The War at Sea:

"If the ship . . . hit a mine there will be no abandon ship, not even . . . a ship to abandon." Recollections of Seaman Archer Peddle
Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, 1960s

War at sea brings its own set of dangers. Death can arrive with a storm, a silent torpedo, a mine afloat below the surface. Engagements are few but the front line is fluid, unseen. The enemy can appear anywhere, any time—staying alert is critical and tension is ever-present at sea.

Our sailors are dispersed throughout the Royal Navy. Aboard ships large and small, they escort convoys, transport troops, patrol coastlines, hunt for submarines and blockade enemy ports. With their experience as mariners, they gain a reputation as “the finest small-ship seamen in the world.”

The Battle of Jutland in May 1916 was the only major naval battle. The German Navy never again challenged the Royal Navy during the war.

Training: Sea

"The Newfoundlanders are well treated over here and get a good name as seamen." Seaman Albert E. Horton,
Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve
HMT Portsmouth, May 28th, 1915

Once at sea, Royal Naval Reservists were assigned new duties in the British Navy. Experienced reservists adjusted quickly to navy life. New recruits learned from scratch. They served in convoys and blockades, inspected merchant ships, helped land troops in war zones and got supplies safely into Allied ports.

"[Training] consisted of stripping and putting together guns, gun drill, with the sweat running off us, some field training, route marches as well as four hours watch at night." Recollections of Seaman Archer Peddle
Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve, mid-1900s

Seaman Stephen Dicker

Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve #1240X

Stephen Dicker of Flat Islands, Bonavista Bay, enlisted early. Following basic training on HMS Calypso in St. John’s, he was assigned to HMS Clan MacNaughton in December 1914. Less than two months later, the ship sank in heavy seas, killing 281 sailors, including Stephen and 21 other Newfoundlanders.

"I cannot say the treatment is good in this ship—it’s far from it, but we have to submit to it, . . . and you know work is no burden to me, but I would like to be treated like a man ought to, not like a dumb animal." Seaman Stephen Dicker, Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve
HMS Clan MacNaughton, to his mother, 1915

Seaman Charles Sleigh Hulan

Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve #2739X

"You can tell mother I am feeling fine, and I am expecting to get called back to Devonport any day now. I am somewhere in England but I am not allowed to say." Seaman Charles Sleigh Hulan
England, 1918

Sleigh Hulan from Cartyville, Bay St. George, enlisted underage at 16. While overseas, he served aboard eight different ships, earning the rank Chief Petty Officer, gunnery. He came home from the war in August 1919 and found work as a surveyor. He contracted tuberculosis and died in 1925.

Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou