Ship's Routine

What was daily life on the ship like?

HMS Gambia was nearly always described as "a happy ship" in that life onboard was not too onerous. The officers were fair and usually as relaxed as navy regulations allowed them to be. The ship was cramped for the crewmen. The ship's sailing and fighting capabilities came first, creature comforts for the crew came after these.

John Eilbeck reported in the HMS Ganges Association Gazette that sometime in 1949 to 1950 that some modifications were made to HMS Gambia for the comfort of the crew:

Three cruisers of the Royal Navy, the Swiftsure, Ceylon and Gambia had been refitted and a number of comforts and amenities fitted. All electric bakeries and galleys, refrigerated stowage for fresh fruit and veg, drinking water coolers and ice cream soda bars (the Goffa [or Goffer] machine). Bathrooms updated, stainless steel wash-basins, each with a hot and cold water supply, and with shaving light and mirror over each basin. The Laundry extended (more space for ex-patriot Mainland China dhobymen), cinema and SRE provided.

The original HMS Gambia Association website contained two images of the daily crew routine, one for when in harbour and one for at sea. These are marked as example routines and are undated:

Example daily routines

This is the harbour routine:

0505 Call men under punishment.
0515 Call duty R.P.O., disciplinary P.O., and bugler.
0530 Call the hands; lash up and stow hammocks; men under punishment to muster.
0535 Cooks to the galley for cocoa.
*0550 "G"
0555 Out pipes.
0600 Hands fall in; clean ship and lower boats; duty boats' crews scrub out and fuel boats; off boat ropes.
0630 Up guard and steerage hammocks.
*0650 Cooks to the galley; uncover guns; respread awnings.
0700 Hands to breakfast and clean; clean mess deck brightwork.
0745 Guard and band (Summer).
0750 Out pipes; duty boys of forenoon watch to muster.
0800 Colours (Summer); both watches for exercise, stand fast cooks and sweepers; hands to brightwork stations: clean messdecks and flats.
0820 Commander's requestmen and defaulters.
0835 Quarters clean guns
0845 Guard and band (Winter).
*0855 "G;" return rags; morning watchmen Out pipes.
0900 Colours (Winter); both watches of the hands, or Divisions.
1030 Stand easy.
1040 Out pipes, hands carry on with work.
1115 Up spirits.
1130 Afternoon watchmen and relief boats' crews to dinner.
*1150 Cooks to the galley; grog call.
1200 Hands to dinner; pipe leave and any general orders.
1220 Duty boys of afternoon watch to muster.
1230 Men under punishment to muster (1315 on make-and-mend days).
1305 "G"
*1310 Out pipes.
1315 Both watches of the hands fall in.
1420 Stand easy.
1430 Out pipes, hands carry on with work.
1530 First dog-watchmen to tea (make-and-mend days, men under punishment secure).
1540 Clear up decks (make-and-mend days, both watches fall in).
*1550 Cooks to the galley; emergency party to muster.
1600 Hands to tea, or evening quarters; clean into night clothing; libertymen to clean (liberty men "fall in" in accordance with boat routines).
1630 Men under punishment to muster.
1700 Engine-room department to evening quarters; duty hands fall in - up fresh  provisions (in dockyard—emergency party to muster; exercise Fire Stations).
1800 Duty part of the watch fall in; hoist boats; rig boat ropes and stern fasts; rig cinema; cover guns (at Sunset if earlier).
1830 Hands to supper; men under punishment secure; duty boats' crews clean into night clothing.
2015 Cooks and sweepers clear up mess decks and flats; duty part of the watch of the hands fall in, clear up decks, slope awnings, close water-tight openings
*2040 First post; duty hands, night boat's crew, and men under punishment and stoppage of leave to muster.
2045 Rounds; boys turn in.
2100 Last post.
2145 Duty hands fall in, unrig cinema.
2200 Pipe down.
2230 Chief and petty officers pipe down.

This is the sea routine:

0340 Call morning watchmen.
0350 Morning watchmen to muster.
0505 Call men under punishment.
0515 Call duty R.P.O., disciplinary petty officer and bugler.
0530 Call the hands (stand fast middle watchmen); lash up and stow hammocks; men under punishment to muster.
0535 Cooks to the galley for cocoa.
0545 Morning watchmen to muster; sweep down decks, place washdeck gear.
*0550 "G"
0555 Out pipes.
0600 Hands fall in; clean ship.
0630 Up guard and steerage hammocks; open water-tight openings (as ordered by O.O.W.).
*0650 Cooks to the galley; watchkeepers of forenoon watch to breakfast and clean.
0700 Hands to breakfast and clean; clean messdeck brightwork.
0735 Out pipes; seaboat's crew and lowerers of forenoon watch to muster.
0800 Both watches for exercise, stand fast cooks and sweepers; hands to brightwork stations; clean messdecks and flats.
0820 Commander's requestmen and defaulters.
0835 Quarters clean guns.
*0855 "G"; return rags; morning watchmen out pipes.
0900 Both watches of the hands, or Divisions.
1030 Stand easy.
1040 Out pipes, hands carry on with work.
1100 Up spirits.
1130 Watchkeepers of the afternoon watch to dinner.
*1150 Cooks to the galley; grog call.
1200 Hands to dinner.
1225 Seaboat's crew and lowerers of afternoon watch to muster.
1230 Men under punishment to muster (1315 on make-and-mend days).
1305 "G"
1310 Out pipes.
1315 Both watches of the hands fall in; stand fast watchkeepers of the forenoon watch.
1345 Watchkeepers of the forenoon watch to muster.
1430 Stand easy.
1440 Out pipes, hands carry on with work.
1530 First dog-watchmen to tea (make-and-mend days, men under punishment secure).
*1540 Clear up decks (make-and-mend days, both watches fall in).
1600 Hands to tea or evening quarters: clean into night clothing.
1630 Men under punishment to muster.
1820 Cooks to the galley.
1830 Hands to supper; men under punishment secure.
1950 First watchmen to muster.
2015 Watch fall in; duty part clear up decks, non-duty part close water-tight openings; cooks and sweepers clear up mess decks and flats for rounds.
*2040 Men under punishment to muster.
2045 Rounds; boys turn in.
2130 Pipe down; seaboat's crew and lowerers unrig cinema.
2200 Chief and petty officers pipe down.
2340 Call middle watchmen.
2350 Middle watchmen to muster.

Naval Life and Customs coverGordon Smith's wonderful naval-history.net website is full of information including the text of Naval Life and Customs by Lt-Cdr John Irving, RN. It was published in 1944 by Sherratt & Hughes, Altrincham. According th that, the "G" mentioned in the routines above might mean a bugle's "single note - 'one 'G'' this is called. This is the signal for all divisional officers to report,"

The scan is of the cover of my own copy of the book. It's a very interesting read.