Concert part in uniform, HMS Topaze

Concert part in uniform, HMS Topaze

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Concert party in uniform, HMS Topaze

A 1916 concert party on HMS Topaze in uniform rather than costume

Thanks to Karen Adams for the picture.

Go to: HMS Topaze picture gallery - HMS Topaze article

Material memories of travel: the albums of a Victorian naval surgeon

Emphasises the importance of the visual archives of travel and exploration.

Explores the signficance of memory for the formation and use of albums of drawings.

Presents a study of seven remarkable albums assembled by a Victorian naval surgeon.

Discusses the role of drawings in late-nineteenth century scientific culture.

Contextualises visual archives in local, national and imperial histories.


In was last year that an FBI dossier on Mountbatten revealed that the Americans had deep reservations and distaste for his Lordship. The file states that both he and his wife Edwina were “persons of extremely low morals” and that Mountbatten was a paedophile with “a perversion for young boys.”

Rupert Murdoch’s Times attempted to pass off Mountbatten’s paedophilia as merely “Lust for Young Men”. This claim not only conflates his proclivities for children with homosexuality, but it continues the media’s age-old complicity in prominent cases of child abuse. They described the Lord as a “sexually voracious man whose bisexuality became a theme of US intelligence files.”

The dossier, however, is explicit in naming his preference as “boys”.

The dossier was released under a freedom of information request and compiled in 1944 after Mountbatten was named supreme allied commander of southeast Asia. It featured comments from Baroness Decies, Elizabeth de la Poer Beresford.

Baroness Decies stated that Mountbatten was “known to be a homosexual with a perversion for young boys” and was “an unfit man to direct any sort of military operations because of this condition. She stated further that his wife, Lady Mountbatten, was considered equally erratic.” EE Conroy, head of the New York FBI field office, added in the file that she “appears to have no special motive in making the above statements.” The comments from the Baroness show that the behaviour of the Mountbattens was an open secret within elite British circles for some considerable time. While the FBI, who had absurdly feared that Mountbatten was a Marxist, had little interest once his loyalty to the West was assured.

Mountbatten’s preference for boys, as opposed to men, was confirmed by his driver during the war, Norman Nield. Speaking with New Zealand truth, Nield admitted that he transported young boys aged 8 to 12 to his commander and was paid to keep quiet.

Historian Andrew Lownie, whose book, The Mountbattens: Their Lives & Loves exposed much of the scandal, conducted an interview with Anthony Daly who was a sex worker for London’s rich and famous during the 1970s. Daly revealed that “Mountbatten had something of a fetish for uniforms — handsome young men in military uniforms (with high boots) and beautiful boys in school uniform.” A 2018 interview with Daly reveals that his other clients included the spy Anthony Blunt who is said to have asked him if he was a graduate of Kincora, the notorious children’s home in Belfast where boys were sexually and physically abused by staff and prominent men in society.

Both Mountbatten and Blunt were known to each other and the writer Robin Bryans alleges in the Irish magazine Now that both Mountbatten and Blunt were both part of a paedophile ring that procured boys from schools and children’s homes in Northern Ireland. These locations include the Portora School in Enniskillen and Kincora. Several former victims of the Kincora Scandal have alleged that they were trafficked to Mountbatten at his home in Mullaghmore, County Sligo.

Lownie’s book features an interview with one of Mountbatten’s victims, a 16-year-old named only as “Amal”.

“He was very polite, very nice. I knew he was someone important. He asked if I wanted a drink or candy. He told me he liked dark-skinned people, especially Sri Lankan people as they were very friendly and very good-looking. I remember he admired my smooth skin. We gave each other oral sex in a 69 position. He was very tender and I felt comfortable about it. It seemed very natural. I know that several other boys from Kincora were brought to him on other occasions”


The claims of a “VIP Anglo-Irish Vice Ring” were further explored by Village Magazine in Ireland and collected by Joseph de Burca into an online book earlier this year.

The book details how the British establishment continues to cover up the crimes of both the network and Lord Mountbatten, with some of the other abusers still being alive today. The series highlights the links between far-right loyalist William McGrath, housemaster at Kincora and prominent politicians and personalities in England such as Blunt, Sir Knox Cunningham, Parliamentary Private Secretary to Harold Macmillan, Peter Montgomery, the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Tyrone and both Mountbatten himself and his assistant Peter Murphy.

Another of Mountbatten’s known associates was the Labour MP Tom Driberg. Driberg was appointed an unofficial temporary special adviser to his Lordship while in Burma during the war and “coincidentally” was another client of Anthony Daly. Like Blunt, he was a spy for the KGB and associate of Guy Burgess of the Cambridge Five fame.

Mountbatten and his crimes failed to become widespread public knowledge thanks to the activities of MI5. Many of those involved in Northern Ireland being operatives, informants and open to blackmail by a security service whose commitment to maintaining British superiority eclipsed any nods to morality.

