HC Deb 03 July 1868 vol 193 cc667-8

said, be rose to call the attention of the House to the services of Officers, Seamen, and Marines of Her Majesty's Navy, who had not receive decorations in accordance with Admiralty Circulars of June, 1847, 1848, and 1858, which awarded medals to survivors in actions since 1793, a period over fifty years; and to ask, whether Honorary Rewards, as understood by above Circulars, for Gallant Services are to be discontinued? The manner in which all such rewards in the Royal Navy had been bestowed during the last thirty years, had gone far to destroy the value which they ought to possess. This was especially the case in the Syrian, China, and Russian Wars, where many received them without being under fire, or even within hearing of any engagement, really gallant services, meanwhile of various kinds, having been passed over without any recognition. The Admiralty, upon the 7th of June, 1847, issued a circular with reference to the granting of medals, and had this rule been fairly carried out great heart burnings and dissatisfaction would have been prevented. But in the wars which followed there were examples of two medals being worn, for the Black Sea and Baltic, the wearer of which might never have been under fire, and thousands of men in the transport service and in blockading ships received this medal who had never been within sound of an enemy's gun. There would have been no injustice in excluding ships not actually engaged, as no medals were given in the long war with France for blockading or transport service. Even the ships of Nelson's fleet who were absent while the battle of Trafalgar was ought, but returned in time to assist the disabled ships, did not receive the Trafalgar clasp. But the unfairness of the present system would be shown when compared with gallant actions for which no medal had ever been given, although the deeds themselves were well known and appreciated in naval history. Take, for instance, such cases as the attack on the pirate schooner Zaragorana by Captain walcott, with boats of the Tyne, on the 31st of March, 1823. This notorious pirate, who hoisted the black flag, and would neither give nor take quarter, was chased into a narrow creek off Baracoa, in the West Indies. Moored head and stern, with broadside sprung to oppose, she yet was carried with great gallantry against double the number of the assailants. Or take the two actions of Lieutenant Ramsay, commanding the Black Joke tender, in one of which, after a desperate and continuous fight of some hours, he captured the Marinerito, with five guns and seventy-seven men, more than double the force of the Black Joke.

Notice taken that Forty Members are not present:—House counted; and Forty Members being found present—


resuming, said, he would not occupy the attention of the House long. He did not press for an immediate reply from the Government, but would rest satisfied with a promise that the matter should be attended to.


said, that in the absence of his right hon. Friend the First Lord of the Admiralty, he was unable to give his hon. and gallant Friend a definite Answer to the inquiry he had addressed to the Government respecting naval decorations; but he would do so on Tuesday if the Question were repeated. The subject was one which had engaged the attention of several Boards of Admiralty, and he would not fail to bring the matter under the notice of the present Board.

Main Question, "That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair," put, and agreed to.