At Kingston. Here’s wishing you all, relations and friends, the happiest of Xmastides, if it can be so with those who are dear to you all, away from home and so not able to keep you happy by their presence. Still I hope you will not spoil your Xmas by thoughts of those absent. We must hope that God will spare us to meet the next Xmastide, and just be happy and content with our present surroundings.
Boat-loads of black and white people were having a tour around the ship early this morning. They must have been early astir for they were all “dressed up and looking fine and dandy”. The Captain read out the King’s Xmas Message at 9-30 a.m. He also said that as the “raider” had been sighted this side of the Atlantic we may have to go to sea again at any time so there would be no leave for officers and men. Naturally, this caused discontent, for many had decided to go ashore today. I think the “raider” stunt is only a method of explaining a reason for stopping the leave. Two days ago the Naval Agent ashore was informing business people that there would be no Xmas leave, so I think the “raider” business a fraud. The officers were also allowed to go ashore later on. Although it is my turn ashore I am not unhappy over the leave being stopped, because a lot of drunkeness and accidents will be avoided.
Some more fowls were brought on board early this morning, so we got another one, killed, plucked, cleaned, singed and stuffed it. Went to Morning Service. Afterwards went to Holy Communion, which was also attended by the Captain, two other officers, and some twelve others. We had a nice Xmas dinner, the only thing missing being the pudding. However I am glad we were able to have the dinner in harbour under decent circumstances.
This afternoon I went up on the foc’sle with a book, some cigs. and nuts for companions. It was just lovely there, and I thought of the difference in the conditions here and at home at this time of the year. I remained there until 3-30 p.m. then returned to the Sick Bay for tea. It was during my way back that I learnt of the cause of the cheers and laughter I had heard coming from the port battery. The canvas baths were rigged up and filled after dinner, and in these the men were having some rare fun. Getting tired of just splashing about in the bath, they decided to start some other game. So they started running around in a line along the deck, into the bath, out again and off at the run. in so doing, they splashed men laying on the deck asleep, or playing at games. The chief writer started grumbling about this caper, so straightway he was picked up and carried struggling to the bath, into which he was dropped fully dressed. Other victims soon followed, the chief and 1st class petty officersbeing the chief people chosen. One of the Master-at-Arms was walking along so nice and quiet smoking a cigar. He was pounced on and dipped, midst cheers and laughter. He went below and changed, but as soon as he came on the upper deck again he was seized and once more dipped. He received a further ducking later. Men were picked up asleep on the deck and unceremoniously thrown into the bath, in some cases the operation was performed so neat and quietly that the victims were not aware of their position till in the bath. It was dangerous to go out on deck for you were sure to be seized and thrown into the water.
Officers shared the same fate, one of our surgeons being caught nicely. He had been to the Sick Bay to see a boy and was returning to the Wardroom again. Some of the inquisitors happened to splash him with the salt water. He spoke to them about it, only to be informed that salt water was a good thing for white clothes, and he was captured and dipped before he could do anything. He is a good chap though and took it all in good part. The Commander was also visited in his cabin but he paid forfeit in cigars, and so escaped the ducking. Another officer when tackled in the Wardroom paid forfeit in cigars, stating that if time had permitted he would have joined in the fun. Two other officers were ducked.
Munday S. B. A. was caught whilst dodging one party and went through the ceremony. Woods S. B. A. was also fetched, and then they came for me. By this time I had got some clothes off and so was prepared when my turn came. I rather enjoyed the dip and stopped in the bath some time. One was not dealt with gently and two men had injuries. When you were thrown in the bath, six or seven others already in the bath threw themselves on you and kept you under water. This game ended when darkness came in, but it provided fun throughout the afternoon, and the fellows have been quite happy despite the stoppage of leave. Throughout the evening they have been holding sing-songs between themselves. A concert was to have been held but owing to the Captain being ashore it has been put off until tomorrow night.
On the whole it has been a most happy day, much more so than would have been the case if we had been at Scapa or Queensferry.
We have each spoken our thoughts of you at home, and I am sure you have done the same today with regards to we away here. So passes Xmas 1916. May the next bring us together.