by Dr. Edward Cecil Harris, MBE, JP, PHD, FSA
On Christmas Eve 1814, the United States and Britain signed the Treat of Ghent that ended the War of 1812, but the news took several months to reach North America. At sea on 15 January 1815, off the city of New York, the British vessel, HMS Endymion, captured the USS President, with the resulting loss of the life at Bermuda a month later of Midshipman Richard Dale Jr., who was buried at St. Peter’s Church in St. George’s.
In 1932, a young Bermudian in the US Navy, Scarritt Adams, came upon the inscribed gravestone of that American midshipman and decided that his passing should be commemorated by Bermuda and the United States. Thus began the ‘Midshipman Dale Ceremony’.
For February 2014 ceremony, Edward Morgan Dale, a descendant of Commodore Richard Dale, took part in the occasion and gave a talk at a dinner hosted by the Friends of St. Peter’s. Here are some of the highlights of his speech, the event also being attended by Louise Reider, the daughter of Captain Adams, her daughter Abigail and his great-grandsons, Nicholas and Paget Kellogg.
“Capt. Adams’ research revealed the touching tale of the kindness shown by the people of St. George’s to Midshipman Dale, one of the last casualties of the War of 1812. He died here on February 22, 1815, despite the dignified care provided by the St. Georgians to the seaman in distress.”
“Midshipman Dale’s father, Commodore Richard Dale, arranged for a horizontal tombstone, so inscribed: ‘To Commemorate the Gallant Deeds of the People of
St. George’s whose Generosity and tender sympathy prompted the kindest attention to him while living and honored him when dead’.”
“Starting in 1932, Captain Adams sent funds for the wreaths for the ceremony, but it was not until he retired from the navy and returned home to Bermuda, in 1963, that he was able to be present to see his wreath laid. My uncle, Richard Dale, was able to attend that year.”
“1n 1967, the ceremony reached a peak, when the US Navy agreed to send a frigate, the USS Luce, for the occasion. Personnel from the US Bases at Bermuda, which had been established in the Second World War, also participated.”
“After Capt. Adams’ untimely death in 1973, the service waned and eventually ceased when the US Forces withdrew from Bermuda in 1995. However, a meeting between St. Georgian, Beau Evans, and Louise Reider sparked the reintroduction of the ceremony in 2006.”
Edward Dale closed with the following salute: ‘It gives me great pleasure to once again, 199 years after the death of my great great-great-grand uncle, Midshipman Richard Dale, to express the heartfelt gratitude of the Dale Family to