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K.C.B., K.C.V.O., HON. LL.D. CAM. 








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IN this volume I have set down the recollections 
of a lifetime of sixty-five years. It deals with my 
service in the Royal Navy during a period of over 
half a century. I entered it when most of the ships 
were propelled by wind, steam being only an 
auxiliary; our gun carriages differed little from 
those of Queen Elizabeth's day ; midshipmen were 
punished in peculiar ways, and seamen received the 
" cat " for comparatively minor offences. In 1913 I 
was retired at my own request, and I thought that 
my active career had ended. I was mistaken, for, 
as these pages record, I was drawn into the back- 
waters of the War and became associated again 
with gunnery matters, with the fight against the 
enemy's submarines, and with the defence of 
London against aircraft, rendering to the best 
of my ability what service I could do to the 
country. I should not have decided to issue 
these chapters, which I began writing by way of 
recreation and amusement after I had gone on the 
retired list, if I did not hope that they might serve 
a useful purpose in future years. 

From the time when I was a junior lieutenant I 
was interested in gunnery, realising its importance, 
and this book is devoted mainly to describing my 
efforts, assisted by other officers in particular, 


Admirals of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone 
and Viscount Jellicoe to improve the shooting of 
the British Fleet. 

How far these pages may prove of general 
interest I cannot tell, but they will at least show 
how opposed the Navy can be to necessary re- 
forms, involving radical departures from traditional 
routine ; the extent to which national interests 
may be injured owing to conservative forces within, 
and without, the public services ; and what injury 
the country may suffer from politicians interfering 
in technical matters, which they necessarily do not 
understand. It is my hope that ultimate benefit 
may result from an honest attempt to shed light 
upon matters of vital concern to the nation by 
means of my personal record. In that belief, these 
reminiscences have been published, and I would 
only wish to add that nothing has been set down 
in malice. My intention has been not to attack 
persons, but to expose rather the weaknesses and 
defects of our administrative machinery, in so far 
as I had experience of it. 

Obstinate opposition to change and reform is, 
in my opinion, a crime. In these days of rapid 
advance of science and swift development of 
mechanics, unless we move ahead we are bound 
to become retrograde. In order to hold our place 
in the world, in naval as well as in other affairs, we 
must encourage initiative, and, above all, so far 
as the Sea Service is concerned, inculcate in our 
officers ideas consistent with a modern steam 
Navy, instead of clinging to traditions and routines 
which were good in their day, but are now obsolete. 
And I may add that I have not much belief in the 


influence of an elaborately organised Naval Staff 
at the Admiralty, for the best creation of that 
character, possessed by Germany, failed under the 
test of war, as Lord Jellicoe's book on the record 
of the Grand Fleet has revealed. The Navy does 
not require a greatly expanded Naval Staff sitting 
in offices at the Admiralty performing routine 
work, most of which is unnecessary and seems to 
be done mainly in order to swell the number of 
officials employed. The Service requires open- 
eyed, well-educated, progressive, practical seamen, 
spending most of their time afloat, and when 
employed at the Admiralty not immersed in day- 
to-day routine, but with time to think of the needs 
of the future and how they should be met. 

But the root of bad naval administration lies, in 
my opinion, in the system by which business at the 
Admiralty is conducted. The civilian element, 
being permanent, obtains too much influence, and 
the naval element, which is always changing, has 
too little influence. The spirit in which work is 
done is wrong. There is insufficient incentive to 
encourage the best men. If a man does nothing, 
or next to nothing, he may be sure that he will do 
no wrong and his career will not be endangered ; 
hence there arises a general desire to shirk responsi- 
bility and to evade making a decision until as many 
sub-departments as possible are drawn into the 
discussion. By that widely recognised means the 
individual who should act evades his personal 
responsibility and business is delayed, sometimes 
with serious results to the country. 

As an illustration I will take the case of a 
proposal which is put forward for introducing 


a new way of firing the guns in His Majesty's 
ships, involving alterations of fittings, additional 
electricity, structural changes, and also affecting 
the engineering department. When the suggestion 
reaches the Admiralty the original paper will be 
marked to be sent for consideration to the Gunnery 
Department, the Electrical Department, the Dock- 
yard Department, the Chief Constructor's Depart- 
ment, the Engineering Department, the Third Sea 
Lord, and the First Sea Lord. No limit of time is 
fixed ; each department can keep the paper as long 
as it likes ; it is passed from one official to another, 
the speed with which it moves depending upon the 
pleasure of each official concerned and frequently 
it gets lost. I know of one case in which a letter 
took upwards of a year to circulate through the 
various departments of the Admiralty. 

I suggest that this routine is radically wrong 
and would not be tolerated by any man accustomed 
to run a commercial firm. He would determine 
to obtain the opinions of all concerned in any 
suggestion in the quickest possible time. First 
of all some one would decide if there was anything 
in a proposal which merited its being examined. 
If the decision was in the affirmative, several copies 
would be typed and one copy sent to each person 
whose opinion it was desired to obtain, bearing 
the date and time when it was sent out and the 
date for its return. In due course, the various 
replies would reach the heads of the firnr and the 
matter would be dealt with. Under some such 
system business men conduct their affairs, and they 
are amazed when they are brought in contact with 
the Admiralty and other public departments. 


War suspended to some extent this slow and 
cumbersome method of conducting affairs at the 
Admiralty, but my impression is that it was not 
until Lord Jellicoe, on becoming First Sea Lord 
and realising the trouble, put his foot down, that 
the task of completing the reorganisation of the 
Fleet for war made ' considerable headway. Lord 
Fisher, it is true, speeded matters up, but he was 
at the Admiralty only for a short period ; when 
he left the routine was re-established and the 
administration lumbered along slowly, to the 
despair of many officers who realised what was 
needed. Lord Jellicoe returned to the Admiralty 
as First Sea Lord to find that the administration 
had been slowed down at a period when the enemy 
submarine campaign threatened every British 
interest. With a strong hand he wrenched the 
Admiralty from its conservative ways and, as 
Admiral Sims has told us, the orders which he 
gave for auxiliary craft and tens of thousands of 
mines, and the encouragement which he lent to 
scientists enabled us to master the greatest menace 
which had ever threatened not merely the British 
Fleet, but the British Empire. 

War is the supreme test of a naval administra- 
tion, and under that test the routine system of the 
Admiralty, which is slow, was found wanting. 
Napoleon once declared : " Strategy is the art of 
making use of time and space. I am less chary," 
he added, " of the latter than the former. Space we 
can recover but time never" Because Admiralty 
administration is deplorably slow, it proved unsuited 
to war, and the nation owes much to Lord Fisher 
and Lord Jellicoe for their efforts to speed matters 


up, for in war the enemy does not wait on the 
convenience of a Government department in which 
almost every one, civil and naval, is nervous 
of taking responsibility and acting swiftly and 
decisively. Successful war-making depends in a 
large degree on time-saving rapid, decisive action. 
The country suffered unnecessarily, and the war 
was unduly prolonged because that principle was 
so often ignored. 

It is for the country to decide whether the 
Admiralty shall fall back into its old ways. The 
policy of circumlocution and delay lies at the base 
of our bad administration, and not, I am afraid, 
by any means at the Admiralty only or at the 
Admiralty conspicuously. At any rate, writing of 
things I know at first hand, I am convinced we 
can never hope to obtain a Fleet well equipped, 
well organised, and well trained, until this system 
of evading responsibility at the Admiralty is broken, 
the circulation of papers is speeded up, and the 
official who shirks responsibility is made to 
suffer, instead of being promoted as " a safe 
man." Individually Civil Servants are men of 
wide interests whom it is a pleasure to meet, but 
the system of the Civil Service is, in my opinion, 
a public danger. This book has been written in 
vain if it does not carry conviction that our naval 
administration is based on wrong principles. 





Entry into the Navy Life in the Britannia My First Sea- 
going Ship A Sailing Passage to Bombay Discipline on 
Board Chasing Slave Dhows The Slave Market at Zanzi- 
bar Lessons in Seamanship Gazetted Sub-Lieutenant 
With H.M.S. Active on the West Coast of Africa Life on 
Ascension Island A Punitive Expedition up the Congo 
A Successful Operation More Eiver Expeditions On 
Board the Guardship at Cowes An Incident of the Crimea 1 



Admiralty Attitude towards Gunnery Uselessness of Inspection 
A Typical Report of the Period Course of Instruction on 
board H.M.S. Excellent Mud Island Convict Labour A 
Scheme of Drainage Gunnery Lieutenant of H.M.S. In- 
constant A Training Squadron Masts and Sails The 
Young Princes as Midshipmen The Boer War takes us 
to the Cape Voyage to Australia Parting with the 
Bacchante Invention of an Electrical Range Transmitter 
How the Admiralty regarded it Back in Simon's Bay 
A Fire on Board Putting out the Flames in a Diver's 
Dress . . --* . . . . , .% , . 25 



Ordered to Alexandria Naval Brigade Ashore Collecting Un- 
exploded Shell Fleet's Deplorable Shooting Improvisa- 
tion Mounting 7-ton Guns Blowing up a Dam Queen 
Victoria and her Troops Bluejackets and their Medals , 4Q 





H.M.S. Excellent again King George's Gunnery CourseIm- 
provements in Big Gun Targets Service on board H.M.S. 
Duke of Edinburgh Making Ships look Pretty Duke of 
Edinburgh's Interest in Gunnery Invention of a Signalling 
Lamp How the Admiralty treated it Sinking of H.M.S. 
Sultan A Unique Salvage Operation Back to Whale 
Island A Prophecy fulfilled How a Cricket Pitch con- 
verted the Admiralty Convict Labour A Committee on 
Naval Uniform A Naval Barnum How the Royal Naval 
Fund was instituted Farewell to Whale Island ... 58 



In the Mediterranean again Condition of Gunnery and 
Signalling Revolutionising Night Signalling The Ad- 
miralty and Inventions A Source of Discouragement 
The Boat that went Adrift The Scylla's Cruise Improve- 
ment in Gunnery A New Sub-calibre Gun and Target 
History of the " Dotter " Prize Firing- The Scylla's 
Triumph On Half -pay . 73 



In Command of H.M.S. Terrible State of the Ship's Gunnery 
Useless Appliances Making Good Defects Arrival at 
the Cape The South African War Deficiency in Long- 
range Guns Mounting Naval Guns for Service Ashore 
Why the 4'7-inch Guns were sent to Ladysmith Admiral Sir 
Robert Harris's Statements A Recital of the Facts How 
the Mountings were turned out The Value of the 12- 
pounders Appointment as Military Commandant of Durban 
Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein A Keen 
Soldier Assistance in the Defence of Durban General 
Buller's Visit The Man-hauled 4-7 -inch Gun An Effective 
Object Lesson Communication with Ladysmith Mounting 
the Terrible's Searchlight on Shore Successful Signalling . 90 





Military Commandant of Durban Multifarious Duties Censor- 
ship : an Effective Threat The Spy Trouble -A Boer 
Agent's Claim for Damages Contraband Difficulties The 
Bundesrath Grans for General Buller A Gun-Mounting in 
Fifty-six Hours Hospital Ships Mr. Winston Churchill 
Eelief of Ladysmith A Letter from Sir Bedvers Buller 
Farewell to Durban 113 



H.M.S. Terrible' s Welcome in the East Hong Kong's Lavish 
Hospitality News of the Boxer Outbreak Orders at last 1 
Arrival at Taku Tientsin's Plight The Belief Column 
Long-range Guns left behind A Neglected Base 
Anomalies of the Situation Useless Appeal to the Admiral 
Belated Use of the Rejected Guns Capture of Tientsin 
Belief of the Legations , : . 128 



A Beturn to Gunnery at Sea Besults of the First Prize Firing 
A Machine to increase Efficiency in Loading The Deflec- 
tion Teacher and its Effect on Shooting Be-modelling the 
Target Target Practice of the Fleet Underlining an 
Inference Admirals and Prize Firing Back at Hong Kong 
Baising the Dredger Canton River Lieut. Sims, U.S.A., 
and Gunnery Sir Edward Seymour's Valuable Beforms 
Admiralty Opposition Prize Firing of 1901 First Ship of 
the Navy The Barfleur and the Terrible's Example The 
Admiralty and Improved Shooting A Disastrous Order . 138 



Wei-hai-wei Controversy Naval Base or Seaside Besort? 
Wei-hai-wei's Useless Forts A Beport to the Admiralty 
Further Work stopped Final Prize Firing Petty Officer 
Grounds' Record The Homeward Voyage A Congratu- 
latory Address Reception at Portsmouth Visit to 
Balmoral The King's Deer Drive How I shot a Hind 
His Majesty's Interest in Naval Gunnery .... 164 





Efforts towards Reform Admiralty Obstruction Waste of 
Ammunition Official Reprimands Two Gunnery Com- 
mittees appointed Conflicting Reports The Centurion's 
Gun Sights A Tardy Discovery The Dawn of a New Era 178 



My Appointment as Inspector of Target Practice Battle 
Practice Conditions Order out of Chaos Improvement at 
Last My Visit to Kiel The Chief Defect of the German 
Navy A Lost Experiment " Director Firing " . . . 189 



In Command of the Second Cruiser Squadron Obsolete Ideas 
Inadequate Training for War Housemaiding the Ship 
Paramount The Test of War Confusion and Unreadiness 
Wrong Pattern Torpedo Lord Charles Beresford and the 
Admiralty H.M.S. Good Hope's Gunnery First in the 
whole Fleet Our Cruise in Northern Waters My New 
Appointment An Independent Command A New Routine 
and Efficiency . , ' . . . . . . . 198 



En route to the Cape Durban's Welcome The National Con- 
ventionOld Foes and New Friends An Inland Trip At 
Pretoria and Johannesburg Lavish Hospitality Farewell 
to Durban Festivities at Capetown Farewell Messages 
Off to the New World Arrival at Rio Promoted Vice- 
Admiral Brazilian Enthusiasm The President's Visit to 
the Good Hope Uruguay and the Navy Speeches at 
Montevideo The Pelorus at Buenos Ayres A Great 
Modern City Departure from Montevideo Battle Practice 
at Tetuan I haul down my Flag '. . . . . 214 





My New System of Routine Approved by Lord Fisher but 
generally Opposed What Naval Gunnery means No 
further Employment at Sea Back to Director Firing 
Success of the Neptune Trials The Thunderer and Orion 
Test Superiority of Director Firing demonstrated More 
Admiralty Delay and a Stiff Protest Warning unheeded 
and Proposals rejected Tragic Fruits of Neglect History 
of Parallel Firing Position of Director Firing at the Out- 
break of War The First Dreadnought Position of the 
Mast Perpetuating a Blunder Mr. Churchill's Wise 
Decision A New Blunder in Exchange for the First . . 241 



A Letter from Prince Henry of Prussia Created a Baronet and 
promoted to Admiral Menace of the Submarine Protective 
Measures necessary The Official Attitude Lessons of 
Manoeuvres The Admiralty unconvinced Mr. Winston 
Churchill's Suggestion Director Firing My Services dis- 
pensed with A Remarkable Letter from Whitehall . . 268 


WAR BACK TO WORK, 1914 AND 1915 

The Shadow of Ireland Letter to the Times on Submarines 
Criticisms by many Naval Officers The War settles the 
Controversy The War Office and the Lack of Big Guns 
Lord Roberts' Advice ignored Ten Months' Delay and 
Repentance The Fleet's Gun Equipment Recall to the 
Admiralty Fitting out the Dummy Fleet The Submarine 
Problem demands Attention Visit to the Grand Fleet 
The Peril of the Grand Fleet Lord Fisher's Influence 
The Tragedy of the Battle of Jutland Official Persistence 
in Error The Dardanelles Failure Gunnery Practice in 
the " Sixties "Successive Changes in the Target Value- 
less Prize Firing My Suggestions for Improvement 
Method adopted on the China Station and its Results 
Admiralty Opposition to its Adoption King Edward's 
interest in the Question Admiralty insist on a New Rule 
with Disastrous Effects Immediate Improvement . . 273 





A Providential Raid by a Zeppelin London Undefended My 
Recall to the Admiralty Deficiency of Guns Unsuit- 
able Ammunition Commander Rawlinson's Good Work 
A Flying Visit to Paris Co-operation of the French My 
Protest against Admiralty Methods Termination of my 
Command The Anti-Aircraft Corps Target Practice in 
the Air 303 




Guns for the Army Visit to the Front Inferior Elevation of 
the 9'2-inch Gun The Mounting improved after Official 
Delay Naval Searchlights A Primitive Method My 
Improved Design A New System ultimately adopted 
A Letter from the Admiralty The Dardanelles Commission 
A Question of Gunnery The Essence of the Problem 
A Criticism of the Report ..321 


Progress of Gunnery . r , . . . . . . 335 

APPENDIX II .... . . .... 337 

INDEX . 347 






SMOKE DRESSES facing 44 




DECORATIONS facing 60 

HOLYSTONING A DECK ....;. ,, 60 





DURING THE WAR . . .... . facing 78 



THE "DOTTER" . . . . . . . . facing 88 




12-pouNDER DEFLECTION TEACHER . . ., . ,, 140 








DURING A SHAM FIGHT, ON 24TH FEB., 1904 . facing 186 





" WITHOUT PREJUDICE " facing 194 








THE WRONG PLACE facing 264 


TOWER . .,...' 266 





"!N MID-AIR" . . . , . , . . . .317 

" DUAL CONTROL " , . . ;, . . . facing 318 

29-LB. CHARGE . facing 322 





Entry into the Navy Life in the Britannia My First Sea-going Ship 
A Sailing Passage to Bombay Discipline on Board Chasing 
Slave Dhows The Slave Market at Zanzibar Lessons in Seaman- 
shipGazetted Sub-Lieutenant With H.M.S. Active on the West 
Coast of Africa Life on Ascension Island A Punitive Expedition 
up the Congo A Successful Operation More River Expeditions 
On Board the Guardship at Cowes An Incident of the Crimea. 

THE association of my family with the Royal Navy 
goes back for four generations ; my great-grand- 
father was a captain in the Service. My grandfather 
was a doctor and a man, I believe, of considerable 
talent. He attempted some innovations in surgery 
an art which has, of course, been revolutionised 
since his time ; but the medical profession in those 
days did not welcome any departure from their 
recognised and often primitive methods. His 
inventions included some instruments for assisting 
the deaf, which I understand came into general 
use after his death. In the course of my career 

1 was to experience the same sort of attitude on 



the part of those in authority, and I have some- 
times reflected with a passing bitterness how little 
the obstructive attitude of one generation in such 
matters differs from that of another. 

My father was a solicitor, a good linguist and 
an excellent public speaker. Foreign business 
or the gaming-tables took him to Baden Baden 
once a year, and I am told that he was a perfect 
loser. He was always very good to me and gave 
me advice that has been invaluable. It was a 
principle with him never to make a fuss about 
anything, and he impressed upon me that every 
occurrence, whatever it might be, should be taken 
with imperturbable quiet. He would quote that 
passage from " Pelham " who declares that among 
the properly educated a calm pervaded all their 
habits and actions, whereas the vulgar could 
take neither a spoon nor an affront without 
making an amazing noise about it. In discussing 
my future career, he would point out to me that 
in a household a fussy person could only disturb 
the few inmates, but in a ship one fussy person 
might disturb what was equivalent to a whole 
village. How true I have found that statement 
in H.M. Navy ! His ideas on education were as 
quaint as those which exist at some of our large 
English schools and colleges. He wanted me to 
be taught only Latin and Greek, as he declared 
that those languages were the foundation of every- 
thing. I read Cassar with him, and having won 
the first prize at my dame's school, thought I 
knew something. Then I went on to the 
University College School and continued to thrive 
on Latin and Greek. 


At 11 \ years of age I got a nomination for the 
Navy and was sent to Eastman's Naval Academy 
at Portsmouth. I shall never forget my first 
interview with the Headmaster. He asked me 
what I knew. I rather proudly replied that I had 
done " As in Presenti, Propria qui maribus, Caesar, 
and had started Ovid." He told me that they 
required living languages in the Navy, and that 
I was dreadfully backward in all useful subjects. 
He added that I should have to work half my 
playtime, and even then he doubted if I should 
be able to pass the qualifying naval examination. 
Subsequently he took a great interest in me, was 
most kind in helping me with my extra lessons, 
and a month before the examination prophesied 
that I was sure to pass. 

The exciting day for us all at length arrived, 
and about a hundred little boys presented them- 
selves at the Royal Naval College, Portsmouth, 
for examination. A week afterwards I was 
gazetted a naval cadet in H.M. Navy. Sixty- 
four had passed in. I was forty-sixth on the list 
and one place above me was a candidate who 
was destined to become Field-Marshal Viscount 
French. Forty years later we, side by side, 
marched past H.M. King Edward VII. at 
Aldershot. Sir John French (as he then was) 
commanded the Army and I the Naval Brigade. 

Before joining the Britannia we naval cadets 
were given a month's leave. My father thought 
it would be a good thing for me to see something 
of the war then in progress between Prussia and 
Austria, so he took me to Germany. The 
Prussians entered Wiesbaden the day we arrived. 


The next morning all the sentry boxes and flag- 
staves were painted black and white instead of red 
and white, and the Black Eagle was flying every- 
where. In another town near where a battle had 
been fought we saw a large square full of wounded 
men and prisoners. Thus at the age of thirteen 
I was an eye-witness of some of the effects of war. 

On the 26th August, 1866, 1 went to Dart- 
mouth and joined H.M.S. Britannia. She was 
an old three-decker, fitted with a large mess-room 
for the cadets. We each had a sea chest and 
we slept in hammocks. The decks were well 
saturated with salt water every morning, summer 
and winter, and the authorities considered that 
this hardened the cadets. Possibly it did ; at any 
rate it weeded out those who were not strong. 

We were kept in very good discipline. The 
birch was used freely. It was administered 
publicly with great ceremony, and was the only 
punishment that incorrigible boys did not like. 
No idea of disgrace was attached to it, but it hurt. 
How stupid it is to talk of doing away with the 
birch at our public schools ! In a large com- 
munity of boys there will always be a small per- 
centage of very black sheep who have no good 
side to their nature to appeal to, and who, unless 
well birched, will encourage other boys to follow 
their bad example. 

Shortly after I joined it was rumoured that the 
damp and evil-smelling old ship was not a suitable 
home for boys of between thirteen and fourteen 
years of age, and that she was to be done away 
with. The Commissioners of the Admiralty 
considered the question, and successive Boards 


discussed it, but as the matter was important they 
did not act hastily their deliberations, in fact, 
extended over about thirty years. Finally, in 
1898, work was begun on a college on shore in 
place of the Britannia, and the old ship of many 
memories was doomed. 

On leaving the Britannia I joined H.M.S. 
Bristol, & 50-gun frigate; she was employed as a 
sea-going training ship. From there, on the 
25th August, 1868, I went to my first real sea- 
going ship, the Forte, a 50-gun frigate of 2,364 
tons. She had engines, but of such small horse- 
power that they were only serviceable in a flat calm. 

We started from Sheerness, and en route to 
Portsmouth we youngsters were fortunately intro- 
duced under sail to a gale of wind. Four hours 
on deck, close-reefing the topsails and clearing 
away broken spars, probably cured every one of 
sea-sickness for the remainder of their lives at 
any rate, it cured me. An excitement of this sort 
is, I believe, the only cure for sea-sickness. We 
got to Spithead, and we midshipmen were delighted 
at being turned out in the middle of the night for 
a collision. Colliding with or being rammed by 
another ship, or ramming another ship, is a neces- 
sary part of an officer's education. In this case 
the barque Blanche Maria had got across our bows, 
at the change of the tide. There was a lot of 
crunching, but eventually we got clear without 
much damage. The Blanche Maria said that we 
had given her a foul berth ; we declared she had 
dragged her anchor. However that may be, we 
midshipmen were all delighted at having seen a 


We left Portsmouth on the 2nd October, 1868, 
practically to make a sailing passage to Bombay, 
via the Cape of Good Hope. This we accomplished 
in a little over three months. 

In those old sailing days in fine weather it was 
very delightful ; a man-pf-war was a gigantic yacht, 
scrupulously clean, for we were seldom under steam 
and as a consequence did not often coal. Shortage 
of water for the purpose of washing was our great 
inconvenience ; our Commander, either for economy 
or to save the dirt of coaling, made a great fuss 
about the coal used for condensing. Consequently 
we were very often short of water for washing ; 
water for drinking was not limited. On the main 
deck there was a tank with a tin cup chained to 
it, so that any one could get a drink. But there 
was a little waste, as the men did not always drain 
the cup dry. In order to check this, the Commander 
introduced what was called a " suck- tap " ; the tap 
and the cup were done away with and a pipe placed 
in lieu of these, and any one wanting a drink had 
to take the nasty lead pipe into his mouth and 
suck the water up ; it was a beastly idea, which 
our new Commander immediately did away 

In the evening the men always sang, and it was 
very fine to hear a chorus of about 800 men and 
boys, many of the latter with unbroken voices. 
We had one young man who used to sing " A che' 
la morte" and other tenor songs from Verdi's 
operas, as well as many singers that I have heard 
on the stage. The songs, however, were not always 
of this high class. 

I remember one or two lines of a very popular 


song called "Mr. Buggins' Ball." The song, in 
referring to the guests, described the dress of one : 

" Round 'is arm 'e 'ad some crep'on, 

'Cause 'is wife was dead, poor soul ; 
Round 'is waist 'e 'ad an apron, 
Because 'is breeches 'ad a 'ole." 

We midshipmen knew all the men's songs, and 
their parlance, which was sometimes strong ; many 
of their comparisons and similes were often witty 
and quite original. 

During the Great War some people seemed to 
think that milk, butter, cheese and vegetables were 
necessities of life. In my first ship there were 
about 750 men and boys in the perfection of health 
and strength. Their rations at sea consisted of salt 
beef, salt pork, pea soup, tea, cocoa and biscuit, the 
last named generally full of insects called weevils. 
Later on, preserved beef was introduced ; it was 
issued in tins, very convenient for making into 
paint pots and other recepticals. Its official name 
was " Soup and bouilli " ; the bluejackets called it by 
various names "soup and bullion," "two buckets 
of water and one onion," or it was called " bully 
beef," but the most common name was " Fanny 
Adams." At the time of the introduction of this 
preserved meat into the Navy, a girl called Fanny 
Adams disappeared, and a story got afloat that she 
had been tinned, or as the Americans would say 
canned. To this day the tins which contain pre- 
served meat, and which are utilised for all sorts of 
purposes, are called "Fanny's." 

En route we found out what a magnificent 
seaman our Captain, John Hobhouse Alexander, 
was, and what a bully we had in our Commander. 


We midshipmen had a terrible time with the latter. 
I contradicted him once, and as I happened to be 
right, he never forgave me. I saw more of the 
masthead than I did of the gun-room mess. 
Sending a boy to sit up at the masthead on the 
cross-trees was a funny kind of punishment. In 
fine weather with a book it was rather pleasant ; 
in bad weather you took up a waterproof. Mast- 
head for the midshipmen, and the cat for the men, 
was the Commander's motto. I saw one man 
receive four dozen strokes of the cat on Monday 
and three dozen on Saturday, and he took them 
without a murmur. That is the spirit which made 
this a great country ; we love men who take punish- 
ment without flinching. This particular Com- 
mander revelled in flogging, and the sight of it 
seemed to be the only thing that gave him any 
pleasure. It was a form of self-indulgence which 
finally led to his ruin. 

On arrival at Bombay, Captain Alexander went 
home. We became the Senior Officer's ship on 
the East Indies Station, and flew the broad pennant 
of Commodore Sir Leopold Heath, K.C.B. He 
was a clever, kind and able seaman. He made me 
his A.D.C., an honour which I appreciated, but 
which got me into further trouble with the Com- 
mander, as he did not approve of it. I had more 
leave stopped than ever and was continually under 
punishment. However, an end came to it all under 
the following circumstances. While the Com- 
modore was up country in Ceylon, an able seaman 
refused one morning to obey an order. The case 
was investigated by the Commander, and at one 
o'clock two hours later the offender received 


four dozen lashes. On the Commodore's return 
the man laid his case before him, and complained 
that the King's Regulations, which order com- 
manding officers not to inflict corporal punishment 
until twenty-four hours after the offence, had not 
been observed. The Commander was tried by 
court-martial and dismissed the ship. 

We spent a good deal of time on the East Coast 
of Arabia, looking for slave dhows, but only caught 
one. She was a small craft about 40 feet long, 
but had on board a crew of five Arabs and eighty 
slaves, consisting of ten youths, twelve women, 
thirty-seven girls, twenty boys and one baby. 
Those wretched beings were naked and horribly 
emaciated, and had been so crowded that most of 
them during their eighteen days' voyage had not 
moved from the position they were packed into. 
We took the slaves on board, washed and fed them 
and dressed them in some sort of clothes and then, 
having landed the Arabs, used the dhow as a target. 
We opened fire on her with all our guns, but 
expended a quarter's allowance of ammunition 
without result and finally sank her by ramming. 
This was my first lesson in gunnery. 

The eighty slaves had come from a village a 
few miles north of Zanzibar. While the men 
were away fighting another tribe, the Arabs had 
swept down and marched off all their women and 
children, embarking them for the Persian Gulf, 
where they would have got, on an average, about 
20 a head for them. The baby slave was rather 
a difficulty, as none of the women would look 
after it, but the boatswain made a sort of cradle 
for it, a feeding arrangement was extemporised, 


and the child did very well. We eventually 
landed the whole eighty at Aden, and got prize 
bounty at the rate of 5 apiece for them. A 
midshipman's share of the prize was l 4s. 6d. 

At Zanzibar the slave market was in full swing. 
It was quite a large place in which all the slaves 
sat round in concentric circles, with spaces in 
between so that the buyer could pass through and 
inspect them. They were arranged according to 
their " chop," or quality. A first " chop " man 
meant extremely good physique and youth. The 
women were divided into two classes, those destined 
for work and those suitable for adorning an Arab's 
harem ; a nicely rounded-off maiden of eighteen 
or twenty years could not be bought under about 
40. It was a loathsome sight to see the rich 
old Arabs inspecting these girls as though they 
were so much merchandise. The Arabs looked 
dirty and generally had horribly diseased eyes, 
upon which the flies settled ; they were too lazy 
to brush them off. When I visited Zanzibar 
thirty years afterwards I found that an English 
cathedral had been erected on the site of the slave 

In chasing one dhow we went too near the 
shore and bumped on a coral reef, whereby all our 
false keel was knocked off and we leaked badly for 
the remainder of the commission. 

Our new Commander was a great success. He 
gave us midshipmen plenty of boat-sailing, took 
us on shore to play cricket, and encouraged sport 
of every kind. He made us dress properly, and in 
appearance set us a fine example. He took a long 
time over his toilet, but when he did emerge from 


his cabin it was a beautiful sight, though he might 
have worn a few less rings on his fingers. 

The ship he absolutely transformed. All the 
blacking was scraped off the masts and spars, and 
canary-yellow substituted. The quarter-deck was 
adorned with carving and gilt, the coamings of the 
hatchways were all faced with satin-wood, the 
gun-carriages were French-polished, and the shot 
were painted blue with a gold band round them 
and white top. Of course we could not have got 
these shot into the guns had we wanted to fight, 
but that was nothing. Some years afterwards the 
Admiralty issued an order forbidding the painting 
of shot and shell. 

In a sailing ship the midshipmen were brought 
into very close contact with the seamen, always 
working with them aloft, on deck, and in boats. 
This I think was a most desirable practice, as the 
officers acquired at an early age that knowledge of 
the men's customs and ideas which is really the 
key to managing them. If officers nowadays 
knew more about their men there would be 
fewer defaulters. 

One thing I learnt was how the sailor hated 
Sunday. When he was turned out in the morning 
it was hurry out, it is Sunday ; hurry over dress- 
ing, it is Sunday; hurry over breakfast, it is 
Sunday ; get out of this, it is Sunday. At 9 A.M. 
he was fallen-in on deck and his clothes were 
inspected by his Lieutenant, whereby he might 
get into trouble. Then the Captain walked round 
and inspected clothes, and he again ran the risk of 
something being wrong with his uniform. Then 
the Captain went below and inspected every hole 



and corner of the ship. This occupied about two 
hours, during which the men were left standing on 
deck. At 11 o'clock there was church, which 
generally was not over until after 12, so the men 
got a cold dinner. 

I learnt from the men what a godsend it 
would be to them if they could only get an hour 
on Sunday mornings to write letters, and when I 
became a Captain 1 arranged for church always to 
be over by 11 o'clock. By this means the men 
got an hour to themselves, a hot dinner, and a 
peaceful Sunday. It is a pity that all ships do not 
adopt this routine. 

In those days there were widely different 
opinions about uniform, and great trouble was 
caused. Some Captains encouraged men to orna- 
ment their clothes with embroidery ; others did not 
like it, so men had to cut it out again if they went 
from one ship to another. Some Captains allowed 
their officers to wear any fancy uniform they liked ; 
others insisted on their wearing a blue frock-coat, 
even on the West Coast of Africa. One Admiral 
always wore a white billycock hat instead of a 
uniform cap ; another wore a tall white Ascot hat. 
There was no promotion by merit, all went by 
patronage. Every Admiral on hauling down his 
flag was allowed to make his Flag Lieutenant into 
a Commander, and if a death vacancy occurred 
on his station he could promote whom he liked 
generally a relative. Admiral Fremantle, in his 
memoirs, says : " The young officer so promoted 
often had no merit, and his promotion was a gross 
injustice to those senior to him." * This was the 

1 "The Navy as I have known it" (Cassell & Co.). 


general opinion in the Navy, but the abuse con- 
tinued until about 1880. 

Our gunroom was sometimes conducted very 
well. The youngsters who misbehaved themselves 
were tried by the seniors, and if found guilty 
" cobbed," that is, got two dozen smacks with a 
dirk scabbard. If they had been reported to the 
Captain they would have lost time, and their careers 
in the Navy would, perhaps, have been spoiled. 
The gun-room corrective while in operation hurt 
the boy ; the service punishment hurt his career 
and brought grief to his parents. 

At Trincomalee we transferred the flag to 
another frigate of 51 guns, the Glasgow, and 
started under sail on our homeward voyage of 
about 12,999 miles. 

The night before reaching Sheerness, off Dunge- 
ness, we had our second collision ; a steamer ran 
into us and did a good deal of damage. Had we 
been a merchant ship instead of a strongly built 
frigate, we should have been sunk. The steamer 
did not stop to ask how we were, but made off as 
fast as she could. The Admiralty had great 
difficulty in tracing her, but they eventually got 

On the 17th February, 1872, we paid off, 
having been in commission for three and a half 
years. To the midshipmen it was a sound three 
and a half year's education in seamanship and in 
travel. We had seen the ship twice go on shore, 
and twice in a collision. This constituted my 
introduction to the old Navy of the sailing-ship 
days. Little did I think that I was to live to see 
every familiar thing disappear, and to watch the 


growth of a new Navy, with marine turbines, high- 
powered guns, automobile torpedoes, and to dis- 
cuss the relative value of the Dreadnought and 
the submarine. 

At the expiration of my six weeks' leave, I 
joined H.M.S. Hercules. She was our most 
modern armoured ship, and carried fourteen 18-ton 
guns. She could steam well, and the only blot 
on her fighting capacity was that she had masts 
and sails. The Navy did not in fact abandon 
these relics of a past age till thirty years later : 
it was thought to be a policy of economy, but it 
was in fact one of real extravagance and folly. 1 
was Signal Midshipman, and as we did a good 
deal of manoeuvring I got some education in that 
branch. Nothing of interest happened during the 
year that I was in her, except that I experienced a 
third collision. At Madeira the Northumberland 
anchored ahead of us and parted her cable. She 
fell across our ram, and we made a hole in her 
that a horse and cart could have been driven into. 
Fortunately the inner bottom saved her. 

I was gazetted a Sub-Lieutenant on the 17th 
December, 1872, and went to the Excellent and 
the Naval College at Portsmouth to complete my 
examinations. By July, 1873, these were finished, 
and as the Ashantee War had broken out, I volun- 
teered for service on the West Coast of Africa. 
Commodore William Nathan Wrighte Hewett, V.C., 
was going out in the 10-gun screw frigate Active, 
and he applied for me. There was, however, no 
room for me in the ship, as she had already twelve 
sub-lieutenants on board, so I took passage out in 
a hospital ship and joined the Active at Cape 


Coast Castle. I was distressed that I could not 
land with the Naval Brigade ; however, we people 
who were left at the base had a busy time of it. 

Sir Garnet Wolseley, who conducted the cam- 
paign, arrived at Cape Coast Castle early in 
October, and found that the Navy had done a 
great deal to prepare the way for him. We under- 
stood that this was his reason for taking a Naval 
Brigade with him, leaving some of the troops 

In December plenty of troops had arrived, but 
the advance was delayed by the difficulty of getting 
carriers, for the roads were impassable for vehicles 
or mules. Each man carried 70 Ibs., a woman 40 
Ibs., and a child 15 to 20 Ibs. for a distance of seven 
miles. One woman gave birth to a baby en route ; 
she put it in the bush. On her return she picked 
it up, placed it in her empty packing case with a 
bunch of bananas, and arrived at Cape Coast Castle, 
smoking and smiling, with the packing case, 
bananas, and baby on her head. 

The Naval Brigade, under Commodore Hewett, 
V.C., landed at the end of December, and on 
the 6th February, Coomassie was entered and 
burned, and peace followed on the 13th. 

In the engagements, Lieutenant A. B. Crosbie, 
R.M.L.I., Sub- Lieutenants Gerald Maltby and 
Wyatt Rawson were wounded, and Sub-Lieutenant 
Robert Munday was killed. Sub-Lieutenants 
Ficklin and Bradshaw died of fever. Each of 
these three young officers was an only son. 

In this campaign the Active received the 
following promotions and honours : Commo- 
dore W. N. W. Hewett, V.C., to be K.C.B., 


Staff-Surgeon Henry Fegan to be C.B., and Lieu- 
tenant Adolphus Brett Crosbie was " mentioned." 

At the conclusion of the campaign I broke my 
leg, and was sent to hospital at the island of 
Ascension. I soon got well, but could not go 
back to my ship, so I had an opportunity of 
studying this unique island. It is treated like a 
man-of-war ; it has a captain, officers and crew, 
with a few of their wives, but no other inhabitants. 
If a baby is born on the island, its name is put on 
the books and provisions allowed for it by the 
Admiralty. There are no shops, but certain things 
can be purchased at a canteen, and you buy your 
clothes from the Cape of Good Hope, 1600 miles 
distant. All the lower part of the island are lava 
and clinker. In the centre stands Green Moun- 
tain, a peak of cinder, from whose summit you 
look down on the craters of about a dozen extinct 
volcanoes. On the mountain the cinders, decom- 
posing under the tropical sun's rays, have produced 
a rich soil in which everything will flourish. I was 
told that if you put your umbrella in the ground 
it would grow. 

The energetic naval inhabitants had put down 
pheasants, partridges, and rabbits, and there were 
about six hundred wild goats. I should think they 
are there now, as they are very difficult to shoot. 
I spent all day and every day stalking them, but 
got very few. 

We annexed the island when Napoleon went to 
St. Helena, and the expense of keeping it up has 
often been discussed. At the time we were there 
the question of fortifying it was submitted to our 
Commodore. We were told he was very much 


against the proposal, and he suggested withdrawing 
all the naval officers and men from the island and 
leasing it to Messrs. Spiers and Pond for the turtle, 
about three hundred and sixty of which were 
turned in the year. They would have gladdened 
the eyes of any City alderman. 

The remaining part of 1874 brought the Active 
some lively work. We got information that a 
trading schooner, the Geraldine, while beating up 
the Congo River, had got on shore, and had fallen 
a victim to the pirates who infested the river. The 
bandits had boarded the vessel, killed the crew, and 
looted her. We went off at once at full speed and 
anchored in the delta of the Congo. 

On the following day, the Commodore, with a 
small party of officers, proceeded up the river in a gun- 
boat. We inspected the Geraldine, and found she 
had been gutted ; the pirates had even commenced 
stripping the copper off her bottom. We then 
went on to a trading station about forty miles up, and 
all the native chiefs were summoned to a palaver. 

They arrived, armed, in war canoes ; we had 
journeyed up without arms, notwithstanding the 
apprehensions of the traders. Sir William Hewett, 
however, did not know the meaning of fear. 
Through our interpreter, he told them that unless 
they produced at once the murderers, he would 
later on, in the dry season, return and burn 
every village from the mouth of the Congo to 
where we were then. The chiefs refused to give 
up the murderers (a decision which pleased us 
young officers), so we returned to the Active, and 
for the next few months were busy with prepara- 
tions. All boats were plated with one-eighth inch 


steel plate from the gunwale two feet up ; guns, 
rockets, provisions, and transport were provided. 

At the end of August, the whole squadron, 
consisting of the Active, Encounter ', Spiteful, 
Merlin^ Foam, and Aerial, arrived in the Congo, 
and the chiefs were again asked to surrender the 
murderers. No reply being received, hostilities 
were begun, and from the 30th of August to the 
12th September, we were busy every day attack- 
ing their villages and burning them. The villages 
were generally situated up a creek off the river, 
and these creeks were so overgrown with vegeta- 
tion, that we had often to cut our way through, all 
the time keeping up a brisk musketry fire into the 
bush. The method of procedure was simple. On 
nearing a village the boats carrying the guns 
shelled the place all round as a preliminary to the 
landing of the marines, 1 who formed a cordon and 
fired into the bush, while the remainder of the 
brigade disembarked. An advance was then made, 
firing the whole time. The villages were generally 
found deserted and a search usually revealed some 
relic of the Geraldine. Such operations ended 
with the destruction of the village and canoes by 
fire. Thus Sir William Hewett kept his promise 
of burning everything from the entrance of the 
river to Punta-da-Lenha. The lesson effectually 
stopped piracy, and increased trade in the river. 

At some of the villages the natives fired a great 
deal, but our entire loss was only one killed and 
six wounded. The forethought of the Commo- 
dore in armouring our boats saved a great many 

1 This was practically an artillery barrage, which, thought to be 
new in 1917, was used in 1874. 


casualties, as slugs discharged by the natives were 
harmless against the steel plating. 

I had command of the largest steamboat in our 
flotilla. She was towed over from Ascension. 
Our broadside fire was twenty-five marines on each 
side, under the most able officer that I have ever 
met in H.M. Navy, Lieutenant Adolphus Crosbie, 
R. M.L.I. We were always the leading boat in 
attacking and the last boat on leaving. The 
marines were magnificent. At the boom of a 
volley from the natives in the bush, which might 
have meant death to them (as they were showing 
well above the armour-plating), we always ducked. 
The marines, on the other hand, did not move a 
muscle, but came to the present at Crosbie's order 
as if they were doing position drill. 

At night the boat was sometimes a very trying 
place to live in. Anchored up a creek, with a rain 
awning over the top of the armour plating, no 
fresh air could get in or foul air out, and the total 
of seventy occupants inside, including thirty black 
men, worked out at about ten cubic feet per man 
a condition which is, I understand, according to 
the laws of hygiene, impossible for a human being 
to live in. We managed to live, but it was not 
pleasant, and I was always glad when the morning 
came. We should have liked to bathe, but as a 
crocodile rose to everything that was thrown over- 
board bathing was not permissible. The hippo- 
potami during the night were a source of annoyance ; 
they breathe so noisily through their wide-opened 
mouths. But though they came very near the 
boats they did no harm. 

After leaving the river the whole squadron 


suffered terribly from malarial poisoning, and two 
officers and many men died, besides a large number 
who were invalided. 

Their Lordships the Commissioners of the 
Admiralty signified their appreciation of the ex- 
pedition by making the following promotions: 
Sub-Lieutenant Percy Scott to be Lieutenant, 
and Sub-Lieutenant A. C. Middlemas to be 

In November, 1875, at Lagos, Commander 
Verney Lovett Cameron came on board the ship, 
having just completed a walk across Africa from 
sea to sea. He started from Zanzibar in 1873 
with two companions, to visit Dr. Livingstone. It 
was their ill fate to find the famous explorer dead. 
Captain Cameron completed his long walk alone, 
his companion turning back. His walk as the 
crow flies was 2000 miles ; by the route he took 
it was 3000 miles. As the Americans say, it was 
some walk ! 

Whereas 1874 and 1875 had produced plenty 
of expeditions and promotions for the Active, 1876 
opened peacefully, and the sub-lieutenants who 
had recently joined complained of the humdrum 
state of affairs. They had not long to wait for a 
change. Before the end of January a letter arrived 
from the Governor of Lagos, stating that the King 
of Dahomey had been maltreating British subjects, 
and asking for Naval assistance. The Commodore 
a man of action, if ever there was one gave us 
twenty-four hours to coal, provision, and fill up 
with ammunition, and we were off at full speed 
for Whydah, the port of Dahomey. We arrived 
there in February, inquired into the case, and the 


King of Dahomey was ordered to pay a fine of 
500 barrels of palm oil within three months on the 
pain of a blockade of his coast. The fine was not 
forthcoming, and the 1st July found us once more 
anchored off Whydah with H.M.S. Spiteful and 
H.M. Gunboat Ariel, and a blockade was declared. 

The Commodore was full of fight, and " taking 
Dahomey" was the only topic of conversation. 
But we hung about Whydah for some time waiting 
in vain for the authorities at home to make up 
their minds as to what was to be done. The golden 
opportunity of seizing Dahomey was lost, and as 
subsequent events proved the task fell to the lot 
of the French. 

Whydah was not a very nice place to blockade, 
as it is situated in about the hottest part of the 
coast of Africa, and we were overjoyed when one 
day a steamer came along with a signal flying 
" Important dispatch for you." The dispatch was 
sent for, and in ten minutes steam was ordered for 
full speed and preparations were at once commenced 
for a landing party on a large scale. 

What the official instructions disclosed was that 
an English steamer had been attacked by natives 
in the River Niger. The steamer had engaged in 
regular trade up the river to the resentment of 
the natives, who were determined to capture her. 
Their method of attack was ingenious. As soon 
as the vessel had passed the village of Akado, they 
prepared for her return by stretching a rope across 
the river 150 yards at this spot well securing 
the ends of it round trees on the bank. I saw a 
piece of this rope later and found it to have been 
made of strong fibre plaited together so as to form 


a cable about eight inches in diameter. It was 
kept on the surface by large cotton- wood floats. 

In due course the steamer returned, and tried 
to steam through the obstruction. The rope, how- 
ever, stopped her, and immediately a murderous 
fire from cannon and small arms was opened on 
her and some of the crew were killed. Fortunately 
the captain managed to cut the rope and the vessel 
got clear. 

We arrived off the mouth of the Niger on the 
27th July, 1876, and our landing party, with guns 
and rockets, were transferred to the gunboats 
Cygnet and Ariel. The guns and their crews were 
put on board the local steamer Sultan of Sokato. 
On the following day the three ships proceeded up 
the river to Akado, and found the ends of the 
hawser, some well-dug rifle-pits, and three small 
cannon. There being no sign of life, however, the 
little squadron moved on to the town of Sabogrega. 
Here, on attempting to land, the men were met 
by fire from rifle-pits behind strong stockades. A 
bombardment of the stockades was maintained 
throughout the night and in the morning the 
whole brigade were embarked in boats and at a 
given signal dashed in under a heavy fire. The 
stockade was carried, the native force driven back, 
and the town burned. 

Our losses were five officers wounded, one man 
killed and nine wounded. Among the wounded 
were the Commodore's secretary, Cecil Gibson, 
and our chaplain, the Reverend Francis Lang. 
They were not in the landing party, but seeing a 
wounded seaman on the beach they pulled ashore 
from the gunboat in a dinghy to bring him off. 


A native in hiding fired at them while they were 
lifting the man up and wounded them both very 

Their Lordships marked their appreciation of 
this expedition in the River Niger by promoting 
Lieutenant Nesham to Commander, and Sub- 
Lieutenants Harry Reynolds, John Casement, 
Frank Thomas, and Bowden Triggs to Lieutenants. 

We then returned to Whydah to assist in the 
blockade, but the Commodore, as I have said, 
could get no definite decision from the Govern- 
ment and we left for the Cape of Good Hope. 

In April, 1877, our eventful commission 
terminated, and at Portsmouth Sir William 
Hewett received a great ovation. He was cer- 
tainly a wonderful man. In handling a ship 
under sail he was a master sailor ; under fire he 
was absolutely fearless ; and his boldness and swift- 
ness in decision were equalled by his readiness to 
take any and every responsibility. He had won 
his Victoria Cross in the Crimea, and had seen 
more war service than any officer in the Navy. 
He was too go-ahead for the Admiralty, but 
still, if we had gone to war, I am sure he would 
have been put in command of the Fleet. 

At the expiration of my leave, I went for a 
short time to H.M.S. Warrior. We were guard- 
ship at Cowes, as Queen Victoria was staying at 
Osborne. One Sunday I had to take a dispatch 
to her Majesty. 1 had delivered it, and was feel- 
ing very proud of entering the portals of Osborne 
House, when to my surprise the officer-in- waiting 
told me not to go, as her Majesty might wish to 
see me . A minute or two later he was conducting 


me to the lawn, where the Queen was sitting in a 
chair with an awning looking through a pile of 
correspondence. Her Majesty questioned me about 
the ship, and then asked me how an officer named 
Hyde was getting on, and whether I knew that he 
lived at Osborne. I explained that my ignorance 
on the matter was due to the short time I had been 
in the ship. On my return I told Hyde, and he 
said he and his brother had lived at Osborne under 
the Queen's protection all their lives. His story 
was a strange one. During the Crimean War the 
Naval Brigade in returning to the coast passed the 
scene of a massacre of some men, women, and 
children. All were dead except two very young 
boys, who were dreadfully wounded. The sailors 
picked them up, took them to their ship, and they 
gradually recovered. The question then arose what 
was to be done with them, and her Majesty solved 
the case by ordering them to be sent to England 
and housing them at Osborne. They were called 
Hyde after the captain of the ship which brought 
them here. Her Majesty had them educated at 
the Royal Naval School, New Cross, and they 
eventually joined the Navy as clerks, and both 
became assistant paymasters. 



Admiralty Attitude towards Gunnery Uselessness of Inspection 
A typical Report of the Period Course of Instruction on 
H.M.S. Excellent Mud Island Convict Labour A Scheme of 
Drainage Gunnery Lieutenant of H.M.S. Inconstant A Training 
Squadron Masts and Sails The Young Princes as Midshipmen 
The Boer War takes us to the Cape Voyage to Australia 
Parting with the Bacchante Invention of an Electrical Range 
Transmitter How the Admiralty regarded it Back in Simon's 
Bay A Fire on Board Putting out the Flames in a Diver's Dress. 

THE gunnery of these days was deplorable, and 
had been so for half a century. In the American 
War of 1812-14, as a humiliating chapter in our 
naval history records, we lost ship after ship owing 
to the failure to practise our officers and men in 
the use of their guns. One fine sailor, Captain 
Broke, of the Shannon, taught his men to shoot 
by putting over targets two or three times a week 
and practising firing at them both with cannon 
and small arms. He subsequently inflicted on the 
Americans their first defeat ; it was by sheer good 
shooting that the Shannon beat the Chesapeake. 

This demonstration of what good gunnery could 
achieve ought to have brought about an immediate 
reform, but it was not until fifteen years after the 
end of the war that the first real step was taken 



to educate the officers and men in using their guns. 
In 1830, the Commissioners of the Admiralty de- 
cided tentatively to allow H.M.S. Excellent, an old 
74-gun line of battleship at Portsmouth, to be used 
as a school for instruction in artillery. From 1830 
to this date the Gunnery School at Portsmouth 
has rendered yeoman service to the country by 
endeavouring, against great opposition, to improve 
the shooting of H.M. ships of war. In the Navy, 
at the time I am speaking of, a knowledge of 
gunnery was looked upon merely as an adjunct 
to, and not as a necessary part of, an officer's 
education. Those who knew nothing of gunnery, 
and even boasted of the fact, laid the flattering 
unction to their souls that they were practical 
seamen. Gunnery officers were laughed at as 
mere pedants and coiners of long words. Admiral 
of the Fleet Sir Edward Seymour, in talking of 
the Navy in 1852, says, " In those days the chief 
things required in a man-of-war were smart men 
aloft, cleanliness of the ship, the men's bedding 
and her boats. Her gunnery was quite a secondary 
thing." 1 

This view of what was needed in a man-of-war 
survived in the Navy for half a century after the 
date referred to by Sir Edward Seymour. For 
many years the all-important event in each year 
of a ship's commission was her inspection by the 
Admiral, for if the ship was not clean, the Captain 
would be superseded and the Executive Officer 
would not be promoted. Gunnery did not matter. 
The inspection report that went to the Admiralty 

1 " My Naval Career and Travels," Sir E. H. Seymour, Admiral 
of the Fleet : " The State of Gunnery." 


was in the form of a printed set of questions which 
the Admiral had to answer, but it abstained from 
all allusion to the state of efficiency or otherwise 
of the ship in target practice with her guns. Ques- 
tions on this subject were not added to the report 
until the year 1903. 

Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge, in his book " Some 
Recollections" (published in 1918), describes his 
ship, the Pclorus, in 1857, as one of the first vessels 
of the Navy to possess a gun-sight, and added that 
it was then considered an epoch-making improve- 
ment in naval gunnery. He tells us, further, that 
the gun-mountings in H.M.S. Pelorus were of a 
pattern practically identical with those used in 
Queen Elizabeth's ships, and that the type survived 
in the Navy for twenty years afterwards. This 
pattern of mounting was in use when I joined the 
Navy. It had a life of about four centuries, but 
Sir Cyprian warns us that we must not infer 
from this that the Admiralty were backward in 
introducing improvements in ships' armaments 
although I point out in this volume that the Ad- 
miralty in my time have been, and still are, very 
backward in this respect. I cannot contradict Sir 
Cyprian Bridge as to the attitude of the Admiralty 
in 1857, but four hundred years for one pattern of 
gun-mounting appears a long time ! It looks rather 
like our clinging to masts and yards forty years 
after they ought to have been abolished ! 

Sir Cyprian suggests that the stories which 
have been current of late years as to the want 
of attention to gunnery in the older Navy were 
unworthy fabrications. That statement hits me 
rather hard, because I have so frequently asserted 


the contrary, but in doing so I only took into con- 
sideration my own fifty years' experience in the 
Navy. This is the only mention that Sir Cyprian 
makes of gunnery. His " Recollections," like 
those of most of his contemporaries, consist largely 
of descriptions, interesting descriptions, of the 
places visited. 

After an inspection in my early years it was 
customary with many Admirals to send the Captain 
of the ship a memorandum containing the gist of 
the report dispatched to the Admiralty . If the 
Admiral's memo, was unfavourable, it went into 
the w r aste-paper basket ; if favourable, copies of 
it were made and circulated in the ship, and some- 
times they got into the Press. Here is one copied 
from the Naval and Military Record of September, 

"H.M.S. Glory, Wei-Hai-Wei, 

3rd of September, 1901. 

" I have made the following remarks in 
the report of the inspection of H.M.S. A street 
under your command : 

" ' Ship's company of good physique, remark- 
ably clean and well dressed ; state of bedding, 
specially satisfactory. 

" ' The stoker division formed a fine body 
of clean and well-dressed men. 

" ' At exercise the men moved very 

" ' The ship looks well inside and out, and 
is very clean throughout. Her state is very 
creditable to the Executive Officer, Sir Douglas 

" < The tone of the ship generally seems to 
me to be distinctly good. 


"'Appearance of the Engine Rooms and 
their appendages was very good.' 

" (Signed) , 


This was a typical inspection of the period. It 
contained no reference to the fact that the Astrcea 
was one of the best shooting ships in the Navy, 
nor did her captain and gunnery lieutenant get 
one word of praise for all the trouble they had 
taken to make the ship efficient as a fighting unit 
of the Fleet. It was only her success in tailoring 
and housemaiding and the state of the bedding 
that secured commendation. No wonder that the 
captains and gunnery officers of ships came to the 
conclusion that they must devote their time and 
attention to the appearance of ships and not to 

I have referred to this inspection report to 
show how conservative the Navy was. Forty-nine 
years had not changed what Sir Edward Seymour 
says were the ideas in 1852 ; the cleanliness of 
the ship and the state of the men's bedding were 
still regarded as the most important factors of 

In 1878 I joined H.M.S. Excellent to qualify 
as a Gunnery Lieutenant. She was an old three- 
decker, very badly found as regards the necessary 
equipment for instruction in gunnery, so much so 
that a lecture there on some particular weapon 
generally concluded with the remark "but this 
is obsolete, and we have not got the new one to 
show you." In those days a lieutenant qualified 
in gunnery was an important asset in a man-of- 
war. He was the only officer in the ship who 


knew anything about gunnery, and in an action he 
would have had a great responsibility. 

Our course of instruction was divided into two 
parts practical and theoretical. The former con- 
sisted of learning how to load and fire the guns 
and how to train the men, and was also concerned 
with powder and ammunition and projectiles. 
The theoretical part embraced differential and 
integral calculus, conic sections, algebra, chemis- 
try, physics, and a few other subjects with long 
names. It was obvious that the practical part 
should have been taken first as, in the event 
of war breaking out, we thirty lieutenants could 
have been sent to sea with sufficient practical 
knowledge to manipulate the artillery. Our 
instructor, a most brilliant lieutenant named Tyne 
Ford Hammill, informed us that, although it was 
wrong, we had to do the theoretical course first. 
With a twinkle in his eye, he explained that the 
defect had been pointed out, and that it would be 
changed, but as the authorities did not move very 
quickly in gunnery matters it would take time. 
He was quite correct. The system was changed, 
but not till twenty-six years afterwards. 

The officers of H.M.S. Excellent took a great 
interest in target practice ; it was carried out from 
old gunboats, which were light and consequently 
rolled a great deal. This made the practice very 
difficult, and I think I can show that in those 
days a good shot had to be born, he could not be 

The man who pointed the gun and fired it 
stood about six feet in rear with a string in his hand 
which, when pulled, fired the gun. On the gun 


were two pieces of metal about four feet apart, one 
was shaped like a V, the other like a V upside 
down. To hit the mark the gun-layer had to pull 

the string when the V, the inverted V, and the 
target were all seen in one line from his eye. In 
order to arrive at this all three must be seen very 
distinctly. In other words, the eye had to see 
three objects ; one at six feet, one at ten feet, and 
the other at 3000 feet, all sharply defined. This 
called upon the eye to do more than any camera 
will do unless it is very much stopped down. 
The eye is a very fine optical instrument and has 
in certain circumstances sufficient range of focus 
to comply with the requirements I have men- 
tioned ; but it will only comply with these require- 
ments under certain conditions of the stomach and 
general state of health. We will call this having 
the eye in order No. 1 necessity for hitting the 
mark. The firer in those days had orders always 
to fire as his gun was rolling upwards ; as the roll 
would impart an upward movement to the shot, 
he had to pull the string a little before the two V's 
came in line with the target, but the roll varied, so 
the " little before " varied and he had to judge how 
much to allow. We will call this No. 2 necessity 
for hitting the mark. 

Then came the forward motion of the ship 
from which the man was firing. This would cause 
the shot to go forward and miss the mark, so he 
had to have his V's a little behind the target when 


he pulled the string. This is No. 3 necessity for 
hitting the mark. To acquire and put into practice 
correctly these three requirements appears impos- 
sible, but I have seen men place shot after shot 
within a foot of a small flagstaff 1000 yards distant 
from them. Truly the brain and eye can work 
together in a wonderful manner. 

Of many hundreds of seamen whom we trained 
in shooting, one or two per cent, could do what I 
have mentioned. The objective of the staff officers 
of H.M.S. Excellent was to find some rules or 
means of instruction that would increase the per- 
centage of these men, but we landed on another 
difficulty which quite stumped us. 

A lieutenant I wish I could remember his 
name pointed out that some men for the same 
amount of roll fired earlier than others, but 
obtained the same results; in other words, that 
some men when they did a thing did it quicker 
than others. 

A very clever torpedo lieutenant of H.M.S. 
Vernon took the matter up and declared that a 
certain amount of time elapsed between the man 
at the end of the string wishing to pull it and his 
actually pulling it ; he described it to me that the 
eye when the objects were in line telegraphed to 
the brain that the string was to be pulled, the 
brain telegraphed to the muscles of the hand to 
pull it, and he pointed out that these two tele- 
graphs occupied a certain amount of time, and 
that this amount of time varied with different 
people. To prove his theory a machine was made 
I think it was called the personal error machine. 
Captain (afterwards Lord) Fisher, in explaining it 


to Queen Alexandra, called it the Foolometer, as 
he said it measured how much of a fool you were ; 
you thought you did a thing instantaneously but 
you did not, and this machine registered how 
much time elapsed between your thinking you had 
done a thing and your doing it. The machine was 
very simple, as far as my memory serves me, and 
it is forty years ago. The person being tested was 
told to pull a string when he saw the pointer move 
of a galvanometer which was in front of him. 

What happened was as follows : An electric 
current was sent through the galvanometer which 
caused the pointer to move ; it also caused a mark 
to be made on a revolving cylinder. When the 
person being tested pulled the string, it caused a 
mark to be made on the cylinder. The distance 
between the two marks represented the time that 
elapsed between the eye seeing the pointer move 
and the hand pulling the string. 

This little lecture shows that the man who 
pulled the string, or, as he was more commonly 
called, the man behind the gun, had a lot to think 

The whole gunnery establishment consisted of 
two line-of-battle ships (the Excellent being con- 
nected by a bridge with the Calcutta), a very old 
turret ship in which we learned turret drill, some 
gunboats which, as I have said, took us out for 
target practice, and an island where we were 
taught infantry drill. 

This island Whale Island which we very 
appropriately called "Mud Island," has had a 
peculiar history. In 1856 it was acquired by the 
Admiralty, and subsequently was used as a 


dumping-ground for the mud and clay which was 
excavated in forming the basins and docks of 
Portsmouth Dockyard. One party of convicts in 
the dockyard were employed in digging the clay 
and harrowing it into railway trucks, which went 
by a viaduct to Whale Island, where another party 
of convicts emptied them. The whole island, 
which is now of nearly 100 acres, has therefore been 
twice in a wheelbarrow ; it seems almost too 
colossal to believe, but, as nearly 1000 convicts 
were working at it for about forty years, they 
would move a very large amount. In depositing 
the mud, no attempt was made to level it, or to 
allow it to drain itself; and consequently the 
whole place was a quagmire, only available for 
drill after a long spell of dry weather. One small 
portion which had been gravelled was capable of 
being used at any time. 

Being in those days anxious to keep in training 
for running, I got the convicts to smooth down 
a track about four feet broad and a quarter of a 
mile round. They took great interest in it, filled 
up the hollows, made little drains, and planted on it 
every blade of grass they could secure. They even 
arranged with their fellow convicts in the dock- 
yards to collect carefully any grass they could find 
and send it over. In a fortnight we had quite a 
decent track. We then sowed it with grass seed, 
and when it was sufficiently advanced, a party 
of about fifteen of us used to go up to the island 
at five in the morning to cut and roll it. It got 
on so well that we were able to have athletic 
sports. The success of the track suggested to me 
that the whole might be levelled and drained, the 


Excellent done away with, and a Gunnery Estab- 
lishment built on the island. The ship was rotten 
and would soon have had to be replaced by another ; 
the expense of keeping her up was enormous, and 
she was unsuitable in every way as a School of 
Gunnery. I mentioned the idea to the authorities, 
and they thought I had gone mad. It was con- 
sidered to be the most ridiculous idea ever put 
forward. " He wants us to live on Mud Island " 
was the common chaff, and I could only retort that 
some day the desire of all officers would be to live 
on Mud Island. Events justified my prophecy, 
and I was destined to return to Whale Island to 
superintend the work of construction which was 
to transform the mud flats into a great naval 

As to the Excellent, the one notable feature 
of the School of Instruction was the diligence of 
the officers and their zeal in striving against a sea 
of opposition to improve the gunnery of H.M. 

Having completed the course, I served for a 
year as an Instructing Lieutenant, and then 
went to sea as Gunnery Lieutenant of H.M.S. 
Inconstant, flagship of the Earl of Clanwilliam. 
The squadron consisted of the Inconstant, Bac- 
chante, Diamond and Topase, all fully-rigged 
sailing ships. Prince Albert Victor and Prince 
George (now King George V.) were serving as 
midshipmen in the Bacchante. 

