Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
Clement-Jones family - Person Sheet
NameFrank Massie ROYDS, 13770
FatherRev Francis Coulman ROYDS , 7110 (1825-1913)
MotherCornelia Frances BLOMFIELD , 7111 (1830-1919)
Notes for Frank Massie ROYDS
Died aboard H.M.S. Carysfort, El Teb, Sudan. Sudan medal.


HMS Carysfort 1878 - 91 : a Victorian corvette in the Egypt and Sudan campaigns 1882-85.

Laid down in 1878, HMS Carysfort was one of an unusual class of warships. Known as the Comus class, after the first one constructed, they were the last steam-and-sail “corvettes” built for the Royal Navy.

The class comprised (with dates of launch) Comus (April 1878), Curacao (April 1878), Champion (July 1878), Cleopatra (Aug. 1878), Carysfort (Sept. 1878), Conquest (Oct. 1878) and Constance (June 1880). Two larger versions of what was in effect the same type were Canada (Aug. 1881) and Cordelia (Oct. 1881). The seven main class ships were approx. 225 feet long, displaced approx. 2377 tons and had an average complement of 265 officers and men.

The construction of these ships was a direct response to the perceived threat from a new class of French light frigates which was regarded by the Admiralty as posing a real challenge, potentially as fast, long-range “commerce raiders”. Such a threat could not be ignored by a naval power whose trade and wealth depended upon very long sea routes crossing the globe.

The ships of the new Comus class, designated as “14 gun corvettes”, were in many respects remarkably advanced. They had "protected” (armoured) decking over their machinery, had electric lighting and searchlights, carried torpedo tubes, had showers and bathrooms for the crew and even had a library for the men.

Their top speed was approx. 13 knots and their range, using both wind and steam power, over 5,000 miles. Their armament was also impressive for their size, typically being two 7” guns, twelve 64-pounders (six along each side), three or four Nordenfeldt machine guns, torpedo tubes and electric searchlights. It should be noted that their armament and other specifications were altered during the course of their careers as they were modernised and adapted.

They were not quite as fast as the French ships they were meant to counteract, but they packed more of a punch.

In their own way, they all had interesting if relatively peaceful careers of approximately twenty years, patrolling the seas of the Empire. But only Carysfort actually saw war service. As part of the Malta-based Mediterranean Fleet for her entire active career, she took part in the Egypt operations of 1882 and then, having re-commissioned in Malta, in the Sudan campaigns around Suakin in 1884 and 1885. In fact, she had a more extensive involve -ment in those campaigns than any other single British warship, with members of her crew earning the Egypt medal, dated and undated, with clasps Tel-el-Kebir, Suakin 1884, El Teb, Tamaai, El Teb-Tamaai, Suakin 1885 Tofrek.

Carysfort's maiden voyage : around the world, 1880-82

Carysfort, under Captain Harry Stephenson, had a magnificent “maiden voyage” with the Detached Squadron. Leaving Sheerness in Oct. 1880, she sailed via Vigo in Spain to Madeira, then via St. Vincent to Monte Video, then to the Falklands, then across the southern Atlantic to Cape Town and on to Australia, visiting Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Leaving Australia in August 1881, she headed for Fiji and then on to Japan, visiting Yokohama and Simonoseki. She then toured the Chinese coast, calling at various ports, reaching Hong Kong just before Xmas 1881. Her homeward voyage took her via Singapore, the Sunda Straits and back to Cape Town before heading up the Atlantic via St. Helena, St. Vincent and Gibraltar. When you consider what other “working men” were doing at that time – the fathers or brothers of Carysfort’s crew perhaps employed in the fishing fleet or in factories, in building, on railway work and other hard manual trades - a two-year voyage around the world on a small, brand-new warship seems a pleasant alternative!

It was whilst she was in Gibraltar in July 1882 – en route for Portsmouth after nearly two years’ absence – that Carysfort was diverted into the Mediterranean to join the British fleet at Malta. With the escalation of the Egyptian crisis, Britain was assembling a powerful warship force to support military action in Egypt. On July 17th 1882, Carysfort was at Limassol in Cyprus and on 20th finally joined the British squadron in Alexandria – which had bombarded the port defences on July 11th. Her crew thus missed entitlement to the clasp Alexandria July 11th by a few days.

Northern Egypt

Carysfort sailed immediately for Port Said carrying ammunition for other British ships – such as Penelope and Coquette – and was off Ismailia by July 27th. Here she prepared her “landing parties” for shore service with the Naval Brigades. Such service by the actual crew of a warship and/or her Royal Marine complement was of course one of the principal functions of a Royal Navy vessel “on active service”. During the early days of August, Carysfort’s landing party trained ashore with field guns, Gatlings and Nordenfeldts. On August 20th, her sailors with a Royal Marine contingent, a field gun and a Gatling machine-gun, joined those of Northumberland “and took possession of Ismailia”, the ship’s guns covering the landings with fire from her 7” guns. Later on the same day, she trained her 64-pounders on Nefiche railway station, the guns being directed from the mastheads by telescope. Firing continued all day. Next morning, Carysfort landed two companies of sailors who occupied Nefiche.

