Sword bought for Royal Marines museum in time for battle anniversary

  • 23 March 2011

The Royal Marines Museum in Portsmouth has acquired an important presentation sword 200 years after the Battle it commemorates. The intricately decorated steel sword was presented to Captain Robert Torrens following the Battle for Anholt on 27 March 1811.

The rare item was bought at auction and has gone on display in time for the battle’s 200th anniversary. We gave £25,170 towards the total cost of £27,170. It has gone on display with two other presentation swords awarded for the same battle.

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’s decoration depicts nautical themes including Hercules illustrated on the silver inlaid grip. The Royal Marines captured the Danish island of Anholt in 1809 and used it strategically to protect trade in the Baltic. The Danish tried to recapture the island in 1811 and the Royal Marine Garrison, under Captain Robert Torrens, repelled the attack.

The sword is an important addition to other items relating to the Battle for Anholt and Torrens already housed at the museum.

Our director Stephen Deuchar said: “This sword gives a flavour of the drama of the historic battle and the grandeur of Britain’s 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. We’re thrilled to have helped make this timely acquisition possible – and we thank all our members and supporters, without whom we wouldn’t have been able to give such a substantial grant.”

Born in Ireland, Torrens joined the Royal Marines on 1 February 1796. He was also a prolific commentator and writer on the economic and political issues of his day. Later in life 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. He died on 27 May 1864 in London.