(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork) | (Photos - Build) | (Photos - Pre-War) | (Photos - On board) | (Photos - WW1) | (Photos - Beatty’s Battlecruisers) | (Photos - Miscellaneous)
1st January 1915
A routine first day of the New Year at Queensferry, was to be disturbed by distressing news of the sinking of the old pre-dreadnought Formidable in the English Channel during the early hours of that morning by U.24. Again some of those on-board Queen Mary knew members of her crew, of which in the final reckoning 201 officers and men survived, but 746 of their shipmates were lost.
New Years Day. Started coaling about 8.30am collier Brierton, 250 tons, finished about 10am. Did paperwork all day. News of Formidable disaster. Poor Loxley gone. Tiger either parted cable or dragged right ashore, all tugs out, all ships sent sheet anchors. Eventually got her ponderous bulk off. She grounded somewhere to southward of us in the dark. (Major Rooney)
Weather foggy. Coal ship, commencing at 8.30am finished at 10.15am taking in 250 tons. Tiger dragging anchor during which she ran aground: Formidable sunk this morning. (Private Stevens)
Friday. 8am coaled 250 tons to complete. Tiger drifted owing to tide and her bows touched the mud. We hoisted out boats and got sheet anchor with six and a half, and five and a half wires ready to send to her. 7.30pm Admiral went on-board Tiger and at 8.30pm Tiger was back on station. Reported that early in the morning Formidable was sunk by mine or submarine in the Channel. 71 saved by a light-cruiser. Later it was reported that 40 survivors had been land at Lyme Regis from a pinnace. (Midshipman Bagot)
These mentions of the Tiger incident, from a number of different perspectives, is revealing and detailed in its overall coverage, including as they do the period following the event and what was done to rectify the situation.
Princess Royal - At sea, Halifax to Scapa Flow - Wind S to SE by E, force 4-5, increasing to 7-8; sea state 5-7; air temp 42-46F; sea temp 46-47F. / 0.00am struck Sixteen bells. / 9.42pm Flannan Island Light abeam 14 miles.
2nd January 1915
Confidential books. Ashore 1.30pm to 5pm. (Major Rooney)
Weather foggy and raining. Harbour routine. Store ship arrived alongside at 3.50pm with oil paint, candles etc. Went to night defence at 4pm. (Private Stevens)
Four hour notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
My own Daring Mamie. Your Christmas letter was an absolute joy to me, and I feel I must write you a letter to tell you how I loved getting it, and what a help it was to me, although I have no news I can tell you. As long as we are at sea I am quite happy, but directly one has been a day or so in harbour, with very little to do, the fact of having a lot of spare time after doing 48 hours’ stretches, and also the fact of having nothing to look forward to, makes life rather melancholy. ... The worst of it is there is nothing definite to look forward to. ... If only we could have a fight occasionally, but we have been disappointed so many times that even going to sea is not what it used to be. ... It is an extraordinary feeling, but we have been really a very short time in harbour, and yet, as soon as we stay over two days, that sort of feeling comes over me. ... Your ever loving son. Harold (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Scapa Flow. / 8.00am courses and speed for entering harbour. / 9.00am stopped engines. / 9.04am came to starboard anchor, six shackles in D3 billet. / 9.45am collier came alongside, also oil tank, hands coaling ship. / 9.00pm cast off oil steamer, received 331 tons.
3rd January 1915
After a seemingly quiet morning, the latter part of the day was to be full of incident and high drama:
Signal 1pm. Firing heard off Cliff Sound: BCS and 3BS, and 2CS, raise steam for full speed. Boat sent ashore at once to recall all officers. Orders belayed later. At 4pm signal came to raise steam for full speed again, and close after followed wireless signal, Admiralty to all ships, that two Zeppelins and three cruisers are off the German coast steering west. Evidently an attack on the British coast. We weighed at 5pm and are now 5.10pm moving out, it will be a clear, or rather light night, so if we run the gauntlet of the two submarines outside, we ought to get some show tomorrow. How bucked up everybody is, delight everywhere, from commander down, everything is on tip toe of expectation, and hoping to retrieve the lamentable miss of the 16th December. It is curious the gingering up apparent on the part of all concerned, all keen as mustered after the enforced idleness of the past week, in fact the squadron is just ready for anything. Shall pass under the famous old Forth Bridge in as few minutes, the gate is wide open to let the ‘Dogs’ out, and the commander’s fiancée, and officers wives will watch the grim ships pass out from the Queensferry, and wonder what’s up. Miss ‘D’ just arrived from London to meet ‘Bubbles’, and he was delighted to see her for just ten minutes before the recall, so we are all happy. Quite a tight fit getting under the bridge, Lion did not do particularly brilliantly, while Tiger got nearly broadside on in the strong ebb, and nearly touched one of the piers on Dalmeny side, we half expected her masts to go, besides they did not light up the overhead guide lamps till she was practically through, but seamanship as usual saved the situation, both had to go astern to clear. Queen Mary shot through the great gap at a high speed, and running down on the swift current, the bridge was lost to sight in the murk like a flash, and we were bowling along outside. Cleared May Island, and the ‘Waiters’ (U-boats) in the fog in fine style. Don’t think they could have had much of a chance. (Major Rooney)
This evocative and telling entry certainly captures some of the high drama and excitement of the squadron’s hurried nocturnal departure. With Queen Mary’s expertise in manoeuvring again graphically displayed.
2.30pm 1BCS, 1LCS, 3BS, raise steam with all dispatch. 1.30pm only 1BCS have steam for 5.30pm full speed. 5.30pm 1BCS sailed. Reported three German cruisers and two Zeppelins making raid on east coast at 2am. Closed up all 4 inch guns two watches. 10.30pm supposed destroyer sighted, which disappeared into mist. (Midshipman Bagot)
The first Zeppelin raid was to be on the night of the 13th, by the Naval L.3, L.4, L5, and L6 from their base at Nordholz heading for the Thames Estuary. They only achieved some hits on Great Yarmouth, Sheringham, Hunstanton, and King’s Lynn, regrettably killing in total innocent two elderly people, a woman, and a boy.
Sunday, weather foggy and raining. Sunday routine till 11pm Band playing on upper deck till noon. Prepared for sea at 3pm weighing anchor at 5.45pm left harbour at 6pm. Cruising, enemy destroyers sighted about 8.45pm. (Private Stevens)
This touch of excitement concerning a mysterious destroyer contact occurring that evening is further covered in detail by the Major:
7pm News arrived that the Germans had turned back. What does this mean? At 10.20pm a curious craft, like a destroyer, closed our starboard quarter, and then making smoke in great quantity dropped out of sight. She showed no lights, so I called the captain. Shortly after a challenging flashing appeared about 3 miles on green 150 degrees, astern of our suspicious craft, evidently a destroyer patrol. Nothing more seen, although at time of the challenge, the vessel without lights bore green 140, and the challenge green 150. I suppose we shall return to coal if nothing transpires. (Major Rooney)
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow. / 1.30am finished coaling, received 2,030 tons from SS Ford Castle. / 9.00am provision ship Rolo came alongside with fresh provisions. / 9.10am collier shoved off. / 10.15am provisions ship shoved off. / 11.40am clean guns.
4th January 1915
Upon news of the enemy’s retiral to harbour from Intelligence intercepts, the squadron did not immediately return to base. Instead it undertook a brief sweep, and set out to exercised the secondary batteries to good effect:
Disappointed as usual. Enemy reported to have turned back and one Zeppelin reported over Boston. Fired 4 inch QF at two keg targets, very good practice. After which we steered westward: Moved in to May Island, of evil repute at dark. The weather was misty, and very dark at 6pm when we passed up the Forth, so it was very difficult to see any distance. Submarines would have had a very difficult job to get any of us. Order Lion, Tiger, Queen Mary, New Zealand and Indomitable. Passed under the Bridge about 7pm and anchored in our old billet. Brierton came alongside, ready to coal in the morning. (Major Rooney)
As for the town of Boston mentioned above, she did not receive any enemy attention until a Gotha bomber raid in August 1918:
News that the cruisers have turned east. Weather probably too dirty for Zeppelin raid. 1pm Carried out 4 inch day action firing which was very good owing to sea. Returning to coal. 8pm arrived Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Weather rough and raining. Cruising but seen nothing. 4 inch guns fired four rounds per gun during forenoon. Proceeded to harbour, arriving at 7.30pm prepared for coaling. (Private Stevens)
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow and at sea - Wind S to SE, force 2-3; sea state 3; air temp 45-50F; sea temp 46-47F. / 6.50am clear lower deck, fast net defence, hoisted in 2nd picket boat. / 8.25am weighed and proceeded, up to 14 knots for carrying out 4 inch sub calibre firing exercise in Scapa Flow. / 8.55am dropped target. / 9.15am commenced firing. / 10.10am secured. / 11.00am proceeding back to anchorage. / 11.20am anchored. / 1.10pm 4 inch guns crews manned in action firing 4 inch aiming. / 3.00pm Night Defence Stations. / 4.20pm weighed and proceeded, up to 160 revs.
5th January 1915
As Queen Mary commenced her coaling evolution upon her return to Queensferry, some additional facts about the earlier sinking of the Formidable, and the loss of some friends filtered through:
Started coaling at 7am in the dark. A very good coaling, 450 tons at the rate of 240 tons an hour. Marine hold did very well. So poor Loxley (Captain) and Ballard (Commander) of Formidable have gone, two real gentlemen, old shipmates and splendid fellows. The very best seem to be taken every time. (Major Rooney)
7.30am coaled 488t. 9.30am finished coaling. (Midshipman Bagot)
Weather rainy. Commenced coaling at 7.30am taking in 422t, finished at 9.50am then cleaned ship. (Private Stevens)
Here it is interesting to note again the discrepancies between the figures mentioned for the coal loaded, as well as quoted times, a typically rather difficult mix of details from various sources when endeavouring to write down the authoritative history of Queen Mary.
Princess Royal - At sea off NW Scotland - Wind S to SE, force 3-4; sea state 2-4; air temp 43-47F; sea temp 45-47F. / 8.15am sighted 1CS on port bow. / 8.30am commenced zig-zagging to frustrate submarine attack, while1CS completed firing, then courses and speeds up to 175 revs for 13.5 inch run. / 11.34am commenced firing. / 11.47am ceased firing. / 3.15pm commenced zig-zagging.
6th January 1915
Without doubt the most important event of the day was the arrival of the Princess Royal. Returning to the squadron from her Atlantic sortie. A welcome fact noted by some on-board:
Weather fine. Landing parties. Went to general quarters at 10.15am. Princess Royal arrived at 6pm. (Private Stevens)
Wednesday. Land seamen for route March in afternoon. 6pm Princess Royal joined up. She has been in the Atlantic to Jamaica and Halifax to strengthen the West Indies squadron. (Midshipman Bagot)
Wednesday. Land twenty marines. (Major Rooney)
The German merchantman SS Dacia interned in the United States, was sold to Mr. Breitung, an American citizen. The implications of this ruse will be later noted on-board Queen Mary.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Wind SSE to WSW, force 2-4; sea state 2-4; air temp 43-47F; sea temp 40-46F. / 7.45am 150 revs, commenced zig-zagging. / 5.21pm May Island abeam 1.5 miles. / 6.30pm Inchkeith abeam 1 mile, altered course down swept channel. / 7.30pm stopped. / 7.33pm moored in No.16 billet. / 9.00pm secured and rigged collier.
7th January 1915
A quite day under a reduced notice for steam, normal harbour routine, with the arrival on-board of another Japanese naval observer noted:
Thursday. Went ashore to Edinburgh. Japanese attaché, Baron Abo, joined ship. (Midshipman Bagot)
Thursday, Queensferry. Land twenty marines. (Major Rooney)
Weather foggy. Landing parties forenoon and afternoon. (Private Stevens)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.00am commenced coaling. / 9.45am storeship Muratai alongside. / 11.30am finished coaling, received 840 tons, Japanese Officer to Queen Mary. / 12.40pm hands cleaning up upper deck and taking in stores. / 1.00pm cast off collier. / 4.00pm darken ship, close ‘B’ doors, hands getting in stores. / 10.50pm storeship shoved off.
8th January 1915
At this time an important reorganisation of the BCF was undertaken. Because of their increase in numbers, they were to be sub-divided into two squadrons under the fleet flagship Lion. While the 1BCS would now comprise of the Princess Royal (flag), Queen Mary and Tiger. The new 2BCS would be under Rear-Admiral Sir Archibald Gordon Moore, flying his flag from the Invincible, with the New Zealand, and Indomitable under him.
Weather fine. Landing parties nothing more happened. (Private Stevens)
Route March. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am hands preparing for ammunitioning ship and stowing away stores, ammunition lighter alongside, getting in ammunition and drawing provisions. / 10.30pm finished ammunitioning. / 10.40pm lighter left ship.
9th January 1915
Weather fine. Harbour routine, landing parties. Store ship arrived 4.30pm commenced getting in provisions, finished at 11.30pm. (Private Stevens)
Took in one month’s provisions. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 2.00am 1CS anchored.
10th January 1915
Weather snowing and raining. Sunday routine, working parties went to store ship. (Private Stevens)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.25am hands cleaning ship. / 10.00am Divisions and prayers. / 3.40pm close ‘B’ doors and darken ship. / 4.20pm worked main derrick.
11th January 1915
Weather stormy. Harbour routine, went to action stations during forenoon. 13.5 inch ammunition arrived, four rounds per turret. Princess Mary’s gift arrived. (Private Stevens)
Monday. Took in 13.5 inch practice. (Midshipman Bagot)
In an area to the west of the northern isles, Jellicoe’s BF undertook a series of gunnery practices that day, and night.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.30am hands painting ship’s side and cleaning ship, main derrick out launch. / 8.30am gunner’s party drawing ammunition. / 12.20pm fire stations. / 12.40pm secured. / 3.30pm worked main derrick. / 4.00pm in 2nd picket boat.
12th January 1915
The Major’s first entry since the 6th is of interest on a number of points. Opening with a mention of construction work at the new Rosyth facility. Then following it up with the latest submarine scare, and his opinion of the anchorage’s defences. Today a much welcomed mail arrived, and with it very pleasing news from one of the Major’s contacts, in a unit of the then departing pre-dreadnoughts of the 3BS, the hint of leave, and an offer of accommodation ashore.
Blasting operations going on, mistaken for gunfire. Reports of submarine received, nets got out, which I think a very wise precaution, in spite of the fact that we lie behind two torpedo defence gates. There is nothing to my mind, or so far as I can see in the way of precautions taken, to prevent an enemy blowing up both gates successfully, either by torpedo from a submarine force, or mine launched by a submarine force, which would drift up on a tide and destroy both defences. Or at any rate impair them to such an extent that any submarines in attendance could pass through the gap and torpedo vessels in harbour. I think we ought to be very thankful that the enemy are not very venturesome, otherwise the Forth Bridge would not be worth a moments purchase. To my mind a defensive mine field, or the moral effect of an imaginary one, is or would be the only deterrent to a submarine fore engaged in such an undertaking. The 3BS passed out. Got a letter from Elliot in King Edward V, who evidently knows we are going to Portsmouth, telling me to go and stay at ‘Tempest’. Dammit, there are some damn good fellows in this world. (Major Rooney)
Submarine reported outside. 6pm Out nets. Sailed 3BS. (Midshipman Bagot)
Weather fine. Landing parties, went to night defence and net defence 6.30pm. (Private Stevens)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 4.00am twelve 13.5 inch cartridge, thrown overboard, withdrawn from gunners 5.1.15. (It is likely that this entry refers to throwing overboard cordite charges that had possibly been inappropriately stored.) / 7.25am out 2nd picket boat. / AM-PM painting ship. / 3.45pm darken ship, close ‘B’ doors. / 6.30pm out net defence and reeve net gear.
13th January 1915
That morning started uneventfully for most. Apparently it was just regarded as another regular day at Rosyth, nothing of any note was to occur until later:
Started Instruction. 11am Furled nets. Steam 22 knots by 5pm. 3.30pm Half-hours notice. 11pm Sailed Queen Mary for Portsmouth from Rosyth, northwards. (Midshipman Bagot)
Rumours of leaving tonight. Shortened in, leave to officers stopped, also rumours we sail for Portsmouth, also rumours that the enemy are out, so everything is at half an hours’ notice. 5pm All is ready to proceed. 7pm Enemy apparently active, so we shall probably sail with the squadron to participate should anything occur. According to Murray several repairs are necessary, tiller, propeller, bolts, rivets etc., bottom very bad. Murray could keep up 30 knots with ease otherwise. 10.10pm signal received, ‘Proceed to Portsmouth forthwith to execute refit’. Gate opened at 11pm. All is bustle, the signal barely got down when the cable started coming home, the propellers got a move on, stow away tomorrow’s coaling gear, and off we go. How far is the Pentland Firth, some say 90, 200, me 180, shall we clear it by dawn, and so disappoint a ‘Waiting Willie’. (Major Rooney)
Weather raining and foggy. Harbour routine. In net defence at 11.15am went to night defence at 3.15pm weighed anchor at 10.45pm. (Private Stevens)
Upon reflection this move could have been anticipated. With the return of the Princess Royal to Rosyth, there was now the opportunity offered to Beatty to dispatch one of his hard pressed battle-cruisers south for a much needed refit. It will be remembered here that there was mention of a defect with her boiler tubes earlier, but besides this there were a number of other items due for maintenance.
The course that Queen Mary was to adopt for her passage would be a long one. Initially calling for her to head north to pass through the Pentland Firth, then around the Western Isles, Ireland and the tip of Cornwall, before eventually arriving at Portsmouth: As it was to prove this long passage around the British Isles was also to be a memorable one, as regards the seas encountered, and how she rode them.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters and Night Defence Stations. / 11.30am furled net defence and secured nets. / 3.45pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship. / 5.00pm in 2nd picket boat. / 10.30pm sent guard boat away, kept steam in 2nd picket boat all night. / 11.00pm Guard boat returned, Queen Mary sailed.
14th January 1915
Had forenoon on bridge, and arrived in sight of Pentland Skerries about 11am fairly smooth water. About four of our own destroyers in sight. Passed through the outer patrol, two converted steamers and the Sappho, who challenged us. I could not help thinking what a ticklish job was theirs, for should the strangers approaching prove to be an enemy, nothing on earth so far as I could see, even submarines in attendance, could have saved them. We passed a trawler patrol closer in and then entered the danger zone. Double lookouts posted on the bridge, and so we zigzagged past the Skerries into the race at 20 knots. The captain reckoned we were pretty safe once we entered the tide rips and eddies, which turned and twisted in all directions, and so would have hindered submarine manoeuvring. The coast of the Orkney’s looked very pretty for about half-an-hour in the sunshine, and then disappeared in the mist. We speed by Hoxa and of westward past Dunnet Head, and Cape Wrath: The wind and sea got up considerably and water came aboard as usual. We’re in for a dusting down, and I suspect will catch it beam on bye and bye when we steam round the Hebrides and move south: No submarines or mines seen. A good deal of rain today. Commander James disappointed to see no submarines, and says he hopes we’ll see some in the Channel, cries of ‘Wet’. (Major Rooney)
Noon, passing through Pentland Firth, being escorted by destroyers. Getting rough. 11pm Rounding St Kilda. (Midshipman Bagot)
Weather rough and raining. At sea, steaming 20 knots. Sighted land about 10.30am and passed several tramp steamers, passed Wrath lighthouse at 7.55pm. (Private Stevens)
With this the weather conditions deteriorated rapidly. Queen Mary was about to experience the worst storm in her career. Which was saying something of what was to come, considering her experiences in the North Sea the previous year. Whereas accounts of heavy seas and gales have already been noted within various diaries, the following entries fully convey the impressive and telling force of this one particular Atlantic storm she was now to encounter head on.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.20am worked main derrick. / 8.00am collier came alongside. / 8.30am commenced coaling. / 10.10am finished coaling, received 300 tons. / 3.45pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
15th January 1915
Weather very rough. Washing down mess decks. Steaming very slow owing to weather, lost two boats, passed northwest Ireland 12 noon. (Private Stevens)
Noon, hove too owing to weather. Securing boats and projectiles. 4pm set course again, working up to 20 knots. (Midshipman Bagot)
A fearfully rough day. Beginning in first watch 14th, in the middle, Queen Mary continually shipped huge seas, completely covering both ‘A and B’ turrets. The captain was called up at midnight, as O’Manny had been going 14 knots through it, and a great quantity of water had got below. Messdeck flooded. Magazine handling room floor six inches, working chamber space ‘A’ turret two feet of water. Gunners stores and ready stores all awash, had to ease down. Spray came flying over the bridge continuously. Weather got worse in forenoon, and Queen Mary had to heave to, and remain stationary at from 6 to 8 knots all day, being occasionally blown off her course from time to time. Both wind and heavy rollers from westward, so we remained head to sea and rolled at times 25 degrees, and O’Manny reported one bad roll at 40 degrees, which overthrew all bag racks, shelves, bunks, shells out of the shell room bays, motor launch broke through her crutches, and midshipmen’s chest and gear of all sorts went careering to leeward: Had great difficulty at 5am in lassoing and securing some 13.5 inch practice shells, in ‘A’ shell room, same trouble later in ‘Q’. One armour piercing shell being slung right across the shell room passage, and on to the top tier of another bin. A tremendous amount of damage done to mess gear, as everything broke adrift. Cabin gear also on the move, cabin drawers, shelves, bedding, and all. Nothing in sight all day but white crested breakers and streaks of foam between. Had to secure all turrets, six inches of water constantly in 4 inch batteries, whose crews were occupied from time to time in bailing out various compartments. Storm abated somewhat by 7pm so ship was put on her course at 12 knots, and continued passage, still rolling heavily. We are passing round the west coast of Ireland now, as to escape the heavily mined portions of St. George’s Channel and the Irish Sea. Watch keeping a tiresome job today, so difficult to stand with continual rolling, wind very bad at times, last night’s middle watch, was exceptionally dark at times. These periods heralding a terrific burst of wind and hailstones, so that it was impossible to see anything or even look to windward: So much for the weather. (Major Rooney)
From these accounts of what was experienced, the full force and power of what Queen Mary encountered on that day, has been well documented in an explicit fashion.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 14. / 8.00am 3BS came into harbour. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 10.15am exercised stations for submarine attack, night defence and aerial attack. / 1.30pm hands painting upper deck and. / 3.55pm darkened ship, closed ‘B’ doors.
16th January 1915
Thankfully the weather eased during the day, aiding Queen Mary’s passage south: The only sour note being apparently a committal service, for one of the ships pets:
8am rounding Higen Head. Doing 26 knots, running before wind and sea. 3pm buried at sea, cat, one in number, died owing to concussion of brain. Reported two submarines in Channel waiting for us. These submarines are known to be quite harmless and are only wasting torpedoes. (Midshipman Bagot)
Weather fine. Steaming full speed all day, passed Lighthouse on the mouth of Shannon at 1.15am past two lighthouses off the South-western coast at 8.15am. Sighted small trawler at 3.10pm and large steamer at 3.30pm. (Private Stevens)
Weather moderated considerably, wind shifted round to northwest, and evening found a fresh wind only, with a sky full of beautiful clouds. Deck day, the first time for months, so we actually played a game of medicine ball from 1pm till 2pm. Did confidential books most of day, and took on the first dog, during which we sighted the Bishop, and the Wolf, and afterwards the flashing Lizard: The waves were beating over the Scillies in fine style, so they looked very uninviting. Signal arrived after dinner that a hostile submarine had been seen at Sidmouth heading out into the Channel, so keep a weather eye open, I wonder how many ‘Waiting Willies’ are on the lookout for Queen Mary. If the spy system is correct, there ought to be at least half a dozen all agog this side of the next gate, cheerio. All arrangements made for leave. Captain ordered half crew leave at a time, watch and watch, or red and a half white, only 48 hours each, and apparently no chance for the Scottish and Irish. (Major Rooney)
Here the Major hints at the short duration of this refit, by mentioning the none existent leave for the more remote members of her crew. Regrettably this is the very last entry from this individual’s war diary to be included in this work. Although one other, from the Roman Catholic Chaplain of the squadron, was destined to leave an account of his last meeting with Rooney on the very eve of Jutland.
Embracing Queen Mary’s first six months of war, this informative and revealing journal was left ashore, and a new one presumably opened upon his return to the ship. Since the Major was obviously a prolific chronicler of events, judging by the amount of material he had already entrusted to his diary. It is safe to assume that he maintained this interest upon Queen Mary’s return to the squadron.
But this invaluable material on the 1915/16 career of Queen Mary has not survived. Either any diary or record penned by him has been lost or consigned to obscurity in the intervening years. Most likely, all subsequent notes and entries were lost along with its author at Jutland: Whatever the cause, the telling involvement of one of the cornerstones of this research draws to a close right here. But others will continue the story.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13. / 5.50am Red watch hoist out 1st picket boat. / 7.25am hands cleaning ship, returned four torpedoes to store. / 1.25pm preparing to transport ammunition. / 3.30pm ammunition lighter came alongside, ammunitioning ship.
17th January 1915
4am arrived Stokes Bay and dropped anchor close to three prisoner of war ships. Destroyers guarding us. 9,30am proceeded to dock. 11.30am docked in No.14. 3.30pm leave granted till Friday afternoon 22 January. 8.30pm arrived London afternoon. (Midshipman Bagot)
Although Queen Mary had eventually reached safely at Portsmouth after her arduous passage, and was docked ready to commence her refit. Still the North Sea theatre of operations must have been on the mind of many. For her squadron at Rosyth sailing orders confirming that the 1/2BCS’s and 1LCS would depart at 10pm were issued, their objective being a reported German torpedo-boat unit off the Horn Reefs, obviously no enemy contact was considered to be too small.
Sunday, weather fine. Dropped anchor, and proceeded up Portsmouth Harbour at 9.15am. Went into C Lock at 10.15am from there we went into 14 Dock, arriving at 11.45pm. Boys all waiting to proceed on leave, half ships company went on 48 hour’s leave today. (Private Stevens)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 9.45am Divisions and prayers. / 4.00pm Evening Quarters, darkened ship, closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm commenced unmooring. / 10.45pm weighed and turned ship. / 11.00pm proceeded out of harbour, up to 18 knots.
18th January 1915
While Queen Mary was under refit at Portsmouth, the 1/2BCS commenced a sweep of the central and southern North Sea, for the reported German vessels, but to no avail:
This was the first time the squadron had been split into two squadrons, and on this and the following two days, the new Rear-Admiral was exercised in his Command: (Young, Lion)
Weather fine. Dockyard routine, went ashore, the first time since July 28th, which was at Portland: (Private Stevens)
Obviously this individual, who was not one of the fortunate on leave, still would have enjoyed a much needed run ashore, after virtually five months on-board, broken only by a number of route Marches.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind NE to NNE, light airs, force 1-5; sea state 2-4; air temp 41-44F; sea temp 41-43F. / 10.30am altered course a point to starboard to take station on a line of bearing east from the Flagship, distant 5 miles. / 12.45pm dropped target and proceeded to carry out sub-calibre firing, working independently. / 2.00pm secured. / 3.00pm formed single line ahead sequence of fleet numbers, squadron spread for range keeping exercise. / 3.45pm formed single line ahead, course SE, speed 13 knots.
19th January 1915
out in the North Sea, Beatty was in a position to offer heavy support to a sweep into the Heligoland Bight by the Harwich Force. Interestingly enough during this foray Lion was to dispatched a 13.5 inch salvo of shrapnel at a scouting German seaplane, driving it off, in a novel employment of her main ordnance. Later that day the squadron practised its 4 inch batteries, along with a range-finder exercise. One wonders exactly how much the reduced refit crew on-board Queen Mary knew of these events, considering their general keen interest in what was happening in their squadron.
Weather fine. Dockyard routine. Provisions, meat and potatoes arrived, German aircraft reported at Littl ..... (Private Stevens)
The was his last incomplete entry in his surviving notebook. Very possibly pertaining to the first Zeppelin raid upon Norfolk on the night of the 19/20th already noted. His departure from this narrative is yet another loss of an important missing human element in Queen Mary’s story. It is quite likely that as with Major Rooney’s diary, this individual continued with his written observations in some other diary. Leaving his first little chronicle, perhaps with his family, who later passed it onto the Royal Marine Museum at Eastney, following his death at Jutland.
On a broader front the Invincible fresh from her South Atlantic epic, entered Scapa Flow that morning in preparation to join up with Beatty’s fleet, a timely duel replacement along with the Princess Royal, for the refitting Queen Mary. First airship raid on England.
Princess Royal - At sea, Heligoland Bight - Wind light airs and WSW to SW by S, force 0-3; sea state 1-2; air temp 42-47F; sea temp 42-45F. / 8.55am sighted Zeppelin. / 9.04am Lion opened fire at hydroplane with aerial guns, hydroplane escaped. / 9.45am sighted TBDs, also 3LCS. / 10.15am Flotilla and LCS joined up. / 10.30am took station 2 miles on starboard beam of Lion, 18 knots. / 3.35pm commenced range keeping exercise. / 4.00pm finished exercise, resumed course and speed.
20th January 1915
As she lay at Portsmouth the combined might of the 1/2BCS’s was at sea, contact being duly made with the light-cruisers of the Harwich Force. On this sweep no contacts, besides the aforementioned distant enemy seaplane, and an airship were encountered.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Wind SSW to W, light airs, force 1-6; sea state 2-5; air temp 46-53F; sea temp 45-47F. / 7.40am opened to 2.5 miles apart, line abreast. / 8.55am dropped target. / 9.05am Squadron proceeded to carry out 4 inch and sub-calibre firing. / 10.24am finished firing and form single line astern of Tiger, 18 knots. / 3.33pm commenced range keeping exercise, altered course 2 points to starboard. / 4.02pm fnished exercise and resumed original course. / 4.15pm formed single line ahead. / 7.16pm altered course 4.5 points to starboard to avoid ship. / 8.49pm May Island on bow, altered course down swept channel. / 11.02pm stopped engines. / 11.06pm came to anchor in A14 billet.
21st January 1915
Clandestine events were even then forming up cross the disputed North Sea. With Admiral Hipper intending to sail his battle-cruisers that day on a raid. But weather conditions became so bad, that this was cancelled. Implementation of this operation would now be delayed for three days.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.25am prepared for coaling. / 7.25am collier alongside. / 2.30pm finished coaling ship, received 1,250 tons, took on 235 tons of oil fuel from RFA Attendant. / 5.45pm provision boat alongside with fresh provisions. / 10.10pm sent guard boat away. / 10.40pm guard boat returned.
