was his desire that nothing should be communicated to the Press. At 6.20 p.m. that evening our enemy were sighted right ahead of us and were within our cordon. The game was up! They were then ordered by signal to join us at a certain rendezvous. About 10 p.m. we all met and joined up in line at 11.30 p.m. when a thick fog came on, and continued so till 10 a.m. next morning. All night long the signalmen kept that terrible disturber of the watch below?s dreams, the syren, every two minutes. The ?Essex? our captured enemy, was sent on to Gibraltar as being very short of coal. When the fog cleared off the destroyer flotilla, under Commander A.F. Everett, were sent on to Gibraltar to carry out tactical exercises. At 2 p.m. we sighted the battle fleet carrying out exercises, which we also did likewise, and anchoring for the night to the eastward of Europa Point. Next morning, the 5th, we had decided to weigh at 6.30 a.m. but owing to a fog, waited till 9.20 a.m. when we weighed and carried out torpedo exercises, the divisions steaming past each other at unknown speeds. The torpedoes were fitted with collapsible heads, and were fired at the opposite ships, very good practice being made. After anchoring aiming rifle practice was carried out at a target towed by the picket boat, and torpedo running was also done. Again at 4 p.m. we weighed, and took up berth alongside the Commercial Mole, the ?Berwick? and ?Cumberland? going to the new mole. The battle fleet arrived later, and took up their respective berths at the buoys. At 8.30 p.m. the usual evening concert was all a going, our flag captain adding to the harmony with a song which was encored.
By kind permission of the captain, a party of some fifty chief first class petty officers had a very nice day?s outing in Spain, visiting the waterfalls in the cork woods, crossing to Algeciras, and then walking to the woods, through delightful county, where an al fresco feed was provided, after roaming about and having the items of interest explained to them by our chaplain, who was instrumental in getting the party together. They returned onboard after a very pleasant day, looking, perhaps, somewhat footstore, but refreshed with the country air and smell of the wild flowers.
A good game of football was played on the north front by teams representing the bluejackets and stokers; I order to decide which is really to be the ?Drake?s? representative team. A.B. Taylor captained the former, and Stoker Batten the latter, the bluejackets winning by seven goals to one.
On the 7th, and under a broiling sun, a cricket match was played on the north front, between teams representing the cruiser squadron and Gibraltar Cricket Club.
A Boxing and Wrestling Gymnasium, Army and Navy, under the auspices of his Excellency Sir George White and Rear-Admiral-Superintendent of the Naval Establishment on shore. Three entered from the ?Drake? (Private Cokayne, Royal Marine Light Infantry, middle weight, beat Stoker Sullivan, of the ?Victorious,? in the final championship; A.B. Campbell, light weight, fought the best fight of the evening, with Dillon, of the ?Majestic,? but unfortunately he put his thumb out). Our first Lieutenant Cameron, the gymnastic officer, attended in the interest of the competitors. Boxing and wrestling are being taken up with great interest in the ship, every encouragement being given, so that it has now become our general evening?s sport.
On April 10th at 7.30 a.m. the cruiser squadron, consisting of the ?Drake? (flag), ?Essex,? ?Cumberland,? ?Cornwall,? ?Berwick,? and ?Doris? slipped from the Moles-the ?Cornwall? was waiting outside, having rejoined during the previous evening from escort duty. We proceeded eastward of the Rock for twenty miles, it having been previously arranged that we were to attack the battle fleet, under Vice Admiral Sir W. May, at the now famous PZ battle exercises. It was anything but an ideal day for manoeuvring, as it was raining hard, accompanied by strong winds. At 10 a.m. the appointed hour, the two fleets approached each other and manoeuvred for position of advantage till 1 p.m. when our Commander in Chief brought the action to a close; the remainder of the day was devoted to tactics, the cruisers forming up with the battle fleet and making a second division. At 6.30 p.m. we all dropped anchor in Tetuan Bay, with orders to weight at 6 a.m. next morning and carry out gunnery and torpedo practices independently. We weighed at the time given, and carried out the practices, afterwards anchoring in Catalan Bay, just the other side of Europa Point, and ran Whiteheads. It was a beautiful day, not a ripple on the water. We weighed anchor at 4 p.m. and took up usual position alongside the Mole, and prepared for coaling from the collier ?Rothesay,? but by the time we got alongside and had got ready, it was late in the evening. The battle fleet returned at 6 p.m. and took up their buoys; the flagship remaining outside, ready for gun practice.
Next morning 12th all hands were called at 4.30 a.m. had cocoa, and commenced coaling an hour later, the collier port side, lighters with patent fuel starboard side, and by noon had finished with 502 tons of coal and 145 tons of patent fuel stowed away-an average of 111.5 tons per hour.
The French cruiser ?Lenois,? ?king Edward VII,? ?Cumberland,? with the destroyers. ?Myrmidon,? ?Kangaroo,? and ?Crane,? arrived during the afternoon. The rest of the day all hands were busily employed cleaning ship. Next day the cleaning process was continued. All the marines of the battle fleet and our squadron landed on the north front for drill, Major Parsons, of the ?King Edward VII,? being in chief command.
Prince Louis now promulgated our programme of movements up to June 7th, leaving here on the 27th with the Atlantic fleet for combined operations in the Mediterranean, under Admiral Sir Compton Domvile.
Prince Louis considerately invited the officers? ad men of the French cruiser, ?Lenois,? to attend, and made up a 200 yards race for the men. Twelve competed, and Prince Louis gave substantial money prizes to the first three. Glorious weather prevailed all day, and all seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed them. Mrs D?Aeth and the flag captain presented the prizes at the conclusion, three cheers being given for Mrs D?Aeth. The ships band played selections during the afternoon.
It being a glorious day, the Rev W. Todd took a party of twenty-five boys ashore on the 18th, and visited the famous galleries on the Rock. Before returning onboard they sat down to a good high tea; the boys thoroughly enjoying and appreciating their holiday.
Prince Louis has news today that he was a grandfather, his daughter, Princess Alice, having presented her husband, Prince Andrew of Greece, with a daughter; the occasion was celebrated with a large dinner party onboard, the massed bands of the squadron playing on the quarterdeck. The forepart also had their music; the piano was kept going till 10 p.m. for dancing, singing etc. The next evening a wrestling contest took place for a wager, between Stoker Penny, 9st 2lbs, and A.B. Needham, 11st 4lbs, of the ?Thistle?. First fall to Penny in fifteen minutes, and the second to him in six minutes. Without a doubt Penny is a marvellously strong wrestler for his weight. Lieutenant Cameron and the engineer officer from the ?thistle? acted as referees, and nearly every officer and man belonging to the ?Drake?s? and ?Thistle?s? crews were present, evidently enjoying the scientific sport. In the evening preparation for sea was made, the cruisers being ordered to have steam ready for fifteen knots by 9.30 a.m. and the battleships for twelve knots by 10.30 a.m. The ?Doris,? however, developed a defect, and was unable to accompany us. The ?Amethyst,? turbine engines, formed up with our squadron, making us a total of six ships.
The cruisers left as directed at 9.30 and the battle fleet at 10.30 a.m. next morning for a seven day?s sea trip, and to join up with Admiral Compton Domvile at Marmarice for combined exercises as previously stated. On clearing the bay, we spread E ? S from the ?King Edward VII,? the battle fleet of seven ships following us up in rear. The new trial ?Cruiser Code? was extensively tried. At 3 p.m. we closed in for the execution of some turning movements and before dark re opened out two miles apart, remaining so during the night.
Good Friday 21st April, Vice Admiral Sir W May informed the fleet that Sunday routine would be observed. At 5 a.m. we opened out to five miles apart, and exercised truck semaphoring, signalling being continued till 5 p.m. (The ?Bunting?s? Sunday routine!) We then joined up with the battle fleet as a temporary second division. The ?Berwick? was despatched on wireless telegraphy experiments with the fleet until 11 p.m. next day. Rather a quiet day followed, steaming leisurely along until 6 p.m. when we took up ?Look out positions? ahead. By this time the wind had freshened from the westward, making a heavy sea on our port quarter, and rolling somewhat heavily, smashing up several officers cabin furniture, causing a general rush to cabins to find out the effect-the cause being known. Easter Sunday morning broke beautifully fine, with a fresh westerly breeze, the ships now steaming along quietly.
Cruisers spread out ahead on the 24th, and communicated by wireless with Admiral Domvile at Malta, receiving latest press telegrams, etc. During the night we gradually closed in, and by 8 a.m. on the 25th had formed astern of battle fleet. A long day at tactics and manoeuvres commenced and lasted till 6 p.m. only ceasing for one hour for luncheon. At 6 p.m. the cruisers again took up ?look out duties.? Our 6-inch loading competition commenced this evening, the crews having been hard at it every evening for some six weeks. Prince Louis was present to witness the contest, taking up his position with the flag captain. Commander Buller and Gunnery Lieutenant Walwyn were the selected umpire and timekeeper respectively. Keen interest was manifested during the competition, which took seven evenings to decide the winning crew. The weather this evening was indeed delightful. Up till 10 p.m. the piano was up, and merry parties indulged in dancing and singing, when a sudden collapse of this impromptu concert took place as the bugle sounded Exercise General Quarters; with the bustle of lashing up hammocks, etc, everyone rapidly repaired to his appointed station amid the rattling of chains as the guns were cast loose for action, the officers of the groups of guns being eager to be first cleared away. Such is the method of testing the war efficiency of a ship.
At 11.30 p.m. the guns were again secured, and the middle watchmen had the satisfaction of knowing they had yet half an hour to sleep before again being roused up. Manoeuvres were exercised next day, commanders and first lieutenants having an hour at being in charge as captain. After evening quarters the fleet exercised stations for taking a ship in tow. The cruisers then took up station ahead looking out for the Mediterranean fleet, and sighted them ahead at 12.30 p.m. six ships, with admiral Domvile in command, flying his flag in the ?Bulwark,? accompanied by the ?Venerable,? ?formidable,? ?Implacable,? ?Queen,? and ?Prince of Wales.? We really expected a fight, or some other form of excitement on meeting, but Admiral Domville proceeded to Marmarice, and ordered the Atlantic Fleet to go there. At 5 p.m. we dropped anchor, each division coming up to the anchorage separately. Half an hour later the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, consisting of the ?Leviathan? (flag of Rear Admiral Hon Hedworth Lambton) ?Lancaster,? ?Minerva,? ?Juno,? and the destroyers, ?Albatross,? ?Stag,? and ?foam,? arrived and took up their berths. The magnificent fleet presented a formidable war looking appearance, as they lay moored in four lines, the battleships in shore, cruisers occupying the outer berths. The harbour of Marmarice may be considered one of the finest harbours in the Mediterranean for a large fleet, and is much frequented by the British fleet as being an ideal place for the execution of exercises etc. It is almost landlocked, and affords a secure anchorage. The mountains on the western side of the entrance are high and very picturesque. The town at the head of the harbour is built on a rocky eminence, and mainly consists of miserable dirty houses, scattered about without any method or regularity. The country around is very fertile, and the principal productions are honey and turpentine. The mountains are covered with pine trees.
On the 28th the combined fleet held a sailing handicap regatta (service rigs), 110 boats competed, the course being almost a triangular one of 12 miles. The first race started at 1.15 p.m. as the wind invariably fresher from noon. The usual precautions were taken in case of capsizing, picket boats patrolling the course. The ?Amethyst?s? whaler was the only boat, which did capsize. At 4.40 p.m. the winning boat crossed the line, and the result of the race was as follows: -
1st ?Nenerable?s? 28ft. gig, sailed by Comdr. Chatfield; 2nd ?Venerable?s? launch Lieut, Evans; 3rd ?Majestic?s? launch, Lieut. Elwell; 4th ?Cornwall?s pinnace, Lieut Hall.
In the evenings we had our usual 6in loading completion. Next day the private rig sailing handicap regatta took place, the course same as on the previous day, but reversed. Not more than forty boats took part, with this result: -
1st ?Implacable 24ft cutter; 2nd ?Venerable?s? launch; 3rd, ?King Edward VII,? 34ft cutter.
It will be seen the Mediterranean Fleet took most of the prizes.
After luncheon our gunroom officers formed a picnic party and went away in the sailing pinnace, they all took rifles and heaps of ammunition, so we expected to0 see big game brought back but one lowly sparrow was the extent of the game bag!
Our torpedo lieutenant?s yacht, ?The Flapper,? had a race of seven miles with the ?Berwick?s? yacht, which is much smaller and was allowed twenty-one minutes on time allowance. A good race ensued, but ?The Flapper? was defeated by 17 seconds only-she was ably manned by our captain, the flag lieutenant, and her owner, Lieutenant Goldie. After tea and excitement grew intense as the final loading competition was to take place, every space being crowded by officers and men alike; Prince Louis, the flag captain, and all the officers being present. B3 gun?s crew became the victors in this contest.
Admiral Domvile?s flagship (?Bulwark?) held a conversazione onboard during the evening, and all the admirals, captains, and officers of the combined fleet were invited, her quarterdeck being handsomely decorated and illuminated.
On Sunday 30th when mustering by divisions, Prince Louis had all hands assembled aft, and then presented the handsome silver cup and cash prize to B3 and B4 guns crew respectively. The rear admiral is a good orator and commands everyone?s attention while speaking, and he clearly defined that it gave him very great pleasure in presenting the prizes, so kindly given by Captain Mark Kerr, and stated he was ever ready to further and take the greatest interest in anything appertaining to gunnery and the general efficiency of the ship. The captain of B3 was then handed the cup, the admiral congratulating him on the smartness of his gun?s crew.
Their names are here given: -G. Burnham, P.O.2 (G.L.), H Brindley, L.S. W. Travis, A.B. W. Davis, A.B., F. Lascombe, A.B., C Upperton, L.S., A. E. Fishel, A.B, C Homer A.B.
After luncheon the wardroom officers entertained the gunroom to a picnic, all going away in the sailing launch, and landed on the western shore and had a sportive time. The captains of the combined fleet also went picnicking. The chief and first petty officers were granted leave till 7 p.m. and ship visiting was also permitted. With such a large fleet lying together visiting is much appreciated by the men, who take the opportunity of looking up old chums. During the evening the ships prepared for sea, having to leave early next morning. On May 1st commenced our four days tactical exercises, for which this large fleet had combined to carry out. The cruisers usually weigh first, as in this case, commencing to unmoor at 5 a.m. leaving an hour later. The 3rd Cruiser Squadron proceeded out first, our squadron following, and on clearing the harbour?s mouth, we ?combined,? under the command of Rear-Admiral Lambton, in the ?Leviathan.? The battle fleet came out at 8 a.m. and could just be seen manoeuvring in the offing. The cruisers also manoeuvred at intervals till noon. In the afternoon sea drill was carried out, the ?Leviathan? having signalled ?Take ship in tow.? The ?Berwick? had to tow the ?Drake,? and we were the first pair ready, in the very creditable time of thirteen minutes. ?Casting off tow,? we again were first, taking only nine minutes. The squadrons then separated for the night, the cruisers joining up with their respective battle fleets. During the following afternoon what is universally known as PZ exercises were carried out, Mediterranean Fleet versus Atlantic Fleet, under Admiral Sir C. Domvile and Vice Admiral Sir W May respectively, the Cruiser Squadrons forming up in the line with their own fleets. At noon the ?Cease Fire? was sounded and at 2 p.m. the battleships combined and manoeuvred until 4 p.m. The cruiser squadrons also combined and Prince Louis was given command for the afternoon. At 4 p.m., ships were drilled at letting go and picking up life buoys. The fleets then separated for the night. The weather was delightful.
PZ manoeuvres were again carried out on the 3rd, between Vice-Admiral Grendfell and Rear Admiral Bridgeman, each admiral having four battleships and four cruisers under his command, some very exciting movements taking place at the finish. Rear-Admiral Bridgeman signalled ?Well done, 2nd Cruiser Squadron,?
At 2 p.m. it was our turn. Rear-Admiral Prince Louis versus Rear-Admiral Hon. H Lambton, having four each of battleships and cruisers; the manoeuvring for position of advantage ceased at 4 p.m. and thus ended the combined fleet exercises so far as we were concerned.
At 7 p.m. our squadron rejoined the Atlantic Battle Fleet and cruised in company during the night.
At 8.30 a.m. next morning Captain Callaghan, ?Prince of Wales,? versus Captain Marx, of the ?Mars,? each with four battleships and two cruisers, manoeuvred as opponents till 11 a.m. when the fleets formed up and proceeded into Marmarice again, taking up our allotted positions, each squadron acting independently.
The results of the PZ exercises are obviously only made known to a limited few, obtaining a deal of anxious labour of those who are in responsible positions. We prepared for coaling at once completing our stock from the collier ?New Orleans? after the ?Magnificent? had finished.
In the evening our admiral had a dinner party onboard, all the captains of the Second and Third Cruiser Squadrons attending.
Our coaling was delayed until next day at 1.30 p.m. and having to take in 1,175 tons, it meant for certain nearly an all night job. At 2.30 p.m. the work commenced, and was continuously kept up, except for meals, until 3.30 a.m. in the middle watch-averaging 106.8 tons per hour. At 4 a.m. all hands tired and dirty, were piped down, and slept soundly till 8 o?clock, when breakfast was served.
During yesterday afternoon while we were coaling a fleet sailing regatta was held (private rigs), the day being an ideal one to test the sailing capabilities, it being very squally, and several boats, as usual, capsized, though no mishaps to crews occurred. The ?King Edward VII? held on ?At Home?? onboard during the regatta, and issued invitations to all the officers of the combined fleets.
From early morning on the 6th ships were leaving, dispersing to their allotted places to give general leave to the men. Except that the ?Illustrious,? ?Mars? and ?Cumberland? remained behind coaling, we were the last ship to depart at 4.30 p.m.
The usual farewell greetings were exchanged between the different fleets. Admiral Sir Compton Domvile signalled that he hoped that the next meeting of the fleets would be equally agreeable to both. The ?Drake? informed the 2nd Cruiser Squadron that in furture all information interesting to the ships companies would be promulgates from time to time at the different places visited.
At 6 a.m. on the 8th we were steaming through Santorin Straits, the crater of a volcano, Santorin (Thera), the modern name derived from the Greeks. This island in early days was inhabited by the Phoenicians and known by the name of Calliste, or Beuatiful Isle. It was a glorious morning with the warm sun rising over the island and showing to advantage the white but very ancient dwelling houses, with its numerous windmills, while the church bells were distinctly heard. The forecastle was crowded with sightseers, while the after sheltered deck was commandeered by the officers (some in their pyjamas), who are rarely seen on deck so early in the morning. The ?Berwick? rejoined us during the forenoon, she having been spread for wireless practices.
At 5 p.m. we anchored in Phalerum Bay,but before doing so saluted the country with 21 guns. The Royal yacht ?Victoria and Albert,2 with the cruiser ?Aboukir,? was lying at the Piraeus. Her Majesty Queen Alexandta was onshore staying at the King?s Palace in Athens. Among the first board us on arrival were the Princess Louis and Prince Andrew of Greece.
Next day the ships companies were granted 24 hours General Leave in watches from noon till noon. Parties were formed, engaging a guide, and the various historical places were visited, especially so the Acropolis and Museum.
The British Minister to Greece paid us an official visit, and was saluted on leaving with 17 guns. The massed bands of the squadron played on shore at Phalerum from 8 p.m. till 10 p.m. The ?Cumberland? joined at 4 p.m. on the 10th. Our Chaplain took an organised party of 57 with him onshore for the day, and visited the principal sights at Athens.
Several of the officers attended by special invitation the christening of our admiral?s granddaughter at the king?s palace, which function took place on the 11th.
The ?Cornwall,? ?Berwick? and ?Essex? left us this morning; the first named for Argostolia and the other two fro Corfu, according to programme, after having finished their general leave. The behaviour of the men onshore was very creditable, and leave breaking was a rarity. Another party of 34 boys landed with the chaplain early this morning and visited the sights, partaking of a good lunch in the Hotel Prince George, the boys thoroughly enjoying their outing.
Early on the 12th we went a few miles out for half a day?s heavy gun firing, Prince Andrew of Greece being onboard to witness the firing, returning to the anchorage at 3p.m.
The ?Drake? and ?Cumberland? dressed ship over all, with the Greek Ensign at the main, preparatory to the King and Queen of Greece paying a visit onboard. Their Majesties came shortly after noon, the British Minister arriving a few minutes before them. On the state barge leaving the shore a royal salute was fired. Admiral Prince Louis, the flag captain and officers, received them at the gangway a Guard of Honour being drawn up on the quarterdeck. After inspecting the guard, all the officers were then presented, His Majesty shaking hands with each. Luncheon was served on the quarterdeck, it being very sultry weather. After luncheon His Majesty had a walk round the ship, and witnessed B3 gun?s crew at the loader getting off their 30 rounds in two minutes.
Their Majesties departed at 4.30 p.m. when another royal salute was fired and the Greek National Anthem played. This following personages accompanied His Majesty and partook of luncheon; The Queen Princess Sophie, Princess Louise, Crown Prince, Prince Nicholas, Prince Andrew, Prince George, and the British Minister.
Preparing to leave on the 15th for Malta, all leave expired at 7 a.m. and at 10.30 a.m. we proceeded at 15 knots, leaving the Temple of Acropole with the sun shining brightly on its summit far behind. It is safe to affirm that we all enjoyed our short stay and became quite familiar with the money currency-the drachma.
Beautiful weather prevailed, not a ripple on the water, so the piano was got up in the starboard gangway and the men passed several hours off enjoyment, dancing etc, which is a favourite pastime at sea. Private Ward very genially presided at the piano.
The forenoon of the next day was devoted to aiming fine practice, and the afternoon was given up to ?Make and mend clothes,? the slops (naval term for a raw material) being issued, as we were to arrive at Malta next morning. When the general issue of slops takes place the upper deck has all the appearance of a Jew?s shop or jumble sale. As many as eleven sewing machines were counted hard at work, turning raw goods into uniformed articles of apparel; the less industrious enjoying a siesta in the cool sea breeze.
In the evening the gunroom officers entertained Prince Louis and his flag captain at dinner in the gunroom.
At 3 a.m. the 17th we got in touch with Gargar wireless station, ad received orders to enter Malta harbour at 7 a.m. and go direct into NO 3 dock. As we had only three days to remain we had all our work cut out to complete with stores etc.
General leave was granted from evening till the morning, and the officers were made honorary members of the various clubs.
The whole of the Mediterranean fleet and 3rd Cruiser Squadron were here in Malta, except the ?Aboukir?; the ?King Alfred? having arrived the previous evening from England.
At noon, there was the usual rush of trade?s people to get onboard to dispose of their wares, making all kinds of pretences to get a footing onboard, but only a few selected ones with credentials were admitted.
At 1.30 p.m. the 20th, we were floated out of dock and proceeded to Naples. As we left the harbour the flag of the Commander in Chief (Admiral Sir Compton Domvile) was saluted and before finally proceeding we fired a few 6-in lyddite shells at Ta Rock.
In the evening the captain gave a very instructive and interesting lecture, with sketches of Pompeii and its surroundings, mentioning the principal places worth visiting there. The weather was ideal, and we were all glad to leave Malta, which place is not too inviting for one when their ship is in dock.
Mount Stromboli was passed at 6p.m. next day, its smouldering summit being plainly visible. We anchored in Naples Bay closer inshore than is usual with our ship-about six cables from the landing pier. On arrival we saluted the country and afterwards the Italian Vice Admiral. No other warship was present, with the exception of a few Italian small craft inside the Breakwater. Nampes rises from the shore, resembling the form of an amphitheatre, divided into two unequal crescents by the hill of Martino. To the eastward is the larger portion of the city; the north is bounded by the Capodiment Hills, on which are a royal palace and observatory. The conspicuous Castle of St.Elmo is in the centre of the city itself, which possesses some very long paved streets. There are many beautiful public edifices besides the Cathedral, Palace, Exchange, Museum, Naval and Military Colleges, the new gallery Umberto I, Theatre of San Carlo (the second largest in Europe), all of which will repay a visit. Mount Vesuvius, on the east side, has been the most active volcano in Europe for the last three centuries and during our stay it was more active than it has been for the last 40 years, and quite lit up the place for many miles round. The last great eruption took place in 1861, when the streets of Naples were covered with dust in inch thick and a dark cloud hung over the city.
A party of officers left early one morning for a four-day visit to Rome. On the 22nd general drill was carried out during the whole forehand, and afterwards all boats pulled round the fleet. Another similar general drill forenoon took place next day.
The following Italian personages paid official visits to the ship, and each saluted according to his rank; Italian Vice Admiral (Commander in Chief), General Commanding Division, Mayor of Naples, Prefect of Police. The ships companies were granted special leave as usual to land every evening.
The ?Essex? and ?Cumberland? arrived on the 26th and anchored at Naples; the ?Berwick? and ?Cornwall? anchored at Castellamare, a few miles distant across the bay.
A party of 34 petty officers landed early this morning to visit Pompeii. This city had lain buried beneath ashes until 1748, when by accident a countryman in sinking a well discovered a painted chamber containing statues and other objects of antiquity; since then, excavations have been made, until one half of the city has been cleared. The valuable and interesting relics discovered are deposited in the museum at Naples.
Naples was also visited, and the party had a thorough good day?s enjoyment, returning onboard at 10 p.m.
A Temperance Association was today formed in the ship, under the presidency of our Chaplain (Rev. W. M. Todd), called the Naval Temperance Association, and which is to include members of the R.N.T.S. and the other existing temperance societies.
In the afternoon the officers of the squadron were invited to Mrs Harrison?s garden party at La Floridiana, the officers attending in white uniform.
On the glorious First of June the Officers Cricket Team from the ?Drake? played an invitation game of cricket against the Naples Cricket Club, which was won with 33 runs by our team.
General leave of 24 hours was today given by watches to celebrate this historical day in British naval annals, a good number of men taking advantage of the privilege.
Vesuvius was very active today, and in consequence of the unusually violent explosion three large streams of lava could be plainly seen forcing their way down the side of the volcano to the northwest, and in an hour it had flowed to the bottom of the great cone. Next day the service of the funicular railway had to be suspended for reasons of safety. The flow of lava continued, so we were fortunate during our stay to witness what had not happened for the last 40 years.
Another party of between 30 and 40 petty officers landed early on the 2nd and visited Pompeii and sights of Naples.
The officers held an ?At Home? onboard this afternoon, and in the evening dancing took place, where the fair sex were well in the majority. The Italian Rear Admiral and the principal naval and military officers attended this social function.
Next day the authorities very kindly invited the men of the fleet to visit Pompeii of cost (the usual price being 2s 8d).
At 3 p.m. very heavy squall, accompanied by hail, swept over the bay, lasting an hour. Our yacht, the ?Flapper,? came to grief, for she capsized and sank at her moorings. A sweeping party soon located her, and next day she was hoisted onboard again.
In the evening three officers from each ship went to the Theatre Belloni (Opera Patriarc) by special invitation.
The 4th of June being the anniversary of the formation of the Italian constitution, all ships were dressed at 8 a.m. and fired a royal salute at noon, displaying the Italian colours at the ?main.? The Admiral, captains, and officers landed early in the morning and witnessed the Grand Military Review. An escort of mounted troops received Rear-Admiral Prince Louis on landing.
At 8 a.m. on the 5th the ?Implacable? passed, flying the flag of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, then on his way from Genoa to Malta to take over command of the Mediterranean Fleet. Preparations for sea were made during the forenoon, and at 1.30 p.m. we left Naples behind for Aranci Bay. After Evening Quarters the squadron were exercised at letting go and picking up life buoys. We then proceeded alone to Maddallena, leaving the ?Essex? to take the remainder of the squadron on, and arrived there at 8 a.m. next morning and saluted the country and the Italian Rear Admiral.
Maddallena is a strong fortified base, and the Italians keep a number of destroyers and torpedo boats here. After the official calls were made and returned we departed, and arrived at Aranci at 1.30 in the afternoon, and prepared for coaling in the morning.
The ?Essex? was the first to commence coaling from the collier, the other ships running torpedoes and counter mining.
This is an ideal anchorage for fleet exercises, and is frequently made use of by our ships. Our Admiral informed us that the cruiser ?Bedford? would join the squadron, making our number up to six ships, before leaving for the American cruise.
The authorities kindly placed a torpedo boat and at tug at the disposal of the fleet, to take officers and men to Terra Nova, making two trips a day. This evening, the 7th we held our boxing and wrestling competitions. All the captains were dining with Prince Louis onboard, and after dinner came on deck and witnessed the sport. A number of Italian pretty officers were also entertained at supper, and afterwards attended the contests, and appeared much interested and to thoroughly enjoy themselves.
The ship was coaled on the 8th taking in 314 tons in three hours, but making everything just as dirty as if 3,000 tons had been shipped.
The Admiral and Captain had a good morning?s shooting on the 10th, bringing down several wild goats, which were distributed to the ward room, gun room, and warrant officers, and also among the pretty officers messes.
A non-swimmers class was commenced here, a party landing each evening on the beach for tuition. One day while here the chaplain took all the boys away in the sailing pinnace on a picnic, landing at the back of the island, where they camped, and a good tea was provided, and afterwards played games etc.
The squadron for under way at 9 o?clock on the 13th, buoying their cables (using their copper punts), and carried out torpedo practice in the bay, the divisions steaming past each other in opposite directions, the torpedoes bei9ng fitted with collapsible heads. On completing the practice the ships returned and picked up moorings at 11.30 a.m. and then prepared for proceeding to Leghorn.
Early next day at 6.30 a.m. they left Aranci Bay, passing through the Maddallena Channel in one line, steaming 15 knots, and saluted the Italian Admiral, who signalled us, ?Wishing you a pleasant passage.?
We reached Leghorn at 7 p.m. and saluted the country on arrival. Owing to the bad anchorage here, especially when the wind is blowing from the southwest, orders were signalled to have steam ready at short notice.
Leghorn (or Levorna) contains a Naval Dockyard, also a Naval Academy. It is an important seaport, the capital of the province, and is surrounded by very strongly built walls about four miles in circuit, and defended by fortifications; there is also an inner line of defence formed by broad canals. The ancient city of Pisa, with its world famed Campanile, or leaning tower, is 11 ? miles distant by rail. The place is well supplied with a good system of electric trams.
Leave was granted to special leave men daily till the following morning. The authorities very kindly made large reductions in the prices by rail to Florence, where parties of officers and men had to visit, and also to Pisa and Lucia, if they so desired. Several parties of petty officers and men availed themselves of this privilege.
The Reverend Gardener, Chaplain at Leghorn gave 120 boys from the squadron an invitation to a picnic on shore. They landed at 1 p.m., a special tram conveying them to Antiguano, about half an hour?s run along the coast. The youngsters first had a bathe, then roamed about in the olive woods, and at 4 p.m. sat down to a substantial tea, after which wholesome repast they played football, rounders etc, and returned onboard at 8 p.m. having had a good day?s outing, and appreciating the considerate action of their host.
A football match was played one evening between the officers of the squadron vs the Athletic Club, on the private grounds of Count Fabbricotti at Villa Fabbricotti Piazza, Roma, only a short run by tram out of Leghorn. Officers and men in uniform were admitted free.
The massed bands of the squadron played on the grounds alternately with the local band. It was really good fun, for the natives did not quite understand the game as do Englishmen. Nevertheless they worked hard, but could not prevent the result of 8 goals to 1. Prince Louis was present, and received a great ovation; the band playing ?God Save the King? several times.
A big luncheon party was given onboard on the 22nd, the ship looking very smart, and in the evening a party of thirty coral factory girls paid us a visit. Then at 9 p.m. all the ships displayed their searchlights on our main mast, where the Italian colours were flying high up on the wireless pole, and in addition a fireowrk display took place. A gala performance at the theatre was given in honour of Prince Louis and the Officers of the Squadron.
Since our arrival the engine room staffs have been busy, preparing for the full speed trial, which was to be run on our passage to Gibraltar-the ?Drake? having a good steaming record to maintain.
Early on the 23rd at 5.45a.m. we weighed anchor and proceeded to Gibraltar. It was a beautiful morning and everything was favourable for our steam trials. The ships were formed in one line abeam trials. The ships were formed in one line abeam, with the ?Drake? in the centre and gradually worked up steam. At 7 a.m. the eight hours full power trial commenced. After an hour?s steaming the ?Cumberland? fell out owing to hot bearings, and at the conclusion of the trial we were leading, but only by about 300 yards, the ?Cornwall? having pushed us close. Next came the ?Berwick? and ?Essex,? between six and eight miles behind respectively. Our average speed was 23.16 knots. We then commenced 16 hours three fifth trial.
At 7 a.m. the 24th the trials concluded, and the squadron formed up and carried out quarterly target practice and aiming rifle practice till noon, when we again formed in line and proceeded at 15 knots. In the evening the ?Essex? fell out owing to heated bearings.
We arrived at Gibraltar at 5 p.m. next day, and found all the Atlantic fleet there under Vice Admiral Sir W. May, Commander in Chief. All three, the ?Drake,? ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick,? went alongside the New Mole, ready for coaling early next morning; all our bunkers being almost empty. We also received orders that we would proceed to sea in company with Atlantic fleet on July 6th, when they left for Brest.
Coaling commenced at 6 a.m., the natives bringing the coal from the mole to the ship?s side in baskets. It was a very sultry day, no wind, and the dust hanging about in clouds. Supplying coal in baskets is very heavy work, as much stooping is necessary.
The ?Essex? arrived in the afternoon and made fast ahead of us, and as she steamed past, our band struck up the air,? where have you been all the day?? Later in the evening, the ?Cumberland? also arrived, so we were all together once again.
At 8 p.m. the commander decided to finish coaling for the night, having taken in 1,400 tons-not a bad days work.
Coaling was continued early next day, when at 1 p.m. 2m090 tons (25 percent being patent fuel) had been taken in.
In the evening the cruiser ?Carnarvon? arrived, having been in collision with German steamer off Ferrol, but her stern was only very slightly damaged. The whole day of the 28th was devoted to cleaning ship, and in the evening the 2nd Cruiser Squadron prepared for landing small arm companies etc, first thing in the morning. At 4 a.m. all hands were turned out, served with cocoa, and rigged for marching off at 5 o?clock.
All small arm men and Marine detachments were drawn up on the mole, with the massed bands of the squadron at the head of the column, bugles, drums, and fifes being at the head of the Marines, the whole being under the command of the flag captain. The field battery was under the command of the commander of the ?Berwick.? The battery turned off at the Alameda, and there drilled, while the small arm companies marched on the north front and drilled. Our admiral was present, mounted, and inspected the battalion and field gun battery. They all returned onboard at 8 a.m. and had breakfast on arrival.
In view of our approaching American cruise the dockyard people were busily engaged working on the ?ball room deck,? fixing the iron beams in position etc.
The announcement of the list of birthday honours created much satisfaction, our admiral receiving the K.C.M.G. Vice Admiral May, Rear Admiral Bridge man, and captains of the ships present signalled ?Hearty congratulations.? The ?Drake?s? ship?s company also were privileged to tender their hearty congratulations to their admiral, to which congratulatory message Prince Louis expressed his thanks.
In the early mornings and evenings the boats crews from all ships present were busily practising, as several races had been arranged for before our departure.
At 5 p.m. on the 3rd the subordinate officers race for the ?Battenberg? Challenge Cup took place, over a straight course of one mile, from the commercial Mole of the Dockyard, passing between the battleships lying at the buoys and the cruisers alongside the Mole. Nine boats competed, and the race from start to finish was very exciting, our midshipman doing extremely well. The ?Illustrious? was first (winner of the Cup), ?Prince George? second and ?Drake? third.
As will be noticed the cruisers had no luck in the racing contests. Later in the evening all ships were preparing for sea.
We left Gibraltar on the 6th for Arosa Bay, and the Atlantic Fleet for Brest. Our Squadron, with the cruisers ?Doris? and ?Amethyst? (temporarily attached) left at 6.30 a.m. half an hour before the Battle Fleet, and took up lookout station ahead, with orders to stop the ?Hermione,? outward bound for Gibraltar, and take all supernumeraries for the fleet from her. She was sighted at 10 p.m. and the ?Doris? and ?Berwick? closed on her, the former taking the supernumeraries for the Atlantic fleet and the ?Berwick? rose for the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. The ?Hermione? then proceeded again. During the middle watch it came on a little foggy.
We parted company on the 7th with the battle fleet, and next morning at 6 a.m. anchored in Arosa Bay, a wet misty, unpleasant morning, and cold, but by noon it cleared off and the sun came out quite warm.
All ships were now busily engaged fitting illuminating circuits for use at Lisbon. In the evening our flag captain gave a very interesting lecture, with limelight illustrations, of the ?Life of Nelson,? the battles he had won, etc. The Admiral, who was present all the time, personally thanked and congratulated him on his successful and entertaining lecture.
After Sunday morning Divine service, which terminated at 11.30 a.m. the 9th we weighed anchor and sailed for Lisbon, the ?Bedford? joining up outside, thus bringing our number up to six ships as previously arranged.
The mouth of the Tagus was entered at 7 a.m. next morning, and on passing the Royal palace a royal salute was fired, and then the Portuguese Vice Admiral, who was flying his flag in the cruiser ?Don Carlos I,? was also saluted.
The squadron anchored in two lines, at the same moment dressing ship over all with the Portuguese Ensign at the main (being Fete Day). Prince Louis and the captains of the squadron travelled by train to Cintra to pay their respects to their Majesties. In the evening the ships were illuminated, and we had suspended between our masts a Portuguese royal crown with letter A (Amelia) hanging just below. The crown was formed of red, white and blue lamps, and looked exquisite from a distance. At 5 p.m. two Russian destroyers, homeward bound, put in here for coal, and on passing the squadron the entire crews saluted.
Leave was granted to ships companies every afternoon till 11 p.m. Nearly the whole of the next forenoon was occupied saluting the various officials, etc.
In the evening the admiral and all captains dined with the British Minister, Sir M. De Bunsen, at the Legation. The shore authorities were indeed very considerate; they reduced the railway fares by 50 percent, and the tram conductors were ordered to accept English money at current rates.
While here a meeting was held onboard the ?Drake,? each ship being represented, with a view of holding a squadron regatta at Quebec.
The officers of the squadron were made hon members of the Royal British Club, and the National Fencing Club placed their premises and foils at their disposal.
The 13th was indeed a royal day, as their Majesties the King and Queen of Portugal visited the ?Drake? at midday. All the squadron dressed ship,, and each fired a Royal Salute in their honour. On His Majesty arriving onboard his standard was hoisted at the main side by side with his full admiral?s flag (H.M. being an hon admiral of the British fleet.); Prince Louis flag remained flying at the fore, so we were honoured with two admirals flying their flags onboard at the same time, which may be described as a rare occurrence. Luncheon was served on the quarterdeck, covers being laid for 24. Their Majesties returned to the shore at 3 p.m. when another royal salute was fired.
In the evening the British Minister and Lady Bunsen gave a grand ball at the legation, all the officers being invited. H.M. the King was present. Searchlights from the squadron lit up the landing place and the Embassy till midnight.
A party of thirty of our boys had a day?s outing by invitation of the chaplain and visited Cintra and the various sights, spending a very pleasant day.
A party of petty officers also left the ship early and visited Cintra to view the palace grounds etc, and returned to Lisbon in the afternoon, where a sumptuous tea was provided at the Presbyterian Minister?s residence, at his invitation; the remainder of the evening being spent in harmony, the British Cosul?s wife, who was present, rendering several songs.
His Majesty the King gave a dinner onboard his yacht, the senior officers of the squadron attending.
On the 15th, H.M. the King, the British Minister, and Lady Bunsen, several other ladies, and the principal naval and military officers of the port, dined with Rear-Admiral Prince Louis onboard, tables being laid on the quarterdeck, which was covered in and brilliantly illuminated. After dinner, dancing was indulged in till 1.30 a.m. all the gun room officers taking part.
In the evening of the 16th the officers of the squadron attended a bullfight given in their honour; special seats being reserved for them, at which function the King was present. Special leave men landed from the squadron, and some hundreds also attended. The bullfight differs much from the Spanish form of fight, as the bulls are not killed; a show of clever horsemanship being the main feature.
