Comments Charles McCain: because of the odd appearance of the Nelson class battleships, only two of which were ever built, the ships often appear in photographs to be going in a different direction than they are. You can see what I mean in the photo above. HMS Nelson is the middle ship. Her bow is pointing to the left side of the photo and the ship is moving forward right to left in the photo which you can discern from the obvious direction of the other two ships.
If you did not know anything about the design of the Nelson class battleships, then you could easily think the Nelson’s bow was pointing to the right side of the photograph and that the ship was moving left to right.
Comments Charles McCain: once again appearances can be deceiving. The mail launch is approaching the stern of HMS Nelson not the bow.
Comments Charles McCain: the men in the fore and aft caps are part of the ships contingent of Royal Marines and are not sailors.
Mail was obviously important in keeping up morale. What chaffed the men more than anything, however, was the policy that every single letter sent by a rating up to and including the most senior petty officers, had to be read and possibly censored by an officer. The men disliked the idea that officers were reading to read their mail (just the outgoing) and officers intensely disliked reading and censoring the letters written by the ratings.
In smaller ships there was often not time to read all the letters the men had written at sea if the ship was only in port for a quick turnaround. So the officers would read a few of the letters then proclaim that all had been read by the naval censor.
Theoretically, officers were supposed to read and censor each other’s mail but they rarely did. They just took a sealed envelope from a fellow officer and stamped that it had been censored.
All letters written to someone in the Royal Navy during the war were addressed to the specific person with their rank, followed by the name of the ship, followed by GPO (General Post Office), London. That was it. The whereabouts of any ship was a secret.