1595 The ‘Compagnie van Verre’ (Company of Distant Lands), a forerunner to the Dutch East India Company, set up by nine citizens of Amsterdam to break Portugal’s monopoly on the pepper trade, sends an expedition of three heavily-armed ships and a pinnace, under the leadership of Cornelis de Houtman with orders to break into the trade.
On 2nd April 1595 the ships set off from Texel, with 248 officers and men on board. The expedition (which became known as the First Schipvaart) followed the routes described by Jan Huygen van Linschoten after he had made the journey in the pay of the Portuguese.
A Memorable Date observed by Fleet Protection Group, Royal Marines – Comacchio
1801 First Battle of Copenhagen. Vice-Adm Lord Nelson’s attack on the Danish hulks and batteries, Holsteen captured, twelve hulks burned. Ships and vessels: Arrow, Dart, Otter, Alemene, Zephyr, Blanche, Amazon, Defiance, Monarch, Ganges, Elephant, Glatton, Ardent, Edgar, Bellona, Isis, Russell, Polyphemus, Desiree, Harpy, Cruizer, Agamemnon, Jamaica, Discovery, Explosion, Hecla, Sulphur, Terror, Volcano, Zebra. Ships in support: Defence, London, Raisonnable, Ramillies, St George, Saturn, Veteran, Warrior. Troops: Royal Artillery (bomb vessels). No gold medals awarded. The 49th Foot, the Hertfordshire Regiment (now the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment) and one company of the Corps of Riflemen (now the Royal Greenjackets) were awarded a naval crown, superscribed ‘2nd April 1801, Copenhagen’ on their colours. [m, bh]
The Battle of Copenhagen, as painted by Nicholas Pocock. The British line is diagonally across the foreground, the city of Copenhagen in the background and the Danish line between. The ships in the left foreground are British bomb vessels.
In 1800, at Napoleon’s instigation, the Baltic states of Russia, Sweden and Denmark revived their Armed Neutrality to resist the activities of the British fleet, interrupting trade with the continent. After a number of minor incidents the Tsar of Russia confiscated all British ships and properties within his dominions. On 12 March 1801 Adm Sir Hyde Parker with Vice-Adm Nelson as his second in command sailed for Denmark. The Danes continued with acts close to war and Nelson therfore forcefully persuaded Parker that an attack on Copenhagen should be undertaken. Copenhagen was heavily fortified with shore batteries, forts, moored ships and floating batteries. Parker finally agreed to allow Nelson twelve ships for the close attack, while he himself stood away in deep water to the north. During the approach to Copenhagen three of Nelson’s ships were grounded and as a consequence only five frigates were available to take on the mighty Trekroner Fort. At 1330 when the action had been going on for three hours Parker, who could only see the frigates being worsted by the battery, hoisted the signal to discontinue the engagement. The frigates seeing the signal withdrew and Capt Riou of the Amazon was killed exclaiming ‘Whatever will Nelson think of us?’ Nelson in great agitation said ‘Leave off the action! . . . now damn me if I do . . .you know, Foley, I have only one eye, I have a right to be blind sometimes and I really do not see the signal’, placing the telescope to his blind eye.
Shortly afterwards the fire from shore slackened and Nelson offered a truce to the Danes. Denmark eventually agreed to suspend her participation in the confederation.
1825 Capture of Donaby, Burma by Brig-Gen Sir Archibald Cameron and the Irrawaddy Flotilla under Capt Thomas Alexander (Alligator).
1879 Maj-Gen Lord Chelmsford’s column defeated the Zulus at Gingindlovu inevitably referred to as ‘gin, gin, I love you’. Naval Brigade from Boadicea, Shah and Tenedos.
Naval Brigades were a familiar feature of the Victorian Colonial wars. Britain’s possessions were too numerous and too scattered for her to maintain garrisons in each and so, at the first sign of rebellion, Royal Navy ships were diverted to the trouble spots. The mere presence of the White Ensign was often sufficient to stop the fighting but usually parties of seamen and Royal Marines were handed to deal with the trouble or to keep it in check until a proper expedition could be organised. Some Victorian bluejackets saw more action ashore in the brigades than at sea in their ships.
