(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork)
On the 1 January the 1CS into which her two contemporaries had been commissioned, and into which she would eventually serve in before the year was out, became known as the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron (1BCS).
The beginning of the new year saw Queen Mary in the long involved process of fitting-out on the Tyne. In one source it was mentioned that her completion had been delayed due to the aforementioned industrial troubles, but details of these reported disputes are now difficult to come by, however their effects upon her completion were apparently not at all telling. This can be clearly seen in her comparable building times with Lion and Princess Royal, who it will be remembered had both been subject to modifications. On average it took nearly 12 months to complete their structures to a state suitable for launching, and a further 19 months to fit out and complete them. Queen Mary again took just over 12 months from laying down to launch, and some 17 months to finally complete for commissioning. Therefore this quoted industrial trouble does not appear to have adversely affected her building schedule at all.
As Queen Mary lay alongside the fitting-out basin, another important event of future note occurred on the 1 March, when Rear-Admiral Beatty hoisted his flag from Lion, taking over command of the 1BCS from Sir Lewis Bayley, the first Admiral to have commanded the fleet’s battle-cruisers. It is now strange to relate that at the time of this change in overall command of the squadron, there was no definite role developed for its employment. In this matter a writer and RNVR Officer, Filson Young, who was to later serve on-board Lion during late 1914 and the early part of 1915, has noted about this pre-war period:
When Beatty took the BCS to sea in the spring of 1913 for training, he found that there were no instructions from the Admiralty as to what it was to be trained for, no policy formed as to the nature of its employment in the fleet. No one had thought of that and Sir Lewis Bayley’s period of command been too short to permit of his remedying the defect. (Filson Young)
However Young was to later follow-up this, by stating that perhaps this was not as negative as it initially appeared, since it effectively allowed Beatty to stamp his own aggressive nature on the training, doctrine, and spirit of the 1BCS from a fresh, unadorned start:
Beatty’s ideal squadron would have turned and manoeuvred and fought like one man, without a word from the flagship, and once it had got his teeth in an enemy it would never have let go so long as one of them remained above the water. Of course he never achieved his ideal, but there were moments when he came very near it, and probably he was never so near it as on the great day that covered the BCF with glory, and robbed it of some of its best and finest elements. (Filson Young)
Needless to say the last comment is a clear reference to Beatty’s handling of his battle-cruisers at Jutland, but that March, it like the commissioning of Queen Mary, lay well in the future. However Saturday the 17 May was to witness yet another significant stage in the life of Queen Mary. Now manned by a 700 strong transit crew she was advanced to a state where she could commence her builder’s trials, and try out her machinery and fittings in her natural element for the first time. Long before the appointed time for casting off at 11.30am everything on-board was in readiness. As at her memorable launch the previous year many thousands of Tyneside’s had now occupied vantage points on both sides of the river to see her departure on her first cruise. As the accompanying photographic record will graphically reveal, this event was one aspect of her career which was to be extensively covered. Virtually every important phase of this operation has been visually very well documented, from her leaving the fitting-out basin, her majestic passage down the Tyne, right through to her eventually proceeding out to sea.
A number of obscure points concerning this operation have come to light, such as that her pilot for this passage down river was to be a Mr. Chambers of North Shields, a highly respected Tyne pilot. While as for her slipping away from her berth, here there was to be a slightly unusual beginning to this evolution. Since Queen Mary was lying at Jarrow with her stern pointing downstream and owing to the 700 feet length of her structure, it had been arranged that she should not be turned around until her arrival in the wider reaches of the lower river at Tyne Docks. Therefore the first phase of her passage would have to be undertaken in a rather un-ceremonious manner, stern first.
At 11.30am precisely, the screw tug Plover and the paddle tug Washington took up their positions at the stern of the battle-cruiser, as their tow ropes were quickly got aboard and made fast. While at the bow the screw tug Great Emperor and the paddle tug Gauntlet were made secure. Shortly afterwards the retaining shore lines and springs of the huge warship were cast off, and she began to move away from the fitting-out basin and Palmers yard for the first time. The Royal Ensign was hoisted at her stem, to the accompaniment of ringing cheers from the hundreds of people congregated on the vacant space at the Jarrow Ferry landing. Queen Mary now under steam with her engines and propellers worked for the first time, was gradually manoeuvred into mid channel.
