1919 Diary ID

Hi List,

I am trying to identify the officer who wrote up a diary with entries from 01-01-1919 to 10-08-1919. He was stationed in Malta during this period and may have the surname Denn and a possible rank of Lt. Commander when he retired (not in 1919 I suspect).

There is a mention in the diary of him celebrating his twenty years service, so I presume he joined in 1899.

Can anyone give me a starting point as to where I might track down the identity of this officer?


The 1919 Navy List would be a good starting point - dunno if it's available on line. Failing that, the Naval Library in Pompey DY or the Naval Historical Branch, who do have copies.
Listed in the 1901 census is one Thomas Denn, born in approximately 1882 in Ballycricker, Ireland.

Registration District is:

Royal Navy at Sea and in Ports Abroad

Under town it says "Malta"

Vessel: Victorious

Could this be him?
Thanks for that.

I have just been told that one of his medals reads:


Does that mean anything to anyone? I think it may be his Victory Medal but am not sure as my info is third party. I have also just now got permission from the Diary owner to post links to pdf files which I have been scanning for the last two weeks.

Each file is approx 20 MBs and covers two months as follows:

[align=center]Jan-Feb 1919 | Mar-Apr 1919 | May-Jun 1919 | Jul-Aug 10th 1919 + Misc. Accounts[/align]

I still have to convert the scanned entries for the period 1st July - 10th August to pdf. I should have them done over the weekend.



Edited @ 00:05, 17-09-09 to include link to last part of Diary

No, the present owner of the diary works with me in the Property Registration Authority (Land Registry) in Waterford. His family were given the diary by Denn.

The address given in the record above is "Ballycricker, Ireland" which I think should read Ballybricken, Ireland - Ballybricken is part of the city of Waterford - see here.

Off to work, talk later guys.

GNR would have stood for 'Gunner', a gunnery specialist Warrant Officer with over 10 years' seniority. He would have worn a gold stripe half normal thickness (i.e. 1/4") on the sleeve of his uniform and been addressed as 'Mister'. Although junior in rank, he would have risen from the lower deck through aptitude and perseverance and been a formidable member of the ship's company. Many went on to achieve much more senior rank. RN Gunnery officers have traditionally been known for their strength of character.
Thanks for the info on the medal.

Does anyone know anything about HMS Victorious in 1901 when the above census was carried out?

I assume from the name she was a capital ship and obviously not the same vessel as the famous WWII carrier - or did the name refer to a shore station?


sea_mine said:
Does anyone know anything about HMS Victorious in 1901 when the above census was carried out?

I assume from the name she was a capital ship ?


Hello Pat,

That HMS Victorious was indeed a capital ship - one of nine Majestic-class battleships

(The Majestic class was a ship class of predreadnought battleships, built under the Spencer Programme of 8 December 1893,
which sought to counter the growing naval strength of France and the Russian Empire....).

If it helps I found this


Extract <<Operational History. HMS Victorious commissioned on 4 November 1896 for service in the Fleet Reserve at Chatham Dockyard.

On 8 June 1897, she went into full commission for service in the Mediterranean Fleet. Before leaving the United Kingdom, she was present at the Fleet Review at Spithead for the Diamond Jubilee to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Victoria on 26 June 1897.

She moved to the Mediterranean where she relieved battleship HMS Anson.

In February 1898, Victorious detached from the Mediterranean Fleet for service on the China Station. According to a report in the New York Journal on 16 February, she ran hard aground while entering the harbor at Port Said en route to China. Her coal had to be taken off before she could be floated free.

In 1900, she returned to the Mediterranean and underwent a refit at Malta.

Her Mediterranean service over, Victorious paid off at Chatham on 8 August 1903 and began a refit there that lasted until February 1904.>>>

From Google I discovered this, too, at Amazon


The log of H.M.S. Victorious 1899 – 1903

(Including that part of the commission in H.M.S. Revenge)

A bit expensive at £90.00, but from the following details you may find another copy elsewhere:

Unknown Binding: 153 pages

Publisher: The Westminister Press (Gerrards Ltd.) (1903)

Language English

ASIN: B00088O1PY

Best of luck with your researches.

