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H.M.S. Andromeda. Mediterranean Station

 
H.M.S. Andromeda. Mediterranean Station by LACEY, George A  (1899)

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Author: LACEY, George A
Title: H.M.S. Andromeda. Mediterranean Station
 
Year: 1899
Publisher: Unpublished
Place: Mediterranean Fleet
Dust Jacket: No
Signed: No
 
Price: £400
 
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Added under Manuscripts  

[pp] 64 (log) [pp] 84 (poetry) 'The Plaint of the Naval Stoker' - an original poetic miscellany and naval log-book written by a young stoker serving with the British Fleet in the Mediterranean from 1899-1903.
George Lacey used a lined notebook, bound in quarter black cloth over textured paper covered boards.

At one end of the manuscript Lacey presents a fairly routine log-book but at the other end the young stoker created a varied and individual poetic response to naval life. For Lacey poetry became a way of expressing the resentments that accumulated during service life, so 'The Plaint of the Naval Stoker' appears early on: 'Ay, Sing the Admiral's praises/ Ay, sing o'the Captain too... But who's to sing of the stoker... For he lives in a hole and he dies in a hole/ An' who the devil cares./ so strip to the waist, my maties... The heart of the ship must beat...'

Lacey is particularly good on the misery of repetition and enforced discipline as in 'Torpedo Nets.. Down booms, let 'em slip, lower handsomely/ Man them, every part of ship and launch into the sea. Up nets, lace them on, roll up, stand by below...' Other poems include 'Stokers of the Navy', a lament for Queen Victoria whose death is observed in some detail in his log (see below), 'A Day's Routine in the Navy' and a heartfelt lament for the loss of the German battleship the SMS Gneisenau 'Off Malaga, Sunday, 16th Dec. 1900... But when death and sorrow surround ye/ The level is common to all,/ Blood then is thicker than water/ Friendship responds to a call'. Once again in the parallel log Lacey records the thanks of the German Emperor for British naval assistance following the wreck which caused the loss of 41 lives. The poetic part of the mansucript concludes with an affectionate ode to his vessel, HMS Andromeda.

At the other end of the manuscript Lacey introduces the volume in more formal vein with manuscript title page and a summary of the ship's capacity and 'Capt. J.L. Burr' and a log (1899-1903) filled with brief entries such as April 4th 1900 'Arrived Gibraltar. Body of General Stewart, British Consul at Algiers arrived in "Juno."', a near collision with a tramp steamer in a fog bank between Gib and Malta. Lacey records the end of 1900: 'Ships Company at General Quarters during the last two hours of the nineteenth century' and on January 22, surrounded by a mourning border inked onto the page: 'Death of the Queen made known in the Fleet by the firing of the minute gun during the first watch... very rough and wild night.' Lacey also contributes several extended essays such as 'The Evolution of our Flag' as well as imaginative dialogues and little sketches such as 'Steam Hammers Raffle' and 'A Cruise with the Mediterranean Fleet'June 5th 1901. So, 'We arrive at Tetuan [Tetouan] in Morrocco.. no bathing here as sharks have been oserved... Dashing through the water and towing a native boat full of Moors; (evidently the Sultan's suite) is the Admiral's barge, with the Admiral and a white robed figure in the stern sheets.'

In March 1901 HMS Andromeda was chosen as one of two cruisers to escort HMS Ophir, which had been commissioned as the royal yacht for the world tour of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York (later King George and Queen Mary), from Gibraltar to Malta, and then to Port Said. So in March 20th for the Royal arrival 'Dressed ship. Fired Salute and Manned ship. Duke en route to Australia... Fleet illuminated at night... Left Malta at midnight. Malta brilliantly illuminated. Immense flight of rockets as "Ophir" was leaving harbour... searchlights playing. Concludes February 10th 1903.
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