Captain Richard Martin Woodman LVO (born 1944) is an English novelist and naval historian who retired in 1997 from a 37-year nautical career, mainly working for Trinity House, to write full-time.
The Royal Victorian Order is a dynastic order of knighthood established in 1896 by Queen Victoria. It recognises distinguished personal service to the monarch of the Commonwealth realms, members of the monarch's family, or to any viceroy or senior representative of the monarch. The present monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, is the sovereign of the order, the order's motto is Victoria, and its official day is 20 June. The order's chapel is the Savoy Chapel in London.
The Corporation of Trinity House of Deptford Strond, also known as Trinity House, is the official authority for lighthouses in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and Gibraltar. Trinity House is also responsible for the provision and maintenance of other navigational aids, such as lightvessels, buoys, and maritime radio/satellite communication systems. It is also an official deep sea pilotage authority, providing expert navigators for ships trading in Northern European waters.
His main work is 14 novels about the career of Nathaniel Drinkwater,and shorter series about James Dunbar and William Kite, but he also has written a range of factual books about 18th century and WW2 history. These include a trilogy of studies of convoys in the Second World War and a five volume history of the British Merchant Navy. Unlike many other modern naval historical novelists, such as C.S. Forester or Patrick O'Brian, he has served afloat. He went to sea at the age of sixteen as an indentured midshipman and has spent eleven years in command. His experience ranges from cargo-liners to ocean weather ships and specialist support vessels as well as yachts, square-riggers, and trawlers.
Nathaniel Drinkwater is a fictional character, the protagonist of a series of novels by Richard Woodman. In the series, he is an officer in the British Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars.
Patrick O'Brian, CBE, born Richard Patrick Russ, was an English novelist and translator, best known for his Aubrey–Maturin series of sea novels set in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, and centred on the friendship of the English naval captain Jack Aubrey and the Irish–Catalan physician Stephen Maturin. The 20-novel series, the first of which is Master and Commander, is known for its well-researched and highly detailed portrayal of early 19th-century life, as well as its authentic and evocative language. A partially finished 21st novel in the series was published posthumously containing facing pages of handwriting and typescript.
Woodman is a regular correspondent for the shipping newspaper Lloyd's List and continues his close association with the sea as a keen yachtsman. He also serves on the Corporate Board of Trinity House. He has won several awards including the Society for Nautical Research's Anderson Medal in 2005and the Marine Society's Harmer Award in 1978.
Woodman was appointed Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO) in the 2014 New Year Honours for his services to Trinity House.
A convoy is a group of vehicles, typically motor vehicles or ships, traveling together for mutual support and protection. Often, a convoy is organized with armed defensive support. It may also be used in a non-military sense, for example when driving through remote areas. Arriving at the scene of a major emergency with a well-ordered unit and intact command structure can be another motivation.
The Merchant Navy is the maritime register of the United Kingdom, and comprises the seagoing commercial interests of UK-registered ships and their crews. Merchant Navy vessels fly the Red Ensign and are regulated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA). King George V bestowed the title of "Merchant Navy" on the British merchant shipping fleets following their service in the First World War; a number of other nations have since adopted the title.
HMS Manchester was a Town-class light cruiser of the Royal Navy, belonging to the Gloucester subclass. She was laid down by Hawthorn Leslie at Hebburn in March 1936, launched in April the following year and commissioned in August 1938. She had a relatively short but active career.
The Spithead and Nore mutinies were two major mutinies by sailors of the Royal Navy in 1797. They were the first outbreaks of a significant increase in maritime radicalism in the Atlantic World. Despite their temporal proximity, the mutinies differed in character: while the Spithead mutiny was essentially a strike action, articulating economic grievances, the Nore mutiny was more radical, articulating political ideals as well.
Bonhomme Richard, formerly Duc de Duras, was a warship in the Continental Navy. She was originally an East Indiaman, a merchant ship built in France for the French East India Company in 1765, for service between France and the Orient. She was placed at the disposal of John Paul Jones on 4 February 1779, by King Louis XVI of France as a result of a loan to the United States by French shipping magnate Jacques-Donatien Le Ray.
