"Empire of the Seas" No Really!

#1
The BBC are playing the naval history card during this cold dark January.

Young Dan Snow fronts a... etc...etc...

One big point made a serious impression on this viewer, the Royal Navy was forged in AGGRESSIVE ACTION.

One Admiral Bing didn't get the message and was executed by firing squad for cowardice.

As a result of this encouragement Admiral Hawke attacked an enemy fleet through shoals, in gathering darkness, against unfavourable winds despite the professional advice of his ship's captain to stand off until daylight.

He Beat the c**p out of the French at Quiberon Bay and showed the way for 100 years.

No finger pointing thus far this thread, but in my humble opinion the senior service has lost its way and might choose to reflect on the real lessons of its glorious history.

B
 
#3
And the ARMY and RAF have not lost there way, its the MOD thats wandering in the wilderness, lunacy is an illness of the head
 
#4
2 poimts on this.

1. You have to have someone to be aggressive against, unfortunately everyone is our friend now.

2. You have to have a government that actually gives a toss.
 
#5
Already got a thread on this here: Military History Thread

Interesting to note that the Byng execution was the incident that gave birth to the phrase 'pour encourager les autres' c/o Voltaire; "in this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others".
 
#6
All comments appreciated.

Strange to relate, the British Government has directed the armed forced to take action in various parts of the world.

My point is that despite a climate of risk aversion, bold, decisive action, aka leadership is the way to get results.

RoE, litigation, international human rights, just obeying orders?

Nelson put his blind eye to his telescope, "I see no ships".

B
 
#7
bakerlite said:
One Admiral Bing didn't get the message and was executed by firing squad for cowardice.
Admiral Bing had served on the Courts Martial of several officers who'd violated the highly-restrictive manoeuvring code in force at the time and learned the obvious lesson from that that you don't break those rules if you want to continue as an officer in the RN.

It was his insistence on sticking to the rules of manoeuvre at the expense of speed of pursuit that got him shot, rather than cowardice (except possibly of the moral sort, although he'd been game enough to point out what a pile of shite his mission was beforehand). If he'd ignored the rules and lost a couple of ships through collision, he'd doubtless have been cashiered.

Incidentally, the appeals for clemency from Parliament led George II to reply, "You have taught me to look for the sense of my people elsewhere than in the House of Commons." Plus ca change. :D
 
#8
smartascarrots said:
It was his insistence on sticking to the rules of manoeuvre at the expense of speed of pursuit that got him shot,
Funny, I thought he was shot for saving his ships and running back to Gib to fight another day whilst abandoning the British soldiers fighting the French at Minorca?
 
#9
StickyToffeePudding said:
smartascarrots said:
It was his insistence on sticking to the rules of manoeuvre at the expense of speed of pursuit that got him shot,
Funny, I thought he was shot for saving his ships and running back to Gib to fight another day whilst abandoning the British soldiers fighting the French at Minorca?
Technically, it was a violation of the recently-revamped Articles of War which had the death penalty for any officer who refused to attack or pursue the enemy when the opportunity presented. The specific instance that he was tried for was rejecting his Flag Captain's suggestion that he manoeuvre out of line to bring maximum fire to bear - which would have violated Admiralty instructions on the handling of a fleet.

He'd already written to the Admiralty laying out his assessment that the mission was unlikely to succeed if the French offered even moderate resistance and his intent to call the expedition off if they did.
 
#10
smartascarrots said:
StickyToffeePudding said:
smartascarrots said:
It was his insistence on sticking to the rules of manoeuvre at the expense of speed of pursuit that got him shot,
Funny, I thought he was shot for saving his ships and running back to Gib to fight another day whilst abandoning the British soldiers fighting the French at Minorca?
Technically, it was a violation of the recently-revamped Articles of War which had the death penalty for any officer who refused to attack or pursue the enemy when the opportunity presented. The specific instance that he was tried for was rejecting his Flag Captain's suggestion that he manoeuvre out of line to bring maximum fire to bear - which would have violated Admiralty instructions on the handling of a fleet.

He'd already written to the Admiralty laying out his assessment that the mission was unlikely to succeed if the French offered even moderate resistance and his intent to call the expedition off if they did.
It's an interesting debate that has to be seen in the conventions of the day as to whether it would have been better to have had a go and lost some of his ships or save them at the cost of Minorca and the soldiers on it.

Bit of a sh!tter getting shot on your own quaterdeck though!
 
