Category Archives: Documents

Z.18 Certificate of Employment During the War

My thanks go again to Michael Whittaker who gave me tonight’s document for the collection. At the end of World War One men were demobilised and returned to civilian life and naturally began looking for employment. In 1918 references were essential for employment, with former employers writing a testimonial for leaving staff to help them acquire a new position. It would of course be impractical for commanding officers to write a bespoke reference for every soldier under their command, so the army prepared forms that could be quickly filled out and authorised before being issued to leaving soldiers. The use of the form, officially known as the ‘Certificate of Employment During the War, Army Form Z.18’, was described as:

The object of this certificate is to assist the soldier in obtaining employment on his return to civil life. The form will be complete as soon as possible in accordance with Demobilization Regulations.

As soon as signed and complete it will be given to the soldier concerned and will remain his property. He should receive it as early as is compatible with making necessary reference in order that he can either send it home or keep it in his possession.

One form will be issued to each man, and no duplicate can ever be issued.

This particular form was issued to an infantryman, Private Gershom Albert Davy of the 51st Battalion Sherwood Forresters:

His employment before he joined the army is listed as a ‘cotton pattern hand’. The rear of the form gives the testimonial which states that Private Davy is:

Very reliable, trustworthy and conscientious. Has performed his duties in a satisfactory manner.

The form is signed by the captain commanding B Company, 51st Battalion, Sherwood Forresters. These forms were obviously important documents to men seeking work and have survived in boxes of family papers up until the present day. They are useful for historians in identifying men’s professions when they joined up, although the level of detail on the forms varies depending on how conscientious the officer filling them out was.

Life in the Royal Navy Cigarette Cards (Part 5)

Rum Issue

In Tudor times sailors were entitled to a ration of 1 gallon of beer, but great difficulty was found in keeping the beer from going sour at sea. For this reason wine was issued to ships in the Mediterranean in the 17th century, while on other stations, and especially the West Indies, rum became the official beverage. Before 1740 the ration of rum was served neat, but in that year Admiral Vernon ordered it to be diluted with water and it became known as grog, “old Grogan” being the admiral’s nickname. Until recently the proportion was three parts of water to one of rum but it is now two to one. Men are allowed to take a cash allowance in lieu of the rum issue if they so desire.

Make and Mend

In normal ship routine one afternoon is set aside each week when no work need be done and men are free to “make and mend” their clothes. Many years ago nearly every man in the ship was capable of doing his own tailoring, but this is not the case today. There are however a few individuals who specialise in this work and are able to add to their pay by undertaking it for other men. In the picture two such men are seen at work, having no doubt entered into a partnership for the purpose. Such an association is known on the lower deck as a “Jewing” firm probably because in the old days many of the tailors in the naval ports were Jews. The majority of men however take advantage of a make and mend afternoon to read or to write letters.

Naval Schoolmaster

Here is seen a naval schoolmaster (warrant officer) giving a lecture in a warship to a number of young ordinary seaman and boys for whom school instruction is compulsory. Before an able seaman can be advanced to leading seaman or petty officer he has to pass educational tests. Hence men seeking advancement are glad to undergo voluntary tuition in various branches of knowledge from the ship’s school master. Again petty officers who wish to become warrant officers are required to undergo an educational test for which coaching is usually necessary. From this it will be apparent that schoolmasters at sea have quite a busy time.

Physical Training

After breakfast in a warship, hands have to clean the mess decks and attend divisions. This is followed by 10 minutes of physical drill which concludes by all hands doubling round the deck as seen in the picture. As a rule the officer in charge of the division joins in this activity. It will be noticed that the capstan in the background is rigged with capstan bars, ready for weighing anchor by hand. This is one of the many evolutions which are carried out in the Royal Navy on a general drill day.

