|Other Interesting Medals
|CPO HENRY GEORGE ARNOLD, R.N.|
Born 26 May 1860 in St Pancras, Middlesex.
He entered the RN on 13 June 1876 as a 16
year old Boy.
Noted on his Service parchment are the
notations: can read & write, single, can
swim, & vaccinated”. Also his trade is given
as “Nav(al) Boy”, so perhaps he was
attending one of the school ships that
specialized in training young boys for a
career in either the Royal Navy or Merchant
ships of the time.
His initial training was on board HMS
Impregnable & he also received sail training
on HMS Royal Adelaide, both of these ships
being former sail of the line 1st rates. At
that time Boys were still being trained in
sail handling as sail was still very much in
use in the ships of the RN.
Arnold’s first ship was the Ironclad HMS
Warrior which he joined on 19 Mar ’78. Upon
attaining 18 yrs of age he was advanced to
Ordinary Seaman whilst on Warrior, 26 May ’
78. He next draft was the HMS Atalanta, an
old 6th rate now used as a sail training ship.
His next sea draft on 6 Feb ’80, was to HMS
Inconstant, he only spent a month on board
On 12 Mar ’80 he was drafted to HMS
Alexandra (Ironclad battleship of ’75),
Flagship of the Mediterranean fleet. Whilst
on board HMS Alexandra he was to see
action at the bombardment of the Forts at
Alexandria on 11 July 1882. He was to be
advanced to AB on 1Nov ’80 & also received
his first GCB (Good Conduct badge) on 7 Jun
Leaving Alexandra he was drafted on 14 Nov
’82 to HMS Excellent for gunnery training,
qualifying as a SG1(Seaman Gunner1st
class) on 1 Dec ’83. He then returned to the
Mediterranean to join HMS Sultan(Ironclad
B/S of ’70) on 17 Dec.
Whilst on board Sultan he was promoted to
LS (Leading Seaman) on 1 Sep’83.
Returning to HMS Excellent on 30 Dec ’84 he
re-qualified as a SG1. His next ship was to
be HMS Devastation (Ironclad B/S of ’71,
Channel Sq’dn) which he joined on 30 Apl ’
85. HMS Devastation was the first RN
Ironclad to not have a full rig of masts &
sails. On the same day he was promoted to
PO2nd class. He was to remain on
Devastation until 14 Aug when he returned
|Above: Service Parchment 1876-84|
Below: Close up of metal container
His next ship was HMS Volage(Corvette of ’69) which he joined on 21 Sep. Volage was part of the Training
Squadron. On 21 Sep Arnold was advanced to Captain of the Mast on Volage which meant he was in charge of &
responsible for one of the three masts & sails. Arnold rec’d his 2nd GCB whilst on Volage on 6 Jun ’86. On 1 July ’
86 he was advanced to Captain of the Mizzentop. This meant he was in charge of the upper sails of the Mizzen
He returned to Excellent for a month on 6 Nov, then drafted to HMS Sultan, still in the Mediterranean, on 2 Dec
where he was promoted to PO1st class & appointed Coxswain & Captain of the Fore Top on 1 Dec ’87. Arnold
must have been very good at sail handling & seamanship to be appointed to the upper tops of the ship. Only the
best sail handlers were appointed to the upper sails, it was a very dangerous place to be in foul weather.
Arnold left Sultan on 28 May ’88 returning to Excellent. The following day he signed on for his second engagement
of 10 years & was noted at the time as a ‘Seamanship Instructor’. He was also appointed CG(Gun Captain) on 4
July ’88. Whilst at Excellent he would have been instructing seamanship & gunnery to Seaman Gunners attending
Excellent to qualify.
He was also awarded his Naval Long Service medal at Excellent on 23 Jan ’91. He also re-qualified in gunnery of
13 Mar & was awarded his 3rd GCB on 26 May, just before he left Excellent to return to sea.
|Above: HMS Nile|
Below: HMS Orlando
|Arnold, when a Leading Seaman, |
was injured whilst at Gun Drill on 17
Aug 1883 on board HMS Excellent.
He: "received at Gun Drill a
contusion of right instep by being
struck by the flap of a gun and which
injury was followed by an abscess
from which he was sent to Hospital
On the reverse the Surgeon has
written: "this accident seeming a
trivial one he did not report it at
the time, but on Monday 20 being
unable to leave his home he was
seen by a Medical Officer from the
ship and permitted to remain home
until sent on the 23rd August to
R.N.H.(Royal Naval Hospital)."
signed: James C. Eastcott
Second scan shows a close up of
Captain Fisher's signature
For his next sea draft he was to return to the Mediterranean Fleet to join HMS Nile (Ironclad B/S of ’88) on 1 July ’
91. He was to spent his longest time at sea on her 3 yrs , 5 months & for that entire time he was appointed one
of Nile’s Gun Captains. Her armament consisted of four 13.5” Turret guns, the very latest in gunnery for the time.
