Queen Victoria hands out 12 VCs in Portsmouth

BOB HIND: So when did ‘navy’ become ‘military’?

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Last Wednesday was the day in 1858 when Queen Victoria visited Portsmouth to award 12 officers and men the cross bearing her name.

It was on August 2, 1858, that the Queen presented the award for exceptional bravery. At that time the Victoria Cross was worth less than the modern 2p but its value to those who gained it was priceless.

More than 20,000 Portsmouth people turned out to greet the Queen and troops from the whole of the garrison were on parade.

n Had you realised it’s 30 years since HMS Warrior 1860 berthed in Portsmouth? It was June 16, 1987, that she tied up alongside a purpose-built jetty just inside the dockyard’s main gate.

She became a major attraction with thousands walking her decks. What appealed most was that visitors could walk about at their ease rather than being tied to a guide.

I was a volunteer on her for nine months and I asked if I could climb the rigging of the mizzen mast as I had done years before at HMS Ganges. I am glad to say that at 36 I managed it, although it frightened the life out of me.