SP, Bob & All,

Guys, I really cannot thank you all enough for the help. I have downloaded the two pdf files from the National Archives - well worth the £7 - unlike the The Aerial Reconnaissance Archives (TARA) where I have spent a small fortune on recon images taken on D-Day.

I have uploaded the two pdfs here and here if anyone wants to take a look. Am I reading the record right in that:

Thomas Denn retired at his own request with the rank of Commissioned Gunner on 11/01/1923.

He appears to have spent a week in Plymouth Hospital - anyone make out the illness and or date?


A bit expensive at £90.00, but from the following details you may find another copy elsewhere:


Best of luck with your researches.


As soon as I win the Lotto, that will be the second item on my shopping list after the summer cottage in Normandy :lol:


The dates look like 14/11/21-21/11/21 and the illness is Cystitis - there are two words in front of the word "Cystitis" which I can't decipher, though.
I have had a crack at decyphering the most significant bits of Thomas Denn's service record. I hope it helps make sense of his diary.

Thomas Denn Service Record said:
11 Jan - 11 Apr 1899: Boy 2nd Class in HMS Northampton, a 7,652 ton iron armoured frigate then used as a seagoing training ship for boys at Sheerness.
12 Apr - 12 Jun 1899: Ordinary Seaman in HMS Northampton.
13 Jun - 10 Jul 1899: Ordinary Seaman in HMS Calliope, a screw corvette probably used as a training ship at Devonport .
11 Jul - 21 Nov 1899: Ordinary Seaman at HMS Vivid I, the RN Barracks at Devonport, Plymouth.
22 Nov 1899 - 15 May 1900: Ordinary Seaman in HMS Revenge, a 14,150 ton battleship.
16 May 1900 - 2 Mar 1901: Ordinary Seaman in HMS Victorious, a 14,900 ton battleship.
3 Mar - 23 Sep 1901: Able Seaman in HMS Victorious on qualifying as Torpedoman.
24 Sep - 30 Nov 1901: Able Seaman in HMS Devastation, a 9,387 ton turret ship then Port Guard Ship at Gibraltar.
1 - 6 Dec 1901: Able Seaman in HMS Hibernia, a 16,350 ton battleship. Qualified Acting Seaman Gunner Second Class on 6 Dec 1901.
7 Dec 1901 - 7 Aug 1903: Able Seaman in HMS Victorious for service with Mediterranean Fleet.
8 Aug - 10 Oct 1903: Able Seaman at HMS Vivid, probably for end of commission/foreign service leave.
11 Oct 1903 - 13 Feb 1904: Able Seaman in HMS Cambridge, an ex-First Rate (ex-HMS Victoria, ex-HMS Windsor Castle) converted to a screw ship then used as a Gunnery Training Ship at Plymouth. Qualified Seaman Gunner 26 Jan 1904.
14 Feb - 5 Mar 1904: Able Seaman at HMS Vivid I.
6 Mar - 8 Nov 1904: Able Seaman at HMS Defiance, then the Torpedo Training School at Devonport. Qualified Seaman Torpedoman 13 May 1904.
9 - 26 Nov 1904: Leading Seaman at HMS Defiance on qualifying as LTO (Leading Torpedo Operator).
27 - 29 Nov 1904: Leading Seaman at HMS Vivid I.
30 Nov 1904 - 4 Feb 1905: Leading Seaman in HMS Indus, a 6,710 ton iron armoured ship (ex-HMS Valiant) then used as a depot ship, floating workshop and Mechanical Training Establishment at Devonport.
5 Feb - 8 May 1905: Leading Seaman at HMS Vivid I.
9 May 1905 - 27 May 1907: Leading Seaman in HMS Commonwealth, a 16,350 ton battleship.
28 May 1907 - 4 May 1908: Leading Seaman at HMS Defiance, the Torpedo Training School at Devonport. Recategorised Seaman Torpedoman 1 Dec 1907 when system changed.
