Morale and discipline in the Royal Navy during the First World War 9781108419055, 9781108296816, 1108419054

In contrast to the voluminous literature on trench warfare, few scholarly works have been written on how the First World

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Table of contents :
Acknowledgements
Introduction
1. Ethos on the eve of war: the foundations of paternalism and democratism
2. The structure of discipline and the spectre of indiscipline
3. 'Addressing' pay and conditions
4. Lower-deck societies, trade unions, and representation
5. Counting unrest
Conclusion
Bibliography.
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Morale and Discipline in the royal navy during the First WorlD War L aur a row e

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Morale and Discipline in the Royal Navy during the First World War

In contrast to the voluminous literature on trench warfare, few scholarly works have been written on how the First World War was experienced at sea. The conditions of war challenged the Royal Navy’s position within British national identity and its own service ethos. This challenge took the form of a dialogue, fuelled by fear of civil unrest, between the discourses of paternalism from above and democratism from below. Laura Rowe explores issues of morale and discipline, using the contemporary language of discipline to shed light on key questions of how the service was able to absorb indiscipline with marked success through a subtle web of loyalties, history, ethos, traditions and customs, which were rooted in older notions of service but moulded by the new conditions of total war. In so doing, she provides not only a new methodological framework for understanding morale, but also military discipline and leadership. Laura Rowe is Senior Lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Exeter.

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Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare General Editor Jay Winter, Yale University Advisory Editors David Blight, Yale University Richard Bosworth, University of Western Australia Peter Fritzsche, University of Illinois, Urbana-​Champaign Carol Gluck, Columbia University Benedict Kiernan, Yale University Antoine Prost, Université de Paris-​Sorbonne Robert Wohl, University of California, Los Angeles In recent years the field of modern history has been enriched by the exploration of two parallel histories. These are the social and cultural history of armed conflict, and the impact of military events on social and cultural history. Studies in the Social and Cultural History of Modern Warfare presents the fruits of this growing area of research, reflecting both the colonization of military history by cultural historians and the reciprocal interest of military historians in social and cultural history, to the benefit of both. The series offers the latest scholarship in European and non-​European events from the 1850s to the present day. A full list of titles in the series can be found at: www.cambridge.org/​modernwarfare

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Morale and Discipline in the Royal Navy during the First World War Laura Rowe University of Exeter

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University Printing House, Cambridge CB2 8BS, United Kingdom One Liberty Plaza, 20th Floor, New York, NY 10006, USA 477 Williamstown Road, Port Melbourne, VIC 3207, Australia 314–​321, 3rd Floor, Plot 3, Splendor Forum, Jasola District Centre, New Delhi –​110025, India 79 Anson Road, #06-​04/​06, Singapore 079906 Cambridge University Press is part of the University of Cambridge. It furthers the University’s mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education, learning, and research at the highest international levels of excellence. www.cambridge.org Information on this title: www.cambridge.org/​9781108419055 DOI: 10.1017/​9781108296816 © Laura Rowe 2018 This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published 2018 Printed and bound in Great Britain by Clays Ltd, Elcograf S.p.A. A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library. Library of Congress Cataloging-​in-​Publication Data Names: Rowe, Laura, 1980– author. Title: Morale and discipline in the Royal Navy during the First World War / Laura Rowe, University of Exeter. Description: Cambridge; New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, [2018] | Series: Studies in the social and cultural history of modern warfare | Includes bibliographical references and index. Identifiers: LCCN 2018002416 | ISBN 9781108419055 (hardback) Subjects: LCSH: World War, 1914–1918 – Naval operations, British. | Great Britain. Royal Navy – Discipline – History – 20th century. | Great Britain. Royal Navy – Sea life. | Naval discipline – Great Britain – History – 20th century. | Military morale – Great Britain – History – 20th century. Classification: LCC D581.R68 2018 | DDC 940.4/5941–dc23 LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018002416 ISBN 978-​1-​108-​41905-​5 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-​party internet websites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

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In memory of John Brown

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Contents

List of Figures List of Tables Acknowledgements Introduction

1 Ethos on the Eve of War: The Foundations of Paternalism and Democratism

page viii ix xi 1 20



2 The Structure of Discipline and the Spectre of Indiscipline 53



3 ‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions



4 Lower-​Deck Societies, Trade Unions, and Representation 149



5 Counting Unrest

Conclusion Select Bibliography Index

92 198 226 239 261

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Figures

0.1 Hospital admission photograph of Able Seaman W. Vicarage. Image from the Gillie British Patient File W. Vicarage – archive reference MS0513/1/1/ID2123 page 10 1.1 ‘His First Command’. University of Leeds Special Collections, Record Foxon, Fred –​classmark LIDDLE/​WW1/​RNMR/​106 31 2.1 ‘His First Offence’. The Fleet, June 1916, p. 165 69 3.1 ‘The Widow’s Only Son’. The Bluejacket and the Soldier, November 1916, p. 145 122 4.1 ‘The Two Striking Forces’. National Museum of the Royal Navy, Record No. 1991.4 –​‘Trot Talk’ (magazine of the Harwich Force), October 1918, p. 65 161 5.1 Number of ratings prosecuted at courts martial per year 204 5.2 Number of officers prosecuted at courts martial per year 213 5.3 Number of officers prosecuted at disciplinary courts per year 214

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Tables

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Responses to Admiralty request for the fleet’s reaction to recent concessions page 107 3.2 Grievances listed by ship in response to enquiries into lower-​deck unrest. Tabulated by the Board from the information supplied in response to Charles Walker’s request of 14 November 1917 109 3.3 Grievances as given to the Board in response to Their Lordships’ request of 14 November 1917 111 5.1 Charges brought against ratings at courts martial, 1914–​1918 202 5.2 Percentage of each category of charge brought against ratings of each service type at courts martial, 1914–​1918 203 5.3 Years of service for active service ratings at the time of their trial by courts martial 205 5.4 Years of service for men and NCOs of the Royal Marines at the time of their trial by courts martial 206 5.5 Years of service for reservist ratings at the time of their trial by courts martial 206 5.6 Charges brought against officers at courts martial, 1914–​1918 208 5.7 Percentage of each category of charge brought against officers of each service type, 1914–​1918 209 5.8 Years of service for active service officers at the time of their trial by courts martial 210 5.9 Years of service for officers of the Royal Marines at the time of their trial by courts martial 210 5.10 Years of service by reservist officers at the time of their trial by courts martial 210 .11 Charges brought against officers at disciplinary courts, 5 1914–​1918 211

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List of Tables

5.12 Percentage of each category of charge brought against officers of each service type, 1914–​1918 5.13 Types of naval mutinies C.1 Reactions to naval chaplains and compulsory church services

212 217 230

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newgenprepdf

Acknowledgements

As with all academic endeavours this manuscript owes much to the thoughts, ideas and care of others; and I am grateful for all the debates, discussions and casual chats which have shaped this project. Many of these have taken place through the work and events of the International Society for First World War Studies. This society, founded by Dr Jenny Macleod and Professor Pierre Purseigle, has provided a forum for researchers across the globe at all stages of their careers, and the mutual support of its membership has been very valuable to me. I wish to extend my thanks to my PhD supervisor, Professor William Philpott, for his unending support and encouragement and for being the best supervisor anyone could wish for. I would also like to thank Professor Adrian Gregory for starting me down this research road and for all his thoughts along the way. Thanks must also go to my colleagues at the University of Exeter: to Dr Mike Duffy who was kind enough to read, re-​read and comment on the manuscript, to Professor Martin Thomas for his time and support, and to Dr Bruce Coleman who helped me through my first year of teaching with copious tea and sympathy. This project could not have been completed without the assistance of all the staff at the various libraries and archives used and I’m acutely conscious of the debt I  owe them all; however, particular thanks must go to Jenny Wraight from the Naval Historical Branch whose encyclopaedic knowledge of her collections and her many suggestions were invaluable. In addition to their help and guidance, Michael Watson, Lisa Carter and Cassi Roberts from CUP have demonstrated huge patience with me and with this project for which I am much obliged. Finally, my thanks must go to Jennifer Barker for everything she has done. She, more than anyone, will be pleased to see this book finally in print!

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Introduction

On 5 August 1914 The Times published a message from His Majesty King George V to Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, the newly appointed Commander-​ in-​Chief of the Grand Fleet. It read: At this grave moment in our national history I send to you, and through you to the officers and men of the Fleets of which you have assumed command, the assurance of my confidence that under your direction they will revive and renew the old glories of the Royal Navy, and prove once again the sure shield of Britain and of the Empire in her hour of trial.1

A few days before the massed ships and vessels of His Majesty’s Royal Navy (RN) were assembled. As this armada left for its wartime anchorages in Scotland it stretched over four miles. The sure shield of Empire continued in its role for the next four, arduous years. The Great War could not have been won by naval action alone, but it certainly could not have been won without it. The primary purpose of the RN was to deny the freedom of the sea to her enemies and preserve her own freedom –​ an essential element if the full capacity of the empire was to be brought to bear. It supported British and allied armies in the field, enforced a rigid blockade of the Central Powers whilst steering a delicate diplomatic course with neutral countries whose own freedoms this activity affected, ensured the secure transportation of troops from Britain and her Empire, controlled communications, intercepted German commerce raiders and secured Britain’s imports in the face of unrestricted submarine warfare. This book seeks to provide a new model for exploring issues of morale and discipline. At present the cannon of literature exploring the issue of morale focuses almost exclusively on land forces. However, the nature of the Royal Navy as an institution and the nature of the war it fought means that these studies cannot be directly transferred to the sea service. Whilst utilising some of the qualitative and quantitative methods already used to explore morale in other contexts, this book will argue that in 1 The Times, ‘The King to his Fleet’, 5 August 1914.

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Introduction

order to consider the question of morale and discipline in the Royal Navy a new model needs to be developed which considers the question in terms of a dialogue between competing discourses, utilising the contemporary language of discipline in order to shed light on key questions of how it was that the service was able to absorb indiscipline with marked success, rather than trying to mould it to fit the language of morale. In so doing it will not only provide a new methodological framework for understanding of morale, but also of military discipline and leadership. The ‘experience’ of trench warfare has entered British national memory and culture in all its manifestations. From Journey’s End to Blackadder, the First World War on land has ceased, since the end of the Great War itself, to be the preserve of historians alone.2 Its significance and place in the collective memory has become such a fundamental part of the British consciousness that it has become not simply part of British literature, but of British comic entertainment. Yet the war at sea has faded from public imagination since the end of the Second World War. Indeed it is rather telling that the current coverage of the centenary by even such stalwarts as the BBC is still being largely presented in terms of the ‘pity of war’ trope which has prevailed since the 1960s, and which has largely ignored the Senior Service and its role. Given the nature and scale of trench warfare it is little wonder that such an imbalance developed, but when we consider the predominance of the navy and its place in the pre-​ war national consciousness this difference becomes more striking. The Royal Navy had been inextricably linked, in people’s minds, with the British Empire and was a fundamental part of British national identity; as shrouded in myth by civilian admirers as by the navy itself. Given the importance of the RN in pre-​war British society and politics, the relative paucity of studies on the institution’s cultural or social experience of war is particularly surprising. The RN was the Senior Service; it was fundamental to British national identity throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century. However, this position was challenged by the conditions of total war. This challenge took the form of a dialogue, both internal and external. It was not exclusively a wartime phenomenon; there had been calls to reform lower-​deck conditions in the decades leading up to war. However, the particular exigencies of war such as dramatic changes to civilian working conditions, the onset of war weariness and the influx, albeit relatively small, of men into the service for the duration, put an increased strain on the debate and helped to refocus it. 2 Jay Winter and Antoine Prost, The Great War in History: Debates and Controversies, 1914 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004).

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The dialogue evolved between competing positions:  ‘paternalism’ from above, and ‘democratism’ from below. These contrasting interpretations can best be thought of in terms of ‘discourse’.3 Whilst this study has identified numerous individual positions on lower-​deck grievances, it has identified only two discourses. The first, which this study will term ‘paternalism’, was used by the service authorities whose interests lay in the preservation of the existing hierarchical structure. This was a coherent structure which governed the way in which officers conceived of leadership and welfare issues, and which was underpinned by the functional flexibility of a nominally rigid set of disciplinary systems. The second can be called ‘democratism’ and was used by sections of the organised lower decks. Like paternalism, democratism was a coherent structure, though it was less fully developed. Democratism encompassed elements of self-​determination, egalitarianism, and liberalism. It called for gradual political and social reform which tended towards individual freedom and democracy. In essence democratism was a response to the infantilisation which was the product of paternalism. It was also part of the clash between the ‘service’ and ‘professional’ aspects of the navy, and the institution’s attempts to reconcile the two. This conflict between profession and service was not exclusive to the Royal Navy, but it was one which affected the RN acutely, and had from the moment the navy rejected the press gang. ‘Service’, like fellowship, was an alternative to a fully professional, contractual system or to one where collective bargaining was recognised as a necessary part of the system. The navy was a career choice, a skilled organisation which a man could enter for up to twenty-​four years, learn 3 In his 1987 work on the 1806 Parliamentary Committee’s Enquiry into the ‘state of the woollen manufacture of England’, John Smail provided a definition of ‘discourse’ which this study uses. Smail tightened the notation of ‘language’, which he believed was not precise enough and open to too many interpretations, in favour of the concept of discourse (as originally expounded by Michel Foucault in The Archaeology of Knowledge) but with slight modifications. Smail used the term to refer to a set of concepts, values and practices that define, inform and justify a set of social relationships. Discourse is not determined by objective reality, but in fact discourse makes its objects. ‘Thus, discourse is not descriptive, as language is, but prescriptive … When a clothier describes the woollen industry, his discourse shaped the picture he saw; he perceived the existence of certain economic roles, or the morality of certain economic practices, because of the discourse he had, not because they were necessarily there.’ Discourse theory also explains the importance of discourse to its users. Foucault argued that power relations were inherent in and constituted by discourse and that it is impossible to separate a discourse and the objects it creates, from the power relations and social configuration that that discourse upholds. Foucault’s discourse theory is limited to situations in which the power flows in only one direction; Smail’s argument looks at a situation where there were two discourses that are in contention with each other, each making a different economic world. John Smail, ‘New Languages for Labour and Capital: The Transformation of Discourse in the Early Years of the Industrial Revolution’, Social History, 12:1 (1987), 49–​71 (pp. 51–​54).

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Introduction

a trade, gain respect, and which, in the pre-​war period, offered a comparatively generous pension. However, it was still run on the premise of duty and service, and servicemen had few ‘rights’ as they are now recognised. There was no representation, and strikes were prohibited. Whilst conditions in civilian life were worse than those in the RN, this tension was academic; however, once civilian conditions improved and some of these ‘rights’ were recognised by employers and the government, the conflict in the RN raised its head. The underlying discourses framed the way in which each group understood its own position. By exploring these two we can see the way in which they ‘talked through’ each other. Each side could look at exactly the same issue and see essentially the same problem, but their understanding of the underlying cause of that problem and how best to address it was inherently different because of these two prevailing discourses which shaped their perceptions. This failure to fully understand or empathise with the position of the other is fundamental to thinking about discipline because it is this that brought about indiscipline and the feelings of discontent and unrest which were present in the fleet in this period with varying degrees of severity. By looking at discourse we are looking at more than just language, we are looking at effectively two ‘world views’ and we can begin to get a sense of both the gulfs and the similarities between the two. Bound up with the clash of discourses was the notion of ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. The RN had managed to construct for itself an illusory sense of autonomy and isolation from civil society which was still evident on the eve of the Great War. Bred by the physical isolation of the fleet and consciously perpetuated by the cult of the navy, it was more constructed than real. The Admiralty sought to perpetuate the idea of the navy as somehow separate, and in so doing it endeavoured to strengthen the Admiralty’s own authority over the service. Throughout official publications, Admiralty records and private records continual reference is made to the ‘traditions and customs’ of the Senior Service. The Royal Navy was an institution with a strong but nevertheless nebulous sense of self-​identity focused around the myth of autonomy and its ‘traditions and customs’. These ‘traditions and customs’ clearly had a tangible element:  the daily grog ration, dunking when crossing the equator, or the youngest member of the crew becoming captain for a few hours on Christmas day, to name but a handful, and such practices went a long way to forging group identity through the sharing of group rituals which marked them out from civil society. However, the oft-​cited phrase ‘traditions and customs’ was far more deeply ingrained and is difficult to analyse. It was a concept which was offered by commanders as a caveat to reform, and was the phrasal epitome of the notion of ‘insiders’.

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Outside influences were seen as injurious to ‘traditions and customs’. These had no clear definition, but it did not need one, it was simply another self-​defining mechanism which embodied notions of isolation and autonomy. The notion that the navy was apart from civil society was, however, illusory. Strategic changes in the decade preceding war had brought the bulk of the fleet into home waters. Culturally, the RN had been adopted as a key part of the public sphere. Mary Conley has argued that the professionalisation of the service from the mid-​nineteenth century accompanied a change in public perception of sailors from wayward drunkards to respectable family men and defenders of nation and empire, and that naval men became an integral part of British national and imperial identity.4 In The Great Naval Game, Jan Rüger has argued that the North Sea was a stage on which British and German ships, military or otherwise, could perform for domestic and foreign audiences.5 The celebration of the navy, in both countries, became a new form of public theatre with profound consequences for domestic and international politics. He outlines the changes that had taken place in the ceremonial aspects of naval theatre, the primary purpose of which was no longer the disciplining of crews, but rather the public acclamation of the monarch.6 What is more, this transformation was welcomed by naval authorities in both Britain and Germany.7 The mass media transformed navies into a commodity which could be bought, and ensured that naval spectacle was no longer the preserve of a limited few –​new technology meant that geography and social status no longer dictated the audience. Naval theatre was the means by which the relationship between the military and civil worlds could be played out for public consumption; it was the means whereby divergent ideas of nationhood could be reconciled.8 This cultural construct was important in the context of pre-​war Europe because it was an age in which navalism and Social Darwinism became conflated, and in which the construction of an image of power, the cult of the navy, was arguably more important than actual fighting capabilities.9 The Admiralty were capable of manipulating the relationship between the

4 Mary Conley, From Jack Tar to Union Jack. Representing Naval Manhood in the British Empire, 1870–​1918 (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 2009), particularly ­chapter 4. 5 Jan Rüger, The Great Naval Game: Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 6 Ibid., pp. 15–​23. 7 Ibid., pp. 72–​82. 8 Ibid., pp. 125–​131. 9 Ibid., pp. 165–​175.

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Introduction

masses and the institution of the navy, whilst at the same time continuing to see the inner workings of the service as separate. The navy’s role had shifted with changes in the European political situation, and the main body of the fleet became increasingly confined to the North Sea and other home waters.10 With sailing ships men could be away on six-​month tours without ever touching land. In contrast, steam needed coaling stations which necessitated regular visits to anchorages. With this increased time spent in port and the concomitant amount of time spent in direct interaction with civilians and dockworkers, especially when combined with the receipt of daily newspapers and frequent letters from home, sailors could no longer be separated from trends in society at large, or from politics. Just as with the army, the act of combat, or association with its immediate aftermath, distinguishes the fighter from the civilian; however, in the case of the Royal Navy and the war it fought, this gap began to be closed at a time when civilian society was also undergoing immense change. Whilst this book argues that the First World War was the culmination of the destruction of the myth of naval isolation, and whilst this is certainly objectively true, there was a sense in which the service at all levels continued to feel a sense of separateness from wider British society –​and indeed strove to maintain the separation. Some of the veterans interviewed in the 1970s went so far as to claim they were unaware of what was happening in civilian life. Men like Arthur Ford felt that ‘politics, religion, anything what happens in civilian life didn’t appertain to us at all. Our life was totally different.’11 However, this sense of separation can also be found in the dialogue between the discourses of paternalism and democratism. Crucially, previous academics working on lower-​deck unrest, like Anthony Carew, have failed to recognise both that the process was a dialogue, rather than simply a lower-​deck assertion of rights, and that this was an internal dialogue with both paternalism and democratism looking for an internal service solution to the areas of contention. Whilst both were undoubtedly influenced by external events, both sought to construct the debate within a strict service framework, professing to reject non-​service methods. Each ‘side’ feared the influences being exerted by ‘outsiders’ on the other because it risked upsetting this delicate service dialogue. Despite acute wartime pressures the Royal Navy was able to contain its wartime manifestations of indiscipline. The service mutinied, 10 Arthur Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904–​1919, Vol. 1: The Road toWar, 1904–​1914 (London: Oxford University Press, 1961). 11 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur William.

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but indiscipline never went so far as to threaten the fighting capacity of the RN during the war. Questions about how that was sustained are no less interesting because of the absence of a fleet-​wide mutiny. This book will argue that the service was able to hold back indiscipline and fight on because of a subtle web of loyalties, history, ethos, traditions and customs, rooted in older notions of service. These were able to absorb emergent lower-​ deck discourse, seemingly influenced by home front debates, because these lower-​deck concerns were more significant to naval leadership and command issues than historians have previously given credit. Most of the existing literature about military morale and discipline concerns the army, but that model cannot be read across services because of the inherently different nature of the service ethos and its experience of combat. No study comparable with those of J.D. Fuller, Gary Sheffield or Alexander Watson has yet been undertaken for the Royal Navy.12 For Sheffield, the crucial element in the maintenance of discipline and morale was the strength of officer–​man relations in the British army. This reciprocal relationship was based on the exchange of deference and paternalism –​an ethos which was passed on to temporary wartime officers. Whilst this relationship created a culture of dependency, Sheffield argues that this should not be overestimated.13 It is, for Sheffield, a relationship which paralleled British society.14 Whilst the paternalism identified by Sheffield is also found in the navy, his model is not directly transferable because of the structural difference between the two services. The British army of the Great War was a temporary one –​the navy, by contrast, was structurally unchanged by the war. In addition, the structure of the officer corps and distribution of responsibility was fundamentally different. As Michael Farquharson-​Roberts, has argued in a recent PhD thesis: Naval leadership at the lower level is fundamentally different from that on land. Firstly and most obviously, at sea a sailor cannot run away … and, leaders and led, [are] exposed to similar if not identical risks. More importantly is the qualitative difference … A junior officer in the army had to involve himself with and manage his men in a way unthought-​of in the navy; he had even to regularly

12 J.D. Fuller, Troop Morale and Popular Culture in the British and Dominion Armies 1914–​ 1918 (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1991); G.D. Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches:  Officer–​Man Relations, Morale and Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 2000); Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War. Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914–​1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008). 13 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, p. 179. 14 Ibid., pp. 68–​72.

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Introduction

inspect their feet and oversee their rations. In a ship such was unnecessary; a naval officer was not required to man manage in the same way or to the same degree. Indeed, in a Royal Naval context ‘leadership’ is rarely used as a term in the primary sources until about 1931 and thereafter infrequently; the term used is ‘Officer Like Qualities’ often abbreviated to ‘OLQs’, which is nowhere formally defined.15

The exchange of paternalism and deference must also be reconsidered in the naval context of the early twentieth century as an active dialogue between discourses. Fuller, like Sheffield, also identified the relationship between soldier and civilian as critical to the maintenance of army morale. He used trench publications, in conjunction with more familiar sources, to form conclusions about how morale was maintained whilst being careful to assess the importance of the time spent behind the lines as well as at the front. Entertainments in the rear paralleled those found at home and helped to humanise the soldiers’ new environment, ensuring that ties with the civilian world were not severed.16 In so doing, Sheffield and Fuller have shed valuable light on our understanding of the essential strengths of the British army and of how the First World War was won. The importance of these issues in a naval context has already been recognised by writers such as Daniel Horn who analysed unrest in the German Imperial navy;17 however, the Royal Navy is no less interesting and important for the fact that it did not mutiny on such a scale. The RN of the Great War was a largely professional force and the professional nature of the service meant that sailors had a different relationship with the navy to that which soldiers had with the army. Men enlisted for a minimum of twelve years with the option of a further ten. In peacetime it operated a nucleus crew system whereby the minimum number of men crewed a ship. In wartime the reservists were called up to provide a full complement.18 This meant that comparatively few men

15 Michael Farquharson-​Roberts, ‘To the Nadir and Back: The Executive Branch of the Royal Navy 1918–​1939’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, 2012), pp. 8–​9. 16 Fuller, Troop Morale and Popular Culture, pp. 175–​180. 17 Daniel Horn, Mutiny on the High Seas: The Imperial German Naval Mutinies of World War One (London: Leslie Frewin, 1973). 18 Leaving aside for a moment any pernicious effects these men may have had on the discipline and morale of the fleet, their very presence had an impact upon the conditions of the regulars by making living conditions very cramped, and very cramped for four years! Generally the men lived on ship even when in port, except when their ship was in dry dock or when they were awaiting another commission, in which case they slept in barracks. Submarine crews slept outside the boat when in port, either on their depot ship or in barracks. With an allowance of only a few inches between hammocks, and absolutely no privacy, conditions on the lower deck of a wartime Royal Naval vessel were tough. The men lived, ate, relaxed and slept on their mess decks. Hammocks were slung wherever space could be found, and because of the watch system it was usual for men

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were enlisted as hostilities only men (HOs); and many of them had particular specialism, such as radio operators.19 Compared to the army the RN had a long period of training and therefore a longer period of service socialisation. The experience of life on board ship varied depending on the type of vessel  –​a submarine was a world away from a battleship  –​and the same applied in wartime, not simply because of the type of vessel, but also because of the type of operations on which it was deployed. Battleships spent considerable periods at anchor (especially from late 1916 onwards);20 cruisers made frequent sweeps enforcing the blockade; destroyers, amongst other things, were engaged on convoy protection; monitors fought river wars in the Middle East and Africa as well as aiding amphibious landing and withdrawals; submarines worked to intercept enemy shipping; minelayers and minesweepers made frequent and highly dangerous sorties. Indeed the ex-​trawler men who were engaged on this work had one of the highest mortality rates of any group in the British services during the war.21 Nor can the nature of naval battle be compared to those on land. Even when at anchor, ships were at constant threat of unexpected and unseen attack from new underwater weaponry or from accident. Crews operated under what would be unsustainable levels of stress had they not normalised the level of danger. Taken as a whole, ‘battle’ was a relatively uncommon experience for a sailor during the Great War. Battle when it came was sudden and comparatively swift. On larger vessels few members of the crew would even have seen the action; the physically compartmentalised surrounding of the ship reflecting the compartmentalised nature of the experience. When a ship sank it could do so within a matter of minutes. Magazines and cordite posed significant risks of explosion which could rip the ship in two. No one knew when battle might come; however, they knew what it might bring. to have to attempt to sleep whilst another group perhaps played a game of cards on the table directly underneath them. 19 On the outbreak of war many men did volunteer for the navy, but not all were needed to man the fleet so the remainder were formed into an infantry division (the Royal Navy Division) and served on land alongside the army (although with a nod to naval tradition they were permitted to grow beards). See Douglas Jerrold, The Royal Naval Division (London: Hutchinson 1923). 20 The main fleet base was at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands, and was not the most inspiring of places unless one liked ornithology or Neolithic history. The inventive naval mind composed several ditties about the ‘delights’ of life in Scapa which frequently ended with the refrain ‘that Scapa hymn of hate’ (see Malcolm Brown and Patricia Meehan, Scapa Flow: The Story of Britain’s Greatest Naval Anchorage in Two World Wars (London: Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1968), p. 50 –​poem entitled ‘Scapa Flow (A Hymn of Hate)’). 21 Adrian Gregory, The Last Great War. British Society and the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008 ), p. 116.

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Introduction

Figure 0.1  Hospital admission photograph of Able Seaman W. Vicarage. Image from the Gillie British Patient File W. Vicarage – archive reference MS0513/1/1/ID2123

Figure 0.1 shows the hospital admission photograph of twenty-​year-​old Able Seaman W.  Vicarage. He was wounded on HMS Malaya during the Battle of Jutland.22 His is the ‘face’ of naval battle. He had suffered cordite burns resulting in ectropion of both eyelids and the lower lip.23 The whole of the nose and both alae were burnt away,24 and his right hand was immobilised by the extent of the burns he suffered. In her article ‘Casualty Care during the First World War: The Experience of the Royal Navy’, Claire Herrick argued that major battle wounds were rare in the RN. Those that did occur tended to be laceration wounds, though burns and scalds were also common. According to Herrick burns were often fatal and almost always septic. When men survived severe burns the scarring was often painful and inflexible. Infection of wounds was as prevalent onboard as it was on the Western Front. Shock was also a feature of naval injuries. It was very common and most usually triggered 22 Harold Gillies, Plastic Surgery of the Face (London: Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1920), p. 357. 23 Ectropion is the inversion of the eyelid. In the case of severe burns this can also happen to the lips. 24 An ala is either of the lateral cartilages of the nose enclosing the nostrils.

