Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1868 – HMS Galatea

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 Galatea.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1868 – HMS Galatea

AFTER a brief spell in the royal yacht, I was promoted out of her to lieutenant, and was appointed to the Galatea, Captain [H.R.H.] Alfred Ernest Albert, Duke of Edinburgh, K.G., K.T.

H.M.S. Galatea had four months previously returned from the long cruise of seventeen months, 24th January, [1867], to 26th June, [1868], during which the Duke visited South Africa and Australasia.  While he was in Australia, an attempt had been made to assassinate his Royal Highness, who had a very narrow escape. The pistol was fired at the range of a few feet, and the bullet, entering the Duke’s back, struck a rib and ran round the bone, inflicting a superficial wound. A full account of the voyage is contained in The Cruise of H.M.S. Galatea, by the Rev. John Milner and Oswald W. Brierley (London, [1869]; W.H. Allen).

The Galatea frigate was built at Woolwich and launched in [1859]. She was of 3227 tons burthen, 800 h.p.; she was pierced for 26 guns; maindeck, 18 guns, 10-inch, 86 cwt., and 4 guns, 10-inch, 6 1/2 tons; on the quarterdeck, 2 guns, rifled, 64-pounders; in the forecastle, 2 guns, rifled, 64-pounders. The 6 1/2 ton guns threw a shot of 115 lb., and a large double-shell weighing 156 lb. She stowed 700 tons of coal and 72 tons of water. Previously the Galatea, commanded by Captain Rochfort Maguire, had been employed from [1862] to [1866] in the Baltic, and on the Mediterranean and West Indian stations. She took part in the suppression of the insurrection at Jamaica, and, after the loss of H.M.S. Bulldog, destroyed the batteries on Cape Haitien. Her sister ship was the Ariadne, and Admiral Penrose Fitzgerald, who served in the Ariadne, in [1861], writes:

 “It would not be too much to say that she and her sister ship, the Galatea, were the two finest wooden frigates ever built in this or any other country” (Memories of the Sea).

Personally, I am inclined to consider, that fine sailor as the Galatea was, the Sutlej was finer still.

The Duke of Edinburgh was an admirable seaman. He had a great natural ability for handling a fleet, and he would have made a first-class fighting admiral. The Duke’s urbanity and kindness won the affection of all who knew him. I am indebted to him for many acts of kindness, and I was quite devoted to him.

The voyage of the Galatea lasted for two years and a half.  We visited Cape Town, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the Sandwich Islands, Japan, China, India, and the Falkland Islands. It is not my purpose to describe that long cruise in detail; but rather to record those incidents which emerge from the capricious haze of memory. In many respects, the second long voyage of the Galatea was a repetition of her first voyage, so elaborately chronicled by the Rev. John Milner and Mr. Brierley. In every part of the Queen’s dominions visited by her son, the Duke was invariably received with the greatest loyalty and enthusiasm. It should be understood throughout that, when his ship was not in company, or was in company with a ship commanded by an officer junior to his Royal Highness, he was received as the Queen’s son; but when a senior officer was present, the Duke ranked in the order of his seniority in the Service.

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 Galatea on Wikipedia