Bluejackets? Never heard of them.

Back to work at the dockyard today. The gate has been moved but I still had to get a pass because the entrance to the library is still on the base. When I asked Heather how long before we can use the front door of the library and therefore no longer need a pass she said “Not long now. Two years should do it.

Not that that matters it just means she has to come and collect me.

I was once more sat in the office and worked through another shelf in the store. I just realised that I haven’t included a photo of the store where all the books and documents are housed…so here it is.

My shelves are in the second bay on the right

Each week the books I enter onto the database are, generally, concerned with one subject. This week I was working through a series of books all about the Lower Deck of warships. The regular sailors (or Jack Tars as they were once called*) were called Bluejackets, an expression I’ve never heard before. It refers, obviously, to the tops they used to wear.

It’s remarkable how many books there are on this subject. And it’s not just about the subject, holus bolus. The books I was working through today were quite exact. For instance one of them was about the Lower Decks between 1915 and 1918 while another concentrated on them during the Napoleonic Wars. Quite extraordinary.

Possibly my favourite was The British Tar in Fact and Fiction by Commander Charles N Robinson. He was quite keen on naval art and how it represented various parts of the RN. After his first book which predominantly dealt with the ships, he was told that there was a lot of Lower Deck artworks but not a lot of books that included them. He went around all of his navy mates and collected together a load of picture to then use in his new book.

“Bluejackets to the Front” the war in the Sudan 1884

Some of the pictures are quite odd. One of note features a cartoon about a sailor. It was quite the thing to assume that a Bluejacket was actually quite dumb. One cartoon featured a sailor with his girl entering a church. She tells him he must be quiet because they were in a church. He is then seen throttling the priest for saying “Amen.” That sort of thing.

Anyway, that was my day ignoring the always pleasant train ride down there to Portsmouth (I actually had the carriage completely to myself this morning). At home I was met by two frantic cocker poos. The gardeners had been and Mirinda had accidentally locked them both indoors. I don’t think they were actually too bothered but it meant no access to a toilet for them. Still they were fine.

* No-one actually knows why sailors were called Tars. There are at least three possible etymologies:

  1. It comes from the fact that the hemp ropes on sailing ships had to be soaked in tar in order to stop them rotting too quickly at sea;
  2. It refers to the fact that sailors would waterproof their clothes using tar and then started wearing clothes made from tarpaulin; and
  3. Finally, sailors would grease their long hair using tar in order to stop it getting tangled in shipboard obstacles.
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2 Responses to Bluejackets? Never heard of them.

  1. mum says:

    That was good missed the blog . Are you going on Monday now. love mum xxx

  2. mum says:

    Forgot to mention the library looks as if you will be there for ever heeps of books . xxx

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