Seamanship Training Class

A number of young ordinary seaman are seen being instructed by a leading seaman in bends and hitches. Although sailing ships have vanished from the Royal Navy there is still ample scope for the use of these knots in connection with boat work, rigging awnings, hoisting in provisions and stores, securing gear in heavy weather, rigging collision mat etc. The official manual of seamanship of which there are two closely printed volumes contains some 50 illustrations of bends and hitches, some quite simple, others fairly complicated. Of these perhaps the best known are the half hitch, clove hitch, rolling hitch, fisherman’s bend, reef knot, bowline and sheep shank.

Hands to Bathe

Every sailor should be able to swim and care is taken to instruct new entries in swimming before they are drafted to sea. In this picture the order has evidently been given hands to bathe and of this men not otherwise engaged appear to be taking full advantage. It will be seen that a ladder has been put out over the side for the use of the bathers. A petty officer or leading seaman is invariably told off to keep an eye on the bathers in case a man may get into difficulties. Before being drafted to a ship all men have to pass a provisional swimming test and subsequently a standard swimming test which consists of swimming 40 yards in deep water wearing a duck suit and then keeping a float for three minutes.

Pulling Race

Although the majority of boats carried by warships are power driven, plenty of interest is taken in boat pulling, regattas being held periodically in the principal fleets. For weeks beforehand, every opportunity is taken to train the crews entered by each ship. The boat show in the picture is a gig, whose crew are obviously going all out under the urging of their coxswain, a petty officer. Though it may appear a heavy boat in comparison with the racing craft seen at Henley, a gig with a good crew can be made to move through the water at a surprising speed.

Liberty Men Going Ashore

Liberty men, or in other words men who have been given shore leave, are here seen going down the ship’s accommodation ladder into a large motorboat. Now a days leave is given much more plentifully in the Royal Navy than in the last century when the majority of naval boats with held by oars and sails. Facilities for recreation ashore have also improved greatly. At naval ports and other places visited regularly by the fleet plenty of ground is available for football and other games. The great liberty and extended recreational facilities of today are much appreciated by all ranks and ratings.

Ship Open to Visitors

In a naval port, His Majesty’s ships are thrown open to visitors during the annual Festival of Navy week, held in August bank holiday week at Portsmouth, Chatham and Devonport. Entry to the dockyards and to many ships, with a free view of various displays, can be obtained for one shilling (children half price), a privilege which has been aptly described as Britain’s best “bob’s-worth.” At other times the best opportunity of inspecting British warships is during the summer cruise of the home fleet when different vessels are detailed to visit ports and seaside resorts in the United Kingdom.

Home Again

In this picture a cruiser of the Kent class is seen arriving at her homeport after a foreign commission, the normal length of which is 2 1/2 years. The principal foreign stations are the Mediterranean, China, the East Indies, America and West Indies and Africa. When a ship leaves for home other ships on the station give her a send off with appropriate ceremony, guards are paraded and bands play the traditional tune rolling home. The ship shame here is flying out paying off pendant which is normally the length of the ship plus a proportionate increase if her commission has exceeded 2 1/2 years. In a short time on the cruise it will pay off their offices are men going on foreign service leave before being appointed to other ships.

Life in the Royal Navy Cigarette Cards (Part 4)

Catapulting a Supermarine Walrus Amphibian

All modern battleships and cruisers include aircraft and catapults in their equipment. In this picture a Supermarine Walrus amphibian is being launched into the air from HMAS Sydney by a catapult which gives it an initial speed of considerably over 50 miles an hour. The first catapult ever used in a British warship was installed in HMS vindictive in 1925. Previously the only method of launching aircraft from ships unprovided with flightdecks or platforms was by hoisting seaplanes out by crane so that they might take off from the water. It is still necessary to use cranes for hoisting in catapulted aircraft on their return.

