For those with a love of being on the water, today’s diary entry paints a picture of adventure, albeit it a small one. There is rough weather in the Alboran Sea, some sea sickness, and a thorough drenching.

The Diary Entry


Arose at 5 am, rolled up my hammock & went up on deck & had a wash as we are not allowed in the womans quarters till 7 am. Just as I was going in, I was told Pollie was on deck, so I went up on deck & their she sit the only woman on deck. It was a fine morning but rather rough, & Pollie would not go below, but remained on deck all day.Continue reading

Diary of JJ Rowe, 1889

In a previous post, I wrote about my great-granduncle, Joseph James Rowe, and his time with the British army in Gibraltar, India, and Rangoon, from 1883 until his death in 1923. After writing that post, I was contacted by Joseph’s great-granddaughter, Marion Bowles, who kindly provided me with a copy of a journal that Joseph had kept during the 5-week period from 10 February to 20 March 1889.

Joseph’s journal is a personal one, rather than a formal army diary, and through it, Joseph provides us with insights into army life, the perils of travelling by sail, what he saw en route to, and in, India.… Continue reading

JJ Rowe Diary: 11 Feb 1889


The first entry in Joseph Rowe’s 5-week diary was made on 11 February 1889. He had been stationed in Gibraltar with the British army for just over a year, and it was here that his first child, also named Joseph, was born in 1888.

The diary begins on the day that Joseph and his fellow soldiers departed Gibraltar for India, the site of their next posting. Also travelling with Joseph were his wife, Pollie, and his 4-month old son. It is a nostalgic entry, looking back at his time in Gibraltar and the friends that he and Pollie were leaving behind.… Continue reading

Joseph Rowe: Service in Gibraltar and India

Joseph James Rowe was one of my great-grandfather’s younger brothers. He was born and baptised in Baconsthorpe, Norfolk, England, in 1863. By the time he was 18 years old, he was working as an agricultural labourer, still living at home with his family in Baconsthorpe.

Everything else that I know about Joseph comes from his military service records. He joined the Norfolk Regiment at Great Yarmouth on 10 April 1883, when he was about 20 years old, although his age was recorded on his service record at the time as 18 and a half years.

Norfolk Map

I don’t have any photographs of Joseph, but his records help paint a picture of his physical appearance.… Continue reading