The Full Wiki

More info on Alan Villiers

Alan Villiers: Map


Wikipedia article:

Map showing all locations mentioned on Wikipedia article:

Captain Alan John Villiers (23 September 1903 – 3 March 1982) was an author, adventurer, photographer and Master Mariner.

Born in Melbournemarker, Australia, he first went to sea at age 15 and sailed all the world's oceans on board traditionally rigged vessels including the full rigged ship Joseph Conradmarker. He was the author of 25 books, Chairman of the Society for Nautical Research, a Trustee of the National Maritime Museummarker, and Governor of the Cutty Sarkmarker Preservation Society. He was awarded the British Distinguished Service Cross as a Commander in the Royal Naval Reserve during World War II.

Early history

Alan John Villiers was the second son of Australian poet and union leader Leon Joseph Villiers. The young Villiers grew up on the docks watching the merchant ships come in and out of the Port of Melbourne and longed for the day on which he too could sail out to sea.

Leaving home at the age of 15, he joined the barque Rothesay Bay as an apprentice. The Rothesay Bay operated in the Tasman Seamarker trading between Australia and New Zealandmarker. Villiers was a natural seaman. He learned quickly and gained the respect of his shipmates.

An accident on board the barque Lawhill beached Villiers in 1922, by then a seasoned Able Seaman. He sought employment as a journalist at the Hobart Mercury newspaper in Tasmaniamarker while he recovered from his wounds.

Writer and adventurer

The call of the sea was strong, and soon Villiers was back at sea when the great explorer and whaler Carl Anton Larsen and his whaling factory ship, the Sir James Clark Ross came to port with five whale chasers in tow in late 1923. His accounts of the trip would eventually be published as Whaling in the Frozen South. Named for the discoverer of the Ross Seamarker in Antarcticamarker, James Clark Ross, the Ross was the largest whale factory ship in the world, weighing in at 12,000 tons and heading for the Ross Sea, the last whale stronghold left. Villiers writes: "We had caught 228, most of them blues, the biggest over 100 feet long. These yielded 17,000 barrels of oil; we had hoped for at least 40,000, with luck 60,000."

Villiers' passage on board the Herzogin Cecile in 1927 would result in Falmouth for Orders and introduce him to the de Cloux family, who later became his partners in the barque Parma. By Way of Cape Horn came as a result of his harrowing experiences on board the Grace Harwar in 1929.

The full-rigged ship Grace Harwar was a beautiful ship as the "wind in her rigging called imperiously as she lay at the pier at Wallaroo". Yet as Villiers stood on the dock, a wharf laborer warned "Don't ship out in her! She's a killer." The warning would prove true, as Villiers' friend Ronald Walker would be lost by the time Grace Harwar made Irelandmarker. More than 40 years old at the time, she had barnacles and algae growing along her waterline. "Dirty bottoms make slow ships, and slow ships make hard passages." But Villiers here showed an early desire that would continue throughout his life to document the great sailing ships before it was too late, and Grace was one of the last working full-riggers. With a small ill-paid crew and no need for coal, such vessels undercut steam ships, and maybe 20 ships were still involved in the trade. The ill-fated voyage took 138 days, the Grace the last of the fleet for the year, but the experiences netted some 6,000 feet of film and many of the great images we have of the period. Delta Productions in Glendale, California has original audio tracks and film footage from the Dwight Long collection. Long presented "Last of the Great Seadogs", "Square Riggers of the Past" Armchair Adventures lecture series at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion as a motion picture, Los Angeles, California, circa 1976. Delta Productions is in the process of restoration of these sailing films and photos to help preserve the fine art of "Sailing Tall Ships".

Ship Owner and circumnavigator

Villiers reunited with the de Cloux family in 1931, becoming a partner with them in the four-masted barque Parmamarker. Continuing in the grain trade, he would prove to be an able shiphandler. In 1932 he won the unofficial "grain race" between the ships of the trade, arriving in 103 days despite broaching in a gale. In 1933, he made it in 83 days.

Selling his shares back to the de Cloux family, Villiers then went on to purchase the Georg Stage in 1934. A full rigged sailing ship of 400 tons, originally built in 1882 by Burmeister & Wain in Copenhagenmarker, Denmarkmarker, she was employed as a sailing school ship by Stiftelsen Georg Stages Minde.

Saving her from the scrapyard, Villiers renamed her the Joseph Conradmarker after the accomplished seaman and author of such nautical favorites as The Nigger of the 'Narcissus', Typhoon, and The Shadow-Line.

A sail training pioneer, Villiers circumnavigated the globe with an amateur crew, using the unique environment of the sea to build character and discipline in his young crew and, with his contemporaries Irving and Exy Johnson, he helped form the modern concept of sail training as a tool not to teach youth for a life at sea, but to use the sea to teach youth for life.

Returning almost two years later, Villiers sold the Joseph Conrad to George Huntington Hartford, and published two books of their adventures, Cruise of the "Conrad" and Stormalong. The Joseph Conrad can be found as a museum ship at Mystic Seaport where she continues to educate the youth of today in the rich history of the age of sail.

World War II

A LCI(L) during the Invasion of Sicily - 1943
With the outbreak of World War II, Villiers was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1940. He served in Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk as Stukas dived in on the weary troops and the vessels charged with evacuating them across the Channelmarker.

