Published: September 2009
They 'fought like young Nelsons.' The words of a schoolmaster, writing from aboard the Mars after the battle of Trafalgar, describing the valour of his pupils in the heat of battle. Made immortal by the novels of Patrick O'Brian, C. S. Forester and Alexander Kent, these boy sailors, alongside those of every other Royal Navy ship, had entered the British Navy to fight the French across every ocean of the world. There was a long-standing British tradition of children going to sea, and along the way found adventure, glory, wealth and fame. During the Napoleonic Wars, these children, some as young as eight or nine, were also fighting for the very survival of Britain. Drawing on many first-hand accounts, letters, poems and writings, this book tells the dramatic story of Britain's boy sailors during the Napoleonic Wars for the very first time.