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Remembered Today:

Did Midshipmen keep their own daily diaries?


oak
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Pals,

I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that Midshipmen were required to keep a daily diary. I'd be grateful if any Pal could advise if I am correct in my recollection.

Regards,

Philip

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Most Midshipmen were required to keep a Junior Officers' Journal. This was an official document and formed part of the midshipman's formal training. It was kept to a specified standard and was used to record matters of professional importance. It was frequently and critically examined by the officer(s) who supervised their training and often examined by their commanding officer. Many that have survived are works of art, containing water colour sketches, charts and technical drawings.

Such documents are quite distinct from any personal daily diary which may have been kept.

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Many thanks horatio2,

Nine minutes between posting a query and receiving a reply must surely be a record :lol:

Regards,

Philip

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Many thanks horatio2,

Nine minutes between posting a query and receiving a reply must surely be a record :lol:

Regards,

Philip

Well probably not :rolleyes::rolleyes: It is amazing just how fast you get a reply here on the forum.

As to diary's as i heard it was only the officers of the watch and the boson and another name slips my mind and the midshipmen also kept a junior one (very neatly written and checked)as stated above ,probably to get used to the task later in their careers

MC

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The midshipman's journal was in no way connected to, or training for keeping, the ship's deck log or bridge log, which midshipmen assisted in compiling as a matter of course when they were on watch in harbour or at sea. The journal was designed to instill in the young officers the skills of (amongst others) detailed observation, critical inquiry, accurate recording of evolutions and other events. It also had to be writen in a clear, neat hand, with no grammatical or spelling errors, which were ruthlessly corrected.

A place for such a task in modern education? Dream on.

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As Horatio2 has written some Midshipmen's diaries are indeed works of art. A lot of the beautiful drawings and paintings in "When Britannia Ruled the Waves" were taken from the diary of Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Kitson (1877-1952) when he was a Midshipman.

Simon

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Thanks MC,

horatio2, are you in a position to point me to a source that details all you have outlined e.g. a book by a midshipman/a book that details a midshipsman's duties , please? I am writing something where the account by a ship's captain (written several years after an event) slightly differs from that of a midshipman (written a few weeks after the event). I would like to make the point -- footnoted if possible -- that, because the midshipman's account was written closer to the event -- and because he would have noted the details in his journal, the midshipman's account is likely to be the more accurate account.

Regards,

Philip

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It is a difficult generalisation to make because you can not presume that the Captain did not make notes at the time, or keep a diary of his own. A Midshipman's view, compared to that of a Captain, would be relatively narrow and possibly extremely ill-informed.

Simon

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I completely agree with Simon. You cannot generalise. A snotty's view would be constrained by his duties during the incident and may have been modified by accounts he heard at the time. The captain would have a much better overview at the time but might have gone gaga in the interim or may have wished to put the best possible gloss on his own actions. What you really need is evidence which corroborates one account or the other, in the absence of which you can only point out the discrepancy.

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Added to which the captain was expected to review the midshipmens' diaries on a regular basis so that he would have seen the snotties' versions of the event.

Back before the portable camera part of a midshipmans required skills was to be able to make accurate sketches and when and where possible training was given in this.

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It is a difficult generalisation to make because you can not presume that the Captain did not make notes at the time,

In something called a ships log perhaps? Middies diaries were I believe officially 'journals'

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The "Ships Log" was and is normally updated by the "Officer-of-the-Watch" under the watchful eye of the "First Lieutenent" (XO). The Captain has access to the log at any time and signs the final copy regularly. The Captain probably keeps his own diary of all incidents in case of official inquiries. The Snotties account could posibly be more accurate but the Captains most certainly would be believed.

Yours Aye

Mitch

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In something called a ships log perhaps? Middies diaries were I believe officially 'journals'

Under King's Regulations the log had to be sent to the Royal Victoria Yard at Deptford once filled, so a Captain wouldn't have access to it for long.

Simon

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Thanks Pals,

I've just learned that it can be unhelpful -- and misleading --- to make a general statement, when I had a specific narrow incident in mind. In researching the "River Clyde" I found that Commander Edward Unwin and Midshipman George Drewry differed in the time they said the R.C. left Mudros. They also differed on a few other minor details. Drewry left an account in a letter to his father, written about two weeks after the R.C. landed at V Beach. Unwin left an undated account, that appears to have been written for Admiral Wemyss probably when Wemyss was writing his memoirs (published in 1924). Given the circumstances outlined, and that Drewry presumably had access to his journal at the time he wrote the letter, I think it reasonable to assume that Drewry is more likely to be correct on minor details.