The Arctic convoys of World War II were oceangoing convoys which sailed from the United Kingdom, Iceland, and North America to northern ports in the Soviet Union – primarily Arkhangelsk (Archangel) and Murmansk in Russia. There were 78 convoys between August 1941 and May 1945, sailing via several seas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans, with two gaps with no sailings between July and September 1942, and March and November 1943.
The Battle of the Barents Sea was a World War II naval engagement on 31 December 1942 between warships of the German Navy (Kriegsmarine) and British ships escorting convoy JW 51B to Kola Inlet in the USSR. The action took place in the Barents Sea north of North Cape, Norway. The German raiders' failure to inflict significant losses on the convoy infuriated Hitler, who ordered that German naval strategy would concentrate on the U-boat fleet rather than surface ships.
The Battle of Pulo Aura was a minor naval engagement of the Napoleonic Wars, fought on 14 February 1804, in which a large convoy of Honourable East India Company (HEIC) East Indiamen, well-armed merchant ships, intimidated, drove off and chased a powerful French naval squadron. Although the French force was much stronger than the British convoy, Commodore Nathaniel Dance's aggressive tactics persuaded Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois to retire after only a brief exchange of shot. Dance then chased the French warships until his convoy was out of danger, whereupon he resumed his passage toward British India. Linois later claimed that the unescorted British merchant fleet was defended by eight ships of the line, a claim criticised by contemporary officers and later historians.
The Malta convoys were Allied supply convoys of the Second World War. The convoys took place during the Siege of Malta in the Mediterranean Theatre. Malta was a base from which British sea and air forces could attack ships carrying supplies from Europe to Italian Libya. Britain fought the Western Desert Campaign against Axis armies in North Africa to keep the Suez Canal and to control Middle Eastern oil. The strategic value of Malta was so great the British risked many merchant vessels and warships to supply the island and the Axis made determined efforts to neutralise the island as an offensive base.
Convoy PQ 16 was an Arctic convoy sent from Great Britain by the Western Allies to aid the Soviet Union during the Second World War. It sailed on 25 May 1942, reaching the Soviet northern ports on 30 May after five days of air attacks that left seven ships sunk and three damaged; 25 of the ships arrived safely.
Sir Nathaniel Dance was an officer of the Honourable East India Company who had a long and varied career on merchant vessels, making numerous voyages to India and back with the fleets of East Indiamen. He was already aware of the risks of the valuable ships he sailed on being preyed on by foreign navies, having been captured by a Franco-Spanish fleet in 1780 during the East Indies campaign of the American War of Independence. His greatest achievement came during the Napoleonic Wars, when having been appointed commodore of one of the company's fleets, he came across a French squadron under Rear-Admiral Comte de Linois, which was raiding British shipping in the area. Through skilful seamanship and aggressive tactics he fooled the French commander into thinking that the British convoy was escorted by powerful naval forces, and the French decided not to risk attacking the convoy. Dance compounded the deception by taking his lightly armed merchants and chasing the French away, despite the considerable disparity of force. Having saved the convoy from almost certain destruction, Dance was hailed as a hero, lavishly rewarded with money and a knighthood, and spent the last years of his life in comfortable retirement.
The Action of 6 November 1794 was a naval engagement during the French Revolutionary Wars. Two British ships of the line, HMS Alexander and HMS Canada were intercepted while returning to Britain through the Celtic Sea by a large French squadron. The French squadron had sailed from Brest in search of an inward bound British convoy in October, but instead encountered the two British ships returning from escorting an outward-bound convoy. There had been no warning of the French approach as the British force assigned to watch Brest was absent at Plymouth due to the policy of operating a distant blockade.
Linois's expedition to the Indian Ocean was a commerce raiding operation launched by the French Navy during the Napoleonic Wars. Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Durand Linois was ordered to the Indian Ocean in his flagship Marengo in March 1803 accompanied by a squadron of three frigates, shortly before the end of the Peace of Amiens. When war between Britain and France broke out in September 1803, Marengo was at Pondicherry with the frigates, but escaped a British squadron sent to intercept it and reached Isle de France. The large distances between naval bases in the Indian Ocean and the limited resources available to the British commanders in the region made it difficult to concentrate sufficient forces to combat a squadron of this size, and Linois was subsequently able to sustain his campaign for three years. From Isle de France, Linois and his frigates began a series of attacks on British commerce across the Eastern Indian Ocean, specifically targeting the large convoys of East Indiamen that were vital to the maintenance of trade within the British Empire and to the British economy. Although he had a number of successes against individual merchant ships and the small British trading post of Bencoolen, the first military test of Linois squadron came at the Battle of Pulo Aura on 15 February 1804. Linois attacked the undefended British China Fleet, consisting of 16 valuable East Indiamen and 14 other vessels, but failed to press his military superiority and withdrew without capturing a single ship.
