Royal Naval Museum



Naval History Calendar


9th March 1686 - Pepys signed contract for purchase of rum in lieu of brandy for HM ships at Jamaica

In 1655 when Jamaica was captured by Admiral Penn, rum soon began to supersede brandy as an integral part of the sailor's daily ration. It was cheap, easy to obtain, and improved with keeping. The value of rum, especially in overseas stations, was gradually appreciated by those responsible for the Navy's victualling, and in 1731 it became an official issue to seamen, the daily half pint being issued in two equal parts, one in the morning and one in the evening. In 1970 the sailor's daily rum ration was abolished.

13th March 1858 – VC awarded to Able Seaman Edward Robinson at the siege of Lucknow.

In November 1857, guns of HMS Shannon's Naval Brigade joined in a three-day bombardment of the Kaiserbagh fortress in Lucknow, to cover the evacuation of European women, children and wounded, and stores, from the Residency. The naval guns and rocket tubes kept up their fire to the last moment and everybody was safely brought out during the night of 22nd/23rd November. But though the Residency had been relieved, the city of Lucknow was not finally captured by Sir Colin Campbell until March 1858, when 400 Officers and men of the Naval Brigade took part in the final assault which began on 2nd March. By 13th March, the Naval Brigade were occupying earth defence works in the grounds of the Begum Cotee, with troops defending near-by houses and gardens. After several exchanges with sepoys in the houses opposite, a house immediately on the sailors' left was set on fire. During the action, some sandbags on top of the earthworks were set alight. Able Seaman Edward Robinson jumped up and extinguished the fires in some of the bags and threw others clear, where they could do no damage. The nearest sepoys were now within fifty yards' range and Robinson came under very heavy musket fire. He was hit in the shoulder and knocked unconscious back into the trenches, where his mates on the guns' crew dragged him to safety. He was recommended for the Victoria Cross by Captain William Peel, and was gazetted on 24th December 1858.

23rd March 1791 - HMS Pandora arrived at Tahiti in search of Bounty mutineers.

The Admiralty was determined to make an example of the mutineers and sent out HMS Pandora, under the command of Captain Edwards, to apprehend them. Bligh had to face a court-martial to answer for his loss of HMS Bounty but other crewmembers were required to attend the trial. HMS Pandora reached Matavai Bay on 23rd March 1791 and fourteen of the sixteen mutineers there were arrested (two had been killed earlier). Unable to find Christian and his eight followers, Edwards departed from Tahiti. Unfortunately, the Pandora struck rocks on Australia's Great Barrier Reef subsequently sinking and four more mutineers lost their lives. Finally returning to England on 19th June 1792, the surviving mutineers began their trial in the following September on HMS Duke. Three were publicly hanged on board HMS Brunswick whilst the remainders were acquitted.