ROYAL NAVAL TRIVIA

I have recently published story number 296 to my list of short naval stories available here NAVY SMALLER FEATURES with a further 14 (soon to be 15) longer stories here NAVY THINGS. Every now and again, I have left-overs from research, with no obvious pigeon-hole to put them into. Most of the data in this category I ditch, but occasionally there are interesting bits which deserve a viewing. Here are just a few.

1.  There has only ever been one H.M.S. Portsmouth!  I wonder why, given that Portsmouth is our premier navy port? We have had H.M.S. Chatham, H.M.S. Plymouth, H.M.S. Portland, H.M.S. Falmouth, H.M.S. Londonderry, H.M.S. Pembroke, H.M.S. Rothesay, H.M.S. Penarth, H.M.S. Tiger Bay, H.M.S. Hong Kong, H.M.S. Malta, H.M.S. Gibraltar, H.M.S. Trincomalee, H.M.S. Greenwich, H.M.S. Woolwich, H.M.S. Gosport (see below) to mention the ships which cover the majority of our naval bases. It seems (although it is not explicitly mentioned in my correspondence to ship-namers) that Portsmouth, Devonport, Singapore are purposely bypassed to avoid confusion, and yet they name H.M.S. Hong Kong, Malta and Gibraltar: doesn't make too much sense!  Portsmouth, unlike its counterpart in the west country at Devonport does not have a second name (Plymouth in this case) so misses out. In the UK, the chief naval port in Northern Ireland is mentioned; the chief naval port in Wales is mentioned, but the chief naval port in Scotland, Rosyth, doesn't get any mention. The one and only H.M.S. Portsmouth, 1650 - 1694, was a plucky little ship earning for itself no fewer than nine battle honours. First at Dover in 1652 and her last at Barfleur in 1692. This period includes all four Anglo-Dutch wars as well as the Spanish Armada invasion.

2.  H.M.S. Gosport.  H.M.S. Gosport (1741-1768) was a small 5th rate warship (690 tons) of no real fame. I mention it here, because for a long time, H.M.S. St Vincent lay at an anchorage on the Gosport side of Portsmouth harbour as a boys' training ship.  In the mid 1920's the boys' moved ashore to Forton Road Barracks Gosport, the former home of the Royal Marines. On the 13th October 1760, John Jervis became the captain of H.M.S. Gosport. Strange, given the above, that John Jervis became Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Jervis, 1st Earl of St Vincent on the 19th July 1821 after whom, the warship, which became the training ship, was named. The White Ensign was hauled down at HMS St Vincent at the end of the Autumn Term 1968, the final closing ceremony held on the 8th December. Starting on the 4th January 1969 DCI(RN) 185/69 all NE training would eventually be conducted at HMS Raleigh at Torpoint Cornwall. HMS Ganges (see below) met that requirement commencing 1973.

3.  H.M.S. Ganges.  H.M.S. Ganges (ship of the line 1821-1865) and thereafter, a boys' training ship, was at one time the flag ship for the C-in-C Pacific Station 1857-1860 (which had been the original China Station) Rear Admiral Robert Lambert Baynes CB.  Five years later in 1865 he had passed through the rank of Vice Admiral and was promoted to Admiral and knighted with the KCB. However, this is coincidental to my real story here. In 1857, Lieutenant Frederick Richards was appointed to the Ganges and two years latter became the Flag Lieutenant to the C-in-C, leaving in February 1860 to command his own vessel, the paddle sloop Vixen. Thirty eight long years later in 1898, he became Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick William Richards GCB.  He died in 1912 when aged 79. Many years before, in June 1881, another officer who had served in the Ganges got to the very top.  He was Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alexander Milne, 1st Baronet, GCB.  He had served in Ganges in the days before 1827 as a midshipman, being promoted out of Ganges as a Master's Mate and Acting Lieutenant.

