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The knowledge that you are reading the words of a man speaking about his times with a casual, often dismissive, ease: the slang, the major and sometimes petty annoyances, and occasional matters of great interest, such as his meeting with Napoleon, makes absorbing reading. And there were surprises, for me at least, along the way.

A.J. Bond

The Adventures of John Wetherell
Edited by: C. S. Forester

C S Forester

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First published in 1954, The Adventures of John Wetherell, is part of a much larger manuscript professing to be a diary kept by seaman John Porritt Wetherell, a native of Whitby, England who was born in 1780 and died sometime after 1834. John Wetherell's records of his nautical life have been long sought after by readers interested in this period of history. Fortunately C. S. Forester acquired the manuscript and selected the most well-written and unforgettable passages for publication in this book. The Adventures of John Wetherell focuses on the period when he was pressed into service on the HMS Hussar and was held captive as a prisoner of war in Givet, France after the Hussar was shipwrecked.

For many life on board ship during the early 19th century was almost unendurable, and although John Wetherell served under a particularly brutal captain, his situation was not atypical. In contrast, life as a prisoner of war had it's advantages. Though prisoners in Givet often suffered from lack of exercise, most had enough to eat and a place to sleep and were able to practice their trades and do business with townspeople, learn subjects like French, navigation, and music, form bands, and even marry.

Over 2300 British seamen survived 10 years of imprisonment in Givet and were marched back through France with their divisions where they were billeted in small towns ― the prison band often performing wherever they stayed ― before eventually returning to England and the homes and lives they treasured so dearly. An observant and sensitive account, John Wetherell's diary is a tribute to the fortitude and spirit of those courageous seamen.

The Adventures of John Wetherell - cover

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