Days 105 to 124: Coast of Spain - Atlantic Ocean - England - Glasgow (7 November to 25 November 1914)
Day No. 105: Saturday 7 November 1914
On making the acquaintance of the deck this morning the first thing noticeable was away on the bow the headland Sagres & just further on that mass of rock, the South-Western extremity of Portugal, Cape St. Vincent with its yellow-washed lighthouse & extensive buildings – an old convent – perched on the summit. The Sussex, still another Mersey friend, Federal-Shire Line, bound for Australia went by here.
We are now out on the Atlantic with its own peculiar long roll causing us to do the wibbly-wobbly making it necessary to fit to the table the “fiddles” or what I call the “rolling-chocks”. Throughout the day an increasing boisterous sea caused heavy rolling, & plenty of spray was the state of things the whole time. Cape Roca, the most westerly point of the Continent of Europe, came into view in the late afternoon & near the mouth of the River Tagus a four funnelled British Cruiser was lying snug taking advantage of the shelter of the land – her presence there denoted the policing of the Route.
Cintra, together with the palace of the late King of Portugal on the top was visible from the sea. Cintra, I ought to explain, stands the sea side of, and above, Lisbon on the hills at the mouth of the Tagus. As we passed the mouth of the River dusk had arrived so that I had a peep of the lights of Lisbon.
Today was the Chief Officer’s birthday & as I was one of the Cronies invited we adjourned to his room at 11/30 a.m. when the occasion was fittingly celebrated.
Day No. 106: Sunday 8 November 1914
Running up Coast of Spain to Bay of Biscay
Merely a day of sailing with the Spanish Coast occasionally in sight; a strong breeze & heavy swell – very cold out of the sun.
Vigo was abeam at midday, when the wind increased, & we passed Cape Finisterre at 7 p.m. to the tune of much movement of the ship. I was on the Bridge last thing & it was as much as one could do to get up the ladder to the Chart room deck & then you were just blown up the ladder to the Bridge where it was glorious to stand in the shelter afforded by the little house part and watch the sprays sweep over the ship. We had reached the Bay of Biscay by now & I went below wondering if this specimen of weather was the beginning of something worse & more in keeping with the Bay’s reputation.
Today completes our 15th week away & we being West of Greenwich you are ahead of us in time. Midday with us was 12/26 with you.
Day No. 107: Monday 9 November 1914
For the time of year, & the locality, any sort of weather was expected that was wasn’t of the “good” order. However, the fates proved kind for there was only a good swell, a very effective one, and no ruffled surface.
Nothing of note was sighted all day – an occasional steamer but always near the horizon.
Before going to bed; having journeyed with the Captain, on what has been for some time now almost a nightly pilgrimage, to the Chart Room to set the Course & write out the “Night Orders”; I stayed on the Bridge for a while “keeping the watch” with the 3rd Officer. It was enjoyable, even though somewhat cold, to stay there in the fine clear moonlight watching the caperings of the Manipur as she went over at great angles in response to the fine long swell coming in strong from the Atlantic.
Day No. 108: Tuesday 10 November 1914
Of course this morning of all mornings I went on deck before breakfast and scanned the horizon ahead – we were well across the English Channel & making for Falmouth but there was nothing to see but gloom, not what I expected to see. However, immediately after breakfast the haze lifted and there, at last, but a few miles ahead was land – the Lizard; Cornwall; England. England – dear old England, the best of countries, and I don’t mind admitting that I experienced a good thrill & something near a choke when I saw it after my long (comparatively) absence.
We soon drew level with the Lizard Rock with the Lighthouse on one Cliff & Lloyds’ Signal Station on the other, and signalling, proceeded up the Cornish Coast; passed the Manacles Rocks with their evil reputation; towards Falmouth – the land view throughout was charming, with the coast line of bluff headlands, caves & rocky ledges; and several sailing craft passing up & down made a nice foreground to the picture. What opportunities for Artists hereabouts!
Arrived off Falmouth with its capacious anchorage & sheltering grounds the local Pilot boarded us. The Examination Boat came alongside the Officer coming aboard to make enquiries regarding us, & tunes played on our whistle (the signal “B” being blown) soon fetched off Brocklebank’s own London Pilot who had come down to Falmouth specially & was there waiting for us. A peremptory couched note with very strict instructions as to procedure whilst the Steamer was in British Waters was handed to the Captain here, disobedience of which would cause a vessel to be fired upon. I was much interested to see that one of the regulations was that wireless telegraphy had to be discontinued, and in fact aerial wires were to be lowered, whilst in “British Territorial Waters”. This notice was printed in English, French and Spanish!
