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HMS Bellerophon Ships log – 1st July 1815

Location: Off Isle de Re
Winds:  Light. Clear.
Water expended 2 ½ tons. Remaining 202 tons

We spoke to a ship from Rochefort, the master of which gave information, that the frigates in Aix Roads had taken in their powder, and were in all respects ready to put to sea; also, that several gentlemen in plain clothes, and some ladies, supposed to form part of Buonaparte’s suite, had arrived at Isle d’Aix: in short, upon the whole, that there was little doubt of its being his intention to effect his escape, if possible, from that place, in the frigates. On receiving this information, I anchored the Bellerophon as close to the French squadron as the batteries would permit, kept guard-boats rowing all night, and prepared my ship’s company for the description of action in which I thought it was probable they would be engaged. I trained one hundred of the stoutest men, selecting them from the different stations in the ship; it being my intention, after firing into and silencing one frigate, to run the Bellerophon alongside of her, throw that party in, and then, leaving her in charge of the first lieutenant, to have proceeded in chase of the other.

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HMS Bellerophon Ships log – 30th June 1815

Location: Off Isle de Re
Winds:  Light. Clear.
Water expended 2 ½ tons. Remaining 219 tons

On the 30th, a boat came off from Bourdeaux, bringing the following letter, without date or subscription, written on very thin paper in English, and concealed within a quill.

With great degree of certainty, being informed that Buonaparte might have come last night through this city from Paris, with the new Mayor of Bourdeaux, with a view to flight, by the mouth of this river, or La Teste,

“A sharp eye must be kept on all American vessels, and particularly on the Susquehannah, of Philadelphia, Captain Caleb Cushing; General Bertand and another goes with him. The two entrances of Bourdeaux and La Teste must be kept close; a line or two is expected, on the return of the bearer from the Admiral, or Chief Officer on the Station. As this is writing, the news is spread generally, that the Duc de Berri and Lord Wellington are in Paris.”

I immediately despatched HMS Cephalus to patrol off the river at Arcasson and HMS Myrmidion to Bordeaux. I remained close inshore off Isle de Re.

Note: There are three channels in and out of Rochefort and Bellerophon stayed close inshore to provide the most effective cover, often sending boats out at night to patrol the other channels.

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Ink Quill message?
Ink Quill message?
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HMS Bellerophon Ships log – 27th June 1815

Location: Off Isle de Re
Winds: W. Light. Cloudy
Water expended 2 ½ tons. Remaining 239 tons

 The Brig-sloop HMS Cephalus joined us, bringing with her the declaration of war against France; after which we were employed several days, taking and destroying chasse-marées, and other small coasting vessels.

Note: Captain Maitland often used captured vessels as targets to practice gunnery. When HMS Cephalus joined she was towing a small sailing boat and this was duly destroyed by gunfire!

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Naval Gun

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Salty sea dogs?

One wouldn’t naturally think of looking to a dog for inspiration when designing a boat shoe yet that’s exactly what Paul Sperry did in 1935. As a keen sailor he was looking for ways to stop his shoes slipping on wet decks when he happened to notice that his dog never lost its footing. Close inspection of his paws revealed that they were covered in tiny grooves and when Mr Sperry imitated these by putting razor cuts into the rubber soles of his shoes the results were miraculous. The boat shoe was born!

Billy Ruffian boat shoes are handsewn on the last using American oil tanned leather, have razor cut rubber soles, solid brass eyelets and robust latigo laces. In a nutshell they are comfortable, durable and perfectly adapted to a life on the deck, be it in the back garden for a barbeque or off Cowes for the Fastnet!

Salty Sea Dogs?
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HMS Bellerophon Ships log – 21st June 1815

Location: Basque Roads
Winds: W. Light breeze and rain
Water expended 2 ½ tons. Remaining 244 tons

I detained and sent to the Admiral, under charge of the Eridanus, the Marianne French transport, from Martinique, having on board 220 of the 9th regiment of light infantry, coming to France to join the army under Buonaparte. The Eridanus was sent to England with her, and did not return to me, being employed on other service.

Note: HMS Eridanus was a Scamander class Frigate built in 1812. Unusually she was built of pine due to the shortage of Oak. The experiment was not a success and she was paid off in 1818.

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HMS Bellerophon Ship’s log – 18th June 1815

Location: Basque Roads
Winds: S.W Fresh breezes and cloudy
Water expended 2 ½ tons. Remaining 251 tons

 I detained and sent to Sir Henry Hotham, the Æneas French store-ship, commanded by a lieutenant of the navy, with a crew of fifty men, loaded with ship-timber for the arsenal of Rochefort; but he, being of opinion that she did not come within the intention of the order, liberated her.

Note: Sir Henry Hotham was the Admiral in command of all the English ships blockading France and was in HMS Superb off Quiberon bay, some 120 miles to the North.

News that Britain and France were at war didn’t reach the blockading squadron until the 27th June, 9 days after the battle of Waterloo!

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Waterloo

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HMS Bellerophon Ship’s Log – 11th June 1815

Location: Basque Roads off Rochefort
Winds: N. Strong breezes and cloudy
Water expended: 2½ tons

Overnight our ships were driven off station to the south and were unable to prevent the French corvette Vesuve coming in from the Northward. She was from Guadeloupe and immediately in passing the Chasseron light-house, hoisted the tricoloured flag.

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Captain_Frederick_Lewis_Maitland

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Bellerophon Ship’s Log Commemorates 200th Anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo

This June marks two hundred years since our namesake, the HMS Bellerophon in the company of the frigates HMS Myrmidon and HMS Slaney was on blockade duty in the Basque Roads off the French port of Rochefort, commanded by Captain Frederick Maitland. As the events of Napoleon’s last campaign unfolded she would find herself at the centre of the final, dramatic act which would make the Billy Ruffian famous across the world.

At Billy Ruffian HQ we thought that it would be fun to follow the events of 200 years ago with our own ship’s log, tracing the story of the Bellerophon. You can keep up with the story here in the Billy Ruffian Log Book or follow us on Twitter – @BillyRShoes.

HMS_Bellerophon_and_Napoleon