The particular object of the squadron was to 
train officers and men in the use of masts and sails, 
which were very shortly to disappear and really 
should have disappeared ten years before, since 


they hampered a ship in speed, and would have 
been a severe encumbrance in an action. They 
certainly afforded a fine gymnasium both for nerve 
and body, and inculcated thought and resourceful- 
ness, which were most valuable to men afterwards. 
The sailoring sailor was not a machine. You 
could teach him a certain amount, but he was 
always having to use his brain to meet unexpected 
difficulties as they presented themselves. 

As a boy in the training ship he was taught 
how to furl a sail on a jack-yard close down to the 
deck. He found the yard laid pointing to the 
wind, clewlines close up, and the sail, from con- 
stant handling, as soft as a pocket handkerchief. 
How easy it all was ! Then he went to sea and 
discovered the difference. On a dark night, with 
the ship rolling, he was awakened from his 
slumbers by a scream " Topmen of the watch in 
royals." In a pouring rain squall he had to feel 
his way aloft to a yard 130 feet above the deck. 
And when he and his mates got there what a 
contrast to the training ship jack-yard ! The 
sail is all aback, wet and as stiff as a board, the 
clewlines have fouled, and perhaps one lift has 
carried away. But the sail has to be furled, and 
they think out some way of overcoming the diffi- 
culties and furled it is. Fine training for a boy, 
although it cost a good many lives ! 

The question of doing away with the masts 
and sails was the theme of much discussion. 
Those who favoured their abolition said that as we 
should have no sails it was no use wasting time, 
money and life, in training our officers and men to 
use them. My gallant Captain declared that if 


you wanted to make a jockey like Tod Sloan you 
did not train him on a camel. What the argu- 
ments were of those who wished to retain masts 
and yards I do not exactly remember, but they 
got their way, and the sinking of the Captain, 
Eurydice and Atalanta, with a total of about 2000 
officers and men in the prime of life, failed to alter 
their opinion. Sails were not finally discarded 
until after the sloop Condor went down in a gale 
off Cape Flattery on 3rd December, 1901. 

On the 16th October, 1880, we left Portsmouth 
for a cruise round the world. The programme 
was to visit Madeira, St. Vincent, Monte Video, 
and the Falkland Islands, then sail round the 
Horn to India, and return home by the Suez 
Canal. The young Princes were to see the world. 
We arrived at Monte Video on the 21st December, 
and remained there until the 8th January, the 
time being spent in entertainments of every 
description. The Uruguayans are noted for their 

Four days before we left for the Falkland 
Islands, a telegram was sent by the Admiralty, 
ordering us to proceed to the Cape of Good Hope 
at full speed, and to prepare our brigade for 
landing, as we were at war with the Boers. The 
gentleman on shore who received this telegram 
put it in his pocket and forgot to open it until 
after we had left, so away we went 1400 miles in 
a southerly direction instead of going east where 
we were wanted. 

When at length the telegram was opened 
at Monte Video, a gunboat, the Swallow, was 
dispatched with orders to try and catch us. The 


speed of the Swallow did not quite do justice 
to her name. We reached the Falkland Islands 
on the 25th January ; the Swallow arrived the 
following day, and our Admiral the Earl of 
Clanwilliam at once made a signal "Prepare for 
immediately. Squadron is ordered to proceed to 
the Cape of Good Hope with all dispatch." 
During our 4000 miles voyage to the Cape of 
twenty-two days, all preparations for landing an 
expeditionary force were made. The men were 
drilled and exercised in firing, our field guns were 
got ready to land, and we could have put into the 
field a very respectable force of about 1600 men. 

On the 16th February we arrived at the Cape 
of Good Hope and found that in December, when 
we were enjoying ourselves at Monte Video, the 
Boers had declared war upon us, and as we were, 
as usual, unprepared they had been successful in 
several engagements. In these circumstances we 
doubled our efforts to make our brigade efficient 
for landing, and hourly expected a telegram to 
proceed to Natal and co-operate with the forces 
there, for the military authorities were very short 
of men and our 1600 might have turned the scale. 
No more orders came, however, and we remained 
at Simon's Bay, enjoying dances and dinner parties 
while our troops suffered severe reverses at Laings 
Neck and Majuba. 

By the middle of March Sir Evelyn Wood, who 
was in command, had sufficient troops to ensure 
the defeat of the Boers, but the British Govern- 
ment had meanwhile decided to make peace, and 
the task thus left incomplete had to be undertaken 
anew twenty years later. 


After peace had been signed, we lingered on at 
the Cape until the 9th of April, when, to the 
delight of every one, we weighed anchor and de- 
parted on a 5000-mile voyage to Australia. On 
the 12th May we arrived off Cape Lewen, and 
during the night encountered some very heavy 
weather. In the morning H.M.S. Bacchante, with 
the two young Princes on board, was missing. We 
spread out to search, and had a very anxious three 
days, when fortunately we received a signal that 
the Bacchante had put into Albany, in Western 
Australia, her rudder having been disabled in the 

A most pleasant six weeks followed at Mel- 
bourne. Just before leaving their Royal Highnesses 
joined the Inconstant, as the Bacchante (which 
subsequently rejoined the squadron) was still under 
repair at Albany, and we resumed our cruise, 
visiting the Fiji Islands, Japan, China and Sing- 

At Singapore we said good-bye to the Bacchante 
with her royal midshipmen. She had been ordered 
home via the Suez Canal, while we were to return 
via the Cape. We had visited many interesting 
places and seen much of the world. It had been a 
sort of yachting cruise with endless entertainments. 
Professionally we had spent two years in learning 
how to manage a ship under sail, but I doubt if 
any officer or man of the squadron was ever again 
in a ship with sails. Our Captain, C. P. Fitzgerald, 
was probably the most able seaman in the Navy 
in regard to the management of sails. He could 
work the Inconstant just like a yacht ; but it would 
be no use mentioning some of the fine work I have 


seen him perform, because no one now would under- 
stand or appreciate it. 

In gunnery we were no worse than any other 
ship. We fired sometimes, but the difficulty at 
target practice was to communicate the range to 
the guns. To overcome this obstacle I made an 
electrical range transmitter, and submitted it to 
the Admiralty in the following letter : 

" H.M.S. Inconstant, 
"At Sea, 

"3rd May, 1881. 

" Sm, 

" Having found great difficulty on board 
this ship in getting the distance of the target 
passed correctly from the masthead to the gun 
deck, I have the honour to submit plans of an 
Electrical Indicator which has been made on 
board this ship, and seems to answer the 
purpose satisfactorily. 

" It consists of two dials, their faces marked 
in hundreds of yards ; one is placed at the mast- 
head or wherever the officer is stationed to 
measure the distance, the other in the battery, 
the two being connected by electric wires. 

"As the distance alters, the observer at the 
masthead moves the pointer of his dial to the 
new figure ; the pointer of the battery dial 
simultaneously makes a corresponding move- 
ment, at the same time ringing a bell. 

"The arrangement is exceedingly simple, 
and though only roughly made on board this 
ship by the armourer, it works well. 

" I enclose a full explanation and drawings. 
" I have the honour to be, sir, 
" Your obedient servant, 




Fifteen months afterwards, on the 21st June, 
1882, their Lordships wrote to the Admiral com- 
manding the squadron: "You are to inform Lieu- 
tenant Percy Scott that my Lords highly appreciate 
the intelligence and zeal he has shown in the con- 
struction of the instrument devised by him." On 
my return to England, however, I found that my 
invention had been pirated and patented by some 
one else. Necessary as an instrument of this 
description was for accurate firing, the Admiralty 
did not supply it to the Service until twenty-five 
years afterwards. 1 

In the middle of May we arrived at the Cape 
of Good Hope and anchored in Simon's Bay, which 
was so familiar to me. Simon's Bay was just the 
same as I knew it ten years before. None of the 
recommendations suggested by Sir William Hewett 
for improving the dockyard had been carried out ; 
there was not a fort of any description, nor was 
there a dock or a railway in the place. 

During our stay I went for a few days' leave to 
Cape Town. On my return I found the ship was 
on fire. At 8 p.m., a couple of hours earlier, dense 
volumes of smoke arose from one of the after 
compartments. It was found impossible to locate 
the fire, and all the ship's fire appliances and fire 
engines were engaged in pumping into the com- 
partment, but as some of the water-tight manhole 
doors were off for repair the whole of the after part 
of the ship was being filled with water, and at the 
same time no apparent effect was produced on the 
flames. Efforts had also been made to get to 

1 This is an illustration of methods of administration in 1881 ; but 
things are not much better to-day. 


the fire by a man wearing the German smoke cap 
supplied by the Admiralty for that purpose, but 
he was nearly asphyxiated in the attempt. 

Such was the situation on my return. Putting 
on one of the caps, I went down myself and suc- 
ceeded in discovering the seat of the outbreak. 
But the labour of breathing in this horrible con- 
trivance with its gag in the mouth and goggles 
that let the smoke through left one without 
strength to do any work. So I came up and got 
into a diving dress. The dress and helmet were of 
course very heavy, as they are made to withstand a 
great pressure of water, and the descent of so many 
ladders with this great weight was a difficult matter. 
However, I got down with a hose and very soon 
put the fire out. It had originated in one of the 
storerooms where there were large kegs of butter, 
lard, candles and the like. The butter was floating, 
alight, on the water, and it only needed a little 
water on the top of it to put an end to the mischief. 
But with the extinguishing of the flames the light 
went, and it was with some difficulty that I 
managed to retrace my way through the dense 
smoke by means of the air pipe. 

During this ticklish operation the well-meaning 
people on top kept on pulling my rope, which is 
the ordinary signal to a diver to inquire if he is all 
right. These jerks sometimes pulled me off a 
ladder, and to be pulled over with one's head en- 
cased in a tremendously heavy helmet was almost 
enough to break one's back. Little wonder that I 
got back pretty nearly done up. They carried me 
clear of the smoke, unscrewed the face-plate of the 
helmet, and found that I had enough energy left 


in me to express in forcible sea terms my opinion 
of them for constantly jerking at my rope. 

Incidents of this kind always teach a lesson of 
one sort or another. On this occasion I learned 
that the smoke- cap was of no use, that the only 
way on board a ship to get at a fire and extinguish 
it was to use the diver's dress, but that the diving 
dress was too heavy, and that what we wanted was 
some modification of it kept always ready in the 
event of fire. 

To meet the case, I had a light helmet made 
out of a butter tin and attached to it a short coat 
with a belt round the waist and bands round the 
wrists. I tried this in smoke and it was most 
satisfactory ; we adopted it in the Inconstant. I 
have used it in every ship I have commanded since 
that date, and have three times experienced its 
efficacy in saving H.M. ships from destruction. 
But the Admiralty did not bring it into use until 
thirty years afterwards, though I am sure it would 
frequently have proved of the greatest service in 
all ships of war. The Captain of the Inconstant 
reported on it in a letter as follows : 

"H.M.S. Inconstant, 
" Alexandria. 

" 26th August, 1882. 

" SIR, 

" In compliance with your mems. of the 
18th inst. directing a report to be made stating 
whether the Service smoke-cap or respirator of 
both patterns were tried on board this ship on 
the occasion of the fire on the 5th of May last, 
and with what result : 

" I have the honour to report that both 
were tried, with the result that they were found 


to be of very little use. The men appeared to 
be able to breathe well enough through the 
smoke- caps as long as they were standing still, 
but directly they get excited and begin to take 
violent exercise, as they are certain to do when 
the ship is on fire, it appears that they are un- 
able to get sufficient air to keep them from 
choking. Possibly the medical profession 
could explain in more elaborate terms the 
reason for this result. 

" Practically it was found during the fire on 
board the Inconstant that the only apparatus by 
which the fire could be approached was the 
Service diving dress with air-pipe connected 
and pump worked on the upper deck, but it 
was found from the great weight of the helmet 
and corslet and the cumbrous nature of the 
dress movements were slow and but little work 
could be done. 

" Gun. Lieut. Percy Scott put on the 
diving dress himself and descended into the 
burning compartments and it was in conse- 
quence of the experience gained upon this 
occasion that he devised the ingenious, cheap, 
and eminently practical modification of the 
Service diving dress for use in case of fire, and 
I venture to think that a few pounds expended 
in furtherance of Lieut. Percy Scott's views, 
might in all probability be the means of saving 
one or perhaps more of H.M. ships from 

" I have the honour to be, 

" Sir, 
"Your ob. Servt, 

" Captain. 

"Ad. S. B. P. Seymour, G.C.B., 
" Commander-in-Chief." 


Their Lordships thanked me for this inven- 
tion, but added that they did not intend adopting 
it, as the Loeb (German) smoke-cap appeared to 
answer the purpose. This is just what it did 
not do. The smoke helmet and coat was adopted 
shortly afterwards by the New York Fire Brigade, 
but it took the Admiralty, as I have said, thirty 
years to come to a similar decision. 



Ordered to Alexandria Naval Brigade Ashore Collecting Unexploded\ 
Shell Fleet's Deplorable Shooting Improvisation Mounting 
7-ton Guns Blowing up a Dam Queen Victoria and her Troops 
Bluejackets and their Medals. 

WE left the Cape of Good Hope on the 16th May, 
1882, to proceed home, calling at St. Helena, 
St. Vincent, and Gibraltar. At Gibraltar we 
learned that disturbances had taken place in 
Egypt, that the whole of the Mediterranean Fleet 
was anchored off Alexandria, and that there would 
probably be war. Again our Naval Brigade was 
prepared for landing, coal and stores were taken in 
with all dispatch, and we had high hopes that we 
should be ordered to Alexandria. Four days 
after our arrival at Gibraltar a signal was made, 
" Inconstant proceed to Alexandria, calling at 

The delay at Gibraltar and further delays at 
Malta and Cyprus brought us to Alexandria a 
week too late to share in the bombardment. In 
spite of that distressing fact, however, there was 
still plenty of work to do and our brigade was 
landed and remained on shore until the Battle of 
Tel-el-Kebir terminated the war. 

Arabi Pasha and his forces had already left the 



town and taken up a strongly entrenched line of 
defence at Kafr Dowar : while the British Army 
weakly held a position at Ramleh, a suburb a few 
miles out of Alexandria. In these circumstances 
it was still necessary to hold the forts and lines 
of defence immediately round Alexandria, and part 
of our men were employed for this purpose. 

One detachment, under Lieut. H.S.H. Prince 
Louis of Battenberg, 1 occupied a position on the 
left flank, and was quartered in the very much 
knocked about Khedive's Palace. Another de- 
tachment, under Lieut. Bourchier Wrey, 2 went 
out to the advanced lines at Ramleh ; and I, 
with a detachment, took up quarters at Fort 

The fort stood on high ground and commanded 
a very extensive view. Our duty was to assist in 
the defence of the lines if they were attacked, and 
to maintain communication, by heliograph in the 
daytime and by flashing lamp at night, with the 
troops who were under Colonel Vandeleur. 

I soon found that I was to be a sort of handy 
Billy, and for anything that had to be done requisi- 
tion was made on Com-el-Dic. The first thing I 
was told to do was to collect all the unexploded 
shell that had missed the forts and fallen into the 
town during the bombardment. There were many 
of them, of all sorts and sizes. Some from the 
Inflexible 's 16-inch guns weighed 2000 Ibs. and 
were very difficult to handle ; to get them out of 
the houses we used mattresses and featherbeds. 
Great care was necessary, as the fuses were in the 

1 Now Admiral the Marquess of Milford Haven. 

2 Afterwards Sir Bourchier Wrey, Bart. 


shells and an extra fall might send them off. An 
attempt to take out the fuse of a shell had been 
made with fatal results ; it exploded and killed 
every one concerned. In carts well lined with soft 
material we transferred these shells to a piece of 
waste ground and buried them. An enormous 
percentage of our shell failed to explode during 
the bombardments, the reason being that they were 
fired with reduced charges, and the construction of 
the fuse was such that it would only operate when 
a full charge was used, 

Our next job was to go round all the forts that 
had been bombarded, and bury the unexploded 
shell. Our gunnery during the bombardment had 
not been very good, and the town appeared to me 
to have suffered more from the misses than the 
forts had from the hits. I counted in the various 
forts forty-two modern heavy guns, varying from 
10-inch to 7-inch. Only ten of these had been 
put out of action by gun-fire during a day's bom- 
bardment from eight battleships carrying about 
eighty guns varying from 16-inch to 7-inch, besides 
a large number of lighter guns. 

The Fleet fired in all 3000 rounds at the forts, 
and as far as the enemy's guns were concerned 
made ten hits. One would have thought that this 
deplorable shooting would have brought home to 
the Admiralty the necessity of some alteration in 
our training for shooting, but it did not. They 
were quite satisfied, inasmuch as it was better than 
the Egyptian gunners' shooting. It certainly was, 
for the ships of the Fleet, though at anchor for 
most of the time, were not damaged to any extent. 
But to be satisfied with our Fleet beating the 


Egyptian gunners was not taking a very high 

In one fort I found that some very good shoot- 
ing had been made by 11 -inch guns, probably those 
of the Temeraire. All round two of the guns 
were strewn parts of 11 -inch projectiles fired by 
our ships. One of these guns looked as if it 
had been struck by a projectile on the top 
near the trunnions, for the trunnion ring was 
fractured. The other gun had received an 11 -inch 
projectile on the underside of the embrasure, 
and the front pivot was destroyed. Apparently 
the Egyptian gunners paid no attention to this. 
They fired it again, and from want of any hold- 
ing down at the fore end it toppled over 

Bluejackets often say very quaint things, but, 
without the customary adjectives, some of the 
terseness of the remarks is lost. When gathering 
up the unexploded projectiles in the town, we 
found a gigantic 16-inch shell outside the door of 
a baker's shop, but no external damage had been 
done. A sailor gazed at it and remarked to 

his mate, "I wonder how this thing came 

here ; there is no hole anywhere." His mate 
looked round, and seeing one of the extremely 
narrow alleys of Alexandria behind him, replied, 
" I suppose that it must have made this 
street." As a matter of fact, it had come through 
the roof, and the whole of the interior of the house 
was wrecked. 

On another occasion two bluejackets saw a 
military officer approaching, wearing a belt with 
a host of things, such as a knife, field-glasses, 


water-bottle, cigar-case, torch, etc., suspended from 
it. Their conversation was as follows : " Bill, who 
the - - is that ? " " Don't you know him ? Why, 
he's the new Colonel." " Oh ! new Colonel, is he ? 
Why, he only wants the candles to make him into 
a regular Christmas-tree." 

Arabi had mounted at Kafe Do war a 15- cm. 
gun, 1 which far outranged anything that we had. 
As it was giving them an unpleasant time at 
Ramleh, Sir Archibald Alison signalled to me to 
come there, and when I arrived asked me if I could 
manage to get a gun out of one of the forts which 
would match this gun in range. He thought that 
a 6 4 -pounder would be heavy enough, but his R.E. 
and R.A. experts had said that it was impossible, 
and he wanted it in position at Ramleh in four 

I galloped back to Com-el-Dic, turned the 
company out, and with my two midshipmen, 
Mark Kerr 2 and Lacy, discussed the matter. I 
knew that in Fort Pharos there was a large and 
very serviceable sling waggon, and that Fort Ra- 
saltin had three undamaged 7-in. 7-ton guns, which 
were just double the size wanted by the General. 
I sent Mark Kerr off with a party to get the sling 
waggon, and Lacy with another party to get some 
tackle, hydraulic jacks, and other stores which we 
knew were in one of the forts. Meanwhile I went 
to have a look at the guns. They were on a high 
bank overlooking the sea, with a steep incline 
behind them and a wall at the bottom of it. I 
sat down opposite one of the guns, and think I 

1 This gun is now at Whale Island, Portsmouth. 

2 Afterwards Vice-Admiral Mark E. F. Kerr. 


must have looked at it for an hour. Seven tons 
of iron is a good weight to shift, but it had to 
be done, for I had made up my mind that I 
would not take out a lighter gun. Suddenly 
I realised what a fool I was, and how easily 
the thing could be done, and within the allotted 

Hurrying back to Com-el-Dic, I made some 
drawings, requisitioned native labour to pull down 
the wall during the night, and sent Mark Kerr to 
arrange for a dozen cartloads of railway sleepers 
to be at Rasaltin Fort on the following morn- 
ing at daylight. Late that night I told Sir 
Archibald Alison, whose quarters were at the 
railway station just below Com-el-Dic Fort, that 
I could get, within the prescribed time, a 7-ton 

The next morning we dismounted the gun and 
let it roll down the bank. We then secured it 
under the sling waggon and took it across the city 
to the railway station. This occupied all day, as 
two or three times the road gave way under the 
weight, and we had to unsling the gun, and with 
hydraulic jacks get the wheel out of the hole. By 
the next evening we had the slide, carriage, and 
gun at Ramleh, and we mounted it in the following 
manner. A platform of railway sleepers was put 
down in the sand and the slide and carriage were 
placed on it. To prevent the fore-end of the slide 
jumping on firing, we fixed it down by chains 
attached to heavy shot buried in the ground. 
The 7-ton gun had to be detrained about a hun- 
dred yards from the mounting and considerably 
below its level. The problem was how to get this 


weight up the steep incline of sandy soil. On top 
of the hill we made a very strong anchor out of 
railway sleepers, which were let into the ground ; 
attached to this was a block, with a hawser rove 
through it, one end of which went to the gun and 
the other to two locomotives on the railway line. 
Two locomotives steaming ahead and more than 
1000 men on the hawser meant some pull, and 
the gun went up in double time. 

Then came the difficulty of getting the 7-ton 
gun on to its carriage. It required to be vertically 
lifted about three feet. This we managed to do 
by making an inclined plane of sleepers covered 
with grease. Up this we shoved the gun with 
hydraulic jacks. It took some time and some 
shoving, but we got it in place. 

On the 27th August we opened fire on Arabi's 
works, and did great damage. The artist of our 
brigade inscribed on the gun : 

"H.M.S. Inconstant. 
Lay me true and load me tight 
And HI play the Devil with Arabi's right. " 

Subsequently Sir Archibald Alison wanted more 
guns, so we brought up two more 7-ton guns and 
mounted them on a hill near the waterworks. 
With more time at our disposal we mounted these 
more elaborately, burying a gun with its muzzle 
upwards to form a front pivot. We made some 
very good shooting with those weapons, and so did 
Arabi at us. But his shells were perfectly harmless, 
for they went deep into the soft sand and on 
bursting only threw up a column of sand. 

Just when the mounting of these guns was 
finished, it was feared that Arabi might make an 




[To face page 52. 


advance upon us across the dry portion of Lake 
Mariotis. It was therefore decided to flood this 
portion. The scheme was to open the sea end 
of the ditch round Fort Mex and allow the 
water to flow through into Mariotis, but it meant 
making a culvert in the railway embankment 
and constructing a wall to ensure the water 
going through the culvert. The Engineers under- 
took to cut the culvert, and I, with the Inconstant 's 
men, was to build the wall and finally to blow up 
the dam at the sea end. 

When the wall was finished, we well planted 
the dam with guncotton mines, and took electric 
leads from them to a point at a safe distance. 
Admiral Sir William Dowell, K.C.B., came out to 
do the final blow-up. He pressed the button, and 
there was a gigantic explosion, followed by a 
mighty rush of water. In a few days Mariotis 
would have been flooded, but that very evening we 
received orders to replace the dam again, as the 
war was practically over, Tel-el-Kebir having 
fallen on the 13th September. 

On the 16th September, 1882, we returned 
to the ship, and on the 26th left Alexandria for 
Portsmouth, where we paid off in October. 

Before leaving Alexandria Sir Evelyn Wood, 
was kind enough to send for me, and read me 
an extract from his dispatch : 

' ' 20th September, 1882. 

" Men under the direction of Lieut. Scott 
worked in a most praiseworthy manner in 
mounting three 7-in. guns on the Water Tower 
position. The sand being very heavy rendered 


the work most difficult. It is right I should 
say that Major-Gen. Sir A. Alison had previous 
to his departure spoken to me of Lieut. Scott's 
work in the highest terms of praise. The 
cutting of the Mex Dam was also an arduous 
piece of work performed by Lieut. Scott and a 
party of bluejackets." 

From Major-General Sir Archibald Alison, K.C.B. 

" Headquarters, 3rd Brigade, 

" 30th August, 1882, 1 p.m. 


" I cannot leave this without sending you a 
line to bring to your notice the excellent work 
which Lieutenant Scott, of the Inconstant, has 
rendered to me in bringing up heavy guns 
under almost insuperable difficulties, in which 
work he has been employed since the 1st inst. 
He is one of those men with whom it is a 
perfect pleasure to act ; he never makes diffi- 
culties and never finds anything impossible. I 
cannot too strongly recommend him to your 
favourable notice. Excuse this line; every- 
thing is packed and I have no writing materials 
at hand. With all good wishes, and hoping 
soon to see you up with us. 

" Ever yours most sincerely, 

" (Signed) A. ALISON." 

Subsequently the Admiralty sent the following 
communication : 

' e Duke of Wellington, Portsmouth, 

" 9th November, 1882. 

" Herewith you will receive an extract from 
a Dispatch of Major Ardagh, C.B., R.E., 
bearing testimony to the valuable services 
rendered by Lieutenant Scott, R.N., of H.M.S. 


Inconstant, and the men under his command, at 

" 2. This testimony to his skill and energy 
is to be communicated to that officer, and he is 
to be informed that their Lordships have much 
pleasure in communicating it to him. 
"(Signed) A. P. RYDER, 

" Admiral, Commander-in- Chief. 

" Captain Fitzgerald, H.M.S. Inconstant." 

Extract from Report of Major J. C. Ardagh, 
C.B., E.E. 

" 17th October, 1882. 

" Lieut. Scott, R.N., was employed under 
me in arming the Ramleh position with heavy 
guns belonging to the Egyptians, and got two 
7-ton 7-in. rifled guns and a 40-pounder into 
position. The difficulties attending the trans- 
port of guns of this weight over the soft hills 
of sand were got over in an incredibly short 
space of time by the skill and efforts of 
Lieutenant Scott and his bluejackets, and the 
two heavy guns brought up by the Egyptians 
to the Kafe Dowar position were held in check 
until the surrender by the fire of these pieces. 
" (Signed) J. C. ARDAGH, 

"Major, R.E." 

On the return of the troops, after the Egyptian 
War, Queen Victoria graciously decided to receive 
a contingent of the officers and men from every 
ship and regiment that had served in the campaign, 
and to present them with their medals personally. 
I was made a sort of I-do-not-know-what of by the 
men, who were collected from all parts of England. 


The Admiralty had arranged that they were to be 
housed for the night at the Norfolk Hotel, close to 
Paddington Station, and go on to Windsor the 
next day. 

The Admiralty informed me that I was to see 
the men properly dressed and to explain to them 
the etiquette of the occasion, which was to the 
effect that they should, on coming opposite Her 
Majesty, go down on the right knee, hold out 
their right hand, receive their medal, then rise, 
bow and be off. 

We practised a few of the men at this cere- 
monial, but it did not go very well. It was 
evident that for the bluejacket to perform his part 
gracefully a lot of practice would be necessary, 
and bluejackets' Sunday trousers do not lend 
themselves to bending down on the knee without 
some risk of splitting. Perhaps fortunately, the 
etiquette was altered, and late in the afternoon the 
Admiralty informed me that the officers and men 
would march by, receive their medal, and walk on. 

I explained this alteration of the etiquette to a 
boatswain's mate, and he conveyed it to the men 
in the following terms, and in a voice which must 
have made itself heard throughout the hotel. 
" Now, do you 'ear there, the etiquette is altered ; 
when you come opposite Her Majesty, you don't 
go down on the knee, you stand up, take your 'at 
off, hold your 'and out, and her Majesty puts your 
medal in the palm. When you get it, don't go 
examining it to see if it has got the proper name 
on it, walk on : if it's not the right one, it will be 
put square afterwards. It's like getting a pair of 
boots from the ship's steward; if you get the 


wrong pair, it's rectified afterwards, you don't 
argue about it at the time." 

On the following day we went to Windsor. 
We were assembled in the centre of a large 
quadrangle, and when everything was ready Queen 
Victoria came out and made a short speech. The 
clearness and carrying power of Her Majesty's 
voice was perfectly wonderful ; we all heard every 
word, and the public who were on the other side 
of the quadrangle could also hear. At the con- 
clusion of the speech we all filed by and received 
our medals. 



H.M.S. Excellent again King George's Gunnery Course Improve- 
ments in Big Gun Targets Service on H.M.S. Duke of Edinburgh 
Making Ships look Pretty Duke of Edinburgh's Interest in 
Gunnery Invention of a Signalling Lamp How the Admiralty 
treated it Sinking of H.M.S. Sultan A Unique Salvage Opera- 
tionBack to Whale Island A Prophecy fulfilled How a 
Cricket Pitch converted the Admiralty Convict Labour A 
Committee on Naval Uniform A Naval Barnum How the Royal 
Naval Fund was instituted Farewell to Whale Island. 

IN 1883 I was appointed to H.M.S. Cambridge, 
the School of Gunnery at Devonport. After 
serving there six months, I was transferred to 
H.M.S. Excellent, the Senior Gunnery School at 
Portsmouth. Shortly after I arrived, I was told 
that my idea of converting Whale Island into a 
Gunnery School was well-known, and that it was 
quite impossible ; a mud-heap the island had been 
and a mud-heap it must remain. 

This was not very encouraging, but I made 
out a plan, showing barrack accommodation, with 
all the necessary gun batteries and instruction 
rooms, and laid it before Captain John Fisher 
(now Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilver- 
stone) who, after going most carefully into every 
detail, took it to the Admiralty, and not only was 
the conversion of Whale Island into a Gunnery 



School accepted, but it was decided to begin the 
work at once. 

In 1885, King George V., as a Sub-Lieutenant, 
joined the Excellent , to qualify in gunnery, and 
I was appointed as his governor. His Majesty 
passed most satisfactory examinations and dis- 
played extraordinary proficiency as a rifle shot. 

During the three years (1883 to 1886) that 
Captain Fisher commanded the Excellent, great 
strides were made in the introduction of breech- 
loading and machine guns. An experimental 
staff, which was much wanted, was brought into 
existence, and the heavy-gun prize firing of the 
Fleet was changed. Heretofore, ships had used 
as a target a cask with a flag on it, and points 
were awarded according to how much over or 
short some one judged the misses to be. In 
1884, Lieutenant Randolf Foote (later on an 
Admiral), the Senior Lieutenant of the Excellent, 
proposed that a large canvas target should be 
used, and that only shots actually striking the 
target should be counted. The firing ship was 
to steam along a marked-out base line at a 
known range. This proposal was adopted and 
remained in force for twenty-one years. In those 
days of the Excellent there was constant friction 
between the Commander and First Lieutenant. 
The Commander wanted to employ the men in 
painting and housemaiding the ship; the First 
Lieutenant wanted them employed in learning 
gunnery, the raison d'etre of the men's presence 
in the ship. 

In 1886 I was promoted to Commander, 
and shortly afterwards joined H.M.S. Duke of 



Edinburgh , the most modern turret ship of that 
time. With the co-operation of Lieutenant Peirse, 
a very smart gunnery officer (afterwards Admiral 
Sir R H. Peirse, K.C.B., M.V.O.), I started 
training the officers and men in hitting the target, 
using miniature rifles in the bores of the big guns, 
and introduced many other appliances that are in 
use to-day. But the innovation was not liked 
we were twenty years ahead of the times, and in 
the end we had to do as others were doing. So 
we gave up instruction in gunnery, spent money 
on enamel paint, burnished up every bit of steel 
on board, and soon got the reputation of being 
a very smart ship. She was certainly very nice in 
appearance. The nuts of all the bolts on the aft 
deck were gilded, the magazine keys were electro- 
plated, and statues of Mercury surmounted the 
revolver racks. In short, nothing was left undone 
to insure a good inspection. 

In those days it was customary for a Com- 
mander to spend half his pay, or more, in buying 
paint to adorn H.M. ships, and it was the only 
road to promotion. A ship had to look pretty ; 
prettiness was necessary to promotion, and as the 
Admiralty did not supply sufficient paint or 
cleaning material for keeping the ship up to the 
required standard, the officers had to find the 
money for buying the necessary housemaiding 
material. The prettiest ship I have ever seen was 
the Alexandria. I was informed that 2000 had 
been spent by the officers on her decoration. 

In these circumstances it was no wonder that 
the guns were not fired if it could be avoided, for 
the powder then used had a most deleterious 



(Decks were wetted, then sanded, and bluejackets rubbed them with stones.) 

[To face page 60. 


effect on the paintwork, and one Commander who 
had his whole ship enamelled told me that it cost 
him 100 to repaint her after target practice. 
Fortunately, target practice could easily be avoided ; 
Admirals seldom asked any questions about it, as 
their ships were generally the worst offenders. 

The Duke of Edinburgh, who was then Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean, was an 
exception to the general rule, and took a great 
interest in gunnery ; but in the conditions then 
prevailing absence of competition, no encourage- 
ment from the Admiralty, and the general impres- 
sion in the Fleet that gunnery was of no importance 
it was impossible to improve matters. 

As a Commander-in- Chief, the Duke of Edin- 
burgh had, in my humble opinion, no equal. He 
handled a Fleet magnificently, and introduced 
many improvements in signals and manoeuvring. 
At this period, when the Admiral wished to make 
a signal at night to all the ships, about half a 
dozen operators had to be employed making the 
signal in different directions, so that all the ships 
could see it. Even then it was difficult, as the 
signalling lamp got mixed up with the other lights 
in the ship. 

It occurred to me that if we could put a light 
on the top of the mast the ships all round would 
see it, and that the difficulty of its being confused 
with other lamps would be removed. Accordingly 
I had a lamp made with a screen which we could 
pull up and down by means of a wire, and so make 
flashing signals. The Duke of Edinburgh adopted 
it in his flagship, and many other ships copied it. 

This lamp had an interesting career, extending 


over many years. The authorities saw the utility 
of it, but did not wish to adopt it whether or not 
because it was my invention is a matter on which 
I will offer no opinion. So they turned it upside 
down, christened it the " Gravity Lamp," and 
introduced it for use in the Navy as their own 

As soon as it came into general use, this lamp 
proved a failure, as the shade, by its own weight, 
would not cut off the light quickly enough, and 
frequently would not fall at all. By way of 
obviating the difficulty they put springs on the 
top of it, but discovered there was insufficient 
room for them. Finally, after years of trial and 
waste of money, they were compelled to adopt my 
original suggestion, and a lamp of this description 
is still used by the British and other Navies of the 

The only interesting and instructive event that 
took place during the Edinburgh's commission was 
the salvage of H.M.S. Sultan, one of our finest 
ships. She was practically raised by a French 
engineer with a staff of twelve men, and his method 
of raising her, novel at the time, is now recognised 
and used by all salvage companies. 

It was on the 6th March, 1889, that H.M.S. 
Sultan, while practising firing torpedoes, struck on 
a rock in the Comino Channel. Every endeavour 
to tow her off failed, and seven days afterwards, 
during a northerly gale, she was washed off the 
rock and sank in 42 feet of water. An examination 
of the hull of the vessel by divers, revealed that 
the damages sustained were so excessive that all 
hope of getting her up was abandoned. The 


Admiralty offered 50,000 to any one who would 
raise her and bring her into Malta Harbour, but 
the representatives of two or three firms who 
had a look at her agreed in regarding the task 
as impossible. 

Two months later, a French engineer, named 
Chambon, who was employed in the Corinth Canal, 
paid her a visit and, to the surprise of every one, 
expressed an opinion that she could be raised quite 
easily. A contract was at once made with the 
Admiralty by which they were to pay 50,000 if 
the Sultan was in Malta Harbour before the end of 
the year. 

Speculation was rife as to how many men-of- 
war M. Chambon would require to assist him, and 
how much plant he would bring. He required no 
help, and arrived in a tiny steamer called the 
Utile, with a total crew of twelve, six of whom 
were divers. The only plant he brought was brains. 

He started his work on the 24th June by 
cautiously blasting away such rocks as were too 
close to the ship's side to enable the work to be 
undertaken on the holes that had been discovered. 
The task of closing up the larger fractures in the 
ship's bottom was then begun, and one by one the 
holes were sealed up in the following ingenious 

From templates taken by the divers of the 
curvature of the ship's bottom in the vicinity of 
the hole, a wooden frame was prepared. This was 
sent down, and the divers secured it round the 
hole. Across this frame planks were nailed, and 
as each plank was put in its place, the space 
between it and the plating was filled in with a 


mixture of bricks, mortar, and cement, and thus 
a solid sheathing was formed over the hole. 

The excellence of this work can be seen from 
the pictures on the opposite page ; it was a master- 
piece of diving skill. Meanwhile the work of 
making watertight the upper deck, including 
hatchways, ports, and ventilators, was proceeded 
with, and the various pumps put on board by the 
dockyard were got ready for pumping her out. 

At the end of a month, on the 27th July, all 
the holes were sealed up, the pumps were started, 
and the ship was lifted. Unfortunately a gale of 
wind sprang up. The Sultan sank again, and, in 
striking the bottom, did more damage to the hull. 
This disheartening occurrence only strengthened 
M. Chambon's indomitable energy. Directly the 
weather moderated, the divers went down, repaired 
the hull, and on the 17th August the pumps were 
started and the Sultan floated. 

Then followed catastrophe number two. While 
she was being moved, the ship was caught by the 
current, and knocked up against a rock, displacing 
a patch. She filled, and sank for the third time. 

The reports of the divers as to the extent of 
the damage done by this third sinking were very 
discouraging ; but nothing would deter M. Cham- 
bon from completing his work. Renewed energy 
was put into it, and, nine days afterwards, on the 
26th August, the Sultan was up again and towed 
into Malta Harbour. I was in charge of a large 
party of men from the Edinburgh to assist in 
docking and clearing her. 

The ship must have been splendidly built. 
After sinking three times and being on the bottom 



for six months, she showed no signs of structural 
weakness. As the water was pumped out, we 
turned the engines and trained the guns, which 
showed that she was not out of line. In a month 
or two she steamed home. 

At the Fleet Regatta we took the first prize 
very easily with a boat which had been converted 
into a model of our own ship. She steamed about 
and fired her guns in a way that must have been 
astonishing to the spectators who were not in the 
secret of her internal economy. The method of 
her working was this. Six men were employed in 
turning crank handles, which revolved the screw 
and sent the vessel ahead at a good speed. The 
Captain steered her from forward with his head in 
the pilot tower, and one man was allotted to each 
turret, training it round and firing the guns, which 
consisted of rifles in a tube. In the funnel was a 
small fire to give her the appearance of being under 
steam. Vessels similar to this one were used three 
years afterwards at the Royal Naval Exhibition, 
and twenty-five years afterwards, during the War, 
I was asked to construct a dummy fleet. 

My two years and six months in the Edinburgh 
was a most enjoyable time quite a yachting trip. 
We visited all the places of interest in the Mediter- 
ranean during the summer and spent most of the 
winter at Malta. Sometimes we went away for a 
shooting trip, and had excellent sport, I remember 
that one day at Patras four guns got three 
hundred he^i. 

In February, 1890, I was obliged to say good- 
bye to this most comfortable ship and her charming 
officers. The Admiralty had taken the barracks at 


Whale Island seriously in hand, and I was appointed 
Commander of H.M.S. Excellent, to superintend 
the bricks and mortar. 

I found that my original plan for this island 
had been much departed from. Instead of the 
crescent right round the north side, a lot of 
detached blocks were being built, and placed in 
such a manner as to make expansion difficult. 

Things generally were in rather a confused 
state. As the Excellent would not hold all the 
men, part of them had been sent to Whale Island 
and part to a ship in the harbour. This was very 
unsatisfactory, both for instruction and for dis- 
cipline, and I persuaded the Captain (Captain 
Pearson) to transfer every one to Whale Island. 
Thus was fulfilled the prophecy I had made twelve 
years before, that Mud Island would become the 
Gunnery School of the Navy. We said good-bye 
to the old ship that had served as a Gunnery 
School for thirty-two years, and as she was eighty- 
one years old it was time that she went. 

The architectural aspect of Whale Island was 
peculiar. Although many buildings had been 
erected and many were in process of construction, 
no attempt had been made to deal with the problem 
of road-making, levelling and draining. To have 
suggested such a scheme to the Admiralty would 
have meant stopping it for ever, so I went to work 
differently. By sending round a subscription list 
to the Navy I got enough money to make a 
thoroughly good cricket pitch in the centre of the 
island. It was well drained and chalked under, 
and stood out in wonderful contrast to the 
quagmire of mud and dirt surrounding it. 


Shortly after the completion of this pitch, their 
Lordships, the Commissioners of the Admiralty, 
visited the Island. I took them across to the 
pitch ; they walked to it up to their ankles in mud, 
and orders were promptly given for the island to 
be drained and levelled. With the aid of four 
hundred convicts the work proceeded very rapidly. 

As my particular business was to attend to the 
constructive works in progress at the time, and as 
most of it was being done by this class of labour, I 
had a good deal to do with the convicts. Those 
employed at the island were all men under a long 
sentence of imprisonment. Some were what the 
chief warder called "lifers," but the majority of 
them had committed no great crime, their fate 
being rather due to their parentage and early 
environment than to their own actions. They had 
not committed a burglary or attempted murder 
they had not it in them to do so ; they were there 
for an accumulation of thefts, most of them having 
been brought up to thieve. Their minds were 
wrong and their constitutions bad, and it was 
probably only being in prison that saved them 
from dying. To have put them into a lethal 
chamber would have been far better for the 
majority of them, and for the State. 

The four hundred convicts working on Whale 
Island were divided into gangs of twenty-five each, 
and each gang was supervised by a warder equipped 
with a sword and a whistle. In addition there 
were about twelve outlying sentries with rifles. 

The convicts worked with spades, shovels, crow- 
bars, heavy hammers, and all sorts of tools with 
which they could attack a warder, and I asked the 


principal warder one day why the warders were 
so seldom attacked, surrounded as they were by 
men who could fell them at any moment. His 
reply was to this effect : " Our safety is in their 
blackguardism. An old convict knows that it is 
no use attacking a warder. If he kills him he will 
be hanged; if he even hurts him he will be 
severely punished. The ' old 'un ' knows what 
to do. He eggs on the novice to attack a warder 
and agrees to support him in an attack. The 
novice, falling into the trap, attacks a warder, 
whereupon the ' old 'un ' downs him with his 
spade and thereby gets a remission of his sentence. 
That is the reason why we are so very seldom 

Convicts on the island were employed in every 
description of work as builders, carpenters and 
blacksmiths, in making roads, erecting targets, 
draining, levelling and railway work. Their work 
was slow, but wonderfully good, and it was sur- 
prising what interest they took in it. The principal 
warder frequently pointed out to me how much 
superior his men's work was to that of the con- 

Among the convicts were several well-educated 
gentlemen of all professions, the Church not being 
excepted. There was no lack of ability, and there 
was even competition between the gangs in carry- 
ing out their task ; the self- constituted leaders of 
each gang made the remainder do their work well. 

In 1880, during my period of service at Whale 
Island, thle Prince of Wales called the attention 
of the Admiralty to the state of naval uniform. 
The officers were practically wearing what they 


liked, and the regulations had not been revised for 
many years. A committee was formed consisting 
of the Duke of Edinburgh, Captain H. Boyes, and 
myself, and I had to go up to London three days 
a week to attend these deliberations, to the great 
interruption of my work as Commander of the 
Excellent. Interminable arguments went on in 
the Navy as to what uniforms should be done away 
with and what retained. We took the opinions of 
an enormous number of officers, and fads and 
fancies of all sorts were put before us. 

Ultimately a very concise book of regulations 
was drawn up, with copious illustrations, giving 
the exact shape and dimensions of every article of 
a naval officer's uniform. H.R.H. wanted pictures 
of everything for, as he wisely said, they convey 
much more than writing. The book has now been 
in existence for twenty-three years. Very few 
changes have since been found necessary, and we 
no longer see naval officers in the various fancy 
dresses in which they used to appear before the 
committee's report. 

In the following year, although I was very busy 
in getting the new Gunnery School into order, I 
was again called upon to act in a " side show." 

A certain number of philanthropic gentlemen 
wished to raise a fund to assist the widows and 
orphans and other dependent relatives of seamen 
who had lost their lives in the service of their 
country. A very strong committee was formed, 
with the Prince of Wales and the Duke of 
Edinburgh as patrons, and it was decided to hold 
a Naval Exhibition in London. I was put on the 
committee and asked to suggest some novelties 


that would draw the people. 1 was to be a sort of 
" Barnum." 

The committee accepted my proposal to bring 
150 men up from the Excellent, and give a field 
gun display, such as is seen every year now at the 
Naval and Military Tournament. My second 
proposal was to build a lake for the purpose of a 
mimic naval battle, using vessels of the same 
description as that I made in H.M.S. Edinburgh, 
as described on page 66. 

This proposal met with a lot of opposition, as 
the lake and surrounding stands were to cost over 
2000. The Duke of Edinburgh came to the 
rescue, however, pointing out that the novelty of 
a naval fight on the water was sure to prove 
attractive, and that with stand accommodation for 
500, and two daily performances, the exhibition 
might reap a profit of more than 100 per day. 
The scheme was then agreed to. 

Lieutenant Lionel Wells, of H.M.S. Fernon, 
greatly assisted me and introduced many new 
features of naval warfare, including the firing of 
a Whitehead torpedo. In the end it was found 
the lake had well paid for itself and had made 
more money than any other section. The exhibi- 
tion indeed was a great success, and I believe had 
a balance of 50,000 after paying all expenses. 
This money was invested and the interest derived 
from it is to this day used to afford assistance to 
widows. The fund is called the Royal Naval Fund, 
and the patron is H.M. the King, 

In 1882 great strides were made in perfecting 
Whale Island as a barracks, but its efficiency as a 
School of Gunnery advanced but slowly. For bricks 


and mortar there was plenty of money, but none 
was ever forthcoming for providing us with the 
necessary guns and ammunition for instruction. 
Consequently the training of the officers and men, 
for which the establishment existed, was not what 
it ought to have been, though we did our best 
with what material we could get. All our firing 
was carried out at a cask with a flag on it, and the 
qualification of the men's shooting was assessed on 
where the misses went. In the Fleet at sea no 
progress had been made in shooting with heavy 
guns ; the appearance of the ships and the state 
of their paintwork still remained the prime 

My time as Commander came to an end in 
January, 1893, when I was promoted to Captain. 
Three years of my career in the Navy had been 
spent in striving to make Whale Island efficient in 
barracks, comfort and discipline. I should add that 
as all new appliances for naval warfare came to 
Whale Island for trial, I was able to keep myself 
up to date in gunnery matters, and then I was 
appointed to the Ordnance Committee, on which 
I served until 1896. 



In the Mediterranean again Condition of Gunnery and Signalling 
Revolutionising Night Signalling The Admiralty and Inventions 
A Source of Discouragement The Boat that went Adrift The 
Scylla's Cruise Improvement in Gunnery A New Sub-calibre 
Gun and Target History of the " Dotter "Prize Firing The 
Scylla's Triumph Half-pay. 

ON the 28th May, 1896, I was appointed Captain 
of H.M.S. Scylla, a cruiser of 3400 tons, armed 
with two 6-inch and six 4 "7-inch guns, and we left 
England to join the flag of Admiral Sir Michael 
Culme Seymour, G.C.B., the Commander-in-Chief 
of the Mediterranean Fleet. 

It was six years since I had left the Mediter- 
ranean, and I expected to find great improvements 
in the routine in gunnery and in signalling. To 
my surprise everything was just as it had been ; 
no advance had been made in any way, except in 
the housemaiding of the ships. The state of the 
paintwork was the one and only idea. To be the 
cleanest ship in the Fleet was still the objective 
for every one ; nothing else mattered. 

The quarter's allowance of ammunition had to 
be expended somehow, and the custom throughout 
the Navy was to make a signal, "Spread for 
target practice expend a quarter's ammunition, 
and rejoin my flag at such and such a time." The 
ships of the Fleet radiated in all directions and got 



rid of their ammunition as quickly as they could. 
How the ammunition was expended did not matter. 
The orders to the ships were to expend a quarter's 
ammunition, and the important thing was to get 
the practice over and rejoin the flagship at the 
time specified. 

At the end of my first year in commission, 
Admiral Sir John O. Hopkins was appointed to 
command the Fleet, and I found that he had ideas 
of fleet manoeuvres, gunnery and signalling far in 
advance of any other Admiral with whom I had 

Night signalling had very little improved since 
I was in H.M.S. Edinburgh, and though a lamp 
on the truck had been introduced into the Navy, 
it was too slow to be of much use. I found that 
all the signalmen on board H.M.S. Scylla except 
one, the yeoman, G. H. Glover, were quite un- 
reliable in the work of taking in signals at night ; 
and in October I put all the signalmen under 
instruction. By day they were exercised with a 
small venetian-blind shutter, which made the 
shorts and longs of the Morse code, and by night 
with the truck flashing lamp. The venetian-blind 
idea was new, so the Admiralty " turned it down." 
During the War twenty-six years afterwards, in 
1917, it was resurrected and found to be very 
useful ; it was also used horizontally for com- 
municating with aeroplanes. 

Reading 90 groups of five letters each, a total 
of 450 letters, was rather a severe exercise. At 
first we had to make it very slowly, and even then 
there was a high percentage of mistakes. But 
after two months' instruction the men were perfect. 


They could read the 450 letters at almost telegraphic 
speed, and their superiority over the other ships of 
the Fleet was so marked that the Commander-in- 
Chief called upon me to report : 

(1) What steps I had taken to instruct the 

signalmen of H.M.S. Scylla in night 

(2) To make any suggestions I could as regards 

improving the instruction of the signalmen 
of the Squadron. 

(3) What apparatus I had used to bring about 

such phenomenal results. 

I drew up a full report on these points and the 
Commander-in-Chief ordered the system of instruc- 
tion to be adopted by the Mediterranean Squadron. 
The energetic Flag Lieutenant (now Capt. H. G. 
Sandiman) used to exercise the Fleet every night ; 
competition was introduced and prizes were given 
for special efficiency. In a very short time the 
night signalling of the Squadron was completely 
revolutionised ; it was found to be quicker and 
more reliable than day signalling. 

On the 17th September, 1898, the Flag Lieu- 
tenant sent in the following report : 

"H.M.S. Ramillies, Malta, 

" 17th September, 1898. 

" Sir, 

" I have the honour to bring to your notice 
that the present appliances supplied to H.M. 
Navy for signalling at night are inadequate and 

" I. The Truck Lamp. 
" Captain Percy Scott has invented an 
electric truck flashing lantern which fulfils all 



requirements. The lantern consists of a lamp 
surrounded by a series of slats as in a Venetian 
blind ; when the operator presses a key these 
slats turn radially to the light and so expose it ; 
when he releases the key the light is obscured. 

" These lamps have undergone a very severe 
trial of from eighteen months to two years ; 
they have proved themselves reliable, have been 
used for general work, and all the night signal 
exercises ; I attribute the high degree of accuracy 
in night signals which the Squadron has arrived 
at mainly to the fact of being able to exercise 
the signalmen with a lamp which makes true 
Morse at any rate of speed, 



" II. Colomb's Flashing Lamp. 
This lamp is rarely used 


its present 
form, on account of the following defects in it. 

(1) The obscuration is incomplete. 

(2) The travel of the shade is too long. 


[To face page 76. 


(3) The handle is inconveniently placed and 
after a time gets too hot to hold. 

" Captain Scott has invented a shutter to 
overcome these defects ; it is worked by a suit- 
able side lever, can be easily fitted to the 
existing lanterns, and answers all requirements. 

"III. Flashing Arrangements for Searchlight. 

66 The obscuring disc supplied by the Service 
is a most clumsy and unreliable contrivance. 
The disc itself shuts off very little light. It 
frequently carries away owing to excessive 
heat ; the method of working it is irksome, the 
lever being too high up, on the wrong side of 
the projector, moving in a wrong direction, with 
too long a beat. 

" In fact everything that can be wrong is 

"Captain Scott has invented a shutter 1 which 
is placed in front of the lens ; it is worked by a 
handle on the right, moving at a short beat and 
in a suitable direction. It is a pleasure to 
make Morse with it. Three have been on trial. 
" In conclusion I would submit that the 
following, which have been thoroughly tried, 
be adopted in H.M. Service : 

i. Captain Scott's cylinder lamp for use 
on the truck and at each end of the 

ii. Captain Scott's shutter for existing 
service lanterns, with alternative fitting 
for oil or electric light, 
iii. A flashing arrangement for searchlight 
on the same principle as Captain Scott's 
shutter. 1 

1 This machine was used by every ship of the Fleet during the 
War, for signalling both by day or by night. 


" In view also of what I consider to be the 
satisfactory state of the signalling of the 
Squadron here, I submit that the scheme of 
instruction and instruments which have brought 
it about may be generally adopted in the 

" The scheme was submitted to you by 
Captain Scott early in 1897, and has been in 
use ever since. 


" Flag Lieutenant." 

Important as the suggestions were it was many 
years before they were acted on, and during that 
time the appliance supplied to H.M. Navy for 
signalling at night remained, in the Flag Lieu- 
tenant's phrase, " inadequate and unsatisfactory." 

In H.M. Navy an officer is allowed to patent 
an invention, provided that he submits it to the 
Admiralty and agrees to comply with some rather 
drastic official conditions. On the 10th January, 
1899, I applied to patent some of the machines I 
had invented while in H.M.S. Scylla. Their 
Lordships, on the 15th March, 1899, replied that 
they were pleased to accede to my request, but 
they added that the fact of my holding a number 
of patents would, in their Lordships' opinion, con- 
stitute a grave objection to my being selected for 
any scientific or administrative post in H.M. 

I discussed this letter with the Commander-in- 
Chief, Sir John O. Hopkins, who had occupied 
various positions on the Board of Admiralty and 
knew their ways. He advised me, in the circum- 
stances, to withdraw my application and not to 



[To face page 78. 


send the Admiralty any more of my inventions. 
I withdrew my application, but I am sorry to say 
I did send the Admiralty some more inventions. 
They were for a long time boycotted: and the 
country lost the use of them. 

The threat conveyed to me by their Lordships 
was a distinct infraction of the King's Regulations. 
Moreover, such an attitude was most harmful to 
H.M. Navy, for it could only have the effect of 
discouraging officers from thinking out and devising 
mechanism for improving the efficiency of the 
Fleet. The faculty of inventing or devising is a 
valuable asset to the country, a fact fully demon- 
strated by the Great War. Where, for example, 
should we have been without the officers who 
conceived the idea of Q ships and many other 
ingenious devises for destroying submarines ? 

The action of their Lordships, which practically 
precluded me from patenting any of my inventions, 
was freely discussed in the Fleet and much 
criticised. The view taken was that, if the holding 
of patents was prejudicial to an officer's career, then 
officers could not patent anything, and they became, 
in fact, debarred from exercising a right which is 
otherwise common to all. 

An officer, who was a real mechanical genius, 
came to me for advice with regard to an exceed- 
ingly clever device he had invented for improving 
the efficiency of the Whitehead torpedo. He 
pointed out to me that he knew it would be boy- 
cotted if he submitted it officially, as that had 
been the fate of most of his suggestions. Finally, 
he decided to sell it to the Whitehead factory, and 
that company having adopted it, brought it into 


use at once, and H.M. Navy benefited by its 
introduction ! Such are the results of blind 
officialism ! 

In 1897, at night, during a gale of wind the 
flagship had a boat washed away, and there was 
evidence of its having been much damaged before 
it got adrift. Wood does not sink, and the remains, 
after travelling some hundreds of miles, turned up 
finally at Ajaccio in Corsica. Rather a fuss was 
made about the incident, as the discovery in the 
wrecked boat of a bluejacket's cap with the ribbon 
of H.M.S. Ramillies started a rumour that an 
attempt had been made to spy on the French 
fortress. The Commander-in-Chief sent me to 
explain matters and to bring back the remains of 
the boat. The explanation was quite satisfactory 
and the French gave me a most charming welcome. 

The acting English Consul drove me round 
and showed me all the places of interest in the 
town, and we visited the house where the great 
Napoleon was born. At the top of the street in 
which this house stands is a statue of the five sons 
of Madame -Napoleon, all kings, erected, as the 
date inscribed on it shows, sixty years after her 
death. Why, one wonders, did they not put it up 
during her lifetime ? No other woman has ever 
been the mother of five sons all of whom became 

On our return voyage to Malta, my First Lieu- 
tenant, a very able officer, named Pennant Lloyd, 
pointed out to me that the recovered boat could 
be very easily repaired by our carpenter, and that 
we badly wanted a boat for rough work. After 
this conversation I was not surprised to find that 


the boat on the following morning presented a 
much worse appearance than when we found her. 
On arrival at Malta a sort of Coroner's inquest 
took place, the president being an officer who 
afterwards became head of the London Fire 
Brigade. My First Lieutenant argued strongly 
that the boat was of no use except for firewood, 
and eventually the Board took that view and she 
was condemned to be broken up. Instead of 
breaking her up, however, we patched her up, 
and she did very useful work for a long time. 

Gunnery was a difficult problem to attack. 
There were no efficient targets, the gun sights 
were bad, and the expenditure of ammunition had 
to be carried out at stated times and under con- 
ditions that afforded little scope for instruction. 
Our sub-calibre gun was inaccurate and of very 
little use for instructing the men. However truly 
a man might lay his gun with it, the shot would 
not necessarily hit the mark. 

In such circumstances it was very difficult to 
make any progress in rapid hitting. In 1897 and 
1898 we complied with the general rules as to drill 
and the expenditure of the quarterly allowance of 
ammunition, and we carried out our prize firings 
with very poor results. 

In 1898 I was ordered to go for a cruise to 
Crete and various places, and as the order meant 
that I should be away from the Fleet for some 
time, the Commander-in- Chief, Sir John Hopkins, 
gave me permission to carry out any changes in 
gunnery which I considered might improve the 
shooting of the Scylla. 

In Chapter II. I mentioned the three difficulties 


that the firer had to contend with. No. 3 had 
disappeared, as a lateral correction had been added 
to all gun sights. I therefore had to overcome 
only the optical difficulty, and the necessity of 
waiting for the ship to roll the alignment on. 
Using a telescope as a gun sight would remove 
the optical difficulties. It would give the firer 
only one point to align on the target instead of 
two ; he would be able to see the target more 
distinctly, and he could adjust the focus of the 
telescope to meet any imperfection of his eye. 

To alter the existing gun sight was not difficult. 
We simply pivoted a bar carrying a telescope on 
the fore sight and allowed it to rest on the rear 
sight. We experimented with this, using the one- 
inch Admiralty pattern sub-calibre gun, and ob- 
tained very bad results, which the men attributed 
to the telescope. This threw me back a great deal, 
as it w r as difficult to convince them that the fault 
rested with the sub-calibre gun and not with the 

Opposite to Candia in Crete was an uninhabited 
island which we made use of for many purposes. 
I took the sub-calibre gun there, mounted it on 
a rigid platform, and fired at a target. The eleva- 
tion being the same for every round, all the shots 
should have gone in approximately the same spot, 
instead of which they went all over the place. 
This demonstration proved to the men that their 
erratic shooting was due to the gun and not to the 
telescope sight, and thus restored confidence in the 
gun sight. The one-inch sub-calibre gun supplied 
by the Admiralty for instructional purposes only 
we condemned as worse than useless. It was 






relegated to the storeroom and never appeared 

Something had to be made to take its place. 
The conditions which I wanted the new sub-calibre 
gun to fulfil were 

(1) It should shoot straight. 

(2) The same trigger that fired the gun should 
fire the sub-calibre. 

(3) It should be capable of loading and firing 
with great rapidity. 

To meet these requirements I had a disc made 
to fit into the breach of the gun. In the centre of 
it was fixed a rifle, the fore end of the barrel having 
a cone-piece on it fitting into the bore of the gun. 
An armature was attached to the rifle trigger and 
an electro-magnet placed opposite to it, the wires 
therefrom being taken to the trigger of the gun. 


We thus had an accurately shooting rifle rigidly 
fixed in the bore of the gun, and capable of being 
fired by the ordinary gun mechanism. It was 
brought into use for instructional purposes on 
board the Scylla, and proved to be a great success. 
Photographs and drawings of this sub-calibre rifle 


were sent to the Admiralty in 1898, but they 
declined to adopt it. Had they done so the Navy 
would have had an efficient instructional weapon 
and the country would have been saved 40,000 
a year in ammunition, the relative prices of the 
cartridges of the one-inch and the Lee-Metford 
being, one-inch, 110 per 1000, and Lee-Metford, 
4 per 1000. This rifle was generally adopted 
in the Navy seven years afterwards. This delay 
caused a waste of the country's money to the 
extent of half a million sterling, and very much 
retarded our progress in gunnery. Readers with 
technical knowledge will ask why, if better results 
were obtained from ammunition costing 4 per 
1000 than from ammunition costing 110 per 1000, 
was the suggestion not adopted ? The answer is, 
that in Government offices they do not like sug- 
gestions coming from outside which could have 
originated in the office itself. It was the same 
with all my proposals. They were all boycotted, 
because the people mostly my juniors in age, 
and with far less experience dealt with these 
matters at the Admiralty, and felt aggrieved that 
the suggestions had not emanated from themselves. 
The accuracy obtained with this rifle in com- 
bination with the telescope sight was marvellous, 
but a difficulty cropped up. According to the 
Admiralty drill the man who pointed the gun was 
to adjust his sight ; that is, raise or lower it accord- 
ing to where his shot went. But when using a 
telescope the man had one eye at the telescope and 
the other one shut, so he could not possibly adjust 
the sight. To meet this difficulty I increased the 
gun's crew by one man, whose duty was to raise 


or lower the sight according to the orders of the 
pointer. He was called the " sight-setter." The 
Admiralty hauled me over the coals for the inno- 
vation, but four years afterwards a sight-setter was 
allowed to every gun in the Navy. 

Our next trouble was that we had no towing 
target the Admiralty did not supply one. What 
was required was a target that could be towed 
rapidly past the ship, so as to exercise the men in 
following it, and teach them to adjust their gun 
sights in accordance with the speed of their own 
ship and the speed of the target. Accordingly I 
had a box made about 12 feet long and 9 inches in 
section. It was filled with cork so as not to sink 
when struck with bullets, it carried a flag, and a 
keel was added underneath to keep the flag-staff 
vertical, It would tow at very high speed, and 
answered our purpose in every way, and we prac- 
tised at it whenever we could get an opportunity. 1 

The next problem to solve was the provision of 
a target at which to fire Service ammunition. The 
target supplied by the Admiralty for the purpose 
was of no use. It consisted of a triangular base 
with a mast at each angle, and was canvassed all 

If you hit it the canvas behind made the hole 
invisible, and it was no use trying to teach the 
men to shoot if they could not see whether they 
were hitting or not. So I made a new target, 2 
consisting simply of boards separated by iron rods, 
two masts and a sail 6 feet by 6 feet. When this 

1 Though much required in the Navy, the Admiralty would not 
adopt it. 

2 The Admiralty would not adopt it for six years. Then it came 
into general use and is in use to this day. 


target was hit the hole made by the shot could 
easily be seen. 

With our telescope sight and efficient sub- 
calibre gun, we fired thousands of rounds, and the 
accuracy of aim went ahead by leaps and bounds. 
One day, when there was a considerable swell and 
the ship was rolling, we carried out some practice, 
and the results were shocking, The firing was 
very slow and, with the exception of one man, no 
one put his shot anywhere near the target. 

I watched this one man very carefully during 
his firing, and saw that he could work his elevating 
wheel with such dexterity and speed as to keep 
his sight steady on the target notwithstanding the 
rolling of the ship. 

