Royal Navy HMS Enterprise takes Britons from Libya to Malta


The Royal Navy is preparing to help British citizens leave Libya as continued fighting and gunfire at Tripoli’s airport kills 22.

The Libyan interim government said “heavily armed groups” have shelled “civilian targets”, putting thousands of citizens in danger and displacing hundreds of families.

The Foreign Office has advised British people to leave the country immediately and is temporarily closing its embassy in Tripoli.

The MOD said the government was helping to “provide assisted departure for a number of UK nationals”.

BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said: “I’m told the number of British nationals in the country is not huge – it is in the hundreds, rather than the thousands. Commercial routes to leave the country are still open.

“The Foreign Office has already announced that it will suspend the operations of its embassy in Tripoli after fighting in the capital intensified, including near the embassy building itself.

“But I’m told staff at the embassy are yet to leave – as they have been supervising the evacuation of those Britons who want to leave.”


fire in triopli

In a statement, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said: “As the FCO has made clear, the UK government will provide assisted departure for a number of UK nationals before suspending consular operations on Monday.”

The latest casualties in the fighting has claimed more than 200 lives in recent weeks, with 72 people wounded in Saturday’s violent skirmishes.

The fighting on Saturday came as more than three-quarters of Libya’s newly elected parliament met for the first time in Tobrouk, a city near the Egyptian border chosen by a prominent anti-Islamist politician, according to an AP report. Political experts believe this signals a swing against Islamist parties and extremist militias.

The violence across Libya has led to the closure of several foreign missions and the withdrawal of diplomats.

On Saturday, a Greek naval frigate evacuated embassy staff and nearly 200 citizens from Greece, China and other countries from Libya.



The end of History….

By Dr Chris Ware


With HMS Illustrious paying off and HMS Queen Elizabeth named but not due run sea trials until 2016 and be fully operational until 2020, it will fall to HMS Ocean to fill the role as both Flagship of the Royal Navy and helicopter platform. However as Illustrious leaves service it begs a bigger question what do we want the Royal Navy to be able to do? If in due course we have both the Queen Elizabeth and Princes of Wales, and that is a very big if, they would be powerful players when they receive fixed wing aircraft.  However with a limited number of frigates and destroyers will the RN be a single battle group Navy able to put carrier and escorts, both sub and surface, into theatre, but with few ships left for anything else?



This speaks to a larger issue, which may seem unrelated, the fate of Illustrious once she leaves the Navy. Preserving ships is not cheap, what are we trying to say by doing so? That we were a sea power, however in a changing world Britain has to be mindful of cost and of what the nation can afford? Is that the lesson of history? Perhaps not. Historically Britain has had a Navy even when it seemed she could not afford one. People like the idea of visiting historic ships, both naval and merchant, but what they forget is that to create history you have to participate, and in unstable world sea power is even more important. Illustrious is worth saving because she of what she has done.

ill goodbye illust binki

PUBLIC HISTORY SEMINAR: ‘The “Poor Decayed Seamen” of Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1763.’


Wednesday 24 OCTOBER 5pm in Queen Anne 063

‘The “Poor Decayed Seamen” of Greenwich Hospital, 1705-1763.’

Dr Martin Wilcox (GMI) and Linda Cunningham (University of Greenwich History Graduate and Discover Greenwich Yeoman)


The Royal Hospital for Seamen at Greenwich was founded in 1694, to house elderly and disabled seamen who had served in the Royal Navy.  The first pensioners were admitted in 1705.  The Hospital was established on a grand scale, and its buildings, now home to the University of Greenwich, remain one of London’s finest landmarks and centrepiece of the Greenwich World Heritage Site.  The history of the institution, at least in its broad outlines, is well known, but until now little research has been conducted into the men who inhabited it.

The Poor Decayed Seamen of Greenwich Hospital was a one-year project funded by the University of Greenwich and conducted by Dr Martin Wilcox, who has constructed a database of admissions to the Hospital up to 1763.  The database incorporates information from the Hospital’s Entry Books, which by the 1740s give details of every pensioner’s age, birthplace, place of last abode, time rank in the navy, marital status, number of children, and whether and how he was injured.  The Entry Books are complemented by information drawn from the Hospital directors’ minutes and letters, and from petitions of pensioners seeking re-admission after discharge or expulsion.  From these it has been possible to draw up a detailed profile of Greenwich pensioners in the first six decades of the institution, and also draw some wider conclusions about the eighteenth-century seafaring labour force.

Linda Cunningham, a Greenwich History graduate, has also undertaken research into the lives of the Greenwich pensioners using newspapers and other archival sources. Together, Linda and Martin will bring a new perspective to the life and times of the Greenwich pensioners.

The database, containing more than 8,000 entries, will shortly be placed online as a resource for family historians and academic researchers alike.

Christmas Past

British Pathe have a lovely range of newsreels showing Christmas times in the Navy from 1914 to the 1940s – which mostly seem to consist of making Christmas puddings and drinking rum.  To view a few of them click on the following links:

Naval Barracks aka Christmas Dinner and Rum in the Navy (British Pathe, 1914)

Naval Christmas Devonport (British Pathe, 1919)

Christmas in the Navy HMS Hood (British Pathe, 1922)

Christmas with the Navy (British Pathe, 1940)

Xmas aboard a Cruiser (British Pathe, 1940)

Sailor’s 111 year old Christmas Pud Donated to Museum

111 year-old tinned plum pudding
A Christmas pudding has been donated to the National Museum of the Royal Navy.   The pudding was one of those sent to members of the Naval Brigade for Christmas 1900 during the Boer War from philanthropist Agnes Weston.   Agnes was the founder of the Royal Naval Sailors’ Rests in Devonport and Portsmouth, and  also superintendent of the Royal Naval Temperance Society – so not surprising that this is a ‘teetotal plum pudding’!

Singing for the Nation, Wednesday 2nd November 2011, 6pm

Dr James Davey, Research Curator (Naval and Maritime History), of the National Maritime Museum will be presenting his paper ‘Singing for the Nation: Balladry, Naval Recruitment, and the Language of Patriotism in Eighteenth Century Britain’.

The ballad was one of the most important vehicles of mass communication during the eighteenth century, geographically ubiquitous, and available to a broad spectrum of the British population. Ballads concerning the navy were a consistent and popular theme, particularly in times of war. In this seminar, James Davey will analyse the nature of these ballads, considering their market and potential political and social roles. Almost without exception, these ballads painted a positive picture of naval service, forwarding patriotic stereotypes alongside more tangible pecuniary benefits. This seminar will consider how ballads contributed to eighteenth century ideas about the navy, about patriotism, and indeed how this form of cultural media influenced the contested subject of naval recruitment.

This seminar will take place in room 075, Queen Anne Court, Old Royal Naval College, University of Greenwich at 6pm. Tea & Coffee will be available from 5.30pm and a glass of wine afterwards. The seminar is free and there is no need to book, everyone is welcome.