America and West Indies Station
1930 – 1932
Pacific Cruise 1930
H.M.S. Dauntless 1930
H.M.S. Dauntless Ship’s Complement 1930
25 March 1930
HMS Dauntless commissioned at Portsmouth with a ‘Pompey’ crew for service on the America and West Indies Station with the 8th Cruiser Squadron, based at Bermuda. She was to take the place of H.M.S. Caradoc which had recently arrived home and had paid off at Portsmouth.
Captain H. R. Moore, D.S.O., of H.M.S. Caradoc, was appointed to command H.M.S. Dauntless.
On the forenoon of the 8th April, the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth, Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, walked round the ship and wished the officers and ship’s company a pleasant voyage and a happy commission. At 11.15 on the same day the ship slipped from the North West Tidal Basin, bound for Bermuda. The jetty was crowded with friends, relatives and other dear ones who had come to catch a glimpse of us. Fond farewells were exchanged and also promise to remain true. Amidst cheers and hand waving the ship proceeded out of harbour to carry out D/F. calibration off Spithead before shaping course for Bermuda at 1730. Dreams were dreamed that night.
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Map of the 1930 Pacific Cruise by H.M.S. Dauntless
Place-names and dates
From 8th - 13th April we experienced sunshine and a moderately calm sea. On the 13th the ship passed the Azores, but the islands were too far away to be sighted. It was also reported that a shark had been seen.
The 14th April brought cloudy weather; rainsqualls and a heavy Atlantic swell which continued for four days. The ship pitched and rolled uncomfortably. It was noticed that some of the Boy’s Division had lost their girlish complexions and that a few even looked unhappy. Perhaps they had eaten something, which had disagreed with them. Throughout this period the hands were busily engaged cleaning ship.
On the 19th April, at 1030, and in glorious sunshine, H.M.S. Dauntless arrived at the Royal Naval Dockyard Bermuda and secured alongside Clock Tower Jetty. H.M.S. Despatch, flying the flag of the Commander-in-Chief of the Station, Admiral Sir Cyril Fuller , and H.M.S. Heliotrope were in harbour.
At last we had arrived at Bermuda and on our own station.
Bermuda, Ye ‘Isles of Rest,’ what have ye in store for us besides sunshine, lilies, hibiscus and bicycle rides?
Having arrived at the Isles of Rest it was appropriate that the ship should proceed to sea on the 21st and 22nd April to carry out gunnery and torpedo exercises. Throughout the practices we experienced rainsqualls and intermittent sunshine.
During the period 23rd - 30th April, trial football and cricket matches held on Moresby’s Plain. Talent was forthcoming and great credit is due to the selection committees for building up the best elevens possible under the none too propitious circumstances.
According to the original programme the ship was supposed to sail for Bluefields, Nicaragua, on the 26th April. From the date of arrival at Bermuda chipping, painting and cleaning had proceeded furiously. In spite of all our efforts it was soon obvious that the ship would not be ready to commence the first cruise on the 26th April. The date of departure was postponed for five days.
At 1530 on Thursday 1st May, we sailed from Bermuda for Colon, on a Pacific cruise. Rumour has it that this cruise is easily the best on the station.
Mention must be made of an amusing incident which occurred just before the ship commissioned at Portsmouth. Owing to an electric blow out in one of the passages it was necessary to give the fire alarm to all ships and establishments. However, the care and maintenance party, with the assistance of dockyard men, managed to get the fire under control before outside assistance arrived. But what we want to know is who was the zealous rating who plunged boldly into the smoke with a fire bucket in one hand and a lighted candle in the other to find his way to the fire?
We decided it was necessary to write an account of Modern Bermuda, chiefly to convey some idea of what one may expect to find when based here. All our efforts have paled before the following description by a royal Marine. We are deeply indebted to the Editor of The Globe and Laurel for permission to reproduce this article.
Bermuda-as a Bermudian sees it.
There she lies – Bermuda - land of sunshine and rejuvenating air, of blossoms, soft colourings and picturesque glimpses. Let all be assured that these Enchanted Islands will yield full expectations. The Giver of all good has been generous with His gifts to these Islands of the Blest – the nearest approach to Paradise yet known. Song and story tell us of Scotland’s rugged grandeur, of the wondrous beauty of England’s Lakeland, of Swiss scenery sublime, yet the unique and scenic delights of Bermuda surpass them all.
Members of the corps who have served here and who may read this will undoubtedly murmur, but of this beautiful Isle of the Western Sea too little is known. Her climate conditions evoke admiring comment, and above all her pervading 'rest' earns her legions of admirers. The old-world 'quiet' is maintained by the prohibition of motor vehicles, although this is likely to be disputed by a railway, which is in course of erection. At present bicycles and horse transport are the only means of conveyance.
Since the introduction of prohibition in the United Sates, Bermuda knows no limit to its prosperity; a fleet of luxurious liners flows between New York and these Islands.
The hotels are wonderful, but it must be understood that the tourists visit this heaven kissed Isle to enjoy its restful beauty. According to cartoons, American mothers with daughters to wed flock here when the British Fleet has returned from cruising.
Hamilton, the capital of the Islands, offers a rendezvous which is typically British-American, probably more American than British. It is situated in the centre of the islands and presents a most novel and attractive panorama. With its buildings of white coral limestone set in the green hills, and a blue-sky overhead, the setting is most effective.
To do justice to the subject demands journalistic ability, therefore I’ll leave impression number one with the invitation to all to ‘Come and see the works of God.’
Bermuda-as the Navy see it
Situated miles from everywhere lie the Islands of Bermuda. Surely the Maker used his apprentice hand on the making of them. Marooned at one end of the group are the ship’s companies of five cruisers and two sloops, at the other extremity are the Northumberland Fusiliers. Ireland Island, upon which is built the dockyard, offers opportunities galore for fond thoughts of other stations. Surely Malta, with all the cruel things said about it is worthy of being rated as ‘neaters’ compared to ‘this three water.’
Those who have served on this Station and suffered a long spell alongside the wall will be quite ready to sympathise with us. Make your own sport is a necessity, but even then one gets tired of amusing one’s self. Of course we have a canteen run by the N.A.A.F.I, which is a popular as all other Institutes directed by this firm. Moresby Plain offers us two football grounds, which require no alteration to become a drill field. In the old sad loft we have pictures or rather talkies while for Sundays we have church.
On only one occasion was the Navy welcomed to Hamilton, all available hands being required as fire fighters.
At the homeports the ‘Dockyard Matie’ is our most severe critic. Here he is our most ardent friend. Those with daughters are usually the most successful. Still, thank Heaven for small mercies even although one must have some ‘dog’ in the pocket when going ‘up home.’
Author’s Note: Dockyard Matie – Someone, a civilian, who works in the naval dockyard.
The passage from Bermuda to Colon was uneventful. On the whole the sea was calm, but there were occasional rainsqualls. The days became perceptibly warmer, and on the 4th May, for the first time during the commission, sun helmets were worn. We arrived at Colon, the Atlantic entrance to the Panama Canal, at 1030 on the 7th May, and berthed alongside the shipping wharf at Christobal Docks.
At the Canal
Christobal, in the Canal Zone, is the twin city of Colon, which is the capital of its province. Colon was originally named Aspinwall, after one of the founders of the Panama Railroad, but the present name commemorates Columbus. The town was formerly a hotbed of yellow fever; medical science has since converted it into a healthy, flourishing port. A certain proportion of its wealth is undoubtedly due to the fact that Colon is outside the Canal Zone, and so the liquor restrictions imposed by the Volstead Act do not apply. The numerous and various types of cabarets provide nightlife entertainment, both to the sophisticated and unsophisticated. Bill Gray’s and the Atlantic cabarets collected most of our money and the shows put up were really A.1; by the way, for most of us, our first taste of cabarets.
The majority of the inhabitants are American employees of the Canal. The officers received a hearty welcome at the Strangers Club. During our three days stay both officers and men were guests of the United Sates Navy at the Coco Solo Submarine and Air Force Base. Our hosts extended to us every opportunity for water polo and other sports. The period at Colon was a very pleasant break after seven at sea; nevertheless everyone was anxious to proceed on the voyage to La Libertad, via the Panama Canal. At 0600 on the 10th May we picked up our pilot and at 0630 entered the Gatun Lock.
The axis of the isthmus in the Canal Zone runs southwest to northeast, and as the Canal is cut approximately northwest to southeast the Pacific outlet is accordingly east of the Atlantic end by nearly 27 miles. Many a bet has been won over this fact.
The Canal follows the valley of the Chagres River on the Atlantic side and that of the Rio Grande on the Pacific slope. The Gaillard or Culebra Cut spans the distance between. From deep water to deep water the distance is 44 nautical miles. The depth varies from Lake. The mean level of the Pacific is some eight inches higher than the Atlantic. Constant dredging is necessary in the nine miles Gaillard Cut. The ascent to the Gatun Lake, 85 feet above sea level, is made by a series of three steps at Gatun Lock. The descent to the Pacific level is made by means of the Pedro Miguel Lock, Miraflores Lake and Miraflores Locks. Each lock chamber has 1,000 feet of length, 110 feet width and some 70 feet depth. The lock machinery is electrically operated. Power is deprived from the hydroelectric station, worked by the spillway from Gatun Lake.
Ferdinand de Lesseps arrived at Panama in 1881 to develop the already conceived idea of a canal to unite the Atlantic with the Pacific. A company was formed which crashed in 1891, after 19 miles had been constructed. The chiefs of the French canal company convinced of their inability to complete the work, commenced negotiations with the United States and Colombian Governments. Eventually, by a treaty, Colombia authorised the sale of all rights and properties to the American Government.
This treaty was strongly opposed and its ultimate rejection led to Panama proclaiming her independence in 1903 and signing the Canal Treaty in November of the same year. For construction rights the United States paid ten million dollars to Panama; the French company receiving forty million for its rights and properties. The total cost of completion was $375,000,000. On August 15th 1914, the Canal was opened to commercial traffic.
Yellow fever and malaria, which had been responsible for the French failure, were stamped out and considerably diminished respectively. The work of the late Colonel Gorgas in this connection is commemorated by the erection of an Institute for the study of tropical diseases.
The following is an account, by one of the ship’s company, of our voyage through the Panama Canal.
After three days of oppressive heat at Colon the eagerly awaited day of passage through the Canal arrived. The dawn of May 10th 1930, espied all the amateur photographers of the ship ready with newly charged cameras, and all the ship’s company anxious to see the wonders of this marvellous waterway. Dame Fortune was indeed kind in granting us this passage so early in the commission. Many of the ship’s company had not travelled before in this part of the world.
On the morning of the 10th May, H.M.S. Dauntless was the first ship to enter the Canal. At 0600 she proceeded from Colon, along the buoyed channel, and entered Gatun Lock at 0630. From Colon to the locks the distance is approximately six and a half miles and the channel 1,000 feet wide. While still some way from Gatun the first thrill was provided. A crocodile was observed on the starboard hand, about 200 yards from the ship. The length of the beast was difficult to estimate while it swam, but it was a large one’ at least 20 feet long. (The Editor suggests this is a fishing story). Soon the following notice was displayed in the ship: ‘Men are warned against leaning on the guard rails as the Panama Canal is infested with crocodiles.’
Attention was quickly diverted from the large crocodile to the bright green of a banana plantation, which stood out against the darker green of other tropical vegetation.
Dredge and barge Emergency dam
As the ship approached Gatun Locks an arrow indicated to the pilot which set of locks was going to be used.
Entering Gatun Locks
In a series of three lifts the ship was to be taken to the level of Gatun Lake. As we entered the lowest lock hawsers were connected to electric locomotives, known as ‘mules’; the ship ceased to move under her own power and the mules conducted all the manoeuvring into position. Three of these locomotives were stationed on each side of the vessel; one on each bow, one on each side amidships and one on each quarter. The hawsers were connected to a small type of capstan situated on top of the square shaped body of the mule and, by the operation of levers in the control cabinet, it was possible to heave in or veer speedily as required to bring the ship into position. The mules on the quarters stop the vessel when the lock gates can be closed. In case of accidents, chains, weighing 12 tons, are placed across each end of each lock and, paying out with a certain amount of resistance, they will arrest the progress of a ship before it reaches the lock gates. Only 15 minutes were necessary to raise the ship to the level of the second lock. The procedure was twice repeated before we entered Gatun Lake under our power.
Gatun Lake, formed by a dam across the Charges River, is said to be the largest artificial lake in existence, covering an area of 164 square miles; while Gatun Dam, seen on the right, immediately after leaving the locks, is 8,400 feet long and has a base width of half a mile.
The Atlantic entrance – Gatun Locks
A buoyed channel across Gatun Lake was followed. On either side could be seen just the tops of trees which once flourished on dry land amidst dense green vegetation. Again we saw crocodiles basking in the sun and in the distance the peaks of a mountain range. Suddenly the lake narrowed into what we was known as Gamboa Reach, which became narrower still and led into the Culebra Cut, where we received the ‘all clear’ from a signal station.
Being quite close to the banks we were able to observe much bird life, while an iguana basked on a small rock, blissfully ignorant of the attention he claimed and the battery of cameras he faced. The ships passed between Gold Hill and Contractor’s Hill, which were very impressive, and all hands rushed to see the memorial tablet erected to the men who lost their lives through disease while the operations were being directed by French engineers.
The Culebra Cut is easily the most interesting part of the canal. Ships meeting here have to be careful, as there is only just room for two boats to pass.
The Pedro Miguel lock lowered us 31 feet to the level of Miraflores Lake. Once again ‘Mules’ were used.
Pedro Miguel Docks
Miraflores is another artificial lake about a mile in length, and receives its water from the Rio Grande and smaller streams. Amongst other interesting scenery a coconut grove was prominent. Eventually the Miraflores Locks lowered us to the Pacific level. Ancon Hill, at the foot of which lies the town of Balboa, the Pacific Outlet, was now in view. Several American warships were observed in port, one flying the flag of a Rear admiral; a salute of 13 guns was fired; U.S.S. Galveston replying.
At about 1300, in a thunderstorm, the ship entered the Pacific Ocean. It had taken us approximately seven hours to traverse the Panama Canal, one of the world’s greatest travel thrills.
Sunday 11th May saw us on passage from Balboa to La Libertad; in marvellous sunshine, calm weather and within sight of land all day. An impromptu concert was held in the evening to discover what talent was possessed. There was certainly no lack of good comedians, musicians and ‘straight singers.’
On Monday the 12th land, Nicaragua, was still in sight. A small shark and several turtles were seen. The latter attracted a good deal of attention and interest as they floated past in pairs and in schools. The Royal Marine detachment seemed particularly curious. Towards evening more and more turtles were seen. Someone was heard to whisper “You lucky turtle,” but no one could fathom what elicited the remark. Tropical rig was the rig of the day.
At 0830 on Tuesday, 13th May H.M.S. Dauntless arrived at La Libertad and anchored off the Pier. A salute of twenty-one guns was fired and returned. Then the situation was appreciated. The open harbour and anchorage would be liable to constant, heavy swells from the Pacific; the town of La Libertad looked uncivilized and uninteresting and the days were swelteringly hot. With one accord our British and Salvadoran hosts had made arrangements for both officers and men to visit San Salvador, the capital of the Republic and the chief commercial centre, situated 2,000 feet above sea level and 25 miles from La Libertad. The men went up in two batches of 50; each batch spending a day and a night at San Salvador.
