Saturday, April 30, 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.

ZEEBRUGGE AND DOCKS. (1918, April 25). The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 - 1929), , p. 5. Retrieved April 28, 2016, from

It was a fierce battle and over 200 British sailors and marines lost their lives. (Blanch, C., A short ferry ride to war

Twelve Australian volunteers  were chosen to help in the battle.  They were:

Sub-Lieutenant (later Lieutenant-Commander) John Howell-Price , D.S.O., D.S.C. b. 16 September 1886, Five Dock, N.S.W.

Warrant Engineer (later promoted to Engineer-Lieutenant in recognition of his bravery) William Henry Vaughan Edgar, D.S.C. (No. 7423, R.A.N.) Of McMahon's Point, N.S.W. ; b. Dunedin, New Zealand 20 Apr. 1884. Died Heidelberg, Victoria 1962.

Leading Seaman, George J. Bush, D.S.M. (No. 7018, R.A.N.) Of Manchester , Eng.; b. Islington, London, 19 Oct., 1887

Leading Seaman Dalmorton J.O. Rudd, D.S.M (No. 3389, R.A.M.) Of Campsie, N.S.W.; b. Sydney, 14 June 1896

Leading Seaman Henry J. Gillard (No. 8517, R.N.) Of Bangor, North Wales; b. New Brighton, Cheshire, Eng. 29 Jan 1890

Able Seaman Leonard T. Newland (No. 1937 R.A.N.) Of South Northcote, Vic; b. Ballarat, Vic., 16 Aug. 1889

Leading Seaman George E. Staples, D.S.M. (No. 2858, R.A.M.) Of Semaphore, S. Aust; b. Parkside, S. Aust., 20 April, 1896. Died 13 Aug., 1920

Leading Stoker, W.J. Bourke (no. 2237, R.A.N.) of Perth, W. Aust.; b. Perth, 7 Dec., 1891

Leading Stoker R. Hopkins (No. 3135, R.A.N.) Of Windsor, Vic.; b. Wyong, N.S.W. 5 oct., 1893

Leading Stoker G.J. Lockard (No. 3123 R.A.M.) Of west Marrickville, N.S.W.; b. Sydney, 28 Feb., 1893

Leading Stoker Herbert J. McCrory (No. 1183, R.A.M.) Of Surry Hills, N.S.W.; b. Sydney, 24 Jan 1892

Leading Stoker J. Strong (No. 2536, R.A.N.) Of Annandale, N.S.W. ; b. Gallymont, N.S.W., 10 Nov., 1893.

There are all sorts of accounts of the battle.  It was quite complicated strategically speaking and interesting on a number of levels - from the use of old cruisers loaded with concrete to act as blockships, to the use of fog machines to hide their advance, to old subs being blown upunder the Mole.  (I didn't realise that mole also meant a pier or causeway - did you?)  The names of the vessels range from Vindictive to Iris and Daffodil and there were all sorts of craft involved from old cruisers and destroyers, to ferries, motor launches and submarines.  It was all hands to the pump - from 2000 dockworkers at Chatham to the Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes.

This article probably gives the clearest account of the battle and is well illustrated.

You can read one of the Australians - McCrory's - account of their training here.

This is an excellent article describing the action that the Australians saw during the battle and where and how they served.

There is some footage of the HMAS Australia here where one of the crew are presented with the Zeebrugge medal.

Here is a Belgian TV Documentary about the raid.

If you wanted to read something meatier, Project Gutenberg has a couple of volumes for you - Captain Carpenter's The Blocking of Zeebrugge and Lieut. Westerman's The Thick of the Fray at Zeebrugge. Outlook advises that:
 "No boy alive will be able to peruse Mr. Westerman's pages without a quickening of his pulses"  

The Internet Archive has The Dispatches of Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes edited by C. Sanford Terry and The Zeebrugge Affair by Keble Howard.

In terms of memorials I have discovered that there is the Zeebrugge bell housed at Dover (a gift from the King of Belgium).  It is rung every year by the mayor in memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  There is a rather nice postcard featured here from 1923 and a video on You Tube of it being rung just a few days ago.  Those who fell may have been buried at St James's Cemetery Dover or Zeebrugge Churchyard.

I hope that you have enjoyed finding out more about the navy and naval records for family historians in my contribution to the Blogging from A to Z challenge. Thank you for coming on the journey with me and responding so enthusiastically to my posts.  It has made the slog so much easier having friends along the way cheering me on.

As you can see, there is a host of online and offline resources available for you to explore.  

I will attempt to create a digest of some of the resources as a kind of ready reckoner for you after I've had a few zzzzzzzzssss......


