Smokers, sailors, battles and ship losses?

Now we communicators as much as any smoked, and I certainly did but stopped in the 1960's.

Here's a quick and interesting story about smoking per se and how total war and naval battles can affect tobacco advertising and the use of the dreaded nicotine habit!

Now of much greater importance nationally because of Jutland.

John Player and Sons Ltd made cigarettes and used the picture of R.N.,Sailors on the packaging. However, long before that............


The use of a sailor[s] and in several forms started in 1885 when Player happened upon a canvas painted by a man
 called Wright of CLAPHAM in approximately 1880, at that time [1885] being used by a small tobacco company as their logo called Parkins of Chester, calling their product Jack's Glory, a mainly pipe tobacco product.


Upon purchase of the picture, John Player immediately used the sailor's head as a trademark/logo of his
 thriving company producing cigarettes, loose shredded tobacco for rolling into cigarettes, pipe tobacco [shag]
 and chewing tobacco with snuff on the side. Many older sailors [thousands in the fleet at Jutland] preferred
their own smoking preparations as follows. They would slice thin flakes of tobacco as required from a
cord-bound rum-soaked perique, prepared over many weeks to maturity. The perique was purchased ashore
 from tobacco traders and was highly prized. Some say that lockers, of a sort but secure, were first
introduced to keep personal valuables in, not kit which was kept in a kit-bag or a swag-bag, and personal
tobacco was certainly one of these. Perique was available world-wide, so a shrewd sailor never ran out of the
precious commodity. A little later on in 1888, Player added a life-jacket to the picture and
 again in 1891 two ships, Britannia and Hero. In actual fact he destroyed the original 1880 picture by these

Here are details of those two ships.


The Three-Decker is HMS Britannia

When Queen Victoria came to the throne in 1837, HMS Britannia was one of the biggest ships of the line. She was a wooden three-decker, carried 120 guns, could sail 9 knots in a fair wind
 and in fact was not very different from Nelson's ships of the line.

HMS Britannia, HMS Hero (respectively left and right of the sailors head) and the sailor himself were formed into the current Player's Trade Mark in 1891 as shown here.



The Player's Sailor's Ship


Note his cap tally. She was HMS Hero.  "The battleship HMS Hero was launched 27th October 1885, and she differed from HMS Conqueror [the lead ship of the class Hero belonged to]  only in that all four of her 6 inch guns were mounted
on the superstructure. At the end of Hero's career it was used as a target from November 1907 and was finally sunk off the Kentish Knock on 18th February


Ever heard of a famous artists cum illustrator called Arthur David McCormick?

He was an Irish man from Ulster who travelled the world acting as the illustrator [in lieu of the camera]
 on expeditions led by eminent explorers/scientist's, and recorded scenes and events in the greatest of
detail.  In 1927, whilst apparently resting from these arduous tours he was contacted by John Player and
Sons Ltd and asked to paint a picture for their company to be used as their company logo to replace the
picture they had ruined by being too ambitious.  This he agreed to do and the picture was called by him,
 the "Head of a Sailor" bearing the cap tally of HMS Excellent. It was their last advertising image,
and for all I know [as a non-smoker now] it may be in use to this very day.
This is that famous picture of 1927.


However, before that time of 1927, Players had other pictures of sailors and at one time after 1905, the
sailor's picture vogue at that time showed the cap tally of HMS Invincible. Millions upon millions
of cigarette packets were produced from 1905 until the 1st June 1916, the last day of the Battle of Jutland.
 She and her class were bugged from the very beginning with main armament gunnery problems and although
commissioned in 1906, she underwent a third major
 refit in 1914 to put right her problems. As late as 1915 she was still undergoing changes to her secondary
 armaments which resulted in fewer 4" guns than planned and fitted during her build. This class of ship also
 had underwater torpedo tubes and she was perhaps rightly considered a potent weapon platform. She saw much action
 in the early part of the war both at Heligoland Bight and the Falklands. In the latter Battle, the two
battlecruisers [Invincible and Inflexible] laid into the very large German squadron sinking two very well
known ships infamous also in WW2, the Scharnhorst and the Gneisenau. The whole of the German squadron was
destroyed see

Throughout the vicious fight, the Invincible fired no fewer than 515x12" shells, sustained damage to the
vessel requiring dockyard assistance in Gibraltar, but not one of the crew members was hurt in any way: the Inflexible lost one man and three injured.


