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Messages - stokerstan

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The lighter side / Re: How to get through lock downs.
« on: January 17, 2021, 03:50:55 PM »
 Anyway back to really important things.
I have completed my re-reading of Patrick O'Brian's brilliant Master and Commander series of novels. He completed 20 volumes, and was part way through the 21st when he crossed the bar.
  Not being a great fan of most modern authors, I decided to have a look at C.S. Forester's Hornblower's series. I remembered reading his early book, "Mr Midshipman Hornblower", and found a rather battered copy in a charity shop. It is good. and on checking I found he had written ten volumes of the Hornblower series. The original books are not easy to find, but my better half has  found that a company is in the process of running a reprint edition, so that is me sorted for the lockdown.
  Patrick O'Brian crossed the bar in 2000,aged 85.  C.S. Forester left us in 1966 aged only 66.
     Both for me brilliant authors ! but they really should have started their story lines much earlier, and written lots more books.

The lighter side / Re: How to get through lock downs.
« on: January 16, 2021, 09:01:55 PM »

  Just read this reply  >:( >:( >:( >:( Turner, you shock me. Suggesting ways to cheat ?? Have you NO pride sir. This sort of thing would never be countenanced on the
 Stokers Mess. We were Gentlemen. !!!!!!!

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: December 22, 2020, 03:47:14 PM »


   I am investigating the possibility of having a Trafalgar dinner on first evening, Reunion second evening, and third evening a quieter celebration to mark the passing of the virus.

       Take Care out there.. stay safe.

Odds and sods / Re: December 2020
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:45:13 PM »

   Thanks again for good stuff ! Have a good Christmas mate, and fingers crossed for a real "New Year"
        Take Care, and stay safe. S.

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:40:55 PM »
 Well we are about to fall into Christmas!! the Virus is still swilling about, making old folks ill, and television not worth switching on.
    Brexit does get a mention occasionally, but now we have some smart new patrol boats, and a nice British vaccine, all we need to concentrate on
is ensuring that the hotel is working fully charged when we arrive for our reunion. I feel, we will be entitled to three days of celebrations, Post Virus, Post Christmas,
and a first time Summer Reunion.

       It will come to pass, as it was once said   "All things come to those who wait".
 No idea who said that, answers on a post Card .

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: December 20, 2020, 08:24:16 PM »

   Have managed to obtain two of C.C. Forester's Hornblower books --- My Midshipman Hornblower, it has been reissued by Penguin Books in 2017(the original came out in 1950)
More difficult to get is the second book of the Hornblower novels,"Lt.Hornblower". The book is actually the seventh novel, but the story line has been designed to follow on from Hornblowers early years, and he is still a Midshipman. The book is in a rather poor condition, and was published in the U.S.A. It was written in 1951, and Forester claimed copyright in 1952.

    It seems we are to be kept indoors a while longer by the pandemic, so i may have to seek out more "Hornblowers" to help me through it. Its a rough old life, so off we go back to sea. ;D ;D

Lost Oppos / Royal Tournament 1960
« on: December 06, 2020, 04:48:36 PM »
   Stan Mclellan, was a member of the rope climbing and Window ladder display team in 1960.I was a "Swallow".
   I have some pictures of the training and the whole crew outside Earl's Court, and some snaps of member,(sixty plus men).

      I can be contacted on the Victorious web page, or by Googling HMS Victorious. or direct

    Love to hear from anyone.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: December 03, 2020, 09:52:02 PM »
Books I have been browsing in the Lockdown.
Bryan Perrett's "The real Horn Blower"-- The life and times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB
Bernard Ireland's "Naval Warfare in The age of Sail. War at sea 1756-1815".
T.A Heathcote "Nelson's Trafalgar Captains and their Battles".
Robert Harvey "Cochrane The life and exploits of a fighting Captain"
Admiral Lord Cochrane "Memoirs of a Fighting Captain"
I have just completed a second reading of Patrick O'Brian's brilliant (Master and Commander Jack Aubrey series).  20 novels, mostly paper back editions, mostly charity shop purchases .I was thinking of reading some Horn Blower books. I have seen odd ones in the charity shops. However, I noted that in America recently a set of first edition Hornblower sold for £2000 !
 Keep your eyes open !! 

