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Beat to Quarters

 
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:21 am    Post subject: Beat to Quarters Reply with quote

Episode 1

2 February

From: Vice-Admiral Sir John Beresford, Admiralty

To: Commander Vettori, Captain HMS Lancelot

HMS Lancelot reassigned. On the 5th inst. collect Lord Harris at Portsmouth & deliver to Bengal, India. On delivery report to Colombo under active service under Rear-Admiral James Heath, C-in-C East Indies Station.

26 April

From: Commander Vettori, Captain HMS Lancelot

To: Vice-Admiral Sir John Beresford, Admiralty

My heart delights in informing you that on 18th inst., my brave and gallant boys of HMS Lancelot engaged & sank HNLMS Zeeland in Bay of Bengal, approx. 200 miles W. Sumatra.

After collecting Lord Harris (& most charming daughter) & new Purser (I thank you for that), Lancelot arrived Gibraltar on 9 Feb. On reprovisioning we set sail for Cape Town. Encountered difficult weather at Cape Good Hope. Lt Carancala ably saw Lancelot through. Gunner Scorpio distinguished himself in securing gun-deck under trying circumstances. New Purser van Leubeck distinguished himself in pursuit of Miss Harris (ha).

At Africa Station informed that Company Indiaman Albermarle overdue. Set course for Sumatra to recover. At approx. 1100 on 18th inst. crew under watch of Lt Carancala spotted sail on horizon. Changed course to intercept. At approx. 1330 inst. HNLMS Zeeland identified. Those dutchies they try to flee but Lt Carancala had weather gage & Lancelot closed to range. Gunner Scorpio’s men set to work most gallantly &w. single broadside demasted & holed Zeeland. Mr van Leubeck ensured Miss Harris did not fall in harm’s way (ha). Lancelot’s gun-deck damaged. Several injuries & no loss of life. Zeeland lowered colours at 1450 inst. Mr van Leubeck attempted repairs, but Zeeland went down at approx 1830 inst.

Information c. Abermarle obtained from Zeeland. She & crew held approx. 100 miles north Batavia. Course set &w. intent to cut her out.


7 August

From: Vice-Admiral Sir John Beresford, Admiralty

To: Commander Vettori, Captain HMS Lancelot

Warm congratulations Lancelot on sinking of Zeeland. However, while Admiralty provides some leeway for the high spirits native to you Italians, you are instructed to keep further communiqués brief, objective, restricted to naval matters and free from colloquialisms (f&ex “ha”, “those dutchies”).
_________________
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Episode 2

The crew of the HMS Lancelot was joined by Mr Hamor Markwell of Dorset (a boatswain's mate) and Mr Agamemnon Cooper (a midshipman).

Last week the crew of the HMS Lancelot had sunk a Dutch galiot and captured the crew. In taking the ship, they had discovered the location of an East Indiaman that had been captured by Dutch privateers.

The session began on a Sunday. Mr Coffin led a service on the foredeck, and captain Vettori followed by reading the Articles of War. Mr Mason, the boatswain, had been clapped in irons after yet another outburst against the captain. After reading the Articles of War, Vettori called the boatswain forth and declared that his outburst had been an act of gross insubordination and that he was hearby relieved of his position and would be discharged from service on arrival in Colombo. Mr Markwell, was appointed to the role of Boatswain in his stead.

Mr Markwell was subsequently invited to dine in the Ward Room with the captain and the other officers. The somewhat overwhelmed Dorsetman was then asked to provide a topic for that evening's discussion. In the captain's honour the subject he chose was Roman naval warfare. Vettori was delighted with this choice, and immeadiately unleashed a torrent of Latin, quoting Virgil at some length. Mr Cooper responded with his own quote. Unfortunately the young Midshipman could not remember the meaning of his Virgil, but luckily Vettori found the reference to Dido and Aeneas surrending to lust more than a little hilarious. Lt Carancala however, earned the captain's favour with a scholarly assessment of Roman inadequacies. Mr Cooper was later sent to his room after a youthful indiscretion involving someone else's wine.