What one man could do intuitively the others 
could be taught to do, but inasmuch as the ship 
did not always roll, the difficulty was to find out 
how to teach them. For some days I was at a 
loss how to solve this final problem. It was a 
serious one, for had we met an enemy in a seaway 
our shooting would have been shockingly bad. 
One man had demonstrated that in him, whatever 
the cause might be (he had just had seven days 
cells), there existed a union between his eye look- 
ing through the telescope and his hand on the 
elevating wheel which enabled him to work that 
wheel in the right direction and at exactly the 
correct speed to compensate for the roll of the 
ship. How to make the other men like him ? 
Fortunately it occurred to me that I could design 
a contrivance with a target moving up and down 
at about the same rate as a ship rolls, and compel 
the pointer to manipulate his elevating wheel quick 


enough to follow it. This contrivance was made, 
and the men christened it the " Dotter." 

A description of the arrangement may be of 
interest. On a vertical board, opposite to the 
muzzle of the gun, was a metal frame which, by 
means of rollers and a handle, could be moved up 
and down at either a slow or a fast rate. On this 
frame was painted a bull's-eye, and beside it was a 
card with a line drawn upon it. On the face of 
the board, and moved either up or down by the 
muzzle of the gun, was a carrier containing a 
pencil. When the men under instruction pressed 
the trigger of the gun the pencil, actuated by an 
electrical contrivance, made a dot on the card, and 
the pencil at the same time moved a space to the 
right. If the gun was truly pointed at the bull's- 
eye at the moment of firing, the dot would be in 
line with the bull's-eye. If the gun was not truly 
pointed, the amount of error was indicated on the 

At this machine the men were given constant 
practice, and in a very short time they were able 
to follow the target up and down with remarkable 
accuracy. In other words they had all learned to 
do what the one man had done intuitively. 

The next time we went out firing there 
was a considerable roll, but it made no differ- 
ence to the men, whose shooting was admirable, 
a fact which I attribute entirely to their course of 
instruction at the " Dotter." We had got rid 
of the second difficulty which I have referred to 
on page 82. 

On the 2nd September, 1898, I wrote to Sir 
John Hopkins, thanking him for the great assistance 


he had given me in my endeavours to improve 
the gunnery of H.M.S. Scylla, and I pointed out 
that in our recent practices our shooting, owing to 
the "Dotter," had so improved that at the next 
prize firing I anticipated making seventy or eighty 
per cent, of hits. 

On the 26th May, 1899, we carried out our 
prize firing. At that time independent umpires 
were not considered necessary, but I took out 
three with me, Captain R. B. Farquhar, of H.M.S. 
Nymphe, and two lieutenants from H.M.S. Illus- 
trious. The six 4*7 guns fired seventy rounds and 
made fifty-six hits, which was exactly eighty per 
cent., and placed the little cruiser Scylla at the top 
of the Navy in heavy-gun shooting, and made a 
record that had never been approached before. 
H.M.S. Scylla also won the Mediterranean Chal- 
lenge Cup for rifle shooting. 

It was strange that although every station en- 
couraged rifle shooting and had a challenge cup 
for the best ship, on no station was a cup or 
reward of any sort offered for the ship making the 
most hits in heavy-gun shooting. Sir John 
Hopkins, in December, 1888, offered to present a 
cup, and I drew out a scale of points and regula- 
tions for the competition. But he met with too 
much opposition from the senior officers in the 
Fleet to carry it through, and, unfortunately for the 
Navy, his time as Commander-in-Chief was nearly 
expiring. Had he remained a little longer on the 
station, I feel sure that we should have seen intro- 
duced under his command all the improvements in 
gunnery for which we had to wait six long years. 

On my return to England in June, 1899, I 



[To face page 88. 


explained and submitted drawings to the Admiralty 
of the " Dotter," and it went through the ordinary 
Admiralty procedure. As in the case of my 
flashing lamp, they tried to improve on it. On the 
15th January, 1901, their Lordships wrote to the 
Commander-in-Chief China Station: "Trials are 
being carried out with an improved pattern of 
Captain Scott's apparatus with a view of its intro- 
duction and supply to the Service." In December, 
1902, I saw the official pattern. All the "im- 
proved " dotters had to be altered at great 
expense, and we had lost three years of instruction 
with the apparatus. Fifteen years after this the 
Admiralty did the same thing in war-time with the 
depth charge. An efficient pattern was submitted 
to them, but a year was lost of its use because they 
wanted to improve on it, 

After paying off H.M.S. Scylla I was for a few 
months on half-pay. What a shocking injustice is 
half-pay to the officers of the Navy ! For instance, 
a captain, fifty years old, after thirty-five years of 
service in the Navy, with probably a wife and 
family, received 4 7s. 6d. a week, less income tax 
not the wage of a decent mechanic or hard- 
working miner. 1 

1 In July, 1919, this old injustice was at last remedied. 



In Command of H.M.S. Terrible State of the Ship's Gunnery Useless 
Appliances Making Good Defects Arrival at the Cape The 
South African War Deficiency in Long-Range Guns Mounting 
Naval Guns for Service Ashore Why the 4*7 Guns were sent to 
Ladysmith Admiral Sir Robert Harris's Statements A Recital 
of the Facts How the Mountings were turned out The Value 
of the 12-pounders I am appointed Military Commandant of 
Durban Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig-Holstein A Keen 
Soldier Assistance in the Defence of Durban General Buller's 
Visit The Man-hauled 47 An Effective Object Lesson Com- 
munication with Ladysmith Mounting the Terrible's Searchlight 
Ashore Successful Signalling. 

AFTER a few months' leave I was sent for by 
Mr. Goschen, the First Lord of the Admiralty, 
and informed that I should be appointed to H.M.S. 
Terrible and proceed, via the Suez Canal, to China, 
where I should meet H.M.S. Powerful, a sister 
ship, which we were to relieve. The Terrible was 
what was known as a protected cruiser and the 
largest of her type in the Navy, displacing 14,440 
tons. She had attained a speed of 22-41 knots on 
a four hours' trial, which was regarded as a won- 
derful achievement. The Terrible mounted two 
9*2-inch and twelve 6-inch guns. 1 

I did not much like the appointment, as I felt 
sure that we should have war in South Africa, and 

1 Later on in 1903 four more 6-inch guns were added. 


I hoped to get there somehow or other. The First 
Lord declined to let me go out via the Cape, as all 
the arrangements for both ships coaling at Port 
Said had been made. 

During the ensuing days, our relations with the 
Transvaal Republic became still more strained, and 
I made another application to go out via the Cape, 
only to meet with a second refusal. It annoyed 
me, as it seemed such a reasonable thing for the 
two ships to be heading for the part of the world 
where war seemed so probable the Powerful 
having already been ordered to the Cape instead 
of going in the opposite direction. At the last 
moment something happened, and the next day, 
the 18th September, 1899, I received a telegram 
to proceed to China via the Cape of Good Hope. 
We lost no time, and left on the 19th, calling at 
Las Palmas and St. Helena for coal. 

St. Helena was in a very bad way. Few ships 
had called there, and, without any industry, the 
island had no money. But my experience of 
St. Helena is that when things are in a bad way, 
something always turns up. I wondered what the 
saving event would be this time. Six months later 
the island was a very busy spot, with four thousand 
Boer prisoners to feed and look after. 

I found the ship's company of the Terrible 
lamentably ignorant as regards gunnery, but very 
keen on learning, and very anxious to equal the 
Scylla's score, though they were rather dubious as 
to whether it had ever really been made. Eighty 
per cent, of hits looked so impossible to them in 
those days. 

No instructional apparatus was supplied by the 


Admiralty, but I took some out with rne, and 
during the passage both officers and men were kept 
busy in acquiring a knowledge of shooting, with 
all descriptions of weapons from the revolver to the 
9 '2-inch gun. 

At this time, when no interest was taken in 
ships hitting the target or not, the appliances for 
laying the guns were deplorably bad. The guns 
themselves were good, and the authorities seemed 
to think that the matter ended there, and that the 
gun sight, which is the all-important element in 
hitting, was of no consequence. 

From the fighting point of view, I made an 
inspection of H.M.S. Terrible on leaving England, 
and found that the gun sights of the 9*2 -inch guns 
were wrongly constructed and unserviceable ; that 
the gun sights of the 6-inch guns were unservice- 
able, as they could not be adjusted with sufficient 
accuracy ; and that as for the bow r guns put in for 
firing when chasing an enemy, the object of pursuit 
would be invisible through the sight, as the port 
was not large enough, and the guns could not be 
loaded for want of room to open the breech. These 
defects applied not to H.M.S. Terrible alone, but 
to every ship. 

If we met an enemy I wanted to have a chance, 
so the only thing to do was to alter these ridiculous 
contrivances supplied by the Admiralty as best we 
could. The low-power telescopes we replaced by 
others of high power, and we made the cross-wires 
by making free with the head of a midshipman who 
had marvellously fine hair. In order to be able to 
set the sight accurately for the range, I put on a 
long pointer which gave a very open reading, and 


made a new deflection arrangement so that it could 
be adjusted by a sight-setter. A very good sight 
was the result and many ships copied it. At the 
bow guns I put up a looking-glass, which enabled 
the layer to see through the other side of the port. 
The 9 "2-inch gun sights were so bad that we could 
do little with them. However, we managed to get 
them accurate for our ordinary target-practice range. 
Such defects as those enumerated arose from the 
fact that gun sights were never properly tested ; 
at the gunnery trials of the ship no aimed rounds 
were fired. In fact, very often the gun sights were 
not on board the ship. If the guns went off, the 
authorities were satisfied ; whether they could hit 
anything or not was regarded as a matter of no 

On the 14th October, 1899, we arrived at the 
Cape and learnt that the Boers had crossed our 
frontier two days before. This meant war, and 
attention had to be turned from preparing for a sea 
fight to seeing what we could do to assist the Army. 

The Boers had no navy, and it was quite im- 
possible for any Power to send a fleet out to attack 
us at the Cape. Hence the ship's guns were avail- 
able if they were required by the Army. I was 
surprised to find that the Navy had made no pro- 
vision for mounting heavy guns to cope with the 
superior artillery of the Boers. The omission was 
contrary to tradition, as the Navy has always helped 
the Army with big guns. 

Our Army had no long-range weapons, and on 
board the ship the only guns fitted on wheels for 
shore work were short 12 -pounders, which were no 
better than the Army guns. Curiously enough, 


these guns, specially supplied by the Admiralty for 
land service work, were the only guns which the 
Terrible did not use for land service. 

After being twenty-four hours at the Cape, I 
realised the seriousness of the situation. We had 
insufficient troops to resist the Boer invasion ; our 
base was 6000 miles from the scene of operations, 
and we had no artillery to cope with the enemy's, 
either in power or in range. It was the experience 
of the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny and Egypt 
over again. 

We had on board long-range 12-pounder guns, 
specially supplied for use against torpedo boats. 
They were superior in range to any field artillery 
that either we or the, Boers had in the field. It 
occurred to me that there would be no difficulty 
in mounting these guns on wheels for service on 
shore. I purchased a pair of Cape waggon wheels 
and an axle-tree, and made a sketch embodying 
my rough ideas. 

Mr. Johns, our excellent carpenter, remained 
up all night with some of his shipwrights and black- 
smiths hard at work, and in twenty-four hours we 
had this little gun ready. To make sure that 
everything was right, we fired a few rounds, and 
the mounting behaved very well. 

In a week we could have placed in the field 
fifty of these guns, and, hitched up to the tail of 
a Cape waggon which would serve as a limber for 
the ammunition, I anticipated that they could go 
anywhere, as was to be demonstrated later. 

The mounting looked rather amateurish, and I 
had great difficulty in convincing the authorities 
that it was not a toy, and a still greater difficulty 


in persuading them that long-range guns must be 
met with long-range guns. In the face of much 
obstruction I hammered away, and by the 25th 
October four were ready, and as it turned out they 
were badly wanted, for by that date Mafeking and 
Kimberley were invested, and Sir George White 
had retreated to Ladysmith and was threatened 
with investment. 

Much has been said and written about the two 
4 '7-inch naval gnns that assisted in the defence of 
Ladysmith. Replying for the Navy at a Mayoral 
banquet, Admiral Sir R. Harris, who was Com- 
mander-in-Chief at the Cape of Good Hope Station 
at the time, was reported by a newspaper to have 
said : 

" On the 25th October at 4.30 p.m., to be 
precise, a telegram came from Sir Walter Hely- 
Hutchinson, the Governor of Natal, saying that 
General Sir George White in Ladysmith found 
his guns out-ranged by the Boer guns, and he 
asked for naval guns. He (Admiral Harris) 
telegraphed to the officer commanding the line 
of communications, asking if he had mountings 
for naval guns. The reply came that he had 
not. Captain Lambton was dining with him. 
Captain Percy Scott was lying outside in the 
Terrible. He signalled to Captain Scott to see 
what he could do. Captain Scott replied : 
'Give me until 8 o'clock.' Admiral Harris 
replied : < All right, I will.' And the next day 
Captain Scott came along with his design for 
the mountings of the gun." 

In his book entitled "From Naval Cadet to 
Admiral " (1913), Admiral Sir Robert Harris makes 
the following reference to the guns : 


"On October 25th, at 1.30 p.m., the 
Governor of Natal telegraphed to me' Follow- 
ing from Sir George White October 24 : " In 
view of heavy guns being brought by General 
Joubert from the north, I would suggest that 
Navy be consulted with the view of their send- 
ing here detachments of bluejackets with guns 
firing heavy projectiles at long ranges." Very 
fully realising the urgency of Sir George White's 
position, I informed the G.O.C., Capetown that 
I would supply two 4 '7-inch guns, and asked 
him if he could supply shore mountings for 
them. This latter question I put because I 
knew that there were two 4 '7-inch guns mounted 
on the Capetown defences. On his at once 
answering in the negative, and the matter being 
too pressing for any argument, I asked the 
Gunnery Lieutenant of my flagship if he could 
design or plan shore mountings for these guns 
without any delay. He replied that he could 
not. I then at once signalled for Captain Percy 
Scott of the Terrible to come to me, and ex- 
plained to him that I wanted temporary designs 
to mount two 4 '7-inch guns on shore immedi- 
ately, or at any rate by 8 a.m. to-morrow. 
Captain Scott promptly replied ' I will have 
them ready by that time.' And he did 


These two accounts are misleading. I was not 
sent for, and, although the urgent telegram arrived 
at 4 p.m., I never heard anything of it until 9 p.m., 
and then only by pure accident. Had I known of 
the telegram earlier, Captain Lambton could have 
had four guns instead of two, and I could have 
tested the mountings, demonstrating that there 
was no need to concrete them down. 


Let me now relate what actually took place. 

On the 25th October, 1899, I read in a Cape 
evening paper that the powerful electric lights of 
Kimberley could be seen from where our troops 
were. It was obvious, therefore, that we could 
establish communication by a flashing searchlight. 
I made out a design for mounting a searchlight on 
a railway truck, and signalled to the Admiral to 
ask him if I could come and see him after dinner 
with reference to it. He replied, " Yes." I little 
thought that this visit to the Admiral, which was 
prompted by what I read in an evening paper, 
would result in getting two 47-inch guns into 
Ladysmith in the nick of time, and that, had I not 
read that local paper, Ladysmith would have had 
no artillery to keep the Boer siege guns at such a 
distance that they were unable to make accurate 

At 9 p.m. my drawings of the searchlight on a 
truck being complete, I visited the Admiral, ex- 
plained the idea, and obtained his sanction to 
proceeding with it. 

The Admiral then informed me that he had 
received an urgent telegram from Sir George 
White in Ladysmith asking if it were possible for 
the Navy to send him some long-range 4 '7-inch 
guns, but that, having consulted his experts, he 
found it was impossible to get mountings for them. 
He had, therefore, decided to send the Powerful, 
commanded by Captain the Hon. Hedworth 
Lambton, at 5 o'clock on the following day, with 
the four long-range 12-pounders which had been 
mounted by me and were ready. 

I pointed out that I could see no reason why 


Sir George White should not have the guns he 
asked for. There was no more difficulty in making 
a mounting for a 4 '7-inch gun than for a 12- 
pounder ; in fact, it was easier. To the Admiral's 
question whether I could have two ready by 5 p.m. 
on the following day, I replied that I could, if the 
Dockyard gave me every assistance. This being 
agreed to, I returned to my ship and made out a 
pencil drawing of the arrangement, which was very 

I ordered an ink copy of the drawing to be 
made for the Dockyard to work by. The task was 
entrusted to an engineer lieutenant, the copy to 
be ready by six o'clock in the morning. Owing 
to some misinterpretation of my instructions, the 
drawing had not been commenced when I called 
for it in the morning. My pencil sketch was, how- 
ever, quite good enough for the purpose, and I 
mention this incident only because it was stated in 
the Press that, although I conceived the idea of the 
mounting, the details were worked out by an 
engineer. I was further considered ungenerous for 
not mentioning in* my dispatches the assistance 
given me by this officer, and a question was 
subsequently asked in Parliament. 1 

1 House of Commons, 20th Oct., 1902. Sir William Allan asked 
the First Lord of the Admiralty if he would state who designed the 
gun carriage for the guns used in Ladysmith. 

Reply : The gun carriages for the guns used at Ladysmith were 
designed by Captain Percy Scott, and were constructed under his 
immediate supervision. 

Sir William Allan : May I ask the right hon. gentleman if he is 
aware that the gun carriage was designed hy Assistant-Engineer 
Roscrudge, and not by Captain Percy Scott ? 

The First Lord : I am quite clear that the facts are as I have stated 



In preparing the design I wished it to meet the 
following requirements : 

I. The guns must be able to turn on the plat- 
form, and fire in any direction. 
II. The platform must be sufficiently stable not 

to require concreting down. 

III. The arrangement must be such that if the 
gun was not required in one position, it 
could be quickly transferred to another. 

The first requirement I met by putting the 
baulks in the form of a cross, which gave almost 
equal stability all round, the second by using baulks 
12 feet long, and the third by leaving the nuts of 
the bolts on the top, so that the pedestal could be 
quickly unscrewed. 

The Dockyard worked well, and by 4 p.m. both 
mountings were ready. Some " know-alls " were 
quite certain that the platforms would require 
concreting down. I was certain they would not, 
but as I had not time to demonstrate this I took 
the precaution of sending with the mountings 
sixteen old 12-inch 600-lb. shot, and some chain, 
with which to anchor down, if necessary, the ends 
of the timbers. 1 

The Powerful left at 5 p.m. under full speed for 
Durban, where the guns were entrained for Lady- 
smith. Immediately on arrival the 12-pounders 
were brought into action. They opened fire at 
7000 yards on the Boer artillery, and kept it in 
check while Sir George White was withdrawing 
his own guns into the town. 

1 Nine years afterwards I visited Ladysmith, and the Mayor told 
me that no one had ever been able to solve the mystery of how these 
12-inch shot got to Ladysmith. 


In this initial action, the Gunnery Lieutenant of 
the Powerful, to whom I had given the instructions 
for mounting the 47-inch guns, was unfortunately 
killed, and the mounting of the guns fell into the 
hands of some one else, who unfortunately concreted 
them in, thereby destroying their mobility. This 
mistake may have been due to the following 
telegram sent by Admiral Sir Robert Harris : 
" I am sending in Powerful, due at Durban on 
the 29th, two 4'7-inch guns, on extemporised 
mountings. Efficient SOLID PLATFORM accommo- 
dation should be ready for them." 

The day after the Powerful left we had another 
mounting ready, and for the benefit of the wise- 
acres who had doubted its stability and thought a 
solid platform necessary, I fired the gun without 
sinking the platform into the earth at all, with the 
result that the platform did no more than jump 
slightly. To test how long it took to dismantle 
the mounting and take it to another position, we 
fired a round in one position and in half an hour 
had the gun ready for firing in another position 
100 yards away, thus demonstrating that the 
mounting fulfilled the conditions of mobility. A 
great number of these mountings were used during 
the late war. 

These platform mountings were the best I 
could do in the ten hours given me by Admiral 
Sir Robert Harris, but as our Army had no heavy 
guns at all, it was necessary to extemporise quickly 
a more mobile mounting which would move with 
troops in the field. 

It was no good preparing an elaborate design. 
I had to investigate the resources of the Dockyard, 


and see what could be made quickly. In the 
blacksmiths' shop I found some 4-inch square bar 
iron. This settled the design, which I drew on 
the door in chalk. The 4-inch bar was to be heated 
and a hole worked in it of sufficient diameter to 
receive the coned pedestal of a 4*7-inch gun mount- 
ing, the ends being then drawn down and turned 
for the wheels. In a minute the blacksmith was 
under way making it. I then went over to the 
plate shop, and found a circular piece of f-inch 
plate about 4 feet in diameter, with a hole in 
the middle of it. This was the very thing. Two 
pieces of angle-iron worked round the edge of it to 
carry a broad tyre, a brass box as a nave with a 
few pieces of angle-iron radiating, and there was 
the wheel. A wooden trail and the mounting was 
complete. The Dockyard worked splendidly, and 
in forty- eight hours we had a gun on wheels which 
in range and accuracy was better than any weapon 
which either the Boers or our Army had in the field. 1 

It was heavy, of course, but the guns on these 
mountings could always keep up with any infantry 
regiment. At Durban, later on, when time was 
not so pressing, I had another carriage made, which 
was much lighter. 

After the relief of Ladysmith, when the 
shortage of ammunition for the two 4 "7-inch guns 
became generally known, a newspaper stated that 
I was responsible for the limited amount of 
ammunition sent into Ladysmith. I will make 
it quite clear now that I was in no way responsible 
for the shortage, that I used every endeavour to 

1 Many guns were mounted on carriages similar to this one during 
the late War. 


get more ammunition for them, and that had the 
amount of ammunition which I pressed for gone 
with the guns, Ladymith would not have suffered 
as it did from the Boer bombardment. 

On the 26th October, 1899, when the platforms 
were being made at Simon's Bay, the question 
arose as to what amount of ammunition Captain 
Lambton should take with him for the two 
guns. I suggested 5000 rounds, for the following 
reasons : 

1. Simon's Bay was the base where the ammu- 
nition was kept. 

2. Plenty of ammunition was stored there. 

3. The destination of the two guns was 1000 
miles from Simon's Bay. 

Captain Lambton agreed to my proposal, but 
could not persuade Admiral Sir Robert Harris to 
let him take more than one-tenth of this amount, 
namely, 500 rounds. A 4 '7-inch gun can easily fire 
ten rounds a minute; at this rate the two guns 
could have used 500 rounds in about twenty-five 

The situation was very serious. More ammu- 
nition had to be obtained somehow, so I advised 
Captain Lambton, immediately on his arrival at 
Durban, to take ammunition out of the ships that 
were there, and say nothing to the Admiral about 
it. This he agreed to do, and I felt more com- 

On my arrival at Durban six days afterwards, 
the first question 1 asked the senior naval officer, 
Captain Bearcroft, R.N., who received me, was, 
"Did you give Lambton plenty of ammunition 
out of the ships here ? " 


He replied that Captain Lambton wired to 
him for 500 rounds, that he got it out of the ship, 
loaded it up, and had it ready to start, but he had 
been so hauled over the coals for sending up two 
12-pounders which Captain Lambton had wired 
for, that he could not very well send off the 
ammunition without the Admiral's permission. 
The Admiral delayed in granting permission, and 
when it did arrive, it was too late the door of 
Ladysmith was shut. I realised that Captain 
Lambton was in Ladysmith for probably a pro- 
longed siege, and that he had only 250 rounds of 
ammunition per gun. 

I examined the telegram book, and found as 
follows : 

"31st October. From Captain Lambton 
to Captain Bearcroft. ' Send immediately two 
long 12-pounders to Maritzburg ; dispatch is 
necessary. Send 500 rounds 4*7 ammunition.' 

" 1st November, 1899. Admiral to Captain 
Bearcroft. ' Guns should not have been sent 
to Maritzburg without authority from me ; they 
are to be returned to the Powerful forthwith.' 

"1st November, 1899. Captain Bearcroft 
to Admiral. ' Captain Lambton telegraphed 
yesterday for 500 rounds of 4'7 ammunition. 
Instructions are requested.' 

" 1st November, 1899. Admiral to Captain 
Bearcroft. ' No men, guns, or ammunition are 
to be landed without permission from me.' 

" 2nd November, 1899. Admiral to Captain 
Bearcroft. Telegram 285. Send 250 rounds 
shrapnel shell and lyddite to Lambton ; re- 
mainder will be sent in Puttiala arriving at 
Durban on the 7th. Lambton has been in- 
formed that ships at Durban are not under 


his orders and he must demand ammunition 
from me." 

The Admiral then appears to have altered his 
mind, and decided to let Lambton have the 
ammunition he had asked for. Later on the 2nd 
of November came telegram 286. "In addition 
to 250 rounds approved by telegram 285, send 
250 rounds common shell." 

Captain Bearcroft immediately on the receipt 
of the Admiral's first telegram took 250 rounds 
out of the truck he had loaded up and sent it on 
by a special train to Ladysmith. On receipt 
of the second telegram, he sent off the other 250 
rounds by another special train. As stated, it was 
too late, and both the trucks of ammunition were 
sent back to Pietermaritzburg. Captain Lambton 
had to go through a siege of 119 days with only 
250 rounds of ammunition per gun. How ably 
he eked out this very limited supply is mentioned 
in Sir George White's dispatch : 

"Captain the Honourable H. Lambton, R.N., 1 
reached Ladysmith in the nick of time. He 
brought with him two 47-inch and four 12- 
pounder guns, which proved to be the only 
ordnance in my possession capable of equalling 
in range the enemy's heavy guns. Although 
the ammunition available was very limited, 
Captain Lambton so economised it, that it 
lasted out to the end of the siege (119 days), 
and under his direction, the naval guns suc- 
ceeded in keeping at a distance the enemy's 
siege guns, a service which was of the utmost 

1 Now Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hed worth Meux. 


But to return to my narrative : at Cape Town 
I met Prince Christian Victor of Schleswig- 
Holstein, who had come out to join his regiment, 
the King's Royal Rifles, only to find it shut up 
in Ladysmith. 

The Prince told me he had volunteered to serve 
anywhere pending the opportunity of joining his 
regiment. He was a very keen soldier, but he was 
a prince, and the authorities did not like to take 
the responsibility of sending him to the Front. 
He knew every gun the Boers had got, and was 
one of the few officers I met who understood the 
importance of heavy guns in the field, and who 
fully realised our comparative impotency in regard 
to artillery. After our interview, he wrote to me 
that he had talked to more than one General about 
heavy artillery, but could not get them to see that 
Railhead would in many cases be our fighting 
position, and that we could bring up guns of any 
calibre we liked. Subsequent events showed how 
sound were the views of this keen soldier. 

By the end of October, 1899, Ladysmith was 
shut in. The Boers were south of it at Tugela, 
and there was nothing to prevent them marching 
down and taking the undefended Durban. 

Admiral Sir Robert Harris informed me that 
the High Commissioner had appointed me Military 
Commandant of Durban ; that I was to proceed 
there in H.M.S. Terrible, and take what steps I 
thought necessary to place the town in a defensive 
position, utilising the Terrible's officers and men, 
and the officers and men of the other ships stationed 
there. I had, in fact, carte blanche to do any- 
thing I could. We left Sirnonstown on the 3rd 


November, and I took all the campaigning stores 
that I could lay my hands on. 

Prince Christian Victor came round in the 
ship with me, as the authorities at the Cape would 
not take the responsibility of sending him to the 
Front, and, with a plan of Durban which I had, 
we discussed the best means of defending it. I 
found my companion wonderfully quick in recog- 
nising the vantage points which it would be essen- 
tial to hold. We arrived at Durban on the 6th 
November, and on the following day I rode 
round the approaches to the town with the 
Prince and Major Bousfield. We definitely settled 
where the guns should be placed, arranging for 
guides to pilot the various detachments to their 

On the morning of the 8th the defence force, 
consisting of 30 guns and 450 officers and men, 
under the supreme command of Commander 
Limpus, ranked up in the main street of Durban. 
By ten o'clock the 100 bullocks and 60 horses were 
spanned-in to the guns and waggons. Commander 
Limpus reported that he was ready. I sounded 
the advance from the Town Hall, the band played 
" A Life on the Ocean Wave," and the little army 
started. Prince Christian Victor, with the Mayor 
of Durban and other civic dignitaries, watched the 
procession with me from the Town Hall, and the 
loyal Natalians cheered to the echo. The sailors, 
in khaki and khaki-coloured straw hats, looked 
very well. The officers were similarly dressed, 
but carried a telescope instead of a sword. I 
thought it would be more useful, and it turned 
out to be so. 


By 4 p.m. all approaches to Durban by road or 
rail, both east, north, and west, were guarded by 
batteries, an armoured train was in readiness, and 
I was able to wire to the Governor, Sir Walter 
Hely Hutchinson, and to Admiral Sir Robert 
Harris, that Durban was safe. 

Nine years afterwards General Botha told me 
that but for these guns he would have flown the 
Vierkleur over the Town Hall at Durban, and he 
certainly could have done so, for the Boers were 
south of the Tugela in possession of the railway, 
moving rapidly, and we had no army in Natal. 
Indeed, Pietermaritzburg, the capital of the colony, 
was considered in such jeopardy that the archives 
were kept packed ready for dispatch to Durban. 
Afterwards troops came in very rapidly and were 
rushed through to Estcourt, and the Boers fell 
back, eventually recrossing the Tugela. 

Having assisted me .in making these disposi- 
tions for defence, Prince Christian Victor left for 
Pietermaritzburg in the vain hope of getting to 
the scene, of the fighting north of Estcourt, and 
on November 12th he wrote to me as follows : 

f ' Government House, Natal, 

" November 12th, 1899. 


" I have been meaning to write for the past 
few days to thank you for all you did for me, 
and to say how much I appreciate your kind- 
ness during the two days I spent on board the 

"We were much relieved here at the arrival 
of the troops, and I must say this battalion of 
the West Yorks Regiment contains a splendid 


body of men. I hear we get 12 battalions 
of infantry, the Highland Brigade Light In- 
fantry Brigade, and the English Brigade, so 
that eventually we shall have 24 battalions of 
infantry here ; we want guns, and I have im- 
pressed H.E. with the importance of the naval 
guns, and I think he is quite of my opinion. 

" We understand that on Tuesday last they 
attempted an attack on Ladysmith, and from 
all accounts were repulsed with heavy loss. I 
believe about 200 were killed ; all accounts 
point to this number. I take it that in about 
ten days' time we shall move forward to the 
relief of Ladysmith, but all depends on our 
artillery ; we must have guns ; T hope you 
will arrange with General Clary to bring up 
your guns. 

" White wires the enemy have 22 guns of 
superior calibre to his, and it is urgent to relieve 
him as soon as possible. From what we can 
gather, something has gone wrong in the Boer 
camp ; they are very much depressed, but what 
it is we cannot say ; I don't believe the rumour 
of Joubert's death, and I don't know that it 
would be a good thing for us, as he is old now 
and is not a dasher. 

" I think I shall be employed for a time 
with General Hildyard ; he wants some one to 
help him with his work ; it would suit me very 

" Yours very sincerely, 


He next wired to me that he could not get to 
the Front, and had nothing to do, I replied that 
I was very hard pressed in starting martial law, and 
had no military man with me, and that I could give 


him plenty of work. Thereupon Prince Christian 
Victor returned to Durban, joined my staff, 
and greatly assisted me in framing rules and in 
carrying out martial law. Then General Buller 's 
arrival, towards the end of November, brought him 
his longed-for opportunity. He proceeded to the 
Front on the staff of General Hildyard, and took 
part in all the battles up to the relief of Ladysmith. 
As soon as he reached Durban, General Buller 
examined a 47 gun. I told him the range, and 
of some forced marches I had made the crews 
do for exercise. One of these marches was as 
follows. I wired to Commander Limpus " Take 
a 47 gun without oxen to Umgeni (6| miles), 
fire a round, report time of leaving and time of 
return." In five minutes, I got a reply " Have 
left " and four hours afterwards I rode out to 
meet them returning. They were almost back at 
their camp, and coming up a hill. I have never 
seen a finer sight. The 100 men were marching 
magnificently, pulling for all they were worth. 
It was November, that is to say, the height of 
summer in Natal. Everything they had on was 
sweated through. When they saw me they broke 
into double time, and Commander Limpus, watch 
in hand, said, " We shall do it in 4J hours," and they 
did. This was enough for General Buller, and the 
next day he wired to send the two 47-inch guns 
and four 12-pounders to the Front, as soon as 
possible. In our little camp the news was received 
with cheers, and one sailor remarked that what 
had done it was that " - pull up from Umgeni." 
I telegraphed to have a special train ready to start 
at five p.m. and to clear the line (it was a single 


railway line) ; at a quarter to five I was at the 
station, and at five o'clock to the minute, the train, 
with guns, ammunition, officers, men and stores 
steamed out of the station. 

The General Manager of the Natal Government 
Railways, Sir David Hunter, was a magnificent 
man to deal with. Nothing was impossible with 
him or even difficult, and no paper work was 
required, nor had one to find an exacting official 
to deal with. Any request that reached the works 
got put in hand at once somehow, and they made 
everything right for us, from gun mountings to 
gun sights. 

On the 28th November, General Buller wired 
to me that I could call in the guns defending 
Durban, put them where it was convenient for 
the men, and where they would be given least 
duty. This consideration for the men was 
characteristic of General Buller, and made him 
beloved by all who had the honour of serving 
under him. 

The railway works were so well found that 
they were quite competent to make mountings 
for 6-inch guns. I got out a design, and wrote 
to General Buller asking him if he would like 
some of these weapons. He replied that Admiral 
Sir Robert Harris had made such a point of not 
further denuding the ship of guns that he did not 
like to ask him. I believe that if General Buller 
had had six 6-inch guns at the Battle of Tugela, 
Ladysmith would have been relieved three months 
earlier than it was. 

The only way that Ladysmith could com- 
municate with us was by pigeon. Several owners 


of pigeons at Durban and the surroundings had 
sent their birds into Ladysmith before it was 
invested. These birds, with their message fixed 
in a quill, were freed and at once made for their 
home. If the home was in Durban, I got the 
message quickly enough, but as some of the homes 
they returned to were ten or twelve miles out of 
the town, there was often a delay in the message 
reaching me. Then I had to decipher it, and wire 
it to General Buller. Only a very few pigeons 
belonging to Ladysmith were in Durban. They 
were soon used and we had no communication. 

1 suggested to General Buller that I should 
mount a searchlight on a truck as I had done to 
get communication with Kimberley. He wired 
" Yes, as soon as possible. It is most necessary." 
Anticipating his reply I had signalled to the 
Terrible to send a searchlight on shore, with a 
flasher which we had made on the venetian-blind 
principle. On receipt of the General's telegram 
I telephoned to Sir David Hunter that we wanted 
a boiler and trucks. He replied, " We shall work 
all night, and be ready to-morrow." I dispatched 
my energetic torpedo officer, Lieutenant F. A. 
Ogilvy, to find a dynamo. He found one in a 
dredger and spent all night getting it out of her. 
By noon the next day the installation was com- 
plete, and the train steamed away to Frere. At 
midnight Lieutenant Ogilvy wired to me " Have 
flashed a long cipher message from General Buller 
to Sir George White." After this we had no 
difficulty in communicating with Ladysmith. 

General Buller found the long-range guns so 
useful that he was continually telegraphing for 


more, and by the 8th of December all had left 
Durban, the total being two 4'7-inch guns and 
sixteen long-range 12-pounders, all on the ex- 
temporised carriages. 

On the 15th December they were in action at 
the Battle of Colenso, and General Buller in his 
dispatch wrote : " Throughout the day the two 
4-7-inch guns and four 12-pounder naval guns 
were being admirably served, and succeeded in 
silencing every one of the enemy's guns they could 

For exceptional service during this battle, Mr. 
E. B. Hutchinson, midshipman, and Mr. J. 
Wright, gunner, of the Terrible, were awarded the 
Conspicuous Service Cross. 



Military Commandant of Durban Multifarious Duties Censorship : 
an Effective ThreatThe Spy Trouble A Boer Agent's Claim for 
Damages Contraband Difficulties The Bundesrath Guns for 
General Buller A Gun Mounting in Fifty-six Hours Hospital 
Ships Mr. Winston Churchill Relief of Ladysmith A Letter 
from Sir Redvers Buller Farewell to Durban. 

WHEN I took over the military commandership 
of Durban, there was scarcely a man left in the 
town except those who, by nature of their 
business in connection with the war, were pre- 
cluded from going away to fight. The Colony of 
Natal was loyal to the backbone. 

Martial law had been proclaimed a few days 
before I became Commandant by my predecessor, 
Colonel Bethune. He had ordered all the native 
drinking places to be closed at 9.30 p.m., and no 
one was allowed outside their houses after eleven 
p.m., unless they had a pass signed by the Com- 
mandant. Owing to the absence of my predecessor, 
this order for the few days it had been in existence 
had not been very rigidly enforced. 

1 spoke to the head of the police, and about 
forty people spent a night in gaol. The next 
night at a quarter to eleven, I made a tour of the 
town with Superintendent Alexander. Everybody 
was on the run, and when eleven o'clock struck, 



the town of Durban was like a city of the dead. 
These satisfactory conditions continued throughout 
the period of my command. 

The law was very necessary. The number of 
police was limited, and the town was full of spies 
and criminals sent down from Pretoria and Johan- 
nesburg when war broke out. 

The inhabitants were not inconvenienced, as 
passes were liberally given. On the other hand, 
burglary and drunken brawls disappeared, and the 
Magistrate, who generally had a busy time, told 
me that he had no cases. 

One night I was arrested by a policeman a 
new hand who did not know me. I had no pass. 
He said, " You do not look a bad 'un, but my 
orders are ' No pass, police station,' so come along." 
At the station I was recognised, so they let me off. 
I made a note in the charge book commending the 
constable for doing his duty so well. Super- 
intendent Alexander told me that after this remark 
I should be well looked after, and I was. Police- 
men appeared to spring up everywhere with 
" Halt, your pass, please." 

As an office in Durban, I used the Drill Hall, 
and my staff consisted of Major Bousfield, of the 
Durban Light Infantry ; Mr. Alexander, Super- 
intendent of the Police ; Captain Frazer, who 
acted as Press Censor ; Mr. E. H. Brooke, of the 
Criminal Investigation Department ; Assistant- 
Paymaster W. F. Cullinan, R.N., who was my 
secretary, and Mr. R. A. Laycock, clerk, R.N. 

Major Bousfield was a barrister with a large 
practice. Unable to go to the Front with his 
regiment on account of his health, he determined 


to assist in the war somehow or other, and gave up 
his business to join my staff. He worked from 
nine in the morning till, very often, twelve at 
night, and his services were afterwards rewarded 
with a C.M.G. 

Captain Frazer looked after the Press and 
opened all the letters, from which we derived a 
great deal of information. Some we re-posted, 
some we kept, and these I sent on to the Governor, 
Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, who was making a 
collection of them. The language in some of 
them, especially those from ladies, was shocking. 
One lady writing from Pretoria to a friend, said 
that the British prisoners taken outside Ladysmith 
had just come in, and explained what she would 
like to do to each British officer. 

Orders were given to the Press that all matter 
relating to the war must go to the Censor. The 
editor of one of the Durban papers called on me 
and asked what would happen if they put in some- 
thing without the Censor passing it. I explained 
that one of my sailors would come round to his 
office and chalk up on the door " Shut." That 
was all that would happen. He bowed politely 
and echoed, " Oh ! that is all that would happen." 
The Press were really very good. I only once had 
to put this rather drastic rule into operation. 

In ordinary law a person is considered innocent 
until he is proved guilty. In martial law, the boot 
is on the other leg. The person is considered 
guilty until he can prove his innocence. This 
fundamental principle gave me facilities for dealing 
with the suspects and spies, and we very soon had 
them all safely lodged in the prison. 


A rumour got about that I had condemned 
one of these suspects, a Mr. Marks, to be shot, and 
the Boer Government wrote to say that if he were 
shot, they would shoot six British officers. The 
Imperial Government had to inform them that 
this would be a violation of the recognised custom 
of warfare. As to Mr. Marks, there was never 
any intention of shooting him ; he was only being 
taken care of. 

In Durban there were many Boer agents who 
attempted to buy war requisites, and send them to 
the Portuguese town of Lorenzo Marques, whence 
they would be dispatched to Pretoria. 

For a few days we did not know how these 
agents communicated with Pretoria, since their 
letters did not go through the post. Mr. Sergeant 
Brooke, who always found out everything, one day 
brought me some letters incriminating two of the 

He informed me that their procedure had 
been to go on board the, steamer just before she 
left for Lorenzo Marques and put the letters into 
the ship's box, thus evading the censorship. One 
of the pair, a Mr. X, as I would not let him go 
back to Lorenzo Marques, asked leave to go to 
Capetown on account of his health. I could not 
withhold permission, and having reached Capetown 
he took legal proceedings against me, claiming 
15,000 damages. Field-Marshal Lord Roberts 
sent the claim on to me, and requested that I 
would wire if I had a satisfactory answer to give. 
I telegraphed to that effect, and in my subsequent 
reply was able to answer each paragraph of the 
lawyer's communication by quoting from his (Mr. 


X's) own letters which, quite unknown to him, 
had come into our possession. Two of the para- 
graphs were as follows : 

The Lawyer's Letter. Extracts from Mr. X.'s Letter to his 

" Our client is a loyal British *"*" in Lorenzo Mar ^ ms ' 
subject trading at Lorenzo Mar- " Wire Pretoria that I have got 
ques. He went to Durban solely the flour. It will leave here in 
for the benefit of his health, and Saturday's boat. Be careful what 
with no intention of procuring you write, as all letters are ex- 
flour for the Boers. arained. 

f 'Our client, finding it was ne- "They have got something, 
cessary for him to obtain permission Your letters will get me into 
from the Commandant to return prison. The flour, just before the 
to Lorenzo Marques, called upon boat left, was taken out by order 
Captain Percy Scott, and was of the Commandant. I have to pay 
astonished at being told that he for shipping and unshipping it, 
could not return." and now it is on my hands. I 

very much doubt if I shall be able 
to get back. I have to see the 
Commandant to-morrow." 

Mr. X's letters and those from his partner 
clearly showed that they were procuring flour for 
the Boers, who were short of the commodity and 
paying very high prices for it. 

I ended my letter by suggesting that if Mr. X 
made any further claim, he should be prosecuted 
for perjury. 

The Field-Marshal wired to me that my reply 
was quite satisfactory, and that Mr. X had been 
informed in the sense of the last paragraph of my 

The currency business gave us a lot of trouble 
until an order given by Sir Alfred Milner, 1 put 
matters right. The Boer agents had brought all 
their money down with them in Transvaal notes, 

1 Afterwards Viscount Milner. 


and the proclamation forbade the banks cashing 
Transvaal notes. This proclamation, however, hit 
our refugees from Pretoria and Johannesburg and 
other Boer towns very hardly, as their money was 
also in notes. The difficulty was solved by Sir 
Alfred Milner's telegraphic instruction that notes 
could be cashed if I endorsed them. I endorsed 
the notes for the refugees, but refused to endorse 
the large sums required by the Boer agents. 
Finding they could get no money, these gentry 
left for Capetown, and we had much less trouble. 

We were rather bothered by people who, not 
understanding our office, thought we dealt with 
all sorts of cases, including matrimonial differences. 
Lunatics sometimes called, and put before us plans 
for destroying all the Boers by poison, or asphyxi- 
ating them by firing shells containing chloroform. 
It was left to the German barbarians to introduce 
such methods of perverted intelligence in the late 

I got a letter from a mysterious gentleman one 

day, saying he wished to see me, but not at my 

office. Finally, after some difficulty for neither 

the club nor the hotel suited him as a rendezvous 

a place of meeting was arranged. 

He had come from Capetown, and wanted per- 
mission to go on to Beira, on a somewhat peculiar 
mission. The authorities at Capetown had learned 
that the Boers were getting plenty of gold from 
the Johannesburg mines, but that they were short 
of dies to coin it into money. Intercepted letters 
showed that dies had been made in Germany and 
were coming out in a steamer which called at Beira. 

My mysterious visitor wished to meet that 


steamer and take a passage 'in her to Lorenzo 
Marques, where the dies were to be landed. I 
arranged passages for him, and on his return to 
Durban a few days afterwards, he informed me 
that during the night he was in the steamer he 
secured the dies and dropped them overboard. 
I believe that this neatly executed raid incon- 
venienced the Boers very much. 

In addition to being Military Commandant, 
I was the Senior Naval Officer on the Natal side, 
and had to deal with the scrutiny of vessels carrying 
contraband of war. All vessels bound for Lorenzo 
Marques were boarded, and their papers examined. 
To make matters difficult, the authorities at home 
kept on changing their minds as to what was 
contraband of war, and what was not. I received 
strings of contradictory telegrams on the subject. 
We were also supplied with very bad information. 
When I got a telegram to seize a ship on the 
ground that she had guns or some contraband 
of war on board, it invariably turned out on 
examination that she contained no contraband 
goods, and the Government were obliged to pay 
heavy damages for demurrage. 

One day I got a wire to seize and examine a 
German ship, the Bundesrath, as it was certain that 
she was carrying arms for the Boers. A cruiser 
brought the ship into Durban, and the whole of 
her cargo was taken out. Nothing of a contraband 
nature was found another example of bad infor- 
mation. From intercepted letters I discovered that 
four of her passengers were Boers returning to 
fight against us ; they admitted the fact to me in 


According to my reading of International Law, 
they came under the heading of " Enemy belli- 
gerents in a neutral ship," and I was entitled to 
make prisoners of them. I did so. Four days 
afterwards, when we had got all her cargo out, 
I received a peremptory telegram to replace the 
cargo at once, and allow the Bundesrath, with the 
four Boers, to proceed to Lorenzo Marques. I 
believe the country paid Germany 50,000 for 
demurrage. Our Secret Service was, I am afraid, 
not very good, and why I was made to release the 
prisoners I have never been able to understand. 

On the 16th January, 1900, while General 
Buller was away at Spion Kop with both the 
4 "7-inch guns, General Barton wired to me to 
ask if I could mount a 47-inch gun on a railway 
truck, as he wished to shell a new position that the 
Boers had taken up. 

Sir David Hunter provided a truck strengthened 
up with timber. On it we put a platform mounting, 
securing it with chains. Owing to the amount of 
energy absorbed by the hydraulic cylinders, very 
little of the recoil was transmitted to the truck. 
Lady Randolph Churchill fired the test round, and 
the gun was christened after her. 

Later on General Buller wired to me to ask 
the Admiral if he could have two more 4'7-inch 
guns mounted on platforms similar to the Lady- 
smith guns. Sir David Hunter put them in hand 
instantly. We got a couple of guns out of H. M.S. 
Philomel. In a few hours the mountings were 
completed, and the guns went off by special train 
to Chievely, and took a very active part in the 
final bombardment of the Colenso position which, 

. * 


when forced, opened the road for our troops into 

General Buller subsequently informed me that 
he liked this pattern of mounting. Enormous 
rapidity of fire could be got out of it, as the aim 
for the next round was very little deranged by 
the act of firing. Moreover, what was really a 
fortress gun was virtually converted into a field 
gun, and its position could be quickly changed. 

On the 8th February, having an appointment 
with the Governor at Pietermaritzburg, I had just 
taken my seat in the 4 p.m. train, when the follow- 
ing telegram was handed to me : " Clear the line. 
Urgent, No. 383. Have you a 6-inch gun on 
carriage that I could move a mile or so across the 
flat ? If you have, telegraph in my name to 
Admiral, and ask if I may have one for a few days. 
Utmost importance. If possible, I want it Monday, 
12th, and you to work it. Buller." 

I wired back : " General Buller, Chievely. 
Six-inch gun on mobile mounting will leave here 
on Sunday night. Percy Scott." 

Then I began to consider how the mounting 
was to be made in 72 hours. I sent a steamer 
and a big lighter out to H.M.S. Terrible, and 
signalled to her to send a 6-inch gun on shore. 
I saw Sir David Hunter, and his men were 
started on at once. Fqrtunately I remembered 
that at Pietermaritzburg there was a pair of iron 
wheels made for a 4 '7-inch gun, but discarded 
on account of the tyres being too narrow. By 
10 p.m. we had the gun from the Terrible and the 
wheels from Maritzburg in the factory. The men 
worked all night, putting broader tyres on the 


wheels, and formed up an axle-tree and trail. On 
Saturday night at 12 o'clock, 56 hours after I 
received the telegram, the mounting was practi- 
cally finished. The work of the Durban men on 
this mounting was magnificent; some worked 
continuously for the 48 hours during which it was 
under construction. 

On Sunday morning 200 men were landed from 
the Terrible. We dragged the gun with ropes 
about two miles down to the beach, fired a few 
rounds as a test, and took it back to the station. 
There it was entrained and dispatched to Chievely, 
and it arrived at daylight on the 12th. 

The gun was used for bombarding the Boer 
positions at Colenso, and fired 600 rounds, some at 
a range of 16,000 yards, and we found that spotting 
could be carried out even at this extreme range. 

Among many other things, hospital ships were 
brought within the province of my office. General 
Buller wired to me : " Can you get a steamer and 
convert her into a hospital ship ? " The steamer 
agents met me very readily, and in a very short 
time we had two well-equipped hospital ships. 

During the last week in January a hospital ship, 
flying the Union Jack and the American Stars and 
Stripes, anchored in the roads. This was the 
Maine, a vessel that had been bought and equipped 
by American women as a very practical mark of 
their sympathy for the sick and wounded soldiers 
in South Africa. Lady Randolph Churchill, the 
president of the committee of ladies who raised 
the necessary funds, was on board the ship. Mr. 
Winston Churchill, who was at Pietermaritzburg. 
came down to meet his mother. 


On the following day when the ship carne into 
harbour, the Mayor of Durban and I called The 
Mayor presented Lady Randolph with an address 
from the Natalians, which expressed their apprecia- 
tion of the American ladies' sympathy. I pre- 
sented a martial law pass, and the manager of 
the Natal Government Railway placed a saloon 
carriage at her ladyship's disposal to travel any- 
where she wished. We thus did our best to 
recognise the kindly thought and generosity of a 
friendly Power. 

Mr. Winston Churchill arrived at Durban as 
correspondent of the Morning Post. He was 
twenty-six years of age, had written well, had 
been in the Army, and had seen active service 
with the Malakand, Tirah and Nile expeditions. 
He had contested Oldham as a Unionist, and nearly 
gained the seat. 

A fortnight after his arrival, he went for a trip 
in an armoured train dispatched to reconnoitre the 
Boer positions. No precautions were taken, and 
the Boers getting round to the rear, pulled up the 
line. On the return journey the engine was de- 
railed and a heavy fire opened on the train by a 
commando who had concealed themselves with 
two field guns. 

Mr. Winston Churchill displayed great gallantry 
in helping to get the engine and a truck on the 
line again under a heavy fire, and I have always 
thought that his gallantry might have been re- 
warded. He was a civilian, it was his business to 
run away, and he could have done so, but he stayed 
to fight. As a rising man, however, he had many 
enemies, and instead of getting a decoration, he 



had to bring a libel action against some of his 

This unwisely planned reconnoitre cost 50 
killed and wounded, and 54 men were made 
prisoners, among them some of our sailors and 
Mr. Winston Churchill. A month later I received 
a telegram announcing the latter 's escape. 

On the 23rd Mr. Churchill arrived at Durban 
and met with a great reception. The loyal 
Natalians, delighted at his outwitting the slim 
Boers, dragged his rickshaw in triumph to my office. 
He looked very dishevelled, tired and worn, so I 
suggested he should take a rest for a day or two 
at Durban. His reply was, "When is the next 
train for the Front ? " I told him in half an hour. 
He decided to go by it. I accompanied him to 
Pietermaritzburg, and 48 hours after his arrival at 
Durban he was back on the spot where he was 
taken prisoner a month before. 

On the way up in the train, he told me about 
his capture and escape, and of a plan he had devised 
for the 4000 English prisoners in Pretoria to break 
out, seize the armoury, where there were plenty 
of rifles, make prisoners of Paul Kruger and Mr. 
Stein, and hold Pretoria until the British arrived. 
With a good leader, this daring scheme would un- 
doubtedly have succeeded. What a chance thrown 
away ! Fancy the excitement in England if a 
telegram had announced : " English prisoners have 
taken Pretoria. Kruger and Stein prisoners of 
war." How often people have the ball at their 
feet, but will not kick it ! 

Nine years after the war I met a Boer officer 
at Pretoria who was in charge of our prisoners. 


I told him the story, and he said that it would 
undoubtedly have succeeded, as the prisoners were 
inadequately guarded. He added that the authori- 
ties realised the thing could be done, and that was 
why, after Mr. Churchill's escape, they stopped all 
communication between the officers and men. 

On the 29th March, Sir Walter Hely Hutchin- 
son and Lady Randolph Churchill were dining 
with me on board the Terrible, when the welcome 
news arrived that Ladysmith was relieved. I 
ordered the main brace to be spliced (for which 
I subsequently got hauled over the coals by the 
Admiralty). Every one in the town who could 
get a firework, let it off, and there was jubilation 
all round. On the strength of it the prisoners in 
the gaol naively asked if they could not be let 
out. I reflected, however, that Durban was very 
peaceable with them under lock and key. 

A few days afterwards I went up to Ladysmith 
to congratulate General Buller and to say good-bye 
to him, for I realised that I should now be soon 
moving on to China. I saw Prince Christian 
Victor, looking the picture of health, and in a 
great state of delight at having been in all the 
battles. Six months later, he succumbed to that 
terrible enemy of our troops, enteric fever, and 
was buried at Pretoria. 

Early in March I received the following letter 
from Sir Redvers Buller : 

" Ladysmith, 

"March 7th, 1900. 

" After as long a delay as I dared, I am 
with a heavy heart sending back all the guns' 


crews of the Terrible, and, worse still, appoint- 
ing a Commandant to Durban. 

" Needs must, so I cannot help it, but I 
cannot let you go without writing to tell you 
how grateful to you I am for all you have done 
for me, and for the splendid manner in which 
you have administered Durban. 

"Few people, I fear, realise how difficult 
that work has been, because it has been so well 
done. But I think both the Governor and I 
do realise what your work has been, and 
certainly I am most grateful to you. 

" Of course I shall put this also forward 
officially, but I could not let you go without 
a God-speed and a word of thanks. 
" Yours very truly, 


On the 13th March our contingent returned 
to Durban, rejoined the ship and changed from 
khaki to naval uniform. I spent a fortnight in 
clearing up my duties as Commandant of Durban, 
ready for turning the post over to my successor, 
Colonel Morris, C.B. From the Governor of the 
Colony, as from the Town Council of Durban, I 
received messages of appreciation, which I valued 
greatly. 1 On the 26th I said good-bye to all my 
good friends at Durban, and a farewell dinner 
given to me at the Club demonstrated what true, 
honourable and loyal citizens to the Empire I was 
leaving. I re-embarked on board the Terrible, 
and the next day we weighed the anchor, which 
had been down for nearly six months in the 
Durban Roads, and, with a last signal to loyal 

1 Cf. Appendix. 


Natal, the engines began to turn round, and we 
shaped a course northward en route to China. 

I lost no time in thanking and congratulating 
Lieutenant Hughes Onslow on the admirable way 
he had acted as captain of the ship during my 
five months on shore. Owing to Lieutenant 
Onslow's tact and ability the behaviour of the 
portion of the ship's company that remained on 
board was splendid. They had had no leave and 
a very hard and trying time, but, notwithstanding 
this, the highest discipline was maintained. 

I congratulated Captain Limpus and the 
officers and men under his command on the 
admirable way they had behaved on shore when 
acting as artillery to assist the Army, and read to 
them letters from General Sir R. Buller and other 
officers paying high tribute to their conduct. 

Sir Redvers Buller repeatedly referred to the 
assistance which the guns, mounted in accordance 
with my design, rendered to the Army ; he 
mentioned the matter in his dispatches, and he 
wrote, on January 9th, 1903, that " It is impossible 
to overestimate the value these guns were to the 
Army in the field." These mountings were in the 
nature of an invention, and Sir Redvers suggested 
that, in accordance with the usual practice, a 
monetary grant should be made to me. What 
happened to his recommendation I do not know, 
but at any rate nothing came of it, though the 
vital character of the service which these guns on 
my mountings rendered was no secret at the time, 
and the design was revived in the Great War 
which has recently closed. 



H.M.S. Terrible 's Welcome in the East Hong Kong's Lavish Hospi- 
tality News of the Boxer Outbreak Orders at last ! Arrival at 
Taku Tientsin's Plight The Relief Column Long-range Guns 
left behind A Neglected Base Anomalies of the Situation Use- 
less Appeal to the Admiral Belated Use of the Rejected Guns- 
Capture of Tientsin Relief of the Legations. 

ON board a man-of-war things happen quickly 
and are quickly forgotten. Twenty-four hours 
after leaving Durban, we had all settled down to 
our ordinary routine again and both officers and 
men were anxious to resume their work at naval 
gunnery. Those who had landed had had practical 
experience of a good telescope gun sight, and had 
learned that if a gun is truly pointed the shot will 
hit the mark aimed at. 

On arriving at the Island of Mauritius on the 
2nd April, 1900, we found a wonderful reception 
prepared for us. Both officers and men were 
most liberally entertained. I stayed at Govern- 
ment House with Sir Charles and Lady Bruce, 
and nothing could have exceeded their kindness 
and hospitality. At Colombo, where we arrived 
on the 1 6th, we again met with a most charming 
reception. We sailed for Singapore on the 22nd 
and 67i route we resumed our instruction in gun- 
nery. In the Navy, competition is everything, 



and the Terrible' s one idea was to beat the Scyttcts 
80 per cent, of hits on a target. 

As the officers and ship's company had been 
working very hard in perfecting themselves in 
gunnery, I thought I would give them a chance 
of showing what they could do. Targets were 
prepared, and on the 27th April I anchored in 
the Straits of Malacca about twenty miles from 
Singapore, to carry out heavy gun practice. Just 
as we were going to start, I received an urgent 
telegram from Singapore saying that they had 
prepared a reception for us, and asking me if I 
would arrive on the morrow. I could not say no, 
so our practice had to be given up. This meant 
that after eight months in commission we had not 
fired a shot from our guns, or in any way prepared 
ourselves for a naval engagement. Singapore 
gave us a great reception. For four days balls, 
banquets, and entertainments of every description 
took place. The civil and military authorities left 
nothing undone in entertaining my officers and 
men, and the Governor, Sir Alexander Swettenham, 
kindly asked me to stay with him at Singapore's 
magnificent Government House. 

One of the guests at the house was Sir 
Alexander's brother, Sir Frank Swettenham (then 
Resident- General of the Federated Malay States). 
I had the honour of taking him up to Hong Kong 
in the Terrible. He was clever and capable, and 
I often wondered why he was not given a more 
important post during the war. He knew well 
the East, and Eastern manners, and was a skilled 

On the 8th May, 1900, we steamed through 


the Ly-ee-mun Pass and met with a most wonder- 
ful reception. From the Pass to the anchorage 
off the town of Hong Kong, the water was solid 
with steam launches, junks and boats of every 
description, all decorated with flags, and all con- 
tributing to a medley of sound by cheering, blow- 
ing steam whistles or letting off Chinese crackers. 
In China noise is regarded as a signification of joy ; 
on this occasion it was rather a source of grief to 
me, for it is a difficult passage from the Pass to 
Hong Kong for a ship of such deep draft as the 
Terrible. A rock that most ships steam over 
had to be steamed round. With such a volume 
of sound dinning our ears my navigator and I had 
a difficulty in hearing one another. 

On our anchoring Sir John Carrington came 
on board and presented me with the following 
address : 

" On behalf of the British Community of 
Hong Kong, we beg to offer you and to 
your officers and to the crew of this magnificent 
vessel a very hearty welcome to this colony. 

" We congratulate you on the opportunity 
which was afforded to your ship by her appoint- 
ment to this station in succession to H.M.S. 
Powerful of taking part with her in the 
operations in South Africa. How admirably 
this opportunity was used is known to all the 
world. We desire to acknowledge with the 
deepest gratitude the devoted and invaluable 
services rendered to the Empire by the Naval 
Brigade in the advance towards Kimberley and 
in the defence and relief of Ladysmith. We 
are pleased to know that these services have 
been cordially recognised by the Queen and by 


the Empire, and in particular that Her Majesty 
has conferred upon you, sir, a Companionship 
of the Bath in recognition of that fortunate 
combination of scientific and practical ability 
in you, without which Ladysmith would have 
lacked her most effective weapons of defence. 
We learn that Her Majesty has just reviewed 
at Windsor the Naval Brigade from the 
Powerful, and we hope that the people of 
this colony will have an opportunity of witness- 
ing a similar review of your ship's company on 

"We agree with the late Mr. G. W. 
Steevens that ' the Royal Navy is salt of 
the sea and the salt of the earth also.' We feel 
that we cannot do too much to show our 
appreciation of the Navy, of the Naval Brigade, 
and of the services rendered by the Terrible 
in South Africa at a very critical period. In 
these circumstances we account it a great 
privilege to be able to extend this welcome to 
yourself, your officers, and the crew, and to ask 
you to give us the pleasure of receiving you 
and them as guests at some entertainments 
which we have been arranging for your and 
their honour." 

On behalf of the officers and men of the 
Terrible I accepted the address and thanked 
Sir John. I was then handed a programme of 
entertainments that had been arranged for us. 
Those who have been in Eastern countries will 
know how hospitable they are, and how well they 
entertain. Hong Kong is particularly well famed 
in that respect. There were balls and dinners 
every night and mixed bathing in the afternoons. 
My officers forgot war and made up their minds 


that the remainder of the commission was to be 
gaiety and amusements. We had about ten days 
of it, and then I received a letter indicating that 
the Boxer rising was a serious matter and I 
anticipated that the Navy would again be called 
upon to assist the Army. Every day we expected 
orders to go north, so I mounted up four long 
12-pounders in readiness. Nevertheless, no orders 
came ; with a serious war going on, we were left 
for weeks at Hong Kong to amuse ourselves with 
dancing and dinner parties. 

At last, on the 15th June, orders came for the 
Terrible to proceed to Taku and take up three 
companies of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. We left 
the next day, and during the passage made arrange- 
ments for landing men and guns as might be 

At daylight on the 21st June, 1900, we arrived 
at Taku, and found a large fleet there of all nation- 
alities. The general state of affairs was very 
serious. The Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Sir 
Edward Seymour, had left his ship on the 10th 
of June to take command of an international 
expeditionary force consisting of 2000 officers and 
men, of whom 900 where British seamen and 
marines from the Fleet. The object of the 
expedition was to reach and relieve Peking, which 
was besieged by the Boxers ; it was feared that if 
they gained possession of the city all the Europeans 
would be massacred. 

We learned that the Admiral had got north 
of Tientsin with his force by rail, but that since 
the 13th, that is three days after he started, nothing 
had been heard of him. Tientsin, garrisoned by 


about 3000 troops, was closely besieged by the 
Boxers and all communication was cut off. The 
garrison were in dire want of food and ammu- 
nition, and they had no guns of either power or 
range to reply to the heavy bombardment from 
the superior Chinese artillery. It was Ladysmith 
over again. 

The Taku forts that guard the entrance to the 
Peiho River, on which Tientsin is situated, had been 
taken by the allied forces, but a small fort a 
little higher up the river was still in the Boxers' 
possession. Hence the river could not be used by 
boats to communicate with Tientsin, and the rail- 
way was useless because it had been partially de- 
stroyed by the Boxers. Such I found to be the 
state of affairs when we arrived. 

I was glad to be able to inform Admiral Sir 
James Bruce, who was the senior British naval 
officer, that we had four 12-pounders ready to 
land, which would be equal in range to any of the 
Chinese guns that were bombarding the European 
settlement at Tientsin. 

To my amazement the Admiral informed me 
that one gun would be sufficient. It was to be 
landed in the morning and go with the relief 
column under General Stossel. 

The Tientsin relief column started on the fol- 
lowing morning, its composition being as follows : 
1200 Russians, 30 Italians, 150 Americans and 550 
British (300 Royal Welsh* Fusiliers, 150 seamen, 
100 Marines, with one long-range 12-pounder 

It was well known that the Tientsin garrison 
had no guns except obsolete, muzzle-loading 


9 -pounders. It was equally well known that the 
Chinese were bombarding the city with heavy, long- 
range, modern Krupp guns. 

