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HMS Transfer: cold-blooded courage, 1799

HMS Transfer: cold-blooded courage, 1799  Few warships can have sailed under the flags of four different nations and to have seen action each time. This was however the distinction of the French-built privateer Quatre Frères, a 150-foot polacca commissioned in Bordeaux in 1796. The polacca – a type of vessel common in the Mediterranean, and [...]

HMS Transfer: cold-blooded courage, 1799 2018-04-24T20:39:53+00:00

Steerage-passenger conditions on the North Atlantic

Steerage-passenger conditions on the North Atlantic In my recent blog (April 10th 2018 - click to read) about the disaster that overcame the SS Utopia in 1891, and which resulted in the deaths of 562 Italian emigrants, I commented briefly on the bewilderment and trepidation with which these people set out on the voyage in [...]

Steerage-passenger conditions on the North Atlantic 2018-04-21T09:30:55+00:00

The Capture of the Chevrette, 1801

The Capture of the Chevrette, 1801 While leafing through an 1894 book entitled “The British Fleet” by Commander Charles N. Robinson (Assistant Editor of the Army and Navy Gazette) I came on a copy of the engraving above. It shows a cutting-out mission on July 22nd 1801 in which crews from four Royal Navy ships [...]

The Capture of the Chevrette, 1801 2018-04-21T09:24:53+00:00

Disaster at Gibraltar – SS Utopia and HMS Anson, 1891

Disaster at Gibraltar - SS Utopia and HMS Anson, 1891 In 1866, at the naval battle of Lissa, in the Adriatic, victory was secured by the Austro-Hungarian fleet over its Italian enemy by means of ramming. Though this was a unique event in a fleet-action, and made possible only by factors – such as short [...]

Disaster at Gibraltar – SS Utopia and HMS Anson, 1891 2018-04-10T17:55:31+00:00

The Capture of Gibraltar and the Battle of Malaga, 1704

The Capture of Gibraltar and the Battle of Malaga, 1704 I wrote this article when in southern Spain, between Malaga and Marbella.  The Mediterranean is narrow at that point and the mountains of the Moroccan shore are visible on a clear day. The sea funnels westwards towards the Straits of Gibraltar, which vary from 10 to [...]

The Capture of Gibraltar and the Battle of Malaga, 1704 2018-04-03T18:53:03+00:00

James Brooke: the First of the White Rajahs of Sarawak

James Brooke: The First of the White Rajahs of Sarawak There is only one example in recent centuries of a private Englishman setting himself up as the ruler of an independent nation and establishing a dynasty that would rule it for a century. This was however the remarkable achievement of James Brooke (1803-1868), the first [...]

James Brooke: the First of the White Rajahs of Sarawak 2018-03-30T19:02:22+00:00

Shore leave from HMS Trafalgar, 1890s

Shore leave from HMS Trafalgar, 1890s  "The Handy Man" of the 1890s My research into the Royal Navy of the later nineteenth century, which I undertake for the Dawlish Chronicles novels, usually turns up information on the more dramatic aspects of service – colonial campaigns, crises, disasters, exploration etc. What is harder to [...]

Shore leave from HMS Trafalgar, 1890s 2018-03-27T20:50:45+00:00

The loss of HMS Queen Charlotte, 1800

The loss of HMS Queen Charlotte, 1800 During the twentieth century, damage-control was to become a naval discipline in itself, and was to result in many epics of courage. In earlier centuries such response was on a much more ad-hoc basis but the bravery and self-reliance of the crews involved were no less than those [...]

The loss of HMS Queen Charlotte, 1800 2018-03-29T19:01:49+00:00

Fighting the Riff Pirates 1848-51

Fighting the Riff Pirates 1848-51 The Barbary pirates of North Africa were a scourge to maritime trade for many centuries. It was only in the nineteenth century that major naval and military campaigns – most notably the US Navy’s and Marine Corps’ intervention on “the Shores of Tripoli”, the Anglo-Dutch action against Algiers in 1816 and [...]

Fighting the Riff Pirates 1848-51 2018-03-16T21:33:40+00:00

The Royal Navy Exhibition of 1891

The Royal Navy Exhibition of 1891 The Royal Navy was to attain enormous popularity in Britain in the 19th Century, especially in its last decades. It was seen to be at the cutting edge of the technology of the time and to be the guarantor of imperial greatness against the machinations of the French, Russians [...]

The Royal Navy Exhibition of 1891 2018-03-13T22:38:55+00:00