Life In HMCS Rainbow During the First World War

by John MacFarlane 2017

HMCS Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )

She served as H.M.S. Rainbow in the Royal Navy as a light cruiser 1891–1910. She was transferred to the Royal Canadian Navy for service at Esquimalt in 1910 as H.M.C.S. Rainbow, a Canadian Naval Cruiser in service 1910-1917. In 1917 she was re-commissioned as a depot ship. In 1920 she was paid off and sold to a Seattle WA ship breaker.

HMCS Rainbow in drydock

Bow view of HMCS Rainbow in Drydock at HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt BC. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

HMCS Rainbow in drydock

Bow view of HMCS Rainbow in Drydock at HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt BC. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Funnel of HMCS Rainbow

Detail of One of the Funnels of HMCS Rainbow. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

Stern view of HMCS Rainbow in Drydock at HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt BC. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow at HMC Dockyard, Esquimalt BC covered in snow. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow at Prince Rupert BC in September 1914 &quo;cleared for action&quo;. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow bunkering coal. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Bunkering coal could take several hours, and was dirty miserable work. The whole crew would turn up to carry sacks of coal in relays, dump them, and carry the burlap sacks back to be refilled. Lucky crews had a ship’s band to serenade them while the work carried on. Only senior officers were exempt from this task – even junior officers were sometimes expected to lend a hand. It was said that an ambitious energetic crew could load up to 300 tons per hour. Coal dust was dangerous – a spark or even spontaneous combustion could easily cause an explosion.

Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow bunkering coal. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Coal was easily available from mines on Vancouver Island, which is one of the reasons for the Royal Navy establishing a presence in Esquimalt. It was a good location at which to place warships. While HMCS Rainbow was still coal fired, the Royal Navy was rapidly transitioning to vessels fired by oil. The availability of bunker oil was more restricted than coal so it is likely one of the reasons the RCN retained the coal burners during the First World War.

Rainbow

HMCS Rainbow bunkering coal. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

After the coal was loaded, and the bunkers trimmed, the ship would have to be washed down from the masthead to the decks. The crew then had to wash their clothing and themselves to remove the grime.

Rainbow

Ordinary Seamen in HMCS Rainbow Relaxing at Noon in the Tropics (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

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Some of HMCS Rainbow’s Ship’s Officers, Petty Officers and Leading Seamen at Ease in Tropical Uniform. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

Quartermaster at the Ship’s Wheel in HMCS Rainbow (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

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HMCS Rainbow Recovering a Torpedo During Exercises in the Royal Roads. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

Rainbow

Petty Officer Carr was a Gun Captain in HMCS Rainbow. During one gunnery shoot he score a very close group – six rounds, six hits. (Photo courtesy of the MMBC. )

HMCS Rainbow plaque

There is a plaque commemorating HMCS Rainbow on the causeway on the waterfront of Victoria Harbour. (Photo from the John MacFarlane collection. )



To quote from this article please cite:

MacFarlane, John M. (2017) Life In HMCS Rainbow During the First World War Nauticapedia.ca 2017. http://nauticapedia.ca/Gallery/Rainbow.php

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