Mr Carancala and Mr Markwell then helped the captain to find an island where the captured Dutchmen could be safely marooned. They had intended to use these men as collatoral in a deal with the Dutch authorities, but when events did not pan out as planned they were instead simply abandoned to their fate.

HMS Lancelot set sail for Batavia. The intention was to negotiate with the Dutch authorities and it was agreed that as it was unsafe for any of the crew to land in enemy territory, another Dutchman would be needed. Captain Vettori was also desperately keen for fresh coffee. The vessel therefore ranged up and down the coast, passing a range of plantations until a Dutch coffee plantation was found. Lt Carancala was put in charge of a landing crew and a Dutch factor was found and kidnapped. Much to the captain's disgust however, no coffee could be retrieved.

The Dutchman proved unco-operative and unhelpful. Eventually however he agreed to convey a message and was put ashore in a jolly-boat near Batavia in the dead of night. The crew waited anxiously for his return, acutely conscious of the tall masts of frigates in the harbour. The Dutchman finally returned, with a representative of the government. Collecting the two, the Lancelot set to sea. The negotiations did not go well, so both Dutchmen were dumped on the coast. Fearful that warships were now on their tail, the Lancelot raced northwards - Mr Markwell setting plenty of sail and making sure that the ship made good time.

Arriving at the place where the Albermarle was allegedly impounded, the crew discovered no sign of the ship or her men - but a wide river led inland. Lt Carancala was given 40 men and two long-boats and instructed to go up river to cut the ship and her men out.

The two long-boats travelled some distance up river before rounding a bend and coming spotting the Albemarle at the end of a long jetty. The Lancelots were spotted almost at once and the alarm raised. The longboats instantly raced forward and Lt Carancala and his men lept onto the jetty. Mr Cooper led a party of marines to take the Albemarle. Before his men had even finished climbing the gangplank, the young Midshipman had stormed the deck; stabbed one Dutchman in the chest and shot another in the face and accepted the surrender of the remaining crew. Mr Scorpio then boarded and took charge of the gundeck while Mr Markwell had the ship rigged and pushed away from the jetty. While the ship lumbered into a broadside position, Dutchmen swarmed down from a plantation building. They were repelled by a volley from Lt Carancala and the marines still on the jetty.

The Dutch tried a second ploy and hoisted an English prisoner (presumably the captain of the Albemarle) onto the roof of the plantation and threatened him with a pistol. Mr Scorpio unleashed a warning shot from the gundeck of the East Indiaman and a chimney adjacement to the Dutchmen on the roof vanished in a puff of smoke. Fearing the Albemarle's cannon, the Dutch quickly surrended and the Englishmen were released.

The Albermarle sailed down river and unleashed a volley of cannonfire to announce her release to the Lancelot. The sloop responded in kind. A sail was the spotted on the horizon. The Albemarle set sail at once, but Lancelot's departure was delayed due to the transfer of crew back to the vessel and the need to hoist sail. Only some skillful sailing from Mr Markwell saw the Lancelot escape the attention of the 28 gun frigate on their tail.

The voyage to Colombo was thereafter uneventful, and on arrival the Lancelot's were feted as heroes. Lord Harris, the new Governor of Madras, (who hates the Dutch with a passion) was so delighted that he insisted that Lancelot take him on to Madras and once there hosted a ball in the crew's honour.
_________________
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.


Last edited by Mikeythorn on Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Episode 3

The new Governor of Madras was welcomed to India with a large ball, at which officers of the Lancelot were his guests of honour. The newest of these officers was a Carpenter to replace the man lost on the jetty during the recovery of the Albermarle. There was much to discuss at the ball apart from the Lancelot's heroics. It was less than a year since Mysore had been conquered and Tipu Sultan killed, and the army was still busy in the west trying to assert the East India Company's control over its new territories. Other guests at the ball included naval officers from the East Indies fleet, which had been stationed in Madras during the war. With peace now restored to India, Commodore Dunbar and his men were anxious to return to naval head-quarters at Colombo and - hopefully - to orders that they return to the European theatre.

