Christmas at Sea, 1917 Postcard

I hope you have all had a restful and enjoyable Christmas. Before we leave the festive season behind us, I have another postcard to share with you that fits in with the time of the year. This dramatic image is captioned “Our X’Mas Day 1917”:

It is clearly a patrol, probably of destroyers or light cruisers. Two vessels can be seen thundering through the waves astern of the photographer:

Whilst the quarter deck of the photographer’s ship can be seen in the foreground:

It must be remembered that operations did not stop for Christmas in wartime and ships remained at sea, with their crews trying to make the best of the situation. Harcourt Kitchin was a Royal Marine serving on board a ship on convoy duty at Christmas in 1917, in seas similar to those in the postcard above, indeed possible even on one of these ships and he recalled:

One trip out that I remember particular well was Christmas 1917, when we struck very bad seas on the way out and we got green sea right through the wardroom galley. And everything, all the fresh food disappeared and we had a Christmas dinner of salt pork and rice, which wasn’t very appetising. But the sailors of course had to have their fun on Christmas Day. And this ship, which used to have its guns on the main deck where they were quite useless, had had the guns shifted up onto the upper deck. Well that put another five degrees on the roll, which in any case was round about forty degrees! And this is what she was doing. Well they had to have their concert, so they brought a piano down – somehow – on to the aft deck, lashed it to a stanchion and they got cracking. But unfortunately, the lashing gave way in the middle and the piano took charge and the concert really finished up with the sailors chasing a piano all over the deck!

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