"Time and Hammocks"

The following has been extracted from BR 827 A Seaman's Pocket-Book, June 1943 (1944 reprint, HMSO). Although the date is outside the Great War era, the terms are basically those which were used by the Royal Navy during World War One.


In the Royal Navy the day is divided into seven parts, called watches, which are named as follows (Note: the 24.00 hours' system is used):
0000 to 0400 (midnight to 4 am) Middle watch
0400 to 0800 (4am to 8 am) Morning watch
0800 to 1200 (8 am to noon) Forenoon watch
1200 to 1600 (noon to 4 pm) Afternoon watch
1600 to 1800 (4 pm to 6 pm) First dog watch
1800 to 2000 (6 pm to 8 pm) Last dog watch
2000 to 0000 (8 pm to midnight) First watch

On board ship time is marked every half-hour by striking a bell, the number of strokes giving the time, as follows:

0000 8 bells 0030 1 bell
0100 2 bells 0130 3 bells
0200 4 bells 0230 5 bells
0300 6 bells 0330 7 bells
0400 8 bells 0430 1 bell
0500 2 bells 0530 3 bells
0600 4 bells 0630 5 bells
0700 6 bells 0730 7 bells
0800 8 bells 0830 1 bell
0900 2 bells 0930 3 bells
1000 4 bells 1030 5 bells
1100 6 bells 1130 7 bells

1200 8 bells 1230 1 bell
1300 2 bells 1330 3 bells
1400 4 bells 1430 5 bells
1500 6 bells 1530 7 bells
1600 8 bells 1630 1 bell
1700 2 bells 1730 3 bells
1800 4 bells 1830 1 bell
1900 2 bells 1930 3 bells
2000 8 bells 2030 1 bell
2100 2 bells 2130 3 bells
2200 4 bells 2230 5 bells
2300 6 bells 2330 7 bells


Hammock: The canvas part, having 16 holes in each end, usually fitted with eyelets.

Clews: 'A set of clews' consists of two lanyards, each spliced to its metal ring, each ring carrying eight nettles (six-foot lengths of 3-stranded white hemp 5/8 inch in circumference), for slinging the two ends of the hammock.

The nettles are first middled, with the eye so formed secured with a racking seizing; the eye is passed through the ring and secured by passing the two ends through the eye. As each nettle has two ends, sixteen ends are thus provided, one for each eyelet hole in the end of the hammock.

Lashing: A length of sisal long enough to allow the seven turns to be taken round the hammock and secured to its own part. The lashing has an eye-splice at one end and may be 'pointed' at the other.

To sling the hammock secure one lanyard to the hammock bar overhead so that the ends of the nettles hang at the level of the chest. Pass the outer nettles through the outer corner eyelet holes at one end of the hammock and secure by a half-hitch, leaving about six inches of the ends hanging down. Then take the two nettles nearest the centre and secure them to their corresponding eyelet holes in the centre of the hammock-end, leaving about four inches hanging down. Then secure the remaining nettles in like manner from the centre outwards, leaving increasing lengths of end hanging.

Repeat with the other end of the hammock and the other clews. Plait the ends of the nettles up in threes, leaving them inside the hammock.

Sling the hammock between two hammock bars by passing the lanyard over the bar, back up through its own ring and form a sheet bend over the nettles. Then distribute the bedding evenly over the length of the hammock and tauten up the slack nettles if necessary.

Too keep the head of the hammock apart a stretcher can be used, but this is optional. It consists of a length of wood about two feet in length with a V cut out at both ends. These V's take over the top two nettles on each side.

To Lash Up a Hammock

Distribute the bedding evenly over the length of the hammock leaving about six inches clear at each end to prevent bunches of bedding and blankets oozing out of the ends when it is lashed.

Lower the hammock until it is breast high, and stand on the left side facing the head. Pass the lashing over the hammock and reeve the end through the eye and draw taut; this is the first turn. The succeeding turns are taken as follows:-

Coil the lashing up and pass it up and over the hammock with the right hand and bring it under the hammock into the left hand, then over its own standing part and haul taut by swinging back on it. This hitch is called a marline hitch.

The final turn is taken around the neck of the hammock at the foot and is secured on its own part by a half-hitch. The end is then passed neatly along the hammock under each turn.

The clews are stowed by twisting the nettles round right-handed and tucking under the turns of lashing along the hammock.


Last Updated: 25 May, 2002.

 Return to WWI The Maritime War

 Return to WWI Archive main page.