After his treason was exposed in 1963, Blunt agreed to now turn again. He made a confession of everything he knew in exchange for immunity and a cover-up of his crimes. His secrets not only exposed his activities with the KGB but what he knew of illicit activities amongst his friends and acquaintances in Northern Ireland. MI5 were in dreamland and realised that there was an opportunity not only for blackmail, but to keep their allies sweet with regular access to children.

While Blunt’s treason was covered-up to the public at large, there can be little doubt that a man as positioned as Mountbatten would have been fully aware of his actions. The “national hero” was seemingly willing to put aside any feelings of loyalty where his urges were concerned. However, these associations would be far from the only indications that his loyalties lay only with himself rather than his nation.

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To view crew lists, agreements and official logs held by the Caird Library and Archives, complete a Crew Lists, Agreements and Official Logs Request Form.

Other guides in the series that may be useful for researching merchant ships' crews are:

    The Merchant Navy: Tracing people: Master mariners, mates and engineers The Merchant Navy: Sources for enquiries The Merchant Navy: Sources for ship histories The Merchant Navy: The Mercantile Navy List The Merchant Navy: Wrecks, losses and casualties The Merchant Navy: World War One The Merchant Navy: World War Two The Merchant Navy: The Handy Shipping Guide The Merchant Navy: Ship registration and Custom House records World War Two: Papers in the National Maritime Museum World War Two: The Dunkirk List Lloyds Research Guides

For general research help see:

    Principal records for maritime research at the National Maritime Museum Tracing family history from maritime records

Although care has been taken in preparing the information contained in this document, anyone using it shall be deemed to indemnify the National Maritime Museum from any and all injury or damage arising from such use.

Robert Juliat’s Grand Range of followspots are the ones to call on when you want to party on a big scale. Robert Juliat’s Aramis and Lancelot long-throw models have been out in full force in the Netherlands for two of the countries most exuberant parties.

Lighting designer Martin Beekhuizen used no less than sixteen RJ Aramis 2500W followspots on Amsterdam’s biggest party night of the year as huge audiences flooded into the Amsterdam Arena for the 11th Toppers in Concert extravaganza.

Billed as ‘the singalong festival of the year’, the annual event filled the massive arena – home of Amsterdam’s Ajax football team – for five nights at the end of May 2015. Audiences of over 70,000 people per night – dressed in white with ‘a colourful touch of summer’ - sang along with Dutch superstars, Gerard Joling, Jeroen van der Boom and Rene Froger, and special guest stars Danny de Munk, Edzillia Rombley, Andre and Roxanne Hazes, David Bisbal and Village People, at this bright, bold and colourful Crazy Summer Edition. Clearly followspots as bold and bright were required to highlight the stars.

“The show is performed in the round and the followspot positions are located at a distance of 80m from the stage,” explains Beekhuizen. “I needed something with the muscle-power to handle those super-long throw distances, power through a very bright lighting rig and cope with the fact that the first half of the show was in daylight hours. It was also important to have sixteen uniform followspots of the same model, output and quality – which is no small requirement!”

Ampco Flashlight provided Beekhuizen with the sixteen RJ Aramis units and an experienced team of operators, which he was very happy about having worked with both the RJ Aramis and the spot team before.

“I was confident we were in good hands for this mammoth event and I knew the Aramis would be up to the job. Robert Juliat followspots have really good lenses, a great output and are extremely easy to colour-correct. The company takes good care of its reflectors during production by maintaining consistency of the coating which results in a uniformity of colour across every followspot. This makes my job as a lighting designer so much easier especially when we are recording the show, as we were on Toppers, where any discrepancy would be picked up by the camera.”

Meanwhile, in the Philips Stadium in Eindhoven, eight Robert Juliat Lancelot 4000W HTI followspots were used by lighting designer Marco Driessen to illuminate Guus Meeuwis’ anniversary show Groots met een zachte G. The fast moving, energetic show celebrated ten consecutive years at the stadium for the Dutch star and has been dubbed the biggest annual music event by a solo artist in the Netherlands.

Over five nights in June, 175,000 visitors and 1,300,000 viewers saw the Lancelot followspots in action.

“For the Jubilee edition of Groots met een zachte G I again deliberately chose the Robert Juliat Lancelot followspots,” says Marco Driessen of The Art of Light. “This year for the first time in history we were broadcast live on Dutch television, and the Lancelots once more gave the decisive output, colour temperature and reliability for which I had chosen them.

“It was a small effort for the Lancelot to cover the distance of between 60m and 120m to the stage and put Guus and his bandmates in full light, even against the powerfully strong lighting rig and video back wall. The output of the Lancelot remains impressive, and the design features make it an easy job for the spot operators to deal with.

“Next year for the 11th edition of the show one thing is already clear - the Lancelots will be back in action!”

