Category: Seaforth

Epidemics in Britain’s Old Sailing Navy by Hilary L. Rubinstein

While we socially isolate, we might spare a thought for seafarers battling the main diseases that often reached epidemic proportions among ships’ crews in the Age of Sail, a period in which the ‘miasma theory’ — that disease was contracted by inhaling foul air — still prevailed. We glimpse the theory in the laments of a former ship’s doctor writing early in the 18th century, regarding unventilated ships’ holds, in which ‘stagnant salt water’ tended to accumulated, and regarding their lower decks, in which ‘a multitude of people breathing and constantly perspiring’ were crowded together. The long-held theory is reflected in the name of that well-known scourge of tropical climes including the coast of West Africa, malaria (‘bad air’), which we, of course, know is spread by mosquitoes. But before we look briefly at epidemics involving infectious diseases, let’s look at that well-known non-communicable disease, scurvy, which had a devastating impact on seamen’s health ever since long voyages came to be undertaken.

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Guest Post: Dr Stephen Ellis

Russia re-discovers its naval history.

Over the last decade most Western European nations and most of the English-speaking world have been commemorating the centenary of the First World War, from its beginning in the Balkans through the many theatres of war to its end in the forest near Compiegne. In virtually all of these commemorations there has been little or no recognition of the contribution of one of the great allies of the western nations, the Russian Empire. This is not new – almost from the moment of the armistice Russia’s massive effort in the four preceding years of the war appear to have been written off, a debt sunk by the Treaty at Brest Litovsk and regarded at Versailles as void. Millions of its soldiers killed and its treasure and lands devastated counted for nothing.

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David Hobbs: British aircraft carrier design that led the world – Part 2

We hope you enjoyed our recent guest post from David Hobbs. Here is the second part. Enjoy!

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David Hobbs: British aircraft carrier design that led the world – Part 1

British aircraft carrier design that led the world

The Royal Navy designed and built the world’s first aircraft carrier, HMS Argus, in 1918. It has led the world in the design and development of the technologies that have allowed bigger and faster jets to take-off and land on their flight decks and continues to do so today.

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Author Guest Post: Aaron Stephen Hamilton

A Re-evaluation of U-853’s Final War Patrol within the Evolving U-Boat Operations and Tactics of ‘Total Undersea War’

By Aaron Stephen Hamilton

The published historical record of the Battle of Atlantic during the Second World War, and more specifically, the development and employment of German U-Boats, is weighted disproportionately on the period of mid-Atlantic convoy battles through mid-1943. The absence of a broader historiographic survey that includes a detailed accounting of evolving U-boat technology and tactics during the final year of war has eluded serious study for over seventy-five years. More importantly, it has distorted the interpretation of some U-boat combat actions during the final year of the war, as well as the maritime archeology of U-boat’s sunk in this period, particularly along the US East Coast. The new study Total Undersea War: The Evolutionary Role of the Snorkel in Dönitz’s U-Boat Fleet 1944-1945 provides the first comprehensive look into this period of the Battle of the Atlantic.

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Author Guest Post: Aidan Dodson

The Mystery of the Medway U-boats: solved.

Aidan Dodson

University of Bristol

Among the mud-flats of the Medway estuary rest the remains of three First World War German U-boats. One, in East Hoo Creek, still displays some features a submarine, with its raked stem still visible – although broken off and resting at a crazy angle – and its hull structure and ballast tanks visible, the outer plating having largely disappeared. See more here.

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Author Guest Post: Tom Cunliffe

Tom Cunliffe, author of ‘Pilot Cutters Under Sail’ has owned three pilot cutters over a period of thirty-five years and sailed more miles in them than most. Here he recalls a spine-tingling incident that occurred on his initial sail with the 50ft, 1911 Bristol Channel Pilot Cutter, Hirta.

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Author Guest Post: Steve Dunn

How the Royal Navy fought to save Estonia and Latvia

The thriving modern republics of Estonia and Latvia emerged from the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and are still threatened by the revanchist policies of the USSR’s successor state. But the fact that they exist at all is in large part due to the Royal Navy and particularly the role it played immediately after the First World War in helping fight off the expansionist ambitions of a post-Armistice Germany and the greed and aggression of the nascent Russian Bolshevik Empire.

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Author Lecture: Aidan Dodson

Today we have a guest lecture to share from Aidan Dodson. The was originally presented at the Society of Antiquaries on the 12th March 2019.

Topics covered in the lecture are discussed further in the upcoming release, Spoils of War which is available to preorder now.

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