The one arm that Tientsin wanted was the 
long-range artillery which I had provided, but 
which the Admiral would not send up. I was 
told to go away to Chefoo and take the three guns 
with me. Before leaving I landed at Tongku, the 
base of operations, and had a look round in 
company with Captain Wise of the U.S.A. Navy. 
He pointed out that here was a base with no 
Commandant, no one in authority, no one to 
regulate the landing of troops, no accommodation 
for the sick and wounded sent down from the 
Front, no one to look after stores,' no reserve of 
ammunition, in fact, no provision of any kind. 
His time was fully employed in looking after the 
train service, and he asked me if I would come 
on shore and put things straight. I had been 
Commandant for so long that I was not anxious 
to perform the duties again, but in the national 
interest I promised to write and offer my services 
to the Admiral. I explained to this American 
officer that on account of jealousy I did not think 
the services of the Terrible would be used if they 
could possibly be done without. He said at once, 
" Oh, then that is why the guns that you had 
ready have not been sent to the Front." I informed 
him that not only were they not accepted, but I 
was told to take them away with me. He 
expressed himself forcibly and to the point, ending 
up by saying, " The freak will cost them some 
lives and some unpleasantness in Tientsin." 

We then discussed other anomalies of the 


situation. The supposed invulnerable Taku forts, 
mounting about 150 guns, were built to prevent 
anyone entering the Peiho River, and so getting to 
Tientsin. We had captured the forts and wanted 
to go to Tientsin. Why did we not take a small 
fort, almost in sight from where we were standing, 
which was blocking our use of the river ? Captain 
Wise declared that fifty men could do it, and he 
was perfectly correct. A boat's crew of ten men 
subsequently took it ; the Chinese all ran away. 
The second anomaly was that for fourteen days 
the railway which we required so badly was unavail- 
able as the Boxers had destroyed certain parts of 
it. On this point my companion remarked : "It 
is your railway. Why does your Admiral not 
wire to Japan for a shipload of sleepers and metals ? 
They could have been here before this ? " 

On my return I put all the points before the 
Admiral and made another effort to get the other 
three guns sent up to help Tientsin. The appeal 
was useless. The Admiral would neither send up 
any more guns, nor order material to repair the 
line, and he expressed himself quite satisfied with 
the arrangements at the base. Consequently the 
Tientsin European settlement was almost entirely 
destroyed by the Chinese guns. The Russians, 
taking advantage of our apathy, repaired the rail- 
way line, and then claimed it, and we had great 
difficulty in regaining its possession. 

I took the three guns away in the Terrible to 
Chefoo, and while we were there, occupying our- 
selves once more with dances and dinner parties, 
we learned of Tientsin's very severe bombardment. 
The Terrible was next ordered to Wei-hai-wei, 


which meant taking the guns still further away 
from where they were so urgently wanted. The 
Times thus commented on the incident : 

" It was a grievous blunder not to send 
these guns up to Tientsin with the relief column 
in the first instance. Captain Scott had pre- 
pared four to land with the Welsh Fusiliers, 
but for some occult reason he was ordered to 
land only one, and H.M.S. Terrible was sent 
to Chefoo, where her guns were not wanted. 
This is the sort of thing that to the lay mind is 
incomprehensible. The settlements at Tientsin 
were being bombarded, it was known that they 
had next to no guns, it was known that the 
Chinese had numbers of modern ones, and yet 
three fine pieces of artillery ready for the road 
are deliberately not sent with the relieving force. 
The one 12-pounder that was sent from H.M.S. 
Terrible did yeoman's service ; if four had been 
sent instead of one, the position to-day would 
have been assuredly less critical." 

Later on, when the European settlement at 
Tientsin had been mostly destroyed and many 
lives lost, the other three 12 -pounders which I had 
prepared were sent for in a great hurry. The 
allied troops there mustered 12,000 men, and it 
was decided to attack the native city from whence 
the bombardment had issued. As the result 
of hard fighting on the 13th and 14th of July, 
the Chinese were driven out and the city was 

Where our guns were placed the country was 
very flat, making spotting difficult. We overcame 
this obstacle by placing two long ladders one 





against the other and perching the spotter with 
a telescope on the top. 

Brigadier- General Dorward, who commanded 
the British forces, wrote : " The success of the 
operations was largely due to the manner in which 
the Naval guns were worked by Lieut. Drummond 
of H.M.S. Terrible, the accuracy of their fire alone 
rendering possible steady fire on the part of the 
troops against the strong Chinese position and 
largely reducing the number of casualties." 

I anticipated that after the capture of Tientsin 
my officers and men would return to the ship, but 
the value of artillery in war had been learned 
(somewhat expensively), and it was decided that 
the four 12-pounders should go with the relief 
force to Pekin. 

The international relief force, consisting of 
English, American, Russian, Japanese and French 
troops, with the four guns from the Terrible, left 
Tientsin on the 3rd August, 1900. Pekin was 
reached on the 15th, and the Legations, which had 
been gallantly defended for two months, were 
relieved. On the 7th of September officers and 
men who had been to Pekin rejoined the Terrible. 



A Return to Gunnery at Sea Results of the First Prize Firing A 
Machine to increase the Efficiency in Loading The Deflection 
Teacher and its Effect in Shooting Remodelling the Target 
Target Practice of the Fleet Underlining an Inference Admirals 
and Prize-Firing Back at Hong Kong Raising the Dredger 
Canton Eiver Lieut. Sims, U.S.A., and Gunnery Sir Edward 
Seymour's valuable Reforms Admiralty Opposition Prize Firing 
of 1901 First Ship of the Navy The Barfleur and the Terrible s 
Example The Admiralty and Improved Shooting A Disastrous 

WITH the conclusion of the Pekin operations, 
H.M.S. Terrible had been a year in commission, 
and we had done no gunnery practice, as most of 
the crew had for seven months been employed as 
shore artillerists. Their experience had demon- 
strated to them the value of shooting straight, and 
the ease with which it can be carried out on shore, 
where the platform is steady. They had now to 
learn to manipulate heavy guns at sea when the 
ship is rolling. Both officers and men worked with 
a will at the instructional " dotter," and in October, 
1900, after a month's course of drill, the ship carried 
out her first prize firing, and made 80 hits out of 
104 rounds, a percentage of 76*8. The men were 
very disappointed at not reaching the 80 per cent, 
made by H.M.S. Scylla. 

A percentage of 76 '8 hits to rounds fired was 
far above anything that had ever been done before 



with a 6-inch gun, but I could see that better 
results ought to be obtained. 

After carefully analysing the firing I came to 
the conclusion that the loading was not rapid 
enough ; that the men had not had sufficient 
practice in quickly altering the deflection on their 
sights if the shot went right or left of the mark ; 
that the men under some circumstances could not 
see whether they had hit the target or not, and 
were therefore not to blame if they missed. These 
three defects had to be remedied, 

To increase the rate of loading, I had an 
arrangement made for giving the men the requisite 
practice. It consisted of a breech block mounted 
against two stanchions with a tray behind to take 
the projectiles as they were put in. To ensure the 
ramming being of sufficient force to drive the band 
into the rifling, the men were compelled to send 
the projectile with such velocity as to make it 
travel the whole length of the tray. The guns' 
crews were frequently practised at this machine, 
and in a very short time their efficiency in loading 
was doubled. 

To teach the men to alter the deflection on 
their sights quickly and correctly, I had an arrange- 
ment made which was christened the " Deflection 
Teacher." It consisted of a miniature rifle, fixed to 
a gun in such a manner that although it could be 
given a small vertical and horizontal movement, 
the shot from it could never go anywhere but into 
an iron box fixed to the muzzle of the gun. 
Attached to a boom over the centre of the gun 
was a wooden frame, into which paper targets 
could be placed. The boom could be traversed 



backwards and forwards by means of lines and a 
winch. Constant practice with this machine had 
the following results : 

(1) It taught the men to readjust their sights in 
accordance with their last shot. 

(2) It convinced them that if they did adjust 
their sights correctly the shot would hit the mark 
aimed at. 

(3) It gave the firing number practice in 
ordering the necessary alteration of sight, and the 
sight-setter practice in carrying out the orders. 

Teaching the men to be certain whether they 
had hit or not was not as easy as I anticipated it 
would be. One captain of a gun, as they were 
then called, who fired eight rounds and made seven 
hits, told me that he never saw a hole made in the 
target after his fourth round, although he made 
three more. 

I had some targets made of different colours, 
and cut a hole six inches in diameter in each one. 
From a distance of 1600 yards all the captains of 
guns examined these targets through their telescope 
sights, and it was demonstrated that a hole can 
only be seen in a target if there is a distinct con- 
trast between the colour of the target and the 
colour of the water which forms its background. 
Hence if the water is white you want a dark 
target, and if the water is dark you want a white 
target. We most of us thought that the sea was 
always the same colour, a sort of dark greeny-blue, 
but it is not, for sometimes it is white and some- 
times it is dark, and sometimes it changes from one 
to the other quite suddenly. This to the layman 
may sound peculiar, but I shall explain it later on. 


In all our practices, while one man was firing, 
others were exercised in judging whether the target 
was hit ; if it was a miss, they had to judge how 
far it was left or right, or how much it was short or 
over. The sailors called this " spotting drill," and 
christened the officer or man who was spotting the 
" Spotter." 

Four years later, when their Lordships had 
learned that the only way to hit was to spot, they 
acknowledged the necessity of a spotter, but they 
objected to the name, and ordered him to be called 
the " Range Officer." This was stupid, because the 
spotter need not necessarily be an officer our best 
spotter in the Terrible was a cook. Spotting is a 


Nor did their Lordships' pedantry achieve its 
object ; the officer or man who spots is to this day 
called, as the Terrible seamen christened him, the 
" Spotter." 

To revert to the change in colour of the sea. 
When one looks along it as in firing at a target, it 
is of one colour in sunshine and of another colour 
if there is no sun. Consequently, when the sun 
goes behind a cloud you get a quick change from 
one to the other. Another element that causes a 
quick change is the wind. Many may have noticed 
that when a meadow has been harrowed, the grass 
differs in colour according to the way in which the 
harrow has passed over it. It is the same with the 
sea ; in a calm, if a slight breeze springs up and 
passes along the surface of the water, you get a 
similar change of colour as with the harrow and 
the grass. 

The pattern of prize-firing target then in use 


was very unsatisfactory. The mass of wood above 
water meant additional weight without additional 
buoyancy. The masts which carried the sail were 
frequently knocked down, and then the whole 
thing collapsed and took hours to repair. To 
obviate this state of affairs I obtained the Com- 
mander-in-Chief s permission to remodel the target. 
I placed the masts at the end of the raft, suspended 
the canvas from them and did away with all the 
unnecessary wood. This alteration was approved, 
and in the following year's prize firing we had 
little or no trouble owing to the shooting away of 

Details of the alterations were sent home in 
June, 1901, but the Admiralty declined to adopt 
the plan, preferring the old pattern. 1 

After every target practice I used to have 
posted on the notice board my comments on the 
shooting. On this occasion I praised highly nine 
out of the twelve guns' crews, but I characterised 
the shooting of three of them as most discreditable. 
This opinion found its way into the Press, and 
one paper commented on it as follows : " The three 
guns that Captain Percy Scott refers to as most 
discreditable scored nine hits out of twenty-two 
shots, or 41 per cent. No other ship in the Fleet 
armed with these guns that year had made as much 
as 41 per cent, of hits, and the average was only 
28 per cent., so we may infer that Captain Percy 
Scott considers the firing of the British Fleet as 
something much worse than 'most discreditable." 
That certainly was my opinion, for if two ships by 

1 This improved pattern was not adopted for general use by the 
Admiralty until 1905. 




[To face page 142. 


giving proper instruction to the men and by using 
extemporised appliances could obtain 80 per cent, 
of hits from these guns, whereas the average of the 
Fleet was only 28 per cent., then the Fleet was 
52 per cent, of hits behind what it might have 
been, or in other words the British Fleet was only 
half as powerful as it ought to have been. 

Mr. Arnold White, who took a great interest 
in the gunnery of the Fleet, hit the Admiralty very 
hard by publishing the fact that in our most up-to- 
date Channel Fleet, the three most modern ships, 
Magnificent, Mars, and Hannibal, each armed with 
twelve 6-inch guns, had with their thirty-six guns 
made only eighty-four hits, while the Terrible with 
twelve guns had made eighty hits. By way of 
making the comparison still more pointed he added 
that two out of the three ships were Admirals' 

There were very good reasons for the gunnery 
of the Fleet being in such a deplorable condition. 
The Director of Naval Ordnance, who should be 
the most important man at the Admiralty, was not 
even a member of the Board ; he carried no weight 
and was unable to improve matters. There was 
no competition and consequently no incentive to 
improve. No notice was taken of suggestions 
made by officers who wished to improve the 
gunnery of their ships: they were frequently 
snubbed and from personal jealousy their ideas 
were boycotted. 

The prize firing, which was a test of the ships' 
proficiency for battle, was, by Admiralty order, to 
be carried out once a year, but any excuse was 
accepted for not obeying the order. The following 


table shows the number of ships that disobeyed 
the Admiralty order : 

1898. 1899. 1900. 1901. 

Number of ships of the Fleet 

that obeyed the order ... 139 136 121 127 

Number of ships that did not 

obey the order 33 32 39 47 

Admirals seldom or never attended on board 
their flagships when firing was taking place. 

I remember when 1 was in H.M.S. Scylla the 
case of an Admiral who devoted two days to the 
inspection of his ship. He visited every part of 
her, looked at all the paint-work, went most care- 
fully into the dress of the men, the length of their 
hair and the cleanliness of their clothing. As 
regards housemaiding and tailoring no inspection 
could have been more searching. On the third day 
of the inspection the ship carried out the annual 
prize firing with her heavy guns. It might be 
taken for granted that the Admiral, having so care- 
fully inspected the housemaiding of the ship, would 
have remained on board to witness her proficiency 
or otherwise in target practice, and from the results 
form an opinion of her fighting value. I made a 
bet that, as the Admiral did not attach any import- 
ance to target practice, he would take himself on 
shore before a shot was fired. I won the bet ! 

The annual return of the results of prize firing 
was never issued till late in the following year, when 
every one had forgotten all about it. It was a 
natural consequence of the absence of all interest 
in the shooting of the Fleet that no attempts were 
made to improve the gun-sights. In 1900 they 
were almost identical with the sights in use when I 
first joined the Navy in 1868. 


On the 22nd November, 1900, we left Wei-hai- 
wei, and after a visit to Japan arrived at Hong 
Kong. The island had been recently visited by a 
typhoon which did enormous damage in the har- 
bour and caused an appalling loss of life amongst 
the Chinese, many of their junks going to the 
bottom with all hands. Among other wrecks was 
a dredger called the Canton River. She had come 
from England to work on the new Admiralty 
Docks. She was 180 feet long, with a beam of 
36 feet, and displacement of 1000 tons. During 
the typhoon she was blown over and sank, three 
hundred and eighty feet from the sea-wall, turning 
bottom upwards. The first operation towards 
getting her up was necessarily to right her, and 
attempts had been made to do this, but without 

On the 17th December the lerrible arrived at 
Hong Kong, and, finding the dredger still bottom 
up, I made an offer to right her. The offer being 
accepted, work was commenced on the 2nd January, 
and she was righted on the 18th. 

The turning of the dredger was effected 
mainly by parbuckling, but this was assisted by 
lifting her on the opposite side with " lumps," and 
by forcing air into her, which displaced a large 
amount of water and thereby lightened her. The 
parbuckles were four in number, three of them 
capable of giving a pull of 100 tons each, and the 
fourth 50 tons total pull: 350 tons. The par- 
buckles were wire runners and tackles, with 
manilla five-fold purchases, the hauling parts of 
which were taken to steam winches on shore. The 
standing parts of the wires were taken to anchors 


buried in concrete. In all eight anchors were used, 
varying in weight from 2| tons to 15 cwt. In 
order not to bring too great a strain on any part 
of the sea-wall, they were distributed over a 
length of 100 feet. 

The parbuckle chains were three double and 
one single part of If -inch cable : they were passed 
with a complete round-turn round the vessel, the 
bights of the double ones and the end of the single 
one being secured by shackles or lashings to suit- 
able places on the upper deck ; the opposite ends 
were brought up over the bilge and on to a barge 
where the purchases were secured. Cradles were 
placed on the bilge of the dredger to distribute the 
strain and give leverage ; the barge was relied upon 
to ensure an upward pull. (See Plate 1.) The 
connection between the parbuckle chains and the 
purchases offered some slight difficulty, as it was 
found impossible to get any block which would 
stand a strain of 100 tons. It was overcome by 
making extemporary blocks out of the dredger's 
spare links, which had holes in them at both ends. 
Sheaves were cast and mounted between the links 
on a pin of the same diameter as the holes ; at the 
other end a similar pin was put through with a 
sleeve piece on it to prevent the two parts closing 
in. This sleeve had two thimbles on it, round 
which was passed a bale-sling strop, the bights 
being shackled to the ends of the parbuckle chain. 
This precaution was taken to ensure the chains 
bearing equal strains. (See Plate 1.) Counter 
parbuckles were laid out to prevent the vessel 
coming bodily in instead of turning. 

A lift on the opposite side was obtained from 











the bow of a tank steamer, and from two " lumps." 
These were filled and hove down at low water, and 
pumped out during the operations as the tide rose. 
(See Plate 2.) Air was pumped in by the 
destroyer Handy, and the water in the upper 
compartments of the vessel thus forced down to 
the level marked X on Plate 1, materially assisted. 

All being in readiness, on the 18th January the 
winches were hove round and the vessel turned 
over without a hitch. 

When a purchase became " two blocks " a 
carpenter's stopper was put on to take the strain, 
and the block shifted. These stoppers were in- 
valuable, and in future I had no hesitation in 
trusting the heaviest strains to them. In the 
righted position the vessel's upper deck was 9 feet 
below high water, and an examination of it by 
divers disclosed considerable damage. The bul- 
warks being crushed in had opened the deck where 
it joined the side, and several iron stays were forced 
through. The leaks were mended, coffer dams, 
raised above high water, placed round each hatch- 
way, and by the 1st March she was ready for 
pumping up. 

Four pumps were started (12-in., 9-in., 8-in. 
and 6-in.) ; the vessel, lightened, was turned round 
at right angles to the sea-wall, and dragged into 
shallower water. (See Plate 3.) 

On the 2nd pumping was resumed, the idea 
being to drag her along the bottom into still shal- 
lower water. The stern purchase was hauled 
taut, the vessel rose slightly, and there was every 
appearance of her coming in, when, unfortunately, 
a bad leak developed on the port side which the 


pump failed to keep under. This caused an excess 
of buoyancy on the starboard side, giving the vessel 
a list ; the great amount of top weight then came 
into play, and she turned over. 

On the llth March operations were started to 
turn her back again. Nine anchors were laid out 
in a line at right angles to her keel, and three par- 
buckle tackles of 100 tons each were rigged from 
them to six chains passed round the dredger. The 
hauling parts of two of the tackles were taken to 
the Centurion's foremost and after capstans ; the 
third was taken to the capstan of the mooring 
lump, which was secured to the Centurions 

The total strain on the Centurion's moorings 
was 75 tons. To assist, her port bower anchor 
was laid out. 

On the capstans being hove round the vessel 
was turned to an upright position without any 
difficulty. For a plan of the arrangement of 
tackles reference should be made to Plate 3. 

It was while stationed at Hong Kong that, early 
in 1901, I had the pleasure of meeting Lieutenant 
(afterwards Admiral) Wm. S. Sims, U.S. Navy, 
at that time serving on board the battleship 
Kentucky. He was a gunnery enthusiast and was 
trying to impress upon his Naval authorities the 
necessity of a reform in heavy-gun shooting. He 
based his arguments upon a comparison of the very 
bad shooting of the American Fleet at that time 
and the records made by H.M.S. Terrible in China 
in 1900 and 1901, pointing out that the fundamental 
defect in training was that American scores were 
based upon observation of the splashes of projectiles, 


while British scores were a record of actual holes 
made in a canvas target. 

It is not inappropriate to my own reminiscences 
to recall the part which Admiral Sims, as he after- 
wards became, took in reforming the gunnery of 
the United States Navy. Though then a junior 
officer, he felt impelled to report to the Navy 
Department at Washington on the unsatisfactory 
methods of training men in gunnery. He little 
anticipated the opposition which would be offered 
to his suggestions and the annoyance which would 
be occasioned by his criticisms. He began his 
campaign in a moderate spirit as befitted a junior 
officer addressing his seniors, observing all the 
ordinary regulations in bringing his views to the 
attention of the authorities. His memoranda 
reached Washington and were acknowledged, but 
he got little more satisfaction out of it than that. 
He wrote again and again, and at length the Naval 
authorities at Washington did not even take the 
trouble to acknowledge his communications. At 
last, this young naval lieutenant became desperate. 
He sat down in his cabin and prepared a report on 
the state of gunnery in the United States Fleet 
and mailed it in duplicate, sending one copy to 
President Roosevelt at White House, who since the 
time when he had acted as Assistant Naval Secre- 
tary had taken a great interest in everything 
connected with the Fleet. I forget at the moment 
to whom he sent the other copy. It was, of course, 
a gross act of insubordination for a junior officer to 
address the President, who was technically the 
Commander-in-Chief of the whole Fleet, ignoring 
the American Admiral on the station and all the 


senior officers at Washington. But Lieut. Sims 
accepted the risk. By some good chance the letter 
to Mr. Roosevelt actually reached his own hands. 
He sat down to study this young officer's letter. 
He was rather shocked by his criticisms of existing 
methods, but equally impressed by his suggestions 
for reform. So he forthwith sent a communication 
to the Navy Department stating that this young 
man was to be immediately sent for, given an 
opportunity of proving his contentions, and then, 
if he failed, it was significantly added, the senior 
officers in the department could do with him what 
they liked without consulting the President. 

So in due course an order reached Lieut. Sims, 
directing him to return to Washington. When he 
got there he found that, though the President had 
shown that he was concerned in the matter, he had 
not by any means rendered the path of Lieut. Sims 
smooth and comfortable ; on the contrary, quite a 
lot of people in influential positions were pre- 
pared to put obstacles in the way of this upstart, 
as they regarded him. Lieut. Sims worked on for 
some time, and then he saw that he could make 
little headway. Fortunately, one of the Admirals 
serving in the department was impressed by his 
knowledge, energy, and courage. He went to 
White House and represented the position of 
affairs to the President. The result was that 
Lieut. Sims was forthwith appointed Naval Aide- 
de-Camp to the President, which gave him 
freedom of access to Mr. Roosevelt arid insured 
his support. 

In this way the traditional conservatism of many 
older naval officers of the United States Navy was 


broken down. At length, this daring lieutenant 
was not only promoted, but a new office was 
created for him, and he became Director of Target 
Practice. Before he relinquished that appoint- 
ment, the gunnery of the United States Navy 
had been reformed, and he had become one of the 
outstanding officers of the Fleet. 

Some years later Captain Sims was in England, 
and committed another indiscretion. In a speech 
at a public dinner, given by the Lord Mayor at the 
Mansion House, he said that if England was ever 
menaced by a foreign power, "You may count 
upon every ship, every man, every dollar, and 
every drop of blood of your kindred across the 
sea." As American naval officers are not allowed 
to express in public opinions as to their country's 
policy, Captain Sims was admonished ; but when 
the United States decided to intervene in the 
Great War, and Mr. Wilson had to select an 
officer to command the American naval forces 
in European waters, his choice fell upon this 
" upstart " of earlier years, who was thus able to 
show once more that " blood is thicker than water." 

In this connection I may quote a letter I 
received from an American officer giving an 
account of the progress of reform : " With regard 
to our target practice, a new billet has been created. 
The Chief of the Bureau of Navigation considered 
that one man ought to be responsible for the shoot- 
ing of the Fleet, and selected Sims. His position 
is a peculiar one. Nominally he is on special duty 
acting under the Chief of the Bureau of Navi- 
gation, but really he is the chief adviser on 
all gunnery matters. Theoretically he has no 


authority, practically he has a lot, because the chief 
does not fool around with what is on file, but acts 
on his suggestions in the full belief that he has 
studied the matter, and thereby can arrive at more 
correct conclusions than those who have only 
considered these matters incidentally. Lieutenant 
Sims centralised the whole system of the training 
of gun pointers, and made prize firing squarely 
competitive, so that all ships might be graded on a 
basis of their rapidity of hitting. The very first 
practice under his system convinced the authorities 
that he was right and that much of the gun gear 
was all wrong." 

The United States Navy made wonderful strides 
in perfecting their shooting and quickly went ahead 
of us, while we, for our part, were strenuously 
resisting the competition the Americans believed 
in. In the words of Lieutenant Sims himself, 
" Competition is the chief incentive to do well. 
To do well you must have good men and sound 
gear. Competition will not only improve our men, 
but it will force the authorities to bring our 
fighting machines up to date." 

Lieutenant Sims held the position of Director 
of Target Practice until February, 1909. Event- 
ually, as I have said, he became Aide to President 
Roosevelt, in addition to his other duties, and 
subsequently he was appointed, by order of the 
President, to the command of the battleship 
Minnesota, being the only man of his rank to 
have such a command. Upon the completion 
of his two-year term of sea service, he was 
ordered to the Naval War College, at Newport, 
from which he graduated two years later and 


received the command of the Atlantic Torpedo 
Flotilla. During his administration of this latter 
command, the efficiency of the torpedoes and guns 
of the destroyers was, I am told, very considerably 
increased. He was singled out for special service 
by President Roosevelt, and when the United 
States entered the War in April, 1917, a guarantee 
of effective co-operation between the British and 
American Fleets was supplied by President 
Wilson's appointment of Rear- Admiral Sims for 
he had reached that rank in command of the 
Unit^i States forces sent to British waters. 

From this digression I return to the subject of 
gunnery on the China Station. Early in 1901 Sir 
Edward Seymour, 1 the Commander-in-Chief, dis- 
cussed with me the extraordinary results obtained 
by H.M.S. Terrible in her prize firing of 1900, 
and ordered me to preside over a committee to 
draw up suggestions for improving the regula- 
tions for prize firing in H.M.'s Fleet. I was to 
be assisted by Captain John Jellicoe, Captain Sir 
George Warrender, two Commanders, and ten 
Gunnery Lieutenants. Every detail was gone into 
most carefully, and a concise set of regulations were 
drawn up. The Commander-in-Chief approved of 
these, and they were adopted forthwith for use on 
the China Station. 

A copy of the committee's report was sent 
to their Lordships the Commissioners of the 
Admiralty, but they did nothing. I heard that 
they would not accept the proposed reforms, and 
discountenanced the modification of the target. 
Furthermore, they highly disapproved of placing 

1 Afterwards Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Seymour, O.M. 


the ships in order of merit in the annual return, 
instead of alphabetically. In short, they were 
quite satisfied with everything as it was, and 
strongly objected to encouraging emulation. 

The report, of course, never got to the Lords 
of the Admirality. They did not trouble their 
heads about gunnery suggestions coming right 
away from China Seas. The report went to a 
very junior lieutenant of H.M.S. Excellent, the 
gunnery establishment at Portsmouth. A good 
many people in the Service, I believe, regarded the 
results which we obtained in the Scylla and 
Terrible successively with not a little suspicion. 
1 dare say that this young officer, familiar with the 
ordinary shooting of His Majesty's ships in those 
days, could not believe that it was possible for any 
ship with proper instruments and decent training 
to do as well as we had done. So he turned the 
report down, deciding there was nothing in it of 

It may seem strange to readers who are un- 
familiar with Admiralty methods that a very 
junior lieutenant should have been in a position 
to turn down important recommendations of a 
very strong committee of officers, one of whom 
was afterwards to become Commander-in- Chief of 
the Grand Fleet and responsible for the safety 
of the whole Empire and the success of the Allied 
cause. These officers who formed the committee 
possessed a wide experience of gunnery, and had 
proved by results that the methods they proposed 
had greatly increased the fighting efficiency of the 
ships which had adopted them. This incident 
furnished an illustration of bad administration. A 



junior officer was able to hold back the whole 
movement of gunnery progress, and thus placed 
the Royal Navy at a disadvantage if war had come 
before there was time to remedy the mistake. 1 

Sir Edward Seymour's decision was not affected 
by the disapproval of his proposals. The com- 
mittee's reforms and rules were brought into use, 
and the shooting of the Fleet in China went 
ahead enormously a fact which later on extracted 
an official acknowledgment. 

In order further to encourage quick hitting on 
the China Station, Sir Edward Seymour presented 
a shield which was to go to the ship on his station 
making the highest score in prize firing. This, of 
course, the Admiralty could not stop. In his de- 
termination to encourage emulation Sir Edward 
Seymour went further. He issued an order that 
the ship making the highest scores in prize firing 
was to take the right of the line at all parades 
on shore or whenever a brigade was landed. This 
the Admiralty promptly countermanded by a curt 
telegram, which I saw. On a later occasion a 
question on the subject was asked in the House 
of Commons. The Admiralty's reply was, to say 
the least of it, strange. I leave the record of 
question and Answer to speak for itself. 

" Gunnery in the Navy. 

16 Mr. Harmsworth asked the Financial 
Secretary to the Admiralty whether the Admi- 
ralty had countermanded Admiral Sir E. H. 
Seymour's order when the Commander-in-Chief 

1 The Committee's proposals were subsequently adopted in 1905 by 
the Admiralty of which Lord Fisher was First Sea Lord. 


in China, to the effect that the ship holding the 
Seymour Challenge Cup for good shooting would 
always take the right of the line at all parades 
on shore or whenever a brigade was landed. 

" Mr. Arnold Forster said the Admiralty 
had given no orders with respect to this ques- 
tion, which was one entirely within the discre- 
tion of the Commander-in-Chief on the station." 

I found a great many officers were sceptical as 
to whether the Terrible had really made in 1900 
nearly 77 per cent, of hits ; * it appeared to them 
impossible. To obviate a recurrence of this doubt, I 
took out in the ship seventeen independent umpires 
for the 1901 firing, among them being Captain 
Jellicoe, Captain Sir George Warrender, and Cap- 
tain Windham. 

The firing was not as good as I anticipated it 
would be, as we had some miss-fires due to bad 
ammunition, but the men were delighted to find 
that they had equalled the Scylla and were again 
first ship of the whole Navy. The twenty-four men 
competing fired, in twenty-four minutes, 128 rounds 
and made 102 hits, which is 80 per cent. The use 
of the loading teacher, which I have mentioned, 
had increased the rate of fire from 4 '3 in 1900 to 
5 '3 in 1901. One man, named Grounds, actually 
fired eight times in a minute and made eight hits. 
Such a feat of shooting was then unprecedented. 

Captain Sir George Warrender, of the Barfleur, 
adopted the method of teaching employed in the 
Terrible, and after a month's training carried out 
prize firing. The result was conclusive. The ten 
guns on the Barfleur fired 159 rounds and made 

1 Seven years after this the average of the Fleet was 79 per cent. 


114 hits ; the year before their record was 111 
rounds and 47 hits. They had therefore nearly 
doubled their fighting efficiency. 

Apropos of this, Sir George Warrender told me 
rather an amusing story. Being anxious to en- 
courage his men to beat the Terrible, he promised 
to pay two dollars to every man who made over 
a certain number. The 114 hits rather astonished 
and delighted him ; he had to pay 20. When 
the payment was being made, one man, in gather- 
ing up about 2, looked very glum. To an inquiry 
if he did not like it, he replied with an indifferent 
air, that he did not mind it. What, asked Sir 
George, was the matter ? " Well," said the man, 
"it is the way you very kindly give us 4s. a hit ; 
we would have given you l a hit to have beaten 
the Terrible." This trifling incident revealed in a 
flash what was wanted ; but the Admiralty were 
blind to revelations. 

I was within signalling distance of the Barfleur 
when she carried out the firing. At the conclusion 
of it Sir George made the following very pleasant 
signal to me: "We have done splendidly 159 
rounds, 114 hits. This is nearly three times our 
score of last year. We owe our success to your 
instruction, and thank you." 

In reporting to the Admiralty the great im- 
provement in the Barfleur's shooting, Admiral Sir 
Cyprian Bridge, who had become Commander-in- 
Chief of the China Station, wrote 

" This shows that the advantages of Captain 
Scott's system are not confined to his own ship, 
but are making themselves felt in other ships of 
the squadron. 


"I have carefully examined the system at 
work, and have been much impressed by its 
efficacy. Jt is based on recognition of certain 
fundamental characteristics of human nature. 
It allows for excitability and moments of ' exal- 
tation ' in men loading, aiming, and firing ; and 
goes a long way towards neutralising both, by 
making provision for an immediate sedative. 
In my opinion it is, in the highest sense of the 
term, scientific. Therefore it is widely different 
from ordinary systems of training men to shoot, 
which consist essentially of mere repetitions 
sure to degenerate, in time, into formalism. 
Captain Scott's system is devised to put drill 
in its proper place ; to make it an assistant in 
attaining efficiency, not a master whose pre- 
dominance renders the attainment of efficiency 
impossible. I trust their Lordships will pro- 
hibit attempts to spoil it on the plea of im- 
proving it. 


"Vice- Admiral." 

Their Lordships did not take Sir Cyprian's 
advice ; they tried to improve it and spoilt it. 

In November, 1901, the Commissioners of the 
Admiralty wrote directing me to report fully upon 
the nature of the arrangements invented by me and 
stated to have improved the shooting of H.M.S. 
Terrible and Barfleur. 

I reported fully, but the only action taken by 
their Lordships was to issue an order which en- 
tirely spoiled the shooting of the Fleet with the 
smaller class of guns. In the Terrible the Com- 
mander, Commander F. C. Ogilvy, and two Lieu- 
tenants, Lieutenants R. Hutchinson and G. P. 


England, had taken infinite pains in training the 
crews of the 12-pounder, 6-pounder, and Maxim 
guns. Telescope sights had been fitted to them, 
and other arrangements had been brought into use 
which I was anticipating would greatly increase 
their rapidity of fire. The telescope sight on the 
Maxim gun we found doubled its efficiency. 

This training was entirely thrown away, for 
under the Admiralty orders referred to the target 
was at such a distance that the men could not see 
whether they were hitting or missing. In these 
circumstances skill was eliminated ; all the gunners 
could do was to fire as fast as possible and trust to 
luck. 1 

I may conclude this chapter with some obser- 
vations on firing at long range. The South 
African War had taught us that our guns on shore 
could make good practice up to 16,000 yards, and 
that from an elevated position we could spot the 
fall of shot at that range. On board ship we had 
never fired a gun at more than 1600 yards, which 
is very little over the range used in the time of 
Nelson. We knew that if we went into action we 
must fight a long way outside this range to avoid 
the risk of being sunk by a torpedo. We knew 
that, whether firing across a room with a saloon- 
pistol or firing a 12-inch gun at 16,000 yards, 
there is only one way to hit the mark ; that is to 
spot where your last shot or broadside has gone 
and then alter your aim accordingly. We could 
not do this as we had then, in 1902, no electrical 
contrivance aloft (where the spotter must be in 

1 This fatal error was not put right till March, 1905, when T became 
Inspector of Target Practice. 


long-range firing) for conveying to the guns the 
range of the enemy, although I had devised and 
used such a machine in H.M.S. Inconstant, twenty 
years prior to this date. 

All we had in 1902 was a voice-pipe, which 
was, of course, useless when the guns were firing. 
Consequent on this state of affairs, we could only 
train our men in individual firing at a range short 
enough for them to see whether they were hitting 
the target or not, and they never fired a shot at 
the range they would have had to use in action. 

In 1901, Admiral Sir John Fisher attempted 
long-range firing in the Mediterranean. His 
idea was really to demonstrate to the Ad- 
miralty that long-range firing could not be 
successfully carried out without the necessary 
implements, and so force the Admiralty into 
supplying the instruments. His intention was 
undoubtedly patriotic, but as it so happened it was 
very bad for the country. 

The Admiralty seized on it at once, and, 
through Parliament, announced that successful 
firing had been carried out at 6000 to 7000 yards, 
and that orders had been issued that all fleets and 
squadrons were in future to carry out their firings 
at these or even longer ranges. This reply was 
good enough for the House of Commons, and 
enabled the Admiralty to continue jeopardising the 
country, by not supplying instruments which were 
necessary to enable the Navy to fight at the ranges 
they would have to use in war-time. 

An Admiral, writing to me on the subject, asked 
me, since the Admiralty had issued no instructions 
as to how the long-range firing was to be carried 


out, to make a suggestion. I replied that the 
Admiralty had not given any instructions because 
they knew they could not be carried out without 
the necessary instruments, and these they did not 
want to supply. I advised him to inquire of the 
Admiralty how, without the necessary instruments, 
he was to carry out the long-range firing. This, I 
added, would corner the Admiralty, and force 
them to do something. The gallant Admiral did 
not approve of cornering the Admiralty; he 
pointed out to me that it was the duty of every 
Naval officer to do as he was told, and make the 
best use of the appliances that were supplied to 
him. This was undoubtedly a very proper reply, 
but if I had abided by such a sentiment, the 
gunnery of the Navy would never have improved. 

About a year afterwards, as Inspector of Target 
Practice, I was on board this gallant and very 
proper Admiral's ship during her battle practice. 
The bugle sounded the " commence firing " and 
after the allotted time the "cease firing." The 
ship then closed on the target to count the hits. 
There were none. 

I dined with the very proper Admiral that 
night and we discussed the shooting. He ad- 
mitted that his ship's bad shooting was due to 
the Admiralty, but argued that they were not to 
blame because their money was controlled by 
politicians who did not consider the welfare of 
the nation, but only whether any proposal would 
tend to keep them in office or not. Under these 
conditions he did not agree with the five years' 
attack that I admitted having made on the 
Admiralty. I replied that possibly to some extent 


the politicians were to blame, but that as I could 
not attack them, my only course was to " go for " 
the Admiralty. I think in the end he agreed with 
me, for I saw afterwards a very strong letter from 
his pen pointing out that long-range firing could 
be no more carried out without the necessary in- 
struments than one could make bricks without 



Wei-hai-wei Controversy Naval Base or Seaside Resort? Wei-hai- 
wei's Useless Forts A Report to the Admiralty Further Work 
stopped Final Prize Firing Petty Officer Grounds' Record 
The Homeward Voyage A Congratulatory Address Reception 
at Portsmouth Visit to Balmoral The King's Deer Drive How 
I shot a Hind His Majesty's Interest in Naval Gunnery. 

IN August, 1901, we visited Shen-Hai-Quon, a 
Tartar city very like Peking, situated at the end 
of the Great Wall of China. Just opposite to 
where we anchored the Great Wall had been 
pierced to allow the railway to pass through it, and 
a lot of the huge bricks were lying about. A 
midshipman brought one of these on board. I 
asked him what he was going to do with it ; he 
said that when he had money enough to build 
a house he would use it as the corner-stone. 

From here we went on to Japan and visited 
most of the principal ports. At Tokyo we were 
most handsomely entertained by the Japanese 
Admiralty, and I met Admiral Shimura, a Japanese 
officer who had been in the Duke of Edinburgh 
with me, and whose brilliant services in the Chino- 
Japanese War of 1894 had won him a distinguished 
position. En route south we called at Wei-hai- 
wei, and Dr. Morrison, then correspondent of the 
Times, and now Political Adviser to the Chinese 
Government, stayed with me for a couple of days. 
What a wonderful man he is ! 



Wei-hai-wei, which lies very near Port 
Arthur, has been the subject of many discussions, 
and owing to the vacillation of opinion an enor- 
mous amount of British money has been wasted on 
it. It was a very strongly fortified Chinese naval 
station, and was captured by the Japanese from 
China in 1895, Port Arthur falling into their hands 
the same year. 

Why the Japanese were not allowed to keep 
the two fortresses which they had so gallantly 
fought for and won, I do not know, but the 
circumstances in which they were forced to 
evacuate them are well known. Wei-hai-wei 
came into Great Britain's possession in 1898, and 
the question arose as to what we were to do 
with it. The Terrible was at Wei-hai-wei from 
June until September, 1900, so I had ample 
opportunities of gauging its possibilities. It had 
been in our possession for two years, but the 
authorities had not decided what use they should 
put it to. 

With the Russians only 100 miles away at 
Port Arthur, the Germans very near at Kiao-chau 
and the Japanese not very far off with a powerful 
fleet, it was obvious that unless we made it very 
strong it would be no use to us. This meant 
fortifying it, and fortifying the mainland opposite 
to it. Hence this idea was out of the question, 
and there appeared to be no other course open but 
to leave it as it was and use it as a training station 
for the British ships on the China Station, for 
which purpose it was admirably situated, as there 
were facilities for carrying out all the practices and 
exercises necessary to prepare a man-of-war for 


battle. I discussed the matter with Captain (after- 
wards Viscount) Jellicoe, Sir Edward Seymour's 
Chief of Staff, who had come down among the 
wounded from Taku, and he held the same view. 
Sir Frank Swettenham was also of this opinion, but 
added that the portion of the mainland which 
had been conceded to us should be used as a 
seaside resort for the Europeans of North China. 
Another suggestion was to build forts on the 
island, but to have no dockyard and no break- 
waters, and no forts on the mainland. It was 
obvious to any one with a grain of common sense 
that this scheme could not possibly be accepted. 
Why fortify an island if you had nothing on it for 
the forts to protect ? Why build forts which could 
be shelled from the mainland, and why build forts 
to protect a harbour which in war-time would not 
have been safe to anchor in ? 

An officer remarked to me that the suggestion 
was so ridiculous and so impossible that he believed 
H.M. Government would adopt it. I felt con- 
strained to reprove this implicit disbelief in official 
intelligence, but he proved to be right. 

On my revisiting Wei-hai-wei at the end of 
1901, I found that three forts had been almost 
completed at a cost of about a quarter of a million 
of money, and that much more was to be spent in 
transforming the island into a military station. 
The waste of money appeared to me so wicked 
that I wrote officially to my gallant Commander- 
in-Chief at that time, Sir Cyprian Bridge, pointing 
out that the forts would be of no use when they 
were finished, and suggesting that he should ask 
the Admiralty to have any further work stopped. 


This letter, I think, went into the waste-paper 
basket, but fortunately for the British tax -payers, I 
sent a copy of it privately to the Second Sea Lord 
of the Admiralty, who replied to me that my letter 
made the matter so clear that he had laid it before 
the Board, and that they had advised the Govern- 
ment to stop further work on the fortifications and 
to withdraw the troops. 

Shortly afterwards, we received a telegram at 
Wei-hai-wei to stop further work on the forts. 
When this order arrived, the forts were completed 
with the exception of putting the guns into them. 
In that state they remain as monuments of inde- 
cision and vacillation of opinion. 

In both Houses of Parliament questions were 
asked respecting the production of reports and 
documents showing the grounds of the Govern- 
ment's decision to abandon the work of fortification. 
In the House of Lords the Earl of Selborne 
replied that the papers were confidential and would 
not be produced. Viscount Goschen pointed out 
that H.M. Government had come to the conclusion, 
evidently on fresh information acquired, that the first 
opinions as to the value of Wei-hai-wei as a naval 
and -military base could not be sustained. Lord 
Rosebery pointed out that four years before the 
whole country had rung with praises of Wei-hai-wei 
and its future value. It was to be a place of arms, 
a naval station, a coaling station ; but now that 
270,000 had been spent on the forts and they were 
nearly completed, the Government had suddenly 
discovered that Wei-hai-wei was unsuited for the 
purposes for which it had been so loudly proclaimed, 
that it was only of value as a holiday resort, and 


that the troops would be withdrawn from it and 
the forts left unfinished. 

In the House of Commons, on the 1 Oth February, 
1902, Mr. Arnold Forster stated that the decision 
to discontinue the fortifications was arrived at on 
purely strategic grounds, and was not the result of 
any special report, and that there were no docu- 
ments to show, a statement at which Mr. Bryce 
expressed a natural surprise. 

In May, 1902, our third and last prize firing 
took place. For two years we had been the best 
ship in the Navy, but this time we had to come 
down a little owing to very peculiar circumstances. 
The firing took place at Mers Bay, a short distance 
from Hong Kong, the weather was very bad, the 
men could only with great difficulty work on the 
targets, and most of our boats were stove in. It 
was not a day when any other ship would have 
fired, but I had such confidence in the gun layers 
that I wished them to show that they could do as 
well in rough weather as in fine. We commenced 
firing. One gun layer, William Bate, a superb 
shot, who for the last two years had never missed 
the target, scored nothing all misses a long way 
over. Two or three men who fired after him got 
very few hits. Feeling sure that there was some- 
thing wrong with the cordite, I stopped the firing, 
and had pressure gauges put in, with the result 
that we discovered we were getting a ton more 
pressure than we ought to have, and consequently 
an abnormal velocity which sent all the shots over. 
The gun sights were readjusted, and the remaining 
twelve men who fired made 88*2 per cent, of hits. 
I subsequently discovered that my energetic 


torpedo lieutenant had been up all night testing 
the primers in the cartridges. The tests had been 
carried out in the ammunition passage which, as 
we were under steam and in the tropics, was at a 
temperature of at least 125 C. The fact that the 
cordite was exposed to this temperature for the 
night, of course accounted for the condition which 
we found in the morning. 

Petty Officer Grounds did not fire until after I 
had ordered a readjustment of the sights. He 
maintained his position as best shot in the ship by 
firing hi one minute nine rounds and making seven 

Two months after the prize firing, Grounds, 
who had for three years been the best shot in the 
whole of the British Navy, died suddenly from 
cholera. This petty officer had established a record 
which practically revolutionised our naval gunnery 
and I regarded him as a man worth more than his 
weight in gold. 

On the 26th June, 1902, we were at Hong 
Kong, and every one was anxious to do something 
to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward 
VII. I remembered having written Scylla in 
human letters on the rocks at Candia, and decided 
to write " God save the King " on the Terrible 's 
side in the same way. The fourteen letters took 
about two hundred and fifty men. 

In July, 1902, we received orders to proceed to 
England, and on the 29th we steamed out of 
Hong Kong. We touched at Singapore, Aden, 
Suez, Port Said, Malta and Gibraltar, arriving at 
Portsmouth on the 18th September. As we 
had left Portsmouth on the 19th September, 


1899, we had been away for almost exactly three 

The Navy League sent me an address and the 
Council of the Society of St. George a telegram, 
both of which are reproduced below. 

" To Captain Percy M. Scott, R.A T ., C.B., 

H.M.S. Terrible." 
" SIR, 

"The Executive Committee of the Navy 
League, on behalf of the members of this 
Society, would beg to tender to you, the officers 
and crew of His Majesty's Ship Terrible, their 
most cordial congratulations upon your safe 
return to this country. 

" As citizens and taxpayers, we take this 
opportunity of conveying our thanks for the 
great services by sea and land which you and 
your ship's company have rendered to the 
Empire, and we would refer especially to the 
signal service performed by you in mounting 
heavy guns for use before Ladysmith and in 
the field, as also the improvement in gunnery 
practice of the Navy, which has largely been the 
result of the record firing by His Majesty's 
Ship Terrible. 

66 We have the honour to be, Sir, 
" Your obedient servants, 

" R. YERBURGH, President. 


" M. S. TROWER, Chairman of 
the Executive Committee. 


" The Council and Members of the Society 


of St. George offer a very hearty welcome to 
Captain Percy Scott and the officers and men 
of the Terrible upon their return to the shores 
of Old England. They have proved that they 
did not forget (nor ever will) the imperishable 
signal of heroic Nelson, 4 England expects every 
man will do his duty.' ' 

On the 23rd the citizens of Portsmouth enter- 
tained us at a public banquet. The Mayor, 1 in 
proposing the toast of " Our Guests," referred to 
various incidents that had happened during the 
commission, concluding his speech as follows : 

" On behalf of my fellow-townsmen, I 
would say to you, the officers, petty officers, 
and men of the Terrible, we feel that in tender- 
ing you our tribute of respect and esteem and 
our expression of heartful thanks, we are only 
acting as the mouthpiece of the nation at large. 
You have earned our deepest gratitude, and 
maintained nobly and well the grand traditions 
of our first line of defence." 

In reply I said : 

" On behalf of the officers and men of the 
Terrible, I beg to thank you very much for the 
magnificent reception that the inhabitants of 
Portsmouth have given us, and for the kind 
manner in which you have proposed the toast. 
The borough of Portsmouth has been for so 
many years and is so closely connected with 
His Majesty's Navy, that a welcome from its 
citizens naturally finds full appreciation in the 
hearts of a ship's company, most of whom have 
residing in the neighbourhood all that is dear to 

1 Major (afterwards Col. Sir) William Dupree. 



them. I need hardly tell you how anxiously 
the order for our return was looked forward to, 
how eagerly all the home papers were scanned 
for some indication of our relief being commis- 
sioned, and how easily any rumours, no matter 
how unreliable the authority, were seized upon 
and believed, and it would be impossible for 
me to make you realise how hearty was the 
cheer which rang through the ship when I 
passed word that orders had been received for 
our return to Portsmouth. Much as we looked 
forward to our return, your welcome has en- 
tirely outdone anything that was dreamt of, 
and your reception of us will, I am sure, never 
be forgotten by any officer or man of the 

66 With regard to the South African War, 
even before it commenced I realised that it was 
purely a soldiers' war. The Boers had no navy 
to fight, no seaports for us to secure, no com- 
merce for us to attack, and the theatre of 
fighting was too far inland for a naval brigade 
to go. The small number of infantry that we 
could land would be inappreciable, and the only 
field service guns that we had to land were of 
the same pattern as the Royal Artillery. It, 
therefore, appeared obvious that it was a war in 
which the Navy could take but a small part. 
A lucky chance, however, arose. The Boers 
had got long-range mobile guns, and our Army 
had not. This ill-wind blew good to us. It 
was an easy matter to get a few Cape waggon 
wheels, put a bit of wood on the top of them, 
and on to that ship long-range 12-pounders ; 
then one had a gun equal in range to those 
employed by the Boers. When heavier guns, 
such as 4 "7-inch and 6 inch, were required, it 
only meant a little more wood and stronger 


wheels. These guns were found rather useful, 
and allowed the Navy to work once more 
beside the sister Service in the field. The 
manufacture of gun-mountings, however, was 
not a very happy or fortunate event for me 
personally, as it meant my being left at the 
base to make more, and so precluded me from 
commanding my own officers and men. How- 
ever, they were fortunate enough to be com- 
manded by Captain Jones, the present Flag 
Captain here, an officer who, by his capability, 
tact, and the cordial friendship which he ex- 
tended to the * Terribles ' made it a pleasure to 
work under him, and I was glad to hear from 
him that they had done well. You mention, 
Mr. Mayor, the services performed by Com- 
mander Ogilvy, Mr. Wright, and their guns' 
crews at the first battle of Colenso. The saving 
of two 12-pounders by them on that occasion 
was a feat which all of us in the Terrible have 
been very proud of. When the native drivers 
had all bolted and the bullocks had all been 
shot, getting a couple of guns away was not an 
easy matter. 

"I am extremely obliged to you, Mr. 
Mayor, for the kind way in which you have 
referred to my services as Commandant of 
Durban. Some of the duties I had to perform 
there in restricting civil rights would have been 
very irksome had I not been in such a loyal 
colony as Natal, where the aim and object of 
every one was to help, and I am glad to see that 
the valuable services rendered by Sir David 
Hunter and Major Bousfield have been recog- 
nised by the country. In North China, the 
officers and men again had an opportunity of 
working ashore with the sister Service, and 
eventually found themselves quartered in the 


forbidden city of Peking, and I am very glad 
to see that one man who was shot through the 
brain there is well enough to enjoy your hos- 
pitality to-night. I have to thank you also 
for the very kind reference which you have 
made to the shooting of the ship. 1 feel sure 
that the captains of the guns and the officers 
who have taken such care and trouble over their 
instruction will fully appreciate your remarks 
and, further, that your public reference to it on 
this occasion will do much to stimulate a desire 
in others to follow their example. As Captain 
of the Terrible, it has always been a great 
satisfaction to me to know that, if we had to 
fight an enemy, I could go into action with a 
perfect reliance on the men behind the gun. I 
beg, again, in the name of the officers and men 
to thank you and the citizens of Portsmouth 
for this magnificent reception, and to assure you 
that it is fully appreciated by us all, and at the 
same time to add that on board the Terrible 
we all appreciate our luck in coming in for two 
campaigns, but we all know that we have done 
no better than any other of His Majesty's ships 
would have done under similar circumstances. 
If in any little details the Terrible has been 
successful, I owe it all to the loyal co-operation 
of my officers and men." 

On the 1st October, by royal command, I 
visited the King at Balmoral. On arrival His 
Majesty invested me with the insignia of Com- 
mander of the Bath and Commander of the 
Victorian Order, and presented me with a minia- 
ture of the Commander of the Bath in order 
that I might wear it at dinner. His Majesty 
informed me that I should go with him the 


next day to a deer drive at Invercauld. The 
next day, in driving over, His Majesty, noticing 
that I was wearing a white shirt and collar, told 
me that as soon as the drive commenced I must 
cover them up as the deer had a very quick eye for 
any spot of white. 

The forest round Invercauld is an ideal country 
for deer, having plenty of cover and, at the same 
time, good open spaces. It was then let for the 
shooting to Mr. Neumann. There were five rifles, 
the King, Earl Howe, Sir John Willoughby, 
Captain Gordon Wilson and myself. We were 
placed in capital positions, and had not long to 
wait before the deer came in sight. One group 
looked as if they were coming towards me, but 
they turned towards His Majesty, who brought the 
stag down with a fine shot. Sir John Willoughby 
and Captain Gordon Wilson also got a stag each. 

In driving back to Balmoral His Majesty said 
that as I had not got a stag he would send me out 
the next morning stalking. I had an early break- 
fast, and was driven out to the high ground near 
Balmoral. En route I tried my rifle, which was a new 
one. I paced out ninety yards, pinned an envelope 
on a tree and fired at it. The bullet struck almost 
in the centre, and the cautious gillie said this 
" would do." We saw a good many deer, but they 
were difficult to get at. After a very long craw r l 
we came on a fine stag ; he was about eighty yards 
off and facing me. I fired at the centre of his 
chest, whereupon he turned to the right and 
walked away. In horror I exclaimed that I had 
missed. "Oh no," said the gillie in very broad 
Scotch, "you hit him through the heart." We 


found him quite dead about five yards from where 
he was when I fired. The gillie informed me that 
stags when shot through the heart often behave in 
this eccentric manner. 

We started off on another stalk and I got my 
second stag, a very bad one with one horn broken. 
It was an easy shot as he ran by me at about forty 
yards. We then made a long detour round a hill, 
and with a telescope could see a herd of about 
twenty hinds with one fine stag. The wind was 
favourable for us, and we got up to within about 
seventy yards of them. The stag was standing 
quite still and broadside on to me it was an easy 
shot. I fired at his shoulder, and to my chagrin 
he went off unhurt. "I've missed him," I ex- 
claimed to the gillie. "The hind took it," he 
replied. The fact is that at the moment of firing 
the hind had run up in front of the stag and the 
bullet struck her spine instead of entering the 
shoulder of the stag. 

On my return to Balmoral the King congratu- 
lated me on getting three heads. On my apolo- 
gising for having shot a hind, His Majesty explained 
that at this season of the year the old stags were 
lazy and unappreciative of danger, and that the 
hinds had to urge them on. For a hind to get the 
bullet instead of the stag was not an infrequent 
occurrence, as in looking over the sight of a rifle 
you could not see what was below the point you 
were aiming at. This explanation was a great 
relief to me, as I thought I had committed a grave 
offence in shooting a hind. 

The next morning I had a long interview with 
His Majesty with reference to gunnery results of 


FRANCE : " Lucky girl ! She's got her ' Terrible ' Boy home again. My enfant 
Terrible appears to be hopelessly at sea." 

[The blazing indiscretion of the French Minister of Marine has lately been the 
subject of general European comment.] 

Reproduced by kind permission of proprietors of "Punch" Sept. 24, 1902. 

[To face page 176. 


H.M. Ships Scylla and Terrible. I explained that 
the gunnery of the whole Fleet was in a deplorable 
condition, and that the principal reasons for it were 
the inefficiency of our gun sights, the lack of 
interest taken in gunnery generally, and the absence 
of competition. I told the story of Sir George 
Warrender and his men, and His Majesty remarked 
that every one knew that Englishmen would do 
nothing without competition. 

I went on to explain that the desire of the 
Admiralty to keep the results secret was only 
because the results were so bad, but that emulation 
and competition could be attained by preparing 
two returns one confidential, giving the actual 
number of rounds fired and hits made ; the other a 
public return showing the ships in order of merit 
on a system of points. As a result of the conversa- 
tion His Majesty said that he would have a letter 
written to the First Lord of the Admiralty (Lord 
Selborne) suggesting the introduction of these two 

On the evening of the 4th I left Balmoral. 
The Terrible was rapidly dismantled, and on the 
24th October was paid off. Punch published a 
cartoon on the subject. 



Efforts towards Reform Admiralty Obstruction Waste of Ammuni- 
tion Official Reprimands Two Gunnery Committees appointed 
Conflicting Reports The Centurion's Gun Sights A Tardy 
Discovery The Dawn of a New Era. 

ON the 1st April, 1903, I was appointed Captain 
of H.M.S. Excellent, the School of Gunnery, and it 
was quickly brought home to me what a flood of 
opposition I should have against me if I attempted 
to improve the shooting of the Fleet. The officers 
of the Excellent were at first a little loth to believe 
that all they had been doing was wrong, but their 
ideas soon changed, and then they co-operated 
most loyally and heartily with me. 

In a very short time we modernised the in- 
struction given to officers and men. All the 
instructional machines that had proved so useful in 
China were brought into use, and the qualifications 
of the men as shots were decided on the number of 
hits made on a target. 

At this time, although the Fleet had not the 
necessary instruments for the purpose, 1 long-range 
firing was being carried out. As to how it was to 
be done no instruction had been issued, and the 
Commanders-in- Chief were therefore left to carry 

1 Of. Chapter IX. 


[To face page 178. 


it out in any way that seemed fit to them. The 
Commanders-in- Chief on various stations held very 
diverse opinions on the method to be employed, 
and some strange battle practices resulted. In 
some cases the ammunition might just as well have 
been thrown overboard. 

In order to help matters, 1 made some proposals 
to the Admiralty in December, 1903, and suggested 
that H.M.S. Drake, then commanded by Captain 
John Jellicoe, should be placed at my disposal to 
carry out certain experiments which were necessary 
before putting forward a complete scheme of 
practising for battle at what was then considered 
to be long range. 

I asked for H.M.S. Drake because I considered 
that Captain Jellicoe l was at that time conspicuous 
for his knowledge of gunnery among the captains 
of the Fleet. 

My scheme was exceedingly simple, it consisted 
of firing broadsides. In a former chapter I have 
pointed out that in the short-range practice it was 
no use men firing unless they could see whether 
their shot had hit or missed. This, of course, could 
not apply to long-range firing, for it would be im- 
possible to see a hit either on a target or an enemy 
at four to five miles. In an action you might get 
an indication that you were hitting by the enemy 
kindly going down, blowing up, or catching fire, 
but you could not make a target which would 
perform these functions, so some new method had 
to be devised from which an assumption could be 
formed as to whether the target was being hit or 
not. To meet the case I suggested that broadsides 

1 Afterwards Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Jellicoe of Scapa, O.M. 



should be fired, for the following reason. When a 
volley, or broadside, say of six guns, is fired, the 
shots do not all go in the same place, but open out 
a little. Broadsides are sometimes very regular. 
If they spread as indicated in the diagram and a 
battleship is anywhere in the zone, she will evidently 
be hit in her vital part (shaded) by three out of 
the six shots. 

Height out of water of hull 
of ship, 36 ft. Beam or 
breadth, 72 ft. 

200 Yards 

Here was the solution of the problem, for if the 
observer saw one shot short of the target, he could 
assume that he was hitting with some of the others. 
This is what is called straddling the enemy. 

That this was the only guide as to whether you 
were hitting or not was not accepted as a fact until 
1909, so we lost six years of progress, and even 
when it was accepted it could not be put into 
practice because we had no means by which we 
could fire our guns in broadsides, so further pro- 
gress was delayed. 

The experiment I wanted carried out was in 
connection with what I have referred to as the 
zone. It was necessary to know into what space 
the shots would probably fall, and if some of them 
fell wide of the average, then the gun sights would 
require correction. I called it calibrating the guns. 
It had not been thought of before. Their Lord- 
ships would not allow me to carry out this experi- 


merit, and progress was hindered. 1 In my letter 
to the Admiralty applying for H.M.S. Drake I 
pointed out to their Lordships that before she 
could carry out the experiments it would be ne- 
cessary to supply her with new gun sights. Since 
1900 I had been pointing it out to them. Their 
Lordships well knew that the gun sights were 
inefficient, but they did not like being reminded 
of the fact. So on the 2nd March, 1904, they 
replied as follows : 

" Their Lordships strongly disapprove of the 
remark which distinctly implies that the Drake 
is not now furnished with serviceable sights, 
whereas the sights fitted to her guns had every 
improvement embodied in them when they were 
designed and made, and are of the same pattern 
as fitted to modern ships generally," 

Their Lordships did not approve of my en- 
deavours to improve the gunnery of the Fleet, 
and no steps were taken as regards calibration 
until they went out of office. But though they 
frowned on my proposition to investigate the long- 
range firing question, a few months later they 
decided to form two commitees, one presided over 
by Admiral Sir Reginald Custance, in the Vener- 
able ; the other presided over by Admiral Sir 
Hed worth Lambton, 2 in the Victorious. The two 
committees were to have a free hand and fire what 
ammunition they liked ; they were to investigate 
thoroughly the whole subject of long-range firing ; 
and they were to draw up a scheme of target 

1 This necessary experiment was delayed until 1905. 

2 Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hedworth Meux, M.P. 


practice, and decide what targets should be used. 
At the conclusion of their experiments the two 
bodies were to meet and send in one joint report. 

After wasting an enormous amount of ammuni- 
tion the committees found themselves diametrically 
opposed on most of the important points, and in- 
stead of a joint report they sent in two separate 

Their Lordships decided that the suggestions 
and system put forward by Sir Reginald Custance, 
of the Venerable, should be adopted for use in all 
ships, but they added a clause "that alternative 
systems might be used instead of it." 

The suggestions put forward by the Venerable 
committee were so impossible that all ships took 
advantage of the last paragraph of the Admiralty 
letter, and the battle practice remained a "go as 
you please " operation, every ship using any method 
it preferred for grouping and firing its guns, and 
every Commander-in- Chief adopting his own par- 
ticular scheme. No rules were laid down by the 
Admiralty and there was no competition. 

Reorganising the Gunnery School and teaching 
the men to shoot was quite an easy matter, but 
when I surveyed the general state of the gunnery 
in the Fleet I found it deplorable. And in the 
background was an apathetic Admiralty disinclined 
to improve it. 

All the gun sights were inefficient ; we had no 
proper regulations for prize firing, no proper targets, 
no instruments for carrying out long-range firing, 
no authorised scheme for battle, no suitable target 
for long range. There was no scheme for testing 
the gun-sights, and we had no efficient sub-calibre 


guns, and no efficient aiming rifle. The Germans 
at this period were far ahead of us. 

Although the Scylla and Terrible had shown 
what could be done, and what was required, the 
Admiralty had taken no steps to improve matters. 
They had acted on none of the suggestions put 
forward, nor would they allow that the gun sights 
were inefficient. 

In 1898 it had been demonstrated by H.M.S. 
Scylla that when firing with a telescope sight the 
man looked through the telescope with one eye 
and shut the other. As he had not a third eye, 
any corrections requiring to be applied to his sight, 
either elevation or deflection, had to be put on by 
another man. As explained in an earlier chapter, 
I supplemented the guns' crew by a man and 
christened him the " sight-setter." For this inno- 
vation I got a reprimand from the Admiralty, but 
about two years afterwards their Lordships recog- 
nised the essential point and allowed an additional 
man at each gun for sight-setting. 

On inspecting some new gun sights on board 
H.M.S. Lancaster in 1903, I found no provision 
had been made for a sight-setter to work them, 
and since they had many other defects also, I 
referred to them in my report as inefficient. Their 
Lordships, on the 27th October, 1903, informed me 
that they did not approve of the tone of my letter. 
They strongly deprecated the use of such an ex- 
pression as " inefficient " when applied to fittings 
which had been adopted by the Admiralty as the 
outcome of many years of experience and after 
consultations with eminent designers outside the 
Service. All the gun sights of the Fleet were, 


nevertheless, inefficient, and every one knew it. 
The Admiralty knew it, but they did not want to 
do anything, and they boycotted every recom- 
mendation I put forward. 