Blanch, Craig, A short ferry ride to the war | Australian War Memorial. (2016). Retrieved 29 April 2016, from

Jose, Arthur WilberforceVolume IX – The Royal Australian Navy, 1914–1918, Official History of Australia in the War 1914-1918, Appendix 25 – The Australian Detachment for Zeebrugge. (2016). Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 29 April 2016, from

England, 1918. Lieutenant William Henry Vaughan Edgar DSC, RAN, with a party of civilians on HMAS Australia. Artificer Engineer Edgar, whilst serving on HMAS Australia, volunteered to serve in the .... (2016). Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 29 April 2016, from

Raid on Zeebrugge (1) TV documentary. (2016). YouTube. Retrieved 29 April 2016, from

Scenes on board HMAS Australia. (2016). Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 29 April 2016, from

Studio portrait of Sub-Lieutenant (later Lieutenant Commander) John Howell-Price DSO DSC (1886-1937). Howell-Price served with the Royal Naval Reserve from 1915 to 1918 and in the RAN from 1918 to .... (2016). Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 29 April 2016, from


A is for ADM
B is for Books (and Battleships)
C is for Chatham
D is for Dockyards
E is for Edgar Class Cruiser
F is for Flagship
G is for Greenwich
H is for Haslar
I is for Indexes and the Internet
J is for Jackspeak
K is for Kew (and Keyham)
L is for Lean's Navy Lists
M is for Malta (and Musters)
N is for Newspapers (and Navy Records Society and Nancy Dawson)
O is for HMS Orontes
P is for Prize Money (and Pensions)
Q is for Quartermaster
R is for Rodger (and Reading and Really Good Reference)
S is for Ships
T is for Trinity House (and Tobacco and Trusses)
U is for HMAS Una (oh allright and Uniforms too)
V is for HMS Vernon
W is for Wavy Navy
X is for X-craft
Y is for Yard Pay Books (Yellow Admirals, yardarm and Youth)

Friday, April 29, 2016

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?

yellow admiral

Here's another picture of a Yellow Admiral.

Rear-Adm. Edward Field, R.N., J.P., M.P., "The 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 is a yardarm exactly..... from the Oxford Dictionary of Ships and the Sea:'

the outer quarters of a yard, that part which lies outboard of the lifts, on eitehr side of the ship, i.e. the port and starboard yardarms.  They were the positions in a square-rigged ship where most of the flag signals were hoisted, and in the older days of sail, when the disciplinary code on board included punishments of death by hanging, were the traditional points from which men were hanged on board.

Ouch!   Here are some folk hanging about a yardarm....

Trainees (and, I hope, trainers) Manning the Yard

Last but not least, if you are looking for a good sea-story, real "and then...and then" stuff in terms of storytelling, you could do worse than to read Joseph Conrad's short story "Youth".  I really enjoyed it. You can read it online here. It should take you an hour or so...12,000 words I believe.  I had only read Conrad's Heart of Darkness, and did not know about this story.  The story makes completing the Blogging from A to Z Challenge look like a walk in the park ;) PS Did you know Conrad was born in Poland?  I didn't. 

Yippee Yahoo!  One more letter to go!!

Thursday, April 28, 2016

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.
"Hazards of the Royal Navy" Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 - 1954) 29 May 1952: 12. Web. 25 Apr 2016 <>.

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.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

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)
Wavy Navy Tobacco (1950)

This is my contribution for the Blogging from A to Z challenge.  Short and sweet I hope.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

V is for HMS Vernon

V is for HMS Vernon

Figurehead of HMS Vernon in Gunwharf Quays

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. Hopkins
And again in 1886-87:
With sobriety and to my entire satisfaction a trustworthy officer & a good instructor. S. Long
Bruno 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 of the ships.  I'm guessing that is an abbreviation for Ship and Home or maybe Hulk.

If you read the Wiki article on HMS Vernon here you will learn that she was a torpedo school ship.

Good old Trove comes up trumps again with this marvelous article describing what it was like training in the Royal Navy.  Could you ask for more?

