Dead Admirals’ Society, Part 3

‘Hang on’, you say, ‘where are Parts 1 and 2, then?’

Well, in the relatively early days of this blog, I posted a couple of items under this title and promised that at some point in the future, I’d do some more. I didn’t really expect ‘some point in the future’ to be such a long time coming, but I guess that’s life… Next week, though, I’ll reblog the first two posts in the series for those who missed them, and will then post a new Part 4 in the following week unless something unexpected crops up that I feel moved to blog about.

In a nutshell, this is a fairly random collection of pictures of interesting naval graves and memorials that I’ve come across during the course of my travels; not just admirals, but naval figures of all ranks and degrees of fame or obscurity. This week, a naval grave that I know very well, as it’s only about five miles as the crow flies from where I live – the niche tomb of the notorious (or unjustly scapegoated?) Admiral John Byng, the only British admiral ever to be executed, in the family vault of the Lords Torrington at Southill church, Bedfordshire – which also contains the remains of his father, George Byng, first Viscount Torrington, the victor of the battle of Cape Passaro in 1718. I had the honour of giving the tribute to Byng in Southill church on 14 March 2007, the 250th anniversary of the execution, before members of the Byng family, including the current Viscount Torrington.

Admiral John Byng's niche tomb

Admiral John Byng’s niche tomb

John Byng's niche at bottom left, beneath that of his father George, Viscount Torrington

John Byng’s niche at bottom left, beneath that of his father George, Viscount Torrington

General view of the Byng vault at Southill, Bedfordshire

General view of the Byng vault at Southill, Bedfordshire

Next, a fascinating memorial that I came across in the splendid church at Kalmar, Sweden, a few years ago while researching the fourth Quinton novel, The Lion of Midnight, namely the memorial to Gustav von Psilander (1669-1738). He achieved considerable renown in Sweden for his part in ‘the Battle of Orfordness‘, 17/27 July 1704, when he refused to strike his flag to a squadron of nine British warships, leading to a battle that lasted for over four hours – despite the two countries not actually being at war with each other at the time.

Gustav von Psilander memorial, Kalmar church

Gustav von Psilander memorial, Kalmar church

Finally, there’s the memorial in Bedale, Yorkshire, to probably the most famous Poo in naval history – namely the spectacularly named Admiral Sir John Poo Beresford. Apologies for the somewhat fuzzy shot of the latter, I didn’t have a very good camera at the time! No apologies for the shocking pun, though.

Memorial to Sir John Poo Beresford, Bedale

Memorial to Sir John Poo Beresford, Bedale

1 Comment

  1. Fascinating to see these memorials : I remember seeing the grave of Sir Sidney Smith at Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris and being most impressed. Can’t think of any other admiral who got buried in a country whose navy he fought against.
    I think that modern sympathies lie more with John Byng and that there is a feeling now that he was executed ‘pour encourager les autres’ as Voltaire put it.

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