- Book reviewer
- Ship histories and stories, Book reviews, History - pre-Federation, Royal Navy
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- December 2005 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The Voyage of HMS Herald 1861. By LCDR Andrew David RN. Miegunyah Press, (The Miegunyah Press is an imprint of Melbourne University Press).
This is the authoritative account of one of the longest and most important surveying cruises of the golden age of world hydrography. The voyage of HMS Herald, under the command of Henry Mangles Denham, encompasses much of the South West Pacific and substantial parts of the Australian coast. From 1852 to 1861, the Herald surveyed and charted known land masses and suspected hazards, thereby establishing safe routes for shipping. That some of these charts are still in use is testimony to the accuracy and skill of those who created them.
Commander David makes extensive use of the journals of Denham and his officers to describe mid-nineteenth century techniques of surveying and charting, often undertaken in hazardous conditions. His book also provides an unusual and often entertaining view of the difficulties experienced in field work.
The collection of natural history specimens, another part of the Herald’s task, resulted in significant additions to British collections. Botanical and ornithological discoveries are described using current nomenclature, and the habits of some species now threatened or extinct are examined through the journals of the ship’s scientists.
The South West Pacific at the time of Denham’s voyages was simultaneously a mission field, a site of commercial activity, and a colonial outpost. The accounts of the Herald’s contacts with native peoples are enriched by detailed descriptions of cultural practices, and give an insight into the complex and often uneasy relationships between colonial officials, missionaries and natives.
Almost a decade’s voyaging brought the ship and her crew to remote and inhospitable locations, threatened them with storms, disease, hunger and illness, and separated them from home and families. It also earned for them a lasting place in the history of maritime surveying.
Andrew David joined the Royal Navy in 1943 and made a career at sea for more than 40 years, largely in the Hydrography service, including command of the survey ship HMS Medusa in 1961, and retiring in 1985. A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, he is chief editor of “The Charts and Coastal Views of Captain Cook’s Voyages” published by the Hakluyt Society.