4.  H.M.S. James Watt.  H.M.S. James Watt was named after the Scottish engineer who refined the original steam engine which led to the industrial revolution. Can you imagine (in the Royal Navy) having a submarine called H.M.S. Rutherford?  Ernest Rutherford split the atom in 1917 which ultimately led to nuclear energy.

5.  H.M.S. Nonsuch.  I would like to receive a one pound coin for every time in my naval training I have heard the expression H.M.S. Nonsuch used as a 'pretend' ship. H.M.S. Nonsuch was named after a magnificent palace (a real place) built from new (all other palaces were adapted older buildings) in Surrey for King Henry VIII. The building work started in 1538. He died before it was completed.  It was eventually pulled down by a hapless wench in 1682, some 144 years later, to help pay off debts she had accumulated. It was called Nonsuch, meaning that no other building could match or compete with its excellence and the King of England was the supreme monarch.

6.  THE ONE AND ONLY!    True, the submarine service didn't exist before the very start of the 20th century, but out of all the Admirals of the Fleet affected by that innovation, only one made it to the top in the submarine specialisation (by far the largest specialisation was that of a Gunner). Below is a list of his boats which acted as rungs on the promotion ladder in the early days. Who was he?

Subtle, Tiptoe, Thule, Totem, Acheron, Aeneas, Astute, Walrus and Dreadnought.

Correct, and an easy one! Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Fieldhouse of Gosport GCB GBE

As submariners we held this officer in high esteem, and we were genuinely proud of him and his wife Lady Fieldhouse.  His life was tragically cut short and he died when just 64 years of age of a massive heart attack. Midge (Margaret), his widow, died this year (2011) aged 84, some 19 years after her husband.

 7.  Whilst Admirals of the Fleet 'sprang' from HMS Ganges (3, above).  As H.M.S. Ganges records two former officers becoming Admirals of the Fleet, her rival, the name of the most prestigious boys' training ship H.M.S. Impregnable, had a far greater claim. In 1814, just as the Napoleonic War Sea Battles were coming to an end, an Admiral flew his Flag in her. His Christian names were William Henry.  Just 16 years later in 1830, he would become King William IV. Several years ago I wrote this webpage AS TO RED, WHITE AND BLUE ENSIGNS.  Given the information on that page, how is this for rapid promotion which of course helps if your Dad had been King George III, and your older brother is King George IV.

8.  A great number of words and sayings [phrases] used in the English language as written and spoken by English people, have their origins in the British Navy. In spelling terms, some of them are corruptions of the naval spelling, and one I noticed was in the hat, or more correctly, the cap department. The navy has two basic types of caps, a round sailors cap [associated with the seaman's dress called "square rig"] and a cap having a peak or neb worn by those dressed in "fore and aft rig". Note the navy spelling with the word fore meaning 'front or forward' and aft 'back'. Many years ago, the expression was stolen by a London hatter which became {and still is} "for and aft".  The hatter had made a cap with two fixed nebs, one front and one back,  with, for use by choice, the ability to pull down covers to  protect the ears.  It became known as a 'deerstalker' made famous by Arthur Conan Doyle for his fictitious character Sherlock Holmes and subsequently adopted by the gentry of Victorian vintage and thereafter by all comers still to this day. Had the hatter added the letter 'e' to his word 'for' his definition or description of the head gear would have made more sense than that used by the Services [or indeed anybody who wore a peaked cap as an article of uniform] which was taken to be a device having a peak [neb] on the front but rounded on the back the same as a seaman's round hat!  The naval expression comes from the shape of a vessel's hull, still designed and built in a traditional fashion,  having  a sharp "peaked" bow and a rounded stern, although quite a few have a square flat stern today.