Cruiser Hoisting in Supermarine Walrus Amphibian

The aircraft which is being hoisted from the water on which it has evidently just alighted is a Walrus amphibian fleet spotter a biplane made by the Supermarine company and carried by most battleships and cruisers. It is propelled by a Bristol Pegasus VI, nine cylinder air cooled engine driving a pusher airscrew. The crew comprises the pilot, navigator, wireless telegraphist and gunner. As the machine is gradually hoisted from the water, an officer signals with a pair of red and green hand flags to the rating who is operating the crane, so that the latter may know when the aircraft is high enough to be swung in for landing in its birth on the ship.

Rating Pilots Donning Flying Kit

Here are seen two ratings qualified or qualifying as air pilots donning their flying kit. Since the Admiralty took over complete control of the Fleet Air Arm, naval ratings have been eligible to qualify as air pilots. They are selected mainly from the seaman, signal and telegraphist branches of the service and must be between the ages of 21 and 24. They are given a thorough training ashore for a year, followed by eight weeks in a training aircraft carrier during which time able seaman are rated as acting leading seaman. As soon as the full period of training has been successfully completed, they are advanced to the rating of petty officer.

Meteorological Device

In order to give aircraft pilots some idea of conditions in the upper air, it is necessary to take observations at heights greater than sea level. The balloon seen in the picture is designed to rise vertically at a known rate so that its height can be accurately measured according to the length of time it has been in the air. Directly it is released, observations are taken at intervals of a minute by means of a compass and sextant as shown in the picture. Having thus ascertained the distance and compass bearing from the ship, it can be quickly calculated by means of a specially prepared diagram what direction the balloon is taking in its ascent, thus giving the force and direction of the wind above.

In the Stokehold

A modern stokehold or boiler room is very different from the grimy inferno of the days when all ships were coal-fired. With oil burning boilers, the fires are seldom exposed to view, small apertures in the furnace doors making it possible to see whether the burners are working properly. In place of shovelling coal and raking out ash and clinker a Stoker today regulates the supply of oil to the fires and the admission of care to ensure combustion. To light up a boiler, the oil sprayers are turned on and a piece of lighted cotton waste inserted. With oil fuel, unlike solid fuel, there is no difficulty either in getting a full head of steam quickly or in maintaining the pressure.

Starting Platform of Cruiser’s Engine Room

In the foreground can be seen an engine room artificer (the figure on the left) and his mate a stoker. The various gauges visible show the pressure of steam in the main boilers, in the four turbines and in various auxiliary machinery such as the steering engine, feed pumps, evaporators and condensers. In the centre of the picture is the bridge telegraph repeating dial, which shows in bold letters each order given from the bridge of the ship. Apparently the artificer’s mate is engaged in opening a valve, possibly to put the engines over to half speed as shown on the dial. The only time when the engine and boiler rooms of HM ships are open to the inspection of visitors is during navy week.

Artificers at Work

The picture shows an electrical artificer (a chief petty officer) and a seaman torpedo man at work in the electrical artificer’s workshop of HMS Ark Royal. Every warship carries engine room artificers, ordinance artificers, and electrical artificers, who are not only the most highly skilled, but also the most highly paid ratings in the Royal Navy. In the picture the two ratings appear to be refitting the armature of one of the many electric motors which are used in HM ships for driving fans, pumps and allsorts of other machinery. The electrical Artificers, assisted by the semen of the torpedo branch (who are also trained as electricians) are responsible for the working of the electrical fittings in a ship.

Telegraphists

The picture shows two telegraphists busy in the wireless room, one of the chief nerve centres of a warship. Nowadays there is a constant flow of wireless signals to and from every ship in a fleet so that the telegraphists are amongst the busiest men on board. Boys are selected in the training establishments for transfer to the telegraphist branch. Commencing as Boy telegraphists they can rise by way of the ratings of ordinary telegraphist, telegraphist, leading telegraphist, and petty officer telegraphist to chief petty officer telegraphist. Some of the smartest of these ratings are selected for the rank of warrant telegraphist, whence it is possible to climb still higher to commissioned rank.

