Honouring naval heroics 200 years on

Juliet Noel and Joan Reade unveiling the plaque with Jon Wain, left, and Lt Col Harris Bartine USAF (Retd)

Juliet Noel and Joan Reade unveiling the plaque with Jon Wain, left, and Lt Col Harris Bartine USAF (Retd)

First published in News

TWO hundred years ago, in March 1814, HMS Phoebe captured an American ship off the coast of Chile, losing five men in the process.

HMS Phoebe’s adventures in the South Pacific followed the War of 1812, between British and American naval forces.

Now, thousands of miles away, here, near Abingdon, the ship’s career has been recognised.

As HMS Phoebe was also part of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, she was included in the Woodland Trust’s 2005 project to plant woodland commemorating the 33 ships that took part.

Phoebe Wood is planted at Millets Farm in Frilford, and is made up of native British species of trees, including oak, ash, poplar and willow. Alongside the woods that immortalise Phoebe’s actions under Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, a tribute to her deeds has now been displayed at Millets Farm.

The Britannia Naval Research Association (BNRA) has put up a plaque to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle with the American ship USS Essex which she took as a prize off the Chilean port of Valparaiso.

BNRA secretary John Wain, who lives near Phoebe Wood in Garford, near Abingdon, said: “The BNRA makes sure we commemorate these sorts of things so we don’t forget and repeat the mistakes of the past.”

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Juliet Noel’s great-great-great-uncle was Allen Gardiner, who was a midshipman on HMS Phoebe.

She said: “I knew about him, but I didn’t know about his involvement on Phoebe until a BNRA member tracked me down.”

Mrs Noel, 63, unveiled the plaque with her mother Joan Reade, 87, and BNRA member Lieutenant Colonel Harris Bartine, 77, a retired member of the US Air Force.

He said: “The BNRA is devoted to keeping the naval history of the UK alive.”

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