23rd January 1916

Sunday At Queensferry. Dreamt of you again last night and I was back in the old shop again, you living in a house directly opposite. I can only remember you coming into the shop for something and running across to your house.

After “Captain’s Rounds” I went to Morning Service. One of the S. B. A’s, who is thinking of getting married when leave is given again and is now turning ver a “new leaf” in consequence, accompanied me. Just recently this fellow had a “tiff” with his intended and wrote asking her to break off the engagement – now two years old. For several days he was like a man suffering from melancholia and we did everything to try and buck him up. He told me the reason for wishing to break off the engagement and it was so slim that I had a good talk with him and persuaded him to be more sensible. He knew he was in the wrong and was suffering severely at heart, but he would not write to the girl to say so. He is a bit of a favourite of mine and it made me feel unhappy to see him worrying so, and I can assure you I was wishing for a letter to come from the girl – whichever way she wrote.

A letter did arrive eventually and the girl wished to remain as she had done, which also was the great wish of her parents. You should have seen the change in him Mabs, he was all smiles and his usually happy self. Oh! I was glad that the letter came with such good news, and I voted the girl “a brick”.

This love affair is not an ordinary one Mabs, for this fellow left his home as his father was a drunkard. He left the colliery in which he worked and joined our Staff. He had been keeping company with the girl mentioned for some years and had become intimate with her parents, who knowing the state of affairs in his home, practically adopted him. Since he joined the Navy, he has made his sweetheart’s home his home and has always been received there with open arms by the girl’s parents. He has spent his various periods of leave there too.

About two years ago the girl suggested that they should become engaged as she would feel happier in consequence, as she would then know the intentions of her “boy” was serious. He willingly consented, and in view of the fact that the girl and her parents had been so good to him, I don’t think he could very well have done otherwise. I think it was a very wise idea of hers too, for the knowledge of his engagement has kept him from much evil, for he is a terrible flirt and has been a drinker.

Lately a change for the good has taken place in him and he has become a teetotaller and taken to going to Church. I have spoken to him very seriously at times and I think with some good result. He now seems bent on marriage and is making enquiries through the girl and her parents as to the arrangements.

Today at Church whilst we were waiting for the Service to commence I saw him looking through the Matrimonial Service, and I couldn’t help smiling at the contrast to that of a recent date when he wished to end his love affair. His intended is a little older than him, and I think wiser, but this is no detriment since a strong hand is required to rule him.

It was rather coincidal, but the banns of marriage of one of our stokers was called today for the second time of asking. I wonder what my mate thought. I don’t think I should relish my banns being called on board, and the only good thing about it is that it does not cost more than 2/-, like such is the case in the ordinary way ashore.

The Morning Service was as nice as usual.

This evening at 5-30 a Lantern Service was arranged by the Chaplain. The usual evening prayers were conducted first and then he “Life of St. Peter” was demonstrated by slides and addressed by the Chaplain. Suitable hymns were sung at intervals. The Chaplain was very interesting, and as per usual strong, in his rendering of the details in the varied life of the chief Apostle. He said there were people abroad today who were humbugs, inasmuch that they professed to be Christians and religious but at heart they were hypocrites. Such people he said “thought they were damn smart”.

I wonder what people outside would say if a parson spake such language from the pulpit. It would be considered scandalous I suppose, yet it cannot be denied since it is the bare truth. I can’t help liking our Chaplain, if only for his strong convictions and fearlessness of expression. At the same time he is clever and intelligible and makes his presence felt, but not for anything but the good.

He wound up saying altho’ St. Peter was at first so inconsistent, he wished there were more St. Peters in the Church today. It is the clearest view I have ever had of the Saint and now that I have had a full description of this Apostle I am happy as to how the worst of people can be reformed and made good, yes the worst and weakest, for the Chief Apostle was indeed such a man.

The lecture ended at 7 p.m. and my opinion of it is “Great”.

Twelve months ago today was a very important day both to the nation and to me. It was on this day that Admiral Beatty defeated a German squadron near the Dogger Bank and which resulted in the sinking of the Blucher. The Roxburgh was at Jarrow undergoing a refit and so missed the fun. I was on my way to Plymouth for 4 days leave and it was whilst we were waiting at Bristol for our connection to Plymouth that the news of the battle reached us. There were expressions of astonishment and disappointment from our people, for we had missed the only action since the Heligoland turn-out in the early days of the war.

We both remember those days too well for me to require any notification here. Suffice it to say that it was our first time together for 6 months and we made up fully for that loss of time.

I expect you will think of that day and the succeeding ones and I shall not be surprised to find something about it in your next letter.

I have written to Nina today.

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