Lord Charles Beresford, the Commander-in- 
Chief of the Channel Fleet, had frequently referred 
to the inefficiency of our gun sights, and Admiral 
Sir Cyprian Bridge expressed his opinion of them 
in the following language : "It would not be 
possible to characterise with more than deserved 
severity the atrocious scandal of our inefficient gun- 
sights ; the sights of H.M.S. Centurion's guns were 
so defective that she was not fit to go into action." 

The story of H.M.S. Centurion is worth telling. 
In 1904 new gun sights were made for her. It was 
my duty as Captain of the Gunnery School to 
examine them and report whether they were ser- 
viceable or not. They were tested and found 
incorrect, so I could not pass them. The Admi- 
ralty tried to cajole me into passing them, but I 
would not, so they sent down one of their own 
officials who passed them, and the ship was sent 
to China with gun sights so defective that, as 
Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge stated, the ship was 
not fit to go into action. 

As the Admiralty remained immovable, on the 
llth January, 1904, I wrote the following letter 
to their Lordships : 

" The most important item of any gun 
mounting is the sighting appliance. 

"Our sighting appliances for all natures of 
guns are, I consider, at present most inefficient, 
and my opinion is that all the guns in the 
Navy should be re-sighted. 


" It is unnecessary for me to specify the 
defects, as I have so often done so during the 
last five years. It is unnecessary for me to re- 
capitulate the facts which have led to our gun 
sights being in their present condition. I only 
wish to again urge the importance of consider- 
ation being given to the matter. 

" I feel it my duty as Captain of the Excel- 
lent to continue urging, and to place on record 
that I have urged the matter to the utmost of 
my power and ability, for in the event of war, 
and our inefficiency in sighting proving dis- 
astrous to the Fleet, had the Captain of the 
Excellent not called the attention of the 
authorities to the deficiency he would have 
been criminally in fault." 

This letter was too much for the Admiralty. 
They did not reprimand me nor did they appear to 
mind my again using the expression "inefficient." 
They were obliged to do something, so they had a 
conference and discovered (what every one else 
knew) that all the gun sights of the Fleet were 
inefficient, and that the guns of the whole Fleet would 
have to be re-sighted. 

Vitally important as the question was, their 
Lordships proceeded in their usual dilatory and 
unbusinesslike way, and consequently very little 
was done towards re-sighting in 1904. 

On February 24th, 1904, H.M. King Edward 
VII. came to Portsmouth and visited Whale 
Island. We had a sham fight and my motor-car 
took part in the attack. It was covered in so as to 
represent an armoured car, and a Maxim gun was 
mounted beside the driver. Like all authors of 
new ideas I was laughed at, but His Majesty 


informed me that he considered that armed motor- 
cars would be a feature in future warfare. The 
soundness of that view was fully demonstrated 
during the late war, which saw the armed motor-car 
develop under the pressure of events into the now 
famous tank. 

My two years as Captain of the Excellent were 
one continuous battle with the Admiralty. They 
were as determined that the gunnery of the Fleet 
should not be improved as I was determined to 
improve it. Every suggestion that they could 
possibly delay, or turn down, they did. They 
ruined the gun layers' test by increasing the range 
to such an extent that the men could not see 
whether they were hitting or missing ; they issued 
such ridiculous instructions as regards the King's 
Medal for good shooting that on some occasions it 
had to be tossed for. During this period of mal- 
administration Lord Selborne, who was the First 
Lord of the Admiralty, was stumping the country, 
and declaring in his speeches that, " Gunnery, 
gunnery," was considered by the Admiralty to be 
of vital importance. And on the 24th March, 1904, 
he wrote to me as follows : " The Lords of the 
Admiralty have for long devoted and are still 
devoting their whole heart and soul to the question 
of improving the gunnery of the Fleet." 

Fortunately for the country, shortly afterwards, 
before they could do any further harm to gunnery, 
Lord Selborne and his Board were replaced at the 
Admiralty, and, as Punch rightly surmised, there 
was no more " Gunnery Hash." 

I may perhaps refer here to an incident in my 
career which was not naval. On the 13th June, 


1903, I was made an Honorary LL.D. of Cam- 
bridge. The other recipients were the Duke of 
Connaught, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord 
Grenfell, and Sir John French. We were all 
assembled in one of the colleges, where we were 
provided with red gowns, and thence marched in 
a procession across the grounds to the Senate 

The Senate House was crowded with under- 
graduates, who gave us a wonderful reception, and 
made some very funny remarks on our combina- 
tion of full dress uniform and red gowns. The 
Duke of Devonshire, who was Chancellor, stood on 
a raised platform, and taking each recipient by the 
hand made a speech in Latin. What he said about 
me, translated into English, is as follows : 

" Captain Percy Scott had distinguished 
himself in naval warfare off the mouths of the 
Niger, the Congo, and the Nile. As Com- 
mander of H.M.S. Terrible, he had reached the 
coast of Natal at a critical moment, when his 
ingenuity and resourcefulness had made it 
possible for the great naval guns of that vessel 
to be effectively used on land, and thus supplied 
our soldiers with absolutely unexpected rein- 
forcements at a time when they were sorely 
needed. He had since distinguished himself in 
a similar manner off the coast of China, and 
had brought his formidable cruiser safely back 
to the harbours of England amid scenes of 
enthusiastic congratulation. He was the fittest 
recipient of the final crown of that day's 

" ' Ceu pressse cum iam portum tetigere 
carinae puppibus et laetae nautse imposuere 



The ceremony was followed by a luncheon, 
a reception, a dinner, and a dance. Professor Sir 
Alfred and Lady Ewing took me into their house 
and made my couple of days at Cambridge very 



Appointment as Inspector of Target Practice Battle Practice Con- 
ditions Order out of Chaos Improvement at Last My Visit to 
Kiel The Chief Defect of the German Navy A Lost Experiment 
" Director Firing." 

ON the 24th February, 1905, I was appointed 
" Inspector of Target Practice." By the terms of 
the original Order in Council the position was 
described as "Director of Target Practice," the 
Admiralty desiring to copy what the United States 
of America had already done in making Captain 
W. Sims Director of Target Practice. 

Captain Sims was a very able Director. He 
was backed by the United States Naval Depart- 
ment and by the President of the United States, 
consequently he could do something. But if I had 
been appointed as Director it would have been a 
very different thing. I should only have been 
backed by Sir John Jellicoe, who was then Director 
of Naval Ordnance : but in name only, for he had 
little power to do anything and was not a member 
of the Board of Admiralty. It was useless for me 
to try to play Captain Sims' part without his power, 
so I got the name changed from " Director " to 
" Inspector " of Target Practice. 

We have never had a "Director" of Target 



Practice, and, much as it is wanted, I do not think 
we are ever likely to have one until the Admiralty 
are forced into recognising that gunnery is of 

The comment of Mr. Gibson Bowles, M.P., on 
my appointment was unusual. He remarked that 
Admiral Sir Percy Scott " had made the gunnery " 
of the Navy in spite of the Admiralty, and asked 
what the Admiral's new duties were, for he was a 
" rather peculiar wild animal to let loose on a tame 
Board of Admiralty" (Times, 8.3.05). Why Mr. 
Gibson Bowles called me a " peculiar wild animal " 
I do not know. 

My new duties were to attend as many firing 
practices as I could, report on them, and offer 
suggestions for improvements. The first thing I 
had to do was to carry out experiments for cali- 
brating the gun sights, which the Admiralty had 
disallowed in 1903. I do not think that they 
realised the importance of it. The experiments 
were quite successful. A calibration range was 
established, and it has been in use ever since. 

During 1905 I attended all the firings carried 
out by the Channel, Atlantic and Mediterranean 
Fleets, and had ample opportunity of seeing what 
a terrible state we were in as regards preparedness 
for war. To my lay readers it must appear a wonder- 
ful thing that, although a man-of-war is in reality 
only a platform to carry about guns, no attention 
was given to teaching the officers and men how to 
use the guns ; the whole energy of the Navy was 
devoted to beautifying the ships. 

Sir John Jellicoe, whose appointment as Director 
of Naval Ordnance coincided with mine as Inspector 



of Target Practice, had rescued the gun layers' 
test from the chaos that Lord Selborne's adminis- 
tration had left it in, and in 1905 it was carried out 
in a fairly uniform manner. But the results were 
shocking, the Fleet only hitting the target 56 
times out of every 100 shots fired, and some 
ships never hitting the target at all. My late 
ship, H.M.S. Scylla, that had been top ship of the 
Navy, came out at the bottom with a score of 

The battle practice for this year was deplorable. 
No rules had been laid down, the Fleet had no 
efficient sights for the guns, and they had none of 
the necessary instruments for carrying out firing at 
any range but a very short one. The consequence 
was that in my first year as Inspector of Target 
Practice the practice for battle was a " go as you 
please." Each Fleet did as it liked. Some used 
one pattern of target, some another ; some used the 
target moored, some used it drifting ; some opened 
fire at one range, some at another. As to organi- 
sation, there was none, and as regards methods 
of using the guns of the ship every gunnery 
lieutenant of a ship adopted his own particular 
method, and christened the method with some 
wonderful name. Of the 68 ships whose battle 
practice I attended 

21 ships styled their method of firing as Independent. 


Group Salvoes. 

Broadside Volleys. 
Controller's Salvoes. 
Rapid Independent. 


3 ships styled their method of firing as Rapid. 
2 Electric. 

1 ship styled its 


Independent Control. 
Group Volleys. 
Rapid Controlled. 
Volleys by Groups. 
Single in Rotation. 
Controlled Group Volleys. 
Group Independent. 
Sectional Volleys. 

These various terms meant that all the gunnery 
lieutenants were trying to do broadside firing 
without the means to do it, and without any 
assistance or guidance from the Admiralty. 1905 
was a record year for gunnery in one way ; the 
Director of Naval Ordnance, the Captain of the 
Gunnery School, and the Inspector of Target 
Practice were all working harmoniously together to 
improve naval shooting. This friendly relation had 
never existed in the Navy before. 

The result of this very proper combination was 
that during the latter part of 1905 I was very busy 
in getting out new rules, the D.N.O. in getting 
the neccessary material, and the Gunnery School 
in giving the officers and men the necessary 

At the end of the year the battle practice 
return was made out for the first time with the 
ships in their order of merit, and competition was 
thus introduced. These circumstances, combined 
with courts of inquiry on all ships that did badly, 
bore fruit in the following year, and the gunnery 
of the Navy began to improve. In 1906 a great 
many ships of the Fleet had efficient gun sights, 
and some of the material necessary for carrying out 



battle practice ; they had proper targets to shoot 
at, and they had rules to guide them in carrying out 

% of Hits 












This shows that from 1897 to 1900 no improvement was made in 
shooting. From 1900 to 1903 there was improvement. In 1904 it went 
back again owing to the unwise action of the Admiralty in increasing 
the range. In 1905, 190(5, and 1907 it advanced rapidly. 

the firings. The result was a very great improve- 
ment in the battle practice, and the gun layers' test 


advanced from a percentage of hits of 51 to a 
percentage of 71. 

The year 1907 showed a still further advance 
in battle practice. Although the range was con- 
siderably increased, the Fleet's average in hitting 
the target was just double what it was in 1905. In 
the gun layers' test the improvement was so marked 
that it was decided to reduce the size of the target 
for the firing in the following year's test. Many 
men in 1907 never missed the target at all, and the 
average of the whole Fleet was 79'1 of hits out of 
every 100 rounds fired, which is nearly double what 
it was in 1904. 1 

During the period of this great advance in 
naval gunnery Sir John Fisher (now Lord Fisher 
of Kilverstone) was First Sea Lord of the Ad- 
miralty, and Sir John Jellicoe (now Viscount 
Jellicoe of Scapa) was Director of Naval Ordnance. 

In 1905 we had a very high appreciation of the 
German Navy, but our information about it 
appeared to be very limited, and as we knew 
nothing of their gunnery I thought I would pay a 
visit to Kiel. Prince Henry of Prussia, who was 
then in command of the High Sea Fleet, sent his 
Flag Commander and Flag Lieutenant to meet me 
at the station, and I was conducted straight to his 
schloss, my luggage being dispatched to the hotel. 
In explanation of this arrangement Prince Henry 
told me that he had to leave for Darmstadt in an 
hour, and that he wanted to talk with me before his 
departure. Our conversation was almost entirely 
confined to gunnery. He had evidently followed 
our progress very closely, and was quite depressed 

1 Cf. Appendix I. 




Reproduced by kind permission of the proprietors of " Punch,' 

[To face page 194. 


when he referred to his own great difficulties and 
the impossibility of making a Navy on a short- 
service principle, for a sailor could not be made in 
three years. The system provided a reserve of 
more than the numbers required, but these men, 
he said, would be no good when called up. The 
War was to prove the correctness of this opinion. 
I had intended remaining at Kiel only three days, 
but Prince Henry asked me to stay another day 
so as to dine with him on his return. Meanwhile 
he put at my disposal his Flag Commander and 
Flag Lieutenant to show me round, but he added 
that I must not ask to see their range-finder as it 
was very secret. I did not want to see their 
range-finder. I had tried it and condemned it. 
Zeiss, the maker, always brought his inventions to 
us before taking them to the Germans. 

For the next four days I was all day and half 
the night in the society of German officers who 
all spoke English fluently and were all connected 
with naval gunnery. I am quite sure that they 
were selected officers, and that they decided day 
by day what questions should be asked me, because 
I was never asked the same question twice. We 
were under the impression then that the Germans 
knew everything about our Navy, and I was con- 
sequently much surprised at the simplicity of their 
queries. Some referred to things that were obsolete 
in our Navy ; for others they could have found the 
answers in almost any of our published books and 
newspapers. In short, I came to the conclusion 
that they knew very little. Nor, on reflection, 
could it have been expected to be otherwise, since 
they had no time to devote to the higher grades of 


training in gunnery, all their time being taken up 
in teaching the recruits the elementary part of a 
sailor's education. Prince Henry's flagship, the 
Deutschland, at that time had 60 per cent, of men 
of under three years' service. 

The German ships were in some respects very 
good, as in contradistinction to ourselves the 
race is quick in adopting new ideas, and their fire 
control instruments were ahead of ours. The 
backbone of a Navy is, however, the personnel, 
and herein they failed. Training recruits in Kiel 
harbour was like trying to make a sailor on the 
Serpentine. Professionally their education was 
bad, but it was bad morally also on account of the 
example set to the men by their officers. I found 
out that only a small percentage of the officers 
were gentlemen, and that they treated the men 
very badly. They were not sportsmen, they played 
no games, and their only form of recreation was 
beer and dissipation. This, no doubt, accounts for 
their cowardly and brutal conduct during the War, 
and also for the fact that their fleet, without firing 
a shot, was driven into British harbours as meekly 
as a flock of sheep. 

After my visit to Kiel, having seen the enormous 
elevation the Germans were giving their guns, I 
realised that they contemplated firing at very long 
range, and that we might expect a large proportion 
of hits on the deck instead of on the side armour. 
To test the matter I suggested using an armoured 
hulk as a target, and a drawing of the ship was made. 
Admiral Jellicoe, who was at the Admiralty, 
was keenly interested, and some experiments were 
carried out to see if as a measure of economy we 




[The appointment of Sir Jons FisilES as First Sea Lord is a guarantee that such scandals as that of the Cc.ittur'wn gun-sishts'will not be repeated. 

Reproduced by the kind permission of the Proprietors of " Punch." 

[To face page 196. 


could use some of the old wrought-iron armour. 
It was found that this old armour would not keep 
out the modern shell prejectiles, and that we should 
have to plate the hulk with the hardest armour. 
Money could not be obtained for that purpose, 
and the idea was dropped. 1 The information we 
should have gained from this experiment we learned 
at the Battle of Jutland by the destruction of some 
of our ships. 2 After this battle additional deck 
protection on an extensive scale was provided in 
the majority of our heavy ships. 

In the autumn of 1907 I had to give up the 
post of Inspector of Target Practice, on being ap- 
pointed to command the Second Cruiser Squadron 
attached to the Channel Fleet, which was under 
the command of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford. 
At the same time Sir John Jellicoe left the Ad- 
miralty to take command of the Atlantic Squadron. 
During our time in office we not only managed to 
introduce many reforms in naval gunnery, but tried 
hard to introduce " director firing." Unfortu- 
nately the Director of Naval Ordnance was not a 
member of the Board of Admiralty, and conse- 
quently carried no weight as regards naval gunnery, 
and this very necessary method of firing was not 
generally adopted until seven years afterwards, 
when war proved that the guns in our ships were 
of no use without it a fact which throws a very 
heavy responsibility upon the Board of Admiralty, 
which boycotted its introduction in former years. 

1 The last correspondence I had with the Admiralty about this hulk 
target was dated 19th February, 1913. In that letter I again strongly 
advocated the proposal. 

2 "The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916," by Admiral Viscount Jellicoe, 
p. 420. 



En Command of the Second Cruiser Squadron Obsolete Ideas In- 
adequate Training for War Housemaiding the Ship Paramount 
The Test of War Confusion and Unreadiness Wrong Pattern 
Torpedo Lord Charles Beresford and the Admiralty H.M.S. 
Good Hope's Gunnery First in the whole Fleet Our Cruise in 
Northern Waters My New Appointment An Independent Com- 
mand A New Routine and Efficiency. 

ON the 15th July, 1907, I hoisted my flag in 
command of the Second Cruiser Squadron, con- 
sisting of the Good Hope, Argyll, Hampshire, 
Duke of Edinburgh, Slack Prince, and Roxburgh. 
We were attached to the Channel Fleet, and as 
we were generally in company with it, I, as a 
flag officer, had nothing to do ; a flag officer had 
practically no control over his squadron when in 
the presence of a senior officer. 

Throughout the Navy in 1907 the rule was 
that the senior officer made out a fixed routine 
which all ships had to follow, irrespective of the 
time they had been in commission. What exer- 
cises the ships are to perform ; what clothes the 
officers and men are to wear ; what boats the ships 
are to use ; what awnings the ships are to spread ; 
when the men are to wash their clothes ; when and 
how the washed clothes are to be hung up, and 
when they are to be taken down all these are 



matters over which captains of ships have no juris- 
diction ; they are settled by the senior admiral 

One very important rule attached to the con- 
duct of a fleet ; whenever the senior officer's ship 
did anything, all the rest of the ships in the fleet 
had to do likewise, and if the senior officer's ship 
forgot to do what she ought to do, then the other 
ships must not do it. Any one can see how this 
makes for efficiency ! I remember coming up on 
deck once and finding that, although it was pouring 
with rain, the guns were not covered. I pitched 
into the officer of the watch, but got the worst of 
it; he informed me that he could not cover the 
guns as the flagship had not yet covered hers. It 
is the rule of the Service that a senior officer can 
do no wrong. We preserve our manners at the 
cost of efficiency. 

Special permission could, under some circum- 
stances, be obtained from the senior officer for not 
following his example, but wireless telegraphy has 
introduced a difficulty in deciding who the senior 
officer is. On the occasion when I was senior 
officer at Portland, an Admiral, junior to me, came 
into the harbour with some washed clothes hanging 
up to dry. Seeing that my flagship had no washed 
clothes hanging up to dry, he made a signal, " Per- 
mission is requested to keep my washed clothes 
hanging up, as they are not dry." I granted him 
the permission, but a heated argument took place 
afterwards as to whether I was right or wrong in 
so doing, as an officer, senior to me, was about ten 
miles out to sea, and 1 could have passed the 
request out to him by wireless telegraphy. No 


decision had been arrived at on this important 
point before I gave up command of the squadron. 
The introduction of drying rooms for washed 
clothes in H.M. ships has greatly reduced the 
amount of signalling with regard to where and 
how clothes are to be hung up. 

One of my captains pointed out to me that on 
account of the structure of his ship he sometimes 
required an awning spread when the senior officer's 
ship did not. I had to inform him that, although 
I was in command of the squadron to which his 
ship belonged, I had no authority to grant him 
permission to spread an awning, but I could forward 
his request on to the senior officer present. 

Signalmen in all ships were trained to keep a 
smart look-out to see if any ship had a pair of 
trousers hanging in the wrong place. I suggested 
that it would have been of more war value if they 
were trained to find the periscope of a submarine. 
Such an idea was considered very ridiculous ; no 
departure could be made from the old and obsolete 
notions which obtained throughout the Service. 
Our brains and energy were not used in training 
for war ; housemaiding the ships was to remain as 
it had been the paramount consideration. 

This is the training for war we all had, and the 
expression "all" included, as a rule, their Lord- 
ships the Commissioners of the Admiralty. Hence 
it is not surprising that when war did come, the 
Admiralty was in a state of dislocation and con- 
fusion. One department was wiring to a squadron 
of ships to do one thing, while another department 
was giving it contrary orders. There was little 
organisation and little method, and we allowed the 


German cruisers in Far Eastern waters to get out 
of port and prey upon our commerce, with the 
result that we had to employ ships for several 
months in rounding them up, whereas a little 
intelligence properly directed would have blockaded 
them all in their harbours on the day war was 
declared or forced them to fight. 

In addition, we had no up-to-date mine layers, 
nor an efficient mine ; no properly fitted mine 
sweepers ; no arrangements for guarding our ships 
against mines ; no efficient method of using our 
guns at night ; no anti-Zeppelin guns ; no anti- 
submarine precautions ; no safe harbour for our 
Fleet, and only a few ships (eight) were partly 
fitted with a proper method of firing their guns. 
Our torpedoes were so badly fitted that in the early 
days of the war they went under the German ships 
instead of hitting them. This was very galling to 
our submarine officers and men, who displayed great 
gallantry in getting at the German ships. 

Training naval officers and men as housemaids 
is not good for war ; brains are required. But, 
however faulty our training in peace may have 
been, it did not affect the character of the British 
naval officer and seaman. Whether in a ship, sub- 
marine, balloon, aeroplane, motor-car, tank, or as 
a soldier, the men who bore an anchor on their 
caps, and others who wore a sou'-wester, fought 
with bravery not surpassed by any men in the 
world. Of the many thousand who went to the 
bottom of the ocean, a large number might be 
alive now if in peace-time our legislators had 
attended to the war preparedness of ships instead of 
chiefly to the housemaiding of them. I once heard 


a statement that " the blunders of our politicians 
and legislators are paid for with the blood of our 
sailors and soldiers." How terribly the War has 
demonstrated the truth of this statement ! 

I return from this digression to resume my 
narrative of the Good Hope. Having practically 
no command of my squadron, I employed my time 
in trying to improve the shooting, and I succeeded 
so well that the Good Hope became, like the 
Scylla and Terrible in other years, top ship of the 
Navy. >'< 

My senior officer, the Commander-in-Chief of 
the Channel Fleet, was Admiral Lord Charles 
Beresford, 1 and it happened that the First Sea 
Lord was Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Fisher. 2 
Lord Charles Beresford had on many occasions 
expressed his disapproval of the policy of Lord 
Fisher as regards his redistribution of the Fleet. 

Lord Charles Beresford's grievance against the 
Admiralty was that they were forming another 
fleet in home waters under the name of the " Home 
Fleet," and that it was not to be under his com- 
mand. He explained to me that this Home Fleet 3 
was a fraud on the public and a danger to the 
State ; that so grave was the disorganisation and 
confusion, that, if the country had been suddenly 
attacked, the Navy, in his opinion, would have 
suffered a reverse, if not a severe defeat. Lord 

1 Afterwards raised to the Peerage as Lord Beresford. He was a most 
popular officer. In the Navy we knew he was not a sailor, but thought 
that he was a politician ; in the House of Commons, I have been told, 
they knew he was not a politician, but thought he was a sailor. P.S. 

2 Afterwards Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. 

3 The first Fleet of the Home Fleets later on became the Grand 


Charles appeared to be of opinion that he could 
either enforce his views on the Admiralty, or 
procure the retirement of the Sea Lords ; that the 
Admiralty were not to remain in control of the 
Navy unless they accepted him as a dictator of 
what they should do. He was, in fact, to be an 

I listened to all this. Very politely, I refused 
to join in a campaign against the Board of 
Amiralty. In so doing I fully appreciated that 
my Commander-in-Chief would be much annoyed. 
I remained firm in my determination to do my 
duty to the country and the Admiralty as I saw it. 
Soon afterwards, whether by a mere coincidence or 
otherwise, a charge of insubordination was made 
against me, and Lord Charles applied in the 
strongest possible terms to the Admiralty that I 
should be superseded in the command of my 
squadron. Their Lordships, the Commissioners of 
the Admiralty, of course, did not supersede me. 

I should have been well content never to think 
of this episode again, so trivial in its origin. But 
there are strong reasons against ignoring the 
matter. Under such headings as " Admirals' 
Quarrel," " Difficulties in the Navy," " Scott too 
Free," the incident was related, so far as the facts 
were known, and commented on in the columns of 
the daily and weekly Press throughout the country. 
The story was retold in the Dominions ; it was 
discussed with relish by the enterprising journals 
of New York ; it woke journalistic echoes in Paris 
and Berlin. While the newspapers were furiously 
raging together, and for some time after, my 
mouth was closed, and I was still on the active 


list when four years later Lord Charles Beresford 
published his book " The Betrayal," in which, with- 
out mentioning me by name, he thought fit to cast 
reflections upon my character and ability as an 
officer. This attack seemed to me to demand 
notice, and as soon as I retired on promotion to 
Admiral, I took steps to present to the public, 
through the courtesy of the editor of the British 
Review, a "Reply to Lord Charles Beresford." 1 
There I am content to leave the matter. 

My attention in the meantime was devoted to 
fitting my flagship, H.M.S. Good Hope, with 
"director firing," so that if she had to fight a 
German there would be a chance of her remaining 
on the top, instead of going to the bottom. 2 

This operation was difficult, as I could get no 
assistance from the Admiralty, and was forced to 
beg, borrow, or steal all the necessary material. 
Fortunately, I had a very competent and clever 
torpedo officer, Lieutenant Charles Rice (a son of 
Admiral Sir Charles Rice). This officer made out 
all the drawings, and supervised the work, which 
could not have been done without him. His 
untimely death was greatly regretted. He was 
killed through the fall of an aeroplane in which he 
had gone up to demonstrate the utility of a wire- 
less telegraphy invention he had devised. The 
nation lost a very valuable officer, and I lost a very 
charming friend, 

As H.M.S. Scylla and H.M.S. Terrible, my two 
former ships, had been the top ships of the whole 

1 The British Review, April, 1913. 

2 H.M.S. Good Hope subsequently had to fight a German and she 
went to the bottom with all hands, but she had not then the description 
of director with which I fitted her. 


Fleet in shooting, H.M.S. Good Hope was very 
anxious to occupy the same position. Both officers 
and men worked hard, "and in the competitions 
the ship came out top of the Channel Fleet, but 
seventh in the whole Fleet. This result was 
disappointing to me. It may be of interest to 
give the figures : 


Heavy gun-layers' test. 

Light Q.F. gun-layers' test. 


6 and 3-pr. 

Good Hope ... 6 '6 
King Edward VII. 6-1 

Good Hope 
New Zealand 


Good Hope 8'6 
Argyll 6-4 

Hibernia 5 '6 



Irresistible ... 3 '6 

Commonwealth 5*3 

King Edward V 

II. 5-7 

Formidable ... 3 '3 



Talbot ... 


Venerable 2*5 





Talbot ... 




Black Prince 


Hibernia ... 






Britannia ... 


Commonwealth 3 '4 

New Zealand 



. 2-4 







Argyll ... 






Dukeof Edinburgh 2'6 

Sapphire 2 '3 

Some of the scores by the Good Hope's gun 
layers were out of the way at least in those days 
so I append them. The Good Hope had to steam 
at a speed of about twelve knots, and her gunners 
were required to fire at a target measuring only 
eighty square feet which was just under a mile 
distant. The vessel mounted two 9 '2-inch guns of 
the Mark X. type, firing 380 Ib. projectiles, and 


sixteen 6-inch breechloading guns of the Mark VII. 
type, firing 100 Ib. shells. The results were as 
follows : 

9'2-lNCH GUNS. 

C. Todd, C.P.O 

E. Burgess, P.O. 1st class 


Rounds fired. 


Hits scored. 


6-IsrcH GUNS. 

E. H. Brown, Gunner R.M.A. ... 

R. W. Newman, A.B 

J. Brown, Gunner R.M.A. 

L. S. Young, P.O. 1st class 

A. C. Atkins, Corporal R.M.A. ... 

A. Hazelgrove, A.B 

F. J. White, P.O. 1st class 
C. Parsons, P.O. 1st class 

M. Flavin, A.B 

A. Colwell, P.O. 1st class 

C. Lord, C.P.O 

C. E. Rice, Leading Seaman 

C. W. Smith, Leading Seaman ... 

C. J. Sommerill, P.O. 1st class ... 

G. H. Cooper, Gunner R.M.A. ... 
J. Dilkes, A.B 


... 10 

































The run for the 9 -2-inch guns was two minutes, 
and for the 6-inch guns one minute, and therefore, 
in summary, the average result of each gun per 
minute was as follows : 

Per minute each gun. 

9'2-in. guns ... 
6-in. guns 




The shooting with the 6 -inch guns was then 
without parallel in the British Fleet. 

The commanding officer of the Good Hope was 
Captain E. H. Grafton, while the gunnery officer 
was Lieut. J. L. S. Kirkness. 

It was during Fleet manoeuvres of this year 


that we experienced great difficulty in the matter 
of cipher messages. Under the system then in 
use valuable time was frequently lost and many 
mistakes occurred. I remember getting one signal 
to take my ship to a certain spot indicated by 
latitude and longitude. It was realised that a 
mistake had been made when the position as indi- 
cated proved to be the Sahara Desert. 

Putting a message into cipher or de-coding a 
cipher involved the use of several books, a process 
which occupied much time and made it easy to 
commit errors. I conceived the idea of a double 
typewriter, the message being sent in cipher and, 
passing through the typewriter, coming out en 

I designed such a machine and submitted it in 
February, 1907, to the Admiralty, who expressed 
the following opinion on it : " The machine appears 
to be indestructive, is quick in working, save for 
a person unaccustomed to typewriting, and mis- 
takes are improbable and easily detected and cor- 
rected." Mr. Winston Churchill said that this 
machine filled him with hope that I had solved or 
was about to solve the difficult question. 

The Admiralty " secret " patented the invention 
and consigned it to themselves, and then, in accord- 
ance with their usual practice, started to improve 
upon it . Seven years afterwards, on the 6th of 
July, 1914, their Lordships informed me that they 
waived the right of secrecy of my invention, and 
that I could put it on the open market if I wanted 
to do so. In other words they turned it down, and 
the Admiral had to fight the Battle of Jutland 
with the handicap of the old appliances. 


Lord Jellicoe has declared l that the time of the 
receipt of a signal is not a true indication of the 
time at which the officer making his report com- 
menced his task. A variable but considerable time 
is bound to elapse a period which includes the 
time taken to write out the report, to transmit it 
to the wireless office or bridge, to code it, signal it, 
de-code it on board the receiving ship, write it out 
and transmit it to the bridge. It was this very 
delay that my mechanical coder or de-coder was 
designed to avoid. 

Early in 1908, we went for a cruise round 
Ireland and Scotland, and visited many interesting 
places, finally getting back to Portsmouth in May, 
1908. After a short stay, we received an order 
again to paint the Fleet, this time to do honour to 
M. Fallieres, the President of the French Republic, 
who was to cross to Dover. Dover for a few days 
was very gay in entertaining the officers and men 
of the Leon Gambetta, the man-of-war which 
brought over England's illustrious guest. 

These international amenities concluded, the 
Fleet went back to Portland, and H.M.S. Good 
Hope carried out her 1908 firing test. This time 
Captain Grafton and the officers obtained the 
place they desired, namely, top ship of the Fleet. 
The score of one hundred and twenty hits out of 
one hundred and fifty rounds was then unpre- 
cedented. I was very glad of it, as I liked every 
ship I was in to be absolutely the best in shooting. 

The routine, when with the Battle Fleet, was 
dull and uninteresting. To get out a bower anchor 
and get it back again is not the most exciting of 

i Lord Jellicoe's "Grand Fleet, 1914-1916," p. 318. 


tasks, and even a pull round the Fleet becomes 
monotonous after frequent repetition. The day of 
these old-fashioned evolutions should have come to 
an end long ago. Efficiency can only be arrived 
at by allowing individual captains to arrange 
independently for their men's training. A captain 
had then hardly one day at his disposal for the 
organisation of training classes in gunnery, and for 
teaching things to his men which have far more 
to do with modern warfare than exercises handed 
down from the days of sailing ships. 

Towards the middle of June the whole Fleet 
started on a cruise, with Christiania as its first 
halting-place. Such a large armada had never been 
previously assembled in Norwegian waters, and 
naturally excited considerable interest among the 
inhabitants of Norway. The Good Hope found 
herself relegated, with the cruiser squadron, to 
Bygdo Bay, a charming creek from which it was 
possible to land and walk the three miles into 
Christiania, or go direct by boat to the town itself. 
The officers thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality 
showered upon them, and several of them had the 
honour of being presented to King Haakon and his 
charming consort, at a dinner given in the newly 
decorated palace. 

At this dinner I was asked if I could not provide 
some little surprise for the morrow, when the King 
and Queen of Norway were going to steam round 
the Fleet. The request rather upset my appetite, 
as I could not think of anything. Fortunately an 
idea came. When I returned on board very late 
-I routed out the Commander. He and a few 
carpenters stayed up all night, and the next morning 


when His Majesty, the King of Norway, passed 
H.M.S. Good Hope, he saw traced in human letters 
on the ship's side the words " Leve Kongen," which 
means, I believe, " Long live the King," or at any 
rate it was the nearest that I could get to it in the 
time. I was with the King, on board his yacht, 
and both His Majesty and the] Queen were very 

The night before we left Christiania I gave 
a ball on board the Good Hope, and a more 
beautiful assemblage of ladies it would have been 
very hard to see. When we broke up I heard 
many an earnest farewell uttered, and many were 
the pledges mutually given of another meeting. 
For two or three days after leaving Christiania 
my officers were very dull ; the fair ladies of the 
northern city had made a deep impression on them. 

After this event, H.M.S. Good Hope was 
ordered home. We proceeded to Portsmouth, and 
on the 30th July, 1908, I had an interview with 
the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. McKenna, 
who informed me that I should no longer be 
troubled by Lord Charles Beresford, as the Ad- 
miralty had decided to place me in command of 
a squadron of cruisers to represent the Mother 
Country in South Africa, during the time of the 
assembly of the Convention for the discussion of 
closer union between the various states of the great 

As regards the last signal made to me by Lord 
Charles Beresford, Mr. McKenna informed me that 
he was very anxious to hush the matter up ; that 
he was going to make a statement in the House of 
Commons justifying my action, and that he hoped 


in these circumstances I would say no more about 
it. To this I agreed. Mr. McKenna made his 
statement in the House. It was so evasive that 
it would never have been questioned, had not 
Lord Charles years afterwards revived the ques- 
tion by writing and publishing an inaccurate 
account of it. 

Apart altogether from this personal matter, 
there was an obvious reason for the Admiralty's 
choice, since, with the possible exception of Sir 
Hedworth Lambton (afterwards Sir Hedworth 
Meux), I had been more closely associated with 
South Africa during the war than any other Ad- 
miral. I had many friends there, particularly in 
Natal. I was delighted with my new appointment, 
besides being more than pleased to get clear of the 
Channel Fleet. In my year and a half I had not 
been able to do anything, and I had learned nothing 
except how not to manage a fleet. 

While H.M.S. Good Hope was at Portsmouth, 
preparing for her long cruise, an interesting cere- 
mony took place. Princess Christian presented 
the ship with some silver plate and a silk ensign, 
which had been subscribed for by the ladies of 
Cape Colony. In a short speech Her Royal High- 
ness expressed her pleasure in making the presen- 
tation, adding that her feelings with regard to 
South Africa were of a very special nature an 
indirect reference to the lamented death of her 
son, Prince Christian Victor, which awakened the 
sympathetic interest of her hearers. 

At last, on the 8th September, 1908, we left 
Portsmouth, the squadron consisting of the Good 
Hope (flagship), the Antrim, Carnarvon, and 


Devonshire ; four fairly good ships. The moment 
that I had been looking forward to for many years 
had come at last. I was in command of a squadron 
of H.M. ships, and was in a position to do away with 
the existing routine, and convert all the ships into 
schools, with every one on board learning some- 
thing more useful about his profession than the 
housemaiding part of it. A man-of-\var must, of 
course, be housemaided that is, she must be kept 
clean. What I had to break down was the 
tradition that housemaiding should be the chief 
consideration. It had been so ever since I joined the 
Service, and the advancement of the officers and 
the men, and consequently the fighting efficiency 
of the Navy, had been entirely subservient to it. 

I gave an order to the squadron that all the 
housemaiding was to be completed by 9 a.m., and 
that from that time on all attention should be 
devoted to training the officers and men in the 
essentials of their profession. This order, com- 
bined with breaking down some of the traditions 
of the Navy, good in their time, but now out of 
date and obsolete, had the desired effect, as the 
following results will show. 

When I joined the squadron the ships had been 
fifteen months in commission, and during that time 
they had trained (under the old method of doing 
things) 900 men, which is 60 per month. In five 
months of the new method they trained 1000 
men, which is at the rate of 200 per month. The 
new method practically more than trebled the 
amount of instruction given, notwithstanding its 
being a first attempt, carried out against some 
opposition, and in difficult circumstances, as we 


were on a purely pleasure cruise. If this routine 
had been maintained, and had been applied to the 
whole Navy, it would have trebled the fighting 
efficiency of the Fleet ; but when I left the 
squadron on the 15th February, 1909, the routine 
I had instituted, and the " director firing " I had 
installed, were put on the scrap-heap, and the old 
methods reinstalled. That is one way we had in 
the Navy a determination to fight against any 
change, however desirable. 



En Route to the Cape Durban's Welcome The National Convention 
Old Foes and New Friends An Inland Trip At Pretoria and 
Johannesburg Lavish Hospitalities Farewell to Durban Fes- 
tivities at Capetown Farewell Messages Off to the New World 
Arrival at Rio Promoted Vice-Admiral Brazilian Enthusiasm 
The President's Visit to the Good Hope Uruguay and the Navy 
Speeches at Montevideo The Pelorus at Buenos Ayres A Great 
Modern City Departure from Montevideo Battle Practice at 
Tetuan I haul down my Flag. 

THE start of tlje voyage was a trifle inauspicious, 
for the weather was so boisterous that our departure 
was delayed for a few hours, but by the time the 
coast of Spain was sighted all traces of the gale had 
disappeared. On the 18th September the ship 
made her first stop at the barren island of St. 
Vincent, one of the Cape de Verde group, on which 
there is hardly a trace of vegetation from one end 
to the other. The Eastern Telegraph Company 
have a large transmitting station there with a staff 
of over eighty strong, who seemed very pleased to 
see the squadron. Thanks to their kindness, a 
short stay, which would otherwise have been most 
uninteresting, was rendered highly agreeable a 
pleasant foretaste of what was to come. 

On the 5th October, after having been sixteen 
days at sea, the squadron put into Saldanha Bay for 
a couple of days, completed with coal, and then left 



for Durban, where we were due to arrive in time 
for the opening of the National Convention. On 
Saturday, 10th October, the four cruisers rounded 
the headland known as " The Bluff," which juts 
out from Durban, and entered the harbour. 

Thanks to the large sums spent on dredging 
operations, Durban is one of the most commodious 
of ports, and the inhabitants were naturally not a 
little proud that ships of a draught of nearly 30 feet 
could come right up to the side of the quay and be 
tied up there just like a mail steamer. A great 
crowd had collected at the " Point," where I was 
to land, and at least 7000 of the townspeojfle must 
have given me a welcome when I set foot in the 
colony again after an absence of over eight years. 
The Mayor, Mr. C. Henwood, and Town Council- 
lors in their robes assembled on a dais which had 
been erected for the ceremony of presenting an 
address. After the usual introductions the Premier 
delivered an address, in which he was good enough 
to recall my past services in the colony and to 
thank me and my brother officers for coming from 
so far to lend dignity by our presence to an 
historical occasion. In reply I thanked the colony 
for the great honour done me in sending the Prime 
Minister to greet me, and expressed my pleasure 
at revisiting South Africa at the time of the 
important Convention. The Town Clerk then 
presented me with an engraved address enclosed in 
a silver-gilt casket, of which perhaps the most 
conspicuous feature was a water-colour picture 
representing the squadron entering the harbour. 

During the first week of the squadron's stay in 
Durban, the four cruisers were thronged every day 


with visitors, and entertainments galore were in 
progress for the men whenever they went into the 
town. A ball given on board the Good Hope 
made a marked impression on the majority of the 
guests, who were astonished at the ingenious 
manner in which the handy men could at short 
notice turn their floating box of machinery into a 
brilliantly illuminated ball-room with the large 
9*2-in. gun as an effective background. The meeting 
of the Convention had brought to Durban nearly 
all the celebrities of South Africa, and most of 
them were amongst the guests present on this 
occasion. I felt as I looked round the company 
that there was something impressive in the very 
fact of men like Generals Botha, De Wet, and 
Delarey sitting down side by side with Lord 
Selborne, Sir George Farrer, Sir Percy Fitz- 
Patrick, and many others who had taken such a 
prominent part in arms against them but a few 
years previously. A tribute it was, too, to the 
good feeling which had begun to reign in South 
Africa,' and the general desire to heal the wounds 
inflicted by a struggle which had in many parts 
all the horrors of a civil war. There was some 
speech- making in the course of the evening, and by 
way of disposing of the many rumours afloat as to 
the purpose of the squadron's visit, I quoted my 
sailing orders, so that it might be definitely under- 
stood that it was for the Convention, and for no 
other purpose, that I and my squadron were at 
Durban on October llth, the day on which the 
Convention began. 

Subsequently Sir Henry de Villiers, on behalf 
of the Convention, of which he was President, sent 


a message to England, through the High Com- 
missioner, conveying to the King an expression of 
" loyal gratitude for the gracious sympathy with 
the people of South Africa in this important period 
of their history, so signally manifested by His 
Majesty in commanding the cruiser squadron, 
under Rear- Admiral Sir Percy Scott, K.C.V.O., to 
proceed to Durban to greet the Convention." 

The following Sunday a contingent of men 
from each ship set out on a week's trip to the 
capitals of the inland States in a special train, and 
I left Durban with fifty-five of the officers by 
another special train. The Natal Government had 
provided for the comfort of its guests in a most 
splendid way. Their agent, Mr. Vivian, had 
thought of everything ; beds, food, wine, cigars, 
and even baths, were at the free disposal of all, and 
the trip was a revelation to many who took part in 
it of how comfortable railway travelling over long 
distances in South Africa can be made under 
favourable circumstances. 

Most of the journey through the Transvaal 
was accomplished by night, and at 9 a.m. on Wed- 
nesday, the 21st October, we found ourselves at 
Pretoria Station, where our hosts had arranged for 
carriages to meet us. The men had arrived on 
the previous day, and had already at this time set 
out on their way to Johannesburg. Kruger's house 
was certainly the most impressive of all the sights 
in Pretoria, and one gained from its dimensions 
and those of the simple verandah in front of it 
some idea of the homely character of the famous 
President. The old-fashioned little dining-room 
contained a bust of the old Boer President, and 


round it on all sides were a profusion of wreaths 
sent from every part of the world at the time of 
his funeral. In the cemetery not far off is the 
grave with a marble bust at the head of it, and 
within a few yards lie the remains of Prince 
Christian Victor. Over the monument to this 
brave young prince, who died for his country in 
company with hundreds of others lying near him, 
the officers of the Good Hope hung a wreath by 
way of testifying their respect for the dead, and 
their sympathy for the princess whom they had 
welcomed on board but a few weeks previously. 

Lunch was served at the Grand Hotel, and the 
Chief Justice, Sir James Rose-Innes, in proposing 
the health of the Navy, referred to the popularity 
of sailors wherever they go, and especially of British 
sailors. He spoke as one who had been the earliest 
to suggest a contribution from the Cape Govern- 
ment towards the upkeep of the Imperial marine, 
because he felt how bound up the prosperity of 
South Africa was with that of the Navy. Ministry 
had followed Ministry since that time, but this vote 
still stood in spite of the great financial difficulties 
with which in recent years South Africa had been 
confronted. He rejoiced also that this grant was 
not coupled with any local conditions or local 
control, for South Africa was not defended now off 
Durban or off Capetown, but wherever the Empire's 
foes were fought and smashed by the British Navy. 
On rising to respond, I thanked our hosts on behalf 
of the Navy, and reminded them that it was 
Trafalgar Day, and that this day henceforth would 
also be memorable to those present on account of 
this visit to Pretoria. For myself, I added, it had 


another personal association, for it was the birthday 
of my daughter, and had she been born three 
years later, I felt sure that she would have been 
christened " Pretoria." 

After a most enjoyable stay at Pretoria we 
went on to Johannesburg. The authorities there 
had determined to crowd the maximum amount 
of hospitality into the short time at their disposal, 
so that no sooner had their guests returned to the 
Carlton from afternoon sports in the famous 
Wanderers' Ground than they found it necessary 
to change for a dinner given in honour of the Fleet 
by the Mayor and Councillors of the City. Lord 
Methuen,the Acting Governor of the Transvaal, was 
present at the banquet, which was described next 
day in the papers as one of the most representative 
gatherings ever seen at such a function in Johan- 
nesburg. The Mayor, Mr. J. Thomson, proposing 
the toast of the evening, "Our Navy," looked for 
the time when the Transvaal would, like the Cape, 
pay its quota towards the expenditure involved in 
imperial defence. In my reply, I said I was going 
to take upon myself the very heavy responsibility 
of accepting on behalf of the Admiralty as much 
of the gold of Johannesburg as its citizens could 
afford to dispense with. Their Lordships would 
take this gold and transmute it into iron in the 
shape of battleships. I added that not only did 
all my officers and men wish most emphatically to 
revisit such a hospitable city, but I anticipated 
some difficulty in getting them all away that 

The scene of our departure from the station 
that evening was nearly as exciting as that of our 



arrival, for, in spite of a heavy downpour of rain, 
large crowds had assembled to wish the sailors 
good-bye. No regiment starting out on active 
service could have received a more enthusiastic 
send off, and as the train moved out of the station, 
the cheering must have been heard all over the 

Next morning Bloemfontein was reached, and 
here the Mayor had been joined by the military in 
dispensing the hospitality of the capital of the 
Orange River Colony. On arriving, the guests 
were told off in groups of five or six, and each 
group was allotted to one of the regiments who 
had brought carriages to take the visitors to the 
central square, where a large crowd had assembled 
to welcome them. A platform had been erected 
by the reception committee, and on the right of 
the dais fifteen hundred school children at a given 
signal sang the National Anthem, their treble 
voices ringing out with a pleasing effect, enhanced, 
probably, by the clearness of the air and the bright 
sunshine streaming down on the square. The 
Mayor, Mr. Chris Botha, in welcoming us, said 
that the occasion was an historic one, if only for 
the fact that it was the first time that a naval 
brigade had ever visited Bloemfontein. In return 
I expressed the hope that at some not very distant 
date there might be a ship in the British Navy 
bearing the name of the magnificent colony a 
sentiment which elicited loud cheers. 1 From the 
Orange River Colony we returned to Durban. 

From every point of view the trip had been an 

1 This hope was even more appropriately fulfilled, for during the 
War a destroyer-leader was christened Botha. 


unqualified success. Hundreds of inhabitants of 
this newly-formed state to whom the British Navy 
had previously been but a name were enabled to 
see what our sailors looked like, and feel, as they 
had never done before, a personal interest in our 
premier fighting force. Moreover, I may venture 
the hope that our visit did much to lessen the 
bitterness left behind by the last great struggle for 
predominance between the two races. The fact 
that on the entertainment committees at all the 
the towns visited Britons and Boers were vieing 
with each other to welcome His Majesty's Navy 
gives ground for this aspiration, and while it is easy 
to multiply the directions in which good has 
resulted from this week of hospitality and enter- 
tainment, it is impossible to point to a single case 
where it has done any harm. 

Before dismissing the subject, I ought to put 
on record the splendid behaviour of the men. The 
temptations to excess were very numerous. The 
Mayor of Johannesburg testified to their conduct 
in a private letter to Lord Selborne, from which 
the following extract is taken : 

" Should you be writing to the Admiral 
before he leaves our South African waters, I 
shall feel obliged if you will add a note on my 
behalf to the effect that the tone of the men, 
when in Johannesburg, was a credit to them- 
selves, to their Admiral Commanding-in-Chief, 
and to his officers. Despite the pressing offers 
made by our townspeople, at all times and in 
all places, in the shape of liquid refreshment, 
the men behaved themselves in an exemplary 
manner. They were, indeed, a credit to the 
Service to which they belong, and I feel it only 


right to ask you to kindly pass on my personal 
tribute in this respect to Admiral Sir Percy 

The Squadron sailed on Monday, the 26th. 
Lord Selborne and Sir Matthew Nathan remained 
on board the flagship until nearly the last moment, 
and afterwards watched from the deck of the 
transport Dufferin the four ships steam majestically 
out of the splendid harbour which Natal has made. 
The crews were all upon deck and as they cheered 
their late hosts so the latter responded with equal 
enthusiasm, until the cruisers were too far out at 
sea for the sound of the acclamations to be heard. 
Then the Governor of the Colony made the follow- 
ing signal : " The cruiser squadron has made us\ 
more proud than ever of the British Fleet. The 
High Commissioner, the Governor, and the people 
of the Colony wish God-speed to all ranks." To 
this I replied : " We thank you for your kindness. 
We thank you for your hospitality." 

The squadron next visited Port Elizabeth, a 
handsome town, and very prosperous. The Mayor 
received me in the market square, and in present- 
ing an address from the townspeople, was good 
enough to say that the name of Sir Percy Scott 
had long been a household word in their midst. 
For the next two days, the whole town was en fete, 
and both officers and men had abundant oppor- 
tunities for enjoying themselves. 

On the 31st October, the Squadron left Port 
Elizabeth for Simon's Bay. Here fleets and fleet- 
men were no novelty to the inhabitants, but our 
welcome was none the less cordial. Admiral Sir 
George Egerton, the Commander-in- Chief of the 


station, held an " at home " in honour of the visitors, 
a highly successful function at which the large 
attendance testified to the esteem in which the 
local Admiral was held by his friends and neigh- 
bours at the Cape. 

After a few days at Simon's Bay, we went to 
Capetown, and as the squadron came in sight of 
Table Bay, it had been arranged that they should 
see the word " Welcome " spelt on the hillside by 
two thousand children dressed in white, and 
grouped in such a way as to give the appearance of 
letters when looked at from some distance off. The 
idea was a very effective and pretty one, well 
meriting the cordial thanks which I conveyed to 
the children in the following signal : u Thank you 
very much for your kind welcome. Through our 
telescopes we saw how charming you all looked." 

The citizens of Capetown had managed to 
crowd into seven days a programme which might 
well have lasted over treble the time. The only 
shadow cast over the festivities was the regrettable 
illness of Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, the 
Governor of the colony. His enforced absence 
threw an additional burden on Mr. N. F. de Waal, 
who acted as his deputy as well as that of the 
Prime Minister, away busy at the Durban Con- 
vention. How well he fulfilled his dual responsi- 
bilities will be evident in what follows, and the 
Navy had enough reason to be grateful to him and 
Mrs. de Waal for all that they did to make the 
visit to Capetown the brilliant success it was. 

Long before the approach of the Fleet, the 
Adderley Street end of the gaily decorated pier 
and the whole of the foreshore were crowded with 


many thousands of people anxious to get a glimpse 
of the landing ceremonies. I went ashore, accom- 
panied by the captains of my squadron, just before 
noon and was welcomed by the acting Prime 
Minister. At the Town Hall, the Mayor, Mr. 
M. F. A. Smith, gave an address in which he re- 
marked that the presence of the cruiser squadron 
in South African waters seemed to say to the 
people of South Africa, " The Fleet of the Empire 
still protects you." It was my agreeable task 
to tender my most sincere thanks for the cordial 
welcome vouchsafed me on reaching the capital of 
the colony of which my flagship bore the name. 
The visit to Capetown fittingly closed the South 
African tour, and I expressed the hope that before 
long I might have to return to celebrate a closer 
union of the colonies, which I trusted would bring 
wealth and lasting peace to the sub-continent of 
South Africa. 

The whole town was decorated and illuminated 
on this and the subsequent days of the visit. On 
the afternoon of our arrival the Mayor gave a 
garden party, at which my officers and I made the 
acquaintance of the leading citizens, and a banquet 
followed in the evening at the City Hall in honour 
of their visitors. Mr. de Waal and several members 
of the Cape Ministry, Mr. J. T. Molteno, Speaker of 
the House, Mr. Hofmeyr, the veteran leader of the 
Bond, were all present, and General Sir Reginald 
Hart represented the sister Service. In proposing 
the health of the guest of the evening, the Mayor 
remarked that, as the four ships of the squadron 
steamed into the waters of Table Bay, they seemed 
like bearers of a fourfold message from the Mother 


Country the magnificent message of power, pro- 
tection, peace, and prosperity, delivered at the door 
of South Africa, at a time when the daughter 
country was able to appreciate heartfully its com- 
forting assurances. My response, I hope, did justice 
to the cordiality of this welcome, and I ventured 
to say that if ever South Africa was in danger from 
without, possibly the Good Hope's guns might come 
as a message of peace as truly as the presence of 
myself and my officers there did that night. 

Capetown did its best to overwhelm us all, 
officers and men, with its brisk hospitality; our 
few days' sojourn were crowded with festivities 
and excursions. On the eve of our departure, I 
gave a ball on board H.M.S. Good Hope, which 
brought on board every one of any note in the 

The send off accorded to the squadron the fol- 
lowing afternoon was a remarkable one. Ministers 
and financial magnates, generals and diplomats, 
crowded on board until the last moment, as if 
loth to leave the flagship of the squadron which 
had brought such a wave of gaiety into Capetown. 
As the Good Hope rounded the breakwater, 
turning broadside on to the spectators ashore, I 
sent a farewell message to the people of South 
Africa in the following terms : 

" The last hawser that tied us to South 
Africa is now hauled ashore, and with regret 
we say good-bye ; but if it is true that to dwell 
in the hearts of those we love is not to be 
parted, then you are still with us. We leave 
with you every good wish for closer union and 
prosperity, and we take with us an appreciation 


of your kindness and hospitality, which, if com- 
pared in height, would top Natal's aasvogel's 
nest ; if compared in depth, it rivals the deepest 
gold mine in the Transvaal. In breadth it is 
as boundless as the rolling plains of Orangia, 
and in stability it will remain as does Cape 
Colony's majestic Table Mountain, which now 
looks down on us, and which we shall continue 
to see when Cape Town is lost to sight, but 
remains to memory dear." 

Seven days at sea brought us to St. Helena 
a week of quiet routine which was perhaps no bad 
thing for both officers and men after all the excite- 
ment and late hours of the previous week. The 
Governor of the island, Lieut.-Colonel Henry 
Lionel Gallwey, did everything possible to make 
us welcome, and invited several officers to make 
Government House their home until their depar- 
ture, an exceptional mark of kindness, which was 
all the more appreciated as no hotel existed in 
Jamestown. The squadron sailed on the 22nd 
November for Rio Janeiro, at five p.m., the follow- 
ing signals being exchanged just as the ships were 
getting under way : 

From H.E. the Governor, to R.-A. Sir Percy 

" Good-bye ; sorry to lose you ; may good 
luck always go with you and your squadron." 


6( Thank you very much. We are very 
sorry to leave you, and hope to return to assist 
in commemorating the success of the flax and 


lace industries which your Excellency has so 
successfully started. We wish good fortune 
to St. Helena." 

Eight days later the Good Hope and her con- 
sorts entered the harbour of the Brazilian capital- 
one of the finest as well as one of the most beautiful 
in the world. It was here I learned of my pro- 
motion to Vice- Admiral, and my only feeling of 
regret was the prospect of separation from the 
squadron which I had commanded for so many 
pleasant months. Not long after came the an- 
nouncement of the appointment of Rear- Admiral 
Hamilton as my successor. 

Rio is now one of the healthiest large towns in 
the world, and its death-rate is no greater than that 
of London or Paris. Many of the officers and men 
had been re vaccinated on the journey out, but it 
was found that smallpox was so little to be feared 
in Rio that the precaution might have been omitted 
without any real danger to the health of the 
squadron. Rio is indeed in every sense a modern 
city, whose inhabitants call it, not without some 
reason, the Paris of South America. 

The Brazilian Government and the resident 
English community had drawn up a splendid 
programme for our entertainment. Many officers 
of the Brazilian Navy had recently been to Eng- 
land, and the cordiality they showed to the English 
sailor-men was one of the most remarkable features 
of the visit. 

The round of festivities opened the day after 
the squadron's arrival with a picnic to Petropolis, 
organised by the British committee, foremost 
amongst whom were Sir Milne Cheetham, the 


acting Charge d' Affaires in the absence of the 
Ambassador, Mr. Bax Ironside, and Mr. A. W. A. 
Knox Little, Managing Director of the Leopoldina 
Railway. Those who went to the picnic were 
taken by steamer for about an hour to a landing 
place on the coast where the rack railway starts 
up the mountain on which Petropolis is situated. 
Once on board, the British officers were introduced 
to several of the Brazilian and English ladies who 
were waiting for them. Acquaintanceships were 
soon struck up, and the Brazilian naval officers 
present did all in their power to make the new- 
comers feel thoroughly at home. The entire outing 
was, in fact, enjoyable in the highest degree, and 
gave all who took part in it a very warm impression 
of the hospitality of the Brazilians. 

The chief feature of the next day's programme 
was another picnic, this time to Corcovado, a lofty 
eminence which forms as effective a background to 
Rio as the Peak does to Hong Kong. A rack 
train took the guests to the summit, from which 
the view is one of the finest in the whole world. On 
this occasion our hosts were the Brazilian Navy 
destined, as who could have dreamed then ? to 
become our Allies in the Great War and at the 
luncheon Admiral Maurity referred to the old 
friendship existing between the two Navies, and 
to the fact that it was an Englishman, Admiral 
Lord Cochrane, who was the first Admiral the 
Brazilian marine ever had. I thanked our host in 
a similar strain, assuring him how enchanted we 
were with the warm welcome which had been 
extended to us. The ball given that evening at 
the Monroe Palace by Sir Milne Cheetham and 


his wife, who was a perfect hostess, will long be 
remembered in Rio as one of the most brilliant 
entertainments ever held there. On Sunday morn- 
ing the President of the Republic came on board 
the Good Hope with Admiral Maurity to make a 
call of ceremony. The ships were all dressed to 
receive him, and when he left, after making me 
a few kind remarks, a fitting salute was fired in 
his honour. The following day I held a reception 
on board the flagship, to which about six or seven 
hundred visitors came, and twenty-four hours later 
the four ships got up anchor and steamed off amidst 
cheers from the Brazilian ships in the harbour. 

My farewell message to Brazil will serve to 
convey an idea of the unstinted hospitality showered 
on the squadron during its stay at Rio : 

" With regret we have to say good-bye to 
Brazil, whose warm welcome to the squadron 
has been so thoroughly appreciated by the 
officers and men, and will, if possible, tend to 
strengthen the feelings of cordial friendship 
which already exist between Brazil and Great 
Britain, two nations whose greatest ambition 
is peace. The Brazilian Fleet has from time 
immemorial been associated with English naval 
officers, and we are therefore much interested 
to see the great progress it is making, and to 
learn that it will shortly be augmented by three 
of the largest, most heavily armed, and most 
modern ships in the world. We are grateful 
to the Republic for the honour the President 
did us in paying a visit to the squadron, an 
honour which will be fully appreciated in 
England. It has been a great pleasure to have 
pointed out to us the improvements that have 


recently been made in the capital, and the 
activity which is still displayed in the direction 
of progress points to Rio de Janeiro being in 
the near future the most beautiful city in the 
world. We leave you with every good wish 
for your welfare, and take away with us an 
ineffaceable recollection and appreciation of the 
beauties of your country, and the hospitality of 
the inhabitants." 

On Saturday, the 12th December, the squadron 
anchored about five miles from Monte Video, and 
this distance throughout the, stay made it a matter 
of time, and in rough weather of much difficulty, 
getting to and from the ship. The ships at once 
began preparing for coaling from the colliers which 
had come out from England in advance to meet 
them, and it was not until Monday of the week 
following that officers or men were in any con- 
dition to enjoy the liberal hospitality which was 
everywhere waiting for them. As at Rio, an 
entertainment committee had arranged a plan of 
campaign which ensured that every one had a good 
time, and the Government had put a large building 
near the landing-place at the disposition of the 
squadron as an information bureau, where the 
sailors could find out everything they wanted and 
get refreshments at a cheap rate. The President 
had also very thoughtfully arranged for several 
rooms at the Hotel Central to be occupied by any 
British officers who cared to stop ashore during the 
visit, so that a great number of them were able 
to enjoy all the comforts of first-class hotel life 
without the inconvenience of a bill to settle at the 


An official reception was given at the British 
Legation, on the afternoon of the 15th, by the 
Minister, Mr. (now Sir) R. J. Kennedy. The 
President of Uruguay, Dr. Williman, attended, 
and the visitors were in turn presented to him. 
Dr. Bachini, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, then 
made a speech, in which, in the name of the Pre- 
sident, he cordially welcomed the arrival of such 
a powerful British Fleet in Uruguayan waters. 
By its presence England showed her interest in 
a young South American nation, which offered no 
attraction but that of having utilised in her progress 
the intelligent initiative and trained energies of 
English pioneers. The great warships brought the 
homage of England to a minor member of the 
international family, and were a testimony to the 
grandeur of those who sent them, for it was as if, 
after having concluded the task of asserting the 
right, they travelled round the world as a reminder 
of the existence of that right and their determina- 
tion to uphold it in the future. 

I, in replying, noted with feelings of pardonable 
pride the highly complimentary terms in which his 
Excellency had alluded to the British Navy, and 
expressed my sense of the high privilege it was to 
command the squadron which had been sent to 
show the interest which the English people took 
in the welfare of Uruguay. I cordially agreed that 
the rank and right of a sovereign country de- 
pended, not upon its material size, but upon its 
moral strength. 

Next day, a banquet was given by the Minister 
of War at Pocitos, an outlying suburb of Monte 
Video. The decorations were conceived in the 


most lavish style, and the table round which the 
guests sat was in the shape of an anchor. 