The officers cricket team returned from Oporto at 6 a.m. this morning, having travelled all night. They won one match, lost another, attended two dances, and were entertained by the Oporto Cricket Club most hospitality.
Owing to the strong tide running in the Tagus, we waited for slack water, and at noon next day, 17th, unmoored and preceded to Gibraltar, steaming out in two lines. All ship were displaying the Portuguese Ensign at the main, and as we passed His Portuguese Ensign at the main, and as we passed His Portuguese Ensign at the main, and was onboard his yacht then laying opposite the palace, a royal salute was fired H.M. the King was on deck and photographed us as we steamed past. Complimentary signals were exchanged between the ?Don Carlos? and us. On clearing the Tagus we stood to the westward, and fleet tactics were carried out for a couple of hours, and at 8 p.m. the squadron separated to carry out various firing exercises, night firing, etc, with orders to meet at a rendezvous east of Europa Point at 6 a.m. on the 19th.
At 9 p.m. we dropped a target. The sea was rather rough, and even with the aid of searchlights it was difficult to keep the target in sight. Firing ceased at 11 p.m.
The whole next day was spent at aiming rifle practice, and 12-pdr and 3-pdr practice during which we had a little excitement, as two large whales appeared and kept hovering round our target, offering some good sport, for the fire was concentrated on them, and we also endeavoured to run them down. They evidently knew they were in danger, as they appeared very excited and gave excellent practice for the gunners to repel submarines, which they very much resembled at times.
At 8 p.m. the ?Venerable? passed homeward bound to pay off and re-commission.
This evening Lieutenant Walwyn gave a very interesting lecture, with lantern views, to officers and men on the war in the Far East. Prince Louis was present, and when finished Lieutenant Walwyn received a hearty vote of thanks from all hands, and was specially congratulated by the admiral.
The squadron met at the rendezvous as previously arranged, and torpedo practice was then carried out, the divisions steaming past each other as on former occasions. The squadron then carried out target practice, and afterwards proceeded into Gibraltar. The harbour was now nearly clear, so we made fast to the flagship?s buoy, the remainder of the ships going alongside the New Mole, except the ?Cornwall,? which secured alongside the Commercial Mole.
All ships prepared for coaling t commence at daylight next morning. The ships present were the ?Implacable? and ?Canopus,? and also the ?surprise,? with Lady Charles Beresford onboard. Admiral Lord Charles with the Mediterranean Fleet, being then in Tetuan Bay carrying out practices.
Coaling commenced from lighters at 5 a.m. the 20th.
The ?Implacable? sailed during the morning and shortly after leaving port Stoker Grenfell died in hospital from injuries received in that ship from the bursting of a steam pipe, bringing up the casualties to six. Our Admiral detailed the funeral party from the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, all under the command of Captain Pierse. M.V.O., ?Bedford,? the massed bands attending, the victim of duty being buried in the North Front Cemetery with full naval honours.
Coaling was finished by 3 p.m. with an average of 97.7 tons per hour; the other ships times were as follows: -?Berwick,? 137.7; ?Essex,? 105.0? ?Cornwall,? 104.6; ?Cumberland,? 80.1; ?Bedford,? 76.9. The remainder of the day was occupied sweeping and washing down the coal dust.
All the field guns of the squadron were landed next day, and arrangements made to land every morning and evening for drill while here prepatory to a competitive display at Montreal. In the evening General Leave was granted by watches.
The racing crews of the squadron were now beginning to show good form, boats innumerable being away at all times practicing for the forthcoming fleet regatta, arranged t be held at Quebec. The officer?s crew were also going strong, with a good spurt in the morning and physical exercises in the evenings.
The gunnery lieutenant is endeavouring to get up a ship?s rifle team, and all the gunnery lieutenants held a meeting onboard here with a view of selecting a squadron eight, which is a difficult limited, the time practically being wholly devoted to heavy gun firing. Parties of volunteers land daily for practice at the military ranges on the North Front.
The squadron was preparing generally for the American cruise, taking in stores, supplies of provisions, etc.
Heats for the final boxing and wrestling competition took place on the 24th on the Commercial Mole, abreast of where the ?Cornwall? is laying, their officers kindly inviting the officers of the ships present to make use of their ship to witness the sport.
Another evening for the heats took place prior to the final contests, which were eagerly awaited.
The battleships ?Albion? (flagship of Rear Admiral Hon. Curzon Howe). ?Centurion,? ?Vengeance,? and ?Ocean,? arrived here from China at 8 p.m. and made fast to buoys inside the moles. They were too late to receive invites to witness our boxing tournament, as it had already commenced. The shed on the mole had been temporarily converted into a boxing ring, and seats built up around, with a grand stand for officers. The place was crowded to excess in all parts; every officer and man that could possibly attend did so. Our admiral was present at the opening, which commenced at 8 p.m. and terminating shortly after midnight, when three hearty cheers given for our admiral and the promoters of the sport who worked hard to achieve such splendid results.
At 8.30 a.m. 29th, H.M.S. ?Prince of Wales? (temporarily flying the flag of Vice Admiral Grenfell), on rounding Europa Point, ran suddenly into a thick fog bank, and collided with the English as ?Edinwin,? bound for Barcelona. Both ships were badly damaged above the waterline. The dockyard tugs brought the ?Edinwin? into harbour and secured her to the dockside, where repairs were quickly taken in hand. The ?Prince of Wales? steamed in and made fast to a buoy, and a blacksmith from each ship of the squadron was lent to her to execute the necessary repairs. During the afternoon the China battleships sailed for England, the admiral and captains having dined with Rear Admiral Prince Louis the previous evening.
Our whaler and the ?Cumberland?s? rowed a race of three miles, the Cumberland?s? winning by about 12 boats lengths.
Certain evenings after dark rehearsals of the Tatoo Party took place, the searchlights from the squadron being thrown on them; they were very successful entertainments, and numbers of people were onlookers.
The 31st was indeed a busy day for all, being our last day at Gibraltar for some months to come. Leave was granted till 11 p.m. and almost everyone on returning had his parcel under his arm containing some fancied memento of the Rock. During the dinner hour postal orders considerately issued to enable those who so desired to send money home by the last mail, which issue usually takes place on the first day of every month.
Great difficulty was experienced getting our washing onboard, timely notice having been given for it to be onboard by this evening, but many a growl was afterwards heard from those unluckily left in the lurch.
The ?Cumberland?s? racing whaler?s crew, which so easily defeated our whaler yesterday evening, was herself badly defeated this evening by the ?Essex? by about twelve boats length. Sad faces were seen onboard the ?Cumberland,? as lots of money had changed hands, the losers expecting an easily, victory for their own boat.
The mail due at 6 p.m. did not arrive owing to the French train being late, causing great disappointment and inconvenience in the fleet. The postal authorities said it might arrive at midnight, but no such luck; it didn?t!
The squadron was to have sailed at 6 a.m. August 1st, but remained till 7.30 in case the mail turned up. But by that time the Admiral Superintendent informed us that it would not now arrive till evening. The Admiral, therefore, decided to proceed. Nothing is more annoying to the sailor than to miss his letters-the mail being always eagerly looked for.
On clearing the ?Gut? our course was shaped to N 50 degs west, speed 14 knots, and the ships spread out a beam one mile apart. ?Drake? in the centre. It was a beautiful day, with sea smooth. The ships were ordered to exercise aiming rifle practice each day during the trip across. During the first watch a flotilla of destroyers passed us going south, with the new scout ?Pathfinder? escorting them.
It blew heavily on the 3rd, with nasty head sea, the ships washing down fore and aft, the speed being reduced to 12 knots.
In the evening we re-commenced the 6-inch loading competition, while our racing crews, field guns competition crew, were exercising physical drill etc, in order to retain they?re standard of training.
The weather having moderated next day the speed of the squadron was increased to 13 knots. A regrettable incident occurred today. A young stoker, named Frederick Pilkington, of the ?Berwick,? was reported missing, and though a diligent search was instituted it proved futile,. The poor fellow must have fallen overboard unobserved.
A delightful Sunday was ushered in on the 6th weather fine and sea smooth, which permitted Divine service to be held as usual on the quarterdeck. The change of climate was hailed with satisfaction after the Mediterranean summer.
A white Star steamer from Quebec, the first vessel we have seen since clearing Gibraltar, was sighted ad signalled the weather report as being fine.
The 6-inch loading competition was arousing a keen spirit as a nightly form of exercise with the competing crews, and B3 gun?s crew will have to excel their record to retain the cup.
A very thick fog off the Banks of Newfoundland was entered in the 7th, though only what may be expected at this time of the year. Next day the fog lfted from 10 a.m. till 2 p.m. when it came over even thicker than before, and owing to the presence of fishing boats and the Green Bank, our speed was reduced to nine knots.
The second edition of the ?2nd Cruiser Squadron Gazette? (Nulli Secundus), published monthly, has been a great success. It is very humorous, containing some amusing sketches. Over 100 editions have been disposed of. The first edition was only one copy, which was printed as an experimental issue and handed round the squadron; that particular copy was sold by auction in the ward room and knocked down at 10s 6d.
The fog became very annoying, as we were anxious to arrive at our appointed time. After the watch was called at eight bells (8 p.m.) a very successful impromptu concert took place on the 9in in the lee gangway. Several good songs were rendered, and or captain and naval instructor very kindly added a song and a recitation each to the programme.
Next day, 10th we received a wireless message from Frame Head, ?Welcome to Quebec,? and the latest news was also transmitted. Up to the 6th we had received the Poldhu telegram each day, which was signalled as ?general? to the squadron.
Owing to the very thick fog in the river the squadron anchored at midnight, proceeding again at 6 a.m. next morning. The fog remained very dense all the way up the river, only lifting twice for about half an hour. It was very disappointing for we were unable to view the grand scenery which the banks of the St. Lawrence affords, and must hope, that we shall have it fine on our return down stream.
Just before rounding Indian Cove the fog lifted, and although still misty, thousands of people thronged the terraces, Grand Battery, wharves in fact, every point of vantage had its full quota of spectators, waving and cheering enthusiastically.
The Governor General of Canada (Ealr Gray) was saluted with 19 guns and the Citadel returned a little number. Quebec was gaily decorated with flags in honour of the squadron, and at night was brilliantly illuminated. The city gave us a right royal welcome. It may be asserted that we were the most formidable squadron that has ever visited Quebec.
Our admiral landed to pay the official call on His Excellency, the landing place being crowded with Canadians eager to get a glimpse of the Admiral Prince.
He was received on shore with a guard of honour, 100 strong of the Royal Canadian Garrison Artillery under Major Ogilvie the battery firing a salute of 13 guns. That evening Prince Louis was the guest f honour at a dinner give by His Excellency.
The ?Drake? prepared for coaling at daybreak next morning, our collier, the ?Dunmore Head,? having arrived. The other ships were granted special leave till the morning.
The ancient City of Quebec is termed the Gibraltar of America. With its giddy heights, its citadel suspended, as it were, in the air, it is a mighty rock and populated cliff. The city consists of two parts, the upper town, built on the ridge, which forms the north side of the river, and the lower town, which stands on the plateau between the base of that ridge and the River St Charles, and embraces the parishes of St Roch and St Sauveur. The highest point is the citadel, 2340 feet elevation. It possesses a small dry dock, wet dock, tidal basin, and several floating docks.
Coaling commenced at 5.30 a.m. on the 12th, and finished at 5 p.m. having taken in 1,020 tons, averaging 100.1 tons per hour. This work over and decks washed down, the liberty men were landed. An elaborate programme was drawn up for almost every day of our stay, to include a regatta.
The Admiral and officers of the squadron received cordial invitations as members of the Quebec Yacht Club, Garrison and Golf Clubs, besides many others, while the sergeants mess at the citadel extended the privileges of their mess room to the warrant officers and chief and 1st class petty officers.
Prince Louis and our flag captain took up their quarters at the citadel as guests of the Governor-General. Signalmen were also landed there and communication with the fleet was established.
On Sunday the 13th we had ?Saturday?s Routine? (cleaning ship etc, after the coaling, up to 10 a.m., then Divine service and the remainder of the day was quietly ad leisurely spent. A few visitors came onboard, it having been given out in the Press that al ships would be open to visitors during our stay, from 1 p.m. till 6 p.m.
Prince Louis received a delegation from the Y.M.C.A. concerning the naval services and concerts, and he specially thanked them for their genuine interest in the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. The deputation represented the Protestant Ministerial Association, Y.M.C.A. and Sailors Institute. The first naval concert was announced to take place on the 24th, and refreshments were provided for those attending. The association appeared most assiduous in their exertions to entertain the crews of the squadron, and vied with each other in their hospitality.
In the evening of the 14th the grand Provincial Ball was given at the Parliament House in honour of the admiral and officers of the squadron. Over 3,000 were present, the function being a brilliant success. They?re Excellencies Earl and Countess Grey attended, and all the elite of the Province of Quebec. Dancing was kept up all night with great vigour, and it was early in the morning before the pleasant entertainment terminated. The picket boats of the squadron ran every hour to and from the ships and shore from midnight to bring the officers onboard.
The bluejacket battalion and marine detachment, in all 300 men, under the command of Flag Captain Mark Kerr, landed at noon on the 15th and took part in the impressive ceremony of the unveiling of the soldiers monument erected by the citizens of Quebec in memory of the brave Quebec heroes who fought and fell in the South African War 1899-1902. Prince Louis, and the captains and officers, were present officially. After the ceremony they all attended the Garrison Club garden party, held in their honour. During the forenoon the French Consul General visited the ship, and received a salute of 11 guns. In the evening about 300 men accepted the kind invitation given by the rank and file and on commissioned officers of R.C.G.A. to a smoker in the Drill Hall. The band of the corps was present. The civilian military, and naval contributions to the programme were all greatly appreciated, some exceptional talent being present. The committee personally thanked the Rev Todd and Mr Rea ?Drake,? and Mr Wallace, ?Cornwall,? for their assistance in arranging the programme. All spent a very pleasant social evening. The same evening a very brilliant for work display was given in honour of the squadron.
The entire field were landed again next morning and exercised for the competition and naval display. In the forenoon the admiral received onboard a visit from the Consular corps of the city, representing Portugal, United States, Argentine Republic, Chilli, Spain, Belgium, Guatemala, Denmark, and Brazil. A salute of seven guns was fired while displaying the Portuguese ensign, as Mr Felix Carbray was doyen of the corps.
A cricket match was played in the afternoon between representatives of the famous Maryleboe Cricket Club and the Quebec Cricket Club, to which officers and men were invited. Large numbers of liberty men from the ships made their way to the grounds to witness the match. His Excellency the Governor General and Prince Louis honoured the teams with their presence.
The Governor-General and Countess Grey in honour of Prince Louis and the captains and officers of the squadron gave that evening a grand ball in the ancient Citadel. It was a very brilliant affair and a great success, considered by many as the grandest function of that description ever seen in Quebec.
An invitation from the Lacrosse Club, Montcalm, to the officers, petty officers and men to witness their play was largely accepted, the grand stand being reserved for the officers.
At 9 a.m. n the 17th all the field guns of the squadron (12 in number), the seamen and marine battalions, and the massed bands, landed and marched round the town. The R.C.G.A. and Royal Canadian regiments also formed up. The whole presented a fine sight. The citizens in thousands lined the streets, which were gaily decorated. Never before had Quebec witnessed such a naval display. Prince Louis rode in front, and received cheer after cheer from the multitude.
In the evening, 200 seamen and marines from each ship were entertained by the citizens to a concert ad smoker in the Drill Hall, which was tastefully decorated, while at one end of the hall a well stocked counter was to be found laden with sandwiches and light refreshments of a liquid nature, which were liberally served and consumed by thirsty and hungry Tars. The programme was a lengthy one, contributed to by civil, military and naval talent, all of which were highly popular. Chief E.R.A.?s Douse and Jerome (?Drake?) played a duet on the mandolin and guitar, while the performing donkeys were the persons of Messrs Bridge, Forder and Ross (?Drake?), who simply brought the hall down. Mr Rea, chief Artificer Engineer (?Drake?) acted as accompanist. It was past midnight when the party dispersed, all having spent a real jolly time.
During these days the admiral, captain, and officers of the squadron were being royally feted and hospitality entertained to luncheons, garden parties, dinners etc, both official and private, so numerous and varied that it is little use to try and give a detailed list.
Next day, the 18th at 11 a.m. the Minister of Marine and Fisheries (the Hon Raymond Prefontaine) paid the Admiral an official visit, and was saluted with 11 guns.
At noon the squadron dressed ship overall, and H.E. the Governor General, Earl Grey, visited the ship and lunched with Prince Louis. Tables were laid on the quarterdeck, which was very elaborately decorated and housed in.
The following were also guests on this occasion: -The Countess Grey, the Minister of Marine, Lady Mary Parker, Lady Evelyn Grey, Lady Susan Townley, several other distinguished ladies and gentlemen, and all the captains of the squadron.
After luncheon the party visited H.M.S. ?Cumberland, where a most pleasing function took place in the presentation of a costly beaten silver loving cup and bell, from Lord Munchester, Lord Lieutenant, and the people of the county of Cumberland, England. His Excellency made the presentation the Governor General, Earl Grey, in the presence of H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg, Lady Grey, and a large number of the prominent citizens of Quebec. All officers and men of the (Cumberland? were drawn up on her quarterdeck, and on the conclusion of the function, Captain King Hall called for three cheers for His Excellency and three for Lady Grey, which were heartily and lustily given.
Prince Louis then paid a visit to the French steam yacht ?Bacchante,? lying astern of the ?Drake,? and dressed with flags similar to the style of the squadron. On our admiral leaving the vessel they surprisingly fired a salute of 13 guns, which we promptly returned, while displaying the Tricolor at the foremast head.
The torchlight tattoo and naval display from the squadron, consisted of one field gun and crew from each ship, Commander Ellerton, of the ?Berwick,? in command, and Gunnery Lieutenants Walwyn, ?Drake,? and Armitage, ?Bedford,? in charge of the 1st and 2nd divisions respectively; also 150 marines, under Major Evans, ?Drake?; the gymnastic instructors of the squadron, and six men from each ship, under Lieutenant Cameron, ?Drake?.
It took place in the drill hall, under the direct control of Commander Bax, ?Berwick,? and was under the patronage of His Excellency the Governor, Rear-Admiral Prince Louis, and the officers of the squadron. It was indeed a great success, such as they had seldom before witnessed in Quebec, the large drill hall being crowded, many prominent citizens attending the performance.
The entertainment opened with a parade of the whole force, and then the field gun battery saluted the Governor General with 19 guns, and afterwards did their part-dismounting, mounting, retiring, etc, which evolutionary drills were greatly applauded.
The tattoo by the Royal Marines was a very picturesque display; the multi coloured lanterns carried during the figure marching gave the various movements a grand effect. The gymnastic exhibitions were pronounced excellent, and as the men assumed the recumbent positions, they formed the letters of the word ?Canada,? which act brought forth cheer after cheer, and roused the loyal Canadians spirit with feelings of pride in their country and love of Empire.
The officers of the squadron played their first cricket match on the 19th, against the Quebec Cricket Club at Montmorency Falls, which resulted in a draw-Q.C.C., 146 runs for eight wickets, and the squadron, when stumps were drawn, had nine wickets fallen for 88 runs.
In the afternoon the local regatta took place, and the citizens very kindly reserved four races for the squadron. All ships were thrown open to visitors to witness the races, which were rowed between the lines, finishing abreast of the ?Drake.? There was a total of nine boated races, besides other aquatic games, the most amusing contest being the log rolling.
From 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. the squadron was illuminated, and people came in thousands from all parts to witness the festivals. Then, after the lights were switched off, the searchlights were turned on, sweeping round to find the picket boats which had gone outside earlier to make a torpedo attack on the squadron. They were soon located creeping up inshore, while one division of them darted full speed through the lines, being met with a tremendous fire from the 12 pdrs and 3 pdrs and Maxim guns, which drew from the boats a vindictive reply from their 3 pdrs. The ?Drake? and ?Bedford? were considered to have been set on fire, the red flare on their decks making the attack most realistic. The local Press described it as one of the best naval displays ever witnessed, and although both the flagship and ?Bedford? were imaginarily blown up, next morning they could be seen carrying out their ordinary routine at their moorings, under the walls of the citadel.
The ?display party? were now busily preparing for their tour to Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. During the hours of 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. the ss ?Queen,? by permission of the admiral of 4,000 people came onboard.
Prince Louis, the captain, and officers gave an ?At Home? onboard on the afternoon of the 21st, inviting the captains, ward room and gun room officers of the squadron and about 300 others, including the military and civil authorities. The ship was nicely decorated, and dancing commenced at 3 p.m. and terminated at 7 p.m. everyone apparently having thoroughly enjoyed himself.
In the evening the Tournament party, the same as recently performed at the Drill Hall, left by the C.P.R. for Montreal, in all 300 men, exclusive of the ?Drake?s? band, and the massed bugle bands of the squadron, all under the command of Commander W. R. Ellerton, ?Berwick,? besides some 46 men and 100 officers, who all proceeded there as guests of the citizens of Montreal. Several exhibition performances were arranged for, the proceeds of which were to be given to the local hospitals. The admiral also left for Montreal.
The Naval and Military Tournament, held on the night of the 22nd at the Skating Rink, was described as a big success, and well attended from the fleet. The committee of the 8th Royal Rifles have much to be proud of. The event was specially organised in honour of the squadron, and men from the ships entered largely into the various competitions.
The tug of war teams created great excitement; twelve teams having entered the lists. The team from the ?Bedford? stood up very well, defeating the ?Cornwallis,? ?Bearer Company,? and ?Cumberland?s? teams. In the second round the Royal Canadian Regiment defeated the ?Bedford?s? team, and the final was pulled off between the 8th and the R.C. Regiment teams, the latter winning after a pull of 15 minutes.
Next day the officers and men received a special invitation from Senator Choquitte and Captain Watson, to witness the Lacrosse match of two first class teams on the Q.A.A. grounds. Hundreds of men accepted the invitation, as the game was new to most of them, and was very interesting. Lacrosse is of course, the national game of the Dominion.
An unfortunate occurrence happened during the afternoon, when O.S. Herbert Kitching, ?Berwick,? fell overboard whilst manning his boat. The poor fellow was quickly taken down by the strong tide, and never rose again. Boats were smartly manned and everything possible done, but his doom was sealed, and no trace whatever over the ship; he was only 19 years old, and was a great favourite with his shipmates.
Today the 24th, the teams shot for the very handsome silver cup, presented by the citizens of Quebec, taking place at the Engineer Camp, St Joseph de Levis. Ten teams competed, one from each ship, and four local teams. The ranges were 200, 500, and 600 yards, and out of a possible 105, Colour Sergeant Beddow, ?Drake,? made the top score of 95 points. After the 200 yards range the ?Berwick? was the leading team, the Drake? being third. On going back to 600 yards the ?Drake?s? were leading by 9 points, but on completing the 600 yards R.C.G.A. came out on top with a score of 686, the 8th R.R. second with 666, and the ?Drake? third with a score of 654. The artillerymen put on a splendid score at the long range, and thus became the possessors of the cup.
This evening 300 petty officers and men, 50 from each ship, were entertained at a concert, under the auspices of the Y.M.C.A. The large hall was filled to its utmost capacity. The first item on the programme was a piano solo by Mr Rea, and the enthusiasm of the audience showed that everyone had come to thoroughly enjoy themselves-and they did. Our shipmates, Chief E.R.A.?s Douse and Jeram, rendered an effective duet on the mandoline and guitar, which received much applause. During the concert several ladies, to their evident delight, were busily engaged serving out refreshments.
On the 25th a whaler and crew from each ship, about 60 men, with the flag captain in charge, assisted by Lieutenant Pennell and Mr Moon, gunner, left for Lake St Joseph to take part in the regatta to be held the following afternoon. Both officers and men were the guests of the citizens. All officers and men of the squadron were permitted to travel free to the lake on the production of a pass, issued onboard.
In the afternoon our football team defeated a team selected from the District Association Football League, on the Q.A.A. Grounds, by the score of two goals to nil. The match was very interesting and exciting, a very fast game being played.
Sunday the 27th was a delightful day, and visitors from all parts of the Province flocked onboard the ships, the ss ?Queen,? specially chartered to run to us, brought upwards of 2,000 persons, and men were specially detailed to show them over the ship. At noon, the men selected to shoot at Ottawa left, under the command of Lieutenant Bax, ?Berwick.?
During the afternoon a special naval service was held in the Auditorium, and a great number of men attended the musical service, the men being afterwards entertained as tea by the Y.M.C.A.
The massed bands of ?Cumberland,? ?Essex,? and ?Berwick? played a choice selection of music in the evening in the Place of the Hotel de Ville at Lavis, which was much appreciated.
The whaler?s crew and party from Lake St Joseph returned in the evening, all of who spoke in the highest terms of the hospitality extended to them by the citizens. A general signal was made to the squadron expressing the flag captain?s pleasure at the exemplary manner in which the men had conducted themselves.
On the 28th the captain and officers of the ?Essex? gave an ?At Home? onboard, and invited all the officers of the squadron, and numerous shore friends. It was a great success, all the steamboats being busily engaged taking the guests onboard.
Amongst the most successful and enjoyable Masonic functions held in the ancient capital was the ?At Home? given this evening at the Masonic Hall, under the auspices of the members of the craft of the district of Quebec and Three Rivers, in honour of the Masonic brethren of the squadron, over 100 of the craft being present.
A new foretop gallant mast, made onboard by the carpenter?s staff, was put up today, giving us an extra height of 23 feet, which has certainly smartened our appearance.
The ?Cumberland?s? ?At Home,? given for children this afternoon, the 29th, was a most enjoyable event, and very largely attended. As the juveniles stepped onboard they were agreeably surprised at being received by a diver rigged in his diving dress, who shook hands with each. The attractive programme consisted of merry go-rounds, sliding, swinging, dancing etc, and refreshments were served all the afternoon, the guests retiring shortly after 6 p.m. As the steam launch departed from the ship the frail shrill voices gave hearty cheers for Captain King Hall and Commander Church.
Lady Jettes gave an ?At Home? at Spencer?s Wood, which function was in honour of the squadron, and was numerously attended by the officers.
On the 31st the ?Bedford?s? football team defeated our team in the afternoon on the Q.A.A. grounds. The play was very fast, and the first goal was scored after 20 minutes hard work; then the ?Bedford?s? team settled down to increase their score, but the sterling defence of our backs could not be penetrated and half time was called with the ?Bedford?s? leading by one goal. The second half was evenly contested, but a splendid shot made the game secure for the ?Bedford?s.? Result, 2 goals to nil.
Our chaplain took all the boys (24) for a half days outing, going first by steamer to the island of ?Orleans,? some little way down the river, where they indulged in football, rounders, etc, had a sumptuous tea in the hotel, and after tea rambled through the private grounds of Mr Porteous, and in the fruit gardens were given permission to pick and eat what they chose. They returned by the 7 p.m. steamer, all being highly delighted with their outing.
Our time for sailing was officially signalled for 6.45 a.m. the 2nd September, the citizens feeling a bit disappointed, as they were in hopes our stay would be prolonged. In the evening another very successful concert was given in the Auditorium by the embers of the Y.M.C.A., 300 men from the fleet attending by special invitational light refreshments, ices, etc, were liberally supplied.
On September 1st the ?display party? returned with their guns, etc, having been away from their ships just 13 days (and as they jocularly remarked, not a day too long!) They visited Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto, where performances were given to the public daily, and occasionally twice a day, the proceeds going to te local hospitals. They lived under canvas, except at Montreal, where they slept in the C.P.R. cars and dined in tents. Everywhere they were feted and feasted in true Colonial style. The exceedingly difficult gun drill competition, sometimes carried out upon a stage, was performed without a hitch and greatly applauded as they illustrated what trained gunners could do with a gun.
The spectacular lantern exercise was particularly pleasing, while the club swinging was excellently performed and much admired.
On leaving Ottawa for Toronto the fair sex manned the drag ropes ad pulled the guns, while the limbers were almost covered with flowers. Prince Louis himself had been exceptionally busy, receiving and paying official visits, attending banquets, delivering addresses, etc, but never once relaxed his personal interest in the men?s collective comfort.
Commander Ellerton, of the ?Berwick,? who was in command. His authority as Commanding Officer was tactfully exercised, which was appreciated by his subordinates, so that when he left them to take up an appointment in H.M.S. ?Powerful? the whole camp turned out and gave him a right good send off with three ringing cheers, first Lieutenant Cameron, ?Drake,? succeeding him in the command of the party.
From Toronto the whole party were taken to Niagara Falls, and after partaking of lunch, crossed over the Falls and caught the cars travelling down the American side and thence by steamer back to Toronto, having had a most enjoyable time in viewing one of the noted sights of the world.
The hearty welcome which Canada has accorded to the admiral, officers and men of the 2ndCruiser Squadron may be taken as a great compliment to the British Navy, which the squadron represented with credit, to all naval tradition and custom. Such mutual intercourse as has been recorded cannot fail to further cement the bonds of Empire.
On the last evening we remained in Quebec Admiral Prince Louis was given a farewell banquet at the Garrison Club by the Mayor (His Worship Mayor Parent) and citizens of Quebec; the captains and senior officers also attended. The banquet was on the most elaborate scale, quite in keeping with the excellent civic functions, which are famous in the ancient city. The guests were each supplied with buttonhole banquets of red and white roses. One of the chief features of the banquet was the Imperial Crown, which was placed directly in front of the admiral. It was richly illuminated and electricity vied with floral beauty in the display, which the picture portrayed.
Mayor Parent proposed the health of the king, which was loyally and enthusiastically received. Immediately afterwards His Worship read the following address: -
On rising to propose the toast of the evening, I would on behalf of all beg His Serne Highness Prince Louis of Battenberg to kindly allow us to depart somewhat from the usual custom and to accept the toast in the shape of an address.
An agreeable duty devolves n me, and I shall endeavour to acquit of it by proposing in a few words the health of the illustrious guest who has done us the honour of accepting our hospitality this evening.
This room is unfortunately too small to contain all the admirers and friends His Highness has won amongst us, but nevertheless we are here as the representatives and spokesmen of the people of Quebec.
It is the first time, Your Highness, since your arrival in our midst that you meet, as a guest specially invited to a banquet, official representatives of all ranks and classes of the citizens of Quebec gathered for the express purpose of doing you honour.
Your Highness will, I trust, pardon us if we seize the opportunity to tell you what we have been unable to say to you personally before this evening.
I must in the first place give expression once more to the sentiments of admiration and respectful sympathy, which your presence has excited, in our minds.
We do homage to your high lineage, to your illustrious alliance with the Royal Family, and to the military virtues that have made your a distinguished one, while we are charmed with the very cordial relations you had with us since your ships cast anchor in our port.
During your stay in Quebec you have captured-not the fortress above which the flag under which you serve has long floated0-but the hearts f the inhabitants of our city.
Early in your career you had a glimpse of Quebec and, like most travellers and tourists who visit it once, you have returned in a sympathetic and kindly spirit. You are good enough to say that you are delighted to see it again amidst the splendid adornment of its matchless scenery, wrapped in the mystery of its legends, in the glory of the great events it has witnessed, and embellished by the new garb with which modern progress has clothed it.
A sailor and a soldier, you could not fail to be impressed by the great dramas unfolded beneath its walls, by the giant struggles wherein the valour of the sons of France, of England, and of America displayed itself.
You could not without emotion tread the soil of the Plains of Abraham and St Foye, or see again the obelisk erected to the inseparable memory of Wolfe and Montcalm, the monument to the heroes of 1760, on which are engraved the names of Levis and Murray. You have expressed the pleasure you felt at being present at the unveiling of the monument to the South African soldiers, which will perpetuate the memory of the devoted children of two races-long hostile to one another, but now allied in the Old as in the New World-who died side by side in defence of the same flag.
May Your Serene Highness carry away a pleasant recollection of Quebec. Such is our hope as, gathered around you, we wish you happiness and ever increasing success in your career. In this we know we are the interception of the entire population of Quebec. Moreover, you cannot but the aware of their feelings, expressed as they were by the hearty cheers that greeted your passage through our streets the other day.
Permit us to add to those whose wishes equally hearty ones for the officers and men of your squadron as well as for the loved ones who impatiently await your return to your home.
When you send the report of your cruise to His Majesty, we beg you to assure him of our loyalty, of our entire satisfaction with the constitutional liberties we enjoy, faithful to its allegiance and confident in its destinies.
Gentlemen fill your glasses and drink to the health of our illustrious guests. We wish Your Serene Highness a long, successful ad brilliant career.
Ay you come back again not later than 1908 to celebrate with us the three hundredth anniversary of the foundation of Quebec.
His Serene Highness, on rising to respond, was accorded an enthusiastic ovation. Speaking in English, he said he would follow the precedent inaugurated by His Excellency the Governor General by replying to the eloquent address made by his Worship the Mayor in Quebec, and then spoke as follows: -
Gentlemen-I am, believe me, profoundly touched and moved by the very kind words which you, Mr Mayor, have addressed to me, and I feel great difficulty in finding in my tone the phrases I would desire to express all that I feel at this moment.
As you have said, all who have ever seen Quebec return to it with pleasure; I may venture even to say that they ardently desire to see it again.
Of all the anchorages in the world that I have visited, which are accessible to war vessels of the largest dimensions-the true battleships-I know none that compare in beauty with the seductive panorama which I used to see from my windows during my stay at the Citadel recently as the guest of your sympathetic Governor General.
Having left your shores a young midshipman some thirty years ago, you may imagine how proud I was of the mission to ascend your noble river at the head f six first class cruisers, the most powerful naval force that has ever cast anchor under the picturesque ramparts of this ancient citadel, and in sight of those moments of a glorious past of which you have so eloquently spoken.
From the moment I landed I have experienced throughout the city, and from all citizens, a perfectly gratifying reception, as also have the officers and men under my orders; and I rejoice, gentlemen, that your hospitality gives men the opportunity on the eve of our departure, of publicly expressing the thanks of all our hearts for all your kindness and friendship, and I beg you, Mr Mayor to kindly convey these our sentiments to your fellow citizens.
As for myself personally, I am aware that I owe this reception principally to the fact that I have had the honour to marry the niece of the King our August and well behaved master, who has no more loyal subjects in the whole of his vast Empire than the citizens of Quebec, of the two friendly races whom I see so worthily represented this evening.
At the same time you have kindly wished to honour the representative of that British Navy which has the noble task of watching in the future, as in the past, that this city, as well as the distant parts between the two oceans that grid this vast and happy country, ay be able to continue their marvellous development in peace and security. For us of the Navy, this bond with Canada is very dear.
I need not tell you, Mr Mayor, how much we regret our departure, and what a pleasant souvenirs of our stay, which has so quickly passed, we shall carry with us.
I may perhaps be permitted to say how touched we are that you should have presided in person in spite of the loss, which you have recently experienced in your family.
On the first occasion, still very far off, that I shall have the honour of being received by His Majesty, I shall not fail to repeat to him the beautiful words with which you, Mr Mayor, have terminated your speech, and which I feel comes from your heart.
His Serene Highness then proposed, amid great applause, the health of the city of Quebec and to that sentiment Mr Parent made a graceful reply. Apart from the instrumental musical programme there were several vocal selections, which were charmingly rendered by Lieutenant Barrow, Messrs Moise Raymond, Dagneau, and Kinrose. Mr Gosselin Organist.
The party of 15 men returned just after midnight from the shoot at Ottawa. Lieutenant Colonel Rogers, 43rd D.C.O.R. presented Lieutenant Bax, ?Berwick,? who was in command of the naval team, with a silver cup for the members of the team making the highest aggregate at the Rockliffe Rifle Range. Our shipmate Colour Sergeant D. Beddow, became the winner of this much coveted cup with an aggregate score of 205 points, and he also won cash prizes of 50 dollars. Naturally the ?Drake?s? felt proud f their colour sergeant, who was heartily congratulated on his success.
At 5 a.m. the 2nd September the squadron unmoored. The morning was somewhat grey, a slight fog was hanging over the anchorage when we weighed and proceeded, the shore being only just visible, and as we formed single line the waving of handkerchiefs could be dimly seen. Although it was early, quite a number of people had come down to bid us bon voyage. Good-bye Quebec. Farewell Canada!
The ?Drake? left behind 14 deserters; the total number fro the squadron totalled 84. Though their action cannot be condemned or justified from the loyal or disciplinary standpoint, yet it did seem in this instance extenuating circumstances could be found for their conduct.
Our trip down the St Lawrence was much pleasanter than our upward journey, groping the course in the fog. The scenery was delightfully picturesque. Our speed was 13 knots, except that we went 15 through the Travers, and passed close to the ss ?Virginia,? which had run ashore the day previous in a dense fog. Lighters were then alongside her, and men busily employed shifting cargo.
In the evening of the 3rd, after carrying out a few turning movements, the 2nd and 3rd Divisions left us and proceeded to Charlottetown and Sydney respectively the ?Bedford? and ?Drake? together, the Essex? and ?Cumberland? rejoining the flag on the 14th at Sydney, and the ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? on the 290th at Halifax, where they were ordered to arrive on the 16th and fill up with coal. All next day we steamed along comfortably at 13 knots, but before entering St John?s on the 5th we carried out aiming rifle practice for a couple of hours, and then entered the harbour at 11 a.m. and moored. The signal station at the Cabot Tower was flying the signal-?Welcome to His Serene Highness.? The town and shipping were gaily dressed with flags, and the church bells rang out merrily their notes of welcome. H.M. ships ?Scylla,? ?Sappho,? ?Lantona,? and ?Ringdove? were present, the former flying the broad pennant of Commodore Paget, who saluted the admiral with 13 guns.
At 2.15 Prince Louis landed and paid an official visit to the Governor, and at 4 p.m. His Excellency paid his return visit and received a salute of 17 guns.
Newfoundland, of which St John?s is the capital, is the oldest and wealthiest colony of the North American group. Her rivers and lakes teem with salmon; her natural deer parks contain thousands of lordly looking caribou, while willow, grouse, snipe, and other game birds are very numerous. The cod fishery round her shores is noted as the most extensive and prolific in the world. The usual leave was granted till the morning.
At 7.30 p.m. a State banquet was given at Government House in honour of Prince Louis; all the captains and senior officers of the ships present attending, besides most of the high officials of the city. They afterwards attended the ?At Home? given at the Colonial Buildings by the Executive Council, where dancing was kept up till early morning. Over 500 were present, and a very enjoyable night was spent.
Prince Louis gave an official dinner onboard on the evening of the 6th, among the guests being His Excellency the Governor, the chief Justice, the embers of the Executive council, Commodore Paget, and captains of all ships. At 8 p.m. the ?Drake? and ?Bedford? illuminated, and remained so until 11 p.m. the other ships working their searchlights on the shore, which entertaining act pleased the townspeople immensely.
Our band played in the Park for a few hours, under Mr Riseam, bandmaster, and received great applause during the selected programme. Fro today ships were opened to the public daily from 2 p.m. till 6 p.m.
Disappointment was everywhere shewn, for early this morning, the 7th a strong cold wind was blowing from the S.E. and the rain was coming down in torrents. The programme arranged was a Naval Review, sports, public holiday, etc, which would have meant pleasure and happiness for thousands of people, but instead there never was a more miserable or wretched day than fate gave us today. The torrential downpour lasted all-day and part of the next almost continuously. Nevertheless, in spite of the unkind elements, the citizen?s ball, held in the British Hall in the evening, was well attended, over 2,000 being present, and was proclaimed the most brilliant affair that had ever been taken place in St John?s as far back as could be remembered.
His excellency the Governor, Prince Louis, Commodore Paget, and captains of the ships present attended; most of the ward room and gun room officers were also present, the midshipman being greatly sought after by the ladies for partners. Our band supplied the music, much to the delight of the dancers.
At midnight, His Excellency the Governor, Prince Louis, Captain Mark Kerr, Flag Lieutenant Sowerby, and suite, left by train for the interior on a hunting expedition.
