Visitors: at home and abroad

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With warships often being away from the home port for long periods, when back in port it was an occasion to meet up with friends and family. Family days gave a chance for a sailor to show his folks around his "home" whilst the officers could organised receptions, formal and informal. Special attention was paid to visits by children, boys especially would be shown round with a view to recruiting them into the navy. A newly commissioned ship was marked by visits from government officials and men from the Admiralty, the builders were also invited. The navy represented, and still does represent, a country abroad. In the past it was sometimes the only contact with "foreigners". "Showing the flag" was both social and political, "here is a show of strength and there is more where this came from". Long distance cruises were also a source of information about the strength of foreign navies and the harbour defences. For people in the colonies, a visiting warship was a link with home.

Catalogue number 66091

Mothers, wives and future wives

The visit of these elegant young ladies was the occasion to meet a charming naval officer and, perhaps, a future husband.

14cm x 10.8cm Albumen silver print


Catalogue number 47309

Elegance en board

This group has a formal pose on a, probably, French pre-dreadnought battleship. Far right is "Henriette". We cannot read the other names. A photograph such as this would be a pleasant reminder of home when at sea.

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 66038

Showing the family around

This family seem to be having a private visit, is it father, mother, daughters and grandchildren?

Verso: "On board the destroyer "Fauconneau" 5th August 1920" in French and in black ink

8cm x 13cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 105001

A family outing

This mixed group of adults and children seem to be on an organized outing to visit of the French battleship Diderot in 1926. The man fourth from the left looks like the bus driver and he has "Le Petit Parisien" -a mass media newspaper at the time - written on his hat band.

Verso: "13 sept. 1926 A bord le cuirassé "Diderot" Madeleine

13.9cm x 9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109016

A group of young children

This smartly-dressed group of children would appear to be part of an officers open day. How many of the boys followed their father into the French Navy?

15.8cm x 10.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109018

Children let free!

The children seem to be on a late 20s early 30s French cruiser, maybe a Suffren class. Here they are running free, some of the older ones are curious about climbing up the metal ladder. It is a pity we cannot read the ship's name on the bell.

15.7cm x 10.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 27004

With Dad on a gun

You are never too young to learn! This little chap is being shown over the details of a 4-inch gun on H.M.S. Furious by, probably, his Lieutenant Commander father. Note the drip tray fixed under the hydraulic recoil piston.

Verso: "Seeing the sights. A tiny visitor to Devonport being shown one of the 4" high angle guns of H.M.S. Furious by one of the officers at the opening of Plymouth Navy Week. August 5th. 33."

Credit: Fox Photos

23.8cm x 16.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 17019

A large group of boys

Here is a large group of boys on the foredeck of the French armoured cruiser Condé in the naval port of Brest sometime in 1930s. The boys are accompanied by at least three priests - two just left of the cowl and a third at three-quarters right wearing glasses. We can see all the details of the hawse pipes and the anchor chains held by the screw stoppers. Other fittings serve to take the weight off the anchor chain whilst the ship is moored. Judging by the state of the ship, this photograph may have been taken when Condé was tied up in the port of Lorient, eventually to become a hulk. This photograph was taken during an outing by the summer camp of the Championnet Association in Plonevez-Porzay around 1930.

Recto: "à bord du croisseur (sic) Condé dans l'arsenal de Brest."

7.8cm x 5.2cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 110049

Sailors feed poor children

These German children are not so lucky. The Allied blockade of Germany during the First World War provoked a famine and the population were malnourished. Food rationing was introduced in the spring of 1915 and "Hunger became the central special experience of the home front" (Nipperdey, cited in "From Imperial Splendour to Internment: The German Navy in the First World War" by N. Wolz, 2015, Seaforth Publishing). The female population suffered heavily. Naval officers bottled up in the German ports expressed their unease at the situation whereby they had sufficient food whilst brothers and friends suffered the harsh conditions in the trenches and family at home starved. These sailors have given part of their rations to a group of poor, bare-footed children.

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print/i>


Catalogue number 82001

The Governors visit

The board of governors and guests on board the training ship Cornwall during a ceremony. Training ships such as Cornwall were often financed by benefactors with the aim of training up boys from modest families to go into the navy - usually the merchant navy, the Royal Navy having its own training establishments for boys. This photograph is part of a series of eleven concerning the Training ship Cornwall and bound in a "souvenir" album.

Credit: London and Country Photographic Co.

20.4cm x 15.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 115032

Official visit and interpreter

This American Lieutenant is welcoming on board a foreign visitor and his interpreter. From the cap badge, it appears that the photograph was taken sometime around the First World War. In the Royal Navy, an officer’s training would include some basic French.

13.4cm x 8.3cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 103029

Visit by high-ranking officials

Newly-commissioned ships were the subject of numerous visits and here we can see several top-hatted gentlemen in dress coats looking over a Courbet class battleship. They may be government officials, whatever, the washing is out and drying on the fore-rigging!

13.8cm x 9cm Gelatin silver printbr>


Catalogue number 66115

The official party arrive

Another group of official-looking men are on board the French torpedo boat 341 plus an Admiral. The official photographer is getting his camera ready, I wonder who are the men with the broad-rimmed hats?

