1633 Samuel Pepys (FRS, MP, JP) was born in Salisbury Court, Fleet Street, London, to John Pepys, a tailor, and Margaret Pepys (née Kite), daughter of a Whitechapel butcher. Pepys was the fifth in a line of eleven children, but the oldest survivor.
Portrait of Samuel Pepys by J. Hayls. Oil on canvas, 1666, National Portrait Gallery, London. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samuel_Pepys
He would go on to become the Chief Secretary to the Admiralty, where his influence and reforms would be important in the early professionalisation of the Royal Navy, though e would become most famous (posthumously) as a diarist.
Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)
Pepys was the epitome of a man for all seasons. His life spanned England’s only excursion from monarchy: it began when Charles I was on his throne, and he was 9 when the Civil War started. His career began during the Protectorate, blossomed with the Restoration of Charles II and soared through the Dutch Wars, the Plague and the Great Fire of London. Religion nearly cost him his life; ironically the Glorious Revolution cost him his career.
Even so, it was a memorable one, and his Diary ensures his imperishable reputation, not only as a man with a perpetually enquiring mind, who became a Fellow and President of the Royal Society, Master of the Clothworker’s Company, an Elder Brother and twice Master of Trinity House and a Governor of Christ’s Hospital as well as the first Secretary of the Board of Admiralty, but also as an avaricious but adorable, ambitious but endearing man about town and citizen of the world.
1674 Tiger captured the Dutch Schakerloo in Cadiz Bay.
HMS Tyger taking the Dutch ship Shackerloo in Cadiz harbour in 1674. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Tyger_(1647)
1695 Centurion engaged four Dunkirk privateers, capturing one, 15 miles E.N.E. of the North Foreland.
Wikipedia – HMS Centurion (1691) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Centurion_(1691)
1746 Navy Club resolved to send three officers to wait upon their Lordships and ask for a uniform for officers.
1802 In a terrible blizzard in three Salem East Indiamen, the Brutus, the Ulysses, and the Volusia, went aground in the shallow waters off Cape Cod. The crew members of the latter two vessels were fortunate enough to be rescued by local inhabitants. The seamen on the Brutus were not so lucky as nine of the 14 crew members perished.
The Friendship, a replica of an 18th century Salem East Indiaman. Docked in Salem Harbour, across from the Customs House.
1805 Leander (50) captured the French Ville-de-Milan (32) and recaptured Cleopatra (40) 300 miles S.E. by S. of Bermuda.
See 17 February 1805.
HMS Leander (1780) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Leander_(1780). Battle between Ville de Milan and HMS Cleopatra, depicted in a contemporary print. Wikipedia – Ville-de-Milan – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Milan_(1805). HMS Cleopatra, depicted in a print by Nicholas Pocock Wikipedia – HMS Cleopatra – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Cleopatra_(1779)
1810 Royalist captured the Boulogne privateer Prince Eugéne off Dungeness. [m]
1814 During the ‘War of 1812′, while cruising off Cape Sable, HMS Epervier captures the American privateer-brig Alfred, of Salem. Alfred, which mounted 16 long 9-pounders and had a crew of between 94 to 108 men, surrendered without a fight.
The Peacock and Epervier, 1814. Engraving by Abel Bowen. Wikipedia – HMS Epervier (1812) – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Epervier_(1812)
1854 Adm Napier appointed to command the North Sea Fleet in the Russian war, and Rear-Adm Dundas the Mediterranean.
Sir Charles Napier (1854). Bombardment of Bomarsund during the Crimean War. Napier is the large figure in the slouch hat and carrying telescope in centre foreground. Wikipedia – Charles Napier – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Napier_(Royal_Navy_officer)
1858 Algerine, wood screw gunvessel, and two boats of Calcutta destroyed four pirate junks in Long Harbour, Mirs Bay.
Design profile for the Algerine class. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algerine-class_gunboat
1904 The United States acquires control of the Panama Canal Zone, for $10 million, plus annual payments of $250,000 (as provided in the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty, signed on November 18, 1903). After the U.S. formally takes control of the French property relating to the canal, construction resumes later in 1904.
Construction of the Panama Canal in 1904. Wikipedia – Panama Canal Zone – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panama_Canal_Zone
1915 Royal Marines occupied Lemnos.
1917 UC-32 blew up on her own mines off Sunderland.
Wikipedia – UC-32 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SM_UC-32
1918 SS Florizel, a passenger liner and flagship of the Bowring Brothers’ Red Cross Line of steamships, was one of the first ships in the world specifically designed to navigate icy waters. During its last voyage, from St. John’s to Halifax and on to New York, it sunk after striking a reef at Horn Head Point, Cape Race near Cappahayden, Newfoundland, Canada, with the loss of 94 including Betty Munn, a three-year-old girl, in whose memory a statue of Peter Pan was erected at Bowring Park in St. John’s.
