Category Archives: Military

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1867 – The Research

 Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Research.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1867 – The Research

In [1867] I was appointed to the Research, which was stationed at Holyhead, and in which I served for a few months. There was a good deal of alarm felt with regard to the Fenians, who were active at the time, and the Research was ordered to look out for them. With my messmates, Caesar Hawkins, Lascelles, and Forbes, I hunted a good deal from Holyhead with Mr. Panton’s hounds. I also hunted with the Ward Union in Ireland. I used to cross from Holyhead at night, hunt during the day, and return that night.

Among other memories of those old days, I remember that my brother and myself, being delayed at Limerick Junction, occupied the time in performing a work of charity upon the porter, whose hair was of an immoderate luxuriance. He was – so far as we could discover – neither poet nor musician, and was therefore without excuse. Nevertheless, he refused the proffered kindness. Perceiving that he was thus blinded to his own interest, we gently bound him hand and foot and lashed him to a railway truck. I possessed a knife, but we found it an unsuitable weapon: my brother searched the station and found a pair of snuffers, used for trimming the station lamps. With this rude but practicable instrument we shore the locks of the porter, and his hair blew all about the empty station like the wool of a sheep at shearing-time. When it was done we made him suitable compensation.

“Sure,” said the porter, “I’ll grow my hair again as quick as I can, that way you’ll be giving me another tip.”

We had an old Irish keeper at home, whose rule in life was to agree with everything that was said to him. Upon a day when it was blowing a full gale of wind, I said to myself that I would get to windward of him to-day anyhow.

“Well, Harney,” said I. “It is a fine calm day to-day.”

“You may say that, Lord Char-less, but what little wind there is, is terrible strong,” says Harney.

A lady once said to him, “How old are you, Harney?”

“Och, shure, it’s very ould and jaded I am, it’s not long I’ll be for this world,” said he.

“Oh,” said she, “but I’m old, too. How old do you think l am?”

“Sure, how would I know that? But whatever age ye are, ye don’t look it, Milady.”

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

HMS Research

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sublej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Landing Party

Charles Beresford
Charles Beresford

So the British and American fleets steamed out to sea, while the Spaniards fired upon Valparaiso from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon, setting the place on fire, and then retired to their anchorage outside. The British and American fleets then returned to the Bay, and I accompanied a landing-party to help to extinguish the conflagration.

Five of us were standing on the top of the high wall of a building whose roof had fallen in, so that the whole interior was a mass of burning wreckage, upon which we were directing the hose, when the men below shouted that the wall was falling. We slid down the ladder, and no sooner had we touched the ground than the whole wall tottered and fell inwards.

We put the fires out, but the inhabitants were so angry with us because we had not prevented the bombardment, that they requested that the landing-party should be sent back to their ships. Then the flames broke out afresh. For years the resentment of the Valparaisians remained so hot that it was inadvisable to land in the town men from British ships.

The meeting of the British and American seamen gave rise to much discussion concerning the respective merits of the British and American theories of gunnery. The Americans advocated the use of round shot to deliver a “racking blow”; the British preferred firing a pointed projectile which would penetrate the target instead of merely striking it. When an American bluejacket asked his British friend to explain the new English system of shell-fire, the British bluejacket said: “We casts our shot for the new gun so many fathoms long, and then, d’ye see, we cuts off a length at a time, regulatin’ the length required according to the ship we uses it against. For your ship, I reckon we should cut off about three and a half inches.”

The Spanish fleet was afflicted with scurvy; and we used to pull over to the Spanish ships in the evenings, bringing the officers presents of chicken, fresh meat and fruit.

Having done with Valparaiso, the Spaniards went to Callao; but there they had a more difficult job; for Callao was fortified, and the Spaniards were considerably damaged by the gun-fire from the forts.

During the progress of hostilities between the Chilians and the Spaniards, the Chilians constructed one of the first submarines. It was an American invention worked by hand and ballasted with water. The Chilians intended, or hoped, to sink the Spanish fleet with it. The submarine started from the beach on this enterprise; but it was never seen again. It simply plunged into the sea, and in the sea it remains to this day.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Valparaiso

When we put into Valparaiso the Spanish fleet was threatening to bombard the town. Rather more than a year previously, in [1864], Spain had quarrelled with Chile, alleging that Chile had violated neutrality, and had committed other offences. In March, [1864], Spain began the diplomatic correspondence with Chile in which she demanded reparation, which was refused. Chile sent artillery and troops to Valparaiso. The Spanish admiral, Pareja, then proclaimed a blockade of the Chilian ports, and Chile declared war.

