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.

'Captain Teach commonly call'd Black Beard'

Edward Thatch had built up a fearsome reputation as the most notorious pirate of the early 18th Century. Never heard of him? If you had lived in His Majesty’s colony of Virginia in 1718 you certainly would have. 

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An introduction to the World War Two documents held at the National Maritime Museum, including those relating to Dunkirk.

The 'Wolf' (1826), or (1814), brig of war, late of the Royal Navy, making signal and laying to, for a pilot off Dover PU6134_slider.JPG

During the 17th to 19th centuries, the British Royal Navy had a number of unrated vessels under the command of lieutenants and commanders.

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Don't forget the poor souls on HMS Warrior.

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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.

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.

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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.