All matters connected with the ship were soon disposed of; telegrams to home announcing one’s safe arrival were handed to the Agent to despatch on reaching the Shore - & many times during the day one conjectured with one’s self as to when such message – carrying cheer & gladness with it I knew – would be delivered.
A few minutes were left enabling me to “size up” Falmouth. The view from the sea appealed tremendously. It is charmingly situated – its fine front, its bays, its shore, its cliffs (not so rugged perhaps as the coast line south of it) & other parts well wooded sloping down to the sea, were but a few of the impressing features that suggested ample possibilities for a most interesting holiday there.
By now the Ship’s head was turned round, the Agent & Local Officials clambered down to their boat, and up Channel we proceeded, sighting soon afterwards on the port bow the Eddystone Lighthouse with the stump of the old Lighthouse still remaining on the rock. The Rock on which the original, (or perhaps to be strictly correct it were better to say, the old) lighthouse, erected by Smeaton in 1759, stood, being found in 1877 undermined by the action of the sea it was decided to build a new one – the present one - & this has been standing since 1882. The greater part of the famous old lighthouse, as perhaps you know, was removed & re-erected on the Hoe at Plymouth.
A torpedo boat was patrolling slowly round about the Eddystone Rocks and a Cruiser was but a little further off in-shore. An hour later firing being heard took one on deck – boom, bang, boom – possibly the fort at Plymouth practising for occasionally, through the November haze the flash could be seen & me observed several big splashes where the shot struck the water about three miles short of us. Seemed rather a reckless proceeding for certainly the gunners could not see whether the striking area of the shot was clear of traffic.
The land was picked up again during the afternoon. Bolt Head this time, and working down to Prawle Point hoisted the flags to signal ourselves. – All about here is a succession of fine rugged cliffs and hummocks of land intersected with deep ravines. From Prawle Point the coast recedes, valleys and highlands – and rocks of course – back up a fine little bay across which we steamed to Start Point, the land here tapering down to rocks in the sea – the outline of them very rugged and shaped like a cock’s comb. An imposing white lighthouse stands on one of the hillocks on top of the Point. Rounding the corner one could sight the land which runs up to Dartmouth, Brixham, Paignton and Torquay – all places one has wished over & over again to visit & the desire is the greater now that one has been so near & seen the coast. Really, this cliff land of Devon – glorious Devon – is inviting, and what it loses in grandeur compared to some of the coast-lines I’ve seen on the voyage it gains in beauty, helped too with that homely feature the irregular shaped green fields, marked out with their hedges & looking from the sea like a monster crazy quilt.
The late afternoon was now soon on us and as dusk began to set in, the day, which in the main had been fine & bright, changed to creepy & grey – a typical November touch typical of England & our first day of its kind. During the evening there was a great searchlight display – most impressive sight – at several parts of the coast; at Portland particularly – seawards & skywards. These, and the conversations one had had with the London Pilot (who had many interesting experiences to recount, he having been across the Channel and through the mine area – and seen some – with the original fleet of Transport) brought the War very much home, making it seem more real than ever as at last we had come into the atmosphere of it all – thousands of miles away we had not realised it perhaps to the same extent.
Anvil Point Light passed; across Poole Bay the lights of Bournemouth showed and on seeing the flash of the Needles Light I retired.
Day No. 109: Wednesday 11 November 1914
Hastings was passed early morning, then came Dungeness where the land is but little above the level of the sea – the flattest part of the whole of the South Coast I believe. We were very close in here & all details of the brown sandy shore, lighthouse and the few houses were easily seen. (A little while prior to this when on deck had been able to make out the French Coast). It was not long before we were abreast of Folkestone with its Harbour belonging to the South Eastern & Chatham Rly Co. whose boats ply between here and Boulogne.
