Jeffrey Boehm

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Jeffrey William Boehm (1757–1823) was a British Naval Officer.

He was born in England’s coastal city of Portsmouth in Hampshire County to William and Francis Boehm. Jeffrey lived on the water all his life. His father was a dockworker at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Portsmouth.

Second class education led to Jeffrey entering the Royal Navy at the early age of 16. First setting sail on HMS Albion, seaman Boehm quickly established himself as a knowledgeable crew member. He was decorated for valor at the Battle of Grenada in 1779. Through the bravery of many young men, such as Boehm, the Albion and the British Fleet were able to hold off the larger French Fleet.

Promoted to Second Lieutenant, Boehm transferred to HMS Lamerton and headed back to England. It was then Boehm made his mark in the Royal Navy. With mutinies becoming more and more prevalent on the open water, Second Lieutenant Boehm kept the Lamerton on course. Despite the harsh situations known for Royal Navy seamen in the period, Second Lieutenant Boehm kept morale high. The Lamerton proved essential in the British victory at the Battle of the Saintes in 1782.

Boehm returned home to Portsmouth in 1796 and married Elizabeth Van Welks. They had two children, Joshua, born September, 1799 and Joseph, born April 1798. They moved to the coastal town of Worthing. But Boehm was in love with the sea and could not be on land for long.

Joining HMS Pickle in 1804, Boehm served directly under John Richards Lapenotiere during the Battle of Trafalgar. Due to its small stature, HMS Pickle stayed clear of most of the fighting, acting as a courier ship translating messages. The Pickle’s small size did prove beneficial however when on 21 October the French ship Achille came under heavy attack and caught fire. With the fire reaching abandoned but loaded guns on the deck, rounds began to discharge making it nearly impossible for ships to come to the French sailor’s rescue. Boehm and HMS Pickle were able to get close enough to save nearly 100 sailors from the burning ship before it exploded.

For his leadership and valor Jeffrey Boehm was promoted to First Lieutenant and given control of the supply ship, HMS Vargas and was deployed to the Caribbean. After two successful voyages across the Atlantic to the Bahamas, Boehm had had enough of the sea and, at the age of 56, he began his final voyage back to England from the Caribbean.

In 1814, Boehm arrived home to his wife Elizabeth and their two children. Boehm became an instructor for the Royal Navy and stayed in Portsmouth until his death in 1823. Boehm instructed some of HMS most renown seamen including: John Clements Wickham, who sailed with Charles Darwin, and George Heneage Dundas.