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The Diary of Petty Officer Ernest Arthur Cobb

Covers the period from the commissioning of HMS RALEIGH (vi)
in July 1921 until her grounding in August 1922

(Transcription of the hand-written original)

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Transcribed journal

Ernest begins his diary, his first and he declares last, upon joining RALEIGH at Devonport with her crew draft on July 23rd 1921 as the ship prepares to sail for ger first commission. It is a simple account of daily life below deck and the activities of the Gunnery section. The last entry is two days after the ship ran onto rocks on the coast of Newfoundland and was wrecked on August 8th 1922.
A 25 page A4 acrobat document



HMS RALEIGH was the second of five Hawkins-class heavy cruisers (HAWKINS, RALEIGH, FROBISHER, EFFINGHAM & CAVENDISH - all were named after Elizabethan sea captains). Armament: 7 × single 7.5 in (191 mm) guns; 6 × single 3 in (76 mm) low-angle guns; 4 × single 3 in AA guns; 2 × single 2-pdr (1.6 in (40 mm)) AA guns; 6 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes. Complement: 690 + Admiral’s staff. Speed: 31 knots (57 km/h; 36 mph). she was ordered from the William Beardmore & Company, Dalmuir, Scotland on October 4th 1916. Her Keel was laid on 28 August 1919, and she was launched on August 28th 1919. She was the sixth ship of her name to serve in the Royal Navy.

On February 14th 1920 Captain Sir Arthur Bromley was appointed in command for duty as Flag Captain, North America and West Indies Station, the ship to be the flagship of Vice-Admiral Trevelyan Napier, C-in-C North America and West Indies Station but the Admiral died on July 30th 1920 and the ship remained at Devonport. At this time RALEIGH was still fitting out.

She did not commission until July 23rd 1921 alongside No. 5 wharf RN Dockyard, Devonport, to be as flagship of -in-C North America and West Indies Station, now Vice-Admiral Sir William C. Pakenham who had been appointed on October 16th 1920. She spent the next 7 days exercising and conducting trials, including two runs of the measured mile on the morning of August 1st before departing for Bermuda, passing the breakwater at 4.36pm. She anchored in Grassy Bay, Bermuda at 3.55pm August 11th. Vice-Admiral Sir William C. Pakenham came aboard at 8.00am. on the 12th and hoisted his flag.

She departed for Montreal, Quebec, on August 29th., returning to the Island on the norning od October 15th. She then sailed for Kingston, Jamaica on November 10th. After a 6 day visit, they sailed for Colon to transit the Panama Canal en route to Vancouver, calling at San Diego, San Pedro and Esquimault , After speeding two weeks at Esquimault she continued oh to Vancouver on December 27th. On January 8th she sailed for Seattle Washington, San Francisco, Monterey, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, San Pedro and Balboa on the return leg to Bermuda. HMS RALEIGH arrived back at Bermuda on February 24th.

She remained at Bermuda until May 24th when she sailed for an official visit to Washington D. C., arriving on the 29th. After an eight-day visit, during we which time the ship was open to the public, she sailed north for Bar Harbour, Maine & Sydney, Cape Breton and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada, arriving on June 24th on rote to Montreal. She arrived at Montreal on July 4th for a 7-day visit before sailing for the city of Quebec, and then Murray Bay and Dalhousie..

On August 3rd 1922 while in the Bay of Islands, Newfoundland, Vice-Admiral Pakenham transferred his flag to HMS CALCUTTA and departed, HMS RALEIGH set course for Forteau, Labrador via Hawkes Bay, Newfoundland. On August 8th on passage to Forteau she entered a heavy fog in the Strait of Belle Isle at 2.57pm an Iceberg was detested and course altered, at 3.10pm land sighted on Port bow, altered course 360º at 3.24pm and Ran into fog. At 3.37pm land sighted ahead & on Port bow, Reduced speed to 8 knots. At 3.38pm lookouts sighted breakers on Starboard bow. Full speed astern ordered and helm hard a starboard. Sounded collision stations. 3.39pm the ship ran aground at L'Anse Amour, Newfoundland. She did not strike with much force, but the strong wind quickly blew her stern onto the rocks, which pounded the hull and gave her an eight-degree list.

Eleven sailors were drowned in the shipwreck.:

BASHFORD, Herbert, Stoker 1c, SS 123275, died
EFFARD, Edward P, Stoker Petty Officer, 303078, died
FIELD, Silas, Stoker 1c, K 59500, died
FISHER, George, Stoker 1c, SS 120369, died
LLOYD, John E, Stoker Petty Officer, 306551, died
PETTET, Pat, Able Seaman, J 42323, died
SOWDEN, William J, Leading Stoker, K 20564, died
THORNHILL, George M, Stoker 1c, SS 122759, died
TRIPP, Sydney G, Leading Stoker, K 14053, died
TYLER, Reuben, Leading Stoker, K 18030, died
WEAVER, James, Able Seaman, 213937, died
WHITTON, William R, Able Seaman, J 34371, died

The ship was a total write-off but remained hard-aground and upright for four years. During this period, she was stripped of all salvageable items and was then destroyed with explosives in September 1926.

Following the loss of RALIEGH Commander Leslie C. Bott, O.B.E., second-in-command, was tried by Court-martial at H.M.S. VICTORY on October 26th 1922 and severely reprimanded and dismissed. Sir Arthur Bromley was tried on the following day by a Court presided over by Rear-Admiral Hugh F. P. Sinclair, charged with negligently or by default stranding and losing his ship. In his defence Bromley argued that had the charts he had been supplied with been accurate then his ship would not have stranded. The Court found the charge proved, and he was severely reprimanded and dismissed his ship. He was placed on the Retired List, at his own request, dated November 7th; despite the findings of the Court-martial he was advanced to the rank of Rear-Admiral four years later, this appeared on the Retired List on July 8th 1926.


You can read the ships logs and see a plot of her course during her 13 months of service at www.naval-history.net





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