All Robert Juliat Lancelot and Aramis units were supplied by Dutch rental company, Ampco Flashlight: “Ampco Flashlight is known as a full service rental company for theatre, broadcast, live events and concerts,” says account manager, Juan Neele, “The reason we use Robert Juliat is because they guarantee good performance in all these different areas. The output and reliability of the RJ spots on shows such as Toppers and Guus Meeuwis is great – they are truly plug and play units with a big performance!”

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In the far east during 1904, Japan’s Chief Inspector of Shipbuilding, Kondo Motoki, was to approve the newly revised version of the 1903 project. The new ship’s displacement had been increased to 19,000 tons, and the armament was to now comprise of twelve 12-inch (305-mm) guns for the main caliber and the same number of 4.7-inch (120-mm), anti-torpedo boat guns. In May 1904 the necessary funds were allocated for the construction of the ships, and in December the order for the construction of the “super-battleships” by the naval shipyard in Yokosuka was placed. But because of the yards busy war time schedule of repair work, the first of the two craft, the Satsuma’s keel was placed on hold until a slip became available.

On the 21st October 1904 Fisher was promoted to the rank of First Sea Lord, and he brought with him his designs for ‘HMS Untakeable(3)’.

‘HMS Untakeable (2)’ ‘HMS Untakeable (3)’ ‘HMS Untakeable (4)’
Displacement 16,000 17,000
Length 500 ft 555 ft
Beam 80 ft 80 ft
Draught 25 ft 24 ft 6″
I.H.P 30,000 32,000
Speed 21 kts 21 kts
Armament 8合″(4 turrets) 12 ×12″ (6 turrets)
Turrets & barbettes 10″ 12″ barrettes:10″, 8″, 2½” roof
Turrets:12″ shield, 10″ sides, 2½” roof
Water line belt (citadel) 9″ 12″ 10″
Water-line belt (fore & aft) 2in fore & aft
Upper Belt 7″ abreast machinery spaces and 10-inch abreast magazines 9″ abreast citadel 8″abreast citadel
Citadel 12-inch
Communication tube 6-inch
Transverse Bulkheads 7-inch 9-inch 10-inch
Anti-Torpedo Bulkhead 2-inch level with magazines
Main Deck 2-inch over citadel, 1.5in forward
Turtle Deck 1-inch from bow to after barbette, 2-inch aft 2½in
Main deck 1in, 1½in
Middle deck 1in, 2in

‘HMS Untakeable (3)’ was the version that he intended to be the final design, from which the actual ship would be crafted. But his friend for the Mediterranean days, Gard, brought pressure for a forth design, ‘Untakeable (4)’. The reason for the change are unknown to us today, but there were rumours of the USN being in the process of designing its own one calibre battleship, armed equally with twelve 12-inch. On the 17th August 1904, the Daily Mail newspaper reported that the Bureau of Construction had plans for a ship mounting guns of a “greater calibre than 10in”. The clipping of this article is still preserved in ‘Dreadnoughts’ ships file. Gard almost certainly read the piece, and was to respond with a design whose fire power wasn’t to be surpassed by a Royal Navy design, until the ‘King George V’ Class of super-dreadnoughts of 1910.

Gard’s new design was to be the ‘Untakeable 4’. She was to be fitted with triple groups of twin, super-firing turrets, giving her a broadside of 18 shells totalling 15,300lbs (850×18), and was a significant improvement over her predecessors. Once more, given her dimensions and displacement she would have been capable of 23 knots.

As Gard crafted ‘Untakeable 4’ and the Americans became entangle in politics, on the 8th December 1904 on receipt of a report from the German naval attache in London, detailing the Vickers ‘all-big-gun’ design, the Kaiser was to write “in my opinion this is the battleship of the future”. But the Imperial Navy was to pursue the concept no further, until the Dreadnought was revealed.

While designs were debated, the USN undertook a series of firing exercise during 1904 to demonstrated the effectiveness of long range gunnery. The exercises illustrated that long-range gunnery was only really effective if the salvoes splashes could be seen from a high observation post. These conclusions would in the following twelve months see the creation of the iconic American cage masts.

With the arrival of 1905 the three navies of Britain, the USA and Japan, had each travelled separate paths, but come to the same conclusion as to the validity of the “All Big Gun” ship. Both Fisher and the Admiralty now recognized that if they didn’t build the first ship, then other nations would and the British supremacy at sea would be threatened, if not lost.

During January 1905, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Selborne, formed a ‘Committee on Designs’, which included members of Fisher’s former unofficial committee. The new and official committee was tasked with examining the designs that had been proposed, and then to assist in the details of the design progress. Fisher was responsible for the appointment of all the committee members and was himself President of the Committee. The committee also was to include the recently appointed Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy, Captain Henry Jackson. In addition, in February 1905, the future C-in-C of the Grand Fleet, John Rushworth Jellicoe, prior to his appointment as Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes a month later, was appointed. Another committee member was (the then) Captain Charles Edward Madden, who in 1907 would serve as Captain to the Dreadnought, before going onto rise to be C-in-C of the Atlantic Fleet in 1919. Whilst ‘supposedly’ independent, the ‘Committee on Designs’ served to deflect any criticism from both Fisher and the Board of the Admiralty, as it could only consider the options already placed before it.