The seamen seemed to be capable of almost any task which was required of them. Eyewitnesses constantly paid tribute to their willingness and adaptability and these qualities soon became legendary. Jack could dig trenches, march across Indian deserts or through African swamps, manhandle guns over very difficult terrain, man rocket batteries, ‘board’ an enemy fort, ferry a full-scale expedition up the cataracts of the Nile and even run an armoured train in Egypt. To the Victorians, he was known simply as ‘The Handyman’.
However, the sailors’ most constant contribution to the wars was their effect on morale. Their cheerfulness was infectious and they amused successive generations of soldiers by their refusal to abandon their nautical habits. In the Crimea, they raised the spirits of the besieging army during the terrible winter of 1854; in Abyssinia, in 1867-8, they organised dances with the Sikhs of the Punjab Volunteers, with whom they were great friends; and in the Punjab in 1848, a Brigadier reported that the sailors ‘. . . looked upon their batteries as ships, their 18 pounders as so many sweethearts and the embrasures as portholes . . .’
The days of Colonial wars have gone, but this gift for amphibious warfare remains as strong a part of the tradition of the Royal Navy as ever.
1889 Cordite patented for British service.
1908 Tiger, destroyer, built by Thomsons of Glasgow as a private venture and bought into RN, sunk in collision with cruiser Berwick off St Catherine’s Point, Isle of Wight.
HMS Berwick, a Monmouth-class Armoured Cruiser. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Berwick_%281902%29
Crew of HMS Tiger prior to the sinking in 1908.
All crew in the photographed are numbered and named, with their fate during the sinking also given as follows:
1. Thomas King, A.B. (drowned) 2. Frederick Carter, A.B. (drowned) 3. Edward Pipe, Petty Officer. (drowned) 4. Frank Holmes, Stoker. (drowned) 5.Newman, torpedo instructor. (died on HMS Gladiator on way to Portsmouth). 6. George Claird, Stoker. (drowned) 7. A Cutler, Stoker (saved) 8.Joseph Helps, A.B. (drowned) 9. Thomas Warrall, Stoker. (drowned) 10. John Fondling, Stoker. (saved). 11. A Upton, Petty Officer. (saved) 12. G Stodley, Stoker. (saved) 13. E Belchamber (saved) 14. R Stainer, Stoker. (saved) 15. W Colley, Stoker. (drowned) 16. F Ellis, Stoker. (saved) 17. The ship’s pet monkey. (drowned) 18. John Donald, Chief Engine Room Officer (saved) 19. E Matthews, A.B. (drowned) 20. F Manning, Stoker (drowned)21. L Alford, Stoker (saved) 22. J Roberts, Stoker (saved) 23. W Gettings, A.B. (saved) 24. A Harris, Stoker (saved) 25. W Fenton, A.B. (saved) 26. J French, Petty Officer (drowned) 27. A E Hayles, Stoker (drowned) 28. P Armstrong, Stoker (saved) 29. Engineer Lieutenant Vining (saved) 30. John Colton, A.B. (saved) 31. The ship’s pet dog (drowned).
Wikipedia – HMS Tiger (1900) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Tiger_(1900)
1931 Appointment of first aviation Flag Officer: Rear-Adm R.G.H. Henderson appointed Rear-Admiral Aircraft Carriers.
1942 Accompanied by Task Force 18, aircraft carrier USS Hornet departs from the Naval Air Station at Alameda, with 16 specially modified B-25 bombers lashed to her deck. A few days later, the Hornet would rendezvous with Task Force 16, commanded by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., the carrier USS Enterprise and her escort of cruisers and destroyers in the mid-Pacific Ocean north of Hawaii, before sailing towards Japan to launch the ‘Doolittle’ air-raids on the Japanese home islands.
View from the island of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CV-8), while en route to the “Doolittle Raid” mission’s launching point. The light cruiser USS Nashville (CL-43) is in the distance.