22nd January 1915
As for the full extent of the work involved in Queen Mary’s refit, although its extent has not been recorded in detail, it was now nearing its end:
11.30pm returned from leave. Commenced flooding dock. (Midshipman Bagot)
It was around this time, that Hall’s watchful naval intelligence section became privy to possibility of German naval movements. Primarily through the captured Magdeburg code books of the previous year, coupled with the improved efficiency of the newly set-up series of directional wireless stations. All of which combined, now led to a detailed assessment of likely enemy movements. Perceived was the notion that Hipper’s three battle-cruisers of the 1SG, and the hybrid armoured-cruiser Blucher, plus four light-cruisers of the 2SG, and twenty torpedo-boats. Were to embark upon a provocative sweep of the British trawler fleet off the Dogger Bank. This sortie was also intended to surprise, and overwhelm, any light supporting naval units stationed there. But in the event the surprise was to be Beatty’s upon Hipper.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 2.35am Guard boat left ship, and 2.55am returned. / 7.25am hoist out launch and cleaning ship. / 9.45am shifted sheet anchor over to port cable. / 1.30pm ammunition party left ship. / 1.35pm cleaning and refitting ship. / 3.45pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors, in launch.
23rd January 1915
9am commenced undocking. Noon, secured alongside south railway jetty. 3pm commenced coaling. 12 midnight, ceased coaling. (Midshipman Bagot)
As the crew of Queen Mary set about her final preparations at Portsmouth, amongst the battle-cruisers at Rosyth, there was apparently a marked air of routine, and boredom amongst some.
Saturday January 23rd, found up with the impression that nothing would ever happen again and that we were fixed in the Firth of Forth forever. (Young, Lion)
Soon the word came through that would break this apathy. The battle-cruisers were to depart almost at once, departing at 6pm. The bulk of the dreadnought BF, was also to set sail from Scapa Flow. In support of what would prove to be a memorable sweep by Beatty’s battle-cruisers. Minus Queen Mary.
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea - Wind light airs and ND, force 0-3; sea state 2; air temp 36-48F; sea temp 40-42F. / 7.20am hands cleaning ship, ammunitioning party to Howden. / 8.40am weighed and proceeded to shift billet. / 9.00am moored in A14 billet. / 1.30pm land part of Red watch, hands. / 5.00pm commenced unmooring. / 6.00pm weighed. / 6.25pm proceeded out of harbour.
24th January 1915 - The Battle of the Dogger Bank
As fortune was to decree, this morning saw Queen Mary complete her refit at Portsmouth departing to rejoin the 1BCS later that day. But this long awaited, and welcome refit held one final irony. It was to result in her missing the seminal Battle of the Dogger Bank, the first clash of the battle-cruisers. However the slowly unfolding epic events in the North Sea were soon to become common knowledge to all on-board.
We had orders to be ready to proceed at 4pm and so we spent the rest of the day cleaning ship, after coaling, and getting rid of dockyard maties. (Midshipman Tennyson)
8am recommence coaling. News, at 9am our 1BCS 1LCS and Flotilla of destroyers met enemy’s raiding squadron of ditto. 11.30am finished coaling took in 1,640 tons. 6pm cast of from South Railway Jetty, and proceeded to Rosyth via Pentland Firth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Later on this midshipman went on to give his summary of this actions principal results. As derived from the information available to him, once back with the squadron:
Gave chase from Dogger Bank, till nearing enemies mine fields by Heligoland, retiring at 11.30am having overtaken and sunk enemy armoured-cruiser Blucher, and severely damaged the enemy’s battle-cruisers Moltke and Derfflinger, and Seydlitz supposed to have been damaged. The Kolberg, light-cruiser, is said to have been sunk also. At about 10.30am when Lion fell out of line Admiral Beatty transferred his flag to destroyer Attack and continued fight from there till he caught up the Princess Royal, to which he transferred his flag. Admiral Moore was in New Zealand commanding Second Division. Lion opened range at 22,000 yards, and hit with second salvo. The finishing range was 16,000 yards. Their shells did comparatively little damage, while our 13.5 inch blew the Blucher’s turret clean over the side, ditto Moltke. At the finish both Derfflinger and Moltke were on fire, only one turret of Moltke and two of Derfflinger were left firing. Derfflinger’s casualties known to be 190 killed and 216 wounded. About 250 prisoners were saved from Blucher of which 9 officers who were dined in King Edward VII on arrival at Rosyth: The crew of the Blucher after having had every gun disabled fell in on the quarter deck singing patriotic songs until the Arethusa put two torpedoes into her, when she turned turtle and sunk. While our destroyers were saving those in the water, they were attacked by enemy’s Zeppelin which dropped bombs. (Midshipman Bagot)
The hour’s spent in this distant harbour as signals came in, of what was afoot off the Dogger Bank, must obviously had their effect on her keyed-up, and eager crew of the uninvolved Queen Mary:
5.50pm left harbour escorted by several destroyers, and when we got outside we went south for some hours. From signals we gathered that there has been a battle-cruiser action, in which the Blucher had been sunk. Lion appeared to be in a critical condition, being in tow by the Indomitable, and making water fast forward: (Midshipman Tennyson)
Although Queen Mary was obviously powerless to intervene in this epic long awaited clash, the salient points behind this duel between battle-cruisers, is an excellent example of what she, and her kind were capable of in battle. Because of this, an abridged account of this event, not dealing directly with the flow of the battle, which has been very well documented before, but primarily one as seen from the perspective of various individuals in the squadron, will be of great benefit to this overall story. Here it should be noted that since Admiralty intelligence had effectively placed Beatty’s battle-cruisers and supporting units, within the immediate area of Hipper’s sweep towards the Dogger Bank. The crews knew well before hand, that there was an excellent prospect of action.
My own first deep impression of the unparalleled importance of this department (Hall’s, 40 OB) was at the time of the Dogger Bank action, when twenty-four hours in advance we knew the number of German ships that had left for the scene and the exact time of their departure - all, of course, transmitted to us in German cipher from the listening stations on the east coast. (Cleland Hoy)
The men were not surprised to see them, for it was rumoured that the Germans were ‘Out’, and that Sir David Beatty had sworn to catch them. Into fighting rig at 5.30am and breakfasted at 6am which indicated the possibility of a scrap. ‘Something’ was bound up with the massacre of women and children at Scarborough and other places. (Young, Lion)
This feeling of just retribution, and punishment for the previous east coast raids, was an oft expressed one in a number of accounts. At 6.30am as witnessed from the watchful Lion, the general scene presented excellent prospects for what was to come:
The eastern horizon showed light and the sea was beginning to grey over, but it was still dark night about us. It promised to be an ideal morning, with a light breeze from the north-nor-east, and a slight swell on the sea. (Young, Lion)
At sea, southern North Sea, wind ENE to N by E, light airs, force 1-3; sea state 2; air temp 41-46F; sea temp 42-45F.
2.00am: Altered course S 75E, 18.5 knots.
5.35am: ‘Alarm’. Altered course S30E.
5.40am: Altered course SSE.
7.04am: Altered course S12W, 15 knots. (Princess Royal)
That dawn the alert British force off the Dogger Bank was a considerable one. Numbering in its assembly Lion, Princess Royal, Tiger, New Zealand and the Indomitable. While stationed to port of the battle-cruisers, were the light-cruisers of the 1LCS, the Southampton, Nottingham Birmingham and Lowestoft. Some 12 miles to the south lay the Harwich Force, comprised of the light-cruisers Arethusa, Aurora, and Undaunted, complimented by two-and-a-half flotillas of nimble fleet destroyers. Just at 7am that fateful morning, gun flashes were seen from Lion’s bridge off to her south-sou-east. Followed by a vital sighting signal from the advance screen. With this bugles immediately sounded off ‘action’ on-board the now alert squadron. Twenty minutes later a more informative signal from the Aurora indicated that she was then in action against the Kolberg.
7.20am: 20 knots. (Princess Royal)
At 7.25am miniature flashes of fire were seen, each flash looking for all the world like the flare of a vesta (match) immediately it strikes the box. Then came a faint peal as of thunder. Five minutes later the men on the ‘Great grey wolves’ saw the enemy in bulk 14 miles off, steaming fast.
So noted an un-named observer from the British battle-cruisers at the start of what was now to be a protracted stern chase after a fleeing enemy. Beatty reported to the Admiralty and Jellicoe at 7.30am. That it was now his intention to interpose his force astride the enemy’s line of retreat:
Enemy battle-cruisers and cruisers in sight in Latitude 54.53 north, Longitude 3.32 east, steering east.
7.37am: Altered course SSE. (Princess Royal)
At 7.45am the enemy whose course had been to the northwest, executed a 16 point turn and made off to the southeast at 24 knots, at the same time Beatty altered his formations course to a slightly converging track. Dawn was just breaking at 8am and the enemy was around 14 miles distance. The entire encounter was a scenario long desired by Beatty. A Major element of his elusive quarry was in sight, the weather conditions were ideal, a full day lay ahead, and the enemy had at least 150 miles to go before reaching the protection of the Bight. And there was no indication that the German BF was at sea in support of Hipper.
7.44am: Altered course SE.
7.46am: 22 knots.
7.48am: Altered course SSE.
7.50am: Sighted the enemy on the port bow - Four Battle Cruisers, three Light-cruisers and many destroyers.
7.52am: Altered course ESE.
7.58am: Altered course SE0.5E. (Princess Royal)
One contemporary writer, H.W. Wilson, has left a very pertinent assessment of the design and envisaged employment of the German battle-cruisers now about to be engaged. With his bold statement that they were built with a retreating fight in mind, with his contention was that each German vessel had been provided with an unusual number of astern firing guns. With also his thought, that it was the enemy’s plan to draw any pursuing force over a mine or submarine ambush, during such a running chase.
After the experiences of the Yarmouth raid the previous November, in which the retreating German force had dropped mines in their wake, later claiming one British submarine and two trawlers, and the field laid by the Kolberg during the Scarborough raid in December. The threat posed by this enemy capability was now well appreciated by Beatty, and the Admiralty, a potential that was to have telling consequences in what was to transpire.
Besides the advantages bestowed upon Beatty, if the thought of a running stern chase to avoid a superior enemy had ever been in Hipper’s mind, then the inclusion of the relatively slow Blucher within his line must now have dawned upon him to be a serious disadvantage. The British force also held the advantage of the lee gauge, with the fresh breeze from the northeast ensuring that its funnel and gun smoke, would not obscure its visibility in the coming duel.
At 8.10am Beatty increased speed to 24 knots, and five minutes later to 25 knots, speeds which already exceeded those of the now fleeing Blucher. Given the list of very positive factors, the prospects of a resounding British success were very much in evidence. From a contemporary publication this phase of the action is well conveyed, with a special mention for the superb work of the squadrons engineers and Stokers.
The gunners were all attention, but at peace. The men in the bowels of the ships fought this part of the battle, and fought it supremely well, with oil inlet and steam-gauge, switchboard and hydraulic pump. Smoke and flames from the funnels bore evidence of what was going on below in this great race for high stakes. Every foot gained on the enemy was vital. The bullies must be brought to fight, Sir David had sworn, and that was the last word on the matter. The excellent steaming of the ships engaged in the operation was a conspicuous feature, great credit is due to the engineer staffs.
8.10am: Altered course SSE, 24 knots.
8.16am: 25 knots.
8.18am: Altered course SE by S.
8.22am: 26 knots. (Princess Royal)
This phase of the battle was clearly one between the ‘black gangs’ of the opposing squadrons. Whilst the gunner’s prepared their weapons, and the crew’s cleared the ship’s for imminent action, rigging hose lines on deck to play upon all exposed woodwork. Everything at that stage depended entirely upon the exertions of the men in the boiler, and engine rooms, deep down in the bowels of the onrushing ships, and their strenuous efforts. On-board Beatty’s battle-cruisers at 8.23am an order for 26 knots was received. Followed eleven minutes later by one for 27 knots. Beatty’s ‘touch of the spur’ to his majestic charges, was soon to produce unparalleled efforts by all concerned, to achieve his demands for even more and more speed to close with the fleeing enemy.
From the light-craft the great fighting ships presented a magnificent spectacle. Around each ram boiled a great mountain of foaming water as the sharp prows clove the riven seas, under each counter was spouting up a boiling wake. From every funnel gushed rolling billows of smoke, and from the yards of the two opposing flagships fluttered continuously splashes of gay coloured bunting that spoke silent words of command to the ships immediately astern.
8.29am: Altered course S40E.
8.33am: 27 knots.
8.37am: Altered course S50E.
8.43am: 28 knots in full chase. (Princess Royal)
With the first sight of the enemy battle-cruisers, the British formations speed was ordered to be increased at 8.43am to an un-paralleled 28 knots, and at 8.54am to an unheard of 29 knots. The 2BCS began to struggle to keep up with the newer and more powerful units of the 1BCS. But the tremendous efforts of their personnel was not unrecognised on-board the flagship, with Beatty signalling:
Well done Indomitable Stokers.
Now as the range closed to within maximum effective range, the harassed twelve 8.2 inch gunned Blucher at the tail of the line lashed out:
8.44am From Lion’s bridge the enemy appeared on the eastern horizon in the form of four separate wedges or triangles of smoke, with another mass of smoke ahead of them, coming from their destroyers. Suddenly from the rear most of these wedges (Blucher) came a stab of white flame, ‘He’s opened fire’, said Captain Chatfield. (Young, Lion)
8.55am: Lion opened fire on rear ship Blucher 20,000 yards. Fell short.
9.00am: Tiger opened fire, ranging shots only. Enemy returning ? Cuxhaven.
9.05am: ‘S’ flag hoisted - Open Fire.
9.07am: Princess Royal opened fire on rear ship. Have the lee gauge. (Princess Royal)
This first enemy ranging shot arrived 25 seconds later. Bursting more than a mile away off Lion’s port bow, well out of range:
All this time the gunnery officer had been getting the ranges at intervals from the range-finders on the bridge, and we were approaching the limit of 22,000 yards at which target might be reached. Minute by minute the ranges came down, and during each interval further flashes were observed from the enemy, and further fountains of water rose between us, always creeping a little nearer, but still short. One looked on in a curious detached way as though the performance could be no particular concern of ours. (Young, Lion)
It had taken exactly 82 minutes for Lion, leading the British line, to close with the elusive foe sufficiently to enable her to come within effective maximum range at 8.52am at around 20,000 yards, to dispatch her first ranging shots. While on-board the British ships, the observed presence of the Blucher at the tail of the opposing line, was noted with some grim satisfaction, as it was fully appreciated that this ship.
Acted as brake to them and obliged Admiral Hipper to keep his big ships at only three-quarters speed, to allow him to hold his squadron together. This was our opportunity and we knew it full well:
9.05am Lion to battle-cruisers, Open fire and engage the enemy. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
9.15am: Altered course S40E. Enemy opened fire on us - first shots fell short, but some straddled. (Princess Royal)
Salvoes eventually began straddling the tail of the German line, and at 9.09am Lion registered her first hit upon the Blucher’s forecastle at this prodigious opening range. With its 1,350 pound mass easily defeating her armour:
A blue light showed were steel struck on steel, and then came the smoky explosion of the Lyddite tearing open the 6 inch thickness of Krupp armour plate. (Wilson)
The sea between the two forces was becoming alive with spouting columns which were now coming very near, and as Lion had apparently straddled her target, the duel would at any moment develop into a general action. (Young, Lion)
By 9.30am all the British battle-cruisers, except the trailing Indomitable were in action. With Lion by then having worked her way up the German line, and shifting her fire onto Hipper’s flagship, the Seydlitz in the van:
For the Germans ‘bragging time’ was over and fighting time was come. We didn’t forget Scarborough and the women and children, whom they killed.
Everybody worked with a high and yet cool energy, many of them thinking at times of the massacred women and children of Scarborough. To Gunnery Lieutenant-Commander Gerald F. Longhurst of Lion, Gunnery Lieutenant-Commander Evan Bruce-Gardyne of the Tiger, and to Gunnery Commander Roland C.S. Hunt of the Princess Royal, fell the most important work of the action, for their guns mainly decided the action. (Wilson)
As Hipper decided to concentrate all his potential against primarily just Lion, it was Beatty’s intention for an even ship to ship distribution of fire as the lines closed. With the Tiger verses the Moltke, Princess Royal engaging the Derfflinger, and the New Zealand against the Blucher, which the Indomitable would also engage, once she was within range:
9.35am Lion to battle-cruisers, engage corresponding ship in line. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
9.33am: Altered course SE by E.
9.43am: Altered course S30E. (Princess Royal)
Not apparent to Beatty at that stage in the action, was the tactical error committed by the newly joined Tiger. Her personnel had concluded that the New Zealand and Indomitable were to engage the Derfflinger and Blucher at the tail of the line, and every other ship was engaging its opposite number from there. It was incorrectly assumed therefore that the Tiger’s target was to be the Seydlitz in this over-lapping five ships verses four ships, concentrating upon the German flagship along with Lion. But this error effectively left the Moltke free to now carry out an undisturbed shoot against Lion. Further to this, the inexperienced gunnery team on-board the Tiger was consistently taking the splash from Lion’s salvoes around the Seydlitz as their own. In fact the Tiger’s salvoes were continually being corrected well over, and were totally ineffective. Throughout all this exchange therefore, the German concentration upon Lion, especially from the un-troubled Moltke, was an allocation of fire which was to give Beatty’s flagship a very hard time.
Up to now there had been very little sound but the rush through the wind and water, with the occasional roar of our guns, but now the noise of firing was becoming louder and louder, the enemy’s shots were falling on both sides of us and quite close, so that the spray from them drenched our decks. (Young, Lion)
As was to be observed from Lion, Hipper’s line was also suffering, as their 13.5 inch salvoes arrived after their 20 seconds aerial voyage:
A glare amid the smoke of Lion’s target advertised a hit. There was no mistaking the difference between the bright, sharp stab of white flame that marked the firing of the enemy’s guns. And this dull, glowing and fading glare which signified the bursting of one of our own shells.
As for the beleaguered Blucher:
One of her turrets had been hit fair and square and wrung from its mounting and flung bodily overboard, crew, guns, and all. It went under with a splash that mounted to the height of the ships masthead.
But in reply the flagship was being subjected to the concentrated fire from the Seydlitz, Moltke, and Derfflinger. Being hit twelve times in quick succession under this barrage. It is strange to note here in a contemporary account of the German shells, comments usually associated with British devices:
The German gunners fired well, but their accuracy was not supported by their ammunition, for many of the shells that struck the British ships failed to explode.
Now the enemy line was continually being straddled:
The fleeing German was hidden in flame, smoke and spouting cascades of boiling foam that were flung for close on 150 feet skywards by the impact of the shells with the sea. (Young, Lion)
A hit upon Lion at 9.45am was potentially serious. An 11 inch shell from either the Seydlitz or Moltke, penetrated her side to sever a 4 inch magazine supply trunk but it did not detonate. In reply to this at 9.50am one projectile from Lion very nearly spelt the end of the Seydlitz, 17,500 yards distant:
A great glowing mass of fire appeared on the after part of the Seydlitz. (Young, Lion)
A 13.5 inch shell pierced the 9 inch barbette armour of the Seydlitz’s aftermost turret ‘Emma’, at the level of the working chamber. Two charges being brought up were ignited by the explosion, the flash from these shooting upwards into the gun-house and downwards into the mounting. The few survivors of the lower chamber then tried to flee the inferno by opening the doors into the handling room of the adjacent turret ‘Dora’. In so doing the allowed the flash to enter this chamber, setting fire to the charges there, and allowing the trail of flash and flame to spread upwards as far as Dora’s gun-house. Here two further charges fully detonated in a cataclysmic explosion. Upon witnessing this, Flag Captain von Egidy on the bridge of the Seydlitz, ordered the respective magazines to be immediately flooded. Condemning the 14 men in each cartridge magazine, and the 16 in the shell rooms above, 60 men all told not embraced by the explosions and fires, to certain death: Around just 15 seconds had elapsed since the initial hit on the quarterdeck to starboard of ‘Emma’ to the gutting of ‘Dora’. This was effectively the Achilles heel of every capital ship, her store of propellant. The crew of Hipper’s flagship instantly recognised this.
To the men in the bridges of the following ships and of the Seydlitz herself, the fate of the flagship seemed to be sealed. Because he felt that she might blow up at any moment, her gunnery officer ordered ‘Rapid fire’, for the remaining guns. Every 10 seconds a salvo now left the stricken ship. If it had not been for the prompt action of the Seydlitz’s bridge personnel, in ordering the flooding of these aft magazines. And the superb abilities of the local damage control party, it is very likely that the ship would have been rent asunder and lost.
9.50am: 25 knots. Hauled out to port to get on Tiger’s quarter. Leading enemy’s ship Seydlitz on fire.
9.55am: Their destroyers attempted an attack but retired. Result heavy smoke closed. (Princess Royal)
During this phase, because of the rapid stern chase, the British line was becoming straggle out. Therefore Beatty at 9.53am ordered the battle-cruisers to reduce speed to 24 knots to allow the slower units the opportunity to close. Lion’s ‘A’ turret was temporarily put out of action by a hit during this stage. The right hand gun of Lion’s ‘B’ turret was also hit around this time, and was out of operation for about fifteen minutes.
Hipper now unleashed his torpedo-boats, to create a temporary diversion that would enable his hard pressed battle-cruisers to escape. This threatened torpedo-boat attack upon the British line at 10.05am met a suitable response from the Beatty. When at 12,000 yards the secondary batteries of Lion and Tiger, opened fire so effectively, that the enemy flotillas quickly resumed their station at the head of Hipper’s line.
10.00am: Altered course SE.
10.05am: Altered course SE by E.
10.10am: Altered course ESE, 27 knots. (Princess Royal)
Around 10.18am there occurred another turning point in the action. Just after the range had again closed sufficiently for a further intensification of the duel, three shells from one of the Derfflinger’s salvos to hit home upon the flagship, just as she rose to meet a wave:
Lion here received a blow so violent that we thought she had been torpedoed. The ship seemed to stop, and the mast, to which the foretop was secured, rocked and waved like a tree in a storm, and the ship seemed to be shaking herself to bits. (Young, Lion)
One device had struck Lion’s lower hull, penetrating to the proximity of her feed tank from her port condenser, which was pierced. This was to cause an immediate reduction in speed, and eventually result in the port engine having to be closed down half-an-hour later, despite the Herculean efforts of the engine-room staff to correct the defects. Combined with this hit, some of the adjoining compartments were affected by progressive flooding. Giving her a distinct list to port and a trim down by the bows. As she began to lose way, it was quickly appreciated that the damage from this particular hit would effectively result in her dropping out of the chase at a critical moment. As the hands of the hastening squadron maintained the chase after Hipper, producing a magnificent scene to any observers, as is evident from the perspective of the light-cruiser Aurora.
It was wonderful to see our battle-cruisers steaming at top speed with spurts of flame and brown smoke issuing every minute or so from their bows and sides, and in the far distance the enemy’s guns flashing in reply. From shots falling in the water there were tall columns of white spray. From others there was, more ominously, no splash as they scored a hit which caused black smoke and bright flashes from the injured craft. It was all very exciting, to make a long story short, they got Hell. (Aurora)
Around the time when Beatty’s flagship received her betraying blow, the Blucher was struck by what could be regarded as a mortal stroke. When she was hit in her central ammunition transport installation, which served all of her six main turrets. This provision was unique to this ship, and a hit in this area proved to be disastrous. About 40 cartridges were ignited, causing two turrets to be put out of action immediately. Along with her gunnery control, which was severely affected. But most significantly, her speed was now cut to 17 knots:
The Blucher now seemed to be well on fire, and the interval between her and the other (enemy) battle-cruisers was increasing. (Young, Lion)
10.20am: Check fire. Range too great, proceeded at full speed. Enemy’s third ship, the Moltke, had hauled away to port, opening the range.
10.25am: Blucher on fire.
10.27am: Princess Royal opened fire again on Moltke and straddled. (Princess Royal)
Hipper had obviously now decided that to save the bulk of his squadron. Deciding to leave the crippled Blucher and her 1,050 man crew behind: As further signals from the British flagship over the next quarter of an hour, all urged his squadron to close with the enemy:
10.28am Lion to battle-cruisers, Form a line of bearing north-nor-west, and proceed at your utmost speed. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
Shells went over our ship with a noise like a lot of bees buzzing and dropping in hundreds about a 100 yards all round us, throwing up spray all over the ship. (Tiger)
An insight into what the observer could see of shells in flight-can be drawn from an enlightening passage penned by a more than interested observer:
Sometimes from the foretop one could see the shell coming, a black speck in the smoky atmosphere, but gradually growing larger, in that case one knew that the direction of the shot was accurate, exactly between one’s eyes, and the only possibility of escape from it was that it should either be short or over. The time of flight averaged about twenty-three seconds, which often seemed curiously long when viewed as the possible hands of one’s life. (Young, Lion)
Even as she gradually fell behind, Lion was still heavily engage with the Seydlitz and Moltke in effective range. When at 10.35am she was hit, and again a minute later, under this parting barrage to some effect:
We thought her last moment had surely come, when we got a message up the voice pipe from the lower conning tower saying that ‘A’ turret magazine was on fire. We sat amid that terrible din waiting for the last gorgeous explosion and the eternal silence that would follow it, but it did not come, and after four minutes of suspense our sentence of death was reprieved in a welcome message that the fire was out, the magazine flooded, and we were proceeding at 20 knots. (Young, Lion)
10.47am Lion to battle-cruisers, Close enemy as rapidly as possible, consistent with keeping all guns bearing. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
10.37am: Altered course 1 point to port.
10.40am: 26 knots.
10.45am: Altered course ESE. (Princess Royal)
The flagship by then was now noticeably loosing speed, and could not maintain her place at the head of the squadron. As she dropped astern, a flag signal was now raised to the flagship’s yard at 10.48am:
Lion to Indomitable, Attack enemy making to the northwards. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
The Blucher had now also dropped out of line, steering to the north on fire and with a heavy list, obviously in some serious distress. Beatty had intended that the Indomitable, being the last ship in the British line, was therefore designated this prize, as the hands of the battle-cruisers pursued the fleeing Hipper.
10.50am: 27.5 knots. Got in a salvo on the Moltke. Indomitable ordered to chase ship escaping to the northward (Blucher). Lion with a 10 degree list to port hauls out to port and drops astern, her speed reckoned to be 12 knots. 10.50am: Airship sighted ESE 12 miles. (Princess Royal)
By 10.52am the damaged Lion was in a sorry state. She had a 10 degree list to port, her port engine had stopped, with all lights and wireless out of action. Fate was to intervene when just at 10.58am the wash of what at first appeared to be a submarine, was sighted off the crippled Flagships starboard bow. She immediately informed the rest of the squadron of this by the only means available to her. Flag. Instructing them to alter course to port, to clear this suspected danger area, a track which incidentally would direct them upon the beleaguered Blucher.
Subsequent investigations suggested that this ‘submarine’ sighting could very possibly have been just the surfacing of a rogue torpedo. Probably one dispatched earlier by the German torpedo-boat V.5 at long range. Or it might have been the incorrect identification of some suspicious wreckage. Whatever its cause, this warning of an underwater threat now struck home in a novel fashion. Since the likelihood of the retreating German ships laying mines in their wake, had been fully appreciated. As was the possibility of being lured over a submarine ambush. Both threats taken very serious in this stern chase, and any indication of such an expected move would have produced the results which followed. Now a marked degree of confusion arose in the mind of Rear-Admiral Moore in the New Zealand: Who now read these distant flag signals, as a goading signal to attack not the rear of the fleeing enemy, but the sinking Blucher.
11.00am: Altered course 8 points to port NNE.
11.08am: Repeatedly hit the rear ship Blucher.
11.09am: Altered course NE.
11.13am: Altered course ENE, 28 knots. (Princess Royal)
This was understood through the alteration of course flag sequence to the northeast, on the two remaining signal halyards of Lion, at the same time as they still carried the last signal to the Indomitable, to close with the Blucher. This confusing sequence of flags hoisted together was now to have telling consequences. Moore apparently comprehended that, Beatty must be aware of either an enemy submarine trap, or newly laid minefield in Hipper’s wake. Into which the 1BCS and 2BCS should not advance. The battle-cruisers swung round to deal with the Blucher breaking off the chase after the fleeing Hipper. And presumably clear of an area, now suspected of being infested with enemy submarines, or mines, to the south covering Hipper’s retreat.
Beatty’s signal at 11.07am to keep nearer to the enemy did not clarify the situation, as his battle-cruisers now headed northeast, closing upon the besieged Blucher. At 11.30am Moore sent a message to Jellicoe, informing him that the BCF was heavily engaged with the enemy. The fact that this report was made by Beatty’s second in command, caused some unease at first, as it clearly implied that the either Beatty, or his flagship, was not in a condition to report. This was Jellicoe’s first indication that Lion had been knocked out of the battle.
11.21am: Altered course E.
11.25am: Our destroyers attempted an attack on the Blucher, before she was out of action, and the Meteor got badly damaged, the hands retired. (Princess Royal)
Further attempts by Beatty to correct this error by flag signals were futile, as the flagship fell beyond the distance which they could be read. He therefore had no choice but to prepare to shift his flag. The destroyer Attack closed Lion at 11.35am onto which the Admiral jumped in his bid to rejoin the main action as soon as possible. With the little destroyer now proudly flying his flag from her foremast, upon his departure from Lion to catch up with his squadron.
11.30am: Altered course S60E.
11.37am: Altered course SE by S.
11.45am: Check fire. Blucher seems to be practically reduced. 22 knots.
11.45am: Altered course West, 26 knots.
12 noon: Altered course SW, 25 knots.
12.04pm: Altered course WNW.
12.06pm: Altered course NW 28 knots.
12.14pm: 22 knots. (Princess Royal)
The Stokers, who had come up from below, pressed around him, cheering, and in the enthusiasm of the moment one of them clapped him on the back as he stepped on to the destroyer’s fo’c’sle and shouted:
‘Well done David’.
Commodore Goodenough soon reported the enemy now devoid of the crippled Blucher. To be steering to the southeast at 25 knots round 11.50am and that by noon he had effectively lost touch with them. It was to take over three-quarters of an hour before Beatty was able to transfer his flag to the Princess Royal at precisely 12.20pm:
Amid the cheers of the ship’s battle-stained crew.
12.20pm: Altered course NW by N.
12.24pm: 20 knots.
12.25pm: 12 knots.
12.27pm: Stopped while destroyer Attack came alongside with Vice Admiral Sir David Beatty on-board. Vice-Admiral hoisted his flag in Princess Royal. (Princess Royal)
Due to Beatty losing touch with the action, this errors in flag communications, and the sighting of a suspected submarine. Along with the distinct possibility that mines could have been dropped by the retreating Hipper. The flow of the battle had been inexorably altered:
Through the unfortunate chance shot, we were undoubtedly deprived of a greater victory. (Vice-Admiral Beatty)
The vengeful squadron now descended upon the foundering Blucher, enabled the core of the 1SC to escape. Undoubtedly the forfeiture of this luckless armoured-cruiser saved Hipper. Her sacrifice, by all contemporary accounts, was to be a bloody one for the luckless cruiser and her crew.
