Terms of Naval Armistice That Ended World War 1

March 22, 2017

The full text of the document is here; in it are listed the names of the interned High Seas Fleet ships.

Holiday Menus From USN Ships

March 20, 2017

There are various sites that offer menus from hotels and the like; this site offers holiday menus from USN ships. Peruse menus from 1905 through the 1950s. As the introduction to this feature states: “Holiday dinners are important memories and experiences for past and present Sailors, with many remembering these special times away from home and with their fellow shipmates. Even in wartime, traditional holiday dinners, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, are served to our nation’s Sailors deployed off foreign shores or in combat theaters. “

Online Primary Sources: The United States Navy in World War 1

March 17, 2017

These documents range from personal narratives to official compilations of naval laws and resolutions. It is by no means complete, but the list does offer good examples of the literature associated with the maritime aspects of the Great War.

Our navy at war (1916); United States submarine chasers in the Mediterranean, Adriatic and the attack on Durazzo (1920); The war with Germany; a statistical summary (1919, although this work is from the American perspective, beginning on page 137 are “international comparisons”); Beatty, Jellicoe, Sims and Rodman; Yankee Gobs and British Tars as seen by an “Anglomanic,” (1919); The victory at sea (1920, written by the commander of American naval forces in Europe); Being the “Log” of the U.S.S. Maui in the World War (1919?, written by some of the crew of this troopship); 70,000 miles on a submarine destroyer; or, The Reid boat in the world war (1919, written by a crew member); The cruise of the U. S. S. Sacramento  (1919, written by crew members); History of the U.S.S. Leviathan, Cruiser and Transport Forces, United States Atlantic Fleet (1919?, the ship’s “History Committee”); A history of the transport service; adventures and experiences of United States transports and cruisers in the World War (1921, by the admiral in charge of transport operations); German submarine activities on the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada (1920, official US SecNav report); Queenstown Patrol, 1917: A Diary… (1996); Account of the Operations of the American Navy in France During the War With Germany (1920, by the commander of naval forces in France); Digest Catalogue of Laws and Joint Resolutions: The Navy and the World War 1920); Lieutenant Picking’s Diary, May – June 1918 While Observing English and French Submarine Operations in the War Zone ; and World War I British and German Naval Messages (1920, deals with the armistice).

Some unique secondary sources: US Naval Forces in Northern Russia (Archangel and Murmansk), 1918-1919 (1943); US Naval Detachment in Turkish Waters, 1919-1924 (1943); US Naval Port Officers in the Bordeaux Region, 1917-1919 (1943);  American Naval Mission in the Adriatic, 1918-1921 (1943); and American Naval Participation in the Great War With Special Reference to the European Theater of Operations (1928, written by the pre-eminent naval historian Dudley Knox).

Histories of The Admiralty and Admiralty House

March 14, 2017

In volume 16 of The Survey of London, one will find detailed descriptions, floor plans, and histories of both The Admiralty and Admiralty House; the Admiralty House was built in 1786-88 and became the subsequent residence of the First Lords of the Admiralty.  Of additional value are the listed biographies of First Lords of the Admiralty appended in the “Historical Notes” sections in both entries, giving us brief life histories from 1717-1841.

Online Directories of Merchant Seamen

March 10, 2017

Crew lists of the British Merchant Navy from 1915 have been digitized and made available for free online. Fully 750,000 names from 39,000 crew lists were scanned. (Those numbers alone indicate the sheer size of this service.) You can search by name, vessel, or rank; when you come across an entry, just click on it and you will be directed to the appropriate list online. Other online directories of mariners from Ireland to Australia are also available.

The French Version of Trafalgar

March 7, 2017

In an exercise worthy of the best of alternative history, the French scored a resounding victory over Lord Nelson at Trafalgar. A translated version of this account is found in volume 14 of the Naval Chronicle, commencing on page 377. (I was tempted to add the subject heading “naval fiction”, but I demurred.)