Folkestone is a very pleasing view from seawards and it is just past here that the high chalk cliffs commence and continue, a very prominent feature of the coast, up to & past the South Foreland. The “White Cliffs of Albion” -, but they are more pronounced about Dover which was the next point of interest – 5 or 6 miles away – though before arriving abreast of the Harbour the entrance to that long projected scheme, the Channel Tunnel and Shakespeare Cliff are seen. Dover, however, was the tit bit with its three long breakwaters enclosing the Harbour; and the town, with a good frontage, backed up by the hills where on the top stands out most prominently the historic Castle dominating the lot the fortifications surrounding it being apparent. On the opposite eminence: the Western side, the Citadel clearly shows.
The Harbour was full of shipping along with several Cruisers & Destroyers. It was round about Dover that there was tremendous activity – Steamers signalling & waiting for orders, a fine sailing vessel included; dozens & dozens of service boats all sorts & sizes moving about glorified with either the Blue or White Ensign, and Torpedo boats scattered over every few miles. Trawlers too by the score were engaged mine-sweeping & these were all flying the White Ensign, the Captains I understand having been given a Commission in the Navy for the time being. A tiny Trawler LT1179 signalled us to stop, came alongside, and then told us to go astern until the Examination Boat was disengaged and wait for him. The Examination Boat was very busy ahead of us with another steamer, & the little while we were waiting gave one the opportunity to look about & admire the cliff land view and the wealth of life & movement visible in every direction seawards. More flag hoisting & the Examination Boat slowly dropped down towards us. She was a mere Tug, the Chichester, painted Government Colour (lead colour) & had a short pole fastened to her stick of a mast for her Wireless apparatus! She was soon alongside – the width of a roadway separating us - & then came the questions per Megaphones – the Naval Lieutenant shouting out:-
The last port you were at Captain?
Did you call at Falmouth?
Have you anything to report?
What’s your Cargo?
Where are you bound?
What else besides Tea?
General, - some hides, and sugar.
Oh! Tea & Sugar – Foodstuffs – That’s right, you may proceed.
Thank you Sir, Good-day.
Here a remark was evidently made by the Marine, who had been recording the answers in a book alongside the Lieutenant, for Mr. Lieutenant picked up his Megaphone again:-
The Captain’s Name please?
A wave of the hand on either side, our Engines commenced their music again & the Examination vessel began to drop astern.
We had been watching a little while before a Torpedo Boat coming down Channel on our track, taking note of the spray running up her bow finely as she cut through the water. Just now she closed in on us and as she dashed by, what a chance for a picture! When the Naval Officer aboard the Examination Vessel, now slowly dropping behind, & who had seen me manipulating the Camera, megaphoned “don’t photograph the Destroyer”. Accordingly one waved in acquiescence & he in turn waved back in acknowledgment. The Destroyer passed like the wind, speed personified, only a biscuit throw away. She was the HMS Viking and curling under our stern shot for Dover Harbour. It was a grand sight.The wind, which had been very fresh all morning, was by now blowing strong and the sea was rapidly becoming “bobberish”, making all the adjacent small craft toss about too much for their comfort, & spray started to fly everywhere as we got under weigh again. We were soon round the South Foreland, still the “White Cliffs of Albion”, a fine bold headland of chalky rock with two Lighthouses on top (one disused), and then on past St. Margaret’s Bay into “The Downs”, that good anchorage abreast of Deal and alongside those well-known Sandbanks “The Goodwins”.
HMS Viking was an odd kind of warship being a Tribal class destroyer built by Palmer's shipyard at Jarrow. She had 6 funnels and a combined bridge and forward gun platform that caused problems in heavy seas. Despite that she was pretty fast and could reach 33 knots. Completed in 1910, she served at Dover, English Channel and the North Sea and was damaged by a mine in 1916 carrying troops to France. The vessel was scrapped in 1919.
The bold white coastline having by time terminated we reached “green fields & pastures new”, (literally), - the land effect being really pleasing, a nice country scene, and a windmill with its sails sweeping round, on the crest of a hill running up from the shore, being a conspicuous landmark & combining well with the look of quietness & peacefulness ashore. And afloat – what a difference!! For here, amongst the monster fleet of shipping to an anchor, were Naval Service boats flying about hither & thither; a squadron of mine-sweepers working in company; a man-o-war at anchor – The Niger – (we passed close enough to have a good look at her); torpedo boats in evidence & at all points of the horizon as well; a Cruiser ahead; a multitude of craft everywhere, and on the Sands themselves close by, the Goodwin Light Vessels. Here was also, still standing up erect out of the water, the 4 masts of a wreck – the Brocklebank Line Mahratta which went ashore here four years ago. Another wreck was visible near the Goodwin Light ship.
