A Fleet in Being

Notes to Chapter I

by Alastair Wilson. The page and line numbers refer to the 1898 Macmillan edition of A Fleet in Being.

[Heading] The heading of Chapter I consists of four lines slightly inaccurately quoted from G. S. Bowles, who resigned from the Navy as a Sub Lieutenant in 1897. A Gun-Room Ditty Box, published by Cassell in 1898, consists of sketches and verses written by him as a midshipman. Rear-Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, a kindly man, contributed a preface.

[Although not entirely relevant here, it may be pointed out that a ‘ditty box’ had nothing to do with songs. It was a small box, in which a sailor kept his small personal belongings – his ‘housewife’ (sewing kit), letters from home, photographs of his girlfriend, etc. The origin of the word ‘ditty’ in this usage, is believed to come from the Elizabethan era, when a sailor kept his belongings in a bag made of a material called ‘dittany’: so a ‘dittany bag’ became a ‘ditty bag’, became a ‘ditty box’. Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a popular public figure at the time, a bluff old sea-dog in appearance (though the second son of an Irish peer). He went on to command the Channel Fleet, 1907-09, and had a spectacular falling out with the First Sea Lord, Fisher, to the great detriment of naval morale. A.W.]

[Page 1, line 1] Some thirty of her Majesty’s men-of-war
These were:

1st Division2nd Division


MAJESTIC (Flagship of Vice-Admiral Stephenson)MAGNIFICENT (Flagship of Rear-Admiral Fellowes)



VICTORIOUSRoyal Sovereign

MARSEmpress of India


Powerful, 1st ClassBLAKE, 1st Class

Terrible, 1st ClassBLENHEIM, 1st Class

Naiad, 2nd ClassCHARYBDIS, 2nd Class

Latonia, 2nd ClassHERMIONE, 2nd Class

Thetis, 2nd ClassSpartan, 2nd Class

Tribune, 2nd ClassSappho, 2nd Class

Sirius, 2nd ClassAndromache, 2nd Class

Terpsichore, 2nd ClassMagicienne, 3rd Class

PELORUS, 3rd Class
Torpedo Gunboats

Ships in capitals formed part of the Channel Squadron. Though still shown in the Navy List as Channel Squadron, the Royal Sovereign and Empress of India had actually been relieved by new Majestic Class ships, and their departure for the Mediterranean was merely postponed till after the Manoeuvres. The remainder were attached temporarily.

Total: 11 battleships, 17 cruisers, 2 torpedo gunboats = 30.

[Page 1, line 4] one of a new type this was H.M.S. Pelorus, launched by Sheerness Dockyard in 1896, the first, and name ship, of a class of 11 small cruisers designed by Sir William White (Director of Naval Construction, 1885-1902). White believed that if the weight available for armour did not run to protecting the ship’s side with a belt of substantial area and thickness, it was best used on an armoured deck covering the submerged part of the ship, including of course magazines and main machinery. Cruisers with this form of defence were known as “protected” cruisers” – as opposed to “armoured cruisers” with vertical armour belts, which White had dropped until improved and lighter steel armour by Harvey and Krupp became available – and they were divided into first, second and third classes on a basis of their displacement tonnage, which was a rough index of their fighting value, though not necessarily of their general usefulness.

The Pelorus was a third class cruiser of 2,135 tons, armed with eight 4-inch and eight 3-pounder quick-firing guns, three Maxims and two above-water torpedo tubes. She had reciprocating (“push-and-pull”) triple expansion engines and Normand water-tube boilers, which could give 7,000 horse power for limited periods with forced draught and 5,000 with natural draught. The corresponding speeds were about 20.2 and 19.2 knots. Her complement was 224.
In appearance she was typical of White’s smaller cruisers, perhaps a little more sightly than the average. A raised forecastle was balanced by a poop aft. She had two tall raked funnels and masts, the latter looking somewhat bare, whether compared with the rigging of the departed days of sail, the fighting tops of her large contemporaries of 1897, or with the fire-control control positions and gunnery aids considered essential a few years later. Groups of large cowls for engine and boiler-room ventilating were a conspicuous feature.

The Pelorus and her first three sisters were laid down under Lord Spencer’s naval programme of December, 1893, which led to Mr. Gladstone’s withdrawal from political life. Most of the later ships were delayed by industrial troubles. Four of the class were scrapped before 1914 but the others, including the Pelorus, played minor parts in the ‘Kaiser’s War’.

