Thomas Saumarez was in many ways a typical Victorian naval officer – self confident, proud and quick to take offence. In a period of relative peace, he was fortunate to achieve distinction through active service in the Argentine, the West African Station and the Second Chinese Opium War, reaching post rank at an early age but retiring shortly after this following discord with his superior officer.
By good fortune he left his ‘Private and Public Journal’, and through this and other original correspondence his grandson and great-grandson have been able to piece together his service life to produce this book, consisting largely of direct transcription of Thomas’s writing.
This period was one of great change, with sail to steam and wood to iron, and the book provides an important record of the ships and actions during ‘Pax Britannica’. Perhaps more importantly it also gives a fascinating insight into the mores and opinions of an officer of that age, who is revealingly frank in his judgement of those with whom he served.