choice of ‘Object of the Month’.
What is it?
The Journals of Paymaster-in-Chief Henry Hardy Priest Shanks.
In May 2004 the Royal Naval Museum was given 3 journals which
were kept by Henry Shanks between the years 1854 and 1869. Henry
Shanks was born on the 15th November 1836 and joined the Paymaster
Branch of the Royal Navy in 1852. The journals give a fascinating
insight into the day-to-day life of an Assistant Clerk and Paymaster
in the mid-Victorian period and include some wonderful illustrations.
The first journal is of particular interest because it covers
his service on the steam screw ship-of-the-line HMS Sans Pareil
during the Crimean War. 2004 marks the 150th anniversary of the
start of this conflict between Russia and an alliance of the
Ottoman Empire, Britain, France and Sardinia. One of the Navy’s
vital roles was transporting and landing troops and equipment.
The extract from the journal in September 1854 describes the
landings on the River Alma which marked the start of the campaign.
Thursday 14th September 1854
Weighed at about 2 pm and steamed with the Agammenon and convoy
to the place for landing the troops, about 25 miles from Sevastopol.
Went aground at about 7am, but got off by going astern. Anchored
near Agammenon. Signal was made to start disembarking troops.
The horse boats had been put together previously and consisted
of 2 large Turkish pinnaces lashed together with a platform
across them, and rails around them with ridge ropes. Each was
towed by a launch and a cutter. Other ships did the same and
the disembarkation went very well. There were Cossacks on the
beach, one officer and 3 men, but they scampered off when they
saw signs of the troops going ashore. The officer had been
examining the ship with his glass and taking notes. The French
also got on very well with their disembarkation. Sans Pareil
had not yet disembarked any Cavalry, or very much Artillery.
Friday 15th September
Heavy swell prevented further disembarkation until noon. The
ships berth had been shifted a mile further out as when swinging
inshore she had been touching the bottom. Completed disembarking
the infantry and most of the Artillery. Lost a soldier of the
50th Regiment from fever.
Saturday to Monday 16th to 18th September
Employed landing the Artillery and the Cavalry, finishing on
Monday afternoon. Went ashore on Sunday and saw Turner of the
1st Royals and the 50th Regiment officers who came up in Sans
Pareil. They had spent a miserable night, no tents and heavy
rain all night. They got tents the next day.
Tuesday, 19th September
The troops marched early this morning for the Alma River, about
12 miles, and arrived at about 1 or 2 pm. The ships accompanied
them and anchored when the troops halted for the day. There
were about 10,000 Russians encamped on the banks of the Alma.
On Sunday, 30 Marines from the ship under Jolliffe RMA had
been sent to garrison Eupatoria. 1,500 men there from the three
fleets. Heard that Joe [brother] had gone there in charge of
the Marines from the Queen.
Wednesday, 20th September
The troops were early on the move towards the Russians. Agammenon
weighed and Sans Pareil followed, anchoring very near the land.
About 1 pm, saw the allied troops advancing, the French having
the right wing, the Turks the left wing and the English the
centre. The Russians were in a very strong position on the
slope and the top of a hill. The engagement commenced about
1.30 pm and lasted until about 5 pm when the Russians seemed
to be completely routed. Some guns were seen to have been captured.
Russians were being pursued while retreating along the valley.
Thursday, 21st September
Ships boats were sent ashore to bring off the wounded. These
included 4 wounded officers. It appeared that the Russian force
had consisted of 45,000 men. The Generals who had been taken
prisoner had expected to hold out for at least 3 weeks. Estimated
losses 1,500 and 2,000 Russians killed with a great number
if Russian wounded and taken prisoner. There were more Russians
5 miles further on but they retreated to Sevastopol on hearing
of the defeat.
Where is it?
These journals are held as part of the manuscript collection
and are available to researchers through the Museum
Also see Enquiry
The choice of: Matthew Sheldon, Head of Research Collections