I venture to quote the two principal speeches 
delivered on this occasion, not on account of their 
personal interest, but as illustrating the feeling of 
amity between Great Britain and this young Re- 
public, which the visit of the squadron without 
doubt helped to foster. The Minister of War 
spoke as follows : 

"Mr. Admiral and gentlemen, the ties 
which unite us to the noble British nation 
are so great and numerous that it is a grateful 
task to me to express in the name of my 
Government the keen satisfaction which we 
have felt in being able to offer Uruguayan hos- 
pitality to the brave and distinguished members 
of its glorious Navy who honour us with their 
visit. And this satisfaction, gentlemen, is ex- 
plicable, because from the commencement of 
our history England has exercised a beneficent 
influence in our destinies ; we have always 
found in her a generous nation, disposed to 
encourage the great efforts and beautiful mani- 
festations of the incipient national life, and at 
this happy moment it may be recalled that it 
was the country of the world's Powers to recog- 
nise the independence of the River Plate States 
when we had conquered in loyal struggle the 
right to be free. Even before, in the time of 
trial, when Artigas, with his diminutive bands, 
fought in the open country without further 
hope for the triumph of his ideals than the risk 
of life or death offered to the motherland, it 
was an English mariner, the commander of a 
warship at whose masthead floated the crimson 
banner that the roar of the cannons has saluted 


in innumerable naval victories, who signed with 
the Uruguayan chieftain, thereby virtually re- 
cognising our autonomy, a convention, which 
may rank as the first treaty of our national 
Chancellory. When the sovereignty of our 
country was threatened by the tyrant Rosas, 
we found in England a powerful ally, because, 
just as she loved liberty for her own sons, so 
did she also desire it for all the peoples of the 
earth, ostentating among her blazons the legi- 
timate title of the destroyer of human slavery. 
In the development of this portion of American 
land, in the advance towards the summit of 
progress, on the road to which we walk with 
unswerving faith, trusting in the action of work 
and the treasures of the soil, England has a 
considerable and most important share ; the 
genius of her sons and her capital has trans- 
formed the Republic, has threaded the territory 
with railways and telegraphs, has raised colossal 
works of engineering over her rivers, has popu- 
lated the lands with breeding farms, has intro- 
duced the races of live stock that constitute our 
present animal wealth, and has carried the 
powerful impulse of progress to all corners of 
the country and to all branches of production 
and labour. We might almost say that it is 
to British capital that we owe the victory in 
the peaceful struggles of advancement, daily 
incorporating new progresses, until there is to- 
day presented the beautiful picture of general 
prosperity which we are able to offer the world, 
and that stimulates us to pursue in order, in 
legality, and in labour, the noble task of open- 
ing this land to the efforts and intelligence of 
all well-intentioned men who seek her own 
welfare. The English who share our national 
life well know that the Uruguayans are their 


sincere friends, that our sentiments towards 
them are fraternal, and that, whilst we admire 
the grandeur of the United Kingdom, we also 
admire the creative power of its sons, propa- 
gators of civilisations throughout the world. 
Gentlemen, to the glory of the British Navy, 
and to the health of the Admiral and of his 
distinguished companions in arms." 

My reply was in the following terms : 

" Your Excellency and gentlemen, on 
behalf of the captains, officers and men of the 
squadron under my command, I beg to return 
to your Excellency my most sincere thanks for 
the kind reception and unprecedented hospi- 
talities that have been accorded to us by the 
Government of Uruguay and by the citizens of 
Monte Video. I beg to thank your Excellency 
for the kind way in which your Excellency has 
referred in your speech to the British Navy. 

" Your President granting me and my 
officers an audience is an honour that will be 
fully appreciated by my country. I thank your 
Government for sending out the Montevideo to 
sea to meet my squadron with a signal of wel- 
come flying at the masthead. Through the 
courtesy and kindness of your Government I 
have had an opportunity of inspecting the ex- 
tensions and improvements that are being made 
to your already magnificent harbour, and of 
seeing your splendid public buildings and your 
great commercial industries. I have noted that 
your scientific and charitable societies, your 
National University, your compulsory educa- 
tion, your excellent police and general organi- 
sation, are all of the most modern character, 
and compare favourably with any city in the 
world. These advantages, combined with a 


perfection of climate, are no doubt the founda- 
tion of Monte Video's great commercial activity 
and popularity. 

" This Banquet to-night, in grandeur, in 
floral decoration, in taste of illumination, in 
harmony of colour and in perfection of all the 
attributes of a banquet, eclipses anything that 
I have seen before. It will be remembered by 
us as a most striking example of the princely 
magnificence of Uruguayan hospitality. Your 
Excellency's table has, I observe, been arranged 
in the form of an anchor. May I be allowed 
to congratulate your Excellency on this happy 
idea, for it is emblematical of the firmness with 
which the memory of your hospitality will be 
for ever embedded in our hearts. 

" Again I thank your Excellency, and crave 
your permission to raise my glass and drink a 
bumper toast to the Government and the people 
of Uruguay." 

I was subsequently able to entertain my host 
in the Good Hope, and also the French Minister 
Resident, M. Kleczkowski, who had previously 
invited me to lunch as a proof of the Anglo-French 
friendship then happily existing. On the 17th, a 
large reception was also held on my flagship, similar 
to the one at Rio, and hundreds of Uruguayans 
came out to enjoy the squadron's hospitality. 

It was at this point in the tour that I sailed 
in the Pelorus to Buenos Ayres, where, after an 
official reception by the Argentine Naval Autho- 
rities, I dined with the Minister of Marine at a 
banquet given in his honour. Most of the time 
of my short stay in the capital of the Argentine 
Republic was spent in driving about in motor-cars 
and inspecting the various sights of this splendid 


city the largest south of the Line. The night 
before leaving I gave a farewell dinner at the 
Jockey Club to the officers of the Argentine, 
Swedish, and Italian Navies whom I had met 
during my visit. The evidence of the Republic's 
progress and prosperity had greatly impressed me, 
and it may be of interest to reproduce the speech 
I delivered on this occasion as a succinct record 
of my impressions : 

"Your Excellency and gentlemen, as to- 
night closes our stay in your magnificent capital, 
I take the opportunity of expressing my warmest 
thanks to your Excellency for the great hospi- 
tality and kindness that have been shown to us 
by the Government of Argentina and by the 
people of Buenos Ayres. I hear that, as an 
assurance of peace which is so necessary for 
industrial development, your Government has 
decided to add to your Navy ships of magnitude 
and power second to none in the world and in 
keeping with the wealth and grandeur of your 
country. It is many years since I visited your 
city, and it has improved beyond all recogni- 
tion. Your Mayor has been kind enough to 
drive me round a large portion of the city, 
and I am lost in admiration of what I saw. 

" Taking first your port : when I came here 
before there was scarcely a pier to land at ; 
to-day I steamed through acres of basins accom- 
modating hundreds of large steamers of every 
nationality. Such a sight brought home to me 
the enormous commercial enterprise of your 
country, its wealth and its importance. I saw 
the wool, grain, and cotton industries, all 
demonstrating the resources of Argentina. In 
grain I learn that last year you exported over 


3j million tons of wheat and over a million 
tons of linseed, whilst maize reached nearly 
two million tons, and oats nearly half a million. 
For the current crop I hear that even larger 
figures are expected. There seems to be no 
doubt that ere long Argentina will be the 
greatest exporting country of the world for 
cereals. My visit to-day to Vicente Casaras 
gave me an idea of the magnitude of your cattle 
industry and the excellence of the stock, most 
of which I am glad to hear, derives its origin 
from my country. 

" Turning to your city, I was driven through 
miles of splendid avenues ornamented by 
buildings which, in splendour, rival any in 
the world, and your Mayor pointed out how 
in every street the people moved with the 
alacrity which marks business energy. Among 
other things which indicated the wealth of the 
country I was shown 30 millions of coined gold, 
20 millions of which was in English sovereigns. 
Your hippodrome with its treble racecourse, 
your rifle ranges, your golf links, and this 
wonderful Jockey Club, all show how much 
sport is appreciated in Argentina. Your 
Mayor afforded me the pleasure of seeing your 
Opera House, a building of which I have never 
seen the equal, and as marking the appreciation 
of music in the Argentina I am informed that a 
box at this opera for the season costs 900 
sterling. I have also been taken to the Park at 
Palermo, where I saw the wealth of magnificent 
horses and carriages, and in those carriages, if I 
may say so, the most beautifully dressed and 
lovely ladies that I have ever seen in the world. 

"These, your Excellency and gentlemen, 
are the impressions I shall carry back with me 
of Argentina and Buenos Aires. I drink to 


your Excellency's health, and thank you for 
doing me the honour of dining with me." 

The day after my return to Monte Video, 
Dr. Williman, the President, and the Uruguayan 
Ministers came off to lunch on board the Good 
Hope. As the President expressed his astonish- 
ment at the enormous range of modern artillery, I 
arranged on the spot for him to fire himself a full 
charge from the 9 '2 gun, which he did by touching 
a button, and had the satisfaction of seeing the 
splash of the projectile rise from beyond the horizon. 
It wanted but three days to Christmas, and Dr. 
Williman, deploring that the sailors should have to 
spend it at sea, begged me to stay at Monte Video 
until after the 25th. As a result of this kindly 
invitation, a telegram was despatched home to 
H.M. the King, at the request of the President of 
Uruguay, and, shortly after, a gracious reply came 
in accordance with the latter's wishes. During 
this extension of the visit, the hospitalty of the 
residents went to even greater lengths than before, 
and it was generally felt that the good relations 
between England and Uruguay had been enor- 
mously strengthened by such a fine squadron 
showing the flag in a port where there is a large 
English colony. Showing the flag occasionally in 
a splendid fighting squadron like this is in fact 
more effective than when it is seen in a small craft 
of no fighting value. 

We left for St. Vincent and proceeded to 
Teneriffe, where we remained for three days. No 
sooner had we anchored than invitations to various 
entertainments began to pour in, and nothing could 
have exceeded the warmth of our reception. 


The many kind invitations issued by our hosts 
at Santa Cruz, combined with the shortness of our 
visit, prevented any entertainment on the part of 
my squadron, but I gave a large dinner party, at 
which both the civil and military Governors, and 
most of the leading residents, were present. The 
British Consul was most kind in every way, both 
officially and socially, and the good relations 
obtaining between the local authorities and our 
representative were most apparent. 

From Teneriffe the squadron proceeded direct 
to Gibraltar, where at once preparations were 
begun for battle practice, and every one realised 
the value of the various gunnery exercises car- 
ried out during our long cruise. Among the 
exercises we devoted a great deal of time to night- 
firing practice; which had never been properly 
provided for by the Admiralty. We had used 
searchlights in the Navy for forty years, and had 
known that the operator at the light could not put 
the beam on to the object as the glare made it 
invisible. The operator had consequently to be 
"conned." 1 The primitive method was for an 
observer, who could see the object, to shout out 
" go right " or " go left " or " up " or " down," with 

an occasional "you fool, you've gone too far." 

We improved upon this method by using wires and 
wheels, and so transferred the actual manipulation 
of the light to a point whence the operators could 
see the object. The system worked excellently. I 
reported it to the Admiralty, and they promptly 
boycotted it, so that when war came six years 
afterwards we had no device of the kind and the 

1 To ' ' con " is the sea term for to direct. 


primitive method of shouting was still being used. 
Several ships, however, with their own artizans 
copied the Good Hope's method. 

The battle practice took place at Tetuan on the 
10th February, 1909, and we used our extemporised 
director firing. It was a great success, and clearly 
demonstrated that all our ships should be fitted 
with this description of firing. The Admiralty, 
however, took two years before they ordered it to 
be fitted to H.M.S. Neptune. 

On the 15th February, 1909, I transferred the 
command to Rear- Admiral Hamilton, and pro- 
ceeded to England, accompanied by my staff, in 
the Orient mail steamer. 

I was given a very warm send off by the officers 
of the squadron, and I do not hesitate to say that 
I believe I took with me the sincere good wishes of 
all hands under my command. 



My New System of Routine Approved by Lord Fisher but generally 
Opposed What Naval Gunnery means No further Employment 
at Sea Back to Director Firing Success of the Neptune Trials 
The Thunderer and Orion Test Superiority of Director Firing 
demonstrated More Admiralty Delay and a Stiff Protest Warn- 
ing unheeded and Proposals rejected Tragic Fruits of Neglect 
History of Parallel Firing Position of the Director Firing at the 
Outbreak of War The First Dreadnought Position of the Mast 
Perpetuating a Blunder Mr. Churchill's Wise Decision A 
New Blunder in Exchange for the First. 

ON my arrival in London after transferring my 
command, I saw the First Lord, Mr. McKenna, and 
the First Sea Lord, now Lord Fisher of Kilverstone. 
As already described, I had introduced a new rou- 
tine in the Second Cruiser Squadron, economising 
the time which the men spent on housemaiding 
duties, in order to obtain farther opportunities of 
training them in their war duties. The First Sea 
Lord, who was then completing the series of naval 
reforms which were to save the Fleet from defeat 
and the Empire from ruin, discussed the new routine 
I had introduced. He approved of the modifications 
I had made, but added that I was far too much 
ahead of my time, and that my departure from 
tradition had caused a good deal of annoyance in 
some quarters. 

Subsequently I had the honour of an audience 



with King Edward VII. He was much interested 
in the visit to South Africa, and desired me to 
explain to him the new system of instruction I 
had devised and its effects. 

In the same year I was entertained by the 
Authors' Club in Whitehall Court, and I took 
advantage of the occasion to endeavour to indicate 
in proper language what was really meant when 
reference was made to "naval gunnery." Sir 
James Rennell Rodd, then the British Ambassador 
at Rome, who was in England, had delayed re- 
turning to his duties in order to preside. We had 
met twenty years before, and his presence added 
to my enjoyment of the evening. As I have not 
given in these reminiscences anything in the way 
of a popular account of what " naval gunnery " 
really implies, I recall the salient part of this 
little speech of mine : 

" Hitting with heavy guns is a subject to 
which I have given some attention, but it is not 
quite easy to talk about it except to my brother 
officers, as naturally some of the most interesting 
points in connection with it are confidential. I 
can tell you some of the difficulties with which 
we have to contend, but I cannot, in all cases, 
tell you how we overcome them. Gunnery is 
a term that I do not much like, as it has often 
been used unassociated with hitting. Hit first, 
hit hard, and keep on hitting is what we have 
to do if we want to win. Strategy and tactics 
count for nothing if we cannot hit ; the only 
object of a man-of-war is to hit. 

" Taking first the weapon our most modem 
naval gun is just double the length of this long 
room, weighs 60 tons, will penetrate eight 


inches of armour at thirteen miles, strikes a 
blow of 53,000 foot-tons, and costs about 100 
every time you let it off. Its shot is six times 
my weight, in circumference it is what I am 
round the chest, in height it is four inches 
shorter than I am. The home for this projectile 
is the enemy. The art of gunnery is to get it 
to that home. To arrive at that we point the 
gun at the moment of firing at a certain spot 
that spot is not the spot that you want to hit ; 
the gun must be pointed high, so as to counter- 
act the effect of gravity. The wear of the gun, 
the temperature of the air, the density of the 
air, the strength and direction of the wind, must 
all be taken into consideration when settling 
where you are to point the gun; wind is a 
difficult factor to deal with, as it may be 
blowing at different strengths, and in different 
directions, at the various altitudes through 
which the shot passes. In firing at a range 
of fifteen miles, which is possible, the shot 
would go to an altitude of 22,500 ft., which, 
if my geography is correct, is 7,500 ft. over 
the summit of Mont Blanc. You will realise 
what a variety of atmospheres it would pass 
through, and how impossible for any one on 
earth to divine what will be the direction and 
the force of the winds it will meet with in 
its ascent and descent. When a mass of iron 
the size of my body has to pass even five miles 
through the air you may imagine what a 
difference wind behind it, or in front of it, or 
right or left of it, will make in its final 

" I have not come to the end of our troubles 
yet. When firing at a range of five miles, 
which is about what some nations practise at 
now, the shot takes 12 sees, to get to its 


destination ; during that time the ship it is being 
sent to, if steaming at the rate of twenty knots, 
will have changed her position 120 yards. We 
must point our gun in a direction which allows 
for this. Then there is the forward movement 
of your own ship, which will be imparted to the 
projectile, and must be allowed for, and there 
are other corrections to be applied. To hit 
under these circumstances will appear to you a 
very difficult problem, and it is. We only 
expect to get our first shot approximately near ; 
if we succeed in this, then the remainder is fairly 
easy. The same rule governs hitting at five 
miles that governs shooting across this room 
you look where the shot has gone and correct 
your aim accordingly by pointing the gun more 
up, or more down, or more to the right or to 
the left. If you have not seen much heavy- 
gun practice at sea, you may wonder how we 
can at five miles see the splash made by a shot 
striking the water. The answer is very simple 
the column of water thrown up is larger than 
a battleship. Here is a picture of a battleship 
showing the splash made by a projectile super- 
imposed on it. Both are the same scale. You 
will observe that the splash is higher than the 
battleship's mast. I estimate that it contains 
about 2000 tons of water ; such a splash would 
drown a small ship. 

" Having determined where the gun is to be 
pointed, the next question is how is it to be 
done? Two men are employed, each looking 
through a telescope ; one has a wheel for con- 
trolling the direction of the gun in azimuth, the 
other a wheel for controlling the elevation. As 
the ship is never steady, but always has a 
certain amount of roll, the task these tw r o men 
have is not easy, but by much practice a union 



between the eye looking through the telescope 
and the hand on the wheel is established. As 
the ship moves, so they instinctively move their 
wheels to counteract it in the same manner 
that one's hand moves the handle-bar of a 

" We have now got as far as pointing the 
gun, and that if you do not hit you correct 
your aim until you do hit. Here another 
difficulty comes in. In firing at a target across 
the room, we can see if we have made a bull's- 
eye at a longer distance on a rifle-range if we 
make a bull's-eye it is signalled. In naval war- 
fare at the distance we engage at we cannot see 
whether we have hit or not, and we cannot 
expect the enemy to signal to us that we are 
hitting. He may intimate to us that we are 
hitting by running away, sinking, or catching 
fire ; but we want an earlier intimation of hitting 
than this, and we get it but the method I can- 
not disclose. 

" That we are able to master most of the 
difficulties to which I have referred is proved 
by the fact that we now make a higher per- 
centage of hits at 8000 yards than we did a few 
years ago at 1000 yards." 

Shortly after I had left the Good Hope the 
director-firing apparatus which I had taken such 
infinite trouble to instal in her was put on the scrap- 
heap, and with it my routine for training men for 
war. I heard that the Admiralty did not approve 
of any departure from their (unsatisfactory) system 1 
of firing, and that the fact of holding the views I did 
on the question of routine would be a grave objection 
to my further employment, as my opinions would 

1 They really had no system. 


be sure to clash with those of my superiors, who 
had no wish to abandon the routine followed 
by the Fleet with little alterations since the sail 

About this time the Admiralty suggested to me 
that I should probably not hoist my flag again, and 
that I should be doing more service to the country 
by continuing my work on director firing than by 
going to sea. The irony of this assurance appealed 
to my sense of humour, for I well knew that the 
Admiralty, as a body, were moving heaven and 
earth to prevent director firing being adopted. 

Nevertheless, fully realising that I was relegated 
to half-pay, I busied myself about this special work. 
The invention had been on the shelf at the 
Admiralty for six years, and was strenuously con- 
demned by those who had not taken the pains to 
study its possibilities, or even to understand it. 
Fortunately for the country, Sir John Jellicoe was 
now a member of the Board, being Controller of 
the Navy, and he decided to fit it in H.M.S. 
Neptune. In conjunction with Messrs. Vickers, I 
prepared drawings, which I took to the Admiralty 
in June, 1910. They were approved, the work on 
them was started, and in December, 1910, the in- 
stallation on board H.M.S. Neptune was completed. 
About the same time the Admiralty realised that, 
though I had been working on this scheme of 
director firing for more than a year, I had received 
no pay for so doing. On the 14th June their Lord- 
ships wrote to me to the effect that they were 
pleased to appoint me on committee pay while 
associated with the Admiralty in connection with 
director firing. 


Before passing on, I should refer to my flying 
visit to Mexico. In March, 1910, I received an 
invitation to travel from New York to the city of 
Mexico and back in a special train, which would 
stop at all the places of interest en route. In 
Mexico I was to have the honour of being 
presented to the President, General Porfirio Diaz. 
That prospect quite settled the question ; I accepted 
with pleasure, for I had always regarded General 
Porfirio Diaz as one of the most wonderful men in 
the world. 

From the conquest of Mexico by Cortes in 
1520 to the death of Maximilian in 1867, the 
country of Mexico had been in a constant state of 
war, either driving out invaders or coping with 
internal revolutions, the latter chiefly brought 
about by the greed of the Church. With the death 
of Maximilian and the evacuation of the French, 
all foreign interference ceased, and the Mexicans 
began to govern themselves ; but it took ten years 
for them to find a man with a sufficiently iron will 
to exterminate the clerical greed for power and 
plunder, and to stamp out the brigands that in- 
fested and ruined the country. 

In 1 877, General Porfirio Diaz seized by a bold 
coup the reins of government, became President, 
and practically remained in office for thirty years. 
This long rule made a new era in Mexican history. 
With firm hand Diaz suppressed all brigandage 
and attempts at revolutions ; peace was maintained ; 
foreign capital flowed into the country, and with it 
came prosperity and a commencement of develop- 
ment. I say a commencement, because up to the 
time of my visit the natural resources of the 


country had only been scratched, and a vast area 
was still unexploited. 

It was apparent to me that there was nothing 
that the country would not either grow or yield. 
Even in my short tour I passed through land rich 
in oil ; I saw gold mines, silver mines, copper 
mines, precious stone mines, and was told that 
there was an abundance of every metal. As 
regards agriculture, everything seemed to grow ; 
even the desert where one saw nothing but sand 
dotted over with cactus trees only wanted water 
on it to change it into the most productive soil. 
After passing over hundreds of miles of desert, we 
emerged on to a plateau of rich soil, where fruit of 
every description was growing in profusion. It 
was the same desert, but it had been watered by 
an irrigation company then recently started by 
President Diaz. 

From my visit to Mexico, seeing it as I did in 
prosperity and with almost unlimited possibilities, 
I came to the conclusion that it would become the 
richest country in the world, and I was naturally 
very anxious to meet the man who had changed it 
from a country of bloodshed and brigandage to one 
enjoying peace and prosperity, and who had started 
the development of its resources and riches. 

On the 29th March, 1910, at the Palace in 
Mexico City, I had the honour and pleasure of 
being presented to General Porfirio Diaz. He 
was then nearly eighty years of age, but did not 
look more than sixty. A short, dark man, with 
a wiry and well-knit figure, he had very Indian 
features and piercing black eyes. He looked 
the sort of man who could rule any one. I 


was told that he was the son of an innkeeper and 
that his grandmother was a pure Indian of a 
Mexican tribe who were renowned for the beauty 
of their women and the savageness of their men. 

With advancing age, his iron will (so necessary 
in Mexico) relaxed, the revolutionists became 
active, and Diaz was compelled to retire from the 
Presidency and leave the country he had hardly 
ever been out of during the eighty years of his 

President after President succeeded Diaz, but 
they only acted for a short time, assassination or 
resignation terminating their periods of office, and 
the country soon fell into a worse state of brigand- 
age than it had ever been in. 

Later on the control of Mexico fell into the 
hands of two men, Villa and Carransa, whom it 
would be gross flattery to call brigands. Under 
their rule atrocities obtained as bad as those com- 
mitted by the Germans during the War ; the city 
of Mexico was pillaged ; civilians and priests were 
murdered ; and the nuns in the convents subjected 
to unmentionable treatment. 

I took an interest in Mexican affairs, because 
during my visit I formed such a favourable opinion 
of the possibilities of the country that I invested 
money in their railways and other enterprises. 
With the exit of Diaz, what he had accomplished 
in thirty years was quickly undone and the country 
ruined. It is a mistake to suggest that the rule 
of Porfirio Diaz was one of terror only. The 
Mexicans -certainly feared him, but at the same 
time they loved him; he had brought prosperity 
to them. He was a valiant warrior and a fine 


statesman ; he knew men and how to manage them, 
and he feared nothing. He was the strong man 
that Mexico wanted and that England wanted 
badly during the war. This wonderful man, the 
maker of Mexico and Mexico's truest patriot, died 
an exile in Paris on the 2nd July, 1915, in his 
eighty-fifth year. 

In January, 1911, 1 joined H.M.S. Neptune 
to superintend the trials. A month was spent 
at Aranchi Bay, Sardinia, in testing the instru- 
ments and in educating the officers and men in 
their use. On the llth March, 1911, at Gibraltar, 
the final trial took place, and proved most success- 
ful. At a subsequent interview at the Admiralty, 
Mr. McKenna, then First Lord, remarked that 
the Neptune had attained such a rapidity of fire 
that she would expend all her ammunition in 
thirty minutes, which would never do. I pointed 
out that if the shells hit their targets the enemy 
might be sunk in thirty seconds. This was a view 
of the matter which was apparently new to him. 

Sir John Jellicoe, who by that time had taken 
up his appointmeut as Commander-in- Chief of the 
Atlantic Squadron, was present at the trial, and 
on the strength of it he advised the Admiralty to 
fit the director to all ships at once. This the 
Admiralty were reluctant to do, and they were 
supported in this opposition by Admiral Sir 
Francis Bridgeman, then Commander-in-Chief of 
the Home Fleet, and flying his flag on board 
H.M.S. Neptune, the only ship in which it had 
been tried. Matters were thus delayed a great 
deal, and it was not until late in the year that 
orders were given for the Thunderer to be fitted. 



Mr. Winston Churchill, who had become First 
Lord, informed me that he was determined that the 
system of firing should be given a fair trial, and asked 
what I thought would be the best way to arrange 
it. I suggested that the Admiralty should tell off 
a ship similar to the Thunderer, and that they should 
go out together and fire at separate targets, thus 
ensuring the same conditions of wind, light and 
weather for both ships. Mr. Churchill considered 
this a fair and sporting offer, especially as it left 
the Admiralty the power to choose their best ship 
and one which had been longer in commission than 
the Thunderer. 

There were many delays and changes in the 
programme, and it was not until November, 1912, 
that the final trial came off. The Admiralty 
selected the Orion; she had been nine months 
longer in commission than the Thunderer, and 
had the reputation of being the best shooting ship 
of the Navy. 

On the 13th November the Fleet, under Admiral 
Sir John Jellicoe, steamed out of Bantry Bay into 
the Atlantic, and the two competing ships were 
placed in position : 

Target. Target. 


Thunderer. Orion. 

The range was nine thousand yards, the ships 
were steaming at twelve knots' speed, and the 
targets were being towed at the same speed. 
Immediately the signal was made to open fire both 
ships commenced, the Thunderer making beautiful 


shooting and the Orion sending her shot all over 
the place. At the end of three minutes " cease 
fire " was signalled, and an examination of the 
targets showed that the Thunderer had scored six 
times as many hits as the Orion. 

The superiority of director firing was thus 
demonstrated, and the country has to thank Sir 
John Jellicoe and Mr. Winston Churchill for its 
introduction into the Navy. Had they not inter- 
vened, the opposition to it would still have been 
maintained, and we should probably have gone to 
war without any of our ships having an efficient 
method of firing their guns. 

I cannot omit quoting in this connection a 
passage from Lord Jellicoe's book. 1 He there 
says that 

" A great extension of the system of 
director firing, by which one officer or man 
could lay and fire all the guns, was made. 
The situation in this respect before the War 
was that a few ships had been fitted for the 
system which had been devised by Admiral 
Sir Percy Scott. But a very large number 
of officers were sceptical as to its value com- 
pared with the alternative system ; there was 
considerable opposition to it, and the great 
majority of the ships were not fitted. In some 
cases the system was not favoured even in the 
ships provided with it. 

" It had fallen to my lot in 1912 to carry 
out competitive trials of the director system 
and the alternative system already in use, and 
the results of these trials had fully confirmed 
me in my previous opinion of the great value 

1 "The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916." 


of the director system. I was able to press 
these views on my return to the Admiralty 
at the end of 1912 as Second Sea Lord, and 
it was then decided to provide all the later 
ships with the arrangement. Little progress 
had, however, been made when the War broke 
out, only eight battleships having been fitted. 

"Early in 1915 arrangements were made, 
with the assistance of Sir Percy Scott, and the 
warm support of Lord Fisher, then First Sea 
Lord, by which the battleships and battle 
cruisers were supplied with this system, without 
being put out of action or sent to a dockyard 
for the purpose. The necessary instruments 
were manufactured at various contractors' shops, 
and the very laborious task of fitting them, 
and the heavy electric cables, on board the 
ships was carried out by electricians sent to 
the various bases. The complicated work 
naturally took a considerable time, and many 
vexatious delays occurred ; but gradually all 
ships were fitted, Sir Percy Scott rendering 
invaluable assistance at headquarters. 

" As a first step, the system was fitted to 
the heavy guns mounted in turrets, and by 
the date of the Battle of Jutland there were 
few ships that were not supplied with the 
system, although six of those last fitted had 
not had much experience with it. 

"The conditions under which that action 
was fought converted any waverers at once to 
a firm belief in the director system, and there 
was never afterwards any doubt expressed as 
to its great value. 

"Further efforts were made later to 
accelerate the work, and the system was ex- 
tended to smaller vessels. This had been the 
intention even before the action, but there 


were then still many who were unconvinced. 
However, during the remainder of 1916 and 
1917 the work was pressed forward, and the 
system became universal for all guns and in 
all classes of ships." 

When Lord Jellicoe refers to " few ships " being 
without the director firer at the Battle of Jutland, 
he is dealing only with the main armament. 1 The 
work of completing the equipment of the Fleet, 
main guns and secondary guns, had not, indeed, 
been finished when the Armistice was signed. 

It was after the Agadir scare in 1911, when we 
nearly went to war, that my anxiety about the 
Fleet became acute, for I well knew how terribly 
deficient we were in gunnery, and what great 
strides the Germans had made in that direction 
since my visit to Kiel in 1905. Accordingly, on 
the llth December, of that year, I wrote to the 
Admiralty as follows : 

"The Germans, I am informed, have for 
some years used a very good modification of 
the Director System, which allows them to 
fight the guns of their ships in parallel. As we 
cannot do this efficiently, it gives the Germans 
such a superiority in gun-fire that if a British 
Fleet engaged a German Fleet of similar vessels, 
the British Fleet would be badly beaten in 
moderate weather, but annihilated if it was 

" I make this statement with profound 
regret and concern for my country, but no one 
with any knowledge of the modern conditions 
of shooting can contradict it. 

1 Of. "The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916/' page 374. 


"For six years I have urged their Lord- 
ships, the Commissioners of the Admiralty, to 
adopt a system of fighting the guns in parallel ; 
had I not done so, and did I not continue to 
urge it, in the event of war I should feel myself 
criminally responsible for the defeat we should 
sustain if our Fleet engaged another Fleet in 
which the guns are fitted for firing in parallel." 

This letter was tantamount to accusing their 
Lordships of jeopardising the safety of the nation, 
and I hoped that they would either try me by 
Court Martial for so indicting them or take some 
action which would give our ships a chance of 
success, if they had to fight an action in rough 
weather. Their Lordships did not like the kindly 
warning I had addressed to them, and they did 

On the 10th February, 1912, I wrote another 
letter, making suggestions for improving the firing of 
the Fleet. Three hundred and seventy-three days 
after the receipt of this letter, that is, in February, 
1913, their Lordships replied that it had been 
decided not to adopt my proposals at present. To 
me, a year and eight days appeared rather a long 
time for them to take in making up their minds, 
but at the Admiralty time was of no consequence. 

Two years after these letters were written, in 
rough weather, H.M.S. Good Hope and H.M.S. 
Monmouth engaged the German armoured cruisers 
Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The two British ships 
had no means of fighting their guns efficiently in 
such weather, so they were both easily annihi- 
lated by the German gun-fire, and every soul on 
board them went to the bottom. It was what 





I had expected, what I had predicted, and what 
I had strenuously tried to avert. Fifteen hundred 
brave officers and men were sacrificed because the 
Admiralty had not fitted the ships with any means 
for fighting their guns in a sea-way. 

The Germans said that the shooting of the 
Good Hope and Monmouth was very bad. No 
doubt it was, but this was no reflection upon the 
gunnery ability of Admiral Cradock and his officers 
and men. We may be quite certain that they 
bravely and skilfully fought the guns. Failure to 
hit the enemy was in no way due to want of skill ; 
it was due to the ships lacking the necessary 
instruments to enable them to use their guns 
efficiently in rough weather. In a sea-way when a 
ship is rolling, there is only one method of effec- 
tively using the guns ; they must be laid parallel 
and fired simultaneously as a broadside. To arrive 
at this, certain instruments are necessary. The 
Good Hope and Monmouth were without these 
instruments, and as a consequence they were unable 
to use their guns effectively against the enemy. 

The principle of laying guns parallel and firing 
them simultaneously is not new ; I was taught it 
in the first ship in which I went to sea. She was 
an old sailing frigate, armed with 64-pounder 
truck guns, but we could parallel our guns 
although the method used was somewhat prim- 
itive. When this description of firing was to be 
used, the captain of the gun stretched a line 
(called the convergence line) from the centre of the 
port to the rear, and held it vertically over a mark 
on the deck. Then the men, with handspikes and 
tackles, hove the gun round until the sights were 


parallel to the line. In this way all the guns of 
the broadside were placed fairly correctly for direc- 
tion, and the allowance for convergence was intro- 
duced. For elevation a wooden batten was used, 
marked in degrees with a good open reading ; the 
guns were laid by it and fired simultaneously by 
word of command. 

From the foregoing it will be seen that half a 
century ago we could lay our guns parallel for 
direction and elevation, and fire them simul- 
taneously as a broadside. This is exactly what we 
re-introduced into our Navy in 1914. We called 
it by three names Parallel Firing, Director 
Firing, or Broadside Firing by directing gun. 

It must appear strange to my readers that we 
re-introduced in 1914 a system of firing that we had 
in the Navy fifty years before. The question 
naturally arises, if it was a good system, and if it 
was the only system by which guns could be fought 
when the weather was rough, why was it ever 
dropped ? I will explain. 

As the guns and mountings improved, so 
improvements were made in the converged firing 
arrangement I have already described. The intro- 
duction of electric firing enabled the guns to be 
fired from a position aloft, or remote from the guns. 
This caused director firing to be introduced, the 
director being a sort of master gun sight which 
was placed in some position from whence the 
officer operating it could obtain a good view of the 

In 1885 a very excellent director was designed 
by Lieutenant R. H. Peirse, 1 but as we had no 

1 Afterwards Vice- Admiral Sir Richard Peirse, K.C.B. 





[To face page 25S. 


efficient communications, difficulties arose and this 
description of firing was given up, broadside firing 
by directing gun taking its place. In rough 
weather this was an exceedingly effective manner 
of firing simultaneous broadsides, and it was 
generally adopted by us and all foreign nations. 
It was such a good method of firing the guns that 
one would have thought it might have been kept 
secret, but a full description of it appeared in our 
drill book, which could be bought by any foreigner 
for a shilling. 

In 1897 we commenced putting our guns into 
casemates, that is, a sort of armoured room ; 
each gun was in a separate room and the com- 
munication between them was very bad. This 
precluded us from using broadside firing by direct- 
ing guns. Consequently after that date we had 
no form of parallel firing, which meant that we 
had no effective way of using our guns in rough 

It was to solve this problem that, in 1905, I 
revived director firing, and, owing to the great 
advance that had been made in electric communi- 
cations, was able to devise a very good form of it, 
the details of which have been kept secret. I sub- 
mitted the invention to the Admiralty, who had it 
secretly patented, consigned it to themselves, and 
then boycotted it until 1911, when, as explained, 
Sir John Jellicoe insisted on H.M.S. Neptune being 
fitted with it. 

The boycot for many years of this description 
of firing was not because the Admiralty were 
ignorant of its efficiency. It was boycotted 
simply from professional jealousy, and the boycot 



jeopardised the safety of the Fleet, which means 
the safety of the nation. 

Scott Director Tower- - 
Range Finder Control Position- - 

Sketch view of the Director. 

In 1906, shortly after the Dreadnought class 
of vessel had been introduced, it was found : 


1. That they could not carry out a chasing 
action, as when at high speed the spray washed 
over the gun sights and prevented the men from 
seeing the enemy. 

2. With the wind in certain directions the 
smoke from the foremost guns interfered with 
firing the after guns, and so prevented the ship 
from making full use of her armament. 

These were two very serious and grave defects, 
for they materially reduced the power of a 
Dreadnought ; and they obviously should have 
been eliminated if possible. The Admiralty had 
two courses open to them. 

(a) To adopt director firing, which eliminated 
both of the defects named. 

(b) To arrange that when practising for battle 
no right ahead firing took place, and that the 
target should always be in such a position as 
regards the wind that the firing ship was not 
inconvenienced by smoke. 

The Admiralty adopted course (b), and as a 
consequence of this, for five years our officers and 
men were trained in a system of firing which could 
be effectively used only when the weather was fine 
and the enemy was met on a restricted bearing as 
regards the direction of the wind. In the mean- 
time the Germans were fitting all their ships with 
a system of firing very similar to director firing. 

I mention the circumstance, not to expose the 
neglect of the Admiralty, but because I am 
writing a personal narrative. I was the pioneer 
of director firing, and to that fact was due the long 
delay in its introduction. In 1912 Mr. Winston 
Churchill decided that director firing was to be 


fitted in twenty-nine of our Dreadnought battle- 
ships and battle cruisers, but the Admiralty did 
not hurry. No start was made until 1913, so when 
in August, 1914, war was declared, the British 
Navy had only eight ships fitted. But what was 
most strange was that, when war came, work was 
stopped on the other twenty-one ships, and was 
not resumed until three months afterwards, when 
I returned to the Admiralty. The jealousy and 
quarrelling in Service circles in England during the 
War was a valuable asset to our enemies. 

In 1904 the advantage of directing the fire of 
guns from aloft was apparent to all gunnery 
officers, and it was recognised by them that the 
only object of having a mast was, to give the 
officer in the ship an elevated position from whence 
to control the fire, and to carry a wireless. 

In this year Lord Fisher's Dreadnought was 
designed. She was a sensational ship, representing 
the initiation of a new type. In tonnage, speed, 
and armament, she beat all battleships then afloat. 

She was the first vessel to have all her guns of 
the same pattern. Her predecessors had mixed 
armaments ; the ships of the King Edward VII. 
class had 12-inch guns, 9*2-inch guns and 6-inch 
guns, and this made them very difficult to fight. 
The mounting of only one pattern of gun was a 
most important innovation as regards fighting 
efficiency, and Lord Fisher deserves great credit 
for having introduced it. But alas, when he left 
office some years later he took his brain with him, 
and a brainless Admiralty started again to build 
ships with mixed armaments. Some of them were 
converted during the war, and then we started 


to build serviceable cruisers with one pattern of 
gun only, and all on the middle line. 

The Dreadnought had the then wonderful 
armament of ten 12-inch guns, which, if properly 
equipped and handled, would have made her the 
most powerful ship in the world. But she was 
launched into the Fleet without a method of 
fighting the guns being considered, and to make 
matters worse the mast which carried the observa- 
tion station whence the guns were to be controlled 
was placed abaft the funnel, so that the unfor- 
tunate officer controlling the firing of the guns 
would be roasted. 

On one occasion, after the look-out man had 
gone aloft, the ship steamed at a high speed 
against a head wind, so that the mast near the 
top of the funnel got almost red-hot. The result 
was that the look-out man could not come down 
for his meals, and it was necessary to hoist food 
up to him by the signal-haulyards, which had 
luckily not been burned through. 

In the next class, the Temeraire, Bellerophon, 
Superb, and in the following class, the St. Vincent, 
Collingwood, and Vanguard, as well as the Neptune, 
this blunder was not repeated ; the mast was put 
before the funnel, and the observation station upon 
it was therefore available for the purpose for which 
it was designed. 

In 1907, when the vital importance of an aloft 
position for controlling the fire of the guns had 
been even more completely demonstrated, and we 
had elaborate range-finders and fire-control instru- 
ments aloft, I heard, to my horror, that the 
Admiralty intended laying down more ships with 


the funnel before the mast. Such a decision 
practically meant that the ships would be of no 
use for fighting purposes, unless they went stern 
first into action. I took the liberty of pointing 
out this amazing blunder to the Admiralty, and 
got myself very much disliked for my pains. The 
Board of Admiralty were well aware of the blunder 
that they had made, but they wanted it hushed 
up, instead of being reminded of it. Mr. McKenna's 
reply was evasive. He said that the design of a ship 
had to embrace possibilities of which I was perhaps 
ignorant, and which were confidential. That was 
a ridiculous and absurd statement. What could 
be confidential so far as I was concerned ? He 
could give me no reason for putting the mast in the 
wrong place ! That was the fact to be concealed. 

The position then was this : the Colossus, Her- 
cules, Orion, Thunderer, Monarch, and Conqueror 
all had the funnel where the mast ought to be, and 
the mast where the funnel ought to be. To make 
matters worse, it was decided to repeat the blunder 
in the Indefatigable, New Zealand, Lion, Princess 
Eoyal, Queen Mary, and the Tiger. 

I had a model made, and took it to Mr. Winston 
Churchill,- who had succeeded Mr. McKenna in 
1911, and explained the gravity of an error which 
we were going to repeat in the ships under con- 
struction. I pointed out to him that the only way 
to hit an enemy was to judge how far over or short 
the shots were, and to alter the aim accordingly 
in other words, that the hitting power of a man-of- 
war depended mainly upon observation of fire. I 
further explained that the efficiency of the observa- 
tion would depend upon two things : the personal 


ability of the observer and the height of the position 
assigned for him to observe from ; that practically 
the all-important detail in the design of a fighting 
ship was the position of the observation station; 
that we were ignoring this fact and putting the 
observation station in a position which made it 
actually untenable under most conditions of wind. 

Mr. Churchill saw what a bad mistake had been 
made, and asked me what could be done. I replied 
that only one thing was possible namely, to take 
the funnel and mast out and change their positions ; 
and that would probably cost about 50,000 to 
60,000 per ship. The First Lord, with his 
characteristic boldness, overrode the opinion of his 
naval colleagues and insisted upon this step being 
taken. This must always be a good mark for Mr. 

The first ship to be taken in hand was the Lion, 
and she was altered as shown on the following 
page from " A " to " B." 

This alteration made the observation station 
tenable under most conditions of wind, and it was 
so far satisfactory ; but in correcting the one blunder 
their Lordships introduced another, which was worse 
than the one they were remedying. They took out 
the strong tripod mast, which was sufficiently rigid 
to carry a director-tower, and replaced it with a 
light one unsuitable for carrying the tower. To 
try and avert this second blunder in the other seven 
ships under construction, I had an interview early 
in July, 1912, with Mr. Churchill, and pointed out 
the seriousness of the defect. He explained to me 
that the whole Board of the Admiralty were very 
much opposed to my system of director firing, and 




that as they were quite certain that it would never 
be adopted, he had been obliged to agree to their 
proposals that a light mast, capable only of carrying 
a small observation station for the officer directing 
the fire, should be put in, instead of one suitable 
for carrying a director tower. Thereupon I pointed 
out to the First Lord that his Board were ignorant 
and did not know what they were talking about ; 
that their objection to director firing was not 
founded on substantial reasons; and that their 
stupid decision would put the country to the ex- 
pense of carrying out fresh alterations in seven 
ships either strengthening the masts they had 
put in, or pulling them out and putting in new 

Mr. Churchill's reply was to the effect that he 
could not alter the policy of the Board ; and I do 
not think he ought to be condemned for this 
decision, because the question was purely a naval 
and technical one. As I failed in my attempt to 
avert the blunder with the First Lord, I tried the 
First Sea Lord, but met with no success, and the 
blunder was perpetrated. 

Subsequently, of course, the masts of all these 
ships had either to be taken out or strengthened r , at 
an enormous expense to the country. 



A Letter from Prince Henry of Prussia Created a Baronet and pro- 
moted to Admiral Menace of the Submarine Protective Measures 
necessary The Official Attitude Lessons of Manoeuvres The 
Admiralty unconvinced Mr. Winston Churchill's Suggestion 
Director Firing My Services dispensed with A Remarkable 
Letter from Whitehall. 

AFTER the successful trial of director firing in 
November, 1912, a further trial took place between 
the Thunderer and Orion at Portland. A paper 
reported that at this trial the Thunderer had been 
beaten, and the headline was " Surprising Defeat 
of Sir Percy Scott's ' Director ' System'" 

Prince Henry of Prussia, who was at the time 
staying in London, sent me the cutting, and 
pointed out to me that this rather contradicted 
what had previously appeared in the Press. I 
telegraphed back that newspapers were not always 
quite accurate, and in reply received the following 
letter :- 


" I herewith return your telegrams with 
thanks ! Prince Bismarck is supposed to have 
remarked once, commenting on the Press : * The 
papers sometimes really say the truth, from 
which it does not result, however, that every- 
thing they say is always true ! ' This seems to 
me a similar case ! 

" Always yours most sincerely, 




On the following day Prince Henry did me the 
honour of calling upon me at my house, and we 
had a long talk over gunnery matters. H.R.H. 
said the principle of my firing was, of course, well 
known in Germany, though the details of it were 
not known, and that they were installing in their 
ships possibly a somewhat similar "system. He 
reminded me of the fact that I had seen at Kiel 
a system which at that time was ahead of 

The subsequent War demonstrated that the 
Germans were nothing short of barbarians, and we 
tarred them all with the same brush, but I think 
that had Prince Henry of Prussia been Emperor 
of Germany instead of his brother, the Germans 
would not have been encouraged to sink hospital 
ships, poison wells, use poisonous gas, insult, starve, 
and torture prisoners, and commit other atrocities 
that have disgraced Germany's name throughout 
the whole civilised world. 

As I knew that the Germans were improving 
their system of firing, I tried in vain to hustle the 
Admiralty into getting some more ships fitted with 
director firing. They proceeded in their ordinary 
leisurely manner, pursuing a dilatory system which 
would break any commercial firm in a week. Time 
was to them of no importance. Left thus with 
nothing to do, I went to Murren, and when the 
Admiralty ought to have caused me to be very 
busy getting the Navy ready to fight, I was busy 

Just before the end of the year I received a 
letter from Mr. Asquith, intimating that he had 
suggested to the King that I should be made a 


Baronet for my services in connection with gun- 
nery progress, and that His Majesty had approved. 

Early in 1913 I was promoted to Admiral, and 
1 retired. It did not appear to me to be of any 
use remaining on the Active List, as I should only 
have been blocking the way for younger men. I 
had been in H.M. Navy for forty-seven years. 

I was still employed by the Admiralty in 
director firing, and there was much more to be 
done, for their Lordships had not even sanctioned 
it for the secondary armament, for which it was as 
much required as for the heavy guns. 

In addition to this work my thoughts were 
much occupied on " submarines." I had been for 
a long time trying to find some way of successfully 
attacking them. I found the problem a very 
difficult one, and as no one else appeared to have 
evolved a successful method of locating and destroy- 
ing these newly-devised craft, their advent into sea 
warfare was a real menace, and necessitated a 
revolution in our naval building programme. 

I took the liberty of pointing out to the 
Admiralty that the Germans were building many 
submarines, and large ones ; that we wanted many 
more for the protection of our coasts and colonies ; 
and that we wanted aeroplanes to search for sub- 
marines, and more fast destroyers with which to 
attack them. 

I found that their Lordships did not realise the 
potentialities of the submarine, or the deadliness 
of the torpedo, their theory being that the sub- 
marine was an untried weapon, and that the 
torpedo was inaccurate. That this view should 
have been held at the Admiralty I considered a 


danger to the country, for it was obvious that if 
their Lordships did not recognise the power of the 
submarines they would not consider any anti- 
submarine measures necessary. The official view 
was the more surprising since in all recent naval 
manoeuvres the submarine had over and over again 
demonstrated its deadliness of attack, and it should 
have been apparent to every one that the introduc- 
tion of these vessels had revolutionised naval war- 
fare and put into the hands of the Germans a 
weapon of far more use to them than their fleet 
of battleships. 

As I could not convince the Admiralty that the 
submarine was anything more than a toy, I con- 
sidered it my duty to communicate with the Press. 
On the 15th December, 1913, I wrote a letter but 
withheld it on representations by a member of 
Parliament that the Little Navyites, then very 
powerful in the country, might use it as a 
weapon to cut down the Navy Estimates, and that 
I should better serve the country by waiting until 
the estimates were passed, and Mr. Winston 
Churchill had got the money. He could then, if 
he agreed with me, easily strike off some battle- 
ships from the building programme, and spend the 
money voted for their construction on submarines, 
aircraft, and anti-submarine measures. 

Their Lordships were so annoyed with me for 
venturing to put their heads straight as regards 
submarines that at the end of the year they took 
away the pay that I had been receiving for helping 
them with director firing. Their letter was re- 
markable for the statement that the installation was 
practically completed in several ships and that the 


manufacture of the gear was in a very advanced 
stage. As a matter of fact, it was only completed 
in two ships and was not even designed for the 
various classes of ships in which it was to be in- 
stalled. In this letter, dated the 30th December, 
1913, the Admiralty bade me farewell, expressing 
" their high appreciation " of my services in con- 
nection with "this sighting gear" and referring 
to its "marked success." 


WAR BACK TO WORK, 1914 AND 1915 

The Shadow of Ireland Letter to the Times on Submarines Criticisms 
by many Naval Officers The War settles the Controversy The 
War Office and the Lack of Big Guns Lord Roberts' Advice 
ignored Ten Months' Delay and Repentance The Fleet's Gun 
Equipment Recall to the Admiralty Fitting out the Dummy 
Fleet The Submarine Problem demands Attention Visit to the 
Grand Fleet The Peril of the Grand Fleet Lord Fisher's 
Influence The Tragedy of the Battle of Jutland Official Persist- 
ence in Error The Dardanelles Failure Gunnery Practice in the 
"Sixties'' Successive Changes in the Target Valueless Prize 
Firing My Suggestions for Improvement Method adopted on 
the China Station and its Results Admiralty Opposition to 
its Adoption King Edward's Interest in the Question New 
Admiralty Rules adopted Their Disastrous Effects Captain 
Jellicoe's Action Immediate Improvement. 

IN the early part of the year 1914, having nothing 
to do, and as Ireland was arming for a civil 
war, I thought I would join the Ulster Field 
Force, but they had so many military officers 
ready to serve with them that I was not wanted. 

I was disgusted to find that there was a secret 
plot by which the Navy was to take part in the 
attack on Ulster. It was terrible to realise that 
the Royal Navy was to be employed against a 
section of Irishmen who were loyal to our King 
and the country, and that the civil war was to take 
place simply because a certain number of men 
wanted to remain in Parliament. 

The situation was unique. The political party 



in office had two courses open to them : one to go 
out of office and have no civil war ; the other to 
remain in office and have a civil war. It seems in- 
credible that two hundred and seventy Englishmen 
should be ready to embark on all the horrors of 
war sooner than give up their seats in Parliament, 
but that is exactly what they decided to do. 

This unhappy state of affairs did a great deal 
of harm both in the Army and the Navy, and 
contributed in many ways to the unprepared 
state in which in some respects the Great War 
found us. 

In due course the Navy Estimates for 1914- 
1915 were published, and as the substance of them 
revealed that the Admiralty had realised neither 
the menace that submarines were to this island 
country nor the necessity of providing measures 
against them, I sent a letter to the Times on the 
4th June, 1914, the gist of which was as follows : 

"That as we had sufficient battleships, 
but not sufficient submarines and aircraft, we 
should stop building battleships and spend the 
money voted for their construction on the 
submarines and the aircraft that we urgently 

" That submarines and aircraft had entirely 
revolutionised naval warfare. 

" That if we were at war with a country 
within striking distance of submarines, battle- 
ships on the high seas would be in great danger ; 
that even in harbour they would not be immune 
from attack unless the harbour was quite a safe 

" That probably if we went to war, we 
should at once lock our battleships up in a safe 


harbour, and that the enemy would do the 

" That all naval strategy was upset, as no 
fleet could hide from the eye of the aeroplane. 

" That submarines could deliver a deadly 
attack in broad daylight. 

" That battleships could not bombard an 
enemy if his ports were adequately protected 
by submarines. 

" That the enemy's submarines would come 
to our coasts and destroy everything they could 



These were the salient points of my letter. 
The statements were not mere effects of my 
imagination; they were facts which every naval 
officer should have known, and all the young Navy 
did know of them. But the seniors still regarded 
the submarine as a toy. Consequently the critics 
fell heavily on me and treated me as an incom- 
petent agitator. 

As I had made a study of submarines for some 
years, I naturally knew something about them ; it 
was my profession to know about them, and I 
should have been professionally ignorant had I not 
known about them. The criticisms on my letter 
showed how little the country knew about sub- 
marines ; as regards the Press I was not surprised, 
because all submarine work had been kept secret. 
What surprised me was that five Admirals rushed 
into print to tell the world how little they knew. 

Admiral Sir E. Fremantle described my letter 
as a mischievous scare. 

Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge said I had not 
gone thoroughly into the matter. 


Admiral Bacon was astonished at my publishing 
views with an authoritativeness which could only 
be justified by an accuracy of knowledge which it 
was difficult for him to see that I had at my dis- 
posal. He pointed out the great difficulties that 
there were in navigating a submarine. 

Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman (the late First 
Sea Lord of the Admiralty) referred to submarines 
as inaccurate and undeveloped weapons. This was, 
of course, the view that I knew the Admiralty had 
taken of submarines, and hence the necessity for 
me to write to the papers. 

Lord Charles Beresford stated that submarines 
could only operate in the day-time ; that they were 
highly vulnerable, and that a machine-gun could 
put them out of action. 

It appeared strange to me that these gallant 
officers should think that I did not know what I 
was talking about, practically classing me as pro- 
fessionally ignorant. If before writing to the 
papers they had consulted any midshipman, he 
could have explained to them that my letter to the 
Times was not a scare, but a warning ; he could 
have taught them that submarines were not difficult 
to navigate ; that torpedoes were not inaccurate if 
properly handled ; that submarines were not un- 
developed weapons ; that a machine-gun could not 
put a submarine out of action, and that submarines 
could operate at night-time. 

I, as well as most thinking naval officers, 
naturally knew before the war what submarines 
could do ; the public have since learned ; so the 
criticisms on my warning may be interesting. 
Here are some of them : 


"Lord Sydenham regards Sir Percy Scott's 
theory as a 'fantastic dream,' and considers that 
Sir Percy Scott does not appear to have grasped 
the logical results of his theories." Hampshire 
Telegraph, June 12th, 1914. 

" Sir Percy Scott's ideas approach the boundaries 
of midsummer madness." Pall Mall Gazette, June 
5th, 1914. 

" Admiral Sir E. Fremantle describes Sir Percy 
Scott's eulogy of the submarine as a mischievous 
scare." Portsmouth Times, June 12th, 1914. 

" The views of Sir Percy Scott depend upon 
unsupported conjectures, quite natural to a mind 
deeply imbued with the sense of perfection of 
modern mechanical contrivances, but dangerous if 
translated into national policy. His letter interests 
me greatly because it exactly illustrates the con- 
flict of opinion which may arise between the 
mechanical engineer and the student of naval war. 
On the high seas the chances of submarines will 
be few, as they will require for their existence a 
parent ship which, on Sir Percy Scott's hypothesis, 
must disappear."- Lord Sydenham. 

" As a romance, or even a prophecy, Sir Percy 
Scott's forecast is fantastic, but as practical tactics 
it is so premature as to be almost certainly fatal ; 
it may safely be relegated to the novel shelf. '- 
Manchester Courier, June 6th, 1914. 

" Sir Percy Scott's is a very impressive picture. 
Written by a literary man doing a scientific novel 
or scare tale, it would pass well enough. But is it 
what we have the right to expect from a most 
accomplished naval gunner, and a naval officer of 
approved capacity? The imaginative, fancy-picture- 
making spirit of the thing is out of place over Sir 
Percy Scott's name." Manchester Guardian, .June 
6th, 1914. 

Admiral Bacon writes : " It is rather astonishing 


to find Sir Percy Scott rushing into print and 
publishing views with an authoritativeness which 
could only be justified by an accuracy of know- 
ledge which it is difficult to see that he has at his 
disposal."- Times, June 15th, 1914. 

" To speak frankly, Sir Percy Scott's letter was 
a most approved example of the mare's-nest. 
Lord Sydenham and other writers have shown 
how perfectly ridiculous it is to treat the submarine 
as if it were a weapon of precision which could be 
relied upon to do the kind of things it is expected 
to do in Sir Percy Scott's futurist idea of naval 
warfare." -Spectator, June 13th, 1914. 

" Mr. Hannon (Secretary of the Navy League) 
says the statements contained in Sir Percy Scott's 
letter are premature, ill-advised and calculated to 
do serious harm to the cause of maintenance of 
British supremacy at sea." Globe, June 6th, 1914. 

"Is Sir Percy Scott a dreamer of dreams like 
Admiral Aube ? Or is he a precursor of practical 
achievements ? Let us not forget that the dreams 
of to-day are often the realities of to-morrow." 
Daily Grraphic. 

" Sir Percy Scott has conceivably described the 
actual conditions which will prevail in 1920 or 
1930." Belfast News, June 6th, 1914. 

" It may be that in years to come a war will 
show that Sir Percy Scott was before his time. 
This is a possibility, if not a probability." Naval 
and Military Record, June 10th, 1914. 

Lord Charles Beresford writes : " A submarine 
cannot stay any length* of time under water, 
because it must frequently come into harbour to 
replenish its electric batteries." Times, July 7th, 

" Mr. David Hannay throws doubt upon the 
value of the submarine. Indeed, he seems to 
regard it as little better than a clever scientific 


toy. Doubtless, he suggests, it has potentialities, 
but these are at present of a very limited and 
unproved kind." Times, June 26th, 1914. 

Mr. H. W. Wilson writes : "A submarine 
cannot in any case do her work without the support 
of surface ships." Daily Mail, June llth, 1914. 

" The chances of the submarine in the serious 
warfare of the future are much smaller than Sir 
Percy Scott imagines. Sir Percy Scott has given 
to the submarine credit for qualities which have 
yet to be proved." Outlook, July 10th, 1914. 

u At the present time submarines cannot com- 
municate with one another, neither do they possess 
any serious utility at night-time, and in rough 
weather they may be utterly ignored." Engineer, 
June 12th, 1914. 

"On the face of Sir Percy Scott's statement, one 
can only say that the submarine has not yet 
reached the stage of development that justifies the 
gallant Admiral's estimate of its value in war." 
Daily Graphic, June 5th, 1914. 

" The submarine, a slow vessel, is dependent for 
vision on the sea-plane which has three or four 
times her speed, and must maintain that speed." 
Pall Mall Gazette, September 7th, 1914. 

Admiral Sir Francis Bridgeman, First Sea 
Lord, thus criticises Sir Percy Scott's contentions : 
" Sir Percy Scott's letter contains nothing that is 
new to the Admiralty authorities, except that in 
his statement he advises an immediate reduction 
in the shipbuilding programme, and recourse to 
what are at present inaccurate and undeveloped 
weapons, in place of battleships." Daily Mail, 
June 8th, 1914. 

Lord Beresford writes : " The submarine can 
only operate by day and in clear weather, and it is 
practically useless in misty weather." Times, July 
llth, 1914. 


" Submarines can be shadowed until compelled 
to rise, and then they are doomed." Observer, 
June 7th, 1914. 

" Sir Percy Scott himself writes as if the sub- 
marine were always invisible, and as if her speed 
when submerged were the same as her speed on 
the surface. The submarine is only invisible for a 
small part of the time ; she can stay below perhaps 
six hours at a stretch. Once she comes to the 
surface, she is the most vulnerable of all craft. 
Moreover, they are but little danger to a fleet 
under way." Observer, June 14th, 1914. 

Lord Sydenham writes : " On the surface the 
submarine is a most inferior destroyer, slow, 
supremely vulnerable and unsuitable for long 
habitation." Times, June 6th, 1914. 

Lord Charles Beresford writes : " A submarine 
is highly vulnerable; a machine-gun or well- 
directed bullets could put it out of action." 
Times, July llth, 1914. 

Mr. Arnold White writes that " if war is 
declared our Dreadnoughts would have to be 
tucked away in some safe harbour, and that the 
place for the German Dreadnoughts would be in 
the Kiel Canal with both ends sealed up." Referee, 
June 14th, 1914. 

"The effects of the torpedo have continually 
fallen far behind expectation. It is far from being 
certain that battleships, even when struck, will be 
destroyed beyond repair." Observer, June 7th, 

" The basis of the argument held by Sir Percy 
Scott lies in the statement that 6 submarines and 
aeroplanes have revolutionised the naval warfare. 
No fleet can hide from the aeroplane, and the 
submarine can deliver a deadly attack even in 
broad daylight.' Each of these points, however, 
seems to be capable of argument." Sunday Times. 


These criticisms call for no comment. Journa- 
lists who wrote in depreciation of what I had 
suggested were not to blame. They knew no 
more about submarines than I did about newspaper 
production. They merely repeated the views of 
some officers of the Navy. Point by point the 
War has answered all the criticisms of my letter 
and fully demonstrated that submarines and aero- 
planes have revolutionised warfare. 

On the 4th August, 1914, war was declared 
against Germany. I wrote to the Admiralty and 
offered to serve in any capacity they thought fit. 
I suggested that 1 might possibly be of use in 
assisting to get director firing into our ships, or 
hastily mounting heavy guns for land service. 
Their Lordships did not even condescend to 
acknowledge the receipt of my letter, so I amused 
myself gardening at Ascot, where I was living. 

One day in September, 1914, I met Field- 
Marshal Earl Roberts, who also lived at Ascot. 
He pointed out to me how deplorably short we 
were at the front of long-range guns, and asked 
me if I could quickly mount some on the same 
sort of carriage that I made in South Africa. I 
replied that as, with limited resources in South 
Africa, we were able to mount one 6-inch gun 
in 48 hours, we could easily in this country, by 
dividing the work between our dockyards, mount 
100 in a month. 

Lord Roberts was so delighted with the idea 
that he went straight to the War Office to see 
Lord Kitchener, and after a lapse of a few days 
he wrote me, enclosing a letter from the Secretary 
for War. Lord Kitchener, under date September 


15th, 1914, explained the position, adding that he 
had discussed my suggestions at the War Office 
with those concerned. He remarked that steps 
had already been taken to provide 6-inch howitzers 
carrying a hundred-pound shell, both lyddite and 
shrapnel, and that arrangements had been made 
for 6 -inch guns on mobile carriages to be sent to 
the front. While thanking me for my offer, he 
added that at that time the War Office did not 
" want any extra guns." 

Neither the War Office nor the Admiralty had 
at that time learned the value of long-range guns. 
Lord Roberts said: "They will learn by bitter 
experience," and this was the case. Ten months 
afterwards, in July, 1915, they found all their 
guns outranged by the Germans. The War Office 
then asked me if I could quickly mount eight 6-inch 
Mark VII. guns, having a range of 20,000 yards. 
I prepared a design practically on the same lines 
as that of the 6-inch gun used in South Africa. 
The work was undertaken by Chatham Dockyard, 
and in a very short space of time these eight guns 
were doing useful work against the Germans, their 
40 of elevation enabling them to out-range every 
other gun we had at the front. 

In the early stage of the war the state of our 
Navy as regards gunnery efficiency was deplorable, 
though two years had elapsed since it had been 
clearly demonstrated that director firing was the 
only system of firing which would give us a chance 
of success in action, and although it was well 
known that the Germans had some form of 
director firing in all their ships. When war was 
declared we had orly eight ships fitted to fire their 


heavy guns by director, and not one ship fitted, or 
being fitted, to fire her 6-inch guns by the same 

I urged the authorities to do something, but 
they would not move. I was informed that the 
First Sea Lord, H.S.H. Prince Louis of Battenberg, 1 
who was responsible to the nation for the efficiency 
of our Fleet in gunnery, had the matter well in 

Almost directly after the war commenced 
German submarines became very active, sending 
to the bottom the Pathfinder, Cressy, Rogue, 
Aboukir, and Hawke, with a loss of about 4000 
officers and men drowned. These vessels were 
patrolling at slow speed off a coast very near to 
the enemy's submarine base. Why they were 
sent there no one knows, but that the Admiralty 
sent them there is revealed in Lord Jellicoe's book. 
Their destruction was inevitable. The loss was 
the price the country had to pay for the Admiralty 
regarding submarines as toys. 

On the 1st November, 1914, my old ship the 
Good Hope, in company with the Monmouth, 
Glasgow, and Otranto, engaged the German 
cruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisnau, Leipzig, and 
Dresden in the Pacific. After a short action the 
Good Hope and Monmouth were both sunk by 
the Germans' superior shooting. These ships were 
caught in bad weather, and as neither of them was 
fitted with any efficient system of firing their 
guns in such weather, they were, as predicted in 
my letter to the Admiralty of 10th December, 

1 Now the Marquis of Milford Haven. 



191 1, 1 annihilated without doing any appreciable 
damage to the enemy. 

These two ships were sacrificed because the 
Admiralty would not fit them with efficient means 
of firing their guns in a sea-way. Had the 
system with which I had fitted the Good Hope 
been completed and retained in her, I dare say she 
might have seen further service and saved the 
gallant Cradock and his men on this occasion. 

