Dead Admirals Society Goes Rogue: Nelson Must What?

I wasn’t going to get involved in the whole ‘Nelson Must Fall’ thing, which seems to me to be no more than a blatant piece of historically illiterate attention seeking by somebody clinging to the coattails of the ‘Confederate statues’ controversy across the pond: and anyway, my old chum Andrew Lambert has demolished this particular […]

It’s Yer Actual Orfenticity, Innit

Last week, I went to see Dunkirk, which has been getting pretty much unanimous rave reviews from film critics worldwide. And I have to say I agree with them – this is one of the best war films I’ve seen (and I’ve seen rather a lot), totally gripping from beginning to end, and very unusual in […]

The Return of Ranty McRantface

[Note: those not interested in naval stuff, or in a good old-fashioned rant, can look away now, watch repeats of The West Wing or Jeremy Kyle on daytime TV, and come back next week instead. On the other hand, if you’re not interested in naval stuff or good old-fashioned rants, what the heck are you doing here […]

Amsterdam Good Time, Part 2

Conferences are often opportunities to meet old friends and make new ones, and that was certainly true of last weekend’s conference in Amsterdam to mark the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the Medway. I caught up with several people I hadn’t seen for ages, finally met some of my Dutch Twitter followers in […]

Amsterdam Good Time, Part 1

And so it continued. Not content with fireworks, rowing contests, schoolchildren’s chain-making competitions, and exhibitions galore, it was finally time for the historians to have their four-penn’orth about the 350th anniversary of the Battle of Medway, which was why I spent last weekend in Amsterdam, attending a conference jointly organised by the Naval Dockyards Society […]

Medway 350, Day 3

(With an affectionate nod toward Samuel Pepys, esquire, sometime Clerk of the Acts to the Navy Board, sometime Secretary to the Admiralty, sometime President of the Royal Society, sometime Master of Trinity House, sometime serial bonker)   Up betimes, and to ye dockyard at Chatham, where I enquired where I might find Pett. ‘No pets […]

Medway 350, Day 2

Over breakfast in my hotel, there was barely audible and intermittent talk to the effect that something vaguely political seemed to have happened overnight. Obviously, I paid no heed to this, as whatever it was, it was clearly completely insignificant compared with the important business of the day, i.e. checking out Chatham Historic Dockyard’s temporary […]

And So It Begins

It’s a little known fact that ‘June’ is derived from a Latin word which means ‘don’t even think of trying to cram anything else into your diary’. That’s certainly the case for me this month, as I embark on the exciting round of events to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the Dutch attack on the […]

The Ghosts of Swarbacks Minn

My fourth and final post about the naval heritage I visited during our recent holiday in Shetland… By complete coincidence (honest!), our rented cottage looked out directly over Busta Voe, at the head of the Swarbacks Minn anchorage. During World War I, this was the base of the Tenth Cruiser Squadron, responsible for enforcing the […]

The Shetland Bus

Perhaps the most moving naval memorial in Shetland can be found on the harbour front in Scalloway, the archipelago’s one-time capital. This is to the unbelievably brave young Norwegians who lost their lives while operating the ‘Shetland bus’, the covert ‘shuttle service’ of fishing craft and, later, submarine chasers, which operated between Shetland and Norway […]