Fisher was to never deny that the introduction of ‘Untakeable’ would temporarily reduce the British lead in battleship numbers to just one ship, but he was firm in his belief that one ‘Untakeable’ equated to two and a half of the existing battleship. Fisher pushed for ‘end-on-fire’, a fast speed and armour. He was in addition a supporter of the 10-inch weapons with its faster rate of fire, but his officers championed for the 12-inch weapon.

The Committee now turned it’s attention to design ‘E’ which was powered by reciprocating engines , and bore two groups of super-firing 12- inch armed turrets. The committee in turn progressed on to design ‘G’ which like wise was equipped with reciprocating engines. Her weaponry was twelve 12-inch located into twin turrets, two on the centre fore and aft, plus two on the beam. Design ‘H’ brought turbines, 5 twin 12-inch turrets. Three turrets fired aft on centre line, forward and two on the beams.

On the 18th January 1905 the committee was to finally decide on the format of the main armament, rejecting the super-firing arrangement, due to concerns about the effects of muzzle blast, on the open sighting hoods located on the turret roof below. They choose the turbine propulsion over reciprocating engines in an effort to save 1,100 long tons within the ships total displacement. Before being disbanded, a number of other issues were decided upon by the committee. These included the number of shafts (up to six having been considered), the calibre and quantity of the anti-torpedo boat armament, as well as adding longitudinal bulkheads to protect the magazines and shell rooms from any underwater explosions. This last decision was considered necessary after the Russian battleship Tsesarevich was believed to only have survived a Japanese torpedo hit during the Russo-Japanese War because of her heavy internal bulkhead. To avoid any increase in the displacement of the ship, the thickness of her waterline belt was reduced by 1 inch (25 mm).

The Committee finally completed its work on 22 February 1905 and reported on their conclusions the following month. It was also decided, given the radical nature of the design, to place no orders for a second ship, until the first ship had completed her trials and she could be evaluated. With the design agreed upon, the hull shape was tested at the Admiralty’s experimental ship tank at Gosport, where seven amendments to the final hull form were made. With the design finally complete, a team comprising of three assistant engineers and thirteen draughtsman worked on producing the detailed drawings. To speed up the build time, the hulls internal structure was simplified as much as was possible, and an attempt was made to standardize on a number of plate shapes, that would only vary then in their thickness.

With Fishers committee having reported on its conclusions, the Gosport tests in progress and the Japanese awaiting a free slipway, on the 3rd March 1905, Congress finally passed a bill that was to authorize the Navy to begin the construction of two new ‘all-big-gun’ battleships. These were to bear the names Michigan and South Carolina.

The US Congress had always been, understandably, an important factor in the US navies building programmes. Between the late 1890s and up to around 1902 the tonnage size of US. battleships had risen steadily from 12,500 to circa 16,000 tons. As the tonnage grew, Congress had tried to retain some control of the size and ultimately the cost of the USN new ships. By the spring of 1903 a compromise had been reached, and Congress authorizing the construction of two small battleships (the 13,000-ton Idaho class) and three 16,000 ton ships. Congress limited the speed to 16 knots and the tonnage 16,000 long tons, the same weight as the mixed-battery Connecticut class of two years prior. Congress’s attempts to enforce limitations on the navy was met with a mixed reception from the naval designers. The retired Admiral of the Navy, George Dewey, and others, thought the limit should have been set at the minimum standard of foreign battleships, or around 18,000 long tons. Other designers felt that by adding a significant amount of speed and or firepower, something an increase in tonnage would bring, it would merely enlarge the targets profile. One of the shortcuts was to re-use the 12-inch (305 mm)/45 caliber Mark 5 gun already found on the Connecticut and Mississippi classes. Although of a proven design they lacked range compared to their British equivalents.

Connecticut Dreadnought
Model 12″/40 caliber Mark 3 and Mark 4 12″/45 (30.5 cm) Mark X
Introduced 1902 1906
Range 19,000 yds 25,000 yds
Rds per min 2 1.5
Shell 870lbs 850lbs
Penetration 12,000 at 9.4″ 10000 at 10.6″

In April 1905, Capp’s was to produce design number 󈧗’ (Scheme S), one in a series of all-big-gun battleships. The super-firing concept seems to have originated from around this period too, which after the British had a considered and dismissed the format. The American interest was generated when Capp’s asked if the Bureau of Engineering could shrink the machinery spaces, in order to give him more centerline space for the main battery.

