Saturday 25 December 1915
A very mouldy day to start off with. Owing to the foggy weather we have had of late, we raised steam, in case the Bosches try any games in the fog, so there was no leave. In the forenoon, headed by the Rear-Admiral [Horace Hood], we all went round the mess decks, which were wonderfully well decorated, as was the whole ship. The usual ship’s company funny parties. The day dragged wearily on; at 3.30 in the afternoon the ward-room challenged us to a cutter race, and some lunatics accepted, impressed a crew, and got badly beaten by two lengths. Mrs Hood presented us with a plum pudding and a Xmas tree, which was very good of her. We dined at 7.30, and about 7.45 things began to look up a bit; eventually we had an A1 dinner with heaps of everything to drink, and we all got most hilarious and “Xmassy.” After “The King” we had two solemn toasts in “Absent Friends” and “Fallen Comrades”, and then crowds more cheery ones, including “Falklands Veterans,” “Our visitors from the Inflexible,” “The Wonks,” “Ireland and the Irish,” “Our Allies” (enumerated by me and nine in No.), “Sir David Beatty,” “The Hood Family,” “Scotland and the Scotch,” “England, Wales and the Jews,” “The Army” (very popular but Cobb’s [Midshipman Thomas Cobb] reference to the 6th Dragoon Guards spoiled the effect and caused an uproar), “Sir John Jellicoe, the C.-in-C.,” “The Gun-Room Staff,” “The President,” and lastly “The British Empire.” I made three speeches, and we all got very biffed and sang and shouted till midnight, when we rushed howling on deck, and about 12.30 reached the warrant-officers’ mess, where we joined in another sing-song, and so to bed at 2.30.
[NB Sunday 26 begins: Turned out very much the worse for wear after last night’s carousal. One or two were fearfully tight, and everyone had the most awful heads this morning.]
20 February 1916, extract from letter to his mother (We do have a few letters sent by him in early 1916, although the diary itself will have gone down with the ship, either in his cabin or possibly even his pocket in A Turret.) Dearest Mother (he seems to alternate greeting her as Dearest Mother or Darling Mama) ... If you have nothing better to do one afternoon, should you happen to visit one of those accursed cinema shows at the “Empire” music-hall, you may, I am told, have the privilege of seeing your first-born flash past on the film. A scene entitled “Battle Cruisers at Work” depicts the Invincible steaming at full speed (the leading ship of a squadron of three*), and on the foremost turret your first “trouble and worry” is standing. One of the staff who has been to London saw the thing a few weeks ago, otherwise I should never have believed that my versatility would have led me to appear on a leading London music-hall stage, even on the film. They must have taken the beastly thing from a hospital ship or something, I suppose. My very best love TOBY
- Clearly the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron, the three Invincibles, though he will have refrained from stating this.
We should LOVE to see this film – I wonder if it still exists in the IWM or elsewhere – I cannot at present trace it. Does anyone know more of it? (I wonder too if he really felt a bit ashamed of appearing in a “vulgar entertainment”, or just felt he should play down any pleasure he felt. If it was still being shown, did his family try and see it again after his loss? We are used to having video clips of lost relatives still to look at, but such a chance would have been very rare then.)