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 28, 2020, 08:59:52 PM »
 Would C.S.Forester write 11 Hornblower stories, based solely on one fighting captain? particularly a captain who for much of his heroic Royal naval service possessed only one leg. Not too likely.
In fact its probably that when Forester, wrote his first Hornblower book, he commenced with his hero already past his youth. When he realised that he could write more with his Hornblower, he started with Hornblower the Midshipman, and went on through his semi fictional adventures, using some of Gordons actual battles and a good smattering of Thomas Cochranes, history.
 It is difficult today to appreciate the scope of tasks undertaken by ships and men fighting this war. The reality was that the Navy was fighting a world war, encompassing every ocean and sea lane.
on the globe. The Royal Navy was considered to be the most effect fighting force in the world at that time, and it played a major part in every aspect of the war against the dictatorship that Bonaparte
sought to impose. Wellington was not always a fan of some the "buccaneering "frigate captains, but he is said to have admitted at a Waterloo dinner many years after Waterloo, that if the Navy had not snatched General Moors retreating army off the beach at Corunna, England would never had an army to put into the war.
   Nelsons navy had a good bit further to sail for that rescue than they did for Dunkirk, but just as important, and they got there on time.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 19, 2020, 04:04:15 PM »
Captain Gordon was experienced enough to recognise that the two French ships could and probably would put up a hard fight. Gordon had spoken to his officers and advised them to expect tough resistance. The fighting was done at close range, and Gordons prediction was true, the French ship stood and exchanged broadsides, both ships taking great punishment.
  At about 1430,Gordon was fighting Active from his usual position, standing on a shot rack beside the capstan. A 36 pound ball smashed through a gun port grazed a carronade carriage, and took off
 the leg of a sailor, and struck Gordons left knee joint, taking his leg clean off. Gordon retained consciousness, and as he was carried down to the surgeon, he was able to pass a message to his First Lieutenant to take command, and to ensure that the second lieutenant was aware of the situation and should be ready to step up, should the First officer be unlucky. Dashwood, the first officer, was not lucky, minutes later he had his right arm shot off, and the second officer (Lt Haye) although also wounded continued to fight the ship for the rest of the action. Lt. Haye who commanded the main deck was faced with a French attempt at boarding Active, he led the crew with such vigor, they not only drove off the French boarders, but so damaged the French frigate that sheshortly struck her colours. The French frigate(Pomone) lost over fifty men killed or wounded, Active lost a midshipman, five seamen one officer five  marines killed, three marines and twenty seamen wounded. Lt. Haye survived, and Captain Gordon arrived alive at a Malta hospital. He discharged himself one week later, rejoined his ship and took command for the voyage home to England. He had a wooden leg made and made it all the way up to Admiral of the Fleet.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 18, 2020, 03:34:07 PM »
  Maxwell was aware of the potential fire power of the two new French frigates, but fully believed from past experience, that whilst the French would put up a gallant battle, they would be beaten by the much superior rate of fire that the English ships regularly achieved,(it had often been the case that Captains like Maxwell and Gordon had drilled their gun crews to the level of two shots to a decent French crews, one). Maxwell took the lead, aiming to engage the nearest enemy ship,( Pauline, captained by Commodore Montfort),he signalled HMS Unite to chase and engage the smaller French transport, that was making sail obviously having been signalled to run, and Gordon to follow in with his Active to engage the second French Frigate when able.
Maxwell in full sail was rapidly closing with the French ships, his plan was to overtake the first ship, and engage the second vessel, content that Gordon would take it. The French ships had still not broken their colours as Maxwell drew near he fired a shot at the enemy, which struck home and  sent splinters flying from its stern. The French ship  (Pomone) immediately ran up its flags and fired a brilliantly placed shot back at Maxwell's HMS Alcestis,  shattering her main topmast and bringing down a mass of sails and rigging, which hung dangerously over the starboard side. Whilst the tangle was being cut free, the ship lost way, and she found herself in danger of being sandwiched between two competent heavily armed French Frigates.
     Gordon, seeing the potentially fatal position Maxwell was facing, crammed on all sailed, and forced his Active between Maxwell and the Frenchman. Maxwell, and Gordon's gunners poured a relentless series of broadsides into the enemy, and slowly forced the enemy ship to break off and move away.  The action continued from 1100 hrs. through to 1505 often in virtually hand to hand battle. One enemy frigate sunk, one very valuably transport full of guns captured.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 10, 2020, 11:55:35 PM »
 PELAGOSA !! Following the victory at Lissa, there seemed little activity from the French. and Hoste returned home to get major repairs done to his ship. The two other frigates in the Lissa battle went back to the dockyards at Malta for their repairs. Gordon, still in Active, for a period was a free agent,. But he used his free time constructively, and when hearing of a convoy of 28 French supply ships loaded with grain passing through the region, he hunted it down, and followed it until the convoy reached, what they thought was a safe anchorage, in an area too shallow for a frigate to enter. Gordon waited for nightfall, and sent in two ships boats ,they successfully took out all 28 craft, either setting them on fire, or taking them them as prizes if they appeared to have some value.
    Late November found Gordon still patrolling the Adriatic  serving now under the command of Captain Maxwell. Maxwell received intelligence that the French may be mustering a force to to retake Lissa or to attack somewhere along the Adriatic coast. A vast area of sea to cover. On the 27th November Maxwell's squadron was sheltering from heavy weather in Port St. George, when a telegraph station began blinking a message to Maxwell, that three suspicious sails had been sighted off shore, Maxwell got his ships to sea despite foul weather, and got further information from a passing neutral ship. Maxwell made sail to intercept and he found them. Two 40 gun frigates and a 26 gun frigate, French. It was later found that French 26 gun vessel was transporting a cargo of iron and brass gun barrels ,(more guns than Napoleon would later deploy at Waterloo),the 40 gun ships were there to protect it. Maxwell's three ships were well out gunned, but in the tradition of the time, he attacked, first raising a signal   
            "REMEMBER LISSA"          do not think Gordon would have forgotten it ?

