Teaching Naval history - discuss

Wordsmith

LE
Book Reviewer
Jellicoe commanded a fleet that hadn’t fought a peer in a century, and was adapting to a ferociously rapid technological transformation in all aspects of ship design, guns, shells, and fire control. Plus new threats like mines and torpedoes.

Given all this, plus his status as the one man who could lose the war in an afternoon, he did the professional thing which was to use his fleet cautiously despite the strong aggressive tradition of the RN.
Fair points - and Jellicoe was probably the most capable of the WW1 admirals. But if you read his Grand Fleet Battle Orders, you can see an obvious reason why his captains didn't show much initiative. They're immensely detailed and cover in huge detail what captains should do in every conceivable situation. Captains were probably too busy thumbing through them to find out what to do to start wondering if they should act on their own initiative.

But that lack of initiative was what did for Jellicoe. All some captains needed to do was signal 'enemy sighted' or simply open fire. They just sat there. Jellicoe just didn't have the visibility to see everything. He needed his captains to keep him informed - but he'd stifled their initiative.

To be fair to Jellicoe, he had informed the Admiralty that he intended to use a cautious strategy - and got their approval. So he was acting in accordance with the wishes of his professional masters.

Wordsmith
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
What is also remarkable is that this battle took place a mere 40 years after the RN had reduced 500 houses in Kagoshima to smoking ash in a short bombardment.
In a bombardment where the return fire decapitated the ship's captain and the band played 'Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be'. A propos this there is a memorial in Yokohama which survived WW2 undesecrated. Given the Japanese propensity for wooden houses reducing them to ash must have been spectacular.
 
Not wanting to take anything away from Richard Polanski's service and bravery, and perhaps this is just a terminology difference on my part being non-RN, but how can you be 'closed up' in an open-backed turret? Journalistic license?

Your temporary puzzlement is understandable. I am reminded of other differences in terminology which can cause confusion. It is said that when asked to secure a building, the RN would lock it up and go home, the Army would attack and occupy it, and the RAF would take a lease on it for two years with an option to buy.
 

Goatman

ADC
Book Reviewer
In a bombardment where the return fire decapitated the ship's captain and the band played 'Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be'. A propos this there is a memorial in Yokohama which survived WW2 undesecrated. Given the Japanese propensity for wooden houses reducing them to ash must have been spectacular.
They got their own back - Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse - Wikipedia
 

Yokel

LE
Sultan honours trailblazing female engineer | Royal Navy

In a male-dominated industry Drummond fought against discrimination and prejudice to become respected by her marine engineer peers and receive the MBE for bravery during the Battle of the Atlantic.

In a seagoing career spanning four decades, she completed 49 voyages – including numerous Atlantic convoys and a three-month on a tanker supporting the invasion of Normandy.


Do we do enough to celebrate and remember the achievements of the past? What better what to install C2DRIL values?
 

Yokel

LE
With remembering the past in mind: World War 2 Veteran is awarded the highest French honour| Royal Navy

HMS Enterprise fired over 9,000 shells during the landings and the bombardment of Cherbourg and had to retire briefly to Chatham Dockyard to have her worn out gun barrels replaced and to refuel. Both the Captain and the First Lieutenant were wounded in the action whilst on the Ship’s bridge.

Harry talked of his experiences during these dangerous times: “I remember waking at dawn on D-Day and going on deck to find the sea completely covered with ships and crafts of every conceivable shape, size and purpose, for as far as the eye could see and mostly heading for the beaches.

“The Enterprise was allocated to ' Utah' beach in the American Sector and her first task was to soften up the beach defences and then to lay down fire ahead of the Allied advance.”

He continued: “It is an honour to be presented with this award, however I also think of all those who died during and since the war and feel that many of them deserve this far more than I do.”
 
With remembering the past in mind: World War 2 Veteran is awarded the highest French honour| Royal Navy

HMS Enterprise fired over 9,000 shells during the landings and the bombardment of Cherbourg and had to retire briefly to Chatham Dockyard to have her worn out gun barrels replaced and to refuel. Both the Captain and the First Lieutenant were wounded in the action whilst on the Ship’s bridge.

Harry talked of his experiences during these dangerous times: “I remember waking at dawn on D-Day and going on deck to find the sea completely covered with ships and crafts of every conceivable shape, size and purpose, for as far as the eye could see and mostly heading for the beaches.

“The Enterprise was allocated to ' Utah' beach in the American Sector and her first task was to soften up the beach defences and then to lay down fire ahead of the Allied advance.”