The Princess Royal and Tiger now proceeded to circle round the Blucher firing all the time, and the other two ships, New Zealand and Indomitable, fell into line astern of them. The doomed Blucher, already shot to pieces and in the act of dissolution, might well have been left to a squadron of light-cruisers and flotillas of destroyers which were rapidly closing her, but her actual destruction seems to have been a kind of obsession with the captains of the British battle-cruisers. The psychological effects attendant upon the ‘Blooding of the Pack’ must not be ignored. (Young, Lion)
The Indomitable now closed to dispatch her, along with a pack of prowling cruisers and destroyers. One of which, the Meteor took a last hit from the sinking Blucher, killing four of her men. But not before she had launched a single 21 inch Whitehead torpedo from her tubes. Almost simultaneously the light-cruiser Arethusa also dispatched another one:
Both torpedoes apparently went home, a great mountain of boiling sea leaped up beside her, and the doomed ship rolled over until she had a terrible list.
The Arethusa now closed to within 200 yard to deliver the ‘Coup de grace’, with a final underwater device:
Slowly the Blucher rolled over until she was practically upside down, and at last sank, leaving the sea covered with a mass of bobbing objects, most of the Germans wore rubber life-belts, that were the survivors of her crew fighting a last battle for life in the water.
The few remaining survivors were rapidly picked up by the nearby destroyers. Before a patrolling Zeppelin attacked the ships involved. Forcing them to break off the rescue. Despite the fact that the greater part of Hipper’s force had escaped, this episode was still built up to be a welcome, and resounding British success. Beatty had chased Hipper for 100 miles, sinking the Blucher, severely damaging the Seydlitz. And mauled the remaining units of the 1SG to varying degrees, all of this for the expenditure of 1,154 heavy, and around 700 secondary projectiles. German casualties were 954 killed, with 80 wounded, and 189 prisoners being saved. In response to the relatively poor gunnery performance of the newly joined director equipped Tiger, there was some interesting comments, assertions clearly indicating the acknowledged gunnery excellence of one ship missing from this action.
It was very unfortunate for us that Queen Mary was absent for refitting, for, as has been pointed out, during the greater part of the action we were fighting with two effective ships against the German four. ... If Queen Mary had been with us the story would have been a very different one. (Young, Lion)
12.35pm: Proceeded, course NE, 200 revs.
12.40pm: Altered course WNW.
12.53pm: Altered course to avoid three trawlers steaming in line ahead.
1.00pm: Resumed course WNW, 22 knots.
1.23pm: Altered course N57W.
1.46pm: Altered course NW by N.
2.31pm: Altered course WNW.
2.37pm: Altered course N37W.
2.41pm: 16 knots.
2.45pm: Hauled out of line to close Lion which was steaming at slow speed convoyed by numerous destroyers. Hands of Battle Cruisers proceeded at 16 knots on course N37W.
3.00pm: AG 12 knots.
3.32pm: BCs altered course NW. Indomitable ordered to take Lion in tow, destroyers forming a screen to ward off destroyers by night and submarines by day. (Princess Royal)
Beatty’s command had received moderate damage in exchange, with that to Lion being the most significant. In total there was 1 officer, and 13 men killed, within the squadron, along with 3 officers, and 26 men seriously, and about 50 other lightly wounded cases. Admiral Beatty returned temporarily to Lion at 3pm. It was then that her crew heard of the full fate of the Blucher, along with Hipper’s escape, after having his ships severely handled. Lion by this time was virtually a stationary ship, after her engines had ceased to function around an hour earlier. Leaving the Indomitable to then close, and prepared to tow the flagship home to the Firth of Forth, tenaciously protected by no less than sixty destroyers:
That evening I watched in the calm twilight the beautiful evolution’s of these craft as, weaving in and out in ever changing formation, they formed a screen round the ship. (Young, Lion)
At dusk the 1/2LCS’s and all the destroyers of the 2/4DF’s, except those units very short of fuel, were detached to assist in the escorting of the crippled Lion, as Admiral Beatty again transferred to the undamaged, and fully operational Princess Royal with his staff. Once back in harbour, for the Germans the hard lessons inflicted upon the Seydlitz at the Dogger Bank were now to be fully absorbed. The cause of the havoc wrought aft by a single 13.5 inch shell was now to be fully investigated. And important changes in propellant supply practice made. Which were to complement the existing built in safety checks, inside their sealed mountings charge supply. In this a number of revised interlocking flash-tight devices, at each stage in the loading cycle were to be introduced. The Germans were therefore, through this disastrous experience, to gain a significant advantage over their contemporaries in the GF. Who would experience their first revelation, of such a comparable fatal weakness in their existing their system, at Jutland fifteen months away.
4.40pm: Course NW 0.5N, 18 knots.
5.00pm: Altered course N37W as necessary to join up with Battle Cruisers.
6.10pm: Altered course N50W, to allow for deviation.
7.35pm: 15 knots, altered course to port to avoid trawler.
7.45pm: Altered course to port to avoid trawler.
8.00pm: Altered course N5W.
10.48pm: Altered course N6E.
11.25pm: Altered course N9E. (Princess Royal)
25th January 1915
As for Queen Mary now on passage back to the now ‘Blooded’ squadron:
Submarine reported off west coast of Ireland so we altered course giving Cape Clean a wide berth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Submarines reported off Deer Island, so we altered course, got out into the Atlantic, and cancelled night firing. (Midshipman Tennyson)
The bulk of the battle-cruisers had returned to Rosyth in triumph the previous evening. Leaving Lion still under tow by the Indomitable, screened by their phalanx of destroyers. Making a slow passage to the Firth of Forth throughout that day. At midday the Admiralty forwarded a Royal response to the action, with the King’s signal to Beatty.
I most heartily congratulate you, the officers, and ship’s companies of squadrons on your splendid success of yesterday. (George R.I.)
The results, and experiences of this battle, were soon digested. To produce certain points that were to be of considerable importance, in relation to the future employment of Beatty’s command: Admiral Jellicoe quickly realised that.
After the experiences of the engagement on January 24th, 1915, between the battle-cruisers, and especially as our superiority increased and the HSF gave no sign or desire to engage, the conviction became stronger that in any action between the two fleets, the enemy would fight a retiring battle. This is the most difficult form of tactics to counter in these days of submarine, mines and torpedoes, since a retiring fleet is in a position of great tactical advantage in the employment of these weapons.
Such considerations towards the serious underwater potential possessed by the HSF in any number of guises, and combinations. Had indeed been one of the Major factors in the outcome of the Dogger Bank, and was a potent threat already fully appreciated by Beatty.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind SSW to S by W, light airs, force 0-3; sea state 1-2; air temp 44-48F; sea temp 42-45F. / 7.30am New Zealand and Tiger took station on either beam, sighted 2LCS 6 miles SE. / 8.05am sighted 1LCS 6 miles E. / 3.00pm Tiger reported submarine on her port bow, altered course, 20 knots. / 3.15pm zig-zagging 2 points to port and starboard of course, speed 18 knots. / 4.13pm Tiger reported another submarine, altered course, full speed. / 4.18pm altered course, 18 knots, passed Swedish steamer bound for Faroe Isles. / 4.20pm negative zig-zagging. / 4.30pm altered course, 18 knots, formation single line ahead. Sixteen 13.5 inch Cartridges, cordite thrown overboard, withdrawn from guns. Flexible piping two 30 ft length with adapters 3 inch shot away in action.
26th January 1915
Official news on the ‘Poldhu’ that German squadron attempting raid, had been met instead by a British squadron, and that the Blucher had been sunk and the other two seriously damaged. It began to blow from the east, and it was very cold. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Sea fairly rough. (Midshipman Bagot)
The damaged Lion, with Beatty back on-board, arrived in the Firth of Forth at 2.45am in dense fog, after the Indomitable epic tow. The flagship finally coming to her moorings at 6.35am. Allowing the repair ship Assistance alongside by noon, to begin her work.
The Admiral had boarded us off May Island and was in his usual place on the bridge as we came in, accompanied by Commodore Tyrwhitt, whose responsible escort duties had been so successfully carried out. There was a thick fog that morning, but as we approached the little island on which the central pier of the Forth Bridge is founded we could hear the sounds of cheering coming faintly to us through the mist, which thinned just enough to show us to the shore of the island thronged with people, cheering and waving. Lion’s band was formed up on the 4 inch gun deck, and played ‘Rule Britannia’ and other appropriate strains of music. And so, amid mist and cheers, Lion came home. (Young, Lion)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 1.33am altered course to avoid trawlers. / 2.00am 18 knots. / 2.25am altered course to avoid two steam yachts. / 4.00am courses and speeds for entering harbour. / 4.50am came to single anchor, six shackles, passed Lion in tow of Indomitable. / 5.40am proceeded, courses for anchorage, 7.5 knots. / 6.03am stopped engines, Antrim in our billet A12. / 8.38am weighed and proceeded in easterly direction to anchor in A14 billet, but found New Zealand there, turned round to port and anchored in B line in approximate No.15 billet. / 10.00am collier, oil steamer and ammunition ship alongside. / PM hands coaling ship, oil fuel received 209 tons. / 3.55pm finished coaling, received 1,180 tons. / 4.15pm collier Rotherhill left. / 4.20pm weighed and proceeded to west to moor in B14 billet. / 4.30pm moored with six shackles on each in 13 fathoms.
27th January 1915
9am carried out 13.5 inch firing at a rock 40 miles from Cape Wrath: 2pm passing through Pentland Firth: 8pm carried out 4 inch night firing at target. ‘Fruity’ (enemy submarine) reported to be in Firth of Forth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 3.40am finished ammunitioning ship. / 7.30am ammunition ship left ship. / 11.00am ammunition lighter came alongside. / 2.00pm finished ammunitioning. / 4.30pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors. / 10.00pm Guard ship left ship, returned at 10.35.
28th January 1915
5.30am arrived Rosyth: 8am coaled 1,450 tons. 4pm finished coaling. Prepared ship for sea. Midnight sailed Princess Royal (flag) and Queen Mary. (Midshipman Bagot)
Moored ship in Rosyth, coming in a thick fog. We were thought to be leaving at 6pm. We all wonder what is in the wind, and it looks as if we were going off by ourselves, and so we May have a chance of making up a bit for missing ‘The’ action’. Lion did not strike a mine, but a shell hit her in the bows below the water-line. Another entered the port engine-room via the feed-tank and disabled the port engine, when the Vice-Admiral shifted his flag in the destroyer to the Princess Royal. The Derfflinger lost one of her funnels and the Moltke was ablaze aft, but even when Lion fell out the Tiger continued the chase alone. Although they were three to one, they would not turn round and fight. The Von der Tann was not there, so it looks as though she were badly damaged. The Tiger got an 11 inch on top of her turret, and all it did was to kill two men, and one gun was firing again in four minutes, another in fourteen minutes. The cruiser Kolberg also sunk by Lion. Many of their shells did not burst. It is bad luck not being there. If we had, it is certain the other two would have been sunk. (Midshipman Tennyson)
The Kolberg did survive the action undamaged.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 8.45am land funeral party, out 2nd picket boat, painting ship’s side and, funeral party returned. / 3.00pm to 4.00pm storeship alongside, drawing stores, hands darkened ship and close ‘B’ doors, in 1st and 2nd picket boats. / 10.45pm watch for exercise unmoored and worked cables.
29th January 1915
during the latest sweep, supporting cruiser patrols in the North Sea, increasingly poor conditions were experienced:
Rendezvous with 1LCS, proposed aerial raid postponed owing to weather. Returning to coal. (Midshipman Bagot)
The Walney Island battery, at Barrow-in-Furness, was shelled by a German submarine, first operation U-Boat in the Irish Sea.
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea on exercises - Wind N to NE, force 3-7; sea state 2-4; air temp 40-46F; sea temp 38-40F.- Number on sick list 16 / 0.00am weighed and proceeded out of harbour, courses and speeds. / 0.10am Queen Mary took station astern. / 0.55am altered course to pass south of May Island, 19 knots. / 10.30am to 10.45am swinging ship. / 1.34pm dropped target for 4 inch firing, speed up to 17 knots. / 1.50pm commenced firing, both sides, all 4 inch groups. 2.00pm ceased firing. / 3.30pm commenced range keeping exercise. / 3.56pm finished exercise.
30th January 1915
7am arrived Rosyth: 8am coaled 540 tons. 10.30am finished coaling. 11.30am nets out. Went ashore to Edinburgh. 7pm all picket boats patrolled gate at Bridge, orders to ram any submarine seen, not to fire. 10pm returned to ship. Three merchant ships reported sunk in Irish Channel by hostile submarine U.21. This is the commencing of Germany’s threat to starve us out. (Midshipman Bagot)
This really was current news. Covering this day’s activities of the renown U.21, in sinking the Ben Cruachan, Linda Blanche and the Kilcoan in the Irish Sea. Although it must be suspected that the identities of the submarine, and steamers, in this up to date entry, might have been added at a later date.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 12. / 4.40am course to pass to the southward of May Island, for entering harbour. / 7.03am stopped. / 7.05am moored in A14 billet. / 8.00am secured collier Rotherhill alongside, hands coaling ship. / 10.40am oil lighter alongside. / 11.20am finished coaling, received 620 tons. / 12 noon, cast off collier and oil lighter, received 44 tons oil fuel. / 4.30pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 5.50pm, out nets, submarine reported between the outer and inner gates. / 7.40pm armed boats crews left ship.
31st January 1915
Tiger sailed to Newcastle to have turret repaired. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 9.10am in net defence. / 4.40pm darken ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 6.00pm storeship alongside. / 9.40pm provision steamer left ship.
1st February 1915
By the beginning of 1915 a distinct change had begun to take place in the character of the war in the North Sea, at least as far as regards surface ships. The policy of large ships, such as battle-cruisers and battleships, cruising about on the chance of seeing something was the first thing to be abandoned. It was in the spring of 1915 that the ships went to sea for three reasons. 1/ To intercept, or bring to action, blockade runners or enemy ships whose presence was known or suspected. 2/ To carry out an offensive operation, in so far as the strategical situation ever offered us scope for such operations. 3/ For exercise. The year 1915 was not marked by an action of any size, but a great many operations of various kinds were carried out. These operations were of three kinds. The first kind, known as a ‘stunt’, either good or bad, was an operation in which, from the position of the fleet and the fact that we were at action stations, it requires no inside knowledge on the part of an observer for him to deduce that the powers that be thought that there was a sporting chance of meeting something. A ‘stunt’ lasted from three to five days, and was usually preceded by a ‘flap’ or ‘panic’. (King-Hall, Southampton)
From this Frank appraisal of the changing character of the battle-cruisers part in the war at sea, can be recognised the implicit reduction in their active participation in every operation that arose. Admiralty intelligence under Hall, could now, with a respectable degree of accuracy, predict if a Major enemy move was happening. The battle-cruisers no longer had to venture out on the of chance of encountering the opposition.
The personnel of Queen Mary, with the reduced and battle scared, but fully blooded squadron, at Rosyth: Now had the opportunity to discover more about the battle they had regrettably missed. Here the personal impressions of two midshipmen who visited the damaged Lion on this day are of considerable interest. Firstly an account which comments upon the action, and the perceived overall quality of British material, with favourable remarks regarding British armour and shells, both factors to be seriously questioned after Jutland.
All the midshipmen went over to Lion in the forenoon. It is extraordinary the way a shell gets deflected. There was one came into the engineer’s office, went through a transverse bulkhead, and then up through the upper deck. The Admiral fought most of the action from the compass platform, as he complained he could not see in the conning tower. Our armour is good and our shells magnificent. A young AB in the Tiger was on the top of ‘A’ turret continually wiping the glasses, while ‘B’ turret was firing over his head, and the action was going on for three hours. He had to come in once, as his nose and ears were bleeding so much, and then he went out again to his work, really fine stuff. It is said that the prisoners on the Blucher could not really believe this was the Forth Bridge, as they thought the Germans had blown it up on September 1st: (Midshipman Tennyson)
Monday. In forenoon went on-board Lion to see damage. The torpedo flat had been flooded and decks were bent a bit. The Admirals cabin had been pierced in several places by splinters. Two shells had pierced 5 inch armour in ships side. ‘A’ turret had left gun out of action owing to shell having land on sighting hood. Shell which pierced through the bakery and destroyed same, entered engine room not having exploded and damaged condenser, reducing the speed. The angle of decent was about 45 degrees. (Midshipman Bagot)
After the Dogger Bank clash, each sides capital ships seemed to retire from the North Sea to effect repairs, undertake refits, and see changes. Rear-Admiral Moore was replaced on the British side, and on the German side there was also a change of commanders. Therefore the following month was to be marked as being the quietest of the war to date, at least from the naval point of view.
Beside the above diary entry, Tennyson also had time to write a very revealing letter to his parents today. In which his, and I suspect the rest of Queen Mary’s dejection at having missed the battle are well conveyed. Also presented in his little missive, lies another telling point. He again openly regards the material superiority of the British ships as a matter of fact, and that the lessons of the recent battle proved to him that the Royal Navy had the better of the German service.
I am absolutely depressed and dejected. Here we are, having been through all the hardships of the long war, waiting, and for the sake of four days’ leave we missed the greatest naval fight of the war, the ‘Tag’ of the battle-cruisers. I would gladly have sacrificed forty-four days’ leave. Nothing can ever possibly make up for it. Besides if we had been there, there is not the slightest doubt but that the other two, Derfflinger and Moltke, would have gone down, or at any rate one of them. Not only Queen Mary, but the 1BCS do really have the most sickening luck. I wish I could tell you about it. It is most comforting, and now we know that the rotten remarks in the American papers about the wonderful tricks and guns and ships of the German Navy are exactly what I have always told you they were. It is the best bit of news the Navy have ever had, because we always knew we could beat the Germans, but with heavy losses to ourselves. Now we know that German-built ships and British-built ships are incomparable, and we can wipe the dust with them. I cannot tell you more, but it is a magnificent reward for the Navy. ... I shall be quite happy sitting here and waiting for the Germans to repair their ships, bored to tears, I wish I could go to the front for a bit and see what that is like in the interval. Our journey was very uneventful, and we have been even further, but the same old story, ‘Disappointment’. (Midshipman Tennyson, letter)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 16. / 9.10am Divisions, read prayers, hands to physical drill. / 10.00am First Lord of the Admiralty and staff came on-board. / 11.00am Admiral Lowry on-board. / 11.50am First Lord and Vice-Admiral visited Lion. / 12.45pm ship’s company to payment. / 2.45pm First Lord and staff left ship. / 9.45pm First Lord of the Admiralty left ship.
2nd February 1915
Admiral Beatty forwarded his initial dispatch concerning the recent battle to the Admiralty today. In the hands of Lieutenant Filson Young RNR, who now left Lion, the BCF, and this involvement with Queen Mary’s story, from his vantage point on-board the flagship.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 17. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters and Night Defence. / 10.30am painting ship’s side, training classes to instruction. / PM provision lighter came alongside. / 5.00pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
3rd February 1915
Germany intends to use all possible means to prevent our transports crossing to France and declares that ships passing into the North Sea from the Channel do so at risk of being mistaken for transports. All shipping should enter from the north: (Midshipman Bagot)
Obviously thwarted in the employment of its capital ships to decide the issue, and one suspects because of the effectiveness of the British surface blockade. The U-boat war against Allied maritime commerce now began to assume a more prominent role in German considerations. A feature to be well noted in the diaries of some on-board Queen Mary over the following months, as they were starved of action.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am swinging ship for deviation by reciprocal bearings. / 9.15am Divisions and prayers. / PM hands painting ship’s side, provision lighter came alongside. / 4.05pm Evening Quarters and physical drill. / 5.00pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors. / 10.30pm 1st picket boat moored up, kept steam all night, set anchor watch.
4th February 1915
German submarine fires a torpedo at the Asturias, Royal Mail steam packet hospital ship crossing from home, therefore presumably empty of casualties. (Midshipman Bagot)
This attack, at 5pm on the evening of the 1st, some 15 miles northeast of Havre, was carried out by U.20, under Lieutenant-Commander Droescher. Earlier on the 30th of January he had torpedoed three steamers in the eastern portion of the Dover Straits, the Ikaria, Tokomuru, and Oriole. The unrestricted submarine campaign was well underway, with the Germans possessing twenty-three effective underwater craft with which to inaugurate their blockade.
The German Government announcd that a submarine blockade of Great Britain would begin on the 18th February.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 6.15am secured anchor watch. / 8.40am clean guns. / 9.10am Divisions, clean guns, physical drill. / 9.30am painting, A turret Division at drill. / 1.25pm painting down aloft, painting ship’s side and. / PM darken ship, close ‘B’ doors. / 11.30pm barge drew fires and moored up.
5th February 1915
Went on-board Lion to make sketch of Cofferdam. (Midshipman Bagot)
This temporary construction was in the form of a fabricated ‘blister’, placed over the damaged portion of the lower hull. Making the flagship seaworthy for her trip to the Tyne for final repairs.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.05am Stoker landing party land. / 9.10am Divisions, read prayers. / 9.25am physical drill. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters, out collision mat. / 9.45am painting ship and preparing for ammunitioning ship. / 10.30am SS Tempo and SS Weir came alongside, hands exchanging ammunition. / 11.50am landing party returned. / 3.30pm ammunitioning lighter left ship. / 4.15pm in 1st picket boat and launch, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
6th February 1915
It is too awful waiting here for Derfflinger and Seydlitz to be patched up, but, my faith!, next time they will not get back, not if the old Queen Mary is there. I am enjoying life much more now, as I get twenty-seven holes of golf every Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the hands of my time I am well employed in gunnery and stuff, so it passes very quickly. (Midshipman Tennyson, letter to his brother, Aubrey)
Went ashore. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.55am out 1st picket boat. / 9.45am cleaning ship and refitting and. / 5.15pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship, in 1st picket boat. / 11.10pm to 11.30pm Guard Boat away.
7th February 1915
Sunday. Dined Baron Abo in Gunroom. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 3.10am to 3.40am Guard Boat away. / 5.55am out 1st picket boat and barge. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.30am Divine Service. / 4.45pm hands darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors, in 1st picket boat.
8th February 1915
Coaled 260 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
From this individuals calculations, his estimate of the coal taken in by Queen Mary since the outbreak of war is interesting. He notes a figure of 34,430 tons of coal now bunkered, a load more than matching the battle-cruisers total displacement.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.40am weighed and proceeded. / 9.50am moored in A14 billet. / 10.30am collier Rotherhill alongside. / 11.00am commenced coaling. / 12.30pm finished coaling, received 332 tons. / 1.30pm hands cleaning ship. / 5.00pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors, main derrick, in 2nd picket boat.
9th February 1915
in the squadron with the Tiger’s return, Lion prepared to head for the Tyne for repairs, which would take until the end of the month to complete.
All neutral powers discussing Germany’s proclamation of the North Sea being considered a ‘War Zone’, and asks for due respect to all neutral shipping. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.10am Divisions, read prayers. / 1.10pm landing party 1st part of green watch. / 4.10pm Divisions. / 6.00pm in 2nd picket boat.
10th February 1915
Land party for route March. Lion sailed for repairs. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.05am sent Stoker landing party ashore. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am training classes to instruction and A turret to Divisional drill. Gunlayers and trainers at towing targets, hands refitting / 12 noon, Stokers landing party returned. / 1.30pm painting and refitting. / 4.00pm closed ‘B’ doors, darken ship, in launch. / 9.00pm 1st picket boat moored up.
11th February 1915
SS Dacia, the owner being an American son of a German, sailed with cotton cargo for Germany. Gave Commander James a silver plate as wedding present. (Midshipman Bagot)
This steamship from the Hamburg-America Line, purchased by the German-American magnate Edward Breitung of Michigan. Had set out under the American flag, with the specific intention of provoking an incident in her encounter with the British blockade. But the unexpected Allied response to this act, described later, was to prove to be more than a reply to this stratagem.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.50am out 2nd picket boat and launch. / 6.00am raised steam in barge. / 9.10am Divisions and prayers. / 9.30am training classes to instruction, ‘Q’ turret to Divisional drill. / 1.10pm sent landing party ashore. / 1.25pm training classes to instruction, hands of hands cleaning ship, refitting and, landing party returned. / 11.00pm to 11.30pm Guard Boat away.
12th February 1915
Merchant steamer in North Sea avoids a torpedo from submarine U.22. After having been ordered to heave too. Hoisted the Dutch ensign, having neutrals on-board and arrived at Jiminden safely. (Midshipman Bagot)
A seemingly legitimate ruse by the SS Laertes, on the 10th, actually against the U.16. However the use of false colours by Allied ship was to have a telling effect on U-boat behaviour against all nationalities in the very near future.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 2.30am to 3.00am Guard Boat away. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 10.00am secured, cleaning mess decks. / 4.00pm Divisions, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
13th February 1915
USA sends note to Germany to know if Germany intends to search all ships before sinking same. (Midshipman Bagot)
Far to the south, on this Saturday afternoon, the repaired Invincible left Gibraltar bound for Scapa Flow. The battle-cruisers were being concentrated in the contested waters of the North Sea.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.50am out launch, sent Stokers landing party ashore. / 11.45am landing party returned. / 1.25pm trying barge in crutches. / 3.30pm out barge. / 5.40pm set anchor watch.
14th February 1915
The 12 inch gunned battle-cruiser Australia arrived at Scapa Flow on this day to prepare for service under Beatty. She was a much needed and welcome addition, now granting the fleet a marked measure of numerical superiority over Hipper’s group.
Sunday. Largest air raid yet been carried out, consisting of thirty-four aeroplanes. Dropped bombs on German sea bases on Belgium coast. Extent of damage unknown. (Midshipman Bagot)
One of the first significant aerial assaults upon the enemy had occurred on the 12th: With a heterogeneous collection of craft, under the direction of Wing-Commander Samson, launching a strike primarily upon the occupied port of Zeebrugge.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.25am out 1st picket boat and barge. / 9.45am ship’s company mustered by the Ledger, service certificates. / 10.00am Wesleyans to New Zealand. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 11.45am Wesleyans returned. / 4.35pm Divisions, closed ‘B’ doors, darkened ship. / 5.30pm attendant oil tank alongside, discharged 518 tons oil to RFA Attendant.
15th February 1915
This quiet period for Queen Mary at Rosyth continued. Various recreational events occupied her crew, and the occasional scare took place:
Played hockey match verses Africa of the 3BS and lost six to one. 3.30pm got out nets, submarine supposed to be caught in boom net defence under Bridge. Picket boats patrolling entrance. (Midshipman Bagot)
As for an assessment of the recent action off the Dogger Bank. The First Lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill, addressed the fact on this day, that this encounter seemingly established the superiority of British gunnery. Obviously it would take until the results of Jutland had been assimilated, before such complacent statements were moderated, or indeed changed.
This combat between the finest ships of both navies, is of immense significance and value, in the light it throws upon rival systems of design and armament. Although the German shell is a most formidable instrument of destruction, the bursting, smashing power of the heavier British projectile is decidedly greater, and this is the great thing, our shooting is a least as good as theirs.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.50am hoisted out 2nd picket boat and launch. / 6.40am attendant oil tank shoved off. / 9.10am Divisions and prayers, Stokers’ landing party to the shore. / 9.30am ‘A’ turret to Divisional drill, refitting. / 12 noon landing party returned. / 1.25pm refitting and scraping paint. / 3.00pm out nets and closed ‘B’ doors, rove net gear, away Armed Picket Boats crew, net of Southern Span Forth Bridge had subsided. / 5.50pm darkened ship, in launch and 2nd cutter. / 11.30pm armed picket boat away patrolling.
16th February 1915
despite the enforced inactivity of the battle-cruisers, light-cruiser sweeps of the North Sea continued. The newly formed 3LCS sailed from Rosyth on its first operation, with destroyers in company.
8am shifted berth: Armed picket boats still patrol Bridge. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal -Rosyth. / 4.30am armed picket boat returned. / 9.10am Divisions and physical drill, Stokers land, ‘Q’ turret to Divisional drill. / 11.30am landing party returned. / 3.30pm armed picket boat away patrolling. / 4.00pm in launch and cutter, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm barge moored up.
17th February 1915
8am arrived HMAS Australia. Afternoon submarine U.18 sunk collier Dulwich (British) in Channel, crew saved. Thirty trawlers with mines reported in Skaw. Forty aeroplanes raided Belgium west coast again, doing considerable damage. (Midshipman Bagot)
The arrival of this important capital ship from the Dominion was obviously a point of considerable note, along with the continuing interest in the overall war picture, especially in the novel area of further aerial strikes upon the enemy. Which took place the previous day, against various German positions along the Belgian coast. As for the ill-fated 3,289t Dulwich, post war records state that U.16 was responsible for this sinking off Cape d’Antifer on the 15th.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.00am furled nets. / 9.30am General Quarters. / 10.15am secured and commenced unmoor ship. / 12.50pm weighed and proceeded to shift billet anchors having dragged together. / 1.25pm moored in A14 billet but anchors dragged home. / 4.40pm weighed. / 5.10pm moored in A14 billet but set too far to the northward. / 6.00pm weighed. / 6.15pm moored in A14 billet. / 8.45pm in 2nd picket boat.
18th February 1915
Germany’s declaration of the waters round British Isles being considered as ‘War Zone’ and all vessels there in are liable to be sunk, comes into force. Dinorah (French) torpedoed off Folkestone, not sunk and managed to get to Havre. (Midshipman Bagot)
News of the prowling U.16’s latest success, off Dieppe this time, also marked an important date in the German blockade. Their official proclamation that after this day, all the waters round the British Isles would be thenceforth declared unsafe to merchant-ships of all nations. Already noted has been the considerable increase in U-boat attacks over the previous days. Which marked the beginning of the first intensive concerted submarine campaign. Finally culminating in the sinking of the Lusitania three months hence. From the Forth, the attached 2LCS, in company with some destroyers, left for a routine three day sweep.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out 2nd picket boat, barge and launch. / 7.30am called away, 1st picket boat and crew. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am ‘X’ turret to Divisional drill, training classes to instructions. / 4.45pm hands reeving net gear. / 5.10pm Evening Quarters, in launch, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors. / 11.45pm armed picket boat away patrolling with Lieutenant in charge.
19th February 1915
SS Belridge (Norwegian) torpedoed in Channel, not sunk. (Midshipman Bagot)
The Invincible arrived at Scapa Flow that morning, to embark upon an eleven day work-up, prior to rejoining Beatty’s command: While this day saw a very unusual role performed by her sister, one never envisaged before for a battle-cruiser. Off the Dardanelles an Allied naval squadron, including the Inflexible, and the new super-dreadnought Queen Elizabeth, along with twelve British pre-dreadnoughts, and four similar French units. Massed off the Narrows, for a bombardment of Turkish forts and positions.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 4.30am armed picket boat returned. / 6.00am hands preparing for coaling. / 7.15am collier Rotherhill alongside. / 7.50am ammunition party left ship. / 9.15am finished coaling, received 264 tons. / 9.40am cast off collier. / 4.00pm Divisions and physical drill, rove net gear, darken, closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.45pm to 10.15pm Guard Boat away.