Even in their prime, the cruisers designed under the aegis of Sir William White were not so highly regarded as his battleships, which for ten years or so were models for most of the world. Even his best cruisers mostly became outmoded before their time. This was by no means entirely his fault; he was constricted by financial limitations, by some lack of clear naval thought on the requirements, and by having to work to the limit of the capabilities of marine engineering at that time. Turbines and oil fuel were reserved for his successor, Sir Philip Watts, and water-tube boilers for ships larger than small cruisers were the subject of a controversy that lasted fiercely for years. The abbreviation “N.I.H.” was itself a much later import from America, but a prejudice against anything “Not Invented Here” certainly applied to the Belleville boilers imported from France for the big cruisers Powerful and Terrible, mentioned later.

[Page 1, line 5] commanded by an old friend This was Captain Edward Henry Bayly, whose acquaintance he had made on passage to Capetown in 1891. (See Something of Myself, p. 95.) As Commander-in-Command of the small cruiser Mohawk, Bayly gave Kipling his first introduction to the Navy in Simonstown. The Mohawk was transferred to the North America and West Indies Station the following year. Bayly received the thanks of the Admiralty and the Colonial Office for his services in suppressing a riot in Dominica and was promoted to Captain on January 1st, 1894. His friendship with Kipling was renewed after the latter returned to England from Vermont. (see Something of Myself, p. 148, where Bayly, known to his intimates as “Chawbags”, is thinly disguised as Captain Bagley.)

As Captain of the Aurora in China in 1900, Bayly was Senior Naval Officer at Tientsin during the Boxer Rebellion, and was awarded the C.B. He retired in February, 1904, when nearly at the top of the Captains’ list. As he died soon afterward, he may well have been invalided.

[Page 1, lines 7 and 8] a Portsmouth wherry a small boat propelled by oars, plying for hire. (In this context)

(While the Pelorus would undoubtedly have been glad to provide a ship’s boat for an honoured guest, if Kipling was arriving by an uncertain car at an uncertain time, he might well have preferred hiring a shore boat rather than keep a boat’s crew waiting.)

[Page 1, lines 8 and 9] in ’97 this replaces “many months ago” in the Morning Post article.

[Page 1, lines 10 and 11] the Chief Engineer though the Engineer Officer of one of H.M. Ships was colloquially called “the Chief Engineer” (or more briefly, “the Chief”), officially “Chief Engineer” was a rank, under an older form of entry of engineer officers. As it happened, the Engineer Officer of H.M.S. Pelorus in 1897 was a Chief Engineer, but this was fortuitous.

[Page 1, lines 12-14] … twenty-eight years old. They ranged in the wardroom from this resourceful age to twenty-six or seven clear-cut, clean-shaved young faces a printer’s error in the booklet, the substitution of a hyphen for the dash which appeared after `twenty” in the original text, has converted this passage to nonsense.

What Kipling meant to convey was that the wardroom officers ranged from 28 to 20 years and consisted of six or seven young men. “Ward-room” or “wardroom” was applied to both the mess
itself and to the officers who messed there.

The Navy List shows the officers of H.M.S. Pelorus at this time as:

Captain E. H. Bayly
Lieutenant Henry B. Pelly (First Lieutenant)
Lieutenant(N) Edwin H. Edwards (Navigating Officer)
Lieutenant George B. Powell
Lieutenant Herbert E. Norbury
Paymaster G. W. Whillier
Chief Engineer Wm. C. Burnett (Engineer Officer)
Sub-Lieutenant Percy Pitts
Surgeon John Grant, M.D.
Engineer J. T. Willoughby
Asst. Engineer George E. Andrew
G. F. Lacey)
A. J. Morley) Warrant Officers
Clerk R. H. D. Hicks

In a larger ship the Wardroom would have included all commissioned officers from the second-in-command (the ship’s Executive Officer) to lieutenants and their equivalent in the non-executive branches; sub-lieutenants, midshipmen, naval cadets and their equivalents would mess in the Gunroom; and warrant officers in the Warrant Officers’ Mess.

In the absence of a gunroom in a small cruiser like the Pelorus, it was laid down that gunroom officers should mess in the wardroom, receiving an allowance to compensate for the higher cost of living.

