The Inshore Squadron are a group of friends in the Solent Area who recreate the naval actions of the Age of Fighting Sail.
The core Squadron consists of Tony Gray and Malcolm Smalley, both from Hampshire, and Alison and Mark Barker, who moved down to Portsmouth from Norfolk during the 1980s.
Together with local wargamer Andrew Bennett, we have regularly refought historical actions over the last few years using a set of computer-moderated rules written by Malcolm, the aim of which is to provide a realistic recreation of the Naval warfare of the time.
The formal founding of the Squadron dates from late 1997, when we contacted the Royal Naval Museum in Portsmouth with a suggestion for an event to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Battle of the Nile, where Admiral Nelson annihilated Napoleon's invasion fleet at Aboukir Bay on the Egyptian coast.
The suggestion was enthusiastically taken up by Museum Deputy Director Colin White and planning began for a public event as part of the Museum's celebration of the Nelson Decade.
The courses of Nelson's ships and the position of the French fleet were meticulously researched from contemporary records, including the often contradictory original ship's logs. This information was then entered into a modified version of the Clear for Action program, together with contemporary hydrographic soundings of the Bay.
The result was a reconstruction of the Bay and the opposing fleets and a detailed animation of the battle and timeline of key events, together with supporting displays of satellite imagery of the Bay as is today and a computer-generated view of the night sky over Egypt as it appeared on that fateful night.
The public display was considered a great success, and led to the Squadron being invited by the Museum, the Nelson Society and the 1805 club to present our recreation of the Battle to the 200th Anniversary Conference at HMS Nelson.
It was a daunting prospect to close the Conference, following presentations by noted naval historians such as Brian Lavery, and invited guests from France who were able to view the action from a different perspective !
We have since been working on a range of new projects including the Dogger Bank refight presented here and a multi-captain recreation of the Nile.