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by blood loss or immersion in freezing sea water.25 There was also an equality of danger; on a large battleship every rank and rating in the service was represented. No amount of gold braid would save you in the event of a torpedo strike. This equality gave a different relationship between officers and men in the navy to that in the army. As the contemporary measure of contentment we can explore the spirit of the navy in terms of ‘discipline’. The concept of ‘discipline’ was used in a variety of ways. It was more than simply the rules and regulations governing naval life; it transcended them to determine how the men comported themselves, how they interacted with each other and with officers. Discipline is about self-​esteem. A well-​disciplined ship took care of itself physically, it was efficient, it understood and obeyed without question, and this can be used as a measure of morale, but by focusing on contemporary uses of the term ‘discipline’ we can explore the sense of spirit and contentment in the RN of the Great War. This study uses source material ranging from official papers to personal reminiscences of ex-​servicemen of various ranks and ratings. Most of the official documentation comes from The National Archive in Kew and includes such things as official reports into areas of grievances and the levels of unrest, the proceedings of some courts martial, copies of the Loyal Appeals issued by the lower-​deck benefit societies and their general activities, intelligences reports, reports from committees into lower-​deck affairs, service records of individual sailors, and the memoranda issued by various members of the Board of Admiralty on each of these subjects. Extensive use is also made of the Courts Martial Returns for 1914–​1919 held at the Naval Historical Branch in Portsmouth. Personal papers generally come from the sound and document archives of the Imperial War Museum, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich and the library of the National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth. It also makes extensive use of the lower-​deck journals The Fleet and The Bluejacket and the Soldier. The Fleet began in 1905 and was edited by Lionel Yexley, an ex-​petty officer who acted as an advocate for lower-​deck reform. The Bluejacket started in 1909 and also advocated lower-​deck reforms. Unlike their army journal counterparts, these RN ones were not designed simply to lift the spirits during the war itself; they are part of a longer history and served many more functions. These papers were designed as a means to entertain, to inform, and to advocate. They contain a balance of war-​ related news (with a particular focus on the war at sea), amusing stories and cartoons, and some material about grievances faced by the men. 25 Claire E.J. Herrick, ‘Casualty Care During the First World War: The Experiences of the Royal Navy’, War in History, 7 (2000), 168–​175.

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The other major source used is personal reminiscences. Many of these are drawn from the interviews conducted by the Imperial War Museum in the 1970s and 1980s, though evidence is also drawn from diaries, memoirs, and letters. The majority of the reminiscences in the Imperial War Museum’s Sound Archives cover the period from 1910 to 1922, although interviewers did go beyond those chronological boundaries where appropriate. The project was designed to create a record of the life and experiences of lower-​deck men before such information was lost from living memory, and the interviewers were guided by a list of topics.26 The project continued to grow and further interviews were carried out later, some with ex-​officers.27 Although sometimes self-​contradictory, the surviving questionnaires and the interviews provide an incredibly rich source of information. The oral testimonies used in this study have their own methodological problems. As Paul Thompson has argued, the nature of the debate surrounding oral history evidence has moved away from whether such memories are reliable: It is now accepted that they can provide a great deal of rich and reliable detail, especially about everyday life at work and in the home during childhood and early adulthood. Much more caution is required in the reconstruction of events, although with a sufficient cross-​cutting of testimony this too may be possible … All memories, however, are subject not only to simple gradual erosion over time, but also to conscious or unconscious suppression, distortion, mistakes, and even to a limited extent outright lies.28

In addition, each testimony is, to an extent, the product of its time. Each re-​telling of events is informed by both subsequent experience and the prevailing political and social conditions at the time the story is related. Alistair Thomson beautifully illustrated this with his work on Anzac memories. In his essay ‘Anzac Memories: Putting Popular Memory Theory into Practice in Australia’, he used Fred Farrall, a Melbourne working-​ class veteran who was interviewed in July 1983 and April 1987, as a case study. Thomson found that Farrall’s memory of the war was very fixed by 26 These included:  background and enlistment, training, dress, ships, work, mess room life, rations and victualling, discipline, traditions and customs, foreign service, home ports, pay and benefits, naval operations, effects of the war, family life, and post-​service experiences. Imperial War Museum Department of Sound Recordings, Oral History Recordings:  Lower Deck 1910–​1922 (London:  Imperial War Museum Department of Sound Recordings, 1982), p. 3. 27 For further details of the way in which the interviews were planned and conducted, see David Lance’s preface to the catalogue of the oral history recordings in Oral History Recordings: Lower Deck 1910–​1922. 28 Paul Thompson, Our Common History:  The Transformation of Europe (London:  Pluto Press, 1982), pp. 15–​16.

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the time he spoke to the interviewer, but realised that his remembrance had gone through three distinct phases, shaped by the shifting relationship between Anzac meanings and his own subjective identity.29 The interviews conducted by the Imperial War Museum which have been used throughout this study were conducted over a much shorter period of time, and it is therefore harder to identify any such trends. This is closely linked with another problem generated by oral history testimonies: the merging of what was thought at the time and what has been learnt subsequently about events. It is not uncommon for a veteran when asked such questions as, for example, ‘when did you serve in the Mediterranean?’ to respond that he was unsure, but could check in one of his history books. There is a well-​established link between written and oral communication.30 A  significant number of the men interviewed by the Imperial War Museum had kept diaries or written memoirs, some of which are also held by the museum. When these sources are compared the same phrases are often used to describe incidents which suggest that many are well rehearsed anecdotes. In addition, the interviewees often latch on to phrases or descriptions used by the interviewer. Thus, in these instances, the phraseology, or the ‘form’ of recollection, is not simply that of the veteran. For Thomson, ‘interviews carry two kinds of clue, firstly through the explicit information which is conveyed, and secondly, the form of its telling’.31 When using the Imperial War Museum archives, therefore, careful attention must be paid to whether the ‘form’ is truly that of the interviewee. Using Thomson’s model the memories of naval veterans can be explored. There were many competing identities surrounding lower-​ deck men and experiences.32 Perhaps the most important feature of the recollections of First World War naval veterans given in these 1970s interviews is that they are free of the ‘popular’ expectations demanded of soldiers. There is no wider preconception of the naval war into which the veterans had to slot their own memories, the most positive of which were reinforced by the naval aspects of the Second World War during which sailors were once more lauded as national heroes, and it is through that filter that most of the veterans reminisced. Their own pride had been 29 Alistair Thomson, ‘Anzac Memories: Putting Popular Memory Theory into Practice in Australia’, in Anna Green and Kathleen Troup (eds), The Houses of History : A Critical Reader in Twentieth-​Century History and Theory (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 1999), pp. 239–​252 (p. 243). 30 Thompson, Our Common History, pp. 14–​15. 31 Ibid., p. 17. 32 See Chapter 3.

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Introduction

reinforced by a subsequent more ‘glorious’ conflict, whilst at the same time the idea of the exploitation of the working man was still prevalent. However, there is no body of literature which sees sailors, or which allows sailors to see themselves, as victims of the First World War in the way that their army counterparts have been seen. The sailors’ war is not part of the ‘pity of war’ narrative. Any concept of an experience of war, or indeed an experience of service, must be largely dismissed from the mind. The very nature of naval war, as with many aspects of a land war, means that no two men’s experiences were quite the same. However, there are certain features common to testimonies about life in the Royal Navy during the First World War. To what extent these are in fact influenced by service myth is open to debate –​the influence of strong if nebulous notions of tradition and custom was far-reaching. Hardships were very consciously shared and the sense of collective discomfort was a powerful bond. However, the fact that the reminiscences of many veterans diverge from the ‘official’ line pursued by the lower-​deck journals and the benefit societies, as well as the absence of a body of popular literature about the experience of the naval war, suggests that the influence of myth can be largely negated. By comparing the way grievances (and indeed positive responses to naval life) were portrayed in each it becomes possible to discern the various modes of discourse. Since the end of the war what naval histories of the conflict there are have tended to be narrow in focus, and comparatively few in number. They have either consisted of two paragraphs tagged onto the end of a more general account of the war,33 or have concentrated almost exclusively on military and operational aspects, and it is this group which has been numerically dominant. It is telling that after reading all five volumes of Arthur Marder’s From The Dreadnought to Scapa Flow and all five volumes of the official naval history of the war by Sir Julian Corbett and Sir Henry Newbolt,34 one can still be left with no idea about how this vast organisation interacted with civilian society, or of what the experience of war was like for those who fought it.35 They focus on the navy as if it were operating without reference to anything outside itself:  as have both Richard Hough in The Great War at Sea and Paul Halpern in

33 B.H. Liddell-​Hart, History of the First World War (London: Papermac, 1997), p. 464. 34 Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, 5 vols; Sir Julian Corbett and Sir Henry Newbolt, History of the Great War. Naval Operations, 5 vols (London: Longmans, 1920–​ 1931) –​Corbett was responsible for the first three volumes. 35 In the first volume of Marder’s tome The Road to War, he hesitatingly connects the navy to the world outside it when he looks at pre-​war reforms; however, these references are very limited.

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A Naval History of World War One, which built upon Marder and Corbett’s work.36 The few social histories of the navy and histories of other areas which touch upon the social history of the navy in this period defy easy categorisation. The very diversity of the works is symptomatic of the lack of any tradition or school of writing in this sphere. Some of these works have chosen to view their subject as an isolated entity, and in so doing they are, perhaps, rooted in the navy’s own mythology of itself as somewhat distinct from the rest of society. The rest have, to a greater or lesser extent, recognised that there was some interaction between the navy and the civilian society from which they came, but have not explored this fully. Within the current social historiography there is already a picture of ship-​board life in this period which, whilst limited in scope, is of some use in rounding out an understanding of the Royal Navy as an institution.37 In many respects the same conclusions about the navy of the First World War are drawn as those of N.A.M. Rodger in The Wooden World for the Georgian navy.38 Rodger argued, persuasively, that the ship was the sailors’ world, complete in itself –​a situation possible because of the technology of the age. However, in arguing that the situation was the same in George V’s wartime fleet (except that the world was a little larger –​and definitely not wooden), writers of the First World War are mistaken. By 1914 the ship was no more than a part of a sailor’s life. No institution, however venerated, could operate in complete isolation, and it is misleading to give these social issues an autonomous narrative, yet in so doing these historians are demonstrating the pervasiveness of the myth of the navy’s continued isolation. Although Carew, Pratt, and Gordon have acknowledged that the navy cannot be divorced from events in civilian society during the war, the impact of that relationship has yet to be explored. They have come to recognise that an institution which has been frequently judged and, crucially, which frequently judged itself, on its autonomy, was actually dependent

36 Richard Hough, The Great War at Sea, 2nd edn (Edinburgh:  Birlinn, 2000); Paul Halpern, A Naval History of World War One, 2nd edn (London: UCL Press, 1995). 37 Christopher McKee, Sober Men and True, Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900–​1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002); Brown and Meehan, Scapa Flow; Julian Thompson, The Imperial War Museum Book of The War at Sea: The Face of Battle Revealed in the Words of the Men Who Fought (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 2005); Max Arthur, Lost Voices of the Royal Navy: Vivid Eyewitness Accounts of Life in the Royal Navy from 1914–​1945 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005); Brian Lavery, Able Seamen. The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy 1850–​1939 (London: Conway, 2011). 38 N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World:  An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana, 1986).

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Introduction

on the society behind it  –​thereby beginning to break down the idea, albeit implicitly, that civilian and military society can be separated.39 Limited study has been conducted into the morale of the fleet, and none has looked at morale and its relationship with discipline. The only article to have even touched on the subject of morale in battle, and very briefly at that, was a comparatively recent one by Claire Herrick.40 Her topic, casualty care, is relatively unmentioned elsewhere, but has huge social implications within the navy.41 She outlines arrangements for casualty care both at sea and ashore, looking at the themes of isolation and compartmentalisation. Herrick not only sets out the narrative history of casualty care (both planning and execution), she also assesses its impact on morale. The theme of isolation and compartmentalisation is one which Herrick uses throughout her article in relation to morale. For her the compartmentalised nature of the ship’s architecture was an outward reflection of the mental compartmentalisation of the men who fought as part of a small unit.42 This book extends her analysis of compartmentalisation which was also a means of limiting grievances. Not only were ships compartmentalised internally, the fleet was also compartmentalised into ships. The level of unrest amongst the men was in part, therefore, a reflection of the conditions prevailing on a specific ship. Anthony Carew has argued convincingly that the central cause of ‘unrest’43 in the pre-​war period was the changing socio-​demographic makeup of the navy. This, he argues, resulted in an increasingly large proportion of the service being drawn from the industrial districts where social development was most advanced. As a consequence of this, emerging socialist and trade unionist ideas were mirrored in the service, 39 Anthony, B. Carew, The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy 1900–​39: The Invergordon Mutiny in Perspective (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 1981); Edwin Pratt, British Railways and the Great War:  Organisation, Efforts, Difficulties and Achievements, 2 vols (London: Selwyn and Blout, 1921); Andrew Gordon, The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command (London: John Murray, 2002). 40 Claire E.J. Herrick, ‘Casualty Care During the First World War: The Experiences of the Royal Navy’, War in History, 7 (2000), 154–​179. There are a number of works which focus on medicine in the navy in the nineteenth century including J.J. Keevil, Medicine and the Navy:  1200–​1900 (Edinburgh:  Livingstone, 1957); David Boyd Haycock and Sally Archer, eds, Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700–​1900 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2011); and Brian Vale, Physician to the Fleet:  The Life and Times of Thomas Trotter 1760–​1832 (Woodbridge:  Boydell, 2011). David McLean has taken his study slightly later by looking at the modernisation of medical care from 1900 to 1914; see David McLean, Surgeons of the Fleet.The Royal Navy and its Medics from Trafalgar to Jutland (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010), ­chapter 8. 41 Herrick’s PhD thesis focused on ‘War & Wounds’. Just as with Edwin Pratt’s contribution to the debate, the RN is a case study within a wider study rather than a specific focus. 42 Herrick, ‘Casualty Care’, p. 162. 43 See Chapter 2 for discussion about his use of this term.

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leading to increasing unrest and eventually to militancy amongst ratings. He sets this against a backdrop of economic grievances made worse by the knowledge amongst ratings that they were monetarily disadvantaged in comparison with the army, the marines and even Dominion navies.44 This, he believes, was compounded by deep resentment caused by the arcane and arbitrary nature of naval law, especially when compared to the British army, at the heart of which was humiliation, and which gave five years hard labour for offences which in civilian life would not even get a custodial sentence.45 Carew examines how these grievances were vented and also investigates the means whereby this reform ‘movement’ left the confines of the navy and became a matter for more general debate. The bringing of these issues to the attention of the general public was made easier by the election of a Liberal Government in 1906, from which time, claims Carew, the topic not only found increasing voice in the House of Commons, but also in sections of the press.46 By the eve of war it was commonplace, Carew contends, for men to look outside the service for help redressing grievances.47 The effect of the war, he believes, was to make these trends worse because of the introduction of hostilities only (HO) ratings who rapidly increased the influx of trade union ideas. If Carew is to be believed then the Royal Navy was a shuddering wreck on the brink of strike action which ought, logically, to have faced serious unrest during, if not before, the outbreak of the Great War. Evidently it did not; yet, despite mentioning almost in passing wartime concessions and potential ‘safety valves’, he ignores the question which is crying out to be answered in his own book  –​why? This book will argue that Carew misses crucial service dynamics which help to explain its ability to survive. Whilst it is accurate to say that HO ratings exacerbated the pre-​existing issues arising from socio-​ demographic changes, Carew overestimates the extent of ‘unrest’ during the war and fails to recognise the extent to which reported unrest was a reaction to specifically wartime events, whilst underestimating the difficulty the navy faced in adapting itself to rapidly changing times. Nor does he recognise the conflicting discourses or the difficulties which an ultimately sympathetic Board of Admiralty faced. Carew was one of the first to focus on the lower decks and to make any substantive effort to view events on the lower decks within

44 Many of the dominion navies were manned by RN personnel who received such perks as free uniform when drafted to dominion ships. 45 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 30–​32 and 40. 46 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 67. 47 Ibid., p. 33.

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Introduction

the context of British civilian society. However, he is not fundamentally interested in the First World War as anything other than an episodic stepping stone on the way to Invergordon, giving a sense that the preceding events had an element of the inevitable about them. However, this book will contend that events during the war clearly demonstrate that the progression of unrest was not unstoppable. Reports of trade union activity were a source of very real concern for the Board of Admiralty; however, they were continually being told from commanding and flag officers that the solution lay in their own hands, a view reinforced by lower-​deck organisations that were also searching for a specifically naval solution. This book addresses Carew’s analysis and suggests a new interpretation. It will uncover the relationship between discipline, leadership, and the state of the fleet strength and the Admiralty during the Great War. By exploring Admiralty policy as well as lower-​deck resources we can achieve a far broader social history of the institution as a whole and not simply the ‘ordinary sailors’. I  would argue that Admiralty policy has to be explored as part of a social and cultural history because of the impact of that policy on the morale of the fleet and on its combat effectiveness. This approach widens the scope of what is usually considered a ‘social history’. This book concentrates primarily on the Grand Fleet in home waters reflecting the far higher proportion of incidents of indiscipline occurring there. It argues that this concentration of grievances is a direct result of the fleet’s proximity to industrial unrest and because it was easier to express grievances when in a UK port. It also focuses only on the fleet at sea and in port, rather than the Royal Naval Division, the Royal Marines on land, or the Royal Naval Air Service since the issues of discipline and morale for these fighting units were very different to that of their sea-​ going and shore-​establishment colleagues. The experience of sailors in shore establishments has been included because men often had to circulate through one of them before taking their next sea-​going commission and as such their time in these establishments was fundamental to their wartime experiences. The first chapter explores the prevailing service ethos on the eve of war, and how that influenced the formation of the two discourses of paternalism and democratism which underpinned and framed the presentation and nature of the grievances, and the preservation of discipline during the Great War. Chapter 2 discusses the linguistic and methodological difficulties; clarifying the language in which contemporary debate operated. It outlines what is meant by ‘unrest’, ‘grievances’ and ‘morale’. It explores the various disciplinary systems which can be identified and considers how indiscipline can be measured. It then outlines the

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wartime grievances and considers how they were presented. The third chapter focuses on the nature of specific grievances surrounding pay and conditions. It suggests that these went far deeper than financial remuneration and were underpinned by questions over the relative status of naval men. It will consider this in light of changes to working conditions ashore and also to chronological changes. In Chapter 4 the role of the lower-​deck benefits societies and their relationship to the trade unions will be explored, alongside the importance of democracy for the lower decks. These will be considered in light of the conceptual complexities arising from the clash of paternalistic and democratic discourses, and how they effected perceptions of and reactions to the wartime grievances. It will argue that a conscious disassociation with the labour movement was increased, rather than diminished, by the war, because trade union activity became not only unprofessional but also unpatriotic, whilst at the same time the subconscious association with trade unions increased. It will suggest that whilst the movement for reform of the lower decks and the labour movement had much in common, including calls for direct and collective representation of grievances, they remained conceptually incompatible. The final chapter uses the Courts Martial Returns and transcripts of some cases to investigate the breaches of naval discipline which occurred during the war, in order to establish whether grievances were reflected in the number of offences committed against naval law. It will quantify the level of unrest present and consider whether that unrest can be said to have been severe.

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1

Ethos on the Eve of War: The Foundations of Paternalism and Democratism

At the heart of both the unrest and stability of the RN was the discourse of paternalism. As with many other organisations in this period, both civilian and military, the Royal Navy was a deeply paternalistic hierarchical society. Sheffield has defined ‘paternalism’ thus: Paternalism was a set of widely held social attitudes rather than a coherent social theory. Paternalists of the Victorian era believed society “should be authoritarian, hierarchic, organic, and pluralistic”. A  belief in a society that was hierarchical was a central pillar of the paternalist’s Weltanschauung. In an egalitarian society, the poor would lack incentive to work, and the affluent would not possess “the wherewithal … to rule, develop the arts of government and do charitable work”. Society was organic, in that every individual had his place, his responsibilities, “his reciprocal obligations, and his strong ties of dependency”. Finally, society consisted of a number of different hierarchies, each contained within the greater hierarchy.1

This paternalism was not wholly negative. It was a symbiotic relationship where deference was given in exchange for responsibility. In the RN the discourse of Paternalism was part of a much older service ethos. It was the product of its history and was shored up by training, traditions, welfare and discipline. It was not exclusive to the navy; paternalism can equally be seen in the army of the period. Nor was this a markedly different situation to that found ashore. Though less prevalent in the urbanised factory environment, the doffing of the cap of a farm-​worker to his landlord was not far removed from the salute required from a seaman to his officer. It supported the relationship between officers and men, and did much to mitigate potential unrest. Indeed for many ratings this relationship was one they embraced. For the young Charles Lazenby what made a ship happy was first of all cleanliness and then good discipline, and ‘an understanding commander and captain who understood men and could be like a father’.2 Cook Reginald Willis was a staid and experienced man 1 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, pp. 4–​5. 2 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 664 –​Lazenby, Charles Henry.

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Paternalism and Training

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by the outbreak of the war. Not averse to calling officers who deserved it ‘swine’, he nonetheless employed the paternalistic phraseology when discussing examples of good officers. When on HMS Valiant ‘they were more like a couple of fathers to us than anything else, than captain and commander –​the same as all the officers. And the Valiant was one of the happiest ships I’ve ever been in for the simple reason that the captain, commander and officers were men what went with the lower deck, but discipline was kept.’3 However, paternalism was also the cause of much unrest. Paternalism institutionally infantilised the men and it was challenged by the discourse of democratism which was growing in the lower decks. Democratism, like paternalism, was a product of changes afloat and at sea. It was encouraged by societal changes such as the expansion of the franchise, universal education and new political theories from which the service could not cocoon itself. The form naval democratism took, however, was a specifically service one. The question is how did these two positions evolve and, on the eve of war, what were their relative positions, and what was the importance of this? Paternalism and Training For the RN ‘paternalism’ informed the way in which the quarter deck interacted with the lower deck. The importance of the relationship between officers and men has long been acknowledged by historians as fundamental to the morale and combat motivation of the armies of the Great War,4 but its importance to the Royal Navy is comparatively neglected. The officer–​ man relationship as it was in the First World War was one that had evolved over centuries. It was a product both of the RN’s history and of the civil class system from which recruits were drawn. It was enshrined in the institution through training, and it was this relationship that helped to shape the collective self-​identity of sailors. It was at the heart of how such a caste-​based institution functioned. It formed the basis of the disciplinary system and thus the men’s morale, and the efficiency and ultimately fighting potential of the fleet. Only by understanding this relationship can the state of naval discipline, and the level of unrest present, be evaluated.

3 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 758 –​Willis, Reginald. 4 Fuller, Troop Morale and Popular; Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches; Watson, Enduring the Great War –​ see Chapter 2 for discussion of their work.

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Ethos on the Eve of War

Perhaps the most striking distinction between the army and navy when considering the officer–​man relationship was the centrality of boys and adolescents in the latter. With some exceptions, the bulk of both officers and men were recruited as boys and could legally see active service from fifteen or sixteen years of age. This transformed the navy from being paternalistic in an abstract sense to being in loco parentis for the first two to four years of a boy’s life in the service. The service guided them through adolescence –​the time of their lives when they were most susceptible to being influenced. Officers’ training had undergone extensive changes since the introduction of the Selborne scheme, announced by the then Second Sea Lord Jackie Fisher in 1902, and launched 1903–​1905. It replaced the old ‘Britannia’ system, under which cadets had lived and trained in the great hulks Britannia and Hindustan for two years before going to sea to serve five years in the rank of midshipman.5 The nub of the new Selborne scheme was a system of common entrance and training for all executive officers at the newly established Royal Naval Colleges of Osborne and Dartmouth, where they would undergo four to five years as cadets, midshipmen and sub-​lieutenants. Only upon attaining the rank of lieutenant would they then specialise in one of the three branches.6 Those in the highest commands during the Great War were the products of the older ‘Britannia’ model; however, the workings of the Selborne scheme are indicative of institutional self-​perception. The idea of the educational reform was to generate a feeling of esprit de corps and end the rivalry between the executive and engineering branches. Competitive examination at the age of twelve would, theoretically, eliminate the problems of patronage and nepotism which had previously held sway in recruitment. A cadet would spend two years at Osborne and a further two at Dartmouth, before going to sea as a midshipman where he would continue his lessons and technical instruction. The new scheme had its detractors. When it was discussed in the House of Commons Sir John Gorst objected to the low age of recruiting, arguing that the Admiralty had a very poor record for educating boys. He also objected that only rich parents would be able to afford to send their sons,7 thereby making the officer-​class of the RN even more socially exclusive that it 5 See John Winton, ‘Life and Education in a Technically Evolving Navy 1815–​1925’, in J.R. Hill (ed.), The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), pp. 250–​279 for a fuller discussion of the older schemes and the transition to the Osborne/​Dartmouth scheme. 6 Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol. 1, pp. 8–​29. 7 Sending a son through Osborne/​Dartmouth cost as much as a public school education would have done. Despite generous scholarships for the sons of officers and civil servants, the fees where prohibitively high for the overwhelming majority of families  –​thus

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23

had been.8 However, these and other objections were dismissed and the scheme pressed on. There were other means of entry for officers, even after the introduction of the Selborne Scheme. The Special Entry scheme was devised to cope with the shortage of officers generated by Fisher’s dreadnought programme. A number of public school boys aged between seventeen-​ and-​a-​half and eighteen-​and-​a-​half were taken as cadets every year from March 1913. They were given an intensive eighteen-​month training programme partly on board a cruiser and partly onshore at Devonport. They were then sent to the fleet as midshipmen.9 These boys would come from similar socio-​economic backgrounds as those who attended Osborne and Dartmouth, but clearly would have received a shorter period of naval institutionalisation. They would also have been older when they first went to sea and generally lagged behind the Osborne/​Dartmouth trained officers on the promotions list. These boys were often intended for the engineering branch, so none of the aforementioned problems were regarded as serious from the navy’s perspective because they were not destined to assume command of a ship. This scheme had its champions; a number of articles appeared in Naval Review on the subject.10 From its very first edition articles in favour of the scheme appeared.11 Importantly, preserving the social exclusivity of the Senior Service. See Thompson, The Imperial War Museum Book of The War at Sea, p. 13; Fisher had wanted to see fees at Osborne and Dartmouth done away with. In 1913, with Churchill as First Lord, annual fees were reduced from £75 to £40 for a quarter of the entrants in any year, with not more than 10 per cent being the sons of officers, and remaining 15 per cent sons of other needy parents. Only in 1947 was the principle of free education of all naval cadets introduced. Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol. 1, pp. 31–​32. 8 Michael Partridge, The Royal Naval College Osborne: A History 1903–​1921 (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999), p. 9. 9 Marder, From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol. 1, pp. 49–​50. 10 The Naval Review was a quarterly publication started in 1913 by The Naval Society. It was circulated only to members of the society who were drawn from officers of the rank of lieutenant and above in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Contributions were published anonymously and could be of any length, original articles or criticism of previous articles, translations of foreign articles, or reviews of books. The journal was conceived of in order to encourage thought and discussion within the service on subjects like strategy, tactics, naval operations, staff work, administration, organisation, command discipline, education, naval history and any other topic affecting the fighting efficiency of the RN, although confidential matters were to be excluded. See Admiral W.H. Henderson, ‘Editorial Note’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 5–​7. Although the articles were published anonymously it is possible to give each article an author. In Mahan is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, ed. James Goldrick and John H. Hattendorf (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1993), pp. 342–​357 a list of all the Naval Review authors were published alongside their article title. 11 Captain H.W. Richmond, ‘A Suggested Training for Naval Cadets’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 136–​145.

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they were still appearing in 1919.12 The empirical evidence of the value of Special Entry cadets during the war encouraged progressively more supporters. Needless to say it was not received with universal praise. For Lieutenant Crookes the most important aspect of education was the early age of entry since ‘There is no doubt that the present system of discipline in the Navy rests largely on the officers being caught young, broken in thoroughly, made to feel onerous conditions themselves, and infused with the Naval spirit and tradition. It is impossible to do any of these things when the cadet does not enter till 17½.’13 Crookes was, however, immediately challenged in the following issue by Lieutenant Galpin who felt there was no reason why boys should not be ‘infused with the spirit of the Navy’ at seventeen-​and-​a-​half any more than at thirteen.14 What we see from this debate is the importance of instilling an institutional identity. Many of the detractors of the Special Entry scheme were worried about the influence of ‘outsiders’. They were concerned that without adequate institutionalisation the delicate balance of paternalism would be disturbed. The social makeup of the RN officer corps was similar to that of the army;15 neither formed a distinctive caste, and messes were open to men from ‘trade’ backgrounds.16 If the semi-​official publication The Entry and Training of Naval Cadets, published in 1914, is to be believed, the

12 Admiral W.H. Henderson and Dr H.B. Gray, ‘The Training of Naval Officers:  An Imperial Question’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), 211–​224. 13 Lieutenant R.C. Crookes, RN, ‘Osborne and Special Entry. A  Comparison’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 123; this view was supported by a slightly manic letter to the editor written by Lieutenant Commander P.J. Allen who believed that Osborne/​Dartmouth had been the best experience of his life and should, therefore, continue unchanged (see Lieutenant Commander P.J. Allen, RN, ‘H.M.S. Britannia and Public Schools’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 480–​481). 14 Lieutenant W.S. Galpin, RN, ‘A Reply to “Osborne and Special Entry. A Comparison”’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 306. Also see Captain J.D. Allen, CB, RN, ‘Age of Entry of Naval Cadets’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 307–​309 who agreed that later entry could be more beneficial than detrimental. 15 The surviving records of the Osborne College Interview Boards from 1903, 1905 and 1915 show that the fathers of prospective candidates came from a wide variety of occupations including the military, business, the clergy, medicine, law, civil service, stockbroking, engineering, artisans, merchant shipping, education, journalists, architects, artists, actors and ‘gentlemen’. Nearly 50 per cent came from families with some link to the military. For figures, see Partridge, The Royal Naval College Osborne, pp. 38–​39. 16 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, pp. 1–​12 for details of the regular pre-​war army –​ Andrew Gordon also explored the changes to the wardroom which were the product of the switch from sail to steam:  ‘machinery had socially undesirable ramifications. Wardrooms began to be infiltrated by men with discordant accents and gauche manners from the industrial Midlands, Tyneside or Glasgow –​men who lived on their pay –​and for several decades, steam engines.’ See Gordon, The Rules of the Game, pp. 165–​166.

