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Showing posts from April, 2016

Z is for Zeebrugge

Z is for Zeebrugge


This last post in the Blogging from A to Z challenge is about a battle that occurred nearly 100 years ago at the end of WWI.  I hasten to add that none of my ancestors fought in this battle but I thought that it was a nice way of stitching up all the sorts of things that we have been learning about this month.

In Australia we recently commemorated the 100th Anniversary of the first Anzac Day service on 25th April.  In the UK, the 23rd April, or St George's Day, is the day to commemorate a significant battle in WWI - the raid on Zeebrugge. 

On 23 April 1918 the British Navy carried out a raid on the the Belgian port of Zeebrugge in an attempt to block the path of German U-boat submarines that were docked further up the Zeebrugge canal.
Here is a map of the battle site from a newspaper at the time.

Y is for Yard Pay Books (Yellow Admirals, yardarm and Youth)

Y is for Yard Pay Books (Yellow Admirals, yardarm and Youth)


Yard Pay Books for dockyard workers can be found in ADM 42. They cover the years 1660-1857.
What's a Yellow Admiral you ask?  Well, apparently the British Fleet used to be divided up into squadrons - red, white and blue with red being the most senior and blue the most junior.  Bruno Pappalardo advises:
in 1747 the Admiralty introduced a system whereby unsuitable and elderly captains were promoted to an 'unspecified squadron' popularly known as the 'yellow squadron'.  These officers - commonly known as 'yellow admirals' - were entitled to the half pay of a rear amiral but did not have any prospects of future employment or promotion. (p.12)
Oh look!  Patrick O'Brian wrote a book called The Yellow Admiral.  Well waddya know?



Here's another picture of a Yellow Admiral.





Yardarm...I'm sure at one time or another you've heard or said the phrase "The sun is over the yardarm" but what i…

X is for X-Craft

X is for X-Craft
You can imagine how delighted I was to find something beginning with X for the Blogging from A-Z challenge.  Thank goodness for my father's Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea.  It has truly saved my bacon.

X-craft were miniature submarines of 40 feet (12m) in length and operated by a crew of four.  As it was impossible within this overall length to handle a normal torpedo or to mount a tube through which to fire it, they carried instea tow large detachable side charges each containing two tons of explosive fired by a time fuse.  (p. 946 of the Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea)
You can read another interesting story about X-craft here. 

This has been my contribution to the Blogging from A-Z challenge.

W is for Wavy Navy

W is for the Wavy Navy

From The Oxford Companion to Ships and the Sea:
a colloquial term in the British Navy to describe officers and ratings of the reserves.  The term comes from the wavy stripes of gold braid which used to be worn on their sleeves by reserve officers as indications of rank - but is no longer applicable since, in 1956, the wavy stripes were abolished and reserve officers now wear the same rank insignia on their sleeves as active service officers. (p. 929)
This is my contribution for the Blogging from A to Z challenge.  Short and sweet I hope.

V is for HMS Vernon

V is for HMS Vernon


James Cook's register of service (ADM 196/31) shows him serving on the Ship Vernon during the following dates:
10 May 1880 - 30 September 1880 1 October 1880 - 20 November 1882 18 August 1886 - 28 January 1887 18 April 1890 - 19 July 1890 10 Sept 1890 - 29 January 1891 30 November 1896 - 2 March 1898 10 March 1901 - 20 May 1901 21 March 1902-15 Sept 1902
Comments on his service 1880-1882 report: Sobriety and to my entire satisfaction - Mr Cook has had considerable experience in the instruction of Cransus (?) torpedo classes, and is a steady and fully qualified Torpedo Gunner.  J.O. HopkinsAnd again in 1886-87:
With sobriety and to my entire satisfaction a trustworthy officer & a good instructor. S. LongBruno Pappalardo in Tracing Your Naval Ancestors advises that: 
Torpedo training was provided from 1872 in HMS Vernon, in Portsmouth...(p, 9)When I look at the register of service, I notice that there are lots of "S"s and "H"s marked next to the names …

U is for HMAS Una (oh allright and Uniforms too)

U is for HMAS Una (oh allright and Uniforms too)





There is a picture which sits on my bookshelf and as you can see there is a bit of story written underneath it.  Written by my father, it says:
This is the former German steamship the Komet which was built in Hamburg in 1911 and captured by the Nusa of the R.A.N. on 9 October 1913 along the coast of Papua New Guinea.  (CPO Conner was part of the crew that captured this ship - the first German ship captured by the R.A.N. in the war) She was brought to Sydney and re-commissioned as the HMAS Una and saw further service in WWI in the Pacifice and SE Asian region.  After the war she was decommissioned and re-named the Akuna and became the pilot vessel for Port Philip Bay, Victoria where she served until 1953.
The date is a bit wrong...it was actually 1914 not 1913 and I think probably the 11th October rather than the 9th.  You can read an account here  from Charles Bean's Official History of WWI.  If you search the NAA catalogue for "K…

T is for Trinity House (and Tobacco and Trusses)

T is for Trinity House (and Tobacco and Trusses)


It is amazing what we take for granted isn't it?  




Oh look there's a lighthouse.



Oh look there's a buoy!



In my reading about naval records I came across a mention of Trinity House.  I'd never heard of it before.  
Apparently, if you wanted to be a ship's master in the Royal Navy (they're the people that get to navigate the ship), then you would have to be examined by Trinity House (Pappalardo, p. 14).  And the same if you wanted to be a schoolmaster /naval instructor - although it did change to the RN College Portsmouth in 1819 (Rodger, p. 29).   Letters regarding masters' candidates from 1702-1807 can be found in ADM 6/134 or ADM 1/4314-4315 for the period 1808-39.  In contrast, a gunner was examined by the Ordnance Board and a Chaplain by the Bishop of London (Rodger, p.6) 
Trinity House is very old indeed.  It was incorporated by Royal Charter in 1514 and, as a charity, had all sorts of responsibilities from mar…

S is for Ships

S is for Ships

My father and I often have this exchange:
Me:  That's a nice boat Him: That's not a boat.  It's a ship. Me: What's the difference? Him: It's too big to be a boat. Me: So how can you tell it's too big. Him: .....
I can't remember what he says next (if it floats, it's a boat is my logic and I tend to tune out to specifics).  I would probably have known the difference between a boat and a ship if I'd listened to him. But I didn't, so I was forced to google it the other day in preparation for this post. (Gasp of shock from fellow librarians)   Google told me that if you can put a boat on another boat, then it's a boat and the other one is a ship.  Or something like that. If you wish to investigate further then you can go here or here.
Here's a ship for you.

Can you see all the sailors lined up neatly on the deck?
Here is a boat.  And my dear father.

These photos were taken from Garden Island last week.  I should do a blog post about that o…