Sam's Blog

Rules of the Road (revised)

Date Posted: 06/04/2011

As occasionally happens, I was very lucky today to be sent a previously unpublished – and very little read, I suspect – naval diary. This one was written on board the armed merchant cruiser HMS Virginian in the new year of 1915 cruising out of Liverpool up .... Read More

Great Review for Benbow in Mail on Sunday

Date Posted: 08/03/2011

Under the rather good title: ‘A NAVAL HERO WORTH HIS SALT’ Benbow was reviewed in last week’s Mail on Sunday. It is not available online so here is an excerpt: ‘If the name Admiral Benbow rings a bell, chances are you remember it from the opening of Robert .... Read More

Me, Admiral Benbow and the Astronomer Royal’s Dad

Date Posted: 07/03/2011

It just so happens that I know that Professor Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal and President of the Royal Society, is currently reading my book on Benbow. And here’s the interesting bit: his father wrote an unpublished manuscript on Benbow, parts of which I have now .... Read More

Excellent review of The Admiral Benbow

Date Posted: 18/01/2011

Last week the BBC History Magazine published a reveiw of Benbow. ‘Fantastic…One of the best naval biographies to appear for many years.’ To read it click here: Read More

Captain Cook’s House, the MCG and Horses.

Date Posted: 20/12/2010

  Now that the great Ashes circus is moving to Melbourne for the Boxing Day test I thought I would reassure all you English cricket fans that there is reason for hope in an unexpected quarter. You may presume that Melbourne, famous for the MCG – the cavernous, soulless, .... Read More

Cricket and Sailors

Date Posted: 05/12/2010

To my intense pleasure I discovered today that sailors in the eighteenth century were notorious for getting into fights ashore with the locals – not as one might assume because of gambling or women but because of….cricket! Games in the mid-eighteenth century .... Read More

Waterboarding in the French Navy, 1793

Date Posted: 02/12/2010

One thing that the French Revolution brought to the French Navy in 1793 was a more humanitarian code of punishment. Under the ancien regime the system of punishment was particularly severe, even for minor offences, and there was a host of barbaric punishment that could be .... Read More

Now this is funny.

Date Posted: 09/11/2010

This is great. There is a popular misconception amongst the English that the motto of the French Navy was once “A l’eau, C’est l’heure.” But this is actually a wonderful pun. Translated it is moderately convincing, meaning “To the water, .... Read More

HMS Temeraire Trafalgar Ensign

Date Posted: 04/10/2010

British naval ensigns from the Age of Sail are very rare but every now and again one comes out of a cupboard where it has been rolled into a musty ball for decades, sometimes centuries. They are magnificent things principally because they are so enormous and are asuch .... Read More

Fighting Temeraire Paperback

Date Posted: 26/09/2010

Because the Fighting Temeraire is now out in paperback and selling like hotcakes I thought it would be worth running over some of the most important points. 1. The Temeraire in Turner’s painting was the second HMS Temeraire. The first was captured from the French at .... Read More