On Wednesday morning, 14th May, Captain Moore and four officers paid an official call on the President of the Republic of El Salvador. They were afterwards entertained at a luncheon party.
Six officers at a time were the guests of British residents at the capital. On The 15th May Captain Moore and all available officers held an official ball at the Country Club, which well attended. Golf and tennis matches were staged, and during the heat of the afternoon a dip in a private swimming bath, which was kindly put at our disposal, was very welcome.
El Salvador, the smallest but most densely populated of the Central American Republics, owes its prosperity to its comparative freedom from political disturbances. Pedro de Alvarado conquered Salvador, originally called Cuscatlán, after a long and obstinate contest in 1526. In 1821 it threw off the Spanish yoke and from 1823 to 1839 it belonged to the Central American Confederacy. Since 1853 it has been an independent republic. The bulk of the population is composed of Indians, of the Aztec race, and mixed races. Except for a rich narrow seaboard of alluvial plains Salvador consists of level plateau, some 2,000 feet above the sea, furrowed by river valleys and broken by numerous volcanic cones. Many volcanoes are extinct, some erupt intermittently, but Izalco has been in constant eruption for more than a century. Earthquakes are a frequent occurrence.
Arrangements For Entertaining The Sailors
On the morning of the 14th May (Wednesday), motorbuses will be at La Libertad to convey fifty sailors to San Salvador. The visitors will be
accommodated at the Pension Salvador, 6a Avenida Norte, and No. 23. Meals - Lunch will be served at 1 p.m., Dinner at 7 p.m. and Breakfast
on Thursday morning at 6.45 a.m.
Beer and minerals will be provided free at all beer parlours in exchange for counters or voucher, which will be distributed at lunch, or
immediately on arrival. A barrel of beer will be on tap at the football match and oranges will be supplied to the team.
There will be a football match played at the ‘Campo de Marte,’ between the team of the Dauntless and a picked Salvador team, for a silver cup,
time 4.30 p.m. Wednesday.
Arrangements have been made for the sailors of the Dauntless to visit the Theatre ‘Principal’ on either evening. The film or talkie presented
will be in the English language.
The ‘Colon’ or ‘peso’ is the local currency and is equivalent to 50 cents U.S.A. currency, or about 2/- British currency. Unites States currency
is also accepted. Arrangements will be made with the Anglo-South American Bank Ltd, to change English currency to United States currency.
Lay out of the City
For the purpose of direction ‘Avenidas’ or Avenues run north and south – ‘Calles,’ or streets east and west, odd numbers left hand side.
Motor buses charge 10 cents silver (Salvadoran) per trip, from one end of the city to the other that is from the Hospital ‘Rosales’ to the
‘Ferrocarril’ or Railway Station.
Cigarettes are 122 cents Salvadoran currency per packet.
All prices in stores or shops are in Salvadoran currency-an article marked 50 cents would therefore be 25 cents United States currency.
Cars cost 6 colons per hour or the equivalent of £3.00.
English is spoken at the Anglo-South American Bank, Ltd, and in most stores and offices.
Second Party - Accommodation will be provided for 50 sailors aboard the motorbuses returning with the first party on Thursday morning.
The second party should be landed by 8.00 a.m. in readiness to leave immediately. Arrangements will be same as for the first party, but there
will not be a second football match.
Dress for both parties ‘Whites.’
Fifty Of The ships Company Visit San Salvador
During our stay at La Libertad an invitation to visit San Salvador, the capital of the Republic, was extended to the ship’s company by the municipal authorities and the British colony. One hundred ratings, in two batches of fifty, did the trip, spending a day and a night at the capital.
At 0800 on Wednesday 14th May, the first detachment of fifty left the Dauntless to visit San Salvador. Owing to a heavy swell we were hoisted out of the boat, one by one, in a chair, operated by a crane on the jetty. Two Englishmen met the party and allocated us to the four buses, which were our conveyances to the capital, 25 miles away and 2,000 feet above sea level.
The journey, if frightening at times, was very pleasant, as we passed through beautiful surroundings; through flowery dells where butterflies flew, up mountain sides with the fertile alluvial plain visible in the distance, and through villages of mud huts with children, dogs, pigs and fowls playing and foraging for food before the door. The interiors of the huts could not have been very clean, as on some occasions we noticed that they were meeting places for the family, animals and poultry. We held our breaths and clung to our seats as the buses negotiated the ruts and bends along the narrow roads on top of cliffs, and down the steep mountainside to the valley below. On the whole, however, the roads were good.
The journey lasted for approximately two hours and we arrived in great style before our allotted hotel; full of the joy of spring and elated to be away for 24 hours from our steel-sided abode. The rest of the morning was spent in sight-seeing and demolishing beer straight off the ice. Pretty flowers bloomed in all the gardens. Vultures hovered above.
During lunch, which consisted of soup, egg omelette and rice, salad, beefsteak and pineapple and bananas and beer (excuse the details but I still yearn for another such lunch under similar conditions); the ship’s brass band played selections. After lunch we drove to the football ground to see our match against the local team, which was chiefly composed of British. At half time the ships marched round the ground, followed by scores of local spectators and amidst rousing cheers. Our team lost by three goals to nil and a cup was presented to the winners. After the game the ship’s band marched back to the hotel. Hundreds of natives followed the band, dancing and cheering. Traffic was blocked. On occasion the band marked time while the crowd in front was cleared. On arrival at the hotel extra police were summoned to keep the crowd from rushing the hotel doors and entrances.
Dinner was at 1900 and then some spent the evening walking round the town; others went to the cinema to see an English ‘talkie.’ No entrance charge whatever was made. All drinks and refreshments at the hotel were also free. The Salvadorans were an orderly, quiet people; there seemed to be no cabarets or nightlife, in fact the streets were practically empty by 2300.
During their visit Sergeants Saunders and Gerrey were asked if they would care to visit the barracks of the Garde Nationale. On their arrival the guard presented arms. The Brigade Major introduced them to all officers and hand shaking ensued. A complete tour of the barracks was made and every side of the routine witnessed. The soldiers, group by group, thoroughly examined the Sergeants’ uniforms and medals. At the conclusion of the tour was more handshaking and a final salute from the guard. Who said a Sergeant’s uniform was not impressive?
At 0800 on Thursday morning we commenced our return journey, arriving onboard at 0930. The second detachment of fifty went up to San Salvador to take our place. A cricket match was played, resulting in an easy win for the ship.
I do not much think that our hosts at San Salvador realised how much we enjoyed our stay at the capital and how much we appreciated their kindness. Twenty-four hours in such friendly, hospitable surroundings is a ‘god-send’ to any sailor. We not only thank them from the bottom of our hearts, but will not forget Mr. Mrs and Miss Parkes, visitors from Mexico, who did everything possible for us.
At La Libertad many Salvadorans came onboard when the ship was open to visitors. Captain Moore and his officer gave an ‘At Home’ on Friday, the 16th May, and the ship sailed an hour later for Santa Monica, California. We were only too pleased to be able to return some of the hospitality we had received.
Saturday 17th May - Saturday 24th May.
On passage from La Libertad to Santa Monica; a whole week in which to recover and train for further festivities. Nothing of particular interest occurred. The days and nights became distinctly cooler, a pleasant relief from the sticky heat of the Canal and San Salvador. On Thursday, the 22nd, we shifted into ‘Blues’
California was sighted the previous day, verily a land of sunshine. Throughout the week we practiced evolutions. A calm sea, sunshine, the gambols of shoals of dolphins, and watching an albatross keep pace with the ship with no apparent effort, helped to pass a pleasant voyage.
H.M.S. Dauntless arrived at Santa Monica on Saturday 24th May, Empire Day, and anchored about a mile off the landing jetty. From the ship we could observe long stretches of sandy beach, the playground of Hollywood stars and millionaires, sumptuous hotels and houses, avenues winding through palm trees and a spacious amusement park. What a welcome sight to eyes tired by expanses of sea! What welcome relief could be found from the confinement of a ship! Ever since we sailed from Portsmouth we had looked forward to our sojourn at Santa Monica, which, apart from its own beauty and hospitality, afforded us an opportunity to visit the world famous Hollywood, 15 miles inland.
In the forenoon official calls were made and visitors and reception committees received onboard. Speedboats circled the ship. At first they were objects of interest and curiosity, but later they became a decided nuisance, as from dawn to sunset one could hear nothing but the noise of outboard motors.
At last we were free to go ashore. What luck did we have? Read on, but remember that our style is cramped by the fact that this publication is somewhat official.
Extract From The Los Angeles Evening Express
Of Saturday 24th May 1930
New British Dreadnought Docks Today
H.M.S. Dauntless With 700 In Crew, To Anchor
Off Santa Monica
Mayor Porter Will Extend Greetings
With her huge muzzles covered with peacetime canvas caps and her crew of 700 men lined up smartly about the rail, the new British battleship, H.M.S. Dauntless, newest of England’s super-dreadnoughts, will drop anchor in Santa Monica Harbour today for a visit of several days.
And while the great ship is approaching the harbour scores of former residents of Great Britain, as well as many city and country officials,
were preparing to make the visit of the officers and men, one never to be forgotten.
Hundreds of interested spectators will watch the big battleship drop her anchors, after tugs,
which will carefully guide her as near inshore as is safe, cast off their hawsers.
Hollywood, the capital of Filmdom is to the large majority of film fans a place of enchantment and mystery. Although its intimate secrets are always being probed into, very few facts leak out to the average person.
Vivid stories of scandal and hectic nightlife frequently appear in the daily and weekly press; stories woven around some famous star or stars of the screen. Wise folk can differentiate between facts and publicity stunts, others get a thrill when they read anything, fictitious or not, concerning their favourite actor or actress. A personal visit to Hollywood, a visit entailing a studio tour and acquaintance with the mummers, (actors) is the only method of forming a sane, unbiased opinion of Hollywood.
Film studios are closely guarded citadels into which admission is obtained only by invitation. Imagine how hastily and gladly I accepted an offer from one of the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer staff to look over their studios.
On the appointed day I travelled from Santa Monica to Culver City by rail, and then continued my journey on foot; it was only a short distance from the station, but nevertheless exceedingly pleasant, for one has to pass along magnificent wide boulevard, at the further end of which stand the massive portals of the studio gates, surmounted by the firm’s famous trade mark - a huge lion’s head. The boulevard is no common thoroughfare, but more like the approach to some stately palace. It is lined on each side with tall flowering trees, which give it a very bright appearance. Small modern bungalows of many original designs string out its full length. They are surrounded on three sides by gaily coloured flowerbeds and have refreshing velvet smooth lawns in front. Beauty seems the keynote here and even the houses are carefully painted so that their colours fir perfectly into the picture. The scene is more like a little piece of fairyland and it is hard to realise it is actually the hub of such a flourishing industry.
The smart, uniformed gatekeeper gave me a hard stare that seemed to say ‘No admission,’ but the mention of my friend’s name cleared the air and I was admitted into the luxuriously furnished waiting room. Shortly after I was being conducted round what appeared to be one vast maze.
We first entered a huge building, approximately 100 yards long, 50 yards wide and 15 yards high; composition walls, two feet thick, screening out external sounds. An elaborate warning system is installed at the doorway; a red light burning when scenes are being taken and no one is allowed to enter until it is extinguished. In one corner of the building, in the glare of powerful lights, Leila Hyams and William Haines were rehearsing in front of a small grocer’s shop, part of the shopping centre of a small town.
Everything seemed realistic, and it was only on approaching the scene that I found nothing but wood was used. Articles in the shop were so cleverly painted that I had to handle them before being convinced the tins of beans and pots of jam were not real. Other sets were scattered over the floor, and one that was particularly interesting was a scene in Alaska. Ordinary flaked rice takes the place of snow and is swirled round by a large fan to give the impression of a snowstorm.
Shyness overcame me on being introduced to such a world famous personality as William Haines, but he immediately put me at ease with his free, humorous talk, and we had a short but very interesting conversation. I took the opportunity to ask how he liked his work, and to my great surprise he stated that he would be pleased when he was through with it all. He admitted the pay was good, but his contracts held so many stipulations that these counterbalanced his fat pay roll. When a big film is in the making it is usual routine for him to work on it for fourteen to sixteen hours a day, and normally he is at the studios for eight hours a day. He cannot always call the evenings his own, for he frequently has to be present at parties, arranged by the film companies as ‘publicity stunts’ - such affairs, he assured me, are very boring and not so exciting for the stars as the newspapers would have us believe.
Leila Hyams seemed shy of a British sailor and as she did not come forward to be introduced, I had to be content with a look at her beauty and perfect figure, so often portrayed on the screen. Having thoroughly devoured the interesting points of this vast stage we went out once again into the open air.
We next attempted to enter a stage where Grace Moore was at work, but with no success. We were told this new star to the screen was exceptionally temperamental and could not concentrate on her acting in the presence of visitors.
With great reluctance we turned away, only to run into Lawrence Tibbett, who had been recently recruited to Hollywood from the operatic stage and had scored a big hit in his first talkie. “The Rogue Song.” During a short conversation with him I discovered film work was not to his particular liking either and it was only a colossal weekly cheque that kept him at it. He had to have special food to prevent any possible injury to his voice. He had just breakfasted on one scone and a glass of grape fruit juice.
Bidding him farewell we wandered along to the next stage, where a company of German stars were rehearsing in their own language. My guide informed me that a large number of films were made in German and Spanish and few in French.
The intricate models in the miniature department came next. Here such things as films of car and train smashes are made using small but exact replicas. At the time “Madame Satan” was being made and a model airship, six feet long, was being used. It was suspended from wires and was manoeuvred from above. The airship was supposed to be cruising in heavy weather and burning sulphur made very realistic clouds and letting the volumes of smoke produced float up around the model. Sometime later I actually saw the film, and it seemed so true to life that a friend with me refused to believe it was not an actual airship before us.
The musical accompaniment to films is added after they have been otherwise completed, and our next stopping place revealed the secret of how it is done. We entered what appeared to be a small cinema, except that a band took the place of an audience. The film is thrown on the screen and the conductor watches it as he leads the band. A microphone, installed overhead, picks up the music, which is eventually imprinted in the film opposite the picture concerned.
A scene depicting a small lake in the Canadian backwoods was next viewed. Tall pines, clusters of shrubs and rugged rocks, all of which were artificial, surrounded the lake. I was told that, without much trouble, this set could quickly be converted to represent a canal in Naples, the River Seine or a part of the Hudson Bay. This conversion idea is also applied in the Main Street scenes for the atmosphere of a street, and buildings can quickly be changed to represent Russia, China, England or France.
There is so much to be seen in the studios that it is impossible to absorb all the interesting features during a few hours visit. The little we saw made me realize the large amount of work that has to be done before a film can be produced, and I came to the conclusion that film people were just ordinary hard-working human beings.