It was the French who introduced the first ship with super-firing artillery, but not of the same caliber, (10.8 and 5.46-inch), to their battleship Henri IV, launched in 1899. But it was to be Capp’s who proposed the concept be adopted within the USN. He instituted the idea of eight 12-inch guns mounted on the centerline into four turrets, with two of the turrets raised above the adjoining turret and to be able to fire directly over them.

At this period turrets were aimed locally through ‘hoods’ mounted on their roofs. The concept of super-firing turrets was fairly obviously not suited, as firing along the ship’s centerline, the guns blasts would seriously interfering with and damage the lower turrets, as well as the gunners there in. But Capp’s argument was that a fleet would normally steam in a line-ahead formation, with its ships firing broadsides. As a result the danger of blast damage would be insignificant and instead the exchange would be decided by the number of guns on the broadside. He suggested that economically it was far better to mount all the ships main guns along the centerline, with two of the four turrets higher than the others. At the same period, the Bureau of Ordnance redesigned the navies gun sights, relocating them instead from the turret roof hoods to the turrets’ sides. The Michigan would be the first battleships to feature this solution. It was to only be a few years before the worlds other navies chose the same super-firing arrangement, though sighting hoods were retained for a number of years in many navies.

After nearly six months of waiting, on the 15th May 1905 the Japanese laid the keel of the IJN Satsuma, making Japan the first nation to lay a keel for the new generation of ‘all-big-gun’ ships down. Two weeks after work had commenced on the new battleship, the deliberations over the merit of the ‘all-big-gun’ ship were finally confirmed when Japan won the Battle of Tsushima. The battle demonstrated that any real damage to the Russian fleet had been inflicted by the large calibre guns of the Japanese fleet.

Captain William Pakenham, a Royal Navy observer at the battle of Tsushima was to write, 󈫼-inch gunfire’ by both sides demonstrated hitting power and accuracy, whilst 10-inch shells passed unnoticed”. Both the Battles of the Yellow Sea and of Tsushima were to be analysed by the three Admiralties. Fisher expected his board to both refine, implement and confirm his ideas for a battleship, with the speed of 21 knots and 12-inch guns. He felt that at the Battle of Tsushima, Admiral Togo had only been able to cross the Russians ‘T’ due to his superior speed. The long range (14,000 yd)13,000 metres)) of the shell fire during the Battle of the Yellow Sea only served to confirm what the Fisher cliche already believed.

The month of Tsushima, was the month that the Royal Navy in an effort to achieve Fisher’s goal of building the ship in a single year, commenced stockpiling materials in advance of the keel even being laid down. With pieces of the huge construction ready and in storage before the keel was even laid down, her construction could then be only greatly accelerated.

After five months of pre-construciton work, and 141 days after the Satsuma’s keel had been laid, on the 2nd October 1905, work was laid commenced on slip No 5 at H.M Dockyard Portsmouth. The dockyard at the time had a reputation as the fastest ship building yard in the world, and was the one most likely to achieve Fisher’s 12 month goal. As the keel was laid down, already approximately six thousand man weeks-of-work had been put into the construction project. As work commenced on the hull, the slip was screened from prying eyes and rumours were circulated that the design was in fact no different from that of any than other battleships.

With the job underway on the concealed slipway in Portsmouth, already £12,217 (£1,363,180 @ 2016) had been spent on labour, £29,078 (£3,244,542 @ 2016) had been spent on materiel. In addition 1,100 men were already employed in her construction, but that number was to rapidly increased to a final total of 3,000. On previous projects the shipyard workers had worked to a 48-hour week, but with the Dreadnought the working week was increased to a 69-hours, (11.5 hrs per day) over six day week. Work started at 06.00 and ran to 18.00, which included compulsory overtime, and with only a thirty minute break for lunch, (the maths dictates there was a “coffee” & “tea” break too). Double shifting was even considered in an effort to ease the long hours which were, not unsurprisingly, unpopular with the work force, but labour shortages made this impossible.

By Day 6 (7th October) the first of the bulkheads and most of the middle deck beams were already in place. By Day 20 the forward part of the bow was in position and the hull plating was well underway. By Day 55 all of the upper deck beams were in place and by day 83 the upper deck plates were in position. Day 125 (4 February) saw the hull finished.


The following table gives the build details and purchase cost of Raleigh and the other two iron frigates. Standard British practice at that time was for these costs to exclude armament and stores. (Note that costs quoted by J.W. King were in US dollars.)

