Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – 1861 – The Cutter






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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 unHappy Memory) 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 Cutter

I was somewhat consoled in the Defence by being placed in charge of the cutter; in which I succeeded, by a small feat of seamanship, in earning the rare commendation of the first lieutenant. I was about to sail off to the Fleet from Devonport, when I discovered that the yard of the dipping lug was sprung. This was serious, as it was blowing fairly hard. Fortunately, I had one of those knives so dear to boyhood, containing a small saw and other implements; and with this weapon I shaped a batten and fitted it to the yard, woolded it with spun-yarn and wedged it tight I did not expect it to hold; but, double-reefing the sail, I put off. All the way to the ship I had an eye on the yard, and it held. Of coarse I was late on board; and the first lieutenant declined to believe my explanation of the delay until he had had the yard hoisted on deck. Then he was kind enough to say, “Well, my boy, if you can do a thing like that, there’s hope for you yet.” Every little ray of hope is worth having.

But by reason of my love for the cutter, I fell into trouble. In the dockyard at Devonport, there stood a mast newly fitted with beautiful new white signal halliards, the very thing for the cutter. I should explain that, as we were kept very short of stores, stealing in the Service from the Service for the Service, used to be a virtue. There was once an admiral who stole a whole ship’s propeller in order to melt the brass from it; and it was another admiral who boasted to me of his brother officer’s achievement. Of course, no one ever steals anything nowadays; nothing is ever missing out of store; and no midshipman would dream of attempting to convey signal halliards from the dockyard into his boat.

But I did. I brought an end of the halliard into an adjacent shed, concealed in which I revolved swiftly upon my axis, winding the rope about me. Then I put on an overcoat, borrowed for the purpose. But my figure presented an appearance so unnaturally rotund that a policeman experienced in diagnosing these sudden metamorphoses, compelled me to divest and to revolve, unwinding, in the public eye. He also reported me for stealing Government stores. “Zeal, all zeal, Mr. Easy!”

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