20th February 1915
Saturday. Evelyn (USA) mined of Borkum, crew saved, one killed. Gainbank (British) torpedoed in Irish Sea, four of crew killed. (Midshipman Bagot)
Because of the increasing number of battle-cruisers, and attached LCS’s, A further reorganisation of Beatty’s impressive command was instituted. From this date the capital ship units of the BCF where be allocated to three squadrons.
Fleet flagship, Lion, flying the flag of Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty.
1BCS, Princess Royal, flag of Rear-Admiral O.de B. Brock, Queen Mary, and Tiger.
2BCS, Australia, the designated flagship of Rear-Admiral W.C. Pakenham, New Zealand, and Indefatigable to join.
3BCS forming, Invincible, the designated flagship, Inflexible, then off the Dardanelles, and Indomitable .
1LCS, Galatea, flying the broad pendant of Commodore E.S. Alexander, Cordelia, Caroline, and Inconstant.
2LCS, Southampton, broad pendant of Commodore W.E. Goodenough, Nottingham Birmingham and Lowestoft.
3LCS, Falmouth, flag of Rear-Admiral Trevylyan Napier, Yarmouth, Gloucester, and Liverpool.
The above principal vessels were to be screened, and supported, by sixteen destroyers of the most modern type, forming the 13th Destroyer Flotilla. In what can be regarded as the minimum allocation of such vessels. This three squadron structure was in light of experiences gained at the Dogger Bank. In future, Beatty with his numerical superiority over Hipper, wanted to commit the two 12 inch gunned squadrons, the 2/3BCS’s, to engaging and occupy the German battle-cruisers. While the 13.5 inch equipped 1BCS, could perform the role of a ‘fast Division’ on the opposing flank, to completely envelop the enemy formation.
As well as this overall deployment of forces, it is clear that in all Beatty’s future tactical considerations one concept was paramount. To engage with the enemy as soon as possible, to manoeuvre his fleet between the opposition and its base, thereby cutting it off from shelter, and support, for its subsequent destruction. With this aggressive and positive intention set within his command directives, the seeds for his actions at Jutland can now be readily seen. This then was to be basically the structure and envisaged role of the BCF throughout the remaining service of Queen Mary. With only periodic refits and deployments north, to undertake gunnery exercises from Scapa Flow, for its various members, occurring to alter this arrangement.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 3.00am to 3.30am Guard Boat away. / 7.30am armed picket boat away patrolling. / 7.50am ammunition working party to Skilton. / 5.15pm ammunition party returned, in launch, darkened ship, close ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm in 2nd picket boat.
21st February 1915
Sunday. Downshire (British) torpedoed off the Isle of Man, crew saved. (Midshipman Bagot)
This was due to the U.30, which also sank the Cambank around this time as well. The new distribution of units within the BCF was noted by those it embraced
We returned to base, coaled ship 500 tons and averaged 162t per hour, which was good. We have now become the 2LCS. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.35am Roman Catholics to Australia. / 9.50am Divisions. / 10.20am Divine Service. / 11.15am Church parties returned. / PM hands darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors, in barge.
22nd February 1915
Two German submarines reported overdue. French cruiser reports having fired at a German submarine off Boulogne, submarine dived and a considerable amount of oil was seen on surface. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13; 3 hospital. / 9.05am Stokers landing party to the shore. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am training classes to instruction, 4 inch guns’ crews to loader and drill. / 11.50am Stokers returned. / 1.15pm land landing parties, ammunition working parties returned. / 4.20pm Divisions. / 5.45pm in launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
23rd February 1915
Rejin (Norwegian) torpedoed off Dover and sunk. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.25am out launch. / 8.40am furled nets. / 9.15am Divisions and prayers. / 9.30am Gun Quarters. / 10.00am training classes to instruction. / 1.25pm cleaning, and refitting. / 4.15pm Divisions and physical drill. / 6.00pm in launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
24th February 1915
Another addition to Beatty’s growing command: The Indefatigable arrived at Scapa Flow after her passage from the Mediterranean, preparing for service with the 2BCS.
Western Coast (British) torpedoed off Beachy Head. Deptford (British) torpedoed, or mined off Scarborough. News that the Auxiliary cruiser Clan McNaughton sunk by gale, few survivors. (Midshipman Bagot)
Indeed there were destined to be no survivors from this 4,985t, eight 4.7 inch armed merchant cruiser from the 10CS. This notification only concerned her loss sometime during the month, supposedly foundering in one of the numerous heavy sea encountered at that time, possibly on the 3rd: Although one source does quote her being possibly mined on the 2nd, in heavy seas.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.50am out launch and barge. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters and out collision mat. / 10.35am secured, training classes to instruction. / 1.10pm land Red Watch. / 3.45pm landing party returned. / 4.15pm Divisions and physical drill. / 6.00pm hands darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 10.55pm to 11.25pm Guard Boat away.
25th February 1915
Finished net defences at Bridge, so finished patrolling. This ends the first week of Germany’s much talked of ‘Blockade’. Out of about 1,300 sailings only those ships mentioned above have been sunk. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13, 1 hospital. / 7.25am out launch. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, Stokers landing party to the shore, hands painting ship’s side, gunnery training classes to instruction, Boys mustering bags. / 1.25pm hands painting ship, in launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
26th February 1915
1BCS, Lion, Princess Royal, Queen Mary, Tiger. 2BCS Australia with Admiral Patey. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13, 1 hospital. / 7.25am hands painting and cleaning ship. / 3.30pm in 4th cutter and barge. / 5.50pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 7.00pm placed anchor watch. / 9.30pm in 2nd picket boat.
27th February 1915
A Royal visit today was well received, when King George V reviewed the fleet at Rosyth:
9.30am HM King arrived at South Queensferry and received by a Guard of Honour supplied by Queen Mary. He proceeded to the Tiger, receiving the captains of BCS, he then visited Hibernia, Antrim, which was coaling. Hospital ship, had lunch in King Edward VII, then passed through the lines being cheered, and had tea in Princess Royal with the Admiral. 6.30pm HM King left. (Midshipman Bagot)
His Majesty the King paid the port a surprise visit. We were one of the ships honoured, all the officers were presented to His Majesty. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Finally, the SS Dacia was intercepted and seized by French naval forces.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out 1st picket boat and barge. / AM-PM hands cleaning ship. / 3.30pm cleared lower deck and cheered ship for His Majesty the King. / 4.30pm Divisions. / 4.45pm His Majesty the King arrived on-board. / 5.15pm hands marched past on the main deck. / 5.50pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 6.15pm His Majesty the King left ship.
28th February 1915
News that on the 20th allied fleets bombarded outer forts at Dardanelles, silencing same and immediately started minesweeping the Channel. The Queen Elizabeth was with the bombarding ships, using her 15 inch guns. (Midshipman Bagot)
This impressively gunned super-dreadnought was in fact initially employed during the Allied fleet’s second bombardment operations off the Turkish held Dardanelles peninsula on the 25th, basic news of which had now apparently arrived on-board.
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 7.20am Roman Catholics held Divine Service. / 8.40am Divisions. / 10.15am Divine Service. / 3.15pm secured two store and provision ships alongside, hands provisioning ship. / 6.15pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 8.30pm provision ships shoved off. / 8.45pm in barge.
1st March 1915
Monday. 8am coaled 340 tons to complete. Commodore Roch hoisted his pennant in the Tiger. News, 4 miles of Dardanelles has been swept, and the main forts destroyed. Constantinople getting panic stricken. Dacia the much discussed steamer has been captured by a French cruiser and towed into Breast for examination. Cordela latest light-cruiser had explosion in after part of ship. (Midshipman Bagot)
The fate of the American flagged merchantman Dacia, with her crew of German sympathisers, at the hands of the French, was seemingly welcome news on-board: This vessel had intended to cause an Anglo-American incident with the British blockade. But the French had been willing to assist in this delicate matter, and no more was heard of the potentially difficult international situation. As for the news concerning the accident to the new cruiser of the 1LCS, this was to be eventually repaired, allowing her to see service at Jutland.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out 2nd picket boat and barge, and prepared ship for coaling. / 7.00am Francis Duncan alongside. / 7.10am rigged collier. / 7.55am commenced, hands coaling ship. / 9.10am finished coaling. / 9.20am collier left ship. / 1.10pm hands to payment. / 2.50pm fire reported in Cordelia, fore derrick, out 1st and 2nd cutters, belayed. / 6.00pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.30pm in barge.
2nd March 1915
The Governments of Great Britain and France declare, ‘To prevent commodities of any kind from leaving Germany’, thus using the full pressure of the Navy. (Midshipman Bagot)
Obviously all German efforts to receive material by sea, by either conventional trade or devious ways were to be strongly countered.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.00am Stokers landing party to the shore. / 9.10am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am training classes and Boys to instructions and 4 inch guns’ crews at Divisional drill, hands refitting and cleaning ship. / 11.00am landing party returned. / 4.15pm Divisions and physical drill, in launch. / 6.00pm in 2nd picket boat and barge, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
3rd March 1915
Germany lose another Zeppelin, thus having no more naval Zeppelins left. 4am sailed Indomitable. (Midshipman Bagot)
Since no enemy airships were destroyed at this time, this reference above to a lost craft could be the belated intimation about the Parseval type PL.19 out off Koningsberg. It had crashed into the Baltic on the 26 January, due to severe icing, becoming a total loss.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 12, 3 hospital. / 5.50am out boats. / 9.00am prayers, Divisions and physical drill. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters and out collision mat. / 10.30am training classes to instructions. / 4.15pm Divisions and physical drill. / 5.30pm in launch. / 6.00pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 7.00pm in 2nd picket boat.
4th March 1915
As the aforementioned battle-cruiser underwent a refit, two additions more than compensated for this temporary removal from the fleet:
Arrived Indefatigable and Invincible. Cordela sailed, the explosion is said to be the work of a spy and caused considerable damage to her stern, killing one and wounding two. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out boats. / 6.30am Invincible and Indefatigable arrived. / 9.10am Divisions and prayers. / 9.30am hands, training classes instructions, exercise Control Stations. / 4.15pm Divisions. / 6.00pm in boats, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
5th March 1915
Submarine U.8 rammed and sunk off Dover by flotilla of destroyers, crew saved and taken prisoner, but kept apart from other prisoners owing to having sunk merchant-steamers and lost lives. (Midshipman Bagot)
This submarine, which had succumbed to a determined assault by the tribal class Maori and Gurkha, the previous day, had set out with the U.20, U27, and U.30 in late February for the first German anti-commerce offensive. It is recounted that Hall, at naval intelligence, was able to inform the Cabinet of this move at the start of this month: Tennyson in another letter home, gives his impressions of the overall naval scene at this time. Also optimistically mentioning the continuing anti-submarine campaign. His early thoughts about what was to prove to be start to the disastrous Dardanelles endeavour. As well as some casual comments, concerning a member of the wardroom in a battleship of the 3BS.
Isn’t it splendid the way all the German submarines are being sunk. Since they started their blockade on February 18, they have lost more than from the beginning of the war. The Dardanelles is another great piece of work for the Navy. If we carry that through successfully it will be one of the finest pieces of naval work that there has ever been, as the place was always thought to be impregnable. I dined in the Africa on Sunday night and had some more music. Do you remember the song ‘I met Love, a lovely boy’, by Cornaby, I think Miss Hunter sings it. A lovely little song. Also several others I know by him. Well, he is a Lieutenant in the Africa, so they are well off. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18, 3 hospital. / 5.40am out boats. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.35am exercised General Quarters. / 10.05am secured. / 10.30am training classes to instructions. / 2.00pm in launch. / 3.00pm set anchor watch. / 6.00pm in 2nd picket boat, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
6th March 1915
But the quiet post-Dogger Bank spell at Rosyth was now drawing to a close. A capital fleet departure was planned for that winters evening:
Noon sighting up. 5pm BCF Sailed. BCF includes 1/2/3BCS, 1/2CS, 1DF. (Midshipman Bagot)
Hopes of a North Sea ‘Scrap’. Battle-cruisers weighed and proceeded. We are second in line. It was bitterly cold, hailing and snowing alternately. (Midshipman Tennyson)
All the BCS, 1, 2, & 3LCS’s, went out and did several days’ combined exercises in very unpleasant weather. We saw and destroyed some floating mines. On our way in, we coincided with a submarine, and the 4DF went out to hunt him. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 17. / 1.50am to 2.20am Guard Boat away. / 5.40am out boats. / 9.05am Stokers land. / 11.30am Stokers returned. / 1.10pm land Red Watch. / 3.45pm Red Watch returned. / 4.15pm Divisions. / 4.30pm in launch. / 6.00pm closed ‘B’ doors and darken ship. / 9.00pm in barge.
7th March 1915
The BCF had embarked upon a sweep of the central North Sea, and apparently its early stages were not to be without incident:
We had a narrow escape, just before I came on watch at 8am as we missed a floating mine on the starboard bow by 20 yards. The Tiger was sent back to sink it. (Midshipman Tennyson)
8am Tiger destroyed floating mine. 9.30am carried out sub-calibre and 4 inch day action firing. 2.30pm Invincible destroyed floating mine. (Midshipman Bagot)
The dreadnought BF was also at sea to the north in distant support of the sweep. Accompanied by the 1/2/7CS’s and initially the 4DF. But increasingly severe weather conditions and heavy seas to the north drove the covering destroyers to shelter in Lerwick harbour. Only later rejoining Jellicoe on the 9th.
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 5.50am out barge. / 9.00am Wesleyan church party to Queen Mary. / 9.50am Divisions. / 10.00am Roman Catholic church party to New Zealand. / 11.30am Church parties returned. / 3.30pm 1st part Green Watch unmoor and shorten in to 4 shackles. / 4.20pm prepared ship for sea, in both picket boats, darken ship, close ‘B’ doors. / 7.15pm weighed. / 7.47pm passed outer gate. / 8.16pm last buoy of swept channel abeam. / 9.15pm: May Island abeam 1.25 miles, altered course.
8th March 1915
Afternoon, carried out sub-calibre and 4 inch firing. (Midshipman Bagot):
Combined with these big ship movements by the GF in the North Sea. An anti-submarine sweep off the Aberdeenshire coast by the Rosyth based 1DF, and a number of trawler groups were undertaken during this period as well.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind variable, force 1-4; sea state 1-4; air temp 37-46F; sea temp 40-44F. / 6.20am commenced zig-zagging, 2 points each side of course every 15 minutes. / 7.45am passed round black horned mine 250 yards port bow, Tiger destroyed it. / 8.55am 18 knots, assed mine 500 yards on starboard beam, did not destroy it. / 10.41am 10 knots, dropped target, for sub-calibre practice, three runs of 4 inch. / 11.34am secured and proceeded to ram targets, raised steam for full speed. / 11.56am over target. / PM courses for Tactical Exercises. / 2.48pm altered course NW, commenced PZ. / 3.36pm 15 knots, negative PZ Courses for range keeping exercise.
9th March 1915
Morning, carried out sub-calibre. 1LCS returned to Rosyth: Submarine reported in Firth so not returning tonight. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind N to NW, force 2-4; sea state 2-4; air temp 41-46F; sea temp 41-45F.- Number on sick list 13, 3 hospital. / 7.50am commenced zig-zagging. / 9.50am tactical exercises, multiple course alterations from 10.30am to 1.22pm. / 1.27pm dropped target, for sub-calibre practice, afterwards ramming targets. / 3.10pm over target, course WNW, 15 knots. / 4.00pm commenced range keeping exercise, 17 knots. / 4.37pm commenced zig-zagging. / 5.14pm finished.
10th March 1915
Morning, carried out sub-calibre firing. Submarine U.12 rammed and sunk by Aerial, crew saved, rumours that submarine had been waiting for us and had fired two torpedoes at LCS last night. 9.30pm Arrived Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Given the continuing trouble the BCF was having with the presence of U-boats off the Firth of Forth, it must have been of some satisfaction that this light unit sweep off the Aberdeenshire coast had achieved its desired result. This destroyer had forced this enemy submarine to the surface, before ramming her. However only ten of the U-boats crew of twenty-eight were actually picked up. The GF’s North Sea operation drew to a conclusion, with the BCF return to Rosyth that evening, while the hands returned to Cromarty and Scapa.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Wind NW to WSW, force 2-3; sea state 1-3; air temp 43-49F; sea temp 42-45F. / 6.40am commenced zig-zagging. / 9.20am targets dropped, proceeded for sub-calibre practice, afterwards ramming targets. / 10.40am over target. / 11.00am commenced zig-zagging. / 1.15pm commenced Tactical Exercise. / 2.45pm negative exercise, 18 knots, 2BCS spread to 5 miles on starboard beam. / 8.15pm May Island abeam. / 10.15pm moored in A14 billet.
11th March 1915
Back at Rosyth Queen Mary was to undertake a primary coaling after her recent sweep:
7am coaled 1,100 tons. 1.30pm finished coaling. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.30am out 2nd picket boat and barge, prepare for coaling. / 7.10am collier Rotherhill alongside. / 7.30am oil tank alongside, received 210 tons. / 7.40am commenced coaling. / 1.45pm finished coaling. / 2.00pm collier sailed, hands clean up decks, received 1,335 tons. / 6.15pm closed ‘B’ and darkened ship.
12th March 1915
At 1pm on the 12th we heard the Aerial had bagged U.12 outside. (King-Hall, Southampton)
German armed cruiser sunk USA grain ship, for which USA ask compensation. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out launch. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.25pm hands painting down aloft. / 3.45pm landing party returned. / 6.30pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship. / 7.00pm in 2nd picket boat and barge.
13th March 1915
German armed cruiser interned in USA. (Midshipman Bagot)
A couple of brief entries concerning the Prinz Eitel Friedrich, which had entered Newport News on the 11th, on-board her was the crew of the American four-masted sailing ship William P. Frye, which she had sunk some six weeks earlier, the German vessel however was not interned until the 8th of the following month: Not recorded was the return of the veterans of the 3BS and 3CS returning to Rosyth after yet another routine sweep of the North Sea. Not so quite was the Western Front between the 10th and 13th during this ‘Push’ at Neuve Chapelle in Flanders, the British Army lost 13,000 men. The Swedish SS Hanna was torpedoed without warning, first neutral ship actually sunk by a German submarine.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.25am out 2nd picket boat, barge and launch. / 8.40am Divisions, aired night clothing, Stokers landing party to the shore. / 9.00am hands painting ship, Stokers painting funnels. / 1.10pm land seamen for exercise. / 4.00pm landing party returned. / 4.15pm Divisions. / 4.30pm in launch. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors, in 1st picket boat and barge.
14th March 1915
Sunday. Dresden sunk by Glasgow and Kent, with assistance of Orama, off Juan Fernandez. Said to have hoisted the white flag. (Midshipman Bagot)
This rapid news about the scuttling of the last survivor of von Spee’s China Squadron, off this remote island in the Pacific on the previous day, was in marked contrast to the belated reports about the earlier Coronel battle.
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 8.45am clean up decks for Divisions. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.30am Held Divine Service. / 11.30am Roman Catholics returned. / 5.00PM evening Quarters. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
15th March 1915
11am out nets, submarine reported from Inchkeith: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15 / 5.40am out launch. / 7.00am working party to store ship. / 8.25am aired bedding. / 8.50am out nets. / 9.55am A turret to Divisional drill / 10.45am aft nets. / 11.00am storeship Rayford alongside. / 1.10pm Green Watch and football party land, hands getting in stores. / 2.40pm out nets. / 3.30pm aft nets. / 3.45pm landing party returned. / 4.15pm in launch. / 6.30pm out nets, armed liner left, closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship. / 10.00pm to 10.30pm Guard Boat away.
16th March 1915
The main BF again set out from Scapa, this time to sweep the central and upper North Sea, accompanied by the 1/2/7CS’s, 3LCS and 2DF:
Since the blockade of North Sea, all neutrals have colours painted on ships side. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 3.45am armed boat left ship. / 8.25am aft nets, out launch and 1st cutter, cleaning mess decks. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, Q turret to Divisional drill. / 10.20am out nets. / 11.15am aft nets. / 1.15pm Red Watch land. / 3.00pm out nets. / 3.45pm aft nets. / 4.00pm landing parties returned. / 4.30pm Divisions. in launch. / 6.45pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship.
17th March 1915
The 2DF however could not remain at sea, again due to the bad weather prevailing in the area of operations. During this return passage a collision occurred in the flotilla, between the Nemesis and Nymphe, but both made it back to harbour though.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 23. / 5.40am out 2nd picket boat and launch, hands cleaning ship. / 6.45am out nets. / 7.30am in nets. / 9.10am Divisions, read prayers. / 9.25am exercised General Quarters. / 9.35am out nets. / 10.05am secured, 4 inch gunlayers at dotter. / 5.15pm aft nets, in launch. / 6.30pm in barge, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 10.30pm out and in nets. / 11.15pm in 4th cutter.
18th March 1915
The long awaited ‘Big Push’ of the Naval Squadron off the Dardanelles to force a passage through the straits began today. Included in this enterprise was again the Inflexible, a type of vessel never intended for such a restricted employment. In this she struck a mine, badly damaging her forward, resulting in her taking in 2,000 tons of water, and losing 29 men. All told out of sixteen capital ships were involved in this ill-fated enterprise. Three were sunk, and three others seriously damaged due to heavy shellfire from the shore batteries and forts. But primarily the well laid Turkish minefield, which had claimed the Inflexible.
In the North Sea, a markedly different capital ship verses underwater threat duel was enacted, when the epoch making Dreadnought, whilst returning from the tactical exercise with the GF, encountered, rammed and sank the U.29. Commanded by the renown Otto Weddigen, who had earlier dispatched three British armoured-cruisers, on the morning of the 22 September 1914, when in command of the U.9.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 22. / 2.30am set anchor watch. / 7.00am out barge and 4th cutter. / 9.10am Divisions and prayers. / 9.30am training classes and Boys to instructions, ‘X’ turret to Divisional drill. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 6.15pm in 2nd picket boat and barge. / 7.00pm placed anchor watch.
19th March 1915
German destroyer and submarine captured Danish steamer. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 32 (Number on sick list increased). / 5.40am out 2nd picket boat, barge, 4th cutter and launch. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am General Quarters. / 10.25am secured, provision ship alongside. / 4.15pm provision ship shoved off. / 6.00pm in 1st picket boat, barge, 4th cutter and launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
20th March 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 25 / 5.30am out 1st picket boat, barge and launch. / 8.40am Divisions with night clothing, hands cleaning ship. / 9.30am Stokers landing party to the shore. / 10.45am down night clothing. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 6.00pm in launch, 2nd picket boat and barge. / 6.30pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
21st March 1915
All that one midshipman could consign to paper, was a very basic entry, indicative perhaps of the generally quite time Queen Mary was now experiencing:
Sunday. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 34 / 5.55am out 2nd picket boat and barge. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.05am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.25am held Divine Service. / 11.20am Church parties returned. / 5.00pm Divisions and physical drill. / 6.00pm in 1st picket boat and barge, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
22nd March 1915
Morning, coaled 320 tons to complete. Played golf. (Midshipman Bagot)
On this day a French Prize Court declared their seizure of SS Dacia was valid.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 22 / 0.35am 3L:CS arrived. / 5.25am prepared for coaling. / 6.00am secured collier Rotherhill alongside. / 6.30am commenced coaling, received 280 tons. / 8.00am finished coaling. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 3.45pm watch returned from shore. / 4.00pm furled net defence. / 6.00pm in 2nd picket boat and barge and launch. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 10.30pm sent Guard Boat round BCS.
23rd March 1915
Jellicoe addressed a prophetic message to Beatty on this day. Concerning the enemy’s possible exploitation of his juniors known aggressive qualities:
I imagine the Germans will try to entrap you by risking their battle-cruisers as a decoy. They know that the odds are that you will be 100 miles away from me, and can draw you down to the Heligoland Bight without my being in effective support. This is all right if you keep your speed, but if some of your ships have their speed badly reduced in a fight with their battle-cruisers, or by submarines, their loss seems inevitable if you are drawn into the HSF with me too far off to extricate them before dark. The Germans know you very well and will try to take advantage of that quality of ‘Not letting go when you have once got hold’, which you possess, thank God. But one must concern oneself with the result to the country of a serious decrease in relative strength: If the game looks worth the candle the risk can be taken. If not, one’s duty is to be cautious. I believe you will see which is the proper course, and pursue it victoriously.
More mundane matters involving the attitude of certain sections of the civil population occupied some minds in lieu of any service news:
Several strikes taking place in England: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.20am Guard Boat away. / 5.40am out 2nd picket boat and launch. / 9.05am Divisions and prayers. / 1.10pm working and football party land, barometer broken by accident. / 4.00pm Divisions and physical drill. / 6.00pm in picket boat and launch. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
24th March 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 25 / 9.05am Divisions and prayers, training classes. / 4.00pm Divisions. / 6.30pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
25th March 1915
Question of drink arising. (Midshipman Bagot)
A very brief entry, and beggars the question of whether this referred to drinks ashore under new licensing laws, or on-board: It is documented that the 2LCS was carrying out torpedo and gunnery exercises within Scapa Flow on this day, and over the following week.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 24 / 8.00am hoisted the Colours. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, Stokers land for exercise. / 12 noon landing parties returned. / 1.10pm seamen landing party. / 1.25pm watch for exercise, exercised taking ship in tow. / 3.40pm in 2nd cutter, landing party returned. / 4.20pm Divisions. / 6.00pm in 2nd picket boat and launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 11.00pm motor barge moored up.
26th March 1915
I went to lunch with the Linlithgows. She, Sir Fredrick Milner, and her brother and Mrs. Meade, daughter of the Bishop of Peterborough, were there. After luncheon I shot wood pigeons. ..... I got sixteen. At tea I was terrified by gold lace, Rear-Admiral Napier, Commodore Alexander Sinclair, and Commodore Goodenough, who wished to be remembered to you warmly. They are all very nice and did not turn up their noses at a midshipman. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 22. / 9.00am Stokers landing party. / 9.05am Divisions and prayers. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters, 4 inch crews exercised out collision mat. / 10.30am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 12 noon, landing party returned. / 1.10pm exercised taking ship in tow, land Red Watch for exercise. / 2.00pm worked fore derrick, in 4th cutter, landing parties returned. / 4.15pm Divisions. / 6.00pm in launch. / 6.40pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
27th March 1915
Is it not splendid about U.29, and the fall of Przemysl. When will our turn come. (Midshipman Tennyson)
This individuals belated comments about the Dreadnought’s earlier success, along with the Russian victory on the Eastern Front with the fall of the Austro-Hungarian fortress five days previous, were now consigned to his journal. Along with his evident frustration at the lack of action, which others on-board shared.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 23. / 5.25am out launch. / 7.40am 13 electricians, and 19 caulkers came on-board. / 8.40am Divisions, aired night clothing, land Stokers for exercise. / 11.40am five dockyard shipwrights, one fitter joined ship, landing party returned. / 1.10pm land Green Watch and football parties, parties returned. / 6.30pm in launch, closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship.
28th March 1915
Getting Bloody Mad. (Midshipman Bagot)
Could this venting of frustration be linked to news about the first passenger ship, British SS Falaba, being sunk by a German submarine.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 21. / 6.00am out 2nd picket boat. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.20am held Divine Service. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 6.30pm in 1st picket boat, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 7.00pm motor barge moored up and 1st picket boat drew fires.
29th March 1915
For a brief spell the waiting seemed to be over. That evening Queen Mary and the BCF left Rosyth: It soon became known that the entire GF had put to sea, with the intention of possibly intercept a German battle-cruiser undergoing trials in the Bight, possibly one of the repaired veterans of the Dogger Bank:
5pm raised steam 24 knots. 6.30pm unmoored, BCF ready to proceed. 7pm BCF sailed also 3BS. Course east-sou-east 20 knots. Piped action stations by 5.50am (30th) hammocks to be stowed on fore bridge. (Midshipman Bagot)
This mention of hammocks, was in their practical employment as splinter protection to the exposed upper platforms on the bridge. A fair indication that an encounter was indeed deemed likely:
7.15pm the light-cruisers left harbour. 7.30pm the battle-cruisers left harbour. 8pm the BS left harbour. It really looks as if we were to have something at last, so I went to sleep happy, as I heard piped, ‘Hands will go up to action stations at 5.30am breakfast and clean into fighting rig 5am. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea - Number on sick list 21, 1 hospital. / 5.40am out 1st picket boat, launch, and cutter. / 8.30am aired bedding. / 9.05am land Stokers for exercises. / 9.30am 4 inch Gun-layers to dotters, landing parties returned. / 1.25pm in launch, and fore derrick, in cutter. / 4.25pm secured for sea. / 6.00pm all dockyard men land. / 7.30pm weighed and turned ship. / 7.45pm proceeded, 12 knots. / 8.32pm 22 knots. / 9.30pm May Island abeam.
30th March 1915
But this sweep was soon abandoned. It became clear that the Germans would not risk their ships to far from their defensive minefields. The BCF return to Rosyth early that morning, as the BF headed back to Scapa and Cromarty:
1.30am BCF and 3BS turned 16 points. 5.30am arrived Rosyth: 7.30am coaled 500 tons. Rumour that German battle-cruiser have been repaired and came outside Heligoland, did firing and returned. (Midshipman Bagot)
As usual we were disappointed, for I went up on watch to find us entering the Forth: (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 0.33am altered course 16 points to port and returned to harbour. / 4.40am entered swept channel. / 5.43am moored in A13 billet. / 6.50am secured collier Rotherhill alongside. / 7.45am commenced coaling. / 9.45am finished coaling, received 566 tons. / 10.20am collier sailed. / 12.45pm oilship Ottawa alongside, received 42 tons. / 2.15pm oil ship sailed. / 6.15pm in barge and launch, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 8.40pm in 1st picket boat. / 11.40pm motor barge moored up.
31st March 1915
As if displaying his disappointment of yesterday, all that one seemingly bored individual put down for today was a laconic:
Wednesday. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 23, 1 hospital. / 5.40am out boats. / 8.45am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions, read prayers, hands to physical drill. / 9.30am exercised Night Defence stations, darkened ship and General Quarters. / 10.25am training classes and Boys to instructions, 4 inch Gunlayers to dotter. / 12 noon, landing party returned. / 1.30pm in launch, training classes to instructions. / 4.00pm Divisions. / 6.15pm in 2nd picket boat, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
1st April 1915
Left Scapa and rattled down to Rosyth at 20 knots. Very pleasant getting to our proper base again. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 23, 1 hospital. / AM out boats. hands cleaning ship. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, Stokers land for exercise. / 9.30am training classes to instructions, 4 inch Gunlayers to dotters. / 12.45pm hands to payment. / 4.25pm divisions, in launch. / 7.00pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship. / 8.30pm in barges and drew fires, 2nd picket boat kept steam.