HMS Niger was an old (1892) Alarm class torpedo gunboat that had been converted to a minesweeper in 1909 and was in use as tender to HMS Vernon - a torpedo testing and training ship. On 11 November (as observed by our diarist) she was at anchor off Deal when she was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat U-12 shortly after Manipur had passed by \.
The next points of interest seen after passing pretty Deal – though not so clearly as the preceding land on account of the shore curving inwards, forming Pegwell bay – were Sandwich, Ramsgate, Broadstairs and North Foreland (opposite here is the North Goodwin Lightship) and then we veered round the coast of Kent bringing us to the Mouth of the Thames. Before reaching here though the wind had risen to a gale – positively a gale – it was difficult to stand on deck and as we went up the Estuary two Submarines, Nos. 29 & 34, came alongside; how they danced as the seas swept over them, but then they are used to being submerged (poor joke!). They ran along with us for miles, practically escorting us. A torpedo boat here came up and had a look at us, evidently changing his mind about hailing us and evidently changing his mind about running us down too, the facility with which they handle their ships is astonishing for he “slew round” in a twinkling. There was remarkable movement on the River, steam and sail, and Mine-sweepers here were as frequent as in the Straits of Dover.
Some miles ahead we passed quite close – alongside in fact – to a barque sunk but a few days before; the Dovenby of Liverpool, and she was lying there right in the fairway just as she had gone down with her sails set. It was a sorry sight.From here onwards I did not see very much of the Thames and its banks up to Southend ‘cos it was blowin’ great guns, very cold & very uncomfortable on deck and besides one thought it desirable to be engaged somewhat on sorting luggage for Customs purposes &c:
The previous photo shows a sailing vessel seen somewhere near Dover that puzzled me greatly as to why a foreign pilot vessel would be in this area. I have been informed by a Belgian friend that she was Dutch pilot cutter Flissingen No. 1. This is confirmed by the identification of the Dutch pilot flag on top of the mainmast - blue with a white 'L'. He has a photo of a sister vessel named Flissingen No. 4 so there were a number of them. The vessel may also have been known as "Loodsschoener No. 1" (pilot schooner No.1). The pilot schooners were based at Vlissingen in the Netherlands but he has no idea why the name was spelled with an 'F'. However I disovered that the name of Vlissingen may have originally been Flessinghe - and the names could have been chosen for historical reasons. The English used to call the place Flushing.
From the time that Belgium became an independent country in 1839, there was strong competition between Dutch and Belgian pilots for vessels bound for the Scheldt and both Dutch and Belgian pilot cutters went as far as the Isle of Wight offering their services. The Dutch were very organised and would usually have seven pilots available in a cutter off Dungeness. When the number of available pilots was down to two, a signal was made to the signal station at Dungeness and they would send a telegram to Flushing and a further cutter with seven pilots would be dispatched. The cutters were between 26.5 and 30.5 metres in length and sail pilot cutters remained in service until 1927. The Belgians wanted to use steam cutters but needed to get agreement with their Dutch neighbours and this could not be done until the end of WW1. It took until 1950 to end the competition between the Dutch and Belgian pilots at which point agreement was reached that 27.5% of the traffic would be piloted by the Dutch and 72.5% by the Belgians.
As an even more irrelevant aside, the village of Flushing in Cornwall was originally named Nankersey but changed to Flushing by the Dutch engineers from Vlissingen who built the three main quays in the village.
About 2 o’clock we passed the Nore Lightship and this was telegraphed down to the Engine Room & answered back again to the Bridge – a big ringing of Bells as though joyfully – signifying that the Voyage , the Official part of it – was ended!!! Gravesend was now soon in sight with a wealth of craft both sailing and at anchor. Here the Pilot left us; here the Dock Pilot replaced him; here we learnt that our friend the Emden had just been bottled up; here the Customs came; here the Port Authority came alongside and asked questions and it was here we went through an opening in a most wonderful Pontoon Bridge. A marvellous piece of work, a temporary bridge thrown across the Thames for Military purposes, to facilitate the removal of Troops, the nearest Bridge being 20 odd miles up the River. The Bridge rests on barges all moored in a line, and the odd portions to complete it are arranged on the Essex side of the River ready to be shipped into position at short notice – less than 2 hours needed to complete it.