Annual Reports of the [U.S.] Secretary of the Navy

March 3, 2017

There are selected runs of this title (what adds to the confusion is that the title varies) that allow us to glimpse the workings of the US Navy from the early part of the 19th century into the 20th. The Annual reports of the Secretary of the Navy contains the volumes for 1821-1843; the Annual Reports of the Naval Department run from 1855 to 1932; and the Annual reports of the Navy Department. Report of the Secretary of the Navy. Miscellaneous reports covers the same time period. They are not just dry recitations but hold fascinating historical value; for example, the volume for 1823 details the Navy’s involvement in the suppression of the slave trade in Africa along with letters recounting the Navy’s role; the 1851 volume has a passing mention of the “disastrous” invasion of Cuba; and the 1917 tome discusses the Navy’s anti-submarine efforts.

Each volume is a goldmine of information: personnel statistics; funding; reports of the various departments within the Navy, including the Marines; and contemporary primary source documents, such as reports and letters.

Online Texts of “Robinson Crusoe”

February 23, 2017

As most of us know, the exploits of Alexander Selkirk form the basis for Robinson Crusoe. For those not acquainted with Selkirk, please peruse these contemporary sources: Richard Steel’s 1713 piece in The Englishman; Edward Cooke’s A Voyage to the South Sea, and around the world, perform’d in the years 1708, 1709, 1710, and 1711…. (1712); and Rogers Woodes’ A cruising voyage round the world: first to the South-seas, thence to the East-Indies, and homewards by the cape of Good Hope. Begun in 1708, and finish’d in 1711 (1712). A 2005 article from The Smithsonian gives us a modern précis of Selkirk’s adventures.

The telling of Crusoe’s sojourn on the island actually spawned an entire genre of fiction – the robinsonade. Daniel Defoe’s The life and strange surprizing adventures of Robinson Crusoe, of York, mariner… was first published in 1719 and went through several editions; the one here is the third edition. This book was been reprinted/republished many times; here you will find hundreds of renditions in English from 1719 to 1922. Many more in other languages can also be perused. This site –  the Digital Library of the Caribbean – boasts almost 200 volumes of this title; what makes it unique is that it carries full-text versions beyond the copyright date barrier (that would be another essay in itself) of 1922.

Another Seafaring Dictionary

February 15, 2017

Admiral William Henry Smyth had more than one career – he sailed on a merchantman, then entered the Royal Navy and had numerous exploits during the Napoleonic Wars, undertook a hydrographic expedition of Sicily and the nearby Italian coast, wrote multiple treatises, advanced astronomy to such an extent that he was elected to the presidency of the Royal Astronomical Society, co-found the Royal Geographical Society, wrote biographies, and also was a numismatist. What attracted me to this polymath was his The Sailor’s Word-Book (1867), a posthumous tome that exceeds seven hundred pages. He takes into account loan-words from other languages that English seamen would have been familiar with. Here is his entry from The Dictionary of National Biography written by none other than John Knox Laughton.

 

The Passing of Douglas Reeman

January 24, 2017

This brief note from his wife says it all:

Update 73
Posted by Kimberley Reeman

15 hours ago
 

January 23, 2017

21:30 pm Greenwich Mean Time

“Good night, sweet prince… and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

I will never say good-bye, dearest of men. I will say, I will always love you. I will always be your girl. I will never forget you.

You have their hearts.”

An interview with him can be found here in an issue of Quarterdeck, a publication I encourage all to subscribe to and read. For those of us who came to his works through his Richard Bolitho novels (written as Alexander Kent), I can’t think of a better tribute/introduction to this man than reading The Bolitho Newsletter that appeared with every new Bolitho novel. They are all so informative and average 8-10 pages each full of background information that will inform every devotee of this genre. A bonus is the separate 1994 Bolitho short story – Homecoming – that is available for online perusal.

Here is his obituary from The Times, and here is a remembrance from The Old Salt Blog.

My late father introduced me to Hornblower when I was very young; I was so glad to return the favor by introducing him to the Reeman/Kent novels as they became available. Needless to say, the Hornblowers and Bolithos are in the pride of place in my rather substantial library of British naval fiction. Fair winds and calm seas.