H.M.S. Camperdown

George Pearn was born 28 Jun 1848 in Hill Head, Hantsport.
He entered the RN 7 July 1863 as a 2nd class Boy. He had just turned 15 yrs of age, 4ft, 11” height & was able to read & write. He
entered on board HMS Excellent, an establishment which he was to return again much later in his career & in a very different capacity.

On 8 Nov ’64 he receives a draft to his first ship, HMS Victoria, a first rate ship of the line with 121 guns. Victoria was the last of the
wooden three deckers to be built, she was completed & converted for steam propulsion in 1859 & commissioned in 1860. Victoria was
to be another co-incidence for Pearn as he was to have an experience with another HMS Victoria later in his career. Whilst in Victoria in
he was rated ordinary Seaman on 28 Jun ’66 on his 18th birthday. Victoria had a full spread of canvas & during his time on her Pearn
would have receiving considerable training in sail.

He left Victoria at the end of her Mediterranean commission & went to HMS Danae on 8 Aug ’67 where he was promoted to AB &
qualified as a Acting Seaman Gunner(SG) 1 Oct ‘70. After 3 year commission on  Danae he attended HMS Excellent to qualify formally
as a SG1 on 15 Apl ’72.

His next draft was to HMS Hercules, an ironclad battleship part of thre Channel squadron from 4 Sep ’72 to 11 May 74.
Whilst Pearn was on Hercules he was to witness his first experience with a ship’s ram:
On 25 Dec 1872 at anchor at Funchal, Madeira, when during a heavy gale the anchors of the Northumberland failed to hold and she fell
across the bows of the Hercules, and suffered damage under the water from the Hercules ram bow, also causing damage to the
rigging of the Hercules.

A very similar situation was to happen to Pearn again in future…………

His next draft is to HMS Duke of Wellington, the Portsmouth receiving ship, & first day on board changes his rate to Ship’s Corporal
2nd  cl on 12 May ’74.  He remains on Duke of Wellington & Asia, presumably learning the duties of his new rate, until drafted to HMS
Minotaur on 26 Sep ’75.

Minotaur was the Flagship of Vice Admiral Lord John Hay in the Mediterranean fleet & was involved in the Occupation of the Island of
Cyprus in July ’78.
Whilst on Minotaur Pearn was advanced to Ships Cpl 1st cl on 12 May ’76.

He left Minotaur in in Nov 79 & returned to Duke of Wellington where he was advanced to Master at Arms (MAA) on 18 Mar ’81.  Pearn
had now reached the top of the ladder for a seaman rating.

His next draft was to HMS Inflexible, a modern Ironclad battleship in the Mediterranean fleet commanded by then Captain Jackie Fisher.
No doubt Pearn was to come into contact with Fisher daily for the time he was in command of Inflexible.
Inflexible was to see action at the bombardment of Alexandria in July ’82.

Pearn leaves Inflexible in Feb ’85 & after a brief stint at Duke of Wellington he returns to Excellent on 1 Apl ’85.  He is now MAA of
Excellent, in quite a different position that he occupied back in 1863!
Pearne receives his Naval Long Service medal whilst serving at Excellent, 6 Oct ’86.

He signs on for another 5 yrs in Jun ’86.

He next serves as MAA on Troopship HMS Euphrates until 30 Jun ’91, when his time is up & he goes to pension.
But he only remains ashore for almost 1 yr. He signs on again on 20 Jun ’92 for another 5 yrs.

On 14 Oct he is drafted as MAA of HMS Camperdown, Flagship of Rear Admiral Hastings Markham, 2nd in Command of the
Mediterranean Fleet.

Pearn is on board that fateful afternoon 22 Jun ’93, when, during a fleet evolution in preparation for anchoring, Camperdown collides
with & with her bow ram sinks the Flagship HMS Victoria in a matter of minutes.  At the time Pearn must have recalled his experience
on HMS Hercules with the ram of HMS Northumberland.

Two yrs later, on 30 Sep ’95, Pearn leaves  Camperdown & serves subsequently on HMS Grafton, HMS Revenge, & HMS Ganges.
Whilst MAA of Ganges Pearn is permitted to sign on again until he reaches the age of 50.

His last draft was to HMS Victory on 11 Jun ’98 & he goes to pension on his 50th birthday 30 Jun 98. He had completed 34 yrs service
in the RN
She was the third ship of this
name, the last of the First Rate
Ships of the Line. Of 6959 tons,
she had 121 guns, built on
Porstmouth dockyard, from
1846 to 1859. She was originally
laid down as a 110 gun ship, but
enlarged & converted for steam
propulsion prior to launching,
commissioned 1860.

First 10 years of her service
being on the Mediterranean
station but after 1870 she
served in the Channel squadron
& at Portsmouth.  She was sold
for breaking up in May 1893.
She was the 4th ship of the name.  An Ironclad Battleship of
1876, of 11,880 tons, she had the heaviest {81 tons} turret guns
of the time, 4 - 16" MLR's in two turrets, & the thickest armour of
all the ironclads of the time, 24" side armour with a 25" teak
backing. Her two turrets had 17" of armour & were hydraulic. It
took 2 minutes to load each gun. Altho she was steam driven with
very powerful engines (8000 ihp) she was also fully rigged for

Her Captain at Alexandria was Jackie Fisher, the foremost
gunnery officer of the time. At the bombardment of Alexandria
she fired 88 shells into Forts Ras El Tin, Ada, Mex, & Pharos.  The
blast from her huge guns damaged her upperworks & smashed
many of the ship's boats. A 10" shell fired from one of the forts
penetrated her side below the waterline outside her armour &
glancing upward, penetrated her deck killing 8 men.
Inflexible was the first ship in the Victorian navy to be fitted with
electric lighting.  She lost her top hamper rigging in 1885 & had
fighting tops fitted in her masts. She survived until being sold for
breakup in 1903.
A photo  of Captain Jack Fisher CB, Captain
of Inflexible at Alexandria. This was the
Officer that MAA Pearn would have reported
directly to when he was MAA of Inflexible.