9.  Many years ago, back in the 1950's, we navy [sparker] communicators used to use non-machine crypto systems call CODEX.  Depending upon the recipients of the coded message, we used either BRITEX or NATEX, and these were "high grade systems" which did not demand a great deal of time and patience in coding and decoding involving character substitution and transposition as did the SSS [Stencil Subtractor System] and DSSS [Double SSS system] they replaced,  along with the OTP [One Time Pad] which was equally labourious to use. The big change over date which had long been mooted came on the 1st July 1956, a time when the standard crypto machine CCM [Combined Cypher Machine] was supplanted by the KL7 machine, a blessing if ever there was one. CCM was used with a Type 'X' Machine of British design and I remember those days well!  This change over was established and fully in force/operational well before the Suez War in the autumn of 1956 began! Until quite recently I always thought that the word CODEX had been coined or was used as some kind of an acronym, but know I know that it is Latin for a tree trunk or a wooden block!  Funny choice of a word for a cryptographic evolution?

10.  When you hop off on holiday and your aircraft is brand new, state of the art, you feel content but more importantly, safe. But what if the design of the airframe is seventy years old, what then? A bit out-back Russian or fifth-hand rural-African ownership?  Now, if I told you that that air frame is to be stretched to 2040, ninety years in the air, what then?  That is what Boeing has now programmed for that wonderful flying machine the B52 Bomber.  Although not navy, it is so impressive that I have a need to include it somewhere on the page. The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, subsonic, jet-powered strategic bomber. The B-52 was designed and built by Boeing, which has continued to provide support and upgrades. It has been operated by the United States Air Force since the 1950s. The bomber is capable of carrying up to 70,000 pounds of weapons, has a typical combat range of more than 8,800 miles without aerial refueling. The B-52 took its maiden flight in April 1952. Built to carry nuclear weapons for Cold War-era deterrence missions, the B-52 Stratofortress replaced the Convair B-36. A veteran of several wars, the B-52 has dropped only conventional munitions in combat. The B-52's official name Stratofortress is rarely used; informally, the aircraft has become commonly referred to as the BUFF. The B-52 has been in active service with the USAF since 1955. As of 2012, 85 were in active service with nine in reserve. The B-52 completed sixty years of continuous service with its original operator in 2015. After being upgraded between 2013 and 2015, it is expected to serve into the 2040s. The aircraft was to have a crew of five or more turret gunners, a six-man relief crew. It was required to cruise at 300 mph at 34,000 feet with a combat radius of 5,000 miles. The armament was to consist of an unspecified number of 20 mm cannon and 10,000 pounds of bombs.

11.  The Standard Oath of Allegiance, made to a monarch and his/her heirs in perpetuity?  As a serviceman/woman can you remember yours? If you said NO and you were in the Royal Navy/WRNS, and had joined before 2010 [or thereabouts] your memory is correct, for NOBODY in the R.N., swore or had to swear an allegiance to the monarch of the day, which for all practical purposes, given the years on longevity, must be King George VI and or Queen Elizabeth II.  Those in other Services did have to swear! In 2010 [or thereabouts] the rules changed as shown in JSP [Joint Services Publication] 830 Vol I, {The Commanding Officers Guide} and those joining the Royal Navy at the end of the first decade of the 21st century, were subjected to the following:-

Oath of allegiance. Whilst the signed declaration made at enlistment is a legal matter, the oath of allegiance  has an educational, symbolic and solemn purpose. The swearing may be conducted during the first day of training or if considered more appropriate, at another suitable point, at the convenience of the single-Service. Swearing the oath of allegiance is a requirement of the Services for service in Her Majesty’s forces (this is a new provision for the RN because people offering to enter RN service have historically not sworn an oath of allegiance). Swearing the oath of allegiance is viewed as a mark of the individual’s loyalty to the Crown and therefore, their willingness faithfully to serve as a member of the armed forces. This is the oath that they swear:-

I.[name].. swear by Almighty God (do solemnly, and truly declare and affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, in Person, Crown and Dignity against all enemies, and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her Heirs and Successors, and of the generals (admirals / air officers) and officers set over me.

