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The world's No.1 podcast dedicated to all of maritime and naval history. With one foot in the present and one in the past we bring you the most exciting and interesting current maritime projects worldwide: including excavations of shipwrecks, the restoration of historic ships, sailing classic yachts and tall ships, unprecedented behind the scenes access to exhibitions, museums and archives worldwide, primary sources and accounts that bring the maritime past alive as never before. From the So ...
 
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Dr Sam Willis explores the many wounds that Nelson received in his life, as well as his fatal wound received at the Battle of Trafalgar. Sam speaks with Michael Crumplin, a retired consultant general and upper gastro-intestinal surgeon and Honrary Curator and Archivist at the Royal College of Surgeons of England. Nelson was so damaged by a life of …
 
Dr Sam Willis explores the Battle of Trafalgar through two eyewitness accounts, both from the decks of the Royal Sovereign, the flagship of Cuthbert Collingwood. Bringing a new perspective to the battle of Trafalgar is challenging, but many forget that, with Nelson receiving his fatal wound early in the action, command of the battle fell to his gre…
 
Today we are merging this month's theme on airpower with one of our running series – on iconic ships - in which we ask the curator of an existing historic ship to make the case for their ship being iconic or we ask a historian to make the case for a long-lost ship being iconic. Today we are certainly in the 'long-lost category' as the vessel in que…
 
In this, the first of several episodes on the maritime history of airpower, Dr Sam Willis meets three Royal Naval flag officers to discuss the complexities and challenges of commanding and operating aircraft carriers. Sam's guests are Vice Admiral Jerry Kydd, the current Fleet Commander of the Royal Navy, who served as the very first commanding off…
 
This week we are exploring the maritime history of the Second World War with Professor Evan Mawdsley. For many years Evan was Professor of International History at the University of Glasgow. His recent book ‘The War for the Sea: The Maritime History of World War 2’ has recently won the prestigious Anderson Medal, awarded each year by the Society fo…
 
This episode explores the fascinating history of RMS Mauretania, which was launched in 1906 and transformed shipbuilding and the expectations of passengers travelling on trans-Atlantic liners. After the launch of Mauretania, sea-travel and the maritime world was never the same again. To find out more, Dr Sam Willis met with Max Wilson of the Lloyds…
 
Dr Sam Willis meets the team at the ss Great Britain in Bristol to discover why she deserves the title 'Iconic'. Designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and launched in 1843 she was to be a luxurious passenger ship the likes of which the world had never seen. The largest vessel afloat; the longest in the world; made of iron rather than timber; fitted w…
 
In this episode we explore the fascinating history of ships' figureheads. Why did shipbuilders begin to place carvings of humans and animals on the bows of their ships in the sixteenth century? And why did this practice stop 300 years later? Dr Sam Willis meets Rear Admiral David Pulvertaft, an expert on figureheads, to find our more about these re…
 
As a follow up to our recent interview with The First Sea Lord exploring the Royal Navy in the modern world, today we look at the the broader question: Is Britain still a global power? Globalisation is a topic that sits at the heart of maritime and naval history. We are all now hugely interconnected - whether it's transportation under normal circum…
 
Dr Sam Willis meets with the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin to discuss the many challenges the Royal Navy faces exercising sea power in the modern world. They discuss life on a modern warship; how the sea provides prosperity, security and stability; exercising seapower hand in hand with a Government's policies; G7 and NATO; 'Global Britai…
 
The underwater heritage around Malta is one of the richest collections of maritime archaeology in the world. The quality of preservation is outstanding as well as the number of sites, and yet they are inaccessible to so many of us. Not only do you need to be able to dive to see these sites, but for most of them you need to be able to dive very, ver…
 
In this, the sixth episode of our Great Sea Fights series, we explore the remarkable events of 19 August 1812 when the powerful frigate USS Constitution fought and destroyed the British frigate HMS Guerriere in one of the greatest shocks to the Royal Navy in its history and one of the most ferocious single-ship actions ever fought. It is an extraor…
 
In this, the sixth episode of our Great Sea Fights series, we explore the remarkable events of 19 August 1812 when the powerful frigate USS Constitution fought and destroyed the British frigate HMS Guerriere in one of the greatest shocks to the Royal Navy in its history and one of the most ferocious single-ship actions ever fought. It is an extraor…
 
In this, the sixth episode of our Great Sea Fights series, we explore the remarkable events of 19 August 1812 when the powerful frigate USS Constitution fought and destroyed the British frigate HMS Guerriere in one of the greatest shocks to the Royal Navy in its history and one of the most ferocious single-ship actions ever fought. It is an extraor…
 
In this, the sixth episode of our Great Sea Fights series, we explore the remarkable events of 19 August 1812 when the powerful frigate USS Constitution fought and destroyed the British frigate HMS Guerriere in one of the greatest shocks to the Royal Navy in its history and one of the most ferocious single-ship actions ever fought. It is an extraor…
 
In this the third and final part of our special mini Great Sea Fights series on the Tudor naval battle of St Mathieu in 1512, one of the Mary Rose's earliest engagements and possibly the first ever naval battle in which guns were fired out of gunports. We explore the problems posed to historians trying to recreate a medieval sea fight. What sources…
 
