Category: Miscellaneous

More Images from John Pitt’s Sketchbook

Date Posted: 20/09/2011

 John Pitt has kindly allowed me to post some more images from his unpublished sketchbook, made between 1801 and 1807. Some scenes are certainly made in the Caribbean while other locations are uncertain. The identity of the artist is also uncertain, though there is some .... Read More

Temeraire at Barbados 1801

Date Posted: 10/09/2011

John Pitt from Eastbourne has kindly got in touch with an excellent discovery. Whilst trying to trace a RN ancestor John came across a sketchbook which includes a number of fascinating images, including one of the Temeraire at anchor in Barbados, 1801. She is shown with a .... Read More

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As occasionally happens, I was very lucky today to be sent a previously unpublished – and very little read, I suspect – naval diary.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

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 And here’s the interesting bit: his father wrote an unpublished manuscript on Benbow, parts of which I have now ....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

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

The Boy Who Stood on the Burning Deck

Date Posted: 19/09/2010

Was the son of the captain of the French flagship L’Orient at the battle of the Nile (1798). The captain’s surname was Casabianca, which is why the famous poem that begins ‘The boy stood on the burning deck’ is called Casabianca. I have just found a great eye-witness report .... Read More