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Devon County

Devonshire Rgt.

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War Memorials

continued from the previous page . . .


So how did the master plan work? The Invincible fought at anchor inside the harbour, using a hawser as a spring*. She received several hits which dented her armour and received others, outside the armoured area, which penetrated her sides; six crew members were wounded by these hits.


A despatch tells us that " At 11.0am on Wednesday. the English ships again opened fire, and were replied to by the forts, but after a short time, the fire ceased on both sides, and a deputation came from Admiral Seymour, and made propositions to Toulba Pasha which he would not accept. No soldiers ever stood so firmly to their posts under a heavy fire as did the Egyptian under the fire of 28 ships during ten hours. At 9.0am on Thursday, an English man-of-war was seen to put a small screw in place of the large one which she had been using: and it was then known that  her screw had been carried away by a shot from the forts. On examining other ships, it was observed that eight had been severely battered on their sides, and that one had lost  her funnel."

The bombardment ceased at 5.30 pm but the encounter was far from over.

*A thick cable or  rope pulled taut through an opening in the deck to enable the broadside of the vessel to be turned in any direction as required.


From The Military History of the Royal Navy Volume 7

by Sir William Laird Clowes


On July 13th 1882, Invincible, Penelope, Monarch, Condor, Beacon and Bittern steamed into the harbour, and the Admiral landed from them a detachment of 150 "blue jackets"* and 450 Royal marines to keep some kind of order in the place. The city was still burning, partly the result of the bombardment, partly in consequence of incendiary fires which had been lighted by released convicts. It was supposed, moreover, to be mined on an extensive scale, so that the streets were regarded as extremely unsafe. The guns in several  batteries were spiked; the Khedive's palace at Ras-el -Tin was garrisoned and efforts were made to clear the streets."

*The first Royal Navy Uniform Regulations were issued in 1857. Short blue jackets with brass buttons (hence the description BLUE JACKET) became uniform in 1857 but were withdrawn in 1891. The nickname has lasted much longer.


It took several days for the fires to burn themselves out and Bedouins came into the city to loot from the ruins which added to the chaos. The sailors and marines did their best to gain control of the city and to police it but it was quite a time before order was eventually restored. 


British troops were landed in numbers and Alexandria was used as the base for the Battle of Tel el-Kebir which finally marked the end of the Egyptian revolt. Egypt was brought under British control and remained so until 1922.


HMS Invincible's men were used again in the Naval Brigade which took part in the Sudan Campaign of 1885 then it was off to China  the following year before coming back to Southampton where her role was that of a guardship until 1893. From that year on, she was used in home-based static roles and subjected to name changes as the Navy built up the fleet with more up-to date vessels. Consequently, the HMS Invincible referred to here is not the same ship as the HMS Invincible which sank on May 31st 1916 during the Battle of Jutland.


On 17 September 1914, under the name of HMS Fisgard II, she foundered while on tow and 17 men lost their lives.


The Square of the Consuls, Alexandria after the bombardment


The result of bombardment by the British fleet under Admiral Seymour in 1882 - photographed by Emily Ruete in 1885

"1 July 1885

The once beautiful city of Alexandria still lies in ruins – a monument to English "humanitarianism!" Excepting the Viceroy of Egypt and a few of his ministers – mere creatures of Britain – all natives cordially detest the English. On several occasions I heard very disparaging remarks passed about them by people in the shops and the streets. I was repeatedly asked whether I was English, and when I said I was a German this would make a favourable impression. Neither has the European colony at Alexandria any better opinion of the English."

A quotation from the "Memoirs of an Arabian Princess", Emily Ruete (Salamah bint Saïd; Sayyida Salme, Princess of Zanzibar and Oman) (1844-1924)




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