For some reason or other the English mail failed to bring the ?Drake?s? and ?Bedford?s? mailbags, which probably had gone on to Sydney. Nothing so irritates those who ?go down to the sea in ships? than the missing of the down to the sea in ships ?than the missing of the mail, and the letters so eagerly excited from other, wife, sister or sweetheart. The old adage falsely asserts ?A sweetheart in every port,? for the modern sailor is invariably true to those nearest and dearest in dear old England.
A smoking concert given by the citizens to the petty officers, non commissioned officers, and men, came off this evening, the 8th in the T.A. Hall, and was highly successful. Deputy Mayor Bennett, Professor Huton presiding at the piano, occupied the chair. The programme was a lengthy one, all the best local talent taking part. The men from the ships added to its success, several of them rendering good songs, and received the thanks of the chairman for their harmonious co-operation.
Several parties of officers and men went away in the boats to try their luck fishing, being supplied with the service fishing tackle allowed to ships. The warrant officers in the whaler secured the best haul, obtaining some 90 lbs of fish; including two nice cod 15 lbs each.
At 11 a.m. the 9th, the ?Ringdove? sailed for England, taking the crew of the ?Calypso,? the latter ship remaining here as a drill for the Newfoundland Naval Reserve.
The tennis match played against the Newfoundland Tennis Club was in favour of the officers; the naval team having 15 sets out, and the local team 10. Afterwards the ladies served tea, and an enjoyable time was spent.
Rugby football, Officers vs Newfoundland Club was played one evening on St George?s Field. The game was witnessed by a great number of enthusiasts. The squadron were victorious, winning by one goal and two tries to one try-11 points to 3.
The 10th was Sunday, which day is quietly spent in St John?s and kept very religiously. The day was beautifully fine; the warmest in fact for some time, and during the afternoon several hundreds of visitors came onboard.
Parties of officers and en, with the pinnace and barge, went out fishing, but no extraordinary catch was made-perhaps the fish also rest on Sabbath days here!
The French cruiser ?Lovoisier? arrived early next morning, and exchanged the usual salutes.
At 9 a.m. the ?Drake,? ?Bedford,? ?Scylla? and ?Sappho? landed small arm companies, field guns, and marine detachments, the whole under the command of Captain Pierse, M.V.O. ?Bedford.? Commander Buller took the field guns, Major Evans the Marines, and marched them through the town to the parade ground, where Commodore A.W. Paget, C.M.G., A.D.C., of the ?Scylla, inspected the whole battalion Lady MacGregor and the Misses MacGregor were present. After carrying out various evolutions the battalion marched back through the town by a different route, the citizens lining the streets during the march.
In the evening a dinner was given onboard in honour of Lady and the misses MacGregor, several other ladies being present. After dinner dancing took place on the quarterdeck, which was gaily illuminated. The Commander acted as host in the unavoidable absence of our admiral and captain.
On shore, in the Prince?s rink a boxing exhibition was taking place, hundreds of liberty men being attracted there to witness their shipmates sparring with the champion of England, Mr Mike Shallow, the rink being crowded to excess.
Dan Kirkby, ?Bedford,? the middleweight champion of the Navy, now faced the champion in a six round scrap. Kirby stood up exceedingly well for the six months, giving his opponent some hard blows. It was decided I favour of Mr shallow, who congratulated his plucky opponent on his stand. The audience also loudly cheered Kirby for his excellent performance. Thompson, gymnastic instructor, acted as referee.
Today the 12th H.E. the governor, the admiral, flag captain, and party returned from their shooting expedition in the interior.
The naval sports, given by the citizens of St John?s took place this afternoon in St George?s field. Leave was granted to everyone, and the whole town was en fete.
Prince Louis and Commander Paget were among these present, and also Lady MacGregor, who kindly presented the prizes. Fortunately, those who remained onboard had the pleasure of hearing the ladies string band, numbering about 40, who played on the quarterdeck, and were afterwards entertained to tea and Prince Louis.
Our last night in St John?s was signalised with a brilliant ball, given by His Excellency the Governor and Lady MacGregor, at Government house. Prince Louis, captains and officers, attended, also the officers of the French cruiser. Each guest, to the number of 120, on entering was presented to Prince Louis, and received by His Excellency and Lady MacGregor. His Excellency was somewhat indisposed after his shooting expedition, and retired early, but the guests received special attention fro the hostess. Dancing was kept up till 3 a.m. when the pleasant function ended.
On the 13th the ?Drake? and ?Bedford? sailed at 7 a.m. and separated outside to carry out aiming rifle practice till noon. We then neared the harbour?s mouth and embarked the admiral, who had remained onshore over night at Government House. On finally preceding Carbot Tower signalled ?Farewell Greetings,? and our admiral sent the following wireless message to Cape Race: -
To His Excellency the Governor St John?s, N.F. before losing sight of Newfoundland I desire to express once more to your Excellency how grateful we are for the charming hospitality shown to us by all. How gladly we would have prolonged our stay, and how regretfully we leave the snug harbour of St John?s which we all hope to see again.?
I thank your Highness on behalf of the colony for your kind and appreciative telegram. Your presence here with your splendid ships has been a source of pride and pleasure to Newfoundland, and I assure your Highness that the warm heart of this community will welcome with delight your return here at some future date.
As usual, off Newfoundland, we ran into several fog banks, and had thick and wet weather all the way, which only cleared off a couple of hours before reaching Sydney. We anchored off Cape Breton at 4 p.m. on the 14th, and there found the ?Essex? and ?Cumberland.? We were obliged to anchor some distance off, owing to a steamer being in the way.
On anchoring, Mayor Fullerton and the corporation boarded us, and welcomed Prince Louis and his squadron on behalf of the citizens of Sydney, and regretted our stay was only of 48 hours duration. At 7 p.m. Prince Louis and staff landed and proceeded to the Rosslyn Rink, where the Mayor Rean an address of welcome. Afterwards Prince Louis, captains, and four officers from each ship, by special invitation attended the opera (Faust).
Cape Breton is a very prosperous place, destined to be a great iron-producing region. The start has already been made, under fair auspices. The great plant of the Dominion iron and Steel company at Sydney stretches along the banks of the Nuggah?s Creek for over three miles, and employ over 3,000 men.
Prince Louis captain and four officers from each ship accompanied by the Mayor and each ship, accompanied by the Myor and Aldermen, and visited Marconi?s wireless telegraph station at Glace Bay.
The squadron meanwhile exercised general drills, getting out kedge and stream anchors, etc. Leave was granted, and numbers paid a visit to the Dominion Company steel and Iron works.
At Glace Bay the Rifle Association team fired against a team from the ?Essex? at ranges of 200, 500 and 600 yards, the scores being 500 and 437 points respectively.
In the evening of the 15th the citizens of Sydney gave a ball at the Rosslyn Rink in honour of the squadron, the joint bands of the ?Essex? and ?Cumberland? supplying the dance music. Our amended programme was promulgated today setting forth a stay of five weeks, or more, at Halifax, where a regatta would be held, also that gun layers competitions and battle practice would be carried out. The prolonged stay at Halifax was hailed with great satisfaction, and the leaving out f Bermuda from ports of call little regretted.
The ?Essex? gave a ball onboard on the 11th, which was attended by the mayor and Civic Authorities, over 250 being present. Next day the ?Cumberland? also gave a ball, with equal success. The petty officers and men were given permission to visit the coal pits ad the steel works at Glace Bay. These two ships also landed a naval brigade, and arched through the town similar to what was done at St john?s the populace giving him them a great ovation.
The admiral entertained the Mayor and civic authorities at luncheon onboard on the 16th, and at3 p.m. a dance was held about 70 attending. The quarterdeck was nicely decorated and a very enjoyable afternoon was spent. The guests left at 6 p.m., just before dark. At 9 p.m. the squadron weighed and proceeded, arriving at Charlottetown at 5 p.m. next day, the 17th. Leave was granted as usual.
Charlottetown is a very abstemious place. There exist no public houses of any kind where intoxicating liquors are sold, but if whiskey or any kind of spirits is required it is necessary to obtain a doctor?s certificate first. Many of the squadron did feel somewhat ill (at ease), but were unable to obtain the necessary medical certificate! The next forenoon was devoted to general competitive drills.
In the afternoon leave was granted t all those who cared to witness the athletic sports of the 4th Regiment C.A. Several events were open to the fleet, and despite the threatening day and subsequent rain, the attendance was recorded as the largest ever seen at the meet.
The tug of war between teams from the squadron and the 4th Regiment was contested in preliminaries, semi finals, and finals. They were the most interesting events of the afternoon.
Prince Louis and several captains were resent during the sports. Several officers attended the golf links; the members were very hospitable, and provided carriages to drive those to the links who cared to play.
In the evening the admiral, captains, and officers attended the ball given at Government House. There was a large attendance, and Lieutenant Governor and Mrs MacKinnon were a charming host and hostess. Dancing was kept up till 2 a.m. the ?Cumberland?s? band playing for the dances.
The squadron unmoored at 8.30a.m on the 19th, but owing to the ?Cumberland? having parted her port bower cable, we did not sail till 11 o?clock. She stayed behind to pick it up, a difficult job, owing to the thick, muddy bottom. The people crowded the wharves early in the morning to witness our departure. Before dark we had passed through the Cut of Canso, which gave us an opportunity of seeing the very beautiful and picturesque scenery as we steamed through at 15 knots speed.
We ran into bad, foggy weather again next day, being very thick indeed after midnight. At 6 a.m. the 21st in a thick fog, with a heavy downpour of rain, we anchored, or at least, we moored, head and stern seven cables N.N.E. of Never fail gas buoy, Halifax, and laid out two targets in orders to calibrate our guns. We were unable to fire owing to the thick weather, but torpedo runnig practice was carried out. The ?Bedford? also remained out, the ?Essex? and ?Cumberland? proceeding in to coal, the latter ship having recovered her anchor and cable. The ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? were then up harbour, having arrived four days previously. Prince Louis should have landed this forenoon to pay his official visit to the Governor, but the weather was too rough to do so.
Wireless telegraphy proves its usefulness at all times, but never to such an extent as in foggy weather. The ?Cornwall,? laying off Halifax Dockyard, gave us all news, etc, and the ?Cumberland? received all information as to our position etc, and when some 80 miles off reported that she was steaming easy in a very thick fog. On our arrival the president and members of the Garrison Games Committee invited the officers to make use of the Cambridge Library and tennis courts during the stay at Halifax. The citizens were delighted with the alteration of our programme, prolonging our stay here to five weeks.
Still a bit foggy this morning, which delayed our firing for a few hours, the forenoon being well advanced before the first gun opened fire. The ?Bedford? finished her firing, and proceeded in to prepare for coaling.
The Admiral landed this forenoon to pay an official visit to the Governor and was received at the landing place by Major Stairs, and driven to Government house, where a Guard of Honour of the Royal Canadian Garrison House was drawn up. From Government house he proceeded to Bellevue, and thence to the City Hall, accompanied by major General Sir Charles Parsons, being received there by a guard of honour of the 5th R.G.R. Here Prince Louis was presented with a civic address by Mayor MacIlreith and the members of the city council, afterwards attending the Exhibition, where he lunched as the guests of the Commission with a small company, consisting of members f the local Government, Aldermen of the city Council, and others. After luncheon the Prince took a walk round the Fair Grounds and visited the women?s department in the Art Building.
In the afternoon the annual athletic sports of the 5th R.G.R. took place on the Wanderers Ground, in the presence of over 5,000 spectators. Several of the events were open to the squadron, who captured a fair share of the prizes. Unfortunately the ?Drake?s? could not take part, it being a case of ?duty before pleasure.? The ?Cornwall?s? won the tug of war contest (open to Army and Navy), and a team of five from the ?Berwick? took second place in the 80 yards ladder race.
Having finished calibrating the guns on the 22nd, we then proceeded seawards and carried out target practice, expending half a quarter?s allowance for 9.2 and 6-inch guns at a pair of targets some 6,000 yards distant, a kind of preliminary battle firing exercise. The practice was very satisfactory, especially our foremost 9.2 gun, which to the smashing up of both targets, it was dark and past 8 p.m. before anchor was dropped in Herring Cove.
That night the Subscription Ball for the reception of Prince Louis at the Provincial Buildings took place, and was a great success. As is not often the case with a flagship, on this occasion our officers were not present, we having anchored six miles out. Only three officers had the courage to land it, being a very stormy night.
Next forenoon we got under weigh at 9 a.m. and completed gunnery practice from 12-pdrs then anchored at 11 a.m. and weighed again at 3.30 p.m. to proceed up harbour alongside the Dockyard coal wharf, which the ?Bedford? had just vacated, having completed coaling. After securing ship leave was granted.
The admiral, Major General Sir E. Parsons, the captains of all ships, and about forty officers from the squadron, spent a pleasant evening as the guests of the Studley Quoit Club.
In the evening Prince Louis and Staff, the captains, and a number of military officers and civic officials, dined at Government House as the guests of the Lieutenant Governor.
An interesting yacht race came off this afternoon, kindly arranged by the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron, between the dories of the club and the ?Thisbe II? belonging to Lieutenant Rotch of the ?Berwick.? The ?Thisbe? is a handsome little craft, built in England, and is conspicuous by her scarlet coloured sails. Eight dories entered, but the ?Thisbe? showed them a clean keel, and won the handsome silver cup presented by the Club.
We commenced coaling at 5.30 a.m. on the 25th, and continued until 6.45 p.m. and then ceased for the night, having taken in 750 tons, out of the total 1,300 tons required to complete, the adverse conditions for coaling here making the work a slow process.
The ?Cumberland? went outside at daylight to calibrate her guns, but had to abandon it owing to the very rough weather prevailing.
At 9.30 a.m. Prince Louis officially inspected the ?Cornwall.? The forenoon was devoted to inspection of the ship and ship?s company, and the afternoon to drill and evolutions.
In the evening the massed bands of the squadron played ay the concert given in the Public Gardens in honour of Prince Louis and the squadron. The admiral was present, accompanied by Mayor MacIlreith the function being well attended. The dancing lawn was well patronised by the Bluejackets and their fair partners. Prince Louis had a look at the festive scene and smiled his evident satisfaction.
The annual meeting of the Rifle Club of the 5th R.G.R. commenced today at the Bedford rifle range, a number of men from the squadron attending for the various fixtures.
Coaling was re-commenced early next morning and completed by noon.
At 6.30 a.m. the ?Cornwall? proceeded outside to calibrate her guns, and at 5 p.m. the ?Cumberland? returned and took up her former moorings.
Prince Louis dined at Government House in the evening, and afterwards attended a ball given by the officers of the Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers at the Artillery Park. It was a brilliant function, over 400 being present, including the captains and five ward room officers f each ship, and five gun room officers from the ?Drake? and ?Berwick,? the only two ships in the squadron which carry Midshipmen.
On the 27th all hands were employed cleaning ship after coaling, and preparing for the Admiral?s official inspection.
The men of the squadron were taking full advantage of the football ground inside what was once Halifax Dockyard, as the weather was ideal fro kicking the ball. The admiral, drills and evolutions being executed to his satisfaction inspected the ?Berwick? today.
The town of Halifax very kindly presented a handsome cup for the all comers race in the squadron regatta, which was held the following week, and the royal Nova Scotia Yacht Club also presented a cup to be sailed for by service boats.
The Admiralty having decided to raise te Admiralty moorings here, the ?Cornwall? and ?Bedford? crews made a start to weigh them, the task not being an easy matter, especially so as the weather was very cold.
A working party of twelve hands from each ship, under Mr Lyne, boatswain, were busily employed making the targets for the squadron?s battle practice and gym layers competition, and ten carpenter ratings from each ship, under Mr Crook, carpenter, built the targets, all the material having been purchased locally (some of the baulks are 90 feet long).
The Wanderers Amateur Athletic Club kindly granted free admission to officers and men to all football games on their ground during our stay, which considerate act was appreciated.
The junior non-commissioned officers of the Royal Garrison Artillery gave their annual ball this evening, 28th and specially invited the 2nd class petty officers and leading seamen ratings of the squadron, and more than ninety accepted and attended what proved to be a most enjoyable function, the dancing being kept up till 2 a.m.
The Rear Admiral inspected the ?Drake? on the 29th, which was the first occasion since we commissioned. All hands were keen on obtaining a good report for cleanliness as well as for efficiency, but as we only finished coaling late on the 26th, the coal dust and inevitable wear and tear marks, still visible, would detract from our usual normal conditions, which would be taken into consideration.
At 9.30 a.m. all hands were inspected at divisions, and then mustered by the open list, the officers first. Then a general inspection of the ship followed. A few bags and hammocks of different ratings were mustered and at 12.30 dinner was piped. In the afternoon evolutions were exercised, viz, boat pulling, placing collision mats, general quarters, etc, the inspection concluding at 3 p.m. The captain then had all hand aft, and informed us that the admiral had found his flagship exactly as she should be and as he expected to find her. The engine room staff was particularly congratulated, and the captain expressed the hope that the gun layers contests and battle practice would be creditably executed, and the steam trial to Annapolis prove successful. The remainder of the day was given up to leisure, and the next afternoon was a ?Make and mend.?
The Main top men vs Forecastle men played a football match; the latter won admist great excitement, and met the quarterdeck men the next evening to decide which top became the champion team.
The admiral inspected the ?Cumberland? next day.
The first football game of the season of the Secior Football League took place this afternoon on the Wanderers ground, Wanderers vs Officers of the squadron. Prince Louis was present and over 4,000 spectators. The officer?s won by two goals and one try to nil (Messrs Causton, Marsden and Ede made the score).
During the day Mr John Noel, Chief of the Mimacs, a tribe 7,000 strong, accompanied by his wife and daughter and granddaughter, went onboard the ?Drake? dressed in their official Indian garb of red, blue and yellow decorations to pay their official respects to Prince Louis, but unfortunately the admiral was still inspecting the ?Cumberland,? and the flag captain performed the duties of host to this distinguished native Indian family.
The first regatta of the 2nd Cruisers Squadron was held on October 2nd. The weather and the water could not have been more perfect for boat racing. Crowds of people lined the docks to witness the races. The ?Drake,? lying alongside the dockyard, was naturally the guest ship. Mayor MacIlreith and any prominent citizens availed themselves of the invitation extended to them by the admiral and officers, and from the admiral down to the lowest rating everything possible was done to make the visitors comfortable and the day enjoyable for them. Numerous parties were escorted over the ship, and the principal and interesting parts explained. The ship was gaily decorated with flags etc, and refreshments were served. The ?Cornwall? carried off the honours of the day, making 12 wins, including six firsts, and the West Country cheering demonstrated the fact that they were happy in their successes.
Prince Louis gave a large dinner party onboard the ?Drake? in the evening, and afterwards attended the dance onboard the ?Essex,? given by the captain and officers. All officers of the squadron were invited and dancing was kept up till the early hours of the morning.
Next day P.O. 1st Class G. Drew, of the ?Bedford?s? galley (winner of the ?all comers race?), was signalled to come on board the ?Drake,? when Prince Louis personally presented him with the handsome silver cup, so kindly given by the Mayor and Corporation of Halifax.
The Squadron Sailing Regatta (for Service rigs) took place on the 3rd, but the wind was rather light for service rigs. The first race was timed to start at 9 a.m. but had to be postponed till 12.30. The races started in classes-six classes of boats. The course, commencing from a line astern of the ?Drake,? was almost a triangular one of about 4 ? miles, twice round, except for whalers, which boats only went once round. As usual, several boats were disqualified at the start for not complying with the rules lay down to govern the races.
The Dockyard Football Ground continued to be well patronised with playing of friendly matches from various sips. The maintop men spent a capital day?s outing one day; all were granted a day?s leave. They left the Queen?s Hotel at noon in a couple of two horse brakes, and after having several stoppages on the way to refresh the horses (and themselves!), they finally reached the Indian village, and returned to Halifax at midnight. A party of 17 naval cyclists accompanied by our chaplain, also had a very pleasant day on wheels, stopping at the Bellevue hotel, Bedford, for tea, and returning to the city about 8 p.m.
The officers of the squadron played an excellent football match against Dalhousie on the Wanderers ground this afternoon, in splendid weather, in the presence of thousands of spectators, including many ladies. It was a stubbornly contested game, replete with excitement every minute from the kick off to the final whistle. Dalhousie won 10-5. Victory was well earned. The officers however, kept the result in doubt to the finish.
The same afternoon the Dalhousie Juniors badly defeated the Officers of the Second fleet team the scoring being 18-0. Evidently the natives luck was well in, and very jubilant they were at their successes.
The service rig sailing handicap for the handsome cup presented by the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron took place on the afternoon of the 5th October. The admiral and officers f the squadron temporarily took possession of the premises and were ?At Home? to the club members and their lady friends, and to the Studley Quoit Club and others. Our men very tastefully decorated the Squadron Club?s premises, and the massed bands of the Cruiser Squadron played choice selections on the lawn, where refreshments were also served.
The weather was beautifully fine, but not favourable for boat sailing. The wind was not sufficiently strong to make a very keen contest, or test the sailing qualities of the boats or the ability of the sailor.
The race started at 2 p.m., 45 boats competing, their white sails set presenting a very fine appearance.
Lieutenant Hall, R.N.R. ?Cornwall,? who sailed her pinnace, won the cup, the ?Berwick?s? whaler being second, and the ?Cumberland?s? pinnace third.
In the evening ?Captain Reece of the Mantlepiece?-the popular Naval Extravaganza-was played at the Academy of Music, and for the three following nights. The piece drew crowded houses, and was much applauded. Prince Louis promised to attend on the last night. H.M.S. ?Berwick? supplied most of the talent, together with military officers and their ladies. The proceeds were to be handed over to the local hospitals in Halifax.
The ladies of the company were fairly showered with banquets. ?Captain Reece? has been presented seventeen times on the Academy stage at Halifax, but never with such success.
The ?Cumberland?s? warrant officers and chief and 1st class petty officers (by kind permission of Captain King Hall, D.S.O.) gave a very delightful children?s party onboard their ship on the 6th, and invited the warrant officers, staff sergeants and sergeants of the garrison, with their children. Some 400 guests were present. The quarterdeck was presently decorated with flags, and an elaborate programme of games and sports, including shooting the shutes, merry go rounds, Aunt Sally, tobogganing, electric baths, races etc. Singing and dancing were conducted on the quarterdeck, the music being supplied by the ships band. After the amusements a sumptuous tea was served. Commander church, affable and jovial as ever, gave over the whole ship to the merry party.
Keen interest was displayed today onboard the ?Drake,? the results of the 6-inch and 12-pdr loading competitions being announced. The prize of ?3 for the greatest average of rounds by any one crew for the previous week was won by the noted B3 crew, holders of the cup, and for another prize of ?1, given for the greatest number of rounds put through in any one minute, B3 and A3 tied with 19 rounds each. Further prizes of 5s each were given to any gun?s crew for every round above 18 which they could put through within the minute, and several crews secured the 5s prizes.
The 12-pdr prize of ?4 was divided between Leading Seamen. Davie?s crew and Lance Corporal Johnson?s crew, the crews having tied.
Altogether about ?10 was thus given away for prizes, as an incentive to the men, so that when actual gun firing takes place there will be no time wasted in loading the gun.
Several officers of the squadron enjoyed a good afternoon?s sport at the Riding Club?s ground. The obstacle race, needle race, ad other events were very interesting. The obstacle race was the most amusing item. Six officers took part in this, and entered into the spirit of the contest in a way, which thoroughly delighted the onlookers. Sub Lieutenant Bevan took first prize Midshipman Phillips second, and Midshipman Bowley third.
Lieutenant Walwyn took first in the hurdle race, the Lieutenant Wynter, ?Cornwall,? the second place. Many persons also attended the football match, Wanderers vs Sherbrooks, which was equally exciting. The latter team won, but it would have been more satisfactory had the Wanderers been successful for now the fleet team will have to beat the Sherbrooks in two matches for the League cup.
In the evening Prince Louis attended the performance of ?The Mantlepiece? at the Academy, having hurried back from his hunting excursion in New Brunswick to honour the company with his presence.
The 8th was a very fine day, and the ships were much crowded with visitors from noon till 6 p.m. In the evening the ?Cornwall? proceeded outside to be ready for the gun layers firing in the morning, she being the first ship to start the competition, the ?Berwick? also going out to act as marking ship. The admiral has extended to the military officers the privilege of going out in any ship to witness the firing.
On the 9th our officers gave a grand dance onboard with great vigour, the weather being ideal for dancing. The ship was nicely decorated, as usual, and the dance was voted a great success. Lying alongside the dockyard offers good facilities for social functions etc, as the guests can come close to the ship?s side in their carriages. About 400 persons were present civil, naval, and military-and many ladies.
No time has been wasted since leaving Gibraltar in drilling up our gun?s crews. Morning, noon and late in the evenings, the gunnery staff have been busy with the dotter, and every other invention to produce good shooting has been used.
The Lieutenant-governor General paid our admiral an official visit onboard on the 10th, and on leaving received a salute of 13 guns.
A very exciting game of football was played this afternoon on the Collegiate School Ground between our gunroom officers and the Collegiate School, Windsor. The officers played a capital game, but the good work of the collegiate backs prevented the officers from scoring in the first half.
In the second half Jones scored a fine shot for the school, and Buckle, fro a pass from De Wolfe, scored again.
The officers then played with renewed vigour , and May, by a good shot, secured a goal. After another 15 minutes sharp play Ayre shot a goal. Both sides had now two goals each. No more scoring was done Mr E. W. E. Fellows refereed. The Hon R. Coke and A. Starr were linesmen.
The officers at the close of the game gave three cheers for the school, and the School responded heartily with three cheers for the ?Drake,? and both sides cheered the referee.
October 11th-All ships of the squadron were now outside carrying out the various firing, and a busy week or ten days was ahead of us. Social functions for the time being are suspended, or put aside, and the practical side of our naval existence takes place of pleasurable pursuits. The ?Drake? also wet outside on the 12th, and did duties as umpire ship for the ?Berwick?s? battle firing, while the ?Bedford? was the marking ship. Several military officers were onboard to witness the firing, and before anchoring off the Yacht Club in the evening exercise with aiming rifle practice was carried out.
Again at 7 a.m. next morning we proceeded outside for light Q.F. competition; the remainder of the squadron had left earlier, but owing to the strong southerly wind and heavy sea the targets would not stand, so all ships returned to the anchorage. A number of warrant officers and petty officers of the squadron received an invite from the warrant officers, staff sergeants, and sergeants of the Royal Engineers and Royal Artillery to their ball, which was held in the Garrison Gymnasium. Special arrangements were made, and boats were sent in at 5 o?clock in the morning to bring the dancers onboard their ships before they proceeded to sea for their firing. The ball was a great success, and the petty officers were loud in their praise for the very hospitable manner they were received by the sister service.
The captain and officers of the ?Berwick? gave a dance onboard, and all the picket boats of the squadron assisted in taking the guests to the ship. Over 300 attended, and the dancing was kept up till after 1 a.m. The night was beautiful and starlight.
October 14th-The squadron weighed early and proceeded outside independently to endeavour to carry out the competitions, though the wind was eve higher than yesterday, and a nasty sea was running. The targets, after numerous tries, failed to stand, and the ships were ordered in again, the ?Drake? remaining out till dark. Those men who were qualifying for Q.G. had excellent practice firing at a small bare pole.
The match between the Senior Officers team vs Wanderers was played before crowds of spectators, a very strong wind was blowing in the Wanderers favour for the first half, and the officers faced the cutting, cold wind. After the very spirited play of both sides, at half time the Officers score was 6-Wanderers 3. The play resumed with much vigour, but the Wanderers never added to their score.
The Halifax riding club arranged a mounted paper chase, and invited the officers, several of whom attended; tea was afterwards served in the marquee on their grounds.
Sunday 15th was spent quietly laying at single anchor, after having a busy week for everyone at the targets, but with almost futile results. Visitors as usual, flocked onboard the squadron then laying off the Yacht Club, the centre of attraction.
On Monday morning we again left early, the day being fairly fine. Light Q. F. gunlayers competition was carried out, and we anchored in Herring Cove at the conclusion, so as to be ready early next morning to go on with the 6incompetition.
Our captain gave an instructive lecture in the evening on gun firing, his remarks being rather more practical than technical, which appeared to impress those for whom most intended.
October 17th-Left harbour at 5.30 a.m. got targets into position, and then commenced the competition. The wind and sea gradually increased, and by noon it was with the utmost difficulty that the boats could be kept down to repair the targets and after firing nine guns we gave it up and anchored again in Herring Cove.
The ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland,? having finished all their firing, proceeding into harbour, and prepared to coal from two colliers, which had arrived during the night. We were lying too far out to grant leave, so the piano was got up on deck, and an impromptu concert was held. Our captain, the naval instructor, and several other officers added their talent to the programme.
We weighed again at daylight, the 18th and re-commenced the gun layers competition,and had finished all guns by noon, and then prepared fr our long range battle firing. At 3.30 p.m. the ?Berwick? took up position as umpire ship, and we took station astern of her, two cables distant, and she led us into action at a speed of 15 knots. We were properly cleared as for real action, and conned from the conning tower. The ?Essex? was laying off in line with the target as marking ship. The usual service regulations were strictly observed, the range being 8,000 to 6,000 yards, and the target measuring 90 feet by 30 feet. Unfortunately, in several respects, the centre of the canvas was completely blown away with our accurate firing, which made it difficult for making, as only actual holes in the canvas count for results. At the finish of the ten minutes firing our chief umpire (Captain Dare, H.M.S. ?Berwick?), instantly signalled his congratulations on our splendid shooting. The umpires and marking officers, after carefully examining the canvas, allowed us 33 hits. The wooden frame of the target was completely shattered, and it was with the greatest difficulty that we managed to tow it into harbour. It was 11 p.m. when we anchored, and past midnight before the hands were piped to hammocks.
Early next morning we got the collier ?Branswell? alongside and commenced coaling. It was not a very pleasant task, for up to 2 p.m. in the afternoon it rained in torrents.
The North Star Rowing Club at Dartmouth, held their athletic sports one evening, and very kindly included in their programme several events for the squadron. The latter in the three minutes won the first tug of war between the stokers of the ?Cumberland? and the marines of the ?Drake?. The ?Drakes2 stokers then beat the ?Bedford?s? team in three minutes. The ?Berwick? won her trial against the ?Cornwall,? and the ?Drake?s? stokers also beat them in just over two minutes. The former, who won the prize of ?1 for each man of the winning team, won the final tug between the ?Drake?s? Marines and the ?Cornwall?s? team.
Coaling ceased at midnight, and then piped down till the early morning when another start was made, finishing at 10.30 a.m. taking in 1,300 tons. It rained hard all the day with a cold northerly wind. The remainder of the day was devoted to washing off coal dust and cleaning generally.
Senator and Mrs MacKeen?s dance at Maplewood was a brilliant affair and a huge success and although bad weather still prevailed, the effective ballroom together, with the pretty and gay dresses of the dancers, shut out all thoughts of weather, good or bad. Prince Louis the captains and officers attended.
It was intended to give a naval display while at Halifax, similar to that given at Montreal, and devote the proceeds to local charities, but the admiral informed the public, through the medium of the Press, that owing to the continued bad weather, which had delayed the squadron?s firing and the work of raising moorings, coaling, etc, it was with great regret he was compelled to abandon the idea. The citizens were very much disappointed, but realised the situation.
The 2nd Cruiser Squadron most patriotically observed October 21st-The centenary of the death of Nelson of immortal memory, and the Battle of Trafalgar, today. At 8 a.m. all ships were dressed with masthead flags, and Lord nelson?s flag also hoisted at the ?Drake?s? main, with the famous signal, ?England expects that every man will do his duty.? The Royal Naval signal flags employed in 1805 were used, having been expressly made for the occasion, and at 4.20 p.m. we hoisted the signal no 16 for ?Close Action.? At 4.15 p.m. the officers and men, in full dress, were mustered on the quarterdeck, and the marines paraded under arms, with the band and buglers. At 4.30 p.m. the hour when, 100 years ago, Nelson departed this life, we commenced firing 15 minute guns, at the same time the admiral?s flag, all ensigns and Jacks, and the mast head flag?s of all ships were lowered to half mast position, and remained so till sunset. When the last round had been fired from the minute guns, the Marines fired three volleys in the air, the buglers sounding the admiral?s salute after the first two volleys and the ?Last Post? after the third volley, after which the band played a funeral march. The captain of each ship then read a short address, which had been prepared by our admiral for the occasion, including Lord Nelson?s last prayer. The officers and men were uncovered throughout the impressive ceremony. The bands of the squadron did not play till after sunset as a mark of respect to England?s greatest naval hero.
Captain Mark Kerr very kindly presented each mess with a photograph of Lord Nelson, and each officer and man with a pamphlet of the life of Nelson, and also sent 200 pamphlets to each ship of the squadron.
The following lines are culled from ?Nulli Secundus,? with apologies to the poet: -
One hundred years have passed away,
Since our great hero died.
One hundred years his name has been
Our watchword and our pride.
Who gave his life for Britains cause,
Who died to set her free,
And left that glorious heritage.
The kingdom of the sea.
A hundred years have passed and gone,
And hearts of oak no more.
With swelling sail, keep watch and ward,
Round Britain?s rock girt shore.
Guant iron hulls in armour clad,
Steam swiftly to and fro,
And monster guns, in turrets roar, Defiance to the foe.
The ships are changed, but not the men,
The same old British tar
Will fight behind the turret gun
That fought at Trafalgar.
And when a thousand years have gone,
It Britain still shall last.
Among her proudest chronicles,
Her memories of the past,
The name of NELSON shall endure,
While Britons still are true
And men remembering Nelson?s name
Shall do their duty, too.
All officers and en remained onboard until they ceremony had finished, except the officers football team, who played Dalhousie on the Wanderers ground in the afternoon as arranged, in the presence of thousands of spectators. The Collegians won by four tries to one try. The Collegians risked no chances, and turned out the strongest team available, determined to retain the trophy, which they have won eight times.
October 22nd ?At 11 o?clock this morning a Thanksgiving Service in connection with the celebration of Trafalgar Day was held in the historic church of St Paul?s by the Rev Dr W. J. Armitage. Prince Louis, the captains, officers and men, to the number of about 700, attended, headed by the massed bands of the squadron. The British veterans, headed by the piper band of the 63rd Regiment, lined up on St Paul?s Hill and awaited the arrival of the admiral. Prince Louis inspected them and spoke a few words to each, took much interest in their medals, and saluted the Royal Standard, which the veterans carried.
The Nelson celebration in Halifax was marked with dignity and solemnity, as befits the memory of such an illustrious hero. There was no exhibition of exultation and no sign of emotion, but a feeling seemed to hover over the town that the British empire owed a duty to the man who had, at Trafalgar, made England mistress of the seas, a position held undisputed ever since-a trust vested in the British Fleet.
After the usual Sunday divisions this morning all the officers and men were assembled on the quarterdeck, when Prince Louis presented the silver cups and prize money to the various guns crews. The renowned B3 guns crew, captained by Leading Seaman Burnham, won a handsome silver challenge cup, presented by Captain Mark Kerr for the best 6-inch gun at the gun layers competition. Commander Buller also presented a silver cup for the best 12-pdr competitions.
The Admiral then made a short address, saying he would be proud to take the squadron into action against any enemy afloat, with his flagship ?Drake? leading. He tersely summed up his remarks, ?The shooting was good-the battle practice was excellent-I feel confident of the future.?
A very exciting race was rowed one afternoon between 12 oared cutters crews of the ?Cornwall? and Royal engineers, over a straight course of three miles. Both boats belonged to the engineers, and they were drawn for. The stakes were heavy (130 dollars), the betting was also strongly favourably to the Engineers, who felt confident, but the West Country men rowed for all they were worth, and won by nine seconds. Time 28 min 56 secs.
In the evening of the 23rd, Lady Parsons gave an official dinner at Bellevue, followed by an evening reception. Prince Louis was present at the latter, accompanied by the officers of the squadron.
A farewell-smoking concert was given at the Wellington Barracks by the sergeants of the Royal Garrison Regiment to the petty officers of the squadron. Sergeant Major Blake presided, and besides the naval guests there were a number of civilians present, and a very jolly time was spent.
By the 24th October all ships had completed with coal from the collier ?Bausto,? which ship still had over 1,000 tons of coal onboard, so men from each ship, in all 300, under the command of Commander miller, ?Cornwall,? had a hard time unloading and stacking the coal in the Dockyard sheds, working all night in bitter cold and rainy weather till it was finished. Such are the vicissitudes of naval life!
The ladies of Halifax entertained the officers of the squadron to a ball given in the military gymnasium. The ?Drake?s? signal staff beautifully decorated the gymnasium. Prince Louis and staff and every officer who was off duty were there, and the ball may be characterised as a social record breaker. The charming dance programmes were of exquisite design, bearing on the cover a maple leaf in its bright October colours, while across the stem was engraved a canoe. The dancers discovered to their delight that the signalmen had not limited their artistic work to the ballroom only, but in the gallery, more so than in any part of the whole building, the arrangements were delightful, nice sitting out places and cosy lovers corners having been erected with much thoughtfulness of the nautical decorators.
During the afternoon some consternation was caused by the guns from Fort Spion Kop nearly battering to pieces the ?Bedford?s? steam pinnace, which was then employed weighing target moorings. The Canadian Artillery was at practice using 6-inch guns, and they could not observe the pinnace in the line of fire. One shot actually hit her on the bow before the firing ceased. It was very fortunate that the affair did not become a tragedy rather than a mere comedy of errors.
At 6 a.m., 25th the ?Essex,? ?Bedford,? and ?Cumberland? proceeded outside, the two former for battle practice. Owing to the heavy sea running in the bay it had been postponed. They are all three anchored off the Yacht Club.
At 8 a.m. the ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? left for St John?s, New Brunswick, where the ?Cornwall? will break Prince Louis flag on anchoring, the Prince leaving this evening by train on a shooting expedition.
In the afternoon some forty pupils of Mount St Vincent were entertained onboard by the admiral. The midshipmen, showed them all over the ship where everything of interest was explained to them, and a sumptuous lunch was served in Prince Louis cabin. On leaving the ship they all sang, ?God save our noble King,? and ?God save our gracious Prince.?
A large number of liberty men attended the Veteran Fireman?s Association tournament at the empire Rink this evening. Besides the usual events, two interesting exhibition-boxing bouts by our men took place, also a relay race open to the squadron.
The officers of the ?Drake? gave a ball on board this evening, and as usual the quarterdeck was handsomely decorated and illuminated. Dancing commenced at 9 p.m. and continued till past 1 a.m. About 300 were present. The weather was delightfully calm, which made it very comfortable for the guests being conveyed to and from the ship. All the dancing officers of the squadron were invited. The ladies wore charming dresses, and their dancing (so it was freely remarked) could not be beaten.
Today the 26th being Harvest Thanksgiving Day, a public holiday was proclaimed onshore, and all manner of out doors sports took place till darkness set in, when numerous little socials were given indoors. General leave was granted to the squadron from noon, and although some 1,300 men actually landed, a bluejacket was rarely visible in the streets an hour after landing-nearly everyone had made friends to whom they were attached during the stay in Halifax.
A very successful paper chase by the Halifax Riding Club took place, in which 27 riders participated, including four of our officers (Sub Lieutenant Bevan, Midshipmen Coppinger, Neville, and Fellowes). Miss Muriel and Walter Black very successfully laid the course. These two riders started from the town, and threw the paper trail over the fields and galloped on to Maplewood. At St Patrick?s Home the first glimpse of the hares were caught, and after several water jumps and ditches and fences had been successfully negotiated, the human hares were caught and brought home alive. Afterwards Mrs W. A. Black (wife of the popular president of the club) entertained the riders to tea.
A Rugby football match on the Wanderers ground was played today in ideal weather, between the pick of Halifax League, Wanderers, Dalhousie, and four from the squadron, viz, Messrs, Marsden, the Rev Jones, Coles and Baillie v St John?s N.B. Over 2,000 people witnessed the match. The Halifax team had an easy victory, scoring 4 tries, one of which was converted to a goal, while they blanked their opponents, and thus won by 14-0.
