Catalogue description Ms. Midshipman's Journal of R G Murray. With enclosures.

This record is held by Imperial War Museum Department of Documents

Details of RGM/1
Reference: RGM/1
Title: Ms. Midshipman's Journal of R G Murray. With enclosures.

Ronald Murray's Journal begins a few weeks after the outbreak of war when his ship, the battleship Goliath (Captain T L Shelford), a unit in the Channel Fleet, was based on Portland and was employed on patrol and shipping examination duties at the eastern end of the English Channel. In mid-September HMS Goliath left Home waters for India, and Murray describes in detail their voyage east via Gibraltar, the Suez Canal, the Gulf of Suez and Aden. In the Gulf of Suez they experienced great heat, which "... was felt very much by some of the Ship's company ..." (4 October), but there were occasional amusements such as the capture of a seabird which "... was kept in a cardboard box and fed on Sardines which it evidently liked as it soon finished one tin" (7 October). On her arrival at Bombay on 16 October, Goliath coaled at once and then sailed with HMS Swiftsure as escorts to a large convoy of troop transports. Murray notes that some ships had fallen up to forty miles eastern of the convoy by noon on 18 October, but this situation was rectified within forty eight hours. The convoy experienced only one or two minor alarms and was mainly notable for the ceremonies that took place when they crossed the Equator on 28 October.


The convoy arrived at Mombasa on 1 November and Goliath's involvement in the German East African campaign began immediately as her armed picket boat was detached for operations against the German cruiser Königsberg, which was blockaded but still in fighting condition in the Rufiji River. The Journal records that the picket boat returned "amid great enthusiasm" and with a few bullet holes in her sides on 12 November. Because it was believed that enemy shipping might ship out of the harbour there, on 28 November Goliath and Fox carried out a bombardment of Dar-es-Salaam and, as some resistance was encountered, the town was shelled again two days later. The progress of both bombardments is described at length by Murray, who notes the extensive destruction of buildings ashore. A prolonged period of inactivity followed these events as in December Goliath was ordered to Simonstown, where her midshipmen were to enjoy a full social life and to receive some further instruction in their profession. Not until early March 1915 did Goliath join the now substantial force which had been assembled to enforce the blockade of the Königsberg and, if possible, destroy her. After failing to negotiate a truce with the German authorities there, Goliath carried out a bombardment of Lindi on 20 March, but otherwise nothing of moment happened and on 27 March Goliath was ordered to leave the Cape Station for service at the Dardanelles.


Murray, however, was transferred to the light cruiser Hyacinth (Captain D M Anderson) which remained with the blockading force, and his Journal lists their regular patrols off the Rufiji River and the East African coast. In early April the blockading force learnt that a supply ship was hoping to meet the Königsberg in the near future, and Murray relates how the supply ship was intercepted by Hyacinth off Tanga on 14 April and was sunk after fire had made it impossible to salvage her. The Journal entries for the remainder of April and May include regular references to reconnaissance flights by seaplanes over the Königsberg and on 1 June it records the arrival of the monitors Severn and Mersey (see also 15 June). Under the entries for 29 June and 2 July Murray notes that the monitors and aircraft were practising the techniques which they would employ against the Königsberg and on 5 July he describes the final preparations for the attack. The long but incomplete last entry in the Journal is an account of the events on 6 July, when the monitors proceeded some 5-6 miles up the Rufiji River to within 10,600 yards range of the Königsberg, but then came under continuous fire from the German ship during which the Mersey was hit and forced to break off action.

Date: 2 September 1914 - 6 July 1915
Held by: Imperial War Museum Department of Documents, not available at The National Archives
Language: English
Physical description: 128 pp.

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