|Other Interesting Medals
Thomas Morley was born on 14 May 1851 in
St John’s, Lewes. In the 1871 census his
mother is shown as Harriett(age 47), his
father being deceased. Thomas was eldest
son(age 19), working as a Blacksmith. His
younger brother James (age 16), was also
working as a Blacksmith.
Thomas joined the RN on board HMS Asia
as a Blacksmith on 23 Oct ’75 at 24 yrs of age.
As he had prior training in his trade he only
spent a couple weeks on Asia before
embarking for Malta.
Upon arrival in Malta he first went to HMS
Hibernia(Base Ship) to await his ship for
for a month before joining HMS Bittern
(Gunvessel of ’69) on 1 Jan ’76. Bittern had
just returned to Malta after taking part in
the Ashantee campaign of 1873-74 being
stationed on the West Coast of Africa.
Bittern re-commissioned at Malta in Feb ’78
for service in the Mediterranean Fleet & Morley
left her on 25th,, again joining the base ship
Hibernia until his next draft. He joined the
Troopship HMS Tamar on 6 Apl for passage
ck to UK where he again joined up with HMS
Asia in Portsmouth.
He spent a year on Asia, until his next draft
to HMS Bacchante(Corvette of ’76) on 15
July ’79. Bacchante was to be part of the
Flying Sqdn assigned to take the two Royal
Princes (Prince Albert Victor & Prince George)
on a world cruise. The Flagship was HMS
Inconstant flying the flag of Admiral The Earl
of Clanwilliam. The squadron consisted of
HMS Inconstant, Bacchante, Tourmaline &
Topaze.+ All of these were full rigged sailing
ships with secondary steam power.
In addition to providing sea training for the
Royal Princes, the particular object of the
squadron was to train officers and men in the
use of masts and sails, which were very shortly
to disappear, and really should have
disappeared ten years before, since they
hampered a ship in speed, and would have
been a severe encumbrance in an action.
However, Bacchante got to Australia &
Singapore before she (with the Princes) was
ordered home via the Suez canal (Bacchante
did not see any campaign service during the
1882 Egypt campaign), arriving in Portsmouth
on 31 Aug ’82 where Morley left her & again
joined HMS Asia. On 21 Oct he was drafted
to HMS Vernon(Torpedo school at Portsmouth)
where he spent the next year re qualifying
as an Armourer & in the new rate of Torpedo
|TORPEDO ARTIFICER & CHIEF ARMOURER THOMAS WILLIAM MORLEY R.N.|
She was an ironclad screw powered Corvette of 1876 second of the Bacchante class. Typical of the period
she was fully rigged as well, & the photo (Upper Right) shows her in full sail rig. She was armed with fourteen
7-inch MLR (muzzle loading rifled) guns and two 64-pounder torpedo carriages. She is mainly remembered for
taking the two Royal Princes on a world tour during 1879-82.
Bacchante’s only campaign service was during the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885-87.
This photo (Upper Left) shows her in the white paint scheme she would have worn in the far east.
She was sold & broken up by Cohen’s in 1897.
|ABOVE: Photo showing Armourers at work. The Chief Armourer is on the|
right with peaked cap & the Gunner is on the left.
The rating standing to the Gunner’s left is a Petty Officer Gunnery Armourer,
& his rate badge is shown on his right sleeve.
BELOW: The rate badges of a Torpedo Artificer, & Chief Torpedo Artificer.
The rate only existed for a short period, from approx 1882-1892.
He qualified as Torpedo Armourer on 23 Aug ’
83 & Torpedo Artificer on 7 Mar ’85. A
Torpedo Artificer was (together with ERA’s &
Naval Schoolmasters) then the top paid rate
of the Victorian Navy, earning upon qualifying,
On 14 Apl Morley again joined HMS Bacchante,
& again, in Apl ’86, sailed for the East Indies
where she was to participate in the 1886-87
Burmese campaign. For this campaign
members of Bacchante received the India
General Service medal with the Burma
1885-87 campaign clasp.++ Morley had
previously been awarded his Naval Long
Service medal aboard HMS Bacchante on
7 Jan. Both medals are named to his rate
of Torpedo Artificer. Morley was to remain
on Bacchante for 3yrs, 7 months, leaving
her on 6 Nov when she arrived back in
Portsmouth to pay off.
He then re-joined Vernon where he remained
as a Torpedo Armourer Instructor for the next
4 years. On 7 Mar ’91 his pay was increased
to 109/10/0. Morley was advanced to Chief
Armourer on 1 Oct ’92 raising his pay to
118/12/6. The rate of Torpedo Artificer was
abolished in 1892. Ratings hold that rate were
rated Armourers & Chief Armourers.