Film promoters realise the value of advertising their stars, and a story with just a bit of spice or gossip is worth its weight in gold, whether it is true or not. Nevertheless, Los Angeles is well named. The surroundings and the film actresses are so beautiful and exotic that no man can be blamed if he wanders from the straight and narrow path. After a hard day’s work at the studio I should think the majority of ‘tars’ prefer tranquillity and sleep to hectic parties
British Sailors Visit Film Studios
(Extract from a Los Angeles paper)
“And they get ‘pyde’ for this.”
Said -----, Royal Marines, casting a gleeful eye at his shipmates: - “I think I’ll chuck away me belt and cap and stay right here.”
That was just after Raquel Torres had kissed him, and from the fringe of the blue clad crowd rose an anguished voice.
“Ow,” it said, “Ow and to think they get pyde for this.”
Sailors and Royal Marines from H.M.S. Dauntless went ashore yesterday as guests of the Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer Studios.
They saw motion pictures made; more than that they helped make them.
Then he asked Jack Fowler to pick out four or five British sailors to work in an impromptu scene.
Four or five! The whole bunch enthusiastically volunteered. Goulding had to make it a mob scene in self-defence.
Raquel Torres, Blanche and Fay disappeared in a whirling maelstrom of blue.
Out of the melee rose Raquel’s plaintive voice - “Oh he say what I do not understand.”
The accent of Old England was too much for Raquel’s Mexican ears.
Luncheon was served and the afternoon devoted to amusements and seeing the sights.
I had an uncle once, but he came to an untimely end through being run over by a horse tram in the streets of London. His remains were taken to
hospital in an ambulance - a vehicle with a loud bell which, when set in motion, cleared the street. He and I are the only two members of my family who have been conveyed through the streets of a city with such clamorous pomp.
On the morning of the 28th May 1930, Captain Moore and eleven officers were driven from Santa Monica to the R.K.O. Studio in Hollywood in three cars. One ‘speed cop’ rode a motorcycle ahead and one abeam of the processions. Our speed was 40 m.p.h. - not fast but it never varied. The ‘speed cops’ blew their sirens and the traffic pulled over to the side of the road to give us a clear run. ‘Stop’- ‘Go’ signs meant nothing to us. I think we all felt rather like royalty.
On arrival at the R.K.O. Studio we were promptly led to a large place like a gymnasium, which, in fact, it was. It was full of beautiful young damsels in very brief clothing. These were the Pearl Eaton girls. They danced for our edification and also assumed incredible poses to indicate the supple nature of their anatomies. During this performance our impression of being Royal persons was increased to an impression that we were Eastern Potentates. I found myself staring rather rudely so unglued my eyes and observed my colleagues. I have never seen so many eyes so closely resembling the proverbial hat peg.
The next item on the programme was lunch, which was taken in the studio dining room - a very interesting place. Parties of sweet young things, straight from their ‘sets’ swept in from time to time and had a hurried meal, either sitting at a long counter or at small tables. We found ourselves among a distinguished gathering, which included Bebe Daniels, Betty Compson, George Grossmith (Teeth and all) and famous composers and ‘prodoocers.’ The lucky ones sat next to the ‘stars.’ I was neighbour to a million dollar producer, while my other messmates sat back; some coyly, some obviously intrigued and basked in the atmosphere of screen fame. One of the actresses had on her ‘war paint,’ a yellow face and dark red lips. She was due on the set immediately after lunch. Conversations were not lacking. But for a party the night before I would have done more justice to the meal. He would be an abnormal man who could, when surrounded by the beauty and wealth of Hollywood and when due for a relapse from the night before, concentrate on food for the body.
The luncheon was excellent, as this menu will witness:
In Honour Of The Officers Of
28th May 1930
Crab flake Cocktail Neptune
Heart of Celery
Poulet Grillee Au Lard
Heart of Lettuce
(Thousand Island Dressing)
Cantaloupe Lillian Russell
After lunch the party proceeded to see Bebe Daniels act in her set. Actually one set was rehearsed and then, at the producer’s request, Captain Moore and two Midshipmen were photographed with Miss Daniels. The Midshipmen still treasure copies of the photographs as evidence of their acquaintance with Hollywood and a famous film actress. Fortunately blushes are not portrayed.
We next saw Richard Dix and company rehearse a scene three times then a bell was rung for silence, indicating that the time had arrived for making the ‘talkie.’ The whole scene was filmed, but not apparently to the producer’s approval, as he had a few words to say to one of the actors. Once again the procedure was carried out and once more the producer was dissatisfied with the same actor. Words and opinions of abilities were mutual vocabulary for the people concerned. A most embarrassing situation arose when one of our parties developed hiccups while the scene was being shot. Luckily he managed to ‘hic’ softly into a handkerchief. Some time before our visit the film “Dixiana” had been produced, but the Negro chorus who sang the theme song was still at the R.K.O. studios, under contract for another picture. For our entertainment the chorus sang “Dixiana” and “Mr and Mrs. Sippi,” the conductor being the composer of the two songs, a well known artist who had also written the music for “Rio Rita.” One could visualize slaves working in a cotton field and the beauty of the Rose of Dixie, Dixiana. Those Negroes certainly could sing and then some.
While still humming the tune of Dixiana we entered another gymnasium, where about twenty sylph-like figures, in scanty clothing, were being drilled in certain dance steps. These were the Tiller Girls. (See also: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0XQ17OZ4mwU ) Their high kicks and rhythm sent us unto a standing swoon. All the members of the troupe were English girls. Some of them made tender enquiries of London and England in general.
Alas! We had been away from home almost as long as they had.
At 1630 the visit ended. Some returned onboard, others kept dates, and a party of four toured the town to sample the various types of ‘porcelain solvent.’ It is our considered opinion that when the Hollywood inhabitants have had a few more years brewing experience the death rate will decrease.
We are indebted to Major Fairbanks-Smith and the Directors for our exceedingly instructive and interesting visit to the R.K.O. Studio. Words cannot express our appreciation of their kindness.
If Genius is a capacity for taking pains then Genius reigns at the R.K.O. Studio.
Los Angeles from the air
A concert by The Sons Of St. George and a visit to the Hal Roach Studios
While H.M.S. Dauntless was at Santa Monica the Sons of St. George and the Caledonian Society entertained the ship’s company to a concert at which several famous actors - Hal Roach, Clive Brook , Reginald Denny , Harry Richman, Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were present. After the concert Laurel and Hardy extended a general invitation to the ship to visit the Hal Roach Studios, an invitation that was gladly accepted by many.
At the studios the visitors saw their hosts acting in a scene from a murder mystery. The picture was recorded in English, German, French, and American. Why American? Because jokes which ‘take’ in the United States do not go down in England and vice versa. The foreign words were phonetically spelt on a blackboard, and language experts corrected any mispronunciation during rehearsals. Naturally there was much hard work to be done before the scenes were ‘shot.’
In a storm scene rows of pipes pierced at intervals provided the rain, while an aeroplane propeller was utilised to produce the wind. Thunder was obtained by shaking sheets of corrugated iron.
Laurel and Hardy personally explained a few technicalities to their guests and kindly distributed autographed photos of them. Laurel, incidentally, is an Englishman.
The Manager of the Douglas Airplane Works, a Briton, personally conducted a tour of the airplane works. Every stage of the construction of a plane was witnessed. On the flying ground at the factory is situated the last air beacon of the chain, which runs from New York westwards.
The efficiency of the organisation at the works and the cleansing and gear stowage facilities afforded to the employees were particularly impressive.
A large number of workers were British and they were eager to learn the conditions at home and of the progress of their favourite football teams.
A closely contested football match against the Douglas Works resulted in a win for the ship.
Dance At Santa Monica
On Thursday 28th May, the officers gave a dance organised by Captain Bagot, R.M. and Lieutenant Whetstone, onboard. The youth and beauty of Hollywood were well represented. Rumour has it that the food provided was good.
The dance band was excellent, but not much dancing was done, as the hospitality in the Ward Room seemed more popular. The financial aspects of the dance provided much food for thought the next day.
We congratulate Captain Bagot and Lieutenant Whetstone for their marvellous organisation. The ship had been in commission but two months, so naturally the officers were not very well acquainted with the abilities and susceptibilities of their messmates. We learnt a great deal. The organisation for future dances has already been arranged. Bagot has volunteered to persuade somebody to take him out in a car, flower gathering, and Whetstone has promised to build a rock garden on No. 5 Gun Deck if somebody else would catch the fish to put in it.
Our sympathies are extended to the officers who were debited with three bottles of champagne and a thousand cigarettes. Incidentally a word of
advice. Never allows a female journalistic gatecrasher to inflict her presence at a dance. Her gross prevarications may call for diverse explanations.
While at Santa Monica many of the ship’s company had the good fortune to be driven around in cars by their hosts. The road to Hollywood is magnificent, conducive to speed. Past Hollywood, inland, one can climb to 2,000 feet and observe the film town nestling in its valley, a peaceful panorama compared with the hustle and bustle that takes place within the town itself.
The traffic control through the main thoroughfares is affected by a system of lights, red and green. No policemen are to be seen across roads. Instead there is an organisation of ‘speed cops’ who patrol the roads on motorcycles to deal with furious and dangerous drivers. Despite the enormous traffic (almost every family owns a car) the only noise is heard is that of wheels skimming over roads, as hooters are seldom blown. This fact is very
impressive when one recalls the nuisance of incessant hooting and tooting of horns in most cities.
The valley of San Fernando is the agricultural district. On either side of the roads, in the outskirts of the large towns, are orchards of peaches, apricots, oranges and lemons. The largest walnut grove in the world, about eight miles by three, is situated near San Fernando. On occasions, it is said, the market price does not warrant the expense of picking the fruit and transport, and so the fruit falls to the ground and what the pigs do not eat is left to rot.
Every family outside the city boasts a wooden bungalow. The designs are varied and original, the combined aspect providing a pleasant spectacle of peace and comfort.
The return journey via Beverley Hills is in distinct contrast to the bungalows of San Fernando. The sumptuous houses, one may even say palaces, of the film stars are located in this district. No money has been spared to remind the visitor that he is gazing upon the abode of those on whom the God of Screen Fortune has smiled. Swimming baths, tennis courts, statuettes, hot houses and flowerbeds are spread over the grounds. All the necessary and unnecessary comforts that wealth can bring are there.
The oil fields are landmarks and an additional source of wealth to the inhabitants of California, a country that has been favoured by fortune with natural resources and a glorious climate. The artificial film world really pales before the beauty of the country and the flowers.
Alas! All good things come to an end. On Thursday, 29th May, H.M.S. Dauntless sailed from Santa Monica for Esquimalt. We treasure memories of California hospitality and beauty. There was much heartache as the city faded from view.
Santa Monica - Esquimalt
30th May - 1st June. On passage - ordinary ship’s routine. On Sunday we experienced strong winds and the temperature fell sufficiently to necessitate the wearing of overcoats.
Outside Esquimalt harbour, on the morning of June 2nd, H.M.S. Dauntless met H.M.C.S. Vancouver and Armentieres, who carried out a torpedo attack on us. At 11.15 the ship secured alongside the jetty. For many of the officers and ship’s company this was the first visit to the Dominion of Canada, and since leaving Bermuda, this was the first occasion on which we were entirely amongst our own folk.
Sad news came to us on Tuesday 3rd June. According to the press news one of the large launches at Santa Monica, used for transporting rod-fishing enthusiasts to hulks, which lie a mile off the coast, capsized. The cause of the disaster was evidently overloading and a heavy Pacific swell. Of the
54 passengers only a few were saved. During our sojourn at Santa Monica the same launch had been put at our disposal for transport ashore.
The tragedy, which had befallen the town we had just left was indeed sad. The following message of sympathy was wirelessed to the British Consul at Los Angeles: “Please convey to Mayor Michel of Santa Monica the sincere sympathy of all onboard Dauntless for the disaster to the motor launch in the bay.”
Esquimalt dockyard is pleasantly situated. Pines and firs are clustered around the vicinity. Members of the famous Canadian North West Mounted Police were on duty on the jetty. The dockyard buildings boasted a stretch of green lawn and flowerbeds. The air was distinctly healthy and - well we were with our own people.
The month of June brought much rejoicing. Just prior to leaving England the ship’s company received six weeks pay in advance, so that the 1st June was the next occasion on which the much needed ‘pelf’ would be distributed. Thank heavens our impecunious period had been spent in a dry country. We were now in a happy position - Canada, a pocket full of money, and opportunities to receive and return hospitality.
Massa Tom, we won’t come back,
Our station’s changed - we’ve got the sack.
But still we’ll drink you many a health,
And happy days – they’s more than wealth.
This book would be incomplete without recalling memories of the Esquimalt Hotel, owned by that jovial proprietor Tom Brunsdon. Tom had a winning personality, a fund of good humour and a kind word for everybody. One soon felt at home in the parlour of the Esquimalt Hotel.
Do you remember? Ah well, we’re off now. Tom issued free passes, which were on all railroads provided that the bearer walked, carried his own luggage, swam all rivers and stopped for all drinks at Tom’s hotel.
Notices indicated that a man was engaged in the yard to do all the cursing and blinding that was required in the establishment. A dog was kept to do all the barking. The professional ‘chucker out’ had won 90 prizes and was an excellent shot with a revolver. An undertaker called every morning for orders.
These were Tom’s commandments:
When thirsty thou shalt come to my house and drink, but not to excess; that thou mayest live long in the land and enjoy thyself forever.
Thou shalt not take anything more from me that is of value, for I need all I have.
Thou shalt not expect too large glasses, nor filled too full, for we must pay our rent.
Thou shalt not sing nor dance except when thy spirit moveth thee to do thy best.
Thou shalt honour me and mine that thou mayest live long and see me again.
Thou shalt not destroy or break anything on the premises, else thou shalt pay double the value;
thou shalt not try to pay me in bad money, nor ever say “Chalk” or “Slate.”
Thou shalt call at my place daily; if unable to come I shall feel it an insult, unless thou send a substitute or an apology.
Thou shalt not abuse thy fellow drinkers nor cast base insinuations upon their character by hinting that they can’t drink too much.
Thou shalt not take the name of my gods in vain by calling my beer ‘hope’ for I always keep Silver Ales
and I am always at home to my friends.
Thou shalt not so far forget thine honourable position and high standing in the community as to ask the landlord to treat.
Many of us still yearn for another convivial evening at the Esquimalt Hotel, but alas our station has been changed.
Esquimalt And Victoria
2nd - 9th June:
At Esquimalt. This is purely a Naval Base for Western Canada. The Naval Barracks are situated near the dockyard. During the week most of the diversions were found at Victoria, the Capital of British Columbia, about twenty minutes by tram from Esquimalt.
Rudyard Kipling eulogises the city in these words:
To realise Victoria you must take all that the eye admires most in Bournemouth, Torquay, the Isle of Wight, the Happy Valley at Hong Kong, the Doon, Sorrento and Camp’s Bay; add reminiscences of the Thousand Islands, and arrange the whole around the Bay of Naples, with some Himalayas for the background.
From personal experience we have something further to add:
To realise the British Columbian girl you must take all the eye admires most in the damsels of Brighton, Nottingham, Edinburgh, London and the Lake District; add the independence of the American girl and the natural ‘joie de vivre’ of a frolicking lamb, add a spice of the exotic, the demureness of a bride, and arrange the whole in an atmosphere of the Rockies and the Sook River.
