October 21, 1797 USS Constitution – Today in History

USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerriere 19 August 1812 This painting by Anton Otto Fischer depicts the first victory at sea by the fledgeling US Navy over the mighty Royal Navy.

USS Constitution vs. HMS Guerriere 19 August 1812 This painting by Anton Otto Fischer depicts the first victory at sea by the fledgeling US Navy over the mighty Royal Navy.

‘…British and French vessels harassed American merchant shipping, kidnapping American sailors and forcing them to serve in their own navies, a practice known as impressment…’

Source: October 21, 1797 USS Constitution – Today in History

Twelve Reasons Why the Falklands War Was A Closer Call Than You Think

The Falklands War is looked back on by many as a forgone conclusion. Lasting only ten weeks, and it resulted in clear British victory. But this war between Argentina and Britain could have gone either way. As Major-General John Jeremy Moore, commander of the British land forces in the war, put it, “It was a very close-run thing.”

via Twelve Reasons Why the Falklands War Was A Closer Call Than You Think

Nancy Perriam – a woman in the Georgian Navy (Guest Post) – The Dark Days of Georgian Britain

How many women have you ever seen in movies or on television working alongside men during naval battles? The answer is probably “None”, yet many were there! There were lots of women aboard navy ships during before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars. And some, like Nancy Perriam, taking…

via Nancy Perriam – a woman in the Georgian Navy (Guest Post) – The Dark Days of Georgian Britain

A Sailor’s Life For Me – A day in the life of a Royal Navy Sailor from 1806

The life of a sailor has never been easy, and during wartime, it is doubly true. It was particularly so in the Royal Navy at the beginning of the 19th century.

Britain was embroiled in a struggle against France, which had recently succumbed to revolution. Napoleon Bonaparte had become ruler and he…

Source: A Sailor’s Life For Me – A day in the life of a Royal Navy Sailor from 1806

The History Girls: Jellicoe and the U Boats by Janie Hampton

There has been much in the news this year about the 1916 naval Battle of Jutland and the role of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe. Admiral Sir John Jellicoe(1859-1953)But has anybody mentioned another Jellicoe who was also employed by the British Royal Navy and active during the First World War? I doubt it, because the other Jellicoe was a sea-lion. He belonged to…

Source: The History Girls: Jellicoe and the U Boats by Janie Hampton

Ship found in Arctic 168 years after doomed Northwest Passage attempt | World news | The Guardian

The long-lost ship of British polar explorer Sir John Franklin, HMS Terror, has been found in pristine condition at the bottom of an Arctic bay, researchers have said, in a discovery that challenges the accepted history behind one of polar exploration’s deepest mysteries.

HMS Terror and Franklin’s flagship, HMS Erebus, were abandoned in heavy sea ice far to the north of the eventual wreck site in 1848, during the…

Source: Ship found in Arctic 168 years after doomed Northwest Passage attempt | World news | The Guardian

Seven-meter Torpedo Found At Scapa Flow Linked To Sinking Of HMS Royal Oak

A seven-meter torpedo was discovered last month in Scapa Flow, a shallow-bottomed bay sheltered by Scotland’s northern islands. Experts believe that the torpedo was fired by a German U-boat at the HMS Royal Oak at the beginning of World War II.

It was found during a routine sonar survey by Sula Diving for Orkney Islands Council.Royal Navy divers from a nearby base arrived to see…

Source: Seven-meter Torpedo Found At Scapa Flow Linked To Sinking Of HMS Royal Oak

Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

My father is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. He will be 90 this year. He grew up close by the docks in Beckton, East London, which are now long gone. He remembers seeing the first wave of German bombers flying over London on September 7, 1940.

He was stationed in the Pacific when he joined the Navy in 1944; he has photos of Nagasaki taken a few weeks after it was destroyed by the atomic bomb.

At Cambridge after the war, he joined the Communist Party only to leave in the 1950s, disheartened by the party’s refusal to fully endorse the democratic process. At least, this is what I remember being told long ago, when facts seemed more stable than they do now.He spent almost his entire working life in…

Source: Memory and identity: a personal history – Mathew Lyons

Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Source: Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

ericwinkle

Eric, who has died at the age of 97, between the 1930s and 1980’s flew 487 types of aircraft, ranging from gliders to fighters, bombers, airliners, amphibians, flying boats and helicopters. This is more than any other pilot has flown, or is ever likely to fly. His 2,407 deck landings at sea including the first in a jet plane and 2,721 catapult launches are world records which are unlikely ever to be broken. Blessed with exceptional skill and completely without fear, he received the affectionate nickname, ‘Winkle’ from his Royal Navy colleagues. It was short for the small mollusc, the ‘periwinkle’ because of his 5 ft 7 in stature which enabled him to put his “legs under the seat and curl up like a little ball in the cockpit,” which he believed had “saved me because there were occasions I would have…

Source: Britain is no longer a country for and says “Farewell” to its oldest and greatest test pilot, Captain Eric ‘Winkle’ Brown

Have we found King Henry V’s great ship the Holigost?

