Chapter 11

After paying off at Malta, I was appointed Flag-Captain and Captain of the Depot at Portsmouth, the Commander-in-Chief being Sir Nowell Salmon. The depot at that time consisted of several old wooden ships, and my wife and children lived on board the old three-decker Duke of Wellington. There were several thousand men at the depot, but the discipline was good and they gave no trouble.

At Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee I was appointed to command the naval contingent that lined part of the procession route in London, and also the naval guns that took part in the procession. Previously I gave the men, gun-crews, and bandsmen, a great deal of exercise, marching them constantly long distances to the Portsdown Hills and back; it was lucky this was done, as the gun-crews found it very hard work dragging the guns over the sanded streets (the sand being put down to prevent the horses slipping), but no one fell out. The bluejackets lined the streets opposite the National Gallery. For this service I was awarded the M.V.O.

At the Review of the Fleet to celebrate the Jubilee, I was appointed Chief of the Staff to Sir Nowell Salmon, and had to organize the fleet that assembled at Spithead. It was a very large fleet of all types of ships, destroyers, etc. For this service I was awarded a second M.V.O. I thought this was a mistake, and returned the Order; afterwards I regretted that I had done so.

In August, 1897, I was appointed to command the Gunnery School, H.M.S. Excellent. The work was interesting, and during my tenure of office telescopic sights were introduced. There was a good deal of opposition to them at first, even from the gunnery officers, but eventually this was overcome.

B.L. charges of the Vickers’ design for the 6-inch quick-firing guns were tried and adopted, but in spite of all the trials carried out, there was some trouble through the pads not being properly made. As there was jealousy amongst the other gun designers, the matter was brought before Parliament and I was called upon for an explanation. Luckily I had fired off 240 rounds from the experimental gun without having any “blow-throughs,” and that was considered good enough. The design was adopted and arrangements made to improve the manufacture of the pads. Commanders Christian and Adair were the Commanders, Leveson, First Lieutenant, George Hope, Dampier and Hall (Blinker), Lieutenants on the Staff.

H.M.S Excellent
H.M.S Excellent

In 1899 I was appointed A.D.C. to Queen Victoria. The Kaiser paid a visit to Her Majesty in that year and I was selected as the naval officer to serve on his staff during his stay in England. At first we were at Windsor, and afterwards at Sandringham, where the Kaiser paid a visit to the Prince of Wales (afterwards King Edward VII). There were two days’ shooting, pheasants and partridges. The Kaiser had four guns and three men to load, he can use only one arm for shooting. Considering this, he shot very well at low birds, but could not manage high birds or driven partridges. The Kaiser remained in England for a fortnight and had to attend numerous functions and entertainments. He said to me, “The one thing I would like, would be to have a victory at sea.” He conferred on me the Order of the Red Eagle, 2nd Class, which Her Majesty allowed me to receive. The German Chamberlain, in presenting the Order to me, said that I must wear it, and cutting the ribbon, tucked the ends into my collar band, but he did it so badly that the Order fell into my soup.

When Her Majesty died at Osborne, in 1901, I was commanded, with two other A.D.Cs., to go to Osborne to be in attendance on the body lying in State. We accompanied the body from Osborne to Portsmouth on board the Royal Yacht Alberta, which vessel was secured to the jetty for the night. I had to keep the middle watch, and during that time King Edward and the Kaiser came to show their respect to her late Majesty. I went up to London and on to Windsor in the royal train, and marched in the procession from Victoria to Paddington, being present at the burial service at St. George’s Chapel, Windsor. The coffin was to have been conveyed from the railway station at Windsor by the Horse Artillery, but the horses, having had a long wait in the cold, jibbed and would not pull. After some time, the guard of honour, composed of bluejackets, piled their arms, manned the drag-ropes and pulled the gun-carriage, on which the coffin lay, to the Chapel. The gun-carriage was afterwards presented to Whale Island, H.M.S. Excellent. After Queen Victoria’s death in 1901, I was appointed A.D.C. to King Edward VII, and remained so until my promotion to Rear-Admiral.

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