#11
StickyToffeePudding said:
Bit of a sh!tter getting shot on your own quaterdeck though!
Particularly when he'd been given such a crap hand to play as he'd been. He may not have been a patch on his dad as a naval leader, but he wasn't totally incompetent either. I doubt anyone could have made a success of it, given the lack of seaworthy ships he had.

And how important Minorca was in strategic terms is another debate...
 
#12
bakerlite said:
All comments appreciated.

Strange to relate, the British Government has directed the armed forced to take action in various parts of the world.

My point is that despite a climate of risk aversion, bold, decisive action, aka leadership is the way to get results.

RoE, litigation, international human rights, just obeying orders?

Nelson put his blind eye to his telescope, "I see no ships".

B
It's not a question of leadership. Most of today's sailors would still follow their CO down the barrel of a gun in any conflict but they are on a hiding to nothing when performing UN-mandated maritime constabulary duties (anti-piracy, anti-drug smuggling, MIOPS in the Northern Gulf, etc.) involving the very highly visible enforcement of international law.

Whenever Nelson blatted a few innocent parties along with the villains, it wasn't shown in vivid detail on that evening's 6 o'clock news with questions in the House the following day. Life was cheaper then but things might still have been different if the internet, camcorders, digital cameras, mobile phones, the ECHR and the International Criminal Court had been around.
 
#13
As I've written in several other threads (inc this one) and elsewhere......

What the Royal Navy needs (both for PR and to strengthen ethos, morale and fighting spirit) is an engagement. Would the media and public pay attention though? Did the Navy get enough publicity for the very real role RN helicopters played in dealing with Saddam's Navy in 1991 (and 2003 to a smaller extent)? See RN Helicopters vs Saddam's Navy (PPRuNE). More generally how much publicity was there about the attempted break out of Iraq vessels during the 2003 invasion that was prevented by the presence of coalition warships - as discussed here? Or the NGS role performed by frigates? There are of course other actions and incidents, like Gloucester's shooting down of the Iraq Silkworm missile in February 1991, the contributions of the Sea Harrier and other CVS borne aircraft to operations in Bosnia (on which note, a Sea Harrier nearly got a kill over Bosnia - would this have made a difference to the axing of the mighty Sea Jet?), the contribution of frigates, destroyers, and submarines to enforcing the arms embargo in the Adriatic, the harassment (and threat of attack) by Yugoslav aircraft, naval vessels, and land based missiles. All things that demand adequate sensors and weapons.

It would help also if the media was less hostile and tried to pay attention to details and not make things up. Just one example: the armed sentries aboard RFAs wear combats, so the media call them "marines", and decide that they are a) a boarding party or b) SBS.
 
#15
Started watching it then after the umpteenth time that Cnut Snow said the English Navy blah blah blah!!!!! Not a mention of British, for those other brave countrymen and women.
 
#16
He did, that is after the union in 1707. He did emphasis the chage from "English" to "British".
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#17
Byng - if you visit the 'Old'(!!!) Royal Naval College at Greenwich, one of the upper west-facing windows in Queen Anne block (the NE one of the four) still has scars in its stonework where the window was barred while Byng was held there in close arrest.

'Encourager' in French means literally to put courage into, not just to gee people along.

None of these leaders had a Govt minister calling them up in person on a sat phone and telling them what to do!' and indeed life was cheaper. Nelson, got at by some wimp for hanging a man on a Sunday said he would hang a man on Christmas Day if it were for the good of the Service.
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
You might argue that Byng was a not particularly competent commander dogged by ill-luck, the limitations of the signaling system of the time and some unusually stupid/cowardly captains (Andrews of the Defiance and Cornwall of the Revenge come to mind) but I doubt he deserved being shot.

There is a good case he was brought to Court Martial and shot to preserve the face of the government of the day because of its incompetence is sending Byng's fleet to the Mediterranean. They had:

(a) Clear intelligence that the French had plans to invade Minorca
(b) Time to prepare a significantly stronger force to send out to the Mediterranean
(c) The opportunity to send far clearer and more strategically coherent instructions to Byng and to General Blakeney (Minorca) and General Fowke (Gibraltar).

But admitting this might well have brought down the government - and when it was a case of the government or Byng, guess what the government chose....

Wordsmith

As a PS - this was one of the few times where Admiral Lord Anson (heading the Admiralty at the time) was anything other that highly competent.
 
#19
Be advised that BBC2 are showing EoS twice tonight 3/4 now, and 4/4 at 2100
 

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