1881 'Training for the Royal Navy.', Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907), 10 September, p. 30. , viewed 25 Apr 2016,, courtesy of Trove, National Library of Australia

Here is the transcription for those of you who find the image difficult to read:

IN our great-grandfathers' days,-when the "wooden
walls" of Old England were a literal fact, the
training of seamen for service in the Royal Navy
was a very different thing from what it now is.
The education of the Jack Tars of that period was
mainly confined to the manipulation of the compli-
cated system of ropes, sails, and tackle upon which
depended the management and manoeuvring of
the vessels, the gun exercises necessary for the
effective delivery of tremendous broadsides, and
the boot drill and pistol and cutlass practice which
made an attack by our gallant blue-jackets so for-
midable when an enemy's ship was grappled yard
arm to yard-arm, and the boarding-parties swarmed
eagerly over the sides of their own vessel to cap-
ture that of the foe. Nous avons change tout cela,
Heart of Oak has given place to iron and steel,
and the wet sheet and flowing sail to the " kettle
of steam," and with these changes have come
others so great and so numerous that Nelson
and Drake would stand aghast with amazement
could they once more revisit the glimpses of the
moon, and witness our method of naval warfare
as conducted on board one of our gigantic modern
ironclads.' The means of locomotion, manoeuvring,
steering, &c., of the huge monster are now fur-
nished by the engineering staff, subject of course
to the command of the captain, whilst the fighting
portion of the crew, officers and men alike, being
thus relieved to a great extent of the care and
management of the vessel itself, have to undergo
a course of scientific instruction of a most ela-
borate character in order to familiarize them
selves with the manifold and curiously contrived
weapons of offence and defence which of late
years have been adopted in the Service.
The principal school of instruction is located in
Portsmouth Harbour, on board the four dismasted
hulks, Calcutta, Excellent, Ariadne, and Vernon,
which are moored stem and stern in line near the
new extension works of the Dockyard. These
vessels are fitted up with all the multiform ap-
pliances necessary for the practical explanation of
the working of all the various scientific engines of
marine and submarine warfare : electric,magnetic,
and voltaic batteries, torpedoes of all sorts, from
the frame-and-stake torpedo and the "turtle,"
which are fixed-beneath the surface of the water
ready to blow -up any vessel which passes over
them, to the Whitehead and "fish" torpedoes
which speed with terrible rapidity through the
water on their mission of destruction ; sea-mines
of many kinds, some intended to lie perdu in the
bed of a river or harbour, and others semi
buoyant; and innumerable sorts of primers and
fuses, frictional, percussive, chemical, electric,
and mechanical, together with a multitude of
other contrivances for increasing the deadliness
of their effect, upon a hostile fleet, and also for
rendering their manipulation comparatively safe
to those by whom they are employed.
In our engravings we have first the canteen and
the recreation room on board H.M.S. Excellent,
which need no special explanation. "After
Dinner Drill" on board the Calcutta shows a
squad of blue-jackets going through the musketry
exercise, under the direction of one of the
instructors. Our fourth sketch is a stern view
of H.M.S. Excellent, with the three other vessels
above-named in perspective and the tender gun
boat Medway steaming up to the left. No. 5 is a
bow view of the Calcutta and the Excellent.
No. 6 shows the second-class torpedo school on
board the Vernon, where the seamen are being
initiated into tho scientific mysteries essential to
the effective use of those deadly instruments.
No. 7 is the first-class, or officers' torpedo-school
on board the same vessel, a perfect museum of
scientific models of every variety of infernal
machine. No. 8 shows the quarter-deck of
H.M.S. Vernon, with ...the instructor demon-
strating to his class the harmlessness and in
explosive character of gun-cotton when in its
pure state. A disc of this substance about the
size of a biscuit is placed upon a block of wood
and touched with a red-hot iron, and the effect is
merely that it flames with a slight hissing noise,
and burns away, doing no visible injury to the
block of wood upon which it rests. If, however,
a disc of tho same size charged with fulminate of
mercury, be ignited by electricity, the result is a
sharp explosion, which shatters the block to atoms.
Gun-cotton, when stored on board-ship, is kept
moist, and as 15 per cent, of water is sufficient to
prevent it exploding, even if thrown into a fire, it
seems clear that the destruction of the Doteral
cannot have resulted from the explosion of its
store of this material as some writers in our con-
temporaries have supposed. In No. 9 the Excel-
lent is shown at target practice, whilst the boats
of H.M.S. Vernon are engaged in blowing up with
countermines the submerged torpedoes which are
supposed to have been placed in position by the
enemy for the protection of the waterway. This
is done by a grappling iron or fork, to which is
fixed a canister charged with some powerful ex-
plosive and trailed over the the stern of the boat
or launch. When a torpedo wire is gripped either
the electric wire is detached, rendering the tor-
pedo useless, or the latter is blown up by the
countermine on the grappling iron, which is fired
by electricity from the boat. Thus the boats keep
on " creeping" till the passage is clear for the
ships to proceed. In actual warfare such work:
would, of course, be carried out under cover of the
darkness of night. No. 10 shows the lower deck
of the Vernon with the instructors explaining the
use of tho electric wires ; whilst in No. ll we have
the figure-heads of the four vessels. The Ariadne
and the Vernon are connected by means of a light
suspension-bridge or gangway, which is often
crowded with sailors going to and fro. The
figure-heads of these two vessels face one another
in close contiguity, and have been nicknamed
by the blue-jackets " Beauty and the Beast."
Finally, we have a view of the gun-deck of
H.M.S. Excellent, with a portion of her crew
engaged in exercise at heavy gun drill.