No wonder then in 1914 that the very name of Invincible was a much loved word for the British population.
She [with others of course] was a true hero, so Players choosing her for their advertising was the most
naturally step possible for the company. People bought Players cigarettes just to own a picture of the sailor
with the cap tally of HMS Invincible.


Certainly, he gunnery defects had not inhibited her from performing her duties at these first two battles, and
come February 1915 she had joined the Home Fleet and was ready for her next battle, that of Jutland. Sadly, she was
 lost in action


The death of HMS Invincible at Jutland

After a gallant fight with other British battlecruisers against German forces earlier in the engagement, Invincible was caught by
two German ships both firing onto her. She sank within 90 seconds from terrible magazine explosions
midships fore and aft, which totally destroyed the vessel sending 1026 men to a watery grave with only
six survivors, all to do with the ships gunnery systems. It was one of several total British losses totalling
many thousands of deaths and tons of materiel.
This picture shows Invincible blown into two separate parts each resting on the seabed.




This news of Invincible's loss was taken to heart in a big way by the British people,
their [our] hero was lost and with such a terrible loss of life. Those of us who can visualise
the day to day routines and procedures of a large warship, whether down below or up top, would
have nightmares themselves thinking about how those men died, some immediately engulfed in fires/
explosions generating heat measured in the 1000 degree mark, some scalded to death by bursting boilers full of red hot
steam-heated pressurised water destined for the steam turbines, but from whatever means
,their deaths would have been rapid and over in a few seconds thank God for that small mercy!

The death list made for shocking reading.


This tragedy also heralded the end of the use of the sailor with the HMS Invincible cap tally on Players
packaging of their cigarettes and other tobacco products. According to some, they reluctantly pulled-the-plug,
 but others say that they were equally saddened and shocked by the loss of this well loved hero, and adopted a new advertising trademark/logo as soon as possible.


In 1980, just weeks after having commanded the gun carriage during Mountbatten Royal Ceremonial Funeral on the streets of London on September 5th 1979, the Captain of HMS Excellent Captain R K S Bethell OBE FBIM Royal Navy, published a booklet
 to commemorate 150 years of his establishment from 1830.  In it he put the Royal Navy's side of the story
with the Players company. It is important because it supports the trading position of Players in the early days [and at the time of Jutland]
 and how tenuous it was in the overall competition with companies like De Reszke Cigarettes Co.

“In 1927, A D McCormick RA, was commissioned to produce the final version in use to-day, using “HERO” as the cap tally [the lack of HMS is an artist’s error, irretrievable after registration] for
use on packaging.  For advertising purposes “INVINCIBLE” was used up to 1916, when the name was dropped as likely to give offence to relatives of the dead of the *cruiser [sic] of that name
 was lost at the Battle of Jutland.  In 1956, the John Player management for the first time forged an actual link with “The Service” by inviting a football team from
 the Gunnery School to play the firm on their Aspley Lane ground in Nottingham and since the November of that year football, cricket and ladies hockey teams have made annual visits to
 each other’s grounds.

For many years Nottingham has proved to be a prime recruiting centre for the Royal Navy , with a long tradition of distinguished service.  Although the association between John Player of Nottingham
 and the Royal Navy was for so long merely supposition, it is now a  stabilised fact.

With the launch of the latest HMS NOTTINGHAM on 18th February 1979, the ties between the City, its industry and the Royal Navy can only be made stronger.”

* Invincible was a battlecruiser, not a cruiser.

However, as always on the WWW one must be careful about stated fact and figures, and here is a glaring example. Captain Bethell' definition above is vouched for and proven correct with other places of learning.  HMS Excellent's Museum Curator [date not known] but on Captain Bethell' patch,  wrote a so-called  authoritative article for the BBC for a web page called "Your Paintings" - 'More about HMS Excellent'.  In it he mixes up names [and dates] which throws all readers, by quoting HMS Illustrious instead of HMS Invincible [our hero remember].  Very important to understand that at the time of Jutland, Illustrious, being the oldest battleship in the navy and no longer fit for purpose, had been stripped of all weapons and was acting as a stores ship.