Another boxing tournament was held on the Curling Rink, over 800 people being present. The feature of the evening was to have been the bout between Seaman Kirby, ?Bedford,? and Tom Foley, civilian, who were to fight ten rounds. It was brought to a quick termination by Kirby succumbing to a right on the jaw.
In the evening the captain and officers of the ?Essex? gave a grand ball onboard, over 300 being present. The evening was delightful, not a ripple on the water. The vessel was gaily decorated, and it was just two o?clock in the morning when ?God save the King? was played and sung to signalise the termination of another successful function.
Before the ball commenced, at about 7.30 p.m. a fire was observed on St George?s Island, and all ships were ordered to land fire engines and to assist the military. This was done very quickly, and valuable aid rendered. It was a big blaze, and all the general stores and buildings, with their valuable contents, were completely destroyed. Fear of an explosion-taking place caused some excitement onshore, as St George Island is practically a magazine.
The farewell smoker in the gymnasium given by the warrant officers, staff sergeants, and sergeants of the R.G.A. to the warrant officer, staff sergeants, and sergeants of the 5th R.G.R., and the warrant officers, chief, and 1st class petty officers of the squadron, was an important function, being numerously attended by those who were fortunate to get invitations, though many were absent on dusty at the fire.
During the evening the popular president, Sergeant Major Crook, proposed the toast of the evening, and feelingly referred to the departure of the squadron, with whom the military had been on terms of real comradeship.
Mr Dunster, ?Cumberland,? responded in felicitous terms on behalf of the squadron. The programme was varied and highly entertaining throughout, this evening being generally acknowledged as the best harmonious gathering of our stay in Halifax.
Prince Louis, Prince Alexander, and staff, were right royally received in Fredericton this afternoon. Prince Louis was presented with a civic address in the City Hall. A reception was then held, and over 1,000 persons were presented to Prince Louis and his nephew. In the evening a ball was held in the Assembly Rooms of the Local Legislature, and about 800 attended.
Lieutenant Herbert R. Stokes, ?Bedford,? was warmly vongrtulated today on winning the squadron billiard handicap cup, which the members of the City Club generously presented as a memento of this visit.
Fortunately the men were favoured with ideal weather for their ball tonight. Unique in itself as being the first of the kind ever given by the lower deck ratings of a British man of war, and was an unqualified success, surpassing all expectation. The ball had the personal approval and support of the admiral and captains of the squadron. To be precise, the ball was given by the petty officers and men, about 200 subscribers of the ?Drake,? ?Essex,? ?Bedford? and ?Cumberland? (the ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? unfortunately being away at St John?s, N.B.). Invitations to the number of about 100 were issued to the Halifax garrison, but over 750 ladies and gentlemen were present. The arrangements and organisation were perfect, thanks to the able lower deck committee and their president (the flag captain). The entire length of the ship from No 2 funnel to the taffrail was completely housed in with canvas, and artistically covered with flags and bunting. The comfort of the guests was in every way considered. The upper deck and sitting out places were comfortably warmed with red-hot shot placed in iron buckets filled with sand. Electric lamps, red and white were a feature of the decorations, which were charmingly displayed. The port side, less the quarterdeck, was set apart as the supper room, where tables to the length of 296 feet were rigged and covers laid for 350 persons. The upper deck casemates were utilised as refreshments bars where choice viands and wines, etc, were liberally supplied to the guests.
The ship virtually belonged to the dancers during the function, perfect freedom being given to ensure its success. The guests commenced arriving onboard at 6.30 p.m. and dancing commenced at 7 p.m. and terminated at midnight. Captains Peirse and Mark Kerr were present, the admiral being then away at St John?s. At 11.30 p.m. everyone stood round the quarterdeck. Hand in hand, and sang the ?Maple Leaf,? ?auld Lang Syne? and ?God Save the King.? The singing of over 700 mixed voices rang out over the peaceful waters of the harbour with grand effect. Hot soup was supplied before the guests took their departure. Everyone appeared delighted, and the fair sex of Halifax who attended will ever remember the ball on the ?Drake.?
Mr Healey and Mr Hardinge, the admiral?s and captain?s stewards, very ably did the catering, and received the thanks of the committee.
Our band, under the conductorship of Mr C Riseam, ably rendered bandmaster the dance programme of 18 pieces.
On our admiral passing through Fredericton Junction, en route to St John?s from St Andrews this evening, he was met by surveyor government presented him with a big moose head with 57-inch antlers, handsomely mounted.
The admiral and staff arrived onboard this morning, the 29th and his flag was rehoisted at 9 a.m.
During the visit of the ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? at St John?s, N.B., an ?At Home? was given onboard the ?Cornwall.? The guests numbered several hundred, and were received onboard by Captain Robertson. The vessel was lavishly decorated, and their affair was a great success.
This was our last whole day in Halifax, and, being a Sunday, the ships were crowded with visitors and friends. Leave to the squadron was granted from noon until 11 p.m. and it is gratifying to record that not one man of the ?Drake? remained onshore after that hour.
A letter was received from the non commissioned officers and men of the Royal Garrison Artillery to the Dance committee of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, as follows: -
?The members of the above corps desire to convey to all concentrated in getting up the dance on the 28th their heartfelt thanks and appreciation of the kind and courteous manner in which they were treated by everyone. The Royal Navy have made a name for themselves as hosts in every corner of the globe, and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron?s visit to Halifax, in October 1905, will ever be remembered by the Halifax Garrison with feelings of happiness and regret. Wishing you bon voyage and a speedy return.?
Halifax Greets The Fleet
Halifax harbour looked dreary and grey,
When the last of the fleet sailed down the Bay,
And hearts were dull, while from many sad lips,
Came the cry ?We are lonely without our ships.?
Like an answered prayer there arose one day
Speck after spec on the horizon grey,
And over Halifax bright hopes gleamed,
As in the harbour a squadron steamed.
All stately they looked from the stern to bow,
As each tossed the surf with an eager prow
?Berwick? and ?Essex,? with four in their wake,
The ?Cumberland,? ?Cornwall,? ?Bedford,? and ?Drake.?
Keen was the rapture that all did evince,
For the flagship ?Drake? bore a noble Prince;
And beside this Admiral brave and good,
His nephew, Victoria?s grandson, stood.
Loyal the welcome accorded to these,
Who had sailed to great us beyond the seas,
Uniting still closer the ties that band
Canada?s heart to the dear Motherland.
Sailing away where your orders may lead,
Halifax wishes sincerest God speed,
Trusting each cruiser may ride all at ease,
Neath flags of peace over calm, peaceful seas.
All ships had full steam ready early on the 30th for steam trials. The ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? were leaving St John?s, N.B. all ships rendezvousing on the evening of the 31st, three miles south of Cape Charles light vessel. The ?Essex? and ?Cumberland? proceeded at 6 a.m. the ?Bedford? at 8 a.m. and we left at 8.45 a.m.
The wharves were crowded with people waving farewells as ewe steamed out, while the Citadel, the merchant ships, and the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht club kept up a continual dipping of Flags as a farewell. At 10 a.m. when twenty miles, out, the following wireless telegraph messages were exchanged: -
From R.A. Prince Louis of Battenberg to H.E. the Governor General of Ottawa.
Before the shores of Canada disappear from view, I desire, on behalf of the captains, officers, and men of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to thank our Canadian subjects of all classes, through your Excellency, for their hearty and hospitable welcome during the last three months and a half, and which makes us leave these shores with genuine regret and a hope that it may be our good fortune to be sent once more across the Atlantic.
Another message to Mayor MacIlreith, City Hall, Halifax, read as follows: -
From the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to the Citizen of Halifax.
The Mayor replied: -
Pleasant voyage, speedy return. Forget! Forget! We could not if we would.
At 11 a.m. we commenced the eight hours full power trial. All the stokers and engine room department were bent on making a record, and they did, averaging 24.28 knots per hour, the last hour?s steaming being 25.6. Needless to say, this grand result gave extreme satisfaction. The stokers felt proud to retain the silver cup on their mess deck.
The fifteen hours three fifth speed was equally successful. This fine steaming record was made known to the squadron by wireless, and they all signalled their congratulations.
The Admiral now exercised the squadron, manoeuvring at 16 knots speed, until dark, when divisions were formed abeam and speed increased to 18 knots. Earl on November 1st we had entered Chesapeake Bay, increasing our speed to 19 knots, and forming one line, when a squadron of warshiops were sighted ahead, which proved to be the United States Cruiser Squadron at anchor off sharp Island, comprising the ?West Virginia? (flagship of Rear Admiral Brownson, U.S. Navy). ?Pennsylvania,? ?Maryland,? and ?Colorado.? The American admiral was saluted with 13 guns, which salute was returned with a like number. When about three miles from the anchorage the American national flag was hoisted on the ?Drake,? and the country saluted with 21 guns, which the battleship ?Maine? instantly returned; we then fired another salute for Rear Admiral Evans. We steam past the battle column to a position about 600 yards inshore, and when abreast of the ?Maine? anchors was dropped in American waters about 10 a.m. Both squadrons played the national and American Anthems, and the ships were manned. We were welcomed to the historic port of Annapolis by the greatest gathering of war ships ever seen in those waters. The United States fleet comprised the following battleships: - ?Maine? (flying the flag of Rear Admiral Evans, Commander in Chief), ?Missouri,? ?Kentucky,? ?Kearsage,? ?Alabama? (flying the flag of Rear Admiral Davis), ?Illinois,? ?Iowa,? and ?Massachusetts.? Three miles further towards the shore were anchored the destroyers ?Hopkins,? ?MacDonough,? ?Lawrence,? Worden,? and ?Stewart.? The United States Cruiser Squadron afterwards came up and anchored the other side of the battleships, making three lines of ships, battleships in the centre. Prince Louis spent the remainder of the day paying official calls, first calling on Rear-Admiral Evans (the senior naval officer), while the captains, commissioned and warrant officers, also exchanged official visits.
The following message was received from the Governor General of Canada at Ottawa in reply to that sent by wireless message on the 30th: -
From the Governor General of Canada at Ottawa. I have much pleasure in conveying direct to Sir Wilfrid Laurier and to the people of Canada, through the Press, your message, which they will much appreciate, in common with all our Canadian fellow subjects who have been so fortunate as to meet you, your officers, and men. I cordially reciprocate your hope that duty may cause soon to return to Canadian waters.
The forenoon of the next day was devoted to informal exchanges of visits between officers of both fleets. After luncheon our admiral and staff landed and reviewed the midshipmen (900 strong) at the Naval Academy, followed by a dress parade and reception at Admiral Sands for the British and American officers. It was a very brilliant function. Prince Louis afterwards returned the Mayor of Annapolis call.
Onboard the ships the men were cleaning and painting, so as to be spick and span for New York, the full speed trial having made them very dirty. The American officers have arranged dinner parties for each evening of our stay for wardroom, gunroom, and warrant officers proportionately. Leave is granted daily but few landed, probably owing to the great distance we are laying off the shore-or probably had spent all their money in happy Halifax!
Two hundred petty officers and men from the ?Cumberland? were entertained onboard the U.S.S. ?Iowa? to a concert, and a very pleasant time they all had. The exchange of visits of both fleets for officers and men were arranged, and ships were paired off as follows: -
?Alabama? and ?Drake,? ?Missouri? and ?Cornwall,? ?Kentucky? and ?Berwick,? ?Kearsage? and ?Essex,? ?Illinois? and ?Bedford,? ?Iowa? and ?Cumberland.?
The American naval officers invited six commissioned officers from each ship, as guests, to visit Washington, one American officer accompanying each party.
Rear Admiral Evans onboard the ?Mayflower? entertained Prince Louis and captains of the squadron at dinner. Thirty-two guests gathered round the oval table in her spacious cabin. Our admiral sat at Rear Admiral Evans right. The decorations in the cabin were very beautiful, the great American beauty roses and American and British flags blending harmoniously in the soft candlelight. (Prince Louis onboard the ?Mayflower? in the exact spot whereon President Roosevelt, on August 5th 1905, off Oyster Bay, presented Count Witte to Baron Komura, and proposed the historic toast which found its answer in the Treaty of Portsmouth, U.S.A.).
Glasses clinked with a ring of good fellowship as the health?s of King Edward VII and President Roosevelt were drunk by all the officers standing. Prince Louis proposed the health of the American President, and Rear Admiral Evans the health of the British King.
On November 3rd at 9 a.m., Prince Louis and staff embarked onboard the ?Mayflower,? and were received by Rear Admiral Evans, whose flag was flying at her main. Immediately Prince Louis stepped onboard his flag was also hoisted at her fore, and the distinguished party proceeded up harbour. Prince Louis and his staff and captains, and the American admirals and their subordinate officers, proceeded by special train over Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for Washington, arriving there at 11.30 a.m. There were four set events on the programme, beginning with luncheon at the British Embassy. Then followed a formal reception given by President Roosevelt at the White House. Secretary Bonaparte and the departmental chiefs of the Navy gave another reception, the day ending with an official dinner at the British Embassy, and a reception and dance two hours later.
Washington?s welcome to our admiral, Prince Louis, was strenuous from the moment of his arrival. At Annapolis things were going strong with all the senior officers away. Entertainments, football matches, sports, in fact every form of gaiety and sports in galore.
About 250 of our bluejackets and marines were entertained at a minister show onboard the battleship ?Alabama,? whose crew furnished the talent, and there were also several boxing bouts. Light refreshments were liberally passed round.
The chief petty officers of the ?Drake? were the guests of the chief petty officers of the battleship ?Maine? one evening from 5 p.m. till midnight, being entertained to dinner in a most hospitable manner, the menu being described as a la Carlton style, being both luxurious and extensive.
A coon hunting party, made up of fifty officers from the squadron, 100 American officers from the ships, and a goodly number of midshipmen from the Academy, left one evening at 7 p.m. in steam launches and proceeded up the river Severn. They were under the guidance of John Weaver and his dogs (the famous coon hunter of Anne Arundel county). The place selected was Hopkins Creek, where the woods are like a jungle. The experienced hunter knows from the note sounded by his dog just what had happened, whether the coon has been started, or is on the run, or if it has taken the tree.
The hunt is fascinating and exciting, and often the coon dog comes home with a split nose as the result of a fight with his quarry, when run to earth.
After the hunt ceased the festivities commenced. The roast on the beach was indeed characteristic of a real old time Maryland oyster roast.
The officers returned onboard next morning just before daylight. Our midshipmen brought back a fine fat coon, which was stuffed, and afterwards decorated the gunroom table.
A large number of liberty men landed from both fleets; the fraternal sociability between them was very pronounced.
During the Washington visit Prince Louis was the guest of the American Army, being invited by lieutenant General Chaffee, chief of Staff to an official luncheon at the New Willard, after which he took a trip to Fort Myer to witness cavalry Hatfield, Commandant.
In the evening he was the principal guest at a state dinner given in his honour by President Roosevelt at the white House, where a distinguished company was invited to meet him, the British Ambassador and most of the American Ministers being present. During the dinner the health?s proposed included those of the President, King Edward VII, and Rear Admiral Prince Louis.
A large number of members and guests of the St George?s Society of Baltimore paid a visit to the squadron, coming down to Annapolis in a specially chartered steamer, which was flying from every conceivable pole the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. They boarded the ?Drake? but before doing we were presented by the President of the St George?s Society (Mr W. T. Howard) with souvenir white satin badges embossed in gold lettering, and bearing the crossed flags of the United States and Great Britain. The guests were escorted in small parties over the ship, and entertained at tea in our wardroom.
As they departed fro home their band played ?Rule Britannia, and hearty cheers for the British Navy and the officers and men of the ?Drake? were given, which was returned with equal lustiness, the men manning the ship?s side and our band playing the air, ?Should auld acquaintance be forgot.?
Every night each American ship entertained at dinner a number of commissioned and warrants officers of the squadron. Colonel Thompson gave a dinner party onboard his magnificent houseboat to all the commanders of the ships, at which function a brilliant party assembled.
The midshipmen?s dance at 9 p.m. in the Armoury, where practically every officer of both fleets attended, was a big social event. Mrs Sands (wife of Admiral Sands) and Midshipman Cabiness received the dancers as they came on the floor. Over 700 were present.
November 5th (Sunday)-hundreds of visitors came onboard anxious to view the monster cruiser, as they term the ?Drake.?
The American warrant officers entertained five warrant officers from each British ship to an oyster on the beach. Originality, even in their amusements, is a leading feature of the American. They landed at 1.30 p.m. about 150 strong, and proceeded to a small bay away from the town, where a wagon load of Maryland oysters and other refreshments were awaiting, which were served in tents. Afterwards sports of all kinds were indulged in, and a very pleasant afternoon was spent.
The C.P.O. of the ?Alabama? entertained the ?Drake?s? C.P.O.?s at luncheon and to an evening?s entertainment onboard. During the luncheon Rear Admiral and Mrs Davis paid them a visit, and drank to the health of King Edward, the Queen and President Roosevelt. Admiral Davis expressed his pleasure at the manner in which they were all enjoying their visit to the United States.
Minor functions, dinners, luncheons, picnics, and excursions, followed each other, every section having their turn.
A dance took place on the afternoon of the 6th onboard the U.S. battleship ?Missouri,? her quarterdeck being profusely decorated. Around the turret the British and American ensigns were entwined.
An interesting boat race was rowed between our marines and the ?Cornwall?s? in 14 oared barges. The course was between the two lines. The American cheered the crews as they passed. Our crew won, leading about eighty yards.
The ?Drake? football team played an Association match on the Navy ground against the ?Cornwall?s.? The game was witnessed by a large number of American officers and men, the ?Drake?s? team winning by three goals to nil.
The United States Naval Club entertained the commissioned officers of both squadrons at a smoker in the officers mess. The same evening Prince Louis returned from Washington, and was entertained to dinner at the house of Admiral Sands.
At 1.30 a.m. November 7th the whole of the United States fleet of eight battleships and four cruisers left for New York, according to previous arrangements.
Prince Louis returned onboard at noon today. The British Ambassador and Lady Durand, the embassy Staff, and Rear Admiral Sands were the guests of our admiral at luncheon onboard. On their departure a salute of 19 guns was given for the ambassador and 13 guns for Rear Admiral Sands.
November 8th-At 6a.m. we left for New York. The weather had now set in very cold. Sandy Hook was passed at 7 a.m. next morning, and we then eased from 18 to 12 knots speed for about an hour, owing to the shallowness of the channel. The New York pilot steamer, met us with pilots onboard, evidently with the intention of taking us up the river, but we did not stop. The world famed statue of Liberty was much admired and commented upon as we proceeded up the river at 18 knots in single column, and when abreast of Government islands we broke the stars and stripes a tour main and saluted the nation with 21 guns, which was promptly returned by the battery. A strong ebb tide was running, but we forged up the very congested Hudson in perfect alignment, which was much commented on by the sea captains in the port. At times we were almost rubbing sides with the huge ferry steamers, barges, etc. Great crowds ion the shore cheered enthusiastically, and whistles all over the river tooted forth greetings while the vessels and shore buildings dipped their colours continuously as a salute, which formality was returned by the squadron dipping their ensigns, which were flying high at the main peak end. It was truly magnificent sight-bands playing patriotic airs, guns booming, flags flying, whistles hooting, and multitudes cheering. The action of the Pennsylvania ferryboat. ?Washington,? caused some consternation, as, loaded with some 600 or 700 passengers; she broke through the line between the ?Essex? and ?Cornwall,? and only by the splendid handling of the latter ship was an appalling disaster averted. The New York newspapers were loud in their praise at the splendid seamanship displayed by the captain of the ?Cornwall,? and condemned the ferry boat?s captain for his deliberate act of endangering the passengers lives.
About 9 a.m. and when 500 yards south of the U.S flagship ?Maine,? and abreast of 79 Streets, anchors were dropped. All ships including the American fleet of 12 ships, dressed ship with flags over all, stretched from mast to mast, the American and English colours flying side by side at the main truck, while the ?Drake? also displayed the British royal Standard and the American flag at the fore side by side with the Rear Admiral flag of Prince Louis. It being the anniversary of King Edward VII?s birthday, the ?Maine? saluted the Royal Standard with 21 guns. An officer was instantly despatched to the ?Maine? to convey Prince Louis thanks to Admiral Evans for his courtesy in thus saluting the British Royal Standard. Prince Louis, who called on all the pricipal naval, military, government, and civic officials, then made the customary official visits. Directly we dropped anchor swarms of newspaper reporters and camera fiends boarded us in dozens. Anywhere and everywhere our admiral went he was snapped his picture appearing in almost every paper published in New York. Diplomatically and to make as it were a general evolution of it, our admiral interviewed all the pressmen in his cabin, and gave them all necessary information. Delegates of the U.S. Navy League visited us shortly after arrival, and were much interested in our ship.
To the American eye, our dark drab war colour did not make as pretty a marine picture as their smart white painted ships, but they guessed? there was a very business like look about the British, and praised the seaman like manner in which the ships came up the river and took up their anchoring berths. The sincerity of the welcome to New York was everywhere apparent. The squadron felt at home-blood was thicker than water. The Army and Navy Club of the city of New York, and other clubs, over thirty in number, kindly extended the privileges of their club to the officers of the squadron during their stay in port. The St George?s Society and the Canadian Society, united, in honour of our admiral, captains, gave a banquet and officers, which took place in that magnificent hotel, the Waldorf Astoria. It was a most brilliant function, where seventy-six tables were laid with covers for 637 persons-naval military and diplomatic. From the two rows of boxes there looked down on the assemblage numerous beautiful and splendidly gowned ladies, the cream of American society. Prince Louis held a reception in the Myrtle Room of the hotel. Four of our burglars blew the officers mess call promptly at 8 p.m., when Prince Louis headed the procession to the dining room, escorted by Sir Percy Sanderson (the British Consul General) and Rear Admiral Coghlan, who was the chief representative of the American Navy in attendance.
At the main table Sir Percy Sanderson presided, with Prince Louis on his right hand and Admiral Coghlan on his left. Others at this table were Mr Joseph H Choate, Rear Admirals Sigsbee, Davis, and Dickens, U.S.N. Major General F. D. Grant, U.S.A., the Rev Dr Morgan Dix, and Sir Casper Purdon Clarke. There was one characteristically British touch to the dinner itself, consisting of ?stout barons? of beef, borne aloft on huge platters into the hall by waiters in procession, while the band played ?the Roast Beef of Old England.? The ices were huge effigies of President Roosevelt and King Edward, and also moulded to resemble the British Crown, and the Seal of the United States.
The speeches commenced about 11 p.m. Sir Percy Sanderson first read a cablegram sent by the societies of King Edward VII, congratulating him upon his birthday, and then a reply was read from His Majesty, felicitating those present on the occasion of the meeting of representatives of the two navies.
The toasts were drunk standing, first to President Roosevelt, and then to the King. Prince Louis then rose and the guests sang, ?For he?s a jolly good fellow.?
When I look upon this meeting (began our Admiral), at the banquet board of the representatives of our two Navies, I feel an almost inexpressible pride at the good fellowship displayed on behalf of myself our gratitude for the hearty manner in which we have been welcomed to your shores. I am confident that not even in England I may ay not in London itself-has a toast to the King been received with more hearty cordiality that it has been here tonight. My brother officers of the American Navy, words fail me to describe our feelings at the cordiality of your reception to us.
Admiral Coghlan responded to the second toast of the U.S. Navy, and spoke of the pleasure it gave him to see the British and Americans together, adding: -
We need no written treaty alliance. Our feeling of good fellowship is enough to perpetuate the good feeling between England and the United States.
We Choate spoke to the toast ?Perpetual Peace Between England and America,? adding, the King is a steadfast and true friends to America.
At 7 p.m. both fleets were illuminated till 11 p.m. We displayed the design ?E.R.,? surmounted with the Royal crown, between our masts, which was much admired. The long line of ships, some five miles long, laying phantom like on the river, presented a very striking appearance. The shore was everywhere crowded with sightseers.
On November 10th the Cunard Company kindly placed their wharf, No 52 Gansevoort Street, at our disposal, and Captain Watson came onboard and piloted us alongside. The wharf was gaily decorated, and the British ensign was displayed at each end of the shed.
All ships were thrown open to visitors during our stay.
While alongside the authorities joined us up by telephone to the exchange, which put us in communication with any part of the States, also with the ?Cornwall,? which ship lay in the river completely hidden from our view.
Again a score or more pressmen called on our admiral, who accorded them another interview, in which he said how he was professionally impressed with the American fleet, its appearance, the smartness of its officers, and the discipline of the men, evidence sufficient that the vessels are in the highest state of efficiency.
Prince Louis, accompanied by his staff, lunched with General Grant at Governor?s Island. The battery saluted him with 13 guns on landing.
Among the guests were General Horace Porter, Mr and Mrs Paul Morton, Perry Belmont, Senator John Kean and Mr and Mrs J Pierpont Morgan, Mrs Alfred Vanderbilt, Mr and Mrs Andrew Carnegie, and other notabilities. After luncheon a reception was held attended by all the officers stationed on the island, besides a host of others who had received invitations.
The admiral and staff also visited the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where Admiral and Mrs Coghlan gave another reception.
A visit afterwards paid to the Naval Young Men?s Christian Association building, where Miss Helen Gould, Mr and Mrs James Stokes, and Colonel Robert Thompson were among the visitors.
The W.O.?s of the U.S. Navy entertained the British W.O.?s to the maintee performance at the Hippodrome, and afterwards to a banquet at the Hotel Waldorf Astoria, where covers were laid for 170. The usual loyal toasts were proposed by Messrs Pate, Clancy and Coleman, and responded to by Messrs Hannock, Minter and Brister.
?Hands across the sea? was the spirit infused at the banquet at Delmonico?s by the U.S. Naval Alumni Association. Almost all the officers of both fleets were present in honour of Prince Louis Colonel Robert M. Thompson, toastmaster, occupied the centre seat at the guests table, having Prince Louis on his right and Captain Charles H Robertson, R.N. on his left. General Horace Porter occupied the place of honour next the Prince.
The principal toasts were rendered to the President and King Edward VII. At the close of the banquet, with hands clasped across their tables, the American and British officers sang ?auld Lang Syne.?
During the evening a telegram was received from Lord Charles Beresford at Malta: -
The British Mediterranean Fleet send greetings to the Naval Academy Alumni, and view with intense interest and sympathy the enthusiastic welcome accorded by the people of the United States and their Navy to Prince Louis of Battenberg and his comrades. Good luck-Beresford.
A brilliant Company accompanied our admiral up the beautiful Hudson River to West Point on the 11th. U.S. Army and Naval officers, their wives, captains and officers of our squadron, witnessed a football match between the Army and Carlisle Indians. Prince Louis pronounced the American game as (The nearest approach to war in time of peace.? He then inspected the cadets, and was greatly impressed by their appearance.
Prince Louis and staff and the captains were the guests at dinner of Mr and Mrs Robert M Thompson at their New York residence.
The ?Drake?s? Marines were hospitably entertained at dinner at the Caf?oulevard by the Marines of the ?Maine.? Toasts were drunk to President Roosevelt and King Edward.
Selected parties of petty officers, seamen and marines from the other ships were also similarly entertained elsewhere by the enlisted men of the U.S. Navy.
It would be quite impossible to record in one volume the number of functions etc, which took place during the visit. It was one continuous round of festivities-official, social and fraternal.
The announcement in the Press that the ?Drake? was open to the general public brought 20,000 forces to police having hard work to maintain proper order. To our American friends the ?Drake? was the ?crack cruiser of the British Navy.? Our improvised ball deck attracted more attention than anything else. We found out here the real meaning of ?souvenir,? for every screw, nut or small moveable was gone. Even the buttons were cut from the officer?s coats. Hundreds gave cap ribbons away. Our ship?s steward had been to America before, so he knew, and had stored a good supply to meet the demand.
Considerable interest was manifested in the Association football match, played at the American League Park between, represented by the Columbia University team, and England represented by an eleven from H.M.S. ?Bedford,? which match was witnessed by over 30,000 people. Columbia held their own in the first half, which ended in a tie at 1 to 1, but the Collegians seemed to tire in the second period, and the ?Bedfords? scored three goals, winning the game by the score of 4 goals to 1.
The officers of the squadron had presented to the St James Club, Montreal, a handsome picture of Trafalgar, to commemorate the squadron?s visit, and the club secretary wired here acknowledging its receipt, and expressing the appreciation of the members for the handsome and appropriate memento of the visit of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, under Prince Louis.
A number of engineer officers and others from the squadron received a special invitation to visit Messrs Jacobs and Davies (consulting engineers, of New York City), building tunnels under the North and East Rivers, and were very courteously received, and escorted over the works in progress.
While the ?Bedford? was thronged with visitors, a boy named George Quinlan fell overboard while getting alongside. A strong ebbtide running at the time, when O.S. Elias Henry Dymock instantly jumped overboard and rescued the lad just in the nick of time. The visitors gave hearty cheers for the plucky act of Dymock, who was regarded as quite a hero.
Sunday was a record day. Never since warships have anchored in the Hudson was there such a crowd anxious to go on board the war vessels. Every landing stage was crowded. The policemen had a rough time to keep the eager sightseers from pushing one another into the river (an assertion made by the ?New York Herald?). The visitors were counted coming onboard the ?Drake? this particular afternoon, and totalled 13,406. One daring curio hunter anxious for a souvenir, actually climbed our masthead and cut a small piece out of Prince Louis flag. (He deserved his prize!)
Miss Helen Gould (the Miss Weston of the American Navy) entertained 100 men from the squadron at the naval branch of the Y.M.C.A. at Sunda Street, Brooklyn. Automobiles met them on landing, and whirled them to Brooklyn. Miss Gould delivered an address of welcome. She said, ?she had always felt a deep interest in the men of the British Navy, and she was glad to greet them.? Miss Gould, who won the reverent respect of her visitors, held a social programme and reception.
Mr John R Drexel, his first unofficial function here, entertained Prince Louis and staff at luncheon. A select company to meet his distinguished guests had been invited and covers were laid for 24. A Hungarian band rendered selections during the lunch. Midshipman Prince Alexander, ?Berwick,? was present as houseguest, staying with Mrs Drexel since our arrival.
The admiral and staff dined with the Mayor of New York the same evening. Liberty men from the squadron, to the number of 1,700 landed taking advantage of the beautiful Sunday afternoon. They visited the many places of interest. The newspapers gave just praise for the manner in which our men behaved when on shore. Their conduct may be described as highly creditable to the British Navy, which most felt they were now representing. Our chaplain, the Rev W. Todd, had the unique pleasure this afternoon of performing the christening ceremony on the infant baby girl of Mr and Mrs John Chadwick. P.O. 1st class Albert Manns acted as godfather of the child, who was christened Lydia Louise Beatrice Chadwick. The rites took place in X1 casemate at the rear of the 6-in gun, which was draped with the Union Jack. The large silver challenge cup, belonging to B3 gun?s crew was utilised for the font. At the conclusion of the ceremony little Lydia was presented with a ?Drake?s? cap ribbon, which its proud mother tied round its arm. Tea was afterwards served, and Lieutenant Wakefield presented the baby with a huge christening cake. The sailors were much elated over this very rare ceremonial.
The Chamber of Commerce entertained at luncheon and to a reception Prince Louis and staff, and captains and the American admirals and officers. The rostrum was decorated with the American and British colours. Various speeches were made. Mr Jessop said in part:
To you, Prince Louis, our welcome is especially directed. We are glad to recognise in you the special representative of our friend, his Majesty King Edward VII. We feel grateful to your King because of the kindly and gracious courtesy received at his hands by the representatives of this Chamber, who went to London in 1901 at the invitation of the London Chamber of Commerce. We reciprocate on this occasion such greetings, believing that it tends to strengthen the ties that bind our people together.
Prince Louis, greeted with a storm of applause, bowed and delivered in his hesitating but magnetic manner the following address: -
Mr President and Gentlemen-When your distinguished representative in London, who succeeded our kind friend Mr Choate, made his first public speech in London, he summed up the condition of the relations between our two countries in a very happy phrase, which has lingered in my memory. He said to this effect: That the relations between England and the United states had now reached a stage at which it was perfectly unnecessary to talk about them, simply because the friendship was there; it was an undisputed fact; it had grown and it had come to stay. I have had ample opportunities of satisfying myself that the feeling on this side of the Atlantic in that respect is the same as it is on our side.
When I return after my cruise I shall have great pleasure in giving His Majesty an account of today?s proceedings, and especially of the beauty of this building, in which he takes a great interest. I think I may perhaps be permitted to mention the fact that only three days ago I received a letter from the King in which he said; ?You have now arrived in the United States, and I shall watch your proceedings with the utmost interest, and I am confident that there it will be a great success.?
The Coney Island dinner and entertainment, given by the enlisted men of the U.S. North Atlantic fleet to the petty officers, non commissioned officers and men of the British Second Cruiser Squadron was now held. Prince Louis, the American admirals, and captains of both squadrons, were also invited. The entire expenses of this gigantic function were defrayed entirely by the enlisted men, themselves, and organised by a committee selected from each ship, with Mr B Schumacher, signal quartermaster of the ?Maine,? as president.
Two large steamer gathered the men from both squadrons, which had already assembled onboard the ?Maine? and ?Alabama,? calling alongside the Cunard pier on the way down for our men, the total number being 1,200 British and 1,400 Americans.
About 6 p.m. the steamers were berthed alongside the Iron Pier. The men disembarked and marched up Surf Avenue in three battalions eight abreast, Britons and Americans side by side. Policemen formed the escort up to the big, brilliantly lighted banquet hall. The Avenue was all ablaze with red fire, and the entire winter population of Coney island thronged the sidewalks and cheered.
At 7 p.m. twenty boatswains mates piped with their shrill whistle ?Hands to Dinner.?
A great ovation was accorded to Prince Louis and Admiral Evans, U.S.N. as they entered; every man jumped up and let forth a yell of welcome. No sound-producing machine could produce such a clamour as came from those 2,600 sailors throats. The walls of the huge building thrilled and vibrated. The roar of welcome swept the admirals forward on a tide of delight, and they smiled their appreciation as they passed among the enthusiastic sailors there being no cessation in the outburst until all those at the Admirals table had filed in to their seats. Prince Louis sat at Admiral right hand, and Sir Percy Sanderson at his left. All the captains and principal officers of each fleet were present a total of 116. On Prince Louis plate was placed a small British flag, made of metal, inscribed: -
?Hope we will meet again. Coney Island November 13th 1905.?
The Prince gave Admiral Evans his souvenir, and Admiral Evans gave him a little American flag similarly marked in exchange.
The dinner had barely begun when Miss Gladys Scott, eight years old, carrying a garland of red and white blossoms, and followed by two smart pages, each carrying a big bunch of white and pink chrysanthemums, approached the chief table and presented her garland to Prince Louis, saying: - ?We are glad to welcome you to Coney Island.?
The Prince smiled at this charming little lady and said: - ?I thank you, my dear, for the pretty flowers and your kind welcome,? and then he stooped down and kissed her, at which pretty incident the sailors cheered-a rousing cheer. Gladys then gave the other bunch to admiral Evans, and welcomed him too; he also thanked her and kissed her on the deck. Meanwhile, the solid business of dining proceeded briskly. The jingling of 3,000 knives and forks implied that the menu was being gone through with appetising zest. A band in balcony played ?Rule, Britannia? and the overture ?America.?
Both admirals took beer with their dinner in democratic fashion, and entered fully into the spirit of the occasion. When they went up in the gallery, so that all the men could see them, the cheering seemed to rock the building like a ship in a gale. Prince Louis rose in his place, raised his glass aloft, and drank the health of the seamen of both Navies; Admiral Evans and all the officers rose and joined in the toast, and the cheering again broke fourth as a response. As the band played ?Auld Lang Syne? the words of that song came from thousands of throats. Then the band played the tune very softly, lights were lowered, and red fire was burned, and in the full glare stood two sailors-American and British facing each other and gripping hands. Then all the bluejackets followed suit, shook hands, drank each other?s health, and swore eternal friendship. The proceedings at this juncture were most impressive. As Prince Louis, Admiral Evans, and the officers rose to depart the band played ?The Star Spangled Banner? and ?Rule Britannia.? With their departure all formality ceased, and the entertainment as programmed then commenced.
The banquet was a complete success, thanks to its organisers; not one incident happened to mar the good fellowship, which prevailed throughout.
Accompanied by the American Admirals and a numerous company of naval and military officers, Prince Louis visited the Horse Show at Maddison Square Gardens, arriving there at 9.30 p.m. A brilliant assembly of the elite of New York had gathered there, among them being the President?s daughter, Miss Alice Roosevelt, who was with Colonel Thompson?s party. The place was handsomely festooned with British and American flags. From there the Admiral went onboard the ?Drake? to honour the warrant officers who were giving a ball in his flagship to their confreres in the U.S.N.
The improvised ball deck was housed in with a huge canvas marquee suspended from the hydraulic boat derrick, and lined inside with red and white striped bunting, its apex being a blue field backed by white electric lamps to resemble stars, forming together the ?Stars and Stripes of America.? Everything was prepared for the admiral?s grand state ball to be held the following evening. Thus the warrant officers had the honour of being the first to dance on the much talked of ball floor of the ?Drake.?
Dancing was continued from 8 p.m. till past midnight. The admiral honoured them with his presence for an hour or so, and danced with several American ladies, and wrote his name on each lady?s programme, over 300 in number. The dance was voted a great success.
The Admiral then proceeded to the Lambs Clubhouse and heartily enjoyed the gambol arranged in his honour by the Lambs, with whom he partook of supper.
November 14th-This morning the admiral made the following signal to Admiral Evans: -
May I ask you to convey to the enlisted men of the Fleet under your command, who were my hosts last night, how much I appreciate the unique compliment paid me in inviting me to an entertainment which was delightful in every way, and should better than anything else, show how deep the friendship is between the men before the mast in the two navies.
Our Admiral and staff were the guests of Mr and Mrs Charles B Alexander, at Tuxedo Park, travelling by way of Jersey City. He was met by a squad of police on landing and escorted to the special train in waiting at the Erie station.
A party of 60 officers from the squadron by special invitation visited the Babcock and Wilcox works, where every courtesy was shown them, and luncheon provided. The admiral returned from Tuxedo Park in time to make final preparations for the ball.
The first dance commenced at 10.30 p.m. and quite 1,200 guests were received by Prince Louis. It was brilliant and picturesque function, there being present the flower of beauty, fashion, talent, and wealth of New York.
On the 15th November the colliers commenced to arrive. All ships were given orders to take onboard sufficient coal to make a passage trip across the Atlantic to Gibraltar in the shortest time with the coal onboard. By noon, when the citizens flocked onboard, those who had seen the ball deck with its acme of decorative art were astonished, as nothing was now visible, the ship having assumed her appearance as a fighting ship, and preparing for coaling was in evidence. What a transformation!
A number of petty officers from the squadron were entertained onboard the ?Maine? by the petty officers, and light refreshments liberally served.
Sixty officers attended Mrs Whitbridge?s dance at her house in East 11th Street, given in honour of our visit, and which was thoroughly enjoyed by all who attended. In the evening the junior officers of the U.S.N. entertained the junior officers of the squadron at a theatre and supper. Several private dinner parties and entertainments were also given to the officers and men. The W.O.?s of the ?Maine? entertained our W.O.?s at an ?American Beef Steak Roast? in real good style.
The following letter was forwarded to the ?Maine? for conveyance to the United States fleet: -
From the petty officers, non commissioned officers and men of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to their cousins, the enlisted men of the United States fleet,-We desire to convey to you our most hearty thanks and appreciation of the charming, magnificent, and hospitable manner in which we were entertained by you on Monday evening, 13th November. It is with feelings of regret that we realise that our stay amongst you is so soon to terminate, and that the chances of returning are somewhat remote. To think of our visit to the American capital will always bring pleasure to us, our one fear being that when the time comes for the British Navy to have the pleasure of again your hosts, the majority of those who were your guests may not be there to show you the same good feeling and cordiality that has been extended to us, but though we may not be present in person, our good will and wishes for success will always accompany any endeavour to entertain you whilst in English waters.