Except in the very smallest ships, such as torpedo craft and gunboats, where separate messing was out of the question, no such provision was made for the warrant officers, despite the fact that they were senior to midshipmen. This condemned them in a small cruiser to a somewhat lonely life, in a small mess of their own and even this was quite a recent innovation. It could be argued that being older and more experienced they could look after themselves better than midshipmen, but it would have been difficult to convince them that there was not a social bias. On the other hand, viewing the picture against a contemporary background, men lived harder, many warrant officers would accept without question conditions as they existed, and a number would certainly prefer to set their own pace rather than conform to wardroom ways with expenses not covered by the Admiralty allowance.

It will be seen that the wardroom included eleven officers, instead of Kipling’s six or seven, and in addition to the Engineer Officer, the Paymaster and the Surgeon, at least, were probably over 28. But officers other than the executive and engineer officers do not seem to have left much impression on Kipling. A further note on the anomalous position of warrant officers will be found later.

[Page 2, lines 6 and 7] the Admiral was new Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Stephenson, K.C.B., had assumed command of the Channel Squadron on June 7th, 1897.

[Page 2, lines 7 and 8] the Manoeuvres in 1885, when there was a possibility, of war with Russia, H.M. ships available in Home waters had been assembled into a Particular Service Squadron under the command of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby. Whilst awaiting the outcome of diplomatic negotiations, he had taken the opportunity of improving the efficiency of what was unkindly, but not unfairly, described as “a menagerie of unruly and curiously assorted ships” by putting them through a series of exercises. The value of this was so obvious that thereafter “Manoeuvres” became an annual event whenever the international situation and other conditions permitted. (They were omitted the following year, 1898.)

[Page 2, lines 9 and 10] a hundred and twenty moored vessels not so fortunate these would be the remainder of the ships that had just taken part in Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee Naval Review. The “foreign vessels” mentioned in line 11 would also have been present for the Review.

[Page 2, line 17] Distance on water is deceptive By a happy dispensation, most objects at sea look nearer than they are.

[Page 2, lines 18 and 19] wicked ram for the best part of forty years, nearly all British and foreign warships of cruiser size and above had had a bow sloping outward to a projecting spur, called the ram, designed to disembowel an opponent underwater.

[In fact, the ram featured for slightly longer than Admiral Brock says. It came about because, at the battle of Lissa, in 1866, between the Austrian and the Italian fleets, the Austrian flagship rammed the Italian flagship and sank her. This was the first encounter between steam-powered fleets, and the pundits decided that the ram would be the deciding weapon in future encounters. In 1866, this was not, perhaps, so foolish as later pundits have made out. Guns were ineffective against armour, and steam gave greater freedom of manouevre than did sail. However, as bigger guns and thicker armour came so, did longer ranges, and by 1900 the use of the ram was highly unlikely. Nonetheless, from the Enterprise, laid down in 1862, to the Royal Sovereign, laid down in 1914 (and which remained on the Navy List until 1949), the ram bow remained a feature. A.W.]

[Page 2, line 22] keep station maintain the ship in her intended position, on the proper bearing and at the right distance from the flagship, the Guide of the Fleet or the nearest ship in formation.

[Page 2, line 23] middle watch the watch from midnight to 4 a.m.

[Page 2, line 24] close water-tight doors a precaution taken when the ship is in imminent danger of underwater damage.

[In this context, the remark is being made jocularly – the Sub-Lieutenant has a poor opinion of the ability of the “gentleman of twenty-two” to keep station, and considers that there is a possibility that he may allow the ship to drop back until she gets too close to the “second-class cruiser’s ram” of the next astern. The Navy has learned the hard way, over the years, that watertight doors and hatches, especially to compartments below the waterline, can only safely be opened at sea under controlled conditions. In the days of wooden ships, it was not possible to divide a ship into watertight compartments, but the coming of iron allowed this to be done, and in the first iron ships access from one compartment to another usually meant going up (a) ladder(s) and down another to move between adjacent compartments. This incommoded the working of the ship and watertight doors were introduced from the late 1860s onwards. In peacetime, and in clear weather, many watertight doors might be left open all the time, but in fact, when manoeuvring in close company, a prudent captain would have ordered watertight doors to be shut as a matter of routine. A.W.]

[Page 3, line 7] the Quartermaster the rating responsible `for ensuring that the ship maintains the course ordered, either by steering himself or by supervising a less experienced helmsman.

[Page 3, line 7] the infantine wheel a steering wheel required only to control a steam steering engine could naturally be made much smaller then one controlling the rudder direct, with no more aid than simple leverage.

[Page 3, line 8] the Officer of the Bridge more correctly, “the Officer of the Watch”.

