Breaking Ground

It’s taken me a little while to work out how to start this off, so I’m just going to fire on and try to set the scene of what I’ll be blogging about.

History has always been a passion of mine, particularly military history, and I’ve written fiction for as long as I can remember (much of which will never see the light of day). It’s perhaps unsurprising that I ended up writing historical fiction (along with more speculative fiction under the name TQ Chant).

The Straits of Tsushima is my first foray into writing naval fiction. It’s a favourite genre of mine to read – I started with Hornblower, of course, and never looked back when I was introduced to Patrick O’Brian. But why the Russo-Japanese War? While it has a lot of important implications for the history of the 20th Century, it’s something of a niche period for a lot of people. My attention was first drawn to it by the Dogger Bank incident, the unfortunate attack on the Hull fishing fleet by jittery and trigger-happy Russian sailors as the 2nd Pacific Squadron passed through the North Sea. As I delved further into the incident, I began to find the context more and more interesting – from the epic 18,000 mile journey the Russian ships undertook, to the battle of Tsushima itself. Not to mention the impact on the internal politics of the Royal Navy, the geo-political impacts in the Pacific and the fascinating cast of characters that populated the period.

It’s an interesting period from the point of view of Naval history – a lot was going on in terms of technological and organisation developed. Some of the ships that sailed to Tsushima had auxiliary sailing rigs, while the torpedo had become a decisive weapon and Navies were on the cusp of exploiting better power plants and aviation.

What I’ll be blogging about

I’ll be blogging more about the Russo-Japanese War, the period and naval/military history in general. An on-going theme will be my exploration of my great-grandfather’s service record (his dress dirk and sword pictured below). He joined the Royal Navy right at the start of this period and had a long career stretching across both world wars. It was a period that gave us men and women writ very much larger than life, who if a novelist has written them would almost certainly be considered unbelievable. He wasn’t one of those, but (I think) a good example of the sorts of soldier, sailor and (latterly airman) who were the backbone of any armed forces of the period. I’m going to take his postings in chronological order, find out what I can about his time aboard and more general information about the ships and their careers. More on the start of his career soon.

I’m also a massive wargamer and general nerd. I had been planning on a tabletop re-enactment of Tsushima for my 40th birthday in 2020 but, well – it’s a familiar story… I’ll be writing about that when it happens, and any other fun historical gaming I get up to.

One of my other great loves is travelling, which has obviously been rather curtailed. Much to my long-suffering partner’s chagrin, I usually manage to find something interesting and historical to look at. I’m looking forward to being able to do that again, and sharing anything I manage to see here.

So, lots to write about (as well as the actual writing). At some point I’ll probably also get better at formatting these things…