British naval aviation might be said to have begun in Weymouth Bay in May 1912, when Lieutenant Charles Samson was the first to take off from a moving ship, HMS Hibernia. It was perhaps a publicity stunt by Winston Churchill, the young First Lord of the Admiralty, who desperately wanted money for naval aviation in the teeth of the hugely expensive battleship building programme. However, The Royal Naval Service flourished after that – as well as leading the world in naval aviation, it invented the armoured car, tank, fighter defence of cities and the strategic bomber.
Brian Lavery was born in 1945 in the shipbuilding town of Dumbarton. He began to write books in the 1970s, and worked for 16 years in museums, starting at Chatham Historic Dockyard and then in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, where he is currently a Curator Emeritus. Though he is best known for his work on sailing ships of the seventeenth to nineteenth century, he has also published several books on nineteenth and twentieth century ships and navies.
Lavery was an historical consultant on Peter Weir‘s 2003 blockbuster, ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World’, starring Russell Crowe. In 2007, he was presented with the Desmond Wettern Maritime Media Award for contributing ‘to our understanding of the social structure of Britain’s maritime power and all maritime aspects of British national life’. In the following year he won the Anderson Medal of the Society for Nautical Research. In 2009, he wrote The Sunday Times bestselling book to accompany the BBC series Empire of the Seas.