Brown on Resolution

not to be confused with Buster Brown, a crew member of the nuclear submarine Resolution fondly referred to as "Buster of the Reso" !

The year 1935 saw a need for ships of the Royal Navy to be used in the making of patriotic films in British film studios using British actors. It was the very first time that the Admiralty had agreed to releasing R.N.,ships to help spread the need for the awareness of the rapidly expanding evil Nazi Party, having no [or little] doubt as to where it was all leading. The navy had long used warships for instructional films: now it was the turn of dramatic films using real live warships.

We had many home grown writers who had produced ideal and excellent scripts fully relevant for such patriotic films, and the leader of that group, indeed of all writers/authors world wide of tales of the sea was C.S. Forester. His work was prolific, and if you haven't read his books you have missed so much, especially if you are R.N.,or ex-R.N. On my personal list of the best seven writers of sea-stories, six of them including Forester, are British [the others being Lewis, O'Brian, Monsarrat, Marryat, Kennedy if for nothing else, for his 'Sink the Bismarck' book] and the seventh being Clancy a U.S., citizen.

At that time, the new Nazi German navy [the Kriegsmarine] was being built and little was known about it, so Forester [and others of course] chose factual stories from WW1 when the German Imperial navy was called the Kaiserliche Marine. One of the most famous stories was that of the Battle of the Falklands which I have published, pulling together the complete story whilst reducing it in size to rid it of the unnecessary detail and that can be found here

The German name of 'Dresden' was of course well known and documented but for different reasons in both WW1 and WW2. The final outcome was that 'Dresden' in both wars was destroyed by the British. In WW1 'Dresden' [for this purpose] was a warship called SMS 'Dresden' [SMS meaning Seiner Majestät Schiff] or His Majesty's Ship, although to us, he was known, not as a King, but as an Emperor: the German word for Emperor is Kaiser. In WW2 'Dresden' was a major city in the deep southeast of Germany considered too distant a target for our bombers. The consideration took into account the distance but also that to get there would mean flying through an unprecedented amount of Anti-Aircraft [AA] flak when crossing the major part of Nazi Germany. When needs must there is always a way, and we found it, succeeding in the destruction of most of the city. For Germany, it was a clear message of their exposure to attack, their vulnerability, rather like the atom bombs on Japan told the Japanese that the end was nigh and inevitable.

Back to SMS 'Dresden' and WW1.

As you will have read, SMS 'Dresden' was the only German ship of Admiral Von Spee's original far eastern fleet squadron, which managed to escape from the WW1 Battle of the Falklands. It took several months to find her, and when she was found, she put up a token effort to fight back. Realising her ultimate fate, she scuttled herself and her demise was complete. It was said that the total lost of Von Spee's squadron benumbed the Kaiser and Grand Admiral Tirpitz the boss of the navy, to such an extent that confidence in the Imperial surface fleet never fully regained its 1914 agressive modus operandi. Come 1916 but before Jutland, Tirpitz had resigned. C.S. Forester, in his Book "Brown of Resolution" used the death of 'SMS Dresden' as his theme, putting a R.N., able seaman called Brown as the hero of the piece, changing the name of the Island at which the 'Dresden' was found by units of Admiral Sturdee's British fleet, to the Resolution Island. He also changed the death of the 'Dresden' from a suicide to a mauling by the Sturdee boy's. Able seaman Brown is shot by the German's and dies on the Island of Resolution. I have read this book twice now and it was this book which gave me the idea of writing my webpage on the First Falklands Battle shown above: mine is fact whereas Forester's is fiction based loosely on fact.

My first reading of the book was in 1960 when I was in HM S/M Turpin, a WW2 submarine modified in the late 1950's. In 1963 whilst in HM S/M Auriga, another WW2 submarine modified in the 1950's, based on Halifax Nova Scotia Canada [1963/1964], we paid one of our visits to Bermuda, berthed in the normal warship areas at Ireland Island. We were often there with British surface units and sometimes with frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy also down south from Halifax. All warships had a cine projector and carried several films, but as usual never enough to keep the crew happy. However, with us in 1963 was a Canadian frigate called HMCS 'ALGONQUIN' and from her we took the loan of a film called "BROWN OF RESOLUTION", promising to return it on our arrival back in Halifax.  When I heard of this kind gesture I was amazed and had not been aware that a film based on the C.S. Forester book had been made.

To me it was a wonderful film, made in London and Portsmouth in 1935 starring John Mills as a very young actor. This article of a 'critic' comes from an archive of "The Queenslander. Brisbane. 1866-1939. Thursday 22nd August 1935"


and this one comes from the Singapore New Straits Times. 11.7.1935 PATRIOTIC FILMS.pdf

As you will see from the pdf file above, other patriotic films were:-

'While Parents Sleep' and 'Drake of England' plus others.

I have tried to find this film 'Brown of Resolution' under "British showings" - how many times, for how long and where - but with only limited success. If you can see this rare film, I promise that you will enjoy it {especially gunnery-branch personnel}, that's the story-line, the sheer bravado of our able seaman, the real British warships prosecuting or progressing an aftermath of a real WW1 naval Battle which decimated the German squadron, and sent the arrogant Spee family, the admiral and his two sons, to their watery graves.