Writing aboard HMS Queen at Bantry on 20th February, 1909, Beatty offered this vision of European conflict that seems, in hindsight, a prophecy of events in 1914.
My opinion is that Austria and Servia are as near blows as makes no matter, and I can’t see how it can be avoided, unless Austria entirely changes her attitude. Furthermore, if it does come, Russia can’t sit idle and watch Austria absorb Servia, so in she comes. Then arises the question of the Triple Alliance, and in how far Germany is involved to support Austria. It is a nice point, and I cannot see Germany doing nothing. Then where is our friend France and the Russo-Franco Alliance, backed up by the spirit which they like to make out pervades the whole of France, but in reality does not, namely, the one desire of a War of Revenge for 1870. Alors, where are we? The whole of Europe will blaze if it once starts, and the outlook at present is of the worst.
Chambers, W. S. The Life and Letters of David, Earl Beatty. London: Hodder and
Royal Navy battleships in commission with full crews, 1st April, 1905.
There were thirty four battleships in commission. Of these, twenty were assigned to Home waters, eight were with the Mediterranean Fleet, five were on the China Station, and one was employed on trooping service.
Atlantic (at Gibraltar)
King Edward VII
HMS Albemarle, 1903.
Prince of Wales
HM Bulwark, IWM Q 21052B.
Barfleur was also temporarily in commission with full crew in trooping service.
HMS Barfleur, from “The Navy and Army Illustrated” 1897.
Source: United Kingdom. Hansard Parliamentary Debates, 5th ser., vol. 47, col. 635-7W.
From the Daily Telegraph: “Signal Codes of British Warships – Mystery at Sheerness – Cleverly-Devised Plot”
“A remarkable incident has recently occurred on board one of his Majesty’s battleships at Sheerness.”
The Torygraph reported the news on 11th March 1914 without reference to which ship was involved. However, the Daily Chronicle reported the battleship as HMS Queen, a Formidable-class battleship built at Devonport and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 7th April 1904. By March of 1914 she was serving as flagship for Vice Admiral Cecil Burney, in command of the Second Fleet and the Third Fleet. The trail is murky, because Reuters reported the battleship to be HMS Caesar, a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought built at Portsmouth and commissioned into the RN on 13th January 1898, then in reserve at Sheerness.
“A number of members of the crew have been detained, pending the result of the investigation which is being carried out.”
Evening Post: “Naval Signalman Sentenced”
A spot of detective work reveals that the culprit was a signalman aboard HMS Ocean (sorry, Reuters), namely one Herbert Hulton, who was identified by “certain finger-prints” left at the scene of the crime. A court martial sentenced Hulton to four years imprisonment.
Now why the blighter took it… anyone care to dig around for the court martial proceedings?