Memoirs of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford (Nimble Naval Public Domain)


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In January , at the general election, he was returned as Conservative M. Sir Charles Beresford was the pivotal figure in a highly charged political controversy during the run-up to World War I, where he was pitted against the "father of the dreadnought," Sir Jackie Fisher.

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Beresford aspired to reach the navy's most senior post, First Sea Lord, but the position was held by Fisher, who was widely respected. Mandatory retirement at 65 would have led to Fisher departing in , but promotion for Fisher to Admiral of the fleet also brought with it an extension of retirement age to Beresford himself would reach retirement at 65 in , unless he too could achieve the same promotion.

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As this seemed unlikely, the only possibility was if Fisher resigned, or was obliged to. Beresford set about organising a campaign criticising his handling of the navy and its reforms. Beresford combined the two careers of the navy and a member of parliament, making a reputation as a hero in battle and champion of the navy in the House of Commons.

He was a well-known and popular figure who courted publicity, widely known to the British public as "Charlie B". He was considered by many to be a personification of John Bull, indeed was normally accompanied by his trademark, a bulldog. Lord Charles Beresford was born on February 10, in Curraghmore, Ireland; the second son of the 4th marquessof Waterford. Charles entered the "Britannia" as a naval cadet in , successfully completing his passing-out examination in March He entered Parliament as a Conservative and frequently and outspokenly criticized Admiralty policy.

He was elected several times as a member of the House of Commons between and At sea he had always shown himself a remarkable disciplinarian, possessed of great influence over his men, and his reputation as one who would, if necessary, prove a great fighting commander was second to none; and, even when serving afloat and therefore unable to speak direct to the public, he was in the forefront of the campaign for increased naval efficiency. They had two daughters, the Hon. Eileen Teresa Lucy de la Poer Beresford d. Kathleen Mary de la Poer Beresford — Charles Beresford military naval officer February 10, age Curraghmore, Ireland Beresford became lieutenant in , and commander in School period Add photo.

Other Photos Add photo. See on larger map. Born February 10, His family traced their ancestry to Englishmen who had invaded Ireland in the reign of James I and stayed to rule. Beresford had a reputation for kindness to his men, saying 'Any smart action performed by an officer or man should be appreciated publicly by signal Everyone is grateful for appreciation'.

They had two daughters, the Hon. Eileen Teresa Lucy de la Poer Beresford d. Kathleen Mary de la Poer Beresford — Beresford had been captivated by the sight of the Channel Fleet at age twelve, [3] and joined the Royal Navy in aged 13, following preparatory education at Stubbington House School. Defence was one of four new ironclads serving in the Channel Squadron; Beresford was unhappy in Defence , which he described as "a slovenly, unhandy tin kettle, which could not sail without steam He proposed to her, but she refused likely due to their social and racial differences.

He entered Parliament as a Conservative in , representing County Waterford and retained his seat until Some difficulties arose with the Lords of the Admiralty, who objected to a junior officer debating the navy publicly in the House of Commons.

Beresford's parliamentary career was saved by the intervention of the Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli , who feared the loss of the seat to an opposition party, should Beresford be forced to resign. In , Beresford was one of thirty-two aides chosen to accompany the Prince of Wales on a tour of India. Victoria objected, on the grounds of his bad reputation, but he remained at the Prince's insistence.

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The tour was a lively mixture of social engagements and animal hunts. The Prince insisted on dressing for dinner, even in the jungle, but allowed the concession of cutting off the tails of their evening coats, creating the dinner jacket. She lodged the letter with solicitor George Lewis and threatened to use this to destroy the reputation of the Countess. The Prince of Wales, who had a special affection for the Countess, tried to have the letter destroyed but Lewis would not allow this. The Prince of Wales then took steps to exclude Lady Charles from his social circle.

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Beresford aspired to reach the navy's most senior post, First Sea Lord, but the position was held by Fisher, who was widely respected. Scott refused, signalling "Paintwork appears to be more in demand than gunnery, so you had better come in in time to make yourself look pretty by the 8th". By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. The Prince of Wales then took steps to exclude Lady Charles from his social circle. Beresford remained an MP until , after he retired from the navy in

An angry Charles Beresford eventually extracted a written apology from the Prince. The Prince subsequently wrote to Lord Waterford Beresford's brother saying that he "can never forget, and shall never forgive, the conduct of your brother and his wife towards me" [19]. In and Beresford joined the staff of the Gordon Relief Expedition under Garnet Wolseley , along with the Naval Brigade and a Gardner machinegun , to which Beresford was much attracted.

