The exhibition

 

Artefacts on display

 

Rowland Langmaid (1897 - 1956)

 

A detailed journal kept by Rowland Langmaid, Midshipman in HMS Agamemnon in the Dardanelles, illustrated with numerous ship profiles, watercolours, photographs, and plans, for the period 19th February-2nd December 1915.

Rowland was a student of renowned Portsmouth artist Wyllie and some of his early work (1912) can be seen at the Admiralty Library.

 

The diary opens poignantly with his thoughts -

'..... any misfortune occur to me that this book .......to be sent to my mother at BelleVue Lodge, Paington'

On February 19 1915 Langmaid's entry suggests the jubilance in the Fleet when he records -

 

'Agamemnon sounded actions (sic) ship's company gave a huge cheer. First time I have ever heard this bugle call cheered'.


 

 

Admiral Carden's Planning Notes

 

Has an Admiral ever been presented with such a proposition at such short notice? 
 
Carden was Admiral Superintendent of Malta Dockyard when he was appointed to command the British Squadron operating in the Mediterranean in September 1914. Shortly after his appointment he was asked by Winston Churchill to prepare a plan or feasibility study for the forcing of the Dardanelles.
 
His initial thoughts are held by the NMRN in hard copy form under his heading 'Gen idea'. These pencil written notes (dated Jan 1915) are wide ranging in their scope and requirements for materiel and action. He urges caution and it is obvious he has respect for the Turkish forces ranged against him. Had history taught him a lesson about the wisdom of only using seaborne naval forces to silence formidable shore defences? 
 
Events moved rapidly and depending on the source read either Carden resigned and was replaced by his second-in-command Robeck on 15 March 1915, or he was relieved of his command due to his failing health.
 
 
 

Water Chits

Who could imagine the Gallipoli men's desperation in obtaining that most basic necessity water whilst coping with intense heat and a courageous enemy in a commanding position? 

The shortage of water was a major problem, with large quantities having to be shipped all the way from Egypt. The men were often dehydrated and the water shortage had important hygiene implications. It was difficult to wash up mess tins effectively, and this combined with the crowded conditions led to rapid cross-infection. Disinfection was very important in medical facilities, and a water shortage threatened the effectiveness with which this could be done. Operations carried out in the open or in primitive tented conditions were especially vulnerable to infection caused by dust and flies. Those patients unable to stomach solid foods needed light invalid watery diets.

Sergeant Apcar De Vine wrote in his diary :-

  On the 15 May (1915) “water is now becoming rather scarce free issue being stopped today, one water bottle is the only issue to last 24 hours”.

Water chits came into being because the water available for the most part could not be brought forward but had to be fetched by men returning to the beaches or other depots. The chits were introduced to validate the men coming out of the line and to present an 'accounting' system for supply corps allocating a scarce resource

We have in the NMRN some of these  'water chits' that tell a most melancholy story. Luckily , and thanks to Petty Officer John Grindley (RNVR), we have probably the only surviving examples of what must have been tens of thousands issued.

The chits are written on paper scraps including bits of school exercise books, toilet tissue with the occasional Supply Office official requisition.

'Please let bearer have some drinking water' is the most common phrase used. Poignant that these brave men virtually had to beg for water in such extreme circumstances.

 

HMS Hermes returning from the Falklands