Coaling ship commenced at 8 a.m., the 16th, but only some 60 men were employed to keep the coal shoots clear; the shore labourers who usually coal the Cunarders shovelled the coal onboard. In spite of the coal dust the citizens were not deterred from visiting, but flocked onboard by the thousand, and climbed up the rigging as before.
The midshipmen of the American Fleet took all the midshipmen and other junior officers of our squadron to the theatre, and a right high time they all had. Of Course!
Two men from the ?Essex,? which was fully commented on in the press, performed another heroic deed today. It appears that a boat was putting off to one of the ships under sail when the main boom knocked several overboard. Quickly the ?Essex? steam pinnace steamed to the rescue, and on arriving on the scene two of the crew jumped overboard, only in the nick of time to save some from a watery grave.
Rear-Admiral Evans had the following published in the ?New York City Journal? today:
Complimenting the enlisted men, both in the fleet under my command and the British visitors, for their good behaviour during the stay of the ships of the two nations in this port. It is my belief that never before in the history of any country had so large a body of sailor men been entertained in so thoroughly satisfactory manner. As far as the work of the Navy for the entertainment of the visitors is concerned, I think that we have shown to the people on shore that the orderly behaviour of 10,000 to 12,000 sailors on liberty each day of both fleets proves conclusively that the men of the sea are as well behaved under all circumstances as those on shore, and in many cases much better.
The above compliment from Admiral Evans is to the point, and was confirmed by all the senior officers from our squadron.
For two days the admiral sought rest from the ceremonials recently undergone, and was the guest of Colonel and Mrs John Astor, at their summer residence, Ferncliffe. We finished coaling early on the 17th, and everyone set to work to get the ship clean again. The visitors streamed onboard again at ten o?clock, caring nothing for coal dust and water. They wanted to see the sailors at work as well as at play, and the large force of police had much difficulty to limit the number coming onboard.
Prince Louis and several officers again visited the horse show. He also attended the dinner given in his honour by Mrs Astor. Covers were laid for seventy-nine, and among the guests was Miss Alice Roosevelt. The dinner was served on the famous Astor gold dinner service, and a reception was afterwards held in the magnificently appointed ballroom.
On leaving Mrs Astor?s, Prince Louis, accompanied by Mr Cornelius Vanderbilt, proceeded to the New York Yacht club, where a reception was given in honour of the British Squadron. There was a prolonged supper for about 200 in the billiard room. About 1 a.m. headed by the band, a general exodus was made to the famous ?model Room,? and after several short speeches the ?American Cup? was duly toasted and carried round the room by the President of the club.
The day of sailing as arranged was postponed from the 18th until the 20th, which news was welcomed by the squadron, as we were all anxious to have another Sunday in New York.
Very secretly, and contrary to the wishes of our officers a boxing match took place between Private Cockayne, R.M.L.I., ?Drake,? and Jack Reine, U.S.S. ?Iowa,? at Tom Sharkey?s Club, which was packed to excess. None however were allowed to enter unless possessed with a member?s ticket. Men from both fleets were present in great numbers, so evidently they had winded news of the fight. Millionaires were among those present; also all sorts and conditions of men known in New York sporting circles. At the first round it was seen that the Yankee was no match for his opponent, and in the third round the Marine completely knocked him out, and was then presented with a handsome silver cup. Naturally our men were pleased at the result, but were anxious that the fight should cause no ill feeling between the two fleets, so discreetly refrained from any form of jubilation.
The admiral and staff remained ashore all day on the 18th, and lunched with Mr and Mrs Edward J. Berwind, and afterwards visited the Hippodrome. He dined in the evening with Mr Auguste Belmont, and after dinner attended the performance of ?Her Great Match? at the Criterion theatre. At the public places visited Prince Louis received great ovations; as he entered the orchestra usually played ?God Save the King,? and entire audiences, some over 5,000 persons would rise and cheer; then the ?starspangled Banner? would be played, Prince Louis standing while these compliments were taking place. The American ?journal? published the following lines, which were written by Prince Louis at the Netherland Hotel: -
You ask me what I think of American hospitality? Well, in the first instance, the entertainments provided for us were like many other things in this country-on an unprecedented scale. Secondly, the methods employed were such as to make even the most formal affair thoroughly enjoyable.
The chaplain took some 30 of our boys over the city in a huge automobile, and then to the matinee at the Hippodrome, where a delightful time was spent. The youngsters never ceased talking about their outing, which had much impressed them.
On the 19th Sunday all ships received their sailing orders, and steam was ordered to be ready by 10 a.m. tomorrow. All day long every ship was crowded with visitors. Thousands thronged the riverside drive and the pier heads, waiting their chance to get onboard one or other of the ships of the two fleets. Fully 20,000 people passed through our ship today. Captain Halpin and 100 policemen were employed regulating the throng, which reached away for over 200 yards out in the street. The visitors had no compunction about handling our guns, for they opened the breeches and snapped the triggers in quite familiar style.
Prince Louis attended an evening performance at New York theatre, and as he entered the performance was suspended, the vast audience bursting forth into cheers, while the orchestra struck up ?God Save the King.? It was indeed such an ovation as is seldom witnessed in a New York theatre. The admiral, accompanied by a select party, then paid a visit to the notorious Chinatown and the Bowery the slumdom of New York. He was quickly recognised by the crowd as he entered ?Big Jerry?s? and ?Salter?s Dance Hall.? On leaving there the banjos, cornets, wheezy pianos, and a score of hoarse voices made fearful and wonderful discord of ?God Save the King.? Everywhere the Prince was most enthusiastically received. He had seen the extremes of life of New York City.
If anybody of men were overworked during our stay here it was the messmen and stewards and their staffs, for all day long they were busy providing luncheons, teas, dinners, etc, their time for sightseeing being very limited,. Nevertheless, they carried out their work satisfactorily and cheerily, for mainly to them were due the press statement that courtesy and hospitality were special features of a visit to a British man of war.
November 20th. Everyone was astir early this morning busily preparing to leave the American shores. The admiral was the last person who stepped onboard. He had been paying Rear Admiral Evans an official farewell visit onboard his flagship ?Maine? the Prince being lustily cheered as he left the American flagship.
The ships lying in the river had early unmoored, and at 10.30 a.m. we moved out from the Cunard wharf, assisted by two steam tugs. The privileged persons who were permitted on the wharf gave cheer after cheer as we departed. The squadron formed up astern of us in single line, two cables interval, and in this order we proceeded down river at fifteen knots, flying the Stars and Stripes at the top of our main wireless pole, while a salute of 21 guns was fired, which the ?Maine? and the battery on Governor?s Island returned. The river was crowded with ferry boats, yachts, steamboats, and motor boats of all descriptions, hooting and tooting parting salutations with their sirens and whistles making defending noises as if inferno was let loose, while the flags of vessels and shore establishments dipped their farewell greetings.
The crowds of people, which lined the waterfront enthusiastically, cheered and waved handkerchiefs as the squadron proceeded. From the windows of the sky scraping buildings cheers issued forth and emblems floated until the distance placed the hospitable shores of America far astern-the best recollections of the strenuous life being another bright page in one?s life history. England and America-two nations, but with one grand world ideal-Peace and Goodwill. The following farewell greeting was culled from the ?New York Herald? of the 20th November 1905: -
As we welcomed the coming, so ought we to speed the parting guests, though it will need new words to assure Rear Admiral Prince Louis of Battenberghow much it has gratified the citizens of this municipality to offer a friendly anchorage to the British 2nd Cruiser Squadron. The demands of entertainments have perhaps been a little too severe upon him and upon his officers and men, but they will, let us hope, forgive the strenuousness because of the sincerity that inspired it. Ship and crews have made a most favourable impression upon all sorts and conditions of men, and it is undoubted that such visits rend more to international harmony and to the maintenance of peace and goodwill than all the protocols and paper bullets of the brain that have ever been issued. The visit had, of course, no political significance, and happily in nearly all the speeches of welcome no incident occurred to put our guests or us in an embarrassing position. The ?Herald? hopes that this appearance of a friendly squadron in our waters will be the precursor of similar visits, not only from Great Britain, but also from the other sea powers of the world.
We sent the following wireless messages while steaming down the river to U.S.S. ?Maine?: -
To U.S.S. ?Maine?-The officers and men of the British squadron send their best greetings to that fine fleet so ably manned by their cousins, and look forward with intense pleasure to welcoming them in England next year.
Reply from U.S.S. ?Maine?: -
Thanks for your kind message of appreciation. Wish you a pleasant voyage, and our only regrets are that your stay was so short, as we could only give you a taste of what there would have been could you have remained with us longer.
From Prince Louis of Batternberg to President, White House, Washington: -
May I be permitted to express to you, Sir upon leaving these shores our most heartfelt thanks for the manner in which we have been received by you and the people over whom you rule, the memories of which none of us will ever forget.
It has been a particular pleasure to receive you and your squadron, accepting hearty good wishes for you personally and for the Sovereign of the people you represented.
To the Editors of the ?New York Times,? ?New York Sun,? and ?New Pork Press?: -
The Rear Admiral commanding, captains, officers, and men of the British squadron, now regretfully on its way back to Europe, desire to express, through the columns of your paper, their best cordial thanks to all those who by their hospitality have contributed towards making the stay of the squadron in American waters truly delightful.
The admiral then expressed to the squadron his satisfaction of their strict behaviour, which produced a very pleasing effect. Much comment in the American press, which had also been erroneously wired home, to the effect that nearly 2,000 men had deserted from the squadron, naturally caused alarm among the men?s parents.
Arrived off Sandy Hook at 1.30 p.m. when all ships were ordered to proceed to Gibraltar independently, making every endeavour to get there as soon as possible with the coal onboard. Thus started the memorable ocean race. Fine weather was predicted for our trip across. The stokers had stiff work before them, but were ably assisted by over 100 seamen from deck who were doing duty below (stoking is now part of a seaman?s training). Up to the evening of the 23rd all ships had kept well together, but the ?Cornwall? and ?Essex? gradually dropped behind, and by nightfall were both hull down.
On the 25th the ?Drake? was leading by about five miles, next came the ?Berwick,? ?Cumberland,? and ?Bedford,? in order mentioned, well astern. Nearly all deck hands were now at work in the bunkers. The excitement of being first was so great that 20 signal ratings volunteered for stoking, and down they went on Sunday morning, the 26th. Only the ?Berwick? was now in sight, the ?Drake? leading by a mile or so. So close was the race between these two ships that all midshipmen donned their coaling suits and worked hard below, shovelling coal for six hours without coming up. Sinister rumours went round that something had gone wrong with our port H.P. piston rod, as steam was now escaping and the revolutions of that engine were reduced. Our position with the ?Berwick? remained the same next day. This being our last day?s run more volunteers were required to work in the bunkers to convey the coal from the after bunkers to the foremost stokeholds, about 300 feet distant, and every man volunteered, leaving scarcely a boat?s crew remaining on deck.
About 6 p.m. our wireless operators got in touch with the ?New Zealand? at a distance of 96 miles, she being calm and starry, but no moon. For the supreme effort every officer from the Commander to the junior midshipman went below to assist, leaving only the Captain, navigating officer, and officer of the watch alone on the bridge. All were down in the bunkers doing the work of the ordinary stoker. No man in the shi could apparently rest until the ?Drake? reached her destination as first ship. If such enthusiasm was aroused to win a peaceful victory of steaming, what could be expected from such a crew in wartime?
The ?Berwick? nobly held on, with flame emitting from all her funnels she was creeping up upon the ?Drake? straining every nerve to wrest the laurels from us. It was next to real warfare, this ocean race, for highly important factors had to be considered-coal, endurance and execution of orders. Tarifa Point was abeam just after midnight on the 27th, our rival ship being now only eight cables astern. Only 19 more miles to run! Everyone, other than those working in the bowels of the ship, had their eyes on the ?Berwick.? If only the port engine could do its work like the starboard the ?Berwick? would not be within the limits of the horizon.
At 1.15 a.m. we signalled ?Ease speed and anchord as convenient,? and ten minutes later we let go three cables off the New Mole-the Ocean Race ended-3,327 miles in seven days, seven hours, ten minutes, averaging 18,504 knots per hour, beating all former records for men of war by an average speed of over half a knot per hour. The admiral signalled ?Well done, ?Berwick.? The ?Cumberland? was not far behind (she arrived two hours later). The ?Cornwall? arrived at 5.50 p.m. ?Bedford? 9.40 p.m. ?Essex? 11.30 p.m.
Next morning we went alongside the New Mole. Several of the Atlantic fleet were here; they were surprised at our early arrival, as we were not expected for another two days. General leave was granted to the squadron for their excellent work steaming across the Atlantic.
We commenced coaling at daylight, 29th taking in 920 tons, then waited for the collier then due from England, to complete our bunkers.
1st December-All ships dressed with flags and fired a royal salute in honour of the anniversary of the birthday of Her Majesty Queen Alexandra.
Re-commenced coaling early on the 3rd from the belated collier, just finishing before dark, taking onboard 1,200 tons at an average of 116 tons per hour.
Vice Admiral Mary?s sailing race for a handsome silver cup (presented by the admiral) was singularly enough, won by himself in his own galley. Eighteen boats competed. We only entered a cutter. Next day Rear Admiral Sir Berkley Milne presented a cup to be sailed for by midshipmen with service rig. Midshipman Willis, ?Hindustan,? won this cup.
A football match was played, Atlantic Fleet and Attached Cruisers vs 2nd Cruiser Squadron. This was the strongest team we had yet mustered, and we beat the Atlantic team easily. Result: 1 goal 3 tries (14 points) against 1 try (3 points).
Today we received official news that the 2nd Cruiser Squadron was not proceeding to England with the Atlantic fleet to give Christmas with the Atlantic fleet to give Christmas leave. Some were disappointed, while others were not.
The service rig handicap sailing race for the ?Rawson Cup? came off on the 6th; over 60 boats competed. A fresh breeze was blowing, and an excellent race gave the ?Commonwealth?s? cutter (sailed by Lieutenant Johnson) the cup.
H.E. the Governor paid Prince Louis an official visit during the forenoon, and received a salute of 17 guns.
Today our marines played in association match against the Royal Garrison Artillery, and defeated them by 3 goals to 1.
The ?Berwick? was docked in the new Queen Alexander Dock next day, being the first ship to enter it. The whole squadron was now placed out of routine for seven days, to make good all necessary defects etc, and draw stores, all ships having completed with coal.
Our Marines shooting team was defeated at North Front in a match against the Yorkshire Light Infantry, firing under Bisley conditions. The scores were 629 points, averaging 78.62; and 605, average 75.62. Colour Sergeant Beddow, ?Drake,? made 93 points out of a possible 105, the highest score of both teams.
Today, 8th our Marine football team played an association match against the ?King Edward VII.? Result: - Draw, 1-1, the latter team scoring their goal a minute before time. The officers of the Atlantic fleet and 2nd Cruiser Squadron also played a Rugby match against the Garrison. An exciting game, in the presence of a vast crowd, was played, though the strong wind then blowing made good football very difficult. Result: -Navy, 1 goal, 2 tries; Army, 1 goal.
The wardroom officers of the ?Essex? entertained Prince Louis and staff at dinner in the evening.
Today 9th the race took place for the Battenberg Cup, over a course one-mile straight. The race was rowed between the line of battleships moored at the buoys and our squadron lying at the Moles. Eleven boats completed, nine from the battle squadron and one boat each from the ?Drake? and ?Berwick?. From the start our midshipmen leaped ahead, and rowed excellently, gradually increasing their lead. On passing the ?Drake? the boat was cheered enthusiastically. Thus encouraged the mi9dshipmen spurted forward, and came in a good first, the New Zealand? second, and ?Majestic? third. All the crews (composed of subordinate officers) assembled on our quarterdeck, when the Princess Louis presented her husband?s cup to the ?Drake?s? midshipmen. The cup now adorns the gun room table, and is much prized trophy.
At daylight, the 12th, the Atlantic fleet sailed for England to give Christmas leave; as they left the harbour the bands played ?Home sweet Home,? and Vice Admiral May signalled: -
The admiral wishes you all goodness for Christmas Day and the New Year. From the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to admiral, captain, officers, and men. We thank admiral for kind message and wish all a merry Christmas and good time at home.
Shortly afterwards we made fast to the buoy vacated by the ?King Edward VII.? Wireless telegraph experiments were successfully carried out between the ?Drake? and ?Hindustan? on her passage home. Messages were received to upwards for 260 miles. Coaling and defects of the squadron were being preceded with the ships being docked as arranged.
The admiral Superintendent (Rear Admiral Sir E. Chichester) congratulated the ?Berwick? on her splendid coaling performance, this ship having taken in 1,400 tons at the rate of 155 tons an hour. The W.O.?s of the squadron presented Mr Neal, W.R. mess man of the ?Drake? with a handsome silver cigarette case as an appreciation of the able manner in which he catered for their dance at New York, and to Mr Riseam, bandmaster, a silver card case was given for the splendid dance programme he arranged.
Now that the battle fleet has departed it is more pleasant here for the men on shore, not so congested. Special leave men land daily. A number of officers of the squadron have their wives here, also a number of petty officers, thus making their Christmas time as pleasant as possible. The weather is now beautiful.
During breakfast on the 16th the fire bell suddenly rang out. The ?still? was quickly sounded, and the fire was located down below aft. Smoke and smell was profuse, but it was some time before the actual cause was discovered, which turned out to be the electric ventilating motor in the after 9.2 space. Owing to the proximity of the magazines and shell rooms the location of the fire caused some anxiety; the danger, however, was soon dispelled.
This afternoon a football match between the officers of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron versus Garrison on the North Front was played. The Garrison had already beaten the Atlantic Fleet, and fully expected to win this match, but the cruisers put forth best efforts and won by 11 points to 5.
During our stay here the squadron was constantly exercised at general drills, in accordance with the routine. It must not be assumed that because sporting and pleasure events are chronicled that the practical or professional part of our naval duties were allowed to lapse, or only perfunctorily carried out, for such ideas would be quickly dispelled of our daily life onboard was only generally described. Gunnery, of course, was predominant, but general efficiency was aimed at, and the ?Drake? was never a bad second at most evolutions, and was often found taking first place.
The engine room ratings of the squadron are being trained for on week in steaming the reserve torpedo boats to be familiarised with the intricate machinery of those small crafts. The midshipmen also went out in them for instructional purposes.
Prince George, naval cadet, son of the admiral, arrived here to spend the Christmas vacation with his parents.
The officers of the ?Drake? and ?Berwick,? combined, played Rugby match against the Eastern Telegraph Company?s team, which strong team won by one try to nil.
The royal Marines rifle Association fleets and squadrons competition for the R.M.R.A.?s silver badge and one guinea prize was fired for by the 2nd Cruiser Squadron at ranges of 200, 500, and 600 yards; Bisley targets and marking. It was unfavourable weather for good rifle shooting, and the averages were rather low. Eighty competed and colour Sergeant Beddow, R.M.A. ?Drake,? won the jewel and money prize with a score of 90 out of a possible 105. Lieutenant Gillespie, R.M., ?Berwick,? was second best with a score of 79, and won the bronze jewel. Lieutenant Gillespie, Lieutenant Rutledge, and Private lott tied with 79 points each, but Lieutenant Gillespie won on the fewest outers scored.
21st December-Leave was granted to caterers of messes, with their assistants, to go on shore to purchase the Christmas fare. It was indeed an amusing sight in the streets of Gibraltar to see bluejackets and Amrines struggling down to the boat laden with poultry, bags of fruit, new potatoes and almost every known kind of edible. Other, in a less working frame of mind, hired donkeys an loaded them up, then mounted themselves on the after part of the donkeys (the quarterdeck!) and took command, while the donkey boy kept tickling up the animal from behind to obtain the desired speed. The Spaniards from Lenea did a brisk trade with turkeys, flocks of them being driven in daily. Bartering takes place in the open streets, and the birds were purchased alive at very reasonable prices.
A combined team of officers and men from the ships present played an association match against the Duke of Cornwall?s Light Infantry. A strong Levanter was blowing across the ground, which rather spoilt the play. Result-a draw. The Navy forwards played a very quick game, and they nearly scored on several occasions. In the evening Rear Admiral Sir Berkley Milne, and the captain and officers of the ?Victorious? gave a very successful dance onboard, and invited the officers from each ship in port. The ship was gaily decorated and well illuminated.
The training cruiser ?Hawke? arrived on the 23rd, and on anchoring the bum boatmen were quickly alongside her, selling fruit, etc, to the boys, who were eager purchasers and evidently pleased, like all boys, with their first foreign trip.
The new Governor of Algeciras, H.E. General Don Juan Hermandez Y. Ferrer, came across from Algeciras at noon today and paid official calls on the Governor, and visited Rear Admiral Sir E Chichester, in the ?Berwick?; Rear admiral Sir Berkley Milne. ?Victorious?; and Rear admiral Prince Louis of Battenberg, ?Drake? H.E. received a salute of 17 guns on leaving each ship. The usual guards of honour were paraded, and the bands played the Spanish national anthem.
The ships company were busy all day on the 24th preparing their Christmas fare and rigging up their decorations. Boatloads of evergreens were brought off to the ship to add the necessary Yuletide appearance. All the flags n the ship was at the disposal of the men. On Christmas Eve the ship?s cook and his staff, with plenty of able assistants, were kept busy all night boiling puddings and baking pastries.
Christmas Day-Today was our first Christmas together in the ?Drake,? and was a very happy one, such as is kept green in one?s memory. Every mess had an abundance of all the good things. Besides what had been purchased by the mess caterers the bumboatman had given 12,000 pieces of fruit to the men for a Christmas box, and the canteen (the Junior Army and Navy Stores) supplied the ingredients of a good Christmas pudding, also a pint of beer and a bottle of lemonade per man.
Roast beef was entirely omitted from the Christmas bill of fare, as the sailors have this very much British diet all the year round. As daylight broke we displayed the following signal, which was kept flying all day: -
?A very happy Christmas to you and all your friends-From H.M.S. Drake.?
All ships replied, thanking the admiral for his kind wishes. During the night large bunches of evergreens had been placed at the mastheads and yard arms of all ship. This Christmas Day at Gibraltar was a mild day-not the old-fashioned English Christmas, with its hard frosty or snowy day as depicted in Christmas stories. As the colours were hoisted and the National Anthem played, which re-echoed over the peaceful bay, our admiral again wished the captains, officers, and ships companies of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron a very Happy Christmas.
Divine Service was, as usual, held on the quarterdeck. The admiral, with the Princess and family, with several other visitors were present at the service. At noon a procession was formed, headed by the Princess, and a tour round the mess deck was made, while the band kept playing the tune. ?The Roast Beef of Old England,? etc. The deck was splendidly decorated with flags, evergreens and coloured art papers, while the usually straight mess tables were now bending with the weight of Turkeys, hams, puddings, etc, with which were intermingled souvenirs, photos, etc. The silver challenge loading cup, shooting cups, boxing cups, and other trophies were conspicuously placed, and all admiral Lord Nelson?s pictures, which our captain had presented to every mess on centenary day, were hung together, forming round, as a sort of escort, the photographs of the British King and Queen who were reigning 100 years after the death of the hero of Trafalgar. Views of Halifax, New York, and other ports visited during the year helped to recall pleasant memories, besides adorning the mess decks.
The caterer of the mess took up his position at the end of the table, holding out a huge plate of neatly cut pieces of pudding and cake, requesting each officer and visitor to partake, and at the same time tendering the seamen?s greetings. Princess Louis very good naturedly took apiece from each plate, and graciously wished each individual a very merry Christmas. (If the old adage proves true-?For every pudding tasted a happy month in store?-then everyone who joined in that procession will have a happy life.) Cheers loud and long were given for our admiral and his charming wife, the Princess. The Signalmen?s Mess and No 36 Mess both fired a salute of 13 guns as the admiral passed, which little incident was an agreeable surprise. Invidious comparisons are sometimes odious, but the writer may be excused of partially in expressing the opinion that the stokers foremost mess deck was the best decorated. They proudly exhibited their massive silver cup (presented to them for maintaining 30,000 horse power at the last full power trial). The sick went not forgotten, for on reaching the sick bay the Prince and Princess spoke a few cheering and seasonable words to each patient. The Princess, with her noted thoughtfulness, had already visited the Royal Naval hospital, and gave each patient a handsome Christmas box and wished him or her all a speedy recovery. Only those with hospital experience can appreciate such kindly action.
Dinner was piped at noon by all the boatswains? mates, led by the boatswain of the ship, when all sat down and did justice to the viands before rising again. The remainder of the day was spent very merrily. Up to pipe down, 10 p.m. dancing and singing were continued with much gusto to the music of the ship?s piano and a cornet. General leave was granted to those who wished to go on shore, but very few, preferred to remain onboard and share in the sport.
Christmas Day of 1905 was a memorable day in the ship?s history. Next day we were preparing for a trip with the Princess and suite, and left at 9 a.m. on the 27th bound for Cadiz. The weather was squally and wet, and after we had rounded Cape Tarifa the admiral decided to turn back, as landing at Cadiz would be very difficult, so we dropped anchor in Algeciras Bay and saluted the Spanish flag with 21 guns.
That evening the warrant officers were invited to dinner in the wardroom and afterwards to a small dance on the quarterdeck.
Weighed anchor next morning at 7 a.m. and proceeded to Malaga, arriving there at noon. The admiral and Princess and suite went for a trip to a Granada and Seville. Leave was given, and a good many went ashore to view the sights of the ancient Spanish town. The weather was now splendid, with a warm sun shining. For two days we lay peacefully at anchor.
On Sunday 31st, numbers of visitors came onboard and looked round the ship, some evidently delighted and others much impressed with all they saw. The ladies were bewitchingly dressed in their picturesque of brilliant colours, with the orthodox over the head. The Admiral and Princess returned in the evening and dined in the wardroom as the guests of the wardroom officers.
The ship?s company had the piano upon the deck till midnight, and special permission for dancing and singing till 2 a.m. was given to merrily usher the New Year in. The New Year?s promotions were received onboard, and our first Lieutenant (John E. Cameron) was heartily congratulated upon receiving his promotion to the rank of commander.
1st January 1906-We left at 8 a.m. and arrived at Gibraltar two hours later,. Special leave was granted, and numbers of men made their way to the racecourse at north Front to witness the races.
Before landing the Princess presented colour Sergeant Beddow, R.M.A., with the 2nnd Cruiser Squadron jewel and prize which he won last week.
At 8 a.m. on the 3rd the admiral signalled the joyful news that the squadron would leave for England on the 11th inst, to give 10 days leave to each watch, the ?Berwick? remaining behind to finish her refit and paying off after the manoeuvres in February. As soon as the above information was circulated, the ship?s company being at breakfast, a general cheer went up, and bright faces were in evidence everywhere. England, Home and Beauty! The officers and men who had their wives at Gibraltar were making haste to book them passages home in the first homeward bound steamer.
The ?Euraylis? (late flagship of the Australian station) arrived, homeward bound, flying the flag of Admiral Sir A. D. Fanshawe, K.C.B. The ?encounter? arrived a little later, outward bound, to Australia.
The ship?s company had their so-called ball this evening the 4th. The ball deck decorations and illuminating gear were practically finished for the official ball on the 5th, and the crew were permitted to use the place for their function. Dancing took place from 8 to 10.30 p.m. the band playing alternately with the piano. Private Doughty, R.M.L.I., was pianist. In order to protect the floor from possible damage, they either had to dance with socks over their ordinary boots or use dancing shoes. Some really good fun was witnessed, for of course this impromptu dance was to get the deck into good form for tomorrow night.
Next evening, 5th from 9 p.m. onwards the squadron?s picket boats brought off a continual stream of guests, who were received by the Princess Louis of Battenberg and Captain Mark Kerr (the admiral was unfortunately unable to be present through indisposition). With but little difference the ball floor deck, tent, illuminations, etc, was similarly rigged as at New York. The various trophies made of sword bayonets were brilliantly illuminated with red and white lamps, which had a pleasing effect, and the numerous shooting and rowing trophies were also effectively displayed. Invitations were issued to the admirals, captains, ward room and gun room officers of all ships present, the military officers of the garrison with their ladies, and the principal civil residents-to the number of about 500. those who had not seen the ?Drake? ballroom before expressed their astonishment that it was possible to create such a marvel of workmanship. The casemates were now well appointed refreshment bars, and the wardroom and admiral?s cabin were used as supper rooms. The dance programme of 22 pieces was ably rendered by the ?Drake?s? band, under Bandmaster Riseam. It was 2.30 a.m. when the last dance was finished.
Early next morning a quick evolution was made of unrigging and replacing all the ball gear, and by 8 a.m. the ship was in trim again, with no traces visible of a ball having taken place, and man of war routine had displaced revelry.
On Monday 8th, the handicap Sailing Race for a handsome silver cup (presented by Prince Louis) took place. This race should have been sailed at Halifax, but owing to the gunlayers competition and the bad weather it was then indefinitely postponed. Eighteen boats competed for the trophy.
A strong, fresh breeze was blowing; too much sea on for rigs and whalers. The course was almost a triangular one. A small entrance fee was charged to make up three money prizes for the crews. The fortunate winner of the cup was Commander charles R.N. Burne, ?Berwick,? in the second barge; Lieutenant Sidney F. S. Rotch, ?Berwick,? came in a close second in a cutter; and commander John E. Cameron, ?Drake? (recently promoted), came in third, also in a cutter.
Prince and Princess Louis and family were onboard the ?Drake? and witnessed the race, the Princess afterwards presenting Commander Burne with the cup, and congratulated him on his success.
Our stay at Gibraltar was nearing its conclusion. Numbers of men went ashore in the afternoon to make purchases of scent, cigars, curios, etc, to take home. Merry making to the strains of the piano was kept going after tea till all hands were piped to turn in at 10 p.m. Quite a number of men have joined the dancing classes, and nightly take part in this healthy and amusing exercise.
The embarkation of sick men, invalids, etc, from the Royal Naval Hospital for conveyance to England took place. Two ponies were also embarked and placed in snug stalls between the funnel casings. The bluejackets soon made them feel happy in their conditions, giving them a kindly stroke down and a pat on the head, which the animals seemed to enjoy.
Early on the 11th, almost before it was properly daylight, the squadron (except the ?Berwick?) slipped from their moorings, formed up outside, and proceeded at 15 knots. The ?eesex? was told off to escort home the destroyers ?Cherwell,? ?Foyle,? ?Fawn,? ?Cyntha,? ?Cygnet,? and ?Coquette.? She had a very onerous task imposed on her, and had to call in at Ferrol for the little crafts to fill up with coal.
During the forenoon we passed the Third Division of the Second Squadron of the American North Atlantic Fleet, consisting of the flagship ?Brooklyn? (Rear Admiral Sigsbee) and the cruisers ?Chattanooga,? ?Tacoma,? and ?Galveston,? on a cruise up the Mediterranean, then bound for Gibraltar. Salutes of 13 guns were exchanged.
Early in the morning we were aware they were somewhere about, as our wireless operators had intercepted some of their signals.
On clearing the Straits we encountered a nasty head sea, and as we rounded Cape St Vincent it was worse, and we shipped several nasty seas. Speed was reduced to 12 knots until 7 a.m. on the 12th, when the admiral exercised the squadron at manoeuvres up to noon, and on ceasing increased the speed to 18 knots to make up for lost time. That night we passed the battleships ?Swiftsure? and ?glory? going south to join the Channel fleet.
We entered the Bay at 11 p.m. weather exceptionally fine, but did not last long, for a strong S.W. wind sprang up and heavy rollers dashed against our port quarter, causing us to roll 20 degrees. ?Rolling Home to merry England,? says the song, and most aptly did it describe the action of the ships of the squadron. We got abeam of Ushant at 9.10 p.m. on the 13th, when our course was altered up Channel, the ships dispersing to their home ports, the ?Cornwall? for Plymouth, ?Cumberland? and ?Bedford? for Sheerness.
Our trip up Channel was equally as bad as in the Bay. The rollers chased us, and naturally the weather was much colder. We anchored at Spithead at 10 a.m. on the 14th (Sunday), and received orders to come up harbour at 2.30 p.m. next day. Liberty landed till usual time next morning, all pleased with the prospect of seeing their friends after an absence of over ten months.
Next day we went up harbour and swecured to the south slip jetty. Officers and men then went on their leave, and at 9 p.m. we struck the Admiral?s flag, Prince Louis having gone on brief leave of absence.
During the period of leave giving there was little to record.
On the 21st the Atlantic Battle Fleet assembled at Portland preparatory for the manoeuvres.
Dymock, ordinary seaman, ?Bedford,? was presented on arrival home with the Royal Humane Society?s bronze medal for saving life in the Hudson river, New York, which incident has been chronicled.
The 22nd being the fifth anniversary of the death of Queen Victoria and of the accession of King Edward, all ships in port dressed overall with flags, and at noon a royal salute of 21 guns was fired.
Stoker Norkett, who accidentally lost three of his toes in the picket boat last July, just before we sailed for Canada, and was afterwards invalided from the Service, was presented with the handsome subscription, raised in the ship, of ?50 3s 10d. The unfortunate man sent a letter today thanking his shipmates for their kindly help.
Another shipmate, Private E. Lunnon, R.M.L.I. died at Haslar hospital yesterday after a brief illness, and was buried on the 22nd with full naval honours. Several beautiful wreaths from the ship?s company were placed on his coffin, the one from his late messmates being very conspicuous.
That evening the First Watch returned from their leave, and next morning the other watch departed for their ten days. The general renovating of below decks, etc, was continued.
January 30th-Today all Europe mourns the death of the aged King Christian IX of Denmark, who died yesterday, but except amongst his own people nowhere is the loss more deeply felt than in Great Britain. He was the farther of our beloved Queen Alexander, and her sorrow is the nations sorrow. The Danish Ensign was hoisted at half-mast at the main of every ship, the national colours were flown half-mast at the staffs, and officers wore the crape mourning on their arm while the bands received orders to cease playing for seven days.
The general election occurred during our stay home-the only noteworthy incident during our stay. In Portsmouth enthusiasms was mingled with excitement. Politics usually do not mean much to Servicemen, although many are Parliamentary voters, but on this occasion apathy was turned into activity. Me Fred Jane failed to capture a seat in Portsmouth as a naval representative in the interests of his Majesty?s Navy; perhaps better luck awaits him at the next contest!
On the 5th February the tugs took us alongside the C7 new coaling depot, and coaling began with one watch onboard only, and 900 tons were shipped by 7 p.m. The second watch returned off leave early next day and joined in the tray, when with their assistance it was all onboard by 4 p.m.-1,750 tons.
Official orders were now received that we were to take part in the general manoeuvres off Lagos, having four days more to say ?Au revoir? to our friends, clean the ship, and get ready for sea. After coaling we again berthed alongside the dockyard.
About 40 naval cadets, including Prince George of Battenberg, were brought over from Osbourne College in our picket boat and shown over the ship; before returnbing they had tea in the admiral?s cabin.
At noon next day the admiral returned onboard to duty, and his flag was rehoisted. The ships companies of the squadron purchased a very handsome silver gilt cup by subscription, for presentation to the North Atlantic fleet (United States Navy) in recognition of the reception accorded by them to the squadron during the recent visit to the States.
On the reverse side the American and British Ensigns are crossed. The Cup was sent to each ship of the squadron for the men to inspect before being forwarded to America. The cup is intended as a trophy for competitive boat racing, or for shooting.
The ?Cornwall,? ?Cumberland,? and ?Bedford? arrived at Spithead on the 7th to join the ?Drake.? The ?Essex?s? orders to pay off and commission the ?Duke of Edinburgh? were cancelled, and she will now take part in the manoeuvres, going home directly afterwards.
The petty officers have not forgotten the hospitality they received while the ship was at Lisbon, for today large water coloured picture of H.M.S. ?Drake,? mounted in a very handsome gilt frame, was on view on the upper deck.
The Lords of the admiralty arrived from London in order to be present at the launch of the ?Dreadnought.? H.M. the King also arrived and took up his quarters onboard the Royal yacht ?Victoria and Albert,? lying close to the ?Drake? at the South Railway jetty.
Prince Louis dined with His Majesty on the evening he arrived, and the men?s presentation cup to the American North Atlantic Squadron was taken onboard for his inspection.
At 8 a.m., 10th we proceeded out of harbour and adjusted compasses in stokes Bay, then anchored at Spithead, much disappointed at not viewing the launching of the largest battleship in the world. The morning was miserably wet and cold, the wind blowing half a gale. All ships dressed with masthead flags, and at 11.30 a.m. H.M.S. ?Dreadnought? was successfully launched by the King in the presence of a distinguished assembly and thousands of spectators.
Portsmouth Dockyard and the nation have good reason for gratification, as the ?Dreadnought? is a triumph of engineering skill, and embodies in her construction all the important lessons derived from the Russo Japanese war. His Majesty afterwards visited our little squadron, which was a great honour, for the ships were then lying at Spithead. He passed through the squadron in the royal yacht in very boisterous weather, the south gale cone flying at the semaphore station in the dockyard.
We proceeded down Channel after His Majesty?s departure to take part in the tactical manoeuvres with the combined Channel, Mediterranean, and Atlantic fleets, using Lagos as the base of operations, the exercises to terminate on the 1st of March.
The passage down was very stormy, with a strong head wind, all ships pitching heavily the sort of movement to foster mal-de-mer, especially after a spell in harbour.
Next morning (Sunday) our wireless telegraphy pole, some 50 feet long, erected on the main topmast, snapped off in two places, and came rattling down with all the paraphernalia attached thereto. It was tedious work clearing away the wreckage. The carpenter?s staff cheerily set to work and made a new one. All day long we shipped huge seas over the waist, one finding its way down the engine room (strange for the engine room staff to get wet through with green seas when on duty below!). There was not a dry spot on either the upper or main decks.
Abreast of Ushant we passed a Russian Volunteer cruiser making for home; she promptly saluted our Admiral with 13 guns, and we returned the salute. Various evolutions of the crews, and tactics by the squadron, were performed during the passage in readiness for joining up with the combined fleet. Experiments were also carried out at taking range from the same positions as if the ship was in action, the 2nd division of ships and closing for this purpose.
At noon of the 13th we separated to carry out wireless telegraphy experiments, in accordance with admiral Sir A. K. Wilson?s instructions.
The ?Cornwall? picked up the ?Berwick,? then on her way from Gibraltar to join the squadron, and signalled her the instructions to follow. The ships were spread out at varying distances from 40 to 50 miles apart, cruisers in the centre, with a division of battleships each end, carrying out confidential experiments-the first thorough practical test to which wireless telegraphy has been put in the naval service.
On the 16th all ships close to within eight or ten miles apart, and both visual signalling and wireless were rigidly tested. At 8 p.m. ships were ordered to form up in line during the night, and it was 2 a.m. next morning when our squadron got into station off the starboard beam of the Atlantic Battle Fleet, steering for Lagos Bay.
Next morning, 17th all ships had rejoined and were in their correct stations, making seven lines of warships, viz, four of battleships and three of first class cruisers. Commanding squadrons in these manoeuvres were two admirals two vice admirals, and four rear admirals, whilst the personnel (officers and men) exceeded 40,000. Such a combination of war strength presented a striking spectacle of England?s sea power, as 31 first class battleships, 16 first class cruisers, and five scouts steamed into the open bay of Lagos under the supreme command of Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C., whose flag was flying in the ?Exmouth.?
The ?Pathfinder,? then anchored in Lagos, reported by wireless that His Majesty the King of Portugal was present in his yacht ?Amelia, flying the Royal Standard of Portugal, accompanied by the cruiser ?Don Carlos.? The ships were then dressed with the Portuguese flag flying at the main, and on anchoring the whole fleet thundered out a Royal Salute of 21 guns, while the ships band played the Portuguese National Anthem; the King viewing with interest the approach of Britain?s magnificent fleet.
The flag officers subsequently paid their respects to His Majesty.
Mooring ship was a keen competition, the ?Drake? being fifth in order of merit.
The ?Essex? rejoined some two hours before we anchored, making our squadron of six complete.
