AGM Topsham - June 11th 2011 - abstracts of talks
Fighting Under a Different Flag: Allied Submarines under British Operational Control in the Mediterranean, 1940-1944
While the British submarine campaign in the Mediterranean has been the recipient of some academic research, it is not widely known that Dutch, Greek, Polish, French and later even Italian submarines were a part of it. Under British operational control, these different nationalities conducted differing operations and made varying contributions to the campaign.
This paper is the first dedicated study of the allied submarines that operated alongside the British in the Mediterranean in the Second World War. It examines the issues concerned with their supply and the varying treatment by, and attitudes of, the British to the different nationalities. It demonstrates that the British perceived different capabilities and qualities of the different nations, and that they varied the restrictions they placed on the operations of the different nationalities accordingly. Due to this, and the fractious relations between several of these nations, British and Allied submarine co-operation was less effective in the Mediterranean than elsewhere.
Alexander Dow (1736 1779) Soldier, Historian, and Smuggler’s Clerk
Alexander Dow wrote the first English language history of India, the three volume History of Hindostan, published in 1768 and 1772. Based on a Persian text, but incorporating Dow’s own thoughts and opinions, it remained the standard history for some fifty years. Today Dow is still recognised, in India as well as in the UK, as one of the pioneers of the European understanding of the history and culture of India.
He was born near Comrie in Perthshire in 1736. In the early 1750s he came to Eyemouth, where he became Clerk to John and David Nisbet, of Gunsgreen House, whose main business was smuggling.
Dow left Eyemouth, joining the King of Prussia Private Ship of War on her successful commerce raiding cruise based in Falmouth, which started in January 1757 and ended at Dartmouth in the August. Dow made his will on board the King of Prussia at Dartmouth in September 1757, leaving everything “to my beloved friend David Nisbet”.
Following this he travelled to the Far East, ending up in Calcutta, where he joined the army of the East India Company. He rose quickly through the ranks, eventually becoming a Colonel.
Back in London in 1768, Dow not only oversaw the publication of the History, but had his play Zingis put on by David Garrick. He got to know influential Scots in London, notably David Hume, and fathered a child, called Daniel. Dow returned to India in 1769, was back in London in 1772, when he had his portrait painted by Joshua Reynolds, then returned to India in 1773. He died in Bengal in 1779, aged just 43.
He left £10,000 , approaching a million pounds today and it should all have come to David Nisbet. Dow now had influential friends and greedy relatives, however, so the will was placed in Chancery, not being settled until August 1796, after both John and David Nisbet had died.
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