Teaching Naval history - discuss

#1
Mod comment

BB and Taffd take it to PMs and off the thread. Last warning or posts will be removed and ROPs issued.




Thread Title- "RN being f* weak", I think it would be on topic to discuss how knowledge of RN history might benefit, so I shall continue if you would permit me.


Dashing_Chap - take a little time to look at your proposition and my line of argument:
your intial post (#9 on p1) was superficial, factually wrong and offered unqualified praise without any substance.
My comment was based on personal experience.

hence my reply (#51 on p6) which poked fun at you because there was nothing concrete in your offering that could be seriously discussed.
Your reply (#59 on p6) still confused/merged 2 separate issues, which I tried to address in turn. Read it and you might notice that I took a position on Service history, but declined to deviate towards discussing the influence of American culture in HM Forces. You might wish to start a thread to discuss that?
Your post in reply (#64 on p7) noted my point about Service knowledge but missed on US influence. It was clear, though, that you were continuing to offer unqualified and unrequited love to matelots and that your position probably did not have any substance, other than emotion. Thereafter you descended into rant mode where you challenged me to post my opinion. This I did with a precis of some analysis that I had submitted earlier to a different organisation (post #69 on p7).

Evidently buoyed by support offered from Bravo-Bravo your lengthy reply (post #79 on page eight) attempted (but failed) to respond to my points, but regurgitated ideas on which you had obviously become fixated.
Just to be clear:
1. The RN has benefitted from a degree of luck or good fortune in the past (during the sail era in particular and strategically since the industrial revolution). The 20[SUP]th[/SUP] century history is particularly carefully “spun” to large up its achievements and to ignore (sometimes to the mortal misfortune of the sailors) its organisational & technical failings.
2. Regardless of that upon which you are fixated, I have not proposed the adoption of US culture (hats, war cries) nor even taken a position (I refer you to #59 a 2[SUP]nd[/SUP] time). However, there have been some notable technical advances that HMF would have done well to copy – in the RN as here in the Army.
Your inability to respond to a serious post, to analysis and to meet it – all speaks volumes, in which case, as suggested earlier: Stick to the mucky photos and the fantasies.
I am happy to continue this: via PM might be more appropriate and reduce the risk of deviating the thread away from shoeing Von Paulus.


Listen you cock, let's get things straight. Your initial post was insulting and offered nothing towards the thread, it was nothing more than an infantile attack against me. Most of your other posts appeared to agree with my premise and then in a desperate attempt to back paddle you resort to criticising the composition of my post. What the **** has that got to do with the debate? Absolutely nothing. It's just a straw man argument to try and restore your credibility.

Take your ad-hominen arguments and stuff them up your arse you sad bastard. I've no desire to continue communicating with you because clearly you're incapable of engaging in an adult debate.




I think you're talking shite. I can see no benefit, apart from a knowledge of history for its own sake, that any sailor would gain from a greater knowledge of RN history. Have you considered that they may be comfortable enough in their own skin to not need your definition of esprit de corps.

Look at the Army and RM - most of their esprit/ethos is an invention. Not the actual events or the specific histories of regiments, but the way it's cobbled together to invent an ethos.

Take The Rifles; only a part has historical connections to previous Rifle brigades/regiments. They are now an amalgam of all the regiments that have joined together, taking bits from the histories of each, in order to form a new ethos. The constant changes across the Army require them to do this to generate their own specific esprit. And so allegiance is to the regiment, rather than the Army.

Similarly with the RM. The present Commandos can only really trace their ethos back to the inception of commandos during WW2, but choose as well to incorporate the Marines history, in order to magnify their esprit. Their allegiance is to the Corps, not to the RN.

With the RN, allegiance is to the ship, which can be a good ship or a bad ship, depending upon the crew and its interactions. No amount of historical knowledge is of help here. And ships' crews change, there is much less continuity. A ship and its crew, is of its time.

But Naval history is kept alive in all the little traditions, the terminology, Jackspeak etc. Knowledge of what some admiral or other might have done, is an irrelevance.
I've got time for you Taff because you raise some appropriate points, I shall elaborate.