Regards,

Philip

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Last year I read through about two dozen unpublished accounts of the Battle of Jutland, many written by Midshipmen not long after the Battle. Many key times of that battle are fairly well established by now, but some of the discrepancies in times given are astonishing. IF it is a question of establishing which of the two accounts you've read is more reliable, either Unwin's or Drewry's, you surely need more first hand accounts to be able to judge which is actually correct.

Simon

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First define what each man meant by "left Mudros": time ordered to proceed; time ship actually under way (ie not anchored); time of passing through the boom; etc.etc

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First define what each man meant by "left Mudros": time ordered to proceed; time ship actually under way (ie not anchored); time of passing through the boom; etc.etc

For a seaman officer, departure from port would be the time the focstle crew and engine room standby crew were stood down, when "Full Away On Passage" was rung from the bridge. If Full Away was not rung then it would strictly be a movement, not a sailing, so there would be no departure time as such. Other departments might have had their own idea of what constituted departure.

This is my first post on this forum, though I was quite involved in the old Trenches on the Web site some years ago under my real name of Chris Hamerton. I see at least one old friend here...Hi Soren! This is clearly a much more professional company of like-minded folk. The standard of information given is really impressive.

I have an anecdote that might get me reprimanded as off topic, but here goes. As RAN cadets (midshipmen) in the 60s, we were required to keep journals. I never really asked why, but your above contribution certainly seems thoughtful and logical. I recall that one of my snottie colleagues had difficulty with spelling, a problem compounded by his illegible handwriting. Leaving the port of Colon, Panama, he noted that a row of warehouses lined the wharf. But he spelled it wharehouses, and his "a" looked like an "o". The Commanding Officer took an immediate interest, thinking he may have missed something.

My tuppence.

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Quote: If it is a question of establishing which of the two accounts you've read is more reliable, either Unwin's or Drewry's, you surely need more first hand accounts to be able to judge which is actually correct.

Quote: First define what each man meant by "left Mudros": time ordered to proceed; time ship actually under way (ie not anchored); time of passing through the boom; etc.etc

Pals, if only it were that easy :D

For all it's supposed "fame," very little detail appears to be available on the voyage of the River Clyde from Mudros to V Beach. My researcher has been unable to locate a ship's log and Unwin's two undated accounts appear to have been written a few years after the event. Drewry's account, written a couple of weeks after the event, is contained in a letter to his father. (I don't have information from his midshipman's log -- I'd be grateful for advice on where this might be found, please. I won't, however, be unduly worried if I don't get access to this, as his account to his father is quite good.) Unwin was the captain of the River Clyde and Drewry the second in command. The others on board were ratings, RNAS men, army officers and soldiers. I haven't been able to find any of their accounts that provides a detailed record of the ship's movement -- with timings. I have been able to write a general account, which notes the disagreement on timings.

Regards,

Philip

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Pals,

I have a vague recollection of reading somewhere that Midshipmen were required to keep a daily diary. I'd be grateful if any Pal could advise if I am correct in my recollection.

Regards,

Philip

Hi Oak

As others have correctly pointed out, Midshipmen were required to keep day-to-day journals to hone and improve their knowledge of all things nautical. However, they were forbidden from keeping their own personal diaries should they fall into enemy possession. In Scrimgeour's Scribbling Diary (released last year), Midshipman Alexander Scrimgeour keeps a secret diary which the publishers have supplemented with entries from his journal (including beautiful artwork). As it contains both personal diary entries and official journal entries, this book perfectly exemplifies the difference between the two, including their contrasting writing styles.

Hope that makes sense!

S

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If the only accounts you have are the ones you refer to, then the only option you have is that which you have followed and noted the disagreement on timings. So I'll shut up now!

Regards,

Simon

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Many thanks SparkyUk and Simon

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I found that Commander Edward Unwin and Midshipman George Drewry differed in the time they said the R.C. left Mudros. They also differed on a few other minor details.

People's accounts do differ ove minor details, it is regularly stated in relation to police witnesses or any other incident. Times can also vary, in this case were either of them looking at the chonometer at the time or did they have other things to do?

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