In this, Part II of our special episodes on the battle of St Mathieu in 1512 and its aftermath, we hear three contemporary accounts. The first is from the Venetian Ambassador Nicolo di Favri, fascinating as it includes a great deal of information on life and manners in Tudor England as well as war news. The writer was newly appointed to the court o…
 
In this, the fifth episode of our Great Sea Fights series we explore the remarkable battle of St Mathieu, of 10 August 1512. In one of the earliest engagements of the Mary Rose a French squadron is surprised near Brest, and it ends with two major warships one French, and one English - and the largest in both fleets, on fire. It is also possibly the…
 
This the third episode in our special series on the maritime history of Scotland. Dr Sam Willis explores the remarkable career of Joannes Wyllie, a Fife man who made a fortune running guns from Glasgow to the confederate south during the American Civil War (1861-5) – revealing Scotland's hidden history of supporting slavery. He talks with John Mess…
 
In this, our second episode dedicated to the remarkable maritime history of Scotland, we explore the fabulous shipbuilding heritage of Leith, the port just to the north of Edinburgh. To unpick this story Dr Sam Willis speaks with Ron Neish. Ron is a remarkable man with many man stories to tell. Born and bred in Leith he served his apprenticeship as…
 
In the latest episode of The Mariner's Mirror Podcast we begin three episodes dedicated to the maritime history of Scotland. In this episode I speak with Ben Saunders, a senior marine archaeologist with Wessex Archaeology, based at their office in Edinburgh, and we talk about the hulks of two X-Craft on the shore at Aberlady Bay, East Lothian. An i…
 
In this episode Dr Sam Willis explores the Exeter Ship Canal which, with the exception of the Roman 'Fossdyke' in Lincolnshire, is the oldest manmade waterway in Britain. Canal building is usually associated with the canal mania which gripped Britain between 1790 and the 1820s as the early years of the industrial revolution both posed problems and …
 
Today we have episode 7 of our Iconic Ships mini-series in which a curator of a historic ship makes a case for their ship being iconic, or a historian takes a ship from history but which sadly no longer survives and make a case for that ship being iconic. HMS Bellerophon - known fondly as the Billy Ruffian - was a Third 74-gun ship of the line with…
 
Today we have episode 6 of our Iconic Ships mini-series in which a curator of a historic ship makes a case for their ship being iconic, or a historian takes a ship from history but which sadly no longer survives and make a case for that ship being iconic. Today we have the magnificent - and surviving - warship from the great age of sail, USS Consti…
 
Today we have episode 5 of our Iconic Ships mini-series in which a curator of a historic ship makes a case for their ship being iconic, or a historian takes a ship from history but which sadly no longer survives and make a case for that ship being iconic. Today we have none other than HMS Belfast. Moored today just upstream of Tower Bridge, Belfast…
 
In August 2014, a group of amateur divers revisited a known shipwreck from the seventeenth century but found that shifting tidal patterns had exposed much more of the wreck than had previously been seen, including a number of wooden luggage chests. Over the course of two days around a thousand items were brought up from the wreck, comprising silk t…
 
This episode opens up the fascinating world of maritime historical discovery. Dr Sam Willis meets Max Wilson from the Lloyds Register Foundation archives to explore some of the different types of document that you might come across conducting maritime research: from boiler plans, ship plans, stowage plans and rigging plans - to survey reports, casu…
 
In the 18th and 19th centuries countless whaling ships set sail from Shetland for the Arctic. They brought back whales for their valuable oil, but left behind their music. Maurice Henderson, a fiddle player from Shetland, has been rediscovering these arctic whaling tunes and its surviving tradition in Greenland. Here he plays some of them, and disc…
 
The fourth episode in our Iconic Ships series features three members of the curatorial team of the Cutty Sark arguing for the iconic status of their ship. At the time of her launch in 1869 the Cutty Sark was a state-of-the-art Tea Clipper designed to bring manufactured goods to China and return with Chinese tea as quickly as possible. She could car…
 
In the early years of the twentieth century commercial dredging removed a shingle beach from the tiny fishing village of Hallsands in South Devon. Soon high tides and storms washed everything away and all that is left now are the ruins of this maritime community. Dr Sam Willis meets maritime archaeologist Grant Bettinson from CITiZAN to find out mo…
 
Today we have Part 3 of our special episode on the Battle of Jutland because, on this day in history in 1916, the German and British battlefleets were coming to terms with the results of the largest naval battle of the First World War and one of the largest in history involving 250 ships and 100,000 men, and in which 25 ships of various sizes were …
 
Today we have Part 2 of our special episode on the Battle of Jutland because, on this day in history in 1916, the German and British battlefleets met in the largest naval battle of the First World War and one of the largest in history involving 250 ships and 100,000 men. Part 1 outlined the events and included a fantastic interview with Dr Stephan …
 
