Historic logbook tells tales of war

ARTEFACT: David Chellingworth and the 100-year-old Coastguard book  Picture: FINNBARR WEBSTER F15976

ARTEFACT: David Chellingworth and the 100-year-old Coastguard book Picture: FINNBARR WEBSTER F15976

First published in News by

A WEYMOUTH man has come into possession of a coastguard order book more than hundred years old.

David Chellingworth, 75, from Chickerell, has a book detailing the activities of HMS Canopus between 1914 and 1915, the first year of the First World War.

Mr Chellingworth said he received the book from his grandfather, George Chellingworth.

He said: “My grandfather was a station officer at Kimmeridge back in the 1920s. Somewhere along the line this book must have been passed to him.

“He was in the navy. He came out the navy and came into the coastguard. He retired from there back in the 1920s to Swanage, where all our family lived.

“It goes right through until 1915. It’s all beautifully written in longhand.

“I have read it several times. I have had it for 40 odd years. People who are navy-orientated, like I am, I’ve shown it to them and they found it very interesting.

“It’s a day by day account on life on there.

“There are some right names from the past in here.”

The book is believed to have belonged to a man called Amos Fitton.

However, Mr Chellingworth thinks more than one person’s writing features inside.

HMS Canopus is widely known for missing the Battle of Coronel of 1914, the first British naval defeat for a century.

She was a first class battleship upon being constructed. She was launched in November 1897.

At the outbreak of the First World War, the Canopus joined the 8th Battle Squadron in the Channel.

It would go on to fire the first shots of the battle at the Falkland Islands on December 8, 1914.

After the German threat in the South Atlantic was quelled, the Canopus went to the Mediterranean and took part in the bombardments of the Dardanelles in March 1915.

The last entry written in the logbook is recorded on May 16, 1915.

It reads: “.... At 12.30pm we left for the Dardanelles, where we shelled the enemies’ positions. The airmen reported that our salvoes were very effective.

“At 4pm a large floating mine came down with the tide.”

If the last sentence wasn’t ominous enough, the following pages of the book had been left torn out.

The Canopus did survive however, later taking part in the blockage of Smyrna and the Gallipoli landings.

It returned to home waters in 1916, serving briefly as an accommodation ship. It was sold off in 1920 to be broken up.

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