From March, 1898, to September, 1899

Her Majesty's ship Terrible was commissioned at Portsmouth Dockyard, March 24th, 1898, by Captain Charles Grey Robinson, R.N., for particular service, and to undergo a series of experimental trials.

More than the ordinary amount of interest was taken in naval circles in this commissioning, owing to the fact that the ship was one of two sister-ships that were at this period the largest and most powerfully armed cruisers afloat; the other being H.M.S. Powerful, then in commission on the China Station.

It is worthy of note that these two ships should both, in their first commissions, have achieved reputations that have not—it is safe to assert—been surpassed during the iron age of the British Navy. Both were the cause of many animated discussions in the House of Commons respecting their general efficiency and sphere of usefulness. Both their names are inseparable from the early history of the great Anglo-Boer War, 1899-1902, mainly in respect of the operations for the defence and relief of Ladysmith. The names of both their captains (Captain Hon. Hedworth Lambton {Powerful) and Captain Percy Scott, who had then succeeded to the command of the Terrible) became familiar to the English-speaking peoples owing to the part played by each during the war ; and both captains received the Order of the " Companion of the Bath " for distinguished services, while several officers and others in both ships received either war decorations, or special promotions, or were mentioned in despatches for gallant or meritorious service in the field.

But the Terrible's war history did not cease in South Africa, for her crew afterwards took a prominent part with their guns in the stirring episodes of the China War of 1900, when the Great Powers conjointly suppressed the Boxer Rebellion.

Commissioning day is always an event of supreme importance in the Royal Navy, and was not less so on board the Terrible on this occasion. It is a date that is stamped on the memory of every member of the crews of H.M. ships. A birthday may be forgotten or ignored, but not this day, which is the time-pivot upon which all calculations, self-imposed abnegations, or future hopes of individuals turn ; and is annually kept green by the anniversary dinner given in the officers' messes, and by a special performance of the ship's inevitable minstrel troupe.

Snow, several inches deep, covered the ground on the eventful March morning when the Terrible's crew left the Naval Depot and marched to where their future ocean residence was then lying—a stately four-funnelled cruiser, the very antithesis of the old wooden hulks which constitute the Depot.

Few persons outside the Navy, or, indeed, inside, know much of the apparently mysterious machinery, or method, employed to bring a ship from the Fleet Reserve and place it as a fighting unit fully equipped among the commissioned ships of our vast fleet, for much of the system lies deep below the surface open to ocular observation. The procedure adopted is practically the same for every ship, large or small, and a brief risume of what actually occurs at commissioning will serve two purposes—to simplify a naval subject little understood, and also to start the ship's history.

The initial stage begins with the sending of an official communication from the Admiralty to the Port Admiral (otherwise termed the Commander-in-Chief) stating on what date a certain ship will commission, upon what service it will be employed, and to which squadron it will be attached. The ship will have been previously got ready for service by the dockyard authorities and by them reported to the Admiralty as in all respects ready for the " pennant." The captain and all other officers are appointed to the ship by the Admiralty, each receiving his official appointment by post—a document that must be acknowledged without delay as directed therein. Their names also appear in the leading London papers, which is often the first intimation an officer gets whether of an appointment or a promotion.

The coal and most of the stores, but not the ammunition, are invariably placed on board as soon as the ship is placed in the " Reserve " ready for active service, and an engineer officer, a gunner, boatswain, and carpenter are attached to the ship for the purpose of becoming acquainted with their respective departments prior to commissioning. The Port Admiral issues instructions to the captain of the Depot to prepare a crew, and also notifies the other officials interested. Now the task begins in real earnest. The drafting departments select the petty officers and men from the roster books, which contain a record of each man's qualifications, date of last foreign service, etc. This duty demands great experience owing to the multifarious gunnery, torpedo, artisan, mechanical, and miscellaneous ratings now required for the complement of a modern man-of-war. The men selected are then detailed, and have to pass a medical examination, the severity of which is governed by the nature of the service the ship is ordered on. Then follows a kit inspection, after which, if the ship is to join a squadron on a foreign station, the " draft" (as they are now termed) are permitted to proceed on several days' leave to visit their friends.