I don't expect the average matelot to be able to recite all RN history from Alfred the Great up to GW2, but a basic understanding of the major events and major players should certainly be a part of their training, imho, as it may help with esprit de corps and service identity. The USMC are taught about Dan Daly, Chosin Reservoir, Chesty Puller and the basic history of their corps, why can't the RN do the same?

What I'm about to say may make me appear like an antiquated twit, but I still believe that concepts such as 'honour' and 'duty' are important aspects to instil in the modern military, I don't know about the others, but personally my brief service was because I wanted to serve Queen and Country.

Now if you were to take a trainee and teach them the basic history of events and then remind them that the whole glory of the service now lies on their shoulders, and that whenever they wear the uniform they are part of it, would that not give them a sense of pride and duty? Such an inheritance would improve their zeal. What's the point of ironing the uniform and polishing shoes in basic because some bloke in a funny hat says so? They should do it because they are proud, not because they fear extras.

Major characters from history such as Nelson could also offer excellent examples of leadership and management. Fact often merges with fiction when it comes to the great men and Nelson was a liability as a junior officer until he went into action and became a natural predator.

Crepello was right in his view that the RN suffered from leadership failures and bad decisions, especially in the inter-war years. But his myopic post completely overlooks what I was trying to say. Nelson was one of the few men, if not the only man in the 18thC to understand that good planning, communication, training and confidence in the man on the spot to adapt to the situation was the key to winning. This kind of leadership wasn't seen again until the Wehrmacht stormed over Europe in their 1940 Blitzkreig and now it comprises most modern military doctrines.

Would this knowledge not be of benefit to the service? It would be the work of a moment to throw together a Powerpoint presentation or practical to explain, there's countless others too, Captain Walker, Admiral Cunningham, HMS Campbeltown etc.

I hope this clears up what I was trying to address in my OP.
 

Guns

ADC
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#2
To move it off the other thread
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
I would be interested to know how much naval history is directly taught to naval officers these days. In my day the only direct teaching occurred during the two terms* we spent at Greenwich as Sub Lts and I suppose summed to about six lectures in all. Otherwise it was left to the officer; some, like me, avid for all they could get (super stuff in the libraries at Greenwich and at Whale Island, all those books I think since dispersed); others not much fussed. Of course it helps if one has had a good general and chronological grounding in British history at school (!).

* 1/2 "Junior Officers' War Course" (basic staffwork, appreciations, Service Writing, PoW conduct etct etc but did include a study of Arctic Convoy JW51B and the battle of the Barents Sea); of the other 1/2, half that maths, mechanics, physics and chemistry; what was left, general humanities into which the history, including general modern Eurpoean history, had to fit.
 
#4
I don't expect the average matelot to be able to recite all RN history from Alfred the Great up to GW2, but a basic understanding of the major events and major players should certainly be a part of their training, imho, as it may help with esprit de corps and service identity.
Genuine question - who or what bit? The history of the RN is so long that even trying to pick out the bits of the Second World War is enough to fill all 8 weeks at Raleigh without doing anything else. I mean, 'Engage the Enemy More Closely' is over a 1000 pages long and that's only 6 years of our history.
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#5
Thread Title- "RN being f* weak", I think it would be on topic to discuss how knowledge of RN history might benefit, so I shall continue if you would permit me.




My comment was based on personal experience.





Listen you cock, let's get things straight. Your initial post was insulting and offered nothing towards the thread, it was nothing more than an infantile attack against me. Most of your other posts appeared to agree with my premise and then in a desperate attempt to back paddle you resort to criticising the composition of my post. What the **** has that got to do with the debate? Absolutely nothing. It's just a straw man argument to try and restore your credibility.

Take your ad-hominen arguments and stuff them up your arse you sad bastard. I've no desire to continue communicating with you because clearly you're incapable of engaging in an adult debate.





I've got time for you Taff because you raise some appropriate points, I shall elaborate.

I don't expect the average matelot to be able to recite all RN history from Alfred the Great up to GW2, but a basic understanding of the major events and major players should certainly be a part of their training, imho, as it may help with esprit de corps and service identity. The USMC are taught about Dan Daly, Chosin Reservoir, Chesty Puller and the basic history of their corps, why can't the RN do the same?

