Death of a Bluejacket

  Crime & Tragedy: short stories

During his time with the Victorian Naval Contingent to suppress the Boxer Uprising from 21 July 1900 to 25 April 1901, William Robertson maintained a diary which reveals much about the man. His breezy jottings show a candid mind of insightful observations and a humorous wit which reads unlike any other war diary. On passing a boat of natives on the way to China - “They probably wanted to exchange bread fruit and bananas for missionaries, as they infinitely prefer roast missionary to other delicacy” (14 Aug 1900). On the Chinese, whom he admired for their engineering ingenuity - “...when the Chinese learn the lessons we are teaching them - and they are apt pupils - they will be great trade rivals” (29 Aug 1900). On military life - “This is a hog’s life. I have not had my clothes off for days, but this afternoon...I entered into a contract with a Chinese boy to wash me down daily with warm water and carbolic soap...The boy will in time become a bloated Chinese capitalist” (15 Oct 1900). Ultimately, the only shot Robertson fired in anger during his time in China was to ward off a “...gentleman who had intended to decorate me with the order of the boot” (17 Oct 1900).



Diary of William Robertson held in possession of grandson Ian Robertson.


Last Updated: 01-Sep-2008 18:33.