On returning from "draft leave," the captain of the Depot will hold a " draft inspection," at which every man must parade dressed in his best uniform. This officer, with a wide experience in all things naval, accompanied by the staff of officials directly responsible for the drafting arrangements, carefully scrutinizes each individual with such keenness that nothing irregular, either in appearance or dress, can escape his notice. Inspection over, the great event of the morrow is awaited, which is to sever the draft from the methodical depot life, and connect them with the rigorous regime peculiar to a British man-of-war.

Early next morning the " draft " will be busy packing their ponderous kits into waggons for conveyance to the ship, and, breakfast over, they are finally paraded and marched on board. On arrival they are officially handed over, together with all documents concerning them, to their future commanding officer—a commander or senior lieutenant, otherwise styled the Executive Officer.

It is upon this officer that falls the greatest amount of individual responsibility respecting the organization of the personnel and economic regulating of a newly commissioned ship. For several days previously he has had to work hard, with brain and pen, preparing each officer's and man's numerous duties, besides devising general stations for important evolutions. These must fit like the movements of a clock for exactness, unless a state of chaos is to be brought about—undignified if only on drill, unjustifiable if on service. The Senior Engineer is similarly responsible for all duties strictly connected with his own department.

In the event of the ship being rammed or springing a leak, every watertight door must have responsible men stationed to close it, while the collision mat would have to be promptly got over the ship's side to check the inrush of water. To repel a midnight torpedo boat attack; comply with a sudden signal to " man and arm boats ; " put out a fire, either on board or on shore ; arrange stations for numerous other movements, etc., under various conditions—require a wide experience and a fertile brain. Not only have these stations to be carefully thought out (the heterogeneous types of ships prohibiting the adoption of a universal system), but the scheme has also to be imparted to the new crew by incessant drilling, to ensure promptitude and precision when reality supersedes drill. Often has a smart evolution been the sole factor whereby a grave danger has been averted, or perhaps a ship saved from a critical position—and even the tide of a battle turned. (Appropriately applies to the naval gun episode at Ladysmith.)

Proceeding with the subject proper, we shall find that the Royal Marines have also arrived from their barracks ; " station cards," which concisely enumerate each man's special duties, have been served out, and the whole crew have been given a reasonable time to stow their kits, familiarize themselves with their duties, and otherwise prepare in good time for a busy day. In the mean time all officers will have reported their arrival on board, and have had their respective duties likewise assigned to them by the departmental " chiefs."

Shortly before 9 A.M., Captain Robinson arrived on board in his official capacity, being received on the gangway by the principal officers, who were severally introduced to him by Commander Limpus (the Executive Officer).

Punctually at nine, the ensign was hoisted on the flagstaff, the pennant let fly at the masthead, a general salute from the bugles was sounded, while officers and men faced aft and saluted ; this impressive ceremony officially announcing that the ship was duly in commission.

The formal reading of the captain's commission of authority has long since been dispensed with, and relegated to past history, its importance ceasing with the introduction of the continuous service system which replaced the antiquated method of single commission engagements. This document was then read to impress the raw material and undisciplined with a sense of the dignity and power vested in the captain—perhaps a necessary reminder at the time, especially during the press-gang period, when many turbulent characters formed a portion of every crew.

Sufficient time having elapsed for compliance with the preliminary order, the whole crew assembled on deck, when " fire," " collision," and " general quarters " stations were read out and explained ; the crew being afterwards exercised at them to make sure that they fully understood their individual and collective duties in each evolution. These are the principal stations invariably performed in every ship as early as possible, since the first two concern the ship's safety, and the last is the general fighting station for the entire crew when in action ; but they form only a small fraction of the evolutions carried out in a man-of-war.

Filling up with stores, ammunition, and coal was finished as early as possible, and the ship prepared for the service for which she was commissioned. The foregoing is an account of the necessary preliminaries before the Terrible could start upon her eventful commission.

Eight hundred and sixty-one officers and men formed the complement of the ship, but before leaving harbour 120 boys and young stokers were embarked for training, giving a grand total that would compare favourably with the huge complements of a Nelsonian line-of-battle ship of three-decker size.

The customary commissioning inspection was made by Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, after which the ship proceeded to Spithead. While there the Duke and Duchess of York visited the ship, the captain conducting the royal visitors round the decks. The Duke, himself a naval officer, proceeded below to inspect the powerful engines, and displayed keen interest in this leviathan among cruisers.

