Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

U.S. Navy Communiques, 1941-1945

June 13, 2019

Communiques and various press releases dated December 10, 1941 through May 24, 1945 are available online. One can trace the westward progress of U.S. forces by these tersely written memos. The first volume covers December 10, 1941 through March 5, 1943; the second volume contains messages from March 6, 1943 through May 24, 1945.

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Online Primary Sources: Matthew Flinders

May 16, 2019

If one looks at the Gazetteer of Australia and inputs the term “Flinders”, you are greeted by hundreds of place names from Cape Flinders to Flinders Bay to Flinders Island. What could be the reason for this multitudinous proliferation of this name? Could it be that they are all in honor of Captain Matthew Flinders, the Royal Navy officer who circumnavigated Australia while simultaneously charting and describing the land and its flora and fauna?

He had a remarkable, but short, life; he lived long enough to see his major work published before he died.

Some of his extraordinarily detailed maps (or maps based on his observations) can be found here. His magnum opus – A Voyage to Terra Australis (1814) – volume 1 and volume 2is online. Other published material include Observations upon the Marine Barometer, made during the Examination of the Coasts of New Holland and New South Wales, in the Years 1801, 1802, and 1803, Philosophical Transactions, 96(1806): 239-266, and his biography of his beloved cat Trim – A biographical tribute to the memory of Trim(1804).

The Historical Records of New South Wales, vols 3(1895) -7(1901),  provide a rich contextual background of official documents and sources detailing Flinders’ actions.

The Flinders Papers are an absolute treasure trove of missives between Flinders and other luminaries of the day, such as Joseph Banks. The glossaries themselves are well-researched and by themselves prove to be a valuable tools. This is a site built with love and affection for this individual.

Sir Edward Scott’s The Life of Captain Matthew Flinders (1914), besides being based on primary/archival sources, also has a list starting on p. 465 of all the names Flinders gave to Australian coastal features.

His biographical memoir can be located in The Naval Chronicle, 32(July – December, 1814):177-191.

Commissioned paintings of his exploits along with additional Flinders-related objects, such as his sea chest, can be found here.

The Last of the Great Sailing Ships

April 16, 2019

The Dyal Sailing Ships Collection, 1870-1920 contains images and, in certain cases, brief narratives of the large sailing ships that still populated the oceans at this time, even as stream-driven technology had put an end to these wind-driven vessels. It is an elegiac presentation of how these majestic ships spent their last days. A sobering read.

How Admiral Nelson Really Looked

December 13, 2017

Most depictions of Admiral Nelson reflect an idealistic image of Great Britain’s leading sailor; the toll that his wounds took on him are almost always glossed over. A newly restored portrait shows what the rigors of war wreaked upon his visage; it is a sobering realization.

Naval Biographies from the DNB

August 8, 2016

The Sea” is a topical feature of the online Dictionary of National Biography; it contains “The stories of 37 men and women remembered for lives spent on, over, beside, and under the sea.” Among those profiled are the Nore mutineer Richard Parker and naval hero John Crawford. These biographies are well-researched and are based on primary and secondary resources.

American Shipping Forms and Documents, 1776-1860

July 25, 2016

American Maritime Documents, 1776-1860 is a work that explores the various forms and records that were an integral part of American shipping. It defines and, in some instances, gives examples of such items as pilot licenses, abstract logs, oaths, etc. It is a very informative guide to the vast engine of paperwork that grew and developed as the maritime trade of the United States became evermore global.

H M S Challenger Scientific Expedition

June 2, 2016

The Space Shuttle Challenger, the lunar module Challenger, and the Glomar Challenger (on which I had the pleasure of working) are named after H M S Challenger, the vessel that was the platform for the first oceanographic expedition. Taking almost four years (December 1872 to May 1876) and logging over 68,000 miles, this ship and her crew circumnavigated the world taking samples from over three hundred locations (follow the journey here). A massive fifty volume reports series was eventually published; it took almost two decades to print it all. A linked index to all the reports as well as additional publications pertaining to the epic voyage are available. Three very readable; i.e., not scientific, works are The log letters of the “Challenger” (1876), The Cruise of H.M.S. Challenger (1878) and the profusely illustrated Preliminary Account: The Atlantic, Vol. I and Vol II (1878) that features woodcuts of the ships’ working laboratories. Please look at the July 31, 1875 edition of the Pacific commercial advertiser (Honolulu) for some fascinating information on the voyage.

 

Dudley Pope, 1925-1997

May 30, 2016

I do not know if everyone is familiar with Dudley Pope, but he was one of my favorite authors of both naval fiction and non-fiction. His Ramage books rank as one of the best series of British naval fiction taking place during the Napoleonic Wars; I am proud to say I own the entire collection in hardcover. An example of his non-fiction writing is his well-received 1981 book – Life in Nelson’s Navy. Description of his works can be found here. Biographical information is available at: Naval Marine Archive, Kay Pope (his wife), and The New York Times.

 

Royal Navy Command Lists

November 17, 2015

Two detailed  directories of interest are available online.  Royal Navy Senior Appointments with some data going back to 1859; it includes present appointments as well. Appointments are not just at the top levels but include various departments within the Royal Navy; i.e. Controller of the Navy, the Torpedo Division, etc. The second list – Captains Commanding Royal Navy Ships – features commands back to the mid-1860s and is broken down by type of ship.

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December 17, 2009

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