Evidence of the war everywhere! But Tilbury Dock entrance was in sight! Two Tugs seized us and with a marked absence of all that excitement and shouting which attends such operations at the Liverpool Docks we were safely in the Basin and through into the Locks.
Little has been published about the Gravesend pontoon bridge but I have a great deal of information about it and will be publishing it in a new section of the website about Thames Crossings in the future. The diary account is the first I have come across describing it from the point of view of a passenger passing through it. In the meantime here is an image looking from Gravesend.
Pumping operations were commenced with the idea of raising the steamer to the level of the Dock and, while this was being done, I got over the side on to the quay. I stood in dear old England at last after being away 109 days. I landed thus, of course, at the Captain’s suggestion and walked round the Dock to Tilbury Dock Station to meet you on the Train from London, following my wire from Falmouth, only to find you non-est, explained of course by your telegram advising that you are coming to London tomorrow which was awaiting me – if I had only known, & delivered on board the moment the Steamer was berthed along with many letters of “welcome home”. As to the trouble I had when ashore with the Customs as to my being liable to arrest &c for daring to land as I did, & all the other interesting items you will soon hear all these first hand hence they need not now be dilated upon.
Days No. 110 to 119: Thursday 12 November to Friday 20 November 1914
Must just make a reference first of all to the shock we all got aboard this morning when on referring to the Newspapers we found that the Niger – poor old H.M.S. “Niger” – which we passed so close to yesterday in the Downs has been torpedoed by a submarine only an hour after we had gone by. !
These days can hardly be considered part of the voyage but it is perhaps as well to briefly note ‘em if only to preserve the sequence until the final “chapter” is reached. You will hear of course how Mother journeyed to London, how she enjoyed her life aboard ship (although in Dock!), how we went across to Gravesend one day, a quaint old-world place with its Charles Dickens sort o’ streets, & our walk round there and on to the Esplanade taking stock of the busy River scene and viewing at close quarters that most wonderful Pontoon Bridge. How also we spent our time round about Tilbury and, what will probably will interest you most of all, - London.
Four of the days were in London (50 minutes railway journey from Tilbury) and did the sights. One day, St. Pauls, mid-day – war-service being held at the time; & when down at Westminster went in the Abbey arriving just in time for the National Anthem being sung at the close of the Service – it was glorious. (We were there on a second occasion with Captain & Mrs. Tyers but little time unfortunately being left us on both visits to wander about and explore its treasures and wonders). We had to perambulate round the Houses of Parliament; Whitehall with the Foreign Office, Home Office, India Office; down Downing Street past the residences of the Prime Minister and Mr. Lloyd George – old time and dingy – then past the Horse Guards Parade where recruiting was going on apace; then by St James’ Park, the Admiralty & into The Mall; round Queen Alexandra’s residence Marlborough House; then by St. James’s Palace, on to Buckingham Palace & the magnificent Memorial to Queen Victoria; Hyde Park &c. &c. &c.
Another time to the Tower, & this you would enjoy – everything of interest, the Beefeater janitors, the Crown Jewels, the Armoury, the Traitor’s Gate, and in the Courtyard is the spot – marked out – the site of the scaffold & the Block. What history has been made here! You feel all the time. What stories the old cobble stones could tell were they able to speak! We paid a flying visit too when passing down Cheapside on one of the days to Bow Church, the famous Church, with its notable steeples.
Signs of the times – the martial spirit – were abroad everywhere. Khaki at every turn; battalions marching met with frequently; sentries stationed at all the Public Buildings & these protected also with bomb proof iron netting and, on the roofs of most of them, Aeroplane guns & searchlights. At many places down the Line to Tilbury it was just the same.
I feel I could write a little volume on the almost innumerable interesting items of the Tower & London generally but it is “not in the bond”. Let us hope someday we will be able to “do” London all together & gloat, guzzle, gorge & enjoy it to the full.
Day No. 120: Saturday 21 November 1914
And now begins the last chapter of the Voyage. Dare I say Alas! Alas!!
