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First Blood 1778: Belle Poule and HMS Arethusa

First Blood 1778: Belle Poule and HMS Arethusa In reading about the classic Age of Fighting Sail – roughly 1700 to 1830 – one is struck by the fact that encounters between the British and French navies had an almost monotonous aspect in that the British almost invariable won and the French almost invariably lost. [...]

First Blood 1778: Belle Poule and HMS Arethusa 2018-11-02T20:25:42+00:00

SMS Geier: An Odyssey Under Two Flags, 1894 – 1918

SMS Geier: an odyssey Under Two Flags, 1894 – 1918                             SMS Geier in tropical waters When one thinks of the Imperial German Navy, the image that immediately comes to mind is of the mighty battle-fleet that confronted the Royal [...]

SMS Geier: An Odyssey Under Two Flags, 1894 – 1918 2018-10-30T21:24:26+00:00

Zeppelin L-19, North Sea, February 1916

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 [...]

Zeppelin L-19, North Sea, February 1916 2018-10-26T20:15:32+00:00

The short and spectacular life of Sabrina Island 1811

The spectacular life and death of Sabrina Island, 1811 The sloop HMS Sabrina was one of 24 similar vessels of the second batch of the “Cormorant” Class. Armed with no less than sixteen 24-pounder and eight 12-pounder carronades, these vessels packed an enormous punch for their 422 tons and small 120-man crews. Launched in 1805/06, [...]

The short and spectacular life of Sabrina Island 1811 2018-10-23T19:14:42+00:00

The indecisive Battle of Ushant 1778

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 – that [...]

The indecisive Battle of Ushant 1778 2018-10-19T18:52:11+00:00

The Dogger Bank Incident, 1904

Guest Blog: The Dogger Bank Incident, 1904 One of the pleasures of attending conferences is the pleasure of meeting face to face people whom you have already encountered on the Internet. This blog results from one such encounter. At the Historical Novel Society ‘s conference at Cumbernauld, Scotland, in August this year I met Tim [...]

The Dogger Bank Incident, 1904 2018-10-16T21:34:51+00:00

Fortune favours the brave, 1811

Fortune favours the Brave – the merchantman Fortune against a French privateer, 1811 Dramatic encounters between warships, whether in “single ship” frigate actions, or in the less common major fleet actions such as the Nile in 1798 and Trafalgar in 1805, are the images that first come to mind when visualising war at sea in [...]

Fortune favours the brave, 1811 2018-10-12T20:13:53+00:00

Naval Artists of the 18th Century: Part 3 Thomas Luny

Naval Artists of the 18th Century – Part 3 Thomas Luny (1759–1837) In this article I want to tell of a hero,  Thomas Luny, who is known as a painter but other details of whose life are less familiar. Two sorts of courage move me. The first is the sort of bravery that is called [...]

Naval Artists of the 18th Century: Part 3 Thomas Luny 2018-10-05T20:23:29+00:00

SMS Iltis – a gunboat, the Pope and a stand-off in the Pacific

SMS Iltis – a gunboat, the Pope and a stand-off in the Pacific    SMS Iltis - as commemorated in 1896 The new German Empire was proclaimed in 1871 and in the two decades that followed - before  it embarked in the late 1890s on construction of the second-largest navy in the world - the [...]

SMS Iltis – a gunboat, the Pope and a stand-off in the Pacific 2018-10-02T20:10:36+00:00

The Birth of Weather Forecasting and the Royal Charter Storm of 1859

The Birth of Weather Forecasting and the Royal Charter Storm of 1859 Today weather forecasting is regarded as an integral aspect of news reporting but in the mid-nineteenth century that concept was in its infancy. It took the massive "Royal Charter Storm" of 1869 to emphasise the necessity of such a system and the credit [...]

The Birth of Weather Forecasting and the Royal Charter Storm of 1859 2018-09-28T18:14:23+00:00