9th January 1916

At Queensferry. Instead of the Captain inspecting the ship as per usual he had the ship’s company mustered by “Open List”, so that he could inspect each man and also that each man could see his assessment of character and abilities for the 12 months. An assessment is made in the mid-year as well but does not count for very much, the annual assessment being the real thing. Now in the case of our Staff on board ship the Fleet Surgeon or Senior M. O. makes out our ability sheets. The Captain or Commanding Officer makes out the character:- V.G., Good or Indifferent. A sheet with all the various branches of our work printed on it has to be filled in by the S. M. O.  According to what is filled in the various columns so the final assessment is judged.

There are five grades of assessment for ability viz:-

  • Exceptional (Excellent):- This is to be granted only in exceptional cases and when the man is considered fit for higher rating. Only so many are allowed to be granted.
  • Superior (V.G.):- This is equal to V.G. and is the usual award. It carries with it a recommend for higher promotion.
  • Satisfactory (G.):- Awarded in the case of men who are good workers but have not yet passed for an higher rating.
  • Moderate (Fair):- Awarded to men who are rather backward and bad characters.
  • Inferior (Poor):- Awarded to men like the above only worse.

If a M. O. wishes to recommend a man for a special rating, such as Laboratory Attendant, Masseur, Operating attendant or for X-Ray, he makes out a special form and forwards it to the Medical Director General at the Admiralty who, if he approves, signs and returns the recommend to the man’s ship where it is placed with his other papers, and which follow him wherever he goes on Service. Any time this man is sent into Hospital and he is able to qualify for the branch he is recommended for, so the recommend plays its part in getting him pushed forward in the place of anyone without a recommend.

There is also a Certificate for Nursing which has to be filled in by the Senior Medical Officer of a ship or Establishment each time a man leaves such.

Really you would think we were studying for professorships or something else high in the world of knowledge, if you could see the rigmarole attached to our papers. The procedure today was: on your name being called out you had to step briskly up to a table, behind which were the Captain and other Officers. Then you had to take off your hat and call out your number on the Ship’s Books, to the Captain. Your papers were then handed to you by the Clerk and away you marched to read what you were thought of by your responsible officer, and then return the papers.

Well for the first time in an annual assessment I have received “Exceptional”. I am not altogether surprised though, for the Fleet Surgeon has ever been very decent towards me. I have always had “Superior ” before. Most Officers consider a man to win “Exceptional” for abilities ought to be an angel, anyhow something above the usual order of things. Well, if the reading of the Admiralty Instructions re the granting of this particular award is taken much notice of I agree with them, for according to those instructions a man would have to be infallible.

I also noticed that the Fleet Surgeon made out a form recommending me for Lab. Attendant, which has been signed by Sir Wm. May, Medical Director General. I should like you to see that recommend Mabs. But if recommends had much to do with the business, well I should have been in a different position to what I am now. However they may come in handy after the war, and perhaps I shall have a chance for passing for the extra “tanner a day” then.

I am very pleased with my papers you may guess but at the same time I don’t think I am worth so much and I do hope the Fleet Surgeon will not be disappointed in me. I was given the same award in a half-yearly assessment in Plymouth Hospital once and it did cause a stir amongst the S. B. A’s I can tell you, for I was the only one to get it.  Went to Morning Service and afterwards to Holy Communion. When I went down to the latter Service which is held in a casemate I was the first one to arrive, but had not been there long ere the Fleet Surgeon came in. He took the opportunity to say that he had been very pleased to grant me the best award and I was the first man to whom he had ever granted it. Further conversation was prevented by the arrival of the Chaplain, so the Service proceeded with only two devotees. I must confess to a feeling of nervousness at first, but I got settled down alright after a while, and am very glad I went.

After dinner I received a parcel from Aunt Nina. The parcel is in good condition and consisted of a nice cake, some apples and a box of dates. And very nice too. Not a bad old soul when you know her, she has been jolly good to me anyhow.

Also received letters from Judy and Nina, Freddy and Ma. There is nothing special to note in them, except that Nina may have to go home owing to a breakdown in her Mother’s health again. It would be very unfortunate and may upset all the good done to Nina and Freddy during past few months, if they had to go home during the winter months. I hope it will not be necessary, since I think the result would only be that Nina would soon be ill herself.

I have written to you today.

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