Churchill's Admiral in Two World Wars:

Churchill's Admiral in Two World Wars:

Jim Croddley
ARRSE Rating
4.5 Mushroom Heads
Roger Keyes was the archetype of 19th to 20th century Royal Navy officers. A superb seaman, inspiring leader and fearless fighter he immediately caught the eye of senior figures in the naval establishment as well as the up and coming politician, Winston Churchill. The relationship between these two brave men survived disappointment, disagreement and eventually disillusion. Unlike some of his contemporaries Keyes was unable to make the transition from sailor to politician and was inclined to embarrass his friends and allies by his intemperate language and total lack of political acumen. Always eager to lead from the front and hurl himself at the enemy his mind set tended to be that of a junior officer trying to prove himself, not that of a senior Admiral. Trained in some of the last of Britain's sailing warships, Keyes served in submarines in the North Sea, destroyers in China and as a senior staff officer in the disastrous Gallipoli campaign. As commander of the Dover Patrol he planned and led the highly controversial Zeebrugge Raid and successfully combated U-boats passing along the English Channel. In World War II he begged to be given a combat command but, in spite of their close personal friendship, Churchill realised that he was too old to be suitable for a front line role and his undisguised contempt for many senior Naval and Air Force officers made him extremely unpopular in official circles. To his credit, Churchill did not let his personal friendship and admiration of Keyes blind him to his temperamental and intellectual limitations. Both men were big enough not to let professional conflict destroy mutual personal admiration and friendship.

What a delightful book, you might think that this is an odd description for a Nelsonian Seafarer who saw action in parts of two centuries from said to steam. Well this was a really interesting and well biography. Our Admiral like them all started from the bottom (literally at just over five foot tall and 5 stone in a wet raincoat) as a very young midshipman growing into a very tall and youthful looking captain who saw action in China . He was an accomplished Sail master who spent time on the King's yacht then to his dismay was posted to a small ship.

However adversity did not dishearten him and we have the boys own story of his service in the famous Zeebrugge raid and thence on to the Second World War, Dunkirk and Admiral of the Mediterranean. As a great person and friend of Churchill he could have gone even further except he was not a politicking man as mentioned above.

A superb story well written and worth 4.5 mushroom heads as a mere pongo I thoroughly enjoyed his story. Get hold of a copy troops.

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