So he would have been a senior PO in the Gunnery department & responsible to her Gunnery Officer for his gun’s
crew standard of training.
Whilst on Nile Arnold was to witness two memorable incidents which likely remained in his memory for the rest of
The first being on 11 Jun 1892, at Vourlay Bay in the Mediterranean, Chief Torpedo Instructor Corbet and an Able
Seamen were killed by an explosion, and a hole was blown in the deck of the vessel.
A year later on 22 June 1893, off the eastern seaboard of the Mediterranean, Nile was in the column directly
behind HMS Victoria, when the fateful order was given by Admiral Tryon to turn both port & starboard columns
inwards & thus make a 180 degree turn in preparation for anchoring at Tripoli for the night. During the turn
Camperdown (Flag of Rear Adm Markham leading the port column) rammed Victoria (leading the starboard column)
resulting in the sinking of Victoria in approx. 11 minutes with huge loss of life.
Had Arnold been on one of the upper decks or in his gun turret at the time he would have had a ringside seat to
view the evolution & subsequent collision. All of Admiral Tryon’s evolutions would have had the full attention of
the ships in the fleet that were in a position to witness them. Nile was the first ship to commence the launching
of her boats to rescue survivors & is shown clearly very close to the sinking Victoria in one of the famous period
photos taken of the disaster.
No doubt these two incidents remained in Arnold’s mind for the rest of his life. He was to leave Nile in Oct ’94 &
returned to HMS Victory & Excellent to re-qualify in gunnery. Arnold reached the top of the promotion ladder when
he was promoted to Chief PO (CPO) on 17 Feb ’97, & was to remain at Excellent as a Gunnery Instructor until 15
Feb ’99. Altho due for pension in 1898, on 25 Nov ’98 he signed on for a further 5 yrs, to complete 25 yrs service.
|Right: Gunnery Qualification|
(with Percy Scott Signature)
Below: HMS Victoria about to go under with
Nile (immediately astern of Victoria) taken by
the Surgeon of the Collingwood
This photo from "Admiral's in Collision"
(R. Hough 1959)
Arnold goes to sea for the last time on board HMS Orlando(1stcl Cruiser of ‘86) which he joined on 16 Feb ’
99. Arnold was to be Chief Quartermaster (Ch Qr Mr) of Orlando for the 3 yrs he served on her.
As a Chief Qr Mr he would have been responsible for steering the ship, preparing the Watch & Quarter bill &
taking charge of any Seamanship evolutions required. He also would have been instructing junior ratings in
Orlando was the Flagship of the Australian station, but was sent north to participate in the Chinese Boxer
uprising in June 1900. Notation on his Service record reads: “Present at Bombardment of Taku Forts 17 Jun
He was to remain on Orlando for 3ys 5 months, earning the 1900 China campaign medal.
Arnold arrived home in Sep 1902, returning to Excellent where he was to spend the next three years, again
as a Seamanship & Gunnery Instructor. He was finally pensioned on 17 Nov 1905, completing over 29 years
of service in the RN.
But CPO Arnold is not finished with the sea yet. On 28 May 1911 he was employed by the Royal Hospital
School, Greenwich as a Seamanship Instructor. His residence with his wife Jessie, at that time was 75
Beaconsfield Rd, Acton Green, London W4.
He was to be appointed to HMS Fame (3 masted Composite Sloop of 1878) based at the Greenwich School.
She was the school ship to train young boys in seamanship & sail in preparation for them to enter the RN as
Boys. Many of the students were sons of RN ratings. It is possible CPO Arnold may have attended this school
prior to entering the RN.
Many RN Pensioners were called up for service with the outbreak of the Great war on 4 Aug 1914. Arnold had
received a call up notice on 25 Mar 1912 indicating where he was to report to in the event of a mobilization.
He also received another notice on 21 Nov 1913 & another on 2 Oct 1914, this notice indicating:
“you are hereby granted leave & allowed to return home & follow your employment until such time as your
services are required in the RN.” This was possibly due to his age, him being over 54 yrs old at that time.
Arnold remained employed by the Greenwich Hospital school until he was “re-mobilized” on 1 Jan 1918 &
posted to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich as a Seamanship Instructor. He likely instructed Naval Cadets
in seamanship. He was hospitalized at the Dreadnought Hospital, Greenwich from 25 Aug to 27 Sep 1918,
being discharged with an ”Improved” condition. He was to remain at the Naval College until demobilized on
19 Feb 1919.
Henry Arnold was to live until 16 Nov 1940, dying at Llandudno in Wales. The family possibly had been
evacuated there from their home in London, during the blitz in the fall of 1940. He was 80 ½ yrs of age. His
effects of 1,238 pounds were left to his widow Jessie.
It is unknown when Jessie died.
Note regarding Present at
Taku Forts and Grant
HMS Orlando Letters of
Dreadnought Hospital Cert.
Above: HMS Fame
at the Greenwhich School
Left: Original Ribbons and Ribbon Bar