The indecisive Battle of Ushant 1778 – and its farcical aftermath, the guillotine and a “Citizen King” France’s entry into the American War of Independence was to prove a critical factor is assuring the survival of the United States. It did so by winning the only strategically-significant victory in all French naval history – [...]
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The salvage of HMS Royal George, 1782 – 1844 HMS Royal George in her glory The loss, while at anchor at Spithead, off Portsmouth, of the ship-of-the-line HMS Royal George on August 29th 1782 was a disaster that had an impact on British society comparable to the loss of RMS Titanic one hundred and thirty years later. The [...]
Training Tragedies: the losses of HMS Eurydice and HMS Atalanta At first glance, the picture of a frigate such as HMS Eurydice, as above, immediately evokes visions of single-ship actions of the Napoleonic period. It is therefore all the more surprising that this ship was still in service in 1878 and that her destruction was witnessed by [...]
Cool Heads in Crisis: HMS Venerable, 1804 The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars locked Britain and France into almost twenty-two years of continuous war from 1793 and conflict at sea was a critical part of this. What is surprising however is how few ships were actually destroyed in combat. Whether in large fleet actions or in “single ship” [...]
Royal Navy frigate vs. French oared galleys – 1707 When one thinks of battles involving oared galleys one thinks automatically of actions in the Mediterranean. The lot of a galley slave chained to an oar must have been dreadful enough in the warm and usually calm waters of that sea, but it must have [...]
The Fate of Zeppelin L-19, February 1916 It is now over a century since bombing from the air became an integral feature of warfare, with civilian populations being at the mercy, at best, of collateral damage and, at worst, of deliberate targeting. It is therefore all the more difficult to comprehend the indignation and loathing [...]
One Submarine, Two Flags and Two Heroes: WW1 Two spectacular cases of submarines penetrating enemy anchorages are well known to naval-history enthusiasts. The first was when the Royal Navy’s E14, commanded by Lieutenant Commander Edward Boyle, surfaced in the Golden Horn, in the heart of Istanbul, in May 1915. This followed penetration of the [...]
The HMS Natal and SS Persia tragedies Christmas to New Year at Sea – 1915 It was remarkable how little attention waspaid in the media, in popular memory or in large-scale centenary-commemorations in 2014-18 to the events of World War 1 at sea, other than the Battle of Jutland. And yet, throughout the war, a brutal attrition of [...]
One of the last fireship attacks: HMS Dart & Désirée, 1800 For many centuries fireships were to be some of the most dramatic and devastating of all naval weapons, albeit that they were difficult to deploy and dangerous to their crews. The most effective and history-changing use ever of such ships was when they were used to [...]
The loss of HMS Royal George 1782 The disaster that overcame the first-rate ship of the line HMS Royal George in 1782, while anchored in calm water in sight of shore, was to have as strong an impact on the contemporary public mind as the loss of the RMS Titanic was to have one hundred and thirty years later. The [...]