Monthly Archives: May 2019

15th May 1919 Thursday

One Eye and a Fox Up The River

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC

“Three days afterwards the H.M.S. ‘Cyclops’, depot ship, and H.M.S. ‘Fox’ gunboat went up the river with a big number of naval ratings aboard.”

HMS Fox was a second class cruiser of a modest 4360 tons loaded with guns etc. Built in 1893 and entering service three years later she was by 1919 considered obsolete and approaching the end of her life. Although built of steel her hull was clad in both copper and wood to deter the growth of barnacles in the tropics for which she was intended. The rapid encrustation in warm water could severely affect a ship’s performance. Her duties were mainly as a show of force to those considered inferior nations and offer some kind of threat to enemies. However, it was known that she would be of little use in a sea battle. Withdrawn from service following her duties in Archangel she was scrapped in 1920.

HMS Fox pictured in Archangel in 1919 (public domain)

HMS Fox pictured in Archangel in 1919 (public domain)

HMS Cyclops pictured in 1943 Photo by R.J. Mundy via Creative Commons

HMS Cyclops pictured in 1943 Photo by R.J. Mundy via Creative Commons https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:HMS_Cyclops_Scotland_1943ish.jpg

Whist under construction as a passenger liner the “Indrabarah” for the Liverpool based Indra Line in 1905, she was purchased by the Royal Navy for use as a depot repair and supply ship. She spent most of WW1 in Scapa Flow in service to the Grand Fleet. Decommissioned in April 1919 she was immediately reinstated and despatched to Archangel to back up the Intervention force. She remained out there until October before returning to Chatham. Nicknamed “Cycle-box”, HMS Cyclops was adapted for use as a submarine depot and then had a long period of service and survived WW2 before being scrapped in 1947.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

12th May 1919 Monday

Fun in The Sergeants’ Mess

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC

“On Monday, May 12th, I attended, by request, a smoking concert in the sergeants’ mess. It was great fun and beer was flowing very freely! I gave them a song, much to their delight and had to repeat the dose. Our sergeants are a good lot, and know what hard work is. We heard to-day that the neck of the White Sea was choked up with ice as a result of the persistent northerly winds. As a result no boats can get up the Dwina to Archangel.”

Sergeants' Mess Middle Floor

Sergeants’ Mess Middle Floor

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

11th May 1919 Sunday

Fifty Wounded Blighty Bound

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC

“On May 11th about fifty of our patients were transferred to the ‘Khalyan’ for transport to England. We were glad to see them go. They were all bad cases, and need highly skilled nursing, which we cannot give them. They were glad to go too, but were very grateful to us for all that we had done for them. Our wards were still choc-a-bloc at this time, and we were all kept very busy. Bridge at night kept us cheery, and a gramophone with some good records also helped.”

On the veranda at Solombola A game of Bridge in the sun. Left to right Lieutenants Herman, Freedman and Dart.

On the veranda at Solombola
A game of bridge in the sun. Left to right Lieutenants Herman, Freedman and Dart.

It would be remiss not remind readers that now exactly six months had passed since the Armistice and yet allied troops were still being killed and injured in the name of something they neither understood nor cared about. It is remarkable that although many Russians were really ambivalent about the conflict, their foreign friends were being sacrificed in their name.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here

2nd May 1919 Friday

At Last Men and Stores Arrive From Blighty

All material produced or reproduced here and throughout this work is the sole copyright of the author and the family of Doctor D.C.M. Page MC

“On Friday, May 2nd, two standard ships went up towards Archangel – the first since the ice break-up. They had troops and stores on board, and the sight of them did us all good. Almost daily after this boats from home came up the river.”

Movement of ships down river had begun on the 25th April following the dynamiting and ice-breaker work, but it was a slow perilous affair with massive shards of ice over twenty feet above the river bobbing about. It was only by the 2nd May that the longed for relief ships had begun to make it to Archangel.

Find out about our connection with Dr Page and an introduction to his diary here