I'm sorry I haven't supplied the pictures for you...they are very dark and difficult to see but if you do want to look at them you can go here.

This is my contribution to Blogging from A to Z Challenge and the Trove Tuesday blogging theme.

Monday, April 25, 2016

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 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 "Komet" you will find 45 items.  There are 90 results for "HMAS Una".

In Volume 3 of Log of Logs I found an entry for Komet 1940-41 which tells me that she was captained by R. Eyssen.  If you can read German, you could read his account in Kriegstagebuch Komet.  Google translate tells me that Kriegstagebuch means War Diary.  Or there is Adventure on the German Raider Komet, 1940-41.  Mystery Ships - demystified by Charles H. Noack.

If you search the Australian War Memorial collection, you will find another primary source here - letters from Chief Petty Officer William Collins.  

Here is an Anzac Day commemorative blog post from the Maritime Museum from a couple of years ago. It appeals to me enormously because it features a teapot - just itching for a cosy ;)  Here's a great photo of her at Cockatoo Island Dockyard.

I don't think I really realized what a feat it was capturing the Komet until I read this article on the AWM site.  Just check out the size of the Nusa!  It's positively a tub!  Apparently it was referred to as "Tom Thumb".  Here's a newspaper article describing the capture:

1915 'HOW AUSTRALIA CAPTURED THE "KOMET."', Bendigonian (Bendigo, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), 6 April, p. 28. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,

So let's just go back a bit.  Where are Edwin Conner's details of service?  Well they can be found on The National Archives or TNA (UK) catalogue (ADM 188/222) for his UK Service and also the National Archives Australia or NAA site here for service in the Royal Australian Navy.  Edwin wasn't on the Nusa when she captured the Komet.  He was then serving on the Cerberus.  He served on HMAS Una from 21 September 1915 until 10 March 1919.

My father found this site last week which we were both very excited about because it actually has a diary entry featuring my great-grandfather Edwin Conner.  If you scroll down on this page to Monday 6 May 1918, you will find it. Here is a link to the real journal and entry.  Of course now we want to know why he was in the military hospital at the age of 49. Where would I find those records I wonder?

I checked Bean's official history again - this time Chapter VII Medical Service with the Royal Navy and found this illuminating advice:

In 1918 in the Islands malaria was again the chief cause of disability in the Una, though of the benign type.   

Other observations included:
In 1915 the sloop Una, with a complement averaging 113, had 124 cases of illness.  In October and November 1916 she was in the hurricane belt with a temperature of about 90 degrees Fahrenheit, humidity of 80-90 per cent and rain falling most of the time.  Her sick list for the year had been very low, but the medical officer who joined her in January 1917 noted that conditions of respiratory catarrh were apt to become chronic and refractory to treatment. (p.384)

The Una in the year October 1916-17 was almost completely free from venereal disease, only two cases of gonorrhoea appearing in December, when the ship was refitting in Sydney; but after leaving that port there was very little opportunity of infection. (p396) and 
In 1918, after a refit in Sydney in February, the Una returned to the Bismarcks and German New Guinea, and remained in the Islands until December.  Though the general health of the men again remained comparatively good, the moist heat and confinement to the ship teneded to cause neurasthenia. (a bit like our Chronic Fatigue Syndrome today I think)
I found some beautiful photos on the AWM site.  I hope you like them.

Informal group of convalescent patients with Sister Ethel Macquarie Cook, of Bathurst, NSW, on duty at the Military Hospital at Namanula, Rabaul. Copyright expired Public Domain.

Namanula, Rabaul. Exterior view of the Military Hospital. (Donor A. Bazley).  Copyright expired Public Domain

Convalescent soldiers taking it easy at the Military Hospital at Namanula, after an attack of malaria fever. Copyright expired Public Domain.

Sisters' quarters at the Military Hospital at Namanula, Rabaul. Identified from left to right:- Sister Catherine Elizabeth Lethbridge, of Mitchell, Qld; Sister Agnes Bissett Nelson, of Glen Innes NSW; Sister Marian Adelaide MacLean, of Maytown Qld; and Matron Flora Robertson, of Bathurst NSW. Copyright expired. Public Domain.

