Navy Manoeuvres 1888

Navy Manoeuvres 1888. The Fleet versus the Coastguards.

Crookhaven. July 28.

The Skibereen correspondent of a news agency telegraphed last night :- The steamer Vulture, with coal for Admiral Bairds fleet was about to leave Crookhaven harbour this evening when she was cleverly captured by the local Coastguards through a ruse. Just as she was getting away two coastguards went alongside, stating that they had a telegram for the captain. When the men were about to return a suspicion dawned upon the captain that he was entrapped. He ordered two men to pull up the ladder, but when they tried to do so Coastguard Birt drew his revolver, and threatened to shot the first man who touched the ladder. Birt quickly boarded the vessel, and the captain tried to take him to sea, but Chief officer Wright, prepared for this contingency, opened fire on the vulture from a commanding position on shore. At the same time other Coastguards went off in another boat to strengthen the attacking force. The captain of the Vulture, seeing that escape was hopeless, surrendered. The vessel was taken back as a prize, but was allowed to proceed sometimes afterwards presumably on instructions received.

Ref: The Times (Lloyds 28 July 1888)

Browhead 27 July 1888.

Enemy from cruiser ‘Archer’ again attacked station and forced an entrance at 5 p.m.; three Coastguards who were there surrendered and were carried away prisoners. Enemy numbered thirty Marines and three officers. Also a Coastguard station at Rock Island was captured today. Officers and men have retired for refuge in the surrounding hills. 7 p.m. the officers and men have returned from concealment and have retaken Coastguard station, Rock Island. Everything recovered here, and everything left at the place carefully noted.

Ref: The Times 30 July 1888.

Navy Manouvres. 1888.

H.M.S. Ajax. Berehaven 30 July.

Browhead. 29 July. A rumour reached here that the enemy attempted to capture Coastguard officer and men at Rock Island during a fog this evening. Officer and men made good their escape among the surrounding hills. (from Lloyds)

Ref: The Times 31 July 1888.

Crookhaven. 1 August 1888.

10 a.m. Her majesty’s ship ‘Arethusa’ (of Admiral Bairds Division), off the harbour landed five men with one telegraph expert taken from Brow Head signal station. The Coastguards have seized men and boat, and have taken men off to the country as prisoners. 2.14 p.m. Four boats with large body of men, landed from ‘Arethusa’ in search of prisoners taken by the Coastguards this morning; searched all the country round, but failed in finding either Coastguards or men. They seized a boat captured this morning and are now returning to the ship.

(Lloyds) Crookhaven 1 August. 10 a.m.

Ref: The Times 2 August 1888.


It is impossible to praise too highly the working of our system of telegraphic information from the various Coastguard stations. The officers in charge have developed a perfect talent for sending terse and clear despatches. Considerably over 400 messages have been received from them since we have been blockaded, and only once has the Admiral had occasion to ask for further information.- A meeting has taken place between the umpires of the southern division of the A and B squadrons as many points in dispute have arisen there. If no other lesson has been learnt, one at any rate will be emphasized, and that is the utterly impossibility of carrying on mimic warfare with any but the smallest approach to the conditions of real fighting. When the enemy, for instance, landed their men to endeavour to surprise our station at Crookhaven they were met by a withering fire from our Coastguard men, who appraised of their approach, had taken up an absolutely impregnable position in the old Martello Tower. They fled at once in disorder, but soon rallied, encouraging each other by the reminder “It’s only blank cartridge, Jack” and by sheer superiority of numbers, rushed the position and captured our signal book.

Ref: The Times 1 August 1888.

3 Comments · 6608 Reads · Print  -> Posted by Tony on December 12 2007


#1 | mec on 05/10/2010 23:41:02
My grandfather (J M Clarke) was brought up in various Coastguard Stations in SW Ireland. His mother Ellen would recount stories of her childhood as the daughter of a Coastguard, Michael Glanville (born 1828), stationed at Crookhaven. One of her stories, as told to my grandfather which he recorded later, related to the naval manoeuvres mentioned above and may be of interest.

"Once, when there were blue fleet and red fleet manoeuvres, a naval ship innocently strayed into Crookhaven harbour. They put out a boat and forgetfully tried to land at Rock Island, only to be greeted by a volley of blanks from the coastguards. At this, they about turned and went back to the ship. The Captain decided that the matter would have to be treated seriously so, to put it in the old naval language, he landed a file of marines at the station, at which the coastguards of course took to the hills, conducting guerrilla warfare against them with blank ammunition. Wright was the name of the station officer, and he took it very much more seriously than anybody else. In fact, he was lost to view and was reported to have been seen hiding in a foxes' den. One of the Glanville boys happened to be passing this hole and he saw a pair of eyes reflecting the light, staring out at him. When it was over Wright came back and discovered that my grandmother (Ellen, wife of Michael Glanville) had entertained the Lieutenant of the marines with cups of tea and so on. They had a proper sentry in that post looking out. Old Wright said 'Traison beheffets. Traison!' He lost his sword during this flight to the hills and everyone was sent out searching for it. It was found nearby where Mr Wright had made himself comfortable, so apparently he took the sword off when he wanted to lower his breeches."
#2 | mec on 06/10/2010 10:54:17
(Correction - Margaret was Michael Glanville's wife)
#3 | wrenm on 10/02/2014 23:34:32
Hi mec
Wonderful story, all the more to me because my great-grandparents were also Michael & Margaret Glanville! Margaret (b Cork 1830) was the daughter of Coastguard William McCarthy (b Cork 1798), who was stationed in Norfolk/Yarmouth with his family from abt 1835-1865. Margaret married Michael in Norfolk in 1860. In addition to your Ellen, they had six sons: Tom, Will (my grandfather), Michael Paul, Jack, James, and Sam; they all went into the Navy or the Irish Lights, but a few of these "Glanville boys" would still have been in Crookhaven in 1888. I imagine Margaret was quite at ease having tea and conversation with the Lieutenant and his marines! I have a few photos of Margaret, Michael and Ellen at the Crookhaven station, if you'd like them.

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