Notes on the text
by Alastair Wilson)
Experience with earlier types of destroyers [the “27-knotters” and 30-knotters] had shown quite clearly that concentrating on high trial (= smooth water) speed was a snare and a delusion. The combination of seaworthiness with the ability to maintain a less spectacular speed when it became rough was of far more real value. The early destroyers were far too lightly built, too small and too delicate to be fully effective in all conditions as fighting ships. The lesson was learned by the success of the German S90 class which had a raised forecastle and proved very seaworthy. The Admiralty decided to ask for more heavily built destroyers with raised forecastles and a contract speed of only 25½ knots. The larger size and sturdiness of the new destroyers was correctly held to allow the new destroyers to maintain this speed when the earlier destroyers would have dropped well below it.[Page 122, line 23] freeboard the ship’s side, or its height, between the waterline and the upper deck.
Makee-Do and her consorts were providing close escort to a group of minesweepers, who were clearing an enemy minefield close to the German (or, more likely, north Belgian) coast. Because of their shallow draft, Makee-do and her sisters were unlikely to hit any mines themselves, because, in general, moored mines couldn’t be set so shallow without giving away their presence. (But the minesweepers themselves had to sit deeper in the water to get the power to tow their cumbersome sweeps.)[Page 126, line 22] warts originally Naval slang for midshipmen (excrescences on the face of humanity) but at this time, used for mines, which were spherical, and when floating awash might be likened to a wart erupting from skin. (There is also a Naval Spoonerism concerning the use of this word: a Naval chaplain, conducting a service after return from a mine-laying operation, when it came to the Naval prayer, instead of saying “Oh Almighty Lord God, who alone spreadest out the heavens and rulest the raging of the seas, who hast compassed the waters with bounds …” very aptly, but unintentionally, said “who hast compassed the bounders with warts”.
The supporting, more heavily armed, cruisers were further to seaward, beyond the known or suspected confines of the minefield. (The fact that the Netherlands was neutral in World War I inhibited naval operations in that area – neither belligerent could lay minefields within Dutch territorial waters (nor – officially – use those waters at all). And minefields which might affect shipping using Dutch ports had to be declared.) The Germans had laid a minefield a short time ago, but a substantial number of their mines had broken loose. We had swept the rest, and then gone in to lay our own minefields. In this area of the southern North Sea, the prime purpose of German minefields was to inhibit British operations (big-gun monitors off-shore could, at extreme range, reach as far as the western end of the Ypres salient). The British aim was to hinder the operations of German light forces and submarines based at Ostende, Zeebrugge and Bruges.
The officers sleep on horsehair cushions placed on the lockers. . . . All lockers, both for officers and men are provided with lee boards and used for sleeping purposes, the men sleeping on lockers being provided with cork mattresses which are stowed overhead on hammock beams. . . . Sanitary arrangements consist of a WC for Officers aft, fitted to pump direct from the sea, a sea-cock being fitted. . . . For seamen a WC and urinal are fitted abreast the conning tower. These are flushed by means of buckets. No watertight doors are to be fitted for passage between compartments, but doors placed well up on the bulkhead have been fitted for passing food from the Galley to the crew space. . . . All provisions are stowed in tins, so that the provision spaces need only be battened and cork cemented.The Commanding Officer of HMS Havock, the first destroyer of all, wrote:
The behaviour of the ship and the accommodation is such that no-one gets undisturbed rest at sea even in fine weather and in bad weather of course there would be very little rest for anyone so that I should (except in very exceptional circumstances) recommend a limit of five nights at sea...David Lyons continued:
The crews of small craft generally had an extra allowance of pay – known by the splendidly graphic title of ‘hard lying money’ – and some crews really earned it. One thing that does seem true is that most early destroyers were ‘happy ships’ with a more relaxed attitude to discipline and standards of turnout than ‘big ships’. Small ships, then as now, tended to breed a cheerful spirit of camaraderie and shared hardships.[Page 142, line 23] couldn’t crime the swine couldn’t put the man on a charge.