Chapter 11

Jack's last ship   


Jack  reported aboard HMS Viknor on December 12 1914 .His new vessel ,like the Edgar, was another makeshift warship .

The 5,300-ton Viknor was the flag ship of Viking Cruising Company,refitted and armed as a naval service. It was renamed Viknor to avoid confusion with the  Naval destroyer HMS Viking.The Viknors 's crew was makeshift too.

Some of the ship's company were ratings from the scrapped Edgar class ships ,but most were Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve men and drafted reservists .We can only guess how happy Jack and his sea  hardened  shipmates were serving alongside part-time sailors.

Many of the new crew were Newfoundlanders with strange sounding accents .In charge of this motley crew was thirty nine year old commander Ernest Orford Ballantyne , a Scot and a veteran skipper with twenty four years sea faring behind him. Second -in-command was Lieutenant Commander Hardinge Shephard, 32,who served under Admiral Sir John Jellicoe  in the chinese boxer rebellion of 1899-1900.

The Viknor sailed straight for the North Sea .The crew soon found they had swapped one trundler for another .

The Viknor was the same age as the Edgar and could only make a mere 17 knots, if pushed. Nevertheless,Admiral Jellicoe wanted it to strengthen the blockade by the northern patrol .It was one a number armed merchant cruisers ,as they became known,to be pressed into service .

Others included the five 6,000 -ton banana boats ,Bayano ,Changuinola,Montague,Patia and Patnea.Under  Admiral De Chair's command, the armed merchant cruisers formed an arc  from Kristiansand across to the Faroe Islands.By Boxing day 1915 ,12 armed merchant cruisers held the blockade  barrier .The scene was set for the last dramatic episode in my great uncle's short life. 


written by Chris Bishop