Chairman Bill Blades opened the meeting by advising that the Church Jumble Sale had raised £252 the previous Saturday and thanked those members who had donated items to it. A change to the March programe was advised with Mr John Bevers talk on “World Heritage Sites in the North” being brought forward to the 19th March and “Members Stories” moving to 26th March. Volunteers for 10/15 minute slots are still needed for “Members Stories” morning and those wishing to take part should contact John Taylor.

This morning’s talk was given by Vice Chairman Michael Cochrane whose title “Le Loup Des Mers” (The Sea Wolf) was  a nickname given to Navel Officer Thomas Cochrane by the French as he was a daring and successful Captain in the Napoleonic Wars and members were regaled with tales of his early life and career.

Thomas Cochrane was destined for the Royal Navy from the age of five, a common but unlawful practice known as False Muster which was a means of acquiring years of service required for promotion. Starting genuinely at age seventeen Thomas Cochrane  served on a number of navel vessels such as H.M.S. Hind, H.M.S. Thetis and H.M.S. Barfleur . During service on H.M.S. Barfleur he was court- martialled  for showing disrespect, a clash with authority that would hinder his career going forward. We heard about some of his successful exploits, acquisition and sharing of prize monies, his command of the Brig Sloop H.M.S. Speedy and some of the tactics he used when in threatening situations e.g. flying enemy flags: claiming plague on his ship and using lanterns on barrels to float away and deceive the enemy at night. Other exploits included the capture of the Spanish Frigate El Gamo and much success against the French before a tentative peace broke out. Leaving the Navy to attend Edinburgh University he rejoined when war resumed but was assigned a very poor vessel; however his situation markedly improved with a change of government and personnel at the Admiralty.

Mr Michael Cochrane concluded his morning’s talk with the tantalizing prospect for the audience of a second half to Thomas Cochrane’s extraordinary life and exploits to be advised at a later date!!

A vote of thanks was given by Neil Ramshaw.


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