Study of battlecruiser HMS Lion by William Wyllie, c. 1916-17

Study of Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Lion by William Wyllie. Watercolour with graphite, c. 1916-17. Shown with her main armament (13.5-inch guns) trained to starboard. In collection of National Maritime Museum.

large

Get To Know – The Battle of Jutland

CWGC Commissioner, Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence, visits the CWGC Chatham Naval Memorial to mark the centenary of the Battle of Jutland. He gives an overview of the battle, and its significance within the First World War– and explains why he thinks it is important that we mark this poignant anniversary.

My Boy Jack, Rudyard Kipling, 1916

“Have you news of boy boy Jack?”
Not this tide.
“When d’you think that he’ll come back?”
Not with this wind blowing, and this tide.

“Has any one else had word of him?”
Not this tide.
For what is sunk will hardly swim,
Not with this wind blowing at this tide.

“Oh, dear, what comfort can I find?”
None this tide,
Nor any tide,
Except he didn’t shame his kind
Not even with that wind blowing and that tide.

Then hold your head up all the more,
This tide,
And every tide,
Because he was the son you bore,
And gave to that wind blowing and that tide!

New project for the New Year: US Navy archive movies

A new project for 2016. I’ll be uploading US Navy documentary and training films from the archives to YouTube. I’ve created a new YouTube channel for this, US Navy Movies, which will keep the content separate from my Royal Navy channel.

Here are a few samples.

‘Masters of the Seas’ First Battlecruiser Squadron, 1915.

First Battle-Cruiser Squadron in 1915, in line of battle against the setting sun. Oil on canvas by by William Lionel Wyllie, 1915. In collection of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

Battlecruisers HMS Lion, HMS Princess Royal, and HMS New Zealand c. 1916

Battlecruisers HMS Lion, HMS Princess Royal, and HMS New Zealand, watercolour by A. B. Cull. Depicted c. 1916-17, painted 1924. In collection of National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

‘The Destroyers’ by Rudyard Kipling, 1898

Kipling began work on the poem in 1897 after visiting the Thornycroft destroyer HMS Foam during her sea trials. He published the poem in McClure’s magazine in 1898

‘The Destroyers’ by Rudyard Kipling, 1898

The strength of twice three thousand horse
That seeks the single goal;
The line that holds the rending course,
The hate that swings the whole;
The stripped hulls, slinking through the gloom,
At gaze and gone again —
The Brides of Death that wait the groom —
The Choosers of the Slain!

Offshore where sea and skyline blend
In rain, the daylight dies;
The sullen, shouldering swells attend
Night and our sacrifice.
Adown the stricken capes no flare —
No mark on spit or bar, —
Girdled and desperate we dare
The blindfold game of war.

Nearer the up-flung beams that spell
The council of our foes;
Clearer the barking guns that tell
Their scattered flank to close.
Sheer to the trap they crowd their way
From ports for this unbarred.
Quiet, and count our laden prey,
The convoy and her guard!

On shoal with scarce a foot below,
Where rock and islet throng,
Hidden and hushed we watch them throw
Their anxious lights along.
Not here, not here your danger lies —
(Stare hard, O hooded eyne!)
Save were the dazed rock-pigeons rise
The lit cliffs give no sign.

Therefore — to break the rest ye seek,
The Narrow Seas to clear —
Hark to the siren’s whimpering shriek —
The driven death is here!
Look to your van a league away, —
What midnight terror stays
The bulk that checks against the spray
Her crackling tops ablaze?

Hit, and hard hit! The blow went home,
The muffled, knocking stroke —
The steam that overruns the foam —
The foam that thins to smoke —
The smoke that clokes the deep aboil —
The deep that chokes her throes
Till, streaked with ash and sleeked with oil,
The lukewarm whirlpools close!

A shadow down the sickened wave
Long since her slayer fled:
But hear their chattering quick-fires rave
Astern, abeam, ahead!
Panic that shells the drifting spar —
Loud waste with none to check —
Mad fear that rakes a scornful star
Or sweeps a consort’s deck.

Now, while their silly smoke hangs thick,
Now ere their wits they find,
Lay in and lance them to the quick —
Our gallied whales are blind!
Good luck to those that see the end,
Good-bye to those that drown —
For each his chance as chance shall send —
And God for all! Shut down!

The strength of twice three thousand horse
That serve the one command;
The hand that heaves the headlong force,
The hate that backs the hand:
The doom-bolt in the darkness freed,
The mine that splits the main;
The white-hot wake, the ‘wildering speed —
The Choosers of the Slain!

“We shall fight them on the beaches.” – Winston Churchill, 4 June 1940

On 4th June 1940, Winston Churchill delivered one of his most famous speeches in the House of Commons. Acknowledging the military disaster that had befallen the British and French armies in Belgium and Northern France, the sacrifice of the rearguard at Boulogne and Calais, and the evacuation over over 300,000 men from Dunkirk, Churchill vowed that Britain would fight on.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

The Shortening of Sail After the Battle of Lowestoft, 3 June 1665

J D Davies - Historian and Author

To mark the 350th anniversary of the battle, I’ve been tweeting the key events at the appropriate times during the day. However, perhaps the most controversial aspect of the battle doesn’t lend itself readily to Twitter. After destroying the Dutch flagship during the day’s action – a brief description of which can be found here – the Duke of York’s fleet began to pursue the Dutch, who were in considerable confusion and lacked a proper command structure. During the night of 3-4 June, though, the fleet was ordered to shorten sail. Why this happened has always been something of a mystery. Here’s what I wrote in Pepys’s Navy; I believe I’m right in saying that I was the first historian to find and cite Brouncker’s justification of his actions. After the references, I’ve added my fictional account from The Blast That Tears The Skies, as witnessed by the future admiral…

View original post 2,004 more words