A Fleet in Being: Notes of Two Trips with the Channel Squadron (Google eBook)
Some thirty of her Majesty's men-of-war were involved in this matter; say a dozen battleships of the most recent, and seventeen or eighteen cruisers; but my concern was limited to one of a new type commanded by an old friend. I had some dim knowledge of the interior of a warship, but none of the new world into which I stepped from a Portsmouth wherry one wonderful summer evening in '97. With the exception of the Captain, the Chief Engineer, and maybe a few petty officers, nobody was more than twenty-eight years old. They ranged in the ward-room from this resourceful age to twenty-six or seven clear-cut, clean-shaved young faces with all manner of varied experience behind them. When one comes to think, it is only just that a light 20-knot cruiser should be handled, under guidance of an older head, by affable young gentlemen prepared, even sinfully delighted, to take chances not set down in books.
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aboard Admiral Admiral's Admiralty ahead ammunition ashore astern Atlantic Bantry Bantry Bay battleships beak beautiful Berehaven Blacksod Bay boat Captain catch Channel Fleet coal collier commodious coffee-grinder cordite coxswain craft crowded cutter danced Devonport Dockyard enemy engine-room engines FASCINATING GAME Fastnet fired Flag Flagship Fleet foc'sle forward four-inch galley gun practice Gun-room head hear heard hull hundred knots leading ship Lieutenant light liner lofty bridge looked Lough Swilly Malta fever man-of-war Manoeuvres Marines Maxims Midshipmen miles minutes Naval Navy never night Omdurman racing Real Thing rendezvous Rockal round says Twenty-One semaphore senior Sub-Lieutenant shell ship ship's shot signal signalman smoke speed starboard steam stoker talk target target-practice tell third-class cruiser three-pounder torpedoes twenty understrapper voice ward-room Warrant Officer watch weather whaler wind word yards
Page 32 - LETTERS Every day brings a ship, Every ship brings a word; Well for those who have no fear. Looking seaward, well assured That the word the vessel brings Is the word they wish to hear.
Page 40 - Fire and collision drill, general quarters and the like take on new meaning when they are translated for you, once by the Head who orders them and again by the tail who carry them out. When you have been shown lovingly over a torpedo by an artificer skilled in the working of its tricky bowels, torpedoes have a meaning and a reality for you to the end of your days.
Page 82 - Khartoum brush o' yours.' After a long pause, stepping back to catch the effect of a peculiarly juicy stroke — head a little aside and one eye shut : ' Well, we've waited about long enough, 'aven't we?' Bosun's mate with a fine mixture of official severity and human tolerance: 'What are you cacklin' for over there! Carry on quiet, can't you?
Page 67 - ... vaunted discipline ; and it is no small thing to reduce to silence boys of sixteen to eighteen, all full of natural and acquired deviltry. But it was done according to the custom of the Navy and the etiquette of the Gun-room, whose laws change not. Here the young Nelson learns to obey, in silence and at a run. He has been broken in on the 'Britannia,' but the Gun-room gives him enduring polish. The Admiral knows a Midshipman rather as the Almighty knows a blackbeetle; the Captain knows him as...
Page 34 - ... strength and such power as we and the World dare hardly guess at. And holding this power in the hollow of my hand ; able at the word to exploit the earth to my own advantage; to gather me treasure and honour, as men reckon honour, I (and a few million friends of mine) forbore because we were white men. Any other breed with this engine at their disposal would have used it savagely long ago. In our hands it lay as harmless as the levin-rods of the Vril-Ya.
Page 83 - Do not believe what people tell you of the ugliness of steam, nor join those who lament the old sailing days. There is one beauty of the sun and another of the moon, and we must be thankful for both. A modern man-of-war photographed in severe profile is not engaging ; but you should see her with the life hot in her, head-on across a heavy swell. The ram-bow draws upward and outward in a stately sweep. There is no ruck of figurehead, bow-timbers or bowsprit -fittings to distract the eye from its outline...
Page 83 - ... day a waiting fleet will thus cheer a bruised and battered sister staggering in with a prize at her tail — a plugged and splintered wreck of an iron box, her planking brown with what has dried there, and the bright water cascading down her sides. I saw the setting of such a picture one blood -red evening when the hulls of the fleet showed black on olive-green water, and the yellow of the masts turned raw-meat colours in the last light. A couple of racing cutters spun down the fairway, and long...
Page 19 - ... above a dying beast ; flung like a lasso ; gathered anew as a riata is coiled at the saddle-bow ; dealt out card-fashion over fifty miles of green table ; picked up, shuffled, and redealt as the game changed. I had seen cruisers flown like hawks, ridden like horses at a close finish, and manoeuvred like bicycles ; but the wonder of their appearance and disappearance never failed.
Page 24 - In these craft they risk the extreme perils of the sea and make experiments of a kind that would not read well in print. It would take much to astonish them when, at the completion of their command, they are shifted, say, to a racing cruiser. They have been within spitting distance of collision and bumping distance of the bottom ; they have tested their craft in long-drawn Channel gales, not grudgingly or of necessity because they could not find harbour, but because they ' wanted to know, don't you...