The programme to be carried out was extensive for such a large ship to undertake, but the experiments were essential in order to test fully the water-tube boilers with which she is exclusively fitted. These were now being largely introduced into the Royal Navy, and much controversial opinion respecting their efficiency then prevailed among engineering scientists.

Owing to dense fogs in the Channel two attempts to proceed with the trials were abandoned, but on May 4th the first 60-hours' trial was made and satisfactorily concluded ; 5000 horse-power being the test limit for this run— the " first heat" of the " full-power race " which was to conclude the experiments.

Queen's birthday was celebrated in Portsmouth harbour on May 24th in the usual naval fashion. Each ship present dressed with flags and fired a royal salute at noon, Nelson's old flagship, the Victory, performing her annual function of directing the ceremonies on this propitious occasion. In the evening the Right Hon. George J. Goschen, M.P. (First Lord of the Admirality), and Mr. Austin Chamberlain, M.P. (the Civil Lord), accompanied by Captain Fawkes, R.N., joined the ship for an official visit to Gibraltar. Leaving early next day, another trial, this time of 10,000 horse-power, was successfully carried out, the ship arriving at the famous British fortress on the 28th inst. (It being the writer's object to describe the commission of the Terrible in its entirety, a brief description of each foreign port or country visited will be inserted as occasion arises.)

Gibraltar is a high rocky promontory, connected with Spain by a low isthmus, styled the " neutral ground." It rises to a height of just over 1400 feet at its greatest elevation, is three miles in length, and about three-quarters of a mile in breadth. On the opposite African coast, about 15 miles distant, is Tangier, an important coast town of Morocco, where diplomatic representatives to that country reside. Gibraltar is a Crown Colony, the Governor being also the General Officer commanding the garrison. It was captured during the war of the Spanish Succession in 1704 by a combined British and Dutch force, commanded by Sir George Rooke, and in 1713 was formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Utrecht, since which date the " Rock " has remained continuously in British possession. Several attempts, however, were subsequently made for its recapture, the most important being the historical siege in 1779-83, when the British garrison under General Elliott, successfully held out for three years and seven months against a combined French and Spanish force, enduring severe privations towards the finish. Its value as a strategical position is incalculable, for though the introduction of steam propulsion for fighting ships has somewhat lessened its power of control over the Straits, yet its own invulnerability remains as certain as it was in the glorious days of yore.   It is the first link in the imperial chain of British possessions that encircles the globe, and is also the strongest, so that, should it snap, the remaining links might be seriously imperilled.

The docks in course of construction must infinitely enhance its value as a naval base, while the steady additions of long-range guns of great destructive power, together with the numerous torpedo craft that would form the threshold over which a hostile fleet must pass in or out of the Mediterranean door, assure its title of being the strongest offensive and defensive fortress in the world. A magnificent breakwater affords substantial protection to a large fleet, and must prove invaluable in war time, providing as it does absolute immunity from torpedo attack and also from that latest ocean terror— the submarine boat. The population (mixed European and African) numbers about 20,000, who are mostly occupied with commerce and shipping. A strong garrison is always maintained here, and should history repeat itself, Gibraltar will not fail to uphold its traditional reputation for impregnability.

The Admiralty Lords having concluded their official inspection of the naval establishments and works in progress, the ship left for England on the 30th inst., arriving at Spit-head without incident on June 3rd.

The next two months were spent in dockyard hands preparing the ship for severer experiments than it was originally intended should be carried out. The ship was having a midsummer vacation, an unexpected arrangement few found fault with, for Portsmouth in the summer, with all its attractions, is an agreeable place enough whereat to earn a pension. Whilst in dock, a distinguished party of members of the House of Commons, who were being conducted round the dockyard by Lord Charles Beresford, M.P., visited the ship. They were evidently much interested, several honourable members being visibly impressed, though, unfortunately for them, it was with navy wet paint on the tails of their frock-coats, the ship having been freshly painted throughout. It is proverbial that wet paint attracts the smartest clothing with the power of a magnet, but will repel old or dirty garments—at least, this is a theory which can easily be tested on Sunday mornings, as the result of that time-honoured touch-up for the " rounds " the previous night.