[Page 3, line 9] speaking-tube alternatively, “voice-tube”, or, more recently, “voice-pipe”.

[Page 3, lines 12 and 13] his bow or beam a bow bearing lies somewhere between right ahead of the Admiral and abeam of him, which is at right angles to his course or roughly abreast of him.

[Page 3, lines 16 and 17] two hundred yards or so behind us in the Morning Post this reads: “A hundred odd yards behind us”. As Kipling has already remarked, “distance on water is deceptive”. Even two hundred yards is rather cosy station for a column containing first and second-class cruisers.

[Page 3, line 19] the screw This means screw propeller, or propeller for short.

[Kipling’s use of the adjective “oily” – “the oily water from the screw of our next ahead” – is interesting. There is no reason for the wake so created to be oily, or not so as to be obvious – the appearance of the wake is purely due to the aeration of the water as it is forced backwards by the action of the screw. Nor was the bearing of the shaft carrying the screw lubricated by oil – they were made of lignum vitae, an extremely hard wood which has the property of using water as a lubricating medium. It occurs to me that Kipling might have used ‘oily’ having seen the frothy nature of the emulsion of oil and water used to lubricate the crank-pit and big-ends of the engines. A.W.]

[Page 3, line 20] so we did originally “so we lay”. No doubt altered to avoid repetition of “lay” a few lines above.

[Page 3, line 30] passenger on a Queen’s ship officers of the Royal Navy live in their ships. Kipling twice quotes Captain Bayly correctly as saying “in”, but sticks resolutely to the landsman’s “on” for his own purposes.

[Page 4, lines 16-19] Those who talk of a liner’s freedom from breakdown should take a 7,000 horsepower boat and hit her and hold her for a fortnight all across the salt seas

This has a fine nautical ring but does not stand up too well to analysis. The Pelorus could develop 7,000 horsepower only with forced draught and only for a limited period without risk of damaging her boilers. “Hit her and hold her” suggests a quotation from a maritime ballad but not much else. Her coal supply would certainly not permit the Pelorus to maintain anything like full power for a fortnight. Altogether this passage has a slightly purplish tinge.

[Nor would the physical capacity of her stokers permitted full power for a fortnight, even if the coal were available. This was one of the aspects of marine engineering which was changed enormously by the coming of oil fuel in the years 1900-1920. “Hit her and hold her” is almost certainly an echo from Kipling’s favourite author, Surtees, where the “Hit-`im-and-hold-`im-shire Hounds” feature in Ask Mama. In this instance, the reference is to Kipling’s perceived idea of the cruisers’ task being akin to that of a pack of hounds, in flushing out a fox. A.W.]

The Navy confines “boat” to torpedo craft and below, and some would grudge the exception that has been made for destroyers and submarines, once they grew so much larger than the original types. A cruiser should certainly be a “ship”.

[c.f. some light-hearted correspondence in the Sunday Telegraph, 12 October, 2003, as to when a ‘boat’ becomes a ‘ship’, and the writer who said that a naval officer had once said to him “a boat is something you put gravy into”. A.W.]

[Page 4, line 21] the galley in this context, the ship’s kitchen.

[Page 4, line 22] the deck torpedo tubes one 14-inch above-water torpedo tube was mounted on each side, on the upper deck, under the poop.

[Page 5, line 3] the forward flats internal compartments, mostly those affording a fore and aft gangway through the ship. They did not include the messdecks.

[Page 5, line 13] Marryat’s immortals Captain Frederick Marryat, C.B., Royal Navy (1792-1848), was a man of considerable and varied parts but is now chiefly remembered for his novels of naval life. His plots are little more than a fanciful frame, on which to hang a series of descriptions of naval life and characters, but these are of such enduring value that Peter Simple was recommended reading for a young officer in the 1920s.

[Page 5, line 15] Swinburne an experienced quartermaster and coxswain of a boat, later promoted to gunner. (Peter Simple.)

[Page 5, line 17] Chucks Mr. Chucks, “Gentleman Chucks”, “the best boatswain in his majesty’s service”, is also from Peter Simple. His ardent desire for social advancement failed to prevent his observations to his subordinates, begun “in the most delicate manner in the world”, from ending in vitriolic abuse, and sometimes in blows. Marryat eventually contrived to reward his merits by making him a captain, Count Shucksen, in the Swedish navy.

