1910 manuscript diary of the purser of, first, HMS Cornwall (with much golf played) and, second, SS Balmoral Castle, describing the Duke of Connaught's voyage to the Union of South Africa, to open its first Parliament on behalf of King George V.

[Purser's diary, Royal Navy Armoured Cruiser HMS Cornwall and SS Balmoral Castle; Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn; opening of first Parliament of the Union of South Africa, 1910; golf]
Publication details: 
19 January to 28 December 1910.
SKU: 11630

99pp., in 'Army & Navy Octavo Scribbling Diary (with a week on an opening) for 1910'. Good, on aged paper, in worn boards, with some preliminary leaves torn out, and a few childish scrawls by Irene and Pauline Knott (grandchildren of the author?) at beginning and end (not affecting text) . The author is intelligent and well-educated, pious and with a keen interest in sport, but there are few clues regarding his identity: his family is from Staines, and he trained at the Royal Naval College, Osborne. The itineraries of the two ships mentioned in this diary are as follows. HMS Cornwall: Devonport (19 January), Gibraltar (24 January), Golfe Juan (2 February), Naples (8 February), Malta (15 February), Alexandria (26 February), Corfu (10 March), Algiers (17 March), Gibraltar (24 March), Bermuda (9 April), Halifax [Nova Scotia] (21 May), Charlottetown [Canada] (9 June), Bay St George (15 June), Bally Haly [Newfoundland] (2 July), Plymouth (11 July). SS Balmoral Castle: Portsmouth (11 October), St Helena (24 October), Cape Town (31 October), Durban (27 November), Freetown (15 December), Las Palmas (21 December), St Helen's Bay (27 December), Portsmouth (28 December). As the diary opens the author is purser on board HMS Cornwall, a 9,800 ton Monmouth-class armoured cruiser being used for cadet training. His time on this ship is marked by much sporting activity: hockey, rugby, football (‘soccer’), shooting, running (‘paper chase’), tennis, billiards, bridge and especially golf. (The diary also records an unusual wrestling bout: ‘[11 July.] Padré in great form – first had a scrap with me & tore my ear & later assaulted the P.M.O. who rose in his wrath and having thrown him proceeded quietly to read his letters with the “turbulent priest” pinned beneath him. Got heaps of letters towards midnight.’) The author's enthusiasm for golf is apparent throughout his time on the Cornwall. In Gibraltar on 28 January he goes 'with Captain [James Clement Ley (1869-1946] over to Campamento for golf[.] Steamed over in picket boat taking several officers of the garrison, & landed in the whaler which we had to weed. The course thinly covered with poor grass & the greens rolled mud. Had quite an amusing game but the Captain was not in good form & failed badly with his mashie.' And on 5 February, near Golfe Juan, ‘Morison, Franklin, Padré & I out to golf [...] appreciating both the golf and the view of the snow covered hills. Lunched at next table to Lloyd-George and were not favourably impressed with what we saw of him.’ On 9 April the ship arrives at Grassy Bay, Bermuda, and the writer immediately plays 36 holes with the captain. In the following days there is a great deal more golf at the Golf House, Clarence Cove, together with a ‘Tennis Tournament’ and frequent ‘bathes’; and very little business (the proclamation of King George V, and testing heavy guns) appears to get done. 2 July finds the author on the links again, this time at Bally Haly, Newfoundland: ‘played 28 holes altogether. I beat [Livesay] easily in 18 holes before tea, but afterwards he was playing like a book & did 5 holes in 4 & 5 in 5 which was much too good for me, especially as I had gone off altogether. Walked backin a soaking rain & off to dinner.’ On 9 July he records having the ‘Warrant Officers to dinner & afterwards “sing song” in after Gun room. No great talent, but Gow has a good voice & sang his song “Off to the Rio Grande” very well.’ The author's transfer to the Balmoral Castle having been confirmed, on 16 July he ‘Turned over money to Goldsmith at 9 a.m. & up to Barracks at 10 a.m. to see Commodore. He told me he had made matters alright with D. of V. at Admiralty & promised to send me a complement sheet.’ After a month’s leave, 24 August finds the author back on board the Cornwall at Plymouth, ‘Busy getting mess a/cs &c ready for turning over to Mainprice’. On 5 September he goes down to Plymouth, ‘& had an hour with Hd Steward Harkin over demands for “Balmoral Castle”.’ The following day he boards the ship at Southampton. By 12 September he is performing his new duties, sending ‘a wire to Commodore about No of Xmas Puddings required for crew of “BC.”’ On 11 October the Duke of Connaught and his party arrive: ‘Royal Party arrived by train at 1.10 pm & received on jetty by C. in C. and a host of Officials, civil, naval & military. They had a big luncheon on board and we left Portsmouth at 4 pm. In dull weather with fine rain falling accompanied by the Sheila, with Princess Henry on board. Five of us dined at Royal table.’ On 15 October: ‘Escort came up alongside in afternoon to be photographed by the Princess & party the Ships side fairly bristled with cameras! Had a gramophone [sic] concert & some very good records. Took part in a gentle game of hockey & did a little physical drill afterwards.’ From 16 October the entries relate to the ship’s conveyance of the Duke of Connaught and party to St Helena. On that day: ‘Royal Party went round Ship at Division & attended Church afterwards on Promenade Deck’. On 17 October: ‘Concert given by Ships Company in evening and the Duke & party attended. He had a round of applause & seemed to enjoy the show very much. It was quite good, especially a marine who did conjuring tricks &c.’ In the next couple of days the ship falls in with SS Landana and HMS Defence and HMS Duke of Edinburgh, taking mail from the first, while the second fires a ‘salute of 21 guns’: ‘Captain Dampier came on board bringing with him presents from the Governor of Sierra Leone – fruit, flowers, & a parrot for Princess Patricia.’ On 21 October: ‘Neptune held his Court at 10.30 am. and about 200 men received the freedom of the seas – all the Officers going thro’ the ordeal first. Presentation to the Royal Party preceded the “order of the Bath.” & after the latter the whole Ships Company “spliced the mainbrace”, including H.R.H. & party.’ The following day the ship arrives at St Helena. 'Investiture of Governor of S. Helena (Galway) with K.C.M.G. took place on board at 12.45 pm. & went off very well. Ceremony very simple & did not last more than 5 minutes. Princess Patricia appeared to have some difficulty in keeping serious after seeing Cat Bulkley drop the order from its cushion twice in quick succession! Landed at 2 pm. & drove up to [Napoleon Bonaparte's residence] Longwood behind Royal Party. It looked a dreary place & the bungalow nothing better than a superior shed. Hardly fit for an Emperor, even in retirement.' The next day there is a 'quaint' garden party of 'all the white population' at Government House: 'Walked up the 699 steps with Start & arrived at the top on the verge of exhaustion'. Later in the day the ship sets sail for Cape Town, arriving 31 October: 'Anchored 5 am. in Camps Bay & at daylight saw two rocks about 200 yards ahead of us! If we had gone on for another minute!! Got under weigh at 8.30 am still very thick, but we got into harbour & alongside up to time. Preparations at the quay & decorations of the most meagre description. Governor General & Lady G. among notabilities came on board to pay their respects & at 11 a.m. the Royal Party landed & were kept waiting some minutes before their carriage was ready! Landed with Start 2 pm. & strolled about streets. Decorations &, later, illuminations were splendid. Streets full of people many of them in Pageant Dress! We dined at the Grand & off to Ship at 10 p.m.' In the following days he visits the museum ('weird collection of full size models of natives') and Kenilworth Races. On 4 November is the 'Opening of Union Parliament'. Two days later he is 'badly beaten' at golf with 'Everett and Abrahams' at Wynberg. From 8 November his train follows the royal train, passing through the Karoo Desert to Kimberley, thence to Bulawayo. On 12 November he records 'Many halts to allow Royal Train to keep ahead so arrived at [Victoria] Falls at 9.30 am. At the Falls he gets 'into conversation with Mr. Foulds, Minister of Education'. On 13 November he has 'Tea at Hotel & met Mr Good, Secretary to Administrator at Livingstone, who came over to invite us to go to Livingstone on Monday for the Review of Native Police & Reception of King Lewanika [(1842-1916)] by HRH.' The review is held the following day, and on 16 November he travels from Bulawayo to 'Rhodes Grave & the Wilson Memorial'. On 18 November he is in Mafeking. Two days later he travels back from Pretoria to Johannesburg. The following day he visits Ladysmith '& the battlefields'. A few days later he is back on board ship. On 2 December 'Royal Party returned to Durban after their tour & came on board to luncheon'. The following day the ship sets off on its return journey from Durban: 'crowds of people on the quay. Guard of honour Natal Volunteers - rather a ragged lot. Our band & Naval Volunteer Band played alternative pieces for benefit of waiting crowd until we left jetty amid great cheering at 5 p.m.' On 7 December 'HRH. presented Union Medal to No. 1, Fleet, Surgeon, myself, Chief, Padré, Miller & Start'. On 10 December 'After dinner played "Spoof" with Princess who looked tired & bored. Sympathised with her, but why do they not dismiss us after dinner?' On 15 December, on the return journey, the ship reaches Freetown: 'I.R.H. landed 9 a.m. and very hearty cheering from "de black fello". Town gaily decorated. [...] the black ladies in their white frocks & straw hats were amusing. All buildings very ramshackle & tumbledown. All felt very slack.' On Christmas Eve 'I. R. H. went round the Mess Decks accompanied by Officers and "funny party." Decorartions very good indeed. In evening Royal Party dined in Ward Room and I was told off to play [sic] Bridge with Commodore afterwards.' On Boxing Day 'All officers invited to dinner in Royal Saloon including Engineer Officers of Company & we were a party of about 50. A very jolly meal & Duke made a charming little speech after it. Then we all pulled crackers and donned the paper caps which we found inside.' They reach St Helen's Bay, Isle of Wight on 27 December, and Portsmouth the following day: 'Fog soon cleared off and it turned out a fine frosty morning. Lots of firing salutes &c &c. I.R.H. disembarked at 11 a.m. & said goodbye to us all on promenade deck. Received on landing by Mayor & Corporation & all heads of department Naval & Military. We gave three cheers as train moved off & band played "Auld Lang Syne".' The diary's last comment, at the end of the same day, reads 'Landed with Miller 6 p.m. Dined at Café Royal & went to Kings Theatre afterwards - quite a good show.'