THE word "vanguard" - derived from the French "avant-garde"
- is military rather than naval in origin, and applied to the
detachment of an army sent in advance of the main body to
guard against surprise. At sea, it is used in its abbreviated
form " van." The idea of being to the front is implicit, in both
forms ; hence the ship's motto
"On a field blue, issuing from barry of 4 white and green
a demi-lion gold supporting a spear issuing white."
Records of the crests worn by earlier Vanguards are far from
complete, but it seems to have been the practice for each ship
to adopt a fresh design. The crest of Nelson's Vanguard -" the
sternworks of a ship of the line, all proper " - was an illustration
of the van ship as she would appear to her own fleet. That of
the Vanguard of 1835 portrayed a sailing ship appearing over
a distant horizon, an enemy's first view of our van approaching.
The eighth Vanguard's was a profile of Lord Nelson.
The crest of the ninth Vanguard was a different illustration
of the ship's name, containing also heraldic references to her origin
and history: a spear-head, representing the van, is held on guard
by a lion, symbolic of Britain's strength; they are shown rising
from a sea of white and green, the colours of the House of
Tudor in whose time the first ship of the name was built; the
lion was also the standard figurehead of the ship of the line of
Nelson's day, and is thus a link - though a slender one - between
this ship and Nelson's Vanguard, between those who serve in
this ship and Nelson.