Ship’s Butcher

Modern methods of refrigeration ensure an adequate supply of fresh meat to officers and men of the Royal Navy when afloat. Needless to say joints supplied to naval messes are of the best quality obtainable. In the old days, after a short time at sea ships had to fall back on preserved provisions such as the famed “salt horse.” This was beef or pork pickled in brine and packed in casks and probably kept for many years in store at one of the Navy victualling yards. A rating appointed for butcher’s duty is paid 3d. a day over and above his pay. In former days the ship’s butcher was also responsible for slaughtering, as required, the livestock placed on board at the beginning of a cruise.

Ship’s Bakery

The picture shows the bakery of HMS Courageous, an aircraft carrier of 22,500 tons. It will be observed that there are loaves of various shapes to suit individual tastes. This is very different from conditions in the old-time Navy, when the only form of bread available most of the time was ship’s biscuits, very hard and apt to harbour weevils. Every incentive is offered to ship’s bakers to turn out bread of the best quality, there being an annual competition on each station between all ships with bakeries, and a similar competition between smaller vessels lacking such complete facilities, with trophies to those turning out the best bread.

Life in the Royal Navy Cigarette Cards (Part 3)

Naval Target

A target for heavy gun practice, as seen here, is a very substantial affair. It consists of a raft made out of massive balks of timber and cement surmounted by a lattice framework over which are stretched canvas sills. A target party has charge of each target, being employed after a shoot to effect the necessary repairs to enable a target to stand up to a further battering by 15 or 16 inch shells. Targets are towed at a fair speed, usually either by one of the special target towing vessels HMS Guardian or Protector or by a big fleet tug. A special camera is used to photograph the fall of every shot so that an exact record can be kept of every ship’s firing.

Launching Torpedo into Tube

When discharged from its tube a torpedo is capable of a long run of 7 miles or even more at moderate speed, or of shorter runs at very high speed. As a general rule long runs are only made when a mass of torpedoes is fired at a fleet a considerable distance away. When an individual ship is attacked every endeavour is made to get within short range so that the torpedoes maximum speed may be utilised and the chances of hitting increased. We show a 21 inch torpedo of the standard naval pattern weighing over 1 1/2 tons. A smaller type of torpedo, the 18 inch, is employed by aircraft and certain small surface vessels.

Adjustment of Torpedo Gear

The illustration shows a torpedo opened up for inspection and adjustment in a workshop. A torpedo includes much delicate mechanism in its internal construction such as the propelling engine worked by compressed air and surrounded by delicate control gear. At the tail end is the buoyancy chamber, containing a valve which can be set to sink the torpedo after it has ended it’s run; this is only used in wartime when the torpedo carries a heavy charge of explosive. The spinning wheel known as a gyroscope which keeps the torpedo on a straight course is also at the tail. Further forward is the balance chamber containing a heavy pendulum weight and a hydrostatic valve. Together these control the horizontal rudders at the tail.

Torpedo Firing Practice

The torpedo is shown in our picture leaving the tube from which it has been fired by a cordite charge. The tube is one of a group of three, mounted on a pivot so that torpedoes can be fired from either side of the ship. Most later types of destroyers have their tubes arranged in groups of either four or five. The torpedo illustrated is of the standard 21 inch type, with a practice head which carries in it a calcium light. This ignites after the torpedo has ended its run, and reveals the position by giving off white smoke, this enabling the destroyer’s boat to recover the torpedo.

Watching Depth Gauge in Submarine

The coxswain in charge of the after hydroplanes (horizontal diving rudders) of a submarine is shown carefully observing his depth gauge. From the reading of the dial it may be surmised that the submarine is just at periscope depth, or sufficiently near the surface to be able to observe what is happening above through her periscope. Perhaps 6 inches of the periscope may be above the surface, but this enables the captain of the submarine to get a clear view of any surface vessel that may be in sight. It will not do to show too much of the periscope above the surface, nor to expose it too often, since if the submarine is moving at any speed it will raise enough spray to attract the attention of an enemy ship.