2nd April 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 20, 1 hospital. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.15am held Divine Service. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 6.45pm in 2nd picket boat, closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship.
3rd April 1915
initially a routine Saturday in harbour. Soon to be interrupted by yet another submarine alert that evening, despite the new boom:
5.30pm raised steam. 1DF sailed. 8.15pm forts at Bridge opened fire at submarine. Out nets. 11.30pm get nets in, two and a half hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 21. / 5.25am out boats, cleaning ship, party working in dockyard. / 1.10pm in launch, cleaning ship. / 6.20pm in 1st picket boat and prepare ship for sea. / 6.50pm exercised Night Defence Stations. / 7.00pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm out nets. / 10.30pm armed boats crew away. / 11.30pm aft nets.
4th April 1915
A gale was raging in North Sea and over the northern islands, but for Queen Mary all was now quiet within the Firth: Around about this time a Mr W.D. Kirkpatrick visited the Firth of Forth anchorage. Boarding a number of the ships there, in some undisclosed official capacity, one of these being Queen Mary. He later noted down his impressions of this encounter in, ‘More Sea Fights of The Great War’:
After church on Sunday Captain Prowse took me all over the ship. This inspection was absolutely different from that of a battleship a short time before. In Dominion (pre-dreadnought of the 3BS) were everything was in semi-darkness, the decks were running with water, the men roughly clad as though in battle. On the contrary, in Queen Mary all wore their ‘Smarts’, the decks were spotless and brilliant sunlight was pouring in through every port. Air and brightness shone everywhere. We went from the captain’s main cabin right aft to the forepeak, Fragrant with the scent of new hemp. The men stood to attention as we appeared, but it was quite evident that not a man amongst them expected any sort of reprimand, theirs was a happy ship. We went all along the lofty ‘tween-decks, and one of the last places visited was the sickbay. Notwithstanding its spacious accommodation there were but two inmates. I asked what their trouble was, for they looked merry as sand Boys. One had his shouldered put out, and the other had been kicked on the shin on the football ground: Both Prowse and Sowerby (of the Indefatigable) commanded ‘Happy’ ships, and in each case I remarked that the barrier between captain and officers was of the slightest. Both were blessed with splendid commanders. It was obvious that the whole work of the ship was carried out spontaneously for the good of the Service and not because of Navy Acts. When the two captains met they barged at each other like a couple of schoolboys, each trying to shoulder his friend out of the way. Not a trace of impending doom hung over either of them. Looking back. I can only remember light-heartedness and good humour. The types of the officers and men were of the real old navy, each knew his duty well, and did it with all his might.
Sunday. Four hour’s notice again. Picket boats patrolling Bridge. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 16. / 7.25am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.00am Australia shifted berth. / 9.50am Divisions. / 10.05am Roman Catholics to Queen Mary. / 10.20am held Divine Service. / 11.30am Church parties returned. / 4.30pm Divisions. / 7.00pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship, in barge.
5th April 1915
That evening the BCF put to sea, escorted by the 2LCS, and eight destroyers of the 1DF. Along with the 3BS, 3CS and five destroyers of the 1DF, all setting out from Rosyth to undertake a sweep in the waters of the central North Sea:
Picket boats patrolling inner and outer nets with explosive sweeps and exploded same. 7.40pm raised steam unmoored. 11.30pm BCF sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
Proceeded to out old stamping ground, a gale started. Various intercepted wireless messages revealed that the ‘Wobbly Eight’ (the 3BS) and the ‘Sea Cows’ (the 3CS), were staggering in again, as the weather was so bad. We waited in vain for a signal that light-cruisers could return. We were required for screening the battle-cruisers. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 7.25am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 9.00am land Stokers party for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions and prayers. / 9.20am ‘B’ turret to Divisional drill, 4 inch reserve guns crews to drill. / 1.30pm land football parties. / 6.30pm furled nets, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors, in boats. / 9.10pm weighed and turned ship. / 9.30pm proceeded. / 11.20pm May Island abeam.
6th April 1915
despite the adverse weather, Queen Mary manage to perform some useful gunnery practice:
10am carried out sub-calibre firing. (Midshipman Bagot)
It appears that from one source, that the conditions in the North Sea during this sweep were not all that kind:
We spent most of our time plunging into it at 20 knots to get into station on big brutes of battle-cruisers doing 17 knots and going through the sea like submerged rocks. I believe their bridges are so high up that they are too far off to see how rough it is. We are low enough to feel it when a wave-top hops from the forecastle up to the bridge. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind W by S to S by E, force 3-6; sea state 2-5; air temp 44-46F; sea temp 41-45F. / 9.40am commenced Range keeping exercises with Tiger. / 9.27am finish range keeping exercise. / 10.18am zig-zagging. / 11.45am dropped target for sub-calibre firing and then ramming target. / 2.06pm course and speed up to 20 knots for PZ. with 2nd and 3rd BCS’s. / 3.52pm zig-zagging. / 6.00pm commenced PZ, approach tactics. / 6.30pm negative PZ.
7th April 1915
during this sweep Lion rejoined the BCF at sea, after her repairs on the Tyne to her Dogger Bank damage.
10am carried out sub-calibre and 4 inch day action firing. Starting watch keeping in top. 9.30pm carried out 4 inch night firing. (Midshipman Bagot)
The gale blew out that night (6/7th), and the next day was spent in going further north: That night we spread out in wide lines between Norway and the Shetlands and did night firing. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind SW to S by E, light airs, force 3-5; sea state 2-4; air temp 44-47F; sea temp 42-44F. / 4.45am zig-zagging. / 9.45am dropped target, 17 knots, for sub-calibre and four inch, afterwards ramming target. / 11.55am formed a single line ahead. / 4.00pm range keeping exercise. / 9.00pm dropped target, 15 knots, for four inch night firing. / 10.15pm secured.
8th April 1915
2.30am Queen Mary course north-nor-west 20 knots, going to assist Teutonic, who sighted suspicious looking vessels. 5.30am 16 points. 10am carried out range keeping exercises. 11.30pm arrived Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
North Sea. Armoured liner reported suspicious vessel, but disappeared. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Early in the morning we started south: One of our armed liners made a fool of herself by sending a wireless message to say she was being chased west by a large ship. Two of our squadron (2LCS) were detailed off to go and help her, and they turned north again. Daylight dawned, and they were well on their way to the North Pole, having seen nothing, when it transpired that the ‘large strange ship’ was the New York to Bergan mail-steamer. We did another PZ, and at noon received orders to return to base. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Only closing with the armed merchant cruiser, and some further practice, seems to have occupied the hands of the sweep, before the fleet return in rough seas to their secure billets past the Forth Bridge.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 16 - Wind SSW to WNW, force 1-2, increasing to 4-6; sea state 2-4; air temp 43-45F; sea temp 41-44F. / 11.30am 18 knots, commenced PZ with 2nd and 3rd BCS’s, approach tactics. / 4.10pm commenced range keeping exercise. / 4.45pm negative exercise. / 9.34pm May Island abeam / 11.40pm moored in A14 billet.
9th April 1915
It at once began to blow like Hades, and we got back at 1am in the teeth of a westerly gale. (King-Hall, Southampton)
6.30am coaled 1350 tons. 3pm finished. Lion rejoined with tripod mast. Vice-Admiral Beatty shifted flag to Lion. Rear-Admiral Brock to Princess Royal. (Midshipman Bagot)
Here was noted the flagships newly fitted supporting legs to the foremast. To follow later would be the installation of a director platform to her strengthened structure.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 12. / 0.30am remoored in A14 billet, set anchor watch. / 4.15am out boats, hands preparing for coaling ship. / 6.10am arrived Ethel Duncan. / 6.48am commenced coaling. / 8.00am Rear Admiral Brock's flag hoisted in Princess Royal. / 12.30pm finished coaling, received 1,139 tons. / 12.50pm collier sailed. / 7.00pm oil ship Clearfield alongside, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 8.30pm oil ship sailed, received 70 tons.
10th April 1915
Played golf. Bergen Norwegian paper reports firing in North Sea, coincide with our night firing on the 7th: (Midshipman Bagot)
A tramp steamer bound for America foolishly crossed our line of fire (on the 5th), and a few shells whistled harmlessly over her. Hence the tale later of a great battle in the North Sea, and accounts in the German Press of the British Fleet firing into each other at night. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 11. / 5.25am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.40am aired night clothing. / 8.45am Torpedo Party drawing high angle aerial searchlight from Rosyth dockyard. / 1.25pm hands painting ship’s side. / 6.30pm in boats.
11th April 1915
Sunday. 7pm prepared ship for sea. 11.30pm BCF Sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
We should not mind a week’s rest. No such luck. They say there is no rest for the wicked, and I think the BCF must be very sinful, for today, we are out again, having left for the east at 10pm. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Beatty’s battle-cruisers now set out from Rosyth, along with the 3BS, to join up with the GF sailing from Scapa Flow and Cromarty that evening, an apparently incongruous merging of the fast and nimble units of the BCF, with the slow veteran pre-dreadnoughts of the 3BS. Throughout that day, a number of vessels in the North Sea reported submarine activity. Including the Antrim and Neptune asserting positive sightings.
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 5.55am out 2nd picket boat. / 9.00am Wesleyans to Queen Mary. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 11.30am Church parties returned. / 6.45pm hands darkened ship and secured for sea. / 11.10pm weighed and proceeded.
12th April 1915
The battle-cruisers combine with the GF, to undertake battle exercises in waters which apparently by this stage in the war had a fair amount of flotsam. Some of it with a telling implication:
Misty. Patrolling middle of North Sea. 2.15pm passed naval uniform of sub-lieutenant in the water. (Midshipman Bagot)
In the afternoon we passed about a dozen Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish steamers. I remember one period when we used to go for days without seeing one. (Midshipman Tennyson)
On leaving May Island we steered due east until we were two-thirds of the way across to Denmark. We had hopes of something happening, as one always did have when the war was young and we thought the Germans had enterprise. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Number on sick list 9 - Wind variable, force 0-4; sea state 1-3; air temp 42-47F; sea temp 41-44F. / 0.15am course east, speed 20 knots. / 1.15am May Island abeam, exercised Sea Boat’s crew. / 6.15am 16.5 knots, commenced zig-zagging. / 10.04am commenced range keeping exercise. / 11.00am finished exercise, resumed original course, zig-zagging. / 1.55pm formed astern of Divisional guides.
13th April 1915
8am 1DF joined up took station each bow. 6pm rendezvous with BS. DF return to refuel. (Midshipman Bagot)
The first day out we remained in touch with the battle-cruisers, and we hoped that dawn would find us at action stations. Nothing of the sort, for we steamed about in glorious weather at 20 knots, with full speed at one hour’s notice. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind N to NW by W, light airs, force 0-2; sea state 2; air temp 43-48F; sea temp 42-44F. / Zig-zagging most of the day, multiple course changes, Sea Boat’s crew exercised regularly. / 1.50pm formed astern of Divisional guides, course NW by W.
THE SECOND ‘QUEEN MARY’
Mention has to be made, to a very unusual fact concerning Queen Mary, which occurred at Belfast on the 13 April 1915. Born from the simple premise that, in war deception can be said to be one of the most important weapons available to a commander. Involved in this area lay a number of very novel examples which have arisen over the years, to either assist in a particular stratagem, or lead to deceive an enemy as to the true nature of one’s exact strength, or deployment of forces. Into this very intriguing area of naval operations during the early phase of the Great War. One potentially telling and effective venture was conceived.
During research into Queen Mary, reference was found to one very obscure aspect of her history. This was the existence of a second Queen Mary (II) within the Royal Navy, during the period 1914 to 15, both ships serving together at the same time. Obviously this brief mention of a second ship to bear this name required further investigation, to discover something more about the origins, career and fate of this enigmatic double. The origins of this can be traced back to the 31 October 1914, with the return to office of Lord Fisher as the First Sea Lord: With this was instigated a number of novel ideas to advance the war effort. Amongst the many plans and proposals raise at this time was an interesting stratagem to confuse the enemy. With the agreement and full support of Admiral Sir Percy Scott, and First Lord Winston Churchill, a plan to apparently increase the size of the GF within a matter of months, by no less than ten battleships, and four battle-cruisers, was embarked upon.
This was the seed of the creation of what would become known officially at first as the 10BS, and later as the Special Service Squadron. However the unofficial title of the Dummy Dreadnoughts, was the name by which they soon became best known by, to the select few who were in the know, or who were to man them. With this last title, the real nature of the second Queen Mary (II) should now be obvious. She was a unit in this very special force of clandestine conversions.
As for the base structure for this particular duplication of Queen Mary, this was to be the White Star vessel Civic (to replace the Naronic) built in 1893, launched 23 September, for service as a livestock carrier capable of transporting 1,000 head of cattle. Her maiden voyage from Liverpool began on the 12 January the following year, heading for New York. Her return voyage had her loaded with 14,000 bushels of grain, 9,000 bales of cotton, 3,500 sacks of flour, 400 tons of metal, 300 tons of fresh meat, 8,400 packages of produce, besides 896 head of cattle, giving a clear indication of her capabilities as a general purpose carrier and not just for livestock. From 1908 she began a service to Australia, initially via the Cape of Good Hope, then by way of a trial she tried the Suez Canal. However because of her large mixed cargo then carried she grounded in the canal.
At the end of November 1914 she was taken in hand at the renown Belfast yard of the Messrs Harland and Wolff, were incidentally she had been built, for the necessary conversion work to begin. This yard was destined to carry out all fourteen merchantmen conversion in this decoy programme. Which was to entail a significant transformation of all the vessels involved. And from what has been discovered about the Civic, it is obvious that such transformations must have required some imagination, and ingenuity to successfully achieve, in its estimated three months of work to complete.
The ex-White Star vessel, although referred to by some as a liner, was in fact a member of a class of livestock carriers. She was a twin-screw vessel of 8,301 gross tons, compared to Queen Mary’s 29,680 tons. The quoted dimensions of the Civic mention a vessel some 500 feet between her perpendiculars, 523 feet overall, 60 feet 3 inch in the beam and with a maximum draught of 33 feet 9 inch. The respective figures for the battle-cruiser were 660 feet, 700 feet, 88 feet 6 inch, and 28 feet 10 inch. From a direct comparison between the original and decoy vessels lines, it was possible to determine how the transformation could be successfully carried out with structures of wood and canvas ingeniously designed to reproduce in some basic detail, such features as the cruiser stern, ram bow, turrets, guns, funnels, boats, masts and bridges. All of these features and structural attributes which were all to be built up around the merchantman’s retained basic hull, bridge and funnel/s arrangement. Obviously internally there was to be no resemblance between these two greatly dissimilar ships. In this area the only wartime concession for her crew being that caused by the envisaged mine threat. In this the ratings were now to be accommodated aft, with the officers amidships, and only stores were carried forward, were it was deemed that any mine damage would be most likely to occur.
This elaborate programme was divided into two distinct phases. The first initially embraced ten merchantmen, which were to be converted into dreadnoughts. A list of these merchantmen, identification number, into deceptive subject, speed and approximate displacement, is given below.
City of Oxford - No.1 - Into St. Vincent - 12 knots / 7,430 tons
Michigan - No.2 - Into Collingwood - 11 knots / 7,000 tons
Montezuma - No.3 - Into Iron Duke - 10 knots / 15,250 tons
Ruthenia - No.4 - Into King George V - 12 knots / 11,850 tons
Tyrolia - No.5 - Into Centurion - 12 knots / 11,850 tons
Oruba - No.6 - Into Orion - 15 knots / 9,800 tons
Mount Royal - No.7 - Marlborough - 12 knots / 15,000 tons
Montcalm - No.8 - Into Audacious - 12 knots / 11,800 tons
Kronprinzessin Cecilie - No.9 - Into Ajax - 15 knots / 8,684t
Perthshire - No.10 - Into Vanguard - 7 knots / 7,000 tons
In the second phase of the programme, the four additional dummy ‘Battle-cruiser’ hulls followed shortly after.
Manipur - No.11 - Into Indomitable - 12 knots / 16,500 tons
Cevic - No.12 - Into Queen Mary - 13 knots / 8,301t
Patrician - No.13 - Into Invincible - 13 knots / 7,000 tons
Merion - No.14 - Into Tiger - 12 knots / 7,000 tons
At the end of this entire exercise, it was calculated that an estimated one million pounds had been spent on these fourteen conversions. The first of these conversions to be completed entered Scapa Flow on the 7 December 1914, these being the converted Michigan and City of Oxford: But as for their future employment and deployment with the GF, this aspect of the deception was now to prove to be a novel one for those in command of the GF to resolve.
The disguise of the ships was carried out very cleverly, though presumably at considerable expense. They would have been of value had it been possible to select vessels of a suitable speed, but the highest speed attainable by any vessel in the squadron was no more than nine to tenkts, whilst the speed of the squadron as a whole did not exceed sevenkts. The ships could not under these conditions accompany the fleet to sea, and it was very difficult to find a use for them in home waters. (Admiral Jellicoe)
Here had been brought to the fore the single most telling feature about these ships particulars, and how they could only be of limited use to him. The governing factor here was their speed, which was significantly lower than the 20 to 21 knots capability of his BF. Whereas Queen Mary was capable of achieving 27 knots, her decoy was only able to produce a maximum 13 knots from her 3,700 horse power arrangement, a telling indication of the difference in performance between these two vessel types.
This growing squadron was initially sent to the west coast of Scotland, being based at Loch Ewe for training in the still envisaged primary role of a decoy squadron. In this the ships were drilled in such a fashion that they could perform fleet movements and evolutions quite well, after a while. Besides their limited speed, another Major problem concerning the employment of the conversions at sea soon became apparent. All those cleverly fashioned disguises proved themselves to be unable to face up to rough weather. The external fittings were too Frail, all except for smooth water cruising. Favourable conditions which the sweeps of the GF were certainly not always blessed with.
It was soon accepted that as a decoy BS they were of no great tactical value to the GF. But it was realised that they could still be found useful strategic employment, as either small detachments, or individual units deployed in distant waters. In this capacity these dummy capital ships were now to serve briefly with some distinction. For the ‘battle-cruiser’ component a specific duty was soon to be found.
The start of the Dardanelles campaign saw each ship in the ‘squadron’ fitted with a short distance wireless and a single 3 pound gun, the sole armament they were to ever carry, prior to their voyage to the eastern Mediterranean. In this it had been intended that the four ‘battle-cruisers’ should have sailed on the 16 February 1915. However due to striking a rock just after leaving Loch Ewe four days earlier, Queen Mary (II) had to put back for repairs. Only the Indomitable (II) and Tiger (II) actually managed to leave on the evening of the 19th, and this pair duly arrived in the Aegean in early March.
The Invincible (II) followed later to join her sisters, which left Queen Mary (II) which was destined to remain in home waters. This can be attributed to her earlier grounding repairs in February, followed by further repairs following her grounding off Rathin Island in fog on the 10 April 1915 shortly after she had left Belfast, requiring further repairs.
But it was not to be long before another duty for her was found: It was appreciated at this time that British capital ship at this stage in the war were too widely stretched to cover all the vulnerable sea-lanes of the Empire, and prevent German sea trade. So Queen Mary (II) was called upon to help fill this gap, her new primary duty was now to help patrol the waters off New York and the eastern seaboard of America, watching out for any suspicious vessels. It should be noted that the dispatch of the Princess Royal on such a deployment in 1914 had greatly weakened Vice-Admiral Beatty’s squadron at a critical period. A decoy could now look after this particular duty quite satisfactorily.
On the 13 April 1915 Queen Mary (II) was duly sent across the Atlantic, with the intention of having her exhibit herself distantly to steamers, and thereby let the news be known abroad that a British ‘battle-cruiser’ was now on station off that coast. Her duty here was to primarily deter, and prevent interned German merchant ships trying to leave for home, especially the recently interned German raider Kronprinz Wilhelm. Such a stratagem might also have had the added benefit of misleading the German HSF into venturing out against a supposedly weakened GF, and thereby bring the elusive enemy to battle.
She was on station off New York from early on the morning of the 25 of April. On this post a number of German vessels in American ports were deemed ready to challenge the British blockade. Queen Mary (II) was destined to remain here for some time, until the Americans gave a firm assurance of their determination to maintain a close watch on these enemy merchantmen and prevent them from sailing. Only then did this enable Queen Mary (II) to return home from her passive but successful duties in the North Atlantic.
Within a year of their conversion the squadron was disbanded, and the thirteen remaining ships and personnel reverted back once more to conventional maritime duties in wartime. The one loss to the squadron during its service was the Tiger (II), sunk in the eastern Aegean by a U-boat on the 30 May 1915, just off the Island of Strati, with the loss of four men. But 117 others survived the sinking to be eventually brought home by the Invincible (II) and Indomitable (II) at the conclusion of their Dardanelles venture.
A number of decoys were expended as breakwaters off Aegean harbours, but most were to see out the Great War as oilers and fleet tenders. For Queen Mary (II) this process entailed her official termination of service with the Special Service Squadron in September 1915, prior to her undergoing conversion work back to other vital duties at Harland and Wolff. This time becoming a fleet oiler (with noted circular tanks), re-named the Bayol. She was subsequently transferred to the Shipping Controller in 1917 and was renamed Bayleaf under the management of Labe & McAndrews as an oiler servicing shore establishments. On the 9 June 1920 she was sold to the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Co (Shell) for use as a depot ship in New York and was renamed Pyrula. She was transferred to Curacao in 1925 by now being classified as a depot ship and oil hulk. Finally the veteran was sold on the 25 July 1933 to Henrico Haupt at Genoa for breaking up.
All in all this is an interesting and little known about aspect of this battle-cruisers overall story, embracing the chequered career of a little known civilian vessel. But returning to the principle Queen Mary’s latest sweep.
14th April 1915
9.45am Princess Royal sighted submarine 5 miles, conning tower above water. Squadron turned 8 points away, at full speed ahead to clear. 10.10am Lion fired at floating spar. 3.45pm Princess Royal sighted submarine evidently making an attack on 2BCS, 5 miles on beam. Topsail schooner was in the area in both cases. Dutch steamer Kativigh torpedoed by German submarine while at anchor in Dutch waters. (Midshipman Bagot)
6.30pm this time a submarine really was sighted behind a Danish schooner. (Midshipman Tennyson)
A glorious day. We are zigzagging along at 28 knots, and are due to reach May Island at 3am. We caught a far-off glimpse of the serried lines of the BF. Also on this day submarines began to be reported around us, one being seen by the Roxburgh and one by Lion, though when I looked up the signalled position of this latter Fritz, I remembered that we had passed through a shoal of porpoises about an hour previously on that spot. (King-Hall, Southampton)
The conclusion of this sweep was obviously eventful because of these submarine ‘sightings’ throughout the day, which must have made it a rather interesting return passage back to base.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind light and variable, force 0-2, increasing to 4; sea state 1–3; air temp 43-48F; sea temp 41-44F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boat’s crew. / 9.34am submarine sighted to Starboard, 2,000 yards, altered course, 22 knots. / 9.54am 18 knots, formed astern of Divisional guides. / 10.16am commenced range keeping exercise. / 10.44am exercise finished. / 10.56 to 11.23am another range keeping exercise. / 11.30am zig-zagging. / 3.46pm sighted submarine 1 point on starboard bow, distant 5,000 yards. / 8.00pm finished zig-zagging. / 11.20pm sighted St Abbs Head.
15th April 1915
3am arrived Rosyth: 5.30am coaled 1,050 tons. 11am finished coaling. Banked fires, short notice. 7.30pm airship sighted over Inchkeith: (Midshipman Bagot)
This craft must have been British, since the only noted Zeppelin raid at this time was by the Naval L.9 on the 14th, which dropped 31 bombs on Tyneside, causing slight damage and only two casualties.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 13. / 0.48am took guide of the fleet. / 1.15am May Island abeam. / 3.00am moored in A13 billet. / 3.45am collier Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.00am commenced coaling. / 5.45am oiler alongside. / 9.30am oiler sailed Russian Prince, received 225 tons. / 10.45am finished coaling 1,157 tons. / 11.30am collier Ethel Duncan left. / 6.50pm in 2nd picket boat.
16th April 1915
2.30am Edinburgh warned of aerial attack. Lyon attacked by Zeppelin, little damage. (Midshipman Bagot)
The Scottish capital was never under threat at this time, her turn would come almost one year later by the L.14. While the French city of Lyon, would only see the crippled L.45 pass over harmlessly, in October 1917.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30 to 10.00am General Quarters. / 12.40pm set anchor watch. / 1.10pm let go sheet anchor. / 2.50pm weighed and secured sheet anchor. / 4.45pm moored in A13 billet. / 5.10pm Divisions.
17th April 1915
The GF put to sea for a sweep of the lower North Sea down to the vicinity of Little Fisher Bank, with Queen Mary and her consorts sailing that evening in support:
Played golf course. 10pm BCF, 3BS sailed, steering east-sou-east 20 knots, LCS screen 10 miles ahead, DF protecting battle-cruisers. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 5.30am out launch. / 7.00am hands aired bedding. / 8.45am aired night clothing. / 9.00am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.45am otter alongside with 4 inch ammunition. / 11.35am stand by bedding. / 11.45am stand by night clothing. / 1.30pm hands painting ship’s side. / 4.30pm alongside Otter with stores. / 5.35pm in launch, replaced 2nd picket boat’s boiler. / 6.30pm weighed sheet anchor. / 8.25pm unmoored and weighed, eastern anchor shortened in to three shackles. / 10.40pm weighed and proceeded for leaving harbour, exercised Sea Boats crew.
18th April 1915
5pm 160 miles from Heligoland, steam for full speed. 16 points returning to coal, submarine reported of Firth of Forth: News of E.15 lost in Dardanelles crew taken prisoners, submarine was torpedoed by armed picket boat. 11pm arrived Rosyth. (Midshipman Bagot)
The E.15 had run aground off Kephez Point in the Narrows leading to the Sea of Marmora on the 15th, and had been shelled by the Turkish batteries into submission. However the submarine was successfully destroyed on the following night by the Royal Navy, to prevent her from falling into enemy hands. The BCF had been deployed well ahead south of the BF. No enemy vessels were sighted, and the whole fleet was turned north at dusk, for an early return to base after sweeping the waters of Little Fisher Bank.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind W by S to SW by S, force 2-5; sea state 1-4; air temp 43-47F; sea temp 41-44F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 1.00pm altered course SE, 17 knots, zig-zagging. / 7.45pm negative zig-zagging.
19th April 1915
Beatty’s battle-cruisers returned to their mooring in the early hours of that morning, as the dreadnought BF along with the 1/2/7CS’s proceed to the east of the Shetland’s, were it was to undertake target practice during that day and the following night before returning to their bases. As for Queen Mary this days coaling held a special significance:
5.30am commenced coaling. 10am finished coaling 950 tons. Average for one and a quarter hours, 402t. This make a record since the ship was commissioned. Played golf in afternoon. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Wind W by S to SW, force 4–6, decreasing to 1-3; sea state 1-5; air temp 43-49F; sea temp 42-45F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 11.15am range keeping exercise. / 11.45am finished exercise. / 8.49pm May Island abeam. / 10.55pm moored in A13 billet. / 11.35pm let go sheet anchor.
20th April 1915
On-board the day had been quiet, but towards evening, intelligence intercepts meant that the squadron again stirred and prepared for sea:
6pm reduced to 1 hour’s notice. 8pm unmoored, steam for 22 knots. 11pm BCF sailed, and 1DF, also 3BS. BCF course east-sou-east 20 knots. Rumour that all auxiliary patrols have been withdrawn owing to expected raid. (Midshipman Bagot)
Prepared for sea in the dog-watches, and every indication of going out. Slipped out at 9.15pm went over towards Horns Reef in beautiful weather, passed through the usual line of Dutch trawlers, and kept a sharp lookout for pigeons (messengers). We all suspected this party, they always seem to be fishing in a patrol line across the approaches to the Bight. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 16. / 5.15am collier Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.50am commenced coaling. / 10.45am finished coaling, received 1,150 tons. / 11.00am cast off collier. / 11.30am secured Oiler Russian Prince. / 1.00pm sailed oil ship, received 98 tons. / 8.45pm away Guard Boat.
21st April 1915
This hurried departure was to support the Fleets blockading operations in the North Sea from a possible enemy raid. With the battle-cruisers advancing towards the Danish coast throughout the day, before reversing course that evening:
9am full speed one hour’s notice. 5pm position about 140 miles northwest from Heligoland, turned 16 points. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea - Number on sick list 18, 2 hospital. / 8.45am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters, A turret to control. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 6.45pm darkened ship and prepared for sea. / 7.00pm weighed sheet anchor. / 8.30pm shortened in to three shackles. / 11.00pm weighed and proceeded, exercised Sea Boats crew.
22nd April 1915
Throughout this time the bulk of the GF was to the north in support of the battle-cruiser vanguard: Both elements now combined at 4.30pm before each separated to retiring to their respective bases:
Carried out range keeping exercises. Returning to coal. Reported floating mines in Firth of Forth: 11pm Arrived Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Passed a Norwegian sailing-ship burning furiously, she had evidently been caught by a Fritz a few hour’s previously. We saw no sign of any survivors or Fritz’s. Did PZ and returned home. (King-Hall, Southampton)
During this extensive sweep, and the previous one deep into the southern North Sea, a large number of neutral steamers and trawlers had been intercepted and examined, but nothing vital was discovered. Except for one suspicious Norwegian vessel had been sent into the Firth of Forth, for a more detailed investigation and search.
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea – Sick list 12, 2 hospital - Wind NNE to NE, force 1-2; sea state 2, NNE swell; air temp 38-46F; sea temp 42-44F. / 1.06am May Island abeam. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew, zig-zagging. / 8.00pm finished zig-zagging.
23rd April 1915
The crew of Queen Mary were again to clearly display their abilities at the demanding task of coaling today. With yet another noted high intake, and absorb another rumour:
5.10am commenced coaling 1,060 tons. 9.10am finished coaling, average coaling 318t per hour, record average for 1BCS. Rumour that German squadron came out to the borders of a minefield expecting us to chase. It is said that Beatty wanted to risk it only Admiral Jellicoe would not let him. 3BS is said to have been within 10 miles of them. German papers now report German Fleet having put to sea and not met the English Fleet. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 16, 2 hospital - Wind variable, force 0-4; sea state 0-3; air temp 42-48F; sea temp 42-45F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 7.30am took station 5 miles from Lion. / 7.45am commenced zig-zagging. / 10.08am course and speed for ‘PZ’ with the 2BCS, approach tactics. / 10.32am negative PZ Formed single line ahead. / 4.45pm courses and speeds for range keeping exercise. / 9.09pm May Island abeam. 11.00pm moored in A13 billet.
24th April 1915
Sunday. Four hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
Amazing day. We’ve been twenty-four hours’ stand off. The engineers are delighted, as we have done 5,000 miles at high speed this month: (King-Hall, Southampton
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18, 2 hospital. / 4.30am arrived Collier Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.00am commenced coaling. / 8.50am finished coaling, received 960 tons. / 9.15am cast off collier. / PM hands make and mend. / 1.00pm alongside oil tank Attendant. / 2.30pm sailed oil tank, received 130 tons.
