A Day in the Life of HMS Vanguard

In the victualling office, supply staff were authorizing the issue of 500 lb. of beef, 1000 lb. of bread and a ton of potatoes, the staple food which 1600 officers and men would get through that day.  The Vanguard's meat ration for the current three months read like this: 100 whole sheep carcases, 4 whole lamb's carcases, 46 bags of boneless veal, eight bags of hams, eight bags of pork loins, 34 bags of liver and 7 bags of ox hearts.  They also bought vast amounts of fish, and 2,400 cases of butter.  The Vanguard carried 600 tons of fresh water, which condensing equipment could  replenish from sea water, and several thousand tons of oil fuel.

Dining Hall
Two-thirds of the crew took a tot of rum every day, which added up to 114 pints. The rumless remainder preferred money instead (3d per day (1p)) of the daily ration of one eighth of a pint.  Ratings below the age of twenty, got neither. Traditionally, the rum was issued before the midday meal and 'Up Spirits' was piped at about 11.45am.  The neat rum was poured into a "grog tub' - usually with "God Save the Queen" in brass letters on it - mixed with three times the amount of water and drawn by leading hands for their messes. Rum in excess of the day's requirements used to be thrown into the ship's scuppers, where it drained away into the ocean. This system was liable to abuses. Once, officers of a certain battleship were puzzled by the excessive jollity of the stokers' mess, until they discovered that the stokers had tapped a drain pipe running from the scuppers through their mess. It was more carefully measured now.

Grog issue
Petty Officer with tot and rum fanny

If the Vanguard had more amenities than older battleships - a cinema, a chapel, library, bookstall (this was run by Leading Writer North for the wage of £3.10s.0d a month) , special messes to eat in - she had little more comfort, with the exception of forced ventilation, which pumped fresh air to every corner. But inevitably, the demands of war were paramount. Watertight bulkheads divided the ship into sections connected by the long narrow decks - steel passages where the crew slung their hammocks at night and in daytime dodged each other hurrying about their chores. In action, with all bulkheads closed, she became virtually unsinkable by either torpedoes or gunfire, but the system made movement and access complicated.  To reach adjoining engine rooms, one had to climb a fifteen-foot laddered shaft from one, pass through a bulkhead and descend another similar shaft.  In the sick bay, the medical officer had to descend a steel ladder to reach the operating theatre. This system of safety meant a climb of up to a thousand feet during a day's work. But in action it could mean the difference between staying afloat and sinking.

Chapel of St Andrew