The Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve

"The Newfoundlanders took to naval life and routine like ducks to water." Recollections of Commander Anthony MacDermott, Royal Navy, 1937

Upon the declaration of war, Newfoundland’s Royal Naval Reservists are ready to deploy. Mostly fishermen, they train at sea and on the drill ship HMS Calypso, becoming seamen, gunners, communicators and engineers. For some, the Reserve is more appealing than the Regiment.

Renowned for their small-boat skills, these sailors man coastal vessels in home waters, defending fishing fleets and merchant traffic from German U-boats. The need for this home defence is clear when the passenger ship SS Stephano is torpedoed in 1916 en route from St. John’s to New York.

HMS Calypso

Moored in St. John’s, the HMS Calypso (HMS Briton from 1916) was the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve’s training ship during the war. This cap tally showed that its owner served on the HMS Calypso. He may have used this telescope when patrolling the Grand Banks or relaxed with this book.

Protecting the Home Front

"I shall arrange for the establishment of a more adequate guard at the cable stations." Governor Sir Walter Davidson, St. John’s, April 1915

The Newfoundland Royal Naval Reservists were responsible for protecting towns, harbours and fishing grounds. The Reservists guarded and operated HM Wireless Station Mount Pearl—part of the Royal Navy’s communications network—and stationed one of HMS Calypso’s 12-pounder guns at Fort Waldegrave to defend St. John’s.

Fort Waldegrave Battery Log Book

Saturday 8 July 1916

1 Gr. Hussey for leave Took over at 1. P.M. from O.C E.R.
2 continued work on yard Gr. Avery leave from Sat. at 5.p.m. To Wednesday noon.  
3 3.45 S.S. Diana passed outward    
4 Gr. Lucas   S.S. Bloodhound outward at 4.25 by permission of Capt. Abrams R.M.L.1 E.R.
5 "5.30 Visited & inspected battery & gun. Conrel.
Tested gun circuit"
6 Gr. Norris watches had to be arranged E.R.
7   as noted on acct of Gr. Avery  
8 Gr. Taylor "going home to see his mother
who the message stated was very sick"
9 p.m. Steamer passed outward    
10 Gr. Lucas "Item. received 1 Coal Box. 1 clothes Line
1 coal shovel from Ship. H.M.S
12 Gr. Norriss Countersign. Cressy. E.R.

Beaumont-Hamel and the Trail of the Caribou