For many years I have been a fan of a much forgotten naval hero - Sir Sidney Smith. He was a contemporary and friend of Nelson's and arguably just as important in the defeat of Napoleon. Amongst other things, he led the defence of the siege of Acre in the Mediterranean and completely destroyed Napoleon's aspirations in Egypt. Like Nelson he was a flawed character but in different ways. He was also incredibly brave and intelligent. His main problem was that despite being a gifted diplomat as well as a naval officer, he seemed to have no concept of self deprecation. Often he would go over the head of his immediate superiors and hence alienate himself from them. Its a shame because in many cases he was subsequently proved totally correct. One wonders what he would have achieved had he learned to be just a little more tactful or for that matter how he would be remembered if he had died young in some glorious battle. Unfortunately history seems to have largely forgotten him now.
One of the aims of the Jacaranda books was to have some fun with modern technology in past times. Sir Sidney was very much an experimenter himself and sponsor of new ideas. In his time it was things like the Congreve rocket, submarines and 'torpedoes' - which were a very different concept to the modern devices.
Readers of the 'Guadeloupe Guillotine' will remember my character Smithy, the scientist from 'Area 52', the secret research base in southern England. So I wonder what would happen if one of the foremost thinkers and fighting sailors of day met up with a modern rocket scientist also called Smith - who knows they could even be related..................
Admiral Sir Sidney Smith, naval officer, diplomat, extrovert and keen amateur experimenter.