Lt Carancala made the most of Commodore Dunbar's presence and impressed the senior officer with details relating to the sinking of the Zeeland. Mr Markwell also made a strong impression on the fine company present with some gallant behaviour and kind remarks to a shy young lady about her silk and taffeta gown.

While the officers danced and chatted the night away, the men of the Lancelot celebrated in their own style. The next morning Mr Markwell noted that Able Seamen Smithy and Jones were both missing. Lt Carancala interrogated the crew, but only succeeded in causing resentment. Nonetheless, he was able to discover that Smithy and Jones had been drinking at a dockside tavern owned by an English-speaking Sikh. Taking a small number of fellow officers, Lt Carancala set off to find the missing men.

Outside the tavern the officers were assailed by touts trying to sell them women and opium. Ignoring these men, the group went inside and tried to question the owner. This man was angry at the damage done by the Lancelots and did not respond well to the questioning, despite offers to compensate him for the damage done. Lt Carancala and the others then stepped outside and questioned the touts. Again, discussions did not go well, and a frustrated Mr Scorpio manhandled one of the touts. The mood grew frosty at this, and one of the touts spat when Lt Carancala mentioned the king. However, the offer of money resulted in a volunteer stepping forward to lead the men to Smithy and Jones. As the officers followed their new guide away from the tavern, a clod of earth spattered on the ground nearby and a member of the crowd shouted praise for Tipu Sultan.

The guide led the officers away from the docks and into the rabbit warren of Madras' streets and alleys. The day was hot and oppressive, and the officers did not enjoy the walk. Their stroll ended in a small and dark alley. Here the guide gestured to a windowless mud-brick dwelling. Mr Scorpio stepped inside and found Smithy and Jones in something of a state. The room was a smoke-filled oven and evidence of debauchery could be seen on the floor. Jones was seen holding his head in pain while Smithy lay blissfully asleep next to an empty opium pipe. Mr Scorpio helped Jones outside, the Able Seaman was a mess of vomit, weeping and apologies. Smithy, on the other hand, could not be woken and had to be carried from the opium den. As the officers tried to find some water to rouse Smithy, they felt a change in the air. Looking up they saw that the way out of the alley had been blocked by a mob of Indian men - many armed with lumps of wood. A flash of metal could also be seen. Lt Carancala ordered the mob to retreat, and when they did not he stepped into point-blank range and discharged his pistol into the mass of men. He did not see if he had hit anyone as the mob instantly flooded forward and clubbed him to the ground. Mr Scorpio, Mr Markwell and the Carpenter charged into the fray. They were able to recover the wounded Lt Carancala, but could not fight their way out of the alley. Instead they fled deeper into the streets of Madras.

At one point the officers gained enough distance on the mob that they could pause for breath. Mr Markwell thought to steal dhotis from a washing line to use as a disguise, but he was spotted by a woman who screamed at them and drew the attention of the mob once more. The officers fled again, but their flight ended when they reached the banks of a wide and slow-moving river. Several small fishing boats had been pulled onto the bank, and Mr Markwell pushed one of these into the river and began rigging the sail. The officers leapt aboard and gave assistance as the mob burst from the alley behind. Mr Scorpio discharged his pistol to keep them at bay and a shot was fired in return, hitting Lt Carancala and knocking him unconscious.

The crew were now in a race against time to get Mr Carancala back to the Lancelot and the surgeon's scalpel. Unfortunately, when they arrived, they discovered that the musket ball was lodged deep in the officer's side and that Mr Coffin was unable to reach it with his retractor. The Carpenter promptly whipped up a better instrument using a compass and his toolbox. With this new tool, Mr Coffin was able to remove the bullet and set Mr Carancala on the road to recovery (note - I read afterwards that you cannot attempt two healing challenges in a row - so Mr Carancala should have been MAIMED rather than just INJURED throughout the battle against the Falcon).

