25th December 1914: Christmas Day on board HMS Talbot

by Dr Ruth Salter [1]

Great-grandad in uniform 1

My great-grandfather, Arthur John Pidgeon

I know that it’s not 25th of December today, but what could be more fitting for the final blog post of the series, and for the final entry taken from my great-grandfather, Arthur John Pidgeon’s W/T Signal Log than his Christmas Day’s log?

If you’ve missed the other two blog posts with extracts from Arthur’s Log, see the first entry, and the second entry.




25th December 1914, 1

25th December 1914, 2

25th December 1914, 3

Friday 25th December 1914

4.0 A.M. I was aroused by the pipe White Watch to muster & I was soon out & doing.  I arrived at my post on the after Bridge & after a few merry Xmas’s such as they were to a few I met on my way I was pacing up & down once more on the Bridge.  The morning was bright & the stars shining but the wind was rather chilly.  The transports were visible behind us with their lights showing & keeping fairly good station for them.  How the prisoners were faring this Xmas morning I don’t know, nor did I care much, for last Xmas if anyone had told me we were going on a job of this kind I should be inclined to have said liar.  The prisoners might have though otherwise, but a great many of them must have known that th day was coming when they would have to fight, for they had prepared long enough for it.  Well we were having a god passage so far so no one could grumble with the weather for Xmas Day.  I am thinking that had it being rough there would have been a good many dinners spoilt.  There may have been a few burnt offerings in the dishes, but certainly not much flesh on the fowls & turkeys.  8.0 A.M.  I came off watch & had my breakfast of a nice slice of ham & who would not be content with that under the circumstances.  9.45 I went aft to Church.  The service was very short, but a few hymns & prayers seemed to brighten things up a little.  After service was over the captain with his smiling face told us how the King & Queen had sent a Xmas Card to all men of the Fleet who were actually serving at sea on Xmas Day, but unfortunately no cards had arrived onboard for us, so he hoped that we should all get them on our arrival at Plymouth.  They ought to have been on board before as it was supposed to be a surprise packet for us.  He said he hoped that everyone would try to make the best of Xmas under the circumstances, but as we were at war we had a duty to preform & that duty must be done, but he hoped everyone would enjoy themselves & have a happy time & wished us a merry Xmas.  After we dispersed, hands of the mess for nuts and apples were piped, the captain having bought a large quantity on shore for the ships company.  The messes were not decorated this Xmas the same as previous Xmas’s as time would not permit.  There was plenty of nut crunching, peeling of oranges, eating of apples & smoking of cigars and cigarettes through [ou]t the forenoon & when 11.30 came the men came down to dinner & had a good fill such as it was.  Our mess had the ham done very nice & with carrots, parsnips & cauliflower we made an excellent dinner minus pudding.  When diner was over & the messes cleared up, there was some more smoking (the only day in the year when men are privileged to smoke on the mess deck) & songs were sung in the messes.  A great many getting their heads down for a quiet nap.  The weather up to the present had been fine, hardly a ripple on the water.  4.0 P.M.  We had tea & the remains of dinner was soon polished off & more cigars & cigarettes smoked & oranges, apples and nuts were being eaten in large numbers. 7.30 Red & White [watches] to supper.  5.0. Blue Watch came down after being relieved by the other two watches, who took up their stations at the guns once more.  8.15 A little concert was held under the [Forecastle] & the smoke from pipes & cigars added to the uncomfortableness of the singers.  In spite of this a few good songs were rendered & some sleigh of hand tricks preformed by our ships painter “Professor Beresford” who had been on the stage at the Palace Theatre Plymouth, so I don’t think he was much of a dud.  9.30 The concert came to a finish & some were very glad of it as the smoke had almost become unbearable.  10.0 Things going on in the same old style, the transports coming up behind in the best line they could.


Great-grandad in uniform

My great-grandfather, Arthur John Pidgeon


All being said and done, a rather quiet Christmas day for the crew of HMS Talbot, and I’m sure they were thankful for that.

Merry Christmas!









[1] All materials published in this blog post are property of myself and my family unless otherwise stated.

This entry was posted in Anniversaries, British History, Christmas 2017: December Dates, European History and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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