He continued: “It is an honour to be presented with this award, however I also think of all those who died during and since the war and feel that many of them deserve this far more than I do.”

BZ
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
RIP
Some time go I took the ferry to Cherbourg. Standing at the rail goofing as the ferry came in I was ruminating on the way huge blocks of stone had been chucked around in a higgledy-piggledy fashion. So untidy. Then a somewhat older bloke standing next to me opened with 'The last time I saw this .. '
 

Yokel

LE
One of the aspects of the last 100 years of Royal Navy history that is frequently forgotten is the pioneering role the RN played in developing carrier (and other ship based) aviation. Likewise the contribution RN carriers and the Fleet Air Arm made to fighting WWII.

As such, this YouTube video, also posted on the CVF thread, seems worthy of inclusion here:

 
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.
Knowledge of the more important parts of Corps History is a requirement, certainly for YO’s, and part of initial training. It does instil pride in who we are as part of the Royal Navy, our part in history, and certainly act as a valuable and valued bonding process as a team/family.

You acknowledge it’s value, yet seemingly fail to see how it effects you? Or, simply question the amount that would be of value to the individual?

It would certainly seem that an emphasis on unit history is a very important and valued part of the training in many specialist units. Royal Marines USMC, Foreign Legion, Parachute Regiment, US Rangers, to name but a very few. It is the backbone of the British Army Regimental System that emphasises Regimental history.

A sense of individual ‘self’ is but a part of where that ‘self' comes from, as it is with any human group.
 
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Yokel

LE
Perhaps this is not strictly speaking related to the title, but whilst looking for any interesting FOI releases from the MOD I found this:

Summary of Service Histories of Named Ships - the TOWN class cruisers.

The Navy's C2DRIL values are a link with the past - both recent and genuinely historical. Om YouTube I saw a WWII training film which described the way a number of minor errors by individual sailors had contributed to a ship being lost - from one man becoming lax with checks, another being slightly lazy about closing watertight doors, and so on.

Beyond the C2DRIL values I think attention to detail is a vital attitude, as evidenced by peacetime incidents and the rigours of combat.
 

Yokel

LE
HMS Hardy veteran dies after Norwegian honour

A REMINDER of the timeliness of recognising and remembering the sacrifices made by the WW2 generation is provided by former signalman Ralph Brigginshaw – here proudly giving the thumbs up after being thanked by the people of Norway.

Just three days after receiving this diploma of gratitude from the Norwegian Government, the 98-year-old veteran of the Battle of Narvik passed away at his West Sussex home, surrounded by his family.

The ex-sailor served in the destroyer flagship at the first naval battle in the Norwegian port in April 1940, when a bold dash led by Ralph’s HMS Hardy surprised superior German forces which had captured the iron ore port in the Arctic.

In the ensuing fighting, Hardy was sunk – Ralph was struck by shrapnel in the back and arm and found himself in ice-cold water trying to swim with one usable arm. He covered around 200 yards to reach land where he collapsed.

Having mauled much of the German destroyer fleet, the Royal Navy sent in a second force, led by battleship Warspite, to finish the enemy off; all ten German destroyers were sunk.

Ralph was eventually evacuated to a hospital in the Lofoten islands, where he spent six weeks recuperating before being repatriated.

The losses inflicted upon the Kreigsmarine during the Norwegian campaign were part of the reason the Germans could not invade Britain.
 

Yokel

LE
On Anglesey there will soon be a new memorial to Admiral Sir Max Horton, Commander in Chief of Western approaches Command during World War Two:

From November 1942 until the end of World War 2, Sir Max served as Commander-in-Chief Western Approaches, directing the Allied response to the German submarine menace from his headquarters in Liverpool.

That threat was as its peak in the autumn and winter of 1942-43 but some of the tactical changes made by the admiral – a poacher turned gamekeeper as one of Britain’s leading submariners in World War 1 – notably forming dedicated units of U-boat hunters (support groups) to accompany convoys and hound enemy boats to destruction.

Those groups were to play key roles in March, April and May 1943 as the tide turned and the U-boats suffered losses from which they would never recover. On May 24, the commander of the German Navy, Karl Dönitz, called off the battle.

The German submarine threat never went away until the war’s end, but the UK’s lifeline was never severely threatened.
 

Yokel

LE
Today brings another story which seems appropriate to the time of year:

WW2 Submarine Urge Found Off Malta

THIS is the wreck of wartime submarine HMS Urge – conclusively located and identified by marine archaeologists off Malta, solving a 77-year-long mystery.