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cadets were all ‘resolute, resourceful, quick to decide, and ready to act on his decision’, as well as being ‘no slacker, but keen on work and play’. They were also ‘sound alike in wind and limb and in the big and little principles of conduct … cheerful, unselfish, considerate’.17 As Partridge observed, ‘the boy of sensitive, poetic spirit, the ruminating young philosopher, the scholar whose whole heart is in his books’ would not find a place in the navy.18 The education received by officer cadets was a source of much debate. The syllabus was taught in classrooms, workshops and on the playing fields. The boys were taught naval history and a smattering of British history, English language and literature, either French or German, geography, mathematics, science, engineering, seamanship, bible studies, and physical education.19 On the face of it this seems a broad enough syllabus  –​yet it provoked a great deal of discussion in the pages of Naval Review. The Review’s stated objective was to provide a forum for officers to ‘develop their knowledge of the higher side of their profession. [Since there has been] … no incentive whatever to employ that portion of [their] brain[s]‌that [are] concerned with analysis and reasoning’.20 Articles about naval education fell into some broad categories:  those that believed the current system did not teach cadets to think;21 those who believed the syllabus too narrow or too limiting;22 and those who 17 Quoted from the semi-​official publication issued in 1914, The Entry and Training of Naval Cadets, in Partridge, The Royal Naval College Osborne, p. 34. 18 Ibid., p. 34. 19 Ibid., p. 61. 20 ‘Introduction’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 9. 21 See Commander Hon. R. Plunkett ‘Naval Education, Its Effect on Character and Intellect’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 48–​58. Here Plunkett described the effect of education thus: ‘Instead of the brain being an active and productive machine, a thing of vast constructive power, we try to make it a cross between a museum and a lost-​property office’ (p. 51); Commander K. Dewar and Captain T.D. Napier ‘The Training of Naval Officer: Two Replies to the Articles in Vol. 1, No. 2’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 305–​320 in which Dewar and Napier describe the system of midshipmen as producing good, willing boys, but they are not capable of teaching themselves, they have been ‘spoon-​ fed’ for too long (pp. 312–​314); the idea that cadets were spoonfed and not taught to think appeared again in Admiral W.H. Henderson and Dr H.B. Gray, ‘The Training of Naval Officers: An Imperial Question’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), 211–​224; Lieutenant Commander C.M. Rolleston, RN, ‘The Higher Education of Executive Officers in Relation to Staff Work’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), 276–​281 was a little kinder, suggesting that although ‘Officers are not encouraged to use their brains; it is a national, not a purely naval, fault, and is the outcome of our school system’ (p. 281). 22 See Lieutenant A.C. Dewar, ‘Naval Education’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 464–​467, in which Dewar sees fault in the present system because it tries to teach the cadets too much, and does not allow concentrated study in one area; Commander The Hon. R. Plunkett, ‘Training of Naval Officers’, Naval Review, 1 (1913), 467–​469 is largely in agreement with the previous author, though he points out that if the captain and commander of a ship were killed, the next officer in charge is a ‘lieutenant (E), who had

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believed it did not teach cadets to lead.23 The substance of the syllabus for these proto-​officers was a source of such contention because it was seen as the foundation on which the inherent ‘officer like qualities’ were built and because it shaped the prevailing discourse of paternalism, for the discipline of the service to survive it was crucial to imbue officers with this from the point of entry. This education into the navy’s ‘officer like qualities’ continued when the young cadets entered sea service. Once out of the ‘battery farm’,24 and after a stint in the training cruiser, young officers received their first commission with the rank of midshipman. In order that the peace and tranquillity of the wardroom25 was not disturbed, these young men were herded together in their own mess –​the gunroom. In some areas of the service this holding-​pen became the thing of legend. Its reputation spread far beyond the confines of the Senior Service, putting in an appearance in Charles Morgan’s 1919 novel The Gunroom.26 Its legend is not something of which it was overtly proud. For some the privations and humiliation suffered there was all part and parcel of being in the Senior Service. It was a necessary initiation ceremony into the traditions and customs of a service which was the pride of Britain and the envy of the world. For others it was pure barbarity, which ought to have had no place in a civilised society. The gunroom comprised the ship’s midshipmen. There they spent their time off watch, and would hitch up their hammocks there at night.27 The perhaps spent eight years continuously in the engineroom’ and it is doubtful he would be equal to the task or that the men would have confidence in him. 23 See Captain H.W. Richmond, RN, ‘Qualifications of Officers as Affecting Discipline’, Naval Review, 2 (1914), 363–​365; Lieutenant Commander Lord Alistair Graham, RN, ‘Naval Education’, Naval Review, 3 (1915), 559–​568 believed that it would be better to concentrate cadets on a purely general education until they reached the age of seventeen (p. 564). 24 Gordon, The Rules of the Game, p.  172. This is also evident from the Naval Review debates discussed above, which made it clear that this was a view of officers’ training was also common amongst serving officers at the time. 25 The officers’ mess. 26 The preface to The Gunroom, written by Eiluned Lewis, argues that The Gunroom was written ‘at the same time and often in the same mood as the poetry of the First War … Charles Morgan, in the forced seclusion of his internment, was deprived of both the agonies and the fulfilment of the poets of the trenches. His muse had not been fertilized by the suffering and comradeship of that long and terrible ordeal … But he had seen the grim beginning, and apprehended its shocks and amazements … [The Gunroom] is a young, angry book and a revolutionary one, looking forward to a new world.’ This is certainly borne out in the latter half of the book. However, the first half, as Lewis acknowledges, is a ‘documentary’. To his death Morgan remained proud of the Senior Service, and professed that whatever else may be read into The Gunroom it was, in Morgan’s own words, ‘deadly true about the Navy as [he] knew it’ (see the preface to The Gunroom, pp. v–​x). 27 All officers above the rank of midshipman had berths rather than hammocks.

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gunroom was not an egalitarian society, but in fact rather hierarchical with junior, intermediate and senior ‘snotties’.28 A senior snotty (holding the rank of sub-​lieutenant) was in charge of his juniors, both on and off duty. From the point of entry cadets were used to taking orders from boys only a year or two their senior in age, but within the confines of Osborne/​Dartmouth any dictatorial tendencies could be kept in check. Once onboard any such supervision was largely forgotten and the full vindictiveness of teenage boys held in a confined space was unleashed. Juniors were forced to perform ‘evolutions’29 for the amusement of their seniors, and any who refused was deemed, at best, soft.30 Whatever the activity (even enforced singing), it was accompanied by beatings with sticks. These ‘evolutions’ were not nightly occurrences, but nor were they infrequent. Not every senior enjoyed them; some saw them as a necessary rite of passage. However, very few ever spoke up against it, and if they did were frequently told by their seniors that ‘it hadn’t done them any harm’.31 Nor have any instances been found of seniors taking the collective decision to break with tradition and not impose ‘evolutions’ on their juniors. Perhaps the most famous account of gunroom life can be found in Charles Morgan’s novel.32 Morgan made no attempt to disguise the 28 Service slang for an officer of the rank of midshipman. 29 In the Royal Navy an ‘evolution’ is a drill designed either to practise a particular skill so that speed and accuracy were assured (such as gun drill) or to ensure the men were kept fit (e.g. physical training). The activities given to junior snotties to perform were called ‘evolutions’ mockingly. In some ships they were referred to as ‘games’. 30 Some of these evolutions were well known; others were down to the inventiveness of a particular gunroom sub-​lieutenant. One of the most commonly cited was ‘running torpedoes’. This involved one midshipman lying face down on the table with a box of matches in his hands. When the order ‘fire’ was given six other midshipman would launch the ‘human-​torpedo’ along the table whilst he endeavoured to light a match. Failure to ignite the match would result in a repetition of the incident. Details of this evolution taken from Dudley Davidson’s evidence to a Court of Enquiry into bullying on HMS Benbow, conducted on 10 January 1917. See The National Archive, Admiralty 156/​21 for further details of ‘evolutions’. References to this ‘evolution’ were also found in Morgan, The Gunroom, pp. 59–​60. 31 Lieutenant Camerson and Lieutenant Evans beautifully exposed this fallacy in a damning indictment of a very biased review of The Gunroom. In a section addressed directly to the reviewer, they write: ‘It is useless to point out [to the reviewer] that a thing is not necessarily right because it has been done for a long time. It is also useless to say that, as all natures are not alike, what may not affect one person will very possible harm another. It is a waste of time, too, to call in outside opinion and to ask what the general public, which has seen a great deal more of the world than the average naval officer, would think of gunroom evolutions even in the mildest form’ (p. 313). Lieutenant E.H. Camerson, RN and Lieutenant G.H. Jocelyn Evans, RN, ‘ “The Gunroom” ’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 311–​313. 32 Morgan had entered the service in 1907 and had acquitted himself with distinction at Dartmouth where he became a cadet captain. After serving as a midshipman on HMS Good Hope and then on HMS Monmouth, he found himself to be unsuited to service life

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semi-​autobiographic nature of the story. In the civil world it was well received, and one weekly newspaper even listed it among ‘Christmas Gift Books for Boys’.33 More seriously, it appeared in The Sunday Evening Chronicle under the title ‘THE MIDSHIPMAN’S HELL’.34 The Gunroom also caused a storm in naval circles where it was seen as either wildly untrue or deeply disloyal, or both. The Admiralty had to deal with communications from the parents of midshipmen or would-​ be midshipmen enquiring if it was an accurate assessment of life in the gunroom.35 Evidence from some of those who served with Morgan suggests that he was simply unsuited to the service. Midshipman, later Captain, De Courcy-​Ireland was in the same term as Morgan. Morgan’s book ‘horrified’ De Courcy-​Ireland’s mother, though De Courcy-​Ireland himself seemed unconcerned by these evolutions. He recalled that Morgan was withdrawn by his mother after breaking his arm in a gunroom ‘rag’.36 The boys who could not take life in the gunroom were ‘possibly … too clever, too sensitive, or just “not the type”, and felt themselves stifled mentally and frustrated by the service’s concentration on character building, leadership and conformity to discipline, as opposed to academic freedom and/​ or artistic qualities’.37 That Morgan’s work was seen as a betrayal of the service, or an indictment of his character, by these veterans, may perhaps be seen in terms of their own pride. However, anger at Morgan’s book also featured in the Naval Review. A number of articles were published in defence of gunroom evolutions. In one, Lieutenant Grade argued that evolutions: are comparatively good-​tempered affairs and excellent safety valves for superfluous energy. The stick is rarely used, and never without being richly deserved. The life of the junior midshipmen, if not peaceful, is extremely happy, while on the other hand the sub-​lieutenant and the senior midshipman are two harassed individuals on whose devoted heads are visited the sins of the rest of the mess.38

and left to pursue a literary career in 1913. When war broke out in 1914 he joined the Royal Naval Division, and was captured during the attempted relief of Antwerp. Whilst interned in a cottage he shared with other naval officers he wrote his first draft of The Gunroom. It was subsequently revised and, by his own admission, a dreadfully written love story was added (Morgan, The Gunroom, preface, pp. vi–​ix). 33 Morgan, The Gunroom, p. v. 34 Ibid., p. v. 35 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. P366 –​Baillie-​Grohman, Vice-​Admiral H.T., memoirs ‘Flashlights on the Past’. 36 Though no other reference to this accident has been found. 37 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 92/​4/​1  –​De Courcy-​Ireland, Captain S.B., memoirs, pp. 37–​38. 38 Lieutenant C.H. Grade, RN, ‘The Gunroom’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 116–​121.

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Like those who knew Morgan, Grade concluded that Lynwood, Morgan’s chief protagonist, was simply unsuitable for the RN. In a direct response to Grade’s review of  The Gunroom, Lieutenant Camerson and Lieutenant Jocelyn Evans wrote ‘Mr Morgan’s book has been heartily condemned by most naval officers, but their condemnation can hardly be considered unprejudiced.’ Whilst some elements might be ‘overdone … in no other book of naval fiction has so much truth appeared … What does appear, and very rightly so, is the petty tyranny of rank to rank, the visited wrath extending from the highest to the lowest, the irritation that breeds discontent  –​all those stupidities which undermine true discipline.’39 Other articles defended Morgan, arguing that though he might have gone a little too far in his descriptions, was merely looking to reform the system, and was not motivated by bitterness as others had claimed.40 Whether exaggerated or not, Morgan’s account of gunroom life was one which was easily recognisable to those who had lived in one,41 and readily believable by those who had not. Whatever the verisimilitude of Morgan’s testimony, it retained enough truth to worry some of the service’s senior echelons because accusations of bullying were an anathema to the concept of paternalism which was so integral to the good discipline of the Senior Service. The ‘Bridge’ Between Officer and Men Petty officers (POs) acted as a bridge between officers and men. It was a PO who drilled the cadets, a PO who took them for physical training, seamanship and practical shop work, though they would have civilian instruction for school lessons. It had been a PO who bellowed instructions at them. A  PO who taught them that, for a few years at least, these sons of the great and good were the lowest form of life in the Senior Service. The PO may have addressed his young charges as ‘sir’, but the PO was very much in charge. It mattered not if the cadet was the son of a king –​they were treated exactly the same.42 Both quarter and 39 Camerson and Evans, ‘ “The Gunroom” ’, pp. 311–​313. 40 Sub-​Lieutenant G.H. Jocelyn Evans, RN, ‘Some Aspects of Naval Education’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 183–​187. 41 Even the two naval officers with whom Morgan was interned professed to having undergone similar experiences during their own time in gunrooms –​see Morgan, The Gunroom, p. viii. 42 Though Midshipman Barraclough (later Captain Barraclough) recalled that his fellow midshipman on HMS Collingwood, Prince Albert, was allowed certain privileges because ‘at times, he had to appear officially as a Royal Prince, it was necessary that he had more uniforms and clothes, and that these were kept more presentable than those of the ordinary snotty, so he had a valet and a cabin to keep his clothes in. The cabin was only used for his clothes; he slept in a hammock like the rest of us.’ IWM Document Archives,

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lower decks shared the experience of being trained by POs who fulfilled a dual role as teacher and father for many of the cadets and boy seamen. Petty officers held a privileged, trusted and responsible position, just as non-​commissioned officers (NCOs) did in the army, and like NCOs they were messed separately and entitled to special privileges: one of the most coveted being allowed neat rum.43 For all the similarities between POs and army NCOs, the two services diverged in the length of time taken to train both officers and men. The exact length of time necessary was a source of some contention,44 but what it did mean was that both officers and men had a greater period of naval institutionalisation than their land-​based counterparts in the army. Taking boys whilst still very young meant they could, in Crookes’ phrase, be ‘broken in thoroughly’.45 Whilst being trained, officers were directly under the charge of POs for four years, and were, in practice if not theory, under their command for a further two years. Thus, for nearly six years, future officers were treated like ratings, and had a brief glimpse of life as a lower-​deck boy.46 Such was the relationship that POs became what one might dub ‘subordinate father-​figures’ to the cadets: social and service inferiors, yet superior in terms of knowledge, experience and competence. They built a special relationship between themselves and the cadets, and they could punish and reprimand, as well as providing guidance and comfort to boys who found themselves miles from home. It was a mutual relationship of trust and respect forged over a six-​year period, which would prove crucial later in the cadets’ careers. By the time the cadets attained the rank of midshipman, they nominally out-​ranked the POs. Midshipmen were frequently given the job of running the picket boat, with a PO to act as boatswain (see Figure 1.1), but it was a foolish ‘mid’ who thought himself in charge. For most, it was a chance to learn about boat handling and leadership from an experienced tutor. Most of the men interviewed by the IWM in the 1970s spoke of their POs with great respect, affection Accession No. 81/​48/​1 –​Barraclough, Captain E.M.C., extract from Vol. 1, ­chapter 2 of his memoirs. 43 As opposed to ‘grog’ (rum mixed with water) which the lower decks drank. 44 See discussions in Naval Review discussed above. 45 Lieutenant R.C. Crookes, RN, ‘Osborne and Special Entry. A  Comparison’, Naval Review, 8 (1920), 123. 46 Sheffield found a similar experience existed in the army. Cadets at Sandhurst were drilled and abused in a similar fashion to private soldiers. Once they reached their regiment they had to ‘pass off the square’ alongside private soldiers. Sheffield adds one word of caution: ‘One should not exaggerate the extent to which the young officer became familiar with the lot of the ranker. The experience was of relatively short duration, and led directly to a privileged lifestyle. But it did give officers a glimpse into the life of the rank and file, and ensured that they had first-​hand experience of the methods favoured by the army of instilling discipline’ (p. 8): Sheffield, Officer–​Man Relations, pp. 7–​8.

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The ‘Bridge’ Between Officer and Men

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Figure 1.1  ‘His First Command’. University of Leeds Special Collections, Record Foxon, Fred –​ classmark LIDDLE/​WW1/​RNMR/​106

and indeed gratitude.47 Aside from relating anecdotes about the help they received, they also related tales of foolish young men who did not listen to their PO. Just like boy seamen, midshipmen could be formally 47 In his unpublished memoirs Captain De Courcy-​ Ireland devoted five pages to discussing PO O’Halloran, acknowledging the ‘debt I  owe to this fine man’ (p.  42).

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punished by caning. When this punishment was awarded the midshipman in question would be told to retrieve the cane from the ship’s heads. This meant running through the mess deck, and all the men assembled there knew full well what a midshipman would be running to fetch. The midshipman’s relative seniority was no guard against the catcalls that would follow the young officer on his passage. This gentle banter created an ambiguity in the relationship which helped to forge bonds between officers and men. Only when young officers attained the rank of lieutenant did they finally assume real command, by which stage they had been under the guidance of POs for approximately eight years, and eight formative years at that. Even then the importance of the PO could not be underestimated. Brian de Courcy-​Ireland related the story of a marine officer who had forgotten to send a routine and unimportant letter out with the picket boat, so when the boat returned he sent it out again. Needless to say the boat’s crew were irritated by this. PO O’Halloran chose to vocalise that displeasure, telling the officer ‘Well, you might tell the fucking cook to keep my fucking dinner hot.’ O’Halloran was reprimanded, but so too was the officer for provoking a PO.48 In some branches of the service, particularly the engineering branch, anecdotal evidence suggests that some officers were still reliant on their Engine Room Artificers.49 It is an old service adage that the POs are really in charge of the ship –​ and they certainly contributed to its smooth running. As a community they were the guardians of a huge accumulated knowledge. Most POs had done approximately twelve years’ service to reach that level of seniority, and they represented a body of staid and steady men, who helped Not only did O’Halloran teach him boat-​handling, he even went to far as to darn De Courcy-​Ireland’s socks. Ireland also owed a great debt to the crew of his second picket boat: ‘They accepted me as one of themselves, for they knew I would never betray their trust. We discussed everything and everybody; and some of the officers would have been horrified at how much was known about them! As for “the facts of life” –​well. When I went to sea I must have been one of the most innocent lads afloat. My father’s sole effort to impart knowledge having been confined to the one sentence, “Don’t forget my boy, your loins are sacred.” A few months of working among sailors and in particular listening to the amorous and other experiences of the 2nd picket boats crew, in which few details were omitted, or understated, and my education had advanced rapidly! Never once did any of them take advantage of the situation; on duty they behaved in a correct and disciplined manner.’ IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 92/​4/​1 –​De Courcy-​ Ireland, Captain S.B., memoirs, pp. 41–​47. Vice-​Admiral Baillie-​Grohman would have agreed with Ireland. When talking about his training, he recalled: ‘I think we all felt we could have done without our term Lieutenant and been better with our Chief Petty Officer in charge. We all had a great admiration and affection for C.P.O. Holmes’ (IWM Document Archives, Accession No. P366, memoirs ‘Flashlights on the Past’). 48 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 12243 –​De Courcy-​Ireland. 49 Who were of equivalent rank to POs.

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to maintain the equilibrium of life on board. The importance of this class of men was something of which sea-​going officers and the Board of Admiralty were well aware, and much reference was made to the necessity of ensuring the continued support of this particular group especially as the pinch of war was felt.50 Article 728 of King’s Regulations dealt specifically with the privileges of petty officers. As will be seen petty officers were also instrumental in the drawing up of loyal appeals and were disproportionately represented in the lower-​deck benefit societies and other organised manifestations of lower-​deck solidarity.51 They were not in an unassailable position. Despite acknowledgement of the skills of these men, they were potentially subject to very harsh summary punishments. Until 1912, when they finally won the right to opt for a court martial instead of being summarily punished, a PO could be summarily disrated; if he failed to regain his rank he would lose part of his pension.52 Paternalism relied on these links for it to function. Officers in the navy were not concerned directly with the day-​to-​day lives of their men, especially on the larger vessels, and it was POs and chief petty officers (CPOs) who were key to ensuring the relationship worked. They also sat at the intersection of paternalism and democratism; not only were they instrumental in the transmission of paternalism from officers to men, they were also involved in the articulation of the discourse of democratism to the senior echelons of the service. This group of ratings sat on the cusp of two world views. They were inherently part of the discourse of paternalism because they were a crucial part of the hierarchical system of the RN. They trained both officers and men, whilst simultaneously providing a buffer between the two groups. They were instrumental to the implementation of naval discipline and also to the provision of welfare. However, they were also part of the discourse of democratism. POs were highly skilled men who were at the top of the lower-​deck tree. Becoming a PO was the pinnacle of a lower-​deck career. They were highly respected ashore and afloat, and their families were able to live a respectable life which placed them above many other working-​ class families. POs, more than any other group, were reluctant to accept the institutional infantilisation of paternalism. They played a crucial role in the instigation and running of lower-​deck benefit societies. They were 50 The financial hardships caused by war on naval families was thought to affect those of POs and CPOs more acutely that for other ranks. See Chapter 3 for further discussion. 51 See Chapter 4 for details. 52 In the army disrating could take place only after court martial; in the Royal Navy POs could not even request a court martial. Between 850 and 900 men were disrated in 1907–​08 with one in twelve POs punished in this way in every year. See Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 39–​47.

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involved in the transmission of grievances, not just as a conduit for the officers, but also as a key part of the lower-​deck voice. Ratings and Service Ethos Ratings were no less institutionalised by their training than their officers, and in some respects their training was not dissimilar from that of their officer cadet counterparts. However, there were some marked differences, not least of all career expectations. There were a number of different ways for boys to join the lower decks of the service. Each depended on what job they would be doing. The entrants for the seaman branch joined as boy seamen at the age of around fifteen either directly or via the Royal Naval School, Greenwich.53 Training took place at each of the three home ports, Devonport, Portsmouth and Chatham. The boys were housed on board floating wooden hulks where, like officer cadets, they were instructed by POs and supervised by boys only a few months their senior. They received school lessons, physical education and seamanship instruction. Boys would sit a series of exams and those who showed particular aptitude might be chosen for training in the more skilled branches such as administrative (naval writers), telegraphy or signals. Many veterans professed to having had a fascination with the Senior Service from boyhood,54 so their pride in the RN was deeply engrained. This was built upon during formal and information training; cleanliness, smartness and the history of the service were absorbed through instruction and through the anecdotes the boys picked up in their off-​duty hours.55 Unlike the army, the navy had the opportunity to mould its recruits from a very young age, as well as to ensure that it kept them for a considerable period of time. The navy was unwilling to train boys in such highly specialised work

53 The Royal Naval School, Greenwich was part of the Greenwich Hospital which had been established in the late seventeenth century as a home for naval pensioners, as well as providing support for naval widows and education for the children of naval men. By this period the sons of sailors could be entered into Greenwich for the first part of their education and from there would enter the RN. For the origins of the Royal Naval Schools, see David McLean, Education and Empire. Naval Tradition and England’s Elite Schooling (London: British Academic, 1999). 54 This tended to be expressed in rather abstract terms. William Ford is typical of the sense of pride in the Senior Service found in the Imperial War Museum Sound Archives. To him, young men took pride at being in the navy: ‘they thought they were the good, they did, yes, yes, they did’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719). 55 This was remarked upon in various forms by a number of veterans, such as Gilbert Adshead (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 660).

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without some guarantee that they would stay more than a couple of years. Hence the minimum enlistment period was twelve years with the option to enlist for a further ten should they wish. Such was the prestige of a naval career that the Senior Service was able to attract far stronger candidates than the army.56 Once boys were ready for sea service, they would receive their first commission to join a ship. There their formal instruction continued  –​ often at the hands of the chaplain; however, whilst they worked alongside the men, they messed separately until the commencement of man’s time at the age of eighteen.57 They could then start working towards one of the specialisations, such as gunnery or torpedoes, which would give them a future increase in pay and respect. There were other methods of entry. Because of the very technical nature of the ships, the RN needed a band of skilled engineers to ensure their smooth running. Worried that boys who had completed their term of apprenticeship in industry might bring with them the ethics and methods of the trade unions,58 the Admiralty decided to establish its own apprenticeships. After a set of extremely competitive exams some boys would be admitted for training as engine room artificers (ERAs). Training took four years and produced skilled craftsmen who would maintain the machinery, engines and hydraulic systems. Unlike boys trained on Ganges, ERA apprentices had their meals served to them by pensioners and were not subjected to physical punishments. Most of their day was spent in the workshops and they attended evening school after tea. When these boys went to sea they were automatically given the rank and privileges of POs, reflecting the esteem in which they were held.59 At the other end of the service were the stokers who were admitted at eighteen years of age because of the physically demanding nature of the work they were to undertake.60 The circumventing of traditional hierarchal structures changed the dynamics of the lower decks and fed into the discourse of democratism because they challenged received notions of slow and steady promotion.

56 See Conley, The Jack Tar to Union Jack, c­ hapter 4 for discussion of the changing public perceptions of naval men in the run up to the war. 57 Service was divided into ‘boy’s time’ (i.e. that served whilst under eighteen) and ‘man’s time’ (i.e. that served from the age of eighteen onwards). 58 Thompson, The Imperial War Museum Book of the War at Sea, pp. 29–​30. 59 Ibid., pp. 29–​31. 60 Brian Lavery, Able Seamen. The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy 1850–​1939 (London: Conway, 2011), pp. 150–​155.

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Paternalism in Practice Once both officers and men had completed their respective training the exact nature of the relationship between them depended, in part, on the type of service on which they were engaged. Generally speaking, life in smaller ships and on submarines was regarded as more relaxed and less formal. Discipline was achieved through negotiation rather than rigid employment of the disciplinary system.61 On cruisers and battleships the relationship was rather different. With complements of anything up to a twelve hundred men, the relationship must, of necessity, have been a far more formal affair. Officers would have been physically quartered away from the men’s messes, and many lower-​deck men would have rarely seen, let alone have had contact with, the highest ranking of the ship’s officers. These ships carried ship’s police and marine detachments who were responsible for enforcing the disciplinary system –​and, according to many of the men interviewed in the 1970s, they frequently did so with rather too much enthusiasm.62 Which system a man preferred was very much a question of personal predilection. Some liked the more relaxed setting of smaller vessels; others favoured the greater formality and anonymity of the larger ships. Generally the men liked and respected their officers, both as a class of men and as individuals; although there was, obviously, ‘the odd one’.63 The culture of care and paternalistic understanding provided a powerful bond against outside influences. Indeed officer–​ man relations on a personal level were remarkably good in this period. There were some obvious exceptions (on both sides), including Filson Young who persisted in referring to the ratings as ‘my friend’ in a particularly patronising fashion,64 although he paled alongside an article in Naval Review, where Lieutenant Commander Chalmers said ‘it is well to remember that [the Bluejacket] is almost incapable of thinking, and if he does think

61 The discipline and efficiency of smaller ships (like destroyers) remained secure right through into 1919. When it did break down in the post-​war period it was a result of Admiralty policy, rather than a break down in the relationship between officers and men. 62 See Chapter 2 for discussion about the men’s reactions to the naval police. 63 In the interviews undertaken by the IWM in the 1970s the most common response when asked what the officers were like, was that generally they were good, but there was ‘the odd one’. Alfred Fright was typical of the responses: ‘The Officers in them days was gentlemen and I speaking personally for myself I think I speak for other people there that we’d have followed them to the edge of the earth –​they were gentlemen. You had got the one or two, you know, that was what we used to call “sods”, you know, you had one to two, but take them on the whole they was gentlemen’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 22248). 64 Filson Young, With the Fleet: Studies in Naval Life (London: Grant Richards, 1913).