There's a whole lot more I could tell you about the HMAS Una's exploits but I will save that for another post.

Uniforms...what is it about uniforms?

Here are some pictures I took at the RAN Heritage Centre on Garden Island last week.

Sennit Hat c1913 - sennit is the type of weave

I do like a good hat and a hat box to match its shape!

Khaki shirt and blouse WRANS c1943 and WRANS Summer Uniform c1941.  Supplies of navy blue cotton became depleted in WW2 hence the change to khaki.

Oh and have you heard all the fuss about Boaty McBoatface?  My son just told me.  Thanks Cas.  Ah Democracy. 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

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!

Harbour Tours - Portsmouth Harbour - boats / yachts - ROROI

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 marine surveying, pilot licensing, making and setting up beacons and markers to providing welfare for seamen and their dependents.  

The majority of Trinity House Archives are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.  Trinity House has a page and some contacts for genealogy enquiries here.

Thank you Trinity House for all that you do to keep us safe when we're messing about in boats or sailing the high seas.

Oh yes, before I forget...tobacco and trusses.  If you are reading a Muster record you may find that it has columns for Trusses and Tobacco...not necessarily together...clothes and beds seem to come between them (Rodger, p.52).  Anyway the Purser would sell you tobacco and keep a record of how much you had.  Lifting heavy sails could often cause an internal injury or rupture so the Surgeon might dole out trusses (people might call them hernia belts today) to those with injuries.  Interesting, no?

Player's Pipe Tobacco. Advertisement

The trials and tribulations of navy life.  

How are your trials and tribulations going in the Blogging from A-Z challenge?  I'm in by the skin of my teeth tonight.  Nighty night.  I'm sailing off to the Land of Nod.


Fowler, Simon, Tracing Your Naval Ancestors - a Guide for Family Historians, Pen and Sword Family History, 2011

Pappalardo, Bruno, Tracing Your Naval Ancestors, PRO, Kew, Surrey, 2002

Rodger, NAM, Naval Records for Genealogists, Public Record Office Handbook No. 22, 1998

Friday, April 22, 2016

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.

HMAS Choules RAN

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 one day. But back to ships.

Last weekend I was a bit excited to see that I could borrow Log of Logs by Ian Nicholson from the QFHS lending library.  Any Australian family historian worth their salt knows about Log of Logs.  We all turn to it when we want to find out more about the ship our ancestor came out on (convict, immigrant or first fleeter).  There are 3 volumes.  As a QFHS member you can only borrow 2 books at a time from the Lending Library.  So I borrowed Volumes 2 and 3.  

Log of Logs.  Isn't that a great title?  It says what it is.  It's a log of....logs.  The description on the title page says this:

A catalogue of logs, journals, shipboard diaries, letters, and all forms of voyage narratives, 1788 to 1993, for Australian and New Zealand, and surrounding oceans.

It's useful for people with ancestors in the Navy too.  I looked up HMS Shah (remember my post about the Zulu War?)  Log of logs tells me its vital statistics (screw frigate, 6250t. (b. 1873): Flagship Pacific & S. America.)

And furthermore, Log of Logs tells me where I can find the logs and even diaries of people on board. How marvelous is that?  So, for HMS Shah, it tells me that the RN logs are at the Public Record Office, London (now called The National Archives) and that there is a Diary from 1877 of Captain FGD Bedford in the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich.  BED/5.

The first volume of Log of Logs was published in July 1990, the second volume in 1993 and the third volume in 1999.  Every volume is different so you do need to search across all three volumes.  

Basically the response was so magnificent to the first volume that as other logs came to light and more information came to hand, the need for further volumes was recognised.  The author does emphasize though that:

only those where a log, contemporary record, or some form of narrative still exists are applicable.  To list every voyage that ever was, if details were available, would probably even tax the Internet, but only a small proportion of old logbooks etc, have survived and been preserved in public repositories.

Log of logs ....keep an eye out for it if you haven't heard of it before.

One more story about my Dad...he feverishly counts the lifeboats on all the cruise ships that come in to harbour and mutters darkly about their capacity to hold ALL the passengers in the event of a disaster. He's got me counting them now too.  

PS Also, as well as listing ships by name, Log of Logs also has interesting subject headings interspersed throughout with bibliographies of relevant, for example, under "S" you will find material on Salvage of Ships, Cargoes & Bullion, School Ships & Sail Training Ships and Stowaways to name a few.  So, if you'd heard a story about some ancestor who was a stowaway on board a ship, you could search by subject heading and find out what logs there were featuring stories about stowaways. How good is that?

This is my contribution to Blogging from A to Z.