Life at sea for seamen and navy sailors has never been easy, especially during maritime warfare. They face a plethora of challenges, including cramped living conditions, illnesses, substandard food and pay, and inclement weather. These challenges have been shared by sailors throughout history, from the early explorers to those who fought in modern wars like the 1982 Falkland Islands War.
Personal Battles: The Story of a Royal Navy Sailor During the Falklands War
In his book “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982,” David McDonald highlights the struggles of a young Royal Navy sailor during the Falklands War. The book takes readers on a journey that shows not only the harsh realities of maritime warfare but also the personal battles that the main character faced, including his daughter’s recovery from a serious car accident.
Maintaining Discipline on Board: Rules, Punishments, and Class Distinction
In earlier years maintaining discipline on board ships was crucial, and officers enforced strict rules to prevent any potential mutiny. There were severe consequences for breaking the rules, but they were not mentioned in detail. Unfortunately, rats and other pests on board contributed to the decline in the quality of food, which was limited to salt beef or pork, cheese, fish, ale, and ship’s biscuits.
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Jobs on Board: From Cooks to Quartermasters
Various jobs were available on board a ship, including cook, parson, surgeon, master gunner, boatswain, carpenter, and quartermaster. Crew members also performed tasks such as keeping watch, handling sails, and cleaning decks. The job titles of those responsible for working the ship were of Anglo-Saxon origin, while officer titles were of Norman-French origin, suggesting a class distinction between roles on board.
Press Gangs and Sick Seamen: Challenges During Naval War
During the naval war, press gangs were formed to seize men and force them to join a ship. The threat of punishment for disobedience meant that strict discipline was required to maintain morale and prevent mutiny. Sick seamen faced many challenges, including exposure to cold and wet conditions, rats carrying diseases, and a poor diet that could cause malnutrition and illnesses like scurvy.
Making the Best of a Difficult Situation: Off-Duty Activities of Seamen
Despite the challenges, seamen often made the best of their cramped quarters when off-duty, playing games of dice and cards, telling stories, playing musical instruments, carving, drawing, and practising knots or model making. Sea shanties were also sung, rhythmic work songs that helped with repetitive tasks like hauling on ropes.
In conclusion, “Two Battles Two Wars 1980-1982” by David McDonald is an excellent book for anyone interested in maritime history, especially the Falklands War. This nonfiction book provides unique insight into the life of navy sailors during wartime and their struggles, both on board and at home. The book highlights the harsh realities of life at sea and the importance of discipline and teamwork to maintain morale and prevent mutiny. Despite the challenges, seamen often found ways to make the best of their situation when off-duty, highlighting their resilience and adaptability. This book sheds light on the struggles of a relentless navy sailor who went to great lengths to perform his duties on board and look after his daughter, who suffered a severe accident.