Today we have for you Part 1 of our special episode on the Battle of Jutland because, on this day in history in 1916, the German and British battlefleets met in the largest naval battle of the First World War and one of the largest in history - involving 250 ships and 100,000 men. Parts 2 and 3 will follow in the coming days and will introduce you …
 
The final instalment of our 3-part special on the Battle of Tsushima explores the Japanese perspective of the battle including a consideration of the extraordinary growth of the Imperial Japanese Navy both before and after Tsushima. Dr Sam Willis speaks with Kunika Kakuta. Kunika is a final year PhD student in the Department of War Studies at King’…
 
Part 2 of our 3-part special on the Battle of Tsushima explores the Russian perspective of the battle with a reading of the diary of Captain Vladimir Semenoff. Semenoff was a well known Russian naval officer who served in several positions throughout the course of the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905. His presence during the siege of Port Arthur and…
 
The Battle of Tsushima was the decisive naval action between Japan and Russia that effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 and one of the most important naval battles in history. It was the first in which radio played a major part; the action that demonstrated the power of the all-big-gun battleship, leading to HMS Dreadnought of 1906 an…
 
On this day in 1940, the British Expeditionary Force and other Allied troops were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk, to save them from the rapidly approaching German forces who had just launched their lightning invasion of northern Europe. It was one of the most challenging and significant amphibious operations and evacuations in history. The p…
 
A very special episode in our new Iconic Ships series, published on the anniversary of the loss of HMS Hood in 1941. HMS Hood is without doubt one of the Royal Navy’s most famous ships. A battle-cruiser, laid down in 1916 and launched in 1918, she was the largest battle cruiser ever built and the largest warship of any type in the world for twenty …
 
This week Dr Sam Willis speaks with Timothy Heck, the Deputy Directing Editor at the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy in West Point. They discuss the changing nature of amphibious operations in history and its relevance to the present day. What can the US Marine Corps today learn from amphibious operations in the past? Lik…
 
This week Dr Sam Willis explores the heart-warming story of maritime pets by speaking with Pat Sullivan from the excellent Museum of Maritime Pets. There is a centuries-old tradition of animals living on or near water, and collaborating with man (and woman) in both peace and war. Pat has spent a great deal of time documenting these animals' contrib…
 
This episode has been inspired by the tragedy of the Nanggala, a submarine of the Indonesian navy that disappeared earlier this month with 53 crew members on board and only 72 hours of oxygen to keep them alive. After 5 days of searching Nangala was found at a depth of more than 800 meters, split into three sections. This has led to a great deal of…
 
Estuaries and creeks around the coast of England are littered with the remains of watercraft which have been deliberately abandoned when they are no longer deemed useful. The extent of this is astonishing. In 2013 a survey identified at least 199 assemblages of hulked vessels all around the English coastline and this is by no means the complete rec…
 
Regular listeners will know that over the past few months we have been reading extracts from the logbook of the whaler Swan of Hull at the start of each episode (with the exception of the Iconic Ships and Great Sea Fights special series). The Swan became trapped in the ice off the west coast of Greenland in the autumn of 1836. These readings come f…
 
Dr Sam Willis presents episode 2 of our new Iconic Ships series, looking today at the history of the Mayflower. This new Iconic Ships series has been conceived as an opportunity for curators of famous historic vessels to make a case for their surviving vessel and also for historians to make a case for a historic vessel that no longer survives. In t…
 
This is the first of a new sub-series of podcast episodes: ‘Iconic Ships’. The series has been conceived as an opportunity for curators of famous historic vessels to make a case as to why their ship is iconic, but it is also open to historians to make a case for a historic vessel that no longer survives. Once we have sufficient entries we will open…
 
Inspired by the recent BBC series 'The Terror', a chilling tale based on one of polar exploration’s deepest mysteries, Dr Sam Willis explores the history HMS Terror. The TV series is set on the Terror’s last and fateful voyage when, in 1845, under the command of Sir John Franklin and alongside another ship, HMS Erebus, Terror sailed into the ice of…
 
Dr Sam Willis speaks with historian Dr Paul Brown about the extraordinary events surrounding the Falklands War in 1982, a pivotal event in British history. When Argentinian forces invaded the Falklands in April 1982 the British Government responded by sending a task force to the south Atlantic to seize back the islands. In the subsequent conflict c…
 
This week Dr Sam Willis talks with bestselling writer and award winning broadcaster Charlie Connelly about the fascinating history of the English Channel. Is it a bulwark against invasion, a conduit for exchange, a challenge to be conquered? It is all those and so much more: The Channel is many different things to many different people, and in our …
 
Dr Sam Willis explores the fascinating problems posed by Britain's complex imperial history by thinking in particular about Captain James Cook, the eighteenth-century British explorer and navigator famous for his three voyages to Australia and the Pacific (1768-1779). Sam talks with with Kevin Sumption – the Director and CEO of the Australian Natio…
 
Dr Sam Willis speaks with Graham Mackenzie, chief engineer of SS Shieldhall, one of the most fascinating ships in the UK's historic fleet. The Shieldhall is unique as a time capsule providing a working example of steamship machinery that operated ships in the oceans of the world from the 1870s for a century. In particular her triple-expansion steam…
 
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