As the army cracked down on dissent in the city and the rest of the fleet set sail for Colombo and new orders, Captain Vettori kept the Lancelot in Madras to allow Lt Carancala's condition to stabilise. As they waited in port an East Indiaman arrived bearing the scars of a sea battle. It was established that she had been attacked by a 28 gun frigate carrying the flags of both France and Tipu Sultan. Mr Markwell made a new contact in a Madras brothel, stumbling upon a brothel-owner who had once served in Tipu Sultan's navy. This man was able to provide details of the ship (the Falcon, built to British specifications in a East India shipyard on Tipu Sultan's commission - and her likely location at a cove chosen by Tipu Sultan as a base for attacks on British shipping).

The Lancelot set off on the tail of the Falcon. After two day's at sea they surprised the frigate at anchor in the designated cove and set upon her at once. Lt Carancala gained the weather gage and closed rapidly, before the Falcon could raise full sail. A broadside of grape from the Lancelot's gundeck shattered the rigging and caused carnage on the Falcon's deck. In return the Lancelot's gundeck took a direct hit and was badly damaged. With the guns essentially out of action, Lt Carancala closed to boarding range. Mr Markwell was the first to attempt to board the Falcon and bravely scaled the taller ship's hull. The Boatswain's heroics enabled him to secure a space on the deck which allowed the rest of the Lancelots to board unmolested. The wounded Lt Carancala promptly identified the captain (one of Tipu Sultan's sons) and engaged him - disarming him with a swift cutlass stroke, and then sending the man sprawling and at the mercy of his blade. With the captain down, the Falcon's French sailing master tried to take control. The Carpenter and Mr Scorpio tried to reach the Frenchman, but were repelled by the men surrounding him. However, it did not take long for the Sailing Master - seeing that all was lost - to lower the Falcon's colours and surrender his vessel.
_________________
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.
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Mikeythorn



Joined: 20 Jan 2006
Posts: 364
Location: Wellington

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Episode 4

Lt Carancala's first command was unique - a 28 gun frigate commissioned by Tipu Sultan and filled with Mysorean art, including a bowsprit in the shape of a tiger eating a British sailor. The Falcon also had a hull full of holes, badly damaged rigging and a deck soaked in blood. He and his makeshift crew had a relatively simple aim - to get the frigate to the prize-agent in Colombo before she sank. This they accomplished with relative ease.

Once The Falcon was safely in the Colombo naval station, the two most powerful men in the Royal Navy's East Indies Fleet were piped aboard. Commodore Dunbar and Rear-Admiral Heath were ostentatiously here to inspect the navy's latest vessel, but also had an ulterior motive. After congratulating Lt Carancala on his victory, the two officers questioned the lieutentant about the treatment of the prisoners taken from the Zeeland some weeks' earlier. Despite Lt Carancala's efforts to defend the actions of the Lancelots, Rear-Admiral Heath announced that he would be seeking the advice of the Dutch authorities and intended to conduct a court-martial into Captain Vettori's conduct once a response was received. Lt Carancala was advised that he would likely be called as a witness.

This bad news was mollified somewhat when the prize-agent completed his business and Captain Vettori arrived with several pieces of paper containing the complicated calculations needed to determine the division of booty to the crew. With his share Lt Carancala bought a new uniform and a plantation just outside of Colombo, while Mr Markwell and Mr van Leubeck formed a partnership and set up a cotton and silk trading business.

The Lancelots did not spend long in Colombo, as they still had business to complete in Madras. In particular, they had to deliver Tipu Sultan's son to the British authorities there. Madras was still seething with resentment and discontent and British soldiers filled the streets. The crew of HMS Lancelot were warned not to travel too far from the docks, and Lt Carancalla decided that this provided a reasonable opportunity to reign in the behaviour of his rowdy crew - and to improve their reputation with the naval authorities. He instituted a rotation policy whereby officers and crew who were not given leave were required to remain sober and to form a patrol which would limit the bad behaviour of those who were on leave.

