Royal Navy

The Royal Navy has protected Britain's shores and coastline for hundreds of years and was once the most powerful naval fighting force in the world. Discover more about the establishment of the Royal Navy and how it has evolved. Plus, read about some heroic naval leaders and their infamous endeavours.


October's item of the month is dynamic and dramatic, resembling a cartoon from the pages of a Boy's Own magazine publication. The gun crew on the deck of a British ship engage and destroy a German U-boat. The result of the action is devastating, as the submarine disintegrates, scattering the bodies of several sailors into the water.


The humorous, illustrated scrapbook includes photographs and hand-drawn illustrations from the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

The pursuit of the 'Graf Spee' by HMS 'Ajax' and 'Achilles' [at the Battle of the River Plate, 13 December 1939]

This month we take a look into Archive and Library item MSS/75/130/2 concerning Captain Frederick Secker Bell (1897-1973). Bell was educated at the Royal Naval Colleges at Dartmouth, Osborne, Isle of Wight and the Royal Navy Staff College at Greenwich.  He served on board the battleship HMS Canada at the battle of Jutland in 1916, received his Captaincy in December 1938 and took command of HMS Exeter a month prior to the declaration of war on September 3 1939.

Admiral John Byng.jpg

John Byng (1704–57) was a Vice-Admiral in the Royal Navy. He is best known for the loss of Minorca to the French at the Battle of Minorca, marking the start of the Seven Years War in 1756.


The Battle of the Glorious First of June in 1794 was the first naval conflict between the British and the French during the French Revolutionary Wars.

Cigarette case commemorating HMS 'Warrior'_attraction_slider.jpg

Don't forget the poor souls on HMS Warrior.

Caird Library Research L8628-025_tile.JPG

Ever wondered what life was like for merchant seamen during World War One? September’s Item of the Month is the diary of G.W. Smith.


A small military map of the Battle of Fishguard, which led to the defeat of the last foreign invasion of Britain during the Napoleonic Wars.

Marlag 'O' Feb '44 S.W. Corner of Naval Officers Prison Camp, Westertincke, Germany, in winter

JOD/332 is a log kept by Captain Stanley Algar while a Prisoner of War at the Milag Nord camp near Bremen. However, the diary is not all it seems, while I was expecting to read Stanley Algar’s story of his capture and the gruelling day to day life in the camp, what it contained was quite different.


Royal Navy officer Thomas Cochrane (1775–1860) was a notorious naval officer and the real-life ‘Master and Commander’.