Sitting defiantly upright on the seabed of the Mediterranean more than 400 feet down, her bow buried in the ocean floor, her deck gun facing forward, her hull encrusted with marine life, this is the last resting place of 44 souls.

The distinctive features of the U-class submarine have been compared with contemporary photographs and the undisclosed location of the wreck compared with official records to identify Urge.

HMS Urge, which was adopted by the people of Bridgend, is one of 19 U-class boats lost in World War 2, 13 of them in the Mediterranean. The submarines were small and originally meant to be used purely for training.

They proved highly capable with Urge, under Lieutenant Commander Edward Tomkinson, regarded among the best in the 10th Submarine Flotilla, its crew and captain highly decorated for a string of successes, dispatching a German tanker supporting U-boat operations in the Atlantic, crippling the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto at a time when the Royal Navy was sorely stretched in the Mediterranean, and sank the Italian cruiser Bande Nere during 20 patrols.

Contemporaries thought Tomkinson worthy of the Victoria Cross, while senior officers, led by the then head of the Silent Service, Admiral Sir Max Horton, reckoned he was as good a submariner as any who served in either world war.

Urge left the island on her final mission on April 27 1942 bound for Alexandria in Egypt as the 10th Submarine Flotilla moved its base to escape the Axis Powers’ constant bombing of Malta. Aboard were not just her 32 crew, but 11 other naval personnel and a war correspondent.

She never reached North Africa. The Admiralty concluded she ran into an enemy minefield shortly leaving the island, but the wreck was never found.
 

Yokel

LE
Today is the anniversary of the first allied victory of World War Two, the Battle of the River Plate.

First Naval Victory of WW2 Remembered

80 YEARS ago today, the dash, verve, skill of the British sailor – and a little subterfuge – delivered the Royal Navy’s first major victory of World War 2.

After a three-month campaign against British shipping, the marauding of Hitler’s pocket battleship Admiral Graf Spee came to an end when she was cornered in the South Atlantic.

Despite being outgunned by the heavily-armed German warship, the cruisers HMS Ajax, Exeter and Achilles engaged their foe off the coast of Brazil – although the clash subsequently earned the title: Battle of the River Plate.

For it was to Montevideo that the Graf Spee headed after being damaged in the encounter, which lasted little more than an hour.

Her guns badly damaged the three British cruisers, and inflicted 100 casualties (72 of them dead). In reply, however, the trio’s guns killed three dozen of Graf Spee’s crew, wounded 60 more and wrecked her fuel processing plant (among other wounds), severely limiting the commerce raider’s range.

Unable to repair his ship in the three-day limit imposed in neutral Uruguay, Graf Spee’s commander Capt Hans Langsdorff chose to scuttle the warship in the estuary – convinced by British intelligence that the Royal Navy was massing a substantial force off Uruguay to finish him off (it wasn’t…).

Langsdorff put his men ashore. They were subsequently interned in Argentina, while their captain committed suicide in a hotel room in Buenos Aires a few days later having infuriated Hitler for not fighting to the death and going down with his ship.


One thing I personally consider worth mentioning is the effort that Commodore Harwood (in charge of the South Atlantic station) put into establishing relations with the Latin American Governments and Navies, all of which reap rich dividends

What is now called defence diplomacy or defence engagement was important back then too..
 

Yokel

LE
Channel Five is currently showing a documentary about HMS Ark Royal (III) - the World War Two one. The programme has mentioned World War One experiments with shipborne aviation, the way welding was used for her construction to save weight (compared with using rivets), and the early use of carriers to find U boats.

The programme is only half way through. Cracking stuff!
 
Gefechtskehrwendung.
 

Yokel

LE
Last wartime destroyer captain dies aged 105

The Royal Navy has lost its last link with a rare breed of men who helped deliver victory over the U-boat.

Lieutenant Commander John Manners, who has died aged 105, is believed to have been the last of the Royal Navy’s World War 2 destroyer captains.

As commanding officer of veteran destroyer HMS Viceroy, Manners sank U-1274 just three weeks before the wars end, pummelling the German submarine with depth charges just moments after it had torpedoed the tanker Athelduke off the Norwegian coast.

Among the debris subsequently brought to the surface by the U-boat’s demise was a case containing 72 bottles of brandy. One was put in a casket crafted by Viceroy’s ship’s company and sent to Churchill… who appreciated the “interesting souvenir”.
 

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