25th April 1915
The following week was to prove to be relatively uneventful one for those on-board Queen Mary, and the BCF in general. Obviously allowing for some maintenance to be carried out. Only the departure of a consort for a refit on the Tyne, Japanese Naval observer leaving, noted happenings in the war further afield, and some Zeppelin raids at home, filling journals and diaries:
4pm Invincible sailed, escorted by four destroyers of 1st flotilla. Rumours of all German submarines being recalled owing to extensive mine field being laid by Germans. In the western theatre of the war, the Germans are now making their second effort to reach Paris. In the Dardanelles we are landing troops in order to attack Constantinople from land: (Midshipman Bagot)
I played golf. It was a perfectly gorgeous day, with the trees just beginning to put on their fresh green and the birds just beginning to sing, a joy to be ashore. The days before have been bitterly cold. In fact I think this is easily the worst month we have had. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15, 2 hospital. / 6.00am out boats. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to Tiger. / 10.15am held Divine Service. / 11.15am Church parties returned.
26th April 1915
Recommenced bombarding Dardanelles in conjunction with land force on Gallipoli. (Midshipman Bagot)
A noting of the start of the ill-fated Allied assault on the Gallipoli peninsula of the previous day.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15, 3 hospital. / 5.40am out boats. / 8.45am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.20am exercised General Quarters. / 9.50am secured. / 10.00am hands cleaning and preparing ship for painting, ‘A’ turret control drill. / 1.00pm land Watch for exercise. / 1.30pm hands painting ship. / 7.00pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
27th April 1915
19th Birthday. To-day I got a dear little edition of the ‘Golden Treasury’ from father, which I am delighted to have, as I believe it is the one he read out of the last night I was at home. ... I find it is a great thing, and helps with our enforced inactivity, to read poetry, though of course just lately I am glad to say inactivity has not been the case. I do not think ‘Der Tag’ is very far off somehow. ... I have absolutely everything I want, and the only thing I have room for is another sponge cake. (Midshipman Tennyson)
Captain Baron Abo left ship for Japan. Leon Gambetta torpedoed in Mediterranean. (Midshipman Bagot)
This veteran French armoured-cruiser had succumbed to the Austro-Hungarian U.5, in the Straits of Otranto on the night of the 26th/27th.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 6.00am out boats, hands painting ship’s side. / 9.00am land Stokers for exercise. / 11.40am landing parties returned. / 1.10pm land Watch and football parties. / 1.30pm hands painting ship, Stokers painting funnels, in fourth cutter. / 7.00pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
28th April 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 9.45am secured. / 9.50am training classes to instructions, hands painting. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise, Boys to instruction, hands painting ship. / 3.45pm landing party returned. / 5.00pm held Boxing competition. / 7.45pm arrived Leicester alongside with stores and provisions. / 8.15pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors, watch for exercise provisioning ship. / 11.30pm cast off store ship.
29th April 1915
Air raid with incendiary bombs on east coast. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.45am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.30am to 10.00am exercised General Quarters, training classes to instructions. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 1.25pm training classes to instruction, hands painting ship. / 6.00pm in boats.
30th April 1915
Air raid over Norfolk and Suffolk. (Midshipman Bagot)
This reference to raids on the east coast might be very belated accounts of the first raid on Norfolk by airships L.3 and L.4 on the night of the 19th/20th January. As there were no other air raids against Britain in April. There was only some German Army airship activity over France, in which the Z.X and LZ.35 were lost.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out boats. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.30am to 10.30am exercised General Quarters, rest paint ship, 4 inch to dotter. / 1.10pm land watch for exercise. / 9.30pm sent Guard Boat away.
1st May 1915
While Queen Mary lay at Rosyth, receiving her new Japanese observer, there was a certain liveliness out in the North Sea between light forces:
Torpedo-boat destroyer Recruit sunk by German submarine, 4 officers and 21 men saved by trawler. During the afternoon two German destroyers attacked and torpedoed a trawler, but were chased by a Division of our destroyers. Lawford, Lark, Laforey and Liondas, which sunk the German destroyer, saving 2 officers and 44 men. No British loss, chase lasted about 1 hour. Japanese Attache Commander Suetsuju arrived. 8.30pm 1DF and 1LCS sailed. 9pm One hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea - Number on sick list nil. / 1.15am sent Guard Boat away. / 5.30am out boats. / 12.45pm hands to payment. / 6.00pm in motor barge. / 7.30pm prepared ship for sea, in boats. / 8.30pm working cables. / 10.15pm weighed and proceeded, speeds up to 20 knots, exercise Sea Boats crew.
2nd May 1915
Princess Royal - At sea and at Cromarty - Number on sick list 9 - Wind N to NW, force 2-5; sea state 2-3; air temp 41-45F; sea temp 40-43F. / 0.20am May Island abeam / 3.00am commenced zig-zagging. / 11.00am held Divine Service. / 11.40am passed a quantity of timber strewn over the sea. / 7.15pm challenged Destroyer Flotilla on port bow. / 10.07pm Tarbet Ness abeam. / 11.52pm came to starboard anchor, six shackles in 9 fathoms.
3rd May 1915
5.30am coaled 280 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Cromarty. / 3.27am weighed and proceeded for mooring. 3.45am moored in No.25 billet with six shackles on each in 11 fathoms. / 4.30am alongside oil ship Potomac. / 7.15am land Red Watch libertymen until Friday, May 7th 6.30am. / 11.00am secured Floating Crane alongside. / 1.30pm refitting ship. / 8.30pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 11.20pm sailed Potomac.
4th May 1915
1DF and LCS returned. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 7.10am dockyard workmen came on-board. / 9.05am hands refitting ship. / PM special leave to 1st part of Green Watch from 4.0pm to 8.0pm. / 4.10pm land patrol and liberty men. / 8.15pm liberty men returned.
5th May 1915
Besides this return of these light units from their sweep, this individual also noted other movements in the continual rotation of naval forces blockading Germany:
3BS, 3CS and 1DF sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 2.00am commenced unmooring. / 2.35am parted port cable at the sixth shackle. Lost overboard by accident, one Bower Anchor shackles, Byers, 150 cwt; omne anchor shackle 3 inch; one swivel piece 3 inch; one lengthening piece 28 feet; 6 shackles of 3 inch cable. / 3.30am weighed and proceeded into Floating dock. / 4.50am cleaning ship's bottom. Lost by accident, one Reindeer buoy and sinker marking position of starboard anchor. / 7.10am dockyardmen came on-board. / AM-PM scrubbing ship’s bottom, mooring lighter picked up lost anchor and cable. / 5.30pm exercised fire party. / 12 midnight dockyardmen left ship.
6th May 1915
Lying for days at two and a half hours’ notice, which means that one can land for an hour or so in sight of the ship. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 7.10am dockyardmen came on-board. / 9.00am ranging cable. / 3.45pm land liberty men and patrol. / 5.30pm exercised fire party. / 8.20pm liberty men and patrol returned.
7th May 1915
Lusitania torpedoed 8 miles southwest Kinsale Head. Over 1,200 people drowned. Two torpedoes were fired and she sank in 20 minutes. (Midshipman Bagot)
This was shocking news to all, concerning the loss of this crack Cunard liner to U.20 (Kapitanleutnant Walther Schweiger) with the loss of 1,198 lives out of a crew of 651 and a passenger list of 1,255. With this one act the U-boat campaign appeared to have taken on a new intensity.
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / AM Red Watch returned off leave, Green Watch proceeded on leave till Tuesday. / 1.30pm hands refitting ship. 6.00pm exercised fire quarters.
8th May 1915
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 9.00am refitting ship. / PM special leave to second part of Red Watch 5.00pm to 8.30pm. / 2.35pm three Blacksmiths arrived on-board. / 8.40pm liberty men returned.
9th May 1915
Throughout this period there was to be a considerable cruiser, destroyer and armed merchantmen participation in the successful blockade of Germany. With the battle-cruisers held in reserve in case intelligence detected any heavy enemy moves.
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 6.30am cleaning ship. / 8.35am hands working cable. PM special leave to first part of Red Watch 4.00pm to 8.00pm. / 1.25pm hands surveying cable. / 4.30pm land liberty men. / 6.00pm exercised fire party. / 8.00pm liberty men returned.
10th May 1915
Sailed 1st and 2nd destroyer flotillas. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 8.35am hands refitting, surveying cable. / 1.25pm hands striking down cable. / 6.00pm flooded Dock.
11th May 1915
Land for route March. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Invergordon. / 2.15pm Green Watch returned from leave.
12th May 1915
Princess Royal -Invergordon. / 11.00am proceeded out of Floating Dock. / 11.40am moored in No.26 billet. / 1.00pm oil ship made fast alongside. / 1.20pm commenced coaling from Collier Fernhill. / 4.30pm hands coaling ship. / 6.45pm finished coaling. / 7.15pm sailed collier Fernhill. / 8.30pm oiler left. / 10.30pm workmen left ship.
13th May 1915
The old pre-Dreadnought Goliath, was sunk by a daring Turkish destroyer in the Dardanelles.
Princess Royal - Invergordon - Number on sick list 16. / 10.30am weighed, left billet so that Marlborough might enter floating dock. / 11.30am came to port anchor between Nos.35 and 26 berths. / 1.30 to 2.15pm exercised General Quarters, testing new Director. / 2.30pm in barge. / 8.30pm secured for sea, in boats, closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship. / 11.45pm shortened in to three shackles.
14th May 1915
As with the flagship, her sister returned to Rosyth with support legs to her foremast, preparatory to her later adoption of a director:
11pm arrived Princess Royal after having had tripod mast fitted. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Invergordon and at sea. / 0.00am weighed and proceeded out of harbour. / 2.15am commenced zig-zagging. / AM-PM exercised sea boat’s crew. / 9.30pm stopped zig-zagging.
15th May 1915
Sunday. Princess Irene, mine-layer CPR, blown up at Port Victory, Medway. (Midshipman Bagot)
The total loss of this 5,934t minelayer conversion, commissioned just that February, was due to an accidental internal explosion. Not the last incident of its kind during the Great War.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 0.36am May Island abeam. / 3.00am moored in No.11 billet (new Nos). / 5.15am arrived alongside collier Ethel Duncan. / 6.20am commenced coaling. / 9.10am finished coaling, received 620 tons. / 9.30am cast off collier. / 7.10pm closed ‘B’ doors, in second Picket Boat.
16th May 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18, 3 hospital. / 5.55am hands cleaning ship, out boats. / 10.05am sent Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 11.30am Roman Catholics returned. / 6.30pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors.
17th May 1915
Today the GF embarked for a sweep of the central North Sea from its northern bases, with the battle-cruisers departing from Rosyth in support:
8.30pm BCS, LCS, and DF Sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 2.45am arrived Invincible and four destroyers. / 5.40am out boats. / 7.00am Hands aired bedding. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 9.55am secured. / 10.00am training classes to instruction. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 4.00pm Divisions. / 7.15pm unmoored and weighed, for leaving harbour. / 11.00pm May Island abeam.
18th May 1915
A rendezvous point some 80 miles east of Aberdeen was made between these elements. A sedate 16kt southward sweep was undertaken that morning, before returning to Rosyth that afternoon. In this sweep the BCF had been again stationed some 30 to 50 miles ahead of the BF in what was becoming a standard fleet deployment:
1pm turned 16 points, returning to coal. 6pm Lion departed for Cromarty. 12pm arrived Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea, central North Sea, and at Rosyth - Wind ENE to NNE, force 2-3; sea state 1-2, NE swell; air temp 45-52F; sea temp 40-47F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 3.04am formed line abreast to port, ships 0.5 mile apart. / 3.20am commenced zig-zagging. / 8.11am formed line abreast, 0.5 mile apart. / 4.50pm Lion parted company. / 8.45pm formed single line ahead. / 10.21pm May Island abeam.
19th May 1915
4.30am coaled 550 tons. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 20. / 0.12am port anchor, moored in No.11 billet. / 4.50am arrived Ethel Duncan, collier’s gear tested and found correct. / 5.30am commenced coaling. / 8.15am finished coaling, received 600 tons. / 8.45am collier shoved off. / 1.40pm training classes to instruction. / 4.00pm alongside oiler. / 5.15pm cast off oiler, received 66 tons. / 6.45pm in boats, closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.30pm sent Guard Boat away.
20th May 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 20. / 1.00am guard boat away. / 8.45am exercised Net Defence gear . / 10.40am training classes to instruction, 4 inch Gunlayers at dotter. / 1.10pm Green Watch land for exercise. / 4.15pm Green Watch returned, hoisted in floating rafts from Otter. / 10.15pm sailed New Zealand and two destroyers.
21st May 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out boats. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions, hands to physical drill. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 10.20am secured. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 7.30pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors.
22nd May 1915
Sunday. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.25am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 7.50am land one prisoner and escort. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.25am Divisions, aired night clothing. / 9.50am arrived Lion with destroyers. / 10.15am hands cleaning flour from starboard flour hold. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.30pm prepared to take in stores. / 7.00pm arrived storeship Industry. / 11.10pm cast off Industry.
23rd May 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 17. / 5.55am out picket boat. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to Invincible. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 11.30am Roman Catholics returned. / 6.30pm held Evening Service. / 7.00pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors. / 8.40pm darken ship.
24th May 1915
Land for route March. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.20am Boy Dobson fell overboard, sent away picket boat, picked up by Lion. / 5.50am aired bedding. / 9.30am training classes to instructions, hands painting ship’s side. / 11.20am down all bedding. / 1.10pm Green watch and Boys football team land at Rosyth. / 4.00pm landing parties returned. / 4.30pm Divisions. / 7.00pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors.
25th May 1915
The pre-Dreadnought Triumph, was sunk by a submarine off the Dardanelles. The Italian fleet commenced operations in the Adriatic.
Princess Royal - 25 May 1915 - Rosyth - Number on sick list 20. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 9.30am to 9.50am exercised General Quarters. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 8.40pm in boats, closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship.
26th May 1915
2am arrived Iron Duke. C-in-C struck flag and proceeded to town. (Midshipman Bagot)
This was the noted arrival of Admiral Jellicoe at Rosyth to travel onto London for consultations at the Admiralty, leaving his flagship to return to Scapa the next day. As for developments within the BCF, Rear-Admiral the Hon. Horace Hood, hoisted his flag in the Invincible, in command of the 3BCS at Rosyth.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.20am divers away in launch for monthly dip. / 9.20am to 9.50am exercised General Quarters. / 10.00am ‘X’ turret to Divisional drill. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 2.00pm diving party returned. / 4.00pm in launch, prepared to provision ship.
27th May 1915
10pm sailed Iron Duke. (Midshipman Bagot)
A British naval squadron joined Italian fleet in the Adriatic. The Pre-Dreadnought Majestic was sunk by submarine at the Dardanelles.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15, 4 hospital. / 5.30am secured alongside SS Leicester, hands provisioning and cleaning ship. / 10.30am to 11.00am exercised General Quarters. / AM-PM training classes and Boys to instruction. / 1.10pm out second picket boat, land Watch for exercise. / 4.00pm Divisions. / 7.00pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors.
28th May 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 9.30am to 10.35am exercised General Quarters. / AM-PM training classes and Boys to instruction. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise and Boys’ football team. / 4.00pm in launch.
29th May 1915
The BCF again departed from Rosyth, and the GF from its northern bases, all heading for another sweep off the Dogger Bank:
11pm BCS, LCS and DF Sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
The whole party went to sea, a dud stunt. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 4.15am out boats. / 4.30am secured alongside Ethel Duncan. / 5.20am commenced coaling. / 6.35am finished, received 310 tons. / 7.00am hands cleaning ship, collier sailed. / 10.15pm unmoored and weighed western anchor. / 11.50pm proceeded. ===30th May 1915===A union of the main capital ship elements was made at 7.15am some 100 miles northeast of Aberdeen. The force then steered to the southward at 17 knots, towards the Heligoland Bight:
Course southeast, passed a lot of floating timber. 3pm 16 points. 3.30pm Tiger dispatched to Cromarty. 7pm returning to coal. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea, central North Sea - Wind NNE to NW by W, force 2-6; sea state 2, NE swell; air temp 45-50F; sea temp 46-48F. / 3.20am station 5 cables on port beam of Flag, zig-zagging, exercise Sea Boats. / 7.47am formed on port beam of Lion, 5 cables. / 11.30am formed on a line of bearing from Lion. / 6.50pm formed astern of Lion 2.5 cables. / 7.00pm altered course, Tiger proceeded. / 10.00pm formed single line ahead.
31st May 1915
Regrettably this return passage was not to be without incident:
1am while entering Firth of Forth we ran into, and supposed to have sunk a sailing ketch, with no lights, and carried away her anchor and a fathom of cable on our aftermost starboard torpedo boom. 2am arrived Rosyth: 5am coaled 565t. (Midshipman Bagot)
Yet again this midshipman highlights an obscure incident in Queen Mary’s story, one which was to have consequences for those on the bridge later that year, at a Court Martial. Over London the three Army Zeppelins made the first raids on the capital.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 23. / 0.51am May Island abeam. / 2.35am moored in A11 billet. / 5.15am alongside Ethel Duncan. / 5.50am commenced coaling. / 7.55am finished, 540 tons. / 8.15am sailed collier, surveyed coaling gear. / 9.00am oil tank alongside. / 10.45am oiler sailed, received 60 tons. / 2.45pm lent one Rating to Queen Mary and one Rating returned. / 10.00pm away Guard Boat.
1st June 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 25. / 0.00am observed a fire in Rosyth dockyard prepared fire engines for landing. / 0.45am fire apparently extinguished. / 5.45am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 5.50am veered swivel and secured cable. / 9.30am to 10.00am General Quarters. / 10.10am training classes to instructions, 4 inch Gunlayers to dotter. / 12.40pm hands mustered for payment. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.25pm training classes to instructions, 4 inch Gunlayers to dotter. / 5.30pm Boys to physical drill. / 8.30pm in boats and closed ‘B’ doors, darkened ship.
2nd June 1915
This month was to see two midshipmen central to this research struck down, one by illness, the other by an accident. Around this time Tennyson was involved in a motorcycle mishap from which he was sent to the hospital at Queensferry. Later he was later to write to his brother Aubrey:
How nice of you to write to me when you must have such heaps to do. This is really rather sickening after the way every one has always said, ‘Those horrible motor-bikes’, but it was absolutely unavoidable, pure fate, in fact that we should both collide at that instant. I was going along a straight bit of road, and he came out of a side road, which I didn’t even know the existence of, and in fact it was a farm track. The only thing for me to do was to smack on speed and try to get round his bows, which I did, but collided with the starboard bow light, and dived through the windscreen, most annoying, as I shall not get the ‘glad eye’ so often as the result!. I only wish it had been done in battle, as it would have been worth it. I have been extremely lucky, as my knee-joint was opened up, and it really seems as if I were going to be all right with any luck. My scars healed up in an incredibly short time. I get a month’s leave, which. Provided I do not miss a fight, will be heavenly, as I have only had four days in the last 18 months. (Midshipman Tennyson, letter to Aubrey)
I caught Rubella and was taken to Leven Hospital Linlithgow. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 0.30pm exercised Night Boats crew. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am to 10.05am General Quarters. / 10.10am training classes and Boys to instructions, ‘Q’ turret at Divisional drill. / 1.30pm land Red Watch for exercise, training classes to instructions. / 8.45pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
3rd June 1915
Land for route March. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 24. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise, hands working cable to examine swivel. / 9.30-10.05am General Quarters, training classes and Boys to instructions. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 1.30pm training classes to instructions. / 5.20pm Boys to physical drill. / 7.15pm collier alongside with motor launch, in boats, launch to dockyard. / 8.00pm sailed collier.
4th June 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 19. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.30am training, 4 inch to dotter, X turret Divisional drill, tested life buoys. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 5.30pm Boys to physical drill.
5th June 1915
It was now that the ill Bagot relinquished his journal to a friend: A gap would now have obviously appeared in the record, but for this fortunate assistance in providing some details from a new bias:
I’m indebted to Melville Seymour for my log till July 13th: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18. / 5.30am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 1.45pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 5.15pm Divisions.
6th June 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18. / 6.00am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 10,00am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.20am held Divine Service. / 10.00pm sailed New Zealand and two TBDs, away Guard Boat.
7th June 1915
The German airship LZ.37 was destroyed in mid-air by LieutenantWarneford, RNAS near Ghent, the first occasion of an airship successfully attacked by aeroplane.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.05am shore Battery at South Queensferry fired three rounds. / 2.00am away Guard Boat. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 8.55am worked cable, examined swivel. / 10.05am training classes, painting ship’s side, 4 inch Gunlayers to dotter. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise.
8th June 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 4.40am arrived collier Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.00am commenced coaling. / 6.25am finished coaling, received 300 tons. / 6.45am sailed collier, surveyed coaling gear. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 1.35pm training classes to instructions, hands employed painting ship. / 3.10pm Celt alongside with 18 boxes of subcalibre ammunition. / 3.40pm landing parties returned.
9th June 1915
5pm raise steam 10pm one hour’s notice. (Midshipman Seymour)
Obviously the short notice for steam indicated a development detected out in the North Sea, one which subsequently failed to evolve into anything definite, leaving the BCF to head north for joint exercises with the dreadnought BF a couple of days later.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 21. / 6.55am hands aired bedding. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.10am training, Gunlayers 1 and 2 at dotter, hands painting ship. / 11.30am down all bedding. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 4.00pm in launch. / 6.45pm secured nets for sea.
10th June 1915
4am two and a half hour’s notice. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.45am out boats, clear away nets and hands cleaning ship. / 7.15am Indomitable shifted berth. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise.
11th June 1915
8pm BCS, LCS, and DF sailed. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.35am to 10.30am General Quarters. / 10.40am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.30pm training and instructions. / 7.45pm in boats and secured net gear. / 8.30pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ door, in boats. / 10.00pm weighed and proceeded for leaving harbour, exercised Sea Boats crews.
12th June 1915
during this exercise to the North of the Shetland Islands, Queen Mary was to undertake ‘PZ’ exercises with the BCS and GF during the day. With night firing practice for the 13.5 inch, granted an allocation of four rounds per barrel, along with a secondary armament shoot with an eight round per gun allocation, at a target towed by a collier at 12,000 yards:
Course north, steering for practice ground: (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind WSW to NW, force 2-5; sea state 1-4; air temp 46-60F; sea temp 41-51F. / 3.00am commenced zig-zagging. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 3.30pm carried out range keeping exercise. / 4.35pm finished range keeping exercise, original course and speed, zig-zagging. / 10.00pm stopped zig-zagging.
13th June 1915
Queen Mary apparently excelled herself again in this exercise in these northern latitudes:
6am carried out PZ with BF. Noon position off Iceland: 5.30pm carried out 13.5 inch firing and broke our battle practice record of last year. The target was towed by a collier. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind NNW to N, S by E, force 5-6, decreasing to 1; sea state 3-4, decreasing to 1; air temp 42-44F; sea temp 41-44F. / 0.02am dropped target, carried out 4 inch group firing. / 3.15am exercised Sea Boats crew. / 11.30am courses and speeds for carrying out PZ with Battle Fleet. / 12.30pm carrying out Battle Exercise. / 2.25pm negative PZ. / Nine 13.5 inch cartridges failed, five 4 inch, withdrawn from guns and thrown overboard. / 5.40pm courses and speeds for 13.5 inch firing. / 6.21pm to 6.27pm firing, took station ahead of Lion 6 miles.
14th June 1915
The BCF re-joined the BF at daylight, and further battle exercises were undertaken with a unique aerial component. The tender Campania with her seaplanes were involved in this phase of the exercise. Their advantage in scouting for the fleet was favourably commented upon. After this the GF returned to its bases:
Carried out PZ with BF. (Midshipman Seymour)
We went up to the extreme north and played with the GF. It was practically broad daylight at midnight, but the temperature fell to 40 degrees F. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, north of Shetland Islands - Wind variable, force 1-3; sea state 1-2; air temp 48-58F; sea temp 46-53F. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 6.30am commenced PZ. / 1.06pm sighted land on starboard bow S15E.
15th June 1915
10am arrived Rosyth: 12am coaled 1,650 tons. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth - Number on sick list 14. / 5.30am commenced zig-zagging. / 6.40am passed a capsized boat and through a quantity of oil. / 6.30am Lion reported submarine on port bow, altered course to starboard. / 8.15am May Island abeam. / 10.03am let go starboard anchor, moored in 16 fathoms. / 10.45am arrived collier Mostyn. / 11.15am commenced coaling. / PM discharged one Stoker to civil prison. / 2.45pm alongside oiler. / 6.00pm sailed oiler, received 233 tons. / 6.45pm collier Brierton alongside. / 7.40pm collier Mostyn sailed. / 9.40pm finished coaling, received 1,505 tons. / 9.50pm collier sailed.
16th June 1915
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 8.30am hands cleaning ship and getting up ammunition cases for returning, and preparing ship for ammunitioning and. / 11.30am in launch. / 1.30pm hands ammunitioning ship. / 1.40pm alongside ammunition ship. / 4.20pm sailed ammunition ship.
17th June 1915
Seymour noted today one very important episode for himself, Bagot, and two other midshipmen contemporaries:
We four RNR’s promoted to RN. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.10am to 9.50am exercised net defence. / 10.05am to 10.40am exercised General Quarters. / 10.45am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.25am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 9.00pm closed ‘B’ doors and darkened ship.
18th June 1915
despite the grievous war situation, the long threatened Welsh coal strike began on this day. To Jellicoe and Beatty this was to cause considerable anxiety, with its potentially serious effects upon fleet movements.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 12. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.35am to 10.05am exercised General Quarters. / 10.15am training classes to instructions, hands painting ship’s side. / 11.30am tested life buoys, correct. / 1.10pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 1.30pm training and instructions, hands painting ship’s side.
19th June 1915
The Inflexible after completing her mine damage repairs at Gibraltar, arrived at Scapa Flow. Prior to moving south to Rosyth, and bring the 3BCS up to full strength.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise, aired night clothing, hands painting ship’s side. / 11.30am out launch. / 1.20pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 6.45pm hands to bathe. / 8.30pm in boats, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
20th June 1915
Roxburgh torpedoed off May Island, speed reduced to 11 knots. 11pm arrived Roxburgh with slight list to starboard, escorted by DF, collision mat over bow. (Midshipman Seymour)
Two of our squadron (2LCS), the Nottingham and Birmingham and the ‘Sea-Cows’ went over to try and catch an armed German steamer called the Meteor, which has had the cheek to prey on commerce off the Naze. Our party seems to have ‘bought it’, as when they got over there the place was a kind of congeries of U-boats, torpedoes, and periscopes all over the place. The Roxburgh was hit right forward, and the bottom of her cable locker more or less disappeared The Roxburgh got in safely at 14 knots. Altogether a disappointing day for the party from the Hunneries, and a lucky one for us. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Yet another U-boat incident just off the entrance to the Firth of Forth, by U.40 under Lieutenant-Commander G. Furbringer, and for this armoured-cruiser from the 3CS, it was the second time that she had been attacked that day, and survived to tell the tale. She was destined to more than even the score on the 12 February 1918, when she rammed and sunk the U.89.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.30am Divisions and prayers at 10.30am. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 7.00pm in boats, closed ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm darkened ship.
21st June 1915
The hands of the 3CS force returned to Rosyth, with all available destroyers of the 1DF setting out from Rosyth to escort them home. During this cruiser sweep the force had been attacked at least three times by submarines. Clearly indicating the extent of the enemy’s submarine patrols, especially of the GF bases.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 0.15am sent Guard Boat away. / 2.30am sent working party to Lion. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 7.40am exercised Firing Numbers, Boatswains party in dockyard. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.25am to 10.00am exercised General Quarters. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise, two Stokers to hospital. / 7.00pm in boats, close ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm darken ship.
22nd June 1915
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.40am out launch, hands cleaning ship. / 7.50am sent wireman to Indefatigable. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.25 to 10.00am exercised General Quarters, returned motor launch to Rosyth. / 1.20pm land Red watch for exercise. / 1.35pm training classes to instructions. / 6.10pm exercised Firing Control Numbers. / 9.00pm darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
23rd June 1915
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.45am hands cleaning ship, out boats, and rig Diving Boat. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise, Divers away doing monthly dip, Bosun’s rigging party working about Otter. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, exercised General Quarters, training classes to instructions. / 1.15pm land Watch for exercise. / 1.20pm in launch, training classes to instructions. / 7.00pm in boats, close ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm darkened ship.
24th June 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 5.40am hands cleaning ship. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill, land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 10.05am training classes, Gunlayers at dotter, landing party returned. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise. / 8.15pm darkened ship and close ‘B’ doors.
25th June 1915
4.40am coaled 270 tons. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 8.25am land Stokers for exercise. / 8.30am out boats. / 10.25am training classes at instruction, tested life buoys. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise. / 1.25pm training classes and Boys to instructions. / 4.20pm landing parties returned. / 6.10pm secured nets for sea, in boats. / 6.40pm unmoored weighed western anchor, shortened into three shackles. / 8.00pm weighed and proceeded out of harbour accompanied by four destroyers. / 9.57pm May Island abeam.
26th June 1915
Princess Royal - At sea and at Scapa Flow - Wind light airs, force 1-2; sea state 1; air temp 50-54F; sea temp 51-53F. / 3.00am destroyers took station astern. / 3.28am rammed and sunk trawler KW147. / 5.45am commenced zig-zagging. / 6.00am resumed original course. / PM fog clearing. / 12.35pm commenced zig-zagging. / 12.52pm negative zig-zagging. / 2.15pm commenced zig-zagging. / 4.20pm negative zig-zagging. / 4.50pm Skerries abeam. / 5.42pm came to port anchor in E.5 berth. / 6.20pm arrived SS Ulan collier alongside. / 7.00pm commenced coaling, divers down inspecting ship side. / 10.40pm finished coaling, received 710 tons. / 11.15pm sailed collier. / 11.30pm in boats.
27th June 1915
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow. / 6.15am hands cleaning ship, divers repairing side, exercised Firing Numbers. / 11.00am inflexible with destroyer sailed. / 1.30pm parties to attend Drumhead Service. / 4.45pm Church parties returned.
28th June 1915
3am arrived Inflexible from Dardanelles, joined with 3BCS. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow. / 4.50am arrived Alliance tug alongside. / 7.45am target party left ship. / 8.55am weighed and proceeded to calibration range. / 10.10am proceeded to take up berth for calibration. / 10.43am let go port anchor, moored 6 shackles on each. / 1.30pm exercised Firing Numbers. / 2.30pm salvage lighter alongside. / 4.30pm unmoored and weighed. / 5.10pm proceeded to Scapa, Divisions. / 5.40pm came to port anchor, E5 berth. / 6.10pm in boats.