At this point we were discouraged by the Editorial Office Boy muttering “Oh Yeah!!!”
During the round the world voyage in 1924 H.M.S. Hood and H.M.S. Repulse were able to berth at the same time at Victoria.
The Parliament Buildings, the Connaught Library, the Natural History Museum, the Mineral Exhibits, Archives and Old Drill Hall are well worth a visit. The all glass Crystal Garden, housing a 150 foot sea water swimming tank, peacock promenades, concert auditoriums, gymnasiums, palm gardens and Badminton courts, is unique. The telescope in the Observatory is the second largest in the world. Gardens and flowers of all hues are plenteous. Mr. Butchart’s Sunken Gardens at Brentwood feature 16 acres of fairyland, besides the sunken area with its blossom-covered walls, 100 feet high. Through the courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Butchart they are open every day.
Victoria is a slice of England with more favourable climate conditions. Practically every form of sport is available at reasonable prices. In fact any retired serviceman who seeks a haven of inexpensive living, rest and sport, even to catching gold fish in the fountain of a leading hotel, need look no further than Victoria.
On Friday 6th June, H.M.S. Dauntless gave a concert at the Chamber of Commerce, the proceeds of which were devoted to charity. The ship was open to visitors on the two following days, and many inhabitants availed themselves of the opportunity of seeing a British cruiser.
While at Esquimalt a football match was played against a selected Victoria and District team, the result being a draw, although we finished with only nine men on the field. The performance was very creditable, as our opponents were in training to meet a Glasgow Rangers team. After the match the Mayor and councillors of Victoria and our opponents entertained the team, the toast of the evening being ‘The girls we left behind us.’
Soon after our arrival the ship was invited to participate in the Royal Canadian Naval Sports. Imagine our training condition after a sojourn in California and no facilities for violent exercise, particularly in the running line. Nevertheless we put up a good performance. The Royal Marines and Boys teams won their tug-of-war competitions. The ship was second in the open relay race, due to the splendid effort of A.B. Clark, who passed two opponents in the last lap of his half-mile. Incidentally, Clark also took second place in the open mile. P.O. Rayment was third in the 100 yards, Boy Writer Turner third in the Young Seamen’s 220 yards, Stoker Blake second in the high Jump and C.P.O. Kemp-Knight first in the 100 yards veterans.
One of our officers might have got a place in the officer’s handicap race, if he hadn’t mistaken the refreshment tent for the finishing tape.
We sailed for Comox, Vancouver Island, at 0600 on Monday 9th June. Both officers and men had spent a most enjoyable week. We were sore at parting from so many friends; sorry to depart from the lots of picnics, motor drives, dances and parties, but we had the satisfaction of knowing that we would return in July.
After H.M.C.S. Vancouver had carried out a torpedo attack on the ship H.M.S. Dauntless proceeded to Comox, arriving about 1715. Fir and pine forests and lumber camps were visible in the distance during the passage. Comox itself is a very small village but the presence of a rifle range, the salubrious climate and the facilities for camp life render it an ideal place at which to carry out annual rifle practices; at the same time giving the ship’s company a spell under canvas, a welcome change from the monotony of ship routine.
The following day 10th June, the first party proceeded to camp. The routine was as follows:
0600 Call the hands
0730 Fall in by division
0740 Proceed to rifle range for practices
1230 Return to camp to dinner
P.M. Make and mend.
Comox Camp June 1930
The evenings were devoted to sport. An inter-platoon football competition was held. Headquarters were the winners of the first party, and No. 2 platoon, the ‘Pookites,’ defeated No. 1 platoon, the ‘Caddickites,’ to become victors of the second party. Most of the games were of a humorous nature, as the ground was overgrown with brambles and long grass, and when it was difficult to locate the ball the man was taken.
When the camp was being pitched a baseball bat was found, and from this discovery the idea was conceived of introducing baseball, locally modified, into our sports. One platoon, styled the ‘Chicago Whitesox,’ swept the board, but when the Ward Room heard of their undefeated record, Lieutenant Whetstone raised a team of officers, the ‘Gin Flips,’ and literally ran the ‘Whitesox’ off their feet.
Occasionally games of cricket were played. Towards dusk gramophones blared from almost every tent. Many of the ship’s company amused themselves beach exploring and raft riding, a` la Huckleberry Finn. After dark bonfires were lit all around the camp and ‘singsong’ was the order of the day until it was time to turn in. No wonder the Campsite looked healthy and happy.
The following incident reveals the secret of the schoolgirl complexions suddenly developed amongst the officers ashore.
Scene: The Officers Mess Tent At Comox
A. Have a drink, old man.
B. Thanks, but really it’s my turn. You stood me one this morning
A. Rot. What does that matter? Same as usual?
B. Sure, but I insist on standing you this one.
A. Have it your own way. I’m damn thirsty.
B. Have a double then?
A. Good idea, but if I do I am going to pay my whack.
B. Don’t be wet. We’ll make it two doubles.
A. Please let me do some of it.
B. Certainly not – Steward?
A. O.K. then, I’ll do the next one.
B. Steward - two large.
A. You really want a large one do you?
B. Of course I do. Steward - two large glasses of Milk please.
On occasions the officers onboard had the pleasure of visits from their shore messmates. There was no doubt as to the object of the visit.
Comox Camp - June 1930
The second party relieved the first party in camp on Wednesday 18th June. The routine was much the same. Captain Moore inspected the Camp on Sunday 22nd June, after which Divine Service was held. On the 26th June the second detail returned to the ship after a most enjoyable week under canvas.
The range practice results were very encouraging. The men looked fit and happy, and the common wish was “Roll on next year and another Comox Camp.”
Reprisal Raid On Ship
The idea of carrying out a reprisal raid on the ship was conceived at about 2100, and details were soon arranged. The four individuals concerned gave instructions to the Corporal of the Guard, Middle Watch, to call them at 0130.
The raiding party manned the skiff and paddled noiselessly past the logs in the vicinity, heading for a point near Courtenay Lumber Dump. As
rowlocks were not being used, and as care had to be exercised not to make and break lumber-camp and shore lights with the skiff, and our bodies, this took a considerable time. After reaching a point about four cables directly ahead of the ship the skiff was turned round and allowed to drift onto the ship’s ram.
On arriving here two raiders swarmed up the cable, pausing a minute at the hawser pipe for observation purposes. Conditions were favourable, so Raider No. 1 advanced along the port side of the fo’cs’le and into the recreation space. Here he found the hatch to the sick bay flat closed, so he returned and went down the port ladder. Hearing footsteps he hid himself in the Parting Room and, through a keyhole, observed the Quartermaster and Corporal of the Gangway going the rounds. When all was clear this raider emerged and proceeded down a hatchway, past the Canteen and through the port passage to the Switchboard Room, where he commenced breaking the switches, with the object of plunging the whole ship in darkness.
However after he had dealt with several switches, a Stoker rating, who demanded a reason for the lights being extinguished, disturbed him. The raider replied that he was searching for an earth, but the Stoker was dissatisfied with the explanation and said he would report the matter to the Duty Engineer Officer as it was causing great inconvenience. Raider No 1 had time to decrease the voltage and seize the switchboard log. Meanwhile, the switchboard watch keeper awoke and proceeded to the Switchboard Room to investigate the light extinguishing. This gave the wrecker the opportunity to clear out of the space and grope his way forward, past hammocks and sleeping forms in the bath flat. On arrival at the P.O.’s flat he heard movements and, while standing stock still, heard the Quartermaster challenge, “Are you the L.T.O.?” To this raider No. 2, who also happened to be there at the time, replied, “Yes, I am trying to discover the reason for lights failing.”
When the Quartermaster had departed, No. 1 proceeded via the starboard ladder to rendezvous with his companion in the fo’cs’le.
Now for No. 2’s movements. He at once ran aft, intending to capture the tongue of the bell, but to his disappointment, this had been removed. There was nothing worth taking on the quarterdeck, so he visited the captain’s lobby flat. Here the ship’s trophies were exhibited in a case, but for fear of causing damage, he left them alone. He then wended his way to the P.O.’s flat, where the challenging incident occurred.
Soon after he rendezvoused with his companion at No. 1 Gun.
During the foregoing operations Raiders No. 3 and 4, in the skiff, glided down the starboard side of the ship and secured on the outside of the motor boat lying at the boom.
No. 3 jumped into the motorboat and endeavoured to remove the steering wheel, but found this impossible. Meanwhile No. 5 accessed the Siren and Klaxon horn. At this point the Quartermaster appeared in the Starboard Battery, hailed the skiff and ordered her to come alongside. He also shouted to the Bridge to switch on the searchlights, but the signalman reported that the fuses had gone. The skiff raiders hurriedly cast off. The searchlights were now working.
They had great difficulty in keeping out of its rays, but managed to arrive at the rendezvous to pick up nos. 1 and 2, who had meanwhile clambered down the cable and were hanging on for dear life. Several ratings had heard the commotion and had mustered on the fo’cs’le. One was heard to remark, “Ere, there are two men on the cable.” The motorboat was called away but the raiders managed to get clear in time, taking care to avoid recognition by keeping their heads down.
Rowlocks were used on the return journey. The whole raid, up to the time the skiff was hauled up the beach, occupied about two and quarter hours.
The First Dauntless Dance Band
Quite a great deal can be said of the talent in the ship as regards sports, social activities, etc, but a few remarks must be made about the first Dauntless Dance Band, since defunct. On commissioning it was discovered that four of the cook’s staff of six were instrumentalists, namely; Piano, saxophone, banjo, and in their spare moments they would get together and play a few tunes. Upon settling down to the routine of the ship, several impromptu concerts were held on the upper deck, at which they appeared under the heading of ‘The Culinary Four.’ In a short space of time progress was made whereby a dance band formed, with the addition of a cornet, euphonium and drums. At the same time the band became members of a famous dance orchestra journal and received monthly the latest dance numbers. Impromptu dances were held on the upper deck, one a week, at which they played.
It was at Comox , Vancouver Island that they had their first tryout, but it was not a great success, due to the fact that the local band, who also played at intervals, was an entirely different tempo, but it certainly was an experience. Undaunted by this, however they went further ahead and played for dances at Wrangel and Sitka in Alaska.
By this time the experience obtained gave them greater confidence. They next played at the Elk Hall in Astoria. Oregon, and during the evening were approached by the local wireless authorities, to broadcast a programme from the studio at the Astor Hotel. The necessary permission having been obtained, this was duly carried out, and from all accounts it was an unqualified success; at the same time being a wonderful experience for the members of the band. They were honoured to play in conjunction with the dance band of the Despatch at the dance given onboard by the Commander-in-Chief at San Francisco.
The next and last time they played was at Santa Barbara, California where they attended two dances. On our return to Bermuda circumstances arose which rendered it impracticable to carry on, and so after many enjoyable musical nights together, the original Dauntless Dance Band ceased to function and passed into the ‘Might Have Beens.’
Visit To Logging Camp Near Comox, Vancouver Island
On the 19th June, about 1110, a party of 100 ratings landed at Elk Pier and were conveyed in private cars to a Logging Camp, about 15 miles away, in the heart of the Comox Valley.
Once we got clear of the main roads the countryside was a sorry sight, due to the fact that it was just a waste of charred trees and stumps, a mute reminder of the devastation caused by a forest fire some eight years ago. There are now strict orders re smoking and lighting fires.
On arrival at the Camp we were regaled with a sumptuous lunch, cooked and served by Chinese, for whom we afterwards had a ‘whip round.’ For once all hands were unanimous in their praise of the ‘eats.’ After lunch the party boarded a truck train, which puffed and jolted through the timber until we arrived at the same scene of operations.
Our first stop was at a place where tree trunks were being loaded into a wagon train. This is done as follows; a suitable tall tree, alongside the rail track, is used as a ‘Spar Tree’ or derrick, and from this tree wires run into the forest in all directions. Grips, with grabs, run along the length of the wires and, with power supplied by a steam engine, the felled trees are dragged from their resting places, hundreds of yards away. The timber comes crashing through the undergrowth, over other logs, through pools of water, all of which are pushed aside or successfully negotiated, and is finally dumped alongside the rail track. An arm from the ‘Spar Tree,’ fitted with grabs then lifts the logs into the wagons with a minimum waste of time.
From here we proceeded another mile and then halted at an embryo ‘Spar Tree.’ Before a tree can used for a derrick, the top twenty feet, of small diameter, has to be lopped or ‘topped,’ otherwise the top part would sway, possibly enough to cause a fracture in the tree when dragging the logs.
Even if a break does not occur below the rigging, the falling top might cause fatal injuries among the workmen.
Lumber Camp Visit – Vancouver Island
Awaiting us was a lumberman, called a ‘High Rigger,’ who buckled on a pair of spikes to his boots. With an axe dangling from his waist, a rope encircling his body and the tree trunk, he commenced to climb, lopping off branches as he proceeded aloft. After ascending about 150 feet he dug in his climbing irons firmly and commenced to chop off the remaining 20 feet of the tree, which soon fell with a crash, exactly where he had predicted.
As the top fell the tree swayed as though struck by a full gale but before it had steadied the ‘High Rigger’ had commenced to descend in leaps of several feet. As the girth of the tree increased, so he increased the diameter of the encircling rope.
‘High Riggers’ have been known to sit on top of the swaying tree after the topping operation had been completed. In fact we were told that a Russian one stood on his head there for a wager. The total time taken from when the man left the ground to his return was only 17 ½ minutes, a wonderful performance. Although perspiring freely, he was quite unperturbed. His job is highly paid, and we came to the conclusion the money was well earned.
We then witnessed three trees being felled. They were already axed at the bottom to determine where they should fall. It took two men ten minutes of sawing before each tree fell with a thunderous crash, carrying away branches of the surrounding trees en route.
After inspecting the camp and a few odd bits of machinery, we thanked our hosts heartily for their hospitality and for a most interesting and
instructive visit. The same cars whisked us back to Comox. We returned onboard tired, but well pleased with a most enjoyable outing.
By kind permission of the Manager of the Elk River Timber Company, Mr. Cobb, twelve officers spent twenty-four hours at the Elk River Timber
Coy. Camp. Captain, Mrs and Miss Moore, who were guests of Mr. And Mrs. Cobb, were with the expedition. In addition to witnessing the lumber operations already described, the following items of interest were gathered.
The lumbermen were a most cosmopolitan crowd; the majority were Swedes or Norwegians, but there were many Canadians, British and Russians, and a few Czechoslovakians, Americans and Germans. In the camp they were a peaceful, hard working collection, their interests in life, after a day’s work, extending to food and sleep only. A few indulged in a game with metal quoits. Apparently the majority lead this type of life until they have saved enough money for a colossal ‘jag’ in the nearest town.
Lumbermen consume incredible quantities of food. No talking is allowed in the dining room, presumably because conversation interferes with the amount of food eaten and the digestion.
No liquor of any description is allowed in the Camp. Doubtless this is the reason for so few accidents. Also a man has to be in perfect condition to perform his arduous task.
The beds provided in the huts are none too comfortable. The huts themselves are draughty and the length of the blanket supplied is such that the average man has to choose between having his neck or his feet frozen.