Ship Builder Maker
Date of Cost according to
Laid down Launch Completion BNA 1887 [1] King [2]
Hull Machinery Total
Inconstant Pembroke Dockyard John Penn & Son 27 November 1866 12 November 1868 14 August 1869 * £138,585 £74,739 £213,324 $1,036,756
Raleigh Chatham Dockyard Humphrys, Tennant & Co 8 February 1871 1 March 1873 13 January 1874 * £147,248 £46,138 £193,386 $939,586
Shah Portsmouth Dockyard Ravenhill 7 March 1870 10 September 1873 14 August 1876 £177,912 £57,333 £235,245 $1,119,861

Raleigh displaced 5,200 tons and was 298 feet (91 m) long between perpendiculars by 49 feet (15 m) wide, and drew 24 feet 7 inches (7.49 m). She was designed as a sailing vessel with an auxiliary steam engine. Under favourable sailing conditions she could make 13 knots (24 km/h 15 mph). With nine boilers operating at 30 pounds per square inch (210 kPa), her 1-shaft horizontal single expansion engine developed 5,639 horsepower (4,205 kW) and moved her along at 16.2 knots (30.0 km/h 18.6 mph), an unprecedented speed at the time.

Two 9-inch muzzle-loading rifle (MLR) guns and fourteen 7-inch 90 cwt MLR guns formed the main armament, supplemented by six 64-pounder MLRs. The 9-inch guns were chase weapons, mounted at front and back. The fourteen 7-inch guns were the main deck broadside battery.

These ships were constructed in response to the fast, wooden American Wampanoag-class frigates, and their iron hulls were clad from keel to bulwarks with a double layer of 3-inch timber. Raleigh was copper bottomed. All three had a great range and were designed for use in far seas.

The ship was intended as a successor to the wooden steam-frigates such as Immortalite and Ariadne. Inconstant and Shah had been considered by some too large and too expensive, so Raleigh was designed slightly smaller. The design was a compromise between steam power and a desire to retain good sailing properties. The propeller was damaged during steam trials, breaking one blade and cracking the other, but she proceeded to sailing trials around Ireland before repairs were made. George Tryon, appointed her first captain, made a number of minor alterations to her design details as she was completing building. [5]

Raleigh had a normal crew of 530 men. In 1884, she was partially rearmed, retaining eight 7-inch MLR guns on broadside, but gaining eight more modern 6-inch breech-loading rifled (BLR) guns and eight 5-inch BLR guns. Four modern light guns were added as well as 12 machine guns and two torpedo carriages.

First commission Edit

On 13 January 1874 Raleigh was commissioned at Chatham by Captain George Tryon, [4] Commander Arthur Knyvet Wilson second in command. [6] Under Tryon, Raleigh served as part of the 1875 Detached Squadron from Autumn 1874 until she left at Bombay in February 1876. The squadron was commanded by Rear Admiral Sir George Granville Randolph until 31 May 1875, [7] and then by Rear Admiral Rowley Lambert. [8] The 1875 Detached Squadron consisted of:

    (flag), Nathaniel Bowden-Smith, then (9 June 1875) Lord Charles Montagu Douglas Scott , Francis Alexander Hume, then Gerard Noel (acting captain) , Arthur Thomas Thrupp , Robert Gordon Douglas
  • Raleigh (left at Bombay), George Tryon (joined at Madeira, left at Bombay), Hon Edmund Fremantle

The Detached Squadron travelled to Gibraltar (October 1874) - Madeira (21 October) - Saint Vincent - Montevideo - Falkland Islands (30 January 1875) - Cape of Good Hope (3 April Raleigh transported Sir Garnet Wolseley and his staff to Natal and then rejoined the others at Saint Helena) [9] - Saint Helena (14 April) - Ascension - Saint Vincent (23 May) - Gibraltar (20 June – 15 July) - Cape of Good Hope - Bombay (22 October escorting visit to India by the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII) - Colombo - Trincomalee - Calcutta - Bombay (14 February 1876), where Raleigh left the squadron. The squadron returned to Plymouth on 11 May 1877. [10] Meanwhile Raleigh served in the Mediterranean. [11]

Speed trials between the ships demonstrated that Raleigh was the fastest steaming, but was also the second fastest under sail, after Immortalité. At Montevideo a number of sailors deserted from all the ships of the squadron, but a number were recaptured after searching British merchant ships. Raleigh had already lost 30 men to desertion before leaving England. [12] On the second journey to the Cape of Good Hope a man fell overboard in a high sea. Tryon took the risk of launching a boat to rescue him, which was risky because the high sea might swamp the boat and lose the rescue crew too. However, all went well and Tryon commissioned a painting of the event, with photos of the painting given to every officer. [13]

1877–1879 commission Edit

On 11 May 1877 Captain Charles Trelawney Jago took command. Raleigh continued to serve as part of the Mediterranean Fleet, and participated in Hornby's forcing of the Dardanelles to discourage Russian occupation of Constantinople, and the subsequent occupation of Cyprus, acquired from Turkey. [14]

1885–? commission Edit

From 6 March 1885 to 1886 Raleigh was commanded by Captain Arthur Knyvet Wilson, and was flagship of Rear-Admiral Walter James Hunt-Grubbe, on the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Station. [4] Raleigh continued as flagship of Rear-Admiral Hunt-Grubbe until 29 March 1888. [15] Roger Keyes served aboard her as a young midshipman from 1887 to 1890. [16]

In March 1888 the Raleigh became the flagship of Rear-Admiral Richard Wells, on the same station, and in May 1888 Captain Wilmot Fawkes took command the ship was recommissioned at Simonstown Dockyard near Cape Town in June 1888.

