Join Us for a Voyage into History: Discover Sea History!
Group Leader: Bill
Venue: Devonport Views Activity Room
Day: 1st Monday
Due to the popularity of this group and the amount of excellent material available it has been decided that after the New Year there will be two sessions per month. The first Monday in the month will still stand and a new session will be prepared for the third week, possibly Tuesday afternoon.
Mon 6th Jun Norman Simpson Admiral Cochrane
Britain has a second to none seafaring history. Our group makes it come alive in the research and discussions. Each meeting brings out new insights and discoveries, from the ancient Roman mariners, to Portuguese navigators opening up the ocean world. From heroic efforts of our seamen of World War II to Replica ships sailing long forgotten trade winds. We always have various topics and below I have cited two examples.
Pepys, listened avidly whilst the Master Shipwright explained how he could estimate the draught of water a ship will draw before it is built. Pepys then goes on to tell us that due to the effectiveness of Sir A Deane’s work, the ships (Warspite and Defiance)" would be able to carry 6 months provisions, and all their guns four and one half feet from the water," which is " another great step and improvement to our Navy."
However with the ending of the third Dutch war and the Navy of no further use to the King, decay started to creep back and at length it became so bad that the King had to grant a commission for executing the office of Lord High Admiral, nevertheless the Navy still wasted away and thirty new ships were allowed to disintegrate.
It was not until James the 2nd came to the throne that an improvement was seen in the Navy, a new commission was formed and remarkably for those days the fleet was seaworthy again within two and one half years, thereby giving his successor and rival a fleet with which to keep James out of England.
William and Mary applied to parliament for new ships to be built 17 of 80 guns, 3 of 70 guns and 10 of 60 guns, the English and Dutch victory over the French at Cape La Hogue and perhaps more likely the Defeat of Torrington at Beachy Head prompted the English Parliament to allow 2,000,000 Stirling for the maintenance of the Navy which was incidentally to include the finishing of Plymouth Dockyard.
“16th May 1668. Sir Richard Edgcumbe, of Mount Edgcumbe, by Plimmouth, my relation, came to visit me; a very virtuous and worthy gentleman.” Sir Richard Edgcumbe (13 February 1640 – 3 April 1688) was an English politician who had recently married Anne, daughter of Edward Montagu, 1st Earl of Sandwich. (Pepys relation). Their son was Richard Edgcumbe. They also had a daughter Anne who married Henry Pyne. Anne’s mother - the much-loved "My Lady" of Samuel, a first cousin of Samuel Pepys- spent her last years at Mount Edgcumbe and is buried there. Lady Sandwich had already lost her two eldest daughters and so she went to live with her third daughter Anne who had just married Sir Richard Edgcumbe and went to live on his estate at Mount Edgcumbe.
In 1683, Pepys joined the expedition to Tangier, a poisoned wedding gift from Charles the Second’s bride. He came to anchor in Plymouth Sound aboard HMS Grafton. Pepys immediately landed, (he was not a good sailor) “to view the citadel and have his linen washed.” This done he crossed over by barge to Mount Edgcumbe “where he was made much of by Lady Edgcumbe,” (nee Montague).
In his Tangier Journal, Pepys records a visit to Lady Edgcumbe on 1683: "She received me extremely kindly. “Visited her house and garden and park, a most beautiful place"
Also, whilst at Plymouth, Pepys decided to visit the longest serving political prisoner from the restoration of the monarchy. Re-crossing the Sound to visit St Nicolas Island, (now Drakes Island) and its great historic prisoner. “My Lord Lambert who had been an easy prisoner these twenty years.”
John Lambert, a major general in the Parliamentary army. The title Lord was not his by right, but it was frequently given to the republican officers. He was born in 1619, at Calton Hall, in the parish of Kirkby-in-Malham-Dale, in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
In 1642, he was appointed captain of horse under Fairfax, and acted as major general to Cromwell in 1650 during the war in Scotland. After this Parliament conferred on him a grant of lands in Scotland worth £1000 per annum. He refused to take the oath of allegiance to Cromwell, for which the Protector deprived him of his commission.
After Cromwell's death, he tried to set up a military government. The Commons cashiered Lambert, Desborough, and other officers, October 12th, 1659, but Lambert retaliated by thrusting out the Commons, and set out to meet Monk. His men fell away from him, and he was sent to the Tower, March 3rd, 1660, but escaped. In 1662, he was tried on a charge of high treason and condemned, but his life was spared. It is generally stated that he passed the remainder of his life in the island of Guernsey, but this is proved to be incorrect by a MS. in the Plymouth Athenaeum, entitled "Plimmouth Memoirs collected by James Yonge, 1684" This will be seen from the following extracts quoted by Mr. R. J. King, in "Notes and Queries,"
In 1662 the next Parliament after the restoration, they charged Lambert with high treason. He was first kept in custody in Guernsey but his health was declining. He was later moved to St. Nicholas's Island, Plymouth Sound. Frances Lambert his wife took a house in Plymouth and continued to visit her husband when permitted. Her death, aged 54, brought an end to 37 years of marriage and must have been a massive blow to Lambert but he lived on for 8 more years. He was allowed another garden and had occasional visitors, amongst them the prominent Quaker, Miles Halhead, Samuel Pepys and the King himself. In the hard winter of 1683/84 after 23 years imprisonment, he caught a chill and passed away.
"1667 Lambert the arch-rebel brought to this island [St. Nicholas, at the entrance of Plymouth harbour]."
“1683/4 Easter day Lambert that olde rebell dyed this winter on Plimmouth Island where he had been prisoner 20 years and more. The winter had been severe...”
In 1667 Lambert was transferred to Drake's Island in Plymouth Sound, at the entrance to the Hamoaze, and he died there during the severe winter of 1683–84. The site of his grave is now lost but he was laid to rest at St Andrews Church in Plymouth on 28 March 1684
However unknown to Admiral Yamamoto, the Americans were not going to be surprised, as mentioned earlier Admiral Yamamoto had this action thrust suddenly upon him and so with very little time available to organise a complicated plan involving 5 fleets and using some Army personnel as invasion troops, (it was well known that the Japanese Army and Navy did not communicate too well), he had set up the plan via radio using code JN25.
Unfortunately the Americans had already broken this code and Admiral Nimitz knew more about the Japanese dispositions than did most Japanese ship captains.
It is true however that the Japanese had changed the code on May 27th, but the Americans had enough information for a correct assumption.
Therefore Admiral Nimitz, prepared the ground well, Midway was reinforced, the three available American CV's (Enterprise, Hornet and Yorktown) were dispatched into the area clearing the ambushing Japanese submarines long before they were on station.
These CV's now on station west of Midway were completely hidden from Admiral Nagumo's fleet and now it was the Japanese turn to be surprised.
So if you love the sea and ships, join us! Membership in the U3a Maritime History group is painless, just email me and we will give you directions and times to our meetings.
See you there...