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Victor Hutley’s diary of the 1925 Royal Tour. Part III: Crossing the Line

Posted by Rob Finch, on September 16th, 2019

Abstract

This article from the 22-year-old sick-bay attendant Victor ‘‘Dick’’ Hutley provides a detailed description of an infamous ‘Crossing the Line’ ceremony, as the battlecruiser HMS Repulse crossed the equator on her way to South America. Dick writes of a thoroughly enjoyable morning of festivities, culminating in the traditional ‘shave and bath’ for all those who had not crossed the line before, which accounted for over nine hundred members of the Ships Company. The good humoured entertainment did not allow any malingerers to get away without their punishment, with the ‘bears’ seeking out those skulking below decks to be brought in front of King Neptune and Amphitrite for their ceremonial dunking in a large canvas bath set up on the deck. In the afternoon everyone prepared for the evening’s entertainment, the Fancy Dress Ball, for which the ship was dressed overall with bunting and lights. Hutley rigged a fellow shipmate up as a girl, and he won the ladies prize, with the honour of dancing with the Prince. HRH then joined the band, and appeared to enjoy himself very much by getting involved with the informal festivities of the day, boistourisly encouraged by the officers and men of Repulse.

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