1890–1893 commission Edit

From September 1890 Raleigh was commanded by Captain Arthur Barrow, as flagship of Rear-Admiral Henry Frederick Nicholson, again on the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa station from 1890 to 1893. She was the first posting of midshipman William Fisher. Raleigh is described in his biography as follows:

"The Raleigh was an old ship of 5200 tons displacement, barque-rigged and dependent on sail-power for long passages. She had a curious and mixed armament of muzzle-loading and breech-loading guns and had achieved a speed of 15 knots in her early days. She was typical of the last years of the "Groping Era" and so Fisher's early sea training took place in a ship with main features of two different ages of ship and armament design." [17]

Raleigh was a happy ship "though hard work was demanded from both officers and men, the leadership was of a high order". [18] In a letter home Midshipman Fisher wrote:

"The lieutenants are nice, in fact nice without exception. Commander O'Callaghan is one of the best Commanders, it is generally acknowledged, in the service. Not for his smartness or ability but by leniency and well placed kindness with the men. He is certainly a most perfect gentleman. Captain Barrow is nice beyond doubt when off duty, when on duty, I think, as his is quite a newly made Captain, he tries to swagger too much and is rather harsh. Perhaps the fact of him being such a dandy sets me against him rather. You should see him go on inspection rounds in the morning with his beautiful white gloves and cane with uniform. David Nevin, our instructor, is a good old boy who has already taught me a considerable amount. " [18]

1894 Madini Creek ambush Edit

HMS Magpie, Raleigh and Widgeon under command of Rear-Admiral Frederick Bedford provided men for an incursion against slavery into the Gambia. The party were split into two columns, one consisting of two hundred and twenty-five bluejackets (naval personnel) from all three ships, was led by Captain Edward Harpur Gamble of the Raleigh. This main column was ambushed at Madini Creek on 23 February 1894. Eighteen men were killed, including two officers from the Raleigh, First Lieutenant William Arnold RN and Lieutenant Francis Hervey of the Marines. Forty-six officers and men were wounded (including Gamble). Shortly afterward British forces succeeded in bringing slavery to an end in the region. [19]

Fate Edit

When Sir John Fisher was Controller in the late 1890s he appropriated money that was meant for making good defects in Raleigh and used it for "making his own patent improvements in Renown, such as laying a dancing deck." [20]

In September 1902 it was announced she would not yet be sold, but be kept available for the training service. [21]

Raleigh was sold on 11 July 1905 to Messrs Thos W Ward of Morecambe to be broken up.

1 September 2009

Richard Ashmore Powell

Richard Ashmore Powell, RRA's first commander in HMS Vesuvius and clearly one of his seniors whom he most admired, was a Channel Islander like his young protegé . He was born in Guernsey on the 12th of July, 1816 (according to the Elizabeth College Register), apparently the second son of Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Walter Powell and Julia, née Lehon, of Guernsey.

The image at right comes from my own collection and shows RAP in the uniform of a Commodore, so was probably taken in British Columbia at the beginning of the Topaze commission.

RAP's father, Thomas Walter Powell (born Derynock, Breckonshire, 21 Oct 1791) had seen extensive service in the Peninsular War with the Duke of Wellington, taking part in every major action and losing an eye at Ciudad Rodrigo. Later he served with distinction in Canada, France and the West Indies. Again severely wounded, this time at Fort Erie by a bayonet and a musket ball. In 1829 he went out to serve in the East Indies, where he remained for ten years until his death from cholera at Karachi in 1839. According to John Hall (Hall, John A., A HISTORY OF THE PENINSULAR WAR, VOL VIII, THE BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY OF BRITISH OFFICERS KILLED AND WOUNDED, 1808-1814, Greenhill Books, 1998) he had married Julia Lehon in 1813 and they had five children by 1833. However, I can only find four: Richard Ashmore, plus his older brother Thomas Sidney and younger sisters Julia Catherine and Amelia.

RAP was educated at Elizabeth College, Guernsey, and the Royal Naval College, embarking from the latter 24 December, 1831. He passed his examination 8 February, 1836 and was promoted to Lieutenant 18 May, 1842, while serving in Hydra , Captain Alexander Murray, on the North America and West Indies station. When he was first in Hydra he received the Naval General Service Medal with Syria 1840 Clasp (left) for service in that campaign. On 16 March, 1843, he started his course at the Excellent Gunnery Ship at Portsmouth and on 29 June 1844 he was appointed to the Penelope , Captain William Jones, on the coast of Africa. He then suffered a year on half-pay before getting an appointment as First Lieutenant 10 April, 1847, in Styx , Captain Henry Chads, back on the coast of Africa. He returned home in 1848, just about the time RRA was starting his career in Howe in the Mediterranean.

