TBI in 1907

The Naval Staff Monographs (Home Waters), kept at the National Archives, and the first two volumes of the official Naval Operations, written by Sir Julian S.Corbett, have been valuable in putting the story of Torpedo Boat Number One in the context of the naval war in the North Sea and the English Channel during 1914 and 1915. although the references to the work of the Patrol Flotillas and the Local Defence Flotillas are few and fleeting.

Torpedo Boat Number One’s logbooks should have been more help than they were. The monthly logs of naval ships, preserved at the National Archives, do not waste words and rarely refer to happenings outside the vessel concerned, but TB1’s diaries are more terse than most, certainly until the ship was based at Newhaven. Lieutenant Meade, who captained TB1 from 30 October, 1914, until 12 February, 1915, was reprimanded by Captain (D) of the 7th.Flotilla for the way the logbooks were kept. Captain Clifton Brown’ s letter, which was pasted inside the stiff front cover of a monthly volume, ran as follows:

“It should have been understood by you that in time of war, the ship’s log is the only official record and diary of a ship’s movements etc. and all necessary entries such as courses, positions of anchoring, should have been inserted.. The mere peace time routine, such as hands are piped to dinner, is unimportant - - - .

There is some doubt about how and when Rudyard Kipling obtained the information about the Patrol Flotillas which he used in “Sea Warfare” (published in 1916), an extract from which opens this book. The most likely answer to the problem is that he spent a week with Rear Admiral Ballard, Admiral of Patrols, aboard the flagship HMS St.George in Immingham Docks in late 1915.

Front Row: Ch.Artificer Engineer Harding, Mate Hann4 Morgan,Ch.Gunner McCarthy

The men of the small ships of WW1 and WW2 believed that the craft they manned did all the hard graft while the big ships spent most of their time swinging round buoys and, on the rare occasions when they did sally forth, were of little use. I was surprised to find that Sir Walter Raleigh shared this prejudice (if prejudice it was) with the men of Torpedo Boat One !


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