On August 24th, a party under Lieut. Montgomerie, RN, and Midshipman Sir Charles Cust, served in Carysfort’s pinnace, armed for the occasion with a 9-pounder gun, in the sweet-water canal. Another 30 men served ashore under Lieut. E. S. Jones in and around Ismailia on transport duties and on Sept. 10th, Lieut. G. C. Langley, the ship’s Gunnery Officer, 37 men and a Gatling went ashore to serve with the Naval Brigade attached to Wolseley’s main army. This contingent served on the far left of the British army as it advanced along the sweet-water canal and was present in the crowning defeat of the Egyptian army on Sept. 13th at Tel-el-Kebir; it returned to the ship on Sept. 16th. Another contingent from the ship – 20 sailors and 20 Marines under Lieut. Royds – was landed on the 18th as part of the force deployed to protect the canal.

Carysfort finally sailed from Ismailia on September 25th for Suez, picking up Lieut. Royds and his command on October 10th. After two months’ cruising in the Bay of Suez or at anchor in the port, she sailed for Malta in January 1883, her participation in Egyptian operations at an end. With Carysfort – as with the other ships engaged around Egypt – we see the typical operation of the Victorian navy during the era of the “Pax Britannica”. No significant naval battles, but the necessary task of patrolling, ferrying and landing supplies and firing in support of land operations. Most importantly perhaps, we see them sending ashore trained sailors and marines to join the Naval Brigades – “the long arm of Empire” – either to act independently as and where required or to join larger land forces for major operations.

Whilst part of the Mediterranean Fleet for nearly ten years, Carysfort spent her time cruising the eastern Mediterranean, the Adriatic, the Turkish coast, the Aegean and (occasionally) the coasts of western Italy and southern France. I have commented when speaking about the ship’s maiden voyage around the world, that it seemed to me to offer a more pleasant life than that available to many “working men” back home on dry land. The same could be said about Carysfort’s peaceful years cruising the Mediterranean. In the era of “Pax Britannica”, there was little in the way of action and her usual routine consisted of visits to major ports in the Eastern Mediterranean – Piraeus, Smyrna, Rhodes, Limassol, Suda Bay, Trieste and many others – in a role which was simply “showing the flag”. The Admiral in command of the Mediterranean Fleet, the Duke of Edinburgh, had all his ships painted white - hardly a practical colour for fighting vessels - purely and simply to make sure that they were “seen”. These undemanding cruises around the ports and islands of the Mediterranean were meant to demonstrate a constant British presence in the area.

Egypt and the Sudan 1884 - 85

When Carysfort left Egyptian waters in Sept. 1882 at the end of the Egyptian campaign, she sailed for Malta. She was to spend her entire “active” career as part of the Mediterranean Fleet, based at Valletta, and onl returned to UK waters at the end of her service life.

However, like other ships of the Mediterranean Fleet, Carysfort’s pleasant cruises were sometimes interrupted by the call of active service. In 1884 and again in 1885, she was diverted to Suakin on the Red Sea coast of the Sudan to play her part in operations against the tribes of Osman Digna. These operations in what has been called “the hottest place on earth” were part of the Gladstone government’s reluctant response to the Mahdist uprising in the Sudan. There was of course no British interest in the Sudan itself at that date, but a serious military uprising there was deemed a direct threat to Egypt (technically overlord of the Sudan) and therefore potentially to Britain’s control of the Suez Canal. Hence the fighting in the eastern Sudan in 1884, the dispatch of General Gordon to Khartoum to bring out the Egyptian garrisons along the Nile later that year and the continuing operations around Suakin on the Red Sea in 1885.

Naval Brigade at Suakin

The ship joined the British squadron in the fine natural harbour of Suakin on 10th February 1884. Straight away, she was pitched into the military operations then underway, landing parties of Marines (113 on Feb. 14th) and sailors for shore work over many days. They also helped to unload and stack stores and supplies. Carysfort itself was sometimes in action, firing shells over the port defences at enemy groups congregating too close to the perimeter and was also involved in operations off Trinkitat. During “the Relief of Tokar”, land operations to rescue the threatened Egyptian garrison at Tokar after February 29th, she landed Gatling machine-gun crews to serve with the Naval Brigade; it was these men who fought at the battle of El Teb on 29th February. Carysfort’s casualties were light – only one officer and two men wounded, but the popular officer, Lt. Royds, subsequently died of his wounds. Some of the same men were also present at Tamaai on 13th March
Last Modified 17 Apr 2014Created 30 Nov 2020 using Reunion for Macintosh