Monday 14th December 1914: Bad Weather in the Bay of Biscay

Last year I shared three December entries from my great-grandfather’s War Time Signal Log on the Reading History blog.[*]  Having come to a bit of a creative block with my writing this afternoon, I thought I would take a break from medieval medicine and return to the pages of Arthur John Pidgeon’s Log to see what he was up to on this day in 1914.

Arthur was a Petty Officer (1st class) in the merchant navy.  During 1914 he was stationed on HMS Talbot, and one of their main duties was patrolling the Channel.  My family are fortunate enough to still have Arthur’s Log in which he recorded the events of just over a year (1st August 1914 to 22nd August 1915).


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The Log is beautifully written in ink, with an entry for each day, and stands as a very personal record of one person, and one ship’s, experience of the first year of World War One.  And while there are references to greater events going on beyond the HMS Talbot, there are also snippets of everyday life at sea.  Below I provide a photo of the original log, and the transcript, for December 14th’s entry: a day when HMS Talbot encountered bad weather in the Bay of Biscay.  For the most part, this entry is beautifully written although you might note a few slight oddities in wording here and there.

14th December 1914 - lightened

The weather was very rough again & we were still steaming about slow waiting for the other transport to join us up.  We shaped our course early in the morning across the Bay of Biscay but we were a good thirty miles out of the track of the steamers.  At 2.0 p.m. The other transport picked us up & then we proceeded at 11 knots.  The weather was very rough in the Bay & things were rolling about the deck again & a few more pieces of crockery was broken & the transports that was now in single line ahead were rolling heavily & not keeping very good station.  Their names were “Drumera” “Jonian” “Saturnia” “Aragon” “Caledonia” “Nile”.  The men on board being mostly Territorials must have been sea-sick on their first voyage out.  The weather kept bad all day but we passed a few ships on their way home.


[*] Last year’s posts:

3rd December 1914: Rough weather at sea and the ship’s cat

13th December 1914: Bad apples and a mishap in the kitchen

25th December 1914: Christmas Day on board HMS Talbot


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