Balchen's Victory (ePub)
The Loss and Rediscovery of an Admiral and His Ship
This is the story of Admiral Sir John Balchen, his life and career, and HMS Victory, the largest, finest ship-of-the-line in the Royal Navy at the time, which he commanded when both were lost, along with more than 1,000 crew, in an October storm in the English Channel in 1744. This is not the Victory of Trafalgar fame, however, but the First Rate built some thirty years earlier, the last Royal Navy three-decker to carry bronze cannons, and a ship whose poor design may well have contributed to her loss.
It is also the story of Admiral John Balchen, a courageous, if not heroic, naval officer who saw major engagements and whose legacy in naval development deserves greater recognition. Indeed, the story of both the ship and her commander, their individual and remarkably parallel lives, can now be revealed as fundamental catalysts to the revolutionary reforms in naval shipbuilding, design and dockyard administration that transformed the Royal Navy after 1745. They were indeed major foundation stones for a navy that delivered the glorious achievements of Nelson, Anson, Howe, Hood, Rodney, Boscawen and many more in the great pantheon of British naval history that followed their loss.
The exciting discovery of the wreck of HMS Victory in 2008, the subsequent and continuing public and political wrangling over possible salvage, and the 2019 display at Portsmouth of a mighty 42-pounder bronze gun retrieved from the wreck, have been the catalyst for this history of the admiral and his ship, and anyone with an interest in naval or maritime history, whether academic or popular, will be fascinated by the facts about the hitherto virtually unknown predecessor of Nelson’s great flagship.
This glorious man-and-ship odyssey, whose intrinsic importance to naval history can now be recognised, is richly and compelling told in this important new book.
As featured inWarship Annual - 2023
I commend Alan for writing this previously unpublished history. I believe the public in years to come will hear more about this historically important wreck site.Royal Naval Sailing Association
As featured on Naval ReviewNaval Review
His goal is to provide readers with an understanding of who Admiral Balchen was and why he should be remembered for more than just a shipwreck. In this, Smith achieves what he set out to do in a manner that is straightforward and enlightening.Pirates and Privateers
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I found this book to be very informative, and incredibly well researched, and the author has interwoven a great deal of previously unseen information, to allow us a view in to the Royal Navy's methods of shipbuilding and repair, and in some cases poor design and construction, also a vast amount of background information about the period and shipbuilding in general expanded my limited knowledge of this period and gives me a much greater respect for the men involved in the design and repair , and the crews of the periodARRSE (Army Rumour Service)
A fantastic and informative read,
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"This book a valuable addition to maritime history and the author should be congratulated for bringing the life story of Admiral Balchen and HMS Victory to public readership and for future historical research."Roger Coleman, The Wessex Branch of the Western Front Association
4th October 1744
HMS Victory, the largest, finest ship-of-the-line in the Royal Navy at the time, commanded by Admiral Sir John Balchen, was lost, along with more than 1,000 crew, in an October storm in the English Channel in 1744.