Capt. Arthur David LINKLATER

Captain Arthur David LINKLATER 1879 - 1955

His Life Afloat and Ashore: British India Steam Navigation Co. (ii)

Much have I seen and known

The details in the table on the previous page come from Arthur's discharge papers as well as the Continuous Certificate of Discharge mentioned above from which some idea of the voyages can be gleaned - but not much. More often than not the "description of voyage" is simply stated as "Bombay to Barry", or "Calcutta"; or it is in general terms such as "trooping", or "foreign", or "coasting", or "home trade" when engaged in Calcutta so presumably ‘out there’, whereras "foreign Australia", and "foreign Java" indicated leaving Indian waters. His time with B.I.S.N.Co. might best be summarised as "full steam ahead with camels." Nor do I have any information about these two crews. In the image at left he is standing, second from left, with his arms folded and his cap at a VERY jaunty angle! In the other at right he is seated - even lounging forsooth! - at left in a very lubberly fashion. The thought of growing a monstrous 'tache was obviously overwhelming.

There are a few anomalies. How did Arthur come to serve as 3rd Mate aboard Ashruf? Why was he then knocked down to a quartermaster seaman when he joined Bombay? Arthur's ‘Continuous Discharge’ only started when he joined the Bombay on 6th December 1900. Did he use the delay in his getting his ‘Continuous Discharge’ to practise a little self-advancement? or did the master of Ashruf, Captain Alf. Newby, look kindly upon Arthur? and did he then regard him with disfavour? Also some of the dates of service given in the references written for Arthur are at variance with those in his discharge papers; e.g. Captain H Parker Jones of the Rewa gives his dates of service as "from 10th July 1901 to 27th October 1902 and again from 30th January 1902 to the present date." The dates in the previous table for his time aboard the Ula also seem miles out; according to his references he served on the Ula from 1st June 1905 to 26th March 1908 under 5 different masters, in itself a source of possible confusion, but the dates seem much more likely. It still leaves a year unaccounted for.

Not only were the days of his Journal over but Arthur's days keeping a Journal were also over. Hereafter the sources are meagre and patchy. Apart from letters - and not many of those - there are three further note books; an 8vo Commonplace Book covering roughly 1900-1910, a Folio Commonplace Book covering 1913-1916 dealing almost entirely with his time on the Hooghly working for the Commissioners of the Port of Calcutta in various capacities and ultimately as Commander of the Retriever, and an 8vo Annual covering 1923-1946. Thereafter Arthur did not keep, or at any rate preserve, any records of his affairs.

The 8vo Commonplace Book contains largely practical information about seamanship, navigation and some details of the ships on which he served and the cargoes carried. Here is a fairly typical page which details the shipping arrangements for camels to Somaliland to prosecute the war against the Mad Mullah. Upada Somaliland Expedition. Left Karachi June 21st 1903. Sand on board 1000 tons. 6 inches in tweendecks & on main deck. 2 feet in lower hold. Also ½ a Ton of spare sand for each camel shipped. Camels evidently need one hell of a lot of sand; no wonder they live in the desert.

  Lower holds Tweendecks Totals
1 64 42 106
2 76 72 148
3 00    
4 44 30 74
5 00 40 40
  184 184 368
On Fore Deck 54
On After Deck 40

Ponies [?] 8 Troops 183. Ships could carry 30% more camels than this number.

The 8vo Commonplace Book includes a motley collection of information, from the blindingly obvious to the baffelingly arcane; basic weights and measures tables; calculating the breaking strain of chain, cable, galvanised wire, and tarred rope; size of blocks to lift given weights; how to use a watch as a compass! calculating boats carrying capacity; "how to measure a cross bunkers"; stuff on tides; correcting chronometer error; workings for various sun and star sights; to find longitude at noon, sunset and sunrise; on the upper limb of the sun; "extraordinary sets off Ceylon", [that's ‘sets’ with a ‘t’ and nothing to alarm my grandmother to be]; list of charts required for Rangoon to the Philippines and Singapore to Japan; great circle sailing from Mauritius [where he might have met his daughter-in-law-to-be's parents] to Freemantle; "Azimuths S.S.Fultala"; "mooring ship - Mr Beattie's method in the Hooghli"; Pole star azimuth to Lat.; stowing sugar near teak logs; strike concessions 1898 - ["Officers when asked to take command of Coy.'s steamers of a larger tonnage than 100 tons nett register will be paid as commanders" etc]; revised scale of officer's pay from August 1st 1904; Morse code! scale of salary of B.I. officers; notices on time balls; testing a patent log; plenty about painting including make-up of various colours - "stone color, white zinc, black for masts, boot topping, flatting, red lead, funnel tips, varnish" as well as ‘how to’; seasons; cleaning tanks and percentages. Coal discharge, Rangoon. The largest day's work ever done by one gang is 160 tons in 12 hours Shipping horses on S.S. Upada and S.S. Obra; health remedies; "to find how much investment will return"; Rangoon Pilot Service; Indian river tide gauges; "On Houses"; shipping paddy for the Malabar coast aboard S.S. Ula in 1908; Bay of Bengal weather signals; "to join broken amber"; Hooghli pilotage fees; "for finding if a thing is a good investment" which evidently did no good; a whole lot of stuff on tanks, ballast and stowage for various specific ships - and ‘The Camel's Tale’.

So, it wasn't all work and no play; Jolly Jack Tar wasn't a dull boy. Above is a little bit of fun from Arthur's 8vo Commonplace Book again involving long-suffering camels. As promised earlier, it is a reasonable example of his adult hand writing; have a go at deciphering it for yourself - unless you find the suspense too much, in which case here is The Camel Problem Transcribed.

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