What I'm about to say may make me appear like an antiquated twit, but I still believe that concepts such as 'honour' and 'duty' are important aspects to instil in the modern military, I don't know about the others, but personally my brief service was because I wanted to serve Queen and Country.

Now if you were to take a trainee and teach them the basic history of events and then remind them that the whole glory of the service now lies on their shoulders, and that whenever they wear the uniform they are part of it, would that not give them a sense of pride and duty? Such an inheritance would improve their zeal. What's the point of ironing the uniform and polishing shoes in basic because some bloke in a funny hat says so? They should do it because they are proud, not because they fear extras.

Major characters from history such as Nelson could also offer excellent examples of leadership and management. Fact often merges with fiction when it comes to the great men and Nelson was a liability as a junior officer until he went into action and became a natural predator.

Crepello was right in his view that the RN suffered from leadership failures and bad decisions, especially in the inter-war years. But his myopic post completely overlooks what I was trying to say. Nelson was one of the few men, if not the only man in the 18thC to understand that good planning, communication, training and confidence in the man on the spot to adapt to the situation was the key to winning. This kind of leadership wasn't seen again until the Wehrmacht stormed over Europe in their 1940 Blitzkreig and now it comprises most modern military doctrines.

Would this knowledge not be of benefit to the service? It would be the work of a moment to throw together a Powerpoint presentation or practical to explain, there's countless others too, Captain Walker, Admiral Cunningham, HMS Campbeltown etc.

I hope this clears up what I was trying to address in my OP.
I joined when I was 15. I knew **** all about the Navy or its history, despite my father serving 22. I joined because I wanted to be a sailor, even though I didn't know what sailors do.

I left 10 years later, having PVR'd in a fit of pique, caused by an idiotic decision of an officer. I could no longer be part of an organisation that let such dicks hold a position of authority.

I wish I'd have stayed in.

But when I left, I still knew **** all about RN history. What Nelson or anybody else did or achieved did not and would not inspire me, or make me feel proud, or anything else. Shouting oorah or any other such supposed ethos-building nonsense would merely have elicited a piss-taking response. I personally, didn't need or want to embrace any more esprit de corps than existed.

I ask again, how would it have benefitted me or affected my work?
 
#7
Genuine question - who or what bit? The history of the RN is so long that even trying to pick out the bits of the Second World War is enough to fill all 8 weeks at Raleigh without doing anything else. I mean, 'Engage the Enemy More Closely' is over a 1000 pages long and that's only 6 years of our history.

A trainee wouldn't need to know everything from Alfred the Great to GW2, just the interesting bits, the bits that changed naval history and major players. The Spanish Armada, Trafalgar, Taranto, St Nazire, Matapan etc. Cunningham would be a good example of leadership by utilising the best assets of what you have and being aggressive towards the enemy etc. The mistakes should also be included to give a fair account, the dangers of misjudgement with Repulse and PoW without air cover etc. They don't have to be in depth studies, just basic accounts of what happened, what went right, what went wrong and possible lessons to learn. Within an hour you could probably cover two or three events or leaders.

As aforesaid, having a greater awareness of what the RN has achieved should hopefully reflect on the pride or zeal a trainee would have for the service.
 
#8
I joined when I was 15. I knew **** all about the Navy or its history, despite my father serving 22. I joined because I wanted to be a sailor, even though I didn't know what sailors do.

I left 10 years later, having PVR'd in a fit of pique, caused by an idiotic decision of an officer. I could no longer be part of an organisation that let such dicks hold a position of authority.

I wish I'd have stayed in.

But when I left, I still knew **** all about RN history. What Nelson or anybody else did or achieved did not and would not inspire me, or make me feel proud, or anything else. Shouting oorah or any other such supposed ethos-building nonsense would merely have elicited a piss-taking response. I personally, didn't need or want to embrace any more esprit de corps than existed.

I ask again, how would it have benefitted me or affected my work?

How would you know what your reaction would be if you didn't know what they did? How can something as daring as the St Nazaire raid not inspire awe? And would you not be pleased to know that it was the RN/your own service that pulled it off?
 

