24 December 2008

Christmas 1854

RRA spent Christmas 1854 skippering a steam tug called Pigeon in Balaklava harbour.

20 December 2008

The Howe takes Queen Adelaide to Madeira

The Old Howe at Malta. She is second from the left.

After some basic training and evolutions in the Channel, Howe was instructed to take Queen Adelaide to Madeira. The Queen was formerly Princess Adelaide Louise Theresa Caroline Amelia of Saxe-Meiningen, Queen consort, and by then widow of William IV. She had been born in 1792 and died 1849, so she only had a couple of years to live at this time. RRA wrote the following:

As may be imagined, we were the envy of the whole fleet, especially the old Admiral, who was very wroth at the preference of the honour being given to a Captain – one officer much junior to himself.

Two of the middies, Billy White and myself, were selected and appointed as attendant pages or Aides-de-Camp to Her Majesty for the voyage; consequently, we had always to appear in full uniform, tail coat, sword, white gloves &c.

Her Majesty Queen Victoria visited us several times in the Royal Yacht to wish the Queen Dowager good-bye. The Royal salutes on these occasions were most deafening – 21 guns being fired by every ship in the fleet on each visit.

19 December 2008

RRA's first ship was "the old Howe".

Here is the list of officers from the Navy List, corrected to 20th June, 1848.
The dates against their names are those when they joined ship.

294 HOWE, 120.


Captain Sir James Stirling, Kt. 28 Apr 47
Commander Thomas Wilson 4 May 48
Lieutenant William A. Fellowes 24 May 48
" Robert D. Aldrich 5 May 47
" Hon. Pownell F. Pellew 8 Oct 47
" William A.J. Heath 30 Apr 47
" Henry N. Burroughes 30 Apr 47
" Michael H. Perceval 1 May 44
" John H. Howard 17 Nov 47
Additional W. Charles Marshall 27 Sep 47
Master George Johnson 30 Apr 77 [sic - 47]
Chaplain David Carson 18 Aug 48
Surgeon James Carmichael, m.d. 4 May 47
Major William Taylor 8 May 47
1st Lieut. Mar. Charles Louis 8 May 47
" Chas. Wolrige 8 May 47
" John H. Parry 8 May 47
Paymaster & Purser George Waller 30 Apr 47
Nav. Instructor John N. Laverty 12 May 47
Mate Edward F. Holme 7 Feb 48
Assist. Surg. Frederick J. Brown, m.d. 4 May 47
" William B. Dalby 4 May 47
" Adam Gordon 3 May 48
2nd Master George Read 30 Apr 47
Wm. B. Moorman(act.) 6 May 47
Clerk William F. Jonas

18 December 2008

Here' a passage from his book about going with his father to join the Navy

I left the old home in Jersey the following week, amid the tears of my mother and sisters, and the smiles of the governess and maids who evidently much appreciated the departure of that terror and torment ‘Master Dick’, bound for London with my father, as he had to meet his old military friend and secure for me my uniform, sword and outfit.
The trip across the Channel was to me a particularly rough one, so I did not appreciate my first baptism in salt water. My heart was very sore, and my buoyant spirits for once depressed. Fortunately my father fell in with another old friend of his, a Naval Captain, who gave him the tip how we were to proceed, for, Dad being an army man knew very little of the sister service.
A week was sufficient for my stay in London, and we went to Sheerness via Chatham by train and steamer, in due course we found ourselves on board H.M. Ship Minotaur (hulk), a line-of-battle ship which acted as wet-nurse for my future home, the old Howe whilst the latter was in the throes of ‘refitting’.

A hundred years ago

Commander Richard Ramsay Armstrong RN (Rtd.) died nearly a hundred years ago. In the last years of his life he tried to find a publisher for his memoirs. He failed: most of the people he contacted didn't believe his story wasn't fiction.

But now his great grandson and I have published it at Lulu.com.


This blog will be about RRA's life, his career, his travels and his book.