AS A LAD, DOUGLAS REEMAN visited Portsmouth Royal Dockyard with his grandfather. It was here that he he first glimpsed Nelson’s flagship at Trafalgar, HMS Victory.

Visitors today enter the Dockyard through Victory Gate, formerly Main Gate, which was completed in 1711. Passing through the gate, you follow the footsteps of kings, queens, admirals, seamen, soldiers and dockyard men who served their country during trying times.

Strolling down Main Road, one’s imagination can lead back to the days of Nelson and Bolitho, with the Mast Pond on the right and Storehouses 9, 10 and 11, with 10's clock tower, on the left, and HMS Victory’s masts rising into view.

These same scenes were an inspiration for Douglas Reeman years later, when, after serving in the Royal Navy during the Second World War and beginning a career as an author, Richard Bolitho was born and he launched To Glory We Steer.

The George Inn, a favorite coaching house for Royal Navy officers, appears on the first page of To Glory We Steer. Sadly, the inn was severely damaged during the Second World War and was demolished. But the inn’s spirit lives on in the Bolitho novels.