Passenger Liner SS Florizel arriving St. John’s Harbour sometime between 1909 and 1918. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Florizel
1940 The minesweeping trawler Benvolio hit a mine and sank off the Humber.
1940 Destroyer Gurkha sank U-53 S. of the Faroes.
HMS Gurkha (F20) – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Gurkha_(F20). U-53 – WIkipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-53_(1939)
1941 Monitor Terror, 7,200 tons and armed with twin 15in guns, damaged by Italian aircraft on 22 February and scuttled during following night 20 miles N.W. of Derna, Libya (32-40N, 22-30E). No lives lost. The only British monitor lost in the Second World War. Attacked shortly after leaving Benghazi with corvette Salvia and minesweeper Fareham.
HMS Terror (I03) – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Terror_(I03). HMS Fareham (J89) – Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Fareham_(J89)
1942 Submarine Trident torpedoed the German cruiser Prinz Eugen off Norway, destroying 30ft of her stern.
HMS Trident (N52) – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Trident_(N52). Prinz Eugen under escort from Copenhagen to Wilhelmshaven after surrendering – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_cruiser_Prinz_Eugen
1942 Submarine P 38 sunk by the Italian TBs Circe and Usodimare off Tripoli; Circe‘s second success in ten days.
HMS P38 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_P38_(1941). 39-45war.com – HMS P38 – http://www.39-45war.com/britsubp38.html
1942 The Imperial Japanese Navy’s submarine I-17, under the command of Commander Nishino Kozo, surfaces and shells the oil refinery near Santa Barbara. The shelling does only minor damages to a pier and an oil well derrick, but creates “invasion” fears along the West Coast.
Speculation now exists that the attack was ‘revenge’ for a humiliating incident involving Nishino Kozo from before the war, when as skipper of an oil tanker, he had refueled there.
The attack, which lasted about 20 minutes, caused little damage to the Ellwood refinery. But it helped to stoke fears, which had existed since the raid on Pearl Harbor 10 weeks earlier, that the Japanese might be preparing a full-scale invasion of the West Coast.
In Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel, The Man in the High Castle, the Japanese not only plan a U.S. invasion, they carry it off. In reality, though, the Imperial High Command envisioned nothing of the sort, lacking both the military capacity and a strategic reason for invasion.
Cmdr. Nishino Kozo, skipper of the I-17, was familiar with the Ellwood refinery, having docked there as the captain of an oil tanker before the war. A Parademagazine article in 1982 suggested that Kozo staged the raid on his own initiative, in retaliation for a slight he suffered during a prewar visit to Ellwood.
Whether Kozo took the opportunity to settle an old score is unknown. He never said. (The I-17 was on combat patrol along the Pacific Coast. Five days after shelling the refinery, Kozo torpedoed an American tanker off Cape Mendocino.)
Kozo’s gunnery display scared the bejesus out of the already skittish Americans. On the night following I-17‘s shelling of the refinery, trigger-happy anti-aircraft gunners in Los Angeles lit up the night sky with tracer ammunition for a couple of hours after spotting some UFOs. The refinery shelling, in any event, showed the extent to which submarine technology had advanced since World War I.
The I-17 was a B1-class submarine: 350 feet long, with 2,200 tons surface displacement, and by far the largest combat sub to see service during World War II. By comparison, Germany’s largest long-range combat U-boat, the IXD, was 70 feet shorter and displaced barely 1,600 tons when surfaced.
A generation earlier, World War I subs were smaller, carried fewer torpedoes and had a much more limited range.
Kozo was able to take advantage of the fact that American coastal defenses were poorly organized in early 1942. German U-boat commanders on the East Coast were discovering the same thing, with devastating effect on Allied shipping.
Japanese submarine I-17 – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_submarine_I-17
Bombardment of Ellwood – Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardment_of_Ellwood
1943 Bicester, with Lamerton and
Wheatland, Hunt-class destroyers, sank U-443 off Algiers (36-55N, 02-23E). A three-day hunt demonstrating ‘the value of persistent effort’ (Naval Staff History).
Wikipedia – U-443 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-443
1943 Cutter Totland sank U-522 in Atlantic. Convoy UC 1.
Naval-History.net – HMS Totland (Y88) – http://www.naval-history.net/xGM-Chrono-16CGC-HMS_Totland.htm
Wikipedia – U-522 – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_submarine_U-522
Wikipedia – Herber Schneider – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_Schneider
1945 La Combattante (Free French) (ex-Haldon) sunk by mine off East Dudgeon Light.
Wikipedia – French destroyer La Combattante – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_destroyer_La_Combattante
1945 Part of an Arctic Convoy, the last allied ship sunk by the Luftwaffe during WWII, the Liberty-ship SS Henry Bacon, is torpedoed in the Barents Sea, although she doesn’t go down without a fight…
During the winter of 1945 many Norwegian civilians fled the horrors of Nazi rule in Finnmark. An estimated 502 Norwegians were picked up from the Norwegian island Sørøya by British destroyers and brought to Murmansk, Russia, where they were transferred to merchant ships in a convoy headed for Loch Ewe, Gourock, Scotland.
