Remembered Today:

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Jonathan Saunders

Black Diamonds

6 posts in this topic

Reading through a mid-war letter the other day I came across the expression "black diamonds" and have no idea what it can mean. Has anyone come across this term/slang?

The context was a sailor aboard a dreadnought that had come into port after patrol (home port was Scapa but I guess it could be anywhere on north-eastern coast or western seaboard depending on where they had been patrolling). I dont have the quote at hand but he writes something along the lines of "several black diamonds have arrived". My initial thoughts were is this a Divisional sign but then why would troops be so far north? Another was whether it related to Empire troops? Finally was it a nickname for some ordnance such as a particular shell? There are no other clues I am afraid.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Signals

The term Black Diamonds was used in relation to a particular type of very pure, high quality coal that sparkled. Over time this became a term used for coal in general. The Black Diamonds could therefore be coalers with fuel to fill the coal-holds, particularly as the ship in question had just return from patrol.

Dave

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many thanks Heritage Plus. He refers to about 900 Black Diamonds coming aboard, which seems excessive although admittedly there would have been huge coal dumps needed to fuel the boilers. I am sure this is what he must have meant.

Many thanks again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Signals

I have heard coal being called black diamonds by South Wales miners. Probably comes from both coal and diamonds being carbon based.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Jon

This probably refers to 900 tons of coal.

Mick

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks chaps. Curiosity satisfied.

I also have a copy of a letter from his brother (7 Duke of Wellingtons) and he refers to some "dark ladies" when he was billeted somewhere in Northumbria. I think his language was more literal than his RN brother!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0