Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Leave Stopped


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 Marlborough (The Ship of Happiest Memory) as a naval cadet from the age of 14.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Leave Stopped

The Author as Naval CadetWhen we lay in Corfu Harbour, the Marlborough was challenged by a crew of artillerymen. It was I think on this occasion that John Glanville headed a deputation to me, asking me to be the coxswain.

“Well, sir,” he said, “it’s like this here, sir, if you’ll pardon me. Yew be young-like, and what we was thinking was whether you have the power of language that du be required.”

I said I would do my best. I did. I astonished myself. As for the artillerymen, they rowed themselves right under. There was a little seaway, and they rowed the boat under and there they were struggling in the water.

“What! Yew bain’t never going to pick ‘em up?” cried John Glanville, in the heat of his excitement.

I also rowed bow-oar in the officers’ boat the second cutter. I was young and small, but I had great staying power. I could go on rowing for ever.

When my leave was stopped; which did occur occasionally; I had a system by means of which I went ashore at night I lashed a hammock-lashing round the port sternring, crawled out of the stern port, lowered myself to the water, and swam to a shore boat, waiting for me by arrangement. Maltese boats are partly covered in, and I dressed in a spare suit of clothes. On one occasion, upon landing, I nearly; but not quite; ran into the arms of the commander.

One night I went ashore, taking a painter and two men. We lowered the painter over the edge of the cliff, and he inscribed on the cliff in immense letters, ” ‘Marlborough,’ Star of the Mediterranean.” Next morning the whole Fleet, not without emotion, beheld the legend. Another brilliant wit went ashore on the following night and altered the word “Star ” into “Turtle” My reply was the addition “Until the ‘Queen’ comes out.” After this exploit I was sent ashore to clean the cliff.

There were numerous horses in Malta, and the midshipmen and bluejackets used to hire them for half-a-crown a day. When the horses had had enough of their riders, they used to gallop down to the Florian Gate, kick them off, and return to their stable. I heard one sailor remark to another, who, sticking to his horse, was bounding up and down in his saddle:

“Get off that there ‘orse, Jack, ‘e’s a beast!”

“He aint no beast at all,” retorted Jack. “‘E’s the cleverest ‘orse I ever see. He chucks me up and he catches me, he chucks me up and he catches me; why, ‘e’s only missed me three times in a hour!”

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


Further Reading and External Links

Lord Charles Beresford on Wikipedia

Lord Charles Beresford on The Dreadnought Project