Naval History / Re: USS Robin
« on: November 05, 2020, 04:11:02 PM »
  Yes some good stuff here. But the USS Robin tale has grown from a quip to a myth. The suggested quip concerned the Vic arriving early in the states, and saying early birds got the worm, etc.
  I was unfortunate enough to respond to an email sent to our web, some years ago. The sender asked if we had any information about how the USS Robin came to be used to train British Sailors
in the tactical methods of fighting a sea war. I sent back a mild response explaining that the ship in question was never anything but HMS Victorious, never under American control, but there to offer support to the American navy who had recently lost most of its own carriers. MY friend responded with an offer of sending me pictures of young British sailors in America with white caps clearly marked as HMS Robin. I did explain that the chaps in naval caps were wearing black caps, and the tally showed  no name, simply keeping with the whole British fleet.
  I had he advised me been misinformed, he had met people who had served on HMS Robin after the war. I assured him I had spoken to a good number of men who had been on the ship at this
period, and I had joined the ship in 1960., and she was Victorious. I ended our discourses when he claimed the Captain of USS Robin gave a radio talk about his time as Captain on the old Victorious, he could not remember the chaps name, but when I suggested it might have been John Wayne? he did not demure. I gave up, and decided that I would be more careful who I responded to in future.
I served for one torturous week on an American survey boat (I think in 1963)  When I was offered ice cream for  breakfast, I realised it would be a long week, and it was.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 05, 2020, 03:37:52 PM »
       The Battle of Lissa.
  Dubordieus fleet comprised of 7 well armed vessels, Hoste had four frigates. The combined weight of shot carried by the French was over doubled that of of the English.
The actual battle followed the traditional start of fleet actions of this time. The English ships formed a line, and the French having the weather gauge attempted to smash through the line, after the style of Nelson at Trafalgar. Unfortunately for the French, the plan did not work for them, and the battle broke down into a series of single ship actions. The French seemed to unable to
use their superior numbers, effectively, and in the end, two ships broke off and ran for the protection in the harbour, (covered by heavy shore based batteries), one taken and repaired(Corona)
and put into RN service named Daedalus ( a name that may ring a bell for a few members) a second ship taken Bellona, later converted by the navy into a Troopship named Dover.  Another French ship Favourite was run ashore where she struck rocks and eventually caught fire. To add insult to injury, Gordon had landed a shore party headed by two young Midshipmen who were to take charge of the prize captures The crew from the burning Favorite who made it ashore surrendered to the two young midshipmen, and were made prisoners of war.
English Casualties.45 killed --145 wounded.  French loses.500 killed or wounded. Approx 500 prisoners taken
 Four Captains received Naval Gold medal. First Lieutenants promoted to Commanders. 

A run ashore / Re: Arboretum Visit
« on: November 04, 2020, 09:36:59 PM »
  Oh dear James, I worry about you at times.....what do you get up to ? are you still soldiering.

   The Victorious put quite a lot of money into the Arboretum, it was originally set up as a place for quiet contemplation. The Legion seem to have got their paws on the place now,
but Topsey Turner and Crash spend much time down there guarding our tree and bench from day trippers and yummy mummies and kids.

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