We will soon be publishing a five-part article based on the remarkable diaries of Surgeon Captain Robley Browne. Robley Browne was born in London on August 4, 1863. After six years of medical training at Guy’s Hospital, in London, from 1882 to 1888, he joined the Royal Navy, where he spent his first two years on board training ships. For the next thirty years, Robley led an extraordinary life in the service of his country, as surgeon on board a number of ships.
The posts will be themed on the taking of the Taku Forts in 1900, Robley’s fascinating experiences of naval sporting events, Robley’s service on the Royal Yacht, his travels in Kroea, China and Japan and finally on his post-war life as a surgeon on Ocean Liners. His diaries are rich with important historical detail and are a joy to read, and they are all illustrated with images, maps, sketches and photographs.
Ernest Arthur Cobb (1887 – 1948) was from a Kentish family with a tradition of Royal Navy service. He volunteered on 12.06.1903 still aged 15 having falsified his date of birth in order to qualify. He saw service through World War I and was still in the navy as a Petty Officer in the 1920s. Ernest was not a regular diarist but around one year of his career was captured first hand during 1921-22.
His diary for this period is an interesting mix. It covers personal matters, reflecting on his relatively recent marriage to Alice and spanning the birth of his first child. But the main feature of the diary is his experience of involvement in the commissioning of a new warship, HMS Raleigh. Raleigh was a then state-of-the art Hawkins Class heavy cruiser of 9,500 tonnes with a crew of around 700. She was commissioned on July 21st 1921 at Devonport as flagship of the Admiral of the Royal Navy’s North Americas and West Indies Station, Sir William Pakenham.
The contents of this, the eighth of the Navy Records Society’s Miscellany series, chronicles the activities and adventures of the Royal Navy, its officials, its officers and its men – both in British employment and out of it – over a period of some six hundred years. Ranging from the reign of Edward III to that of Edward VIII, this volume covers subjects as diverse as the accounts of Thomas de Snetesham, Clerk of the King’s ships in the mid-14th century, the last campaign of the Mary Rose in 1545, Sir John Borlase Warren and the blockades of the United States in the War of 1812 through to the Royal Navy’s role in escorting Emperor Haile Selassie of Ethiopia into exile in 1936. The roles of mid-ranking officers can be appreciated from the involvement of Captain Archibald Kennedy in the Stamp Act crisis in New York and off America’s eastern seaboard in 1765, while the part played by former Royal Navy officers in the wars in South America is exemplified by the 1826 journal of Captain John Pascoe Grenfell during his service in the Brazilian Navy in the war against Argentina. The response of Lord Northbrook, the First Lord of the Admiralty, to the famous criticism of the government by William Stead in The Pall Mall Gazette in 1885 is reproduced as is James Ramsay’s notable essay on the duty and qualifications of a sea officer in 1780. Encompassing a broad scope of operations, naval policy and logistics this volume highlights key episodes from the rich tapestry of Britain’s naval history.
There is a tendency among historians of the Georgian navy to ascribe great powers to the navy’s administrators. Keeping hundreds of ....
This article is the second extract from the journals of Thomas O’Maley. Part I and an introduction to the journals, can be ....
This post presents extracts from Surgeon Captain Robley Browne’s diary during his period of service in Korea, Russia and Japan. ....