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Messages - stokerstan

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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.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: November 02, 2020, 05:15:11 PM »
 !808, found James Gordon now a very well respected Post Captain with numerous victories to his credit,  well recognized by the public at large. He had command of a 38 gun frigate, HMS Active,(which in later life he said, was the best ship he ever served on). The main English Naval base at this time was Malta, and Gordon was detached and instructed to join a flotilla in the Adriatic, which was creating chaos for Napoleon's navy. It was said the Adriatic was seen as a French lake, but in practice it was proving a great hunting ground for very active English frigate captains. The senior captain, was a very active and experienced officer, Captain William Hoste.
   Hoste also in a 38 gun frigate, had been party to the capture or destroying of 218 vessels of varying size, and had already accumulated prize money of over £60,000.
 A major drive by the English ships involving both cutting out operations, very successfully and profitable, landing shore parties to destroy shore side guns and stores, was probably the final straw for the French, and the senior French officer by the name of  Dubordieu, was reinforced with decent ships and crews, and ordered to clear the English out of the region, once and for all.
                                                 At about 0300 on 13th of March Gordon's lookout, spotted a French fleet approaching the English ships.
Single ship duels between frigates were commonplace, but a battle between opposing frigate squadrons was almost unheard of. The subsequent action became known as the "Battle of Lisa".
  The French line comprised of 7 major units against Hoste's four. The odds very much in favour of the French. Hoste, hoisted the signal. REMEMBER NELSON .. AND ENGAGED

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: October 31, 2020, 02:07:00 PM »
  Excellent books have been written about both fighting captains, and biographies of both men run to lengthy detailed works, and it is not unreasonable to say that for me the truth of their
histories, is definitely stranger than fiction. Cochrane was widely written about in the popular press, often for the wrong reasons. I would suggest that his fictional character is a pleasanter person
than the original, and his battles with authorities and the Admiralty probably made his life difficult to say the least. However, history has tended to show that much of what he attempted to change,
did change, he had great insight, but not a lot patience. He still ended up as an Admiral of the Fleet.
   Gordon seems to have dealt well with the ups and downs of the Royal Navy systems. Gordon had by March 1796, served three years in the service, the minimum period needed before he could be considered for the position of midshipman. It seems that Captain Cole, the captain of the ship he had been serving in, did not see the young James Gordon as a future naval officer, and gave him leave to go home and see if his family could find him a more suitable job. However, Gordons family must have had have some influence at the Admiralty, because Gordon though quite quite shaken by the event buckled down, learned his lessons and stayed in the service. He climbed up the promotional ladder, and from all accounts he was recognised as a first rate officer, who does not seemed to have dabbled in either politics of the stock market, not antagonised senior officers too much. Gordons fighting actions, victory's, and prize money was probably a match with Cochran's, and as fighting officers it was often mentioned that both officers led from the front in any action.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: October 25, 2020, 05:43:43 PM »
Forester, would be very familiar with the exploits of Thomas Cochrane, and it seems highly likely that the various battles, particularly the single ship actions fought by him were picked over in detail
for his Hornblower to fight. However, I am not sure that I could ever define much of the detail sufficiently well to pontificate on the matter. Cochrane was often in the news, and some times for the wrong reasons, for me this does not detract from the man as a Fighting Captain, and he well deserves his place as among the Royal Naval Hero's.
  I had heard about Cochrane, and read the fictional stories of his exploits,(and am still reading them). However, Admiral Sir James Gordon, for some reason seems to have sunk down into the annals of history, yet his exploits and career almost run parallel to Cochran's. Gordon died in January 1869 and his Times Obituary, reads as follows.
   Sir   J.A.Gordon was Admiral of the Fleet and had served in the Royal Navy for the extraordinary period of 75 and 3/4 years and was, we believe,
                 the last survivor of Nelsons noble band of Captains.

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: October 14, 2020, 09:20:14 PM »
 As many of you will now be aware, we have decided to shelve the reunion that we were hoping to have on the 19th oct.
   Having consulted with a number of members, it seems to have been the consensus that with the current restrictions in place, and the likelihood of more to come, the reunion we want will not be possible.  The hotel has gone out of its way to try to accommodate us, but a Gala dinner worth attending simply is not permitted, social distancing greatly inhibits raffle, and even basic conversation between members would be very difficult. Fleetwood is shown up on the television virus maps as being located right in the centre of the high virus area, and even though I was advised that
the town has not any record of corvid problems, I personally felt that many members would be uncomfortable attending. I also personally felt that it would be irresponsible putting our members, (who are not now spring chickens) under any pressure to meet up in the middle of the pandemic for a not very good do.
  The hotel is open for business should anyone wish to have the break, phone the hotel they will reserve you a good room, at the present time the restaurant is still operating.
  The manager has agreed to maintain our reunion booking for the future, I will relay any further news re a 2021 reunion maybe spring ? but we will have a reunion come hell or high water. we are after all

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: October 12, 2020, 11:21:08 PM »
   23oo hours !! Reunion looking shaky, will be speaking to the hotel manager tomorrow morning. Fleetwood is showing to be in the middle of the red area, but to date I have still not been able
to obtain specific regulations for either Fleetwood or Leeds !! but at this point, I would not be packing bags yet. :-[ :'(

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: October 12, 2020, 05:17:50 PM »

  Watched latest announcement re Covid restrictions, sorting through same. Watch this space. S.

A run ashore / Re: Belated Reunion 2020
« on: October 10, 2020, 04:12:52 PM »

   Very Belated reunion / Meet.... As most of us have probably heard, there is very likely to be an announcement on the 12th Oct. from the government, probably concerning
our pandemic!! It is being suggested that hotels may be subject to tighter controls, and possible curbs on traffic !! but to date this is still all speculation.
   The hotel was ready to receive us (as individuals), the cake man has the cake waiting to be iced.
   As soon as we get a definitive statement that allows us or not, to have our three day holiday break, safely, and legally, at Fleetwood an email /phone call will be flashed out to all, and will be on the web at this site.

   Keep fingers crossed, there is little else we can do.

Naval History / Re: Nelsons Navy.
« on: October 04, 2020, 09:53:44 PM »
   Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB.
     In 1937, the author C.S.Forester published his first Hornblower novel. It went on sale in U.K. with the title "The Happy Return "and in the U.S.A as "Beat to Quarters". On both sides of the Atlantic, it was  a great success, and it seems that the public were very keen to hear more about the middle aged Royal Naval Captain who became a hero overcoming impossible odds.
Forester was a professional author with an in-depth knowledge of Nelson's navy, he purchased 3 Volumes of The Naval Chronicle, a magazine written by serving naval offices for naval officers,
and obtained the issues published between1790 and !820. The Chronicles travelled with Forester when he undertook a long sea voyage from California to England ,visiting many Central American ports and passing through the Panama Canal. The ship was no luxury cruise liner, and Forester reportedly said that he read every line in the magazines several times over.
 There has, for a number of years now been disputes in some literally circles as to who the Hornblower character  is based upon, and Forester never seems to have really identified the real life fighting captain on who he based his Hornblower. However the period in which Forester's Hornblower sailor is set, is awash with heroes, many now forgotten.
  When Collins brought out the first of Patrick O'Brian, Master and Commander novels in 1970, a similar flutter went through the ranks of particular readers, who wished to know on who or what were O'Brian's sources, and how do they compare with Forester's work. Bryan Perrett has produced an excellent book to delve into the issue. For myself, I think the court is still out on the matter, and I am just about to start a second read of O'Brian's superb  "The Yellow Admiral" 18th book of the Aubrey/ Maturin series... Pandemic ?? what's that all about. To Be continued.

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