HMS Implacable at war with Russia – 1808 & 1809 Two events dominate the general impression of Russia’s role in the Napoleonic Wars. The first is the crushing defeat of Russian and Austrian forces at Austerlitz in 1805 – arguably Napoleon’s most impressive battle. The second was the French retreat from Moscow in late 1812, [...]
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HMS Hector 1782 – an epic of leadership and survival Inman in later years In a recent blog we met Captain Henry Inman (1762 –1809), a noted frigate commander who was in overall command of operations off Dunkirk in 1800 in which the French frigate Désirée was captured in dramatic circumstances. (Click here [...]
Passing by on the other side at sea? 1876 The Good Samaritan has had a deservedly good image over the last two millennia. An equally well-deserved degree of obloquy has been heaped on two others who had previously seen the unfortunate traveller who had fallen among thieves but who “passed by on the other side” without helping. [...]
The HMS Natal and SS Persia tragedies Christmas to New Year at Sea - 1915 It was remarkable how little attention has been paid in the media, in popular memory or in large-scale centenary-commemorations to the events of World War 1 at sea, other than the Battle of Jutland. And yet, throughout the war, a [...]
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 [...]
A duel of brigs: HMS Pelican and USS Argus 1813 The War of 1812 at sea is often thought of in terms of epic single-ship actions between frigates, but one of the most bloody encounters took place not just between two much smaller craft, brigs of war, HMS Pelican and USS Argus, but in British home [...]
Visiting the restored SS Great Britain, the first ocean liner I recently visited the restored SS Great Britain, laid down in 1839 and launched in 1843, the brainchild of the great British engineer, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. She is today located in Bristol, England, and is a splendid memorial to a heroic era in engineering and [...]
The Last Fireship Attack? 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 attack the Spanish Armada [...]
HMS Buckingham in furious action, 1758 The Seven Years War, 1756-63, which often been fairly described as “The First World War” since it was fought on a global basis, saw much naval action in the West Indies because of the value of the “sugar islands” held by Britain, France and Spain there. One of the [...]
The Two Tragedies of the SS Orteric The 9th of December 2015 was the 100th anniversary of the torpedoing in the Eastern Mediterranean of the SS Orteric. This 6,535-ton, 460-feet cargo and passenger liner was a relatively new ship, built in Scotland and entering service in 1911. At the time of her loss to a [...]