During her sedate, stately passage down the River Tyne, it was mentioned that it was to have been kept free of traffic, however photographic coverage questions this. As well as conveying the feeling and atmosphere of the majestic scene in these images, as the mighty battle-cruiser, the most powerful of her kind moved slowly down river, her stately passage seemingly dominating the Tyne, there is evidence that other craft were about on that day. Upon arriving off the Tyne Docks at 12.15pm the vessel was manoeuvred by her supporting tugs and swung around, in an evolution occupying about half-an-hour. Queen Mary proceeded slowly through the lower reaches of the river with the tugs Great Emperor and Gauntlet now ahead, with the Plover and Washington at the stern guide cables, as she now adopted a more usual bows first attitude towards the mouth of the Tyne, and the North Sea.
As she passed South Shields harbour, the people on the shore raised cheers, along with the vessels on the river sounded their horns and sirens continuously until she was out of sight. Passing the Wellesley training ship, her band formed of local youths was massed on the upper deck and played the new ‘Colonial March’ as the she moved by, after which the Boys of the training ship then swarmed up the rigging and cheered heartily. Shortly after 1pm the outer harbour piers were reached, and Queen Mary passed safely out to sea to begin her passage south to the English Channel.
After an uneventful and measured passage she subsequently arrived at Plymouth late on Sunday the 18th, she was then taken into dry-dock at Devonport on the following day, primarily to have her bottom cleaned prior to her trials. This period of cleaning her hull, making final adjustments and preparations to her machinery would occupy her trial crew and dockyard personnel until the end of the month: Her stay alongside Palmers fitting-out basin had resulted in the accumulation of a fair coating of marine growth to the submerged portion of her hull. This had to be removed, a practice which would now improve her steaming trials performance by a significant margin.
It was envisaged that Queen Mary would carry out this important series of steam trials off Plymouth over the Polperro measured mile course. These would commence on the 27 May, in a gradual running in of her installation, and continue over the next week.
27th May: 27,380 tons displacement, mean draught of 28 feet 2 inch.
4 runs, 7,827 shp average, mean speed of 14.25 knots, 134.8 mean rpm.
4 runs, 16,420 shp, 18 knots, 176.6rpm.
6 runs, 37,275 shp, 23.28 knots, 229.5rmp.
29th and 30th: 27,200 tons - 28 feet
4 runs (3/4 power, with open exhaust) 56,719 shp, 25.13 knots, 258.5rpm.
24 hour trial, 57,476 shp, 25.08 knots, 258rpm.
2nd June. 27,180 tons - 28 feet
8-hour trial (full power) 77,306 (for initial 1hr 40min), 27.54 knots, 283.9rmp.
4 runs (full power, with open exhausts) 77,113 shp, 27.58 knots, 284.3rmp.
4 runs (full power) 83,003 shp, 28.17 shp, 289rpm.
From the 14th, and taking her into July, she would be based at Portsmouth for gunnery and torpedo trials. The exact timetable and arrangement of her various trials have regrettably not survived time, once again the Palmers records for these events were not archived. However as with her launching procedure, a very good indication of exactly how such trials May have been conducted can be gauged from those carried out by her Vickers built near sister.