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he will generally think wrong’.65 Putting these exceptions to one side, it is clear that there was a genuine mutual respect between officers and men. Despite wartime grievances the culture of paternalism governing the officer–​man relationship on a day-​to-​day basis largely survived the war. In 1919 Captain Astley-​Rushton argued in the Naval Review that some men are born with the qualities of leadership, others will never achieve it, and the remainder can learn it if they go the right way about it. Aside from heredity the qualifications for an officer, according to Rushton, may be divided into two groups:  first, personal conduct and self-​command, and second, the command of others. For Rushton morale lay in the hands of officers who could ensure the goodwill of their men through knowing the men individually and collectively, helping them to carry out their duties, furthering their comfort and well-​being, guarding their interests, and thinking of them before himself.66 Sheffield has identified a similar pattern of a paternalistic ethos with a similar function occurring in the British army in the same period.67 In the RN there are instances of officers overtly flouting rules if they judged it to be of benefit to their men. This ranged from turning a blind eye, to joining in ‘illegal’ activities like auctioning the possessions of deceased crew member for exorbitant sums to raise money for the deceased’s family.68 Some limited regulations were laid down to govern how officers should treat their men. These guidelines could be found hidden away in various articles of King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions –​most notably Article 720, ‘Captain-​General Instructions’.69 However, the prevailing paternalistic 65 Lieutenant Commander W.S. Chalmers, ‘The Personality of the Bluejacket’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), 198–​202 –​the article also labels Bluejackets ‘soppy’ and concerned only with food. 66 Captain E. Astley-​Rushton, ‘The Officer, A Study of His Functions’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), 16–​23. 67 Sheffield, Officer–​Man Relations, pp. 41–​60. 68 When a man died, his personal possessions would be returned to his family along with the money raised from the auctioning of his kit. According to regulations the kit was only supposed to be sold at its market value; however, in an effort to raise money for the deceased’s family, the kit was often sold for inflated sums. Sometimes they would be purchased and then put back into the auction to be sold all over again so that even more money could be made. 69 The King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions for the Government of His Majesty’s Naval Service (London:  HMSO, 1913). Article 720. Captain  –​General Instructions. ‘The Captain will at all times and in all circumstances show an example of respect to his superiors, of unremitting attention to his duty and of cheerful alacrity in performing it. He will see that all the officers obey the several instructions which are addressed to them, or which, when of a general purport, concern them. He will correct or report to his superiors any reprehensible conduct on the part of those under his command. He will notice their conduct and abilities in order that he may be enabled to give them the testimonials they deserve, or, if called on, to make correct reports of their merits. While upholding the legitimate authority of all the officers under his command, he will check

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ethos was one which was predominantly instilled by example during training, rather than something enshrined by regulations. Indeed it is easier to find instructions in regard of the wearing of beards and moustaches than about leadership. Officers were required to look after the needs of the men in a fatherly and protective way.70 Paternalism was a product of wider attitudes to deference and respect. In an age where deference was still prominent many examples of this positive and caring relationship can be found.71 Many ratings were still impressed by the aristocratic credentials of their officers.72 Officers would also share social activities with their men. Inter-​rank concert parties were not uncommon; sporting fixtures gave an opportunity for the men to legitimately scream abuse at their officers (although some thought it unwise to beat an officer in a boxing match!). All ranks were required to attend church services together in order to provide a feeling of solidarity –​though it is possible the solidarity was one borne of shared dislike and annoyance with the activity.73 Warrant officers were not universally appreciated. These were officers of junior status, but senior years, who had come up from the ranks, and they were a rare creature. Although there were a number of calls in the lower-​deck presses for an increase in the warrant scheme, and for men to achieve even higher ranks,74 reactions to warrant officers and

by timely reproofs any tendency he may notice to abuse of power, recommending by his example that firm but conciliatory manner of conduction duty, which is the surest way to gain the respect and confidence of the men’, pp. 222–​223. 70 In his book The Grand Fleet 1914–​1916: Its Creation Development and Work, pp. 85–​87, Jellicoe devoted only three pages to discussion of the personnel and welfare of the Grand Fleet. However, far from showing a lack of care, it could be argued that such provision was so natural from men in his position that it did not need to be discussed in detail. 71 Descriptions of officers as ‘wonderful’ were not uncommon. See IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 12245 –​Punt, Cyril. 72 A number of veterans were keen to mention officers of aristocratic descent –​Cyril Punt described his divisional officer as ‘quite a nice chap. He was the son of Lord some ruddy funny name’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 12245 –​Punt, Cyril). 73 The Reverend Caspersz found the typical attitude to all things religious whilst he was a naval chaplain to be as follows:  ‘Men, and Officers also, were either demonstrative or reticent. It was not possible to make a greater mistake than to confuse reticence with indifference. It was often fear of being betrayed into inconsistency which prevented Officers and Men from coming to Holy Communion, or even attending a voluntary service it was not fear of what men might say, but a fear of what they themselves might do to give the lie, as it were, to the profession they seemed to have made. There is a fear that comes from cowardice, and a fear which is akin to reverence. But I felt that some people carried their reticence too far.’ However, this justification follows some rather poor attendances at voluntary church parade. See IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 85/​26/​1 –​ Caspersz, Reverend T.W.L. 74 See Chapter 3.

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officers who rose through the ‘mate scheme’ varied.75 Some veterans remembered such officers were always ‘respected very much by the lower deck, even the warrant officers you see … they were the cushion between the lower deck and the ward room and they were all specialists in their own branches … and they were looked upon by the lower deck as we’ll say the cream of the lower deck who’d managed to get there’.76 However, others felt they were not ‘proper’ officers because they did not have the ‘breeding’.77 The strength of the relationship came, in part, from the equality of danger. On a capital ship every rank from the very highest to the very lowest was represented. It was a floating citadel; a nuanced, hierarchal community. In a sea battle no one can run away, and no one can hide. Enemy fire could hit the quarter deck as easily as the lower deck, and the bridge was a particularly exposed position. The only caveat which should perhaps be included is that those on the lower decks stood a far greater chance of injury in the event of torpedo attack or of striking a mine. These hit below the water line, so even if the ship stayed afloat, the men working below stood a greater risk of burns, shrapnel injuries, or drowning. The effects of this virtual equality of danger are implied rather than explicit. It is rarely mentioned because it did not need to be.78 The divide was between shore and sea service, rather than between ranks. There were no army-​style jokes to be made about admirals being right behind their men from a distance which was measured in miles; they were with their men, separated only by bulkheads.79 Equality was evident in the ­routine, crucial, and much hated task of coaling during which every man from boy seamen right up to the commander played an active (and dirty) role. As one veteran put it, ‘That was the only time that everybody could swear at each other.’80 Coaling was a bonding ­exercise –​albeit one 75 The ‘mate scheme’ was devised by Fisher and Churchill and was, in theory, supposed to promote promising ratings to officer rank through competitive examination when they were young enough to potentially reach the highest of ranks. See Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 50–​52. 76 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 720 –​Masters, Albert. 77 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur. 78 One who did mention it was Seaman George Haigh, though he thought that equality of danger made officers realise that they were not invulnerable, and that rank was no guard against shells. Officers realised, ‘that they was liable to die the same as you were. Cos before that no bullet dare touch them, because they were naval officers. They forgot that that blooming shell coming over’s got no one’s particular name on.’ Officers and men grew a little closer as a result of war (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest). 79 Bulkheads are the walls that divide a ship into compartments –​see A Seaman’s Pocket-​ Book by authority of the Lord Commissioners of the Admiralty, introduced by Brian Lavery (London: Conway, 2006), p. 11. 80 Joiner First Class George Michael Clarkson, quoted in McKee, Sober Men and True, p. 122.

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which made some men question why they joined.81 The men did not, and could not, question the courage of their officers, whatever else they may, on occasion, have thought about them, and the fact of this equality  –​ made real during the war –​was fundamental to the spirit of the navy. Despite the concentration of the fleet in home waters throughout the Fisher period,82 sailors of all ranks could still be sent on two-​year commissions abroad. This was frequently unpopular with married ratings, especially since officers’ wives would often relocate to spend the commission with their husbands. However, with unmarried ratings a foreign station was often the highlight of their service career.83 Despite the many positive elements to commissions in foreign waters, isolation from home in the rather rarefied atmosphere of some naval ports led to a sense of isolation from friends and family, even when communication was regular and frequent. This made the men’s current, naval, surroundings the only ‘real’ environment. This sense of isolation should not be overstated; it did not cocoon naval men, but it did serve to act as a cushion from cultural changes ashore, and was utilised as a means of promoting the idea of the RN as an entity apart. War both placed pressures upon and helped to strengthen the ties between officers and men. A desire to crush the German aggressors and to prove the worth of the RN, as well as the transition from a theoretical to actual equality of danger served to reinforce the bond of care and respect. Major changes were brought about by the mobilisation of all the various reserves and the introduction of hostilities only ratings. Peacetime nucleus crews were diluted by men from a variety of different backgrounds.84 The fleet had three kinds of reservists:  Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR), who were ex-​ regulars; Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), who were generally merchant sailors by profession; and the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), who were gentlemen who fancied themselves as sailors and saw service in the RNVR as something of a hobby –​ ‘gentlemen whose interests had probably been rather nautical than naval’.85 Veterans and lower-​deck journals continued to speak highly of active service officers. War had afforded them the opportunity to prove their worth as officers under dangerous conditions, and they had largely 81 McKee, Sober Men and True, p. 120 –​for a fuller description of coaling, see pp. 119–​125. 82 Marder, The Road to War, pp. 40–​42. 83 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 553 –​Leary, James. 84 A system introduced by Jackie Fisher whereby ships, in peacetime, were manned by the minimum number of crew possible, with the expectation that they would be fully crewed by the introduction of reservists in time of emergency. See Marder, The Road to War, pp. 37–​38 for details. 85 Sea Officer, ‘The Navy in the House’, Army and Navy Gazette, 22 March 1919, p. 181.

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risen to that challenge. Reservist officers generated a more ambiguous response, although there was no personal animosity. Even though the skills of reservist officers as seamen and engineers were widely applauded, they were not regarded as ‘proper’ officers. They had not been imbued with ‘traditions and customs’ of the RN and were as much ‘outsiders’ as HO ratings. In their civilian lives these officers would have had a very different relationship with their crews, and it was not a relationship that all active ​service men appreciated. Some, of course, liked these officers for their unorthodox approach. However, their presence generated a certain amount of resentment that active  service men were not given commissions instead. However, the sense of discipline, duty, and pride instilled in training helped to protect the strength of the officer–​man bond against the rigours of war. Whatever the men’s mood, the officer–​man relationship helped to maintain the spirit of the service. Where challenges to this relationship occurred they were overwhelmingly directed towards the service ethos as determined by Admiralty policy, rather than towards officers on any personal level. Indeed, as will also be seen, the inherent strength of the relationship was a crucial factor in preventing unrest from reaching a critical level during the war. Democratism Where paternalism had sprung from older notions of duty and service, democratism was a product of far more recent trends both ashore and afloat. In many respects the growth of democratism sprang from the changes to the lower decks’ sense of self-​identity. The lower decks of the Royal Navy were awash with identities:  professionals, servicemen, highly skilled and trained men, defenders of the empire, respectable family men, Jolly Jack Tar, Jack the Lad, simple-​minded Bluejacket, and naughty children. This multitude of identities, some complementary and some contradictory, swirled around from different directions. The men were faced with society’s images, and the naval authorities’ images of them. These images, inconsistent within themselves, presented a complex collage from which the men assimilated both an image of themselves and a collective self-​identity. The relationship between the Royal Navy and the British public was an old and powerful one. Britannia ruled the waves and the public was justifiably proud of the Senior Service.86 However, her relationship with the men of the lower deck was more turbulent, and it was only after the 86 See Rüger, The Great Naval Game for a good discussion of the cultural role of the navy.

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introduction of continuous service in 1853 that the image of sailors as the dregs of society began to disperse.87 To entice men to join the military rather than mercantile service ‘the Admiralty reluctantly granted reforms that had the effect of making service afloat less like a prison and more like a disciplined profession’.88 Mary Conley has noted that changes to the pattern of recruiting led to a change in the public image of the Tar. Handbills called for ‘stout healthy boys of good character’, and who could provide character references written by an individual of good standing, to join up. As a result both of changes in recruitment and the shift from sail to steam propulsion, the proportion of skilled men in the service rose to over three-​ quarters by the 1905–​ 1906 programme.89 The navy may have been increasingly skilled, and its professional status in the eyes of the general public may have been enhanced, but Jack’s image was not entirely unsullied in the public mind as Conley’s thesis so clearly demonstrates. Late Victorian charity, particularly late Victorian temperance charity, began to see the men of the lower deck as having souls worth saving; they moved from simply Christian compassion to a mission of conversion. However, there was an edge of social control to these philanthropic movements; by ministering to the lower orders these philanthropic organisations could ‘control’ the poor. In order to attract devotees to support this kind of work, the lower orders, in this instance, the lower decks, had to be portrayed as needing to be saved. The way individuals such as Agnes Weston and her Sailor’s Rest movement chose to do this was by depicting Jack as a drunkard who would see his family starve in order to fuel his filthy habit. It was an old image, born in pre-​continuous service days, and was one which, through its support of Weston’s missions, the Admiralty rather contradictorily embraced. Despite recognition of the level of skill prevalent amongst ratings, by supporting Weston the Admiralty conveyed the impression that it too validated this image.90 Of course, it was not an image of intemperance confined to men of the lower deck; it was frequently extended to the working class as a whole.

87 To explore issues of manning in the RN in the second half on the nineteenth century, see Eugene Razor, Reform in the Royal Navy: A Social History of the Lower Deck, 1850 to 1880 (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976), c­ hapter 2, and Oliver Walton, ‘Social History of the Royal Navy 1856–​1900: Corporation and Community’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, 2003). 88 Mary A. Conley, ‘From Jack Tar to Union Jack: Images and Identities of British Naval Men 1870–​1918’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston College, 2000), p. 17. 89 Ibid., ­chapter 1. 90 Ibid., p.  141 says that whilst the Admiralty offered no financial support for Weston’s work they were represented, and sometimes spoke, at the opening of her rests.

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Miss Weston and company’s depictions of drunken and debauched sailors clashed with other public images of the Bluejackets. Men of the lower deck began to appear in advertising campaigns, such as that for Colman’s starch in 1900, and numerous royal offspring  –​male and female  –​were photographed in miniature sailor suits for the huddled masses to gaze at. Young royals were thrust into the navy; both Prince George and Prince Albert went through Osborne/​ Dartmouth,91 and King George V retained close ties to the RN from his service days. Of course, the navy had a long association with royalty, and naval officers did not face the same stigma as ratings; however by the turn of the twentieth century men of the lower deck had an acceptable, even laudable image. They were shown as family men, and defenders of the empire, making the bundling of one’s offspring into a Bluejacket outfit a form of social acceptance and praise. This trend was accentuated by the work of the Navy League, and the many ripping yarns of naval derring-​do in boys’ literature.92 One Boy’s Own paper went so far as to give invaluable instructions for how to launch your own Dreadnought.93 The boys’ literature had another side to it, as Conley points out, ‘although these stories appeared to be meritocratic allegories, they really reaffirmed class hierarchies of Victorian society’ since advancement was not due to the character’s own ability, but rather some accident of birth which gradually came to light throughout the course of the tale.94 Whilst this is certainly the case it does not detract from the fact that Jack Tar was being portrayed in a virtuous light. Just as with society’s images, the naval authorities (by which is meant both the men’s direct superiors and Their Lordships at the Admiralty) had a series of varying, and frequently contradictory, images of Jack. Paternalism put officers in the position of ‘fathers’; thus turning the men into ‘children’. The fathers appreciated their children, they recognised their many talents, and were proud parents; however, for all this recognition and admiration there was an institutional infantilisation of ratings, which undermined the men’s sense of self-​identity. This institutionalisation of child-​like images of ratings was further increased by the system of benefits brought in during the war, including 91 Prince Albert was at the Battle of Jutland on board HMS Collingwood. 92 Rüger, The Great Naval Game, pp.  96–​99 for the Navy League and Michael Paris, Warrior Nation. Images of War in British Popular Culture, 1850–​2000 (London: Reaktion, 2000) for discussion of the image of the RN in popular culture. 93 From a paper by Dr Max Jones (University of Manchester) entitled ‘The Naval Hero in Edwardian Culture’ given at ‘The Dreadnought and the Edwardian Age’ Conference held at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, 10–​11 February 2005. 94 Conley, ‘From Jack Tar to Union Jack’, ­chapter 4.

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allowances for ratings’ dependants. Although these benefits had been lobbied for by sections of the service since before the outbreak of war, any initial gratitude was soon obscured by calls for a living wage from which a rating could support his family –​as he would if he worked in industry –​rather than ‘charitable’ handouts, which suggested he was not capable of providing for his wife. Signalman George Haigh was asked in an interview in 1975 if a wife could manage on the money he allotted, to which he simply replied ‘well she did’. However, in the background his wife can be heard to say ‘you couldn’t do much on ten bob!’ and added that until 1919 she had been living in her parents’ home. It was only from 1919 when the allowance was increased that she was able to move out of her parental home on her husband’s return from Russia.95 Though shaped by society’s images and those of the navy as an institution, the collective self-​identities of the men had one consistent feature:  they were professionals. The rise of the ‘professional society’, and what constitutes a profession, has been debated both within organisations wanting to apply the epithet to themselves, and subsequently by social scientists. The latter maintain that in order to be a profession, rather than an occupation, a particular job must conform to eight characteristics: 1. It must have a monopoly over a body of defined theoretical knowledge, accompanied by the practical skills to use that knowledge. 2. A practitioner must have passed formal examinations after undertaking lengthy and intensive training. 3. Its activities must be of vital concern for mankind. 4. The practitioner–​client relationship must be based on altruistic service of the former to the latter. 5. It must maintain considerable autonomy over particular areas such as recruitment and training. 6. There must be an occupational consciousness. 7. It must be a full-​time career-​oriented occupation. 8. It must be sanctioned by society as morally praiseworthy.96

95 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest. 96 C.J. Downes, ‘To Be or Not to Be a Profession: The Military Case’, Defence Analysis, 1:3 (1985), 147–​171 (pp.  147–​148). Downes built on the seminal work of Samuel Huntington, whose work The Soldier and the State  –​The Theory and Politics of Civil–​ Military Relations (Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, 1957)  coined the use of the phrase ‘management of violence’. However, Downes suggests this is inaccurate because ‘violence’ implies the ‘illegal use of force’ (see Downes, ‘To Be or Not to Be a Profession’, footnote 28, p. 169).

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Whilst military organisations do not conform entirely to these eight points, they are, and were by the outbreak of the First World War, societally recognised as a profession. Harold Perkin has argued that the growth of the professional society, that is, one ‘based on human capital created by education and enhanced by strategies of closure’ began in the wake of the Industrial Revolution,97 and was part of a wider social movement. Since professionalisation was, in part, justified by concepts of ‘social efficiency and the avoidance of waste, particularly the waste of human talent, it implied a principle of social justice which extended to the whole population the right to security of income, educational opportunity, decent housing … and … the right and obligation to work’.98 He further argues that it was a quirk of the English language and English snobberies which meant that some occupations became organised professions whilst others formed trade unions. ‘ “Profession”, as in French (or Beruf in German), originally meant any occupation, and the more prestigious trades were distinguished by the adjectives “liberal” (meaning gentlemanly) and “learned” (meaning institutionally educated) professions. By dropping the epithets the more prestigious occupations, chiefly the clergy, law and media, laid claim to the exclusive label of “profession”, which came to mean an occupation which so effectively controlled its labour market that it never had to behave like a trade union. Trade unions, meanwhile, never quite abandoned the same aim.’99 By claiming professional status, sailors were seeking the status that accompanied it. Whilst it can be debated whether or not a lower-​deck man was ‘a professional’ according to the definitions offered by scholars like Downes, they were themselves using this language.100 The men of the lower deck expected to be treated as professionals with all the admiration associated with that status. They expected respect not only from society 97 Harold Perkin, The Rise of Professional Society. England since 1880 (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 2. 98 Ibid., p. 8. 99 Ibid., pp. 23–​24. 100 Examples of this can be found in men’s diaries, memoirs, and in the lower-​deck presses of this period. Captain E.M.C. Barraclough, for example, wrote about being taught the ‘skills of [his] profession’ whilst a midshipman (IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 81/​48/​1  –​Barraclough, Captain E.M.C.). Rev. Caspersz spoke in similar terms (IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 85/​26/​1 –​Caspersz, Reverend T.W.L.). ERA Gilbert Adshead talked about his first ship Lord Nelson, which was a happy ship because of the quality of the officers who had not joined ‘the navy for a job, they joined the navy as a profession’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 660 –​Adshead, Gilbert). Even the Fourth Sea Lord referred to boys and men joining the Senior Service in all ratings because they ‘intend to make it their life’s profession’ (TNA ADM 178/​157 –​ Memorandum from the Fourth Sea Lord, 15 December 1917).

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but also from their superiors within the service. Ratings had a community of profession which came not only from the training period, but also from the isolation of time spent afloat, frequently in very cramped conditions. The sense of collective institutional identity produced by this system naturally influenced the men’s sense of collective self-​identity. This notion of professionalism was also fundamental to the relationship between ratings and the labour and trade union movements ashore. Not unsurprisingly the Admiralty were concerned about the effect of the changing balance of power in industrial relations on the navy as an institution and its wider implications for the position of the upper-​middle and upper classes. This unease was intensified by the presence of HO ratings and reservists during the war, who would, they believed, bring with them the ethos of industry. However, the men’s relationship to the labour movements were not as clear cut as Their Lordships feared. Their perceived status as professionals distinguished lower-​ deck men from ‘workers’ or ‘labourers’ ashore.101 Downes argues that in order to qualify as professionals the practitioner must strive to advance the status of the profession, ensuring the continual improvement of the service given. He cites the work of W.W. Wickenden: ‘It is the corporate striving for excellence that distinguishes a professional organisation from a trade union whose first duty is, and must be by law, the maintenance of an economic policy –​the regulation of wages and conditions of work.’102 However, the distinction was as much about perception as reality. Despite the desire for professional status, the lower decks had their own quasi-​unions in the form of lower-​deck benefit societies. The first society on record is The Naval Warrant Officers’ Friendly Society, which dated from 1792 and was reconstituted in 1877. This was followed in 1872 by the Royal Navy Artificers Engineer and Engine-​ Room Artificers’ Club and Benevolent Fund (clearly benefit societies, like the trade unions, were not institutions inclined to adopt catchy titles). From the 1880s a host of new societies were formed, and by the turn of the century Carew estimates there to have been twelve lower-​ deck organisations.103 They were largely single class organisations, whose members were drawn only from a particular group or rating. Frequently referred to as Friendly Societies, these were originally intended as death-​benefit cooperatives. The dependants of men who

101 For discussion of naval responses to the labour movement and the trade unions, see Chapter 4. 102 Downes, ‘To Be or Not to Be a Profession’, p. 153. 103 For a full discussion of the origins of benefit societies, see Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 1–​16.

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died on service, but not in action, were not entitled to pensions, so the societies were designed to fill that welfare void, and help dependants over the transition period following their provider’s death. However, they very quickly took on a secondary campaigning role to advance the claims of their members through a variety of lobbying methods. Carew suggests that within some societies’ members also belonged to civil trade unions, although he offers no supporting evidence for this claim. According to a report in a 1906 edition of  The Fleet, it seems that the societies had separate branches at each port and representatives were appointed to each ship to collect subscriptions. Each branch operated independently in terms of finance, and would only operate collectively where the grievance affected the whole class. Inter-​branch meetings were rarely held, though minutes were circulated between branches.104 Because of the strictures of service discipline, pensioners were often responsible for much of the work of the society. In contrast with the army, seamen’s organisations received funds from external sources, such as the National Union of Seamen, many of whose members were ex-​RN or in the RNR.105 Taken in conjunction with the fact that most of the societies’ memberships comprised senior ratings of long service, this helps to explain why many of the societies’ efforts were directed at improving conditions for retired naval men. From the early part of the twentieth century societies began to take limited collective action through the auspices of the Joint Committee, which comprised representatives from the various societies. The most conspicuous of its activities was the drawing up of Loyal Appeals, colloquially known as the naval magna carta, from 1904 onwards. This coincided with a favourable climate for reform. Jackie Fisher had been appointed First Sea Lord, in 1906 a Liberal Government was returned, and in 1911 Winston Churchill was appointed First Lord. A triumvirate of Fisher, Churchill and Yexley steered the Royal Navy through a turbulent period of restructuring and reform of both men and materiel.106 A further appeal appeared in 1907 and from then on was issued every year for the next seven years. From 1908 the method of drafting and issuing the document was formalised, so that it was issued through meetings of joint committees of the benefit societies in each port.107 104 Ibid., pp. 10–​11. 105 Englander, David and Osborne, James, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb: The Armed Forces and The Working Class’, Historical Journal, 21:3 (1978), 593–​621 (pp. 608–​609). 106 Good discussions of this period can be found in Carew, The Lower Deck, ­chapters 1–​3; Marder, From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow, Vol. 1; Nicholas Lambert, Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2002). 107 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 11–​14.

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According to The Fleet these early Appeals were disjointed.108 Many of the requests were class-​specific, and were frequently relatively trivial, though some were issues of fleet-​wide importance. Commander Pursey, RN, with whom Carew was later to work closely, believed that the validity and essential soundness of the claims advanced can be gauged by the fact that most of them were, in time, conceded by the Admiralty.109 Requests became increasingly more cohesive, though class-​requests did not entirely vanish. Although never officially recognised, the Appeals were widely discussed in the Admiralty and questions about them were asked in the House of Commons. The Fleet reported on the Appeals regularly from 1912 onwards. Appeals, like the societies, cannot be seen as wholly representative, since their content was generally decided upon by a small clique of senior ratings, who were often drawn from the smaller branches, such as writers and stewards.110 For David Englander and James Osborne, the ‘defining characteristic’ of the lower-​ deck societies: lay neither in the principles nor purpose of organization, but in the mode of operation. The societies did not conceive of themselves as agents involved in a bilateral bargaining process. The sailor could scarcely withdraw his labour pending a re-​negotiation of contract –​not without committing the most serious of offences. Consistent in the rejection of any such intention, the societies relied almost exclusively upon the mobilization of opinion on behalf of their proposals both within and outside of the service. The ambivalent concept of ‘loyal’ combination informs their history.111

It was indeed the method of action, more than the actions themselves which were of vital importance. However, Englander and Osborne’s belief that societies ‘did not conceive of themselves as agents involved in a bilateral bargaining process’ is more contentious. We need only look at the mouthpieces of the societies, namely The Bluejacket and the Soldier and The Fleet to see exactly that. These magazines recognised that demands were part of negotiation. They never expected all requests to be granted, but they were perceived as a starting point for bargaining. The absence of mutinous combination and the bargain process was more than simply the product of fear of retribution, it was part of the loyalty and normative relationship of sailor to service.112

108 The Fleet, ‘What They Ask For!’, September 1916, pp. 272–​273; ‘Tactics and Pointed Questions’, September 1917, p. 224. 109 Pursey, ‘From Petitions to Reviews’, pp. 97–​110. 110 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 11–​14. 111 Englander and Osborne, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb’ (p. 610). 112 See Chapter 5.

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According to Carew, the societies grew rapidly in size113 –​ although the source for this is The Fleet, a paper notorious for exaggeration.114 However, he rightly points out that 1912 saw a crucial development in the activities of the societies, for it was then that the membership base diversified.115 In that year blacksmiths, coopers, painters and plumbers established the Naval Artisans’ Death Benefit Association; new societies were formed by officers’ stewards and sick-​berth staff; and a society for junior ratings in both the seamen and stoker branches was established (a year later this was to become the Royal Naval Seamen’s Benefit Society).116 In 1914 The Fleet estimated that 10 per cent of the lower decks belonged to a society.117 Once again using evidence from The Fleet Carew argued that divisions between branches were being overcome with representatives from benefit societies across the fleet corresponding with each other. He further argues that service conditions were being discussed more openly: with a corresponding effect on the collective consciousness of the lower deck. In the past, disciplinary questions on any individual ship had been a closed book as far as the rest of the fleet was concerned. But increasingly information about such matters was being relayed throughout the fleet, and there was some doubt as to whether the Admiralty could successfully call on the men of other ships to quell a disturbance amongst fellow ratings.118

However, the extent to which it was really a closed book is questionable. Men travelled from ship to ship, passing stories with them. What had changed was rather the perception of the reaction, both from the Admiralty and amongst the general public. It was part of the climate of reform, rather than one of fear of unrest. McKee argues that all bar one of the lower-​ deck veterans whose interviews he uses in his work self-​identified as working class. However, this does not give a clear or necessarily realistic picture. McKee himself asserts that ‘the navy’s recruiting methods –​its testing for literacy and basic computation skills, its requirement of a character reference from clergyman or constable upon joining –​make it clear that it preferred to 113 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 67–​69. 114 Conley, ‘From Jack Tar to Union Jack’, pp. 240–​241. 115 Before this point the overwhelming majority of society members were senior ratings (Carew, The Lower Deck) and this is reflected in the requests made in early Appeals which frequently concentrated on issues effecting POs and CPOs. In addition, it seems likely that the function of societies would have appealed more to older ratings who were more likely to be married. 116 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 67. 117 The Fleet, June 1914, p. 188, cited in Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 67–​68. 118 Carew, The Lower Deck, p.  71 (based on articles in The Fleet from May 1915 and February 1915).