The Historic England Blog

A historic shipwreck discovered in a ‘medieval breaker’s yard’ in Hampshire is likely to be the remains of 600-year old warship, the Holigost. But what do we know about it?

Dr Ian Friel is a historian and expert advisor to Historic England.The Holigost was one of four famous vessels known as the ‘great ships’, the biggest built in medieval England. These impressive warships were a symbol of royal power, built specifically to open the way for an English invasion of France. They were the personal property of King Henry V and the closest thing he had to a state navy. Completed between 1415 and 1420 these ships were the Trinity Royal, the Jesus, the Grace Dieu and the Holigost; their names bear witness to Henry’s personal devotion to the Holy Trinity.

The wreck thought to be the Holigost has been found alongside the Grace Dieu

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The Secret Disaster

I knew about this disaster but not the details. Horrific.

historywithatwist

It was 1944, and the troops were waiting nervously for the barrage on the beach to end. Their stomachs heaved as their clumsy landing craft rode the swell. Nearby, the support vessels and destroyers watched as their orderly line headed for the landing spot. The men concentrated on trying to overcome their sea sickness, their impending landing and the assault they’d have to make once they made it to shore.

This wasn’t the heart-in-mouth assault on the beaches of Normandy on June 6 – one of history’s greatest ever naval landings that signalled the end of Hitler’s dominance in Europe. No, this was a few weeks earlier – at Slapton Sands, a beautiful beach in Devon, England.

It was a Royal Navy and US Army training exercise called Operation Tiger – the last one before the real thing. But the events that would unfold on the morning of April 28…

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The Mad Monarchist: The British Army in World War I

Originally posted on The Mad Monarchist.

At the outbreak of war in August of 1914 the one major power for whom the Germans had probably the least respect in terms of its army was Great Britain. In terms of size it was dwarfed by the French army and certainly had nowhere near the numbers of the massive Russian army. Whereas the Royal Navy had ruled the waves for centuries and had a reputation second to none, the army was not taken nearly so seriously. It was most frequently used in minor colonial wars which the Germans tended to discount as being victories won against enemies unworthy of serious consideration. When the subject of their intervention was broached to the Kaiser, he joked that he would simply send the police to arrest the British army as soon as they landed. To say that the British army was underestimated would be a gross exaggeration. Discounted and despised, the British army soon proved to the Germans just how wrong they had been. The British army may not have been as large as the French or as heavily armed as the Germans but in fact it was the British who had, man for man, probably the best army in the world in the summer of 1914. Their force was small but it was experienced, disciplined and magnificently trained. Years of colonial conflicts had left them with a body of soldiers who had great endurance and experience in what war was really like.

4th Bn Royal Fusiliers at Mons

During the initial German offensive across Belgium and into France, the British Expeditionary Force had their first major clash with the Germans at the battle of Mons and all myths about the British army…

via The Mad Monarchist: The British Army in World War I.

Seaman Stanley Fiorini served aboard landing craft at Iwo Jima, Okinawa

War Tales

The USS Hocking, an attack transport, was a marked ship while still in port at Hilo, Hawaii, even before it sailed for the war zone in 1944. Stanley Fiorini of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a deckhand on one of its landing craft.

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U-571 More Hollywood Propaganda

LordBeariOfBow

This was originally posted in October 2013 and somehow it disappeared so here is a reprise

Yesterday evening I happened to be watching TV, a program named Command Centre and the War office told me that there was a movie on later that might interest me: U571.

Now normally movies about naval events of WWII are of interest to me so I decided to have a look in. It took me all of ten minutes to realize that this movie was a load of rubbish. Or worse.

As per usual it is American propaganda about how they won the war without any help thereby saving the free world from, in this case Nazi tyranny!

To say this movie is a pack of lies is being overly generous; obviously produced to remind and make the citizens of the good ol’ US of A feel good about themselves and proud of their…

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‘Old Grog’

Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon. Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough [Wikipedia]

Admiral Edward “Old Grog” Vernon. Portrait by Thomas Gainsborough [Wikipedia]

The sea is in my blood from generations of sailors on my father’s side, including Admiral Edward Vernon, as in the Battle of Portobello (or Porto Bello), Panama, in 1739. The Admiral’s nickname, ‘Old Grog’, was coined because of the coat of ‘grogram’ that he wore, and ‘grog’ then came to mean the watered-down rum he instigated; this was not to stop his sailors getting drunk but to keep the water as fresh as it could be.  He also introduced lemon or lime juice to stave off scurvy. Vernon’s crew were known to be much healthier than others though the link between vitamin C and good health was not proved until later. The practice was later adopted throughout the Royal Navy.

I had no idea until I did some research for a post on First Night Design that my forebear had been painted by Thomas Gainsborough. It was a delightful discovery.

© Sarah Vernon