In an age when advancement was by patronage or dead men's shoes, it was unusual in the British Navy of Nelson's era for an officer to advance faster than normal up the Navy List. William Calvert was an exception to the rule. His advancement was due solely to his actions against the enemy. As Admiral the Earl St. Vincent said of him. "Luck! It has nothing to do with luck. I don't consider being wounded three times in as many years as luck! No this young man plans meticulously, trains and exercises his crew to the highest degree, and then it is a matter of bravery and innovation!"
"Like a young Nelson without the vanity!" Said Admiral Gambier.
The French Revolution is in progress and Britain awaits war. 17 year old William Calvert joins the Royal Navy as a Master's Mate. This is the Navy of the likes of Nelson. Already fully trained in Navigation and Seamanship by his late Merchant Captain and Owner father, Will soon proves his worth.
When the Master falls ill and the second Master is sent to another ship, Will deputises as Master on the 74 gun ship-of-the-line. The Squadron soon becomes aware of Will's outstanding ability, when with a hurricane threatened; as a result of his precautions his ship comes through the storm with the least damage. Promoted to Master he also saves his ship during a full gale in the Atlantic.
Back in Britain, with the country at war, Will is sent as Master to the frigate Artful. Although injured he finds himself the sole officer on the quarterdeck at the moment the frigate is about to engage two French frigates.
Promoted to Lieutenant he joins HMS Victory where he is noticed by Admiral Lord Jervis. After the Battle of Cape St. Vincent, Will is sent back to Britain, where with the Admiral's strong recommendation; he is appointed Commander of the schooner Snipe. A ship to become famous for its daring exploits.
Author: Leighton Harding
Title: When Duty Calls
First Published by:
Date: 7 December 2011