New York’s Fleet Week Starts Today

May 24, 2017

For those in the area, please visit here for additional information. I’ve been going for over two decades; I’ll be there again this year as well.

The Literature of the Sea

May 22, 2017

Such a topic as the above is featured in volume 4 of the inestimable Cambridge History of English and American Literature. Although the eighteen-volume compendium is indeed dated, it still provides valuable background on numerous topics, including maritime writing, in this case from early writers to Hakluyt. The chapter following this is entitled Seafaring and Travel. Both come with substantial bibliographies of primary sources. Searching this multi-volume work for entries such as “sea” or “maritime” yields additional information.

“Sea Stories” Found in Dime Novels

May 3, 2017

Embedded within the Nickels and Dimes collection housed at Northern Illinois University are, at last count, 212 volumes that have stories with the sea as the main backdrop. Thrill to the adventures in Shadow Jack, or, The Spotted Cruiser or find yourself sailing along in The brigantine, or, Admiral Lowe’s last cruise: a tale of 1673. These are not insubstantial stories; many run to over one hundred pages. The prose might be a little florid (but so at times was Marryat’s), but these stories surely give one a taste for the literature that was so popular and ubiquitous at the time. And they are fun to read!

Great Yarmouth in the 19th Century

March 29, 2017

Great Yarmouth was the staging area for the North Sea fleet as well as the jumping off point for the invasion of Denmark during the Napoleonic Wars. Here are several descriptions of the area from 19th century sources:

An Historical guide to Great Yarmouth in Norfolk with the most remarkable events recorded of that town. (2d ed, 1817) by George Manby.

Picture of Yarmouth….(1819)

Historical and Topographical Notices of Great Yarmouth, in Norfolk, and Its Environs  (1826).

Pictorial Guide to Great Yarmouth (1854)

The History of Great Yarmouth (1856) [This is a continuation of The History of Great Yarmouth that was published in 1854 and concerns the earlier years of this area.]

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.)