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
#10
There's none so blind as won't see.

In 1905 - the centenary of Trafalgar - a prolonged and bitter dispute broke out in the letter columns of the Times between assorted serving and retired admirals. It rumbled on for several years because even a century after the battle, no one was really sure of the ship movements, etc. It was eventually decided to set up a parliamentary commission to examine the ships logs and determine the sequence of events. This eventually resulted in a Command Paper being published in 1912.

Despite the publicity, dissection of Nelson's free wheeling tactics and the Trafalgar memorandum showing how Nelson gave his captains the right to use their initiative, Jutland was fought 4 years later by Jellicoe using the same rigid tactics that he had discarded. In the same battle, Beatty showed that he had completely failed to gain the technical mastery of his craft learned by Nelson after intense study and which was needed to produce an efficient fleet.

The teaching of naval history is of benefit only if lessons are distilled from it and those it is taught to apply what they have learned.

Wordsmith
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#12
How would you know what your reaction would be if you didn't know what they did? How can something as daring as the St Nazaire raid not inspire awe? And would you not be pleased to know that it was the RN/your own service that pulled it off?
I've read and watched accounts of the St Nazaire raid, awe inspiring indeed. I didn't take part in it. I've never had the opinion that anything anybody else has done has made me feel better, or prouder about the service I was in. I've never felt the need for an increased esprit de corps.

I missed the Falklands. I was in awe of those who participated. But it didn't make me feel prouder that I'd been in the RN. And I'm not sure that those who participated were ever thinking of Nelson or Collingwood

I've got a son who's a Bootie. I understand esprit de corps, ethos etc. I understand how their history helps to foster the qualities that they need, how they're part of a thing that they seek to emulate or uphold. But I simply cannot see how a greater knowledge of RN history would have made any difference to me.
 
#13
Genuine question - who or what bit? The history of the RN is so long that even trying to pick out the bits of the Second World War is enough to fill all 8 weeks at Raleigh without doing anything else. I mean, 'Engage the Enemy More Closely' is over a 1000 pages long and that's only 6 years of our history.
When I saw the title of this thread Correlli Barnett's book immediately leapt into my head. Incredible stories of the Senior Service and despite the size of the thing I couldn't put it down. I would definitly recommend it to anyone who wishes to know something of the RN's acheivements (us pongos are still better mind...)
 
#14
When I saw the title of this thread Correlli Barnett's book immediately leapt into my head. Incredible stories of the Senior Service and despite the size of the thing I couldn't put it down. I would definitly recommend it to anyone who wishes to know something of the RN's acheivements (us pongos are still better mind...)
Off topic and really should be in the book section but I have to agree. My only caveat with my recommendation would be he did seem to have an axe to grind about Churchill. Yes he made some dodgy decisions but did he deserve the slating in the book?

anyhoo back on topic
 
#15
I am torn between to two arguments here, I knew nothing of the history apart from the obvious and that was with very little detail. It was not taught when I was a cadet or when I did basic or part two. Would more knowledge make me a better sailor, who knows.

I was down south, leadership, comradeship, the thought of failure, looking weak, wanting to do the best I could were all thoughts I had. I am not sure a better knowledge of Navel History would of changed that or improved my performance.

Ships company's are incredibly fluid things, I was with men who had joined the week before and knew nothing of the ship, that's the way drafty works, they caught up. The spirit came from within, the will to do what was right.
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#16
I've also got a son in the RN. Contrary to all advice, before he joined he didn't want to do any research about the Navy in general and specifically of what things were going to be like during training or after, other than to decide what branch he wanted. Didn't want to and didn't attend the 'look at life' sort of thing that's now mandatory.

He wanted to be the open book, everything new and unexpected, with no preconceived ideas that could be disabused. His attitude was - they'll teach me what they want me to know and how they want me to act, in each circumstance, and that's what I'll do. As best as I can. And any bits that I'm not very good at, I'll practice until I get them right.

And it's worked for him. He's being the best he can be, not because of any history, or because of anything anybody else has achieved, but because he thinks that's the right thing to do.

