Navy Net - Royal Navy Community

Register a free account today to become a member! Once signed in, you'll be able to participate on this site by adding your own topics and posts, as well as connect with other members through your own private inbox!

Who Wants their own copy of Patrick O'brians Red Sailor?


This is the fictional story about Able Seaman Varn serving in His Majesties Imperial Navy just as the Korean War is kicking off. He's a typical Jolly Jack as sailors used to be when Royal Navy sailors were sung about feted and admired, had hearts of gold, were irreverent of authority, lewd, funny and hard as nails.

Quite evocative reading for any who have served during the sixties and before - unfortunately to today's serving sailors, ham strung as they are with political correctness, health & safety, dignity at work, lord knows what else and who go on operations listening to an iPod then bursting into tears when it’s taken away - it is a totally unrecognisable Navy. This book is ideal for ex-Royal Navy personnel.

The jargon in it is pure navy speak – have The Pusser’s Rum publication “Slanguage” to hand if you haven’t served, as much of it will not be understood by "landlubbers!" The story however is an excellent pastiche of naval life in the fifties and early sixties. The main character, Able Seaman Varne is also a typical Jack-me-hearty of the period. This was the post war golden age of the Royal Navy when the navy was a worldwide force and a tot of rum was gold dust, used almost as currency and imbibed on a daily basis.

The story is set aboard a destroyer HMS Homage on the Far East Station. There is action, and graphic details of life aboard a warship, and runs ashore a plenty.

In one particular scene, Varne, forever "in the rattle” for one misdemeanour or another, has the opportunity to have all forgiven, redeem himself and to shine in his senior officers eyes by winning a boxing match and also a prestigious cup for the ship. In a boxing match well described with all the sweat and snot reminiscent of any of The Rocky series, he does win, then sells the cup in a backstreet and spends the money on a Japanese woman.

O'Hara was obviously either in the R.N., or had firsthand experience of a sailor's life. A superb read!


War Hero
Interesting in that its a reprint of the 1903 edition

Its a facsimile of the original book which had an error stating that it was printed in 1903, should have stated 1963.
The description in the one for sale on Ebay item number


War Hero
My copy of the "Red Sailor2 Arrived today, pretty quickly as it had to come from India.
Looks like the book has been photocopied rather than set in type or scanned and text recognition software used.
However for the price it is certainly readable and I am looking forward to reading it.


Lantern Swinger
Just finished reading it. Good dits, but not worth the price asked for the original. My copy was £14 from Amazon, hard back with dust cover. Sent from India.


War Hero
Well I am half way through reading the book and I have a couple of questions.
I joined in 1963 and never heard of women referred to as pushers. I also never heard of the mob being referred to as the Imperial navy.
Can anyone enlighten me?


War Hero
Well I am half way through reading the book and I have a couple of questions.
I joined in 1963 and never heard of women referred to as pushers. I also never heard of the mob being referred to as the Imperial navy.
Can anyone enlighten me?
"Pushers", yep, along with "Parties". I was in also in the 60s and it was a common description for a bird. :cool:


War Hero
Best I can come up with, it indeed was a service slang word for a prostitute but became obsolete (??) when the use for a drug pusher overrode it. There was also a "Square pusher" who was a girl of good reputation. Probably a word shrouded in the mists of time. From my own experience, as I remember, it was simply a term used to describe a girl/woman. :cool:
Well that's it then, life will never be the same. My sole reason for agreeing to be dragged around car boot sales and charity shops is over. Its like finding you can get hold of the Holy Grail at Tesco's.:(