Depth Charge Exploding

Depth charges are bombs usually containing 300lb of high explosive designed to detonate under water. They are exploded by means of a special device, actuated by the pressure of the water when a certain depth below the surface has been reached. The usual method of projecting depth charges from a destroyer or other vessel is by a simple type of howitzer, known as a depth charge thrower or by a simple dropping gear at the stern of the ship. In attacking submarines four depth charges are dropped at a time dispersed, in a diamond pattern. The explosion of a group of depth charges near a submerged submarine is bound to shake up and strain the vessel and dislocate her electrical arrangements, even if it does not inflict fatal damage.

Hoisting in Paravane

In appearance a paravane resembles a much shortened torpedo, and all warships carry a number of them. They are intended to be towed on either side of the ship’s bow when passing through waters likely to have been mined. While in tow, the fins with which they are fitted keep them streamed out at a wide angle on either side and intercept any mine that may be encountered, the mooring of which is cut by a device Incorporated in the paravane. The mine is thus brought to the surface where it can be exploded by gun or rifle fire. This contrivance was perfected during the Great War by the efforts of a number of officers, the leading part being taken by commander Sir Dennistoun Burney.

Hawker Nimrod Landing on the Flight Deck

Aircraft land on the spacious flight deck of an aircraft carrier in much the same way as they do on the surface of an aerodrome. But in order to check their way before they have run too far, a number of wires are stretched across the flight deck at intervals designed to engage in a hook at the tail of each machine as it lands and bring it up by gradual tension. The machine seen in the picture is a Hawker Nimrod, a single seat fighter biplane. It is propelled by a Rolls-Royce Kestrel 12 cylinder watercooled engine with a horse power of 550. During Navy Week visitors can see a squadron of aircraft of this type carrying out divebombing attacks on warships.

Fairey Swordfish being Manhandled into Position

A number of ratings are pushing a Swordfish aeroplane into position so that it may descend into the ship’s hanger by one of the big hydraulic lifts. Behind them is an officer of the Royal Air Force, borne in the Furious for instructional duties. The Fairey Swordfish is a biplane used either for torpedo dropping, spotting for gunnery practice, or for reconnaissance purposes. In the first case the crew would number two in either of the others it would number three. The machine is propelled by a 655/690 HP Bristol Pegasus III M nine cylinder air cooled engine. The argument includes one Vickers and one Lewis gun with either bombs or an 18 inch torpedo in addition.

Fairey Swordfish Going Down in Lift

Here a Swordfish aircraft is seen descending in one of the big hydraulic lifts which in all modern aircraft carriers give access to the hanger on the deck below. It will be observed that the wings of the machine have been folded back in order to occupy less space in the lift and hanger. Nowadays nearly all aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm have their wings designed to fold in this way. A number of ratings are accompanying the machine in the lift in order to run it off without delay, store it in its proper position in the hanger and effect any necessary lubrication and adjustments.

Supply of Railway Wagons and Sheets Document

The amount of traffic carried by Britain’s railways rapidly increased during the First World War as additional military traffic was added to the network. As well as troop trains, special goods trains were run to supply the armies on the continent with materiel, coal trains ran to the north of Scotland to refuel the Grand Fleet harboured there and other goods were taken too and from munitions factories to feed the insatiable war demand. The railways quickly found themselves short of goods wagons to transport these items with.

Legally when a wagon was dropped off in the sidings of a private company, that company had 48 hours to unload the wagon before incurring fines of 1s 6d a day for a standard wagon, up to 10s a day for a wagon of 30 tons capacity or more. This was usually incentive in peacetime to empty the wagons and get them back into service. During wartime however companies explained that they had such a manpower shortage that they could not empty the wagons in time and in the autumn of 1914 one company reported a 160% increase in companies holding onto wagons beyond the allotted time- one company owed £6000 in these charges and was threatened with legal action by one railway.