29th June 1915
Look here, I have a plan, and that is, towards the end of my leave I shall come and pay you a visit in the trenches. I should love it. I should be able to borrow a rifle for an hour or so and see what damage I could do to the Boches, though I do not expect one often gets the chance of a shot. If it is possible I am coming, as it would be such fun and most interesting. Shall I come in uniform or plain clothes ?. (Midshipman Tennyson to Aubrey)
Fortunately his brother, or higher authorities, must have talked this impulsive midshipman out of his plans for a private ‘Trench Party’.
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow. / 5.00am drifter and parties for targets left ship. / 7.50am weighed and proceeded to Calibrating Range. / 8.40am anchored, Firing Numbers closed up. / 11.00am commenced calibrating. / 11.55am finished Calibrating. / 1.20pm weighed starboard anchor. / 1.30pm hands cleaning guns and proceeded to Torpedo Range. Eight 13.5 inch Cordite charges thrown overboard. Carried out Torpedo running. / 3.10pm fired 1st torpedo. / 3.20pm finished, shaped course for anchorage. / 4.47pm came to starboard anchor, 3 shackles, 19.5 fathoms. / 6.45pm let go port anchor in 20 fathoms, mooring to 5 shackles on each. / 7.00pm target party returned.
30th June 1915
Our squadron have had a slightly unpleasant job during this month: We have been going out in groups of two light-cruisers to do it. There is a big minefield in the middle of the North Sea that our little sweepers from Aberdeen are sweeping. We go out and guard them be cruising about between them and the Bight. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At Scapa and at sea. / 5.40am in boats. / 8.00am proceeded inside Flow for 4 inch group firing and sub-calibre firing. / 11.30am proceeded out of harbour, speed 20 knots. / 3.45pm passed 8 mine sweepers / 7.30pm increased 21.5 knots, exercised Sea Boats crew.
1st July 1915
It is well documented that movements of the GF were greatly restricted this month, due primarily to the strike in the Welsh coalfields. An interesting insight into the Firth of Forth’s series of in-depth defences, protecting the approaches, can be gauged by an account in ‘More Sea Fights of the Great War’. From which a description of the battle-cruiser anchorage can be arrived at. All in all, the defences to the upper reaches of the Firth of Forth by this stage were quite comprehensive:
We were passing through the Blackrock Gate, and long lines of moored trawlers with their nets and floats stretched away towards Granton (on the southern shore), where Admiral Startin had his base of trawlers, motor-launches and decoy ships. The water had changed from blue to mud colour, and soon (the Island of) Inch Mickery and other rocky islands slipped by, with wooded Cramond and the seemingly endless lines of piles driven in on the flats to protect the Forth from submarine and torpedo attack. The woods of Dalmeny next shut out the distant Pentland Hills, and a moment after we were steaming under the great Forth Bridge, festooned with wires. Supporting nets and other anti-submarine defences, which hung to the structure of the cantilevers like a gigantic spider’s web. Electric capstans, actuated by the power station on the Fife shore, were ready to haul the nets back into position, and a 10 tons counter-balance weights hung high overhead to give a helping hand.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 2.08am May Island abeam. / 3.46am moored in A11 billet. / 4.15am prepared ship for coaling. / 5.15am arrived Collier Ethel Duncan. / 5.40am commenced coaling. / 6.00am arrived oil tank alongside. / 8.05am sailed oil tank, received 109 tons. / 9.05am finished coaling. / 9.30am sailed collier, received 740 tons. / 5.00pm getting up ammunition cases. / 8.00pm sailed Indefatigable and two TBDs. / 9.00pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
2nd July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.50am sent wiremen to Queen Mary. / 8.15am arrived alongside SS Tempo. / 8.30am hands getting in ammunition. / 9.10am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 10.50am sailed SS Tempo. / 11.30am tested life buoys and found correct. / 4.30pm arrived alongside Hyltonia with two boats to be hoisted out. / 7.00pm hove in swivel to clear Hyltonia cable.
3rd July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.50am Divisions and aired night clothing. / 9.00am land Stokers for exercise. / 11.30am out boats, down all night clothing. / 1.20pm land Watch for exercise. / 3.50pm out motor picket boat, sent her to Lion. / 6.30pm in cutter.
4th July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.00am sent Guard Boat away. / 8.55am rigged Church No.3 messdeck. / 10.05am sent Roman Catholics to Queen Mary. / 10.15am held Divine Service. / 11.30am Roman Catholics returned. / 6.30pm held Evening Service. / 9.45pm sent armed picket boat away. / 9.55pm cleared away net defence. / 11.05pm out nets.
5th July 1915
8pm Bagot arrived Home on sick leave from Hospital. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 10.05am: Exercised out floats, training classes and instructions, ‘A’ turret to Divisional drill, Stokers scraping funnels, tested life buoys, found correct. / 1.10pm in nets. / 1.40pm land Green Watch for exercise.
6th July 1915
1pm squadron one hour’s notice. (Midshipman Seymour)
Obviously indicating another high degree of alert, but nothing transpired.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.40am to 9.55am exercised General Quarters. / 10.00am training classes, ‘B’ turret to Divisional drill. / 6.45pm in boats and close ‘B’ doors. / 9.00pm darken ship.
7th July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 1.20pm training classes and Boys to instructions, hands painting mess deck. / 4.40pm Leister storeship alongside. / 7.55pm sailed store ship. / 8.20pm set anchor watch, in boats.
8th July 1915
9.15am land 300 men from each battle-cruiser for service in Rosyth dry dock, held by Archbishop of York. The programme was carried out in spite of these poor conditions. (Midshipman Seymour)
The weather at this time was bad, but the dedication service for the impressive new facilities went ahead. It should be noted that a very revealing and informative visual guide to the work embraced in this Major construction of Rosyth as a naval dockyard is held by Dunfermline Library. This archive holds a unique set of photographic volumes illustrating every aspect of this massive undertaking. From overall perspectives of dry-docks, workshops, barracks, offices, storage tanks, sites of fatal accidents, railway sidings and terminals. Right through to an entire volume simply dedicated to capturing the entire towering stone facade of the basin before it was flooded. In a series of sequential views, placed side by side, on page after page of seemingly bland masonry.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 2.00am relieved anchor watch. / 9.00am land men attending Drumhead Service. / 9.15am training classes to instructions. / 12 noon arrived Garth Castle. / 12.20pm Church party returned. / 1.40pm land Red Watch for exercise. / 8.40pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
9th July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 4.15am hands preparing ship for coaling. / 4.40am alongside Ethel Duncan. / 5.00am commenced coaling. / 6.00am finished coaling. / 6.15am sailed collier, received 260 tons, Otter arrived with stores. / 11.30am tested lifebuoys and found correct. / PM hands make and mend.
10th July 1915
5am coaled 400 tons. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.00am Divisions, air night clothing. / 1.30pm land Watch for exercise. / 4.00pm Divisions. / 7.15pm in boats.
11th July 1915
The combined BCF set out from Rosyth that morning for a sweep down to the Dogger Bank. While the dreadnought BF left its Scapa and Cromarty bases to undertake some battle exercises, and to provide distant cover to the battle-cruiser operation from the vicinity of the Shetland Islands.
10am prepared for sea, one hour’s notice. 9pm sailed BCS, LCS, and DF. (Midshipman Seymour)
The German light-cruiser Königsberg was destroyed in the Rufiji River, German East Africa, by British monitors.
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 9.15am Presbyterians to New Zealand. / 9.30am Divisions. / 10.10am Roman Catholics to Queen Mary. / 10.15am held Divine Service. / 4.45pm in picket boat. / 7.30pm secured for sea. / 8.00pm commenced unmooring. / 9.45pm weighed and turned ship. / 10.00pm proceeded, up to 20 knots. / 11.55pm May Island abeam.
12th July 1915
Course south: Noon position east of Whitby. 1pm Alter course round Dogger Bank speed 21 knots. Good lookout kept for floating mines. Returning to coal. Rumour that German ships were only 30 miles away. Inflexible returned and stayed in Tyne. (Midshipman Seymour)
Princess Royal - At sea, southern North Sea - Wind WSW to NW, force 2-5; sea state 1-4; air temp 49-58F; sea temp 49-53F. / AM-PM zig-zagging, exercised Sea Boats crew, formed single line ahead.
13th July 1915
3.30am arrived Rosyth: 6am coaled 730 tons. 9.30am I returned on-board after sick leave. Started engineering instruction. (Midshipman Bagot)
With this individuals return from sick leave Seymour again fades into the background: While other midshipmen came and went, through transfers and new drafts, he remained on-board, serving right through to the end at Jutland.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 2.06am May Island abeam. / 3.50am moored in A11 billet. / 5.50am alongside Ethel Duncan. / 9.25am finished coaling. / 9.30am sailed Ethel Duncan. / 9.50am arrived drifter with stores, received 795 tons of coal. / 4.55pm alongside Zephyr with stores. / 5.20pm Zephyr sailed. / 8.45pm darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
14th July 1915
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.05am to 7.05am oiler Ottawa alongside. / 5.45am out boats, hands cleaning ship, received 84 tons. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.30am exercised General Quarters. / 9.55am secured. / 10.05am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 4.00pm alongside drifter Comet with carpenters stores. / 5.55pm Comet sailed. / 7.00pm in cutter. / 10.45pm Guard Boat away.
15th July 1915
Submarine panic, got out nets. (Midshipman Bagot)
Yet another of the many U-boat sightings in the Forth had produced the usual defensive response. Although the ‘routine’ entry of her sister appears to contradict this.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18. / 1.00am Guard Boat away. / 8.40am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am to 9.50am exercised General Quarters. / 10.00am training classes to instructions, hands painting ship’s side. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise, Marines land for drill. / 4.00pm Divisions, out launch. / 8.45pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
16th July 1915
Got in nets. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out cutter, in launch, hands cleaning ship. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am General Quarters. / 9.55am secured, training classes to instructions, hands painting ship’s side. / 11.30am tested lifebuoys and found correct. / 8.30pm in boats, darken ship and close ‘B’ doors.
17th July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 3.45am arrived Indefatigable and two destroyers. / 8.45am Divisions, aired night clothing, hands cleaning ship. / 11.35am down all night clothing. / 1.20pm land Watch for exercise. / 5.00pm Divisions.
18th July 1915
Queen Mary and a destroyer escort left that evening and headed north to the Cromarty Firth: Following the example of Lion and Princess Royal, she was now due for an important addition to her fighting status, and some well earned leave for members of her crew. The following period in dockyard hands, and the extent of the leave granted is well indicated in the diary of our midshipman.
8pm Queen Mary Sailed for Cromarty. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal -Rosyth. / 9.00am sent Roman Catholics to Tiger. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 10.30am Church parties returned. / 11.15am held Holy Communion. / 8.00pm sailed Queen Mary and two destroyers.
19th July 1915
11am arrived Cromarty. 1am floating crane came alongside with struts for tripod mast. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.20am to 9.40am General Quarters. / 9.45am training classes, A turret to Divisional drill. / 5.10pm out cutter. / 8.45pm changed over cutter, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors. / 10.45pm Guard Boat away.
20th July 1915
Morning. Crane hoisted in tripod mast, which is fitted for director tower which will be fitted later. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 16. / 1.20am away Guard Boat. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 10.15am alongside Industry with new motor launch, in motor launch. / 11.40am sailed Industry. / 1.50pm arrived drifter Griffon with provisions. / 2.20pm out pulling launch into Industry. / 3.10pm in 4th cutter, torpedo party embarking torpedoes. / 8.30pm set anchor watch.
21st July 1915
6.15pm proceeded to floating dock. 7pm docked. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 3.00pm took off anchor watch. / 5.40am out 1st picket boat. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 2.15pm torpedo party disembarking torpedoes. / 3.30pm out cutter. / 6.00pm one Private RMLI joined ship from Queen Mary.
22nd July 1915
6am left Queen Mary and proceeded on Leave. 11pm arrived Kings Cross London. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 18. / AM one cell prisoner from Indefatigable ten days cells, Marines at infantry drill. / 10.30am exercise Repel Aerial Attack. / 11.00am exercise General Fire Stations. / 1.10pm land football parties.
23rd July 1915
During which time I was on leave. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 8.30am Stokers and Marines land for exercise. / 9.35am arrived Celtic with projectiles. / 11.30am tested lifebuoys and found correct. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise.
24th July 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 13. / 12.10pm hands make and mend. / 12.50pm land football and cricket parties.
25th July 1915
Princess Royal -Rosyth. / 8.55am Roman Catholics to Tiger. / 10.30am held Divine Service. / 4.45pm in cutter. / 6.30pm held Evening Service.
26th July 1915
8pm left Kings Cross for Invergordon to rejoin Queen Mary. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.00am out boats, prepared for coaling. / 5.50am arrived Ethel Duncan. / 6.10am commenced coaling. / 7.05am finished coaling. / 7.30am Ethel Duncan sailed, hands cleaning ship, received 290 tons. Seaplane 1341 alighted and made fast astern of Lion. / 1.30pm make and mend. / 2.50pm seaplane left Lion and sailed. / 4.45pm in boats.
27th July 1915
1.30pm arrived Invergordon and rejoined Queen Mary. Went ashore and saw Jellicoe for first time. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 1.00am sent Guard Boat away. / 3.50am arrived Australia and two destroyers. / 5.40am out boats, hands cleaning ship. / 9.05am land Stokers for exercise, Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 10.20am training classes and Boys to instructions. / 1.10pm land Green Watch for exercise. / 1.25pm training classes and Boys to instructions, hands painting and refitting.
28th July 1915
Morning. Flooding dock and floating Queen Mary. 1pm proceeded to anchorage, kept watch in anchorage. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.40am out cutter, rigged diving boat, hands cleaning ship. / 7.00am alongside oiler. / 8.25am out launch, diving party inspecting inlets on ship’s bottom, land Stokers for exercise, received 78 tons of oil. / 9.00am sailed oiler. / 4.15pm arrived alongside Leicester, provisioning ship. / 6.30pm sailed Store Ship. / 8.30pm in boats. / 8.40pm sailed 2LCS and 1st Division of destroyers and 2BCS.
29th July 1915
Her refit was completed, and she departed from Invergordon later that day, headed north to undertake trials of her new director firing installation:
5am coaled 950 tons. Afternoon, raised steam. 9pm Queen Mary sailed for Scapa. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 0.15am sailed 4 destroyers. / 6.00am sailed 6 destroyers. / 10.00am training, hands of hands painting ship, ‘X’ turret to Divisional drill.
30th July 1915
2.45am arrived Scapa, Winter base. 8am got underway, carried out sub-calibre in the Flow. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 8.00am lifebuoys tested and found correct. / 9.30am exercised Aerial Attack, General Fire Stations, General Quarters, B turret to Divisional drill. / 5.10pm Divisions.
31st July 1915
Morning. Carried out sub-calibre. 4pm carried out torpedo firing. I was away in whaler picking up three torpedoes. (Midshipman Bagot)
While Queen Mary was at Scapa, undergoing these necessary gunnery and torpedo trials within the secure confines of the Flow, the routine of the BCF continued. With the 2BCS returning to Rosyth upon this date, after yet another sweep of the North Sea, supporting light units and maintaining the telling distant blockade of Germany.
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 2.45am arrived 2BCS, 2LCS and 6 TBDs. / 5.00am arrived 1LCS and 4 TBDs. / 8.25am Sylp alongside with demolition parts. / 8.45am Divisions, aired night clothing, hands painting ship. / PM hands to make and mend. / 1.30pm land recreation parties.
1st August 1915
This Sunday saw Queen Mary at Scapa Flow still undertaking her post-refit work-up.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.20am Guard Boat away. / 9.00am non-Conformists to Indefatigable. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to Tiger. / 10.20am held Divine Service. / 3.00pm one Rating joined ship for Queen Mary. / 5.10pm prepare for coaling. / 6.30pm held evening Service. / 8.30pm in 2nd picket boat, darkened ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
2nd August 1915
Her period at Scapa now drew to a close with an apparently busy final morning, before her passage south screened by a detachment of destroyers:
4am left ship in whaler to pick up torpedoes. 7am returned to ship after having found and returned torpedoes. 8am carried out sub-calibre firing. 9am carried out day action 4 inch firing. 11.30am Queen Mary sailed for Rosyth: (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 5.15am alongside collier Ethel Duncan. / 5.40am hands coaling ship. / 6.50am finished coaling, received 208 tons. / 7.10am sailed collier. / 10.45am out launch. / 1.45pm hands to payment, land Liberty-men and recreation parties. / 2.00pm hands make and mend.
3rd August 1915
4.45am arrived Rosyth, rejoin squadron. 6am coaled 540 tons. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 4.30am arrived Queen Mary and two destroyers. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.00am exercise repel submarine attack, out net defence, away picket boats. / 9.40am exercised General Quarters. / 10.00am secure. / 10.10am furl net defence. / 1.15pm land Liberty-men, watch for exercise, football parties, thirteen Ratings discharged to Queen Mary.
4th August 1915
German destroyer sunk by submarine. (Midshipman Bagot)
A belated note of the loss of the V.188, off the German coast to E.16 on the 26 July.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.40am out boats. / PM side party and extra hands carrying on with side, hands cleaning ship. / 8.30am extra hands carrying on with side, land Stokers for exercise. / 9.40am ‘A’ turret to Divisional drill / 1.10pm land recreation parties, libertymen.
5th August 1915
Transport Royal Edward sunk in Aegean Sea. German transport sunk in Baltic Sea. (Midshipman Bagot)
The German success was the UB.14 (Von Heimburg) sinking this transport off Kandeliusa.
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 9.00am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.05am Divisions, prayers and physical drill. / 9.35am to 9.55am General Quarters. / 10.00am training classes to instruction, hands painting. / 10.35am Gunlayers and Acting Gunlayers 2 to dotter. / 1.10pm land recreation parties, libertymen. / 1.35pm training classes and Boys to instruction. / 4.00pm Divisions, discharged one PO T to Queen Mary.
6th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am out launch. / 9.20am to 9.50am exercised General Quarters, training classes and Boys to instructions, exercised shortening in cable with deck tackle. / 1.10pm land Watch for exercise and Marines. / 8.00pm sailed Indomitable and two destroyers.
7th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 14. / 9.00am aired night clothing, hands cleaning ship. / 1.30pm land landing parties and liberty men, hands make and mend. / 5.00pm Divisions.
8th August 1915
Turkish battleship Kbeys-id-din-Barbarrossa sunk in Sea of Marmora by British submarine. LCS sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
This individuals charting of the intense submarine war being carried on by both sides continued. With the noted sinking by the E.11 of the old Harreddin Barbaroussa, while she was transporting vital ammunition supplies to Gallipoli, being one of the most important at this time. That morning patrolling trawlers reported a new minefield in the Moray Firth: The 1/2LCS’s from Rosyth were directed to head towards the Horn Reef to intercept the layer responsible. With the 4LCS from Scapa and the Harwich force also sailing to close the net on this layer, the Meteor.
Real old-fashioned ‘flap’, as a ‘raise steam with all dispatch’ arrived at 9pm just as I was doing good business at a game of chance in the mess. At midnight, crowds of destroyers came down the river and got well mixed up with us just as the squadron was weighing. Wonderful language floated about through megaphones. 1LCS and ourselves (2LCS) got clear of Rosyth at 1am (9th). (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 9.00am non-Conformists to Queen Mary. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to Tiger. /. 10.20am held Divine Service. / 1.30pm sent ship Visitors, land liberty men. / 11.00pm motor launch moored up.
9th August 1915
The destroyer Lynx was sunk by a mine that morning, just to the north of a new minefield in the Moray Firth: Later that same day the German auxiliary minelayer Meteor was detected in the vicinity of the Horn Reef on her return passage by the Harwich Force. Which brought about a short notice in the BCF, but it did not sail, leaving it to the light forces to descend upon the enemy:
9.15am raised steam for one hour’s notice, prepared for sea. Three German ships sunk in Baltic by Russian mines. Lynx sunk by mine in North Sea, 4 officers and 22 men saved. (Midshipman Bagot)
We all dashed across the North Sea, converging on Heligoland, and at 5pm we were very annoyed to receive a W/T signal from Whitehall to say that if we had not found her we were to go back, as we were then getting fairly close to the Bight and none of our heavy ships were out with us. Fortunately at this moment the Arethusa sighted the Meteor, which ship blew herself up, the Huns escaping in a trawler (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.00am sailed 1st and 2nd LCS’s. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.30am to 10.05am exercised General Quarters, ‘A’ turret to Divisional drill.
10th August 1915
Air raid on east coast. LCS returned. Zeppelin L.12 destroyed. (Midshipman Bagot)
This Naval airship on her 14th flight was damaged by gunfire off the east coast, and was subsequently lost over Ostend in Belgium.
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 4.30am arrived 1st and 2nd LCS’s. / 9.05am Divisions, exercised General Quarters, prepared to take ship in tow. / 1.30pm training classes and Boys to instruction. 5.55pm one Rating from London for cell punishment.
11th August 1915
The seaplane carrier Campania was sent to Cromarty, so that her seaplanes could assist in the search for the Meteor’s mine-field. As the start of the landings at Suvla Bay began on the 7th was recorded:
Fresh landing of troops in Dardanelles. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.45am out cutter. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.20am training classes, exercised weighing sheet anchor with dock tackle. / 1.20pm land libertymen. / 4.10pm Divisions. / 7.00pm armed picket boat sent away.
12th August 1915
Royal Edward, transport, sunk on the 5th by submarine, 600 out of 1000 saved. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 4.30am armed picket boat returned. / 5.10am arrived Collier Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.40am commenced coaling. / 6.45am finished coaling, received 310 tons. / 7.05pm sailed collier. / PM hands make and mend. / 8.40pm in cutter, darken ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
13th August 1915
Princess Royal -Rosyth. / 7.00am held Roman Catholics Service. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / AM Divisions, prayers, physical drill, exercised General Quarters, ‘X’ turret at Divisional drill, training classes and Boys to instructions, tested life buoys, correct. / PM recreation party and Marines land. / 3.45pm out cutter.
14th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 17. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise, aired night clothing. / PM hands make and mend.
15th August 1915
Short notice, no one allowed ashore. (Midshipman Bagot)
A sweep by light-cruisers and destroyers was imminent, but Beatty’s battle-cruisers where to remain at Rosyth intelligence had placed Hipper and his force in the Baltic, far distant from the immediate scene of operations, and possible interception.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.55am out boats. / 10.10am non-Comformists to Australia and Roman Catholics to Tiger. / 10.20am held Divine Service, Church Parties returned. / 6.30pm held evening service. / 6.50pm in picket boat. / 8.30pm in cutter, darken ship and closed ‘B’ doors.
16th August 1915
The 1LCS from Rosyth, along with the 4LCS from Scapa, and seven destroyers, embarked to undertake a sweep in the central North Sea. To which the battle-cruisers where obviously ready to intervene if intelligence perceived any heavy German units where a danger to their light forces:
Short notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal -Rosyth. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers, Physical Drill, exercised General Quarters. / 10.30am exercised out net defence. / 7.00pm in boats.
17th August 1915
The light-cruiser sweep headed towards the entrance to the Skagerrak, covering a wide front in its zigzagging track:
Short notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.30am General Quarters, Craigerlie arrived with stores, Q turret at Divisional drill, training classes and Boys to instruction. / 10.45am seaplane Exercise over Squadron. / 7.00pm in boats.
18th August 1915
This light sweep was concluded and the cruisers and destroyers return to their bases, it was only now that the three battle-cruisers of Queen Mary’s squadron were free to sail for an exercise to the north:
10am raised steam prepared for sea. 7pm unmoored. 8.15pm sailed 2LCS, 1BCS, and destroyers. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth and at sea. / 8.30am out boats, arrived 1LCS. / 6.30pm in boats. / 7.00pm unmoored ship. / 8.35pm weighed and proceeded. / 10.33pm May Island abeam, exercised Sea Boats crews.
19th August 1915
German press reports five German destroyers met eight British destroyers and one light-cruiser, and sunk one British destroyer. In reality one British destroyer struck a mine, but returned to port under her own steam. Course north: 10am carried out PZ. 5pm carried out PZ. 9.30pm carried out 4 inch night firing. (Midshipman Bagot)
Up at latitude 64 degrees north, doing a shooting party with the battle-cruisers. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea, northern North Sea - Wind N by W, force 2-5; sea state 1-4; air temp 55-60F; sea temp 51-58F. / 1.00am destroyer Forrester not under control, steered across bows of Lion. / 3.45am formed single line abreast to starboard, 6 cables apart. / 4.15am commenced zig-zagging. / 6.30am formed line of bearing from Flag. / 8.30am Tiger parted company with Flag. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crews. / 3.30pm spread 5 miles on beam of Lion for range keeping. / 4.00pm courses and speeds for Range keeping exercise. / 9.30pm dropped target, courses and speeds for 4 inch firing. / 10.35pm destroyed target.
20th August 1915
A series of battle exercises was held off the Shetland Islands, along with a seemingly impressive main ordnance shoot:
9.30am carried out sub-calibre firing. 1pm carried out 13.5 inch firing, thirty-two rounds at three targets, 8 feet by 10 feet, at 9,000 yards, towed by collier. Misty weather and choppy sea. 2pm set course for Scapa. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - At sea, north of Shetland Islands - Number on sick list 12. - Wind N by W to WNW, force 2-5; sea state 1-4; air temp 51-55F; sea temp 52-54F. / 3.15am closed on Lion. / 3.45am formed single line ahead. / 8.48am dropped target. / 9.00am carried out sub-calibre firing. / 11.25am sighted collier with targets. Eleven 13.5 inch, 4 inch, QF 6’ sub-calibre, cartridge misfires thrown overboard. / 12.15pm took station 3 miles on port beam Flag. / 1.00pm commenced firing. / 1.09pm ceased fire. / 2.00pm took station 6 cables on starboard beam of Lion. / 3.00pm formed single line ahead. / 7.00pm commenced zig-zagging. / 8.45pm negative zig-zagging, exercised Sea Boats, formed single line ahead.
21st August 1915
5am arrived Scapa. 5.30am coaled 1,070 tons. 11.30am went away in whaler to pick up torpedoes. 12.30am fired two torpedoes and recovered both: 4.30pm picked up Birmingham’s torpedoes. (Midshipman Bagot)
We arrived at Scapa to pass the time of day with the GF. The Warspite and other new arrivals were there. The weather here is beastly, rain and drifting mist. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Princess Royal - At sea and at Scapa Flow. / 3.00am altered course for entering harbour. / 4.56am came to starboard anchor in C6 berth. / 6.10am arrived alongside Collier SS Ashtree. / 6.45am commenced coaling. / 10.15am arrived alongside store ship SS Romeo. / 10.50am sailed Romeo. / 12.15pm finished coaling, received 1,164 tons. / 12.45pm shortened in. / 1.00pm proceeded to carry out Torpedo firing, working up to 25 knots. / 2.35pm came to port anchor in 16 fathoms. / 4.00pm inspected inlets and underwater fittings. / 4.25pm divers working about doors of Torpedo Tubes. / 5.00pm weighed and proceeded. / 5.37pm came to anchor in 18 fathoms. / 6.39pm Queen Mary anchored.
22nd August 1915
Queen Mary departed from Scapa, with one observant individual on-board accurately describing the activities of a ‘Q’ armed decoy merchantman, and yet another U-boat success in his journal, with the actual loss of 44 men:
11.30am 1BCS, LCS for Rosyth: While at Scapa heard that collier go out as bait for submarines, and when sighted the bulwarks fall down and she fires a broadside of 12 pounder. Arabic, White Star Line, torpedoed, 33 lives lost. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Scapa Flow and at sea. / 6.00am send picket boat away with torpedo picking up party. / 6.30am weighted and proceeded to carry out Torpedo Firing. / 8.40am came to starboard anchor in 18 fathoms. / 11.30am weighed anchor and proceeded. / AM-PM exercised Sea Boats crew. / 12.58pm course S71E, speed 21 knots, single line abreast to port six cables apart. / 1.15pm commenced zig-zagging. / 8.25pm negative zig-zagging. / 8.22pm formed single line ahead. / 9.51pm observed searchlight 2 points on starboard bow. / 9.55pm observed 3 searchlights on starboard bow.
23rd August 1915
5am coaled 630 tons. News of Russians sinking Moltke and three cruisers, seven destroyers, in Baltic. Afterwards learnt that Moltke was only torpedoed, not sunk, by British submarine. (Midshipman Bagot)
The German battle-cruiser was hit off Riga by E.1 on the 19th. A destroyer Division set out from Rosyth to undertake a one day anti-submarine sweep off May Island in an endeavour to keep the approaches to the principal battle-cruiser base as safe as possible. But as was again noted this underwater threat was not a one sided affair.
Princess Royal - At sea and at Rosyth. / 2.51am May Island abeam. / 4.45am moored in A11 billet. / 5.20am arrived Ethel Duncan alongside. / 5.50am commenced coaling. / 6.10am arrived oil tank alongside. / 8.05am finished coaling, received 660 tons. / 8.25pm sailed collier. / 8.43am sailed SS Lumon oil tank, received 190 tons. / 1.45pm worked main derrick, hands make and mend. / 3.45pm embarked one Torpedo.
24th August 1915
British submarine operating in the Baltic hinder all navigation, and practically stop all between Norway, Sweden, and Germany. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 17. / 6.00am out cutter, diving party working about submerged Tube doors. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.00am out launch. / 1.00pm Zephyr drifter arrived with provisions. / 1.25pm land football party.
25th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.25am exercised worked fore and main derricks by hand, out cutters. / 1.00pm land recreation party. / 1.25pm training classes and Boys to instructions. / 11.30pm arrived alongside Leister with provisions and stores.
26th August 1915
Nothing of interest. Time rather dull. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 1.30am Green Watch provision ship. / 8.25am land Stokers and Marines for exercise. / 10.30am ‘A’, ‘Q’, ‘X’ turrets at Divisional drill. / 8.25pm sailed Inflexible.
27th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.05am land Stokers for exercise and Canteen working party. / 9.45am ‘B’ turret at Divisional drill, training classes and Boys at instruction. / 1.10pm land recreation party. / 1.55pm out boats. / 4.35pm discharged seventeen Ratings to RNB, one to Queen Mary. / 7.15pm in boats.
28th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 15. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / PM leave to Chief and Pos, recreation party land, hands make and mend. / 7.00pm in boats.
29th August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.30am Divisions, party to Tiger. / 9.50am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.25am held Divine Service. / 11.20am Church parties returned. / 1.15pm recreation party land. / 5.10pm in launch.
30th August 1915
Again to keep the approaches to the Firth as secure as possible, for the next two days the 3LCS and destroyers out of Rosyth, searched to the east of May Island for a reported enemy vessel, a potential minelayer, but nothing was to be encountered.
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 19. / 8.30am out boats, land Stokers for exercise. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers, Physical Drill. / 9.55am sighted seaplane. / 7.10pm in boats.
