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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 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 – Civita Vecchia

There used to be very bad feeling between English and Maltese. Both sailors and soldiers frequently lost their lives on shore. The seamen used to be stabbed, and the soldiers were sometimes thrown over the fortifications at night. I have seen a dead soldier lying on the rocks where he was thrown. A party of Marlborough officers drove out in “go-carts” (two-wheeled vehicles in which passengers lay on cushions) to Civita Vecchia, to hear the celebrated Mass on New Year’s Eve. The Cathedral was the richest church in Europe until Napoleon confiscated its treasure. Somehow or other, there was a row, and we were fighting fiercely with crowd of Maltese. A clerk of our party, a very stout person, was stabbed in the belly, so that his entrails protruded. We got him away, laid him in a go-cart, drove back to Malta, a two-hours’ drive, and put him on board, and he recovered.

At nine o’clock p.m. the seniors in the gunroom stuck a fork in the beam overhead, the signal for the youngsters to leave their elders in peace; too often to drink. Sobriety; to put it delicately; was not reckoned a virtue. I remember visiting a ship at Bermuda (never mind her name) to find every member of the mess intoxicated. Two were suffering from delirium tremens; and one of them was picking the bodies of imaginary rats from the floor with a stick. His case was worse than that of the eminent member of a certain club in London, who, when a real rat ran across the carpet, looked solemnly round upon the expectant faces of his friends, and said, “Aha! You thought I saw a rat. But I didn’t!”

There was no rank of sub-lieutenant, the corresponding grade being a “mate.” Many of the mates were men of thirty or more, who had never gained promotion and who never would gain it. I remember an old mate who used to earn his living by rowing a wherry in Portsmouth Harbour. He was then [1862] on half-pay, with seniority of [1820]. His name was Peter B. Stagg, as you may see in the Navy Lists of the period. In the Navy List of [1862], Stagg is rated sub-lieutenant the rank of mate having been abolished in the previous year.

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

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