During the battle of Abu Klea , Dervishes overran his Gardner gun when it jammed at the last moment. Beresford just escaped death by diving under the trail of the gun.

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In he was again elected to Parliament, this time as MP for Marylebone East , and re-elected at the general election. Beresford constantly pushed for greater expenditure on the navy, resigning his seat in protest on this issue in Meanwhile, in he had also become Junior Naval Lord. The Naval Defence Act , which increased naval spending, was passed partly as a result of public pressure resulting from this action. Beresford was a believer in promoting physical recreation beyond the services, being one of the founding committee of the National Physical Recreation Society which began in under the presidency of Herbert Gladstone.

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In he put down a motion in Parliament proposing that the County Councils formed in provide a gymnasium for every , inhabitants. William Penny Brookes invited him to be president of the Wenlock Olympian Society Annual Games in Shropshire for the years and but he was unable to be present at the sports, because of other commitments.

In the latter year news of his affair with the Countess of Warwick broke after she threatened Lady Charles Beresford; despite this Brookes, an advocate of physical education, and Beresford had a warm correspondence from until Brookes' death in , and Beresford was elected an honorary member of the Wenlock Olympian Society in In Beresford was promoted to rear-admiral and again entered Parliament, this time representing York , though he spent much of his time in China representing the Associated Chambers of Commerce.

Shortly after his arrival, Beresford took a company of men ashore and used them as stand-ins for ships to practice manoeuvring and assembling a fleet. Fisher noticed the display and publicly sent a signal demanding to know why Beresford had landed his men without permission. Lord Charles resented his superior as a social climber from unknown origins, while Fisher was jealous of Beresford's inherited wealth and social position.

Beresford was again elected to Parliament in April , [25] this time for Woolwich , but resigned in when he was promoted to admiral and appointed chief of the Channel Fleet.

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David Beatty , then a captain serving under Beresford, commented that Beresford's command of the fleet was characterised by 'rigid training and discouragement of initiative'. Beresford aspired to reach the navy's most senior post, First Sea Lord , but the position was held by Fisher, who was widely respected. Mandatory retirement at 65 would have led to Fisher departing in , but Fisher's promotion to admiral of the fleet also brought with it an extension of retirement age to Beresford himself would reach retirement at 65 in , unless he too could achieve the same promotion.

As this seemed unlikely, the only possibility was if Fisher resigned, or was obliged to.

Charles Beresford

Beresford set about organising a campaign criticising his handling of the navy and its reforms. Beresford transferred to command of the Channel fleet from — He was complimented by a then-junior officer as having 'no superior as a seaman', but his time in charge was described as 'principally a processional career around the ports of Britain I do not recall that any serious problems of war were either attempted or solved [but] Lord Charles received deputations, addressed crowded meetings in his honour, and became freeman of innumerable cities'.

Beresford is credited with recommending the use of Grimsby trawlers for minesweeping operations following visits he made to various East Coast ports in Grimsby, with its impressive docklands and trawler fleet was seen as ideal, with Beresford arguing that the fishing fleet would be inactive during times of war as fishing grounds became war zones.

In the First World War the boats provided the craft, the trawler fleet the crew, and the port a base for the Royal Naval Patrol Service. It was noted that his personality seemed to have changed for the worse, and historians have suggested that he might have suffered a minor stroke at some time before In November , Beresford ordered all ships of the Channel Fleet then at sea to return to harbour to be repainted for a review by the Kaiser. Scott refused, signalling "Paintwork appears to be more in demand than gunnery, so you had better come in in time to make yourself look pretty by the 8th".

Nothing happened for four days, until a staff officer visiting Scott's flagship heard of the signal and reported it to Beresford, who summoned and severely reprimanded Scott without giving Scott an opportunity to explain his remarks and actions, and refused to listen when Scott tried to offer an explanation.