13.8cm x 8.9cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 70063

H.M.S. Renown in the U.S.A., 1920

An American family are being shown around H.M.S. Renown in 1920. The ship took the Prince of Wales on a world tour which included a visit to the United States of America. The sailors are wearing Sennet hats but for the second royal tour to India and the Far East, the ship’s company was issued with sun helmets. One of the aims of these post-First World War cruises was to unite the British Empire that was being shaken by opposition to British rule.

Verso: A message from "Maggie" to her "Aunt Sybil" in Farmington, Minnesota. "This picture was taken on the Prince of Wales ship "The Renown" Sept 11 20" in black ink

13cm x 7.4cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 112010

The newly-commissioned U.S.S. Oregon, 1896

A mixed crowd of ladies in white blouses, men with bowler hats, straw hats or flat caps as well as sailors are studying all the details of the battleship, one lady has even climbed up onto the forward gun turret. The stereo-photograph is dated 1896, the year U.S.S. Oregon was launched.

Credit: W.H. Rau

15.1cm x 8.3cm Gelation stereo-photograph


Catalogue number 33183

Nothing stops lady visitors!

One must admire these ladies as they clamber over the French destroyer Claymore. In their long dresses and wearing their large summer hats, it must have been quite a job to go over the ship and up the ladders.

8.5cm x 6.2cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 33183

A future navy man?

This young boy is with his elegantly-dressed mother as a group go around the French destroyer Claymore.

8.5cm x 6.2cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 30015

A German destroyer flotilla in port

Standing on the quay, these people are admiring the German destroyer G8, part of a larger flotilla in port getting steam up. The young lady center left is looking over her shoulder at the photographer. Are the people there to see off family?

10cm x 7.6cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 108114

Support the Navy

During the build-up of the German Navy prior to World War Two, the German government fostered good relations between the navy and the public. The defeat and scuttling of the High Seas Fleet in 1918/19 had left a bad impression on the public as to the value of a large and costly navy. This group is visiting a torpedo boat flotilla. Everyone seems happy but the notice board is quite clear “Photography by visitors on board prohibited. Photographic equipment must be handed in at the gangway. Infractions will be punished by the State law of 1934”. Note the stuffed polar bear, the man in his dressing gown and the accordion player in the background.

Verso: Text in German including "torpedo boats 11/7.36"

13.8cm x 8.7cm Matt gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 110056

Visit to Bouvines, 1908

Bouvines was a French coastal defence ship commissioned in 1894 and it was still an attraction in 1908 when this photograph was taken at Le Havre. With the signing of the Entente Cordiale between Great Britain and France, there was less need for such ships although they were still impressive by their size and with two 12-inch guns.

Verso: "Un bateau. Souvenir du Havre le 20/3 08" in black ink

9.1cm x 14cm Printed print


Catalogue number 40238

American fleet visit Australia, 1925

U.S.S. Pennsylvania was part of the American fleet that made a long cruise from San Francisco in April 1925 across the Pacific to Australia, reaching Melbourne on 22nd July. The cruise continued to New Zealand then back to the U.S.A. via American Samoa and Hawaii. The inter-war years were a period in which the U.S.A. recognised that an eventual Japanese policy of expansion could create a potential threat to American interests in the Pacific Ocean and the aim of such a cruise was to make a show of force in the Pacific region. The visitors are all over the place - on deck, going below and climbing up ladders to the upper deck. There is a large queue to visit the ship behind U.S.S. Pennsylvania.

Recto: "Visitors Aboard The Pennsylvania in Melbourne Aus."

8cm x 13cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 15026

British destroyers in St Malo harbour

Two V and W class destroyers are tied up in the harbour at St Malo in France and have drawn quite a crowd. The awnings are out over the quarter deck, maybe for an official reception. The photograph is probably prior to 1939.

Credit: C.A.P.

14.8cm x 10.5cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109074

Encounter with natives

In 1932, the light cruiser H.M.S. Durban embarked on a cruise as part of the Royal Navy South America Division, leaving Bermuda in June 1932 and returning on 1st May 1933. The voyage took them through the Straits of Magellan and it is here that Patagonian natives came out to the ship in their boats. In this photograph we can see two natives with roughly-made oars whilst a woman and child sit in the bows. The natives have collected tins from the rubbish shoot.

10.2cm x 5.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 109073

Visit off Patagonia

Another boat has come alongside the gangway carrying two young men with a woman and a sailor has given them a loaf of bread. Both boats are scanty affairs. These photographs are from a series of 25 covering the cruise of H.M.S. Durban.

10.2cm x 5.8cm Gelatin silver print


Catalogue number 80415

Expedition to the Philippines, 1938

The sloop Dumont d’Urville was built to operate between the French colonies in Asia and Africa during the 1930s. This photograph shows natives in outrigger canoes coming alongside when the ship was cruising off the island of Jolo in the Philippines, 1938. During his voyage of 1837 to 1840, the French explorer Jules Dumont d’Urville visited the island and met the Sultan of Jolo who had let it be known that he was interested in trading with France.

8.5cm x 5.6cm Cellulose negative

Catalogue number 45149

Medical assistance to a visitor, 1938

Here the ship’s doctor on board the sloop is examining the injured foot of a young Philippine woman off Jolo. The visit of a warship to isolated villages on the coast was an occasion for the native population to seek medical aid. This and the preceeding photograph are part of a series of 48 photographs and negatives of the Far East cruise of Dumont d'Urville in the late 1930s.

5.3cm x 7.3cm Gelatin silver print and 8.5cm x 5.6cm Cellulose negative