Midshipman Prince Alexander of Battenberg, late of the ?Berwick,? took up his appointment in the ?Drake,? and joined our gunroom mess this afternoon.
Our barge unfortunately came to grief this evening after dark (or at least two days fresh provisions did!), for a while returning from the provision steamer two picket boats ran into her and almost sank her; a few quarters of beef were lost and all the fresh bread spoilt.
The next day was Sunday, which was quietly spent in the customary naval manner.
Monday forenoon, 19th was devoted to general competitive drills. The British sailor revels in competition for there is something to work in trying to be first ship. Who cannot recall the eagerness with which he was awaited, often, anxiously, for the signal from the flagship? The boatswain?s mate?s shrill whistles and their hoarse shouts of ?Out bower anchor? set a mass of humanity in motion hurrying off to their station or boat, all bent on seeing their own ship break the finishing pendant first. The 10 ton anchor and some two or three tons of chain cable has been placed into the launch and towed to the flagship or let go some 50 or 60 yards clear of the ship. Time-a few minutes and seconds only will decide which ship is first. The ?Drake? was, on this general drill day, fifth ship, taking 13 min 50 secs to get out and let go sheet anchor. ?Clear ship for action? followed and was quickly performed. Anchors were replaced and quarterdeck awnings spread when the finishing pendant hoisted in the flagship indicated drills had ceased.
In the afternoon a sailing regatta took place (service rig). Boats started in classes, and 194 boats completed. The course was almost a triangular one of 4 ? miles, twice round. It was an unique sight to see the whole bay dotted with little sailing crafts. The wind was fresh at first, but gradually lulled, and most of the boats gave up the race and returned to their ships, the crews wet to the skin. The ?Venerable?s? whaler came in first; ?Canopus? galley second; ?New Zealand? galley third. During the race all the flag officers had assembled onboard the ?King Edward VII.? And discussed the coming strategically exercises.
That evening our wardroom officers dined the wardroom officers of the ?Leviathan? (flagship, 3rd Cruiser Squadron).
The 6-inch loading tray practice has again come into favour. All guns crews are voluntarily putting in drills during the dogwatches.
All the admirals and captains met onboard the flagship on the 20th, no doubt to discuss the several problems they will have to face within the next few days.
The Mediterranean Battle Fleet, Atlantic Battle Fleet, the 2nd and 3rd Cruiser Squadrons, and the ?Arrogant,? ?Amethyst? and ?Pathfinder? unmoored at 4 p.m. and proceeded to sea under the command of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford in the ?Bulwark.? It was truly a grand sight as the four lines preceded, two of battleships and two of cruisers, inverting the column to allow the flagship to lead. On clearing the bay we separated, steaming in certain directions in accordance with the plan for carrying out these confidential exercises.
The ?Arrogant,? ?Amethyst? and ?Pathfinder? were temporarily attached to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, and the ?Cumberland? was lent to the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Hon H Lambton.
In the evening our captain gave a lecture to the officers, explaining the general idea of these strategically exercises.
The Channel Fleet and 1st Cruiser Squadron, commanded by admiral Sir A.K. Wilson, which leaves Lagos at 2 p.m. tomorrow, are to endeavour to prevent the Mediterranean and Atlantic fleets from uniting.
At 10 p.m. war was declared. Our squadron and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron were employed on patrol duty searching for the enemy. All lights in the ship, which could in anyway reflect outboard were extinguished, except the ordinary navigation lights. A vigilant look out kept all night, and at daylight some of the cruisers got in touch with the enemy. We also sighted some of them during the afternoon, and the ?Cornwall? and ?Berwick? gave chase, which resulted in the capture of one of the enemy?s first-class armoured cruisers.
Later we sighted the whole of Admiral Wilson?s battle fleet, and as we were getting dangerously close, we cleared off and joined up with admiral Beresford, while the Channel Fleet (the enemy) was following behind. At 7 p.m. this ?exercise? was considered as finished, and both fleets steamed along quietly during the night for Lagos Bay again.
The ?Cornwall,? ?Berwick,? ?Essex,? and ?Cumberland? were sent to Gibraltar to fill up with coal.
Early on the 23rd all ships had rejoined and formed up in anchoring formation, anchoring at 5 p.m. The Atlantic Battle Fleet was already here to anchor. During the two days operations the ?Good Hope? unfortunately ran down and sank a Portuguese barque, but saved all the crew except one.
A private rig sailing regatta was held this afternoon, 24th, when about 90 boats completed, and almost every flag officer and captain sailed a boat. A stiff northerly breeze was blowing off the shore, but during the race it lessened considerably. The ?New Zealand?s? galley, sailed by her captain, came in first; ?Suffolk?s? cutter second, and the ?King Edward VII?s? gig third.
As eight bells was struck on Sunday morning, 25th the ?Berwick? let fly her paying off pennant. Most of her crew has assembled on the forecastle to witness this long hoped for event.
In the evening Prince Louis had all the captains of the squadron to dine with him.
Next day at daylight the ?Cornwall,? ?Essex? and ?Cumberland? rejoined from Gibraltar, their absence from the fleet being under ?war conditions,? i.e., to coal both day and night and rejoin with all despatch.
?B? Fleet, consisting of the Mediterranean battleships (less ?Bulwark?) and the 3rd Cruiser Squadron, under the command of Rear Admiral Hon H Lambton, proceeded to sea at 10 a.m. on the 26th.
?A? Fleet, consisting of the Atlantic battleships (less ?King Edward VII.?) the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, and the ?Arrogant,? ?Amethyst? and ?Pathfinder,? temporarily attached, and ?C? fleet, consisting of the Channel battleships (less ?Exmouth?) and 1st cruiser Squadron, all under the command of Vice Admiral the Hon Sir A. G. Curzon Howe, in the ?Caesar,? proceeded to sea at 2p.m. to take part in the various strategically exercises against ?B? Fleet; thus leaving the three Commanders in Chief in their flagships behind in Lagos Bay, and giving the second senior officer the command. Previous to leaving Admiral Prince Louis held a conference in his cabin with all his captains. Outside the bay the squadrons soon separated, and proceeded to carry out their allotted duties. The weather was now splendid and sea calm-a contrast to the English climate of this month of the year.
The results of the annual gun practices for 1905 was now posted up for general information; the ?Drake?s? position being as here given. For battle practice, 68 ships competing, the 14th place in order in merit; heavy gun layers test 99 ships competing, 16th in order to merit; for 12 pounders the 5th place; but we did bad shooting with our 3 pounders, being fourth ship from the bottom. Better results are expected for 1900, as the deflection teacher is seldom still; gun layers, trainers, and sight setters are under constant instruction; while all guns crews exercise at the loading tray each evening, trying to establish a record.
War, according to the rules laid down, was declared at 7 a.m. in the morning and to terminate at the same time next day. All our cruisers were spread out some ten miles apart, watching for the enemy. The engines were stopped, but full speed had to be ready at fifteen minutes notice. The night set in very misty, just the kind of war weather favourable to the enemy. Extra men were placed on the look out and guns crews were ready at the guns; the ships being cleared for action.
At 1.15 a.m., the 28th, the order was given for full speed, and the ?Drake? was soon ploughing the dark sea at 24 knots speed off to our rendezvous, where we arrived at 7a.m. Shortly after our arrival a wireless message was received from Vice-Admiral Curzon-Howe saying the exercise had finished. Our squadron then formed up and returned to Lagos, arriving there at 5 p.m., the battleships arriving later in the evening.
March 1st was the last day of this concentration of naval power. Orders were given to raise steam for 12 knots at 1.30 p.m. The Commander in Chief, admiral Sir A.K. Wilson gave a lecture onboard his flagship on the lessons to be derived from the manoeuvres. All flag officers, with their staffs, and the captains, and two executive officers from each ship attended.
Rear admiral the Hon H Lambton (of Ladysmith fame) gave a luncheon onboard his flagship to the petty officers, seamen and marines of the combined fleets who had served in the ?Powerful?s? Naval Brigade in South Africa, and to those belonging to the relief forces, to commemorate those historic events, and over sixty sat down on the ?Leviathan?s? quarterdeck. Ship?s Corporal smith and stoker Smith attended from the ?Drake,? both of whom served in the ?Powerful?s? Brigade.
At 1.30 p.m. all the battleships weighed, and shortly afterwards the cruiser squadrons followed them out. The battleships carried out some manoeuvres, the cruisers keeping three miles astern of the respective battle fleets. At 3.45 p.m. the combined fleets parted company. The Channel fleet proceeded to Berehaven, and the Mediterranean and Atlantic fleets to Gibraltar, where also the 2nd cruiser squadron, went except the ?Essex? and ?Berwick,? which whips proceeded to England to pay off.
That evening the 6-inch loading teacher competition took place; the captain, commander and gunnery lieutenant were the judges. Each gun?s crew had a one-minute run, and in the first round B1, B3 and Y4 guns crews tied with 19 rounds each. Having again tied with 20 rounds each. B3 and Y4 were left to decide the issue. Stripped to the waist, both crews felt confident of success as B3 led off with 21 rounds to their credit, which the marines, however, failed to beat by one round, and thus B3 guns crew retained the Silver Challenge Cup, having now won it three times in succession. They also held the Gun layers Cup for firing ten rounds in one minute with eight direct last years off Halifax.
Gibraltar was reached at 7 a.m. next morning, and the ship proceeded direct into the Queen Alexander Dock, the other ships, except the ?Cumberland,? going alongside the Commercial Mole. The Atlantic Battle fleet arrived at 9.30 a.m., and the Mediterranean Fleet and 3rd Cruiser Squadron at 3 p.m. docking entails much labour, both for the crew and workmen, and we were busy all day scrubbing and cleaning the ships bottom, rigging, etc, when at 5 p.m. liberty men went ashore, quite a number landing as this was the first opportunity since we left Portsmouth about a month ago.
The admiral signalled to the squadron that we would leave at an early date for a three months cruise in the Mediterranean, which news created evident satisfaction.
A letter was received here from Rear Admiral R. D. Evans, U.S. Navy, acknowledging the receipt of the letter referring to the presentation of the cup. He said that the gift would be highly appreciated, and thanked the men of the British 2nd Cruiser Squadron for the kindly feeling and good will towards the crews of his command. The cup, he stated, would be certain to produce many interesting races or shooting matches, and will be a highly prized trophy.
A very impressive funeral service was held at the North Front Cemetery on the 3rd, at the interment of Lieutenant Olof Severin-Udden, late of the Swedish frigate, which left here on the 13th of last December. He had been patient in the Royal Naval Hospital, suffering from blood poisoning. Besides the customary firing party and body of mourners four naval lieutenants from each ship attended, and eight lieutenants acted as pall bearers. He was accorded full naval honours, the funeral arrangements being under the command of Captain F. J. Foley, R.N., A.D.C., ?New Zealand.?
The first meeting of the Gibraltar Jockey club was held on the 5th, but a cold east wind and a cloudy overcast sky prevented a good many from attending the racing, though a fair number of officers and men from the fleet were present on the north Front to try their luck at finding the winner.
After much acrimonious and often irrelevant controversy in certain service journals, much satisfaction has been given to the petty officers and men in the Navy by the recent Admiralty decision to reduce the amount of wearing apparel in the seaman?s kit, and circular letter has been issued setting forth the amendments to the uniform regulations.
Early on the 8th the dock was flooded and the opportunity was take of testing our submerged torpedo flat compartment by flooding it, which test proved very satisfactory. At 3 p.m. we undocked and went alongside the Commercial Mole. That evening a wrestling match took place onboard between Stoker Penny, ?Drake,? (the champion wrestler of Atlantic fleet) and A.B. James, ?formidable? (champion of the Mediterranean Fleet.) Numbers of men from both fleets assembled onboard to witness this exciting contest. There were three rounds of fifteen minutes, and after running out the limit, the judges declared a draw.
Lord Charles Beresford gave an official dinner to all the Algeciras delegates, and also invited all the flag officers of the three fleets here. As the delegates left the ?Bulwark? at 11 p.m. a unique searchlight display took place with grand effect, and as they landed on the Spanish coast some 90 searchlights were concentrated at the landing place.
Coaling commenced on the 9th, with the assistance of shore labourers, and finished at 5.15 p.m. taking in 1,800 tons, averaging 208 tons an hour, which performance evidently pleased the commander, who provided refreshments at the conclusion of the task for those so employed.
Owing to leaving next day it was decided that the officers hockey team should play off the final for the Atlantic fleet challenge Cup. Those officers belonging to the team soon removed their coaling suits and donned their playing costumes. Our team played in very good form and beat the ?Majestic?s? team by 5 goals to nil, and took possession of the trophy. The ?Drake? has now both the officers challenge cups; one adorns the wardroom table and the other (the Battenberg Cup) the gunroom mess table.
Early on the 10th March we were busily preparing for sea. The ?Bedford? left at 8 a.m. for England to pay off, and at 3p.m. our small squadron now only three, the ?Drake,? ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland,? left for Palmas Bay. The U.S.S. ?Tacoma? had arrived during the forenoon, and as we steamed out through the northern entrance, passing close to her, she gave us a rousing Yankee cheer.
While on this passage the squadron was exercised at aiming rifle practice from all guns, firing at a target, afterwards the ships were spread and distant signalling was practised.
On getting inside Toro Island, targets were again dropped and the practice continued, when, after its completion, we formed up and anchored in Palmas Bay, Sardinia. This spacious bay affords safe anchorage for almost any number of large vessels, and is much frequented by our squadrons. Leave was granted to officers, and the men spent their long evenings at various amusements and physical exercises, followed, after the supper meal, by the usual dancing and singing.
During one four days stay here the ships were vigorously exercised at the various fleet evolutions, including torpedo running. The admiral and staff held official gunnery inspections, each ship in turn, and one afternoon all boats of the squadron were exercised at boat sailing, as a capital sailing breeze was then blowing, which required skilful seamanship from those in charge of boats.
At the conclusion of the gunnery inspection of his flagship, all officers and men were assembled on the quarterdeck, when the admiral presented B3 gun?s crew with the Loading Challenge Cup and congratulated them on their efficiency, which had given them first honours three times in succession. He then presented the stokers with the Silver Cup for maintaining at the last steam trial 30,000 indicated horsepower. After complimenting the prizewinners, he stated how satisfactory was his gunnery inspection of the squadron, especially so of the ?Drake,? which ship occupied a good position in the order of merit.
At 5 p.m., 16th, the squadron weighed and proceeded at 18 knots to Palermo, and arrived there early next morning (St Patrick?s Day), anchoring opposite the city. At 21 gun salute was fired with the Italian ensign at the main. It was glorious weather, with a bright sun shining. The British consul came onboard in his official capacity, and received a salute on leaving the ship.
The Palermo Football Club invited the officers and men to witness a match this afternoon on their ground, and they also considerately placed it at the disposal of the squadron teams during our stay. In the evening an impromptu concert was held on the upper deck, and some real good Irish songs were sung to commemorate St Patrick?s Day. They?re being no shamrock obtainable; some of our Irish shipmates wore a piece of green ribbon instead.
Palermo (ancient Panoramus) is the largest city in Sicily, and the capital of a province. It stands on a plain, which, from its luxuriance, and being surrounded by mountains on three sides, has been termed Conca d?Oro, or the Golden shell. The city contains some splendid edifices, and with its numerous steeples, cupolas and towers, presents a noble appearance from the sea. Surrounded by an old wall, it is defended by a citadel and several other forts. The Royal Palace is a spacious building of mixed Arabic and Norman styles of architecture; on its summit is the observatory, erected in 1748. The city contains 302,000 inhabitants.
Palermo is becoming a favourite winter resort, and in the battle of flowers held during our visit here the foreign nationalities were numerously represented. Only one species of flower (the blossoms of the orange tree) was used, which is abundant everywhere in Sicily, scenting the whole island during the early summer months. Several hundred carriages, four in hands, and automobiles took part in the floral affray, which lasted some four hours, the festive fighting taking place between rows of seats filled with all the beauty and fashion of the Sicilian capital.
Several hundreds of people visited the ship between noon and 6 p.m. and as they could not speak English, nor could we understand Italian, only limited courtesy could be extended.
The Syndic?s box at the opera was placed at the disposal of the officers of the squadron during our stay, a day being allotted to each ship in turn. The Countess Mazzareno gave an ?At Home? to the officers.
During the forenoon of the 19th, while the squadron was at general evolutions, principally anchor drill, the ?Cornwall? unfortunately had a mishap during this exercise, her anchor going to the bottom without having anything attached to it. The divers of the fleet successfully recovered it at a depth of 22 fathoms.
One evening an exciting race was rowed by our 1st class petty officers against the 2nd class petty officers in 14 oared barged. The course was two miles, and after a neck and neck race for almost the entire length of the course, the juniors won by only two strokes, but their victory was signalised with an invite to dinner from their defeated seniors, who appreciated their efforts.
Good sport was provided the same night on the upper deck. Almost every man in the ship was present to witness the boxing competitions for which the officers and ship?s company liberally subscribed for the cash prizes.
Lieutenant Rankin was the judge, and he announced that it was proposed to have a similar boxing competition every month, which piece of news was much appreciated, especially by the boxing element, which will now assuredly multiply their ranks.
The general cooking arrangements for the men, preparing the food etc, has long since been a vexed question difficult of solution. Several official committees have sat to consider what could actually be done to improve matters in this direction. Now that our staff of ship?s cooks has been augmented, orders were given that the men?s dinners (one side of the deck at a time) should be wholly prepared by the cooking staff, which was undoubtedly a step in the right direction towards bettering the antiquated and often injurious system which has probably existed in the Navy since the days of Drake.
General leave was granted on the 21st from noon till the next morning. About 50 petty officers had another organised days outing viewing the beauties of Palermo. Carriages were in waiting on landing, whence they drove to the Royal Palace, Cathedral, Catacombs, etc, finishing the day with a sumptuous supper before returning onboard.
With sincere regret the death is recorded of Herbert Alexander Brown, A.B., ?Cumberland,? who died here onboard the ?Cornwall,? where he was being medically treated. Brown was one of the divers employed recovering the sunken anchor. He was accorded full naval honours at the impressive funeral, which took place on shore; Prince Louis and numerous officers attended as mourners.
Thanks to our genial chaplain the boys and young seamen spent a most enjoyable holiday on shore one afternoon. They landed after dinner and drove to the football ground, where a game was played. Then the catacombs and King?s palace were visited, and they?re historical nature explained, finishing the holiday with a substantial tea, arriving onboard at 8 p.m. delighted with their outing and enthusiastic over their chaplain.
The officers gave an ?At Home? one afternoon to the members of the sports and football clubs and their families. Dancing took place on the quarterdeck up to 6 p.m., and the steamboats were busily employed landing the guests before dark.
Next day the Prefect gave a musical party at the Royal Palace and invited all the officers. The same evening the Princess Trabia gave a ball and cotillion at Plaza Butera Palace. Being Saturday evening the ship?s band played the customary dance music onboard, the men utilising nearly the whole upper deck. A good number of visitors were onboard, who looked on with evident astonishment at the easy manner the men went through the various figures, and were highly amused at the affected courtesy shown to the ?ladies,? who were distinguished with a white handkerchief worn round the arm.
At 8 a.m. 26th, we weighed anchor and the city known as the Pearl of the Mediterranean gradually faded from view. We steamed at 21 knots speed, and anchored at Taormina, east coast of Sicily, the same afternoon. On entering the Straits of Messina at 2 p.m. we suddenly encountered a very heavy squall, which lasted for an hour; the ?Cumberland? again losing her wireless pole.
The town of Taormina (ancient Tauromenium) is situated on broken elevated ground, faced by steep cliffs, 570 feet above the sea level. Partly enclosed by ancient walls, it contains several churches, convents, and other public buildings, and is crowned by the magnificent ruin of Saracenic Castle. Rising above it again is the small town of Mola, on a steep and picturesque elevation, 1,800 feet above sea level, with ruined walls and castles, and around are numerous remains of its once important position. Chief among the historic ruins is that of the Theatre, east of the town, probably of Greek origin, and is the object of universal admiration for its wonderfully well preserved condition, and its capacity of accommodating about 40,00 spectators. The town now contains about 5,000 inhabitants, and is very healthy. Our stay here was only a short one, for at 10.30 p.m. we got under weigh again and arrived off the Grand Harbour, Malta, at 7 a.m. next day. Postmen and mess stewards were landed, and then we proceeded to the back of the island, where each ship in succession fired a volley of lyddite shell at Talfoli rock, steaming at 15 knots speed at a range of 8,000 yards. We then closed on the harbour, picked up the postmen and mess stewards, and proceeded at 19 knots speed for Navarino.
During this trip the ship?s complement of stokers were given a practical test to see of this speed could be maintained without the assistance of deck hands for trimming coal, etc. (The sailor is now taught stoking as part of his training, and qualifies in stokehole work before being rated able seaman.)
We arrived off Navarino at daylight, the 28th and the squadron exercised at target practice all the forenoon. We anchored in Navarino Bay at noon.
That evening the keenest interest was manifested in a skiff race between the ?Cornwall?s? boat and ours over a mile course. The ?Cornwall?s? won by twenty strokes, which success much elated their crew; two 14 oared barges and a 6 oared gig being humorously despatched to tow the little victor back to the ship.
Pylos, on the west coast of Morea, called in the middle ages Navarino, is situated on a cape projecting towards the south end of Sphacteria. Between the rock of that name and the fortress is the entrance of the bay of Navarino. The town now contains 2,000 inhabitants; the streets are very irregularly laid out, but very clean.
It was on the 20th of October 1827, the English squadron of twelve ships, under Admiral Codrington, the Russian squadron of six ships, completely annihilated the entire Turkish fleet of 100 ships in this bay. Some desperate fighting took place, and the Turks, rather than be captured, blew up their ships. The British loss was 75 killed and 197 wounded the Russian and French squadrons suffered less.
Only a few men landed here, there being nothing very interesting to entice the bluejacket ashore. Officers in small parties went fishing and shooting, but their catch and bas was very limited in number.
The expected collier having arrived early on the 30th, we commenced coaling at 9 a.m., having 1,000 tons to take in. the task was somewhat protracted, owing to the nasty sea rolling in from seaward, making the collier lively; some heavy showers of rain also making things rather uncomfortable furing the coaling. It was nearly 5 p.m. when we finished, having made a record, for this ship, of an average of 142.8 tons per hour coaling from a collier.
We sailed at 10 a.m. next day for Volo, leaving the ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland? behind to coal, the latter to follow on when finished. On our way to Volo wireless experiments were carried out and communication established between Navarino and Volo; the ?Cumberland? acting as a link.
Next day, 1st april, was a nasty, cold stormy day; the rain falling in torrents. We anchored off the port at 4.50 p.m. The climatic change was severely felt by everyone. The hills here were thickly covered with snow.
Volo is situated off the east coast of Greece, near the centre of the north side of the Gulf of Volo. It has a population of 17,000 inhabitants, mostly Greeks. The Turks occupy the old Turkish town and castle of Volo on the other side of the railway. The ruins of ancient Pagasae are situated on Cape Sesklo, while those of Demetrius still exist on the southern slope of Goritza Hill opposite. Its chief products are olives.
Up to 1902 our ships much frequented Volo, where torpedo running was carried out; now Platea is the favourite place for this important work.
During the few days stay here all ships carried out torpedo exercises daily, running mines, and sweeping and creeping for hostile mines; while the gunnery training classes, gun layers and sight setters, carried out firing at towing targets.
Prince Andrew of Greece visited the ship next day, and the ?Cumberland? arrived in the evening, having experienced a very heavy gale on the passage.
A generous gift of ?66 5s 3d, subscribed by the ship?s company (?10 being contributed by the canteen), was forwarded from here to Mrs Lunnen, the mother of our late shipmate, Private e. Lunnen, who died at Haslar hospital, Portsmouth, last January. This present was a very tangible way of expressing the men?s sympathy, which is one of the characteristics of the British sailor.
A party of officers went mountain climbing, as viewing the snow covered hills from the ship appeared to somewhat tantalize them. They left early, and after very heavy work succeeded in ascending 5,000 feet, leaving only 300 feet more to be climbed before reaching the summit of mount Pelion. The snowdrifts were waist deep, and a howling bitter cold wind was blowing. Refreshments were taken with them, but at dinner that night-well, the messman could relate how mountaineering can create an appetite, not artificial but real!
It is said to record that Thomas William Morris, A.B. ?Cumberland,? accidentally killed by falling down a hatchway onboard his ship. He was buried in Volo cemetery with full Naval honours. Almost every officer and man from the ?Cumberland2 attended his funeral, and also nine of our officers. Beautiful wreaths were placed on his grave, the one from the ?Drake? was sent. ?With sympathy.? The ?Cumberland?s? chaplain performed the funeral service. The inhabitants showed the utmost respect as the funeral cortege passed through the streets.
The ?Cornwall? rejoined from Navarino late on the 4th. By permission of the local authorities, a fishing party of some forty volunteers went away seining; several casts of the net were made, but the catch was very poor, probably owing to the explosion of guncotton charges, which had daily taken place since we arrived here, and had dispersed the fish.
Another party of officers went mountaineering, and out of six who started two gave in (had an attack of mountain fever), but the other four braved the elements and reached the summit. Excelsior!
Our marines rowed a three-mile race in the new 12-oared cutter against the ?Cornwall?s? racing stokers crew one favourable evening. An unusual amount of interest was displayed numerous boats from each ship followed the race probably owing to the amount of money at stake! Our crew led almost the entire length of the course, and handsomely won by 24 strokes.
We left for Phalerum at 11 p.m. on the 6th, taking with us, as guests of the admiral, Prince and Princess Andrew of Greece and their child. Our captain gave us a very interesting lecture in the evening, relating the ancient history of Athens and the various sights worth seeing there. Up to noon next day the squadron was exercised at manoeuvres, the officers of the watch being temporarily in charge of their ships, under the immediate supervision of their captains. We anchored at Phalerum Bay about 4 p.m. and saluted the country with 21 guns. The admiral and his royal guests landed, and were met by the King and Queen of Greece; a special train conveying the party to Athens.
No leave was granted for a day or so after our arrival, as the Greek General elections were taking place, and riots there (as in England) is then not the exception to the rule.
A diversion from ordinary sport, in the form of a novel waltzing competition, took place one evening. To the strains of piano music, some 20 couples competed for the prizes subscribed for by about 200 of the dancing fraternity. Certain rules were drawn up, the most important one being that competitors should have their heels thoroughly chalked. The couples taking part danced vigorously for two hour, when the committee examined their heels. Only four couples stood the test, and were selected to dance in the final, when style was the point to be considered. The competition caused an immense amount of fun, the whole ship?s company being spectators. At the final, which took place a few nights later, the committee had much difficulty to decide, as each of the four danced splendidly. Finally the first prize was awarded to Signal Lewsey and Stoker Sweeney, the second to A.B.?s Brown and Ross.
The officers of the squadron were made hon members of the Athens Lawn Tennis Club. Mr Reginald Walsh, British Consul, invited the officers to the tennis courts to introduce them to the members.
One evening while here in port, a 6-inch loading competition took place between three of our gun?s crew and three from the ?Cumberland,? which ship had issued the challenge. Officers and men from both ships were eager spectators of this practical contest, which was healthy rivalry.
Our loading tray is harder to work than the ?Cumberland?s,? it having about five degrees of elevation, while there is horizontal. Each gun?s crew had a one-minute run, and at the finish our men were leading by 30 points. The decision was given after our crews had worked the ?Cumberland?s? loader, when the ?Drake?s? won with a lead of 11 points in the total. Each crew was awarded a prize of ?1.
General leave was granted on the 12th, and a large number of men went ashore, some grouping in parties for sightseeing, while others went cycling along the roads about Phalerum, which are very nice for the wheel, most of which are of British manufacture.
Athletes from all countries were now daily arriving to take part in the Olympic games, and Athens is already showing signs of welcoming King Edward and Queen Alexander, for decorations are being erected at various positions on the proposed line of route.
Next day was Good Friday, the forenoon being duly observed as a Sunday, divine service being held onboard. The hot cross bun was served early in the morning onboard, although many miles from England, for our cooking staff were busy all through the night, and had turned out upwards of 4,000 first class buns ready for breakfast.
Easter Sunday was a delightfully warm day, and a number of men visited Athens. Phalerum was crowded with people who came down from the capital to visit the fleet.
The officers of the squadron played an Association match on Easter Monday against Athens, at Phalerum, the squadron winning by 17 goals to nil. A large crowd watched the game, the grand stand being packed, and all available standing room was occupied. The Crown Prince and Princess, Prince Nicholas, Prince and Princess Andrew, and suite, afterwards had tea onboard with the admiral; and then informally inspected the ship.
On the 17th at 10.30 a.m., the squadron proceeded outside to form an escort for H.M. King Edward VII. It was past noon when we fired a royal salute and took station off the starboard quarter of the yacht ?Victoria and Albert,? whish ship was leading the line, followed by the ?Carnarvon,? ?Berwick,? ?Renown,? and ?Terrible,? while a Greek squadron of two battleships and two destroyers formed the escort off the opposite quarter. All ships were dressed with ensigns at the mastheads, Greek ensign at the main, the Greek ships displaying the English flag at their main, while the yacht flew the Royal standard and the ?Renown? the standard of the Prince of Wales. Including the Greek ships, quite an imposing fleet had assembled. On anchoring in Phalerum Bay, the admiral and all captains officially visited His Majesty onboard the royal yacht.
The ?Terrible? looked very conspicuous in her coat of white paint, with yellow masts and funnels, a reminder of what British war ships were like before the war paint of French grey colour was universally adopted in the fleet.
One evening while here, and entertainment was given onboard the ?Cumberland,? and the officers and men of the squadron were invited onboard, and needless to say, the ship was crowded. The ?Cumberland?s? know how to entertain, for she has the actor talent of the squadron. The programme was of a vivacious character, and met with much enthusiasm from the vast audience, it being long past midnight before the last ?Goodnight? had been said.
On the 20th an Association team of officers of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron played a match at Phalerum against a Smyrna team, which had come to Athens to compete for the Olympian Gamed Football Cup, and included nine English men, all of one family. The squadron team had to put forth their whole effort, for at half time Smyrna led by 1-0. Then the squadron forwards got up full steam and scored twice before the end, winning by 2 goals to 1.
In the evening the officers and men of the squadron were invited onboard the ?Terrible? to witness a boxing and wrestling tournament. Her spacious quarterdeck made a splendid ring, with ample room for all the spectators. Our sporting fraternity was well represented.
Some capital exhibition boxing was also witnessed. We had two good heavy weights, but no match could be arranged. It was near midnight when the National Anthem was played and sung, which ended a very interesting time on board the famous ?Terrible?.
Again the next evening a wrestling match for ?12 a side took place between Stoker Penny, 9st 2lb ?Drake,? and A.B. Carter, 12st 6lb ?Terrible.?
Carter then held the gold medal as the champion wrestler of the Navy. After three rounds of fifteen minutes each a draw was declared, there being no falls. Penny was heartily cheered by the ?Terribles? as he left their ship.
On the 22nd, in glorious weather, the world famed Olympic games were inaugurated. The officers, in uniform, went to Athens by train to be present at the opening function, which was attended with great ?lat. They?re Majesties and the Prince and Princess of Wales was present, accompanied by the King and Queen of Greece and Royal Family. The whole route from the Royal Palace was lined with troops, and their Majesties received a splendid ovation from the vast multitude of people, estimated at 15,000.
On the arrival of the Royal party in the Stadium, the massed bands played the British and Greek National Anthems.
An inaugural address was then delivered by Prince George of Greece, followed by a procession of competitors, some of them being in their national costumes. The most popular team was a company of Danish lady gymnasts, clad in neat white bodies, blue skirts, and black stockings, who received great applause for their graceful gymnastic evolutions.
The officers of the squadron returned onboard in the early evening, and at 7.30 p.m. the ?Drake? and ?Cornwall? left for Katakolu Bay, where we arrived and anchored next morning; the ?Cumberland? having gone to Corfu to coal.
Arrangements having previously been made for running a special train to Olympia, about nine miles distant, the admiral, captain and about 50 officers availed themselves of this opportunity and visited the famous Hermes of Paraxiteles (which was discovered in 1877). They returned onboard again at 6.30 p.m. when we left for Corfu. During the evening our monthly boxing contests took place and several well-fought bouts took place, judged by Lieutenant Goldie.
Early next morning we anchored at Corfu, where they?re Majesties the King and Queen and Prince and Princess of Wales had already arrived. We commenced coaling from a collier, and finished before tea, taking in 800 tons, averaging 143 tons an hour. Prince Louis temporarily hoisted his flag in the ?Cornwall? while she saluted the country with 21 guns.
Corfu is the most important of the Ionian Islands, and has experienced a chequered political existence. It was finally, with all the other islands, incorporated with the Kingdom of Greece in 1864. The island is about 33 miles in length and between seven and eight miles in breadth, is very mountainous, and covered throughout with olive plantations. The town of Corfu is surrounded by fortifications built by the Venetians. It possesses a fine esplanade and parade ground, with laid out walks and avenues of trees.
Next day our officers played a cricket match against a Corfu team. The ground was composed of gravel square with a piece of coconut matting placed thereon for a pitch. The principal feature of the match was the presence in the Corfu team of a couple of demon bowlers, who injured half of the Drake?s team and terrified the remainder. The result was an easy victory for the home team.
Next day at 6.30 p.m. we left by ourselves for Venice, leaving the ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland? behind to cruise independently amongst the Ionian Islands for about 14 days according to programme.
A London paper received onboard announced the approaching marriage of our captain, who was the recipient of the heartiest of congratulations from officers and men, who wished him and his bride elect the felicitous joys of their matrimonial future.
During the passage target practice from the 12-pounders took place. We anchored off Port Lido, Venice, at 7 am on the 27th, lying about seven miles from the landing place. The weather was wet and cold, with a nasty choppy sea, making us roll uncomfortably.
The 28th broke beautifully fine with a warm sun and calm sea. It was announced that leave would be granted to the men daily from 1.30 p.m. till 11 p.m., also that gun layers, sight setters, etc, would be exercised each day during our stay, firing at towing targets, for no better place could be found this practice, as there is always a clear range. The Italian naval authorities kindly placed a government tug at the disposal of the ship for the landing and embarking of liberty men. Our captain, with his usual thoughtfulness, complied a pamphlet containing most interesting matter about Venice, and copies were issued to officers and men like.
To contemplate Venice is to study a strange vision, which seems to have arisen as by some mysterious charm from the depths of the sea in order to wield the queenly grace the sceptre of beauty over the blue waters of the Adriatic. Venice is composed of 72 islets or shoals, and is built on foundations of piles and stone. It stands near the centre of a lagoon extending from Brondolo on the south to near Plava, a length of 30 miles by a breadth of five miles. The city is divided into two unequal portions by the Grand Canal, which glides snakelike for 4,153 yards between the groups of islands in the shape of a distorted S, and is spanned by three bridges the fine old one of Rialto, and two modern iron ones. It is further intersected by 160 smaller canals, which are crossed by 306 bridges. The small canals serve as streets, on which some 10,000 gondoliers or boatmen gain their livelihood.
Venice is the second most populous city in the Adriatic and contains about 160,000 inhabitants. The Cathedral of St Mark is one of the finest in Europe. St Mark?s square forms to this day where a large flock of pigeons have from time immemorial brought animation to the square; they are very tame, and are fed by the visitors.
One cannot write of Venice without alluding to the gondola, the strange mode of transport which in these days of the Serenissima floated silently through the dark canals, gaily decked with gold and silver ornaments and adorned with costly stuff; a mute witness to plighted troths and of hidden crime. In the XVIth Century these boats had reached the acme of luxury, and a decree was formulated ordering all gondolas to be covered with black cloth, which gave them close resemblance to a floating coffin, as they appear to this day. Instead of cabs and fly as means of transit these gondolas have their appointed station and tariff, under proper regulations and supervision. There are no vehicles or horses-it is a noiseless city.
Next day, Sunday, divine service was held as usual, and we were honoured with the presence onboard of Princess Louise and her two sons, and the Grand Duke of Hesse.
By arrangement with the agent of Cook and Son, our chaplain organised parties of thirty men to go and see Venice. The first party landed early on the 2nd May, and visited the Doge?s palace, which contains many magnificent apartments, and is famous for the paintings on its walls and ceilings. The Archaeological Museum, the world renowned Bridge of Sighs, and across to the historical prisons, and then St Mark?s were visited in turn, and then luncheon was partaken. The party afterwards walked to the Grand Canal and took steamer to Museo Civico, in which are the dresses of old time Venice, armour, and the ordnance of those glorious historical days of the Doges.
A trip in a gondola! Seven gondolas in line, five men in each, who glided along the canals, viewing the palaces for an hour, then took steamer for Murano and visited the noted glass works, returning to St Mark?s Square, when Cook?s agent was dispensed with. Small parties then strolled round independently, returning onboard in the steamer about 11 p.m. and probably saw more of Venice in one day than do many tourists who stay here a week. Arrangements for other parties were likewise made, comprising every class of rating in the ship, each party accompanied by the chaplain, to whom the crew are much indebted for this and numerous other considerate acts in the interests of the lower deck.
One evening while here our quarterdeck was rigged up with a proper stage etc, and our first variety entertainment was held. Theatrical talent had apparently been dormant in the ship, for the audience were kept intensely amused for some four hours. The tableau ?Britannia? was excellent and called forth loud applause.
We left Venice at 9.30 a.m. on the 7th for Corfu and may probably go on to Port Said, as rumours were current that a serious frontier dispute with Turkey was impending. Next morning we met the ?Cumberland,? and we both steamed into Corfu and anchored shortly after noon. Except the orderly who landed on duty taking or fetching telegrams no one was permitted to go onshore. Steam for 18 knots speed, ready at one hour?s notice, was ordered. At 4 p.m. we departed for Phalerum Bay to join the flag of admiral Lord Charles Beresford, arriving there on the 9th, having averaged a speed of 19 knots. On anchoring we saluted the country and the flag of Lord Charles Beresford, and then prepared to coal. There were some eighteen vessels with the Commander in chief. Previous to our arrival these ships had landed brigades of seamen and marines, with field guns, etc, and had made preparations to meet every emergency-even to war itself. Special instructions were given to those who landed to return onboard directly the Blue Peter was hoisted and a gun fired.
Prince Louis, captain and staff, dined with Lord Charles in the evening onboard his flagship, the ?Bulwark.?
Our rifle companies, field guns, etc were all detailed off, and field service accoutrements were served out.
It was nearly three a.m. when the collier was secured alongside us. Derricks whips, etc, were rigged, and start to coal ship was made at daybreak, and was continued until 4 p.m. when we finished, having taken in 1,246 tons, averaging 122 tons per hour under bad conditions, for the colliers winches were only fit material for the scrap heap. Rapid coaling is most essential for war efficiency, therefore fast steaming colliers with large capacity, properly equipped with coaling appliances, are highly important factors in the war game.
Lord Charles Beresford had rapidly changed the peace organisation of his command to that of a war condition. Before sunset the ?Barham? and four destroyers went out and patrolled the mouth of the bay during the night.
The ?Cornwall? arrived from Aranci Bay early on the 11th and prepared for coaling. At noon the Commander in Chief signalled to our squadron to prepare for sea and raise steam for 15 knots by 4 p.m.
War rumours were still floating about, and the fleet men appeared delighted with the prospect of a diversion in the direction of realities instead of the peaceful competitive drills.
At 4.30 p.m. we steamed out, towing the destroyers ?Mallard? and ?Ariel,? while the ?Cornwall? towed the ?Foam,? which was for the purpose of saving their coal. The responsible officers only then knew our instructions.
When about 40 miles out it was signalled our destination was Farmagusta, Cyprus, a strategically position to operate from in the event of serious trouble with the Sultan. The evening was devoted to equipping the seamen and marines complete for landing, together with 12 pounder and Maxim guns; and every officer and man was rigged for active service onshore. Water bottles were thoroughly cleansed, which was a necessary operation, for one officer actually found a dried up frog in his bottle! The respective heads of departments prepared all stretcher-bearers, carriers, ammunition, reserve provisions, and the Geneva Cross tent.