Twice, the icy waters of the Arctic Sea had separated the Liberty Ship SS Henry Bacon from the rest of convoy RA-64, leaving her an easy target. In the stormy weather, 23 Junkers Ju 88 and Ju 188 Nazi torpedo bombers found and attacked the lone ship. The crew did not radio for help because they did not want to risk revealing the convoy’s position, and instead fought alone in the gale force winds.
The Henry Bacon was armed with eight 20 mm anti-aircraft guns, a 5 inch (127 mm) gun aft and a 3 in (76 mm) gun forward. The ship’s Naval Armed Guard gunners fought the attacking aircraft for over an hour, shooting down five planes, and damaging at least four others. They also managed to defend against several torpedoes by causing their detonation before they reached the ship until, almost inevitably, one aerial torpedo got through, striking the hold under the No 5 hatch – this was the aft magazine. The vessel began settling at once, but until she went down, her guns kept firing.
When the order to abandon ship was given one of the four lifeboats was smashed in lowering and another had been damaged by weather and capsized. Two were successfully launched, one carrying the 19 refugees and a few crewmen and the other, 15 crewmen and seven gunners. All these and other survivors who had jumped overboard or had taken to rafts were later picked up by British naval craft – in 30 foot waves, the British destroyer HMS Opportune came to the rescue and picked up the survivors from the lifeboat. HMS Zambesi and HMS Zelast also assisted. In all there were 64 survivors and 22 crew members were killed.
The action on board the Henry Bacon almost certainly saved the rest of the convoy, as the attackers were unable to carry on further, having used up their fuel, ammunition, and taken damage.
SS Henry Bacon, eventually sunk during a German aerial torpedo attack on 23rd February 1945.
Wikipedia – SS Henry Bacon – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_Henry_Bacon
1945 Four days after U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima, they managed to achieve their first goal -the isolatation and capture of Mount Suribachi. Despite taking Suribachi, the battle would continue for many days, and the island would not be declared “secure” for several weeks.
However, an event on this day would come to be regarded (especially in the United States) as one of the most significant and recognisable images of the war, and possibly the most reproduced photograph of all time.
‘Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima’ was taken on February 23, 1945, by Joe Rosenthal, and depicts five United States Marines and a U.S. Navy corpsman raising the flag of the United States atop Mount Suribachi.
Interestingly, the famous picture captured the second flag-raising of the day, as a U.S. flag had already been raised atop Suribachi soon after it was captured at around 10:20hrs. The original event recorded by Staff Sergeant Louis R. Lowery, a photographer with Leatherneck magazine.
However, when it was realised that the first flag was too small to be easily seen from the nearby landing beaches, a 40-man patrol of Marines climbed Surbachi again with a 96″ x 54″ flag (found in Tank Landing Ship LST 779). Reaching the top of Suribachi around noon, the flag was tied to an old Japanese water pipe and raised by Michael Strank, Rene Gagnon, Ira Hayes, Franklin Sousley, John Bradley, and Harlon Block.
Immortalised on film, only three of the men (Hayes, Gagnon, and Bradley) would survive the battle Iwo Jima. Strank was killed six days after the flag-raising when a shell, likely fired from an offshore American destroyer, tore his heart out; Block was killed by a mortar a few hours after Strank; Sousley was shot and killed by a sniper on March 21, a few days before the island was declared secure.
“Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima”, by Joe Rosenthal, (October 9th 1911 – August 20th 2006).
Wikipedia – Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raising_the_Flag_on_Iwo_Jima
1980 The Greek tanker Irenes Serenade, loaded with 102,660 tonnes of Iraqi crude oil (Kirkuk Blend), en route from Syria to Trieste, explodes whilst refueling in Navarino Bay, Greece. As fire consumes the vessel, a burning oil slick two miles long by half a mile wide spread from the vessel and continued to burn, until the following morning when the tanker sank off Pylos Harbour, close to Sfakteria Island. All but two crew members were rescued. Fishing gear on the jetty was destroyed in the fire and the hillside of Sfakteria Island was scorched to a height of 30 metres. The bunkering installation on the island was also damaged as a result of the fire.
wrecksite.eu – On This Day – http://wrecksite.eu/wrecked-on-this-day.aspx