During October, after the heavy losses that our 
Navy had sustained, the feeling of the general 
public that we ought not to have a Prince of 
foreign birth at the head of our Navy manifested 
itself, and Prince Louis of Battenberg resigned his 
position as First Sea Lord on the 30th October, 
his place being taken by Admiral of the Fleet 
Lord Fisher. 

On the 3rd November, 1914, the First Lord, 
Mr. Winston Churchill, sent for me, and informed 
me that their Lordships had decided to employ me 
at the Admiralty on special service in connection 
with the gunnery of the Fleet, and I was appointed 
" Adviser to their Lordships on matters connected 
with the gunnery efficiency of the Fleet." I was 
further directed to investigate the question of at- 
tacking the enemy's submarines, and to put for- 
ward any suggestions that 1 could in that direction. 

Before embarking on either of these duties 1 
was told to design and equip a fleet of dummy 
battleships, taking ordinary merchant ships and 
converting them so that, even at short distance, 
they had the appearance of battleships. Mr. F. 
Skeens, a very able Admiralty draftsman, prepared 

1 Cf. Chapter XV. 




[To face page 284. 


tracings of the merchant steamers, and tracings 
to the same scale of types of our battleships. One 
tracing was put over the other and the necessary 
transformation quickly decided on. It was much 
more simple than I anticipated. 

The next day Messrs. Harland & Wolff had 
about 2000 men cutting sixteen fine merchant 
ships to pieces. How splendidly this firm did 
their work can be seen from the photographs. 

The question of equipping this squadron with 
officers and men was a difficult one, but I had the 
good fortune to meet Captain Haddock, C.B., who 
had given up command of the Olympic. He had 
been with me in H.M.S. Edinburgh in 1886. 

I took Captain Haddock to the Admiralty, 
and suggested that they should make him into a 
Commodore, and place him in command of the 
squadron, with full power to ship the necessary 
officers and men. This squadron had to be given 
a name, and I suggested the S.C. Squadron, or 
the Special Coastal Squadron. "S.C. Squadron" 
could also mean " Scare Crow Squadron." You 
could take your choice ! One of these ships was, 
I believe, sunk by a Hun submarine whose 
captain, when he found she was only a dummy, 
went mad and blew his brains out. 

The purchase of the ships to form this squadron, 
and the expense of altering them cost about 
1,000,000. How these ships were to be usefully 
employed was not divulged to me. If some deep 
scheme existed in which they were to take 
part, it never matured, for a short time after 
their alteration, changes having occurred at the 
Admiralty including the retirement of Lord Fisher, 


those that remained of them were converted back 

At the beginning of the war, in my opinion we 
could better afford to lose a battleship than a 
merchant ship, but that was not the Admiralty 
opinion. They commandeered them in the most 
ruthless and reckless manner, sinking them to 
make breakwaters, and putting them to any use 
except bringing food to this country. It was 
further proof that the Admiralty did not believe 
in the submarine menace ; the warning which I 
had given them and the nation was still unheeded. 
It was not until the third year of the war, when 
four million tons of merchant shipping had been 
sent to the bottom, that the Admiralty woke up 
and started to order merchant ships to be built, 
and even then their orders were so bound up with 
red tape that the builders could not proceed with 
alacrity. A shipbuilder told me that in placing an 
order the Admiralty sent him so many forms to 
fill in that he had to tell them they could have the 
ships or the forms, but they could not have both. 

With regard to attacking submarines, as the 
Admiralty before the war regarded them as little 
more than toys, it was only natural that no progress 
had been made in the direction of taking measures 
for destroying them. A committee had certainly 
been at work for some time, but had evolved 

When I came on the scene, which was about 
one hundred and twenty days after war was 
declared, I found that they had not even taken 
steps to put rams on our trawlers and torpedo 
boat destroyers, or to give them a weapon to 


attack a submarine if they happened to pass over 
her. The Badger had rammed one, but her round 
stem did not do enough damage to sink the 
submarine, and when she passed over her she had 
no bomb to throw down at her. To meet the case, 
I suggested that rams should be put on our torpedo 
boats, destroyers and trawlers, and that was done. 
I designed and submitted a bomb which could be 
thrown down on to a submarine if she was on or 
near the surface. This suggestion was accepted 
and rapidly introduced. 

The depth charge, which ultimately turned out 
to be the antidote to the submarine, furnishes a 
remarkable illustration of Admiralty methods. 
Who invented it ? It has even been suggested 
that it was an American. What are the facts ? 
On the 1st October, 1914, Captain P. H. Colomb 
submitted the design of a depth charge, actuated 
by a hydrostatic valve. On the 19th October 
Admiral Sir Charles Madden made a similar 
proposal, and suggested a howitzer to " lob " the 
charges out. Although I was head of the Anti- 
Submarine Department at the Admiralty, I was 
left in ignorance of both these proposals an 
illustration of bad administration and the extent 
to which the Admiralty works in watertight 
compartments, one not knowing what the other 
is doing. So, on the 16th November, I proposed 
a depth charge which could be dropped from an 
aeroplane or surface craft. The idea was so simple 
that these depth charges could have been supplied 
in quantities by the end of the year. What 
happened ? These three valuable suggestions were 
treated in the usual Admiralty way efforts were 


made to improve on the idea in order to produce 
something which would bear the hall mark of the 
Admiralty, with the result that, instead of having 
a depth charge and ejecting howitzer at the end of 
1914, we did not get them until 1916. It was a 
serious matter, for I have no doubt that had the 
depth charge come into use in 1914, as it could 
have done, it would have saved a loss of about 

We were very short of fast surface boats the 
submarine's greatest enemy. In connection with 
this shortage rather a peculiar thing happened. 
On the 30th June, 1914, that is just before the 
outbreak of war, one of the guests at a dinner 
party asked what was the antidote for submarine. 
In my reply I mentioned that very fast surface 
boats carrying a gun would be useful. Exactly 
one year after this, on the 30th June, 1915, this 
gentleman brought me a good design of a very fast 
(40 knots) hydroplane motor boat, 60 feet long. 
I took the design to the Admiralty, and they 
promptly turned it down. One year after this 
they ordered a few hydroplane 40-feet long motor 
boats. They were not of much use. A year 
afterwards, in April 1917, they ordered a large 
number of similar boats of 55 feet in length. 
Two years' waste of time, and we were at war ! 

I next had to turn to a much more difficult 
problem, the gunnery of the Fleet. I went up to 
Scapa Flow in the Orkneys (13th November, 1914), 
and had a long interview with Sir John Jellicoe. 
The Grand Fleet was assembled in this harbour for 
strategic reasons, and also to keep the ships as far 
away as possible from the German submarines. 


The Commander-in- Chief discussed with me the 
terrible state of affairs, the salient point of which 
was that for strategic reasons he was obliged to 
keep the Grand Fleet at Scapa, that German 
aeroplanes had been over the harbour, and must 
be quite conversant with the anchorage of the 
Fleet and the unprotected approaches, that he 
was doing all he could to make the anchorage safe, 
but that the measures were not complete and that 
any night submarines might come in and send the 
Grand Fleet to the bottom. When I said " Good 
night " to Lord Jellicoe, I added, " Shall we be 
here in the morning ? " His laconic reply was, 
" I wonder." 

Why the Fleet was not destroyed, I cannot 
imagine. Either the German submarines lacked 
pluck, or possibly as the Commander-in-Chief of 
the Grand Fleet suggests in his book, the German 
mind could not believe that we could be such 
fools as to place our Fleet in a position where 
it was open to submarine or destroyer attack. If 
this was in the German mind, why was he not 
enterprising enough to use it ? 

A story is told that a German airman, having 
reported that they could see no defences at Scapa, 
two spies were sent, and at that time it was very 
easy for them to get over. They reported that 
there was no protection. The Germans promptly 
shot them, as they considered they were lying. 
They then sent two more ; they were not going to 
take any risks, so they reported that our Fleet was 
as safe as theirs was in the Kiel Canal. Perhaps 
this is why the Germans did not win, as they 
could have won, in 1914. If the Germans had 


had half a dozen men of the stamp of our sub- 
marine commanders, we should now be a German 
colony. This knowledge will be the bitterest pill 
that the Germans have ever had to swallow. 

And before I leave this subject of the unpre- 
paredness of the Grand Fleet in some respects for 
war, I must revert to the criticism of Lord Jellicoe 
for not pursuing the German Navy after the battle 
of Jutland and fighting them on the night 31st 
May-lst June. Lord Jellicoe had a very good 
reason for not doing so. The British Fleet was 
not properly equipped for fighting an action at 
night. The German Fleet was. Consequently, to 
fight them at night would have only been to court 
disaster. Lord Jellicoe's business was to preserve 
the Grand Fleet, the main defence of the Empire, 
as well as of the Allied cause, not to risk its exist- 
ence. I have been asked why the Grand Fleet 
was not so well prepared to fight a night action 
as the German Navy. My answer is, "Ask the 
Admiralty." The German Fleet went back, only 
to come out again when they crossed the North Sea 
like a flock of sheep to surrender. The German 
sailors were made in Kiel Harbour. This harbour 
is like the Serpentine and a sailor cannot be trained 
on the Serpentine, and that is what was the matter 
with the German Navy. 

It was very gratifying to find the Grand Fleet 
all cheery in spite of the dangers that confronted 
it drilling night and day at their guns, and doing 
everything possible to improve the efficiency of 
themselves and of their weapons. It was the 
weapons that I had been sent up to inquire about, 
and the conditions made me very anxious. Only 


eight ships of the whole Fleet had their main 
armament fitted for director firing, and all work 
on the other ships had been suspended on the out- 
break of war. Practically a hundred days had been 
lost, and, to make matters worse, none of the 
necessary electric cables and fittings had been 
ordered. Fitting the secondary armament with 
director firing had not been contemplated. 

Such a state of things seems incredible. One 
would have thought that, although their Lordships 
paid no attention to my warning in 1911, the 
moment war was known to be inevitable they 
would have bestirred themselves and ordered all 
the material necessary to put the Fleet in a state of 
gunnery efficiency. But practically nothing had 
been done. 

I had a conference with the First Lord (Mr. 
Winston Churchill) and the First Sea Lord (Lord 
Fisher), and pointed out to them the serious state 
of affairs, and how badly we should fare if the 
German Fleet came out. 1 They realised the posi- 
sition and approved of practically all the ships 
being fitted with director firing, including vessels 
of the Warrior and Defence class ; and some small 
cruisers of the Cordelia class ; and further, they 
agreed that I could arrange it without being 
held up by the ordinary Admiralty red tape. I 
took their approval to Sir James Marshall, the 
Director of Dockyard Work, and to the late Mr. 
Forcy, the Director of Stores ; without any letter- 
writing they acted on it at once. Drillers were 
sent up to the Fleet to commence the wiring, 

1 Fortunately for the country the German Fleet did not come out 
until eighteen months afterwards. 


and the necessary cables and fittings were ordered. 
The Wolseley Motor Car Company ceased making 
motors to make director instruments. Con- 
sequently the fitting of the ships went on rapidly, 
and had the " push " been maintained our whole 
Fleet would have been equipped by the end 
of 1915. 

In May, 1915, unfortunately for the nation, 
Lord Fisher left the Admiralty and all the " push " 
ceased. I no longer had any influence ; the authori- 
ties went back to their apathetic way of doing 
things ; time, even in warfare, was not considered 
of any importance by them. 

The result of this was that at the Battle of 
Jutland, fought on the 31st May, 1916, the Com- 
mander-in- Chief had only six ships of his Fleet 
completely fitted with director firing that is main 
as well as secondary armament ; he had several 
ships with their primary armament not fitted ; he 
had not a single cruiser in the Fleet fitted for 
director firing,- he had no Zeppelins as eyes for 
his Fleet ; his guns were out-ranged by those 
of the Germans. He had to use projectiles 
inferior to those used by the Germans ; and in 
firing at night he was utterly outclassed by the 

In one portion of the Fleet I had a very 
personal interest the cruisers of the Warrior, Black 
Prince, and Defence classes. They had a mixed 
armament of 9'2-inch and 7*5-inch guns, and con- 
sequently were very difficult ships to fight unless 
they had director firing. Lord Fisher had ap- 
proved of this class of ship being fitted with director 
firing in November, 1914, but the Admiralty did 


not place the order until April, 1915. It was their 
Lordships' intention to place the order in January, 
1915, which was far too late ; but the papers 
were mislaid, which caused a delay of three 

The Germans in the Jutland Battle sent these 
three ships to the bottom, and I lost my elder son, 
a midshipman, sixteen years of age. A week 
before he went into action he said to me : " Father, 
if we have a scrap, our gunnery lieutenant says 
we shall not have a dog's chance, as our extempo- 
rised director which we have rigged up is not 
reliable, and the Germans can out-range our guns. 
We have only got 15 of elevation ; the Germans 
have got 30. They will be pumping shell into 
us and our guns won't reach them by a couple of 

My midshipman son was quite correct ; they 
had not a dog's chance. All our guns were out- 
ranged by the Germans. This superiority of range 
was conceded by our own Board of Admiralty to 
the German nation. In 1905 I paid a visit to Kiel, 
as I have already mentioned, and on my return to 
London, informed the Admiralty that the Germans 
were giving their guns 30 of elevation. The 
Director of Naval Ordnance at that time, Sir John 
Jellicoe, was in favour of increasing our elevation, 
but, as I have already explained, the Director ol 
Naval Ordnance was only Director in name. He 
was not a Lord of the Admiralty and had no power, 
so nothing was done. We continued to give our 
guns only 13| of elevation. Four years after- 
wards, in 1909, we increased the elevation in new 
ships to 15. In 1911 we increased it to 20, and 


in 1915, a year after war was declared, the 
Admiralty did what they ought to have done ten 
years before, that is they decided that in all new 
ships the guns should be capable of firing at 30 
of elevation. Finally, in 1917 they increased the 
elevation in some ships to 40. 

My readers may not be quite conversant with 
the term " elevation," and the importance of it, 
so I will explain. Within certain limits the higher 
you point a gun up, the further the shot will go, 
For example, if you fire a 12-inch gun at 15 
elevation, the shot goes 16,000 yards ; if you fire 
at 30 the shot goes 24,000. Therefore, a ship 
that can fire her guns at 30 has 8,000 yards more 
range than a ship that can only fire her guns up 
to 15 elevation. They both have the same guns ; 
the increase in range is simply due to the platform 
in the one case allowing the gun to be raised to an 
angle of 30 instead of to only 15. 

Early in the year 1915 it was decided to build 
some monitors, carrying guns of 15-inch, 14-inch, 
and 9'2-inch calibre. As these vessels were for 
bombardment purposes, it was essential that their 
guns should be capable of firing at a high elevation, 
so as to obtain a long range. This essential had 
unfortunately been overlooked by the Gunnery 
Department. I called Lord Fisher's attention to 
it, and offered to increase their elevation from 13J 
to 30, without delaying the ships, provided that 
I could break through all Admiralty ideas. There 
was to be no paper work, and no red-tape. He 
agreed to this. I rang up Messrs. Armstrong, 
Whit worth & Co., of Newcastle-on-Tyne, discussed 
the subject with them, and got them to send me 


a drawing by the night mail. In the morning I 
showed it to Lord Fisher ; he approved the proposal 
and I wired to Newcastle, directing Armstrong to 
proceed with the alteration. The whole operation 
took twenty-two hours. There was, of course, 
nothing wonderful about it ; it merely illustrated 
how all work during the war should have been 
done. Lord Fisher was very pleased with the 
celerity with which it was carried out, but the 
paper brigade at the Admiralty did not like their 
ordinary red-tape ideas being over-ridden, and 
wrote to the Armstrong firm, informing them that 
I was only acting in an advisory capacity to the 
Admiralty, and Admiralty approval should be 
obtained in accordance with the usual practice. 
If this business had been attempted with the usual 
Admiralty practice it would have taken a month 
to get the paper work through, and probably it 
would not have been done at all. 

What a curse to the nation red-tapism was 
during the War ! I received a letter containing 
a shocking example of it. At Malta there were 
three of our submarines eager to go out and sink 
the Goeben and Breslau. They were not allowed 
to do so because they had been sent to Malta for 
" defence purpose." How could they have better 
defended Malta than by sinking these two ships ? 
It would not have been surprising had the officers 
turned a blind eye to their orders, and gone out 
and sunk them. 

On the 13th January, 1915, I was sent for by 
the First Lord (Mr. Winston Churchill) and he 
told me that H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth was going 
out to the Dardanelles, that the Navy was going 


to smash all the forts and go through to Constanti- 
nople, and that I could go in command. 

I could not accept the offer as I knew it was 
an impossible task for the inefficient ships then in 
the Mediterranean to perform. What was done 
is now a matter of history ; practically everything 
that we could do wrong we did. Our casualties 
were : 

Men. Battleships Sunk. 

Killed . I . . 23,035 Irresistible . 15,000 tons. 

Wounded . . . 73,008 Ocean 
Missing . . . 10,567 Goliath 
Sick . ...' . 90,000 Triumph 



196,610 79,600 

For our legislators the Dardanelles will probably 
be the blackest page in the War's history ; for our 
seamen and soldiers it will be one of the brightest. 
They landed under conditions which no other 
troops in the world would have faced, and displayed 
bravery unequalled in any other theatre of war. 

The landing in the Dardanelles and the subse- 
quent retirement we can for ever be proud of; our 
nation must ever be ashamed of the authorities 
responsible for the plan of attack. 

As I have referred to inefficient ships in the 
Mediterranean, it may be convenient at this point 
to summarize the general course of gunnery prac- 
tice during my period of service in the Royal Navy. 
In 1866 when I joined the Navy the allowance of 
practice ammunition was eight rounds per gun per 
quarter. This ammunition was supposed to be 
expended at a cask carrying a flag, some one aloft 
judging where the misses went. Points were 


awarded and prizes given. Many ships avoided 
carrying out this firing. In some cases the practice 
ammunition was thrown overboard, and I know 
of one case where the powder was sold and paint 
bought with the proceeds. 

In 1881 the cask was done away with, and a 
triangular canvas target substituted for it. The 
ship firing steamed round on the sides of a square. 
Hits could not be counted, as a shot hitting one 
side of the target made a hole in the opposite side 
also. Moreover, the target generally fell down 
when it was hit. 

In 1885 it was decided to have a target on 
which hits could be counted, and to award prizes 
for hits only, whether ricochet or not. The target, 
15 feet high and 40 feet long, was moored, and the 
ship steamed by it on a marked-out base, at a range 
varying from 1600 to 1400 yards. 

In 1892 the dimensions of the target were 
altered to 16 feet 9 inches high and 20 feet long, 
the other conditions remaining the same. The 
target had three masts, and if one was struck the 
whole canvas generally came down. In such an 
event the instructions were that the target was to 
be repaired before going on, but the order was 
seldom obeyed as it caused delay. Ships generally 
went on and fired at any part of the target left 

Every ship was supposed to carry out this prize 
firing once a year, but a large percentage evaded 
it, and there was no reliance on the results sent in 
by the ships that actually carried it out. The 
Admiralty return of the results of prize firing 
was generally not issued until late in the following 


year, which was too late for any one to take an 
interest in it, and the ships were not arranged in 
order of merit. 

In 1899, when in H.M.S. Scylla, I made an 
attempt to rectify this state of affairs by modifying 
the target, appointing independent umpires, and 
introducing competition. The Commander-in- 
Chief, Sir John Hopkins (as recorded in an earlier 
chapter), approved of the suggestion, but there 
was too much opposition to allow of any change 
being made. 

In 1901, in China, I made another attempt, 
and it was warmly supported by the Commander- 
in-Chief, Sir Edward Seymour, his flag-captain, 
Captain Warrender, 1 Captain Jellicoe, and many 
other officers. The target was altered so as to 
allow of a new sail being used for each gun, and 
a second target was moored ready for use. Rules 
were drawn out to insure uniformity. Independent 
umpires were on board the firing ship, and com- 
petition was instituted by awarding points per hit. 
A return was made out showing all the ships on 
the station in their order of merit of firing. 

The firing of the ships on the China Station 
immediately improved by leaps and bounds, and 
the Commander-in-Chief sent a full report to the 
Admiralty, with a suggestion that this method of 
carrying out Prize Firing should be generally 
adopted. The Admiralty, however, strongly 
objected to the proposed alterations, declined to 
introduce competition, and strenuously opposed 
publishing the ships in order of merit. 

In 1902, as I record elsewhere, I had the 

1 The late Admiral Sir George Warrender, Bart. 


honour of an audience with H.M. King Edward 
VII. His Majesty questioned me about the very 
bad shooting of the Navy, and inquired the 
reason for it. I explained that it was due to six 
causes: - 

(1) Lack of attention to the subject on the 
part of the Admiralty, which produced lack of 
interest in it on the part of the officers and men. 

(2) That officers' promotion depended upon the 
cleanliness of the paint work and not upon the 
battle-worthiness of the ship. 

(3) That the Admirals as a rule took no interest 
in target practice ; their custom was to go on shore 
when it took place. 1 

(4) That the Fleet was supplied with such bad 
gun sights that it was impossible to make good 
shooting with them ; the only ships that had made 
good shooting had used gun sights of a non- 
Admiralty pattern. 

(5) That there was no competition, and without 
competition the Englishman would do nothing. I 
pointed out that, only a few years ago, if a man-of- 
war got in forty tons of coal an hour it was con- 
sidered very good, but that since Lord Walter 

1 The attitude of many Admirals to gunnery since a ship existed only 
to hit first, hit hard, and keep on hitting reminds me of a story which is 
not inappropriate. I once heard of a bluejacket, wounded in the foot, 
who asked a comrade to carry him to the sick bay. He picked him up 
and carried him along on his back. On the way a splinter carried away 
the head of the wounded bluejacket. The rescuer deposited the 
injured man on the floor of the sick bay. The surprised doctor 
exclaimed, ' ' What have you brought him here for ? he has no head ! " 

" Well," was the astonished reply, " Old Bill was always a liar ; 

he said it was his foot." If the war had come before the gunnery of 
the Fleet was improved, the nation would have had reason to ask, 
" What*is the good of a Navy which cannot shoot? " 



Kerr (the then First Lord of the Admiralty) had 
introduced competition it had gone up to 200 tons 
an hour. 

(6) That the only reason why the Admiralty 
wanted the results kept confidential was because 
they were so bad. 

His Majesty fully recognised the value of 
introducing competition, and caused a letter to be 
written to Lord Selborne pointing out that two 
returns could be made out with the squadrons and 
ships in order of merit, one being confidential, 
giving the actual hits, and the other public, giving 
points only. The returns for 1903 were made out 
in this manner. 

In 1903 new rules were proposed by the 
Admiralty for the 1904 firing. They embraced an 
increase in the range which precluded the layer 
from seeing whether he was hitting the target. 1 
respectfully protested, and pointed out that as hits 
at the proposed range could not be seen it would 
eliminate all skill and convert the competition into 
a pure matter of luck. 

The matter was so serious that I personally 
interviewed Lord Selborne, Admiral Sir William 
May, and the Director of Naval Ordnance, and 
begged them not to spoil the heavy-gun firing as 
they had spoiled the light-gun firing in 1902. I 
failed to move them. 

In this year, so fatal to gunnery progress, it 
was also decided to give a medal to the best man 
in each ship, provided he made over a certain 
number of hits. I again protested and pointed 
out that in accordance with the new rules two men 
would fire at the same canvas, and that on inspec- 


tion after firing the number of holes in the target 
might show that one of the two men who fired had 
earned the King's Medal, but it would be impossible 
to say which of the two. My representations were 
without effect. The range was increased and by 
a stroke of irony the name was changed from Prize 
Firing to the Gun Layers' Competition. 

In 1904 the so-called Gun Layers' Competition 
was carried out, with, of course, a disastrous result. 
The officers and men realised that they could not 
see whether they were hitting or not, and that the 
only thing to do was to fire quickly and trust to 
luck. With an increase in the expenditure of 
ammunition the percentage of hits to rounds fired 
was reduced. Forty-three ships evaded carrying 
out the practice. Any excuse was accepted, and 
the Admirals were generally the worst offenders. 
Difficulties arose in awarding the King's Medal, 
and in some cases it was tossed for a most 
undignified proceeding. 

Fortunately for the country, Captain Jellicoe, 
early in 1905, became Director of Naval Ordnance, 
and steps were immediately taken to rescue naval 
gunnery from the chaos into which it had fallen. 
This appointment had a great deal to do with our 
winning the war. 

As regards the Gun Layers' Competition, the 
rules drawn up in China were taken out of the 
waste-paper basket and promulgated to the Fleet ; 
the distance of the target was reduced so that the 
men could see their hits ; and to meet the medal 
difficulty one man fired instead of two. 

The annual return was made out with all the 
ships of the Fleet arranged in order of merit, and 


was published on the 31st December. No ships 
in 1905 evaded the carrying out of their firing, and 
the results in 1905, in comparison with 1904, 
were : 

In 1904, 42 '9 per cent, of hits to rounds per gun. 

In 1905, 56-6 

This progress was fairly satisfactory, but there 
were a great many ships that did badly, and atten- 
tion was called to it by holding forty Courts of 

In 1906 the percentage of hits to rounds fired 
went up to 71 '1 per cent., and in 1907 it rose to 
79*1 per cent. 

As a result of this improvement in the gunnery 
of the Fleet, H.M. King Edward VII. invested 
Captain Jellicoe (who, as stated, was then Director 
of Naval Ordnance) and myself with the insignia 
of Knight Commander of the Victorian Order. 
Punch published a very good cartoon dealing with 



A Providential Raid by a Zeppelin London Undefended My Recall 
to the Admiralty The Deficiency of Guns Unsuitable Ammuni- 
tion Commander Rawlinson's Good Work A Flying Visit to 
Paris Co-operation of the French My Protest against Admiralty 
Methods Termination of my Command The Anti- Aircraft Corps 
Target Practice in the Air. 

MANY years ago I read an essay by Charles Lamb 
in which he set out to prove that many proverbial 
sayings were not true, but I still hope that experi- 
ence does teach us something. It is that belief 
which leads me to tell the story of the defenceless 
state of London from air raids when the war came 
late in the summer of 1914. There had been 
mysterious stories of airships cruising over England 
by night before Germany broke loose, but any one 
who believed in them was denounced as an alarmist 
without common sense. So the country went on 
sleeping quietly at night and nobody worried, and 
we were all comparatively happy until suddenly 
hostilities began and the Germans settled down on 
the Belgian coast, an event which no one could 
have foreseen. 

On Wednesday, 8th September, 1915, by the 
mercy of Providence, a Zeppelin came over London 
and dropped some bombs. I say that it was a 
mercy of Providence, because it showed the futility 



of our system of defence and compelled the 
authorities to take action. By some strange 
anomaly, the Lords Commissioners for " executing 
the office of High Admiral of the United Kingdom 
and of the territories thereto belonging and of the 
Colonies and other Dominions whatsoever" had 
become responsible for protecting London against 
air raids. This curious arrangement was due to 
the fact that Mr. Winston Churchill, then First 
Lord of the Admiralty, had had some perception 
of London's danger, for he had become a flying man 
himself, whereas the War Office was as certain that a 
Zeppelin could not come to London, as the Ad- 
miralty was that a submarine could not sink a ship. 
But all that is by the way. On 8th Septem- 
ber, 1915, a Zeppelin really came over London. 
Although throughout my career in the Navy I 
had been specially interested in gunnery matters, 
I confess that I was surprised when, three days 
later, I received a letter from Mr. Balfour, who 
was then at the head of the Admiralty, asking me 
if I would take over the gunnery defence of 
London, as a temporary measure, since in due 
course the War Office would assume control of 
the work, which, as he pointed out, was really 
theirs and not the Admiralty's. Mr. Balfour sug- 
gested that the task would prove interesting, and 
reminded me that it was certainly important ; but 
at the same time he warned me, with characteristic 
kindness, that the means of defence at that time 
were very inadequate. He was good enough to 
add that he thought no one was better qualified 
than I was for the appointment, and he promised 
that the defences would be improved as fast as the 


manufacture of new guns and war conditions 
generally permitted. 

I accepted the appointment, and had a look 
round the so-called defences. After fourteen 
months of war they consisted of: 

Eight 3 -inch high-angle guns, 

Four 6-pounders, with bad gun sights, and 

Six pom-poms and some Maxims, which would 
not fire up as high as a Zeppelin, and were 
consequently only a danger to the popula- 

The ammunition supplied to the guns was 
quite unsuitable, and was more dangerous to the 
people in London than to the Zeppelins above. 

In selecting the ammunition to fire at Zeppelins 
the authorities should have known : first, that a 
shell with a large bursting charge of a highly 
explosive nature was required so that it would 
damage a Zeppelin if it exploded near it ; second, 
that all that went up in the air had to come down 
again, and that, in order to minimise the danger to 
the public from falling pieces, an explosive should 
be used in the shell which would break it up into 
small fragments. 

The ammunition supplied was exactly the 
opposite to what we wanted. The shells had so 
small a bursting charge that they could do no 
harm to a Zeppelin, and they returned to earth 
almost as intact as when they were put into the 

Serious as this state of affairs was, it was no 
reflection upon my predecessor. In getting what 
he did he had done wonders, for he received the 
minimum of support, and had to contend against 


the maximum amount of apathy, red-tapism, and 
opposition on the part of the authorities. I doubt 
if many people, in or out of the Admiralty or War 
Office, really believed, in the early days of the war, 
in the danger of Zeppelin raids. 

But after a considerable interval the citizens of 
London realized that the German Zeppelins could 
come and bomb them whenever they liked. On 
their behalf, the Lord Mayor of London went to 
the War Office and suggested that they should 
take some steps to keep the Zeppelins away. The 
War Office said that they could do nothing. The 
Lord Mayor then applied to the Admiralty, and 
their Lordships promised to form an A nti- Aircraft 
Corps, and supply it with the necessary material to 
defend London. 

The Army, of course, ought to have done their 
own work, but the military authorities were at the 
moment overwhelmed with the urgent demands of 
the Army. The Admiralty took the matter up, 
because there was no other department to do it, 
since the War Office was preoccupied. But as the 
Admiralty decided to undertake it, they should have 
realised the importance of their task and set about 
it properly. Had they done so, London, by the end 
of 1914, could have been defended by at least fifty 
guns, with serviceable ammunition ; instead of 
which, after fourteen months of war, London was 
defended by twelve guns firing ammunition which 
did more harm to the population than to the 
Zeppelins. Of course, I see the matter in a 
vacuum, so to speak, and at the time there was an 
enormous pressure on the Naval authorities, who, 
after all, were engaged in defending the whole 


Empire by commanding the sea. London's air 
defence was a kind of " extra turn." 

General Galliene, who was in charge of the 
defence of Paris, had for the protection of his 
forty-nine square miles of city two hundred and 
fifteen guns, and was gradually increasing this 
number to three hundred. He had plenty of men 
trained in night flying, and well-lighted-up aero- 
dromes. I had eight guns to defend our seven 
hundred square miles of the metropolitan area, no 
trained airmen, and no lighted-up aerodromes. 

This was the state of affairs when the Admiralty 
handed the blunder over to me. To cheer me up 
they informed me that they could not give me any 
more guns at once, and that, although they had 
been experimenting for ten years, they had no 
time-fuse suitable for exploding high-explosive 
shell ; the only guns they had mounted on mobile 
mountings were Maxims, which were of no use 
against Zeppelins ; they had no airmen who could 
fly at night, and if they had had them they would 
have been of no use, as there was no ammunition 
suitable for attacking Zeppelins. 

It was quite true that we had no bullets suit- 
able for airmen to use in attacking Zeppelins, but 
we might and ought to have had, for a suitable bullet 
had been submitted in 1914. It was a new idea, 
so it was turned down. Its history is worth re- 
cording as a fair example of officialism. The 
inventor was a Mr. Pomeroy, a New Zealander. 
His bullet was first tried in 1908, with satisfactory 
results ; in 1914 he submitted it to the War Office, 
who rejected it. In June, 1915, another trial was 
held and was successful, but the bullet was not 


accepted and brought into use until the autumn 
of 1916. The country had to wait two years for 
what was urgently wanted, and we were at war. 1 

Little or nothing having been done, it was 
very easy to do something, and as Captain Stansfeld, 
C.M.G., R.N., the head of the Anti-Aircraft 
Department, was a most efficient officer, and had 
under him a very capable staff, we quickly got to 

The first thing was to find a satisfactory fuse. 
The Admiralty said that they had been ten years 
trying to get one and had not succeeded. One of 
my staff, Commander Rawlinson, C.M.G., D.S.O., 
solved the difficulty in ten minutes. The next 
thing was to get a design of high explosive shell 
which could be quickly manufactured. This was 
produced, but now the difficulty came. Having 
got the design, how were we to get the shell 
made ? My proper course was to ask the Admiralty, 
but their system of administration, which is very 
sure, very slow, and very involved, would allow of 
nothing being done quickly ; the paper work would 
have taken at least a month to get through. The 
Admiralty had to be avoided. So I took the 
designs over to Paris, and placed the order with a 
motor-car manufacturer, who executed the work 
well and quickly. In a very short time I saw my 
way to providing most of the guns used for the 
defence of London with satisfactory time-fuses and 
high-explosive shells. 

1 In 1916 our airmen and aerodromes were ready, and when the 
Zeppelins came over they got a very warm reception, numbers being 
brought down. The Germans lost their opportunity. For 15 months 
they could have come to London as often as they liked ; we were late 
in preparing for them they were late in coming. P. S. 


Admiral Vaughan Lee, C.B., of the Air Depart- 
ment, realising the urgency of the matter, set to 
work. He undertook to get lighted-up aerodromes 
and trained men in night flying and we had a 
bullet that would set a Zeppelin on fire. 

The next thing was to get more guns. I knew 
that the Navy had some they could spare and 
which could be converted into anti-Zeppelin guns. 
I applied to the Admirality for these guns, and 
promptly got a very big " NO." I had anticipated 
this reply by writing to Sir John Jellicoe, the 
Commander-in- Chief of the Grand Fleet, and asking 
him for them. He promptly wired back that I 
could have twenty. 

We extracted out of the Admiralty with diffi- 
culty another fourteen guns ; Lord Kitchener very 
promptly gave me some ; and with others that 
we picked up I found that in a very short time we 
had increased our number of guns from twelve to 
one hundred and eighteen. But, unfortunately, 
mountings had to be made for these ? which took 
a considerable time. 

The few guns we had for the defence of 
London were mounted permanently in positions 
probably as well known to the Germans as to 
ourselves. We had no efficient guns mounted 
on mobile carriages which could be moved about 
and brought into action where necessary. 

The French, I knew, had some of their splendid 
75 mm. guns mounted on automobile carriages. 
I suggested to the Admiralty that they should ask 
the French Government either to supply or loan 
me one to copy. This they agreed to see about, 
and I have no doubt that in a few months they 


would have got the necessary papers through. 
However, I was determined not to work their way. 
I wanted the gun, not papers, so I ordered Com- 
mander Rawlinson, a very clever officer who spoke 
French like a Frenchman, to go over to Paris at 
once and either beg, borrow, or steal a gun. 

I told him he was to have it on the Horse 
Guards Parade, under Mr. Balfour's window, in less 
than a week. He was in a motor-car at the time. 
Looking at his watch, he said, " I can catch the 
boat." I asked him if he did not want any clothes. 
He said, " No. Please wire Folkestone to ship me 
and the car over to France." Thus he left, going 
at about fifty miles an hour down South Audley 
Street. That is the sort of officer that is wanted 
in war-time ! Twenty-four hours after leaving me 
he wired : " Have got gun, two automobiles, and 

What he did is best described in his letter to 
me, which was as follows : 

" 22nd September, 1915. 

" SIR, 

" In obedience to your order that I should 
endeavour to obtain from the French Govern- 
ment a 75 mrn. anti-aircraft gun, mounted on 
an automobile, on the 16th September I pro- 
ceeded to Paris. 

" I first interviewed General Galliene, who in 
a most courteous and charming manner pointed 
out that, much as he would like to help London, 
he could not himself give me a gun, but he felt 
sure that General Joffre would give full con- 
sideration to anything that London wanted. 

" I proceeded to Chantilly and saw General 
Pellet, the Chief of General Joffre's Staff, and 
without any delay a telephone message was 


sent to the Minister of War in Paris telling 
him that I could have the gun complete with 
two automobiles and ammunition. 

" The gun in my presence was tested and fired 
by a French crew, who also very kindly drove 
it to Boulogne and shipped it to London, where 
it arrived on the 21st. 

" The whole transaction from the time of my 
leaving London to my return with gun took 
four days. 

" I attach photographs of the gun and 

" I have the honour to be, Sir, 

" Your obedient servant, 


Owing to the promptitude of Commander 
Rawlinson, we had this gun on the Horse Guards 
Parade, under Mr. Balfour's window, before the 
official letter asking for it was written. 

Although this was only one gun, its acquisition 
was very valuable, as it showed us what could be 
done, and how to do it. The rapidity of the 
French decision ought to have taught our deliberate 
Admiralty a lesson, but it did not ; nothing could 
put any life into their movements. 

With the French gun as a guide we very soon 
mounted up eight of our own three-pounders on 
motor-lorries, which gave a start to the mobile 
section of our defence. 

There was an urgent need for mobile guns. I 
should have liked to copy the French auto-car 
mounting, which was a fine specimen of engineer- 
ing, but our three-inch guns could not be adapted 
to it. The problem, consequently, was to devise 
a mobile contrivance which would carry a three- 


inch gun of the ordinary service pattern. It was 
desirable to employ for the purpose only one 
motor-lorry, instead of two, as in the case of the 
French gun ; I realized, moreover, that the design 
would have to be of such a character that the 
manufacture could be undertaken by a firm not 
making gun-mountings or other urgent war 
material, as all such concerns were already fully 
occupied with work. 

By a stroke of good luck I happened to meet 
Mr. R. E. L. Maunsell, chief engineer of the 
South-Eastern Railway Company, whose works are 
at Ashford. I spoke to him about the matter, and 
found that he was a man of the type of Sir David 
Hunter at Durban ready to undertake anything. 
He grasped the idea at once, although he had 
never seen a gun or mounting before. Later on 
we called in Commander Rawlinson and Mr. 
Whale, a clever designer of Sir W. G. Armstrong, 
Whitworth, and Co., and a drawing was soon 
prepared. The design was based on the 4'7-in. gun 
platforms that I improvised for use at Ladysmith, 
but it was arranged that the mountings should be 
made of steel instead of wood. It was decided to 
have an axle-tree and a pair of wheels under it, 
these being removable when the gun came into 
action. A special feature of this mobile platform 
was that its weight on the lorry could be altered 
according to whether the gun was being conveyed 
up or down hill. The experimental lorry was 
given a severe trial, and we found out that it 
could travel at the rate of thirty miles an hour, 
and that it remained perfectly stable when the 
gun was fired. The rapidity with which the work 



f" __ .: ;'-- 


(Commander A. Rawlinson in charge.) 

[To face page 312. 


was done and the character of the work reflected 
great credit on the staff of the South-Eastern 
Railway Company at Ashford. 

The housing of these guns and their crews 
was momentarily a difficulty, but the Grand Duke 
Michael of Russia came to the rescue and offered 
to house the hundred men and guns in the grounds 
of his beautiful house at Kenwood, Hampstead. 
Mrs. Wrey kindly lent her house for the accom- 
modation of the officers. 

Although the Admiralty did not give me any 
assistance as regards the defence of London, 
they wanted me to comply with their slow and 
unsatisfactory routine. But we were at war ! 
Had I submitted it would have taken me 
fifteen months to get twelve guns, whereas I was 
aiming at getting one hundred and fifty guns in 
six months. So I did not agree, and wrote to Mr. 
Balfour as follows : 

" 18th October, 1915. 


" On the 10th September you asked me if I 
I would take the gunnery defence of London 
under my charge. I accepted, and in doing so, 
considered that you intended me to procure 
what was necessary for the gunnery defence of 

" Up to last week I was led to believe that 
the Admiralty had ordered guns for the defence 
of London. 

"On Friday, the 15th, you informed me 
that they had not done so. I at once ordered 
some guns. The firms with whom I placed the 
order wrote to the Admiralty for confirmation. 
The Admiralty have not confirmed the order. 


" If I am to be responsible for the gunnery 
defence of London, I must be allowed to do 
things in my own way, and not be interfered 
with by the Admiralty. If the Admiralty are 
to settle what guns are to be used for the 
defence of London, and how they are to be 
obtained, then they become responsible for the 
gunnery defence of London, and I resign. 

" If I am to remain in charge of the 

funnery defence of London I must have a 
ee hand to procure what is wanted how and 
best I can, and not to be handicapped by 
Admiralty red-tapism. 



Mr. Balfour kindly arranged that my work 
should not be hampered by the ordinary Admiralty 
red-tapism, so I was able to go ahead, and the 
defence of London, as far as guns were concerned, 
advanced rapidly. But not rapidly enough, so I 
went over to France to see if the French would 
help me again. When I told General Galliene 
the number of guns we had, he laughed and ex- 
pressed surprise that the Zeppelins did not come 
every day. He was a splendid officer and prompti- 
tude itself. Five minutes' conversation and it was 
decided that I should have thirty-four of the 
famous French seventy-five millimetre guns and 
twenty thousand shells, with fuses complete. This 
brought our total up to one hundred and fifty- two. 
They were rather a mixed lot Mr. Asquith 
referred to them as rather a menagerie but 1 
went on the principle that any guns were better 
than no guns. 


10 4'7 guns. 

7 4-inch guns. 

35 French 75 millimetre guns. 

4 4-inch Greek guns. 

20 15-pounder B.L.G. 

12 2*95 Russian guns. 

34 6-pounder guns. 

19 3-inch guns. 

11 3-pounder guns. 


On the 27th November I received a letter from 
Mr. Balfour in which he told me that the long- 
drawn negotiations for the transfer of the defence 
of London against aircraft to the War Office were 
coming to an end, and with characteristic considera- 
tion he proceeded to give me warning that the 
change was imminent. It was a kindly act on the 
part of the First Lord which I highly appreciated, 
and when I read the paragraph of the letter in 
which he referred to what I had been able to do, I 
felt that perhaps 1 had after all rendered some 
service to London. 

I was proud to have been associated with the 
Anti- Aircraft Corps. In my opinion, considering 
its size and the circumstances in which it was 
raised and trained, it was the most efficient as well 
as the cheapest unit in the country's defence 
organization. It was a voluntary corps d'elite, 
composed of University men, barristers, artists, 
and City men. They were men of brains who, 
moved by patriotic motives, put on the uniform 
of petty officer or able seaman and submitted 
in a splendid spirit to the necessary conditions of 
service. Before I took command of the corps, I 
had read criticisms suggesting that it was of little 
use and that the officers and men knew nothing 



about gunnery. Those criticisms were ill-founded, 
for the Corps included a number of members 
peculiarly well qualified by mathematical or 
mechanical training to pick up the rudiments of 
gunnery. This they had done very quickly. The 
members of the Anti- Aircraft Corps, in fact, laid 
the foundations of the elaborate system of anti- 
aircraft defences which eventually taught the 
Germans that London was an unhealthy spot. 

The First Lord himself, though he is not a man 
of business training, did more for the defence of 
London than any one when he cut me free from 
the Admiralty red-tape methods. Without that I 
could have done little. 

At noon on the 16th February, 1916, the War 
Office took over the gunnery defence of London, 
and consequently I was no longer responsible for 
it. I had commanded it for five months and six 
days. As my scheme of defence was not complete, 
it seemed a pity that new people with new ideas 
should take it over, but we did many peculiar 
things during the war. 

On the evening of the day on which I had 
turned over all responsibility for the " Defence of 
London" to Viscount French, Mr. now Sir 
Joynson Hicks, in the House of Commons, asked 
the following question : 

" Has Sir Percy Scott now finished, has he no 
longer anything to do with it ? " 

Mr. Tennant, on behalf of the War Office, 
replied : "I hope that the hon. gentleman will 
not go away with any idea of that kind. Sir 
Percy Scott is still in the position that he was in ; 
in other words, there has been no change in his 

"IN MID-AIR" 317 

position. What may ultimately be agreed upon I 
do not know." 

As I was not in the position that I was in, 
and as there had been a change, Mr. Tennant's 
reply was not in accordance with fact, but it 

Reproduced by kind permission from the " Daily Graphic.' 

"Mr. Ellis Griffiths said he understood that Sir Percy Scott was in 
a state of suspended animation. He had not quite left the Admiralty 
or quite joined the War Office, but he was in the process of doing 
both." House of Commons Air Defence debate. 

was characteristic of many statements made by 
Ministers during the war. 

Mr. Ellis Griffiths, M.P. for Anglesey, added 
that he understood that I was in a state of 
suspended animation, that I had not quite left 


the Admiralty nor quite joined the War Office, 
but I was going to do both. 

This statement gave rise to some comic sketches 
and a cartoon in Punch. 

On the following day 1 was asked if I would 
accept the post of Adviser to Field-Marshal Vis- 
count French on air defence questions. I 
accepted ; so we two, who fifty years before joined 
the Navy side by side, were working together again. 

That really ended my association with the aerial 
defence of London, for the new appointment 
meant, really, nothing. 

I have already mentioned the forebodings 
which I had before the war as to the influence 
which the submarine would have upon the course 
of operations ; but before leaving the subject of 
air raids on London, I may add that I also foresaw 
that aviation was going to develop with great 
rapidity. A few years before the outbreak of the 
war, when the late Mr. F. T. Jane was pre- 
paring a hand-book on Airships and Aeroplanes, he 
asked me to write a few notes on the possibilities 
of aerial warfare. As I thought I could perhaps 
do some service in directing attention to this 
matter, I wrote a short statement which was 
published, with an admirable sketch. 

" The progress recently made in aviation and 
the existence of so many comparatively prac- 
tical machines compel attention from every 
thinking man. The performances of the Zep- 
pelins are sufficiently satisfactory to indicate 
that the time has arrived when the flying war- 
ship is a factor to be seriously reckoned with, 
but when I am asked to forecast the aerial 




liUDYAXD KlP Lisa 

[" Sir Ptncv Sti/rr has not quite left the Admiralty and has not. quite joined the War Office." 3fr. ELLIS CMFFIIH, in the Vans, 
Binpe this remark Lord KITCHENZB has announced that the Admiral is to act as expert adviser to Field-Marshal Lord FaEKCH, who i 
taking over the responsibility for home defence against aircraft.] 

Reproduced by kind permission of the proprietors of " Punch." 

[To face page BIS. 


warfare of the future, I am confronted by a 
double difficulty. In the first place, I cannot 
claim sufficient technical acquaintance with the 
subject of flying to warrant discussing the matter 
closely. And in the second place, the details 
of any ideas that we may have on the subject 
of destroying airships are naturally confidential. 

" As an adjunct to H.M. Navy, the useful 
function of an airship or aeroplane would 
appear to be in gaming information of the 
locality, strength, and disposition of the enemy's 
fleet, and so possibly unmasking his strategy. In 
this direction an airship's services would be in- 
valuable, for it might not be possible to obtain 
the information in any other way. 

" If it be allowed that an airship is of value 
as a scout to acquire information, then airships 
or aeroplanes we must have, but as the enemy 
will use similar appliances to watch our strategical 
operations, secrecy can only be arrived at by the 
destruction of his observers, and the method of 
aerial warfare becomes a subject for serious con- 

" The heretofore only traversers of the air 
use beak and talon to destroy one another. The 
human aviator, having neither beak nor talon, 
must be provided with some means of offence, 
it may be a gun ; if it is, then the aviator will 
realise that his safety depends upon whether the 
projectile out of his gun hits the mark aimed 
at or not, and accurate gunnery, that is quick- 
hitting, will in the air be as important as it is 
on land or on the sea in deciding a final issue. 
Whatever the weapons used are, practice with 
them will be necessary, and we may live to see 
two airships each towing a suitable target 
carrying out a test of their efficiency in quick- 


My forecast has at least some personal interest 
for me, in that in 1915, after the war had been in 
progress for several months, I saw target practice 
being carried out somewhat on the lines which I 
had suggested, a small airship towing a target and 
an aeroplane firing at it. The whole idea was 
thought to be rather far-fetched at the time when 
I wrote, but events were to show that those who 
had confidence in the development of aviation for 
warlike purposes were not far wrong. 



Guns for the Army Visit to the Front Inferior Elevation of the 
9 '2-inch Gun The Mounting improved after Official Delay 
Naval Searchlights A Primitive Method My Improved Design 
A New System ultimately adopted A Letter from the Ad- 
miralty The Dardanelles Commission A Question of Gunnery 
The Essence of the Problem A Criticism of the Report. 

I WAS sent for by Mr. Balfour on the 9th July, 1915, 
to be informed that the Army was terribly in want 
of guns, and had approached him as to whether the 
Navy could give them some 6-inch. He asked if 
I could design a mounting for them which could 
be quickly constructed, and not necessarily by a 
gun-making firm, as they were all too busy. I 
explained to Mr. Balfour that this was just what 
1 had offered to do nearly a year ago, that the Army 
had then declined the offer ; but as they now wanted 
the mountings, I could easily and quickly get them 
made, provided there was no red-tape about it and 
I had a free hand to order Chatham Dockyard to 
make them. To this Mr. Balfour agreed ; so I 
went to the War Office to inquire what they 
wanted. I found that they did not know what 
they wanted rather a handicap to speedy con- 
struction and it took a week for them to make 
up their minds. 

On the 17th they decided that they wanted 


322 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

eight 6-inch guns, mounted on carriages which 
would allow of 25 degrees of elevation being used. 
I pointed out that they ought to have at least 35 
degrees of elevation ; but my remonstrance was 
in vain, for they would have only 25 degrees. 

I got out a design there was nothing in it, as 
it was practically the same as the one I made for 
General Buller in South Africa. On the 19th July 
Chatham Dockyard commenced the job. So 
splendidly did they work that by the 27th July most 
of the eight mountings were nearly completed, and 
one had been tested by firing a large number of 
rounds at different elevations. 

On the 28th July the War Office altered their 
minds and wanted 35 degrees of elevation. I 
put the eight mountings that we had made on 
the scrap-heap, got out another design, and two 
days later Chatham Dockyard commenced again. 
The officers and men were rather annoyed at 
their ten days' work being wasted, but they went 
ahead with their former energy and in ten days 
one mounting was tested and the other seven were 
nearly completed. These guns turned out to be 
very useful at the front. They were the only 
long-range guns that they had. 

On the 20th January, 1918, 1 paid a visit to the 
front and noted that the 9 -2-inch guns had only 
20 degrees of elevation. I pointed out to General 
Sir Henry Rawlinson that by putting a piece on 
top of the mounting, 35 degrees of elevation could 
be obtained, which would increase the range from 
13,000 to 17,000 yards. Sir Henry considered it 
most important that the alteration should be 
carried out. On my return to England I wrote 


to Sir Wm. Armstrong, Whitworth and Co. for 
a drawing ; they only took two days to complete 
it, and I forwarded it to Sir Henry Rawlinson. 
On the 28th March, 1916, Sir Wm. Armstrong, 
Whitworth and Co. were asked to fit four guns 
in this manner; that is to say, sixty-two days 
elapsed between that firm's dispatch of the drawing 
to me and their receipt of the order from the War 
Office to start the work. The j ob was, comparatively 
speaking, a small one, and it took only a short time 
to complete. 

Here is a case where a bad mistake was made 
in the beginning, at the time the gun mount- 
ing was ordered, and, when the mistake had 
been pointed out, the authorities took longer to 
make up their minds whether or not to rectify it 
than the gun-makers did to alter the mounting. 
It is one of the thousands of such instances that 
occurred during the war, indicating that neither 
the Admiralty nor the War Office had any 
appreciation of the value of time and that even 
when at war they could not leave the beaten path 
of peace-time red-tapism. 

In January, 1917, I paid a visit to H.M.S. 
Centaur, a new light cruiser flying the broad 
pennant of Commodore Tyrwhitt. 1 In the course 
of conversation the Commodore mentioned to me 
how hopelessly his squadrons were handicapped in 
any night action, as they were not supplied with 
any star shells which would illuminate the enemy, 
and their searchlights could not be effectively 
used. It was a strange thing that although we 
had used searchlights in the Navy for so many 

1 Afterwards Rear- Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt. 

324 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

years, we had continued a system which was so 
unscientific that the operator at the searchlight 
could not get his light on to the target because the 
glare made it invisible. It was a method, as I have 
already remarked, which necessitated the employ- 
ment of another man as an observer who, with his 
eyes on the object, would shout out " go right " 
or " left " or " up " or " down." 

Lord Jellicoe points out in his book 1 that we 
were inferior to the Germans in the power of our 
searchlights, and the control of them, and that our 
guns forming the secondary armament were not 
fitted for director firing, whereas the Germans 
had a good system. It was for these reasons 
that he did not seek a night action in the Battle 
of Jutland. The question is why had the 

1 ' * The possibility of a night action was, of course, present to my 
mind, but for several reasons it was not my intention to seek such an 
action between the heavy ships. It is sufficient to mention the prin- 
cipal arguments against it. In the first place, such a course must 
have inevitably led to our Battle Fleet being the object of attack by a 
very large destroyer force throughout the night. No senior officer 
would willingly court such an attack, even if our battleships were 
equipped with the best searchlights and the best arrangements for the 
control of the searchlights and the gunfire at night. It was, however, 
known to me that neither our searchlights nor their control arrange- 
ments were at this time of the best type. The fitting of director- 
firing gear for the guns of the secondary armament of our battleships 
(a very important factor for firing at night) had also only just been 
begun, although repeatedly applied for. The delay was due to manu- 
facturing and labour difficulties. Without these adjuncts I knew well 
that the maximum effect of our fire at night could not be obtained,, 
and that we could place no dependence on beating off destroyer attacks 
by gunfire. Therefore, if destroyers got into touch with the heavy 
ships, we were bound to suffer serious losses with no corresponding 
advantage. Our own destroyers were no effective antidote at night, 
since, if they were disposed with this sole object in view, they would 
certainly be taken for enemy destroyers and be fired on by our own 
ships."" The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916," pp. 373-374. 


Germans this superiority? They ought not to 
have had it and they would not have had it if 
suggestions put forward by British naval officers 
had been accepted. 

On my way up to London from Chatham after 
my visit to H.M.S. Centaur, I thought out an idea, 
and took it to Sir John Jellicoe (then First Sea 
Lord). He made up his mind at once, and with 
characteristic promptitude, he ordered it to be 
proceeded with, but unfortunately after this he left 
the Admiralty and the invention took the ordinary 
course, that is to say, its adoption was delayed 
because the departmental officials wished as usual 
to introduce my idea in some other form which 
they could call their own. In this they partially 
succeeded, so at length the Royal Navy secured a 
method of controlling their searchlights which had 
been badly needed for forty years. 

After the departure of Sir John Jellicoe from 
Whitehall, I had nothing to do. I was supposed 
to be adviser to the Admiralty on gunnery matters, 
but they did not keep me well enough informed to 
advise them, and when I gave them advice they 
did not take it. That the country should in these 
circumstances be paying me annually 1200, the 
difference between my full pay and retired pay, 
seemed to me indefensible, and early in 1918, I 
pointed out to the authorities that as they would 
not give me anything to do I would do what I 
could without robbing the country of 1200 a 

There remains one of the choicest of my collec- 
tion of Admiralty communications to be mentioned. 
In August, 1916, I received a letter from the 

326 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

Admiralty in which they informed me that they 
had received " with much satisfaction a report 
from the Commander-in- Chief, Home Fleets, 
representing the admirable manner in which the 
ships of the Home Fleets have been fitted with 
director-firing gear." The letter conveyed to me 
" their high appreciation " of the valuable services 
which I had rendered in connection with the design 
and manufacture of this gear and their thanks for 
" the diligence and care with which I had carried 
out the arduous work which devolved on me 
both before and during the War and which had 
resulted in this system being completed in all the 
capital ships of the Home Fleets." 

The Commissioners for executing the office of 
Lord High Admiral have often written absurd 
letters to me. One would like to know what was 
in the brain of the writer of this particular com- 
munication. Was it thought that I should show 
it to the Germans in order to convince them that 
all our capital ships were fitted with director 
firing? To attempt to camouflage the facts for 
my benefit was useless, since I knew very well 
which of our capital ships were so fitted, and I 
knew that at the rate their Lordships were pro- 
ceeding all our capital ships would not be completed 
before the War was over, as, in fact, they were not. 1 

While on the subject of gunnery, I cannot 
forbear mentioning another war matter which 
greatly interested and afterwards amused me. 
Under the Special Commissions (Dardanelles and 
Mesopotamia) Act, 1914, Royal Commissioners 
were appointed to inquire into the origin, inception 

1 Cf. "The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916. " 


and conduct of the operations in the Dardanelles. 
Lord Cromer was the President, the Army was 
represented by Field-Marshal Lord Nicholson, and 
the Navy by Admiral of the Fleet Sir William 

I must comment on their report 1 because it 
reveals some very strange facts in connection with 
a subject that I have studied nearly all my life 

The idea that the battleships of the Mediter- 
ranean Squadron could reduce the forts and guns 
protecting the Dardanelles sprang from a sad want 
of knowledge. The authorities responsible for the 
mistaken idea were impressed by the success with 
which the German guns had reduced the Belgian 
forts, and concluded that in the same way ships' 
guns could reduce the Dardanelles forts. This 
deduction was due to a failure to realise the 
difference between firing on land and firing from 
a ship. 

Referring to the reduction of the Belgian forts, 
Lord Grey said, 2 " The experience of this war was 
supposed to have changed the prospect of success- 
ful attack upon forts and made successful attack 
upon forts a practical operation where it had not 
been a practical operation before." As to that, I 
would observe that the war had not changed the 
prospect of successfully attacking forts or land guns 
by naval guns ; all recent wars have demonstrated 
that on land you can successfully attack forts or 
guns if you can locate them, and during the war 
new methods were in use for locating them. 

1 The Report cost the country 4850. 

2 " Dardanelles Commission Report," p. 24. 

328 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

Mr. Winston Churchill, in the course of his 
evidence, said, " This war had brought about many 
surprises. We had seen fortresses reputed through- 
out Europe to be impregnable collapsing after a 
few days' attack by field armies." I do not 
think that the war brought surprises to those who 
knew anything about artillery fire. If the state- 
ment that all Europe thought the Belgian forts 
impregnable is correct, then all Europe was very 
ignorant. I cannot agree with Mr. Winston 
Churchill, for I am quite sure that no officer with 
any knowledge of artillery fire would consider any 
fort impregnable from guns on land. Here we 
had a very wrong supposition and an even more 
erroneous idea, and these two wrongs were the 
basis for the authorities' decision that the obso- 
lescent battleships in the Mediterranean could 
successfully attack the Dardanelles. 

For the destruction of the Namur and other 
Belgian forts, the Germans could place their guns 
where they liked, and by camouflage conceal them 
from even the eyes of an aeroplane; they could 
obtain the range to a yard and could employ 
balloons to observe and direct their fire ; the 
destruction of the forts was therefore not a 
difficult task. The forts were helpless ; they were 
shelled by weapons they could not see, and they 
had no target to fire on. A parallel case to this 
existed later on, when a number of obsolescent 
ships of the Allies in the Mediterranean were 
ordered to attack the shore guns of the Turks. 
The shore guns could hide themselves and, by 
means of scientific methods, fire at the ships, 
although unable to see them. The ships could 


not hide themselves and could not fire at the shore 
guns because they could not see them. 

The main difference between sea and land 
gunnery as exhibited at the time of the Dardanelles 
operations was that in the ships the gunners, in 
order to fire effectively, had to be able to see the 
object they were firing at, whereas on the land 
this necessity did not exist ; a hill could be between 
the land gun and the target, but it would not 
affect the accuracy of fire. This is so important 
a point that I wish to make it quite clear to my 
readers. In order that a shot from a gun may 
reach an object, the distance of the object must be 
known, and the gun pointed up into the air at an 
angle which varies with the distance. This angle 
is called the angle of elevation, and can be applied 
to the gun in two different ways : 

(a) By clinometer. 

(b) By direct observation. 

A clinometer is practically a pair of nutcrackers 
with an ordinary level attached to one handle. 
You separate the handles of the nutcrackers to 
the angle that the range requires, then put the 
nutcrackers on to the gun, and when the bubble 
of the level is in the middle you know that the gun 
is at the correct angle of elevation. This is what 
is called pointing the gun by clinometer and is 
the system generally used by guns on shore. This 
method cannot be used on board a ship, as the 
bubble of the level would never be steady on 
account of the vessel's motion, so the ship gunner 
looks along the top of the nutcracker handle and, 
when he sees it in line with the object to be hit, 
he knows that the gun has the correct elevation. 

330 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

Hence when firing from a ship the gunner must be 
able to see the object that he is firing at. 

The fact that the gunners on board the ships 
could not fire unless they were able to see the 
object they wished to hit is another very important 
detail. Let me try and make it quite clear. 

Here we have a gun on shore with a hill inter- 
vening between it and the ship at sea. It is 
obvious that the gunners on shore cannot see the 
ship, and the gunners on board the ship cannot 
see the gun on shore. Notwithstanding that 
neither opponent can see the other, the gun on 
shore can fire at the ship, because it can be given 
the correct elevation by a clinometer or level ; on 
the other hand, the ship cannot fire, because the 
gunners on board cannot use a clinometer. Herein 
lies the difference between ship and shore gunnery. 

Whether the obsolescent ships in the Mediter- 
ranean, unsupported by the Army, could be ex- 
pected successfully to attack guns on shore, was 
purely an artillery question ; it was to be a duel, 
and before deciding on the duel, the authorities 
should have carefully investigated the case to see 
which side was likely to win. Had they done so, 
they would have found that the chances of hitting 


were decidedly in favour of the shore guns, for the 
following reasons : 

(1) A concealed battery can fire at a ship, but 
the ship cannot return the fire. 

(2) The shore guns can use a clinometer; 
ships cannot. 

(3) The shore gun fires from a steady platform ; 
the ship gun fires from a rolling platform. 

(4) From the shore the range of the ship can 
be accurately obtained, as a long base can be used 
for range finding, while the ship can only use a 
short-base range-finder. 

(5) Even if the shore gun is visible from the 
ship, it is a very small target to aim at, whereas 
the ship is a very large target. 

(6) The shore gun, when visible, is not easy to 
locate from its surroundings, whereas the ship 
stands out on the sea like a black bull's-eye on a 
white background. 

(7) Observation of fire is much easier to judge 
accurately when the projectiles are falling in the 
sea than when they fall on land. 

(8) The ships that were told off to carry out 
the bombardment (with the one exception of the 
Queen Elizabeth] were unable to fire at a long 
range because their guns could not be given 
sufficient elevation ; they were not efficiently fitted 
for firing their guns by broadsides ; and they could 
not fire their guns from aloft, which is essential 
when using them at long range. 

With all these advantages on the side of the 
shore guns, it is obvious that the ships alone could 
not defeat them, and the authorities should not 
have made the attempt. 

332 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

In 1916 it was decided, as I have recalled, to 
have a Commission of Inquiry into the origin, 
inception, and conduct of the operations in the 
Dardanelles. With regard to the " inception," or 
to put the matter in plainer English, whether the 
obsolescent ships selected for the operation could 
defeat the Dardanelles guns or not, the Commis- 
sion 1 state, " The arguments involved in the con- 
sideration of this subject are of so highly technical a 
character that none but specialists can express a 
very confident opinion on them.'" The reasons given 
by me as to why the inception was wrong do not 
embrace a very high technical knowledge. 

I have seen the Royal Navy change from sails 
to steam, from fighting on the water to fighting 
under the water and over the water. What is the 
future Navy to be ? Some officers say that the battle- 
ship is more alive than ever ; others declare that the 
battleship is dead. I regarded the surface battle- 
ship as dead before the War, and I think her 
more dead now, if that is possible. The battleship 
of to-day costs roughly 8,000,000 ; she carries about 
1000 shells containing about 100,000 Ibs. of high ex- 
plosives ; her effective range is, say, 15 miles, she is 
vulnerable to aircraft with bombs and ariel torpedoes, 
and to submarines, the latter possibly carrying a 
15-in. or 18 -in. gun ; and the ordinary automobile 
torpedo is still in process of development, and may, 
in the future, carry a ton of high explosives, which 
would probably sink any battleship. 