Early in August the ship was again ready to proceed on her trials, and during the month two 6o-hours' runs at 15,000 and 20,000 horse-power were made, success having again to be recorded. Previous to these two trials important alterations had taken place with the engines to try and solve an engineering problem concerning the excessive vibration, especially aft, from which the ship suffered when steaming at certain high speeds. The trials evidenced that a highly satisfactory solution had rewarded the engineers' skill, and likewise cured a defect that would have seriously interfered with accurate shooting from the stern guns, when fired under those conditions. The next trial was made at 22,000 horse-power, which enabled a speed of 21 knots to be recorded.

The preliminary trials were all over, for—to use sporting terms—the ship was now to compete for the blue ribbon of her designed speed, the stokers having dubbed the final run as the steaming Derby. In some ways her trials for this big event resembled the preparation of a favourite horse for the classic race at Epsom.

On September 15th the ship was ready to proceed, and officials representing the departments interested assembled on board to note the result of this final full-power race against speed and time; 25,000 horse-power having to be maintained for four hours, and the ship also having to travel 100 miles in that limited time to satisfy her judges.

To propel a constructed mass of over 14,000 tons weight through the water at 25 miles per hour requires both physical and mechanical endurance of no mean order. The powerful engines derive their enormous horse-power from forty-eight boilers of the Belleville water-tube type, which were then receiving a rabid condemnation from the " anti-water-tubists." The coal expenditure for this special run averaged 25 tons per hour, which may appear a great quantity to consume, but it must be remembered that the coal-carrying capacity of the ship is over 3000 tons, and sufficiently large in proportion

even to this consumption. It would require a personal visit into the stokeholds and engine-rooms fully to realize what a full-speed trial means in a large modern man-of-war. Owing to the necessity of having an armoured protective deck over the engines and boilers, it follows that, for want of space, the piston stroke must be considerably reduced, so that these huge engines were compelled to revolve at the rate of 110 revolutions per minute to obtain the required speed. In the stokeholds it might be truly said there was as hazardous a risk to be faced as on a battlefield for those men who fed the furnaces. A mishap, fortunately rare, occurring below when steaming at full speed, would probably produce disastrous results. As steam was the greatest factor upon which success depended, the day was a real stokers' day, and three hundred of these men had practically the result of the race in their hands. Fleet-Engineer Rees was in the position of trainer, as he knew what the ship could, and should, do, providing everything below went well; but no one envied the position of this officer on trial days—this day in particular.

Owing to the Channel being enveloped in a dense fog, it was late in the afternoon before favourable weather allowed the run to take place. On the approach of dusk huge tongues of flame shot high out of the lofty funnels, becoming more vivid as the light waned, until they seemed actually to be licking the blackness of the sky overhead. Imagine the feelings of those on board an alien Atlantic liner, being chased up Channel by a Terrible in war time, projectiles and flames drawing nearer with every mile, and the friendly port too far away to afford asylum. Yet this imaginative scene is what the ship may be destined some day to enact in reality.

Three hours of the trial had successfully passed, a uniform speed of 22^ knots having been logged, when the ship sprang into a fog-bank, so dense that the range of vision did not exceed the ship's length. To go tearing along the busiest waterway in the world at such a speed under such risky conditions spelt disaster to some one should a collision occur. The captain therefore decided not to accept the risk, and as the race thus far, and the pace maintained, had been so highly satisfactory, the engineering judges pronounced a verdict in favour of the ship. The Terrible had won the " blue ribbon " in easy fashion, and experimental trials and engineering troubles were at last over—so it was then fondly hoped, though unkind Fate decided otherwise, as will be seen later on.

A short cruise to Berehaven followed, the crew undergoing a fortnight's instruction in torpedo warfare and submarine mining operations. When returning to Portsmouth the first heavy gun practice took place, and although the firing was carried out on a rough sea, some excellent results were obtained ; seemingly a precursor of the phenomenal prize-firing records subsequently established by the ship on the China Station.

From October 1st until towards the end of November the ship remained at Portsmouth making good defects developed at the last trial. The political barometer just at this period stood rather low. In the Soudan the Khalifa's power had been smashed by Kitchener at Omdurman ; but the fruits of his success had been somewhat spoiled by the surreptitious occupation of Fashoda, a town further up the Nile, by a French military mission. This was the incident that was attracting the serious attention of the nation—in fact, of Europe ; the presence of French troops in that town being distinctly affirmed by the British Government to be an unfriendly act that could not be tolerated. However, diplomacy eventually closed an " affaire" that had touched national sentiment on both sides of the Channel, and Lord Salisbury announced on November 4th that the French Government had decided to withdraw their clandestine mission from the Nile. The Fashoda incident was thus officially closed just as the Terrible had been put in working order!

