In nearly every conflict in which Britain has been involved the sea has played a major role.
We can trace this right back to the Viking raids which brought terror and pillage, the Norman invasion which bought the Norman culture and many hardships for the native populace.
Spanish invasion fleets meant to carry thousands of Spanish soldiers across to Britain were seen off, by Francis Drake and his ships, and some fortuitous weather.
More recently one Adolf Hitler planned the conquest of Britain with a seaborne operation named "Operation Sea Lion", that never came to fruition having been postponed, largely as a result of the "Battle of Britain".
The planning for this foresaw that a prerequisite for its success was the sealing off or elimination of the Royal Navy, this thankfully was not to be and ensured our freedom.
The Merchant Navy who for many years got scant recognition should never be forgotten, it's estimated that as many as 35,000 men lost their lives whilst serving with the Merchant Navy between 1939 and 1945.
These were the men that manned the ships that kept us going by bringing in fuel, and foodstuffs, equally importantly they carried troops and equipment to the fighting front.
The routes these ships had to take were often hazardous and the hardships these men endured were just as great as that of the men of the Royal Navy.
The role of many foreign seamen in the Mercahnt Navy should also be acknowleged as many thousands served and died alongside their British compatriots.
So the sea, or rather command of it has been instrumental in so many ways for the shaping of our culture and the continued existence of Britain as a free nation.
My personal connection with the briny is through my family, my Grandad, Father and Uncle all served in the Royal Navy, my Pap (as we call Grandad's in Northamptonshire) sadly passed away some years ago.
Above he is in his uniform having a cuppa and a quick fag, I never had the chance to get to know him which I regret because I believe he travelled all over the world and must have had some good stories to tell.
I do know that he served on the Battlecruiser Lion seen below, and was a crew member during the Battle of Jutland,
Through his naval records I also know that he survived a topedo attack on one of the many ships he served on during WW11.
This was an armed merchant cruiser HMS Andania, which was sunk on 16th June 1940,
This is part of my Paps naval record where this is recored, you can just see the work sunk pencilled in within the margin, and the date 19 June 40.
Thankfully all the crew were picked up by an Icelandic trawler and taken to safety, but to be torpedoed in the dark of the night must have been a very scary experience for the crew and they must have thanked God the trawler was in the vicinity.
The sea in short has been our friend, and has been instrumental to our development as a nation, alhough this relationship has not been without controversy, the slave trade being a particularly dark time in our history.
Movement of goods by water had always been an mportant factor in times of peace before the motorised vehicle came about, and for a long time was the cheapest and most efficient method to transport goods.
In times of war moving men and munitions around becomes critical to the sucess of any given campaign, but also the blockading of ports used by enemy forces and denying them access to men as reinforcements, food and munitions..
The English Civil War is mostly written about in terms of the major events that took place on land, with most people being aware of Naseby and other important battles, relatively little is written about the use of sea power duing the war.
The King had failed to invest in the Navy, ironically he was a lover of ships and owned many maritme themed paintings, but his failure to pay sailors or build ships was a fatal mistake.
This failure to pay the ordinary fighting man was also a problem for the land based armies and something which was addressed by parliament when the New Model army was formed.
The Parliamentarians however realised the strategic importance of a strong naval force, Cromwell had recognised the advantages control of the Navy could give him, and took steps to improve it. He now needed a reliable man to lead that force.
And at this point this man comes into the picture, the Earl of Warwick,
Any force is only as good and it's leadership, and here the appointment of this man was an astute one indeed, and from Parliaments viewpoint very effective.
The Earl of Warwick, eldest Son of Robert Rich and his Wife Penelope, was born around June of 1587 at leighs Priory in the county of Essex.
He was a powerful landowner in fact one of the biggest in England, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Essex after the King fled from London in 1642.
In March 1642 he was appointed Lord High Admiral, his was a popular appointment and it ensured control of the Navy for Parliament.
Parliament benefitted here from the protection of London, had Charles been able to blockade London the results could have been a war ended much sooner in the Royalists favour.
London's power and wealth had great importance for the funding of the war effort as the capital was a central point for the distribution of cargoes travelling on the Thames to points inland. the transportation of arms to the fighting soldiers was critical.
The taxes gained at the port of London boosted the coffers of Parliaments war chest, this combined with the ability to transport goods and men was key.
The supply of besiged outposts and logistical supply to land forces all proved invaluable in this struggle for supremacy.
Robert Devereaux, 3rd Earl of Essex, said of the importance of sea power "The safest and surest defence of this Kingdome is our navie, and...we can never be hurt by Land by a forraigne Enemy, unlesse we are first beaten at sea".
Just a point of interest, Colonel rainsborough pictured above was expelled as the commander of six Parliamentary ships on the day I write this in 1648, this was largely because of his Leveller sympathies.
The mutineers declared for the King, and with other ships joining them they bacame the Royalist fleet of prince Rupert.
During the Second Civil War, Rupert accompanied Prince Charles when he took command of a number of warships that had defected from Parliament.
The naval campaign was unsuccessful and the his fleet was chased back to Holland by the Earl of Warwick in August 1648. Early in 1649, Rupert and Prince Maurice took command of the eight ships remaining in the Royalist squadron and sailed to southern Ireland with orders to support the Marquis of Ormond.
From his base at Kinsale, Rupert ran supplies and reinforcements to the Royalist garrison on the Scilly Isles and preyed upon Commonwealth shipping in the Channel, selling the ships and cargoes he captured and donating the proceeds to the Royalist war-effort.
Rainsborough served under Warwick and captained a vessel, this being a frigate named Swallow, he later went on to command another vesssel named Lion, I wonder if my Pap was ever aware of that ?.
His radical views were eventually to be his undoing, he was to die in suspicious circumstances in 1648, the antipathy between Cromwell and the those who had Leveller sympathies has been well documented.
I've mentioned my Pap so as my dad was a Plymouth man and that city features in this story by way of the fact it was besieged by royalist force,s here is a map dating from 1643.
During Civil War, Plymouth supported Parliament. This was at odds with the wider South West of England which was mostly loyal to the Royalist cause.
Plymouth was besieged and the castle was occupied by the defenders. However, the Royalists occupied Mount Batten and from there were able to bombard Sutton Pool this made the harbour unusable for Parliamentary ships and it is possible that Plymouth Castle, which would have been in easy range of the Royalist guns, was badly damaged at this time. Despite being denied use of Sutton Pool, Plymouth withstood the siege by importing their supplies through Millbay, on the western side of the Plymouth Sound.