by Clifford Trethewey
It is 1867 and Henry Westaway Trethewey is 15 years-old when his mother signs him into the care of the Royal Navy as a Boy Second Class on the sail training ship IMPLACABLE. This story unwraps the training the boys were given with a glimpse into their daily lives which concluded with a cruise in the Channel on the Brig SEALARK. The story follows Henry on his first overseas draft to the ships on the North Americas & West Indies Station. He takes passage on the ECLIPSE to Bermuda where he spends a year on the Guardship TERROR. He is then drafted to the Gunboat MULLET but has to be taken to meet her in Halifax Nova Scotia. He takes passage on the frigate PHOEBE with its captain one of the first VCs ever awarded, but MULLET isn’t at Halifax so he is transferred to the Flagship ROYAL ALFRED. When MULLET does arrive Henry’s story is taken directly from the ship’s own daily log. This details her every move on and around the rich fishing grounds of the North Atlantic islands. MULLET is then sent to the Caribbean patrolling the coasts of Jamaica, Honduras and Haiti. It explores the politics of a volatile area as seen by the Royal Navy. It follows the unique tow of a floating dock from England to Bermuda and it gives an insight into the workings of a large squadron policing the Empire. This book concludes in Devonport on the Flagship ROYAL ADELAIDE in the Hamoaze with an insight into the strict discipline of the service exercised through its courts martial.
Above: Henry Westaway Trethewey (seated) with his son Nelson in 1899 just before Henry's death.
It is December 1870. Henry has left Devonport’s static Flagship ROYAL ADELAIDE for a new ship - VANGUARD It doesn’t last and the whole crew is transferred to a sister ship IRON DUKE. Unexpectedly her intended role is changed and she is ordered to the Far East as Flagship to the China Station causing Henry to marry in haste. This story describes the IRON DUKE’s transit of the new Suez Canal and the activities of the ships of the squadron in their skirmishes with pirates and their survival of a major typhoon Henry visits Hong Kong and spends time on the PRINCESS CHARLOTTE He thumbs a lift on the gun boat THALIA and spends a month on board cruising the coast of Formosa before transferring back to the Flagship in Japan. Henry returns to England on the Flagship arriving in Devonport in May 1875 after nearly four years away only to find that he had a son whom he never saw.