Princess Royal - Summary of docking, steam and gun trials
The vessel left Ramsden dock on Thursday the 15 August 1912, arriving at Plymouth the following day. Anchor trials. Screw of worm of starboard cable holder worked hot and conclusion of trial was postponed. Coaling on 17 August. Vessel docked in No.10 dock Devonport dockyard 19 August, sag of 2.25 inch between Frames 25 and 287. Bottom cleaned and coated. Propellers exchanged. Alignment of torpedo tubes carried out. Coaling 29 August to 2 September. Boat derricks on stump mast tested on 29 August. Ammunition and torpedoes embarked on 2 September. Gunnery equipment test to take place between the 3rd to 4th: Vessel prepared for gun trials, and anchor trials concluded 5 September. 6 September 4 inch gun trials, four full charges fired from each gun. 13.5 inch trials, three full and one reduced charge fired from each gun. ‘A’ turret no damage inflicted. ‘B’ turret some rivets started in breakwater, and stowage of capstan whelps damaged. ‘Q’ turret door on Admirals sea cabin badly broken, door on signal house on Shelter deck forward torn off its hinges. Torpedo trials at full speed, two torpedoes fired from port tube and three from starboard tube. All torpedoes were damaged and experiments were held to show that it was impracticable to discharge torpedoes at full speed. Coaling 8 September. 24 hour’s three-quarter power trial 9 to 10 September. Mean speed over 24 hour’s by log 26 knots. Mean over that period 53,315 shp. Total coal consumption 930 tons, 1.63 pounds per hp/hour. Total loss of water 73.75t. Magazine trials (cooling) carried out during progress of 24-hour trial. Coaling 10 to 12 September. 8 hour’s full power trial, plus steering trials 12 September. Circling trials 18 September. Vessel docked in No.8 dock (Devonport), propellers removed. Propellers that had been fitted to inner shafts were transferred to the outer ones, and inner shafts fitted with propellers originally fitted at time of launch. Coaling 19 to 20 September. Propeller trials carried out 20 September.
The above data gives a fair indication of such a busy period, which for Queen Mary were successfully completed by 11 July. Leaving one favourable and telling comment concerning her performance in these exhaustive evolution’s that has survived the passage of time:
Finished her trials in a satisfactory manner, thus completing the entire programme without a single hitch. (Chronicle)
With this she was now to return to her old place alongside the fitting-out basin of Palmers on the Tyne, there to have all her service equipment and stores installed, and to be finally prepared for her full commissioning. Duly Queen Mary arrived back at the Tyne around 9.15am on the 12 July, to be guided and assisted up river by the tugs Great Emperor and Gauntlet at the bow, with again the Plover and Washington at the stern. Her return was again welcomed by the work force, because it meant further employment for a large number of men in her general overhaul and completion. Now most of the men of the 700 strong navigating crew which had sailed with her on her trials, had their final tea in the Co-operative Hall in Jarrow. Before embarking in three special trains between 3pm and 5pm for their return to the respective depots from which they had been drawn. This left Queen Mary again primarily in the hands of Palmers work force, assisted by a core of essential naval personnel.
One core individual was already on place, Captain W. Reginald Hall had been appointed to Victory for command of Queen Mary on 1 July, 1913, ready for her commissioning at Portsmouth on 4 September, and completed to full crew on 15 September for service in the 1BCS.
By that August all of the final work had been completed to the satisfaction of the Admiralty, and Queen Mary was ready to be officially handed over to the Royal Navy. During this phase on the Tyne her complement was now made up to its full strength by the arrival of drafts from depots, primarily Portsmouth. The manned and completed battle-cruiser finally departed from her birthplace at Palmers on the 30th of the month heading south, arriving at Portsmouth the following day. With her commissioning a new active era in her career began, since this ceremony would effectively draw to a close the early period of her birth and nurturing. Her acceptance into the Royal Navy at her official commissioning to follow was now to set her off on a new and significant chapter in her history.
4th September 1913
With Queen Mary’s commissioning at Portsmouth her service within the Royal Navy commenced, being designated to join the 1BCS of the Home Fleet. This growing squadron was by then well under the overall control and guidance of Beatty, who flew his flag in Lion, which along with the Princess Royal, Indefatigable, and now Queen Mary, comprised the fleet’s powerful capital ship vanguard.