The European residents in Valparaiso, who owned an immense amount of valuable property stored in the customhouses, were terrified at the prospect of a bombardment, and petitioned Admiral Denman to prevent it. An American fleet of warships was also lying in the Bay. Among them was the Miantonomoh, the second screw ironclad that ever came through the Straits of Magellan, the first being the Spanish ironclad Numancia.

When the Miantonomoh crossed the Atlantic in [1866], The Times kindly remarked that the existing British Navy was henceforth useless, and that most of its vessels “were only fit to be laid up and ‘ painted that dirty yellow which is universally adopted to mark treachery, failure, and crime.'”

The British and American admirals consulted together as to the advisability of preventing the bombardment. The prospect of a fight cheered us all; and we entered into elaborate calculations of the relative strength of the Spanish fleet and the British-American force. As a matter of fact they were about equal The Spanish admiral, Nunez, who had succeeded Pareja, visited the Sutlej and conversed with Admiral Denman. It was reported by the midshipman who was A.D.C. to the admiral that, upon his departure, the Spaniard had said: “Very well, Admiral Denman, you know your duty and I know mine.” The information raised our hopes; but at the critical moment a telegram forbidding the British admiral to take action was received from the British Minister at Santiago.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard The Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Old Yarn

In those days we had little bright-work, but plenty of whitewash and blacking. The test of a smart ship was that the lines of white or black should meet with absolute accuracy; and a fraction of error would be visited with the captain’s severe displeasure. For he employed condemnation instead of commendation. There was an old yarn about a mate of the main deck, who boasted that he had got to windward of his captain. We used to take live stock, poultry and sheep to sea in those days. The captain found fault with the mate because the fowls and coops were dirty. The mate whitewashed the chickens and blacked their legs and beaks. Now the poultry in question belonged to the captain. Thereafter the fowls died.

It was the custom for the admiral to take a cow or two to sea, and the officers took sheep and fowls. There is a tradition in the Navy that the cow used to be milked in the middle watch for the benefit of the officer on watch; and that, in order that the admiral should get his allowance of milk, the cow was filled up with water and made to leap backwards and forwards across the hatchways. Another tradition ordains that when the forage for the sheep ran short, the innocent animals were fitted with green spectacles, and thus equipped, they were fed on shavings.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Sutlej.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – The Sutlej

We arrived at Valparaiso towards the end of January. I continued to discharge my duties in the Tribune until the middle of February, when I was transferred to the Sutlej. I was as happy on board the Tribune as I had been in the Marlborough and the Clio, and for the same reason: the splendid seamanship and constant sailorising.

The Sutlej was a steam frigate pierced for guns, of 3066 tons and 500 h.p., flagship of the Pacific station. Before I joined her, the commander-in-chief of the station was Admiral Kingcome, who had (as we say) come in through the hawse-pipe. It was the delight of this queer old admiral to beat the drum for night-quarters himself. He used to steal the drum, and trot away with it, rub-a-dub all along the lower deck, bending double beneath the hammocks of the sleeping seamen. On one of these occasions; so runs the yarn; a burly able seaman thrust his bare legs over the edge of his hammock, clipped the admiral under the shoulders, swung him to and fro, and, with an appropriate but unquotable objurgation, dispatched him forward with a kick.

Such (in a word) was the condition of the flagship to which Rear-Admiral the Honourable Joseph Denman succeeded, after the enjoyment of twenty-five years’ profound peace in the command of the Queen’s yacht.

The captain, Trevenen P. Coode, was tall and thin, hooked-nosed and elderly, much bent about the shoulders, with a habit of crossing his arms and folding his hands inside his sleeves. He was a taut hand and a fine seaman. He nearly broke my heart, old martinet that he was; for I was mate of the upper deck and the hull, and took an immense pride in keeping them immaculately clean; but they were never clean enough for Captain Trevenen P. Coode.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1866 – Promotion