At 10 minutes past 7 this morning the Steamer whistle started to blow good healthy blasts as a preliminary for all to get ready. From my room I could hear orders being given to lower the gangway, ease ropes &c. &c., & noise & bustle was everywhere. Mr Franckeiss dashed in to shake hands & wish “goodbye” (I was safely “snugged” in the blankets) & immediately afterwards (7/30) we started to move down the Tilbury Dock. Hauled through to the Locks where it did not take long to empty the water to bring us to the level of the River; the Pilot boarded us; letters & telegrams were pushed on board at the last moment the telegraph boy running along the Locks determined not to miss us; the Sentry on the Pierhead looking on evidently finding the proceedings a little more interesting than his ceaseless march up & down with his rifle – bayonet fixed – for Company; the Tugs dragged us through; out we went, and Father Thames has us once again.
Clearing the wonderful Pontoon Bridge at Gravesend & threading our way through the maze of shipping thereabouts we soon got away. Southend was passed by 10a.m.; stationed by the long long pier (the longest in England I believe – length ? yards) were 2 large armed Merchantmen, Auxiliary Cruisers one we took to be the Saxonia, Cunarder, and 2 Torpedo Boats. Down the River Submarines, Torpedo Destroyers & other Service Craft were always in evidence. The Oxfordshire (Bibby Line) painted white, broad green band, with red crosses on the hull & funnel – Hospital Ship – passed up.
Margate was passed at dinner-time, for “tiffin” at 1 o’clock is now a thing of the past dinner being served instead, and then in turn North Foreland, Ramsgate, (almost opposite the Goodwin Sands, sighting the old Mahratta once again) then Deal and passing quite close too to the Wreck Boat marking the spot where the ill-fated H.M.S. Niger was torpedoed last week only 1 hour after we had passed her ( as I’ve previously mentioned it just occurs to me) then by St. Margarets Bay & what a dainty little spot this is with its red villas & bungalows – I should imagine it is what it looks, very exclusive. It was just before this we were signalled to stop – the Examination Boat – only a Tugboat, the Carcass, but with a Naval Lieutenant in command, and wireless even. A whole category of questions had to be answered – “where from, whither bound, when did we leave &c. &c., a long list; the replies written down by a Marine standing alongside the Lieutenant & everything being satisfactory we were waved ahead.
South Foreland showed up & we were soon running along under the “White Cliffs of Albion”, quite close in. Breasting Dover Breakwater counted 11 Men o’ war of various classes in the Harbour, the Cruisers cleared for action. A Torpedo Boat just entered the Harbour as we passed, one of the entrances it could be seen was closed – a large boom stretched right across it. At night time the other entrance is closed also with wire guards drawn across. Just on leaving Dover astern the South Foreland lights on top of the Cliff flashed – the Sun had set. The Flushing – Folkestone Mail Steamer passed alongside us then, numerous passengers aboard & doubtless many refugees would be amongst the number poor souls.
Folkestone was the next passed, & then across the bay to Dungeness – the 2 Lights there very vivid – we kept quite close to the land all the time. The Pilot should have left us here, but evidently it had got too dark for the small boat, which had been arranged for to put off for him therefore he goes further much to his disgust! Just before tea, 6 o’clock, the lights of St. Leonards & Hastings were abreast & those of Eastbourne just ahead. Beachy Head was cleared, and then the lights of Brighton showed well. Doubtless there were lots of other interesting items that I wot not of as I turned in early being full of cold.
Day No. 121: Sunday 22 November 1914
Happening to be awake at 1/30 a.m. sat up in my bunk & looked out of the port-hole and there was St. Catherines Light just above, and that’s all I saw of the Isle of Wight, more's the pity! At 4/30 a.m. everything that was moveable told me we had reached Portland. We had stopped with the idea of landing the Pilot and were just rolling our “bestest” in the trough of the seas & as a result all one’s loose gear in the Cabin commenced turning somersaults; crashes & bangs were everywhere & of course the rolling of the ship was accentuated by her being so light, not an ounce of cargo aboard. As to the rolling, well, need I say more than at breakfast time I learnt that the 3rd Officer was actually rolled out of bed!! & nicely bruised in consequence. However, after a dozen really good rolls the engines started again and we were off as it was quite impossible to land the Pilot – a strong gale had sprung up & a very heavy sea with it.