Exactly what form this commissioning ceremony took has again regrettably not survived the passage of time. But the author Filson Young in his book ‘With the Battle-cruisers’ has left an enlightening impression of how such an event was conducted for a re-commissioning of Lion:
The ceremony of taking over a command is, were a ship is lying in a dockyard, and is one of the least impressive in the world, whatever its inner significance May be. A gentleman in mufti gets out of a cab, picks his way across the dockyard lumber to the brow joining the jetty with the ship, and with a salute to the quarterdeck, and disappears below. A little later an officer in Admiral’s undress uniform stands, with the ship’s company at attention, while the white cross of Saint George slowly ascends the foremast. There are a few papers to be signed, a brief chat in the wardroom, and a gentleman in mufti goes ashore and catches the train back to London. But the Navy is never wrong about its ceremonies. When splendour is required it can be provided in more true magnificence than in any other environment. But in the ceremonies that have to do with the endless routine, the passing of responsibility from one hand to another, that are but a moment in a working day, and herald a task that has yet to be done, everything but what is necessary for dignity is omitted. The frills and cheers are reserved for achievement, and an occasion like this depends for its impressiveness on its hidden possibilities that lie in it and the destiny that May await is so quietly begun. (Young, Lion)
From this one can gain the overall perception, that while the actual ceremony might not be very impressive as a spectacle, the significance behind it was deep, a factor appreciated by all who would have taken part in it. With her commissioning Queen Mary’s complement was now to be brought up to full strength, through a number of appointments and personnel drafts to her over the coming month: As for her future ‘Role’ within the growing ranks of the 1BCS, well Beatty had sketched out a set of principal roles this month, in which he envisaged the possible employment for his growing command in overall scope these various points entailed that his squadron should be able to:
1. Support a reconnaissance of fast light-cruisers on sweeps to the enemy coast at high speed (a role which was to be successfully carried out almost a year later in the Heligoland Bight action).
2. Support a distant blockading force, a relatively new development since the concept of a close blockade had just been abandoned as a direct result of experience gained in recent fleet manoeuvres (this foretold the squadron’s future distant blockade from its Scapa Flow and Rosyth bases).
3. To form a vital support between the scouting cruiser force and the main BF when cruising (this was to be a normal disposition of the battle-cruisers in many GF sweeps throughout the Great War).
4. To support a cruiser force watching and observing the movements of the enemy’s BF and communicate this information to one’s own BF (model heavy assistance).
5. Finally, to form a fast Division of the BF in a general action (this was to eventually become a vital component of the then Commander-in-Chief’s Admiral Callaghan’s pre-war battle plan, and was successfully evolved under his successor Admiral Jellicoe).
5th September 1913
It is to be noted that shortly after she commissioned, Captain Hall received a telegram from Queen Mary:
On the occasion of your hoisting your pennant on-board the Queen Mary I offer you, your officers, and men my hearty good wishes for a happy and prosperous commission.
Hall had been asked by the Admiralty if he would commission Queen Mary without a Master-at-Arms and Ship's Police as part of a trial. On his own initiative he organised the ship's company into three watches (Red, White and Blue) as opposed to the usual Port and Starboard watches. A bookstall was installed on-board, and thanks to a friend Hall was able to obtain a ‘cinematograph’ for the benefit of the crew, and for the petty officers a laundry was installed. A permanent church (the first in a British warship) was constructed which did away with the need for ‘rigging church’ and ‘unrigging church’. Instead of falling in for inspection when wanting to go ashore, boards were provided so that liberty men only had to put a peg in next to their number when they left, and took it out when they returned, a number of seemingly small points, but collectively ones which contributed greatly to the overall welfare and benefit of all those on-board.
13th September 1913
On this date one of the principal personalities encountered in this research entered her story on this date, Midshipman Harold Tennyson left his home on the Isle of Wight earlier that day destined for the new Queen Mary. That evening he sent his family a letter from the famous Kepple’s Head Hotel at Portsmouth, a familiar embarkation point, known to generation of sailors. The experience of such a young gentleman joining a capital ship at this period has been well captured by H.K. Oram a midshipman from the super-dreadnought Orion:
I found the dark grey mass of the giant battleship intimidating and strangely unreal. Crossing the brow I was acutely conscious that I was stepping over the threshold into a new and unfamiliar world. The prospect, though exciting, was unnerving when formally saluted by the officer of the watch in a frock coat and a midshipman in a bum-freezer with white patches on the collar. I introduced myself and was taken in tow by the midshipman through a warren of passages bright with lights and gleaming paintwork to the gunroom which, so he told me, would be my home from home shared with nine sub-lieutenants and thirteen midshipmen. I turned in that night in a state of confusion and fell asleep in my unfamiliar hammock, surrounded by new messmates cocooned within touching distance in a crowded compartment below the gunroom. I dreamt that I was once again a new boy at school, until roused by shouts of ‘rise and shine’ into a strange world regulated by, to me, incomprehensible pipes and bugles.