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recruit from the upper, respectable end of the working class’.119 However, it is important to note that the men made that self-​identification in the 1970s  –​an age of very different and radicalised class-​consciousness. Although it is certainly true, however, that the lower-​deck men would not have been truly representative of the socio-​demographic make-​up of the working classes, and that this is crucial when considering the relationship between the lower decks and industry. Despite one of the most compelling reasons for joining the service being economic,120 the service element was crucial to naval life and an essential part of naval self-​identity. They were professionals providing a service and were not tradesmen (even if social scientists might try to fit them into that classification). Hence trade unions were incompatible with this identity. For the most part men’s self-​identity was positive and drew on images from both society and their officers which affirmed this view. However, there were occasions on which those who professed to speak for the lower decks took issue with these images imposed from outside. In the vanguard of those objectors was, as he was so often, Lionel Yexley. As both an editor and a lobbyist he enjoyed considerable success, making some powerful friends along the way. Yexley was able to talk directly to Winston Churchill and Jackie Fisher, and his advice was called upon by Eric Geddes when First Lord during the war.121 He was particularly vocal in his attacks on Agnes Weston’s Sailors Rests which he felt were managed as if they were naval ‘nurseries’ under the motherly attentions of Miss Weston. Yexley’s criticisms of Weston’s Rests were by no means shared by the lower deck as a whole. For many they were clean and pleasant places to spend a night or two of leave, and were a welcome break from the rowdy public houses. Some did resent the enforced temperance, but their objections were not strong enough to discourage them from making full use of the facilities.122 George Haigh was typical of those who recalled using the Rests. Like many others he would go out elsewhere for the night and return to the Rest simply to sleep.123 Each sailor had their own cubical to sleep in, though he remembers the Rest’s staff coming round with a periscope looking over the top of the cubicle

119 McKee, Sober Men and True, p. 15. 120 Ibid., p. 31 –​this is also something which has been noted in the preparation of this book. 121 For details of Yexley’s work, see Carew, The Lower Deck; many examples of the cordial (and not so cordial) correspondence between Yexley and the Admiralty can be found in the National Maritime Museum Pursey Box 20. 122 If the surviving IWM questionnaires are examined it emerges that 87 per cent of respondents found the Rests to be a good and welcome resource, 9 per cent were indifferent towards them, and only 4 per cent thought ill of them. 123 The Rests themselves offered a range of recreational facilities.

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to check that the sailors were alone. Whenever he stayed in a Rest he felt under surveillance. For Haigh, Agnes Weston and her Rests were an extension of naval authorities because they continued the paternalistic ethos of the service.124 Yexley was similarly unappreciative of the work of the Navy League. He wanted donations to be given to projects like the Union Jack Club in Waterloo Road because the public appreciated the work of the navy, and not because they thought of naval men in child-​like terms and in need of charity. He was anxious that the increased professionalisation of the navy be attributed to educational improvements, Admiralty reforms and the innate character of the men rather than as a result of naval charity.125 Similar criticisms about the relationship between charity and the navy appear throughout the lower-​deck presses, but no evidence of them in the letters, diaries or memoirs of ratings has been found. Democratism was the foundation of the ‘world view’ of the lower decks. The lower decks rejected the older negative images of ‘Jack’ and instead embraced a new ‘professional’ status for themselves. This sense of professionalism led to the creation of the naval benefit societies. These provided material support, but they also provided the lower decks with a collective voice. The self-​image of the professional family man was incompatible with the infantilisation generated by the paternalism ethos of the service, and it shaped the way in which they engaged with service discipline and service procedures. Conclusion The two discourses that shaped servicemen’s views of their world were not wholly incompatible. Both appreciated elements of the service’s traditions and customs, its disciplinary systems and the provisions made for their corporeal comforts. However, the self-​image of the lower-​deck men as professionals was completely at odds with paternalism’s inherent infantilisation of the lower decks which arose partly through some disciplinary procedures and partly because the lower deck lacked an official recognised collective voice within the service. Lower-​deck men were left in the contradictory position of being both respected and patronised at the same time. War made the clash of discourses more complex. Wages increased for civilian labourers ashore, but sailors’ pay failed to keep pace, meaning that the living standards of the families of naval men declined in relation 124 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George. 125 See Conley, ‘Jack Tar to Union Jack’, ­chapter 3.

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to those of civilians. This change in the financial positions of these two groups challenged the lower decks’ self-​identity and hence put further pressure on their relationship with the Admiralty. The clash was further complicated by the introduction of hostilities only ratings. This group had a very different normative relationship with the RN compared to their active service counterparts. They did not share the same period of training and indoctrination into aspects of service life, and they brought with them civilian methods of labour relationship which recognised collective bargaining as a legitimate means of representation and which was an anathema to service understandings of discipline. This clash of discourses would form the basis for the wartime discipline and morale of the fleet.

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2

The Structure of Discipline and the Spectre of Indiscipline

The concept of ‘morale’ as a term was largely alien to the service of the Great War. The state of the fleet and men’s well-​being was measured in terms of ‘discipline’. Discipline is a multifaceted term and it is by exploring its various meanings that we can see how the service understood the well-​being of the fleet and how it coped with the pressures of war. ‘Discipline’ was a key area of contention for the competing discourses of paternalism and democratism, both of which diverged over what constituted ‘good discipline’. The Language of Discipline There are several semantic ambiguities surrounding this issue, clarification of which can enable us to answer questions about the morale of the service. Perhaps the most prominent amongst them is ‘discipline’ itself. Alongside ‘indiscipline’ and varying euphemisms for ‘unrest’, it appears regularly in the various sources, official and unofficial, published and private, and regardless of rank. However, it lacks a clear meaning. The definition given in the Oxford English Dictionary spreads over three pages. It is both noun and verb, and is attributed with twelve distinct definitions. The most relevant to this book are: ‘3.a.) Instruction having for its aim to form the pupil to proper conduct and action; the training of scholars or subordinates to proper and orderly action by instructing and exercising them in the same; mental and moral training; also used fig. of the training effect of experience, adversity, etc … 3.b.) spec. Training in the practice of arms and military evolutions; drill. Formerly, more widely: Training or skill in military affairs generally; military skill and experience; the art of war … 4.) The orderly conduct and action which results from training; a trained condition … 5.a.) The order maintained and observed among pupils, or other persons under control or command, such as soldiers, sailors, the inmates of a religious house, a prison, etc … 5.b.) A system or method for the maintenance of order; a system of rules for conduct … 7.a.) Correction; chastisement; punishment inflected by way of correction and training … 1.) trans. To subject to discipline; in earlier use, to instruct, 53

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educate, train; in later use, more especially, to train to habits of order and subordination; to bring under control … 2.) To inflect penitential discipline upon; to scourge or flog by way of penance or mortification of the flesh; hence, by extension, to chastise, thrash, punish’ (OED, 2nd edn). With these definitions of discipline in mind, attention can be focused on the other semantic difficulties surrounding ‘indiscipline’ and ‘unrest’. Like the fleet’s grievances themselves,1 the language used to describe it was equivocal and ambiguous. Whilst the most commonly used words to describe the situation in the fleet were ‘grievances’, ‘discontent’, ‘unrest’, ‘dissatisfaction’ and ‘disappointment’, there were other less common and less exacting phrases: ‘feeling of uncertainty’, ‘distrust’, ‘irritation’, ‘feel keenly’, ‘strong feelings’, ‘very pronounced feeling’, ‘worries’, and ‘injustices’. These were amongst the many ways of conveying the mood of the fleet, as it was presented to the Admiralty. Where one submission said there was no unrest, another reported the exact opposite. That such discontinuity existed only serves to highlight the subjective nature of the term ‘unrest’. It is obvious that opinion as to what constituted unrest was the preserve of the individual reporting it, but the ambiguity surrounding the language selected to express it made the transmission of these ideas even more complex. Not only was the selection of words highly subjective, the interpretation of it was equally so. When HMS Actæon reported ‘unrest’ her commander may have meant something very different to the meaning the Admiralty took from it. Nor was this ambiguity confined to reports to the Admiralty. The service presses also developed their own language. Each publication talked in terms of ‘grievances’, ‘complaints’ and ‘unrest’. Each ascribed a different meaning to these terms, and the disparity of interpretation clouded the issues which underlay the language of representation. The prevailing discourses framed the choice of language used by both the service presses and the officers. Whilst embracing definitional ambiguities as indicative of the prevalent conditions within the service we can devise terminology which can provide a framework through which to discuss these concepts. ‘Unrest’ can be seen as a scale of dissatisfaction which ranges from minor grousing at one end to full-​blown revolution at the other.2 Every sailor, every ship, every squadron, and every navy sat somewhere along that scale. However, there are few, if any, clear linguistic demarcation points to show exactly where each of these should be placed along this scale. As 1 Details of which will be examined in Chapters 3 and 4. 2 It is necessary to begin the scale with ‘grousing’ because no organisation can ever be perfect. As will be seen in the conclusion of this study, it was a dull ship with nothing to grouse about, and a dangerous ship where a limited level of grousing was not tolerated.

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has been seen, one man’s ‘disquiet’ was another’s ‘discontent’. Attention must therefore turn secondly to ‘indiscipline’. Individual incidents of ‘indiscipline’ occur because of the underlying ‘unrest’, and by looking at these incidents the level of unrest can be gauged. What then can be used to assess the seriousness of each incident? It is dependent not only on the incident itself, but also on its wider political context, both national and international, and more importantly on how it was perceived. Thus, for example, an Admiralty proclamation that assorted incidents represented a serious level of unrest is as indicative of Their Lordships’ fears as it is of the actions or intentions of the agitators or the strength of the movement from which they sprang. With this lack of precision and consensus surrounding the language of unrest, it is necessary to devise a scale by which the ‘seriousness’ of indiscipline (i.e. whereabouts on the unrest scale it falls) can be judged. One measure would be the level of politicisation present during the incident. Another is how widespread the incidents were, not simply in terms of the numbers of men involved, but also in the geographical spread of incidents, and how frequently and in what context they were commented on and by whom. It should be asked whether the incident was isolated, or whether other similar incidents or issues were raised elsewhere, or whether it tapped into events beyond the confines of the RN. The means by which the incident was carried out was also crucial –​whether it was individual or collective action, how well coordinated it was, whether it was respectful or militant in tone. The implication of any incident, or series of incidents, for the RN as an institution must also be considered in any such assessment. It is by using these measures to assess the seriousness of incidents that an assessment of the level of unrest –​whether it is minor, moderate or serious –​can be made. Types and Functions of Discipline Throughout the sources the word ‘discipline’ is used with a multiplicity of meanings and many interlinked, yet distinct, definitions can be discerned. These cover the spectrum of the dictionary definitions given by the Oxford English Dictionary and fall into two categories: ‘crime and punishment’ and ‘good order’. This book will refer to these varying definitions as follows: 1. the ‘disciplinary system’ –​i.e. the various naval laws by which the men had to abide; 2. the ‘penal system’ –​i.e. the punishments meted out for infractions of the disciplinary system;

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3. the ‘spit and polish system’  –​i.e. the means whereby the general air of cleanliness and smartness was maintained onboard and in base establishments; 4. ‘personal discipline’ –​i.e. the self-​imposed attitude to service life. Where the term ‘naval discipline’ is used it will refer to these four definitions collectively. This book will also consider the function of each of these kinds of discipline as well as what the existence of so many competing definitions can indicate about the nature of naval discipline. What can be clearly discerned is that naval discipline was all-pervading. It touched every aspect of service life. In its widest sense naval discipline should be seen as a lived experience. It was the essence of service life and the men lived and breathed it every day of their service period, and its legacy frequently stayed with them on their return to civvy street. Discipline was fundamental to service life, both for the RN as a social body and as a fighting unit. It governed social interaction as much as action stations. Naval discipline was dynamic and changing. Already by 1914 its emphasis had shifted away from harsh repression, although humiliation had not yet been eradicated. At its base level discipline was what determined whether, in the heat of battle, officers could be sure of the obedience of their men. It was the morale of the men which determined whether they would willingly enter the fray in the first instance. If discipline is a lived experience, then it follows that morale must be equally organic and malleable. ‘Morale’ as a term was not commonly used in the contemporary literature. Diaries, memories, letters and interviews rarely mention morale specifically. One of the few examples identified during this study, was the memoir of the Reverend T.W.L. Caspersz, and he was referring to his belief that the ‘morale’ of the German fleet must be very poor because of the damaging effect of staying in the Kiel Canal.3 Arthur Ford, in an interview conducted in 1975, talked of morale in terms of ‘spirit’ which, he believed, was very good on HMS Black Prince. This he put down to comradeship, which could get men through; if men were down they had the others to buck them up.4 In other sources only a glimpse of the sense of morale on the ship or establishment in which the man served can be discerned, and is based upon the sense of happiness and satisfaction given. The mental or emotional condition of individuals or a group ‘with regard to confidence, hope, zeal, willingness, etc.’5 3 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 85/​26/​1 –​this is a memoir written in the style of a diary outlining his experience in the Royal Navy. Although slightly vague with dates, the earliest given in 1902 and the latest October 1914. 4 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur William. 5 OED, 2nd edn.

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was more frequently referred to in terms of ‘discipline’. If the men were ‘well disciplined’ (i.e. if they were smart and quick to obey) it could be inferred that morale was ‘good’. As Jonathan Fennell has observed, military leaders and thinkers have highlighted the importance of morale in war as long ago as 400 BC when Xenophon argued that ‘in action, the sustaining of morale was an imperative’.6 Since Xenophon there have been many military theorists who have explored the issues of morale. Arguably the most influential in the modern period was Clausewitz in On War.7 Clausewitz ‘differentiated between professional armies which possess such attributes as discipline, experience, and skill, and non-​professional armies which have “bravery, adaptability, stamina and enthusiasm” ’.8 He argued that morale was the product of two constituent parts:  ‘mood’ and ‘spirit’. Mood was transient, a product of the fighters’ temporary situation which could change by the day. Spirit was that which enabled a fighting force to keep its cohesion in the most testing of conditions. He argued that spirit was created by the waging of victorious wars and by testing a fighting force to its limits.9 He devoted several chapter of books II, III and IV to the classification and discussion of the ‘moral’ factors important to the waging and outcome of war. He identified the ‘principal moral elements’ as ‘the skill of the commander, the experience and courage of the troops, and their patriotic spirit’.10 Beatrice Heuser has argued that Clausewitzian thinking on the morale elements of war greatly influenced French and German military theorists in the pre-​First World War era.11 Clausewitz’s morale thoughts and the language of ‘will’ appear not to have penetrated the pre-​war Admiralty, despite the clear influence of Clausewitz on Julian Corbett who ‘adopted Clausewitz’s distinction between absolute and limited war, and applied his thinking about war as an instrument of politics. But he drew further conclusions, namely that different principles apply to naval warfare than apply to warfare on land.’12 Since Clausewitz, discussion of the constitution and importance of morale has been addressed by practitioners, theorist and historians. 6 Jonathan Fennell, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign. The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). 7 Carl von Clausewitz (translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret), On War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) –​originally published by his widow in 1832. 8 OED, 2nd edn, pp. 599–​600. 9 Ibid., pp. 599–​600. 10 Clausewitz, On War, Book 3, ­chapter 4, p. 143. 11 Beatrice Heuser, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002), pp. 80–​86. 12 Heuser, Reading Clausewitz, p. 124 (but see pp. 124–​133 for a fuller account of the influence of Clausewitz on Corbett).

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Many have sought to explore what factors affected morale. These range from the temporal to the spiritual via abstract notions of ‘confidence’. According to Irvin L. Child the morale of the individual is linked to that of the organisation in which he serves. The Oxford Companion to Military History describes the relationship between the two as follows: Unless the individual is reasonably content he will not willingly contribute to the unit. He might mutiny or desert, but is more likely simply to fail to work wholeheartedly towards the goals of the group. High group morale, or cohesion, is the product in large part of good morale experienced by members of that unit. That state of morale of a larger formation such as an army is the product of the cohesion of its constituent units. The possession by an individual of morale sufficiently high that a soldier is willing to engage in combat might be described as ‘fighting spirit’.13

Post-​Second World War there was renewed interested in combat motivation. Professor Simon Wessely has identified three historiographic changes in the understanding of combat motivation in the twentieth century. In the pre-​First World War period it was supposed that men fought for ‘moral reasons’ such as ‘patriotism, esprit de corps, pride and leadership, and so on’. Post-​Second World War, however, emphasis shifted to ‘small-​group psychology’ which replaced specific motivations (‘those located in time and place, such as patriotism, religion and ideology’) with more general explanations. This shift was inspired by three key texts: S.L.A. Marshall’s Men Against Fire,14 Samuel Stouffer (ed.), The American Soldier. Combat and its Aftermath,15 and Edward Shils and Morris Janowitz, ‘Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II’.16 It was Shils and Janowitz who first employed the phrase ‘primary group’ theory in relation to combat motivation. All three texts expounded the theory that ‘[m]‌en fight because they belong to a group that fights. They fight for their friends, their “buddies”. They fight because they have been trained to fight and because failure to do so endangers not just their own lives, but also those of the people immediately around them with whom they have formed powerful social bonds.’ As Wessely obverses these theories are now taken as orthodoxy at staff colleges throughout the world. However, this is not the case in academic literature. Wessely identifies a final phase in twentieth-​century understanding of combat 13 The Oxford Companion to Military History, p. 599. 14 S.L.A. Marshall, Men Against Fire. The Problem of Battle Command in Future War (New York: William Morrow, 1947). 15 Samuel Stouffer, ed., The American Soldier. Combat and Its Aftermath (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949). 16 Edward Shils and Morris Janowitz, ‘Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 12 (1948), 280–​315.

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motivation as historians return once again to ideology as a motivation. Instrumental to this was the work of Omer Bartov,17 who argued that it is ideology and not primary groups which remain the crucial factor in explaining why men fight.18 There have been many books and articles exploring the factors affecting morale in the First World War specifically.19 The debate about morale in both the British and German armies of the First World War has recently been shifted by Alexander Watson’s Enduring the Great War. For Watson, previous works have a fundamental problem: Rather than focusing on the majority of men who successfully coped with conditions at the front, disproportionate attention has been paid by historians to the minority who developed psychiatric disorders. The confusing interpretation given is that while societies and armies proved to be very resilient during the war, the individuals who comprised them were victims of their situation and susceptible to mental collapse.20

Instead Watson offers a comparative analysis of various factors which enabled the vast majority of soldiers from both nations to endure, and a statistical analysis using rates of indiscipline and sickness as a means of quantifying that endurance. He shows that soldiers, whether conscript or volunteer, accepted army service as a duty,21 a process aided by military socialisation.22 He explores the range of coping mechanisms devised by soldiers,23 and the role of junior leadership,24 (which he suggests is less important than has sometimes been suggested, since despite a less 17 Omer Bartov, Hitler’s Army. Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991). 18 Simon Wessely, ‘Twentieth-​century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown’, Journal of Contemporary History, 41:2 (2006), 269–​286. 19 There are numerous books and articles of which the following is a small selection: Horn, Mutiny on the High Seas; Leonard V. Smith, Between Mutiny and Obedience:  The Case of the French Fifth Infantry Division During World War I, (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1994); Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches; Fuller, Troop Morale and Popular Culture; Facing Armageddon: The First World War Experienced, ed. Hugh Cecil and Peter Liddle (London: Leo Cooper, 1996), papers in Part IV Soldier Morale; Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War; Richard Holmes, ed., The Oxford Companion to Military History (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2001), which outlines the factors necessary for the maintenance of morale as follows: ‘belief in a cause; good training; trust in leaders; honour; good logistics …; pride in the unit; and a sense of being treated fairly. The ‘primary’ … group … is widely perceived as being of vital importance, for soldiers do not usually fight for queen, cause, or country, but rather so as not to let down their mates’ (p. 600). 20 Alexander Watson, Enduring the Great War. Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914–​1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), p. 6. 21 Ibid., pp. 44–​56. 22 Ibid., pp. 56–​72. 23 Ibid., pp. 85–​107. 24 Ibid., pp. 108–​139.

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than harmonious relationship between German junior officers and their men, the German army continued to fight hard and effectively until well into 1918).25 He also discusses the place of morale in determining endurance. Watson argues that ‘morale’ is ‘the common shorthand for military resilience and combat motivation’,26 but that the majority of explanations about what factors constitute good morale ‘provide no understanding of why they influence soldiers to keep fighting or how they function in order to ensure that men, and therefore armies, endure terrible conditions willingly and successfully’.27 By combining individual combat motivation and psychological coping strategies, Watson is able to shed light on: how the factors comprising ‘good morale’ functioned in maintaining soldiers’ willingness to accept risk and death for extended periods. At the heart of combat motivation lay confidence in ultimate victory and in personal survival. The tremendous resilience of First World War armies was to a large extent a reflection of the fact that men were ‘hardwired’ to believe firmly in both. Yet the argument that ‘morale’ is confidence also explains why the military-​ institutional factors emphasised in traditional literature functioned so well to support men. Training, the inculcation of ‘primary group’ solidarity, regimental esprit de corps, good leadership and propaganda were all designed to instil in soldiers confidence in personal survival and in their ability to execute military tasks effectively. Nor does it conflict with the important role attributed … to basic necessities.28

In his final conclusion Watson argues that the German army only collapsed not because her enemies had better morale, but because they had achieved a marked material superiority and because the German army was subject to extreme fatigue.29 Recently the importance of the study of morale has again been reconsidered. Jonathan Fennell’s work on the Eighth Army challenges existing studies in a number of ways. He complains that, Alexander Watson’s work excepting, many studies on morale rely purely on personal sources for their analysis.30 Instead his work makes use of quantifiable data such as rates of desertion, sickness, surrender, and breakdown among the troops, and official army morale reports, in addition 25 Ibid., pp. 133–​139. 26 Ibid., p. 140. 27 Ibid., pp. 140–​141. 28 Ibid., p. 141. 29 Whilst both sides were suffering from fatigue, in the German case that fatigue and disillusionment sponsored a gradual decline in combat efficiency, especially in light of the increased materiel superiority of the Allied forced  –​Watson, Enduring the Great War, ­chapter 6. 30 Fennell, Combat and Morale, p. 3.

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to personal sources. However, it is his second challenge which is of particular interest here. He broadly conceptualises morale thus: Morale … is not just a feeling or emotion, but is more like an overall causative influence on a soldier’s conduct; some psychologists use the term ‘motivation’ in similar contexts … Morale, therefore, can be defined as the willingness of an individual or group to prepare for and engage in an action required by an authority or institution; this willingness may be engendered by a positive desire for action and/​or by the discipline to accept orders to take such action. The degree of morale of an individual or army relates to the extent of their desire or discipline to act, or their determination to see an action through.31

But in addition to offering this definition the central premise of his book is that war needs to be studied ‘through the lens of morale’ and the relationship between morale and combat performance needs to be reconsidered. As we can see, the overwhelming bulk of work on morale and combat motivation has been in relation to land-​based forces, especially in the case of First World War studies. Daniel Horn has produced the only work to look at the German naval mutinies and their link to the eventual collapse of the German war effort,32 and Peter H. Liddle touched open RN morale in relation to pre-​war preparedness,33 but there have been no systematic studies of naval morale in the Great War. Much of the work on the armies of the Great War can provide a useful starting point for the study of naval morale. We can, for example, see a parallel between the concept of army primary group theory and the process of morale and bonding seen in naval messes. However, the intrinsic differences between the services make direct methodological transfer difficult. The quantifiable data employed to such good effect by Fennell are harder to use in the naval context. It was possible to desert, but opportunities were more limited. Sickness frequently did not absent the sailor from danger because there was no front and rear line in a battleship.34 It was difficult to surrender. Mental breakdown was largely unrecorded,35 and no systematic reports of morale generated as standard.36 31 Ibid., p. 9. 32 Daniel Horn, The German Naval Mutinies of World War I (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1969). 33 Peter H. Liddle, The Sailor’s War 1914–​18 (Poole: Blandford, 1985), ­chapter 1. 34 Although on smaller vessels casualties would be taken ashore at the first available opportunity. 35 There are no references to neurological disorders in the First World War Admiralty files at The National Archives, although some service presses make references to naval men with ‘shellshock’. 36 In addition, it appears that no reports based on censorship of ratings’ letters survive, probably because this was done at ship-​level.

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The comparative absence of work on the human experience of naval war has been observed by John Reeve.37 He identified a number of obstacles specific to developing an understanding of the experience of naval war. These three factors were the nature of events, the nature of those involved, and the nature of what remains following battle. Within the nature of events he identified a variety of difficulties:  naval action can be very fleeting and highly unexpected thereby ‘leaving less of an actual event to create an impression on human memory’; there were fewer witnesses to naval battle since journalists were rarely present and large numbers of witnesses are lost if a ship goes down; modern naval engagements often lack ‘glamour’; and the physical surrounding of the ship mean that very few sailors actually see the exploits they are taking part in.38 Following engagements some ships are sunk and those that remain (with a few exceptions) are sold off or scrapped at the end of the war; few visual images such as photos remain; personal effects and weaponry of a defeated enemy are often lost; ships successful in battle return home and the crew disperses; and ships become objects of technical fascination, but people remember the object and not the people, all of which make it harder to recover the experience of sailors.39 He further suggests that the very nature of seafarers and navies makes accessing their experiences more difficult. Officers, he argues, are technocrats rather than literary men, and the service itself traditionally shunned publicity. ‘Seafaring’, he states: is a technical skill, with something of a separate language of its own. Sailors have traditionally lived in somewhat segregated coastal communities and, beyond these, on the seas and as transients in foreign lands; in other words, they dwell on the fringes of their domestic societies. They have not always gone to war in the same massed and demonstrable way as soldiers, nor have they always re-​ entered society in a similar fashion. Theirs is but a partially visible and somewhat distinct sub-​community and society is conditions to their regular absence. Unsurprisingly, their stories of war penetrate society less readily.40

However, the isolation of the naval man, whilst containing some truth, can be overcome. Naval men have left their footprint in the historical sand, and it possible to consider issues of morale within the naval context of the Great War. By utilising the contemporary language used by the RN –​the langue of discipline –​it is possible to explore the concept 37 John Reeve, ‘An Anatomy of the Face of Naval Battle’, in John Reeve and David Stevens, eds, The Face of Naval Battle. The Human Experience of Modern War at Sea (Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2003), pp. 5–​6. 38 Ibid., pp. 6–​8. 39 Ibid., p. 9. 40 Ibid., pp. 8–​9.

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of naval morale. Rather than the exploring these questions ‘through the lens of morale’, as Fennell suggest so successfully for the army, we need to look ‘through the lens of discipline’. The RN had not been involved in full-​scale fighting for a century and so had had to employ a surrogate means of maintaining its Clausewitzian spirit. This was done by invoking the spirit of the Nelsonian navy  –​ revisiting its glories and making contemporary personnel feel an integral part of historic victories. Discipline and ritual were substituted for fighting experience. The First World War tested the spirit of the RN under extreme conditions; by exploring how the RN’s morale, as conceived of in terms of discipline, withstood the challenges of war, we can clarify the factors that informed the morale of the navy. The Layers of Naval Law Incidents of indiscipline generally involved some contravention of naval law. These legal systems of discipline had evolved with the service. They were a product both of ethos and practicality, and enshrine in institutional terms the paternalistic attitude of naval leadership. These systems placed officers and higher command in the position of strict, but basically benign, fathers using their judgement to guide and control their ‘sons’. These systems –​their development, function, and how they were perceived –​underpinned the ethos and identities of the Senior Service, and were the focus of a number of wartime grievances, not because of their harshness, but because of their humiliating nature. Naval law was a many-​layered entity and was derived predominantly from two publications:  the Naval Discipline Act (NDA),41 which was also known as the Articles of War, and King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions (King’s Regulations).42 Elements of these two publications were combined to form the Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure,43 to provide a not entirely exhaustive reference book. Copies of the NDA and King’s Regulations were carried on all naval ships,44 and were theoretically available for consultation by any member of the

41 Originally published in 1866 (29 & 30 Vict c. 109). 42 The King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions for the Government of His Majesty’s Naval Service (London: HMSO, 1913) –​originally published in 1844. 43 J.E.R. Stephens, C.E. Gifford and F. Harrison Smith, Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure in Which Is Embodied Thring’s Criminal Law of the Navy. Together with the Naval Discipline Act and an Appendix of Practical Forms, 4th edn (London: Stephens & Sons, 1912). 44 And many would have also carried a copy of the Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure.