And what of the little female medics, who've done so outstandingly well on operations in Afghanistan; would a better knowledge of history got them VCs instead of mere MCs?

I have a feeling that sailors simply are - a bit like being English.
 
#17
That might well be your experience, fair enough. Tho I perceive the contrary effect. I think I'd have felt such knowledge would make me feel part of something larger than myself. The slogan for the Army is "Be The Best". But what makes it the best? Service history is the main way to tell. What is the legacy of the service? What things have your forebears achieved? Are you able to follow in their footsteps and what lessons can we learn from the past?
 
T

Taffd

Guest
#18
That might well be your experience, fair enough. Tho I perceive the contrary effect. I think I'd have felt such knowledge would make me feel part of something larger than myself. The slogan for the Army is "Be The Best". But what makes it the best? Service history is the main way to tell. What is the legacy of the service? What things have your forebears achieved? Are you able to follow in their footsteps and what lessons can we learn from the past?
I can see it works for Booties, it being one of the parts the sum of which is greater than the whole, constantly reinforced and made a big thing of. The learning of it before joining helping to create the 'state of mind'. I can see it working for the Paras. Two fairly modern forces, with a need for feeling special, to make of themselves more than they are.

I can see a need for it across the Army, as newer regiments create their own ethos and so dip into various regimental histories to create the new.

But the further one goes back, the less relevance history has in moulding the ethos of today, albeit that it still has an influence.

With the RN though, the need for it doesn't seem to be there. It's been an ongoing thing for so long it just is the way it is. If anything, the modern trend for slogans and logo-isation has a detrimental effect.

And as for the Crabs . . .
 
#19
I can see it works for Booties, it being one of the parts the sum of which is greater than the whole, constantly reinforced and made a big thing of. The learning of it before joining helping to create the 'state of mind'. I can see it working for the Paras. Two fairly modern forces, with a need for feeling special, to make of themselves more than they are.

I can see a need for it across the Army, as newer regiments create their own ethos and so dip into various regimental histories to create the new.

But the further one goes back, the less relevance history has in moulding the ethos of today, albeit that it still has an influence.

With the RN though, the need for it doesn't seem to be there. It's been an ongoing thing for so long it just is the way it is. If anything, the modern trend for slogans and logo-isation has a detrimental effect.

And as for the Crabs . . .


I'd like to think that were true, but herein lies the purpose of my original post in the other thread. When a WREN officer gets her ratings to link arms and shout HOOAH in the yank style something has clearly gone wrong with how the RN identifies itself. I believe a greater awareness of the brilliant achievements of the RN, as well as a general understanding of the leaders, might be able to change that. Surely having a greater legacy than any other Navy in the modern Western world is something worth knowing and being proud of? As Wordsmith has said, there's a great deal to learn from the mistakes and acts of history regarding leadership and management.

Naturally the service itself doesn't really need slogans (although I quite like Huzzah) other than as an advert for civilian recruitment. The fouled anchor, oak leaves and white ensign are symbolic enough.

Regarding the crabs, they don't have traditions, they have habits ;-)
 
#20
I can see it works for Booties, it being one of the parts the sum of which is greater than the whole, constantly reinforced and made a big thing of. The learning of it before joining helping to create the 'state of mind'. I can see it working for the Paras. Two fairly modern forces, with a need for feeling special, to make of themselves more than they are.

I can see a need for it across the Army, as newer regiments create their own ethos and so dip into various regimental histories to create the new.

But the further one goes back, the less relevance history has in moulding the ethos of today, albeit that it still has an influence.

With the RN though, the need for it doesn't seem to be there. It's been an ongoing thing for so long it just is the way it is. If anything, the modern trend for slogans and logo-isation has a detrimental effect.

And as for the Crabs . . .
History does play a fair part in Royal Marine training and when your in your unit with your eyes and ears open there is a hell of a lot of history there to take note of. However there is more recent history with the Corps, when I was in there were lessons and reminders of FI, NI and even Sarawak and Aden. And also now the guys are making history to be proud of.

And 1664 is not that recent, the Royal Marines is very proud of it's history, having been part of most battles pre Empire and since. The Commando name is only a recent part in our history.
 

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