Early on the 12th, the wind having freshened, and the sea somewhat boisterous, the towing hawsers of all the destroyers except the ?Bruizer? had parted. With the ?Cornwall? as escort and destroyers were left behind to proceed under their own steam.
A medical inspection of landing parties was carried out, our surgeon minutely examining each man, paying particular attention to the condition of the feet. Hints to prevent sore feet in marching were published for general information on the notice board.
We arrived at Larnaka just after noon on the 13th. Instantly on anchoring, a lieutenant and the admiral?s secretary went ashore to interview the High Commissioner, and bring off any telegrams. With the arrival of numbers of telegrams, numerous yarns were spread in the ship; probably the visit to New York was responsible for the gifted art of telling tall yarns! The ?Cumberland,? with the four destroyers, arrived at 7 p.m. and next morning the ?Foam? and ?Ariel? were despatched to Farmagusta. The ?Cornwall? had been ordered to Port Said to coal and return with all despatch. Our torpedo staff quickly erected a temporary wireless station onshore, and communication was established; the signalmen operators taking up their lodgings in the wireless room. To test the organisation, the whole landing party, with field guns, were landed early; supposed to be under the cover of the ships guns. When some fifty yards from the beach, the marines boat grounded on a reef, and out they all jumped, up to their waist in water. As they neared the shore the water became rather deeper, and it was amusing to see the Royal Marines swimming to land, holding their rifles well up in the air-a practical lesson indeed! The force returned onboard to dinner, and again landed to practise field movements.
Next morning at daylight the ?Cornwall? rejoined, and the naval field force landed again, when communication between the fleet and landing party was maintained by heliograph.
The 16th was a memorable day here. The whole force landed as a fully equipped naval brigade for active service, commanded by the flag captain, who with other senior officers, was mounted. Headed by massed bands, the brigade marched through the town to a position beyond, where an imaginary attack was made, covered by the field gun battery. Prince Louis and his staff accompanied the forces, and took luncheon on the field. After an hour for dinner, more field operations took place until 4 p.m. The field battery fired live shell at some mud banks close to the water?s edge, greatly to the surprise of a number of spectators. A grand march post took place before the admiral at the conclusion, and then the brigade returned onboard, having covered a distance of some twenty miles. The sun god had left a heavy imprint of his power in every face.
Reuter?s telegrams kept frequently arriving and were signalled to the squadron, and this evening it was announced that Turkey had complied with all the British demands. Next morning 17th, the signal was made to prepare for sea and proceed to Aranci, to carry out the gun layers test. The ?Ariel? and ?Foam,? then at Farmagusta, were ordered to Larnaka, and all four destroyers, with ?Mallard? in charge, left at 4.30 p.m. for Malta.
Our massed bands gave the natives a treat before leaving, playing for a couple of hours in the square, which little courtesy was much appreciated. On leaving the port at 6 p.m. they displayed the signal, ?Good bye, wish you a pleasant voyage.? The ?Cumberland? remained behind coaling, with orders to proceed to Aranci; while the ?Cornwall? proceeded there direct to get the targets in position, etc. We proceeded alone to Phalerum, arriving there early on the 19th, and found the Mediterranean fleet still there. We embarked about fifty tons of stores from the ?London,? which she brought from Malta for our squadron; then, at 3 p.m. went a few miles out and exercised target practice, firing live rounds from each gun. When finished we returned to Phalerum, finally leaving for Aranci at 7 p.m. On departing Lord Charles Beresford signalled the sad loss of No 56 torpedo boat, which foundered on her to Malta when being towed by the ?Arrogant?; seven of the crew reported as missing.
We arrived at Aranci early on the 22nd, and found both the ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland? at anchor. As the weather was unfavourable for the gun layers competition, the day was devoted to firing torpedoes instead. The Italian battleship ?Varese? passed close in and saluted the admiral, which we returned.
Surgeon Thompson issued to his First Aid class, who now muster about thirty in number, a concise little pamphlet, ?Notes on First Aid,? which he complied. The booklet is both interesting and instructive, and well worth a perusal. The ?Cornwall? commenced her gun layers competition early on the 23rd. The admiral went out to witness the firing, as did all our gun layers, to take notes etc. She finished at 4 p.m. and returned to the anchorage. At 7 a.m. next morning we got under weigh, having onboard Rear admiral Sir Percy Scott (Director of Target Practice), he having arrived from England that morning. Y3 (marines) gun opened fire first, and shot after shot went clean through the target, registering eleven rounds eleven hits, which was indeed a good start. As a friendly rivalry exists even in a ship between the different guns crew, the competition is very keen, Not only does this refer to the guns crews themselves, but every man is also interested, which fact must obviously produce good shooting, as the gun?s crews are aware they are the cynosure of their officers and shipmates, and have the reputation of the ship to maintain. Firing ceased at noon, and we then returned to the anchorage, elated with the result of our first day?s shooting. The mariners group of four guns made remarkable scores, totalling 44 rounds with 43 hits. B3 guns crew, evidently under a charm for winning trophies, went one better with 12 rounds, 11 hits and retain the cup which they won at last years test. Again early next morning we recommenced the competitions and finished all guns at 1 p.m. The result for our sixteen 6-inch guns was 149 rounds fired, with 129 hits. The 9.2 guns did extremely well, firing nine rounds each with 17 hits. Prince Louis and staff, with Rear Admiral Sir Percy Scott, dined with the wardroom officers, and after dinner several ?shoot speeches? were made. The inspector congratulated the ?Drake? on her splendid shooting-could he do otherwise? At 10 p.m. some interesting experiments were carried out with the 12-pdrs, which fired at a target, aided by searchlights.
The ?Cumberland? then carried out her firing, also with Prince Louis and Admiral Scott onboard. She also did very creditably, and ran us very closely, her best gun record being 11 rounds, 10 hits. That night, at 11 p.m. the ?Cornwall? sailed for Malta with admiral Scott onboard, where he will inspect the shooting of the Mediterranean fleet.
We left, with the ?Cumberland,? early on the 30th, for Gibraltar, passing through the Straits of Boniface en route, being met at the entrance by an Italian destroyer to pilot us through. During the passage we saluted the Italian flag with 21 guns, and the vice admiral with 15 guns, who had paid us an honour in thus coming out in a destroyer, which steamed alongside for some distance while the two admirals conversed. On clearing the straits farewell signals were exchanged.
The ceremonial of presenting, the silver challenge shooting cup to B3 gun?s crew was performed by Prince Louis on the quarterdeck, in the presence of all officers and men. This crew had again made the best shooting during the gun layers test, and the admiral congratulated Leading Seamen Baker and his gun?s crew on their repeated successes, they having held the Shooting and Loading Cups all through the commission. We got into wireless touch with the ?Cornwall,? she being then between s and Gibraltar, and arrangements were made with the dockyard authorities there for coaling, drawing stores etc. We arrived at the Rock early on the 31st when both the ?Cumberland? and our ship moored alongside the New Mole; the ?Cornwall? was already there, coaling ship.
At 8 a.m. all ships dressed with flags overall, displaying the Spanish Ensign at the main in honour of the marriage of H.R.H. Princess Victoria Eugenie of Battenberg with H.M. King Alfonso of Spain, and a royal salute of 21 guns was fired at noon, the bands playing the Spanish National Anthem.
Coaling commenced at noon and continued till 7 p.m. when we ceased for the night, having taken in 1,030 tons in a broiling hot sun, with over 110 degrees in the shade. We recommenced the grimy work early next morning, completing it at noon, having taken in 1,930 tons averaging 165 tons an hour.
We left for Berehaven early on June 2nd, at 17 knots speed, to join the Atlantic fleet for the grand manoeuvres, carrying out long distance wireless experiments with the ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland,? which ships were directed to steam at 15 and 13 knots respectively, thereby establishing communication between Berehaven and Gibraltar.
Before leaving the Rock an acknowledgment was received for a subscription of ?8 9s contributed by the crew to Pearson?s Fresh Air Fund, the letter stating how this sum would give 200 little children a holiday in the country, which day would be called ?Drake?s Day.?
The following letters were also received and placed on the notice board for general information: -
U.S. Flagship Maine, North river,
New York, May 19th 1906
To the enlisted Men of H.M. Second Cruiser
We, the enlisted men of the United States Atlantic
Fleet, gratefully acknowledge receipt of the Loving
Cup presented by the enlisted men of H.M. Second
Cruiser Squadron. This token of goodwill and friendship
Is deeply appreciated, and will always be remembered
By the men of the united States Navy.
(Signed) WM. Fremgen
Chief Quartermaster U.S. Navy,
Chairman of Battenberg Squadron Cup committee.
To the enlisted Men of H.M. Second Cruiser
(Through Rear Admiral H.S.H. Prince Louis of
U.S. flagship Maine, North River,
New York, May 19th 1906
(Subject: Battenberg Squadron Cup)
I take pleasure in forwarding this letter of acceptance.
The cup is a beauty, and I forward herewith
For distribution to the ship of H.M. Second Cruiser
Squadron copied of a Fleet General Order that I have
(Signed) R.D. Evans, Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy,
Commander in Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
It might be here mentioned that the Fleet General Order, referred to by the American Admiral in his letter, contained an account of the formal acceptance of the cup and the conditions of races for the trophy, which is officially styled by the American commander in Chief ?The Battenberg Squadron Cup.?
?The Battenberg Squadron Cup.?
Midshipman E. C. Denison and H.H. Prince Alexander of Battenberg were each awarded the Humane Society Medal by the Spanish Government for assisting to save life last January while on the passage between Gibraltar and Algerciras, in the small passenger steamer, which ran down a rowing boat. While at sea Admiral down a rowing boat. While at sea Admiral Prince Louis made the presentation on the quarterdeck before the assembled officers and men.
Arrived at Berehaven at 8 p.m., 4th June. The Atlantic Battle Fleet was there; also our newly attached cruiser, the ?Duke of Edinburgh ? and ?Black Prince.? Several congratulatory signals were made from the fleet on the splendid result of our gun layers shooting.
Commenced coaling next day from a collier, taking in 860 tons.
That evening our admiral and staff and the gunnery lieutenant dined with Vice Admiral Sir W. May onboard his flagship, the ?King Edward VII.?
Though the remainder of the week was apparently quietly spent, yet the flag officers were busily preparing for the manoeuvres. Councils of war were of daily occurrence, and the torpedo officers also held many meetings onboard the ?Victorious,? with Rear Admiral Sir Berkley Milne as president, drawing up various wireless codes etc.
By the 9th all ships of our squadron had joined making our number of six once more complete. While here the officers of the fleet visited the famous lakes. Ireland possessed splendid scenery, something magnificent; the excursion was all convincing that travel abroad is waste of time when a country owning such glorious natural views exist so near home.
Prince Louis paid the ?Duke of Edinburgh? a visit on the Sunday, and remained onboard to Divine Service, as is usual custom when a new ship joins his squadron. A limited form of leave was granted to the fleet while here, and a few entertainments took place onboard certain ships, which issued invitations. Routine drills were carried out, but general evolutions were temporarily suspended.
On the night previous to the commencement of operations the captains of the battle fleet dined with admiral Sir W May and the cruiser captains with Rear admiral Prince Louis. Our Squadron was strengthened by the addition of the cruisers ?vindictive,? ?Furious,? ?Diamond,? and ?Amethyst,? and our fleet designation was changed from the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to ?A? fleet, the attached cruisers forming a third division.
June 12th at 6 a.m., the first part of the grand manoeuvres commenced. A thick fog delayed our departure, for we only got half way out of the bay when the fog came over so dense that the ships anchored for safety. It was noon by the time we cleared the Irish coast.
We arrived at Alderney on the 13th, having had foggy weather all the passage. We found the cruiser ?Blenheim? and twenty destroyers here. Real war was closely resembled, for the fortress was manned, search vessels were cruising round the island, and every detail of actual war, except that the guns were not shotted, was in evidence.
Obviously the conduct of the operations was confidential, and an officer was appointed as Press Censor. As the ?enemy? of Great Britain we were here ready to deliver an attack on receipt of instructions that war was declared. All the captains assembled onboard next day to attend a council of war. Six hostile cruisers of the ?Roxburgh? class were then cruising in the distance to watch our movements. We weighed late on the 14th, and steamed to the southward on battle formation. Our squadron now consisted of nine cruisers; four torpedo gunboats, and 22 destroyers.
All ships and destroyers had lights extinguished as they silently proceeded up Channel to carry out the various plans of attack. At about 10 p.m. when off St Catherine?s light, the four divisions of destroyers were despatched to carry out their deadly work; the cruisers meanwhile waited the result with engines stopped. About midnight the boom of guns was heard the guns of the Portsmouth defences were offering defiance to the attacking force. Firing ceased at 3 a.m. and we then formed into line again to return back to Alderney. (What success was achieved will be contained in the official report drawn up by the umpires.) The calm and hazy night was an ideal time for a torpedo attack. It was while at breakfast we sighted smoke ahead and the signal was made to ?Chase the enemy.? We gradually worked up to full speed, doing our 24.8 knots, closely followed by the ?Cumberland? and ?Cornwall,? but the ?Duke of Edinburgh? and ?Black Prince? was left several miles behind. As we closed it was found we were chasing four of the ?Red Side? scouts, and claimed them according to the rules, as they came within 8,000 yards range.
Without further incident we anchored at Alderney that forenoon, and then we discovered that nearly all our destroyers (except five) had been captured. The squadron left at 4 p.m. for Berehaven, standing well to the westward to avoid possible torpedo boat attacks. During the night the speed was reduced from 17 to 15 knots, as the ?Furious? could not keep her station. Nothing was seen on the enemy during the night, although several false alarms were raised.
Anchors were dropped in Berehaven on the 16th about 6 p.m. Later the whole of the captured flotilla arrived with the torpedo gunboats. Thus the first portion of the grand manoeuvres was completed.
At 10 a.m. Monday 17th we weighed and proceeded for three days cruise, practicing wireless signalling in conjunction with the Atlantic Battle Fleet. Fogs prevailed nearly all the time, which delayed our return to Berehaven.
Late on the 20th we anchored at the mouth of the bay until fog lifted, when at daybreak next morning, we proceeded up harbour and anchored, the battle fleet and 5th Cruiser Squadron following.
Coaling from a collier commenced at 10.30 a.m. and finished at 7.50 that evening, having shipped 1,150 tons, averaging 143 tons an hour, which was practically our best coaling record.
On the evening of the 22nd, all captains of destroyers, 31 in number, and the Japanese Naval Attache, dined with Prince Louis. The remainder of our squadron were coaling.
Next morning the Blue fleet unmoored and took up positions at the mouth of the bay ready for the commencement of hostilities. In the afternoon the Press representatives joined their allotted ships. My Thursfield, ?The Times,? and Mr F. T. Jane, ?Daily chronicle,? joined the ?Drake.? Admiral of the fleet Lord Walter Kerr joined the flagship ?King Edward VII.? As the guest of the Commander in chief, a salute of 19 guns being given as the union Jack was broken at the main.
The blue Fleet (the enemy) consisted of some 9 battleships; the second, fifth, and sixth Cruiser Squadrons, 21 ships; 29 destroyers with the ?Blenheim? as depot ship, and ?Hecla? as repair ship.
Just before noon the entire Blue Fleet had put to sea.
When well clear of land the Blue ensign was hoisted, and each squadron proceeded in execution of previous orders. Our squadron went off at 20 knots speed to the southwest in one line abeam for 15 hours, gradually opening out till a thirty mile interval between each ship was reached, and 130 miles to the northward of us were the battleships, similarly spread, and 130miles to the northward of them was the fifth Cruiser Squadron. Our allotted cruising ground was in a line off Cape St Vincent.
In the evening our captain gave a lecture in the wardroom to all the officers, and explained the whole operations and the part allocated to our squadron.
For the next 24 hours nothing of importance occurred except a most welcome change in the weather!
The following gun layers were presented by Prince Louis with a silver goblet each, which he and the officers had subscribed for in recognition of the splendid shooting during the gun layers test. Each man?s name, with the number of rounds fired, hits made, and the class of gun, was inscribed on the cup.
Q.F. 6in Gun-Sergt. E. G. Read, 11 rounds, 10
Hits; bombed. F. Nixon, 11 rounds, 11 hits; Corpl. H. A. Ward, 11 rounds, 11 hits; Gnr. W. sparrow, 11
Rounds, 11 hits; P.O. 2nd Class E. St. L. Baker, 12
Rounds, 11 hits; L.S. J. Hoddell, 11 rounds, 11 hits.
9.2 Turret Gun-P.O. 2nd Class W. J. Drew, 9
rounds, 9 hits; P.O. 2nd Class G. A. J. blundell, 9
rounds, 8 hits.
We reached our station early on the morning of the 25th. Each night we were to steam slowly northwards fro sunset till dawn and then return to our station, with the object of keeping pace in the darkness with any of the Red convoys, that might otherwise elude us. The ?vulcan2 and some destroyers lay at Lagos (one of our fortified bases), to give us news.
About midday next day we sighted smoke ahead, 25 miles off, bearing about S.W. Speed was at once increased and we overhauled the English ss. ?Karina? 4,222 tons, bound from Liverpool to south Africa. We signalled, ?Consider yourself captured by H.M.S. Drake,? and then wished her a pleasant voyage. Her decks were crowded with passengers and as we steamed across her bows they cheered and also waved to us most spiritedly.
Earl next morning we attempted disguise by bracing up our yards merchant ship fashion, and at 7 a.m. a large steam yacht was sighted, steering S.S.W, which vessel proved to be an American. Next we bore down on a small Portuguese schooner; our gigantic appearance seemingly caused them some alarm for they continually dipped their colours for some ten minutes in nervous fashion.
At 4.30 p.m., 27th, wireless instructions were received from Vice Admiral May to concentrate the ?Drake,? ?Black Prince? and ?Duke of Edinburgh? at a certain rendezvous about 90 miles north, as he was being chased by a superior force. We darted off at 20 knots speed and reached the ?King Edward VII? at 9.40 p.m. We were then ordered to proceed to Lagos, fill up with coal, and act independently near Cape St Vincent. The battle fleet were going to work with a broad front up the coast.
At dawn next morning we sighted a strange looking craft ahead, which proved to be the destroyer ?Blackwater,? simulating a tramp. We soon overhauled her, and she surrendered just as the sun was rising. It was the irony of fate that the ?Blackwater,? commanded by Commander Cameron, should have been captured by the ship whose first lieutenant he had so lately been.
During the operations we had make a respectable haul of British shipping.
We reached Lagos early on the 28th, and coaled ship all day in a torrid heat. We finished coaling at 10 p.m. having taken in 1,150 tons; and it was well past midnight when the coal dust was washed down. At sawn next day, the ?Black Prince? and ?Cornwall,? with three destroyers, went out and captured the ?Minerva? and four destroyers, which vessels had been hovering about outside Lagos.
At 10.30 a.m. 29th, our squadron (except the ?Diamond?) proceeded to sea with steam ready for full speed. We had not proceeded far before smoke ahead was seen, and then we made out the ?Antrim? and ?Devonshire? steaming full speed to the southeast. We altered course to cut them off and soon began to overhaul them when other cruisers appeared the entire First Cruiser Squadron, and some other cruisers-ten ships all told. They retreated to the southward so as to avoid close action. Thus began the mimic battle of Cape St Vincent-that historical promontory being now broad on our beam. As the result of the fight-we lost the ?Berwick? and ?Amethyst,? but were allowed the ?Antrim? and ?Devonshire? as sunk and also two other cruisers of the Edgar class, which formed the rear of their line. We were now through the encircling cruisers running at full speed. We soon observed the Mediterranean Batle Fleet stretched across our front, and with the First Cruiser Squadron astern, steadily advancing, our position was now an awkward one. Then ill luck fell upon us. The ?cornwall? and ?Black Prince? hauled out of the line, with engine and boiler defects, and were both captured. This reduced us to three ships viz, ?Drake,? ?Cumberland? and ?Duke of Edinburgh,? which were now steaming at 24 knots an hour.
The battleship ?Formidable? was ahead, the end ship of the battleships line, and we approached each other at a combined speed in land miles of nearly fifty miles an hour. We turned to port as much as we dared and tried to rush past the new danger, for to turn round was to run into the hostile First Cruiser Sqadron. Too late! We passed within 7,000 yards of the ?Formidable? and were thus captured according to the rules. The signal ?Consider yourself captured? was made from the ?Formidable,? and we hoisted the fatal flag ?Z,? which implied ?Out of Action,?. The ?Duke of Edinburgh? and ?Cumberland? both dashed away to the southward and we wished them good luck. They remained at sea uncaptured till the close of the manoeuvres, and made many prizes of British merchant vessels. We very reluctantly shaped our course homeward, and picked up the ?Berwick? abreast of Finisterre and together crossed the Bay.
We communicated by wireless with Portsmouth, stating we were out of action and giving time of our arrival there.
We arrived and anchored at Spithead on the 2nd July, proceeded up harbour at 1.30, and made fast alongside the North Slip Jetty. Severn days leave was granted to each watch in turn. The admiral went on leave on the 4th, and his flag was struck at sunset.
On the 10th, as the colours were being hoisted at 8 a.m., a huge garland was hung high between our masts; its numerous silk streamers of red, white and blue floated gaily in the breeze. This was hoisted in honour of our flag captain?s wedding, which took place at St George?s, Hanover Square, London, in the presences of a number of distinguished guests. The church was splendidly decorated, and the service was fully choral. The service was conducted by the Rev Gordon Wickham (brother in law of the bridegroom), the Rev W. Todd (chaplain of H.M.S. ?Drake?), and the Rev David Anderson. As the happy pair came down the aisle they passed between a double lines of the ?Drake?s? bluejackets. Captain the Hon Horace Hood; R.N. of H.M.S. ?Berwick? was best man.
Numerous congratulator telegrams were sent; one from the officers and ship?s company of H.M.S. ?Drake? read: ?Wish you every happiness and offer you their heartiest congratulations.?
The presents to the bride and bridegroom were numerous and costly; those sent from H.M.S. ?Drake? consisted of two silver entr? dishes and covers from Prince Louis; two silver candelabra from the ward room officers; silver salver, inscribed with each officer?s name, from the gun room officers; two large silver frames from the warrant officers; the ship?s company presented a painting of H.M.S. ?Drake? (by Wyllie); and the captain?s boats crew, sentries, stewards, and staff gave three silver whiskey decanters; the captains of the Second Cruiser Squadron gave a silver claret jug, and numerous private present were sent from the officers of the squadron.
On the 20th, all leave having expired; we took in 1,000 tons of coal, averaging 136 tons per hour. The admiral returned next day, and his flag was hoisted. The day before leaving we received an admiralty order to remove the truck semaphore, as they were now condemned as obsolete for long distance signalling in the Navy.
During our appreciated stay home several changes of officers and men took place. Among them was Engineering Commander John W Ham, who received a new appointment, and though sorry to lose him in the ?Drake,? the whole crew wished him success in his home billet. The ship?s company again gave some practical sympathy to a late shipmate, C. Horne, stoker who was then in the royal Naval Hospital, Haslar, having had his leg amputated. The handsome sum of ?59 18s (including ?10 from the canteen) was given him, which he gratefully acknowledged.
At 9 a.m., 24th July after having adjusted compasses in Stokes Bay, we proceeded to Portland.
We had onboard Princess Henry of Battenberg, her yacht, the ?Schella,? keeping us company. We arrived in the afternoon; the eastern division of the battle squadron arriving soon afterwards, and before dark the ?Victorious? also arrived with the western division.
The admiral will see but little of his squadron for some time, as they are now scattered for various purposes. The ?Duke of Edinburgh? is away at experimental firing, and joins us at Bangor; the ?Black Prince? is having her fire control re-adjusted; the ?Berwick? is up at Berwick receiving a presentation plate; the ?Cornwall? at Berehaven surveying; and the ?Cumberland? at Gibraltar being fitted with fire control.
Several social functions occurred while at Portland, and some dinner parties were given in the flagships, which included the presence of the Princess Henry of Battenberg.
The men were granted special leave nightly, and weekend leave was also given to enable those who so desired to join their domestic circle.
Several cricket matches were arranged and played by the teams of the ships.
On August 2nd the squadron prepared for sea, and sailed at 4 p.m. for a cruise round Ireland in company with the Atlantic fleet. Three cruisers and three battleships, all acting with the Cruiser Squadron, were temporarily under the command of Prince Louis, who daily exercised them at scouting duties, acting as a screen for the main fleet, which remained astern some twenty or thirty miles distant. While at sea Prince Louis presented Leading Seamen George Burnham with the admiralty silver Medal, he being the best shot in the ship with a heavy gun during the gun layers test for 1905; having fired 10 rounds, making eight hits. Burnham also possesses a bronze medal awarded to him as one of a gun?s crew in H.M.S. ?Terrible,? which ship established the highest record for 1900 with a 6-inch gun, which fired nine rounds with weight hits.
On the afternoon of the 4th, the cruisers were recalled, and the squadron formed into two divisions, the ?Drake? leading the second division. Anchors were dropped at 5.30 p.m. The Royal Ulster Yacht club displayed the signal, ?Welcome to Belfast Lough.? The officers of the fleet were made honorary members of the principal social and sporting clubs.
August 6th, Bank Holiday was spent at Bangor, and every advantage was given the Irish people to view the fleet. Special excursion trains were run from all parts, and the town of Bangor was literally crowded with visitors. Though a public holiday, the forenoon was devoted to general drills and evolutions. At noon general leave was granted till 9 a.m. next morning, and almost everyone who could land went ashore. The squadron have a searchlight display after dark, working the lights together forming some very pretty devices, which was much appreciated by the shore folk.
Thirty-five officers from the fleet attended a garden party given by Colonel James M?Calmont, M.P., and Mrs M?Calmont, at their residence, Magheramorne. The officers were conveyed to Whitehead in picket boats, where a special train was in waiting. The men thoroughly enjoy themselves while on leave; the people were most hospitable, and made our stay as pleasant as possible.
A fleet sailing handicap race was arranged by the members of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club. Each boat had to be sailed by a midshipman or a warrant officer. The members of the same club courteously lent five one raters to the officers of the fleet, who also raced. Unfortunately, the wind was very light, and after three hours sailing both races were abandoned till the next day. In the evening the officers were entertained to dinner by the members of the club.
Two hundred men from the fleet attended a reception in the Central Hall, Belfast, given by the Belfast and Suburban District Lodge of the International Order of Good Templars. District chief Templar Trimble occupied the chair. After pretaking of tea, the rest of the evening was devoted to pleasant recreation and musical selections.
The resailed race took place as arranged , under more favourable conditions than the previous day. The bay presented a very animated appearance with the 71 boats, which competed in eight classes. The course was almost a triangular one of six miles. Four prizes were given, and the following were the results: -
1st, Commonwealth?s (launch), sailed by Mid. W.
S. F. Macleod; 2nd Magnificent?s (pinnace), sailed
By Mid E. W. Sinclair; 3rd, commonwealth?s
(Cutter), sailed by Mid. H. B. Wrey; 4th Victorious?s
(launch), sailed by Mid R. D. Graham.
The ?Drake? was usually open to visitors from 1 p.m. till sunset; and several steamers from Belfast landed their passengers onboard. It was estimated that on one occasion over 2,000 visitors were onboard at the same time.
The members of the Royal Ulster Yacht Club, bent on making sport, considerately gave a prize of ?5 to the winning tug of war team, which contest took place on their lawn at the club house, before a large aned fashionable assemblage. The team from the ?Magnificent? won the prize, after a series of spirited contests.
Mr J. Lepper presented the prize and complimented the victors on their splendid exhibition of strength and skill. The teams afterwards gave cheers for the club.
Next day, 11th was a great day of sport, first, in the forenoon, the subordinate officers race for the Battenberg Cup was rowed over a course one-mile straight. Each ship of the Atlantic Fleet entered a boat, 10 starting, and rowing the race between the lines of ships. The race was hotly contested throughout, the competing boats struggling hard to wrestle the cup from the ?Drake.? At the start our crew had the misfortune to break an oar, which put them to disadvantage, but another was quickly got out, and they won by one boat?s length. Time 10 min 29 4-5th seconds. The victory was celebrated in the gunroom, the cup being put to practical use several times that evening!
The Lord Mayor and members of the Belfast Corporation entertained 50 officers and 500 men at luncheon in the Exhibition Hall. The party preceded under the command of Captain the Hon Horace L. Hood D.S.O., M.V.O., ?Berwick,? and travelled by special train from Bangor to Belfast, where special electric trams were awaiting them. The hall was artistically decorated with flags, trophies, and floral devices. The high-class character of the menu was a great surprise to the party. The Lord Mayor took the chair, Captain Hood being on his right. After luncheon loyal toasts were proposed, when the Lord Mayor proposed ?The King,? and in doing so added, ?Long may he rule over this great empire.?
Alderman Sir James Henderson, D. L. Then gave the toast, ?The Navy and the Army.?
Captain Hood, in responding, returned thanks to the Lord Mayor and Corporation for the very hospitable manner in which they had entertained the fleet, not only that day in Belfast, but during the period of their stay.
The company then adjourned to the Botanical Gardens Park, where a most enjoyable hour was spent. The return to the station was a most enthusiastic march, the men being cheered all along the route.
At Bangor a rowing regatta was organised by a committee of the R.U.Y.C., who kindly gave very substantial prizes to be competed for. That evening the massed bands of the fleet played on shore on the esplanade, the admission money being handled over to the funds of the Bangor Nursing Society.
One evening, the Theatre Royal, Belfast, was set apart as a special naval night in honour of our visit. The performance of ?Mollentrave on Women? was under the patronage of Vice Admiral Sir W May, K.C.V.O., and the officers of the fleet, large numbers of whom attended as well as petty officers and men.
At 4 p.m. the fleet sailed for Lough Swilly. On departing the battery at the R.U.Y.C. gave the admiral a farewell salute of fifteen guns. Our pleasant stay in Belfast Lough will be long remembered by the Atlantic fleet.
During the passage the fleet was exercised at tactics, and on the 15th we entered the Lough and anchored off Rathmullen in the evening. We remained here six days and it rained almost all the time. Leave was granted daily, and the railway company ran a special train in the mornings to the historical city of Derry.
The Earl of Shaftesbury generously placed his moors at the disposal of the officers, and undeterred by the rain several of the sportive inclined spent a couple of days with the gun or at rod fishing.
On Sunday it actually ceased raining for an hour or so, and the sun peeped through the clouds as if to welcome the numbers of visitors who ventured onboard.
Early on Monday we unmoored and proceeded down the Lough. When clear of land the cruisers were spread out thirty miles from the ?King Edward BII.? The battleships ?Magnificent? and ?Commonwealth,? which left the previous evening, were acting as an enemy intent on getting through to the main fleet without being molested by the cruisers. In the afternoon a thick fog came on, and the exercise was abandoned, and the fleet reformed. In the morning it had lifted, but ir made our arrival in the Shannon late, and owing to the strong tide the fleet moored off Tarbert shortly after noon on the 22nd.
Next morning the battle fleet moved up off Foynes. While here the massed bands of the fleet played on the Exhibition Grounds. It rained in torrents all day, so no one landed except the mess stewards. All through the night a hurricane wind prevailed, accompanied by a torrential downpour, and the engines were kept ready for use if necessary. The weather moderated next day, the 24th, and our admiral (Prince Louis) decided to leave for Gibraltar as arranged.
At 8 a.m. the 2nd Cruiser Squadron left the battle fleet at Foynes, which proceeded to Kingstown and Queensland before following on to Gibraltar.
In clearing the river speed was gradually worked up an eight hours full power trial, and 16 hours three-fifths trial. Nasty heavy seas were breaking over our starboard bow and the weather was hazy. Within two hours the ?duke of Edinburgh,? ?Black Prince? and ?Berwick? were left far astern. The ?Cornwall? was gradually heading us, and when the trials finished she was nearly twelve miles ahead. The result of the full power trial was-?Cornwall? 23.8 knots, ?Drake? 23.2, ?Duke of Edinburgh? 22.4, ?Black Prince,? 20.5. The ?Berwick? had a slight breakdown and had proceeded at easy steam only.
A New Version Of An Old Story
Vide December 1905, ?Second Cruiser Squadron
?Can?t you go a little faster?? said the Cornwall to the Drake,
?There are three more ships behind you and they?re waiting for your wake.
I?m sorry we can?t wait for you, but we?ve no time to spare
For we?re bound for far Gibraltar and we?re anxious to be there
May we, can we, shall we, dare we, did we start to chase,
Could we, might we, should we, mais oui, have we won the race?
?We?ve not met you,? said the Conrwall, ?since that 25th June,
When we trod upon your coat tails, though you reached the tape too soon.
If you will kindly lead us, just to show the way it?s done,
We will make our best endeavour to be with you in the fun.
?we do not mind how fast you go, you need not be afraid
Of leaving us and setting out upon a lone hand raid.
You?ve got some sturdy ducklings and I think ere close of day,
You may find that one or other may dispute the right of way.
?you have made some grand old records of which you are justly proud,
And among the modern cruisers they?ll not find you in the crowd;
While, if once you must be beaten, still some comfort it should be
That the Second Cruiser Squadron holds the record of the sea.?
The squadron arrived at Gibraltar on the forenoon of the 28th. The ?Cumberland? was here to greet us, her refit almost completed.
To foster sport in the evenings during our probable stay of two months at Gibraltar water polo matches were organised and 22 teams formed. A swimming class was also commenced here, and it was surprising to note the number if men who cannot really swim, but who made pretence of so doing.
The Chilian training corvette ?General Baquedano? arrived here and exchanged the customary official salutes. It is now quite a novelty to see a man of war ship rigged.
The 2Cumberland? was detached and preceded to Marseilles to represent the British Navy on the occasion of President Fallieres visit to the Colonial Exhibition there. The admiral took in her to Tetuan, where he hoisted his flag onboard the ?Duke of Edinburgh,? and afterwards transferred it to the ?Black Prince,? and personally witnessed their gun layers competitions.
The death of Rear Admiral Sir Edward Chichester, Bart, was signalled to the fleet early on the 16th, he having succumbed from pneumonia after a very brief illness at his official residence here. Well known throughout the service he was probably the most popular Admiral Superintendent who had commanded at Gibraltar, where his great personality and affability had endured him to all classes.
Next day the United States Cruiser Squadron, commanded by Rear Admiral Brownson, sent a wireless message extending to the admirals, captains, and to the family of the deceased admiral the expression of their regret at the news, which they received by wireless. The squadron, comprising the ?West Virginia,? ?Pennsylvania,? ?Maryland,? and ?Colorado,? arrived and anchored two hours later.
Preparations were meanwhile made for conveying the body to England by the battleship ?Formidable,? then homeward bound from Malta to pay off. The funeral cortege left the Mount in the evening, the entire route being lined with troops, while minute guns were fired and flags half masted. A procession of over 1,000 mourners followed, including 100 officers and men from the American squadron.
The ?Formidable? sailed at 7 p.m., and at sunset the deceased admiral?s flag on the ?Cormorant? was slowly lowered. (Rear Admiral Goodrich, M.V.O., succeeded to the position of Admiral Superintendent.)
The series of entertainments previously arranged in honour of the American squadron commenced on the 20th with a large dinner party onboard the ?Victorious,? Rear Admiral Egerton; and the warrant officers of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron entertained the American warrant officers at dinner onboard the ?Drake,? where covers were laid for 85. The quarterdeck and spacious ball deck were beautifully decorated and illuminated. After dining the guests were entertained with vocal and musical talent, recitations, etc. The usual loyal toasts of King and President were given, and also those of Rear Admirals Brownson and Prince Louis of Battenberg. Rear Admiral Brownson and Flag Captain Kerr were both present, and each made speeches in flattering terms of the warrant officers of both navies. Similar grouping in pairs of American and British ships took place as at the New York ceremonials.
Next day, a polo match was played between a naval team and the Royal Munster Fusiliers before the large number of our American guests; the naval team being defeated by 4 goals to 3.
The officers of the Atlantic Fleet were ?At Home? to the American officers on the ground.
In the evening the American officers were dined onboard their respective ?opposite number ships,? and later attended an evening party onboard the ?Drake,? given by the rear admiral, captains, and officers of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, the invitation being also extended to the military officers in Gibraltar. The ?Drake?s? band rendered selections, and Surgeon Hunt delighted the guests with his sketches of famous personages. It was well into the early hours of next morning before the merry assemblage broke up.
The American officers were taken over to a picnic at Tangier next day in H.M.S. ?Diamond.? On landing after luncheon the visitors divided into small parties and were shown round the town by native guides; to each section being attached a British naval officer. The party returned to Gibraltar at 9 p.m., when the American officers returned to their ships highly pleased with the excursion.
During the afternoon a cricket match was played between the squadron and the garrison, when the 2nd Cruiser Squadron officers were ?At Home? on the cricket ground to the American officers who had not been able to go to Tangier. That evening Vice Admiral Sir W May invited the American admiral and principal officers to dinner onboard his flagship. ?King Edward VII.?
The ship?s companies of the ?Drake,? ?Berwick,? ?Black Prince? and ?Cornwall? also entertained the ship?s companies of the ?West Virginia,? ?Maryland,? ?Colorado? and ?Pennsylvania? to a supper and a smoking concert. Each ship entertained about 500, dining tables being specially erected on the upper decks. A capital menu was provided, and after supper the ?Drake?s? gave a very successful theatrical entertainment on the quarterdeck. The harbour resounded with cheer after cheer as the guests departed who had apparently enjoyed the festivities, which had lasted till midnight.
The other ship had also entertained in a similar style; the ?Cornwall? having the fortunate co-operation of the dramatic company of the Duke of Cornwall?s battalion laying here. Every effort to promote the convivial intercourse between the two navies, with the limited resources of the Rock, was put forward by everyone.
At 7.30 a.m., 23rd, the American squadron sailed for Naples, en route for China, an enthusiastic send off being accorded them on departing. Messages were continued by wireless signal to our commander in chief thanking him for the hospitalities extended to the squadron during their short visit to Gibraltar.
The ?Cumberland? returned and reported that the visit to Marseilles was an exceptional reminiscence. President Falliere?s visit to the exhibition there was made the occasion of another demonstration of the Anglo French entente cordiale. Captain Story officially conveyed to the French President the good wishes of King Edward and of the British fleet, and the President had requested the captain to thank his Majesty for his greetings and the fleet for their expression of good will. At banquets and luncheon the visiting ships were feted, and the crews freely fraternised with the French with that amity and spirit which tends to strengthen our international friendships.
After many committee meetings for a 2nd Cruiser Squadron Association Football League, certain approved rules were brought into force, and Lieutenant Rankin accepted the duties of honorary secretary.
The 28th of September will long be remembered at the Rock. Violent thunderstorms, accompanied by torrential rains, lasted for some twelve hours. Four inches of rain fell, and certain military quarters, also several houses, and numbers of streets were flooded. The storm so severely damaged the railway line in Spain that the mail was delayed several days. The fearful rush of water down the precipitous streets carried almost everything before it into the sea, including trees, cattle and an immense quantity of cork. The bay was literally covered with debris. Next day was beautifully fine-a calm after a storm.
The captain and officers of the ?Cornwall? very kindly presented a Tug of War Challenge Cup to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron to be completed for by a team from each ship. Rules were drawn up and programme of events decided. At the first competition the ?Berwick? lost to the ?Black Prince,? and the ?Cornwall? beat the ?Duke of Edinburgh.? In the final the ?Cornwall? beat the ?Black Prince? with two pulls, and thus were first custodians of the cup.
A swimming race was held in the Alexandra Dock, which is 185 yards long, and seven of the ?Drake?s? competed. Lieutenant Rankin acted as judge. The race caused plenty of enthusiasm, the dockside being lined with spectators. Leading Seaman Malone won the first prize, A. B. Jorden second, and Leading Seaman Lefour third.
An interesting war game was played in the garrison classrooms between the marine officers of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (Blue) versus the Atlantic Fleet marine officers (Red). Major Evans, and the Reds by Major Hire R.M.A commanded the Blues. Brevet-Lieut-Colonel Chapman acted as chief umpire, and decided the game in favour of the cruiser officers.