The Ministry of Munitions in Scotland alone had 560 wagons waiting to be unloaded and could only unload seventy a day and over 800 wagons were waiting at Carlisle to be moved onto their final destination for unloading, stuck until capacity could be found at the final destination.

The Railway Companies issued a circular to traders and industries in February 1916 to encourage them to unload wagons and release them and their tarpaulins as quickly as possible:

This seems to have been at least partially effective as the log jam had largely cleared by 1917 and the railways were running far more smoothly in the final two years of the war.

My thanks to Michael Whittaker for kindly giving me this document for my collection.

Life in the Royal Navy Cigarette Cards (Part 2)

Painting Ship

In a ship of any size, some part is almost always in the process of being scraped, rubbed down or painted. But at certain times it is necessary to do this on a larger scale, and the order “hands paint ship” is given so that the whole of the vessel’s sides and masts may be recoated in a single day. This necessitates the assembly beforehand, by the ship’s painter, of an ample supply of brushes and paint-pots. The whole ship’s company is placed “out of routine” while the painting is in hand, so nothing may interfere with the rapid completion of the work. British warships in home waters are painted a dull grey, but in the Mediterranean and further east, grey of a lighter and brighter hue is employed.

Manning Sea Boat in a Destroyer

In destroyers a whaler usually does duty as a sea-boat. It is a double ended boat (i.e. with both ends shaped alike), 25 or 27 feet long, pulling five oars. Disengaging gear permits the boat to be slipped from the falls while the ship is still making way through the water. On a sea boat’s crew being called away, they man their boats instantly and put on their life belts. Sea boat lower ears are told off to each fall. As she nears the water, the officer lowering the boat give the orders “out pins” and then, at the right moment, “slip.” The coxswain of the boat thereupon slips the “fore and after” of the disengaging gear, the boat drops into the water and the crew get their oars out and pull away.

Range Finder

Modern sea fights are waged at far greater ranges than formerly. To. Ensure that guns may hit their targets at the utmost limits of visibility, various mechanical devices are employed. One of these “gadgets” as the Navy calls them, is the range-finder. When using it, two partial images of the target are seen through a telescope, one above the other; by manipulation these are brought into line and the correct range them appears on a scale attached. Big range-finders require two me to manipulate them, one to align the images and read off the range and one to train the instrument. Range-finders vary in size from small portable ones to the enormous fixed instruments in the turrets of the battleships Nelson and Rodney.

Naval Diver about to Descend

The diver has just stepped out of the boat on to the rungs of a ladder from which he will descend into the water. Naval divers are trained at the Diving School at Whale Island, Portsmouth and, when qualified, draw extra pay according to rating. If a ship sustains serious under-water damage, divers are sent down to measure the size of the hole with the aid of plumb lines, so that a wooden patch can be made and affixed by them by means of bolts and nuts. Divers are also employed to locate lost objects under water, such as anchors or torpedoes. During Navy Week at Plymouth in August 1937 a diver recovered a handbag dropped into the dockyard basin by a visitor.

Seaman Gunner Polishing the Breech of 15-Inch Gun

The 15 inch gun is over 52 feet long, weighs 97 tons and fires a projectile weighing nearly 2,000 lb. Gins of this calibre constitute the main armament of the battleships Queen Elizabeth, Barham, Malaya, Valiant, Warspite, Royal Sovereign, Revenge, Resolution, Ramillies and Royal Oak, of the battle cruisers Hood, Repulse and Renown and of the monitors Erebus and Terror. In all these ships the guns are mounted in pairs, inside turrets. Loading of these huge guns is carried out entirely by machinery, operated by the crew of the turret, which numbers 63, including men in the shell room and magazine below.

