|The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
|AB Thomas Samuel NIGHTINGALE, RN
Thomas Nightingale was born 11 Aug 62 in
Wanston, Essex. He was a gardener before
joining the RN. He entered on 12 Oct 77 as a
15 yr old Boy 2nd class on board HMS Fisgard.
He only remained on her briefly before being
drafted to HMS Boscawen for his Boys
training. He was advanced to Boy 1st class on
23 Oct 78. His next two ships were HMS
Invincible (Ironclad Central Battery Battleship
of `69, Mediterannean Fleet ), Hibernia, & back
to Invincible where he was promoted to ORD
(Ordinary Seaman) on 14 Aug ’80 & rated TM
(Trained Man) on 1 Dec, just before leaving
Invincible on 27 Dec.
Thomas spent the next half year on HMS
Cruiser(small Sloop of ’52), when he again re-
joined Invincible on 1 Jun ’81. Despite being
an Ironclad Battleship, Invincible carried a full
press of sail, & Thomas would have learned all
types of sail & rope handling, in addition to
receiving training in seamanship & boat work.
He also would have had some elementary
training in guns & gunnery.
By the time he joined HMS Decoy(Gunboat of ’71) on
12 Nov ’81 he would have been a reasonably competent
seaman. Altho Decoy’s main propulsion would have
been steam, she also varied a full sail rig & would have
sailed when the wind was favourable. Decoy was part
of the Mediterannean fleet, & participated in the Egypt
1882 & Soudan 1884 campaigns. She was present at
the bombardment of Alexandria on 11 July ’82, and
helped blockade the Nile in 1883.
Thomas had just been promoted to AB(Able Seaman)
on 1 July. He also rec’d his first GCB(Good Conduct
badge) on 14 Aug ’83.
Decoy was to be part of the Soudan campaign of 1884,
she was based in the Red Sea at the port city of
Suakin, & some of her ship’s company were to
participate in the subsequent battles of El & Tamaai.
Thomas only got ashore at Suakin & thus qualified for
the Suakin ’84 clasp to his Egypt medal. Decoy left the
theatre later in `84 & returned to Malta where she was
to be broken up in `85. Thomas left her on 21 Jan ’85
& returned to Uk where he was briefly on Depot ship
HMS Duke of Wellington, until being drafted to HMS
Excellent on 1 Apl ’85 for Gunnery training. He qualified
as a SGT2(Seaman Gunner Torpedo 2nd class)28 May ’
86, & left Excellent on 2 July.
His next ship was HMS Minotaur(Ironclad Battleship of ’
63) until 20 Aug; HMS Valorous(Paddle Frigate of ’51)
until & Oct; then back to Excellent until 26 Oct; & finally
to his last ship HMS Castor(old 5th rate of ’32) on 27
Oct. Castor was based at North Shields & was a
Training ship for Reserve & Coast Guard ratings.
HMS Decoy was a composite Gun Boat
of 1871, she participated in the Ashantee
campaign of 1873-74 & the Egypt/Soudan
campaigns of 1882 -1884 . Her armament
consisted of 2 x 64 pdr Rifled Muzzle
loaders and 2 x 20 pdr Breach loaders &
carried a full rig of sail. Her complement
was 60 officers & ratings. She was
broken up in Malta in 1885.
|HMS Invincible HMS Invincible under sail|
HMS Invincible was a Central Battery Ironclad Battleship of 1870. She was temporary flagship for the bombardment of
Alexandria on 11 July 1882. Her armament consisted of 10 - 9" Rifled Muzzle loaders, & 4 - 64 pdr deck guns.
Altho steam powered she carried a full rig of sail. Her complement was 450 officers & ratings.
She had a long career & sank whilst being towed to Scapa Flow on 7 Sep 1914.
He received his 2nd GCB on 14 Aug ’88. Thomas Nightingale’s engagement was up on 14 Aug ’90 & on that day he elected to
terminate his RN service & went ashore “CS Expired” . Why he did not remain in the RN is unknown, his Conduct was VG (very
good) all of his career & he was never in trouble. Perhaps he had enough of sea life & wanted to obtain a job ashore. Had he signed
on for a 2nd engagement he would have qualified for the Naval LS medal as he had the time & conduct for the award.
Nothing is known of his family as I am unable to locate him in any of the census returns, but I do know he died in July 1907 in
Tynemouth, Northumberland. He was in his 45th year.
|The Alexandra, Suakin 1884 clasp combination is fairly common|
– 231 being awarded to RN & RM.
Awards of the single Suakin 1884 clasp were 578 to RN, RM.