|The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
JOSEPH HAMER, RN
|Joseph Hamer was born on 6 Feb 1852 in Manchester, Lancs. He entered the RN as a Boy on board HMS Ganges on 4 Dec ’66 with
CS number 39220A. He was 2 months shy of 15 yrs of age, and he could both read & write & was able to sign his name quite legibly.
He had been apprenticed to a gunsmith prior to entering the RN. Hamer subsequently served on HMS Meeanee & HMS Pearl (on the
China station) where he was promoted to Ordinary Seaman in Feb ’70 & AB on 1 Oct ’70.
After leaving Pearl in Dec ’70, he was then drafted to the Reserve at Sheerness where he undertook Armourer training & was passed
for Armourer’s Crew on 26 Mar ’72. He then joined HMS Audacious (Flagship of the China station) as part of the Armourer’s Crew
on 25 Jun ’72. In those days Armourer’s Crew maintained & repaired all of the weapons in the RN, including the large calibre ship’s
guns & later the ship’s torpedos. Whilst serving on Audacious Hamer was passed for Armourer 1st class & rated Petty Officer on 20
He then served on HMS Excellent, Lord Warden, Endymion, Audacious (again), Repulse & Excellent (again), prior to being drafted to
HMS Hecla on 26 May ‘82. He saw action at the Bombardment of Alexandria on 11 July ’82. In August he was part of the crew that
constructed & manned Captain Jackie Fisher & Lieut Percy Scott’s Armoured train for service along the Suez canal.
Two photos are shown below of the Naval Brigade Armoured Train & the gun’s crew on board the train.
Hamer subsequently served in Hecla’s Naval Bde with her Gardiner Gun’s crew that saw action at the battle of El –Teb on 29 Feb, &
also at Tamaai on 13 March ’84. Hamer was the only Armourer on strength for the Gardiner’s crew. If anything went wrong with any
of the guns Hamer was the man to make it right. No doubt he was quite well employed for the two actions!
For the Egypt/Soudan campaigns Hamer subsequently qualified for three clasps to his Egypt medal, of which there are 81 of this clasp
Hamer left Hecla in May ’84 & attended HMS Vernon Torpedo school where he requalified as a Torpedo Armourer on 18 May ’85. Many
advances had been made in torpedos in the 1870’s & early 1880’s, & they were just coming into their own as a separate branch during
this time frame.
He remained at HMS Vernon until being discharged on 15 Dec ’86, the reason being --- “for purpose of entering service under the
Hamer must have received some form of offer from the Chinese Gov’t, presumably to serve as an Torpedo Armourer in their Navy. It is
noted on Hamer’s service record that he was to have a free discharge with the option of re-engaging in future should he chose.
His conduct early in career had been assessed as Fair 3 times, & Good once. He had been placed in the “Second class for Conduct” in
1871, & 1873-74; but since 1875 had been rated Exemplary & Very Good for the remainder his career. He probably should have been
awarded the Naval LS medal but apparently never was recommended for the medal.
I know nothing more about him, or what became of him after that date, as he does not exist on the census of the period, but he did
not subsequently re enter the RN.
In the Hecla group photograph, Joseph Hamer is sitting to the left of CPO John Tolman. Hamer was the Gardner Gun crew’s Armourer,
the only Armourer in the two actions. You can see he is wearing a sidearm on his left hip.