The Sea Cadet, No. 5, Vol. 2, January 1945

to protect the eardrums against the b!ast. Somewhere the fire gong sounded twice. But I did not hear it. The next moment my tin hat went liv­ing off my head. We had opened up. I learned to listen for the warning of the fire gong after that. It is rung from the transmitting station, deep in the depths of the ship. Here all the information needed by the guns, ranges, bearings, strength and direc­tion of wind, and even the temperature of the cordite in the charges, are fed into a set of vast calculating machines. The answer is given to the guns and, when all is ready, the gong sounds. Up in the director control tower, above the compass p'atform, the director officer makes an elec­tric contact. The guns fire. In Warspite we are firing in sal­ voes of three. At each salvo the wind blows into our faces whiffs of ugly brown cordite smoke. As the smoke clears we hear the shel's screaming towards their mark. Sometimes you can even see them for a second, if you happen to be in the right place. Just before they fire maybe you duck, hands to ears, against the blast. I am doing this when the Captain sees me and grins. “Better take your pipe out of your mouth next time,” he says. “It’s much worse if it catches you with your mouth closed.” You relax again, and after many seconds the silence is broken by a buzzer. That is the “fall of shot ”buzzer, which is worked automatically. Watching the fall o f shot. On the b'idge the First Lieutenant keeps his eye on the target to warn the spotters when to look for the splashes. It saves a great deal of strain on their eyes. From eight in the morning until after six at night W arspite layoff the Wal- cheren coast. We lay there and fired and fired—three hundred and fifty rounds of fifteen-inch shell, or a little more. 1 believe this upsets a record for any battleship during this war. It wasn't exciting shooting, because, for most of the time, we were without aircraft to spot for us. This was a terrible handi­cap, forced onus by bad weather, for we were unable to tell exactly how close our shooting was. But when we left there was much smoke in our target areas, and many shore guns were silent. [Note.— By studying the following dates you will see that“ W arspite ”is actually oldest but one o four battle­ships a:“W rsp ite” :laid down. 31st Oct., 1912 launched. 26th N o v., 1913 completed. March, 1915. “Queen Elizabeth ”:laid down, 21st Oct 1912 launched, 16th Oct., 1913 completed, January, 1915.— Ed., TheSe a Cadet .]The black smoke o f the exploding shells leaps skyward on the distant shore-line 135
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