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” [...]
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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 [...]
HMS Thunderer 1879: the end of muzzle-loaders in the Royal Navy Three ships of the Royal Navy in the 1870s, HMS Devastation, her close sister HMS Thunderer and her slightly larger sister HMS Dreadnought, can be fairly regarded as the models for subsequent mainstream battleship layout and development. HMS Devastation, HMS Thunderer’s close sister, firing a salute These ships were the first mastless battleships, armed [...]
“Bring me out the enemy’s ship if you can…” HMS Southampton off Toulon, 1796 Close blockade of the coasts of French-occupied countries in the Napoleonic era was the most important weapon in Britain’s armoury. It may indeed also have been the single most important factor in securing Napoleon’s ultimate defeat. He all but acknowledged this by [...]
The Crimean War’s White Sea Theatre, 1854 This article tells about British naval operations in the White Sea in 1854. The Crimean War (1854 – 56) is most remembered for images of the charge of Britain’s Light Brigade at Balaclava, the privations suffered by the ill-equipped besiegers of Sevastopol through a deadly winter and [...]