Sunday, July 20, 2014


Today, as part of my historical interests, I am reading a fine book titled Castles of Steel - Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea.

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert K. Massie, the amount of detail brought to life by a wonderful sense of story-telling is most impressive.

John Rushworth Jellicoe (1859 – 1935) was Admiral of the Fleet in Britain's Royal Navy during "The Great War" (better known today as World War I); Massie spends some time giving background to "Jack": Guys like Jellicoe did, and still do, their time on a series of warships before reaching the top office. One vessel on which he served in the late 1800s was HMS Victoria; and he almost drowned after the ship was accidentally punctured by another. When the 'bang' happened Jellicoe was in bed with a 103 degree fever caused by dysentery; he ran up to the deck to see what had happened. Not long after he began to help fellow sailors abandon the sinking Victoria, she started to capsize. In the name of 'every man for himself' the executive officer fell off the side and into the sea. As Jellicoe noted in a letter he wrote to his mother after the close-call: "The curious thing is that my temperature today is normal so the ducking did me good."

This hull-head was not familiar enough with that Royal Navy vessel so, naturally, I consulted Wikipedia...

On it I saw a photograph which I had initially believed to be a contemporary painting. The image has a painterly quality, making my error understandable. It is a lovely, multi-textured photograph -- taken in 1888...

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