Douglas Reeman

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Douglas Edward Reeman (15 October 1924 – 23 January 2017), who also used the pseudonym Alexander Kent, was a British author who wrote many historical novels about the Royal Navy, mainly set during either World War II or the Napoleonic Wars.

A Tradition of Victory (1981)


Cap 2 "No Looking Back"

    • They had made history well enough, Bolitho thought grimly, but it had ended in bloody disaster.
  • It was a harsh school, right enough ... but a lot of good had come from it.The petty tyrants and bullies were fewer now, for braggarts had little to sustain them in the face of an enemy broadside.
  • You know how sailors love to create mystery where there is none.

Cap 3 "Return of a Veteran"

  • How they must hate us, he thought. The dogged, storm-dashed ships which were always there at the break of every day. Waiting to dash in and seize a prize under the enemy's nose, or scurry to rouse the main fleet ...

Cap 5 "The Stuff of Battle"

  • Each gun-captain was a king, every breech a small demanding kingdom.

Cap 6 "Single-Handed"

  • He was ashamed and embarrassed, angry too that such a man could end like this. If peace did eventually come, there would be many more redcoats begging in the streets.

Cap 7 "The Secret"

  • No wonder the lookout was amazed. There were deozens of them, some moored in pairs, others, possibly gun-brigs or bombs, anchored separately, a veritable armada of small ships [....] and there they were, like a phalanx of Roman soldiers on the march, six lines of small vessels under sail. In the bright glare even the pendants and ensigns looked stiff, like lances.

Cap 7 "The Ceres"

  • Bolitho heard the blare of a trumpet and saw the sun gleam across black-plumed helmets and breast-plates as the horses changed formation and cantered into another wall of dust.
  • I have always said that a captain should act on his own initiative if his set orders tell him nothing.

Cap 10 "For the Admiral's Lady"

  • 'Do more than think about it. You are a flag-officer, and must not involve yourself with the affairs of subordinates. You command, they obey, it is the order of things, as well as you know.'

Cap 11 "So Little Time"

  • Routine and discipline. It held the ship together no less securely than copper and tar.
  • You wait and you wait, you try to see things through the eyes of the enemy, and when it eventually happens it is all suddenly different. Many people at home believe their sailors fight for Kings and country, to protect their loved ones, and so they do. But when the guns begin to thunder, and the enemy is right there alongside rising above the smoke like the devil's fury, it is John who calls for Bill, one messmate seeking another, as the bonds of sailormen are stronger than symbols beyond their ship.

Cap 12 "The Flag Commands"

  • We cannot always know the man who leads, just as I am no longer privileged to recognize the face of every sailor and marine who obeys.

Cap 13 "No Fighting Sailor"

  • The French man-of-war was small and agile, and from the deck of the fishing boat looked as big as a frigate. She was carrying so much sail it made Browne feel that their own boat was unmoving ...

Cap 14 "The Toast is Victory!"

  • They don't have to fight wars! it mmight knock some sense into therir heads if they did!
  • ‘I am telling you you must not care, sir. The three men died, but they helped to give us a small advance knowledge which we may use against the enemy. At the conference tomorrow they would all answer the same. A few lives to save the many is any captain's rule.
  • 'Remember, Thomas a victory now will put heart into the ordinary people at home. They've had much to bear over the years.It's not only sailors who suffer in a war, you know.'
  • Wars were not made by young men, he thought, yet they had to fight them.

Cap 15 "An Impudent Gesture"

  • Damnation on doubt. It kills more good sailors than round shot!

For My Country's Freedom (1995)


Cap 4 "Royal Command"

  • Designed originally as a third-rate of sixty-four guns, she had been cut down to her present seize by the removal of most of her upper deck and corresponding armament. But her forty twenty-four pounders remained, with an additional four eighteen-pounders for bow and stern-chasers.

Cap 5 "Indomitable"

  • He saw himself reflected in other people's faces, and the horror and the pity he saw there had never ceased to wound him.
  • Now he could see the difference. One hundred and eighty feet overall, and of some fourteen hundred tons, her broad beam betrayed that she had been built originally for the line of battle. Her sail plan had changed little, he thought. With a wind over the quarter she would run like a deer if properly handled.
  • Released from the land Indomitable heeled over to the thrust of canvas and rudder, the sea almost brushing her lee gunports while she came about, sails thundering as fore and mainsails were hauled and beaten into submission.

Cap 6 "Cross of St George"

  • As the wind and quarter-sea had mounted the Indomitable, big though she was, had seemed to bound from trough to trough like the lion she followed, sail and spindrift pouring from the bulging canvas like tropical rain.

Cap 7 "Like a Troubled Sea"

  • Scum they might be; many would otherwise have been hanged or deported, but firm discipline and fair treatment would soon change that. The hard men who would never break, Adam would take on himself to train. They often proved to be the best sailors, especially those who had never known anything but poverty and oppression.

Cap 8 "Dreams"

  • Always the same picture, the narrow waters of Carrick Roads in Falmouth, the murky hump of Pendennis Castle lying across the starboard bow of the ship flying an admiral's flag: his flag — the knowledge of that had been quite definite, as it so often was in dreams. The squadron had been all around him, ready to weigh, or still shortening their cables. About to leave Falmouth, as he had done so many times.

Cap 9 "The Mark of Satan"

  • Seven years. It seemed impossible. So much had happened since that time. Friends killed: fine ships lost or battered into hulks in every corner of the world and across the ocean.

Cap 10 "Deception"

  • God and the navy we adore, when danger threatens but not before!

Cap 11 "Like Father, Like Son"

  • Adam grasped the rail as gun by gun the American began to retaliate [...] He winced as he felt the iron smashing into the hull or through the rigging overhead.
  • Every ball was finding a target; and there were wild cheers as the American's forecastle was blasted to splintered, and one of her bow-chasers was hurled aside on to its crew.
  • ...the American's upper yards and punctured sails rose above the fog of gunfire like a cliff.

Cap 13 "Loneliness"

  • There will always be slaves, no matter what people promise and pretend.
  • ‘He doesn't understand. The navy is my life. My only life, now. The war will not last for ever, but until it ends I shall stand in the line-of-battle as I have been entrusted to!’

Cap 15 "Trick for Trick"

  • ‘A general will say, "Order the 87th to advance." And if they are not enough or are hacked down, he will send in another regiment. He sees no faces, hears no pitiful cries which will never be answered, only flags, pins on maps.
  • He stared into darkness, seeing the last of the horizon. Then he touched the weathered quarterdeck rail. Aloud he said ‘We'll fight very soon, my girl. You and me. Never ask the bloody reason, only fight and win!

Cap 16 "The Strength of a Ship"

  • ‘Never speak of a last letter to anbody, doi you hear me? for it may well be your last, if you dwell on it too much!’
  • ‘Men, Mr Blythe. Ordinary, everyday men — you'd never notice any of them in a street or working in the fields in England right? [...] But they are your answer. They are the strength of a ship. So let them not die to no good purpose.’

Cap 17 "And For What?"

  • ...on this September morning in 1812, while the Indomitable held her same course under reduced canvas, the ship's small drummers and fifers marched and countermarched up and down the crowded gundeck, the familiar tune Portsmouth Lass lively enough to set a man's foot tapping, or purse his lips in a silent whistle.
  • There she was, Beer's Unity, with almost every sail set and filled so that she appeared to be leaning forward into the surging spray beneath her beakhead. The huge broad-pendant straight out like painted metal, a picture of naval strength at its best.
  • Even in war it is necessary to love another.
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