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William James Bingham RN

... personal logbook pages ...

Although a sailor's life must have always been a busy one, there were surely also long hours of waiting, watching, wondering, thinking of those at home and of what lay ahead. My Grandfather's logbook seems to express all of those moments, ranging widely through innocent fun, wise words, essential notes, reminders of comrades, bright foreign colours and culture, to tender memories of his loved one - while not forgetting to keep accounts in the meantime!

But, whatever happened to the chicken? Friday 11th July was in 1913, so William was serving on HMS Kennet, before leaving for the China station. As to which came first, chicken or egg, I don't know, but I might guess which went last...

I hope that someone else may find intriguing pleasure and enjoyment in seeing these pages, as I did when I found the notebook in the attic where it had lain unremembered for many years. The inside cover bears the inscription:

"Commissioned at Malta 13 Oct. 1913, W. J. Bingham. AB., HMS. Kennett, Hong Kong, China"





April, May, 1914: HMS Kennet called at ports in southern Japan


1914: HMS Kennet called at Hong Kong beginning of April, August, September


We still have the tea-service at home, and take much care of it. Some pages were cut out of the logbook, possibly with the missing cruise programme for William's continued service on "Kennet", from April 1914 to April 1917.

HMS Valentine: 9th June 1917 until 4th September 1918




Palmer's Yard, Jarrow

"Valentine" was on the Queensferry Patrol and after being damaged in action, went to Birkenhead in May 1918 for repairs.

I don't know whether or not "Valentine" was repaired at Palmer's Yard, but I'm sure any sailor navigating in the area would have known of its history and importance to the town of Jarrow. In 1904 a statue was unveiled to Charles Palmer with the inscription:

"Sir Charles Mark Palmer, baronet. Born at South Shields November 3, 1822, founder of the Palmer Works, and of the town of Jarrow, of which he was first Mayor in 1875. Originator of the first screw collier built at Jarrow in 1851, Member of Pariliament for North Durham from 1874, and subsequently for the Jarrow Division. This statue, erected in 1903 by the workmen of Palmer's Company and a few friends, commemorates a life devoted to the social advancement of working classes, the prosperity of Jarrow and the industrial progress of Tyneside."

Tender Thoughts

Sailing around the east coast of England on a ship called "Valentine", while his loved-one was somewhere in the south-west, these pressed flowers may have been gentle memories of quiet moments spent together during William's shore-leave. They are all yellow...



1919-1920: HMS Tilbury

I count 84 letters and postcards sent to Eve from the Dardanelles. William also received mail, from a friend in the town of Hastings, Sussex.


William continued to keep his accounts, though I don't yet know whether the sums mentioned were pay, or over and above that - I hope to find out.


Nearly at the end of his period of service - of 12 years and not the 21 he had thought of as a very young man - my Grandfather sent this:

Not so very long afterwards he married his Eve. Finding work in the 1920s, the depression, was difficult, but William's determination carried him forward. First a son, my uncle, was born, then my mother, seen here in Eve's arms.


The dog-watch!
Whisky joined the family in the 1950s.

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Created October 2005