One Englishman in the Camp was receiving £600 a year from his people for him to keep away from home but he seemed perfectly happy. While spending his allowance he did not work, and when his money had gone he returned to employment in the Lumber Camp.
The work in a Camp is strenuous but the life is healthy. The lumberman is a splendid specimen of manhood physically. He possesses the asset of not being loquacious.
The unanimous decision was that we would not care to change jobs with a lumberman.
The Elk hotel, the hospitality of ‘Dusty’ D’Esterre and his picture and portrait gallery in his studio, most of which had Naval links, will always bring interesting and pleasant recollections to the officers of H.M.S. Dauntless.
Whilst at Comox, five officers took the opportunity to visit Campbell River (a paradise for salmon fishers), twenty miles away Dr, and Mrs.
Richardson kindly put a tent at their disposal. As luck would have it we were too early for the Tyee salmon, which run to 100 lbs; but good sport was had with the spring salmon, one kill weighing 10 lbs. The trout would not rise to a fly.
While trolling, Mate Maybury hooked a fish which, when it broke surface, looked like a 20 lb salmon. The fish jumped, Maybury jumped; the fish dived; Maybury looked bewildered. The fish jumped again; Maybury lost his balance, the rod nearly left his hand and alas!! The salmon shook out the hook. For one week we heard all about the fish, which was nearly as big as him. Bad luck, little man! Anytime you have half an hour to spare, you know whom to go to for instruction!
While fish were being cleaned by the riverside, enormous dogfish swarm around to collect the refuse. One was gaffed and the interesting fact discovered that the species does not lay eggs.
About 1330 on Friday 27th June, H.M.S. Dauntless and H.M.C.S. Vancouver secured alongside the C.P.R. Jetty at Vancouver, both ships having been detailed to convey units of the Canadian Militia to Maple Bay to take part in the Combined Operations Scheme.
Early the following morning we heard the skirl of bagpipes and soon after appeared the first regiment bound for the battle; the Seaforth Highlanders, with kilts swaying to the music of the Canadian Scottish pipers. They were closely followed by the Irish Inniskillings and then came fifes and drums leading detachments from the Vancouver Regiment, the Artillery, the Sappers and the West Vancouver’s. The entire force was under the command of Brigadier General Sutherland Browne.
An enormous crowd witnessed the embarkation, the organisation of which went smoothly thanks to guides who ran hither and thither, and to direction signs on blackboards. By 0830 the ship had embarked approximately 400 officers and men and soon after, accompanied by the Vancouver, she sailed, amidst cheers from the crowd and lively tunes from our band.
Fortunately the sea was calm. Aircraft detailed to attend on the Naval Forces escorted us and soon they reported sighting H.M.C.S. Armentieres, which was conveying a detachment from Esquimalt to the scene of action.
At 1630 approximately, the ships arrived at Maple Bay and the first Naval exercise commenced - landing an attacking force with all speed within a certain sector of the beach. This was carried out speedily and in a seamanlike manner and there were no casualties. The military landing parties moved inland and pitched camp, whilst the Signalmen chose strategically placed positions along the coast.
Sunday 29th June. After Divine Service everyone enjoyed a day of rest; the lull before the storm, as the Battle of Maple Bay was to be contested on the morrow.
Tactical Exercise With Canadian Militia At Maple Bay
Monday 30th June 1930
An imaginary large army was being landed in Maple Bay for the conquest of Vancouver Island. A covering force had already been landed and taken up
position to protect the main army from attack while landing. The opposing force was required to penetrate this covering force and prevent the landing of the main army.
A Dauntless company of two seamen platoons and one Royal Marine platoon was given a position on the left flank covering force, its area stretching from the top of Tzouhalem Mountain, some 1600 feet high, to the main Maple Bay - Duncan Road. We arrived on our position a good half hour before the exercise was due to start, only to find that out opponents were already firmly planted there, although they were fully a mile ahead of the line on which they should have been at that time. Argument was useless, but a friendly umpire turned up, and the enemy were told to ‘beat it,’ leaving us to take up our prearranged positions, and that was very nearly the last we saw of the enemy, as they concentrated on our centre and right flank. A defending Lewis gun section did some pretty execution on a platoon, which tried to march down the Maple Bay - Duncan Road, and half the platoon was adjudged to be killed. The remainder of us spent a peaceful forenoon in the sun, watching the reconnaissance aircraft overhead.
The enemy’s attack on our right flank was highly successful and when the exercise was stopped, about noon, it was only a matter of a few minutes before they would have captured our Brigade Headquarters. In fact, although we did all that was required of us on our flank, there is no question that our opponents won the morning’s battle.
For the purpose of the afternoon’s battle it was considered that our opponents had failed in their object, that our main army had landed and were ready to advance; we therefore became the attacking force and our opponents the defenders. As we had not had much to do in the morning, the Brigadier of our side very generously rearranged his forces so as to put us in the centre of the line, where most resistance was expected.
As soon as the morning exercise was over, we marched to Bassett’s Barn, which was to be our ‘jumping off place’ for the afternoon, and there we had an hour’s Stand Easy and dinner.
The afternoon exercise started unfortunately. Our Royal Marines platoon had to advance over rather open country, and they were getting on very well, making good use of what little cover they had; but when they got half way to their first objective, an umpire informed them that they had been under heavy machine gun fire for the last ten minutes, and there was little chance of any of them being left alive. This was very bad luck, as they had no idea that they were being fired on, but these misfortunes are inevitable under the unreal conditions of peace exercises.
No. 2 Seamen’s Platoon had a pretty tough job. Their advance was through a fairly thick wood, which was strongly defended. A stretch of 100 yards of very open ground was first successfully crossed under cover of a smoke screen, and the cover of the wood gained. From there on progress was slow, until finally the defence became so strong that further advance was impossible. No. 1 platoon was therefore sent to advance through the woods further to the left and delivered a flank attack on the enemy’s position. This platoon made very good progress, but before their object could be achieved, the exercise was stopped by the Chief Umpire.
Although no decisive result was obtained, our side had made good progress and there is every reason to suppose that had the exercise continued longer we should have penetrated the defence.
Unofficial Version And Sidelights Of The Battle
At 0600 on the 30th, operations commenced with the landing of the Naval and Royal Marine contingents and soon the necessary arrangements were made to rout the enemy from a wood he was occupying.
Operations were directed from Naval Headquarters, situated on top of a small hill. From all around came the crack of rifle and harsh staccato of machine guns. An amusing diversion occurred when two men, sighting an enemy scout, stalked the quarry and were just about going to shout “Hands up,” when one tripped over a lump of wood and loosed off a blank round. The scout looked round and said, “What’s up Jack?” The next moment his hands were.
For an hour or so the action lasted without either side giving ground; sniping and counter sniping played an important part in the stationary stage, but towards noon just as the Naval Forces were gaining ground the ‘Cease Fire’ call was sounded and the troops retired for dinner, whilst the judges worked out the result - a draw.
Nature was indeed kind to us, as wild raspberries grew in profusion around our position and provided a delicious diet and distraction from the great battle being waged.
At 1330 the second exercise was commenced, the battleground being carefully chosen by both sides. The Scottish Regiments had taken possession of a large wood, the Territorials had occupied a farmhouse, and the Army Headquarters were at ‘Bassets Barn’ while the Naval Headquarters were situated on a nearby hill. The Naval Forces were spread around these points and a very exciting time followed. Our men were attempting to take the wood by storm but were repulsed by heavy rifle fire. Many counter attacks were made, and when these were observed to fail the Scots were given a taste of tear gas, which had the desired effect. The Scots then tried to take our Headquarters, and almost succeeded, but the Royal Marines and part of the Machine Gun Section were rushed up and the attack failed.
It was a near thing, and the Staff, after visions of capture by the enemy, heaved a sigh of relief. The Territorials were driven from the Farmhouse and our men took possession. By 1600 the enemy had lost all his strategic points and we were in full possession. A few small attacks followed but were of no great importance. The exercise was concluded at 1730.
During the forenoon operations the enemy took two of our men prisoners and removed their lanyards and collars, but later in the day we captured a Scotsman and confiscated his kilt in retaliation. Fortunately it was a warm day and there were none of the gentler sex about.
Have you ever heard a sailor, who, while crawling on hands and knees, barges into a bed of stinging nettles? If you lack the necessary vocabulary
then attend the next combined operations.
Any soldier appearing in our vicinity was surrounded instantly, but to our dismay, we discovered that we couldn’t take the majority prisoners, as they were judges. After lunch, just as we were preparing to advance, a rifle shot was fired close behind us. Our platoon commander thought we had been attacked in the rear and his hair stood in end, but it was only somebody in No. 2 Platoon looking for excitement.
On one occasion we worked our way behind the enemy lines and ambushed a section of kilties. Disregarding a hail of bullets they fixed bayonets and charged. Who had won? We swore we had wiped them out with rifle fire; they swore we hadn’t. An umpire declared the encounter a draw. Anyway the Cockney and Canadian Scottish ‘slang’ was grand to hear.
At the conclusion of the exercises, the Sailors and Royal Marines were guests of the Canadian Militia, who put up a marvellous tea, during which the pipes and brass bands played. Later it was announced that a prize of barrel of beer would be given to the unit that produced the best bonfire after dark. What was the prize? A barrel of beer? The sailors got busy, even uprooting trees whole. There was no doubt that our fire was easily the best and there was still even less doubt about the sailors enjoying the beer.
The soldiers were re-embarked on Tuesday 1st July and disembarked at Vancouver at 1730 the same day. From the fact that most of the troops slept during the passage we wondered if there were a few fat heads knocking about.
Tactical Exercise: Embarkation
As the regiments marched away, ‘Clear Lower Deck’ was piped, three cheers were given as the soldiers filed past the ship and our band played ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ The cheers were returned with much gusto by each regiment in turn. Many friendships were formed during the combined operations and even to this day, letters are exchanged between members of the Canadian Militia and the ship’s company.
Tactical Exercise: Embarkation
Nanaimo, Maple Bay And Esquimalt
We sailed from Vancouver at 0900 on the 2nd July and arrived at Nanaimo at 1230 the same day, remaining there until the 7th July.
HMS Dauntless at Nanaimo Local fishermen
The town itself is very small, coal being the chief industry. Apart from walks and car rides through pretty country there was nothing much to do; some lucky ones had friends up from Vancouver.
The ship’s company spent an enjoyable evening at a smoking Concert given by the Canadian Legion, and two days later, our own Concert Party performed in the St. John Hall, under the auspices of Bastion Chapter, I.O.D.E.
The audience was very appreciative and Mrs. A. Foster, Regent, tendered the thanks of the members to Captain Moore. The event was brought to a close by an informal dance and a substantial sum was raised for the Chapter’s general work.
A searchlight display, which caused much excitement in the town, was given on the 5th July; also several inhabitants visited the ship.
We arrived at Maple Bay at 1800 on the 7th, and remained there until the 9th. Apart from a little fishing and some interesting walks, this was a period of complete rest from official activities. The officers enjoyed several parties at Commander (E) Grethed’s brother’s bungalow and also enjoyed pulling the skiff back to the ship to the strains of the Volga Boating Song.
Maple Bay – Vancouver
On the 9th July, we arrived at Esquimalt for our second stay and wasted no time in making contact with old friends, particularly with the Canadian Mounted Police who extended considerable hospitality to us. Picnics, cricket matches, tennis, dances and dinner parties ashore, helped to pass a pleasant nine days. On the 13th there was a terrific storm but luckily we were not at sea.
On Tuesday 15th July, Captain Moore and the officers held an official dance. The decorations were bunting, flowers, ferns, lanterns, coloured lights, balloons and a rock garden with fountain built on No. 5 Gun Deck. Lieutenant Whetstone spent most of his time paddling in the fountain. Captain Bagot helped with sterling work in the ‘Yellow Peril.’ Two marquees were erected on the jetty and were used as refreshment tents and for sitting out. A local band was hired for the occasion.
The guests included His Honour The Lieutenant Governor and Miss MacKenzie, Brigadier General and Mrs. Sutherland Browne, His worship The Mayor and Mrs, Anscombe, The Chief Justice, Mrs. And Miss MacDonald, The Officers, R.C.N. Barracks, Garrison Officers Mess, H.M.C.S. Vancouver, H.M.C.S. Armentieres and Canadian Militia. In all approximately 200 attended the dance.
The Governor of Alaska coming aboard Saluting Gun’s crew
The ship’s company held their dance the following day, using the same decorations and facilities arranged by the officers. Fortunately the weather remained fine for both occasions. This dance subsequently proved to be the most successful one held onboard during the commission.
On Friday 18th July, H.M.S. Dauntless sailed for Wrangell, Alaska. Crowds were on the jetty to wave us good-bye and there was much weeping and wailing and many sore hearts. Farewell, Esquimalt, we will never forget our sojourn in your hospitable land.
The passage from Esquimalt to Wrangell was full of interest as we took the inner channels. It was necessary to anchor each night, as it is not safe to navigate these waters in the dark. At times we found ourselves in channels only a few hundred yards wide and flanked by mountains 3000ft high, while at other times the channels opened out onto inland sea. Our first anchorage was in Tribune Bay.
The second day we passed between dense forests of pine and other fir trees with occasional clearings in which are situated settlements of wooden houses and tents. That night we anchored at Beaver Harbour and the cold was distinctly noticeable!
The next day, snow capped mountains were seen in the distance and we were considerably delayed by fog banks which shut us down intermittently all day. We arrived safely at Carter Bay that evening, just before dark, and a party went away in the skiff to fish; no luck attended their efforts, probably due to a shoal of black fish which cruised round the boat, blowing like whales, and giving the occupants many anxious moments.
A shooting party went ashore and, having carried out a regular battle practice, returned with one pigeon - a costly bird!
On the next day 22nd July, we passed several picturesque waterfalls, and some grizzly bear slides were seen, but no bears. After passing Prince Rupert Island, we anchored for the night at Port Simpson.
The next night we anchored at Dewey Anchorage after passing a salmon-canning town, called Ketchikan. At 1400 on 23rd July, we arrived at Wrangell, a town of some 500 inhabitants, situated in delightful surroundings at the foot of Mt. Wrangell. During the day we saw some fine glaciers and passed a few small icebergs.
Episcopal Church - Wrangell
The population includes Americans, Indians, Russians and Eskimos. The houses are chiefly constructed of wood and the main industries are salmon fishing and canning. In addition there is a saw mill, cutting large quantities of Sitka spruce, used in aeroplane construction. Trapping and hunting are extensively carried on in the interior, and annually, a quarter of a million dollars worth of furs passes through the town.
For more images of Alaska see:
Wrangell has more totems than any other town in Alaska, usually visited by tourists. Both officers and ship’s company spent many hours visiting the curio shops and totem poles. It would be appropriate here to discuss totem poles and the Indian or native of South Eastern Alaska, who calls himself Thlingit (people).
According to Father Veniaminov:
The Thlingits are divided into two main tribes - the Raven or Yethl tribe, and the other, the Wolf or Kootch tribe. Under the name of raven it is
understood that this being is not a bird, but half the human race, and the wolf is not an animal, but a Kannook or some sort of a man.
These tribes are sub-divided into clans, using for their names, the names of animals, birds, fish and other creatures.
