Piracy Then and Now

Earlier this week, we were all regaled with stories of the Royal Navy’s most recent triumph over pirates, off the coast of Somalia. The Times, and others, referred to the incident as “the first time the Royal Navy had been engaged in a fatal shoot-out on the high seas in living memory”. I’m sure I’m not the only one who wondered, perplexed by this weaselly use of imprecise, non-metric measurement, just when the previous shoot-out on the high seas was.

Happily, I’ve managed to come up with the answer. I think.

According to the BBC – whom I love even more after John Bolton whinged and moaned about them on election night – the Royal Navy was battling pirates on the high (China) seas as recently as 1935, when the Brits finally managed to put an end to a problem that had plagued the region for, literally, centuries. It wasn’t all bad, though – the Chinese pirates proved ample fodder for books and movies back in the day, and apparently became something of folk heroes in China, as evidenced by what must be one of the most overlooked and least-edited categories on Wikipedia.

The question of whether 70-something years is or is not within “living memory” aside, it’s good to know the facts, however trivial and useless… and also nice to see that however much the times may change, the RN are still upholding their finer, if little-used, traditions…

Published in: General, History | on November 14th, 2008| Comments Off on Piracy Then and Now

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