On November 25th, a surprise order was received from the Admiralty for the ship to proceed to Malta, and take out a relief crew for the Camper down. Several officers and men who were on week-end leave were recalled, and the Naval Depot hurriedly prepared a draft to go out.

The ship left England two days later, encountering a fresh nor'-westerly gale while crossing the Bay, which caused exceptionally heavy rolling, while a continuous succession of green seas frisked about the upper deck until the waters immortalized by Dibden had been left well astern. Malta was reached at noon, December 2nd, the passage having been performed in 121 hours, which was then the record trip for a combined speed and distance trial of a man-of-war ; the actual distance run being 2206 miles: an average speed maintained of 18 knots.

Malta probably occupies the most unique position of any of our Imperial possessions. In splendid isolation it stands across the course that leads to the Suez Canal and the East; its geographical and strategical position making the island the paramount naval base in the Mediterranean. It is the headquarters of our powerful squadron maintained on that station, and has also, except India, the largest military force under one command outside the British Isles. The island is strongly fortified, and Valetta provides an ideal harbour, whether as a safe refuge for shipping or protection for a fleet, its entrance being easily closed to hostile vessels of any sort, while the proposed breakwater will, when constructed, considerably enhance its value both in peace and war time. Extensive naval dock accommodation and important works and arsenals are situated in natural positions with absolute immunity from any sea attack, which enables the island to sustain its protective fighting strength, with its own resources, in the absence of the squadron. Its history is of the most romantic description, the island having been occupied in turn by the ancient Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans; in the Middle Ages by the Saracens and Moors ; and at later periods by the Sicilians and Knights of St. John. In nearly all ages Malta was recognized as being of such immense value to its possessor that its occupation virtually meant supremacy of sea power in the Mediterranean Sea, though in the earlier days that power was used purely for aggressive purposes. There is a spot on its coast marked by a statue of St. Paul, where legend states the Apostle was shipwrecked in 58 A.D., and catacombs may be visited inland, where the Christian inhabitants hid themselves from the persecution of successive infidel conquerors. After passing through many centuries of turbulent history, occasioned by constant struggles for its possession, the island secured a new era of comparative peace when it was conquered by Sicily in 1090, and thereby brought under Christian rule. Until 1530 it belonged to that kingdom, after which it was transferred to the sovereignty of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, who made the island their headquarters. Many attempts were subsequently made to wrest it from these stalwart supporters of Christianity ; it was rigorously besieged in 1565 by the Turks, but all their efforts to capture it were successfully withstood. Its gallant defence was conducted by the famous Grand Master, La Valette, after whom the city of Valetta—the present capital—is named ; the old capital of Citta Vecchia being abandoned as such the following year. The Knights now firmly established themselves, and expended their vast wealth in carrying out magnificent fortifications and other works, ^ which are still in splendid condition, and erecting beautiful cathedrals, churches, and palaces, which are among the show places of Europe for old-world grandeur. Until 1798 the Knights continued their beneficent rule, but in that year Napoleon brought his great power to bear upon Malta by expelling the Order. In 1800 the native Maltese revolted, and, assisted by British and Neapolitan troops, compelled the French garrison to capitulate, when Malta was occupied by the British ; the island and its dependencies being formally ceded to Great Britain by the Treaty of Paris in 1814. Besides being a stronghold of supreme importance, Malta has also an enormous trade, its harbour being a port of call for the numerous vessels passing to and from the Suez Canal and eastern ports. The island is highly cultivated, producing nearly every variety of semi-tropical fruits and vegetables, much of which is exported to the London markets. The principal occupation of the inhabitants is in connection with the shipping, government establishments, agriculture, and working of gold and silver, while the female element is largely employed in manufacturing the famous Maltese lace and embroidery.   The island is about seventeen miles long, and nine in breadth, the colony including the adjoining island of Gozo, and other islets. The population of the whole group is about 180,000, who, since they have enjoyed British rule, have become a prosperous and loyal community within the Empire.