5 May - 17 Dec 1908: Rated Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMS Defiance on qualifying as Torpedo Gunner's Mate.
18 Dec 1908 - 9 Mar 1909: Petty Officer 2nd Class in HMS Leander, a 4,300 ton steel despatch vessel (2nd Class cruiser) then used as a depot ship at Devonport.
10 - 22 Mar 1909: Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMS Defiance.
23 Mar - 16 Jul 1909: Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMS Vivid I.
17 Jul 1909 - 19 Aug 1910: Petty Officer 2nd Class in HMS Leander.
20 Aug - 30 Nov 1910: Petty Officer 2nd Class at HMS Defiance.
1 Dec 1910 - 17 Jan 1911: Petty Officer (Non-Substantive) at HMS Defiance.
18 Jan - 5 Sep 1911: Petty Officer (Non-Substantive) at HMS Vivid I.
6 Sep - 6 Sep 1911: Transferred to Officers' administration at HMS Defiance on promotion to Gunner.
7 Nov 1911 - 15 Sep 1913: Gunner (T) (i.e. Torpedo) in HMS Bristol, a new 4,820 ton second class cruiser. Confirmed as Gunner (T) 20 Sep 1912.
15 Sep 1913 - 28 Jul 1915: Gunner (T) in HMS Comet, a 747 ton destroyer administered by HMS Blake, depot ship at Scapa Flow.
28 Jul 1915 - Aug 1917: Gunner (T) in HMS (Illegible) administered by HMS Pembroke, the RN Barracks at Chatham, and HMS Blake. Recommended for special promotion to Lieutenant sometime in 1917.
Aug 1917 - 3 Sep 1917: Gunner (T) at HMS Defiance for one month's sick leave on relief in HMS (illegible). Assessed as "not fit at present for sea" due to health in Aug 1917.
3 Sep - 2 Nov 1917: Gunner (T) at Parkeston Quay, a Royal Navy base at Harwich, while unfit for active service.
8 Oct 1917: Admitted Shotley Medical Centre for two weeks.
14 Nov 1917: Discharged Shotley Medical Centre.
24 Nov 1917: Found fit and discharged from Parkeston Quay to Depot.
4 Feb 1918 - 30 Jul 1919: Gunner (T) at HMS Egmont, Base Ship at Malta, for staff of Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet for PV (possibly 'Positively Vetted', i.e. highly sensitive) duties.
30 Jul - 9 Sep 1919: Discharged to HMS Defiance.
9 Sep 1919 - 12 Sep 1921: Gunner (T) at HMS Defiance (supplementary) for staff duties. Recommended for promotion to Commissioned Gunner (T) on 10 Aug 1921.
7 Sep 1921: Promoted Commissioned Gunner (T).
14 - 21 Nov 1921: Admitted Plymouth Hospital for some form of cystitis.
1 Feb 1922 - 11 Jan 1923: Commissioned Gunner (T) in HMS Enterprise, a 7,600 ton light cruiser under the administration of HMS Vivid.
11 Jan 1923: Placed on Retired List at own request.

I appreciate your time and effort on the Service Record. I hope to have the last two months (1st July - 10th August + misc accounts from the back of the diary) uploaded tonight.

Again, thanks to all who are helping on this research.

SP & List

Thanks once again - how did you do the search?...is it the Adobe Reader search box at the top?

I have now uploaded the final part of the diary here and it seems to tie in well with his service record. I'll have a closer look tonight as with the rush to get the scanning done, the one thing I have neglected to do is read the diary in full.

There are also some terms used in the record that I am not sure of, which I am certain will pose no problem to you guys.



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