Anti-Aircraft Gun Practice (HMS Rodney)

Our picture shows the crew of a 4.7 inch high angle gun at practice. It will be noted that the men are all wearing gas masks. This particular model of 4.7 inch gun is a semi-automatic quick firer, nearly 16 feet in length, which is mounted only in HMS Rodney, Nelson, Courageous and Glorious. The crew numbers 11, and the rate of fire is 10 rounds per minute. The projectile weighs nearly 50lb and is discharged with a muzzle velocity exceeding 2500 feet per second. The total weight of the gun, with its mounting is 12 tons.

Gun’s Crew Loading 5.5 inch Gun (HMS Hood)

The only ships in the Royal Navy which mount guns of 5.5 inch calibre are the battle cruiser HMS Hood, the world’s largest warship, in which they form the secondary battery, and the aircraft carriers Furious and Hermes, which carry them as their main armament. This gun, which is nearly 23 feet in length and weighs over six tons, fires shells weighing 85lb. This lighter projectile is more easily handled than the 100lb shell of the 6 inch gun. The crew numbers 9.

The Naval Kite

The naval kite shown in illustration is being flown astern of a destroyer for use as a Lewis gun target. The Lewis is an automatic machine gun weighing 26lb, with a rate of fire of 700 rounds a minute. The magazine holds 47 rounds, and weighs 4lb when full. The gun, which isn used mainly for landing parties and in anti-aircraft work, is worked on an ingenious principle utilising the pressure of the gas generated by the explosion of the charge, assisted by a return spring. The bullets are the same as those of a .303 rifle.

Anti-Aircraft Pom Pom

Here an ordnance artificer and his mate are seen at work adjusting one of the barrels of a multiple Pom-Pom. This is the most formidable weapon yet devised for dealing with aircraft that fly low to attack a warship. Acting somewhat of the principle of a scatter gun, the eight barrels of the multiple Pom-Pom discharge into the air a spray of small projectiles at an incredibly rapid rate, thus putting up a barrage which should prove deadly to any aircraft coming within its radius. An ordnance artificer is a highly skilled chief petty officer who has been through technical courses in the gunnery and torpedo schools. Numbers of these rating proportionate to the size of the armament are borne on all ships of the fleet.

Firing a Broadside (HMS Rodney)

Nine 16 inch guns in three turrets, all of which can be fired on either beam, are mounted in HMS Rodney. A broadside from these nine guns weighs nearly ten tons and can hit a target at a range only bounded by the limits of vision. Sometimes the target is a affair of canvas and wood, towed by another ship. At other times the wireless controlled target ship Centurion is used, but not in the case of big as the 16 inch, since the structural damage would be too extensive to be repaired readily. These are the biggest guns ever mounted afloat with one exception, the 18 inch, an experimental gun used in HMS Furious and certain monitors during the Great War, but since discarded for naval purposes.

Children’s Royal Navy ABC

In today’s politically correct world it seems odd to some how proud people were of their country and military in the past and how this message was used in everything from advertising to children’s books. Whether this is jingoism or well placed pride in the nation’s accomplishments is not for this blog to say, however it has left us some absolute corkers when it comes to surviving artefacts and tonight we have a wonderful child’s book of the alphabet from the Great War that celebrates the achievements of the Royal Navy:

The inside cover has a little verse:

Hurrah for the British Navy! Hurrah for our sailors bold!

The great gray ship’s of Britain, the lads with hearts of gold-

They bravely breast the billows; they keep us safe and free;

No foeman can affright us while they are on the sea.

While we are sleeping soundly, their sleepless watch they keep;

While winter winds are howling, they plough the stormy deep.

Their roaring guns are ready with steady hands to guide.

God bless the British Navy, our bulwark and pride.

What follows is a profusely illustrated ABC, with some truly excellent artwork:

The references to Jutland and the German Navy suggest that this book was published in 1917 or 1918. The rear cover shows a small child dressed as a sailor and a patriotic little verse:

The poetry in this book is hardly brilliant, but it’s patriotism is rather fantastic and it is done without a trace of irony. This has to be one of my favourite little finds of the year and might just get an outing teaching my three year old daughter her ABC!