The crews of the Camperdown having been exchanged, the ship left for England on December 8th, calling at Gibraltar en route; Portsmouth being reached on the 15th of the month.

Christmas, 1898, was spent in England ; as many as could be spared going on ten days' leave, and the unlucky remainder spending the Yuletide season on board in the usual time-honoured naval fashion. Keen rivalry in mess decorations and culinary productions betwixt individual messes seldom fails to take place in men-of-war on this occasion. By Christmas Eve the spacious decks had been deftly transformed into a veritable fairyland by means of abundant supplies of • evergreens, coloured lamps, and flags, with which the long gangways had been decorated in lavish style, while each mess had been converted into a fairy-like alcove. Arboreal arches, naively adorned with amusing or significant mottoes, were erected at the entrance of each mess deck, besides several mechanically worked representations of things nautical, some of which were specially designed to ambuscade the unwary inquisitor. The interior of the ship, when electrically lit up, presented a transformation scene of sumptuous splendour. On Christmas morning the tables were fairly bending with the weight of edible luxuries ; the quantity provided not depending so much on the number of persons berthed in each mess, as on the length of the mess table! It is an unwritten law that every inch of space must be covered with something ; the viands and fruit being neatly interspersed with photographs representing various types of feminine beauty, from the gay geisha-girl of Japan to the modest maid of Devonshire. Punctually at noon, Captain Robinson, accompanied by all officers on board and several guests, and preceded by the ship's band, playing the " Roast Beef of Old England," made the customary tour round the mess decks. Stopping briefly at each mess, he exchanged the " Compliments of the Season " with the mess representative, and partook of certain delicacies from the proffered plates, which it were sacrilege to pass without due recognition of their contents.    But a captain would require the digestion of an ostrich and the capacity of an elephant if he even sampled all that he feels it incumbent upon him to accept.   Yet it all disappears to some mysterious place, known only to a captain—and perhaps his vivacious coxswain.   The day itself stands unique from all other days of the year, for from noon routine is suspended, and a sort of topsy-turveydom exists on the lower deck.   The petty and non-commissioned officers will suavely perform the necessary routine work ; the marine drummer-boy and a bluejacket boy for the nonce will supersede the sergeant-major and master-at-arms ; the  orders of these two embryo officials being humorously obeyed.    These customs, however, and  also that of carrying the principal officers round the decks after dinner, though still in vogue, are but a lingering survival of old naval lore, which before long will collapse into obscurity. Naval Christmas Days were formerly of a bacchanalian character, a form of celebration which finds but little favour with the present generation of "handy-men."   Up till evening rounds at 9 P.M., the festivities continue, when at that hour routine and discipline displace revelry and decorations.

Weeks of doubt and speculation concerning our future movements were set at rest by the receipt of instructions for another voyage to Malta, to take out a relief crew for the Royal Oak. Leaving Portsmouth, February 22nd (now 1899), the ship arrived at Malta, without incident, on March 2nd. Exchange of crews having been effected, the ship left for England on the 8th, calling at Gibraltar as before.

It was on this homeward passage that Fate was to tarnish the ship's reputation, for an untoward mishap occurred that brought her unenviable notoriety. The passage both ways was being conducted at economical speed—twelve knots per hour—under very favourable conditions, when, without the slightest warning to indicate weakness, a water-tube in one of the boilers suddenly split, the full 180-lb. pressure of escaping steam violently blowing the fires from the furnace into the stokehold, the door of which had been inadvertently opened. Several men were badly scalded and burnt, one stoker (Edward Sullivan) so severely that he died a few hours afterwards. It is worthy of record that Stoker Parham, at considerable personal risk and entirely acting on his own initiative, shut off the main stop-valve of the damaged boiler, thereby minimizing the danger in that stokehold. For this service he was afterwards highly commended by the " Court of Inquiry," and promoted. On arriving at Plymouth on the 15th, two days after the mishap, some of the details became public, and when Portsmouth was reached next day, it was found that the Press had so magnified and twisted the real facts, that the ship was besieged with anxious friends of the crew, and scores of telegrams were awaiting delivery. "Sensational headlines" of present-day journalism have much to answer for. As was anticipated, both an inquest and an official investigation were held ; an exhaustive inquiry into all the circumstances connected with the fatality resulting in the finding of both courts " that no blame was attributable to any one." Full naval funeral honours closed the brief service career of another of the many victims claimed by science on its passage to a state of perfection. The accident, however, supplied fresh material for another hostile attack on the water-tube boiler, especially the now stigmatized Belleville type. Fierce opposition has invariably been the reception extended to scientific inventions in all ages. Few innovations receive an early welcome, but, as in the present instance of these particular boilers, the law which governs the survival of the fittest must prevail.