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ship. Ratings like Writer Robert Jeffrey certainly felt that naval writers knew more about the regulations than the officers, and said he was often consulted about the punishments it was possible to award for particular offences.45 This is hardly surprising when one considers the sheer number of rules and regulations. The NDA comprised 101 different articles in the 1866 edition, with amendments following regularly. In 1913 King’s Regulations came in two volumes and spanned over 1,489 pages. It covered topics as diverse as ‘ceremonies and distinctions’46 and ‘physical training’.47 Whilst the majority of areas covered by King’s Regulations should be considered as guidelines for behaviour, transgression from which would not necessarily result in court martial, there were certain articles which could be seen as offences against naval discipline and which were tried and punished accordingly. All offences against the NDA could theoretically be taken to courts martial; however, in practice, this was not always done, and many officers demonstrated great discretion in dealing with offenders. Regulations covered every area of a serviceman’s life. With such a variety of actions governed by one regulation or another it was perfectly possible to transgress one or other of them almost inadvertently. The vastly complex nature of the regulations could on occasion make them difficult to administer but it was equally difficult for an alleged offender to negotiate his way through. These regulations enshrined the paternalism of the higher echelons of the service. Despite the many hundreds of regulations available those which generated most comment in the period concerned combination and the presentation of grievances. Perhaps the most famous of these –​certainly the most infamous on the lower decks –​was Article 11 of King’s Regulations, which governed combinations and read thus: All combinations of persons belonging to the Fleet formed for the purpose of bringing about alterations in the existing Regulations or customs of His Majesty’s Naval Service, whether affecting their interests individually or collectively, are prohibited as being contrary to the traditions and practice of the Service and injurious to its welfare and discipline. Every person is fully authorised individually to make known to his superior any proper cause of complaint, but individuals are not to combine either by the appointment of committees or in any other manner to obtain signatures to memorials, petitions or applications, nor are they collectively to sign any such documents.48

45 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 757 –​Jeffrey, Robert John. 46 King’s Regulations, pp. 8–​46. 47 Ibid., p. 316. 48 King’s Regulations, Article 11, p. 3.

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It was the ultimate catch-​all, and had it been rigidly enforced might well have precipitated a massive manpower shortage in the Senior Service. In addition to the technical restrictions on the representation of grievances, the process was wrought with semantic difficulties which must be addressed. There was a technical difference between a ‘complaint’ and a ‘request’. The former was made if a man had ‘any cause for complaint of injustice or ill-​treatment’49 (such injustice or ill-​treatment must be purely personal, and not related to more general conditions of service50); the latter related to more mundane matters such as requests for leave or requests to talk to a particular officer about a personal matter that was not a cause of complaint. However, just to complicate matters, a man could make a request to state a complaint. When the service presses or the Loyal Appeals51 talk of ‘complaints’ they mean it in a far broader sense than the narrow service definitions. They tend to be referring to general grievances arising from the conditions of service. Thus the contemporary documents use the terms ‘complaint’ and ‘grievance’ interchangeably. Despite the regulations surrounding combination there were limited legal methods whereby men could make known their complaints and grievances. According to the terms of the Naval Discipline Act: 37. Every person subject to this Act who shall have any cause of complaint, either of the unwholesomeness of the victuals or upon any other just ground, shall quietly make the same known to his superior, or captain, or commander-​in-​chief, and the said superior, captain, or commander-​in-​chief shall, as far as he is able, cause the same to be presently remedied; and no person subject to this Act upon any pretence whatever shall attempt to stir up any disturbance, upon pain of such punishment as a court-​martial may think fit to inflict, according to the degree of offence.52 49 A Seaman’s Pocket-​Book, p. 93 –​this is a fascinating and very useful little book. It is a facsimile of the book issued to every man entering the seaman branch of the RN in 1944 (though it was composed in 1943) in recognition of the difficulty new entrants found in acquiring ‘sea sense’ in a very short period of time (see Brian Lavery’s introduction to the 2006 edition and the original explanatory foreword, pp. 2–​4). It is indicative of the complexities of the service and of its inaccessibility. The ethos, and even language, of the service, whether by accident or design, served to separate it from the civil as completely as possible. It could take years for men to breathe naval discipline and fully immerse themselves in the institution. 50 See Article 8 of King’s Regulations: ‘If an officer or other person should observe any misconduct in his superior, or should suffer any personal oppression, injustice, or other ill-​treatment at his hands, he is not on that account to fail in any degree in the respect and obedience due to such superior, but he may represent such misconduct or ill-​ treatment in the first instance to the Captain of the ship’, p. 5. 51 The Loyal Appeals were issued from 1904 by groups of petty officers who were putting forwards suggestions for improving service conditions. The Appeals will be discussed in detail in Chapter 3. 52 The Naval Discipline Act (29 & 30 Vict. c. 109).

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This stance was reinforced in the second layer of naval law. King’s Regulations laid down the way in which a localised complaint could be brought. In the first instance, after a lapse of twenty-​four hours from the alleged incident, the complainant could request to see the captain to whom he would make his complaint verbally. Should the captain refuse to or be unable to remedy the complaint the complainant could ‘respectfully request’ that his complaint be given in writing and forwarded to the officer commanding the squadron in which he served. He would then be given another twenty-​four hours to reconsider his decision and was allowed the advice and assistance of an officer. This officer would, at the same time, warn the complainant that ‘should there be no reasonable grounds for his complaint, he is liable to be treated as having made a frivolous or vexatious complaint, which is an act to the prejudice of good order and naval discipline’. Should the officer commanding the squadron in which the man was serving refuse to or be unable to remedy the complaint, the complainant could subsequently forward his complaint to the commander-​in-​chief and finally to the Secretary of the Admiralty. The Article offered one small consolation: ‘Although the superior authority to whom the matter has been submitted may not see fit to alter the ruling of the Captain, the latter is not justified in dealing with the appeal as a breach of discipline, and is only to do so when expressly authorised by such superior authority.’53 According to the terms of Article 9,54 only the method set down in Article 8 would be recognised as a legitimate method of representation. By the terms of Article 10 officers could combine to complain about the conduct or remarks of a superior, but this right was denied to ratings.55 This is an interesting distinction, although it is not one that caused any mention during the war. Ratings were more concerned with their own methods of representing grievances, rather than those of their officers. Neither ratings nor officers were permitted to look to outside sources to vent grievances which remained within the boundary of established and legal service procedure.56 This is not to say that they did not look to outside sources, merely that such action was unofficial and could result in severe punishment. Although the unofficial circumvention of this system on occasion was generally tolerated by Their Lordships,57 it did not induce them to 53 King’s Regulations, Article 8, p. 5. 54 Ibid., Article 9, pp. 5–​6. 55 Ibid., Article 10, p. 6. 56 Ibid., Article 14, pp. 6–​7. 57 Inasmuch as little effort was made to locate and punish the authors of pre-​war Loyal Appeals. In 1917 a hectographed circular was issued. Master-​of-​Arms J.W. Scrivens and PO W.  Vale were court-​martialled over it; however, in their statement of defence they claimed:  ‘A former Magna Charter having been put forward by the lower Deck

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reform the system. The Board were keen to retain the status quo. They were adamant that the system then in place was more than adequate to deal with grievances, and that it was simply misunderstood! The paternalism of the system for dealing with grievances was further enshrined during the war with the introduction of the ‘Little Father’ scheme devised by a civilian member of the Board, Dr Macnamara.58 Whilst not revoking Articles 8, 9 or 11 of King’s Regulations he proposed modification to Article 720, Instructions to Captains, stressing their duty to be ‘ever mindful of the welfare of those serving under them, bringing to the notice of their superiors any possibly justifiable complaints’. Upon becoming aware of any grievance he should call representatives to him and ask for the grievance to be stated, and ‘if he thinks it has any substance undertakes to pass it on to the Flag Officer, who, being imbued with the same spirit, will take care that it comes to [the Board]’.59 Similar amendments were made to Article 620, Officer of a Division. The ‘Little Father’ scheme, which automatically confined the lower-​deck man to the status of ‘child’, was not well received and the lower-​deck presses had particular fun at its expense.60 It symbolised the divisions between the world views of paternalism and democratism, and demonstrates the failure of the one to understand the other. There was a third, slightly more ambiguous, layer to naval law. Regulated by Captain’s Standing Orders, this shipboard ‘law’ was local to each ship at the captain’s discretion, rather like local by-​laws in civilian life. Such regulation governed aspects of daily life such as when and where the men might be permitted to smoke. These were the ‘laws’ that determined the spit and polish aspect of naval discipline, and were frequently a source

Benefit Societies and believed to have been received and replied to by the Admiralty, it was considered that the spirit of Article 11. K.R.A.I. could be adhered to in a loyal manner by bringing the questions before the Captain as the Senior C.P.O. and P.O. after enquiries have been made as to the genuineness of documents A.  and A.1. received.’ Despite the subsequent conviction of Scrivens and Vale, the Board conceded that the men may have had reasonable grounds for believing that the Admiralty had recognised and responded to previous Loyal Appeals, though Plummer noted that ‘Strictly speaking … the Admiralty have not condoned breaches of Article 11 by receiving and considering their annual appeals; they have merely used the documents thus received in order to inform themselves of the aspirations of the lower deck.’ Scrivens and Vale were convicted because of the manner in which this particular appeal was made, but it is obvious from the Admiralty’s minutes that there was a certain ambiguity surrounding the issuing of an appeal (see TNA, ADM 156/​35 –​statement of defence (found with the minutes of proceedings) and Admiralty minutes in relations to the court martial, J.A.F. 5 November 1917 and Plummer 23 November 1917). 58 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Macnamara’s memorandum, 21 December 1917. 59 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Macnamara’s memorandum, 21 December 1917. 60 For details of the reaction of the lower-​deck presses, see Chapter 3.

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of petty annoyances when applied over-​zealously, although many were accepted as useful to the efficient functioning of the ship. The Implementation of Naval Discipline Sitting as they did on the cusp of the two discourses of paternalism and democratism, POs functioned as a social and disciplinary bridge between officers and men. Sheffield has outlined the crucial role played by NCOs in the army discipline system;61 in many respects naval POs served a similar function. Just as in the army they had the effect of distancing the officers from some elements of naval discipline, and their implementation of the regulations could be instrumental in whether or not a ship was a happy one. They also provided a social bridge in a number of respects: they were an important source for officers about the mood of the lower decks and through them the officers had seen a glimpse of lower-​deck life. There were two separate forms of dealing with alleged offences, and two corresponding forms of punishing them. The first system was known as the defaulters’ table (see Figure 2.1). This would be a daily parade of those who had transgressed more minor naval laws. The defaulter would come before the captain to answer the charge, and more often than not receive punishment. Such ‘trials’ were referred to as ‘summary’ and produced ‘summary punishments’. Though the offences were relatively minor, the punishments which could be awarded were relatively harsh, though no longer brutal. They could also be deeply humiliating, and it was summary punishments which were the subject of particular grievances because they contravened the prevailing discourse of democratism. The second form of trial was a formal court martial,62 at which more severe punishments could be awarded. As was so often the case there was a discrepancy between the letter of the law and its implementation; between the way the service actually ran and the way it wanted to be seen to run. For example, it was still theoretically possible to award the death penalty summarily (though in practice this would have been unthinkable), and a cat-​o’nine-​tails was carried on each warship until 1939 despite its use being suspended in 1881.63

61 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, pp. 3–​4. 62 In wartime provision was made for an additional form of trial, the ‘disciplinary court’ –​ for details, see Chapter 5. 63 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 31.

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Figure 2.1  ‘His First Offence’. The Fleet, June 1916, p. 165

It has been argued elsewhere that naval punishments were particularly harsh,64 and certainly sailors faced detention for actions not even considered offences in civilian courts,65 or which would have been considered very minor offences. It is also true that naval men were subject to much more regulation of their daily life than were their civilian counterparts. There was no discipline in a factory that was comparable with that given to Seaman Edward Pullen, who was required to kneel down 64 Ibid., p. xv. 65 Ibid., p. xv.

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and worship his kit bag every day for seven days because he had left it out when ‘all in the starboard watch’ had been piped.66 However, the naked brutality of the Georgian and early Victorian navy had disappeared, and the punishments awarded for serious offences were in accord with civilian standards. In 1914 the Admiralty debated whether it would be advisable for punishments to be increased during the war. They concluded that ‘the state of war did not per se call for an increase in severity of punishments, though it gave power to do so if required’,67 and went as far as to reduce the punishment for desertion.68 Yet corporal punishment for boys (those under eighteen years of age) and midshipmen remained.69 It was awarded for a variety of minor offences, most notably smoking, and at the training establishments for both boy seamen and cadets it was administered with a large degree of ritual. The other boys were assembled and the boy to be punished was brought before them in a tight pair of duck pants.70 He was tied to a vaulting horse and one of the senior instructors would administer the prescribed number of cuts with the cane whilst the commander of the establishment and a medical officer looked on to ensure it was conducted in line with regulations. S.J. Cole described his experiences thus: ‘I was stripped down to a pair of shorts … [had] a piece of leather between my teeth, a marine holding each leg & same with each arm.’71 Dis-​rating could also be awarded summarily, as could the loss of a good conduct badge. Whilst the latter may have been preferential to a court martial, the former could cause real hardship and its impact could be felt for many years because it affected pensions as well as pay. In no other profession could such harsh punishment be awarded so easily for such minor transgressions. Even on leave men were subject to humiliation because of the institutional attitude of the navy, and the all-​pervasive nature of naval discipline. Shore patrols would berate men in front of their friends, families and sweethearts for minor uniform infringements. 66 Mr Pullen’s comment about this incident was ‘I thought to myself this was a stupid idea really, but that was naval discipline’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 692 –​Pullen, Edward). 67 TNA, ADM 1/​8397/​360 –​details of a letter from the Commodore of Chatham Barrack to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 8 October 1914. 68 TNA, ADM 1/​8397/​360 –​letter from Commander-​in-​Chief the Nore to Secretary of the Admiralty, 9 October 1914. 69 In civilian life only those under sixteen could be subjected to corporal punishment. 70 Duck pants were the thinnest uniform trousers a boy possessed, and the maximum pain possible could thus be guaranteed. Some recalled a round loop being placed over the bottom to ensure that the strokes fell in one particular, small place (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 758 –​Willis, Reginald; he was describing the punishment given to a boy convicted of sodomy). 71 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​S.J. Cole; Cole received six strokes of the cane for smoking.

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Ernest Haigh felt that the military police in the docks were determined to humiliate sailors on leave for the evening. He recalled one incident when he was with his wife about to go into a cinema. He put his hand in his pocket to get some change and was immediately shouted at by a naval policeman to take his hand out of pocket.72 In addition to reinforcing many wartime grievances, the systems of naval discipline themselves provoked much comment and shaped men’s experience of the Senior Service in wartime. When responding to the questionnaires issued by the University of Sussex in 1972 or when participating in oral history interviews, veterans were asked how they found the ‘discipline’ of the Royal Navy, both during training and at sea.73 It is from these responses that the various usages of the word ‘discipline’ were discernible. The various responses used all the definitions without preference and without exclusivity. To these men ‘discipline’ was as nebulous and engulfing as the ‘traditions and customs’ which they lived and breathed. Some historians, most prominently Gordon, have argued that the disciplinary system and the spit and polish system stripped the service of initiative.74 Whilst this is a compelling argument in terms of the command culture of the Senior Service, it is not a sentiment that was shared by all the ratings. Although not an area which received much mention at all, there were those who found naval discipline offered them room to exercise personal initiative. For Seaman Albert Masters, discipline made ‘a man more self reliant, you see because a man’s going to use his own nut and say well if I do so and so I can help meself [sic]. … By and large you find these men who had been subject to naval discipline over a number of years they grow up, well, as I say, with self reliance and they know how to treat the various conditions of life.’75 However, when we consider the comments of men on other aspects of naval life, it can be concluded that Masters’ views represent the minority. When discussing the disciplinary system and the penal system, almost all the men who responded to the questionnaire or who were interviewed, drew a distinction between the systems in place in training ships and those once they commenced sea-​going service, with the latter being preferable. Responses to questions about ‘discipline’ whilst training elicited responses ranging from ‘happy enough’76 to ‘cruel and hateful’,77 with 72 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest. 73 The questionnaires and interviewers asked the veterans about ‘discipline’. The men were free to use whatever definition they pleased, and it has been in part a result of their responses that the four definitions given above has been developed. 74 Gordon, The Rules of the Game, pp. 155–​192. 75 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 720 –​Masters, Albert William. 76 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Buck, Frank James. 77 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Blanche, Percy D.

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the majority tending towards the ‘pretty grim’ end of the scale. For men like William Bailey ‘fear appeared to be the keynote of naval discipline’.78 However, not all those who felt discipline to have been harsh thought it a bad thing. When asked whether they thought their treatment necessary some responded that it was important because it prepared them for their later lives in the service, both in terms of climate79 and ‘to comply with the “Articles of War” ’.80 What this says about their later treatment is interesting in itself, in part because it demonstrates the level to which such treatment was accepted as par for the course. There were others who thought that such ‘discipline’ would benefit the ‘youth of today’ who invariably, irrespective of the period, have it easy. Thomas Jenkins ‘would be pleased to see the same thing done in civilian life today’.81 Attitudes to naval discipline during sea-​service were slightly different. Respondents generally considered it to have been very strict, but fair. The spit and polish system also provoked widespread comment. A number of historians have devoted considerable and useful effort to demonstrating the perceived importance of spit and polish.82 They have shown that in some quarters of the pre-​war navy, the level of shine on the ship’s brass work was taken as a measure of the efficiency of its captain and his readiness for promotion (once he had reached the correct level of seniority of course!).83 Although many sailors themselves liked a smart ship,84 some of these exercises caused much irritation. HMS Leviathan was away from Britain for months at a time and suffered at the hands of a collection of poor officers. The captain seemed determined to irritate his crew with a series of pointless tasks, such as that of Saturday 10 April 1915 when: 78 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583)  –​Bailey, William Arthur David. 79 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583)  –​Bailey, William Arthur David –​who asserted that training had to be tough because of the very harsh conditions (climatic, etc.) faced during the war. 80 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Blanche, Percy D. 81 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Jenkins, Phillip Thomas; Albert Dwyer was in complete accord with him. 82 Gordon, The Rules of the Game, pp. 155–​192; Lionel Yexley, The Inner Life of the Navy (London: Pitman, 1908); Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. xv–​xvi. 83 Officers, and indeed ratings, were promoted in line with superiority rather than merit. After the designated period of time in any one rank the officers would be promoted to the next, subject to examination and his not having made a complete hash of his current job. This was a source of some contention, and featured in some discussions in the Naval Review (see Admiral W.H. Henderson, ‘Remarks on the Training, Promotion and Retirement of Executive Officers’, Naval Review, 7 (1919), pp. 60–​64, although this was written during war). 84 After all, part of the reasons given for mutiny on HMS Amphitrite was the dirty state of the ship –​TNA, ADM 156/​19 for report into the mutiny.

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The “Odd Trick” [the captain] had another spasm in ordering all the cooks of messes that after the Mess stools had been scrubbed they were to be taken on booms, to be bleached by the sun, another great lesson he had learned since the Great European War had been raging, or was it by the Fleet Surgeon’s orders about not sitting on anything damp, especially, as the ship was so dry when we were at sea.85

Or that of Sunday 23 January 1916 when: after evening quarters the “Focastlemen” of both watches were fell in to clear up Deck properly. “Marcus” [the captain  –​sometimes referred to as the ‘Human Whistle Pipe’86] having discovered 1 Orange Pip loafing underneath the turret, so we all armed ourselves with telescopes & magnifying glasses & succeeded in finding, 1 Match Stick, 2 Orange Pips, & 1 Small piece of toffee paper, & him making such a clamour on the focastle as if we had cleared ship for action.87

In some respects the spit and polish systems showed their malleability during the war, producing some improvement for the men. Zealous spit and polish was largely abandoned during the war. Brass work glinting in the North Sea sun made a ship an easy target, so the practice fell by the way for the duration. Cleanliness was still essential, but shininess was considered less important –​temporarily at least. The fact that this petty and irritating part of the disciplinary system was removed by the necessities of a unifying national emergency helped to increase its effects. Wartime punishments were not more severe than their peacetime counterparts; in fact, certain offences which might have received harsh penalty in peacetime were actually treated more leniently in war because Their Lordships appreciated the increased pressures under which war routines placed the men.88 How the disciplinary system was administered –​and consequently the men’s opinions of it –​was acknowledged as being largely dependent on the officers of any given ship. A  fair and generous officer could often negate the more petty effects of the system itself by employing discretion and empathy. As Leslie Horton recalled simply, ‘one Captain looked on things differently to another’.89 Moreover, many cited the calibre of the 85 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A.  –​Saturday 10 April 1915. 86 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A.  –​Thursday 6 January 1916. 87 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A.  –​Sunday 23 January 1916. 88 For example, see TNA, ADM 178/​15, Forfeiture of Service as a penalty of Desertion 1913–​1915; TNA, ADM 1/​8485/​74, Penalties For Desertion; TNA, ADM 1/​8397/​360, Punishments during War; and TNA, ADM 1/​8479/​22, Punishments During Wartime. 89 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Horton, Leslie B.; though he also added, ‘But the rules of a day’s pay and days leave for one hour late was too severe. I have seen this applied when a man has been only 10 minutes late.’

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officers as the principal determining factor in whether or not a ship was a ‘happy’ one.90 Officers were not alone in the administration of ‘discipline’. Equally important to the enforcement of naval law, and indeed of the regimentation of daily life, were the ship’s police. ‘Jaunties’,91 as they were collectively known, came in for colourful criticism. Because Jaunties were automatically granted petty-​ officer rank on appointment many veterans remembered them as the men too stupid to reach petty-​officer rank within their own branch.92 The majority of men thought the ship’s police had too much power and were not averse to abusing it, and some even believed they took bribes. For others they were ‘JOKERS … Chief Jhonty Sinclair … [was a] human cess-​pool … who … lived to make people unhappy’.93 ‘Snivelling’ and ‘oppressive’94 also featured in some descriptions, along with ‘swine’.95 They were not without their defenders; however, these were distinctly in the minority, and the most glowing praise this body of men can be said to have received was ‘they were fair’.96 Only the larger ships carried ship’s police. They were responsible 90 To take just one example recalled in his memoirs by Gilbert Bickmore, a clerk on HMS Weymouth. Bickmore’s first job on joining the squadron in the Adriatic was to act as the clerk at the court martial of several officers and CPOs of HMS Newcastle: ‘The Captain of the “Newcastle” was a rabid teetotaller and had restricted the drinks of his officers to such an extent as to render them almost mutinous. He had locked up the Ward-​room wine stores, and only opened the bar for half an hour each night, allowing his Officers only one drink each, and that under his personal supervision. The result was only to be expected. When they went ashore, the officers made up for lost time, and drank too much. Six of them were before the court for drunkenness and neglect of duty. Their Paymaster had kept no books of account for six months, and was suffering Delirium Tremens. This state of affairs had spread to the crew, and the Gunner, Chief Victualling Petty Officer and the Master-​at-​Arms were all also charged with selling the crew’s rum ration to them at 2d a tot, instead of supplying the free issue. The result of the court martial was that all the Officers were dismissed from their ship, which was probably the kindest thing that could have happened to them, for they were able to get away and make a fresh start … H.M.S. Newcastle left the squadron and no-​one was sorry to see her go’ (IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 85/​26/​1 –​Bickmore, Dr G.H.). 91 Sometimes spelt ‘Jhonty’. 92 Many of the respondents to the questionnaires and the interviewees took this view; as Percy Blanche put it, ‘They were recruited from men who had failed in their own particular branch. “Bullies”, “illiterate”, & subject to the whims of the Commander or CO’ (IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583)). Others talked about the police with equal venom in interviews. Signalman George Haigh believed men who were not good at their job became either ship’s policemen or physical training instructors; though he did meet one pleasant ship’s policeman called Butler when he was on Dido, Haigh always wondered why he had become a policeman! (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest). 93 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Adam, Arthur George. 94 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 769 –​Dunn, James. 95 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 758 –​Willis, Reginald. 96 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Buck, Frank James.

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for ensuring all the various rules and regulations were upheld and for bringing miscreants before the officers. The extent to which bribery and corruption were an endemic part of the system was a matter of opinion, although one man, Telegraphist William Halter, recalled the court martial of a regulation officer who had been caught ‘selling’ the best jobs.97 Many of the testimonies believed that ship’s police regularly took bribes to turn a blind eye and others stated that they had never come across any such thing.98 Some men recalled efforts to use the complaints procedure laid down in the official regulations. One such memoirist was Charles Allen who had cause to bring a complaint whilst serving on HMS Patrol towards the end of the war. Whilst in harbour the signalmen, of whom Allen was one, were required to undertake flashlight exercises. These could only be undertaken at night, and since the days were long the exercise could not be commenced until after 11 pm. This meant that men of the middle watch were unable to sleep before 4.15 am and were then required to go on duty again at 6.30 am. One of his fellow signalmen refused to do the exercise one night and was duly put on Report. Allen was ‘shaken’ when he heard that the only way to get the offender off was to put forward a collective grievance (the complaint being frequently undertaking this exercise so late at night). Allen ‘had heard of such similar grievances failing dismally with resultant “Time” in the Detention Quarters at Chatham, [and] it was understood generally that it was no use kicking against the brickwall [sic] of strict Naval Discipline, nobody who took this risk ever won’. The ship’s signalmen appeared before ‘Gordon Campbell, resplendent (for once) in his full regalia’ at the defaulters’ table. Each came forward in turn to state the same grievance. Despite threatening to ‘decorate the mast with signalmen’ should there be any recurrence of the incident, he came down on the side of the signalmen; ‘the strict Naval Discipline had gone by the board with this man, we had won our case, the charge against Dean [the original miscreant] was dismissed and everybody was happy, especially the stokers, who greeted us with subversive cheers as we came off the Quarter Deck’.99 Allen’s tale not only reinforces the idea that discipline, applied with discretion, was remarkably effective, it highlighted the fear that presenting even a personal grievance generated. 97 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 721 –​Halter, William. 98 Proportionately more veterans remembered bribery and corruption amongst the police, than did not. For example, Edward Pullen, William Halter, and James Dunn (IWM, Sound Archives, Accession Nos. 692, 721 and 769, respectively) recalled bribery and corruption amongst jaunties, whereas William Parsons (IWM, Sound Archives, Accession No. 736) did not. 99 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. PP/​MCR/​301 –​ Allen, C.F.S.

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How much more difficult must it have then been to present a grievance against naval policy. The overwhelming majority of respondents to questions about ‘discipline’ who discussed punishment, talked only of the humiliation they generated. However, some recalled particular instances of unfair treatment at the hands of officers. One lower-​deck diarist, Jenkins, noted a number of such incidents, with beautifully sarcastic displeasure. He recalled the treatment given to those who had ‘dared to open their mouth to state a grievance’, who were sent to other ships in the fleet.100 Two Able Seamen were made to pay the price for 150 men ‘who had been hooting in the launch coming off from Shore at Bermuda’, which he dubbed ‘one more case of gross injustice’.101 He cited many similar cases throughout his time on the ship, all of which highlight the infantilisation of ratings.102 It was the ‘silly’ or humiliating punishments which generated most comment.103 The single most frequently mentioned punishment was 10A. This was awarded summarily for minor offences and could last for up to fourteen days. Whilst under punishment men would perform extra drill or duty, would eat away from their mess mates under the supervision of an officer, and would have to stand facing the wall for an hour at a time. It was the pointlessness of such activities and the lack of respect it showed to the men who suffered it which generated most resentment. Sailors were men, and if they were to be punished then it should be as men and not in the manner of errant schoolboys. Other respondents commented on the caning of boys. None of the men expressed any concerns at the serious punishments awarded; only those they regarded as humiliating, petty or unnecessarily harsh for minor infractions of the rules. All focused on summary punishments rather than those awarded at court martial. Of course, the disciplinary system and its rules and regulations had its supporters.104 Writer Robert Jeffrey, whose job as 100 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A.  –​Sunday 14 February 1915. 101 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​14/​1 –​Jenkins, W.A. –​Friday 7 May 1915. 102 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A.  –​Saturday 17 February 1917. 103 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583); men like William Humphries found punishments in training ships ‘Childish. Some Instructors (P.Os) were bullies on Impregnable, they used ropes end to drive boys up [ladders] like herd of cattle. For having one extra turn of lashing on hammock I was hit in the face with bag of soap and threatened. I thought them about 10 years out of date.’ Others recalled individual punishments they had received. 104 Even William Parsons, who felt some punishments were designed to humiliate, used the same kind of discipline he had experienced when he gained his commission. When Parsons’ punishment book was returned from the admiral, it invariably said that he should reduce some of the punishments; though, Parsons in turn, thought the admiral was too soft (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 736 –​Parsons, William Allen).