On 12 February, 1849, he was appointed as the Lieutenant commanding Janus at Gibraltar. On 4 November, 1851, he was promoted to Commander for services against Riff pirates - an incident in which he was shot through both thighs. In February 1853 he had no ship. From 17 August of that year he was the Commander of Vesuvius until 8 March, 1855, when he was posted Captain and became an Additional Captain in Harpy , the Flagship of Rear Admiral Frederick William Grey in the Mediterranean. (By this time RRA was ashore with the Naval Brigade in the Crimea.)

Most of Richard Ashmore Powell's service in the Black Sea is naturally covered by RRA in his account, but one or two clarifications and additions are useful.

The first is a piece in Naval & Military Intelligence in The Times of 31 July, 1854:

It will be noted that the writer of The Times piece managed to include all the relevant information to help readers correctly conclude that this was another example of Royal Naval 'interest' and cronyism - something Vice Admiral James Whitley Deans Dundas had been accused of so often it had tarnished his reputation, but actually he probably wasn't much more at fault than most of his peers.

At the Allied landings at Kalamata Bay in the Crimea, RAP was one of two beachmasters for the British under the overall control of Captain Dacres. (The other beachmaster was Leopold George Heath). RRA describes Vesuvius ' work after the battle of the Alma very well, and also the early days of defending Balaklava when RAP had command of a battery manned by marines on the heights above the town and RRA was his ADC.

However there was a curious piece of reporting on page 10 of The Times on Saturday, 18 November 1854:

The Times got it wrong. The unfortunate Major Powell of the 49th was actually Charles Thomas Powell, the son of John Folliot Powell (1771-1839) and Frances ( née Armett), of Tempsford Hall, Bedford.

However, The Times is excused this slip because Richard Ashmore Powell's real brother, Thomas Sidney Powell, did serve through the Crimean campaign with the 57th (West Middlesex) Regiment until promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (unattached) 2 February 1855. He was killed in 1857 when in command of the 53rd (The Shropshire) Regiment near Futtehpore during an action with the Dinapore mutineers. Below is a facsimile representation of his obituary from The Times of 15 December, 1857:

RAP got his Companion of the Bath as part of the 5 July, 1855 list, and was made a Knight of the Legion of Honour and received the 4th Class of the Order of the Medjidie to go with his Crimean Medal with 'Sebastopol' Clasp and Turkish Medal entitlements.

After the Crimean War, in 1856, RAP was finally made a Knight Commander of the Order of Charles III of Spain (right) for his services against the Riff pirates five years before in Janus .

On 2 December, 1856, RAP commissioned Cornwallis at Plymouth and remained her Captain until 20 April, 1857, serving with the Coast Guard in the Humber. A little over a week later, on 1 May, 1857, he took up his next appointment as Captain of Boscowen , the Flagship of Rear Admiral Frederick William Grey on the Cape of Good Hope station. From 5 December, 1861, until 1 October, 1862, he was Captain of Defence , attached to the Channel Squadron.

From that last date RAP became the commander of Britannia , the cadet training ship, still at Portland at that time. In fact it was RAP who was responsible for the move to Dartmouth. It was during this pleasant intermission in Devon, on 11 October, 1862, that he married Mary Eveline, daughter of G. H. Skelton Esq., of Langton House, Cheltenham, at St Luke's, Cheltenham. He remained at Dartmouth until 1865 when he was relieved by an old Crimean War colleague, George Randolph. It seems RAP is remembered as one of the better of the early commanders of Britannia (see Pack, S.W.C., Captain, C.B.E., BRITANNIA AT DARTMOUTH, Alvin Redman, London, 1966.)

On 25 May, 1866, he became Captain of the steam frigate Topaze , destined for the Pacific station where on arrival he was to be confirmed as Commodore of the 2nd Class and the senior RN officer on the American coast of that ocean (see his service record, ADM/196/37). It was during this commission that he was responsible for a little bit of typical Victorian 'archaeological pilfering' when he and the crew of Topaze removed a couple of moai from Easter Island, one of them being Hoa Hakananai'a, now in the British Museum (left). The full story is on the British Museum website.

On 1 September, 1869, Topaze paid off at Plymouth at the end of her Pacific commission. RAP officially became a Retired Captain 6 July, 1871 a Retired Rear Admiral 6 April, 1873 and a Retired Vice Admiral 21 March, 1878. He became a Nautical Assessor under the terms of the "Merchant Shipping Act, 1876".

RAP and Mary Eveline had at least three daughters and one son, the latter being Major General Sidney Henry Powell (1866-1945). He served in the Royal Engineers 1884-1923, and was Colonel Commandant of Indian Signal Corps 1934-36.

Richard Ashmore Powell died at Shanklin on the Isle of Wight on Christmas Eve, 1892.

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