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Promotion

While in the Tribune, two misfortunes occurred to me on the same day. As we all know, misfortunes never come singly. The sailmaker had reported me for skylarking; and it occurred to me that if he was going to put me in the report, he might as well have a better reason for that extreme action. I therefore rove a line attached to a sailmaker’s needle through the holes of the bench upon which he sat. When he seated himself to begin his work, I jerked the line, and he leaped into the air with a loud cry. That was my first misfortune. The second was entirely due to the rude and thoughtless conduct of another midshipman, who, in passing me as I sat at my sailmaker’s bench, industriously working, tilted me over. I took up the first thing which was handy, which happened to be a carpenter’s chisel, and hurled it at his retreating figure. It stuck and quivered in a portion of his anatomy which is (or was) considered by schoolmasters as designed to receive punishment. I had, of course, no intention of hurting him. But I was reported for the second time that day. I was put on watch and watch for a week, a penance which involved being four hours on and four hours off, my duties having to be done as usual during the watch off in the daytime.

We sailed from Vancouver early in December, [1865]. On 2nd January I was promoted to be acting sub-lieutenant I find that Captain Lord Gillford endorsed my certificate with the statement that Lord Charles Beresford had conducted himself “with sobriety, diligence, attention, and was always obedient to command; and I have been much pleased with the zealous manner in which he has performed his duties.”

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Pride

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Pride

Morrison and I worked together at everything. We turned in new boats’ falls, replaced lanyards in wash-deck buckets, as well as taking our turn at all tricks sailmaker’s crew. We put in new clews to a topsail and course. We roped a jib and other fore-and-aft sails. Both of these jobs require great care and practice, and both of them we had to do two or three times before we got them right. A sailmaker knows how difficult it is to keep the lay of the rope right in roping a sail. We used also to go aloft and repair sick seams in the sails to avoid unbending.

Captain Lord Gillford himself could cut out a sail, whether fore-and-aft or square. I have heard him argue with Flood as to the amount of goring to be allowed, and Lord Gillford was always right. It was he who put it into my head to try to teach myself all that I could, by saying, “If a man is a lubber over a job, you ought to be able to show him how to do it, not tell him how to do it.”

We were never so proud as when Lord Gillford sent for us and told us that we had made a good job of roping the new jib. Among other things, I learned from the “snob,” as the shoemaker was called, to welt and repair boots. In after years, I made a portmanteau, which lasted for a long time, for my old friend, Chief Engineer Roffey; and I made many shooting and fishing bags for my brother officers.

Merely for the sake of knowing how to do and how not to do a thing, in later years I have chipped a boiler (a devil of a job), filled coal-sacks, trimmed bunkers, stoked fires and driven engines.

We used up all our spare canvas in the Tribune; and I remember that on one occasion we were obliged to patch the main-royal with a mail-bag, so that the main-royal bore the legend “Letters for England” on it thereafter.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Sailmaker

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Lord Charles Beresford (1846-1919) was a British Admiral and Member of Parliament, he was a hero in battle and a champion of the Navy in Parliament.  Below is another installment in our series of his memoirs – taken from ‘The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford’ written by himself and published in 1914.

This excerpt covers his time onboard HMS Tribune.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1865 – Sailmaker

I can never be too grateful for the seamanship I learned on board the Tribune. The captain lost no opportunity of teaching us. On one occasion, for instance, we carried away the starboard foremast swifter, in the fore rigging;  the Tribune had rope lower rigging. Captain Lord Gillford, instead of splicing the shroud to the masthead pennants, chose, in order to educate us, to strip the whole foremast to a gantline. We got the whole of the lower rigging over the masthead again. I was in the sailmaker’s crew; and another midshipman and myself, together with the forecastle men, fitted in the new shroud, turned it in, wormed, parcelled, and served it; put it over the masthead, and got the fore rigging all a-taunto again. I also helped to make a new foresail and jib out of number one canvas, roped them, put the clews in, and completed the job. Lord Gillford’s object was to teach those under him to carry out the work in the proper shipshape manner. The sailmaker’s crew, among whom was another midshipman, named Morrison, and myself, numbered 15 or 20 men, including able seamen, and we were all as happy as possible. We were taught by one of the best sailmakers in the Service, who was named Flood. We always worked in a sailmaker’s canvas jumper and trousers made by ourselves. I could cut out and make a seaman’s canvas working suit, jumper and trousers, in 30 minutes, using the sailmaker’s stitch of four stitches to the inch.

I had a complete sailmaker’s bag with every sailmaker’s tool necessary; serving and roping mallets, jiggers, seaming and roping palms, all-sized marling-spikes, fids, seam-rubbers, sail-hooks, grease-pot, seaming and roping twine, etc. etc.

