THE EARLY YEARS
1915 – 1938
‘A Lucky Little Ship’
H.M.S. Scarab 1915
Rare Photographic Imperial War Museum Postcard
Note: Ship named on the bow
In June 2017, we received a communication from Mr Richard FitzGerald the text of which is below.
We are most grateful to Richard as the photo was taken less than a year after Scarab was launched .
was going through my grandfather’s WWI photos and came across a very scratchy
negative titled “Scarab –
grandfather was Captain Bryan Reginald
FitzGerald of the
Light Horse Regiment, AIF. Looking at his war
service history, this photo must have been taken between his withdrawal from
Gallipoli and re-assignment to the Western Front. He was stationed at Tell El Kebir (
Hopefully this allows you to add to your already extensive and impressive Scarab history.
China Station c1920
Fantastic original postcard
On a Field Black, a scarab blue and gold
VIVO UT VINCO
'I live that I may conquer'
the First World War, when
end of the war in 1918 these river gunboats were transferred to the river
Dvina in North Russia, the
These Insect – Class ships were specially designed so that they could be shipped out in pieces and erected easily by firms abroad. The mid-ships section was simply a rectangular box. To avoid propeller damage in very shallow water, the screws were in an interior tunnel of Yarrow design.
The armament of one six - inch gun at either end was a powerful one for such a small ship. Super-firing over these were single twelve pounder guns, but these were later changed in some boats to modern guns such as three - inch and two pounder pom-pom guns. In addition, there were three mountings either side for Maxim machine guns.
were two Yarrow boilers, mounted side by side, each with its own uptake to
the two side by side funnels. Coal bunkers were located outboard of the
boilers either side. Each screw was
driven by a set of vertical triple expansion reciprocating engines. Both coal
and oil could be burnt in all except Moth, which was all oil. The engines and
boilers came much higher than the upper deck, but of course they were hidden
in the superstructure. All accommodation was below the waterline. As the
Insect class were in
flagship of the Yangtze Flotilla (R.A.Y.) was H.M.S. Bee which was built up
with a lot of top hamper to take the Admiral and his small staff with the
necessary administrative offices. Bee looked not unlike a small
H.M.S. Bee - 1920’s
ratio of length to beam and the rectangular mid-ship section suggest a good
working model. Decks were all steel covered with brown corticene. In
H.M.S. Scarab steaming up the
She returned fire at the Jap planes.
Bombing her from above
Original press photo
(Courtesy of Rupert K Clarke)
Photos courtesy Alan Gilby
Original embroidered badge
H.M.S. Scarab Christmas Card 1928
with original photo and Scarab crest
With Heartiest Greetings for Christmas
and Sincere Good Wishes
For your Heath & Happiness
In the new year
“From Herbert on the Yangtze Patrol
to Thirza with kisses”
H.M.S. Scarab original postcard
Concert Party c1920
Scarab, Cockchafer and Mantis were involved in what became known as the Wanhsien Incident in August and September 1926
Naval Officers before the scrap
From H.M.S. Scarab, Cockchafer, Mantis and SS Kiawo
Surviving Naval Officers
Surgeon-Lieutenant Murray – H.M.S. Mantis
Lieutenant Fogg-Elliot – H.M.S. Mantis
Lieutenant Peterson – H.M.S. Scarab
(For more details please see Wanhsien Incident)
Yangtze 1937 – 1939 Photo courtesy of David Richardson,
son of crew member Petty Officer Ernest Richardson,
H.M.S. Ladybird 1937-1941
Mr W. E. Breton from St Martins,
I was serving on H.M.S. Caradoc at Hangkow on
together with 13 gunboats looked after
British interests on the river from
Most docking and refitting was carried out at
that this letter was posted. I took this picture of her alongside there before I came home in 1934.
Entire China Fleet at anchor,
The whole flotilla, including six submarines.
There will be H.M.S. Ajax, Achilles,
and I’m unsure about King George V, it may be there.
Royal Navy ships of the China Station.
Insect Class River Gunboat lower right.
Mr G. G. Wright from
Prior to 1936 all mail for the China Fleet
was sent via
Northern waters and much longer if ships were further South. By sea mail it was never less than six weeks.
When Imperial Airways introduced the Short
Empire Flying Boats they took over the mail run as far as
and from then on mail arrived in days instead of weeks, again depending where a ship happened to be.
It was a great improvement and appreciated by all.
(China Posting and Via Siberia courtesy of Len Mell)
H.M.S. Scarab Invitation
An old invitation to dine on H.M.S. Scarab to celebrate the 25th anniversary of
King George V accession to the throne.
6 May 1935
H.M.S. Scarab - Ship’s Photos taken 1937-1939
Before restoration work
H.M.S. Scarab ship’s complement
Taken in 1938 after free booze up at U.B. Breweries.
X marks me. Bloke in middle holding pint glass – The Buffer
Note: The identity of “X marks me” is unknown
Pay day under forward 6 - inch gun.
The chap standing with arms behind his back, C.P.O. Bozier,
served in World War I
“Chinese” No 2 Boat Boy washing the Jack
Scrub decks - Tin Hats
As my brother, ex RAF type said,
“What a scruffy lot”
X marks me
H.M.S. Scarab Soccer Team
The Odds and Sods
The tall chap in the middle “Jack Dusty” became a Lieutenant M.B.E.
(Notice the Scarab crests on their shirt pockets)
Closed up at 3 - inch H.A. Gun
Sunday 12th December 1937
Closed up – day we got bombed
Notice Lewis Gun and the crewman (left)
holding the Scarab mascot Sparky
Floodlit for King George VI Coronation
Suggestions for further reading.
We acknowledge the invaluable assistance and encouragement received from Mr Gordon Smith and Mr. Don Kiddle of Naval-History.net
For an account of the Mesopotamian Campaign see:
A word of warning here for those not too knowledgeable about
The logbooks of H.M.S. Scarab in