For 8,000,000 we could build many aeroplane- 
carrying ships, equipped with aeroplanes carrying 
over 100,000 Ibs. of high explosives. If these 
aeroplanes carried fuel sufficient for five hours, their 

1 " Dardanelles Commission Report," p. 24. 


range would be about 150 miles out and 150 miles 

In the battleship we put all our eggs into one 
basket. In peace-time the aeroplane- carrying 
ships could be used as passenger ships, and the 
aeroplanes for carrying passengers instead of bombs. 

As to relative cost of upkeep, the single battle- 
ship would require in peace-time about 


40 officers ^8,000 

800 men 60,000 

Provisions and stores ... 30,000 

Coal 10,000 


Say J120,000 a year. The aeroplane- carrying ships 
and the aeroplanes would cost nothing ; they would 
be earning money. The officers and men to form 
the crews of the ships would belong to the Mer- 
chant Navy. Aeroplane pilots will be as numerous 
as taxi drivers and get about the same pay. The 
battleship waddles along at twenty miles an hour, 
and cannot waddle very far, and in comparison 
with an aeroplane has a very low rate of speed. 

The object in war is to introduce high explosive 
materials into your enemy's ships or country ; trans- 
mitting this high explosive by guns is expensive as 
the container of the high explosive has to be very 
strong, and consequently very heavy, to withstand 
the shock of discharge. It takes a battleship weighing 
30,000 tons to carry 100,000 Ibs. of this explosive. 
Ten aeroplanes weighing about three tons each 
would carry the same amount, so the relative 
weights of the carriers is as 30 tons to 30,000 tons. 

When the battleship nears the end of her coal 
or ammunition, she must waddle home at about 
the same speed as a South Eastern Railway train 
(I am told that this is the slowest line on earth), and 

334 WAR REFLECTIONS 1915-1917 

it takes her several hours to fill up even if she uses 
oil fuel. The aeroplane does not waddle home, but 
comes back at 100 miles an hour, and it takes three 
minutes to fill her up with fuel and ammunition. 
The future is with the aeroplane, which is going to 
develop rapidly in the next few years. Probably we 
shall also have submersible battleships of 10,000 
tons. What chance will the surface battleship, pre- 
resenting a huge target, have against such a vessel ? 

My task is completed, for from the summer of 
1916 to the end of the war neither the Admiralty 
nor the War Office had further need of any services 
I could render. As I had retired in the year pre- 
ceding the beginning of hostilities, I was fortunate 
in being able to take some part, however small, in 
the prosecution of the War on the water, under 
the water, on the land, and in the air. 

This war work rounded off my career, and as I 
lay down my pen my thoughts turn to the old 
Britannia which I entered as a boy. The ship 
has disappeared and my companions of those 
early days have had varied fortunes in life. Of 
the sixty-four little boys who embarked on 
board H.M.S. Britannia in 1866, two only rose 
to the rank of Admiral, while another left the 
Navy for the Army and became a Field-Marshal 
and a peer. Looking backwards, thoughts and 
incidents crowd one's mind, and I have felt 
inclined, in reading through this manuscript, to 
make additions here and deletions there. But, 
after all I set out merely to write down the more 
or less random recollections of my fifty years in 
the Royal Navy, and it must go forth with whatever 
faults the reader may notice. 



THE following statement, based on the returns of gun- 
layers' competitions, indicates the progress in gunnery, 
1897-1907 : 

1898, 69 



1899, 69 


1900, 68 


1901, 64 


1902, 59 


1903, 54 


1904, 58 


1905, 44 


1906, 29 


1907, 19 







Number of ships that fired 
Number of guns 
Number of hits 
Number of misses 
Excess of hits over misses 
Excess of misses over hits 
Percentage of hits to rounds fired 













































Number of ships that fired 
Number of guns ... 
Number of hits 
Number of misses 
Excess of hits over misses 

Excess of misses over hits 

Percentage of hits to rounds'! 
fired / 











































APPENDED are several communications with reference to my 
period as Commandant at Durban, to which are added the 
remarks of Earl Spencer in the House of Lords, when he 
referred to the part which the Navy was privileged to take 
in assisting in the defence of Ladysmith and in administer- 
ing martial law in Durban during the critical period. 

On the 10th March I received the following from H.E. 
the Governor 

Natal, Government House, 

No. 44. Pietermaritzburg, Natal, 

9th March, 1900. 


I have received from the Admiral a telegram, 
informing me that H.M.S. Terrible, under your Command, 
is to sail shortly for the China Station, and requesting me 
to make provision for the appointment of an officer to take 
your place as Commandant of Durban. 

2. I have been in communication with the General 
Officer Commanding on the subject, and I believe an officer 
will shortly be appointed. In the meanwhile I desire to 
express my sincere regret that our pleasant official relations 
are about to be severed ; and my high appreciation of the 
firmness, judgment and tact with which you have discharged 
your difficult and responsible duties as Commandant of 
Durban throughout the four critical months during which 
you have held the appointment. 

3. I desire also to express to you, on behalf of the 
Government and people of Natal, the thanks of the Colony 
for the effectual aid which was rendered by you and by the 
officers and men of the Royal Navy under your command in 
the matter of the defence of the Colony from the inroads of 



the Boers. Your services in that regard will always be 
remembered in Natal with feelings of warm appreciation 
and heartfelt gratitude. 

I have the honour to be, 


Your most obedient servant, 

Captain Percy Scott, R.N., 
H.M.S. Terrible, 

Senior Naval Officer, Durban. 

On the 14th I sent in a dispatch which was as follows : 

Commandant's Office, 

14th March, 1900. 

I have the honour to report that I have this day 
been relieved of my duties as Commandant of Durban, 
which I assumed on the 7th November, 1899. 

2. Spies. During this term of office my department has 
had to deal with all matters of spies and suspected persons, 
of whom there are at present several still under detention 
in the gaol at Durban, numbers of others having been 
examined and dealt with, or sent on to Pietermaritzburg 
or elsewhere. There are still a large number of suspects 
detained in Durban on parole or under supervision. 

3. Passengers. There has also been the supervision of 
all passenger traffic up and down the coast, and the dealing 
with applicants for leave to go to Delagoa Bay and East 
Coast ports. In this I have been very ably assisted by the 
local officials of the Criminal Investigation Department, 
under the control of Sergeant Brooke of the Natal Police, 
who has carried out very difficult and troublesome work to 
my entire satisfaction. 

4. Martial Law. This department has also, in con- 
junction with the Censor, had to deal with the examination 
and dispatch of letters opened under Martial Law and 
telegrams of a suspicious nature. Mr. T. O. Eraser, the* 
Censor, has rendered very valuable assistance. 

5. Customs. The question of detaining goods intended 


for the enemy, and preventing trade with the enemy from 
being carried on, has been a matter of considerable import- 
ance, and in connection with it I wish to bring to your 
notice the good services rendered by Mr. Mayston, the 
Collector of Customs. 

6. Police. With regard to the administration of Martial 
Law, in addition to the special matters mentioned above, 
there has been the general supervision and maintenance of 
order in the town to deal with. Superintendent Alexander 
of the Borough Police has co-operated with me so success- 
fully that no difficulties have arisen. A system of night 
passes after 11 p.m. was introduced to enable the police, 
who are limited in number, to keep the streets clear at 
night of all suspicious persons ; and so generally to protect 
the .burgesses and their property in a way which they could 
not otherwise have done, owing to the fact that there are, 
and have been for a long time past, many of the worst of 
the Transvaal and Free State criminals at large in and about 

7. Banks. I have had to deal also with the banks, in 
connection with the carrying out of his Excellency the High 
Commissioner's regulations with regard to financial arrange- 
ments, and am glad to be able to say that all the banks 
have given me every assistance, and Mr. Harrison, Govern- 
ment Inspector of the National Bank of the South African 
Republic, has proved himself of great value in carrying out 
the regulations. 

8. Recruiting. A Recruiting Depot for Colonial Forces 
has been established at my office, and has sent forward a 
large number of men. 

9. The Port. All work in connection with the Port has 
been made very light in consequence of the ready way in 
which Captain Ballard, the Port Captain, has always re- 
sponded to any request from my office, and always done 
everything in his power to assist the men-o n -war and trans- 

10. The Staff. With regard to the officers of my Staff, 
I wish to bring to your particular notice the eminently good 
service which has been rendered me by Major Bousfield, a 


Reserve Officer of the Natal Volunteer Force. He was 
appointed by Your Excellency at the beginning of my term 
of office, and has been my right-hand man throughout. His 
local knowledge was of great assistance to me in the dis- 
position of the guns for the defence of Durban, and his 
legal knowledge has been invaluable to me in dealing with 
many of the intricate matters which have come before me. 
I hope that Major Bousfield will receive some mark of 
appreciation of the good services he has rendered. Mr. 
Cullinan, Assistant Paymaster of H.M.S. Terrible, has acted 
as my secretary. With telegrams coming in all day and all 
night, and all the correspondence, both naval and military? 
having to be dealt with, his work has been continuous, but 
always carried out in a most satisfactory manner. 

11. Defence Commander Limpus. 1 attach a detailed 
account of the defence of Durban, and in connection with it 
wish to bring to your favourable notice the great assistance 
I received from Commander A. H. Limpus, of H.M.S. 
Terrible. It was owing to this officer's hard work and un- 
tiring energy night and day that I was enabled to get the 
mountings ready in time. 

I have the honour to be, 

Your Excellency's obedient servant, 
(Signed) PERCY SCOTT, 

Captain R.N. and Commandant. 
To his Excellency 

Sir Walter Hely Hutchinson, K.C.M.G., 
Governor of Natal, 



In obedience to orders, I arrived in H.M.S. Terrible 
at Durban on the 6th of November, and took over the 
defence of the town. 

On the 7th the positions were surveyed, and on the 8th 
the Defence was placed. 

Herewith I have the honour to forward details of the 


Defence and other information in connection with the sub- 
sequent use to which the guns were put. 

I have the honour to be, 

Your obedient servant, 

(Signed) PERCY SCOTT, 

Captain R.N. 

To the General 
Commanding the Forces 
in Natal. 


A. Position of Guns, and Precautions against attack. 

B. Protection of Water Supply. 

C. Withdrawal of Bullion from Banks. 

D. Care of Confidential Records from Government 
House, Pietermaritzburg. 


To the Northward. 

One 4'7-inch and six 12-pounders are in positions on the 
Berea Ridge, commanding all the main roads and approaches 
from the northward. 

To the Eastward. 

Six 12-pounders are in positions to command the Umgeni 
Bridge and Valley. This valley is also commanded by guns 
at the entrance to the Umgeni River. 

To the Westward. 

Six 12-pounders are in position to sweep the open 
country west of Claremont. 

Two 6-inch guns in the Bluff Fort are manned and can 
command both the eastern and western approaches to the 

Two armoured trains are on the line with 3-pounders 
mounted on them ; one train works to Claremont, the other 
to Umgeni, so as to be able to rapidly reinforce any section 
of defence which requires it. 

H.M. ships Terrible, Forte and Thetis are anchored in a 
position to command the Umgeni Valley. H.M. ships 


Philomel and Tartar are in readiness to move round and 
operate against any movement on the Bluff side. 

The necessary scouting and patrolling has been under- 
taken by Colonel Bethune with his locally raised Mounted 
Infantry, the Rifle Associations of the outlying districts 

It is anticipated that nothing could pass through this 
cordon. Should it, however, be forced, a further detachment 
of 300 Marines with Maxims and rifles are in readiness to 
land, and assisted by the two Town Rifle Associations, 
dispute the streets at the barricades which have been 


After consultation with his Worship the Mayor and the 
Right Honourable Harry Escombe (an officer of the Natal 
Volunteer Force), it was decided only to hold the Umlaas 
Main Works, and the conduits therefrom. 

To meet this two 12-pounder guns were mounted on the 
summit of a hill which commands the Water Works and 
the main road from Richmond. The position was strongly 
entrenched and held by a party of seamen and Marines. 

The Right Honourable Harry Escombe made arrange- 
ments for patrolling the conduits and surrounding country 
with a force organised by him, augmented if necessary by 
the Rifle Association of the Coast Districts, which H.E. the 
Governor had called out for active service. 


Arrangements were made that, in the event of the 
necessity arising, H.M.S. Philomel should send up guards to 
the various banks to escort their bullion down to the point 
of embarkation from whence it would have been transferred 
to H.M.S. Terrible according to detailed arrangements 
previously made with the bank authorities. 



On arrival these were to be met by a Guard and trans- 
ferred to H.M.S. Terrible. 

From the General Commanding the Forces in Natal, 
To Captain Percy Scott, C.B., B.N., 
H.M.S. Terrible, Durban, 

The Convent, Ladysmith, 

21st March, 1900. 

I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of 
your Report of the 14th March on the completion of your 
duties as Commandant of Durban. 

I shall have great pleasure in forwarding to the proper 
authorities the names of the officers you bring specially to 
my notice. I have already written semi-officially to the 
First Lord of the Admiralty, requesting him to bring to 
the notice of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty the 
name of Commander A. H. Limpus, with a view to his pro- 
motion in recognition of the excellent work he has done 
since he has been under my Command. 

I take this opportunity of expressing to you my high 
appreciation of the very efficient and successful manner in 
which you have carried out the arduous and important duties 
of Commandant of Durban, and of the excellent arrangements 
you made for the defence of that town. 

I also wish to express to you my thanks for the very 
valuable assistance you have rendered in forwarding, and 
adapting for field service, the Naval guns which the Admiral 
Commander-in-Chief placed at the disposal of the military. 
The guns, mounted under your directions and designs, have 
answered every expectation, and have largely contributed 
both to the successful defence and the relief of Ladysmith. 
I have the honour to be, 

Your obedient Servant, 




Town Hall, Durban, 

17th March, 1900. 
Captain Percy Scott, R.N., O.B., 


It affords me great pleasure on the eve of your 
departure to forward you herewith the enclosed resolution 
unanimously passed by the Town Council in acknowledgment 
of your valued services under the operation of Martial Law 
in this borough. 

The tact and ability displayed by you in your arduous 
duties during the period you have held office as Commandant 
has been in a marked degree appreciated and to this must 
be ascribed the good order maintained in the borough 
during the last few eventful months. 

It becomes my duty to also convey to you my hearty 
thanks for the promptitude with which you placed the 
borough in a state of defence at a most trying time. 

The operations so successfully carried out were only 
equalled by your readiness in sending out a guard to the 
Umlaas to protect our Water Supply, a matter of such 
moment to one and all. 

I take this opportunity of informing you how much the 
townspeople appreciated the very orderly behaviour of your 
men forming the town guard during their presence in the 
Camp on the Market Square. 

In bidding you farewell I wish you continued prosperity 
in your future career, and I am convinced that in doing so 
it is only echoing the wishes of the many with whom you 
have been brought in contact. 
I am, 

My dear Sir, 

Very faithfully yours, 

(Signed) JOHN NICOL, 



Town Hall, Durban, Natal, 
15th March 1900. 

Resolution passed at Meeting of the Durban Town 
Council, held the 15th March, 1900. 


" That this Council desires to place on record its deep 
sense and acknowledgment of the very valuable services 
rendered to the Borough by Captain Percy Scott, R.N., C.B., 
who has held the responsible position of Commandant of 
this Borough under the proclamation of Martial Law for a 
period of over four months. 

"Under his Command the disabilities of Martial Law 
have hardly been noticeable, whilst the general good order 
prevailing throughout the Borough, where large numbers of 
aliens and many undesirables were thronging our streets, 
fully demonstrates his great administrative abilities and his 
sterling worth as a Commander. 

(Seal). Mayor." 

Earl Spencer, speaking on the South African War, in the 
House of Lords, said : 

" When His Majesty's ship Powerful was returning 
home, nothing was known of what was going on in South 
Africa ; but when the gallant captain who commanded her 
heard that war was declared, he at once put into port and% 
placed himself at the disposal of the General Commanding. 
He at once, although he had no orders from home, took 
action, which was no doubt highly appreciated at home. 
He proceeded to the Cape, and placed his forces at the 
disposal of the General Commanding. His colleague, a very 
gallant officer, Captain Scott, of the Terrible, was also there, 
and he did very signal service by enabling the heavy gum of 
the Navy heavier, I believe, than any of those sent out 
with the Army from England to be put at once into the 
field. The efforts of those two gallant men enabled a most 
powerful force to be added to the Army, and in all the 
earlier battles that took place you will find prominent in 


action the sailors and marines. With regard to Lady- 
smith, I would venture to say that the propitious and 
fortunate arrival there of Captain Lambton and the ship 
guns had an enormous and predominant effect on the possi- 
bility of resisting the great attack of the Boers on that 
place. The Navy on that occasion proved, as they always 
have done, their valour, their desire to come to the front in 
war or whenever their services are required, and their power 
of adapting themselves to circumstances. 

" The officer responsible at this time for the administra- 
tion of martial law in Durban was Captain Scott, R.N., . . . 
who has left behind him a reputation for spotless integrity, 
practical common sense, tact, and inflexible justice, of which 
the Service he so worthily represents may well be proud. . . ." 


Aboukir, H.M.S., sunk, 283 
Active, H.M.S., 14, 18 
Admiralty, dilatory methods of ad- 
ministration, vii-ix, 27, 41, 155, 
185, 269, 292, 295, 308, 323 ; method 
of dealing with inventions, 78, 89, 
142, 207, 259, 287, 288, 325 ; decline 
to adopt the sub- calibre rifle, 84; 
the towing target, 85 ; the regula- 
tions for prize firing, 154 ; instruc- 
tions on shooting, 159, 186 ; state 
of confusion in time of war, 
200; blunders, 264-267 ; opposition 
to Sir P. Scott's system of director 
firing, 265; letters to him, 272, 
325; views on the submarine 
menace, 274, 283; new rules for 
firing, 300; measures for the air 
defence of London, 306. 

Aerial warfare, forecast on, 318 

Aeroplanes, 332-334 

African, South, War, 93 

Agadir scare in 1911, 255 

Air defence, debate in the House of 
Commons, 316 

Ajaccio, 80 

Akado, 21, 22 

Albany, 39 

Albert Victor, H.B.H. Prince, mid- 
shipman in H.M.S. Bacchante, 35; 
at Monte Video, 37 ; joins H.M.S. 
Inconstant, 39 

Aldershot, review at, 3 

Alexander, Captain John Hobhouse, 
Captain of H.M.S. Forte, 7 

Alexandria, 46 

Alison, Sir Archibald, at Ramleh, 
50; letter to Sir E. Wood on the 
work of Sir P. Scott, 54 

Allan, Sir William, on the design of 
the gun carriages used in Lady- 
smith, 98, note 

American War of 1812, 25 

Anti-Aircraft Corps, members, 315 

Antrim, H.M.S., 211 

Arabi Pasha, at Kafr Dowar, 46, 50 

Arabia, East Coast of, 9 

Aranchi Bay, 251 

Ardagh, Major J. C., report on the 

work of Sir P. Scott, 55 
Argyll, H.M.S., 198 
Ariel, the, 18, 21, 22 
Armstrong, Whitworth& Co., Messrs., 

294, 323 
Army, British, guns for the, 321 ; 

mountings, 322 
Ascension Island, 16; fortification 

of, 16 

Ashantee War, 14 
Asquith, Et. Hon. H. H., letter to 

Sir P. Scott, 269; opinion of the 

guns for London, 314 
Astrcea, H.M.S., report of the inspec- 
tion, 28 

Atalanta, H.M.S., sunk, 37 
Australia, 39 

Austria, war with Prussia, 3 
Authors' Club entertains Sir P. 

Scott, 242 

Bacchante, H.M.S., 35; puts into 
Albany for repairs, 39 

Bachini, Dr., 231 

Bacon, Admiral Sir R, criticism of 
Sir P. Scott's letter on the sub- 
marine menace, 276, 277 

Baden Baden, 2 

Badger, H.M.S., rams a submarine, 

Balfour, Rt. Hon. A. J., offers Sir P. 
Scott the gunnery defence of 
London, 304; letter from him, 
313; letter to him, 315; on the 
want of guns for the Army, 321 

Ballard, Captain, 339 

Balmoral, 174 

Barfleur, H.M.S.,, system of instruc- 
tion in gunnery, 157 

Barton, General, 120 

Bate, William, 168 

Battenberg, H.S.H. Prince Louis of, 
at Alexandria, 47 ; First Sea Lord, 
283 ; resignation, 284. See Milford 

Battleship, 332 ; cost, 332 ; upkeep, 
333 ; rate of speed, 333 


2 A 



Battleships, fitted with the system of 
director firing, 254; design of 
dummy, 284 ; cost, 285 

Bearcroft, Captain, 102 

Beira, 118 

Belfast News, extract from, 278 

Belgian forts, destruction of, 327, 328 

Bellerophon, H.M.S., 263 

Beresford, Admiral Lord Charles, 
Commander - in - Chief of the 
Channel Fleet, 184, 197, 202; on 
the inefficient gun sights, 184 ; 
grievance against the Admiralty, 
202; peerage conferred, 202 note ; 
relations with Sir P. Scott, 203 ; 
"The Betrayal," 204; on sub- 
marines, 276, 278, 279, 280 

Bethune, Colonel, 113, 342 

Black Prince, H.M.S., 198, 292 ; sunk, 

Blanche 1 Maria, collision with H.M.S. 
Forte, 5 . , 

Bluejacket, a wounded, story of, 299 

Boer War, 37, 93 

Bomb, design of a, 287 

Bombay, 6, 8 

Botha, Chris, Mayor of Bloemfontein, 

Botha, General, 107 ; at the National 
Convention at Durban, 216 

Botha, the destroyer-leader, 220 note 

Bousfield, Major, at Durban, 106, 
114; C.M.G. conferred, 115; 
tributes to, 173, 339, 340 

Bowles, Mr. Gibson, on the duties of 
the Inspector of Target Practice, 

Boxer rising, 132 

Boyes, Captain H., member of the 
committee on naval uniforms, 70 

Bradshaw, Sub - Lieutenant, death 
from fever, 15 

Bridge, Admiral Sir Cyprian, " Some 
Recollections," 27, 28 ; Commander- 
in-Chief of the China station, 158 ; 
on the advantages of Sir P. Scott's 
system of shooting, 158; letter 
from him, 166 ; on the inefficient 
gun sights, 184 ; criticism of Sir P. 
Scott's letter on the submarine 
menace, 275 

Bridgeman, Admiral Sir Francis, 
Commander-in-Chief of the Home 
Fleet, 251 ; opposition to director 
firing, 251 ; on submarines, 276 ; 
criticisms of Sir P. Scott's letter 
on the submarine menace, 279 

Bristol, H.M.S., 5 

Britannia, H.M.S., 3, 4, 334 

British Review, "Reply to Lord 
Charles Beresford," 204 

Broke, Captain, gunnery practice, 25 

Brooke, E. H., 114, 116 

Brownrigg, Sir Douglas, 28 

Bruce, Sir Charles, Governor of 
Mauritius, 128 

Bruce, Admiral Sir James, at Taku, 
133 ; refuses offer of guns, 133, 135 

Bruce, Lady, 128 

Buenos Ayres, 235 

Buller, General Sir Redvers, at Dur- 
ban, 109; consideration, 110; use 
of the long-range guns, 111, 120, 
121 ; at Spion Kop, 120 ; letters to 
Sir P. Scott on his work, 125, 343*; 
tribute to, 127 

" Bully beef," 7 

Bundesrath, examination of her 
cargo, 119 

Bygdo Bay, 209 

Calcutta, the, 33 ; turret drill, 33 

Cambridge, H.M.S., 58 

Cameron, Commander Verney Lovett, 

walk across Africa, 20 
Candia, 82 
Canterbury, Archbishop of, Hon. 

LL.D. of Cambridge, 187 
Canton River blown over, 145 ; opera- 
tion to right her, 145-149 
Cape Coast Castle, 15 
Cape Town, 41, 123 
Captain, H.M.S., sunk, 37 
Carnarvon, H.M.S., 211 
Carrington, Sir John, address to Sir 

P. Scott, 130 
Casement, Sub-Lieut. John, promoted 

Lieutenant, 23 
Centaur, H.M.S. , 323 
Centurion, H.M.S., 149; defective 

gun sights, 184 
Chambon, M., method of raising the 

Sultan, 63 
Channel Fleet, gunnery scores, 143 ; 

gunlayers' tests results, 205 
Chatham Dockyard, work on the 

mountings for long-range guns, 


Cheefoo, 134, 135 
Cheetham, Sir Milne, acting Charg6 

d' Affairs in Rio Janeiro, 227 ; baft, 


Chievely, 120, 122 
China, 39 

Christian, H.R.H. Princess, presenta- 
tion to H.M.S. Good Hope, 211 
Christian Victor, H.R.H. Prince, at 



Gape Town, 105 ; Durban, 106, 109 ; 
Pietermaritzburg, 107; letter to 
Sir P. Scott, 107; joins his staff, 
109 ; death from enteric fever, 125, 
211 ; grave at Pretoria, 218 

Christiania, 209 

Churchill, Lady Randolph, 120; on 
board the Maine, 122 ; at Durban, 

Churchill, Rt. Hon. Winston, at 
Pietermaritzburg, 122 ; Durban, 
123 ; gallantry, 123 ; taken prisoner, 
124 ; escape, 124 ; reception at Dur- 
ban, 124 ; on a machine for cipher 
messages, 207 ; interest in the trials 
of director firing, 252 ; decision on 
fitting Dreadnoughts with director 
firing, 261 ; order to change position 
of funnel and mast, 265 ; appoint- 
ment of Sir P. Scott at the Ad- 
miralty, 284 ; conference with him, 
291; offers him the command of 
the Dardanelles expedition, 295; 
measures for the protection of 
London against air raids, 304 ; on 
destruction of forts, 328 

Cipher messages, system of, 207 

Clanwilliam, Admiral the Earl of, 

Clary, General, 108 

Clinometer, use of, 329 

"Cobbed," punishment of, 13 

Cochrane, Admiral Lord, first Admiral 
of the Brazilian Navy, 228 

Colenso, battle of, 112 ; bombardment, 

Collingwood, H.M.S., 263 

Colomb, Captain P. H., 287 

Colomb's flashing lamp, 76 

Colombo, 128 

Com-el-Dic, Fort, 47 

Comino Channel, 62 

Condor, H.M.S., sunk, 37 

Congo River, punitive expedition, 

Connaught, Duke of, Hon. LL.D. 
of Cambridge, 187 

" Conned," meaning of the word, 239 

Convicts, work on Whale Island, 34, 

Coomassie entered, 15 

Corcovado, picnic to, 228 

Cowes, 23 

Cradock, Admiral, 257 

Cressy, H.M.S., sunk, 283 

Crete, 81 

Crimean War, 24 

Cromer, Lord, President of the 
Dardanelles Commission, 327 

j Crosbie, Lieut. A."- B., 19 ; wounded, 

15 ; Brevet-Major, 16 
Cullinan, Assistant Paymaster W. F., 

secretary to Sir P. Scott, 114, 

Custance, Admiral Sir Reginald, 

committee on long-range firing, 181 
Cygnet, H.M.S., 22 
Cyprus, 46 

DAHOMEY, King of, punitive expedi- 
tion against, 20 

Daily Graphic, extracts from, 278, 

Daily Mail, extracts from, 279 

Dardanelles, the, 295; casualties, 
296; operations, 329; Commision, 
Report, 326, 332 ; cost, 327 note 

Dartmouth, 4 

Deer drive at Invercauld, 175 

Defence, H.M.S., 292 ; sunk, 293 

" Deflection Teacher," 139 

Delarey, General, at the National 
Convention, Durban, 216 

" Depth charge " for submarines, 287 

Deutschland, the, 196 

Devonport, School of Gunnery at, 

Devonshire, Duke of, Chancellor of 
Cambridge University, 187; con- 
fers degrees, 187 

Devonshire, H.M.S., 212 

De Wet, General, at the National 
Convention, Durban, 216 

Diamond, H.M.S., 35 

Diaz, General Porfirio, President of 
Mexico, 248 ; character of his rule, 
248, 250 ; appearance, 249 ; retires, 
250 ; death, 251 

" Director firing," 197, 240 

Dorward, Brig. -General, 137 

" Dotter," introduction of, 87 

Dover, 208 

Dowell, Admiral Sir William, 53 

Drake, H.M.S., 179; inefficient gun 
sights, 181 

Dreadnoughts, 260; fitted with di- 
rector firing, 261 ; design of the 
first, 262 ; place of the mast, 263 

Dresden, the, 283 

Drummond, Lieutenant, 137 

Du/erin, the, 222 

Duke of Edinburgh, H.M.S., 59, 198 

Dummy battleships, design of, 284 ; 
cost, 285 

Dungeness, 13 

Dupree, Col. Sir W., Mayor of Ports- 
mouth, 171 

Durban, 99, 106, 215; defence of, 



107 ; martial law proclaimed, 113 ; 
National Convention at, 216 

EASTMAN'^ Naval Academy, at Ports- 
mouth, 3 

Edinburgh, Duke of, Commander- 
in-Chief of the Mediterranean 
Meet, 61 ; interest in gunnery, 61 ; 
use of a signalling lamp, 61 ; patron 
of the Naval Exhibition, 70 ; mem- 
ber of the committee on naval 
uniforms, 70 

Edward VII., King, review at Alder- 
shot, 3 ; Coronation, 169 ; receives 
Sir P. Scott, 174, 242 ; interest in 
gunnery, 176, 299; at Whale 
Island, 185 

Egerton, Admiral Sir George, 122 

Egypt, disturbances in, 46 

Electrical range transmitter, 40 

Encounter, H.M.S., 18 

Engineer, extract from, 279 

Escombe, Rt. Hon. Harry, 342 

Estcourt, 107 

Eurydice, H.M.S., sunk, 37 

Ewing, Prof. Sir Alfred, 188 

Excellent, H.M.S., 14, 26, 29, 58, 67 ; 
target practice, 30-33; school of 
gunnery, 178 

FALKLAND Islands, 37, 38 

Fallieres, M., President of the French 
Republic, crosses to Dover, 208 

" Fanny Adams," 7 

Farquhar, Captain R. B., 88 

Farrer, Sir George, at the National 
Convention, Durban, 216 

Fegan, Staff-Surgeon Henry, C.B. 
conferred, 16 

Ficklin, Sub-Lieut., death from 
fever, 15 

Fiji Islands, 39 

Fisher of Kilverstone, Admiral of the 
Fleet, Lord, vi; work at the 
Admiralty, ix, 58; on the "Fool- 
ometer,"32; in command of H.M.S. 
Excellent, 59; orders long-range 
firing in the Mediterranean, 161 ; 
First Sea Lord of the Admiralty, 
194, 202, 284; on Sir P. Scott's 
system of routine training, 241 ; 
design of H.M.S. Dreadnought, 
262 ; reaignation, 286 ; conference 
with Sir P. Scott, 291; result of 
his resignation, 292 

Fitzgerald, Captain C. P., Captain of 
H.M.S. Inconstant, 39 ; report on 
the use of the Service smoke-cap in 
a fire, 43 

FitzPatrick, Sir Percy, at the 
National Convention, Durban, 216 

Flattery, Cape, 37 

Fleet, character of the shooting, 48 ; 
condition of gunnery, 177, 182 ; 
long-range firing, 178, investigation 
into, 181 ; scheme of reform of 
gunnery, 179-181 ; defective gun 
sights, 182-185; battle practice, 
191-194 ; improvement, 192 ; man- 
oeuvres, 206; system of cipher 
messages, 207 

Fleet, the Grand, at Scapa Flow, 
288-290; unequipped for fighting 
at night, 290; ships to be fitted 
with director firing, 291 

Flogging, punishment of, 4, 8 

Foam, H.M.S., 18 

" Foolometer " machine, 33 

Foote, Admiral Randolf, Senior 
Lieutenant of H.M.S. Excellent, 59 

Forcy, Mr., Director of Stores, 291 

Forster, Rt. Hon. Arnold, 157; on 
the fortification of Wei-hai-wei, 

Fort Pharos, 50 

Forte, H.M.S., 5, 341; collision with 
the Blanche Maria, 5 

Frazer, Captain, Press Censor, 114, 

Fremantle, Admiral Sir E. B., " The 
Navy as I have known it, " 12 ; 
criticism of Sir P. Scott's letter on 
the submarine menace, 275 

French, Field-Marshal Viscount, 3 ; 
Hon. LL.D. of Cambridge, 187; 
air defence of London, 316 

GALLIENE, General, in charge of the 
defence of Paris, 307, 310 ; on the 
defence of London, 314 

Gallwey,Lieut.- Colonel Henry Lionel, 
Governor of St. Helena, 226 

George V., King, midshipman in 
H.M.S. Bacchante, 35; at Monte 
Video, 37; joins H.M.S. Incon- 
stant, 39; H.M.S. Excellent, 59; 
patron of the Royal Naval Fund, 

Geraldine, the, gutted by pirates, 17 

Germany, 3; the Navy, 194-196; 
defects, 196, 290 ; ships fitted with 
a director system of firing, 255, 
261 ; improvement in the system, 
269 ; submarines, 270, 283 ; system 
of searchlights, 324 ; War declared, 

Gibraltar, 46, 239, 251 



Gibson, Cecil, wounded, 22 

Glasgow, H.M.S., 13, 283 

Globe, the, extract from, 278 

Glover, G. H., 74 

Gneisenau, the, 256, 283 

Goliath, H.M.S., sunk, 296 

Good Hope, Cape of, 6, 23, 38, 41 

Good Hope, H.M.S., 198; record of 
shooting, 202, 205, 206, 208 ; balls, 
210, 216, 225; presentation to, 
211 ; system of night-firing prac- 
tice, 240; director firing gear 
removed, 246; sunk by Germans, 
256, 283 

Goschen, Viscount, First Lord of the 
Admiralty, 90 ; on. the value of 
Wei-hai-wei as a military base, 

Graf ton, Captain E. H., Commander 
of H.M.S. Good Hope, 206 

" Gravity lamp," 62 

Great Britain, war declared against 
Germany, 281 

Green Mountain, 16 

Grenfell, Lord, Hon. LL.D. of 
Cambridge, 187 

Grey, Lord, on destruction of Dar- 
danelles forts, 327 

Griffiths, Sir Ellis, 317 

Grounds, P.O., record of shooting, 
157, 169 ; death, 169 

Gun sights, defective, 182-185 

Gun-layers' competition, 301, 335 

Gunnery practice, condition of, 25, 
73, 282 ; instruction in, 29-33, 59, 
60, 81-88, 239, 296-302; practical 
and theoretical course, 30; im- 
provement, 192 ; meaning of naval 
gunnery, 242-246; difference be- 
tween firing on sea and land, 329- 
331 ; progress of, 335 

Guns, long-range, mounting, 50-53, 
94, 98-101, 110, 121, 282, 322; 
defects of the sub-calibre, 82 ; the 
sight-setter, 85; parallel firing, 
257-259 ; elevation of, 293-295 ; for 
the Army, 321 

HAAKON, King, of Norway, steams 
round the Channel Fleet, 209 

Haddock, Captain, Commodore of 
the S. 0. Squadron, 285 

Hamilton, Bear-Admiral, in com- 
mand of the Second Cruiser Squad- 
ron, 227, 240 

Hampshire, H.M.S., 198 

Hampshire Telegraph, extract from, 

Handy, the destroyer, 148 

Hannay, Mr. David, opinion of sub- 
marines, 278 

Hannibal, H.M.S. , 143 

Hannon, Mr. P. J., on Sir P. Scott's 
views of the submarine menace, 

Harland and Wolff, Messrs., valuable 
work of the firm, 285 

Harmsworth, Mr. Cecil, 156 

Harris, Admiral Sir Robert, Com- 
mander-in-Chief at the Cape of 
Good Hope Station, 95; "From 
Naval Cadet to Admiral," 95 ; orders 
for the mountings of the long-range 
guns, 100; instructions to Sir P. 
Scott, 105 

Hart, General Sir Eeginald, at Cape 
Town, 224 

Hawke, H.M.S., sunk, 283 

Heath, Commodore Sir Leopold, 8 

Hely Hutchinson, Sir Walter, Gover- 
nor of Natal, 95, 107 ; illness, 223 ; 
testimony to the work of Sir P. 
Scott, 337; dispatch from, 333- 

Kenwood, Mr. C., Mayor of Durban, 

Hercules, H.M.S., 14 ; coUision with 
the Northumberland, 14 

Hewett, Sir William Nathan Wright, 
14 ; K.C.B. conferred, 15 ; punitive 
expedition up the Congo river, 17 ; 
destruction of native villages, 18 ; 
ovation at Portsmouth, 23 ; recom- 
mendations for improving the 
dockyard at Simon's Bay, 41 

Hicks, Sir Joynson, 316 

Hildyard, General, 108 

Hofmeyr, Mr., 224 

Hogue f H.M.S., sunk, 283 

Hong Kong, 130, 149, 169 ; typhoon, 

Hopkins, Admiral Sir John 0., in 
command of the Mediterranean 
Fleet, 74, 298; advice to Sir P. 
Scott, 78 ; offers to present a cup 
for competition, 88 

Howe, Earl, takes part in a deer 
drive, 175 

Hunter, Sir David, General Manager 
of the Natal Government Railways, 
110 ; tribute to, 173 

Hutchinson, E. B., awarded the Con- 
spicuous Service Cross, 112 

Hutchinson, Lieut. R., 159 

Hyde, the brothers, story of, 24 

Hydroplane motor boat, design, 



Illustrious, H.M.S., 88 
Inconstant, H.M.S., 35; at Alex- 
andria, 46 ; on fire, 41 
Inflexible, H.M.S., 47 
Invercauld, deer drive at, 175 
Ireland, condition of, 273 
Ironside, Bax, 228 
Irresistible, H.M.S., sunk, 296 

JANE, Mr. F. T., handbook on airships 
and aeroplanes, 318 

Japan, 39, 145, 164 

Jelliooe of Scapa, Admiral of the 
Fleet, Viscount, vi ; First Sea Lord 
of the Admiralty, reorganisation of 
the Fleet for war, ix; member of 
the committee on improving the 
regulations for prize firing, 154; 
acts as umpire, 157 ; wounded at 
Taku, 166 ; in command of H.M.S. 
Drake, 179 ; knowledge of gunnery, 
179; Director of Naval Ordnance, 
189, 190, 194, 301 ; in command of 
the Atlantic Squadron, 197, 251 ; 
"The Grand Fleet, 1914-1916," 
197 note, 324 note, 326 note ; on the 
receipt of a signal, 208; member 
of the Admiralty Board, 247; 
instals director firing in H.M.S. 
Neptune, 247; advises the Ad- 
miralty to fit director firing to all 
ships, 251; on the value of the 
system, 253-255 ; Commander-in- 
Chief of the Grand Fleet, 288; 
reasons for avoiding an action at 
night, 290, 324 note; reform of 
naval gunnery, 301 ; invested with 
the insignia of Knight Com- 
mander of the Victorian Order, 
302; on guns for the defence of 
London, 309 ; inferiority of Grand 
Fleet's searchlights, 324; leaves 
the Admiralty, 325 

Joffre, General, 310 

Johannesburg, 219 

Johns, Mr., 94 

Jones, Captain, 173 

Joubert, General, 96 

Jutland, Battle of, 197, 254, 292, 324 

KAFR DOWAB, 47, 50 

Kennedy, Sir R. J., at Monte Video, 


Kentucky, the, 149 
Kerr, Vice- Admiral Mark E. F., at 

Fort Com-el-Dic, 50 
Kerr, Lord Walter, First Lord of the 

Admiralty, introduction of com- 
petition in shooting, 300 
Kiao-chau, 165 
Kiel, 194, 293 
Kimberley invested, 95 
King Eward VIL, H M.S., mixed 

armaments, 262 
Kirkness, Lieut. J. L. S., gunnery 

officer in H.M.S. Good Hope, 206 
Kitchener, Field - Marshal, Earl, 

Secretary of War, reply to Sir P. 

Scott, 281 ; guns for the defence of 

London, 309 
Kleczkowski, M., at Monte Video, 

Kruger, Paul, house at Pretoria, 217 

LADYSMITH, siege of, 95, 105; long- 
range guns at, 99 ; attack on, 108 ; 
method of communicating by 
pigeon, 110 ; by searchlight, 111 ; 
relieved, 125 

Lagos, 20 

Laings Neck, reverse at, 38 

Lamb, Charles, on proverbial sayings, 

Lambton, Admiral Sir Hedworth, 
95 ; in command of H.M.S. Power- 
ful, 97 ; wires for ammunition, 103 ; 
guns in the siege of Ladysmith, 
104, 346; limited supply of am- 
munition, 104 ; committee on long- 
range firing, 181. See Meux 

Lamp, a signalling, invention of, 61 ; 
the truck, 75 ; Colomb's flashing, 

Lancaster, H.M.S., defects of the 
gun sights, 183 

Lang, Rev. Francis, wounded, 22 

Las Palmas, 91 

Lee, Admiral Vaughan, 309 

Leipzig, the, 283 

Leon Gambetta, the, 208 

Lewen, Cape, 39 

Limpus, Commander A. H., at Dur- 
ban, 106 ; march to Umgeni, 109 ; 
tributes to, 127, 340, 343 

Lion, H.M.S., alteration, 265, 266 

Little, Mr. A. W. A. Knox, Managing 
Director of the Leopoldina Rail- 
way, 228 

Livingstone, Dr., 20 

Lloyd, Pennant, First Lieutenant in 
H.M.S. Scylla, 80 

London, defenceless state from air 
raids, 303 ; Zeppelin raids on, 303, 
304 ; character of the ammunition 
supplied, 305 ; protective measures, 



308-315 ; number of guns, 309-314 ; 

taken over by the War Office, 316 
Lorenzo Marques, 116 
Ly-ce-mun Pass, 130 

MADDEN, Admiral Sir Charles, 287 

Maf eking invested, 95 1 

Magnificent, H.M.S., 143 

Maine, the, hospital ship, 122 

Majestic, H.M.S., sunk, 296 

Majuba, reverse at, 38 

Malacca, Straits of, 129 

Malta, 46, 66, 80 

Maltby, Sub-Lieut. Gerald, wounded, 

Manchester Courier, extract from, 

Manchester Guardian, extract from, 


Mariotis, Lake, 52 
Marks, Mr., suspect, 116 
Mars, H.M.S., 143 
Marshall, Sir James, Director of 

Dockyard Work, 291 
Masts and sails, training in the use 

of, 35, 36 ; abolition, 37 
MaunseU, Mr. B. E. L.JChief Engi- 
neer of the South Eastern Railway 

Co., 312 

Mauritius, Island of, 128 
Maurity, Admiral, 228 
May, Admiral of the Fleet Sir 

William, 300; member of the 

Dardanelles Commission, 327 
McKenna, Bt. Hon. B., First Lord of 

the Admiralty, interview with Sir 

P. Scott, 210; on director firing, 

251 ; design of a ship, 264 
Mediterranean Fleet, anchored off 

Alexandria, 46 
Melbourne, 39 
Merchant ships, use of, 286; loss, 


Mers Bay, 168 
Methuen, Lord, Acting Governor of 

the Transvaal, at the banquet at 

Johannesburg, 219 
Meux, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Hed- 

worth, 181. See Lambton 
Mex dam, 52 ; blown up, 53 
Mexico, history of, 248-251 
Middlemas, Sub-Lieut. A. C., pro- 
moted Lieutenant, 20 
Milford Haven, Marq. of, 47. See 

Milner, Viscount, 117 
Minnesota, the, 153 
Molteno, Mr. J. T., 224 
Monitors, elevation of the guns, 294 

Monmouth, H.M.S., sunk, 256, 283 

Monte Video, 37, 230, 238 

Morris, Colonel, Commandant of 

Durban, 126 
Morrison, Dr., 164 
" Mud Island," 33-35, 67 
Munday, Sub-Lieut. Bobert, killed, 

Murren, 269 

NAPOLEON, Emperor, on the meaning 
of strategy, ix ; birthplace, 80 

Napoleon, Mdme., statue of her five 
sons, 80 

Natal, loyalty of, 113 

Nathan, Sir Matthew, 222 

Naval, administration, vi ; war, the 
test of, ix. ; College, Portsmouth, 
3, 14 ; Exhibition Fund in aid of, 
66, 71 ; gunnery, meaning of, 242- 

Naval and Military Record, extracts 
from, 28, 278 

Navy, rule of the Service, 198-200; 
unpreparedness for war, 200-202; 
future of the, 332 

Navy, punishments, 4, 8, 13 ; uni- 
form, 12, 69 ; gunnery, 26, 192, 282, 
296-302 ; ships, inspection of, 26 ; 
committee on, 70 ; officers, qn half- 
pay, 89 ; parallel firing, 258 ; Esti- 
mates, 274 ; target practice, 297 ; 
prize firing, 297, 298 ; searchlights, 
system of, 324 

Navy League, address to Sir P. Scott, 

Neptune, H.M.S., director firing in- 
stalled, 240, 247 ; trials, 251 

Nesham, Lieut. -Commander, 23 

Neumann, Mr., 175 

Newport, Naval College at, 153 

Nicholson, Field-Marshal Lord, mem- 
ber of the Dardanelles Commission, 

Nicol, Mr. John, Mayor of Durban, 
letter to Sir P. Scott, 344 

Niger, river, 21 ; punitive expedition, 

Night signalling, 74 ; firing practice, 

Northumberland, the, collision with 
H.M.S. Hercules, 14 

Nymphe, H.M.S. , 88 

Observer, extracts from, 280 

Ocean, H.M.S., sunk, 296 

Ogilvy, Lieut. F. A., hunt for a 

dynamo, 111 
Ogilvy, Commander F. C., 159, 173 



Onslow, Lieut. Hughes, temporary 
Captain of H.M.S. Terrible, 127 

Orion, H.M.S. , competitions with 
H.M.S. Thunderer, 252, 268 

Orkneys, the, 288 

Osborne, 23 

Otranto, the, 283 

Outlook, extract from, 279 

Pall Mall Gazette, extracts from, 277, 

Paris, 308 ; defence of, 307 

Pathfinder, H.M.S., sunk, 283 

Patras, 66 

Pearson, Captain, 67 

Peiho, river, 133, 135 

Peirse, Admiral Sir Richard H., 60; 
design of a director, 258 

Pekin, besieged by Boxers, 132 ; 
relieved, 137 

Pellet, General, 310 

Pelorus, H.M.S., 235 ; gun mount- 
ings in, 27 

Petropolis, picnic to, 227 

Philomel, H.M.S., 120,342 

Pietermaritzburg, 107 

Pomeroy, Mr., invention of a bullet, 

Port Arthur, 165 

Port Elizabeth, 222 

Port Said, 91 

Portsmouth, 6, 23, 37, 53, 169, 208, 
210; Royal Naval College, 3, 14; 
Gunnery School at, 26, 58 

Portsmouth Times, extract from, 277 

Powerful, H.M.S., 90, 99, 345 

Pretoria, 116, 217 

Prussia, Prince Henry of, in com- 
mand of the High Sea Fleet, 194 ; 
letter to Sir P. Scott, 268 

Prussia, war with Austria, 3 

Punch, cartoons, 177, 302, 317 

Punta-da-Lenha, 18 

Queen Elizabeth, H.M.S., ordered to 
the DardaneUes, 295; bombard- 
ment, 331 


Rasaltin, Fort, 50 

Rawlinson, Commander A., 308 ; 

promptitude in obtaining a French 

gun, 310 ; design of a motor lorry, 

Rawlinson, General Sir Henry, on 

the alteration in the elevation of 

the guns, 322 
Rawson, Sub-Lieut. Wyatt, wounded, 


Referee, extract from, 280 
Reynolds, Sub-Lieut. Harry, pro- 
moted Lieutenant, 23 
Rice, Lieut. Charles, 204 
Rio Janeiro, 227 
Roberts, Field-Marshal Earl, 116 ; on 

the shortage of long-range guns at 

the front, 281; on their value, 

Rodd, Sir James Rennell, British 

Ambassador at Rome, presides at 

the Authors' Club, 242 
Roosevelt, President, interest in the 

Fleet, 150 ; report from Lieut. 

Sims, 151 
Roscrude, Assistant Engineer, 98 

Rosebery, Lord, on the value of Wei- 

hai-wei, 167 
Rose-Innes, Chief Justice Sir James, 

at Pretoria, 218; speech on the 

Navy, 218 

Roxburgh, H.M.S., 198 
Russia, Grand Duke Michael, houses 

the guns and crews, for the defence 

of London, 313 
Ryder, Admiral A. P., 55 

SABOGREGA, punitive expedition 
against, 22 

Sailors, hatred of Sunday, 11 ; furling 
a sail on a jack-yard, 36 ; quaint 
sayings, 49 

Sails and masts, training in the use 
of, 35, 36 ; abolition, 37 

St. George, Council of the Society of, 
telegram to Sir P. Scott, 170 

St. Helena, 46, 91,226 

St. Vincent, 46, 214 

St. Vincent, H.M.S., 263 

Saldanha Bay, 214 

Sandiman, Captain H. G., report on 
the appliances for signalling at 
night, 75-78 

Santa Cruz, 239 

Scapa Flow, 288; Grand Fleet at, 

Scharnhorst, the, 256, 283 

Scott, Admiral Sir Percy, grand- 
parents, 1 ; father, 2 ; education, 
2; at Eastman's Naval Academy, 
3 ; gazetted^ a Naval Cadet, 3 ; 
at Wiesbaden, 3 ; joins H.M.S. 
Britannia, 4 ; H.M.S. Bristol, 5 ; 
H.M.S. Forte,\5 ; voyage to Bombay, 
6 ; rations, 7 ; A.D.C. to Commo- 
dore Sir L. Heath, 8 ; joins H.M.S. 
Hercules, 14 ; gazetted Sub-Lieu- 
tenant, 14 ; joins H.M.S. Active, 



14 ; breaks his leg, 16 ; at Ascension 
Island, 16 ; takes part in punitive 
expeditions, 17-23; promoted 
Lieutenant, 20; on board the 
guardship at Cowes, 23 ; received 
by Queen Victoria, 24; joins H.M.S. 
Excellent, 29, 58; instruction in 
gunnery, 29 ; plan for the con- 
version of Whale Island into a 
Gunnery School, 35, 58, 67 ; Gun- 
nery Lieutenant of H.M.S. Incon- 
stant, 35 , cruise round the world, 
37 ; at Monte Video, 37, 230-235, 
238 ; at the Cape, 38, 93 ; at Simon's 
Bay, 38, 41, 222; voyage to Aus- 
tralia, 39 ; invention of an elec- 
trical range transmitter, 40 ; method 
of extinguishing the fire in H.M.S. 
Inconstant, 42 ; modification of 
diver's dress, 43; ordered to Alex- 
andria, 46; at Fort Com-el-Dic, 
47 ; method of bringing up 7-ton 
guns, 50-53 ; blows up Mex Dam, 
53 ; at Portsmouth, 53, 169 ; testi- 
monies to his service, 53-55, 337, 
343-346 ; receives a medal from 
Queen Victoria, 57; promoted 
Commander, 59 ; joins H.M.S. 
Duke of Edinburgh, 59 ; invention 
of a signalling lamp, 61, 75 ; Com- 
mander of H.M.S. Excellent at 
Whale Island, 67 ; member of the 
committee on naval uniforms, 70 ; 
exhibition in aid of the Royal 
Naval Fund, 71 ; promoted Captain, 
72 ; Captain of H.M.S. Scylla, 73 ; 
in the Mediterranean, 73 ; system 
of instruction in signalling, 74 ; 
various inventions, 77-79, 85, 207 ; 
at Ajaccio, 80 ; instruction in gun- 
nery, 81-88, 128, 138; sub-calibre 
rifle, 85 ; towing targets, 85 ; in- 
vention of the "Dotter," 87; on 
half -pay, 89; in command of 
H.M.S. Terrible, 90; ordered to 
proceed to China, 91 ; design for 
the mounting of long-range guns, 
94, 98-101, 120, 121, (282, 332 ; at 
Durban, 102, 215 ; appointed Mili- 
tary Commandant of Durban, 105- 
119, 337; measures for the de- 
fence, 107, 340-342; arrested by 
a policeman, 114 ; examination 
of vessels, 119; equips hospital 
ships, 122 ; voyage to China, 127 ; 
reception at Mauritius, 128 ; Hong 
Kong, 130-132, 145, 169; address 
from Sir J. Carrington, 130 ; C.B. 
conferred, 131, 174 ; at Taku, 132 ; 

Chef oo, 135 ; " deflection teacher," 
139 ; on the operation of righting 
the Canton Biver, 145-149; presi- 
dent of a committee for improving 
the regulations for prize firing, 
154 ; at Wei-hai-wei, 165 ; addresses 
of welcome, 170 ; speech at a public 
banquet, 171-174 ; at Balmoral, 
174-177 ; invested with the insignia 
of Knight Commander, of the 
Victorian Order, 174, 302; takes 
part in a deer drive, 175, 176; 
Captain of H.M.S. Excellent, 178 ; 
efforts to improve gunnery, 179- 
181, 191-194, 298 ; incurs the dis- 
approval of the Admiralty, 181, 
183; report on the defective gun 
sights of H.M.S. Lancaster, 183 ; of 
H.M.S. Centurion, 184; letters to 
the Admiralty, 184, 255, 256 ; Hon. 
LL.D. of Cambridge, 187; In- 
spector of Target Practice, 189 ; 
duties, 190; at Kiel, 194-196, 293; 
in command of the Second Cruiser 
Squadron, 197, 198 ; relations with 
Lord Charles Beresford, 203, 210 ; 
invention for cipher messages, 207 ; 
cruise round Ireland and Scotland, 
208 ; at Christiania, 209 ; in com- 
mand of a squadron of cruisers in 
South Africa, 210 ; system of rou- 
tine training, 212, 241 ; at Pretoria, 
217; Johannesburg, 219; Bloem- 
fontein, 220 ; Cape Town, 223-225 ; 
farewell messages, 225, 229 ; at St. 
Helena, 226 ; Rio Janeiro, 227-229 ; 
promoted Vice-Admiral, 227 ; reply 
to the Minister of War, 234; at 
Buenos Ayres, 335 ; speech at the 
farewell dinner, 236-238 ; at Tene- 
riffe, 238; Gibraltar, 239; system 
of night-firing, 239; in London, 
241; audience with King Edward 
VII., 242, 291; speech at the 
Authors' Club, 242-246 ; work on 
director firing, 247, 259; visit to 
Mexico, 248-251 ; presented to Gen. 
P. Diaz, 249 ; joins H.M.S. Neptune 
to superintend trials with director 
firing, 251 ; points out the blunders 
of the Admiralty, 264-267; at 
Murren, 269; created a Baronet 
and promoted Admiral, 270 ; retire- 
ment, 270; on the submarine 
menace, 270, 286 ; letters from the 
Admiralty, 271, 325 ; letter to the 
Times on the submarine menace, 
274 ; criticisms on his warnings, 
275-281 ; appointed Adviser to the 



Admiralty on gunnery, 284, 325; 
improvisation of dummy battle- 
ships, 284-286 ; design of a bomb, 
287; interview with Sir J. Jel- 
licoe at Scapa Mow, 288 ; measures 
for fitting ships with director 
firing, 291; loss of his son, 293; 
on the elevation of guns, 293- 
295; refuses offer of command of 
the expedition to the Dardanelles, 
296 ; report on the inefficiency of 
the shooting, 299 ; appointed to the 
gunnery defence of London, 304; 
measures, 308-315 ; at Paris, 308, 
314; letter to Mr. Balfour, 313; 
appointed adviser to Viscount 
French on air defence questions, 
318 ; forecast on aerial warfare, 
318; visit to the front, 322; to 
H.M.S. Centaur, 323; on the 
difference between sea and land 
gunnery, 329-331 ; the future of the 
Navy, 332; dispatch to Sir W. 
Hely Hutchinson, 338-340; letter 
from General Sir K. Buller, 343 ; 
from J. Nicol, 344 

Scylla, H.M.S., 73 ; boat washed away, 
80; gunnery practice, 81-88, 298; 
record of shooting, 88, 191 

Searchlight, flashing) arrangements 
for, 77 

Searchlights, system in the Navy, 324 

Sea-sickness, cure for, 5 

Selborne, Earl of, 167, 300; First 
Lord of the Admiralty, 177; cha- 
racter of his administration, 186, 
191 ; at the National Convention, 
Durban, 216 

Seymour, Admiral of the Fleet, Sir 
Edward, "My Naval Career and 
Travels," 26; in command of the 
expedition to Pekin, 132 ; approval 
of the regulations on prize firing, 
154, 156; presents a shield, 156; 
order countermanded, 156 ; report 
on prize firing, 198 

Seymour, Admiral Sir Michael Culme, 
Commander-in-Chief of the Medi- 
terranean Fleet, 73 

Shannon, H.M.S, 25 

Sheerness, 5, 13 

Shells, unexploded, difficulty of col- 
lecting, 47-49 ; burial, 48 

Shen-Hai-Quon, 164 

Shimura, Admiral, 164 

Ships, inspection of, 26, 144 ; training 
in the use of masts and sails, 35, 
36 ; abolition, 36 ; decoration of, 
60; prize firing, 144; long-range 

shooting, 160-163; system of rou- 
tine training, 212 ; fitted with 
director firing, 282, 326 

Signalling, condition of, 73; system 
of instruction, 74 ; inadequate ap- 
pliances, 75-78 

Signalling lamp, invention of a, 61 

Simon's Bay, 38, 41, 222 

Simonstown, 105 

Sims, Admiral William S., ix ; Lieut, 
in the Kentucky, 149; at Hong 
Kong, 149 ; interest in gunnery, 
149; suggestions for reform, 150; 
report to Pres. Roosevelt, 151 ; 
appointed Naval Aide-de-Camp, 151, 
153; indiscretion, 152; in command 
of naval forces in European waters, 
152, 154 ; Director of Target Prac- 
tice, 153, 189 ; in command of the 
battleship Minnesota, 153 ; at the 
Naval College, Newport, 153; in 
command of the Atlantic Torpedo 
Flotilla, 154 

Singapore, 39, 128, 169 

Slave dhows, 9 

Smith, Mr. F. A., Mayor of Cape 
Town, 224 

Smoke-cap, the Loeb, use of the, 

Spectator, extract from, 278 

Spencer, Earl, on the work of, L Sir 
P. Scott in South Africa, 345 

Spion Kop, 120 

Spiteful, H.M.S., 18, 21 

Spithead, 5 

" Spotting drill," 141 

Squadron, the " Special Coastal " or 
" Scarecrow," 285 

Stansfeld, Captain, head of the Anti- 
Aircraft Department, 308 

Steevens, G. W., on the Royal Navy, 

Stossel, General, 133 

Strategy, meaning of, ix 

Submarine menace, 270, 274 

Submarines, " depth charge," 287 

Suez Canal, 39 

Sultan, H.M.S., strikes on a rock, 
62; salvage operations, 63; sinks 
again, 64 ; towed into Malta Har- 
bour, 64 

Sultan of Sokato, 22 

Sunday on board ship, 11 

Sunday Times, extract from, 280 

Superb, H.M.S., 263 

Surface boats, shortage of, 287 

Swallow, H.M.S., 37 

Swettenham, Sir Alexander, Governor 
of Singapore, 129 



Swettenham, Sir Frank, Kesident 
General of the Malay States, at 
Singapore, 129 ; on the use of Wei- 
hai-wei, 166 

Sydenham, Lord, on Sir P. Scott's 
views of the submarine menace, 
277 ; on submarines, 280 

TABLE Bay, 123 

Taku, 132 

Tanks, development of, 186 

Target, practice, 30-33, 297 ; a towing, 
85 ; colour of the, 140 ; remodelled, 

Tartar, H.M.S., 342 

Tel-el-Kebir, battle of, 46; fall of, 

Temeraire, H.M.S., 49, 263 

Teneriffe, 238 

Tennant, Bt. Hon. H. J., 316. 

Terrible, H.M.S., 90, 105 ; instruction 
in gunnery, 92, 138-143 ; defective 
gun sights, 92 ; at Durban, 105, 340 ; 
Hong Kong, 130 ; ordered to Wei- 
hai-wei, 135 ; record of shooting, 
157, 168; at Wei-hai-wei, 165; 
dismantled, 177 

Tetuan, battle practice at, 240 

Thetis, H.M.S., 34L 

Thomas, Sub-Lieut. Prank, promoted 
Lieutenant, 23 

Thomson, Mr. J., Mayor of Johannes- 
burg, 219 ; on the behaviour of the 
men of Sir P. Scott's squadron, 

Thunderer, H.M.S., fitted with 
director firing, 251; competitions 
with H.M.S. Orion, 252, 268 

Tientsin, besieged by Boxers, 132; 
relief column, 133 ; bombardment, 
135 ; captured, 136 

Times, the, extracts from, 278, 279, 

t 280; on ^the bombardment of 
Tientsin, 136; letter from Sir P. 
Scott on the submarine menace, 

Tokyo, 164 

Tongku, 134 

Topase, H.M.S., 35 

Torpedo boats, rams on, 287 

Transvaal Republic, 91, 217 

Triggs, Sub-Lieut. Bowden, promoted 
Lieutenant, 23 

Trincomalee, 13 

Triumph, H.M.S., sunk, 296 

Truck lamp, 75 

Tugela, 105, 107 

Turret drill, 33 

Tyrwhitt, Bear- Admiral Sir Reginald, 
Commodore, 323 

UMGBNI, march with a 4*7 gun to, 

United States Navy, gunnery reform 

in the, 150-153 
Uruguay, relations with England, 238 

VANDELEUR, Colonel, 47 

Vanguard, H.M.S., 263 

Venerable, H.M S., 181 

Venetian blind shutter, use in sig- 
nalling, 74 

Vernon, H.M.S., 32, 71 

Vicente Casaras, 237 

Victoria, Queen, at Osborne, 23; re- 
ceives Sir P. Scott, 24 ; receives 
officers and men after the Egyptian 
War, 55-57 

Victorious, H.M.S. , 181 

Villiers, Sir Henry de, President of 
the National Convention, Durban, 

WAAL, N. F. de, 223, 224 

War, the test of a naval administra- 
tion, ix 

War Office, takes over the gunnery 
defence of London, 316 ; system of 
administration, 323 

Warrender, Admiral Sir George, 298 ; 
member of the committee on im- 
proving the regulations for prize 
firing, 154 ; acts as umpire, 157 ; 
encouragement of shooting, 158 

Warrior, H.M.S., 23, 292 ; sunk, 293 

Wei-hai-wei, 135, 145, 164, 165 ; cost 
of the fortifications, 166; work 
stopped, 167, 168 

Wells, Lieut. Lionel, 71 

Whale, Mr., design of a motor lorry, 

Whale Island, 33-35; plan of con- 
version into a Gunnery School, 
35, 58, 67 ; process of construction, 
67; cricket-pitch, 67; sham fight 
at, 185 

White, Mr. Arnold, interest in gun- 
nery, 143; on Dreadnoughts in 
war, 280 

White, General Sir George, retreat to 
Ladysmith, 95; request for long- 
range guns, 95-97 

Whitehead torpedo, 79 

Whydah, 20 ; blockade of, 21 

Wiesbaden, 3 



Williman, Dr., President of Uruguay, 
at Monte Video, 231, 238 

Willoughby, Sir John, takes part in a 
deer drive, 175 

Wilson, Capt. Gordon, takes part in a 
deer drive, 175 

Wilson, Mr. H. W., opinion of sub- 
marines, 279 

Windham, Captain, 157 

Windsor, 56 

Wise, Captain, of U.S.A. Navy, 134 

Wolseley, General Sir Garnet, in com- 
mand of the Ashantee campaign, 15 

Wood, General Sir Evelyn, 38; on 

the valuable work of Sir P. Scott, 

53 ; letter from Major-General Sir 

A. Alison, 54 

Wrey, Sir Bourchier, at Eamleh, 47 
Wrey, Mrs., 313 
Wright, J., awarded the Conspicuous 

Service Cross, 112 
Wright, Mr., 173 

" X.," Mr., case of, 116 ; extracts 
from his letters, 117 

ZANZIBAR, 9, 20 ; slave-market, 10 
Zeppelin raids on London, 303, 304 



DA Scott, (Sir) Percy Moreton, 

88 bart. 

.1 Fifty years in the 

S3 A3 Royal Navy