The crew spent a week or so in Madras, during which the officers spent a considerable amount of time at the club. Mr van Leubeck and Lt Carancala competed for the affections of Lord Harris' daughter, Miss Lily - Lt Carancala eventually bowing from the race and turning his attentions elsewhere with the broadly stated aim of finding a wife. Mr van Leubeck thrived on the opportunity and he and Miss Lily became the talk of society. She appeared quite taken with the Pursuer and her excitement each time he appeared at the club was widely observed. Despite being somewhat overwhelmed by the heat and by gin, Mr Markwell also forged strong new connections - finding investors in his business from two colonial administrators, Mr Cooper and Mr Capper.

At the end of the week the Lancelots received new orders. They were to take Lord Harris and Tipu Sultan's son to Calcutta, where both would be presented to the Governor General. After an uneventful journey, and a long wait in port, the crew were advised that they were then to accompany Lord Harris to Lahore, where he was to meet with his old school friend the Maharajah of Punjab. The Governor General was alarmed to hear that France was negotiating with the Shah of Persia, and feared that Napoleon might follow in the footsteps of Alexander (and the Moghul emperors) and attempt an invasion of India by land in the north-west. Lord Harris' instructions were to shore up relations with the independent Punjabi state and to ensure that they would side with the British if any such invasion were to pass.

The journey to the Punjab was a long one, involving a trip by sea around the coast of India to Surat, and then across land through the Mahratta States and the lands of the Rajputs. Lord Harris travelled by coach and the officers by horseback, but the Lancelot's crew travelled by foot and their equipment by camel. Outside of the territories held by the East India Company there was little in the way of accomodation, so volumious silken tents were taken.

The Maharajah of Punjab's palace in Lahore was a magnificent affair, and the Lancelot's officers were given a room apiece in a distant wing. However, despite a moderately warm welcome, Lord Harris was quickly disheartened when he discovered that the Pasha Nadir Shek, the Shah of Persia's Foriegn Minister, was ensconced in the finest part of the palace and appeared to already have the Maharajah's ear.

That first night at the Palace the Lancelot's officers were invited to dine with the Maharajah, Lord Harris, the Pasha and other guests. They were treated to a sumptious feast of exotic foods served in luxurious surrounds, and were entertained by musicians and fire-eaters. They learned that the Pasha had bought his harem and there was much gossip in the court about the ladies, none of which had been seen. The court did not have to wait too much longer for a glimpse however, as the Pasha emboldened by drink and the Maharajah's urging summoned several of his women. These arrived heavily swathed in silk, and several bore instruments. Most began to play their instruments while another danced and began shedding her silks. The company gasped when she revealed her face, her pale skin, her blue eyes and her honeyed hair. Before the dance could be completed, the Pasha grew jealous of the looks she gave the British and banished the girl back to her quarters.

Over the next few days' Lord Harris became increasingly concerned that the Pasha would win the Maharajah's favour - and that Napoleon would have a new ally in the East to replace Tipu Sultan. As Lord Harris was kept fully occupied by the demands of the Maharajah, he urged the Lancelots to do what they could to win favour in court and to poison courtiers against the Pasha.

The Lancelots plotted without much success. Indeed, Mr Markwell made his own connections with the Pasha's court - striking a deal with Amir, one of the Pasha's advisors, and a local noble, which would see fine Persian silks traded through the Punjab and then into the hands of his new company. Such an arrangement was probably technically illegal due to Britain's embargo against the Shah, but it promised to be immensely profitable. Lt Carancala meanwhile made enquiries about the dancing girl and found that her name was Christina Taylor (although the Pasha simply called her "English") and that she had been purchased at the slave market in Aleppo. It was said that she had been captured from her family home in Plymouth during a raid by Barbary pirates.
_________________
My favourite roleplaying memory - "Daisy at Colonus", two drunk cowboys and a pantomime cow in a 'reinterpretation' of Sophocles greatest play.
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