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Tom Crean aboard HMS Royal Arthur – Blockade of Corinto

Tom Crean aboard HMS Royal Arthur - Blockade of Corinto Tom Crean BookOn this day, 18 yr-old Tom Crean, who had travelled over 13,000 miles on his first seagoing assignment, was serving on HMS Royal Arthur. He had transferred to the flagship of the Pacific Fleet on 14th March 1895 from HMS Wild Swan and Crean was very likely to have been among the contingent of men who entered the port of Corinto.

A task force of three ships, HMS Wild Swan, HMS Satellite berthed alongside HMS Royal Arthur to blockade one of Nicaragua’s main ports. Their mission – to collect an indemnity of £15,000 as compensation for a number of British nationals who were victims of maltreatment by a government intent on disrupting the empire that ruled them.

After the deadline for handover of the indemnity passed on 27th April 1895, a detachment of 400 men from the naval force occupied Corinto without opposition and Martial Law was declared. Captain Frederick Trench, commander of Royal Arthur, was installed as the new Governor as the British flag was raised over Customs House. The threat of conflict loomed large, yet before hostilities escalated, the Nicaraguans agreed to make the payment.

With the crisis at an end, the ships headed out of Corinto on 5th May 1895; yet not without further incident, as Captain Trench had, during his short-lived governance of the town, contracted a fatal bout of gastritis while ashore. As the ships set a course for Esquimalt in British Columbia, Canada, Trench was buried at sea.

Crean’s first outing as an Ordinary Seaman had thrust him into the last throes of an ailing empire flexing its muscles and had brought him close to armed conflict thousands of miles beyond the horizon of his beloved Kerry. For the young Irish sailor, his first active assignment turned out to be a baptism of fire he would hardly have imagined when leaving home two years earlier.

To read Tom Crean’s full story, the book can be purchased at the following link.

Biography of Tom Crean – Crean – The Extraordinary Life of an Irish Hero