Morley was drafted to HMS Royal Arthur
(Cruiser of ‘91) on 2 Mar ’93. On that date
Royal Arthur was commissioned as Flagship
Pacific Fleet, Rear Admiral H. Stephenson. He
was to remain on her until 28 Sep ’95.
On 23 Oct ’95 he was allowed to re-engage
for a further 5 yrs & his subsequent service
in Uk was on HMS Excellent, Vernon, Pembroke
& Victory. He was confirmed as Chief Armourer
on 7 Oct ’96.
His next sea going draft was to HMS Mars
(pre Dreadnought Battleship of ’96) & he
served on her from 18 Jan ’98 to 30 Jun ’00.
She was part of the Channel Squadron.
Leaving Mars Morley went to Excellent until
he went to pension on 31 Oct ’00.
However his service was not over as he
entered HMS Duke of Wellington(Depot ship
Portsmouth) on 3 Mar ’02 as an Armourer
(Pensioner) & was again promoted to Chief
Armourer on 1 Jun. On 13 Mar ’03 he was
DSQ (Discharged to Sick Quarters) at his own
residence until returning to duty on 8 Apl.
He subsequently served on HMS Firequeen
(Depot Portsmouth) until again being
discharged to pension on 30 Apl ’05. He was
two weeks short of 54 yrs of age. For his
entire career his conduct had been either
Exemplary or Very Good & he never had any
Thomas Morley’s Family:
Thomas had married Sara Ann King on 15 Feb 1873 prior to entering the RN.
In 1891 they family consisted of :
Thomas(39), occupation Torpedo Artificer RN; wife, Sara Ann (37) no occupation shown.
Children: Nellie(17) Dressmaker’s Apprentice; Annie(15) Dressmaker’s Apprentice;
William James(9) Scholar; Albert(7) Scholar; Frederick(5) Scholar; & Wallace Walter(1)
The family was living at 39 Princes Street, Portsea.
By 1911 the family is now living at 14 All Saints Rd, Landport, Portsmouth.
Nellie, Annie, Albert & Frederick have left & presumably have started families of their own.
William James(29) is employed as a Caulker in the RN Dockyard.
Wallace Walter(21) is employed as an Engine Fitter in the RN Dockyard.
New additions to the family are: Gladys Maud(19); Lionel George(18) employed as a Baker’s assistant; Victor Harold(13)
Scholar; & William Henry King(55) a bachelor, & Naval Pensioner who is Sara Ann’s brother.
Thus Thomas & Sara Ann have had 9 children.
Thomas was to collect an RN pension for 34 years, longer than he actually served. He lived until 88 years of age, & passed
away in June 1939. It is unknown when Sara Ann died.
+ Bacchante’s Royal Cruise:
The two oldest sons of the Prince of Wales(later King Edward VII) had entered the RN in 1877, and by 1879 it had been
decided by the Royal Family and the Government that the two should undertake a cruise. They were assigned to HMS
Bacchante, which was then part of a squadron intended to patrol the sea lanes of the British Empire. Queen Victoria was
concerned that the Bacchante might sink, drowning her grandchildren. Confident in their ship, the Admiralty sent Bacchante
through a gale to prove she was sturdy enough to weather storms.[The Princes, with their tutor John Neale Dalton, duly came
aboard on 17 September 1879. The Bacchante was to be their home for the next three years.
They made a number of cruises to different parts of the Empire with the squadron. The squadron initially consisted of HMS
Inconstant, Bacchante, Topaze & Tourmaline, the composition altering during the voyages as ships left, or were joined by
new ones. The Bacchante visited the Mediterranean and the West Indies, followed by later voyages to South America, South
Africa, Australia, China and Japan.
The Princes made regular diary entries, which were later published as two volumes in 1886 as The Cruise of Her Majesty's Ship
Bacchante. Bacchante briefly assisted in the First Boer War, before the squadron sailed again for Australia. Shortly after
reaching the coast on 12 May, a heavy storm blew up and when it had abated, the Bacchante was missing. After three days
searching, news reached the squadron that Bacchante had had her rudder disabled, but had been able to reach safety at
Albany. Bacchante returned to England in August 1882 and discharged her young Royal midshipmen. By then she had covered
40,000 miles, mostly under sail, and had rounded the Cape of Good Hope twice. She became the only British vessel in which
two grandsons of the reigning monarch served at the same time.
++ Bacchante’s commission in the Far East:
Bacchante was then paid off and underwent a long refit, which saw her being partially rearmed. She was then dispatched to
the East Indies to relieve her sister, HMS Euryalus, as flagship on the station. Bacchante served during the Third Anglo-
Burmese War in 1885, transferring three-quarters of her complement to serve on gunboats on the Irrawaddy River or in the
suppression of banditry. She returned to Britain in 1888 and was placed in reserve.