31st August 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 28. / 11.00am arrived 3LCS and 6 destroyers. / 3.25pm sailed 2LCS and 4 destroyers. / 4.10pm exercised out Carley life buoy. / 7.10pm in boats.
1st September 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth - Number on sick list 16. / 11.50am one RMA joined ship. / 7.00pm in boats. / 10.00pm arrived 2LCS.
2nd September 1915
Princess Royal – Rosyth. / 8.20am land Stokers and Marines for exercise. / 8.30am out boats. / 1.10pm land recreation party. / 7.15pm in boats.
3rd September 1915
5.30am collier came alongside, commenced coaling. 7.30am finished, coaled 330 tons. (Midshipman Bagot)
She had now taken in 48,565t since the outbreak of war. Also recorded at this time besides the physical demand of coaling, there was the need to provide working parties ashore.
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 5.30am arrived Ethel Duncan Collier. / 5.40am commenced coaling. / 6.45am finished coaling. / 7.05am sailed collier. / 8.30am land football ground working party. / 1.00pm land recreation party, hands make and mend. / 5.00pm Divisions. / 7.05pm in boats.
4th September 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.40am land Stokers for exercise. / 8.55am out boats. / 1.10pm land recreation party, hands make and mend. / 7.00pm in boats.
5th September 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 9.00am Presbyterians to Queen Mary, land Canteen working party. / 10.00am Roman Catholics to New Zealand. / 10.15am held Divine Service. / 11.00am held Holy Communion. / 1.15pm land recreation party. / 7.00pm in boats.
6th September 1915
Each ship of 1BCS land 100 men at Rosyth to carry on with work in the Dockyard, owing to a shortage of labour through several men going on strike. This is being carried out for hands of week when 2nd and 3rd BCS will relieve. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 7.15am land dockyard working party. / 8.20am land Stokers for exercise. / 9.00am training classes and Boys to instructions, hands painting ship. / 9.10am Lion changed berth. / 1.10pm land recreation party. / 5.15pm dockyard working party returned. / 7.00pm in boats.
7th September 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise and Marine Signalmen. / 1.20pm land recreation party. / 6.25pm in cutter.
8th September 1915
Princess Royal - Rosyth. / 8.30am land Stokers for exercise. / 10.35am Q, X Divisional drill. / 1.20pm land recreation party. / 2.20pm sighted seaplane. / 7.00pm in boats.
9th September 1915
9.30pm raised steam for 22 knots, got in boats and prepared for sea. Was sleeping on deck at the time. (Midshipman Bagot)
Princess Royal - Rosyth / 6.30am out boats, ands cleaning ship. / 7.15am sent dockyard working party. / 8.30am Stokers land for exercise. / 9.00am Divisions, prayers, Physical Drill.
Regrettably, this is the final revealing entry from Princess Royal’s log to be incorporated into this coverage of Queen Mary and the 1BCS.
10th September 1915
The BF in its northern bases was to be kept at short notice for steam just in case it was required to support this southern sweep. Lion lead out two BC’s screened by eight light-cruisers and sixteen destroyers, to cover a mine-laying operation in the Heligoland Bight:
5.30am unmoored. 7am 1/3BCS, 1DF, 1/2LCS, sailed. Course northeast. Beautiful day. Rumours of action tomorrow. Noon, steam for full speed. 5pm alter course southeast, wireless silence. (Midshipman Bagot)
11th September 1915
5am action stations. 5.30am one German trawler sunk. Course southwest. Secured, remained in battle formation. 11.30am alter course west. 4pm alter course north, returning to coal. (Midshipman Bagot)
An eventful day as a flotilla leader sunk the enemy trawler. Later that day the light-cruiser Fearless collided with a destroyer, the former sustaining considerable damage. During this sweep the presence of Queen Mary and her kind was to be well commented upon, by an observer on the vital screen of the squadron, as was an indication of the extent of its advance screen.
We were all in position 40 miles or so north-by-west of Horn Reefs at 3am. To the south-eastward of us we could see the Harwich forces of light-cruisers and destroyers, and inside them were several of our large minelayers, who were engaged in laying a large field to harass German submarines going to and from the Bight. We laid our mines unobserved. We had perfect weather for the trip. I suppose it is a very fine sight to see the BCF at sea on a clear day. I have seen it so often that it tends to become commonplace, but I will describe what it looked like from our bridge. Eight miles away from us, and on our port quarter, seven battle-cruisers were silhouetted against the sky. From each of these great ships a graceful plume of smoke rose like a dusky feather. As they zigzagged about once every ten minutes, the sunlight reflected on their sides, and they appeared to change colour as they altered course. One tack they gleamed bright and silvery, on the other tack they appeared as if painted in black. A stab of white rising up their rams, and a blob of white in their wakes, contrasted vividly with the deep blue of the sea and sky, and was an indication to the trained eye that these ships were moving at more than 20 knots. They moved in two lines, and at the head of each line and around each line were dotted small black smudges which appeared to be stationary relative to the battle-cruisers. From each of these smudges a puff of smoke occasionally shot up into the air. These smudges were the destroyers of the submarine screen. Five miles away on our starboard beam the Nottingham and Lowestoft formed a little group completing our squadron and rounding off the starboard end of the light-cruiser screen which protected the battle-cruisers from surprise. Five and ten miles away on the port beam were two similar units of the 3LCS, delicately outlined in pearl-grey. Fifteen miles away I could just detect the raking masts of two light-cruisers of the 1LCS, whose hulls were below the horizon. I know that twenty and twenty-five miles away along the imaginary line were other light-cruisers. Thus we moved along. When it grew dusk, the light-cruisers closed in and became three lines, each ship following the pale blue stern light and shadowy form of the next ahead. At dawn the three lines opened out to look like a fan and the screen was re-spread. Such was the British BCF at sea. (King-Hall, Southampton)
12th September 1915
The operation was accomplished without any other contact with the enemy, and the force returned to base, but not without a further mishap:
4am arrived Rosyth: Trawler and a destroyer collided when entering harbour, Trawler had to dock. 5.30am coaled 1,150 tons. 10.30am finished coaling. Ship at one hour’s notice. We learnt that a mine-laying operation which we were supporting was most successfully carried out in the Bight. (Midshipman Bagot)
In the archives of Dunfermline central library there is a faded, distant, blurred, but evocative dated image of the scene at Rosyth that evening. Moored off the southwest wall of the new basin nearing completion lies Beatty’s battle-cruisers, and despite the poor quality of the image, the distinctive features of Queen Mary at her anchorage can just be identified, with a line of Invincible’s and Indefatigable’s strung out beyond: All of these battle-cruisers are finished off in an overall light grey scheme, with a dark grey strake applied along their hulls. Now the BCF was secure within its heavily defended lair, there began a period of imminent preparation to depart.
On our arrival back at Rosyth after a rough passage in which we had to make a large detour to the eastwards to avoid minefields, we found the atmosphere distinctly electric, as we were frequently at short notice for considerable periods. (King-Hall, Southampton)
14th September 1915
Ships at four hour’s notice again. Nothing happening. (Midshipman Bagot)
17th September 1915
The 2LCS with four destroyers left Rosyth to sweep the Skagerrak. They would be out for two days. As for the objective of this sweep, one cynic consigned his opinions down on paper:
We also went out to search for a somewhat mythical minelayer, though another theory popular in the smoking-room was that we were sent to sea to impress the idea of ceaseless naval activity upon a party of distinguished Frenchmen who were in the port, for we went out in daytime under their noses and the 3LCS came in at the same time. They had been out only twelve hours after a stay in harbour of several weeks. (King-Hall, Southampton)
21st September 1915
5.30am coaled 310 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
22nd September 1915
Arrived Warspite. Rumour that C-in-C was on-board and when anchored he went ashore. (Midshipman Bagot)
In fact this new 15 inch gunned super-dreadnoughts arrival was simply a temporary stop over at Rosyth, before travelling onto the Tyne, to repair grounding damage received on the 16th of the month.
27th September 1915
Sailed Warspite. (Midshipman Bagot)
28th September 1915
Big advance commenced on Western Front. (Midshipman Bagot)
This entry refers to the Battle of Loos. Which was to last from the 25 September, until the 8 October. This ‘Push’ in northern France saw several British battalions wiped out in their assault against the German wire. By the time in drew to a close the following month, some 60,000 British casualties were recorded.
1st October 1915
The 3LCS with escorting destroyers left Rosyth and proceeded towards the Little Fisher Bank, for a two day sweep, searching for enemy mine-layers, as a new battleship stopped over:
11am arrived Canada. She put in here on her way up to Scapa from Newcastle, owing to engine defects. (Midshipman Bagot)
2nd October 1915
5.15am coaled 280 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
3rd October 1915
Ships at two and a half hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
4th October 1915
Ships at four hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
6th October 1915
To the south the Harwich Force swept towards the Skagerrak in search of enemy vessels. Particularly hostile fishing trawlers, which were suspected of acting as outpost vessels in a well-established picket line. As was usual in such ventures, the BCF was kept ready to put to sea if required:
Ships at short notice, no one to land: (Midshipman Bagot)
7th October 1915
in the Harwich Force’s raid, no less than fourteen German trawlers were captured and sent back with armed guards, while one resistant vessel was sunk.
8th October 1915
The Invincible arrived back in the Firth of Forth after her refit at Belfast.
9th October 1915
At the conclusion of the sweep, Queen Mary reduced her status:
Ships at four hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
12th October 1915
As Queen Mary reverted to this low state after the Harwich Force raid, for some on-board this day personal considerations were to the fore:
We have only just missed exams by the skin of our teeth, as the next lot of midshipmen due for promotion on January 15 are to have them. I think our diplomatists have made an appalling mess of the Balkan show. I should not be at all surprised if Greece and Romania came in against us. ... I have been up to Hopetoun nearly every day during the last week and played a lot of fiddle with Derrick Milner. (Midshipman Tennyson)
13th October 1915
While the massed might of the dreadnought BF left Scapa Flow and Cromarty, preceding to the North Sea for a cruise, the BCF remained at Rosyth. The most severe airship raid on the East Coast of England and London experienced, with 200 casualties.
14th October 1915
Sailed Canada for Scapa. (Midshipman Bagot)
15th October 1915
Coaled 350 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
This coaling now resulted in 50,655t taken in since the end of previous July. This topping up of her bunkers was well timed, as events out in the North Sea meant that she and her companions were needed again to support an operation. While the 3BCS set out from Rosyth, heading for a full-calibre gunnery practice off Cromarty.
16th October 1915
Short notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
17th October 1915
The 3BCS returned. With a reduced status for readiness, some could get ashore to undertake visits, and calls:
I wish I had been at home to see Princess Henry of Battenberg. I like her very much. 18,000 is a heavy price to have to pay for nothing but the Dardanelles, and I am aFraid eventually it May have to be abandoned. At present, in spite of official optimism, we are on the downhill track, and it only wants (Un-named ?) to come in against us, and things will look pretty black. How I long for this beastly war to be over. I hear all the Glasgow yards are going to strike. Why is the Government so weak. I hear the Germans are sending back Indian prisoners they have captured to India, on condition they stir up revolution amongst the Indians there. I motored over with Wilton to Alloa, about 20 miles, to Lord Mar and Kellie’s, a lovely and magnificent place. I have never anywhere seen such lovely autumn tints, and the rich gold of the chestnut leaves was really beautiful. How I should love to come home again for a bit, and yet it is not yet three months since I left, but it seems like three years. How on earth did you learn about the Commonwealth: It is extraordinary how everyone ashore knows what is going on. The other day they actually knew we were going to sea on a certain day before we did ourselves. Having attained the highest possible standard of drill and efficiency, we have got to maintain it throughout all these weeks and months of forced inactivity. That is our fight at present, and it is a good deal harder than the real thing. We have had some route Marches and a game of Rugby football this week which have greatly improved the situation, (Midshipman Tennyson)
18th October 1915
The Harwich Force sailed, to now operate off the Danish coast north of the Horn Reef. In this the battle-cruisers where now to sail as a cover to these light units:
3.30pm recalled all officers. 7.30pm 1BCS, and LCS sailed. (Midshipman Bagot)
Departing from such a congested base could pose navigational difficulties. Especially if undertaken at night. One excellent pen picture renders an excellent impression of the distribution of various units within the Firth:
Getting out of Rosyth at night is no pleasure trip for navigators, nor is getting in. The shape of the harbour renders it obligatory for ships at the western end (the inner Firth) who wish to get out, to thread their way between the lines of battleships (3BS) and battle-cruisers. The battle-cruisers have bought up the eastern end of the harbour and are as close to Queensferry as they can get. The ‘Behemoths’ (3BS) and ‘Sea-Cows’ (3CS) occupy the centre position, then come two lines of light-cruisers. Lastly, away at Bo’ness, amidst a welter of colliers, store-ships, oil tankers, provision-ships, and other fleet auxiliaries, lie the bulk of the destroyers, the emergency boats lie at instant notice at buoys near the bridge. (King-Hall, Southampton)
19th October 1915
70 miles off Danish coast. Destination Cromarty. Full speed half hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
In overall scope, that day the Harwich Force closed with the Danish coast at daylight, then steered to the northwest till dark, thereafter returning to Harwich. At the close of the sweep the battle-cruisers initially proceeded towards Cromarty, but were diverted to Scapa owing to the sighting of possible a mine-layers off the former base. Although it was later discovered that these vessel reported off Noss Head, were in fact friendly trawlers.
20th October 1915
1am news of suspicious vessels outside Cromarty. 5am closed up after 4 inch guns. 7.45am arrived Scapa. 8.30am coaled 840 tons. 12.30pm finished. Battle-cruisers one hour’s notice, hands two and a half hours. (Midshipman Bagot)
21st October 1915
From here the squadron put to sea for a gunnery exercise, with one of the new 15 inch gunned super-dreadnoughts of the 5BS. Details of the shoot apparently reveal yet another successful undertaking by this particular battle-cruiser:
5.45am 1BCS and Barham sailed. 10.30am arrived Moray Firth: Carried out battle practice target at 17,000 yards, longest practice range used. Queen Mary did best firing of squadron. Main laying, rapid firing. 2pm Queen Mary departed for Scapa, hands returned to Rosyth: 3.30pm Queen Mary arrived Scapa, four hour’s notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
22nd October 1915
She was now destined to be based at Scapa for the best part of a week. Initially destined to carry out tests to her recently fitted director fire control system, but poor weather apparently held these up:
One hour’s notice. Bad weather. Coaled 400 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
23rd October 1915
Still at short notice. Bad weather. (Midshipman Bagot)
24th October 1915
Long notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
25th October 1915
10.45am carried out director test, 13.5 inch four salvoes, average spread 200 yards, range 11,000 yards, very good firing. 12.45pm continued, two salvoes, seaplanes spotted. This was moored up astern during dinner hour. (Midshipman Bagot)
This mention of an aircraft employed during the gunnery exercise is interesting. Being a rather early venture into this area of aerial support in accessing the fall of shot.
26th October 1915
am carried out torpedo firing, three torpedoes, all recovered. Coaled 200 tons. News of British submarine sinking Prince Adalbert in Baltic. 5.30pm sailed for Rosyth. (Midshipman Bagot)
Another success in the Baltic to E.8 on the 23rd.
27th October 1915
4am Argyll ran aground on Bell Rock, owing to light being extinguished and not receiving wireless message to that effect. We were 15 miles behind them. 7.30am arrived Rosyth: 8.15am coaled 320 tons. Long notice. 11am Crew of Argyll arrived Rosyth in destroyers. (Midshipman Bagot)
28th October 1915
All saved from Argyll. (Midshipman Bagot)
This armoured-cruiser had been wrecked in thick weather, while en route from Devonport to Rosyth, to rejoin the 3CS, when she had grounded off the Firth of Tay. All her crew however were successfully taken off by destroyers from Rosyth, but the vessel became a total loss.
29th October 1915
All BCF in harbour. (Midshipman Bagot)
30th October 1915
The Harwich Force again set out to carry out a sweep off the Danish coast. With this as usual a portion of the Rosyth based BCF was now to be kept at short notice for steam during this operation.
31st October 1915
Ships at two and a half hour’s notice. News of mine-layer being sunk. (Midshipman Bagot).
The Harwich Force was some 70 miles northwest of Heligoland at daylight, before steering for Little Fisher Bank, thence back to Harwich. Tennyson wrote home that Sunday about his recent activity, Queen Mary’s Chapel, service events, the obvious failure of a personal relationship, and also drew a nice little pen picture of his cabin on-board:
The article you sent me about the destroyers interested me enormously. I always like anything about my profession you May come across. I went to Holy Communion last Sunday, and thought of you all and longed to be with you. The Epistle and Gospel struck me as being extraordinarily beautiful, and I have read them over again today. I always go to Evening Service in our little Chapel at 6.15pm on Sundays, and much enjoy it. I dined with Charles, the Marine, the other night, who is now in the Centurion, and had some fiddle after dinner. As I have not been ashore much lately, I have been working hard at my gunnery, and also making my cabin look what the sailors call ‘Tiddly’. It really does look so nice now, with green tablecloths and curtains, a gramophone with all the latest musical-comedy tunes and one-steps. A lot of pictures I have had Framed on-board, and Lionel and Aubrey’s photos in leather Frames, for which I went a bust and paid 10 shillings each. I am not broken hearted over … . She was a particularly nice girl and would make any one a very good wife, but if I get on in the service and go to Whale Island I shan’t have time to think about marrying. In fact, I do not think I shall ever marry if I stay in the service, as it takes up all your time. Poor old Argyll. She was perfectly useless as a fighting unit, as she had no speed, but it does seem a nasty way to end one’s days in war time. I should like to tell you something about her on the sea, but I cannot. I shall never forget seeing the survivors come in two destroyers. They were literally packed like sardines, every inch of the destroyers occupied, even worse that those excursion-boats. It was pouring with rain and blowing hard, a nasty sea on. I believe they had an awful time of it, poor devils, but still I envy them, as it will get them fourteen days’ leave. Derrick is coming back soon, so I hope for some more music. (Midshipman Tennyson)
1st November 1915
Ships long notice again. (Midshipman Bagot)
2nd November 1915
This reduced status was retained as the dreadnought BF sailed from Scapa to cruise to the west of the Orkney’s on exercise until the 5th: A deployment which obviously indicated that intelligence had no pointers as to an operation by the HSF.
5th November 1915
My 20th birthday. (Midshipman Bagot)
6th November 1915
Noon, sailed 1/3BCS, and 1DF, set course East, 18 knots. 4pm carried out sub-calibre firing at splash targets. (Midshipman Bagot)
Beatty departed from Rosyth to undertake a reduced firing off May Island: Prior to the 3BCS advancing east to offer close support, to light-cruisers attacking the line of German armed trawlers, guarding the approaches to the Baltic. This sweep towards the Skagerrak, was to be undertaken by the 1LCS from Rosyth, and the 2LCS from Scapa, both elements provided with destroyer screens. The entire enterprise would be distantly supported by the ships of the 1BCS.
7th November 1915
To the north of the current operation, during the night of the 6/7th a severe gale in the Pentland Firth, graphically demonstrated the heavy seas in which Queen Mary and her squadron where sometimes expected to operate in. In this the 15,000 tons pre-dreadnought Albemarle was to experience the full force of such extreme conditions:
She shipped two heavy seas which washed away her fore bridge, with everyone on it, and even displaced the roof of the conning tower; hundreds oft of water flooded her decks and poured down below. An officer and one man were washed overboard and drowned, and several men were injured; Captain Nugent found himself on the upper deck amidst the wreckage of the bridge. The ship presented an extra-ordinary sight, the sea having made a clean sweep of her bridge and everything on it. (Midshipman Bagot)
One wonders if Major Rooney’s brother was still serving on-board the veteran at this time, and whether Rooney ever consigned a detailed account of this striking event to his lost diary. The 1/2LCS and destroyers began their sweep off the Skagerrak at daybreak, then retired westward: The advance 3BCS rejoined the 1BCS at 8am before the combined force set out to sweep down the Danish coast. This was an operation specifically designed to get between any German vessels in the Bight and their bases. Numerous neutral vessels were boarded by the accompanying destroyers, but nothing suspicious was encountered:
11am turned 16 points. (Midshipman Bagot)
Joining Viking, big destroyer. Hurrah! Much love. Write soon. (Midshipman Tennyson, telegram home)
8th November 1915
With this deep penetration into the Bight concluded, the BCF return to Rosyth, were an unusual sight awaited them upon their return that Sunday morning:
7am arrived Rosyth, coaled 1,130 tons. Collier collided with light-cruiser and sunk in channel between ‘A’ and ‘B’ lines. She took about four hours to sink and now only tops of mast and funnel can be seen. (Midshipman Bagot)
Midshipman Harold Tennyson was to be transferred to the destroyer Viking, then serving in the English Channel, with the 6DF of the Dover Patrol:
Could you please send me Handel’s Sonatas, Numbers 4,5, and 6, Nardini’s Concerto, and the Schumann Romances. Also a sponge cake. I began this in Queen Mary just before I left. (Midshipman Tennyson)
With this brief note to his mother, this individual’s time with Queen Mary drew to a close. As fate decreed he was destined not to live much longer, with his death on the 29th of January 1916, whilst serving on-board the Viking. This destroyer, on routine patrol off Boulogne, was struck by a mine aft. With the exception of the gunner who was on watch at the time, all the officers were aft at lunch, and were either killed outright in the initial explosion, or died in the oil feed fire which immediately followed. Tennyson was amongst their number. The Viking was however saved and eventually repaired for further service.
12th November 1915
First fall of snow this winter. (Midshipman Bagot)
13th November 1915
Frosts and snow. (Midshipman Bagot)
15th November 1915
As Queen Mary and her companions lay within the secure confines of Rosyth, a number of cruiser sweeps of the North Sea occurred during this period.
17th November 1915
Coaled 340 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
That was now 53,885t in total since the outbreak of war.
18th November 1915
6pm Two and a half hour notice. Sailed 1/4LCS. Reported that a strange three funnel cruiser, presumed German, been seen in North Sea. (Midshipman Bagot)
On Thursday we were due to sail for Rosyth: We sailed, but hardly in the anticipated direction. By 5pm we were bursting north-by-east at 20 knots. It appears that the somewhat ancient German cruiser Freya (1897 of 6,389t) has been sighted steering north through the Sound, probably by one of our submarines. (King-Hall, Southampton)
Queen Mary had immediately come to short notice for steam upon receipt of this potentially useful signal, but did not sail. An alert due to a report that an enemy vessel had been seen the previous day, passing through Danish waters. It was thought that this unit could have either be engaged upon a mine-laying operation, or to interfere with Allied sea traffic in the Norwegian Sea, or even the White Sea. This last possibility was quite likely, since a large consignment of ammunition and war supplies was then on passage from France to Russia. But with the departure from Rosyth of these two LCS’s there was then a number of forces strung out. Sweeping an extensive area from off the Norwegian coast, to the Lofoten Islands, in an attempt to intercept this possible enemy raider.
19th November 1915
Beatty’s battle-cruiser remained at Rosyth at short notice awaiting developments. As on-board speculation upon another operation, involving British submarines, proceeding from Harwich towards a penetration into enemy waters:
News of large number of submarines passing into the Baltic. Our light-cruisers and destroyers escort them into the Kattegat. (Midshipman Bagot)
There were no submarine moves into the Baltic at this time. With the five E-class boats already on station there, now effectively frozen in the port of Reval for the winter.
20th November 1915
Light-cruisers and destroyers returned. Ships at long notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
24th November 1915
Today an event of some importance occurred to Queen Mary, she hoisted the flag of Vice-Admiral Beatty. For the first time in her career she became a flagship:
Shifted berth to Lion’s buoy. Lion gone to dock. (Midshipman Bagot)
25th November 1915
Very foggy. (Midshipman Bagot)
26th November 1915
News of German cruiser being sunk in Baltic. (Midshipman Bagot)
This has to be the belated news of the demise of the Undine on the 7th, by the E.19.
27th November 1915
7am coaled 320 tons to complete. (Midshipman Bagot)
28th November 1915
11am ships at short notice. 2.30pm raising steam. 4.30pm sailed 1/2/3LCS. 5pm sailed 3BCS. 6.30pm sailed 1/2BCS. We just altered course in time to avoid minefield. Steam for 22 knots. NB no destroyers with us. (Midshipman Bagot)
The BCF led out by the temporary flagship Queen Mary, departed from Rosyth for a cruise in the northern portion of the North Sea, mainly for ‘PZ’ exercises and gunnery practice. The noted lack of a destroyer escort for this passage to the north however is strange to note, given the activity of submarines in these waters. Regarding these periodic practice shoots, Jellicoe and Beatty invariably maintained a correspondence regarding any matters arising in such an important area. One earlier exercise had not been received well.
I am aFraid you must have been very disappointed at Lion and Tiger’s battle practice results. I can’t understand how a control officer of experience could have made such a shocking blunder as that made by Lion’s control officer. It’s elementary. I fear the rapidity ideas was carried to excess in one case, Queen Mary I think. Also the range-finder operators were bad. (Admiral Jellicoe to Beatty)
Yes indeed it was a terrible disappointment the battle practice of Lion and Tiger. I do indeed think we all anticipated a good shoot and as you say the mistake of Lion’s control officer was deplorable as he is one of the soundest, least easy officers to rattle. The other three (1BCS) were not bad but undoubtedly as you say we could do with much more practice at sea. (Vice-Admiral Beatty to Jellicoe, 21.11.15)
29th November 1915
The fleet carried out exercises. In this the 3BCS performed the role of the 1SG, and closed with the Norwegian coast. From where it was then to then move north into the Atlantic in a simulated breakout. The 1/2BCS’s however successfully intercept this venture:
8.20am carried out range keeping exercise. 11am sub-calibre firing. (Midshipman Bagot)
30th November 1915
That day Queen Mary’s force headed towards an area between the Norwegian coast and the Shetland Islands. Further evolution’s and practice were to be undertaken. However heavy seas and gale force winds effected this programme. Battened down, and no cooked food:
We’re going to do sub-calibre, but it came on too rough. Position between Orkney’s and Kattegat. (Midshipman Bagot)
1st December 1915
With a moderation in the weather, the battle-cruisers prepared for a practice shoot, deploying into line ahead, with the 3BCS leading the 1BCS and 2BCS, leaving Queen Mary sixth in the line. In this only the performance of the temporary flagship, Princess Royal, and Inflexible, was to be later described as being satisfactory:
11am carried out 4 inch day action firing. Queen Mary very good firing. 1.30pm sub-calibre at splash target. (Midshipman Bagot)
As the BCF was so engaged, four BS’s set out from Scapa Flow and Cromarty, heading to the waters west of the Orkney’s, for similar exercises lasting until the 4th.
2nd December 1915
3pm carried out High Angle firing at New Zealand’s kite. 9pm Princess Royal dispatched for Newcastle, Tiger for Scapa, hands returning. (Midshipman Bagot)
The BCF with these two exceptions now headed back to Rosyth, were Beatty prepared to transfer his flag.
3rd December 1915
4am arrived Rosyth: Coaled 1,450 tons. Lion having rejoined, 9am Admiral Beatty re-hoisted flag in Lion. Rumour about seventeen German battleships passing through the Belt. We evidently stopped them going any further. (Midshipman Bagot)
7th December 1915
Now with the Princess Royal on the Tyne for some minor work, Rear-Admiral Brock was to temporarily employ Queen Mary as his flagship:
Rear-Admiral of 1BCS hoisted flag in Queen Mary. (Midshipman Bagot)
8th December 1915
Today saw the first anniversary of the victory of the Falklands. The veterans of the Invincible and Inflexible celebrated. The 2LCS and escort left Rosyth to carry out a two day sweep to the east of Little Fisher Bank. However also on this day the evacuation of Suvla and Anzac were ordered.
9th December 1915
9pm Princess Royal rejoined. (Midshipman Bagot)
10th December 1915
This day saw the consequences of the near collision in the Firth during the early hours of the 31st of May:
9am Court Martial held on-board Queen Mary, of captain, navigator, and wireless operator. Rear-Admiral Brock President. (Midshipman Bagot)
11th December 1915
Court still sitting. (Midshipman Bagot)
12th December 1915
At last the Court Martial came to its conclusions. Evidently it had held Prowse, and the ship’s navigator at the time, responsible to a large degree for what had transpired on that night. It is interesting to note the appointment of Queen Mary’s new navigator Commander Pennell that November, a move perhaps instigated by the above incident:
Captain was severely reprimanded, navigator reprimanded, Court adjourned. (Midshipman Bagot)
15th December 1915
This midshipman’s next entry was more pleasing, as regards his personal position, but still with little to occupy his attention:
I was promoted to Acting sub-lieutenant RN. Nothing of interest. (Midshipman Bagot)
20th December 1915
Evacuation of Suvla and Anzac completed.
21st December 1915
9pm Tiger arrived from refit. (Midshipman Bagot)
The BCF was soon to be placed at short notice, even though nothing was to develop from this status. Apparently the Harwich Force had yet again sailed to sweep the waters of the Bight, and the battle-cruisers were at this high state of preparation just in case they were needed.
23rd December 1915
Although the Harwich Force returned to its base, the BCF remained at a high level of preparation and watch:
Short notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
24th December 1915
Long notice. (Midshipman Bagot)
This was despite the fact that the 3LCS had proceeded from Rosyth, to sweep the North Sea down to the vicinity of the Dogger Bank.
25th December 1915
As the 3LCS experienced very severe weather in the North Sea, on-board the battle-cruisers at Rosyth the day was apparently routine:
Short notice. Xmas Day, very fine day, though rather dull. (Midshipman Bagot)
26th December 1915
Long notice, bad weather. (Midshipman Bagot)
28th December 1915
Evacuation of hands of Gallipoli Peninsula ordered.
30th December 1915
6.45pm short notice. P&O SS Persia, torpedoed in Mediterranean. (Midshipman Bagot)
The time on-board Queen Mary for the Japanese Naval Attaché, Commander Suetsugen, now drew to a close. He had been on-board since the 2 May. Natal was destroyed by an internal explosion in Cromarty harbour.
31st December 1915
Long notice. Natal blown up in harbour, Cromarty, owing to a fire being caused. Only 300 saved. First and last days of 1915, ships blown up. (Midshipman Bagot)
In this entry mentions two tragic events, at the beginning and end of the year. The former being the Formidable sunk in the English Channel on the 1 January, the latter being the loss of the Natal, due to an internal explosion at Invergordon the previous day.
(Introduction) | (1910) | (1911) | (1912) | (1913) | (1914) | (1915) | (1916) | (Epilogue) | (The Ship) | (Battle Cruiser) | (Design) | (Protection) | (Ordnance) | (Machinery) | (Miscellaneous) | (Sources) | (Artwork) | (Photos - Build) | (Photos - Pre-War) | (Photos - On board) | (Photos - WW1) | (Photos - Beatty’s Battlecruisers) | (Photos - Miscellaneous)