Career of the Dutch Protected Cruiser Gelderland

The varied career of the Dutch Protected Cruiser Gelderland My wife’s grandmother, a splendid lady who died at almost 100 in the 1980s, gave me a very graphic eye-witness account of actually seeing the ex-president of the Transvaal, Paul Kruger. He was then being applauded by a crowd while taking a carriage ride in Amsterdam [...]

Career of the Dutch Protected Cruiser Gelderland2020-05-29T19:40:47+00:00

Captain Death of the Privateer Terrible, 1756

Captain Death of the Privateer Terrible, 1756 For the commander of a privateer to be named “Captain Death” seems over-theatrical, especially as his ship was called the Terrible (one imagines him an adversary of Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow). There was however such a real-life character, even if this name was probably originally De’Ath, [...]

Captain Death of the Privateer Terrible, 17562020-05-22T19:10:15+00:00

Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 – Part 2

The bloody Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 – Part 2 Part 1 of this article (Click here to read if you missed it) left the trading schooner and her valuable cargo of  coffee and currency in the hands of her mutinous crew, close to the Azores. The only officer who had been spared was Onion, the second [...]

Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 – Part 22020-05-15T19:17:27+00:00

Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 – Part 1

The bloody Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 - Part 1 Radio has been an integral feature of maritime operations, whether military or civil, for well over a century and it is difficult to imagine just how isolated all ships were prior to that once they were out sight of land. Large numbers of vessels disappeared annually, [...]

Plattsburg mutiny, 1816 – Part 12020-05-12T19:33:58+00:00

1759 – “The Wonderful Year”

1759 – “The Wonderful Year” When I was twelve I found in our local library a leather-bound “Children’s History of the World” in two volumes, each about two and a half inches thick. They dated from the 1890s (the summit of human progress might have been assumed to be Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in [...]

1759 – “The Wonderful Year”2020-05-08T17:59:44+00:00

Training Tragedies: HMS Eurydice and HMS Atalanta

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 the [...]

Training Tragedies: HMS Eurydice and HMS Atalanta2020-05-01T19:30:13+00:00

Earning Napoleon’s admiration: HMS Grappler 1803

Earning Napoleon’s admiration: HMS Grappler 1803 A minor action off the French coast in 1803 which involved the Royal Navy brig, HMS Grappler, was to arouse the admiration of Napoleon himself. The story is a remarkable one. A brig-of-war - in tis case French. HMS Grappler would however have looked very similar. These were [...]

Earning Napoleon’s admiration: HMS Grappler 18032020-04-28T18:18:27+00:00

Dynamite Guns – Brilliant Idea but Technical Dead-Ends

Dynamite Guns: Brilliant Technical Dead-Ends! A major role is played in the Dawlish Chronicles novel Britannia’s Shark, set in 1881, by an experimental “pneumatic projector” – essentially a gun from which the projectile is launched by compressed air. Such weapons were considered very promising in the 1880s and 1890s and indeed the inventor John Phillip [...]

Dynamite Guns – Brilliant Idea but Technical Dead-Ends2020-04-21T18:46:17+00:00

Iéna and Liberté Disasters, 1907 and 1911

The Iéna and Liberté Disasters, 1907 and 1911 In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries all major navies, other than the German, lost large ships through magazine explosions of unstable ammunition. The first of such tragedies was in the US Navy, when the battleship USS Maine blew up in the harbour of Havana, Cuba, in [...]

Iéna and Liberté Disasters, 1907 and 19112020-04-14T19:12:58+00:00