The Battle of Vizagapatam was a minor naval engagement fought in the approaches to Vizagapatam harbour in the Coastal Andhra region of British India on the Bay of Bengal on 15 September 1804 during the Napoleonic Wars. A French squadron under Contre-Admiral Charles-Alexandre Léon Durand Linois in the ship of the line Marengo attacked the British Royal Navy fourth rate ship HMS Centurion and two East Indiaman merchant ships anchored in the harbour roads. Linois was engaged in an extended raiding campaign, which had already involved operations in the South China Sea, in the Mozambique Channel, off Ceylon and along the Indian coast of the Bay of Bengal. The French squadron had fought one notable engagement, at the Battle of Pulo Aura on 15 February 1804, in which Linois had attacked the Honourable East India Company's (HEIC) China Fleet, a large convoy of well-armed merchant ships carrying cargo worth £8 million. Linois failed to press the attack and withdrew with the convoy at his mercy, invoking the anger of Napoleon when the news reached France.
The Action of 4 August 1800 was a highly unusual naval engagement that took place off the Brazilian coast during the French Revolutionary Wars. A French frigate force that had been raiding British commerce off West Africa approached and attempted to attack a convoy of valuable East Indiamen, large and heavily armed merchant vessels sailing from Britain to British India and China, two ships sailing for Botany Bay, and a whaler sailing for the South Seas' whale fishery. The small British ship of the line HMS Belliqueux escorted the convoy, which otherwise had to rely on the ships' individual armament to protect them from attack. Due to their large size, the East Indiamen could be mistaken for ships of the line at a distance, and the French commander Commodore Jean-François Landolphe was un-nerved when the convoy formed a line of battle. Supposing his target to be a fleet of powerful warships he turned to escape and the British commander, Captain Rowley Bulteel, immediately ordered a pursuit. To preserve the impression of warships he also ordered four of his most powerful East Indiamen to join the chase.
HMCS Raccoon was an armed yacht that served in the Royal Canadian Navy during World War II. Purchased by the Royal Canadian Navy in 1940, the ship was originally known as Halonia. She was sunk by the German submarine U-165 in the St. Lawrence River on 7 September 1942. Raccoon was escorting Convoy QS-33 at the time. The entire ship's crew was lost.
The Action of 7 May 1794 was a minor naval action fought between a British ship of the line and a French frigate early in the French Revolutionary Wars. The French Navy sought to disrupt British trade by intercepting and capturing merchant ships with roving frigates, a strategy countered by protecting British convoys with heavier warships, particularly in European waters. On 5 May 1794, the British escorts of a convoy from Cork sighted two French ships approaching and gave chase. The ships, a frigate and a corvette, outmatched by their opponents, separated and the convoy escorts did likewise, each following one of the raiders on a separate course.
HMS Evadne was a converted yacht, commissioned as a warship by the Royal Navy during the Second World War. She survives today as the yacht Marala.
The Macau Incident was an inconclusive encounter between a powerful squadron of French and Spanish warships and a British Royal Navy escort squadron in the Wanshan Archipelago off Macau on 27 January 1799. The incident took place in the context of the East Indies campaign of the French Revolutionary Wars, the allied squadron attempting to disrupt a valuable British merchant convoy due to sail from Qing Dynasty China. This was the second such attempt in three years; at the Bali Strait Incident of 1797 a French frigate squadron had declined to engage six East Indiamen on their way to China. By early 1799 the French squadron had dispersed, with two remaining ships deployed to the Spanish Philippines. There the frigates had united with the Spanish Manila squadron and sailed to attack the British China convoy gathering at Macau.