He soon found himself assigned to a convoy of 24 LCI(L)'s, or Landing craft, Infantry (Large). Ordered to deliver them across the Atlanticmarker with a 40 percent loss rate expected, Villiers got all but one safely across. He would go on to see action commanding "flights" of LCI(L)'s on D-Day in the Battle of Normandymarker, the Invasion of Sicily, and the Burma Campaign in the Pacificmarker.

By the end of the War, Villiers had been promoted to Commander, awarded the British Distinguished Service Cross and made a Commander of the Portuguese Order of St. James of the Sword for his gallant conduct.

Later years

Married in 1940 to his second wife Nancie, Villiers settled in Oxford, Englandmarker, and continued to be active in sailing and writing. He was the Captain of the Mayflower II in her 1957 maiden voyage across the Atlantic, 337 years after the original Mayflower, and beating her predecessor's time of 67 days by 13 days. He has been involved in almost every large historical sailing ship still in existence including the Balcluthamarker, the USCGC Eagle, the Falls of Clyde, the Gazela, the Sagres IImarker, and would also prove instrumental in the restoration of the Star of Indiamarker. Cadets at the Outward Bound Sea School in Wales remember him as skipper of their training ship "Warspite". He was also involved in the creation of the replica of the HM Bark Endeavour and advised on the 1962 MGM movie Mutiny on the Bounty. Villiers was a regular contributor to the National Geographic Magazine throughout the 1950s and 1960s.

Villiers served as Chairman of the Society for Nautical Research, a Trustee of the National Maritime Museummarker, and Governor of the Cutty Sarkmarker Preservation Society. He died on 3 March 1982.



  • A.J. Villiers; Whaling In The Frozen South (1925 The Bobbs-Merrill co.)
  • Alan Villiers; The Wind Ship (1928) Hurst & Blackett, Ltd.)
  • A.J. Villiers; Falmouth for Orders (1929 Henry Holt and Company)
  • A.J. Villiers; By way of Cape Horn (1930 Henry Holt and Co); illustrated with photographs taken by Ronald Gregory Walker and the author
  • A.J. Villiers; Sea Dogs of Today (1931 Henry Holt & Company)
  • Alan Villiers; Vanished Fleets (1931 Charles Scribner's Sons, ISBN 0-684-14112-4)
  • Alan Villiers; The Sea in Ships (1932 G. Routledge and Sons Ltd.)
  • A.J. Villiers; Voyage of the "Parma"; The Great Grain Race of 1932 (1933 G. Bles)
  • Alan Villiers; Grain Race (1933 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan J. Villiers; With over 200 photographs by the author; Last of the Wind Ships (1934 William Morrow and Co)
  • Alan Villiers; The Sea in Ships (1934 William Morrow and Co)
  • Alan Villiers; Cruise of the Conrad (1937 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Stormalong (1937 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan J. Villiers; The Making of a Sailor (1938 William Morrow and Co)
  • Alan Villiers; Illustrated by Victor J. Dowling Joey Goes To Sea (1939 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Sons of Sinbad (1940 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Illustrated with woodcuts by Charles Pont; Whalers of the Midnight Sun (1947 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; The Set of the Sails; The Story of a Cape Horn Seaman (1949 Hodder and Stoughton)
  • John Villiers; The Coral Sea (1949 Museum Press)
  • Alan Villiers; The Quest of the Schooner Argus (1951 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; The Indian Ocean (1952 Museum Press)
  • Alan Villiers; Monsoon Seas (1952 McGraw Hill)
  • Alan Villiers; Illustrated by Jean Main and David Cobb And Not To Yield; A Story of the Outward Bound School of Adventure (1953 Scribner)
  • Alan Villiers with an introduction by the Duke of Edinburgh; The Cutty Sark; Last of A Glorious Era (1953 Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Alan Villiers; The Way of a Ship (1953 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Sailing Eagle (1955 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Pioneers of the Seven Seas (1956 Routledge & Paul)
  • Alan Villiers; Wild Ocean (1957 McGraw Hill)
  • Alan Villiers; The New Mayflower (1958 Scribner)
  • Alan Villiers; Give me a ship to sail (1959 Charles Scribner's Sons)
  • Alan Villiers; Of Ships and Men, a Personal Anthology (1962 Newnes)
  • Alan Villiers; The Ocean; Man's Conquest of the Sea (1963 Dutton)
  • Alan Villiers; Oceans of the World; Man's Conquest of the Sea (1963 Museum Press Ltd.)
  • Alan Villiers; The Battle of Trafalgar (1965 Macmillan)
  • Alan Villiers; Captain Cook (1967 Scribner)
  • Alan Villiers; The Deep Sea Fishermen (1970 Hodder and Stoughton)
  • Alan Villiers; The War with Cape Horn (1971 Pan Books Ltd., ISBN 0-330-23697-0)
  • Alan Villiers; With Drawings by Mark Myers; My Favourite Sea Stories (1972 Lutterworth Press)
  • Alan Villiers and Henri Picard; The Bounty Ships of France (1972 Charles Scribner's Sons, ISBN 0-684-13184-6)
  • Alan Villiers; Foreword by Melville Bell Grosvenor; Men Ships and the Sea (1973 National Geographic Society, ISBN 0-87044-018-7)
  • Alan Villiers; Posted Missing (1974 Charles Scribner's Sons, ISBN 0-684-13871-9)
  • Alan Villiers; Voyaging With The Wind: An Introduction to Sailing Large Square Rigged Ships (1975 H.M. Stationery Office)


External links

Embed code:

Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address