Admiral David Beatty, photo from the Wikipedia, courtesy of Ian Dunster
Yvonne Carter in Sydney, Australia, has written to ask for information about Sheila, the steam yacht belonging to Admiral of the Fleet David Beatty, 1st Earl Beatty, on which her father served as a very junior member of the crew.
Apparently Sheila pitched rather a lot and a bad bout of sea sickness in the Bay of Biscay made Yvonne’s father decide upon another career; she adds that he recollected the Beatty family travelling overland to avoid the Bay of Biscay and met picked up the yacht in the Mediterranean.
The yacht is believed to have spent time in the Mediterranean in about 1918 before leaving for Spitzbergen under a captain named Le Geyt. Would there be any records of the crew or a ship’s log around I wonder?
Beatty was an admiral in the Royal Navy who I gather in the Battle of Jutland used his squadron to lure the German fleet towards the waiting British grand fleet under Admiral Jellicoe.
He’s also remembered for a comment at Jutland that ‘there was something wrong with (his) bloody ships today’ after two battlecruisers exploded and sank due to design faults.
His flamboyant style included wearing a non-standard uniform, which had six buttons instead of the regulation eight on the jacket, and always wearing his cap at an angle, as the photograph above shows.
Yvonne has found this reference in the British Journal of Nursing:
November 21,1914: p 404
‘Princess Christian last week paid a visit to the Queen Mary and Princess Christina Hospital at South Queensbury on the Firth of Forth , where there are at present a numberof sick cases from the Fleet in the wards , and afterwards visited Lady Beatty, wife of Rear Admiral Sir David Beatty, on board the steam yacht Sheila which is now equipped as a hospital ship.’
If you have any information for Yvonne, please use the comment link below or write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS – Peter High (see comments below) has written to say the vessel’s correct name was Sheelah, not Sheila.