[Page 5, line 20] Dispart Mr. Dispart, whose name has a technical meaning connected with gunnery, is again from Peter Simple. When the frigate in which he was serving as gunner seemed likely to be lost with all aboard, his sole concern was with the fate of his guns. (“Mr. Dispart, allow me to observe, in the most delicate way in the world, that you’re a damned old fool”, said Mr. Chucks.)

[Page 6, line 2] six lights to each ship the lights additional to those carried by a tramp or any other merchant ship would be speed and helm signals.

[Page 6, line 4] the forward 4-inch guns one each side on the forecastle, just forward of the bridge.

[Page 6, line 6] break of the foc’sle the drop in level from the after end of the foc’sle (the approximate pronunciation of forecastle) down to the upper’ deck, which then formed the weather deck until the poop was reached. This rose to the same level as the forecastle. the weather deck is the uppermost deck in a ship which is exposed to the weather.

[Page 6, line 21] condenser converts exhaust steam from the engines back to fresh water to feed the boilers again.

[Page 6, line 23] hammock-cloths hammock-cloths of canvas, usually painted white, were used to protect the hammocks of the ship’s company when lashed up and stowed in racks, known as “nettings”, during the day-time.

[The implication here is that the stoker’s hands are, not surprisingly, black with coal- dust. What is interesting is that it would seem that the hammocks were still stowed on the upper deck, something which I would not have expected in 1897. A.W.]

[Page 6, lines 25-28] Our bunkers …. like a lot of bunion-plasters in the Pelorus the coal seems to have been stowed in a large number of small bunkers along the sides of the ship, making its conveyance to the boiler-room laborious. On a long passage or at high speeds, seamen sometimes had to assist in trimming bunkers.

[Page 7, line 8] sentry over the lifebuoy aft in ships carrying Royal Marines, they provided a sentry on the lifebuoy kept in a state of readiness at sea, in case of a man overboard.

[Page 7, line 12] steam tactics “steam tactics” was commonly used to denote exercises in ship and fleet handling, useful and indeed essential, but not always bearing more relation to battle than drill on the barrack square does to an infantryman’s movements in the field.

[Page 7, line 17] fifteen knots an hour seamen are now agreed that a “knot” is a unit of speed, viz., one nautical mile per hour, and that “knots an hour” is therefore a gross error, born of ignorance.. This does not seem to have become dogma until about 1890, and for some time after that date “knots an hour” continued to be used by many authorities; in fact, it appears that the Admiralty itself used it in 1897. Full notes below with R.G. notes on page 123 of Traffics and Discoveries: “Their Lawful Occasions”. In the Sussex and Burwash editions, Kipling or his reviser has substituted “knots” for “knots an hour” throughout.

[Page 7, line 18] all precisely alike precise likeness would not be acknowledged by a seaman.

[Page 7, line 27] bridge-semaphores instruments with two arms used for spelling out messages letter by letter, in the code taught to boy scouts using the human arms or a pair of flags.

[In later times, it was quite a sight to see two signalmen exchanging messages by short-arm semaphore, as when two ships were replenishing one from the other at sea, steaming parallel to each other at a distance of about 80 feet. The hands were kept close to the body, and the movements were of little more than the wrist: the spelling was that of today’s text messages, and so gossip (or ‘galley packets’) spread from ship to ship. Speeds of up to 30-35 words per minute were possible. A.W.]

[Page 8, line 1] Land’s End the western tip of Cornwall.

[Page 8, line 4] Blacksod Bay in County Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland.

[Page 8, line 5] Lough Swilly in Donegal, on the north coast of Ireland.

[Page 8, line 14] one small flaw in the rules Rules were as necessary for manoeuvres as for any other game. Some were laid down with the object of bringing about an interesting situation; some (it was suspected) to support the Admiralty in a conclusion already reached. In the light of two world wars, a number of them now look odd, not to say ridiculous, but even in 1898, Brassey’s Naval Annual was critical both of this flaw in the rules and the advantage taken of it.

[Page 8, line 16] the lower deck here the equivalent of the ship’s company, or ratings, as distinct from the officers.

[Page 8, line 18] Their Admiral Rear-Admiral John Fellowes, C.B. He became a full Admiral on the retired list, with a K.C.B. (Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath).

[Page 8, line 23] Blake …. Blenheim first-class cruisers of 9,000 tons, launched in 1889 and 1890 respectively. As predicted by the lower deck, one of them was used by Admiral Fellowes. Both were reduced to the useful but unspectacular role of destroyer depot ships in 1907.

