formerly the Archives and Collections Society  


Taffrail was the pseudonym used by Captain Henry Taprell Dorling, D.S.O, R.N. (8 September 1883 - 1 July 1968.)

He was born the son of an army officer in Berwick, his birth recorded as Taprell Henry Dorling, later being changed to Henry Taprell Dorling (1908) and H. Taprell Dorling (1910.)

After entering the Royal Navy (HMS Britannia, 1897), he served as a Midshipman in H.M.S. Terrible (South Africa, China and Peking.) He was promoted Sub-Lieutenant in 1902, Lieutenant on 31 December 1904, Lieutenant-Commander on 31 December 1912, Commander on 31 December 1916. He retired with the rank of Captain on 8 September 1929. He variously held command of HMS Lynx, Fairy, Leven, Murray and Telemachus, serving mostly in the North Sea, being mentioned in dispatches, and in 1918, receiving the D.S.O. During World War Two, he returned to service with the Ministry of Information and the Press Bureau, was gazetted on 24 October 1944 and appointed Officer of Legion of Merit for Distinguished Service in the Allied Cause in North Africa, retiring for the second time 30 August 1946.

He was the author of a number of books during the inter-war period, including well acepted historical works and some fiction obviously oriented to encouraging youngsters to join the Royal Navy.

He was thanked by Admiral of the Fleet Viscount Cunningham for a role with his autobiography A sailor's odyssey which may have amounted to ghost-writing.


Revised: 10 September 2017