Memoirs of Lord Charles Beresford – Saving Lives






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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 – The Defense – Saving Lives

It was during my time in the Defence that I was so fortunate as to be enabled to save two lives. On one occasion, the ship was lying in the Mersey, and visitors were on board. A party of these was leaving the ship, when their boat was slewed round by the strong tide, and one of them, a big, heavy man, fell into the water. I dived after him. Luckily there was a boat-keeper in the galley secured astern of the ship. He held out a boat-hook, which I caught with one hand, holding up my man with the other.

I received the gold medal of the Liverpool Shipwreck Humane Society, and the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society. The name of the man who fell overboard was Richardson. More than forty years afterwards, the son of Mr. Richardson sent me a kind letter, enclosing a photograph of his father, who had died in [1882], nineteen years after his rescue.

“My mother,” wrote Mr. J. Richardson, “was in very great terror, as my father could not swim a stroke. He was a very fine man, and this made your task you so quickly undertook not any the easier. The clothes he wore on that memorable occasion were, after their thorough wetting, too small for him to wear again, so they were cut down for my elder brothers, and were called by them their ‘Channel Fleet’ clothes, and jolly proud they were to wear them too.”

The boys’ sentiment is pleasing, whether it arose from the exciting fact that Mr. Richardson had fallen overboard in them; a thing which might happen to any gentleman;  or from his having in them been picked out by an officer (however junior) of the Channel Fleet.

The second occasion when I was successful in saving a man from drowning was in Plymouth Sound. A string of boats from the Fleet carrying liberty men was pulling ashore, when a shore-boat crossed their bows and was run down by the leading boat. I jumped in and held up one of the passengers; and was again awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society.

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