Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Defense

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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 Defense (The Ship of unHappyMemory) one of the first iron and steam driven ships of the ‘New Navy’ launched in 1861.

Catch-up with earlier posts in this series here.

Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Defense

I did not like the Defence. I thought her a dreadful ship. After the immaculate decks, the glittering perfection, the spirit and fire and pride of the Marlborough, the “flagship of the world,” I was condemned to a slovenly, unhandy, tin kettle which could not sail without steam; which had not even any royal-masts; and which took minutes instead of seconds to cross topgallant yards, a disgusting spectacle to a midshipman of the Marlborough. Instead of the splendid sun and blue waters of the Mediterranean, there were the cold skies and the dirty seas of the Channel. I wrote to my father asking him to remove me from the Navy.

The Defence was one of the iron-built, or iron-cased, armoured, heavily rigged, steam-driven, broadside-fire vessels launched from [1860] to [1866]. They represented the transition from the Old Navy to the New, inasmuch as they retained large sailing powers and broadside fire, combining with these traditional elements, iron construction and steam propulsion. They were the Warrior, Black Prince, Defence, Resistance, Hector, Valiant, Achilles, Minotaur, Agincourt, and Northumberland. The Defence, launched in [1861], was (in modern terms) of 6270 tons displacement, 2540 h.p., 11.6 knots speed, carried 22 guns, and had a complement of 450 men. She was commanded by Captain Augustus Phillimore, and was one of the Channel Squadron, which, in the year [1863], was commanded by Rear-Admiral Robert Smart, K.H.

The Channel Squadron at that time was employed in cruising round the coasts of the British Isles, in order to familiarise people on shore with the Fleet. In later life it fell to me, as commander-in-chief, to conduct similar cruises, of whose object I thoroughly approve.

The Warrior and Black Prince, in particular, were stately and noble vessels whose beauty was a delight to behold. Their great spread of sail, their long hulls and yacht bows, the vast expanse of flush wooden decks, their solidity and grace, set them among the finest ships ever built.

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