Jan H

Thanks to the first guy that found it and started the ball rolling. Just ordered my copy. Like Rogersthecabinboy said its like finding the Holy Grail at Tesco's. I read it when I was on the Tenby 63/4 and the one copy went round the stokers mess quicker than a ten bob hooker. In those days there were still a sprinkling of three badgemen in JR's messes with Korean and Suez medals so even better for them that someone took the time to write about them and their time from the JR point of view, laced with vast amounts of cynicism. Even 50 years on I can still remember the line prior to the boxing match where his mate said ' there are watches as a prize' and he said yeah f****** middle watches. I thought that statement summed up our view of the management!! I still occasionally use the term imperial navy today. At the time O'Hara got it spot on. Although about Korea He wrote it after Suez so Irony and cynicism all rolled into one showing that the messdecks had a more realistic notion of our new place in the world than they did on 1 deck!
Thread starter Similar threads Forum Replies Date
MoD_RSS Who wants to be typical? Be Yourself! MoD News 0
soleil Sun: "Prince Philip Wants Princess Anne To Head Up The Royal Marines Once Harry Quits" The Corps 47
MoD_RSS Counter Terrorism Policing wants you to put security at the top of your festive list MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt: UK wants to be partner of choice across Africa MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Counter Terrorism Policing wants Christmas security all wrapped up MoD News 0
S any hope for a single mum, ex RN who wants to get into RNR? Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) 35
Passed-over_Loggie Parliament Wants ARRSE Current Affairs 4
A 15yr old daughter wants to join reserves - advice please Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) 32
wet_blobby Who wants a mega bucks easy job? Diamond Lil's 2
trelawney126 Rat wants to Join Sinking Ship Diamond Lil's 4
soleil Pompey News: "Minister Wants End To Review Over Royal Navy Jets" The Fleet Air Arm 4
F Who wants to be a (Multi) millionaire Diamond Lil's 33
P Portsmouth News wants to hear your HMS Ark Royal stories Films, Music, TV & All Things Artsy 6
soleil Mail: U.S. Wants A Carrier On The Thames During Olympics Current Affairs 19
Merlin28 Who wants to give me £5,000 The Quarterdeck 8
2_deck_dash Who wants a fight? Diamond Lil's 53
D Pete wants out............... Diamond Lil's 8
trelawney126 Milliband Wants Strong EU for Britain Current Affairs 0
The_Jimmy Schoolgirl wants to be round the world sailor Current Affairs 5
WhizzbangDai USAF wants prop planes back, drops the whizzy ones for COIN! The Quarterdeck 8
T Every mum wants WAFOO for a son and SEAMAN for her daughter Diamond Lil's 4
NotmeChief Who wants one of these? The Quarterdeck 19
Cpt_Black Who wants to be an American idiot? The Internet - Best and Worst 3
wavijunk EU wants our overseas bases Current Affairs 24
R SFA-can you get it if your not married?(gf wants to move in) Nearest & Dearest 4
soleil Who Wants to be a Millionaire-Armed Forces Special-Tonight Current Affairs 50
J aussie soldier wants to join RM COMMANDOS International 2
S-Boat_Dinosaur Town wants to be associated with submarines The Quarterdeck 9
T Des Browne wants to silence Coroners' verdicts Current Affairs 12
P ARRSE WANTS YOU!! travian Gaming 12
D I'm Back so which one of you feckers wants a fight? Diamond Lil's 15
H Know anyone that wants to Join Glasgow Holding troop RMR 0
sgtpepperband What to wear when your wife wants you to do something... The Gash Barge 13
wet_blobby fcuk it who wants a holiday? The Gash Barge 7
Shakey Deacon brain-box wants to go into outer space Diamond Lil's 3
MoD_RSS Boost for families wishing to build their own home MoD News 0
soleil FB: Royal Navy And Royal Marines Charity - Hosting Your Own Trafalgar Night/Pickle Night Dinner History 2
MoD_RSS Choose your own Analysis Adventure MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Lewes couple who befriended and robbed disabled man in his own home jailed for longer MoD News 0
MoD_RSS HMRC defeats promoter who used their own avoidance scheme MoD News 0
soleil Royal Navy And Royal Marines Charity - Build Your Own Aircraft Carrier Charity 2
MoD_RSS 200 people to spend Christmas off the streets and in their own homes thanks to innovative government programme Housing First MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Government confirms commitment to preventing public institutions setting up their own international boycotts MoD News 0
slim Electric Cars Anyone Own One? Which is the best type to Buy? Current Affairs 21
MoD_RSS Guatemala holds its own Business and Human Rights Forum MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Addressing the Syrian government's persecution of its own people MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: Woman who robbed her own grandfather jailed MoD News 0
MoD_RSS Press release: £1 million funding for communities to create their own pocket parks MoD News 0
MoD_RSS News story: Scientists move away from the keyboard to beat cyber attackers at their own game MoD News 0
Similar threads

Latest Threads