15th September 1913
Her full complement was now on-board.
16th September 1913
Officially it was noted that Queen Mary was completed to full crew status upon this day. With this she was now deemed ready in all respects to commence her crew work-up period, prior to her entering full service with Beatty’s squadron.
25th September 1913
Another appointment was Midshipman Arthur Bagot on this day. His journal will commence upon the imminent outbreak of war and continue until his transfer from this battle-cruiser just before Jutland.
27th September 1913
The new commissioned and fully crewed battle-cruiser finally left Portsmouth and then headed west, setting out to proceed down Channel: With the (Marine) band playing cheerful music. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Queen Mary arrived at Portland later that day, and over those that followed she was to fully store and provision for her first work-up and training cruise.
30th September 1913
This embarkation of stores and equipment would obviously have encompassed personal items as well, as was noted by Tennyson, then serving as an assistant to the Navigating Officer in a letter home carrying this date, asking for his sheets of dance music and songs to be forwarded to him from his family. Obviously the prospects of musical interludes, entertainment and distractions in the gunroom, amongst his fellow midshipmen must have been confidently expected in the commission now beginning.
1st October 1913
Queen Mary embarked upon her work-up cruise, setting out from Portland and heading eastwards up the Channel, then north for her first union with Lion and Princess Royal. 3rd October 1913: After a sedate passage up the North Sea Queen Mary arrived in the Cromarty Firth, being finally securely moored off Invergordon at 6am, were a coaling evolution would have invariably taken place very shortly after her arrival, primarily to just top up her bunkers. This would not have required a major one, after her economical passage of the previous days, and its controlled demand upon her reserves. She then set down to a harbour routine with the two other battle-cruisers of the 1BCS present over the next three days. During which the Indefatigable also arrived to complete the now four strong 1BCS in preparation for a training period to follow.
6th October 1913
The assembled squadron set out for a brief exercise in the upper North Sea.
7th October 1913
Upon her return Queen Mary was to be based at Cromarty with the rest of the 1BCS over the following week, from where she and the squadron periodically sailed from to perform a set program of practices and exercises. It is more than possible that these evolutions under Beatty’s guidance over the following days, were primarily intended to integrate the new unit into the squadron’s ranks and instruct her officer’s fully into the ways and methods expected of them in his closely knit force. Breaks away from these evolutions however were welcome, with Tennyson noting that during this period at Cromarty he managed to get ashore to visit Strathpeffer and Invergordon.
16th October 1913
With the completion of this series of evolutions, the 1BCS left Invergordon and the North Sea bound for Bantry Bay in Ireland.
17th October 1913
While on passage round the north of Scotland, then westwards into the Atlantic, Beatty undertook the opportunity to further exercise his four battle-cruisers, with the new Queen Mary’s participation initiating her crew still more into his definite ways.
18th October 1913
The squadron arrived at Bantry Bay in the south of Ireland, to be based there for the rest of the month before they moved onto Berehaven at is close.
4th November 1913
The 1BCS eventually left Berehaven heading for the English Channel and Portland, where Queen Mary and her consorts were stationed for the rest of that month: Here they were serviced, refitted and subject to maintenance after their Autumnal cruise to Scottish and Irish waters. Leave was granted to some on-board, allowing Tennyson to depart to see his 96 year-old great-aunt Miss Matilda Tennyson in Bournemouth, the last survivor of his famous grandfather’s brothers and sisters.
19th December 1913
She left Portland, to return to her homeport of Portsmouth.
(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork)