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WITH GRAND THE FLEET.

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^VXXXXXX>XXXVVXXYVY^^ III This momentous struggle) j with Germany came at i time when the British fleet] was a’ready mobilised and] ready for instant action. There were, howevejf,j still many things to be done on board most of the battleships. The ships had first to be stripped for action all inflammable ornaments and fittings which tend to give a certain amount of comfort to the ships’ cabins and quarters had to] be left behind before the ves-J sels left for their various] rendezvous around our homi waters. In this wayj stripped and naked, the! monster fighting machine! goes out to perform her allotted task. All day longj the men are ready at theii guns, and during the nighj each gun’ s crew sleep rounifl the weapon that it is theln I I duty to serve, instantly ready! s ^XXXXXVTOTCTOXXXXXXXXXXVwXXXVXXXXXXVV^VWvdto repel any destroyers or submarines coming out of S the surrounding darkness to attack them. In the sick bay everything is ready, and the atten- dants silent, capable men whose red cross on their arms denotes their calling await to attend to those who have been hit. After the fight is over those unfortunate sailors who have been S stricken down are brought up to the deck, put in their folding cots, 5 and gently slung over the ship’s side into the a boat ready to convey a them to the hospital ship, where they can receive better attention from the fleet’s doctors than can be given them s in the bay of the crowded fighting machine. J^XXXX^XXXXXXXNXN^ I LETTERS FROM THE GRAND FLEET I I I A/T any interesting letters have come from I I 1V1 the fleet lately of the life on board the vessels which sweep the North Sea as 5 with another Van Tromp broom. One of j these letters says, 11 We have to lie down round our own guns all night to stand by I for a call at any time. We had a bit of a surprise last night, but it was the wrong ship.” That much patience has to be exer- cised by the Grand Fleet is evidenced by another letter in which the seaman writes to his family saying that if you want to v| get away from the excitement of war you should be here with me.” The situation may of course be altered at a moment’s j notice. “It is not to be wondered at,” says J The Times, 14 if our seamen to-day envy j a little the old-time sailors who did not jl have to compete with such things as mines, a destroyers, and submarines. In the ac- I counts of the old blockades we read how by means of music and dancing, and even 9 theatrical entertainments, the monotonous 9 Lxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx^xxnxxxxxxv*xxxxxxx^^n nil NOW SWEEPING THE NORTH SEA. nature of the work was counteracted, and the officers of the ships, including Nelson and other great commanders, welcomed these diversions for the prevention of the evils which might be bred by enforced idleness. As Kempenfelt once said, every- thing that stagnates corrupts. There is no I possible chance of the crews of our modern vessels under the new conditions of war I stagnating. Whether engaged in blockad- ing in the big ships, scouting in the cruisers, or patrolling the coasts in the destroyers, the life is described as tremendously in- j: teresting and exciting. There has been no sense of monotony whatever. Indeed, the S conditions are such that, were it not obliga- tory for portions of the crew to take rest, all of them would be continually on the alert. We may be certain that arrange- ments have been made for ensuring that the crews obtain periods of relaxation from this constant strain but the only real I change comes in the big ships when they I have of necessity to refill their bunkers.” I H


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