The Royal Marines Museum
in Portsmouth has acquired an important presentation sword 200 years after the Battle it commemorates. The steel sword was presented to Captain Robert Torrens following the Battle for Anholt on 27 March 1811. Thanks to a major grant from the Art Fund
, the rare item was bought at auction and has gone on display in time for the Battles 200th anniversary.
The sword was bought at auction for £27,170, of which the Art Fund, the national fundraising charity for works of art, contributed £25,170. It has gone on display with two other presentation swords awarded for the Battle for Anholt.
Following the Battle on 27 March 1811, Robert Torrens was given the commemorative sword by the Non Commissioned Officers and men who served under him as a token of their admiration of his bravery and gratitude for his consideration for their comfort and happiness. The sword was made by Henry Tatham and measures 79cm in length.
The swords decoration depicts nautical themes including Hercules illustrated on the silver inlaid grip. The Royal Marines captured the Danish island of Anholt in 1809 to use as a strategic island to protect trade in the Baltic. The Danish tried to recapture the island in 1811 and the Royal Marine Garrison, under Captain Robert Torrens, managed to repel the attack with heavy losses suffered by the Danish.
This is an important addition to an existing group of material relating to the Battle for Anholt and Torrens in the Museum.
Ian Maine, Curator of the Royal Marines Museum said These swords are a tangible reminder of the bonds formed between officers and men in time of war, and it is especially fitting that we have managed to re-unite the swords in time for the 200th anniversary of the Defence of Anholt.
Stephen Deuchar, Director of the Art Fund, said: This sword gives a flavour of the drama of the historic battle and the grandeur of Britains Royal Marines at the time. Displayed with the other swords, it will help people gain a picture of Robert Torrens and his place in our history. Were thrilled to have helped make this timely acquisition possible and we thank all our members and supporters, without whom we wouldnt have been able to give such a substantial grant.
The Museum holds the sword awarded to Captain Maurice and the two awarded to Captain Torrens. These swords represent the Royal Marines claim for identity and honour in recognition for military victory. As a result of the Battle for Anholt, the Royal Marines won many supporters among senior naval officers which helped to further their cause for fairness in terms of service and officers promotion.
Torrens was born in Ireland, and joined the Royal Marines on 1 February 1796 as a second lieutenant and served in the Channel Fleet and ocean convoys. He was an inveterate publicist and prolific writer of controversial material designed to challenge the political and economic policies which he believed were threats to Britain's greatness.
In 1821 Torrens helped to found the Political Economy Club and became a proprietor of the Whig Traveller, with which the Globe was later combined. Torrens relocated to Australia and was a chief influence on the promotion of emigration. He was instrumental in the founding of Adelaide where the Torrens Park and Torrens River are named after him. In 1817 he advocated reducing the Irish poor rates by emigration to Australia, for which he won wide repute. In the 1840s he also helped to reform companies to mine copper and build railways in South Australia. He died on 27 May 1864 in London.
200 years after the Battle for Anholt the Danish are deploying their Battalion as part of the Task Force Helmand and will be fighting alongside the Royal Marines 3 Commando Brigade in Afghanistan.