Great engineering authorities have stated that from a military standpoint the water-tube boiler is best suited for the Royal Navy, and therefore, if for no other reason than this, their adoption would appear to have been fully justified.

An opportune chance here presents itself of explaining in a few words the essential differences between the ancient and the modern boilers. The main point is that the one system is the exact converse of the other. Both are tubular boilers ; the water in the cylindrical type is in the boiler space, the flames passing through the tubes, while in the water-tube boiler, the water—as the name implies—is inside the tubes, the flame playing around them.   It is obvious that a greater heating area is obtained in the water-tube pattern, and consequently steam can be raised more quickly.   But this boiler also satisfies many of those requirements which scientists are striving to provide for boilers of fighting ships. An important factor strongly in its favour is that it occupies less space, and is of far less weight than the cylindrical boiler, a matter of great moment in a man-of-war, as it enables a heavier armament or additional armour to be borne.   Moreover, the ability to raise steam quickly; the minimized loss of available power and risk of danger if penetrated by a shell or otherwise disabled ; the ease with which it can be repaired or renewed ; and its special adaptability for complying with the conditions that sudden changes of speed entail on boilers, render it too valuable for military purposes to be discarded. Yet the acme of perfection is apparently not attained at present, and the water-tube boiler remains among the list of modern inventions which are still in a state of evolution.   Certain recommendations were advanced by experts at the public inquiry.   These the Admiralty decided should be carried out forthwith, and as the improvements would occupy a considerable time to complete, the ship was placed alongside the dockyard to expedite the work.    Harbour routine became the order of the day, the work being carried out not in the least interfering with the drills, instructions, and duties that are usually performed at other times.  Southsea Common became as familiar with our field guns during this lay-up as the kopjes surrounding Ladysmith became a few months later.

During this long summer vacation (from sea life) the Terrible was the centre of attraction to the excursionists who invade the town during the season, several thousand visitors being shown over the ship. Among the many distinguished personages who crossed the gangway were the late Admiral H.R.H. the Duke of Edinburgh (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha), H.S.H. Captain Prince Louis of Battenberg, R.N., and the Duke and Duchess of Portland.

The marriage, on April 20th, of our highly esteemed captain was the one notable and interesting event to chronicle during the ship's temporary hors-de-combat existence. The nuptial ceremony was performed in London, Commander Limpus and several other officers from the ship accepting invitations, while the rites prescribed by ancient naval usage for such auspicious occasions were duly observed on board. Useful presentations from both officers and ship's company were made to the graceful bride, a lady who afterwards became deservedly popular with the whole crew for her genial personality.

The attendance of the Captain and Mrs. Robinson, Commander and Mrs. Limpus, Fleet-Engineer and Mrs. Chase, several officers, and a few invited guests, at a private commemorative dance given by representative lower-deck ranks, was a proof of the friendly relations existing throughout the ship, and these were maintained throughout a long commission. To the strains of the ship's string band, which discoursed enchanting music, dancing was briskly indulged in from early evening until midnight, at which hour a pleasant gathering dispersed.

As September approached, the refitting programme was nearing completion, and rumour became busy regarding the ship's future service—one week China, another week the Channel, then the " Straits ; " indeed, each station in turn was suggested as the place where the commission was to be taken up—or recommenced. However, the gift of prescience was a negative quantity with all the prophets, for the final sailing orders were totally at variance with every ventured prognostication.

Time—and the summer months of 1899—flew by all too quickly. The " all work and no play " policy found no favour with the Terribles regime. Leave unlimited, consistent with service requirements, was the rule instead of the exception, the most being made of an indulgence which was highly appreciated by the "Sailors of the Queen".

Parent Category: Books
Category: Crowe: The Commission of HMS Terrible
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