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Memorial University of Newfoundland - Digital Archives Initiative

HMS Calypso fonds



Scope and Content: The H.M.S. Calypso fonds consists of records relating to the construction of H.M.S. Calypso and records created while she was commissioned with the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve. It includes three journals relating to the construction of the vessel, 1881; a book of weights for the vessel, 1883-84; and detailed sketches of the machinery aboard the vessel, 1883. Each journal contains detailed hand drawn and painted illustrations. Other files include two pieces of correspondence, one of which is a letter from David Murray to the editor of Shipbuilding and Shipping Record regarding the construction and history of H.M.S. Calypso, 2 Aug. 1952.

The fonds also includes drill registers created while the vessel was used to train members of the Royal Naval Reserve. These list each individual and the period of their drill, the vessel drilled on and remarks, 1904-15. Also included is a complete list of reservists, ca. 1900-16; gunnery log and progress books, 1907-16; Calypso deck logbooks, 1912-14; Briton deck logbooks, 1919-22; regulations concerning summary punishments and character, conduct, badges, etc., 1910-13; a register of discharge from Royal Naval Reserve embarkation to troop ship from 18 November 1914 to 2 December 1916; and day books recording liquor accounts 1919-23, one of which was overwritten to record salt shipments.

Dates: 1881-1952, predominant 1881-1884 and 1900-1923

Adm. Hist/Bio. Sketch: HMS Calypso was a 2814 ton Third Class British naval cruiser, laid down at Chatham dockyard in 1881 and completed in 1883. The sister ship of HMS Calliope, Calypso had an iron frame covered with steel plating which was also covered with two thicknesses of plank. In October 1902, the vessel was assigned by the British Admiralty as a training ship for the Newfoundland Royal Naval Reserve. On arrival in St. John's Calypso was stripped down and used as a training ship. The vessel remained in St. John's until 1914, when it was used to protect Newfoundland shores and shipping during World War One. In 1916 Calypso was renamed HMS Briton and remained in that role until 1922 when it was declared surplus and was sold to a local merchant, A. H. Murray and Company, where it was used to store coal and salt. She now lies at Embree, near Lewisporte.

The Newfoundland Division of the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) was established by the Newfoundland Government in 1902 to strengthen Britain's naval resources in the area. In the same year the British Admiralty assigned HMS Calypso to be used as a training ship for members of the Reserve. The intention was to take around 600 reservists on strength but that number was only reached once. With the declaration of war in 1914, numbers were increased to over 1000 and by war's end in 1918, the number exceeded 2000 serving reservists. During the war naval reservists were dispersed in ships and shore establishments throughout the Royal Navy and Royal Canadian Navy, where they were renowned for their small boat skills and fearlessness. The Royal Naval Reserve was decommissioned at the end of 1920.

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Memorial University - Maritime History Archive

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Maritime History Archive

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