The Journal of 207797 Able Seaman (Gunner) W.J. Judson
February 17 1908 to April 13 1910
from the hand-written original by Donald A. Tomkinson
His journal begins at
RN Barracks Plymouth, when he receives his draft to
the crew of HMS REDBREAST, the passage to Bombay to
join the ship at the end of March 1908. It covers
her activities as part of the East Indies Station
and operations in the Persian Gulf. Finally the
journal covers the return voyage to Plymouth in
April 1910 upon being relieved by the shipâ€™s next
draft. [Shipâ€™s crews were â€˜swopped outâ€™ in
periodic drafts from the UK, the whole crew being
replaced on average every two years ].
The journal is 39 pages long and only
available in PDF format
click here to open/download it
WILLIAM JOHN JUDSON
born in Nantwich, Cheshire, on the 15th January, 1884, the son of
John Judson, a shoemaker, and his wife Mary Ann, and was the eldest
of eight children.
He enlisted as a boy cadet in the Royal Navy the 8th. January 1900,
and became an Ordinary Seaman on the 15 January 1902, serving on
H.M.S. HIGHFLIER, and became an Able Seaman on the 25 September
1902. He served on a number of ships, including VIVID, EXCELLENT,
TENEDOS, SAPPHIRE II, CAMBRIDGE and REDBREAST. His service record
recorded that he was 5' 7" tall at 18, with brown eyes and hair, and
with a fresh complexion.
William seems to have had a lively mind with many interests. He was
a keen amateur photographer and left a number of photographs. He
owned a violin and must have been able to entertain his shipmates
during his time in the Royal Navy. On one of his photographs his
cap-band shows him serving on H.M.S. WAVENEY, although this ship is
not recorded on his service record. He last served on H.M.S.
REDBREAST and has left a record of his service on this ship from
February 1908 until April 1910, which took place mainly in the
Persian Gulf. He died only five months after returning home. His
service record notes that he died of heart failure, suffering from
Pneumoniac Nephritis, possibly due to an infection caught during his
service in the east.
The second of
nine Redbreast Class composite gunboats built for the Royal Navy in
1889 (Magpie, Redbreast, Redpole, Ringdove, Lapwing, Goldfinch,
Thrush, Sparrow, & Widgeon). These 805 Ton vessels were the last
class of composite- hulled gunboats built for the Royal Navy;
vessels having an iron keel, frames, stem and stern posts with
wooden planking. The ships had a crew of 76 and were 165 feet
overall with a beam of 31 feet and a shallow draft of 11 feet, and
had both sail and steam propulsion, Fitted with triple-expansion
reciprocating steam engines, developing 1200 indicated horsepower,
driving a single screw, they had a top speed of 13 knots (24 km/h.
The class had a barquentine rig (three masts; square rigged on the
foremast and fore-and-aft rigged on the main and mizzen masts).
The first four
ships were armed with six BL 4-inch (101.6 mm) 25-pounder guns and
four machine guns, the last five received a pair of 3-pounder quick
firing guns in place of two machine guns. REDBREAST was to have her
armament upgraded during one of her refits to include the
3-pounders, with one or more Maxim machine guns and a 3-pounder
built by Pembroke Royal Dockyard and was launched on April 25th
1889. She was first commissioned at Devonport on February 27th 1890.
She served on the Zambezi River from 1890, the first British warship
to sail on that river. In 1893 she was transferred to the East
Indies station where she remained on naval blockade, anti-slavery
and anti-smuggling duties until she was finally paid off on March
14th 1911 at Bombay and later sold.
operated from her base port of Bombay as far north as Bassra in
Iraq. When in the Persian Gulf she patrolled out of Muscat calling
at many islands and small ports on the Persian coast, Dhabi, Ras
al-Khaimah and Bahrain.
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