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a captain’s clerk meant he closely observed the administration of ‘discipline’ onboard, believed that discipline was well handled, with each man having recourse to appeal if he felt himself to have been treated unjustly. Jeffrey felt that the defaulters table was taken as a ‘matter of course. The man who came up knew why he was there and he took it for granted that he would be punished according to his offence and that was it.’105 Seaman Arthur Ford believed that ‘they weren’t trying to ram [discipline] down your throat you know, oh no. It was just, see, if you’d committed what was really an offence which couldn’t be overlooked … But they weren’t looking for trouble, never.’106 Edward Pullen went even further: ‘if it hadn’t been for the naval discipline it would have been hell onboard’.107 Although when the veterans were asked whether there were any punishments they thought worthy of comment the most common responses were 10A, caning and stoppage of leave; the navy’s efforts to ‘make the punishment fit the crime’ also provoked some comment. Some men recalled incidents where men caught spitting on the upper decks were required to walk around with a spittoon (sometimes called a ‘spitkin’) tied around their neck.108 Some men contrasted the ‘degrading’ spectacle of 10A with reports that the German navy made its sailors use their punishment time productively by learning English!109 It is indicative of the strength of feeling engendered by petty restrictions and the humiliation which some punishments were intended to induce, that they were commented upon by the ex-​sailors nearly sixty years later. The nominally rigid systems which made up naval discipline had, in practice, much room for discretion, and ratings’ responses to them were frequently dependent on how that discretion was used. Many veterans gave testimony to that effect. Ex-​ratings talked of the sympathy with which they were on occasion treated –​though they were also good at remembering incidents when they had been treated unfairly! Some officers also wrote of the discretion they employed.110 105 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 757 –​Jeffrey, Robert John. 106 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur William. 107 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 692 –​Pullen, Edward. 108 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​S.J. Cole; IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 78/​47/​1  –​Lieutenant Commander R.B. Fairthorne; IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 736 –​Parsons, William. 109 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest. 110 Baillie-​Grohman recounted an incident where he used corporal punishment against regulations to save the rating in question from a worse fate, whilst still preserving strict discipline. A twenty-​one-​year-​old cook’s mate, who had just got his first good conduct badge, and had a wife and child, deserted his post and was found asleep below decks. This was a serious offence in wartime, and Baillie-​Grohman felt he had no choice but to punish the man. According to King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions the

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The importance of strict discipline  –​both for the efficiency of the ship and for the comfort of those living on it –​in a fighting force was recognised by the men. The strictness of the system in dealing with serious offences went largely unremarked. The areas of naval discipline which received most attention were those which were ‘silly’ or which humiliated the men  –​be that through demeaning punishments or through petty restrictions that infantilised a man. These are particularly important because of the universality of such grievances. They were not confined to a minority of men, but instead show a common strand of grievances. The Expression of Wartime Grievance Throughout the war there were three distinct areas of grievance and conflict:  material (i.e. pay and conditions), benefit societies and their relationship with the trade unions, and naval representation. However, underpinning all these areas were issues of status, identity and sense of self-​worth. We can identify three fundamental divisions in the interpretation of these grievances: the divide falls roughly into official, organised lower-​deck organs, and individual men. These interpretations are not necessarily diametrically opposed. In some instances the distinction was subtle, though crucial. At the heart of the analysis of these concepts is the parent–​child relationship between naval authority and the men of the lower decks and the clash of discourses surrounding it. This power relationship is the fundamental reason why the contrasting interpretations of these issues often resulted in basic misunderstandings of each other’s positions. The Admiralty’s attitude was a throwback to a pre-​industrial age, and its actions were rooted in nineteenth-​century concepts of philanthropy. For twentieth-​century workers the trade unions offered them a maximum punishment he could have awarded without reporting the matter to the captain was fourteen days No. 10, but this, Baillie-​Grohman thought, was insufficient and impracticable given the size of the ship and the current working conditions. If he had taken the matter to the captain, the cook would have been awarded a long spell of detention and loss of a badge, which would have ruined his pay and career. After consulting the coxswain, Baillie-​Grohman decided to take a chance ‘provided the cook was willing to sign a document, which I  drafted, he would have the choice of either receiving two dozen strokes of the cane, or being reported to Captain (D). He very sensibly chose the beating, which I reduced to 1 dozen strokes. This was given to him privately in the canteen on shore … Of course the whole Ship’s Company knew about the punishment inflicted, and so were made to realise that such a dereliction of duty would have serious result, so honour, so far as discipline was concerned, was satisfied.’ When Baillie-​Grohman left the ship some months later the cook expressed his gratitude for Baillie’s handling of the situation. IWM Document Archives, Accession No. P366 –​ Baillie-​Grohman, Vice-​Admiral H.T.

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voice. This contrasted sharply with nineteenth-​century concepts of welfare as the preserve of philanthropists or mutual benefit societies. From the turn of the twentieth century the lower deck of the Royal Navy had been looking for its voice. This is not to say that they wanted a trade union per se; many within the service willingly embraced its Victorian values and ethos. However, many wanted a new, specifically naval, voice, which took into account, either overtly or covertly, values and ideas arising from civil society. The search for a voice brought grievances into the open. The ‘movement’ for reform started almost with the advent of continuous service; however the ‘modern’ reform movement can be said to have started in earnest at the beginning of the twentieth century and was catalysed by the appointment of zealous reformers to the Board of Admiralty. A note of caution about the use of the term ‘movement’ must be injected here. Although writers like Carew have talked of ‘reform movements’ they were, in reality, more a confluence of objectives. Class-​specific grievances were still widespread and even those which theoretically affected the service as a whole were still sometimes put forward by one section rather than as a genuinely lower-​deck-​wide grievance. Grievances did not follow a linear progression, and the nature and means of expression of these grievances must be seen in its chronological context. The lower decks were not a homogenised group, and grievances were often specific to a particular class or rating of men. Some general grievances appeared from the 1880s and these were concerned primarily with food and uniform regulations, although the disciplinary system featured to a lesser extent.111 From the turn of the century complaints about the inadequacy of pay began to emerge, becoming more acute as the decade progressed.112 There were also calls for more promotions to warrant rank. First World War grievances were sometimes extensions or metamorphosed versions of these pre-​war issues. Others were a direct result of the conditions of war –​both on the military and home fronts. In a parallel with civil society, early enthusiasm for war combined with feelings of duty and a renewed sense of purpose, produced a tacit truce. Pre-​war antagonism was reduced to merely the slightest of murmurs for the first years of the war. As the conflict dragged on grievances underwent something of a revival, which reached its peak in 1917 with the reappearance of the previously suspended Loyal Appeal. In total there were three wartime Appeals. The first was issued in the summer of 1917 by the Joint Committee of the benefit societies following the pre-​war 111 Carew, The Lower Deck, ­chapter 2. 112 Ibid., pp. 53–​56.

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pattern. The second, whose authorship was never adequately established, came to light in September 1917 after it was distributed amongst the petty officers of the Grand Fleet for comment. The last wartime Loyal Appeal existed only in draft form, and was still under consideration by the Joint Committee when the armistice came. The upsurge of grievances, symbolised by the reappearance of the Appeals, remained constant into 1918, and it is on the latter two years of war that this book primarily concentrates. The majority of evidence received by the Board about grievances and the level of unrest amongst the fleet was in the form of reports  –​ requested or otherwise. Because of the chain of command, the system for submitting reports to the Board was highly bureaucratic. Information from commanders of individual ships was most commonly sent via their flag officers, usually in response to the Admiralty’s requests for them to submit reports about the ‘alleged state of lower deck unrest’.113 It can only be conjectured as to the competing pressures which such requests must have placed on commanding officers, who in their turn requested the captains of the ships under their command to report on the subject. The fact that these reports are so mixed may be indicative of this competition of pressures, reinforcing the deeply personal and subjective nature of the perception and therefore the assessment of the level of unrest. The nature of these submissions also meant that what the Board was being told were the opinions of the lower deck as filtered through the highly selective medium of their commanding and flag officers in turn. It is also possible that some of the disparity in individual cases might be the result of the highly devolved system of dealing with disciplinary matters. Each ship was a unique community, and the atmosphere and morale on a particular ship could well have had a considerable effect on how incidents of indiscipline and grievances manifested themselves, despite the apparent universality of almost all of the grievances of which the Admiralty were told. It is entirely possible that within the same command one ship might have shown signs of unrest when another showed none. While the underlying causes of discontent mentioned above might manifest themselves because of the regime on one ship, they might be far less prevalent under another. Their Lordships were also in possession of other government reports concerning grievances in other areas such as civil unrest or fears of subversion in the army. In addition, some of the men’s grievances were brought to the Board’s attention through questions in the House of 113 This in itself was a response to the problems as Their Lordships perceived them, and will be an important feature in the later analysis.

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Commons. It should be remembered that this was all set against the domestic and international backdrop of union-​led strikes in industry, calls for soldiers’ councils both at home and abroad, and events in post-​ revolutionary Russia.114 Further evidence of unrest can be found in the lower-​deck presses. Naval presses were the public organ for the expression of lower-​deck opinion  –​or at least that is what some of them claimed to be. In reality, whilst they can be said to represent a section of lower-​deck opinion, they were a self-​interest group. Naval presses cannot be seen as a homogenous group. Even those written ostensibly by and for the lower decks represented varied, but narrow sections of opinion. Each had its own character and agenda. Sometimes even within a paper the various columns pursued their own agenda. This book has focused on the following service papers: The Fleet, The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, The Bluejacket and the Soldier:  Our Defenders’ Magazine, Ashore and Afloat, Army and Navy Gazette, Brassey’s Naval Annual, and the Journal of the Royal United Service Institute. They were chosen in part because complete runs of each have survived the intervening years, but also because they represent a broad sample of the journals available to sailors. Service journals came in many different forms:  yearly, monthly, weekly; aimed at the lower deck or the officer class; produced by ex-​ service personnel or by well-​ intentioned outsiders; navy-​ specific or encompassing both services. Whatever individual variation we might find, and whatever complaints and grievances might have been raised, all the service journals were, in essence, patriotic and loyal. Most remained firmly supportive of the war effort and were full of tales of the navy’s achievement –​albeit with varying degrees of verisimilitude. This overt loyalty was more than simply a desire to avoid retribution; it was a very genuine response to and pride in the service, and is representative of the willingness to and extent of acceptance of the service ethos. Where grievances are aired they represent only a small percentage of the overall contents of the journal. The most famous  –​or infamous depending on your viewpoint  –​ was The Fleet. Often, and erroneously, thought of as the mouthpiece of the lower decks, it was founded and edited by Lionel Yexley, and was the only journal devoted solely to naval issues. At 3d per monthly

114 The Admiralty were aware of the revolutionary vigour of the Russian fleet since RN personnel were still stationed with the Russian navy at the time. They would also have had access to the same documents as any other government department.

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issue it was easily accessible to the majority of lower-​deck men.115 Never one to hide his light under a bushel, Yexley sub-​headed his paper ‘The Leading Naval Paper’. Like The Bluejacket, The Fleet was partially financed by adverts, although they were less numerous and very particularly aimed at sailors, though Milkmaid brand café au lait (sub-​headed ‘Kaffay=o=lay’) would undoubtedly have had universal appeal! As would its wonderful collection of cartoons, which, like the rest of the paper, were frequently anti-​German.116 By 1906 the paper claimed to have a readership of over 200,000; however, Carew doubts it was ever above 20,000.117 It pursued a distinct, and largely respectful, reform agenda, though never shied away from publishing examples of hardship or injustice. Its work was never discouraged by the Admiralty; Eric Geddes even sent the following message:  ‘Dear Sir, It is with great pleasure that on my appointment as First Lord of the Admiralty, I write to wish your paper “The Fleet” a continuance of the success which it has already achieved.’118 Yexley was well versed in the rules of the official game and was a skilful player, knowing when to hold and when to fold. The paper carried notices from the various societies about their meetings or finances, and much attention was paid to the Union Jack Club (with which Yexley had been involved since its inception). In common with other journals, The Fleet suspended its respectful hostilities on the outbreak of war. In 1915 the journal proclaimed ‘Now while we are quite prepared to discuss lower deck affairs, we are not prepared to discuss or deal with what may be called lower deck grievances, which is not a volte face, but a sane continuation of the policy that has inspired us from the inception of our career.’119 Even if the word ‘grievance’ itself might have been taboo, The Fleet fairly swiftly returned to them, albeit delicately. By 1917 The Fleet was steering its usual diplomatic course: One great fact we have to face and that is that the lower deck outlook at the beginning of 1917 is very much different to what it was at the beginning of 1916, and bears very little resemblance to the outlook at the beginning of 1915, There [sic] is no lack of loyalty; there is no general complaint at Service conditions of

115 In August 1917 the cover price was reduced to 1d because paper shortages reduced the size of the journal. It was, however, increased to 2d in February 1918 because the price of paper rose. 116 Many played on national stereotypes (such as beer-​swilling sausage-​eaters), picked up on alleged German atrocities, laughed at the confinement of the High Seas Fleet to its bases, or laughed at the number of Iron Crosses handed out. 117 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 15. 118 The Third Great War Number of The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, 1917, p. v. 119 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, February 1915, p. 28.

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life (the lower deck knows what it is up against and accepts the situation uncomplainingly); and there is no lack of desire to meet the German Fleet … yet the whole outlook has changed, and it will be well to very frankly deal with the causes that have brought the change about when perhaps remedies will be found –​at least we hope so.120

The journal then proceeded to list various areas of grievance –​most predominantly pay and promotions. Most interestingly however, was the change of tone from later 1917 which continued into 1918. The paper talked openly about the power of democratisation and the new age which the end of the war would bring. As the war neared its conclusion the grievances and issues aired turned increasingly to provision for disabled and demobilised sailors. Throughout the war Yexley continued to demonstrate his skills in the great grievance game. He was careful to counter any grievances he felt to be unreasonable or unjustified, frequently defending the Admiralty’s position. On one occasion Yexley studiously advised a correspondent, who felt himself unjustly treated by naval discipline, that the only means of representation he could make was through the proper service channels.121 He passed no comment on these channels, either positive or negative. In fact, the general tone of The Fleet is far more measured than The Bluejacket, and the majority of articles devoted to grievances reflected the underlying issues of status. It would appear from the veterans who responded to the Imperial War Museum questionnaires and those who were interviewed, that the majority of men had little or no contact with The Fleet, with only 22 per cent of respondents to questionnaires and 5 per cent of those interviewed recalling reading it regularly. Yet, 35 per cent of questionnaire-​ respondents and 2 per cent of interviewees thought it was an influential paper.122 Where the question was raised directly even some of those who rarely or never read that paper believed it to be influential.123 If this, admittedly very small, sample did hold true for the fleet as a whole, and over 20 per cent of ratings believing that the paper was influential, then this represents a sizeable body of men who saw extra-​service methods as an effective means of putting across grievances, particularly when 120 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, January 1917, pp. 4–​8. 121 The Fleet, ‘Answers’, November 1916, p. 350. 122 The question posed was ‘In speaking out for the Lower Deck do you think “The Fleet” had much influence?’ How men interpreted ‘influence’ is not clear. 123 Boy Seaman Albert Heron, who also recalled mutterings about pay, had heard of Lionel Yexley (though he had to fish around for the name), and had read The Fleet. This was an ‘interesting’ publication, sold on board ship, which he believed to be very influential: ‘Oh yes, it was a paper to take interest in, oh yes, because it was printed mainly for the lower deck, for the benefit of the lower deck’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 681 –​ Heron, Albert Arthur).

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compared to the 17 per cent who thought that the service methods were reasonable.124 Yexley also compiled the yearly The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book. Its primary objective was to ‘plac[e]‌a Naval text book within reach of the most modest purse’.125 The 1914 edition, which went to press before the outbreak of war, contained articles on a number of naval complaints and injustices. By page 2, Yexley was warning that such was the level of discontent in the fleet that ‘there [was] every element necessary to an explosion’.126 This was illustrated with a report of Yexley’s visit a few months previously to address a meeting composed largely of petty officers. According to Yexley their tone, language and attitude left nothing to be desired –​they even sang the national anthem (apparently a good measure of loyalty!). However, following the meeting Yexley stayed for an informal chat about conditions of lower-​deck life, when one staid old chief petty officer (CPO) said: “What we want, Mr.Yexley, is a b –​.–​y good mutiny; that’s the only thing that will put things right.” “That’s a fact!” echoed one of the others, and those sentiments were silently endorsed by every one of the group. There was not an atom of passion of feeling shown, the speaker spoke as though he was stating a simple fact, and the others endorsed it from that point of view.127

The same article then went on to reproduce the 1914 Loyal Appeal which addressed problems with ‘Pensions to Widow, Children, &c.’, ‘Pensions’, and ‘Increased Pay, Promotion and Pay for Good Conduct’. Amongst more general calls for an increase to pensions, it requested that pensions be awarded to dependants of naval ratings in proportion to their rating and length of service; marriage allowances should be awarded as they are in the army; promotion to warrant and commissioned rank be extended to all ratings; promotion to CPO be accelerated; increases should be made

124 It is possible that these two discrete methods represented different types of grievances. The official system might have been thought of purely in terms of the individual, personal grievances it was designed to deal with; appeals to journals might have represented more general complaints about service systems or conditions. The two may not, therefore, be in conflict, but could have been seen as complementary systems. Of those who felt there was adequate opportunity to express complaints about conditions, 40 per cent thought The Fleet to be influential. Of those who did not believe there was adequate opportunity to express complaints, only 33 per cent thought the same. However, these subsections represent such small numbers of individuals that it is difficult to infer from these statistics the views of the wider population. What is important, is the lack of correlation between these two ideas. There was little unity of thought over when veterans thought about how grievances were represented. 125 The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, 1914, ‘Foreword’ by Lionel Yexley, p. iii. 126 The Fleet Annual and NavalYear Book, 1914, ‘Our Naval Personnel’ by Lionel Yexley, p. 2. 127 Ibid., p. 2.

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to victualling allowances; and ratings should be awarded up to five Good Conduct Badges –​rather than the current maximum of three –​thereby bringing them into line with the Royal Marines. After then suggesting that Sundays should be kept as a day of rest, Yexley concluded: The pay question is more one of the Treasury and the national conscience than the Board of Admiralty; the coaling trouble … will gradually disappear as oil supplants coal, disciplinary troubles will become less as officers realise the changing outlook of the men. It would at the same time be quite incorrect to say that the disquiet was widespread. The many beneficent changes both in pay and discipline introduced since the advent of Mr. Churchill to the position of First Lord are having their effect rather than have had effect … Still the changes have been beneficial. But let no one minimise the deep unrest that still stirs the lower deck. It finds expression in an ever-​growing exodus from the Service instead of mutinous acts, but it is none the less real on that account.128

It is little wonder that in amongst such a long list of complaints that phrase ‘it would … be quite incorrect to say that the disquiet was widespread’ was rather lost. It is, however, deeply significant in our assessment of the extent and level of unrest, as is, for the purposes of later discussion, the assertion that the question of pay was more the responsibility of the Treasury than the Admiralty.129 For the rest of the wartime editions The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book restrained from comment on social issues. Instead, after a somewhat eclectic selection of advertisements (including ‘Babock & Wilcox Marine Boiler’, ‘Gargoyle Lubricants’, ‘Belsize, the “after-​ war” car’  –​complete with idyllic pictures of England, ‘Prudential Assurance Company’, various types of clothing including the ‘Burberry Naval Kit’, The Union Jack Club, assorted varieties of soap and cigarettes, dog biscuits, and Lloyds Bank)130 the annual turned its attention to publishing extracts from Admiralty Orders, providing a short history of the naval war to date, lists of naval honours, ‘The Navy’s Immortal Names’, and lists of all the fleets (both allied and enemy) engaged in the war from the Royal Navy to its Chilian [sic] and Argentine counterparts. It also provided a handy guide to uniforms in various navies  –​though the faces of the models of enemy uniforms looked rather shifty! The other lower-​deck specific journal, The Bluejacket and the Soldier, was established in 1898 by Lionel Yexley.131 After a disagreement with 128 Ibid., p. 7. 129 See Chapter 3. 130 The Third Great War Number of The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, 1917 –​although the examples given above came from the 1917 edition, similarly bizarre selections of advertisements appeared in all the wartime issues. 131 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 5.

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the paper’s owner J.N. Masters Ltd, Yexley left, and it was edited by Harry Davis.132 This monthly paper cost only 1d with post free to ‘any address in the world’, putting it well within the grasp of most lower-​ deck servicemen. The Bluejacket addressed grievances from the lower decks of the navy and from rankers in the army. Whilst there were some leader articles which covered general topics, it was made up largely of contributions from anonymous servicemen split into regular specialised columns such as: ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’ –​devoted to the coastguard, known in naval parlance as ‘gobbies’. ‘Cog & Can’ –​devoted to the men of the engine room, known by a variety of nicknames some of which were not too rude. ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ –​which consisted of a series of questions which ‘must be in the interest of the service … and in all cases accompanied (privately and confidentially) by the name and address of the sender, as a token of good faith’ ostensibly sent in by ordinary sailors and marines.133 ‘Shot & Shell’ –​devoted to discussion about hardware, although it occasionally ventured into questions of welfare and personnel. ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ –​devoted to news about benefit societies and other collective matters.

It claimed to accept contributions from both officers and men, although there is little evidence to suggest that the former ever submitted anything. The Bluejacket had articles on almost all of the contentious topics. Of all the service journals it was this one which came closest to insubordination, and even then there is no anti-​war feeling squeezed in between its articles and advertisements for ‘Zambuk’ (a cure-​all ‘in a handy box for the handy man’ for everything from bruises to bad legs); ‘Vetarzo brain and nerve food’; courses guaranteeing a three to five-​inch increase in height in three months with no appliances, drugs or dieting; and trinkets the hardworking sailor could send home to his mother or sweetheart. It was referred to by one volunteer ship’s steward as a ‘popular and influential Service-​Journal’,134 and took pride in its royal associations. The front cover of the March 1916 edition proudly read:  ‘Honoured by King Edward VII. Presenting his signed Photographs, 1909. Honoured by King George V. Presenting his signed Photographs, 1911.’135 It also claimed to be one of the most influential of the lower-​deck journals: 132 Ibid., pp. 7–​8. 133 ‘Joe’ was service slang for a Royal Marine; ‘Jack’ service slang for a sailor. 134 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, letter from a volunteer ship’s steward, June 1915, p. 64. 135 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, front cover March 1916.

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We [at The Bluejacket and The Soldier] do claim that among the serious-​minded and thoughtful Fleetmen we have a far-​reaching and, we are glad to know, salutary influence, and as our record for thirty years of strenuous advocacy of Lower Deck interests has shewn, we have been identified with every progressive movement throughout that period and with respect to the larger number of reforms the initiative has been taken in our pages.136

Though essentially loyal throughout the war, The Bluejacket quickly found a way around the restraint which a national emergency at first imposed. Broadly speaking the complaints progressed as follows over the next four years. Throughout 1914 the paper took the line that the current crisis was not the time for controversial issues. It vowed to lay aside its legitimate grievances in the face of German aggression. It declared: ‘There is no such thing as Grievance-​mongering in the Fleet or in these pages at the present crisis. There are no Grievances in the British Fleet –​until Peace is restored on a sure foundation in Europe.’137 A piece in the June edition sums up the position taken in 1915: We stated at the outset of the world-​ wide and wicked War that we should abstain from worrying the Powers-​that-​be at Whitehall in respect to all those old grievances on our Progressive Programme that could stand over without vitally harming the general interests of the Lower Deck Ratings, while the Officials were so busy at the “Sign of the Foul Anchor.” This promise has been kept to the letter, but it need not be persisted in now that everybody has got into their stride in this War, and the Navy has practically (very practically) cleared the sea of its country’s enemies … No longer is every nerve of every official strained at Whitehall in the work of meeting and beating the enemy … We can therefore, without any qualms of conscience as to keeping our promise, revert to a certain amount of freedom in these columns in dealing with Disabilities and Grievances.138

The journal obeyed the letter of its 1914 promise by addressing issues (pre-​war or otherwise) which would, they claimed, materially damage the interests of the lower decks and therefore the efficiency of the service if not dealt with during the war. By 1916 the journal’s position had shifted once again, as a piece in the February edition that year illustrates: It is a very fine and self-​sacrificing policy to declare that the Admiralty shall not be bothered with Lower Deck claims during the War; but the trouble is that the War itself brings with it new Disabilities and new needs for various Classes, and as in consequence of the War the administration is diffused and power placed 136 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Putting-​Up for “Pompey.” The Candidate Must Catch the Sailor’s “Aye!” Before He Can “Catch the Speaker’s “Eye” ’, May 1917, p. 23. 137 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Shot & Shell’, October 1914, p.  188. In the pre-​war period even the designs of the ships had been criticised, by the October 1914 edition the ship design is declared perfect. 138 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, June 1915, p. 67.

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in many more (and unaccustomed) hands than usual, evils are accentuated. It seems, therefore, more in the interests of the Lower Deck ratings, and therefore in the interests of a contented Navy, that as far as possible our Societies should practice the legend Business as Usual.139

This was an assertion The Bluejacket extended to the practices of the journal itself. By 1917 the mode was becoming more militant as war weariness set in. The war, it suggested, had now gone on so long that the legitimate grievances of naval men ought once again to be taken up. One article entitled ‘The Lower Deck “Rising”!’ made the point particularly forcefully: We have pleaded incessantly for increase of pence and have been more or less successful. Now Democracy rises and, disdaining pleading, demands the shillings where we asked for pennies. We venture to say that our advice to Authority was sound. Concession is better than capture. Force in such matters leaves an unpleasant flavour. It is so much pleasanter to give than to disgorge, and Authority has, we are pretty sure, lost its opportunity to concede or give, for it will now be under duress that Justice Will Be Done!140

Even the naval story pages of the 1917 editions had taken on a militant tone. By 1918 even the concessions which had been granted were deemed insufficient. The end of the war was, the journal believed, in sight, and it could therefore no longer be used by the Admiralty as an excuse for inaction. From this point even notional restraint was abandoned, although it should be remembered that the majority of articles did not focus on complaints. The parallels between the nature and development of the expression of grievances in these specifically lower-​deck journals and the labour movement more widely are immediately obvious.141 There was both a conscious and subconscious bringing together of naval and civil ideas, though this was not necessarily a linear progression. Other service papers touched on the subject of unrest. Ashore and Afloat was published by the ‘Mother’ of the navy, Agnes Weston and her friend Sophia Wintz. It was designed to promote abstinence and Christianity (in no particular order), thereby improving the character of the fleet. It made no reference to naval grievances from any deck, and instead this glossy monthly, whilst professing to honour the brave bluejacket and the valour of the Tommy (who, if Weston was the ‘mother’, must logically have been the ‘child’), concentrated on the evils 139 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, February 1916, p. 262. 140 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Lower Deck “Rising”! From Hawse-​Hole to Quarter Deck’, September 1917, p. 103. 141 The closeness of this parallel will be explored in subsequent chapters.

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of drink, the importance of God, the course of the war, and handy hints on running a home. Throughout the war the boys in blue were cheered and steadied with such inspiring, if sanctimonious, articles as ‘Forty-​Five Women:  Not One Sober’, ‘The American Army’s Drink Regulations’, ‘Have You Written Home Yet? If Not, Why Not?’142 and ‘How to be Happy Though Married’.143 Just in case these were not enough, Ashore and Afloat also included rousing pictures depicting a number of quasi-​ religious scenes, such as one of Jesus clinging to a rock looking out across the water at a section of the Grand Fleet which was sub-​headed ‘He is praying for you’ –​though frankly Jesus does not look overly optimistic.144 The closest this publication got to dealing with lower-​deck concerns was a 1914 article which stressed the inadequacies of the present system of representing grievances if a man believed himself to be unjustly or harshly treated. It mentioned a recent report in Truth which suggested that the Admiralty was considering amending this system, but stressed that it was ‘incompatible with discipline to allow a lower-​deck rating to go behind the back of his commanding officer with a demand for the revision or quashing of a punishment or order’.145 Thus, whilst it did note this complaint it was far from accepting its validity and offered little comment. The weekly Army and Navy Gazette (ANG), sub-​headed ‘Journal of the Reserve and Territorial Forces’, was more forthcoming about naval complaints than Ashore and Afloat ever was. Littered with advertisements for expensive services like high-​class hotels and champagne, ANG was clearly a magazine for officers. Although the casualty and honours lists were composed entirely of officers it addressed the complaints of both officers and men. Most of its articles concerned the conduct of the war, and even those whose titles might at first have seemed to indicate they were pregnant with unrest, such as those headed ‘Separation Allowance Regulations’, were in fact a simple reproduction of the regulations with no commentary. In common with a number of other service journals the ANG frequently published new regulations as they were issued. It touched on a variety of complaints including: pay, promotion, pensions, employment for ex-​servicemen, strikes ashore, mutinies in the German fleet, revolution in Russia, war bonuses, lower-​deck appeals, and the Jerram Committee.146 As with all the publications under consideration ANG contained no hint of radicalism or disloyalty either to the service 142 Ashore and Afloat, October 1917. 143 Ashore and Afloat, January 1914. 144 Ashore and Afloat, May 1918, p. 76. 145 Ashore and Afloat, September 1914, p. 135. 146 The Jerram Committee was formed by the Board of Admiralty on 28 December 1918 to inquire into lower-​deck pay. For details, see Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 102–​105.