Those belonging to the Wolf phratry have six principal clans; Wolf, Bear, Eagle, Whale-killer, and Shark and black Oystercatcher. Those
belonging to the Raven phratry are named for Raven, Frog, Goose, Seal, Owl, and Salmon etc. The several clans of both phratries are sub-
divided into families or lesser clans, carrying the names of houses or villages.
Each clan has its own crest or coat-of-arms, which on state occasions or celebrations is exhibited either in front of the house or in the interior,
on the front walls or the foremost corners. The Chief of the clan adorns himself with special bearings insignia belonging to his tribe.
These crests or Coats-of-arms represent the particular animals which the clans adopted. They are made from wood or from the skin of the
Animal which they represent.
The majority of the Thlingits recognize as their Supreme Bring, some person under the name of Yethl. This Yethl, according to the Thlingit
belief, is all-powerful. He created everything in the world; earth, animals, man, vegetation. He procured the sun, moon, and stars. He loves the
people, but often in his anger sends epidemics and misfortunes upon them. Yethl was in the beginning, he never ages and will never die.
Thlingit Totem Poles
It is difficult to obtain a definite and correct version on Totems from Indians, chiefly because many thoughtless people have ridiculed what was, to the mature, an object of veneration; also because interpreters cannot be found to render equivalent translations of the symbols on the poles. Ill-informed missionaries have taught that the object of ancestral veneration is nothing but an idol.
Any clan can have its own family totem, yet it respects either the Raven or the Wolf. Father Veniaminov, the broad-minded missionary of a hundred years ago, says:
There are three kinds of totems in use amongst the Thlingits of South Eastern Alaska, besides the house posts used for interior decoration and
the grave posts. On the poles genealogy of the family is illustrated, some hero tale or important incident in the early family history, or the
wanderings of the raven is depicted. The interior house posts have the grave posts (the latter are of recent adoption) and show the family crest
or point to some incident in the history of the clan or family.
The animal figures represent the tribe of the clan. Quite often small figure incorporated in between the larger figure will have a lengthy story.
In the genealogical poles, the predominating animal will illustrate the husband’s family and the various other figures will illustrate the wife’s
clan. Sometimes figures are incorporated and carved in for decorative purposes, and only the artist knows the reason for them. When questioned
as to the meaning of certain poles, the Indians will invariably say that the story is too long and no single man can tell all of it. What they mean
is that the various figures have their separate legends and that each clan knows its own story better than an outsider does.
The larger portion of Thlingits believes in the supreme power of the raven, in this case not a bird, but a man. According to their belief, Yethl is
all powerful. He created all that is found upon earth. He made land and vegetation, man and all animal creatures. He procured the light and is
called Nah-sha-ki-yethl, or the Raven who comes from the river Nass, far in the interior.
The stories of the wanderings and acts of the Raven are so numerous amongst the Thlingit people that only one principal one is offered here:
There was a time when the universe was in darkness. At that time a certain man lived in the world that had a wife and a sister. He loved his wife
so well that she was not permitted to do any work. All day she sat in the house or outside by the entrance. Small birds, called koon, guarded her
and on the slightest and the most innocent attention from any male, these birds would leave her. The husband was so jealous of her that on
leaving the house for work he would lock her up in a large box while the birds sat around the prison, always on the watch. His sister was known
as Kit-whi-geen-see (the daughter of a killer whale). She had a number of sons born to her, but when the boys reached a certain age, the uncle
would kill them.
The various tribes give the method of destroying his nephews differently. Some say the uncle as soon as the nephew became old enough would
take him out in the canoe and drown him. Others like the Stikine River Indians say that he would lock them in a partly excavated log, intended
for a canoe, where they would smother. The mother of the boys not only mourned for her offspring but had no way of stopping her brother from
One time, as she sat by the seashore mourning, a school of killer whales passed close to the shore. One of the killer whales approached close to
where the woman sat and began to talk to her. Finding the source of her great grief, the killer whale told her to wade into the water, pick up a
small pebble from the bottom and swallow it, and drink a little of the sea water. Again this part of the story varies amongst the different tribes.
In time, a child was born, an ordinary child, but this was the Raven. Just before the boy was born, she left her brother’s house and went away to a
distant country, where she reared this child with great care.
When the child grew old enough, she taught him the use of the bow and arrow. The boy became very skilled in the use of this. When he became
of age, he built himself a hunting lodge, where he devoted his time entirely to hunting. One morning, while sitting by the door of his lodge, he
saw a great bird alight almost at his door. This bird had a very long beak, with a metallic glitter to it. The Thingit people call this bird Kootz-
gah-too-ly (the bird of the sky). The young man immediately killed it and then carefully skinned it. He put the skin across his shoulders and
immediately felt the power to fly. He flew towards the sky and continued his flight until his strong beak stuck into a cloud and he had some
difficulty in pulling it out. He alighted at his lodge and hid the skin.
When the young man was old enough his mother told him about his uncle and about the death of his brothers. The young man at once started for
the place where his uncle lived. The uncle was away when he reached there. He found his aunt locked in the big box; he opened it and let her
out. The little birds, of course, flew away. When the uncle returned home he at once saw what had happened. He became very angry.
The Raven sat very much unconcerned and made no attempt to explain his presence. His uncle at once told the Raven to go with him; he took
him in his canoe and paddled out to sea, a long distance from shore, to a place where many terrible creatures lived. He threw the raven
overboard to drown him. The Raven sank to the bottom. On reaching the bottom he walked under the water towards the shore and came out at
the place where his uncle lived. When his uncle arrived home he was greatly surprised to see his nephew sitting calmly by the fire. He became
so angry that he said, let there be a flood. The waters began to rise, covering all the country and even the high mountains were covered with
water. The Raven put on his bird skin and flew towards the sky. He again struck his beak into a cloud and hung there until the waters
subsided. Then he flew down with the lightness of a feather.
From this period, there are so many stories of the activities of the Raven as told by the various tribes of the Thlingit people, that it is impossible to enumerate them; his wanderings upon earth, creating trees, procuring water and light, fire and many other useful things, including the animals and birds.
The light was in possession of some rich and powerful chief, who kept it locked up in three boxes, which he guarded with the greatest care. The
Raven while wandering round the world, heard of the light of the great chief and he wanted to get the light for the world. This great chief also
had a daughter, who was carefully guarded by slaves. They accompanied her wherever she went. It was their duty to examine not only the food
she ate, but even the dishes from which the food was eaten.
The Raven realised that the only way he could obtain the light was to become the grandson of the chief. Putting on his bird skin, he flew to the
country where the old man lived. He watched for an opportunity to carry out his plan. This was an easy matter to the Raven as he could change
himself into whatever he wished; into fish, animal, grass or any other thing that suited his purpose. One day the girl went to the creek to get
some water; the Raven saw his opportunity. He changed himself into the minutest piece of a spruce needle and became attached to the side of
her drinking cup. When the girl was drinking she drank the particle. She realised at once that she had swallowed something foreign. In spite of
all endeavours she could not get rid of the piece she had swallowed. In time a child was born to her. No one suspected that the child was the
The grandfather became greatly attached to the child. He loved him even more than he did his daughter. In time, the child began to walk and
always pointed to the boxes in which the planets of the earth were kept. At first, the grandfather did not know that the child wanted to play with
his treasures. But when the child began to cry for them and would not be comforted, the grandfather allowed him to play with the least of his
possessions. The child immediately became quiet. He played with the box containing the stars. When the opportunity presented itself, he opened
the box and the stars escaped and lodged in the sky.
He was able to do the same with the box containing the moon. When the child wanted to play with his greatest treasure, the box containing the
sun, the grandfather would permit him only to touch it. The child cried without stopping, and would not be comforted. He stopped taking food;
he became ill. There was great fear that he would die.
At last the grandfather in desperation permitted the child to take the box with the sun. No sooner had he the box in his hands, than he became
quiet. Almost immediately he changed his form into a Raven and flew away with the sun. In his wanderings he came to a place where he heard
voices. Seeing no one, but knowing that there were people in this place fishing, he asked them for something to eat. He was refused.
The Raven threatened to make it light. These people laughed at him. They said the only one who could make light was the Raven. Then the
Raven opened the box, wherefrom such wonderful sunshine appeared that the people became so frightened that they dispersed in all
directions. Some ran into the woods and became animals, some jumped into the sea and became fishes and marine animals, and some ran into
the mountains and also became animals.
Church Parade in Wrangell
The officers attended a dance ashore after a preliminary ‘working up’ party in the Ward Room. Dessert bills were very expensive that night and a melon was literally wasted, but we learnt that an officer could throw fruit with both hands. The ‘little man’ had a marvellous party with an Eskimo partner. After the dance, while waiting for the boat, we watched the Northern Lights, a pretty sight indeed.
The ship was open to visitors during our stay. On the 27th an ‘At Home’ was given onboard, and on the 28th, H.M.S. Dauntless sailed for Juneau.
Anchored in Hallock Harbour the preceding night and sailed again at 0800. Several glaciers were seen. Taku Glacier takes its source in an immense glacier field, from which several other glaciers originate. At the mouth it is 14 miles in width and 200 feet high, and extends back 15 miles. This is a live glacier, which sometimes obliges and thrills by casting another berg into the sea, with a great splash, when the siren is blown.
Several icebergs passed the ship, causing great excitement. The newly fractured bergs had a green or blue colour. The estimated dimensions of one seen were 50 feet by 30 by 20 feet high. When it is remembered that the volume of the submerged part is about nine times that of the projecting part, one can imagine the disastrous results of a collision with a large iceberg. Once again snow-capped mountains and dense forests of pine and fir trees were visible.
The ship secured alongside the jetty at 1700. Juneau is a comparatively large town, situated at the foot of a mountain, in pleasant surroundings. Gold mining, fishing and furs are the chief industries. The Alaska-Juneau gold mine, located within the city, immediately attracts the eye. There are several mining properties; some defunct, some still producing fortunes, and some yet in the prospecting stage.
The Mendenhall Glacier, about fourteen miles from the city, is on a spur of the Glacier Highway. It is unique in that it is easily accessible, and that visitors are able to go right on to it, in fact travel over it as far as they wish.
A visit was paid to a fur farm in the vicinity of the city, where silver foxes, blue foxes, cross foxes, and minks and martens are raised. Further north of Juneau, at Skagway (The Home of the North Wind) the ‘Trail of 98’ begins. From this town thousands followed the lure of gold through the mountain passes to the interior of Alaska and the Yukon.
The inhabitants of Juneau had never witnessed a cricket match in their lives, so for their edification, two representative sides from the ship featured.
The strokes that were appreciated were the ‘skyers’ for six. No intimation has been received as yet that cricket has been taken up seriously at Juneau.
By kind permission of the Manager, the majority of the ship’s company, in parties of 25 and proceeding hourly, made a tour of inspection of the Alaska-Juneau gold mine. One Scotsman still retains a specimen of ore. Some say he means to extract the gold from it, others suggest he is going to plant a plot of ground on some unsuspecting English prospector in Wigan.
Bears abound in Alaska. The brown bear is reputed to be harmless and the black ferocious. Many authentic and other stories were digested. Any smooth piece of cliff was alluded to as a Grizzly Bear Slide, and when out of curiosity, we enquired what an unarmed man should do if he met a bear, we were told that - THE BEST THING HE COULD DO WAS TO LIE DOWN AND PRETEND TO BE DEAD.
The average sailor would be more versatile than that. He would throw down his cap, make a noise like a honeycomb and run like……like a stag.
A Visit To The Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine
In the early eighties two prospectors, Dick Harris and Joe Juneau, were attracted to this section of the country by reports that Indians had found gold in what is now known as Gold Creek. They located several claims and made many valuable discoveries. Later a number of quartz ledges were discovered, and a camp established at the present site of the city of Juneau. This camp was first called Harrisburg, but later the name was changed to Juneau, and the mining district was known as the Harris Mining District.
The Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine, at present operating is one of the greatest low-grade gold mines in the world. It is located within the city and daily produces over twelve thousand tons of ore. The ingenious part of the operations is the extent to which ‘gravity’ is employed, considerably reducing the cost of production.
The approach to the mine is reached through a narrow cleft in the mountains. A rapid stream, in spate, known as ‘Gold Creek,’ wends its tortuous passage to the sea, passing near the entrance to the mine, which at first sight appears a very uninteresting huddle of tin buildings on a hillside.
The drive, in small electric trams, to the mine face, was an epic experience. The tram proceeded through numerous tunnels in the mountain well lit in places and semi-dark in others. Drops of water fell from the roofs to find a resting place on somebody’s neck; the walls exuded moisture.
Occasionally we passed miners in overalls, working on the railway, with carbide lamps attached by a band round their foreheads. The tunnels were well ventilated.
Blasting operations were being carried out in the heart of the mountain in large funnel shaped chambers. Pieces of rock found their way down chutes cut below the funnels to trucks and were carried through long tunnels, in the bowels of the mountain, to the crushing mills. As the trucks were overturned, the contents were carried by chutes to the mills, which broke the rocks into smaller pieces, which then emerged on endless belt conveyors.
Chosen men picked out the gold containing quartz (white) and dropped them into a bin nearby. The remainder passed onto slag heaps.
From the bin, the selected rocks passed down chutes and then through rollers for further crushing and selection. The surviving quartz was ground to a powder and passed into large troughs of running water, down another chute onto numerous large trays which were kept vibrating the whole time, to separate the minerals present. Gold, iron, copper, zinc and silver were noticed. The gold particles were passed through two tables, containing mercury, which formed an amalgam with the gold. The amalgam was heated to drive off the excess mercury, which was used again. The other minerals obtained were by-products, and helped to defray expenses.
From information received, a ton of rock contains 80 cents worth of gold. Of this, 60 cents worth is recovered. Working expenses are approx. 30 cents per ton, leaving a net profit of 30 cents per ton. There are about 600 men employed in the mine, which works night and day all the year round, Sundays included. All the machinery is renewed and repaired by the Company itself. Blasters are paid 7 dollars a day, crushers and washers 6 dollars, trolley drivers 6 ½ dollars and others 5 ½ dollars.
Specimens of quartz were given to the visitors; in fact rumour has it that, due to these specimens, the ship’s draught increased by ½ inch.
We heartily thank the Manager of the Alaska-Juneau Gold Mine for giving us the opportunity to witness such interesting operations.
A Fishing Weekend At Turner Lake, Juneau
Whilst at Juneau, there was an opportunity for four of the Ward Room to go on a fishing weekend. The party was organised by ‘Sim’ Mackinnan, a retired Lt. U.S.N. and consisted of (L. Shore’s Party) S. Mackinnan, J. Mills Johnstone, Mr and Mrs Cole and their small boy. (Ship Party) Captain Bagot, Lt Cdr. Taylor, Cdr. (E) Grethed and the latter’s brother, who was staying onboard.
The sea going transport consisted of the motor yacht ‘Jazz’ belonging to Cole. She was quite a remarkable craft, as on a length of 48 feet she could sleep eleven (and a half). Her 75 h.p. Engine gave her 9 knots, and she had a paraffin fired galley and central heating boiler. She had been built in Seattle, had done the trip up through the Channels, and was said to be a very good sea boat.
