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Authors: Dudley Pope

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BOOK: Buccaneer
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Copyright & Information



First published in 1981

Copyright: Kay Pope; House of Stratus 1981-2010


All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior permission of the publisher. Any person who does any unauthorised act in relation to this publication may be liable to criminal prosecution and civil claims for damages.


The right of Dudley Pope to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted.


This edition published in 2010 by House of Stratus, an imprint of

Stratus Books Ltd., 21 Beeching Park, Kelly Bray,

Cornwall, PL17 8QS, UK.


Typeset by House of Stratus.


A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library and the Library of Congress.




This is a fictional work and all characters are drawn from the author’s imagination.

Any resemblance or similarities to persons either living or dead are entirely coincidental.


About the Author


Dudley Bernard Egerton Pope
was born in Ashford, Kent on 29 December 1925. When at the tender age of fourteen World War II broke out and Dudley attempted to join the Home Guard by concealing his age. At sixteen, once again using a ruse, he joined the merchant navy a year early, signing papers as a cadet with the Silver Line. They sailed between Liverpool and West Africa, carrying groundnut oil.

Before long, his ship was torpedoed in the Atlantic and a few survivors, including Dudley, spent two weeks in a lifeboat prior to being rescued. His injuries were severe and because of them he was invalided out of the merchant service and refused entry into the Royal Navy when officially called up for active service aged eighteen.

Turning to journalism, he set about ‘getting on with the rest of his life’, as the Naval Review Board had advised him. He graduated to being Naval and Defence correspondent with the London Evening News in 1944. The call of the sea, however, was never far away and by the late 1940’s he had managed to acquire his first boat. In it, he took part in cross-channel races and also sailed off to Denmark, where he created something of a stir, his being one of the first yachts to visit the country since the war.

In 1953 he met Kay, whom he married in 1954, and together they formed a lifelong partnership in pursuit of scholarly adventure on the sea. From 1959 they were based in Porto Santo Stefano in Italy for a few years, wintering on land and living aboard during the summer. They traded up boats wherever possible, so as to provide more living space, and Kay Pope states:

‘In September 1963, we returned to England where we had bought the 53 foot cutter
Golden Dragon
and moved on board where she lay on the east coast. In July 1965, we cruised down the coasts of Spain and Portugal, to Gibraltar, and then to the Canary Islands. Early November of the same year we then sailed across the Atlantic to Barbados and Grenada, where we stayed three years.

Our daughter, Victoria was 4 months old when we left the UK and 10 months when we arrived in Barbados. In April 1968, we moved on board
in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands and lost our mainmast off St Croix, when attempting to return to Grenada.’


The couple spent the next nine years cruising between the British Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, before going to Antigua in 1977 and finally St.Martin in 1979.

The sea was clearly in Pope’s blood, his family having originated in Padstow, Cornwall and later owning a shipyard in Plymouth. His great-grandfather had actually preceded him to the West Indies when in 1823, after a spell in Canada, he went to St.Vincent as a Methodist missionary, before returning to the family business in Devon.

In later life, Dudley Pope was forced to move ashore because of vertigo and other difficulties caused by injuries sustained during the war. He died in St.Martin in 1997, where Kay now lives. Their daughter, Victoria, has in turn inherited a love of the sea and lives on a sloop, as well as practising her father's initial profession of journalism.

As an experienced seaman, talented journalist and historian, it was a natural progression for Pope to write authoritative accounts of naval battles and his first book,
Flag 4: The Battle of Coastal Forces in the Mediterranean
, was published in 1954. This was followed in 1956 by the
Battle of the River Plate
, which remains the most accurate and meticulously researched account of this first turning point for Britain in World War II. Many more followed, including the biography of Sir Henry Morgan, (
Harry Morgan’s Way
) which has one won wide acclaim as being both scholarly and thoroughly readable. It portrays the history of Britain’s early Caribbean settlement and describes the Buccaneer’s bases and refuges, the way they lived, their ships and the raids they made on the coast of central America and the Spain Main, including the sack of Panama.

Recognising Pope’s talent and eye for detail, C.S. Forrester (the creator of the
Hornblower Series
) encouraged him to try his hand at fiction. The result, in 1965, was the appearance of the first of the
novels, followed by a further seventeen culminating with
Ramage and the Dido
which was published in 1989. These follow the career and exploits of a young naval officer, Nicholas Ramage, who was clearly named after Pope’s yacht. He also published the ‘
Ned Yorke
’ series of novels, which commences as would be expected in the Caribbean, in the seventeenth century, but culminates in
with a Ned Yorke of the same family many generations on fighting the Battle of the Atlantic.

All of Dudley Pope’s works are renowned for their level of detail and accuracy, as well as managing to bring to the modern reader an authentic feeling of the atmosphere of the times in which they are set.


‘Expert knowledge of naval history’- Guardian


“An author who really knows Nelson’s navy” - Observer


‘The best of Hornblower’s successors’ - Sunday Times


‘All the verve and expertise of Forrester’ - Observer





For Jane: with love


Hispaniola & the Spanish Main


Chapter One

Now the wind had died, the cloying smell of charcoal once again covered the island and soaked into the folds of his jerkin so that every movement provoked puffs, like pumping a blacksmith’s bellows. Yorke wished that his father had bought a plantation on the windward side where the Trade winds arrived cool and fresh after crossing the Atlantic, free of wood smoke and the warm, damp stench of the dung of the cattle, hogs, horses and mules which ranged the length of the ropes tethering their hind legs.

Clearing the island of the Brazil wood forests sufficiently to farm it properly was going to take years, he thought irritably. Thirty years ago the first few settlers had been hard put to find an acre clear of trees and later arrivals began buying so-called plantations comprising either flat sandy scrub or woods which they had to clear, felling the trees and digging up the roots.

Some of the poorer planters with only a few white indentured servants had tried various ways of killing the roots instead of digging (the dry season made the trees go wide or deep searching for water) but usually ended up ploughing round them. Gouging a basin-like depression in the top of the root and filling it with turpentine did not work very well; nor did Stockholm tar, because the heat of the tropical sun dried up the liquors before they soaked deep enough into the sap-sodden wood to kill it.

Yorke’s method, which he was still using on the tiny corner of the estate yet to be cleared, was simpler and more effective, although provoking the scorn of his neighbours. He had the servants strip a foot-wide band of bark from just above ground level, and within a few weeks the tree was obviously dying. In a year or so the burrowing termites would reduce it to a riddled shell, but a sudden gale of wind often saved the bother of cutting it down, so the trunk could be burned where it fell or sawn up for the cooking ovens, while the root was soon dry enough to burn out.

BOOK: Buccaneer
13.13Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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