Captain Arthur David Linklater (1870-1951)

It little profits

Whatever else Arthur may or may not have received in recognition of his achievement in navigating the Hooghly by night, hard cash was no doubt as welcome as anything. The following ‘Extract from the Proceedings of the 1594th Meeting of the Commissioners for the Port of Calcutta’ held on 11th October 1915 containing Proposal paper No. 4 was forwarded to "Captain A. D. Linklater, Commander, D.V. Retriever for information" 4. Memorandum by the Vice-Chairman with reference to Resolution 704 of 1913 recommending in recognition of his good service in general and in particular of the additional work and responsibility devolving upon him on account of the introduction of the new lighting system, that Captain A. D. Linklater, Commander, D. V. " Retriever", be allowed to draw the maximum pay of his appointment, viz. Rs. 600 per mensem [about £40] with effect from the 10th October 1915, the date on which the second grade increment of Rs. 20 falls due, and when he will have been two years in command of his vessel. Resolution No. 429 received that most pleasing of verdicts "Sanctioned" - albeit with the caveat "subject to the sanction of Government." Ironically, this success contained the seeds of Arthur's frustration. He had peaked too early. The writing in the ‘Proposal’ was also the writing on the wall - "that Captain A. D. allowed to draw the maximum pay of his appointment." It seems he had no further immediate prospects with the Calcutta Port Authority. His sights were set on the position of his boss, that of Deputy Conservator. Unfortunately for him, the first Deputy Conservator under whom he served inconsiderately died before Arthur was qualified or senior enough to stand any chance of succeeding to the position and the man they appointed in his place showed no signs of his predecessor's weakness and looked set to remain in place for many years to come, thus blocking Arthur's chance of real advancement. Calcutta was of strategic importance in the First World War as a coaling port. Arthur's youth and lack of seniority would probably also have weighed against entrusting such a key job to his relatively inexperienced hands when compared to the safe, naval, hands of the man appointed Deputy Conservator, Capt. E.N. Constable, R.N. As noted earlier, Arthur was considering a number of other options in 1912 including a job advertising for "several vacancies for Junior Officers which exist in the service of the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co."

It all boiled down to money. From the ‘Folio Commonplace Book’ a letter dated 12 February 1915 to the Deputy Conservator specifically raised the question of his salary some 6 months before he was awarded his "maximum pay" as above,


I respectfully beg to lay before you an application, that the Commander's salary of this vessel [Retriever] may be raised to that of the Dredgers, and that my present salary of 520 may be increased to 650. I beg that I may be brought onto the same footing as the other commanders in the Port Approach Department.

I am prepared to go into the Dredgers [whereas he had previously made clear that he was not] if the Commissioners require that I should and will quickly adapt myself to their work, and endeavour to maintain in them the same standard of efficiency as has been done in my work here.

The comprehensive nature of this ship's work necessitates having a thorough knowledge, and a familiarity with a considerable number of various duties. This has been acquired by actual experience, and by a keenness to do everything thoroughly.
This experience would be discounted somewhat by going in a Dredger, but in whatever sphere you may consider your interests can be the better served by me, my endeavour would be for success in it.

The lightship work in itself is only run smoothly by a very intimate knowledge of the whole system. The general maintenance of the buoys, work which I have as Chief Officer and Commander carried out for the last five seasons, is a work of considerable magnitude. The gas plant which has so greatly increased recently requires careful and experienced handling.

These references do not compass a variety of work which has increased most considerably since 1908, the year in which the present rate of the Commander's salary was adopted. I am one of the few holders of a Towing Certificate. I am sure Sir, an officer who joins the Service now, and passes for the River in six months time is not more valuable to you then than I am to you now.

I trust this application may meet with your favourable consideration and approval.
I have the honour to be Sir,

Your obedient servant,


So, he was seeking 650 rupees a month in February but come August, having enabled night navigation to Calcutta, the Port Commissioners awarded him 600 rupees. Not enough Sirs, not enough!

© 2016 Quivis

× Capt. Arthur David Linklater INTRODUCTION to the Journals JOURNAL Preface &
BRITISH PRINCESS BIOGRAPHY Biography Contents page by page CAPE HORN The HOOGHLY River SAIL v. STEAM SAIL - unfinished; ran out of steam. NAUTICAL GLOSSARY SLIDE SHOWS