Teaching Naval history - discuss

Discussion in 'Royal Navy' started by Dashing_Chap, Apr 24, 2013.

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  1. 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.
  2. Guns

    Guns LE Moderator Book Reviewer
    1. The Royal Navy

    To move it off the other thread
  3. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    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. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. An excellent starter for ten:

    The 1913-1976 Index lists hundreds of historical articles but you'll have to join the Review to see issues published within the past 10 years.

  7. 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.
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  8. 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?
  9. Don't forget the Classis Britannica.
  10. Wordsmith

    Wordsmith LE Book Reviewer

    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.

    • Like Like x 3
  11. 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.
  12. 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...)
  13. 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
  14. 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.
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