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Topic: George Leslie Adkin diary entry Friday 18 April 1913

Is part of topic Diary of George Leslie Adkin, April 1913

Fri April 18

A lovely day.  Father gave me a holiday to go to Wellington to see our dreadnaught – the HMS “New Zealand”.  Cycled down to the 8.39 am train taking ¼ pl[ate] hand camera. Met Maud + others (Will, Olive + Alice) who were also going down + spent rest of day with them.  Had a pleasant trip down sitting with + talking to Maud.  The weather deteriorated as we went south + at Khandallah rain was falling.  Arrived Wgtn [Wellington] at 12.20 pm + took tram to Lambton Station + walked from thence to Ferry Wharf.  Cold south wind blowing + sky overcast.  Found we could not get a ferry-boat to the “NZ”, which was at anchor a short distance out, till 2.30 pm so went to end of railway wharf to get snapshots of warship.  She was a monstrous vessel, low grey hull, three funnels + two

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tall mast[s] with wireless apparatus – a grim + formidable fighting machine.  The wind was terrific but we got some snapshots – one of mine showing the girls trying to keep their skirts in decent position + the “NZ” in the background.  We decided to go into town to lunch so I piloted the party to Kirkcaldie + Stains where we had a good dinner.  All my friends except Maud seemed a bit at sea in town – Will wanted to know if one could have all the courses for 2/-. I told him it was not customary to indulge in more than six but that if he wanted to tackle the lot we would have to leave him at it.  Olive ordered dishes she did not want + Alice also got a bit mixed up.  Maud + I walked to Mackay’s bookshop where she purchased a photo-album + I tried to get a volume of Harrison Fisher’s paintings for her 23rd birthday but failed.  We then all made for the ferry-wharf + got aboard the little steamer “Karaka” which

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left at 2pm.  The weather had improved + the sun was shining.  Took a lot of snaps of the warship + crowded ferry boats including one of the the “Tutanekai”.  The “Karaka” rounded the bows of the “NZ” + swung up against her further side.  We all climbed on deck at 2.10. They had just taken on 500 sacks of flour + gangs of sailors were dumping the sacks to the shutes leading down to the storeroom – other were swinging over the side dusting the flour off the armour-plates.  Crowds of people were wandering about with sailors + seeing a fine-looking "tar", I asked him to show us round + he agreed to do so.  There seemed to be about three decks but I found it impossible to keep count while inspecting the various items of interest.  First we were shown the sailors mess – a rather restricted apartment where they live, sleep + have their meals.  Hammocks are slung on hooks on [the] ceiling during night + stowed away in daytime.  The men

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have no comforts and our guide, whose name I afterwards learned was Montague Stanford, said that their greatest trouble is the difficulty in getting sufficient water 30 tons of fresh water is distilled from sea-water per day, but is all used up by the boilers etc leaving little to spare. Stanford took us through the stokers’, gunners’ + others quarters, including the officers’ which were quite palatial after the men’s with carpets, settees, cushions, tables etc.  We were shown the galley (cook-house) where there are no fires but where the cooking + boiling apparatus consists of steam-pipes; also the bakery where a huge batch of fine white bread emitted an agreeable odour.  Each man gets 1 lb of bread per day but it he wants more he can pay 1d per lb for it.  Before the decks are the storerooms.  We all descended a vertical ladder leading down a shaft to the telephone-exchange which connects with 60 or 70 'phones situated all over the ship.  The tele-

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phone exchange operator was very good to us + explained + showed us everything including a gyro-compass – a unique instrument which always points north + cannot be deflected like an ordinary compass.  It is connected with 15 subsidiary compasses - mere dials which always read the same as the gyro-compass.  The latter cost £2500 + has not yet been fitted into any other British war-ship.  We were shown the electric dynamos which work the telephones + also the subsidiary compasses.  Regaining the deck we passed along a maze a [sic] passages, massive walls of steel on every side, + saw the case of silver cups + other trophies presented by the various Governments of the Empire to the “NZ”.  We finally went out on the main deck to see the big guns + anchors.  A small “stream” anchor weighed 2 1/10 tons while the main anchors are 7 tons each.  The anchor cables were of tremendous size. The gross tonnage of the “NZ” is 19500 tons.

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She carries several 12 inch guns – three are wonderful engines of destruction – about ½ a chain in length, about 2 ft in diameter at the muzzle, + 5 ft at the breech.  The barrel is 6 inches thick at the muzzle.  These 12 inch guns project in pairs from armoured turrets – bevelled shaped “domes” of steel 12 inches thick which contain the complicated + marvellous machinery employed to load sight + fire the huge guns.  Above the main deck loom the superstructures, three in number, shells of 1 ½ inch steel containing the bridges, conning-towers etc – numerous small guns project from loop-holes in the superstructures.  On the walls of the superstructures are the ships’ motto + arms – the latter in carved polished wood with dates + the names of Cook + Tasman on either side.  One motto was “Fear God; Honour the King”.  We we[re] able to enter the forward turret + to see the breech of the 12 inch guns – our guide base us a vast amount of

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information but the complicated + marvellous machinery could hardly be described in 20 pages.  The guns are sighted by means of a periscope, the men working them being quite shut in – communication is retained by means of telephones.  As time was getting on we had to make a move long before I wanted to, so we were not able to go down into the magazines where the mighty projectiles + huge cordite cartridges are kept.  We had time however to go to the torpedo room + see these deadly weapons – they cost £1000 + £500 each – have an effective range of 3000 yards + travel at the rate of 40 knots (48 miles) an hour.  They have two propellors [sic] at the stern end – these revolve in different directions – there are 4 fins to keep the torpedo on a straight course + little ridges, 2 horizontal + 2 vertical for steering them – deep below [sic] surface of sea or on the surface.  On the main deck we were shown a life-buoy apparatus – this throws a cross-shaped float into water –

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a flare is lighted on contact with same by means of calcium + the buoy will support 8 men + supply them with a whistle to attract attention + grog to sustain them.  At 3.30 we reluctantly had to part with our excellent guide, a splendid fellow who did his best to give us a good time – he is, I learned, a physical instructor of the gunners – he finds the ranges + directs firing of big guns.  We left by the “Hinemoa” or “Tutanekai” (not sure which) which was badly overloaded so much so that she rolled in a nasty fashion + the officers hurriedly cleared the top deck, I believe another 30 or 40 people on top deck would have caused a capsize + there would have been hundreds drowned.  Took some snaps of “NZ” as we left her.  We had to run from ferry-wharf to rly [railway]-station but managed to catch the 4.15 train to Levin.  All rather tired on home-ward journey.  Punctured back tyre of

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bike between station + Levin, but rode most of way home.  A lovely night + a fine day in Levin.  Turned in well satisfied with the days’ outing.

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