Leaving the ship at 1430 we had an uneventful voyage to Tahu Inlet and up its south shore to a point nearly opposite the end of the Taku Glacier, where we anchored about 1615.
After an enormous egg tea everyone, except the Cole family, embarked in a fast foot outboard motor boat belonging to Mills which had been towing astern. A run of a mile took us to the mouth of Turner Creek, where we beached the boat and landed. From this point, a well-marked trail led over a low hill to Turner Lake. Although the trail was easy and under a mile long, it was quite a job getting over it, burdened as we were with a small outboard motor, a supply of gasoline and all the fishing tackle. Arriving at the foot of the Lake we found two small skiffs hauled up on the bank. These were quickly launched, the motor fitted to one, the party and gear embarked, and we were afloat by 1745.
The lake is almost straight for eight miles and then turns abruptly to the right for another two, but is only about ¾ of a mile wide; the sides are precipitous - in some places overhanging – and the water bitterly cold (being glacier fed), so to be wrecked at the head of the lake would be somewhat serious. The hills being almost un-climbable and points where one can leave the water even for a rest, being at least half a mile apart, probably the only thing to do in such a case would to be start a forest fire and hope that someone would see the smoke and fly over to investigate.
We went about three miles up the lake, and anchored the boats at a point where a small waterfall came into the lake on the east bank. Fishing with spoons and salmon meat, sport was good, and we got thirty or forty trout - mostly under 1lb, but a couple were about 2 lbs. We fished steadily in the same place till it was nearly dark (about 2100), except that the skiff with the motor made a short trip to another fall on the other side of the lake.
By the time we’d got back to the foot of the lake it was quite dark; of course everyone had thought of bringing a torch, but no one actually had brought one so the trip back down the trail was much more difficult and exciting than the trip up had been.
On top of everything we got back to the mouth of the creek at dead low water, so there was some little difficulty in getting the speed boat afloat and finding the channel of the creek. However we got back aboard the ‘Jazz’ by 2330 and a quarter of an hour later were sitting down to a wonderful supper of fried trout and potatoes with apple pie and cake to follow - In fact so much supper that we came to the conclusion that Mrs. Cole must have been cooking all the time we’d been away. Finally, everyone turned in about 0030.
Cole called the hands at 0400, and breakfast was on the table by 0415 - we found out afterwards that the Cole family had been up since 0315 cooking it. We left the yacht once more in the speedboat about 0455 and we were on the lake by ten minutes to six. Stopped at the spot visited on the previous day, and started fishing soon after 0630. Sport was better than ever before.
Whilst at this spot, four fish of over 4 lbs. apiece were landed, two of them were hooked simultaneously by ‘Schoolie’ and the Soldier, who were both in the smaller boat; the resulting scene of confusion was a good as a play especially when ‘Schoolie’s’ reel came off his rod and it was a great pity that no one had a movie camera to record it.
Various places where small falls came in were tried all with more or less success till 1300 when we landed for lunch at the mouth of the stream at the head of the lake.
The first thing we saw on stepping ashore was a tree about ten inches across, which had been recently felled by a beaver though unless he’d done it for practice there didn’t seem much point in it as a more unsuitable place for a dam would be hard to find.
After lunch some of the party tried fishing from the shallows at the mouth of this creek with fairly good results. Sport was interrupted by the arrival of a black bear. He first appeared on the west bank of the creek at the spot where we’d lunched to the alarm of the people on that bank and the amusement of those across the stream.
The bear then retreated inland a short way, crossed the river and came out on the lake shore not twenty yards from the party in the eastern shallows who promptly decided it was time to pipe ‘Joke over’. However, the bear was heading steadily east so we only saw his south elevation and were left
in peace to go on fishing.
Actually the black bear is practically never savage unless wounded but the first sight of a wild animal who looked about as big as a Shetland pony,
(this may be a slight exaggeration) outside a Zoo, with only 20 yards of shallow water between you and him, and no weapon handy except a light trout rod is somewhat disturbing.
Embarking again, we tried several more likely spots around the lake again with success. There didn’t seem to be much bird life about, but we saw several specimens of ‘ground hogs.’ At last about 1500 we reluctantly decided that it was time to start for home. Cleaning most of the fish, and hauling the boats up and securing them took some little time, but the trail was much easier in daylight and we were back aboard the ‘Jazz’ by 1645.
Almost as soon as we were aboard, tea was announced. An enormous meal of chicken, potatoes and fruit salad all on one plate at the same time! The Cole’s explained that they’d had nothing to do all day except cook and sleep but from the amount of food that was produced (and eaten) we concluded that they must have been working hard.
About 1800 we summoned up enough energy to weigh anchor and had a most enjoyable and peaceful trip back to Juneau, getting alongside about 1930. As one member remarked, and everyone agreed, “Altogether, a most perfect party.” More than 120 trout were caught including six four pounders, length approximately 24 inches.
We sailed from Juneau at noon on August 6th and arrived at Sitka at 0850 the following day.
Alexander Baranov, a noted Russian Governor, founded Sitka, the former capital of Alaska, and it is located on one of the Western islands. It boasts the most beautiful harbour in Alaska. Small islands are studded about which, from an elevated position, resemble jewels set in harmonious profusion
Thickly wooded and snow capped mountains surround the harbour, the water of which is as clear as tropical seas.
The chief industry of the town is salmon fishing and canning. The return of the fishing fleet, which had been away for months, coincided with our visit, and so we had the opportunity to witness all stages of the canning industry.
Salmon canning plant - Sitka
The salmon were discharged from the trawlers onto slots on an endless belt, which conveyed them to washing tanks. Thence they proceeded by a similar conveyance to the ‘Guillotine,’ a machine that beheaded the fish, slit up and cleaned the salmon. The Indian girls completed them up in sizes to fit the cans. The packing of the cans was also done mechanically, and then the tops were fixed, after a preliminary steaming. The final stage was cooking for 1½ hours in a steamer, followed by cooling in the open air. Girls attached labels.
The factory turned out 3,000 cases per day, during the season, each case containing 50 cans of salmon. No fish was handled without special gloves.
All salmon not needed for immediate canning were placed in cold storage. A walk through the refrigerators was interesting. Two large N.H. machines pumped brine through rows of pipes, which lined the storerooms. Icicles hung and twinkled from the roof and pipes. Frost covered the floor and walls, while neat stacks of fish previously gutted, lay in solid blocks.
Some of the most interesting and historical monuments remaining from the Russian times in Alaska are the Old Russian churches, with their wonderful paintings, vestments, and sacred vessels. The St. Michael’s Cathedral at Sitka is by far the most interesting as an historical relic. The Church was finished and dedicated in honour of St. Michael on the 20th of November 1848.
The edifice is built in the shape of a cross, one arm of which is occupied by the entrance. It has three sanctuaries and as many altars. The sanctuaries are separated from the main church by screens, which are called the iconostas. The screen of the main church is adorned with twelve icons and costly silver casings.
The silver used upon these icons would weigh about 50 lbs, in solid metal. The Sitka Madonna in the chapel of the ‘Lady of Kazan’ is a pearl of the Russian ecclesiastical art, which cannot but impress every art lover. It was a true artist’s brush that produced this heavenly face of an ineffable mildness. The charm and the novelty of this ecclesiastical work lies in its entire harmony with the reverential purity of true religions inspiration.
The Sitka Madonna
In the belfry there is an octave of chimes, the bells of which range in weight from seventy to fifteen hundred pounds.
A delightful walk can be taken through ‘Lovers Lane,’ a short distance from the town. The entrance is guarded by two gaily-coloured totem poles.
Other totem poles line the path, which winds through the woods to a bridge crossing a mountain stream. A replica of an old Russian blockhouse stands near the shore, telling of the old pioneers’ fights against Indians. In a clearing in the woods are several old totems erected to the moon goddess; tall, ugly, semi human figures, with white-rimmed eyes.
Near the main street of the town is a big community grind stone, used by the Russian settlers in 1830. A little further on is a Blarney stone, which is supposed to grant the wish of anyone who is brave enough to walk around it three times and then kiss it. But some of the ship’s company found more interesting things to kiss down ‘Lovers Lane.’
The Blarney Stone - Sitka
We took the opportunity to illuminate the ship one night, much to the delight of the people onshore, who thought it was for their special benefit.
The Indians at Sitka asked the ship to turn out a ‘Tug of War’ team against them. This was done but the locals desired to pull in their own style, i.e. sitting on the ground with barriers for their feet. After much debate it was decided to adopt our style. Heavy betting took place, the Indians being favourites. The ship won the first pull. As soon as our opponents began to lose ground in the second pull they sat down to it. Even then they were being pulled over but their wives and families clapped on to the rope in aid. Our coach spent all his time trying to keep non-combatants clear. Eventually we won the second effort.
From Sitka, Alaska, the ship proceeded south to Cypress Bay, arriving on the 14th August. Here we spent four days painting and cleaning.
On the 19th August we left Cyprus Bay, and met the flagship, H.M.S. Despatch and H.M.C.S. Vancouver. Inclination and other exercises were carried out in the forenoon and sub-calibre shoots in the afternoon, after which we made our way to Vancouver, arriving about 1630. Despatch and Vancouver berthed alongside and Dauntless anchored in the stream. Soon after our arrival, a huge mail was received, the first for 26 days.
A very warm welcome was awaiting the ships, as the following official programme will show:
Tuesday August 19th
Arrival of H.M.S. Despatch and Dauntless
8 p.m. Dance and Social at Seamen’s Institute
Wednesday August 20th
10 p.m. All day cricket match, Quadra Club vs. Navy
8.30 p.m. Dance and Social at Winter Gardens, English Bay
Thursday August 21st
All day cricket match, Vancouver vs. Navy
P.M. Social evening and Dance with Light keepers at Seamen’s Institute
Friday August 22nd
6 p.m. Rugby Match, Vancouver vs. Despatch
9 p.m. Dance at Alma Academy
Saturday August 23rd West Vancouver Day
3p.m. placing wreath on Cenotaph.
3.15 p.m. Fancy Aquatic Sports and Boat Races.
6 p.m. Supper, Orange Hall.
8.30 p.m. Dance at Orange Hall.
8.30 p.m. Smoker at Legion Hall.
Hollyburn Picture Theatre: Open free to all sailors in uniform, afternoon and evening in West Vancouver.
Free Transportation on all Municipal Buses for sailors in uniform.
Sunday August 24th
Outing to Cloverdale Canadian Legion ‘At home.’
Monday August 25th
All day Cricket Match, Vancouver vs. Dauntless
6 p.m. Naval Carnival and Fiesta at the residence of Mr and Mrs Buckley.
Tuesday August 26th
Rugby Match, Vancouver vs. Dauntless
8p.m. Concert at Seaman’s Institute
or continue Naval Carnival
Wednesday August 27th
Grand Farewell Dance at Seaman’s Institute.
The Rev. T. H. Elkington, with his able assistant, Mr. Ben Drew, and an attractive band of young lady helpers, worked night and day at the Seaman’s Institute on behalf of our sailors. Could more pains have been taken? Could more hospitality have been extended during our stay?
Unanimously we say “NO.”
Innumerable pairs of dancing shoes were worn out. We received a vote of thanks from the Cobbler’s Union for the extra work we provided for them.
Both young and old seamen cocked a chest and talked jauntily of marvellous ‘dates.’ More chests were cocked and more spit and polish used when the following paragraph appeared as a Dance advertisement:
“This is the chance of a lifetime for the ladies of Vancouver to meet the heroes of Jutland.”
One or two odd remarks flew around during working hours such as: “Ere Bill, how old were you when Jutland was fought?” In many cases the answer was ready: “Why bring that up?”
We retain pleasant memories of private parties, dances, car drives and enjoyable evenings spent in the atmosphere of Canadian homes, a reminder of what we had left behind us, in England.
Thousands of visitors boarded the ship. We were only too pleased to be able to return some of the hospitality we had received. Official information has not yet come to hand of the number of sailors who plighted their troth at Vancouver.
At the Aquatic Sports many noted swimmers completed, including a Canadian Olympic representative. For the ship, Piper took 3rd place in the 110 yards free style and Flattery was 3rd in the 220 yards. Wadey was second in the 50 yards back stroke and the ship also secured 2nd and 3rd places in the diving competition. H.M.S. Despatch won the water polo cup.
Several officers and men were given the opportunity to visit the C.P.R.’s new liner ‘Empress of Japan,’ which arrived in port on the 22nd. She is a magnificent ship, veritably a floating palace.
R.M.S. Empress of Japan (Maiden voyage)
H.M.S. Dauntless (right of photo)
On August 27th, a gloom was cast over the whole ship owing to a most unfortunate accident. Nine of our liberty men were returning from shore leave, after dark, in H.C.M.S. Vancouver’s skiff, which was fitted with an outboard motor, when a collision occurred. Presumably the skiff struck a floating log and capsized. Two of our shipmates, Able Seaman Johnson and Stoker Greenwood, could not be accounted for and it is feared they were drowned.
A court of enquiry was held the following afternoon.
Torpedo exercises were carried out on the 28th August, after which we proceeded to Cowichan Bay. Three quiet days, very much needed, were spent there. An officers fishing party went away one evening. The bay was literally thick with salmon, some ranging to 25 lbs at least, but the fish could not be tempted to feed on any manner of bait. Even local Indians were unable to kill them. During our stay here one officer developed a cold and slept ashore. He must have thrown a marvellous recovery, as he was observed fishing at day break with a most interesting companion.
After an uneventful voyage, H.M.S. Dauntless secured alongside the jetty at Astoria, Oregon, on the 1stSeptember. Once more we entered the Dry Domain.
Astoria is located at the mouth of the Columbia River, ten miles from the Pacific Ocean. The John Astor expeditionary parties found it in 1811.
During the war of 1812 Fort Astor was taken by the British and named Fort George, but was again reclaimed by the United States under the Treaty of Ghent, fixing the boundary lines between Canada and USA. It is the oldest American city west of the Rocky Mountains.
The monolithic Astoria Column, a landmark, perpetuates the history of Astoria. Etched thereon is a comprehensive pictorial record of the discovery of the Columbia, of later explorations of the region and of the heroic deeds enacted. The column is 125 feet high and must have cost a small fortune. It encloses a stairway leading to the top from where a glorious panorama of the city and its environs is disclosed. Doubtless every officer and man visited the column. It must have been coincidence, when two separate motorcar parties found they had chosen, without collusion, the seclusion of the precincts of the column on a dark night. Maybe they thought the beautiful etchings would inspire the artistic sense.
The principal industries are salmon packing, timber and wood pulp. Private enterprise has introduced the manufacture of ‘Bath Tub Gin.’ We met this ingenious drink in many other USA ports, but Astoria had reduced the manufacture to a fine art. The essentials are a large bathtub and as much pure alcohol as can be obtained. Gangsters add dynamite and a few detonators to give it a kick. Without the explosives we found the alcoholic beverage quite palatable and so far, none of us has yet been invalided out of the Service. Dentists are particularly susceptible to the fumes of ‘Bath Tub Gin.’
One fell 20 feet from a window on to a hard road at a dance at which some of us were guests. His only injury was a thorn in one hand but a local practitioner extracted this, after a few minutes digging and exploration with a jack knife.