The 5 searchlights (including one at each end of the Breakwater & the entrances to the Harbour were busy flashing. Needless to say they were all focussed on the Manipur & my Cabin at times was brilliantly illuminated as the lights swept by. I saw all this through the Port, “my little bedroom window”, and, my word! what a big sea was on – it was fine to see the searchlight effects on the “White horse” curly top of the waves. The sea fortunately being a following one we did not experience very great motion with it.
Breakfast over brought us abreast of Start Point (south coast of Devon). We were close inshore & could make out the details of the rocky bold coast line – a la Anglesey quite well. Signalled as we passed &, then, clearing Prawle Point a course was set for Plymouth to try & get rid of our poor London Pilot who, having been carried so far beyond his distance, was bemoaning his fate. The entrance to Plymouth is imposing, fine headlands on either side. Camps & Forts about, and in the Harbour over the magnificent Breakwater several Torpedo Craft lay under the Forts. We stopped on the sea side of the Breakwater, in comparatively smooth water, and the sea Pilot Boat which was sailing by sent off its punt & took off the London “member of their cloth”.
Torpedo Boats now seemed to spring from nowhere in particular – flitting about the Bay; and the Gt. W Rly Tender Smeaton, impressed into Admiralty Service, coming up signalled us to stand by. The usual enquiries, with slight variations this time, & why had we come there & When replied to the Lieutenant asked if we were leaving immediately.
“Yes”. – “Right O! you may proceed”.
“Hard – a – starboard”
I heard the order given and we were off again. The land on the Devonport side is the best coast line, well wooded & very high cliffs, hills in fact, and, on the sky line of one stands a noble church with its striking tower. At the foot of the hills, right on the shore, is a pretty looking village at the entrance to a valley – hemmed in muchly by the steep hills on each side giving an out–of–the–world look to it with its houses all crowded together & laying in tiers. As Plymouth was left, and just in the Bay, 2 Trawlers engaged in Sweeping for Mines came by us – we moved out of their way, and when Plymouth Sound was well in the rear 2 large Cruisers passed, parting Company to permit us to go between them – really the Navy are in evidence everywhere. Soon afterwards we neared the Eddystone Lighthouse, this time obtaining a very good view of it.
The day had become colder & raw and a moderate following gale blowing, so that there was not much inducement to stay on deck but I was there when we passed the Lizards and when crossing Mounts Bay was on the Bridge for awhile as dusk set in. Another Cruiser was patrolling about here. Ahead was the Wolf Rock Light on the portside (left), flashing alternately white & red, & on the starboard side (right) opposite the Land’s End stood the other well known light – the Longships. We turned the corner; making up for the Irish Sea, & it was general comment at Tea time that the heavy sea expected here was missing, which seemed to put everyone in a good humour!! We were well up the Coast of Cornwall when I retired.
Day No. 122: Monday 23 November 1914
The day opened quietly, bright & calm, & anything but what you would associate with November. I spent the greater part of the morning on the Bridge. We were proceeding up the Irish Sea (St. Georges Channel is perhaps better) – the Cardigan Bay waters – Leading for Holyhead. Towards midday we picked up the land; the Mountains of Wales round about Barmouth, the Cader Idris series & those running north to Snowdon – familiar haunts bringing Visions of Home with them. It was about here that we had a convoy of Seagulls, there is not much point you may say in referring to seagulls but the feature of them was their numbers. On the Ocean they were rare birds indeed – scarcely saw one on the passage - & now nearing land they were here in hundreds keeping us company, flying all round, then poised as though motionless & yet keeping up with us. I’ve never seen so many & even the “hard cases” on the ship were of the same opinion.
Middle of the afternoon brought us near enough to Holyhead to get the Flags ready, the Course was slightly altered towards the South Stack so that the Signal Station might be enabled to read our signals which were then hoisted. We passed about 3 miles off – the Answering Pennant was hoisted on land in reply & the course was again altered to clear the south of the Isle of Man.
The weather – Oh these Northern climes! – quite altered. Cold, dull & cloudy now & life below stairs was the more inviting. Later, after dark, it “rained deluges” & after tea I was called out to see a phenomenon rarely seen – a lunar rainbow.
Caught a glimpse of the Light on the Calf of Man (Chickens Rock) & hereabouts speed was reduced so that we should not arrive at the mouth of the Clyde before daylight & so save having to Anchor. Had a look at the lights on the Mull of Galloway & Donaghadee (Scotland & Ireland) before “turning in” & slept well through a calm night.