At a shooting contest held here our team defeated the Royal Engineers by 39 points, Colour-Sergeant Beddow making the highest score with 91 points.
During one afternoon, when playing off the final polo tie at Campermento (Spain), between fleet officers and the Royal Engineers a fatal accident occurred to Lieutenant St J. G. Spackman, R.E. When hitting the ball down towards the goal he came into collision with one of the opposing side. Both ponies fell, and Lieutenant Spackman?s rolled over him. He quickly received medical assistance, but unluckily succumbed to his injuries. The sad event naturally cast a gloom of sorrow over both naval and military circles. His body was brought over and conveyed to the military hospital on our field gun carriage drawn by bluejackets. At the funeral almost all the naval and military officers attended.
When coaling here on the 11th October the ?Duke of Edinburgh? made a record in naval evolutions by shipping 1,420 tons, averaging 316 tons an hour. The commander in chief congratulated the ship on their splendid performance and endurance.
At the final in the polo tournament for the new open Garrison Polo Challenge Cup, played at the Campermento grounds between teams of the Royal Navy and the Duke of Cornwall?s L.I. the latter team won by 5 goals to 1, some spirited play being witnessed. Mrs Mark Kerr afterwards presented the handsome cup to the captain of the winning team, which is the first to hold this fine trophy.
As the work of fitting our fire control was nearing completion we shipped 1,650 tons of coal on the 18th October. On the same day Prince Louis officially inspected the ?Cornwall? and witnessed several exercises and drills, and on the conclusion of his inspection, congratulated them on the high state of efficiency of the ship.
The recent conversion of the Empire Theatre into a naval canteen has supplied a much needed want, which has been felt for many years; the place being much congested when several ships are present giving leave.
The American visit was kept green in our memory by a letter received from Rear Admiral Evans, U.S. flagship ?Maine,? to Rear Admiral Prince Louis, H.M.S. ?Drake,? which read as follows: -
My dear Admiral-I take pleasure in informing you that the race for the Battenberg Challenge Cup, which was presented by the men of your squadron, took place on September 12th last at Bar Harbour, Maine.
In view of the beauty of the cup and the value attached to the sentiment, which prompted the gift, much interest was manifested in this race both by the ships concerned and the cottagers and others at Bar Harbour.
Perfect weather conditions prevailed, and the race was a most excellent one from every point of view. There was no certainty that any ship would win it above the others, and the race was not definitely decided until the finish line was very closely approached, at which point the racing cutter from the ?Illinois,? won by a very few feet ahead of that from the ?Missouri?; the other boats were very close behind them, too.
It is to be hoped that we may have the pleasure of seeing this cup pulled for by the crews of the United States and British vessels at the same time.
The artisans and dockyard officials berthed onboard the ?Hercules? very kindly subscribed a sum of money which they distributed in prizes to the 2nd Cruiser Squadron for a boxing and wrestling contest onboard their ship. The sport opened with a ball-punching exhibition, which lasted fifteen minutes. Then followed several boxing and wrestling bouts of spirited action, which evoked much enthusiasm from the mixed audience.
The artisans were very pleased with their evening?s sport, and cordially thanked all the competitors.
At the autumn meeting of the Gibraltar Jockey Club, which commenced on the 19th, the races were very well patronised in spite of a severe Levanter. General leave was granted from noon, and numerous bluejackets steered for the racecourse, bent on winning or losing a dollar, or two. All the notables of Gibraltar were present, including H. E. the Governor and the naval commander in chief, the junior admirals and generals, and numerous naval and military officers and their ladies. Flag Captain Mark Kerr won the mile and a distance race on Lutter, coming in a head in front of the second horse, thus winning the Tesorillo Plate. Our gunnery lieutenant also won the sporting steep chase match of one and a half miles on Rufus.
On the 23rd, the Atlantic Battle Fleet left for Tetuan to carry out their battle firing under the Director of Target Practice (Sir Percy Scott) and several military officers from the garrison embarked in each ship to witness the firing. The ?Cornwall? also went out with Prince Louis onboard to carry out her battle practice, prior to having her fire control fitted, while the squadron proceeded to Aranci Bay the following month for battle firing.
The second day of the races was held on the 26th. There was a sparse attendance owing to the absence of the battle fleet. Flag Captain Kerr was successful in winning the polo championship on Mr C. Lario?s Cintra, and he also rode home three seconds places and one third, viz, the Windmill Hill Scurry, Andalusian Plate, Castellar Plate, and the Morocco Plate, and Lieutenant Walwyn and midshipman Phillips rode second and third respectively in the Polo Championship. The Garrison Steeplechase was a splendid race, won by Lieutenant Sherbrooke on his own pony Togo, while Sub-Lieutenant Bevan was second on Gosling Green.
On the third and last day of the races the battle fleet had returned, which made the course much livelier. The Naval Plate, value 3,000 pesetas, was a handicap to be ridden by officers of the Royal Navy, five furlongs distance. Sub Lieutenant Bevan, ?Drake,? riding Chronicle, and Lieutenant Sherbrooke, of the ?King Edward VII,? on Togo, rode a dead heat. After the last race, and almost in the dark, the race was run off, Captain Mark Kerr riding Chronicle in the place of Sub-Lieutenant Bevan, while Lieutenant Sherbrooke again rode Togo. Chronicle made nearly the whole of the running and won by two lengths. Lieutenant Walwyn won the final Plate, riding Game Fox, beating Mr North?s well-known King?s Messenger by a length.
On the same day the ?Drake?s? shooting team tried their skill against the Royal Engineers, defeating them by 29 points. The ?Drake?s? averaged 79.62, and the Royal Engineers 76.
On the 29th and 30th the Atlantic fleet rowing regatta was held here, which meant an informal holiday for two days. The course was between the lines of ships, and we had a capital view of each finish. The ?King Edward VII?s,? ?Drake?s? and ?Victorious? officers were ?At Home? to officers of the garrison and their families during each afternoon. The weather on the first day was ideal for rowing races, but Boreas was unfavourable to the second day?s sport, for the long course races encountered a loppy sea at the northern entrance. Flag Captain Leveson, ?King Edward VII,? was president of the committee of officers, and Commander Buller, ?Drake,? officiated as judge.
Prizes were given for the two best rigged ?copper punts.? In every ship a certain number of men with inventive brains spend several days of labour rigging the punt (Which otherwise is used for cleaning and painting the outer ship?s sides, etc) in some style of resemblance, usually of a large ship, either ancient or modern, or of some freaky object. The first prize was awarded to the ?Victorious? ?motor car,? which contained two vivacious tars dressed in fair sex attire, who certainly resembled a pair of charming lady motorists. The ?New Zealands? ?Prehistoric Peeps, after E. T. Reed,? took second prize. Several other punts competed, rigged either in emblematical or humorous style; amongst them was a miniature ?Cornwall? making bullseyes on a battle target, which attracted much attention.
The blue ribbon of the regatta, the ?Fellowes Cup,? an officer?s race, was won by the ?Drake?s? crew, as also was the subordinate officers race. The 2nd Cruiser Squadron was fairly successful, and carried off their full share of the prizes.
The ?Drake?s? twenty-two water polo teams competed for the two cash prizes, kindly given by the officers, and besides causing considerable sport, converted many casual bathers into expert swimmers. The final was decided between the maintop men and the 1st Watch of Stokers, in the presence of numerous spectators, several officers and men from the Chilean training ship ?General Baquedano? being invited to witness the sport. The maintop men won the first prize scoring 4 goals to 1, captained by P.O. 1st Class Allen. The stokers, captained by Stoker 1st Class Gore, received the second prize. Three good teams were now selected to represent the ship, and termed the ?Drake?s? 1st, 2nd and 3rd teams, and in the matches they played secured many victories and rarely suffered defeat.
November 1st-All the 2nd Cruiser Squadron (except the ?Cornwall?) left at 10 a.m. for Malaga to be reviewed by the King and Queen of Spain. The French Cruiser ?Jeannie d?Arc,? with the French Minister of Marine onboard, was passed in the Straits, also bound to Malaga, and saluted with 19 guns.
The ships proceeded very slowly during the night, and anchored outside the breakwater at Malaga early next morning. Most of the forenoon was occupied with the usual ceremonial visits and generally preparing for the coming of their Majesties on the morrow.
King Alfonso and Queen Victoria Eugenie arrived shortly afternoon on the 3rd (Saturday) and embarked onboard the Spanish battleship ?Pelayo,? receiving from all ships as they embarked a royal salute of 21 guns. The ships were dressed, and guards and bands were paraded, the Spanish National Anthem being played. Prince Louis and captains then boarded the ?Pelayo,? and were received by their Majesties. Prince Louis and Prince Alexander remained onboard to lunch with their Majesties, who, in the afternoon, visited the ?Drake,? when our squadron manned ship and fired a royal salute. The Spanish Royal Standard was hoisted at the main, and a guard of 100 marines received the royal party, the band playing the Spanish National Anthem. King Alfonso inspected the guard of honour, and took much interest in those who were wearing war medals. The ship was afterwards inspected from the upper deck even down to the engine room, which place appeared to offer much interest to his Majesty, who expressed himself as highly pleased with the ?Drake.? In the evening the King and Queen, together with a distinguished party of Spanish nobles and officials, dined onboard the ?Drake? with Prince Louis.
As the royal barge left the ?Pelayo? the squadron instantly illuminated, the ?Drake? displaying the Spanish Standard at the main and our admiral?s flag at the fore, upon which the searchlights of two ships were directed. Enormous crowds assembled along the sea front to witness the illuminations. The Spaniards appeared much delighted and impressed with the foreign appreciation of their King and Queen, the latter having taken a large share of their affection.
Next day (Sunday) King Alfonso visited the ?Black Prince,? and was received onboard by the rear admiral, who had temporarily hoisted his flag onboard. The King remained on board for two hours, and minutely inspected that modern cruiser, and expressed great satisfaction with her apparent fighting qualities. That night the squadron again illuminated. Their Majesties took their final departure at 2 p.m. next day, when royal salutes were again fired as they left the ?Pelayo? and reached the shore. Shortly afterwards we weighed anchor and shaped course for Aranci Bay. The French cruiser, ?Jeannie d?Arc,? and the Spanish flagship, ?Pelayo,? both signalled ?Good bye,? to which message we replied, thanking them, and also added that the squadron felt honoured with the Spanish Sovereigns visit.
King Alfonso with the Naval Honour of Merit presented the admiral and each captain in the squadron.
We arrived at Aranci Bay the afternoon of the 7th, and at once began arrangements for the battle practice. Artisans and a working party from each ship landed and camped on Figarello Island each day to build and repair the targets as necessary. The first seven days of our stay here were entirely devoted to gunnery exercises, each ship firing independently.
On the 9th November King Edward?s birthday was right royally celebrated. At 8 a.m. all ships were dressed, and at noon all the officers appeared dressed in full uniform, and assembled on the quarter deck, and punctually at 12 o?clock the ships each fired a salute of 21 guns, the bands afterwards playing the National Anthem, while all officers and men sang the first verse. At the conclusion of the ceremony three hearty British cheers rang out over the bay from 3,600 throats. The remainder of the day was observed as a holiday. In the evening Prince Louis gave a birthday dinner party onboard, attended by all captains and six other officers from each ship. The admiral proposed his Majesty?s health, and the National Anthem was sung with great fervour, and at the conclusion cheers were given in true loyal style.
On the 13th the admiral began his inspections of the squadron, commencing with the ?Duke of Edinburgh.? Two whole days were devoted to each ship, which invariably hoisted his flag onboard during the inspection. For the next fourteen days, according to programme, the ships went outside daily for gunnery practices, and returned to the anchorage independently each evening on completion.
On the 17th the ?Drake? left for Maddallena, where the admiral paid the Italian Commander in Chief an offical visit. We returned to Aranci in the evening and anchored, it being only a distance of 50 miles there and back. Earl on the 20th we paid another visit to Maddallena for the purpose of discharging two men to the naval hospital there for treatment. When off the mouth of the Straits a torpedo boat met us and conveyed the patients onshore. We then returned to Aranci, and at 9 a.m. Prince Louis went onboard the ?Berwick? to complete his inspection, while we went outside for gunnery exercises.
The whole of the next day was occupied in calibrating, and at 6 p.m. we returned to harbour and anchored. That evening our captain gave a lecture onboard the ?Berwick? on the ?Life of Nelson,? and numbers of officers and men from other ships attended. At its conclusion Captain Hood thanked the lecturer, on behalf of the officers and men, for a very interesting and instructive lecture.
The following letter, which was received and published for general information, formed very pleasant reading: -
16th November 1906
Sir I have received and laid before my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty the returns showing the results obtained by the ships of the Second Cruiser Squadron in the Annual Test of Gunlayers with heavy guns for the year 1906.
To ?Drake,? ?Duke of Edinburgh,? ?Cumberland.? For information and report as regards para 3. It affords me the greatest pleasure to promulgate this expression of their Lordships appreciation of these ships firing.
I desire that this letter be read to the ship?s company assembled on the quarter deck, and that a company assembled on the quarter deck, and that a copy be placed on the notice board on the lower deck.
(Sugned) Louis Battenberg
22nd November 1906
Almost needless to write, the receipt of this letter, coming at is did at such an opportune time, acted as a stimulant prior to the battle practice then impending.
In the gun layers test for 1906 the ?Drake? was No 1 with a total of 124.49; the ?Cumberland? No 2 with 121.28; and the ?Duke of Edinburgh? coming close with 110.77.
Early on the 23rd the practice was resumed, with excellent results, and in the evening we returned to the anchorage for the weekend. As a reminder, on the notice board was hung the photo of the target, which we fired at last year, showing 33 hits-?Lest we forget.?
On November 27th, the preparations for the battle firing were now executed, and the ?Black Prince? left for Civitta Vecchia to bring across Rear Admiral Sir Percy Scott (the Director of Target Practices).
At 11 a.m. next day the squadron weighed and took up positions for battle firing. The ?Black Prince? returned at noon, having made a smart run across at 21 knots speed.
At the conclusion of the battle practice, which had lasted some three days, the respective scores recorded for each ship were as follows: -?Drake? 105, ?Cumberland? 64, ?Duke of Edinburgh? 55, ?Berwick? 37, ?Black Prince? 15.
Sir Percy Scott left in the mail steamer on his homeward journey, but before leaving he had the following placed on the notice board: -
To the officers of the ship?s company of H.M.S. ?Drake.?-I congratulate you on doing the best shooting that I have ever witnessed. You have made 105 hits, which places you at the head of the Navy in battle practice.
That evening the gunnery lieutenant entertained the gun layers, and thanked them for the able manner in which they had done their duty and so ably assisted in breaking the world?s shooting record. Every ship signalled their congratulations to the ?Drake.? As each ship had taken up her position for firing we signalled as follows: -
Captain, officers, and ship?s company of ?Drake? wish captain, officers, and ships company the very best of good luck, and hope that the squadron will be in the same place at battle practice as in the gun layers.
As we took station for firing the other ships wished us similar good luck, which fate ordained to be good luck indeed as the reward of our constant and special devotion to gunnery. Our captain briefly addressed all officers and men assembled on the quarterdeck, and expressed unqualified satisfaction with the firing. He said the ship had now achieved his desire as pronounced early in the commission, viz, to be the finest steaming ship, and the best shooting ship in the Navy. The 2nd Cruiser Squadron now stood first in the gun layers test, and first in battle practice. Before leaving Aranci a telegram was received from Vice Admiral Sir William May congratulating the squadron on the firing results.
The squadron sailed early on the 4th December for Gibraltar. As we entered the straits of Bonifacio it was then blowing almost a gale, with a heavy beam sea, which caused us to roll heavily. The gale increased as darkness set in, and when near the Gulf of Luons it blew with terrific force; the Duke of Edinburgh? losing both her lifeboats, the ?Black Prince? and ?Cumberland? both hauled out of the line and re-secured their boats, while the latter lost her wireless pole. At 10 p.m. that night a heavy sea struck us and carried away our starboard lifeboat. Huge seas swept the deck, and not a dry spot could be found in the ship. Seas even found their way down the engine room hatches. The smashing of crockery, glasses, etc, were sounds, which could be heard at frequent intervals. Speed was reduced, and the ships were ordered to proceed independently and to rendezvous five miles west from Cape de Gata.
Next morning the wind and sea had considerably abated, and during the forenoon we had steamed outside the storm zone into a calm sea, with a bright sun shining. The ships arrived at Gibraltar next afternoon, the 5th, except the ?Berwick,? which was 100 miles astern steaming slowly, having little coal onboard. All the Atlantic Fleet were here except three ships which had left for Tetuan to carry out long-range firing.
The squadron commenced coaling early next morning, and finished at 6.30 p.m. the ?Drake? receiving 1,800 tons.
The following gratifying telegram was received from the Admiralty today, and posted up for general information: -
The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty express high appreciation result of battle practice Second Cruiser Squadron, ?Drake? and ?Cumberland? in particular. Convey to captains, officers, and ships companies of both ships expression extreme satisfaction accordingly.
Another telegram from Commander in Chief, Mediterranean, read as follows: -
Mediterranean Squadron warmly congratulates you and ?Drake? on magnificent and brilliant performance battle firing. The whole service will be proud of the ?Drake.?
The result of the squadron?s half yearly ?night flashing test, made at the rate of ten words per minute, which took place at Aranci, was promulgated today throughout the fleet. The ?Drake? was first in order of merit, with an average of 96.2 per man, and the ?Duke of Edinburgh? second with 94.02.
A special attraction on the last day of our stay at Gibraltar for the bluejackets and marines was the final Association match for the Atlantic fleet Shield, between the ?King Edward VII? and the ?Duke of Edinburgh,? the champion teams of the Atlantic fleet and the 2nd Cruiser Squadron respectively; the former ship winning easily by 3 goals to nil.
A letter was received here from the widow of our late shipmate, Private Hornsby R.M.L.I, gratefully acknowledging the sum of ?52 2s 6d for herself and two children, which the officers ship company and the canteen contractors jointly subscribed for.
The race for the Battenberg Cup took place prior to leaving. The event was the more interesting, especially for the ?Drake?s,? for our subordinate officers have won the trophy twice in succession. Exactly at eleven o?clock the race started, eleven boats competing, the course being from the northern entrance and finishing off at the dockyard, distance one mile straight. Two of the ?Drake?s? boats were contesting-the gig and gally. Our galley led the race with the ?New Zealand?s? second, and ?Hindustan? third, but at the half distance the gig spurted in surprising fashion, passing the galley and the ?New Zealand?s? boat and rowed splendidly to the finish, beating the galley by three lengths, the ?New Zealand?s? boat being three lengths behind the galley. Victory thrice in succession naturally elated the victors, who received showers of congratulations on their splendid performance. It was indeed a fine race.
To commemorate the event our captain, commander, and several wardroom officers dined in the gunroom that evening, and again, as of yore, the cup was made to fulfil another purpose besides posing as a trophy.
Winners of the Cup-Mid Freeman, Clerk Ayre Clerk Gaussen, Mid Bowly, Mid, Lyttelton, Mid Priestley, and Mid Phillips (cox).
At 3.30 p.m. 12th December, the battle fleet slipped and proceeded to England, and as they cleared the Moles our squadron followed, except the ?Berwick,? which ship will spend Christmas at the Rock. The ?Cornwall? was directed to follow on a couple of hours later, she having just finished a contractor?s steam trial.
The ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland? are now leaving the squadron to pay off on the 31st inst, and then re-commission the following day for duty with the Home fleet under the new fleet distribution scheme. Before finally parting the following farewell greetings were exchanged: -
?Drake? to ?Cornwall? and ?Cumberland?-All the ?Drake?s? wish you a very happy leave, and are very sorry to part with you.
Reply from ?Cornwall?: -
Thank you very much. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Awfully sorry to leave you, and hope we shall soon be together again.
Reply from ?Cumberland?: -
Thank you. It is with regret I leave your flag and the second Cruisers Squadron. The captain, officers, and men of ?Cumberland? hope that the rear admiral, the captain, officers, and men of the remainder of the squadron will enjoy a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
It was 5 p.m. by the time we formed up outside, and then the steam had worked to high pressure ready for the trials. Gradually our speed was increased, and at six o?clock the trial commenced. The ships were ordered to proceed independently, and at the expiration of the trial to go direct to their homeports. We soon overhauled the battle squadron, making good 23 knots an hour, with the Gibraltar mail onboard for England. H.E. the Governor, General Sir Forestier Walker, was also onboard as the guest of our admiral. Next afternoon we passed a Rusiian squadron going south.
That night we entered the Bay; the weather was fair, but a heavy N.W. swell made us roll considerably, and some heavy seas were shipped.
At midnight we completed our trial, with an average of 22 ? knots an hour. Speed was then reduced to 15 knots.
At daylight the following morning we passed the Channel fleet of fourteen ships, under the command of Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C. bound to Vigo.
We anchored at Spithead on the morning of the 15th, and later proceeded up harbour alongside the North Slip Jetty.
One half the ship?s company went on ten days leave from the 17th until the 28th inst, they being the fortunate ones to spend Christmas at their homes. Portsmouth station during the afternoon was crowded with thousands of merry faces, marines and bluejackets, with their various bundles of presents for those at home. The Portsmouth Division of the Atlantic Fleet, which had arrived some thirty hours after, were all proceeding on leave at the same time.
Our admiral struck his flag at sunset on the 18th, he having proceeded on leave of absence, hoisting the pennant in its stead.
With deep regret the sudden death of Richard Henry Carroll, E.R.A. is here recorded. He was taken ill on his way home on the 17th, and expired on the 19th. The funeral was a semi-naval one, and took place from his home at south sea. At the request of his relatives about eighty men and several, officers in uniform followed the cortege as a last honour of respect. The coffin was covered with the Union Jack, and among the several beautiful wreaths the most conspicuous was a huge of white flowers from the stokers, H.M.S. ?Drake.?
On the 20th inst, as the ensign was being hoisted at 9 a.m. a huge garland was also run up between our masts. ?Who is getting spliced?? was the question being generally asked. In dear old Dublin the secret was being un folded, as surgeon Arthur Thomposn, R.N., was that day spliced in holy matrimony at St. Bartholomew?s church to Miss Alice Telford, the only surviving daughter to John Gardiner Telford, Esq. Some evidently onboard were among the confidantes for his messmates, the ward room officers, sent a handsome present, as did also the gun room and the warrant officers messes, besides several individual presents. A future of matrimonial bliss was the vote of the entire ?Drake?s? to them both.
Christmas eve, as is usual in a man of war, was a busy period in the preparations of the dietary for the festive day itself. The mess deck was very artistically decorated with flags and evergreens, the mistletoe bough not being forgotten, for many of the feminine gender were expected as guests onboard.
The usual naval custom was observed on Christmas Day. All the officers onboard, piloted by Lieutenant Wakerfield (acting as captain) walked round the mess deck headed by an extemporised band, as the bandsmen were all on leave, and the bluejackets and marines commandeered their instruments and managed to eject sounds which were intended to resemble ?The Roast Beef of Old England.? At the conclusion of the informal inspection, which was humorously and seasonably performed in old time naval fashion, lieutenant Wakefield, on behalf of the admiral, captain and officers, wished the men a very merry Christmas. The remainder of the day was entirely devoted to conviviality.
The first watch returned on the morning of the 28th, the second watch being ready to relieve their comrades and likewise proceed to spend their ten days with friends and families.
New Year?s Day of 1907 was ushered in onboard the ?Drake? by the ancient custom striking the ship?s bell sixteen times at midnight on the 31st-eight timed for the old year and eight for the new. Plenty of eager hands are always ready to perform this ceremony, but the officer of the watch had forestalled would be operators and had taken the tongue out, performing that office himself. At the same time the engines in the locomotive sheds were set whistling, and the merchant steamers lying in the harbour lent the doleful wail of the siren to the general noise.
About 1 a.m. in the morning of the 3rd, a cold, bleak, dark night, a general signal was flashed ordering all ships to send their fire party to the Gun wharf, which was then ablaze. Our brigade got away quickly, under the command of Lieutenant Goldie, and returned valuable assistance. Over a quarter of a million pounds worth of damage was done to Government property and stores. The party returned onboard at 4 a.m. more or less wet through, and clothes damaged. The Commander in Chief issued a general memorandum stating what valuable service the ships fire parties had rendered, and that the men were to receive the usual extra pay and compensation for damage to clothes.
On the 10th the second watch returned from leave, and quickly settled down to man of war routine again, and prepared for coaling ship. Owing to the non-arrival of the collier from Cardiff, dockyard lighters were got alongside, and by 6 p.m. we had cleared them of 821 tons. During the coaling our captain assembled all hands on the quarterdeck, and read the following gratifying letter: -
I have great satisfaction in acquainting you that I have received the King?s commands to convey to you, the officers and men under your orders, His Majesty?s high appreciation of the admirable results obtained by his ship under your command in the gun layers test and battle practice for 1906, which places the ?Drake? at the head of the entire fleet.
This is to be read out to the ship?s company on the quarterdeck as soon as the second watch is back from leave.
At 7 a.m. next morning, the 12th we recommenced coaling from the collier, and finished at 4 p.m., shipping 1,029 tons.
Early on the 14th, with the ?Black Prince,? we proceeded to Portland in company with the Portsmouth division of the Atlantic fleet. The eastern division and the ?Duke of Edinburgh? joined off St Albans head, and took up station in the line. At 3 p.m. we dropped anchors in Portland Roads. The duration, then we go south to take part in the forthcoming Lagos manoeuvres.
Vice Admiral Sir William May issued a long programme of drills and exercises to be carried out while here. Leave will be granted, as usual, till the morning, arrangements being made for the Weymouth Company?s steamers to run to and fro at convenient times.
Prince Louis returned onboard on the 17th and rehoisted his flag.
The Admiralty?s returns, showing the results of battle practice in H.M. fleet, was issued yesterday, 16th inst, as follows : -
At the head of the list stands the Second Cruiser Squadron of six ships, with an average of 264.7 points. Next comes the China Squadron, with 250.6 points. The Atlantic fleet third with 233.2 points, throughout the whole Navy the first three places of merit are taken by the Atlantic fleet, viz; ?Drake,? 478.3; ?Britannia,? 410.0; ?Cumberland,? 374.8. The following is the order of merit of our squadron: -
?Drake,? two 9.2 and sixteen 6-inchs, points 478.3.
?Cumberland,? fourteen 6in, points 374.8.
?Duke of Edinburgh,? six 9.2in and ten 6in, points 281.9.
?Berwick,? fourteen 6in, points 216.7.
?Cornwall,? fourteen 6in, points 123.0
?Black Prince,? six 9.2in and ten 6in points 76.9.
Early on the 19th January the cruisers, under the command of Prince Louis, went to sea and exercised torpedo practice in very tough and stormy weather, returning to the anchorage again at 5 p.m. It being Accession Day, the fleet were dressed with flags, and a royal salute fired at noon.
This evening the ?King Edward VII? very reluctantly handed to the ?Drake? the Long Range Challenge Cup, accompanied by a very flattering note from the Commander in chief. After dinner our captain, with all the officers in the wardroom, toasted the cup, and several after dinner speeches were made concerning the luck, which had constantly, attended their efforts to win these trophies.
On the 23rd the funeral of our late shipmate, Albert Hoar (who died suddenly from heart failure on the 20th, at Weymouth, while on leave), took place at the Naval Cemetery, Portland, with full naval honours. The coffin was draped with the Union Jack, and completely covered with beautiful wreaths from the officers and ship?s company.
By sunset that evening the wind had considerably increased as a precautionary measure, the Vice Admiral ordered all ships to raise steam. By the morning hr wind gad subsided, and fires were again drawn.
The 24th and 25th inst were devoted to admiral?s inspection-Prince Louis inspecting his own flagship. The first day he inspected all officers and men, and then minutely inspected every nook and corner in the ship. The same evening a memorandum was issued by the admiral?s directions, stating how satisfactory was the result of the first day?s inspection, and that the ship was exceptionally clean in every part. The second day?s inspection commenced with. ?Clear for action,? when the admiral again went round and closely went into every detail of this important evolution. At noon all the officers and men were assembled on the quarterdeck, when the admiral informed them he had completed his official inspection, and that he considered his flagship all that would be expected or desired. He then presented to our captain the Long Range Challenge Cup, which Lord Charles Beresford had presented to the Channel fleet in 1903 (now the Atlantic Fleet), to be held by the ship making the best record at long range shooting, prior to the introduction of the battle practice as now carried out. In making the presentation, the admiral remarked upon the significant fact the previous holders of the trophy were all flagships, and asserted that it was the bounden duty of flagship to lead the way in efficiency, as well as in other directions. He concluded his inspiriting speech by saying that he could never forget the ?Drake,? his first flagship, which held the proud recorded of being the best shooting and fastest steaming ship in our Navy-or in any other. Captain, in thanking the admiral for making the presentation, testified to the feeling of the officer?s and ship?s company that the high position which the ship had attained was due to the capacity of the admiral in infusing those under his command with a vigorous spirit, and the necessity of doing their utmost, a capacity which in every ship he served in had produced the happiest results.
The 29th and 30th were devoted to tactical exercises, leaving the harbour at 9.30 a.m. and returning just before each evening. Both days we experienced very cold weather, with stormy winds blowing from the northwest, which made it less interesting to many, for usually during these manoeuvres when the PZ exercise are carried out, both officers and men watch the various moves and countermoves with keen interest.
From the 4th to the 6th of February the whole of the Atlantic Fleet completed with coal from colliers, preparatory to leaving for the great manoeuvres.
On the 7th, the battle fleet, numbering eight ships, and the cruisers, five in number, steamed away in a southwesterly direction bound for Lagos. The same forenoon, with all officers and men assembled on the quarterdeck, Prince Louis presented Captain Mark Kerr with a bronze statuette of Lord Nelson, mounted on an oak pedestal (the statuette was moulded by Princess Louise).
In making the presentation the admiral said that when he decided to give a trophy to be held by the ship which he had the best record at battle practice in a squadron commanded by himself, he was much exercised in his mind as to what from the trophy should take, but after much consideration, the fact that he had first hoisted his flag in the Nelson centenary year, induced him to present a trophy which would ever recall the memory of England?s greatest admiral, which he hoped would encourage everyone to emulate Nelson?s leading characteristic-devotion to duty. Having decided on the trophy he had next to find someone to execute it, but was difficulty was overcome by the Princess Louise coming to his assistance. He should ever remember with pride that the name of his flagship, the ?Drake,? would be inscribed upon it as the winner for the two first years.
On clearing Portland and cruisers were ordered to proceed and carry out wireless telegraphy exercises. Speed was increased to 14 knots, the ships gradually extending their distance from each other, with the battle fleet astern.
At 4 p.m. next day the wireless experiments ceased, and we received orders to rejoin the battle fleet. The two following days tactical exercises took place of a most interesting nature.
The ?Berwick? rejoined us on Sunday, the 10th, having completed her refit at Gibraltar. Early next morning the cruisers parted company from the battle, and steered almost due south to take up our allotted positions for certain exercises about to be executed. With the Atlantic Battle Fleet we were designated the Red Fleet, the red ensign hoisted at the main. The Channel Fleet, under Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C. was our supposed enemy?s coded cipher messages were being received from our scouts and from Vice Admiral sir William May, who was directing the operations which messages controlled our movements. It was 2 p.m. when the 2duke of Edinburgh,? ?Berwick? and ?Diamond? came steaming chased by the enemy?s cruisers. Quickly forming in line, action was bugled off, and before their pursuers were aware of the altered situation we all four chased them, getting well within the prescribed range with heavy guns bearing on them. They were ruled out of action, but we were just in time, for Admiral Wilson?s magnificent fleet of fourteen battleships and a dozen or more cruisers and scouts then hove in sight. Hostilities ceased with evenfall. The weather had been very rough throughout the operations.
The same evening, by an intercepted wireless message, we first heard of the collision between the ?Albermarle? and ?Commonwealth,? reporting that both ships had proceeded to Gibraltar to effect repairs.
The different squadrons re-formed during the night. At daylight on the 13th Admiral Wilson formed the ships up in anchoring order, four lines of battleships and four lines of cruisers, with the scouts ahead. This combined British fleet now consisted of first class battleships, 16 first-class armoured cruisers, seven second class cruisers, three third class cruisers, and three scout class every ship of modern construction, the most powerful array of fighting ships that had ever assembled under the direct command of one admiral.
The combined fleets shaped course for Lagos, where we arrived at 3.35 p.m., the ?Exmouth? saluting the country with 21 guns.
The forenoon of next day was devoted to interchange of official visits. In the afternoon a service sailing race was held, 135 boats competing, our lunch and galley, unfortunately, carried away their masts during the race.
On the 15th all was astir long before daylight. At 7 a.m. all the cruisers and scouts, 23 in number, weighed and proceeded to sea under the command of Prince Louis to carry out strategically exercises of a confidential nature. The battle fleet, under Admiral Wilson, put to sea in the forenoon, and also exercised, returning to their anchorage in the evening.
At daylight next morning the cruisers were re-called and formed up in three lines, with the ?Drake? leading the centre line. When entering the bay all ships displayed the Portuguese ensign at the main, and fired a royal salute in honour of ~King Carlos, who was flying his standard in his yacht, ?Queen Amelia.? Their Majesties the King and Queen of Portugal, and the Crown Prince, received all the flag officers and captains onboard the royal yacht during the forenoon. Another sailing race with private rigs took place in the afternoon, which was doubly interesting, for King Carlos gave a handsome cup to the winner, Commander Vivian, of the ?Irresistible,? who won in the first gig.
In the evening the admiral captain, and officers of the ?Caesar? were ?At Home? to an flag officers, captains and officers of the combined fleet. Their Majesties the King and Queen of Portugal and the Crown Prince attended the function, arriving at 10 p.m. Next day, Sunday their Majesties lunched with admiral Wilson onboard the ?Exmouth.? The fleet dressed with masthead flags and fired a royal salute on their Majesties going onboard, and again on leaving the flagship. All flag officers and senior captains dined in the evening with their Majesties onboard the royal yacht.
On Monday 18th the forenoon was spent at general competitive drill. After dinner the combined fleet prepared for sea, and proceeded at 4 o?clock to carry out war exercises. The Atlantic and Mediterranean battle fleets, with the 2nd and 3rd Cruisers Squadrons, versus the Channel Fleet and 1st Cruiser Squadron. On clearing the bay the fleets separated, the former going to the northwest, and the other fleet proceeding southwards. The general idea was for the cruiser to locate the enemy?s battle fleet and then inform their Commander in Chief without delay. This war evolution commenced at daybreak next morning, all ships having steam raised for full speed. At 10 p.m. the enemy?s cruisers were sighted on the horizon, and we steamed parallel with them, until Admiral Wilson?s battle fleet were observed being chased towards us by Admiral May?s fleet; the 3rd Cruiser Squadron not being far behind off their starboard quarter. The battle fleets fought an action, the 3rd Cruiser Squadron joining us, for when we combined we were of much superior strength to the enemy?s cruisers, which took the shelter of their battle fleet. At 2 p.m. the war game ceased, when all squadrons reformed and shaped course for Lagos, arriving there in the darkness. It was truly an instructive lesson to watch this huge fleet coming to the anchorage in perfect formation, without a single error-taking place in the movements.
Early on the 21st all ships unmoored, except the flagship ?Exmouth.? The cruiser left at 7 a.m. and separated for strategically exercises. Equally divided in strength, one half was commanded by Rear Admirals Barry, and the other half by Rear Admiral Neville, while Prince Louis lay off in the ?Drake? as chief umpire. The battleships left at 10 a.m. and separated for a similar exercise, the Channel fleet versus Atlantic and Mediterranean fleets, under the command of Vice Admiral Curzon Howe and acting Vice Admiral Bridgman respectively m with Sir William May in the ?king Edward VII? as chief umpire. The results, however, of these manoeuvres, are very properly treated as confidential. The exercises finished in the afternoon, when the fleet again returned to their anchorage. In the evening, onboard the ?Drake,? Prince Louis entertained the captains, of his squadron at a farewell dinner, and afterwards attended Admiral Wilson?s Darewell ?At Home? onboard the ?Exmouth.? Next day Prince Louis visited the ships of his squadron, and wished them good-bye.
The combined fleet sailed from Lagos in the afternoon, the ships proceeding to their different ports. The 2nd Cruiser Squadron now comprising only four ships, 2Drake,? ?Black Prince,? ?Devonshire,? and ?Antrim,? in company with the newly formed Atlantic fleet and the Mediterranean fleet, shaped course for Gibraltar, the remainder, under Admiral Sir A. K. Wilson, V.C. taking a northerly course. The gallant Admiral, while viewing from his bridge this magnificent fleet dispersing, must have felt proud of his last command, for he was now proceeding to England to strike his flag. He signalled as we departed Success to the new Atlantic Fleet.? We arrived at Gibraltar at 8 a.m. next morning, the 23rd.
That evening the wardroom officers entertained Prince Louis and captain and staff at a farewell dinner. Every officer in the ship was present, 59 all told. The usual loyal toasts were proposed and duly honoured, and then the captain submitted the toast of ?Our Admiral,? which was enthusiastically responded to, followed by three cheers. Prince Louis made a touching speech in reply, which deeply impressed everyone who had the honour to be present on that memorable occasion.
At 8 a.m. on the 24th we hoisted the flag of Prince Louis as a vice admiral, and the ?Devonshire? then hoisted the flag of Rear Admiral Charles Henry Adair, as commanding the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, who had succeeded Prince Louis in the command of the squadron. Prince Louis addressed al officers and men assembled on the quarterdeck, wishing them all ?Good bye?. He said it was unnecessary to remind them of what they had done, but the highest compliment which could be paid him and his flag captain was for the to serve their successors with equal loyalty to duty as had been hitherto displayed. The admiral then silently gave each officer a farewell shake of the hand, and walked over the gangway to join his new flagship, the ?Venerable.? Then, soon tenuously, all the men rushed on the Mole, forming a guard of honour of two lines facing each other, through which the admiral walked the men standing to attention and saluting as he passed along. A dead silence prevailed among those 700 or more British seamen, stokers, and marines, whose demeanour expressed a genuine sadness at heart at losing their admiral. Silence on this occasion spoke volumes, which cheers would have failed to adequately express.
As Prince Louis stepped on the quarterdeck of his new flagship his flag was hoisted as commander in Chief of the Mediterranean Squadron, pending the arrival of Vice Admiral Sir Charles Carter Drury, when he then becomes second in command, and simultaneously the ?Drake? lowered the vice admiral?s flag and hoisted that of Rear Admiral Adair.
Next day Captain Mark Kerr lunched and dined in the officers messes, and likewise bade final farewells to all officers and men, and sailed for England on the 26th in the P and O steamer ?India,? he being succeeded by Captain Arthur Hayes Sadler. Also on that day coaling commenced early, and continued until 2 a.m. on the following morning, when we finished, having shipped 1,286 tons.
The Mediterranean Squadron, under the command of Prince Louis, sailed at 4 p.m. on the 28th for Malta. As his flagship, the ?Venerable,? steamed out through the southern entrance the officers and men of the ?drake? lined the Mole and saluted, while our band played ?Auld Lang Syne.? The ?Venerable? signalled to the Drake: - ?Good bye, good luck to all my shipmates.? We replied, ?Good bye, we shall greatly miss you.?
The ship was docked on the 7th March, and was undocked on the 19th, and then sailed for Madeira, from which port she is due back at Gibraltar on 4th April.
With the transference of the admiral to a more important command, and the captain to a fresh appointment, the purpose of this chronicle of events is practically fulfilled by the author. The 2nd of May is the date officially announced for the ship to arrive at Portsmouth, when she will pay off and re commission as flagship of the Second Cruiser Squadron? The officers and crew will be granted the leave to which they may be entitled, and at the expiration thereof will return to there proper depots to await their turn for service afloat in another ship. Thus will end a commission, certainly among the happiest and not least eventful, which is recorded in the history of our modern Navy-a period of service for King and country of life long and affectionate remembrance to those who served in this Cruise of H.M.S. Drake.