As in all cases, those who object to swearing the oath are permitted to make a solemn affirmation under the terms of the Oaths Act 1978, and can therefore begin their oath with....I [name], do solemnly.........etc. It has always been the case that if one was born in the UK one didn't have to swear an allegiance, although [as we have seen] those taking certain jobs/roles had to/have to do. Now legal immigrants wishing to become UK Citizens have to swear the oath to the monarch, and although the wording differs case to case, it nevertheless implicates them to fight for the country if the Government rules on having a general mobilisation/call-up to arms. Given our very small standing armed services with reservist back-up, there is a great chance that a mobilisation could occur!

Whilst not navy but currently nationally of interest [even of concern] at this time of the near start of Brexit [18th March 2017] and the insistence of some of the Scots [SNP devotees and activists]  to destroy the 300 year old Union, just a quick look at the rules our politicians have to take/follow:-

 I [name]... swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God.

Members who object to swearing the oath are permitted to make a solemn affirmation under the terms of the Oaths Act 1978:

I [name]... do solemnly, sincerely and truly declare and affirm that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law.

The oath or affirmation must be taken in English although the Speaker has allowed Members to recite Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Irish, Scots, Ulster Scots and Cornish forms in addition, and texts of the oath and affirmation in Braille are available for use by Members of both Houses with impaired sight. When the oath is taken, the new member holds a copy of the New Testament or, if Jewish, the Tanakh. Muslims or Sikhs would be sworn in the usual manner except a Qur'an (in an envelope, to avoid it being touched by one not of the faith), or Guru Granth Sahib respectively would be substituted for the Bible. Mohammad Sarwar, a Muslim, took the oath in this way in May 1997. Religious restrictions in the oath effectively barred individuals of certain faiths (e.g. Roman Catholics, Jews and Quakers) from entering Parliament for many years. The restrictions were lifted by the Oaths Act 1888 after the six-year effort (1880–1886) of the noted atheist Charles Bradlaugh to claim his seat.

Refusing to take the oath

Those elected to the House of Commons, to the Scottish Parliament, or to the Welsh Assembly who refuse to take the oath or affirmation are barred from participating in any proceedings, and from receiving their salaries. Members of the House of Commons could also be fined £500 and, have their seat declared vacant “as if [they] were dead” if they attempt to do so. Under the Parliamentary Oaths Act 1866, any peer voting, or sitting in the House of Lords without having taken the oath, is subject, for every such offence, to a penalty of £500. Members of the Scottish Parliament must take the oath within 2 months of being elected, failing which they cease to be members and their seat is vacated.

Scottish Parliament - do we Englanders need it any clearer than this recalcitrant behaviour towards our Gracious Queen? It's nearing the time when the for sale sign is erected outside of the Balmoral Estate, and Holyrood is turned into luxury apartments!

 Alex Salmond of the Scottish Natonal Party  as the first party leader to be sworn in to the Scottish Parliament in 2011, before raising his right hand to swear allegiance to the Queen, the SNP leader said: "The Scottish National Party's primary loyalty is to the people of Scotland, in line with the Scottish constitutional tradition of the sovereignty of the people." The Scottish Socialist Party  who advocate the abolition of the monarchy have made a number of protests during their Oaths of Allegiance in the Scottish Parliament. Their former leader Tommy Sheridan swore an oath of allegiance to the Queen with a clenched fist in 1999, Rosie Kane held her own protest during the oath ceremony, during which she swore allegiance with the words "My oath is to the people" written on her raised hand, Colin Fox sang Robert Burns' "A Man's A Man for A' That" at his protest, before being moved to the end of the queue by presiding officer Sir David Steele.

12Finally, although not Royal Navy trivia as the title suggests, just a thing of general maritime interest.

This picture is self explanatory and shows the shoulder boards used in the Cunard Shipping Company. Note the Master wears the similar stripes of an Admiral in the Royal Navy, whilst the Deputy Captain wears the four stripes of a Captain R.N. I can't quite work out why there are two types of Second Officer.  Interesting !