Excerpt from The Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford written by himself and published in 1914.

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Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project

War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 25 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Monday 25th June 1855

The storm which burst over the south-eastern portion of the Chersonese on Saturday night has done more damage than we could have anticipated. Men were drowncd in ravines converted by the tornado into angry watercourses, were carried off roads by mountain torrents, and dashed against hill sides; beasts were swept away into the harbour and borne to sea; huts were broken up and floated out into the ocean; the burial-grounds near Balaklava were swept bare, and disclosed their grim army of the dead in ghastly resurrection, washed into strange shapes from out their shallow graves; and, greatest calamity of all, the railway was in various places decomposed, ripped up and broken down so as to be unserviceable at our greatest need. Orders have been sent down to urge on the necessary repairs, for the demands of the batteries for shot and shell are pressing, and the electric telegraph has been repeatedly in use to-day to force on the attention of the authorities at Balaklava the necessity there is for their promptest exertions, and to order them to send up supplies of materiel for our fifth bombardment as speedily as possible.

The French say they are quite ready, and they have received from us [1500] 32-pound shot for their guns to-day. The railway fails at a critical period, but even if it were in its usual state we could not hope to be in a condition to begin a heavy fire for some time to come, and I believe it will be fully a fortnight or three weeks before the necessary supplies will be brought up to the front. The repairs to the railway will be effected in ten days. Mr. Beatty and Mr. Campbell are away at Heraclea surveying the coal district, but their representatives are men of energy, and the only obstructions to be dreaded will arise from the “navvies,” some of whom have been behaving very badly lately. They nearly all “struck work” a short time back, on the plea that they were not properly rationed or paid, or that, in other words, they were starved and cheated; but the Provost-Marshal brought some of them to a sense of their situation, and, indeed, the office of that active and worthy person and of his myrmidon sergeants has been by no means a sinecure between “navvies,” Greeks, and scoundrels of all sorts. The Croat insurrection is suppressed, but the Croat idleness has not been by any means stimulated into usefulness. How England is squandering her money broadcast all over this part of the world! The Eupatorians with their 2s. 6d. and 3s. 6d. a-aay, and the Croat with the same stipend, are indeed “beggars set on horseback,” and they fulfil the rest of the proverb.

The poor Turkish soldiers, who get scant pay, say that it would be mach better for them to be those dogs of Croats, who receive as much as their own bimbashis, or majors, than to march in the armies of the Sultan; but Lord Stratford’s hard bargain for us must be accomplished; and it was he who was the benevolent genius who deluged Croatian and Tartar hordes with this flood of wealth. No wonder Colonel M’Murdo finds it difficult to get men for the Land Transport Corps, although even he is obliged to pay 2s. 6d. and 3s. a-day to native suridjees, so completely have we ruined the market.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil

War in the East – 23 Jun 1855






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We’re coming to the close of this series of posts from “The War” by William Howard Russell – War Correspondent to The Times Newspaper -giving a daily account of events during the Crimean War (157 years ago).

The book and our excerpts cover from the landing at Gallipoli to the death of Lord Raglan.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here or search our library here.

War in the East – 23 Jun 1855

The Crimean War (October 1853 – February 1856) was a conflict between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire and the Kingdom of Sardinia – most of the conflict took place on the Crimean Peninsula.

 

Saturday June 23rd 1855

There is no symptom of any activity on our part or on that of the enemy. They can, however, work without our seeing them. At eight o’clock this evening a thunderstorm, advancing from the mountain ranges over Balaklava and Mackenzie’s farm, burst on the valley of the Tchernaya and on the southern portion of the camp. I never beheld such incessant lightning. For two hours the sky was a blaze of fire. The rain fell like a great wall of water behind us. Not a drop descended over the camp in front, but we could see it in a steep glistening cascade, illuminated by the lightning, falling all across the camp from sea to land, just in front of Lord Raglan’s, and nearly in a straight line, as if marked out by a ruler. The rain is a great relief to our parched reservoirs.

Excerpt from The War 1855 by W H Russell – Correspondent to The Times.

This volume contains the letters of The Times Correspondent from the seat of war in the East – The Crimean War – the first war with war correspondents.

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Further Reading and External Links

Maps, Plans and Pictures of the Crimean War

William Howard Russell on Wikipedia

William Howard Russell on BikWil