Wikipedia – Doolittle Raid – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doolittle_Raid
1943 Frigate Black Swan and corvette Stonecrop sank U-124 off Oporto (41-02N, 15-39W). Convoy OS 45.
Wikipedia – HMS Black Swan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Black_Swan_(L57)
Wikipedia – HMS Stonecrop (K142) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Stonecrop_(K142)
Wikipedia – U-124 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-124_(1940)
1944 Destroyer Keppel sank U-360 in north Norwegian Sea (73-28N, 13-04E). Convoy JW 58.
Wikipedia – HMS Keppel – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thornycroft_type_destroyer_leader
Wikipedia – U-360 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-360
1945 VC: Cpl Thomas Peck Hunter, 43 Cdo, RM. Battle of Comacchio, Italy. 43 Cdo was advancing northwards up the coast road north of Ravenna between Lake Comacchio and the sea, heading towards Porto Garibaldi. Hunter, in charge of a bren-gun section, charged across open ground, firing a bren from the hip, and cleared a German position, allowing his troop to advance. He was killed soon afterwards. His award was gazetted 12 June 1945 and his VC presented to his parents at Holyrood Palace, Edinburgh, 26 September 1945. The first and only RM VC of the Second World War.
See 1 May 1980, 1 June 1975, 1 October 2000.
Wikipedia – Thomas Hunter VC – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Hunter_(VC)
Close up view of the plaque present on the monument to Thomas Peck Hunter VC outside Ocean Terminal in Edinburgh.
1957 RN handed over Simonstown Dockyard to South African Navy 143 years after its opening.
A view of Simon’s Town and the naval base. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_Base_Simon%27s_Town
1966 At 2900 feet beneath surface of the Mediterranean Sea, off the Spanish coast from the small fishing village of Palomares, Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin relocates the 1.45 megaton hydrogen bomb, that it originally located on 15th March at a depth of 2,550 feet, until it was temporarily lost again after being dropped by the U.S. Navy during the attempt to recovery it.
Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DSV_Alvin
Alvin in 1978, a year after first exploring hydrothermal vents. The rack hanging at the bow holds sample containers.
1966 C.S. Forester died; creator of Horatio Hornblower. His three best novels outside the Hornblower series were Payment Deferred, The General and The Ship, based on the Second Battle of Sirte.
Wikipedia – C.S. Forester – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C._S._Forester
1969 White Ensign hauled down at St Vincent, Boys’ Training Establishment, Gosport.
See 1 June 1927, 8 December 1968.
Sunday Divisions at HMS St Vincent – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_St_Vincent_(Gosport_shore_establishment)
1979 Vice-Adm William Thomas Pillar appointed Chief of Fleet Support. First engineer officer to hold this appointment on the Admiralty Board. In 1982 he was the first engineer officer to be Commandment of the RCDS and in retirement the first engineer officer to be Lieutenant-Governor and C-in-C Jersey. Born 24 February 1924. Died 18 March 1999. Sultan commissioned a portrait of Adm Sir William Pillar in 1998 and invited contributions to the cost (DCI(RN)174/98). He was described in the DCI as ‘undoubtedly the most successful ME Officer of the modern era’ and ‘the only one to date to reach the rank of Admiral’. Adm Pillar would have readily acknowledged Adm Turner’s earlier claim.
See 21 April 1970, 19 January 2000.
Wikipedia – William Pillar – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Pillar
The Independant – Obituaries Tuesday 13 April 1999 by A.B. Sainsbury.
1982 Argentine invasion of the Falkland Islands. NP 8901 RM at Port Stanley surrendered on orders of the Governor, having demonstrated a willingness to retaliate. Operation Corporate began under CINCFLEET, Adm Sir John Fieldhouse.
Map outlining the British recapture of the islands – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Falklands_War
2002 Flag Officer Submarines/Chief of Staff (Operations) to CINCFLEET, FOSM/COS(OPS), became Commander Operations and Rear-Admiral Submarines, COM(OPS)/RASM. Rear-Adm Niall Kilgour, appointed last FOSM 18 September 2001, became first holder of new appointment.
wrecksite.eu – On This Day – http://wrecksite.eu/wrecked-on-this-day.aspx