The golf course provided much diversion and several interesting matches were played. Even if one performed badly, there was the alternative of chasing snakes with a nib lick. It is said that there were more games played on the first fairway on the night of the dance at the Golf Club than during the rest of our visit.
Other amusements were, interesting walks, car rides and ‘The Pictures.’ Most of the films shown were modern and excellent. The ship was open to visitors on two occasions, and many inhabitants took the opportunity to look over a British warship.
A novelty band, known as the High School Seaside Band, composed entirely of schoolgirls between the ages of 9 and 17, rendered excellently
alongside the ship. They were given a great ovation and were afterwards entertained to tea onboard.
The officers received stupendous hospitality ashore and many friendships were formed. According to a scrapbook received from Astoria, if H.M.S. Dauntless ever returns to the city a few husbands will be in waiting with shotguns.
The ship sailed on the 6th September for San Francisco.
Extract From Astoria Newspaper
Moore Says He Hates To Leave City
Will Talk On Air.
Prominent Citizens Say Parting Words To Warship’s Men
Great Britain’s men of the sea and H.M.S. Dauntless, who have been Astoria’s guests for the past five days,
will sail tomorrow morning at 7 o’clock for San Francisco.
Tonight Captain H. R. Moore, D.S.O., will bid the citizens farewell over radio station KFJI.
In an interview this morning, Captain Moore expressed appreciation of the officers and crew of the ship
for the courtesies that have been extended them by the people of Astoria, during their visit.
“Now that we have reached that stage of real friendship, it is too bad that we are forced to depart.”
Prominent citizens expressed their regrets that the stay of the vessel must terminate so soon, but were loud in their praise of the officers and
crew of the cruiser.
E. B. Hughes, president of the Chamber of Commerce:
It is truly wonderful to live again in an age when the military organisations of the two great English speaking nations of the world can fraternize
in the spirit of love and friendship. Captain Moore and the staff of H.M.S. Dauntless have created a bond of attachment that brings feelings of
regret in their departure. We sincerely trust they will again return, so that we might renew this enjoyable acquaintance.
Mayor J. C. Tenbrook:
It has been a distinct pleasure to entertain H.M.S. Dauntless and I wish to extend to Captain Moore and through him to his command, the
compliments of the city of Astoria, to assure him that we are proud to have had the honour of entertaining them as our guests. It has been a most
delightful experience and marks a milestone in the social life of our city. We regret that you cannot stay with us longer. We hope at some future
time you will always be welcome. I am honoured to have the privilege on behalf of the city of Astoria, to bid you Godspeed, with best wishes for
your health, happiness and prosperity.
Chief of Police John Acton:
The visit of the Dauntless and its crew has been a splendid example of orderliness, and it has been a decided pleasure on the part of the police
department to see such a fine example set by such a large body of men. Please extend my best wishes to the officers and crew of the ship, and
we hope that we will be able to welcome them back to our city.
J. Ferguson and E. M. Cherry, Committee of Entertainment:
Come again sailors, and bring your admirals and your captains and your commanders. We will get together and we’ll start a string of friendship
and understanding around the world. We’ll bluff each other into friendship instead of fire, into brotherhood instead of bullets and we’ll bring
about a better understanding among the nations of the world. Come again Admiral Haggard and Captain Moore and Despatch and Dauntless.
We’ll sing and dine together again.
Tonight at the Elks Temple a final dance will be held for all men aboard the cruiser, and the general public is invited.
On the 7th September, D’ Esterre, Captain Moore’s guest, developed acute intestinal obstruction, so acute that the Surgeon Commander decided that only an immediate operation could save his life. Medical assistance was obtained from H.M.S. Despatch and a successful operation was performed at sea.
Early the next morning both ships passed through the Golden Gate, the entrance to San Francisco harbour and secured alongside P.S.N.C. wharves.
San Francisco is indeed a magnificent city. Here we saw typical American skyscrapers, traffic almost as thick as in Piccadilly, the hustle and bustle of an ultramodern American city, drug stores, the splendour of the wealthy district, the slums, spacious parks, museums, beautiful green country, cinemas and theatres.
Like Rome, San Francisco is built on seven hills. From the docks and piers the main road, Market Street, leads westwards, through the city, towards the Twin Peaks on the famous ‘Figure 8 Drive.’ The smaller streets branch off from Market Street in ‘herring bone’ fashion, those on the right leading to the commercial section and those on the left to the residential quarter and older part of the city. The dwellings and gardens of the Latin Quarter literally hang from the sides of Telegraph Hill. From here, in earlier days, semaphore announced to the town below the approach of ships through the Golden Gate. Artists reside in the neighbourhood of Russian Hill. Nob Hill was the site of the houses of the ‘Nobs’ or ‘Nabobs,’ California’s early millionaires. Lone Mountain and Mount Davidson are each surmounted by a cross.
The artificial Golden Gate Park extends over 1,000 acres. In 1870 it was just a vast waste of sand dunes. Now it boasts lakes, forest streams,
waterfalls, gardens, sports grounds, including a 30-acre stadium, a herd of buffaloes, a menagerie, several museums and many statues and movements.
The Prayer Book Cross commemorates the first religious service on the Pacific coast in the English language, held by Sir Francis Drake’s chaplain in 1579.
Amundsen’s boat, the first to negotiate the North West passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, in 1906, is also exhibited.
China Town attracted many of the ship’s company. Almost on the fringe of Frisco’s shopping district one can see the pagoda gables overhanging the street and pointing the way to the largest Chinese colony outside China. The quarter is best seen at night, and visitors may wander about securely at will. Guides are available, but it is more interesting to wander about the bazaars, joss houses, and side streets with a messmate.
Two striking features of San Francisco were the enormous number of coloured electrical advertisements and the many Tom Thumb or miniature golf courses. The latter craze swept America in 1930. Every available space in the city was constructed into a course, brilliantly lit. At all hours of the night and morning people strove to put balls, through pipes, over bridges and other devilish contraptions, into a hole.
We witnessed a few endurance tests in progress during our visit. A pianist had played for 180 consecutive hours. In a marathon dance seven couples had occupied the ballroom for nearly three months, resting for only ten minutes in each hour. A man was seated on a platform suspended from the flag mast on top of the Golden Gate theatre. We heard he had been there for two days and that his wife was taking the opportunity to have a good ‘jag’.
Serves him right.
In 1849 gold was discovered in the vicinity of San Francisco. Hordes of adventurers were attracted by the prospect of sudden riches, and the city soon became as wild and dangerous as any mining camp. In 1856 the Vigilante enforced order with ruthless severity. In 1906 came the great earthquake, followed by a three-day fire. Brick and concrete structures soon replaced the old buildings.
Fox’s theatre, at San Francisco, is reputed to be the largest building of its kind in the world. We were told it cost five million dollars to build, and that it has seating accommodation for 5,000 people. In the vestibule are two tall vases, 7ft 3ins in height; supposed to have once been the property of a Czar of Russia. The theatre contains an organ, which is concealed in the elaborate decorations of the interior. Cafes and restaurants are attached, and all fittings are of silver. Only the best films are shown at Fox’s theatre.
Visiting day at San Francisco
Tuesday 9th September was a general holiday in San Francisco. The ship was open to visitors, and it was estimated that over 5,000 people came onboard. It was almost impossible to move on the upper decks. No doubt there were several journalists amongst the visitors. The following is one of many extracts, which appeared in the local papers after the ship had been thrown open to inspection:
Pipe Popular With British Jack Tars.
Who said ‘pipe down’ meant to stop the noise? Pull it on any of the 800 jack tars from the British cruisers Dauntless and Despatch, now in San
Francisco Bay, and they’ll tap the burning embers from their ‘baccy stoves’ which is a British nautical term for pipes, and carefully stow said
pipes in their breast pockets.
Everybody on board a British Man o’War smokes a pipe - Admirals included - and pipes have a regular place in the daily ritual of the English
‘Jack Tar,’ according to Pacific Coast News Service. Right after ‘cocoa and wash’ early in the morning - cocoa being the British substitute for
coffee as the morning eye opener - there is a period for pipe smoking. And it comes at regular intervals all through the day; after meals, after
‘grog’ even after 4 o’clock tea. And there are numerous bugle calls during the day for ‘pipes out.’ Then at 10.30 at night, there is ‘pipes down’
call - the ending of the last smoke of the day.
The ship’s company formed many friendships and enjoyed numerous car rides, dances and private parties. Much amusement was had at the Fun Fairs. The general opinion was that San Francisco was certainly ‘some city.’ An unofficial account of our visit there would require reams and reams of paper, but it would offer very interesting reading.
On the 11th September we received information that the body of one of the two ratings missing after the skiff accident at Vancouver had been recovered.
H.M.S. Dauntless slipped from No. 22 wharf on the 14th September and anchored in mid-stream, sailing on the following day in company with H.M.S. Despatch.
En route to Santa Barbara various exercises and a full power trial were carried out. The ship anchored off the town on the forenoon of 6th September.
Santa Barbara is a charming Californian seaside resort, much patronized by cinema stars from Hollywood. The town is situated at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. The houses are mainly of Spanish design. Tropical flowers of all colours grow in profusion. The sandy beaches are always crowded with sunbathers, displaying all the different stages of suntan. Gaudy bathing costumes, and still gaudier beach pyjamas, outrival even the Lido fashions. The whole town exudes the holiday atmosphere and beauty.
Several of our friends from Santa Monica and Hollywood drove up to Santa Barbara to renew acquaintanceships. Most of our time was spent sea and sun bathing. A few ‘Speakeasies’ were located. The alternative is to discover a bootlegger, buy your stuff, drive out into the country, turn your car lights out and consume the liquor before the speed cops nose you out.
While at Santa Barbara, Sub Lt. Robertson won a sailing cup, presented by the yacht Club to the first boat home. Private yachts, ‘star class’, were lent to us for the occasion.
The country between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles is very pretty. One signpost on the Pacific Highway reminded motorists that the speed limit was 99 ½ miles per hour. Another signpost, outside a small town had inscribed on it: ‘Drive slowly and view our beautiful city, drive fast and visit our local jail.’
While at Santa Barbara we learnt that during our cruise in northern waters oil had been discovered in the town of Santa Monica, in such large quantities that over 132 wells had been sunk. Private house and landowners had sold out at fabulous prices. Where necessary, houses had been demolished. In one case a building had been cut in half; over the site of the cut away part drilling was in progress and the workmen were housed in the other half. Santa Monica will soon be renowned more for its oil than as a holiday resort. Some of the ship’s company took the opportunity to visit the Del Rey oil fields in Santa Monica and witnessed pumping and construction work.
We sailed from Santa Barbara on the 22nd September, oiled at San Pedro the same day, and proceeded on our long voyage to Jamaica, via the Panama Canal.
Tropical routine commenced on the 26th. Salt-water canvas baths were rigged on the upper deck and were well patronized for a ‘cooler’ in the dogwatches. Lido Clubs were formed. Any evening, members of the clubs could be seen sunning themselves on the upper deck, clad in all manner of bathing costumes. Then followed different types of violent exercise and, finally, a plunge in the canvas bath, where one ducked and was ducked in turn.
We encountered two severe thunderstorms en route, which helped to cool the atmosphere.
On the 28th we entered the ‘turtle zone’ once again. All day turtles passed the ship, sometimes in pairs, sometimes in schools. A boat was lowered in the evening in an endeavour to capture a few. As the boat approached a couple of turtles our mouths watered at the thought of some really good soup and steaks. The Gunnery Officer shot one with a revolver, but alas!! - It sank. The other had a laugh and dived. Once more we had tomato soup for dinner. Several large sharks were seen and shoal of dolphins.
On the morning of the 3rd October we picked up a pilot and proceeded into Balboa to oil. As soon as we had finished oiling, we entered the Canal, but this time we were not able to appreciate the passage properly, as it thundered and poured with rain the whole day.
The ship anchored off Colon for the night. It was a real treat to be able to go ashore after being at sea for eleven days. The Cabarets collected some more of our money. But what a relief!! - One was able to get a drink without having to ferret out bootleggers and speakeasies.
At Colon, sharks, ugly great brutes, swarmed round the gangways and refuse chutes. We sailed for Jamaica the next morning, arriving there on 6th October, and secured alongside the R.M.S.P. jetty.
Jamaica is noted for its rum, sugar, coconuts and fruit. The island is thick with tropical vegetation, coconut groves, and banana and sugar cane plantations. Kingston itself is rather flat, but there is a range of hills in the distance.
The Jamaica ‘nigger; considers himself a cut above other ‘niggers.’ No matter how rich or poor he may be, he will always greet you with a smiling face and flashing teeth. The girls are crazy over white men.
During our stay at Kingston the ship’s company and the detachment of West York’s stationed there became great friends. Our men were always welcome at their messes, and many soldiers visited the ship. Ask the Petty Officers about the great reception they had at the Sergeants Mess. Several closely contested games of football, hockey, and cricket were played. We look forward to another reunion with these two companies of the West Yorkshire Regiment.
On October 8th we received special orders to ‘stand by’ for an emergency, and guessed it had something to do with the revolution in Brazil. On the 9th October H.M.S. Dragon arrived. We completed with oil fuel, coal and stores, taking all spare stores from the Dragon, and anchored in mid-stream, awaiting a call to protect British residents and interests in Brazil. The next day we heard that H.M.S. Delhi had been ordered to Pernambucco and that the Dragon was to proceed to Bermuda, complete with stores, etc, and await further orders. The Dragon sailed on the 11th.
We were told to leave Jamaica as necessary to arrive in Trinidad not later than the 20th. Actually we sailed on the 15th and secured alongside the jetty at Point-a-Pierre on the 19th, oiled and anchored at Port of Spain at 6 p.m. the same evening.
Our stay at Trinidad was nothing but a waiting period, waiting for orders to return to Bermuda, or to proceed to the seat of revolution, Brazil. Leave although naturally restricted, was granted on every possible occasion.
On the 20th October R.F.A. Serbol arrived from Bermuda, bringing Captain Vivian to relieve Captain Moore in command of H.M.S. Dauntless. We also received mails and stores. Captain Moore left the ship the same evening. We cleared lower deck and gave him a rousing send off: three cheers and a ‘Tiger.’ The band played ‘For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ and ‘Auld Lang Syne.’ All officers and ship’s company were genuinely sorry to lose Captain Moore, and we can but hope for another opportunity to serve under him. As the Lady Drake sailed for Bermuda on the night of the 22nd, we gave some more rousing cheers and burnt searchlights in his honour.
Captain Vivian explained the situation to the ship’s company on the 21st. We were now ready for all emergencies and simply had to wait. The Brazilian situation improved as the days dragged on, and at last, on the 4th November, we received orders to be in Bermuda by the 14th.
While we were at Trinidad we received the sad news that Ldg. Stoker Woods had died in hospital at Esquimalt, following an operation for appendicitis.
The ship sailed on the 9th and rendezvoused the following day with the Danae who was on her way south. We carried out gunnery exercises and dropped depth charges, but found no fish.
On November 11th, Armistice Day, a service was held on the quarterdeck. The ship was stopped at 1100 and the two minutes silence observed.
H.M.S. Dauntless arrived at Bermuda on the 14th November and secured alongside the South Wall. We had been cruising since the 1st May.