HMS Nelson Curious Looking British Battleship

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HMS Nelson Curious Looking British Battleship

British battleship HMS Nelson, name ship of the Nelson class of battleships of which only two were constructed. The second was HMS Rodney.

HMS NELSON WORKING UP AFTER REFIT. 1 MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS WHEATLAND, SCAPA. (A 9678) HMS NELSON with smoke from bomb bursts during dive-bomber and air torpedo attacks by American aircraft as part of HMS NELSON’s work-up. Copyright: © IWM.

 

HMS NELSON WORKING UP AFTER REFIT. 1 MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS WHEATLAND, SCAPA. (A 9683) Left to right: HMS ECHO, HMS NELSON, and HMS PENN, from HMS WHEATLAND. Copyright: © IWM.

 

HMS NELSON WORKING UP AFTER REFIT. 1 MAY 1942, ON BOARD HMS WHEATLAND, SCAPA. (A 9680) Left to right: HMS ECHO, HMS NELSON, and HMS PENN seen from HMS WHEATLAND. Copyright: © IWM. 

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.

Difficult to Tell if HMS Nelson is Coming or Going

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 Nelson’s bow was pointing to the right side of the photograph and that the ship was moving left to right.

 

MAIL FOR THE NELSON. 7 NOVEMBER 1943, ROSYTH. MAIL BEING BROUGHT TO THE BATTLESHIP HMS NELSON ON HER RETURN FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 20280) A drifter, laden with mail for HMS NELSON approaching the battleship. Copyright: © IWM.

Comments Charles McCain: once again appearances can be deceiving. The mail launch is approaching the stern of HMS Nelson not the bow.

 

British Royal Marines thought to be the more loyal to the officers than the men

MAIL FOR THE NELSON. 7 NOVEMBER 1943, ROSYTH. MAIL BEING BROUGHT TO THE BATTLESHIP HMS NELSON ON HER RETURN FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 20281) Marines and sailors taking the full mailbags to the mail office on board HMS NELSON. Copyright: © IWM.

 

Sailors Might Posion Officers

Comments Charles McCain: the men in the fore and aft caps are part of the ship’s contingent of Royal Marines and are not sailors. Because the Marines were thought to be the most loyal enlisted men in the ship, they traditionally guarded the officers’ quarters and served as stewards and cabin cleaners. In centuries past there had been great fear that if sailors served food to officers they would endeavor to posion them.

Mail Critical to Morale

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.

Men Put Complaints About Ship in Letters

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. (Since these were personal letters, the men would often write to their wives or sweethearts that the food could use improvement or some of the new officers needed better training and other hints to the officers who were censoring mail).

Officers Might Only Read a Few Letters

In smaller ships, there was often not the 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.

Officers Were Supposed to Censor the Mail of Other Officers But They Rarely Did

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.

 

MAIL FOR THE NELSON. 7 NOVEMBER 1943, ROSYTH. MAIL BEING BROUGHT TO THE BATTLESHIP HMS NELSON ON HER RETURN FROM THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 20282) HMS NELSON taking her mail on board from the drifter alongside. Copyright: © IWM.

About the Author:

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/