17th February 1916

At Scapa Flow. I was informed that a signal came early this morning stating that the following message had been received from a reliable agent in Norway:- “Several barrels of iron ore are on the Quay at Christiansund awaiting shipment to Germany. The Norwegian steamer Chancess is due and will probably ship them”. At 2 p.m. we left Scapa in company with the Antrim, Devonshire and two armed boarding steamers (16 knot cross-Channel boats armed with 12-pr guns and used for searching vessels, under the protection of men-o-war). We are steaming North-East and so direct for the Norwegian Coast, apparently to try and catch the steamer carrying the contraband.  We expect to have some “fun” for it is possible that she will be looked after by German t. b’s or submarines. Anyhow a signal came this evening from the Admiral ordering us to be at action stations from 7 a.m. tomorrow, so it looks as if trouble is expected.

I have been preparing the anti-gas apparati for use and a nice job it is too – No! The caustic soda solution which has to be used is very strong and burns like fury when it gets to one’s hands. I have to do 30 and have finished half of them today. Can’t say I go much on the invention though. The apparatus consists of a long narrow batiste bag which is filled with wood-fibre. At each end of the bag are metal attachments, one through which the gas-fumes would come and the other from which your breath would come after expiration. Near the “breathing out end” is a rubber mouth piece with two projections which is gripped between the teeth. A chain is also attached to the apparatus at one end and at the other is a pincer-like arrangement which fits tightly on the nose and so stops any gas fumes from entering through the nasal passages. The batiste bag encircles the neck and is kept in position by an hook-and-eye arrangement. The wood-fibre is soaked with the caustic soda-hypo solution and during the passage of the gas-laden air through this fibre it is purified and rendered fit for breathing. The same solution is used in the trenches for the respirators. The idea of the invention is good but the apparatus is so cumbersome.

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