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Training For RN Small Boat Crews Northern Persian Gulf



From the diary of Captain Cuthbert Helsham-Heath-Caldwell DSC RN

Dated Saturday 12th July 1913 - Northern Persian Gulf

.....Sheikh most interested in his forts. He and his brother Abdullah have declared war on Mogam & Kalat & they say that Abdullah with 400 men has beaten Mogam having killed two. But it is most probably a lie...........

Examination of candidates for Captain of an armed launch.

Time allowed 3 hours. Only 6 questions to be attempted

I. Give Hindostani, Persian and Goanese equivalents of.

(a) "fool". (b) swine. (c) "You are a damned liar". (d) He is no good at all. (e) That will be one days pay.

II. Write a specimen letter to Senior Naval Officer, explaining that.

(1) Half your crew are sick.
(2) The remainder are bad characters.
(3) You consider that they should all be relieved.

III. Give SNO's reply to letter in question II.

IV. Describe how to tame a wild Goanese cook, aged (according to his service certificate) 50. Said cook knows no language but Goanese. Special consideration shall be given to "Breaking to soap & water".

V. Describe briefly "How not to beach an armed launch on the occasion of her (alleged) quarterly overhaul".

VI. Describe cause, symptoms & treatment of:

(a) Prickly heat.

(b) Boils

(c) malaria.

(d) Persiangulfitis.

VII. (a) Give specimen weekly anchoring returns for following beats.

(1) Chiru to Bistane

(2) Tamb to Abu Musa

(3) Farur to Musandam

In your answer "considered expedient" is not to be used as a reason for anchoring.

(b) Write down the number of times per month you consider it safe to give "shelter from Shamal" as a reason for anchoring.

VIII. the quartermaster (who is a youthful marine) wakes you up at 6.0am, and informs you that he has lost overboard

(a) The service binoculars

(b) The service telescope

(c) Your own binoculars

Give a selection of remarks suitable for each case.

IX. A is CO of a launch which is on a lonely beat and has no chance of meeting a man-of-war for at least 6 weeks. His crew consists of 1 Gunner, 11 PO's, NCO's & men of the Royal Navy and Marines, besides 11 lascar stokers. At 10.30am the gunner informs A that.

(1) The PO requests to be relieved because he cannot get on with the Gunner

(2) 6 men request to be relieved because they cannot get on with the Gunner or Petty Officer

(3) The PO and 6 men are in the report for insolence to the Gunner.

What should A do?

X. Write an essay on the Arms Traffic Blockade with special reference to armed launches. Describe the changes that you would make if you were.

(1) C-in-C East Indies

(2) Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf Division.

XI. Write a letter to a friend explaining the advantages of life in an armed launch.

XII. Write a service letter requesting to be relieved of your command.

Sunday 13th July 1913

Pariah bitch puppy joined ship.


silverfox said:

The original diary is [I think] in a Leeds museum but I will post a link a little later to the Internet copy. Meanwhile still in the northern Persian Gulf:

Wednesday 7th October 1914 at Abadan

Situation here supposed to be getting serious. Spent most of the day getting up canvas gear etc as protection against rifle fire. In afternoon a Turkish officer (Captain of Marinarice) boarded the Espiegle (anchored off Mahomera) & protested against our presence in Turkish waters. We were warned by WT that he would most probably board us. About (5.0pm) an hour later he appeared in the white motor launch (armed with two machine guns) and as he appeared to be making heavy weather of anchoring we sent an RN dingy to offer assistance.

He came on board and gave Captain a letter written in broken English protesting against our presence and asking us to leave the river within 24 hours. He was referred to Espiegle. Espiegle refered to C in C. This makes the fifth protest as I understand they have boarded the Odin twice & Espiegel twice with the same protest. I understand that they also object to our using the wireless but we don't take much notice of it.

The Vali of Basra has also informed Espiegle that any man-of-war attempting to enter the river this evening will be fired at by Tao. Leave is all stopped & we are standing by in case of attack, but I shall be very much surprised if anything happens. All leave stops

Thursday 8th October 1914

Got some more sandbags up this forenoon. No further news except I understand three more battleships and an old cruiser are expected on station. No further news of Emden or Konigsburg. It certainly looks as if the political people have made a bit of a bloomer in sending us up here at all. The whole show is very boring as we can't even go ashore now.

Friday 9th October 1914

Intercepted message says "situation easier". What a parcel of old women they all are. Feeling the lack of exercise so swallowed a bursting charge last night. Kept an OOW last night in case of attack. Hear that Russian troops have landed in France via Archangel and Aberdeen.

Saturday 10th October 1914

Situation easier. Received orders to leave for Bushire on another job organising look out stations in the Gulf in case of any German cruisers who are loose come up this way. Hear that Drake of Edinburgh is after Emden.

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