[Page 9, line 28] donkey-engines small steam engines used for auxiliary purposes.

[Page 9, line 31] bulwarks plating along the ship’s side, above the upper deck level, to discourage the sea from invading the waist. The coal bags would have to be swung over this to reach the chutes to the bunkers.

[When coaling ship, half the ship’s company would go down into the collier’s hold, where they shoveled the coal into two-hundredweight (100 kilograms) sacks which would be then be hooked onto the end of the derrick-purchase (= crane wire), and hoisted up to the cruiser’s deck. In this case, it proved difficult to get the derrick high enough to swing the coal bags over the Pelorus’s bulwarks. A.W.]

[Page 10, line 5] “the crew, who worked like sailors-there is no stronger term” Admiral of the Fleet Lord Chatfield says, however, that “the art of coaling was undeveloped” before 1904, when Lord Charles Beresford made it as fiercely competitive as sail drill had been in its day. Most detailed organisation and sustained effort were then needed to put up even a creditable performance.

[Ships would vie with each other as to which could stow the largest amount of coal in a given time: battleships might get in over 1,000 tons of coal an hour, but in 1897, rates were much slower. Nor had much thought been given to the design of coaling facilities – some 10 years later, a midshipman recorded adverse comments about the size and shape of the coal-chutes in his ship, the new battle-cruiser Indomitable, compared to her German contemporaries. Judging from the stoker’s remarks (see page 6, lines 25-28 above) Pelorus was in the same situation. See the comments later by Admiral Brock at Chapter VI, page 65. A.W.]

[Page 10, line 14] “the First Lieutenant, carved in pure jet” as shown in the list of officers given earlier, this was Henry B. Pelly, then a Lieutenant of 6 1/2 years’ seniority, and incidentally close on his thirtieth birthday, so he too was over Kipling’s 28. He was promoted to Commander out of the Royal Yacht, his next appointment after the Pelorus, to Captain in 1906 and became Lord Charles Beresford’s Flag Captain in the King Edward VII in the new Channel Fleet, and commanded the battle-cruiser Tiger in the battles of the Dogger Bank (1915) and Jutland (1916). He retired as a full admiral with a knighthood. In his autobiography, 300,000 Sea Miles, he recalls how much the wardroom of the Pelorus enjoyed Kipling’s discourses, and confirms the fact that he was the officer in charge of the coaling referred to.

[Page 10, line 22] Malta fever Malta fever, or Mediterranean fever, took a heavy toll of health and even of life until c. 1906, when it was traced to the goats which provided the island’s milk.

[Page 10, line 23] “And what are you in?” note Captain Bayly’s use of

[Page 10, line 25] The Victorious a battleship of the Majestic class.

[Page 10, line 27] boat-cloak a cloak of roughly knee-length, hooked at the neck. In later and more expensive years it was used chiefly for evening wear, when going out of the ship in mess dress or mess undress, something more utilitarian being used for duty wear.

[Page 11, line 14] steam-capstan used for weighing the anchor.

[Page 11, line 29] the Red Duster the Red Ensign, flown by the `British Merchant Marine’ (now the Merchant Navy) for which it stands here.

[Page 11, line 31] the White Ensign strictly confined to H.M. ships, the Royal Yacht Squadron, and one or two other almost equally select clubs. Here, of course, it means the Royal Navy.

[Page 12, line 10] the Rockal Bank and the lonely rock Usually spelt Rockall. Rockall Island, “the lonely rock”, is some 225 miles west of the Hebrides.

[Page 12, line 16, et seq] Clearly, Kipling had not got his sea-legs In fact, he was feeling distinctly queasy, if not worse.

[Page 13, line 18] dinner the ship’s company had their main meal at noon.

[Page 13, line 19] spit-kids shallow circular tubs for cigarette ends, tobacco-juice and similar waste products and debris.

[Page 14, line 15] “walk foreninst her while she considered on it” Foreninst or forninst is an Irish expression meaning ‘alongside’. We don’t know whether this is a quote or an invention by Kipling.

[Page 14, line 25] the Flagship had some fifty or sixty signalmen an exaggeration, twenty at the most, and probably less. [A.W.]

[Page 14, line 28] stoke-hold the boiler room or that portion of it where the fires were attended.

[Page 15, line 10] boats here a landsman’s term for “ships”.

[Page 15, line 18] Eagle Island forms the north-west tip of County Mayo.

[Page 16, line 14] nettings as already mentioned these were the stowages for the ship’s company’s hammocks.