January 24, 2017
This brief note from his wife says it all:
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.
November 29, 2016
Why are Royal Navy vessels failing? Why does it take so long for newer ships to be built? Will the Royal Navy even have enough ships? These and a host of other questions, along with solutions, are contained in An Independent Report to Inform the UK National Shipbuilding Strategy as authored by Sir John Parker. This report comes out as the House of Commons Defence Committee releases Restoring the Fleet: Naval Procurement and the National Shipbuilding Strategy that warns of low-replacement rates for the Royal Navy’s current ships. Correspondence as well as oral and written evidence generated in the issuance of the latter report are here.
November 7, 2016
It is rare indeed to find reminiscences of seamen; so many were illiterate. These are some volumes that speak to the life below deck.
Bates, Joseph. Autobiography of Elder Joseph Bates. (1868).
Firth, C.H. ed. Naval Songs and Ballads (1908. Compiled by a pre-eminent British naval historian, “…the ballads describe with vividness and realism certain aspects of maritime life, and supply a life and colour which is lacking in formal records….”(vii)
Gardner, James Anthony. Recollections of …. (1906).
Goodall, Daniel. Salt Water Sketches; Being Incidents in the Life of Daniel Goodall, Seaman and Mariner (1860).
Glascock, W.N. Naval Sketchbook (2d ed, 2 vols, 1826).
Leech, Samuel. Thirty years from home, or A voice from the main deck (1843).
Nicol, John. The life and adventures of John Nicol, mariner (1822).
Wathen, James. Journal of a Voyage in 1811 and 1812 to Madras and China…. (1814).
November 3, 2016
The Bulletins of State Intelligence were supplements to the [London] Gazette where you can find military and naval exploits culled from the main paper and presented without the “clutter” of many of the other news items. Originally named the Bulletins of the Campaign, the title later morphed into the Bulletins and Other State Intelligence. The above highlighted link contains all three titles in an almost complete run from 1793-1883. As far as I can tell, each volume has its own index; I have not found a cumulative index as of yet.
October 31, 2016
During World War I, the NID published dozens of “country studies” to acquaint planners with aspects of countries little-known or explored. In fact, some of the volumes, such as those on Saudi Arabia, were based on native sources (5). Each study contains information on geography, native plants, populations, languages, spelling, place-names, diseases, military forces, and importantly, routes through the country. These works were never intended for the general public so it is rare to find them. For a more inclusive look at the NID, please read this dissertation – Studies in British naval intelligence, 1880-1945.
October 29, 2016
These translated volumes contain the information that the German Naval Staff used to base their operations on. Items can range from the mundane; i.e. total number of coal cars filled, to more pertinent data, such as did the water temperature in the Mediterranean allow for the operation of midget submarines. Each diary is generally divided into five parts: Items of Political Importance, Report on the Enemy, General Situation, Submarine Situation, and Merchant Shipping. Much valuable information can be gleaned from these sources. Additional information about these records can be found here.
September 23, 2016
I guess that depends on whom you read. Two names, however, rise to the top: Admiral Thomas Cochrane and Admiral Edward Pellew; both individuals possessed the prerequisite skills that would have attracted Patrick O’Brian. The former was more flamboyant and controversial, the latter is considered the greatest frigate captain in the Royal Navy.
The partisans for Cochrane can point to this article – The real master and commander – that certainly presents a strong argument for Cochrane being the role model for Aubrey.
The case for Edward Pellew, who, if you remember, was featured in the early career of Hornblower, is convincingly laid out in this article – The Master and Commander revealed: The real Captain Jack Aubrey, at your service.
I am of the opinion that it is both, but be that as it may, here are some primary sources (along with a few secondary ones) that support their cases.
The autobiography of a seaman [Thomas Cochrane] (2d ed., 2 vols, 1861) (NAM Rodger, in his Command of the Ocean, labels this work as “A mendacious work of self-justification….” 794)
His speeches in Parliament. (use Cochrane or Dundonald, depending on the decade you are searching). You also have recourse to the Naval Chronicle and the London Gazette.
There does not appear to be a great deal of writing by Pellew available online. Here are his speeches in Parliament.
Some of his dispatches can be traced through his biographical memoir in the Naval Chronicle; others are available via the London Gazette.
Some works of interest:
Edward Pellew (1934) [A goodly number of letters both to and from him.]
September 20, 2016
I have had the pleasure of reading Bryan Perrett’s work “The Real Hornblower” in which he postulates that C.S. Forester at least partially based Hornblower’s adventures on the exploits of Admiral James Gordon. The bibliography contains valuable links to primary sources, among them the London Gazette and the Naval Chronicle, both titles that have appeared in previous entries here. Being as this blog is intended to find primary sources in a digital format, I must express my regret at not being able to locate an online version of Letters and Records of Admiral of the Fleet Sir James Alexander Gordon, GCB. This just goes to prove that not everything is online, and also that this work was privately published and almost certainly there are few copies available. To make up for this deficiency, I tried to find other primary sources that might help define Gordon. In the Memoir of the Life of Admiral Sir Edward Codrington. With selections from his public and private correspondence (1873) we do find a couple of reference to Gordon, one of which calls him “Jemmy”. There are fuller mentions of Gordon in Memoirs and letters of Capt. Sir William Hoste (1833). (Hoste was his commander in the Adriatic.) In The Naval War of 1812: A Documentary History, a treasure trove of primary sources scrupulously edited, you will find repeated mentions of Gordon, along with his report of his expedition in concert with the burning of Washington, D.C. (all found in the index to volume 3).
September 16, 2016
In Chronicling America, the Library of Congress is assembling a vast digital treasure trove of newspapers from every state in the Union. Ranging from 1789 to 1922, the millions of pages of newspapers form an inestimable resource of primary research material. A featured portion of this site is the Topics section, a selected listing of important events in American history that can be searched alphabetically, by date or by subject. Each topic has a brief summary of the event, a timeline, suggested search terms, and a linked list of articles relevant to the historical occurrence. As far as maritime subjects go, the following are now available (the dates indicate the year range of article coverage): Blockade Runners in the Civil War (1862-1904); Ironclads (1861-1931); Sinking of the SS Sultana (1865-1898); Submarines (1864-1918); The Sinking of the Maine (1898); Battleships. Pre-World War I naval arms race. (1906-1910); Slocum Steamboat Tragedy (1904-1906); Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet (1907-1909); The Sinking of the Lusitania (1915); and Titanic, Sinking of (1912).
September 12, 2016
The Dictionary of Canadian Biography has a special topical section listing mariners. This is not limited to those born in Canada but rather lists those who impacted this country through maritime exploits/endeavors. Hence the inclusion of John Cabot (born in what is now Italy) and Newman Coyles (born in Dartmouth England). Extensive bibliographies are appended to each biography, and appropriate links are also included.