Day No. 123: Tuesday 24 November 1914
We passed the Ailsa Craig & the Island of Arran in the early morn. When I peeped out just before 7 o’clock it was as dark as you please but we were quite near the land as indicated by the lights on both sides of the Firth, somewhere between Innellan & Wemyss Bay. Several steamers went by, outward-bounders, well lit up. We were scarcely moving, just hanging on the tide, and it was not until daybreak that we went ahead & were soon up to the Clock Lighthouse, with Dunoon on the opposite shore, & round by Gourock dropping anchor almost abreast of Greenock; the Tail of the Bank as it is called. What glorious scenery all around, very picturesque everywhere, particularly over by Holy Loch & Gare Loch. Many vessels were to an anchor round about us, & the very last word in Naval Construction – the Torpedo Destroyer Manly – was steaming in & out, doing steering tricks amongst the shipping and then, later scooted off down the Clyde for a speed trial. She is just completed – is rightly called the “Pride of the Navy” for has made a speed of 38 knots! Think of it, the speed of the average fast train!!
The Pilot boarded us immediately & brought with him a genuine Scotch Mist, which we were glad to dodge by going in then to breakfast. Doubly welcome this raw morning. Over the meal we learnt that there had hardly been any movement on the River for nearly 3 days owing to dense fog prevailing, which accounted for the many ships to an anchor. The tide beginning to serve; at 10 o’clock our two tugs fastened on to us, the anchor was hove up, and we began our journey up the Clyde. Now, this was interesting – every yard of it. For the greater part of the way shipbuilding yards are along the banks, the din din of hammering was everywhere – not a stocks empty, & in many of the yards Naval construction was going on apace. – Submarines, Torpedo Boats &c, and, in the fitting-out docks of the yards, larger craft completing. In one of these we passed quite close to the last “Hyper-super” Dreadnought, the Valiant, another “last word”, on which work is going on night and day, 7 days to the week. River Clyde thy name is “activity”.
The River is but narrow all the way, in places no wider than twice the width of Lord Street, if that; and navigation is not an easy matter. So close to the banks were we that we passed many times almost under the projecting sterns of ocean monsters building. Dumbarton with its Rock was an object of interest. The rain never ceased unfortunately the whole way – (Is it ever fine on the Clyde?) & was coming down too smartly to be on deck as we made the Dock – Time one o’ clock. We drew through, warped across another to the Anchor Line Wharf, (Stobeross Quay) ropes were thrown out, the good old Manipur was made fast and ---
The Voyage was O'er
The Captain came off the Bridge, I followed him into his Room and – we shook hands; no need to say anything, the action was sufficiently expressive of congratulation on his having brought us safely through. Dinner was the next pleasure, made the more so by general conversation with one or two of the Officials who joined us at Table. Afterwards the Customs investigated my traps & my contrabands, satisfactorily approved & so marked, and, at the Captain’s request I went ashore with him to assist in the final operation of the Voyage – to wit, Paying off the Crew. A taxi run up to the City to the Steamship Office, meanwhile my going to the G.P.O. for some pounds worth of Insurance Stamps (& of course a telegram home) & later to the Bank of Scotland to get rid of their Notes – big values – obtaining moneys instead suitable for distribution oh! those new £ Treasury Notes – we thought we would never finish counting them – the dirties and flimsies. A taxi run round to the Board of Trade Office to pick up the Official necessary for the operation & then down to the Steamer, and what remained of the afternoon was occupied in assisting the “Paymaster General”.
In the evening, Letters & a walk up to the G.P.O. to post ‘em & then back for packing – hateful job!!!
Day No. 124: Wednesday 25 November 1914 and The Last!!
Breakfast over, Good byes said all round to those who still remained aboard – my very good friend who had made me so thoroughly welcome – when word was brought that the Taxi was alongside. Soon loaded with my luggage & away to the Caledonian Station, a nice seat in the 10/10 train and I was really & truly this time ...
While I am left with the happiest recollections of the foreign sceneries & sights over the thousands of miles traversed this “diary letter” now comes to a conclusion, and, when reading it, if you get but a tithe of the pleasure that it has been to me to write it I am indeed glad.
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