Battle Honours

Battle Honours

It has long been traditional in the Royal Navy for a ship to take great pride in battles fought by her namesakes, although the present system of Battle Honours was only officially sanctioned as recently as 1954.

The first UNICORN to serve in the Royal Navy was a Scottish ship named after the Unicorn supporters of the Scottish Royal Arms, which was captured from the Scots in 1544 by Henry VIII.  Since then a total of 15 different Naval ships have carried the name, and have they accumulated 15 Battle Honours, more even than Nelson’s famous HMS VICTORY.  These Honours range from the Spanish Armada, the earliest possible Honour, to Korea, the most recent prior to the Falklands conflict.  The latter was gained by an aircraft carrier which ‘borrowed’ the name during the War, but the name was returned when the carrier was later scrapped.

The list of Honours displayed on the carved scrolls onboard is far from being complete, and the full list comprises:

1588 Armada War with Spain
1596 Cadiz War with Spain
1655 Porto Farina Turkish Pirates in the Mediterranean
1657 Santa Cruz War with Spain
1665 Lowestoft Second Dutch War
1666 Orfordness Second Dutch War
1672 Sole Bay Third Dutch War
1673 Schooneveld Third Dutch War
1673 Texel Third Dutch War
1761 Vestale Seven Years’ War
1796 Tribune War with Revolutionary France
1809 Basque Roads Napoleonic War
1943 Salerno Second World War
1945 Okinawa Second World War
1950-53 Korea Korean War

Note:  Honours in italic are single ship actions