By Wednesday 19 August all was complete and the ship sailed down Southampton Water, round the Isle of Wight on the Portsmouth side and headed west down the channel. The sea was calm, the destination unknown.
In officers’ Mess on the first night out there was much speculation as to where they were going. Not even Captain Neilson knew until he was allowed to open his sealed orders on reaching the Scilly Isles. They were to join Admiral Jellicoe’s Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow.
Course was set to take the ship up St. George’s Channel, through the Irish Sea, round the Isle of Skye and out to the Orkney Islands. They arrived at Kirkwall on Saturday evening.
Dr. Charles Brehmer Heald joined the ship, two days before she sailed, as one of the four surgeons under Fleet Surgeon Lomas who had already received a D.S.O. for past service. To pass the time, Dr. Heald kept a diary in which he recorded details of his work, life at sea and impressions of his colleagues.
Wartime security consciousness and censorship had not yet begun and Sick Berth Corporal Daly was able to send off a picture postcard of Kirkwall and Scapa Flow to his son Maurice on which he drew a map of their voyage from Southampton, and described some of the battleships of the Grand Fleet that were based there.
Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981