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chiefs or to the conduct of the war. What makes it fascinating is its even-​ handedness in dealing with the issues surrounding complaints. Within personal sources some incidents of grievances were expressed. Significantly, however, there were no serious complaints at all to be found in these diverse personal remembrances. Within the oral history testimony collected by the Imperial War Museum in the 1970s and 1980s only one mentioned any overt politicisation on the lower decks and that was from a man who was politically active all his life.147 Where potential areas of grievance did arise it was often at the instigation of the interviewer, rather than offered spontaneously. Letters and diaries also offer insight into areas of grievance; again, however, whilst grievances were expressed, they do not suggest that the lower deck had been politicised in such a way as to undermine the Admiralty. Conclusion Naval discipline was a many-​layered and multifaceted term which had evolved over the years taking into account changes in civil society as well as changes in the requirement of the navy itself. The discipline needed by volunteer, professional men, was very different to that required in the pre-​continuous service world where sailors were either brought into the service temporarily or occasionally press-ganged. The disciplinary systems and the methods of representing grievance can illuminate much about the nature of the two discourses which governed men’s understanding of their service. The disciplinary systems were a fundamental part of the hierarchical, paternalistic system of authority. By permitting only the expression of individual rather than collective grievance, the system ensured that only officers were placed in a position of benign authority in which they alone deemed to be in a position to know what was in the best interests of the lower decks. The relationship between discipline and democratism was more complex. 147 In answer to the question ‘Were politics discussed very much on the lower deck?’, George Adams responded:  Yes, very frequently, ‘because it was a red-​hot topic talks had to be camouflaged. In every ship I  was in I  found the discussions very impressive. We used the media of writing home to parents and friends and of acquainting them of certain facts relative to our conditions and getting in touch with M.Ps and local councils. We made arrangements regarding having certain papers sent to us stuck away in food-​parcels. Books were always ready to change. Most of us were progressives, believing in a co-​operative and labour society; yes, politics were talked about more than one knew.’ Of the other respondents, 74 per cent said politics were never discussed and 22 per cent said that they were very rarely discussed, leading to the conclusion that it was Adams’ presence which generated political discussion! Imperial War Museum, Document Archives, Misc 101 (1583).

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Conclusion

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Far from rejecting discipline, democratism embraced the aspects of discipline regarded as part of service professionalism; a professional force was one that was well disciplined. However, lower-​deck men also felt undermined by the disciplinary systems both structurally and individually. The system was designed in such a way as to deny them a collective voice in either the presentation of grievance or in how discipline should be enforced. They also suffered individually through petty or humiliating punishments. Just as in other areas, the two discourses talked through each other over discipline. The Admiralty failed to understand why certain aspects of the disciplinary systems were disliked by the men. The Admiralty responded to criticism by endeavouring to implement paternalism with care and affection, but they failed to recognise that the complaint was not about the sincerely of the emotion behind their actions, but rather about the principle of treating professional men with trust. They could not see that the men of the lower decks wanted to be able to offer a collective voice in the interests of service discipline, or that the lower decks wanted Their Lordships to trust them to discuss the issues and offer solutions within the confines of what they saw as the service’s traditions and customs.

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3

‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions

The initial point of wartime conflict between the Admiralty’s paternalism and democratism was generated by issues of pay and conditions. Both these terms cover a variety of issues. ‘Pay’ does not refer solely to a man’s substantive or non-​substantive pay, but rather to all the factors which affected his purchasing power, including:  pensions, victualling allowances, marriage allowance, separation allowances,1 children’s allowances, prize money, prize bounty,2 hospital stoppages,3 and uniform regulations.4 ‘Conditions’ refers to all other aspects affecting a man’s service life, such as promotions or the standard of his physical living space, but excluding all aspects of naval law discussed in Chapter  2. Both ‘sides’ of the discourse conflict were largely in agreement as to the basic areas of grievances; however, where they differed was in the perception of grievance and the analysis of its relative importance. To talk of ‘sides’ could be slightly misleading, it gives the impression of two distinct factions. The reality was that discussions of lower-​deck grievances had

1 Marriage allowance was given to the wives of ratings, separation allowance was given to other dependant adults. 2 Prize money dates back to the Elizabethan navy, but was formalised in 1864 under the Navy Prize Act. There were two forms: prize bounty was awarded for the taking or sinking of an enemy ship of war; prize money was awarded out of the proceeds of the capture of merchant ships. It was decided that since the latter category would unevenly benefit some types of ship that it should be put into a central fund and distributed evenly to all naval personnel. See E.C. Talbot-​Booth, ed., The Royal Navy, Some Account of Her Manners, Customs and Privileges (London: Sampson Low, Maston, 1942), pp. 192–​196. 3 According to Article 1425 of King’s Regulations: ‘Men and boys entered for continuous service who may be checked sick from ships at home shall be allowed their full pay for 91 days from the date of their being first so checked, provided that they are not invalided or discharged dead within such period; subject … after the expiration of the first 30 days to stoppages at the rate of –​10d. a day, should the pay of their rating be not less than 1s. 7d. a day; 8d. a day, should the pay of their rating be less than 1s. 7d. a day; 4d. a day for Boys.’ 4 Until the concessions of 1917 the Royal Navy was the only fighting force in the Western world that required its members to buy their own uniform. Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 30–​31; the regulations can be found under Article 1436 of King’s Regulations.

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Progression of Grievances

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much common ground; differences were subtle, but no less important for that. On the face of it the general issues addressed in this chapter seem straightforward enough and can be broadly summed up as follows: pay should be increased to reflect price increases and the increased wages awarded to civilian workers; pensions should be paid to all those who had earned them and at a higher rate;5 allowances, though initially welcomed, were thought to be inadequate and the Admiralty’s ‘refusal’ to confirm that they would be continued after the war generated some grievances; the regulations concerning prize money and prize bounty should be clarified and the moneys paid; hospital stoppages should be abandoned; uniforms should be free of charge; and promotions, both within the lower deck and to the quarter deck, should be more forthcoming. In reality these issues were tightly bound up with status, self-​identity and feelings of ‘worth’. Any analysis of these grievances should have as its focus not the substance of the claims, but rather their subtext. In some instances this was not very ‘sub’ at all, but even then the two discourses had very different understandings of what was meant. None of these issues existed in a solely service sphere; instead they were framed by comparisons  –​comparisons with each other, with the army and with civilians. Each of the issues was compounded by the inability of the two sides to find a common structure for the understanding of grievances. The way in which the Admiralty constructed the problem dictated how it went about responding to grievances, and the framework used by lower-​ deck agitators altered their reactions to the Admiralty. Progression of Grievances Like all naval grievance, especially in wartime, grievances over pay and conditions were far from consistent. As in industry there was a tacit truce between the worker and the employer –​in this case between rating and admiralty. Also, just as in industry, this truce was honoured as much 5 The rate of pensions had been a source of discontent for a number of years. In 1831 the basic rate of pension was set a ½d for every year served. Men had to serve twenty years to be eligible for their 10d per day pension. However, when the minimum period was increased to twenty-​two years the rate did not correspondingly increase to 11d, but remained at 10d. In addition to this disparity, the rate was, even in 1914, already believed to be too low (see Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 53, 74–​75; Peter Kemp, The British Sailor: A Social History of the Lower Deck (London: JM Dent & Sons, 1970), pp. 201–​202). War also brought a new pension-​related problem. Under the new regulations pensioners who were recalled to the fleet continued to receive their pension in addition to the pay of their rating. Active service men who reached the point of retirement during the war but were retained for the duration of hostilities received only their pay and not their pensions.

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‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions

in the breach as in the observance. Those grievances which surfaced between the outbreak of war and 1916 tended to be issues which were both limited in scope and a direct result of the conflict. Thus it was pensions and prize money/​bounty which were amongst the first issues to be raised in the service journals. Throughout 1915 discussion of solely pay-​related issues was confined to the pages of The Fleet and The Bluejacket and the Soldier. The ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ columns of the April and June 1915 editions observed that coastguards were the only group not to have received a pay increase for some time and requested that this be rectified since ‘the request is a just and moderate one’.6 The Fleet agreed with this position, dubbing the coastguard ‘The Naval Cinderella’.7 ‘Cog & Can’ contented itself with discussing limitations to the earning potential of engine-​room men. The column raised the point that many men had been unable to complete or even to attend specialisation courses which would have increased dramatically their earning potential. Whilst the column acknowledged that some generosity had been displayed in this area, more was needed.8 This was a topic the column returned to in the January 1916 edition.9 Simple reproduction of the pensions’ regulations was common to many of the service journals regardless of whether their audiences were officers or men. Discussions of pension-​related issues were far from solely negative. The Bluejacket and the Soldier in particular was swift to offer thanks for increases or amendments to pensions’ provision (though usually with the caveat that it had been a long time coming, and more still needed to be done). One of the most frequent complaints was that active service men who completed their time for pension whilst serving did not, initially, get paid their pension, whilst pensioners called up for war service got both pay and pension.10 This matter caught the particular 6 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, April 1915, p.  10  –​they were also slightly disgruntled because they felt they did not receive their fair share of the woollens knitted by members of the public for distribution amongst the fleet! (The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, June 1915, p. 59). 7 The Fleet, ‘The Naval Cinderella’, December 1915, pp.  358–​ 359. Interestingly, by August 1916 it was the artisan ratings who were being referred to as the ‘Cinderella’ of the navy (The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, August 1916, pp. 230–​234; The Fleet returned to the topic of financial hardship in ‘Service Notes’, January 1917, p. 6. 8 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Cog & Can’, November 1915, p. 178. 9 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Cog & Can’, January 1916; The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, April 1915, p. 92. 10 The difference between the financial position of ‘retained’ and ‘recalled’ pensioners was one that continued throughout the war. Even when the alleged injustice was finally removed in 1918 discussion moved to whether it would be backdated. Calls for the correction of this anomaly started in 1915 (see The Fleet, ‘A New Year’s Appeal’, January 1915, p. 18). In April 1917 The Fleet published the following table showing the disparity between recalled chief petty officers and retained chief petty officers:

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Progression of Grievances

95

attention of ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ column as early as May 1915 and was still provoking comment as late as July 1917, by which point the emphasis of the complaint had shifted from the premise that ‘this anomaly needs to be corrected’ to ‘how can it be that this situation still continues?’11 In one column, not paying what these time-​expired men were ‘entitled’ to was even likened to ‘theft’.12 The issues of prize money and prize bounty would later reach the ears of the Civil and Sea Lords via sources other than service journals.13 The resentment caused by the lack of clarity pertaining to both these areas was as evident in the information presented to Their Lordships as it was in the pages of one particular service journal, The Bluejacket and the Soldier. Of all the journals examined it was only The Bluejacket and the Soldier that made reference to this area, and the complaint as it framed it –​albeit in a very limited way –​was put slightly differently to the one given in official reports. It moved through a series of phases, the first being a desire for the regulations to be published; the second following their publication was for their amendment; the third compared the ‘bonuses’ given to the fleet with the far more generous war bonuses given to civilians by the Admiralty and the fourth suggested that bonuses were not appropriate anyway because they were akin to ‘charity’ and ‘charity’ took away a man’s pride. It was a ‘grouse’ most commonly mentioned in various leader articles and the column ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, although ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ managed to complain about it too. Here an interesting linguistic shift towards the language of industry can be seen, in this as in many other areas the lower-​deck presses almost subconsciously adopted this rhetoric, Called back

Retained

£

s.

d.

£

s.

d.

C.P.O. pay per week Pension per week Separation Allowance “Increased pay” per week

1 1 0 -​

10 1 8 -​

4 0 0 -​

1 -​ 0 -​

10 -​ 8 1

4 -​ 0 2

Totals

2

19

4

1

19

6

The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, April 1917, p. 102; calls for the correction of this anomaly started in 1915 (see The Fleet, ‘A New Year’s Appeal’, January 1915, p. 18). The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, February and July 1917, pp. 215 and 72, respectively; ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, July 1917, p. 69. 12 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, July 1917, p. 72. 13 References can also be found in TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201  –​submission to Beatty, 21 September 1917; ADM 178/​157 –​submission from the Commanding Officer of HMS Iron Duke to the Admiral Commanding First Battle Squadron, 27 November 1917 and submission from the Admiral Commanding First Battle Squadron to Beatty, 10 December 1917. 11

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thus drawing themselves closer by association to the situation ashore and, as a by-​product of that, the trade union movement. Discussion opened in March 1915 when ‘Shot & Shell’ made one of its rare sorties into personnel matters because of the lack of clarity surrounding the regulations. This was a permissible ‘grouse’ even though the navy was at war ‘chiefly because there [were] Naval engagements every week –​and ought not to be longer delayed’.14 Complaints then fell silent until 1916 when ‘Jack & Joe’ found they ‘wanted to know’ a great deal about prize money and prize bounty.15 However, there was a shift in the tone of these grievances in late 1918, and whilst ostensibly about war bonuses, could have been equally applied to any of the naval allowances. As with the prize money, the various allowances went through a set of very similar phases. First, they were called for; then they were deemed insufficient; then they were compared to those awarded to the army and civilian pay; and finally they were not what the men wanted after all. These financial considerations were joined by one which was purely a matter of status –​medals and decorations. From 1915 The Fleet began to publish articles on the subject,16 but it was The Bluejacket and the Soldier which seized the mantle with most vigour especially in the wake of the Battle of Jutland. Even in January 1916 a leading article proclaimed ‘Honours and Rewards Robbery. The Injustice of the Jupiter Juggling.’17 By September 1917 grievances concerning this alleged injustice had become far more militant in tone: A Destroyer with historic name was engaged in a “scrap” with a large number of enemy craft … In that fight, on the forecastle of the ship, were a Gun’s Crew which had to bear the brunt of the enemy’s fire and the greater number of whom were soon “laid out.” In nominal command of the gun, how nominal Fleetmen will know, was a Ship’s Apprentice transferred to the R.N. as Midshipman, R.N.R. for hostilities. All who know the Service will understand the relative responsibilities and initiative of the Captain of the Gun, the Gunlayer, etc., and this untrained youth with no Service experiences; and all Service-​men will know just how little depended upon the latter. In the result the enemy boarded at the moment the greater number of the Gun’s Crew were down and the Mid’ very gallantly shewed fight. Finding he could do no more at the gun, an A.B. turned to this new form of “scrap” with his cutlass and was just in time to “pink” a German who was holding the Mid’ at his mercy, thus saving his life. In novels the A.B. would have been decorated with the V.C., and the relatives of the youth he saved would have 14 The Bluejacket and the Soldier ‘Shot & Shell’, March 1915, p. 308. 15 The Bluejacket and the Soldier ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, May 1916, p. 35; July 1916, p. 72; August 1916, p. 94; December 1916, p. 179; July 1917, p. 72. 16 The Fleet, ‘Forgotten Engineers’, May 1915, p. 139. 17 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Honours and Rewards Robbery. The Injustice of the Jupiter Juggling’, January 1916, p. 218.

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presented him with some valuable reward. In our Navy the Mid’ gets the V.C. for having his life saved, is promoted to Commissioned rank in the R.N. and made a popular hero. The A.B. gets a medal and is forgotten. But things will happen after this War with such civvy samples as we have had as Naval Lords!18

It is clear that these grievances centred on the desires of the men for their contribution to be recognised not just by Their Lordships, but also by the country.19 Grievances generated by a perceived inequality in gong-​ distribution did not even reach the Admiralty –​or at least no reference to it can be found in the surviving records. Britain and the 1917 ‘Phenomenon’ From 1917 however, the context for naval unrest began to change. The 1917 ‘phenomenon’ was not confined to the Royal Navy any more than it was confined to the British Isles. Indeed the ‘problem’ of 1917 was recognised by contemporary commentators.20 Since the end of the war historians have identified 1917 and the early part of 1918 as a period of discontent amongst civilians and the armed forces. This decline in confidence is frequently referred to as ‘war weariness’ and it was something to which Britain was subject to along with most other belligerents. Despite American entry into the war, Adrian Gregory has identified October 1917 to February 1918 as the ‘low point in public confidence’: The prospects never seemed bleaker. The Bolsheviks revolution and the subsequent peace negotiations at Brest-​Litovsk eliminated Russia from the war, and the Italian defeat at Caporetto briefly threatened to remove a second ally. News of the bloodbath at Passchendaele, despite positive representation in the press, reached the general public. The brief exaltation over the breakthrough at Cambrai turned to an even more bitter disillusionment. Only Palestine provided any good news, and Edmund Allenby’s ‘Christmas present’ of Jerusalem, although vital in providing some cheer, was insufficient to dispel the gloom.21

18 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Shot and Shell’, September 1917. 19 In between the two articles cited above there were eleven other articles on the inequality of honours in The Bluejacket and the Soldier alone: ‘ “Our Silent Navy.” Fulsome Flattery Doesn’t Feat Fleetmen’, February 1916, p. 242; ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, March 1916, p. 280; ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, May 1916, p. 37; ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ and ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, June 1916, pp. 49 and 59; ‘Cog and Can’, October 1916, p. 138; ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ and ‘Cog and Can’, November 1916, pp. 155 and 158; ‘Cog & Can’, December 1916, p. 177; ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ and ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1917, pp. 201 and 202). 20 Its military implications were discussed in the Royal United Service Institute. See Captain H.M. Johnstone, ‘A Sketch of the Problem of 1917’, Royal United Service Institution Journal, 65 (1920), 694–​703. 21 Gregory, The Last Great War, p. 213.

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The German Spring Offensives which began in March 1918 gave the British ‘three months of anxious tension which not even the censorship could muffle’.22 At home there had been an intensive bombing campaign which left many in London and the South East fearful and angry.23 The food shortages brought with them irksome and wearying queues, although it at no point did Britain suffer privation.24 Alongside shortages there came steep price rises for basic goods which disproportionately affected unskilled workers. The Board of Trade estimated the cost of living for an unskilled workman’s family increased by 81 per cent between July 1914 and June 1918, and for a skilled workman’s family by 67 per cent over the same period.25 Despite the much publicised, and in middle-​ class circles much resented, increase in working-​class affluence, wages increases frequently lagged behind rises in the cost of living.26 We can also discern an increase in working-​class discontent throughout 1917, particularly in the form of increasing strike action,27 which was especially concerning in light of events abroad. However, as Marwick has argued, ‘[t]‌he Russian Revolutions sent tremors of excitement through the Left, but their upshot was dissension in the Labour movement and a hardening of the reactionary influence of the Right’.28 However, the reason for the increased unrest was not, for the most part, connected to revolution abroad even if some hard-​line activists might have sought to 22 Arthur Marwick, The Deluge. British Society and the First World War (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967), first published by The Bodley Head, 1965, p. 205. 23 Gregory, The Last Great War, p. 213. Between January 1915 and April 1918 there were fifty-​one Zeppelin raids causing 1,913 casualties, and between December 1914 and June 1918 there were fifty-​seven aeroplane raids causing 2,907 casualties. Marwick, The Deluge, p. 212. 24 Ibid., pp. 205–​210. 25 Ibid., p. 210. 26 Ibid., The Deluge, p. 213. 27 The following table is taken from the ‘Trade union membership and trade disputes’ table given in The Longman Handbook of Modern British History 1714–​2001, ed. Chris Cook and John Stevenson, 4th edn (London: Longman, 2001), p. 223. Year 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918

Number of stoppages Aggregate duration in working days beginning in year of stoppages in progress in year 1,459 972 672 532 730 1,165

28 Marwick, The Deluge, p. 203.

9,800,000 9,880,000 2,950,000 2,450,000 5,650,000 5,880,000

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Britain and the 1917 ‘Phenomenon’

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make it so. In response to the unrest the government commissioned an enquiry. The Commission on Industrial Unrest noted that the reasons for unrest varied in emphasis from place to place, but they were able to identify a number of factors which the report subdivided into ‘general causes of industrial unrest’, ‘particular and temporary causes’ and ‘unrest caused by war measures’. The first included longer-​term economic, social and political considerations. The Commission found that a decrease in real wages since 1895 and the perceived employer hostility to trade unions combined with the unsatisfactory social conditions faced by the working class to produce the conviction that ‘Capital and Labour are necessarily hostile’, a situation capitalised upon by the Independent Labour Party (ILP) and the Central Labour College.29 The ‘particular and temporary causes’ were largely wartime extensions of the general causes and included such areas as food prices and profiteering,30 housing, low wages in agriculture, the subjection of wage earners to income tax, shop discipline and breaches of agreements.31 The ‘unrest caused by war measures’ identified included: ‘delays, conflicts and general inefficiency of government departments’,32 ‘the military service acts’ (which included the trade card acts),33 and the ‘munitions of war acts’.34 Although worrying, the government recognised the legitimacy of working-​ class economic grievances and were prepared to adopt frameworks of bargaining and conciliation in response to any strike action, even though such action was illegal under the emergency powers acts. They were also prepared to make concessions to alleviate some of the chief causes of unrest. Measures like abolishing leaving certificates helped to calm the mood. Indeed, as John Horne has argued, it was necessary to the legitimacy of the war effort that such action be tacitly condoned. In Britain ‘the government felt on balance that heavy reliance on coercion would undermine its essential democratic legitimacy and thus prove counter-​productive’.35 This was especially true at a time 29 Sir William Chance (Chair of the Committee), Industrial Unrest. The Reports of the Commissioners (July 1917)  Collated and Epitomised (London:  P.S. King & Son, 1917), pp. 8–​11. 30 The cost of living rose by 123% from July 1914 to December 1918; see Jonathan Manning, ‘Wages and Purchasing Power’, in Jay Winter and Jean-​Louis Robert (eds), Capital Cities atWar: Paris, London, Berlin 1914–​1919 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 255–​285 (table 9.1, p. 259). 31 Chance, Industrial Unrest, pp. 12–​18. 32 Ibid., pp. 19–​22. 33 Ibid., pp. 22–​25. 34 Ibid., pp. 25–​33. 35 John Horne, ‘Remobilising for “Total War”:  France and Britain, 1917–​ 1918’, in John Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization in Europe during the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), p. 198.

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when a much more worrying trend than industrial unrest was growing. The rise of pacifist movements was far more of a threat to the continued prosecution of the war than any strike action. From the very start of the war there had been voices on the political left who had rejected the cause of war. Pacifists, socialists, and feminists came together in the anti-​war movement, but it was never able to match the moral crusade engendered by the invasion of Belgium.36 Even the majority of members of the ILP, one of the most vocal pacifist and anti-​ war organisations, joined the colours.37 Having failed to prevent war, the movement, headed by the Union of Democratic Control (UDC), instead sought to educate the public on the causes of war with the aim of ‘eventually establishing mechanisms for peaceful coexistence between nations’.38 Within a year the UDC had 10,000 members. More moderate than the UDC was the League of Nations Society, formed in May 1915 which agreed with the UDC’s aim of avoiding future war, but which rejected the idea of a negotiated peace.39 In 1917 the entry of the USA, with its president, Woodrow Wilson, an advocate of the formation of multi-​lateral groups for the preservation of peace in a post-​war world, offered hope for peace to some anti-​war groups. For others it was the Bolshevik revolution and the call for peace without annexations or indemnities, which offered hope. However, efforts to ‘Follow Russia’ suggested by the ILP and BSP failed to gain the support of the mainstream labour movement.40 In the British establishment, the prevailing fear was that industrial unrest would fuel the growth of pacifism, especially at a time of war weariness. The threat was met by some coercive measures such as censorship of anti-​war literature, or the arrest and trial of those accused of spreading anti-​war sentiment. However, this was hard to enforce and received much opposition in Parliament. Instead, the government also employed close surveillance, allowing them to concentrate on those who posed a real threat.41 More significantly, they also responded to the threat of growing pacifist tendencies by trying to persuade the public of the need to continue the war, to remobilise the population behind the war effort. It was to this end that the National War Aims Committee (NWAC) was created. Funded by the Treasury it was a cross-​party initiative, although it sought

36 DeGroot, Blighty, p. 143. 37 Marwick, The Deluge, p. 227. 38 DeGroot, Blighty, pp. 143–​144. 39 Ibid., p. 147. 40 Ibid., pp. 148–​149. 41 Horne, ‘Remobilising for “Total War” ’, p. 197.

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to appear to be a grassroots organisation autonomous of government. It utilised constituency organisations to provide the broad structure for its work, with local committees ‘disseminating national literature, organizing set-​piece meetings and street corner hustings’.42 The NWAC made the issue of premature peace its central topic. The increase in anti-​war tendencies had solidified around the issue of war aims and the merit of negotiated peace. The NWAC, therefore, promoted the idea that the real German war aims were those of the pangermanists and military dictatorship. More difficult was to define what kind of peace the NWAC actually wanted; they were just as likely to promote a Wilsonian vision of peace as one based on territorial security against Germany.43 The NWAC operated on a large scale  –​in the last ten months of war approximately 10,000 meetings were held. How effective they were was another matter. Horne argues that ‘popular concern with the question of a negotiated peace was not about real diplomatic possibilities of ending the conflict. Rather it was a coded way of expressing feelings about the war.’44 The NWAC took the line that the sacrifices had to be justified and that this could only be achieved by winning the war. However, perhaps more significant than the NWAC’s activities were external factors. The ‘Gotha Summer’ of 1917 served to increase anti-​German sentiment (although this metastasised into a more general attack on unpopular minorities) and caused a resurgence in the far right.45 More significant still were the German Spring Offensives of 1918 which helped to galvanise the British people behind the war effort once again as the threat of German military might became more tangible.46 The RN and the 1917 ‘Phenomenon’ The Admiralty and the service were not immune from the ‘1917 phenomenon’. It was in 1917 that official attention to unrest increased dramatically. Whether that was a product of their awareness of the changing situation ashore and fears of its potential effect afloat, or whether there was a genuine feeling that unrest in the service was increasing, is a matter of speculation. What can be said with certainty was that in 1917 Their Lordships became increasingly aware of and concerned by grievances in the fleet that were generating, by their assessment, ‘significant’ unrest. In

42 Ibid., p. 201. 43 Ibid., p. 203. 44 Ibid., p. 207. 45 Gregory, The Last Great War, pp. 234; 238–​246. 46 Horne, ‘Remobilising for “Total War” ’, p. 210.

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some respects events in the fleet can be seen as another ‘1917 phenomenon’; this one, however, had a specifically naval twist. Grievances were a response to events in civil society as well as to naval matters, and they led to an estrangement between the ‘Little Fathers’ and their sons. In September 1917, just before mutiny broke out in the British army at their training base in Étaples, a most secret memorandum from the Intelligence Division reached the Board of Admiralty.47 Amongst other issues it showed that investigations had revealed a long list of grievances amongst the lower decks. It was forwarded to the Commander-​in-​Chief of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Sir David Beatty with instructions that he should forward a copy of the memorandum on to his flag officers and use their responses to comment on the alleged discontent.48 It is significant that the Admiralty were concerned primarily with discontent amongst the home fleet and not those in more remote outposts, and is indicative of their belief that unrest was linked to events ashore. Beatty’s response came on 27 September when he submitted a report with enclosures from the admiral commanding the First Battle Squadron (who had enclosed a particularly worrying letter from the commanding officer of HMS Resolution),49 the vice-​admiral commanding the Second Battle Squadron,50 and the admiral commanding the Fourth Battle Squadron.51 In his covering letter, Beatty propounded his belief that whilst there was no serious discontent there was a level of ‘unrest’ ‘which would probably disappear were the men convinced that their point of view would be fully understood and sympathetically treated at the Admiralty for which there is some justification’. He believed that whilst the general trend of opinion may have been influenced by HO ratings, it was unlikely to be of any consequence provided ‘a true spirit of discipline and contentment52 is maintained and fostered by the Petty Officers 47 TNA, ADM 178/​157  –​Most Secret I.D. Memorandum (undated) but sent to the Commander-​in-​Chief of the Grand Fleet on 10 September 1917. 48 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Most Secret I.D. Memorandum (undated). 49 TNA, ADM 1/​ 8498/​ 201  –​Submission from Admiral Commanding First Battle Squadron to Beatty, entitled ‘Alleged Unrest on the Lower Deck’, 21 September 1917 (including letter from the Commanding Officer of HMS Resolution to the Admiralty Commanding First Battle Squadron, 14 September 1917 to which was attached a copy of a hectographed circular and a new Loyal Appeal). 50 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201 –​letter from the Vice-​Admiral Commanding the Second Battle Squadron to Beatty, 22 September 1917. 51 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201 –​letter from Admiral Commanding the Fourth Battle Squadron to Beatty, 27 September 1917. 52 ‘Discipline’ and ‘contentment’ have an interesting juxtaposition. At first glance the two appear contradictory; however, the discussion in Chapter  2 demonstrates that a high standard within the spit and polish system and the even implementation of the disciplinary and penal systems could increase the men’s morale and thus their contentment with their conditions of service.

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and more elderly and experienced ratings … [and] the Lower Deck generally is encouraged to bring forward requests through the proper service channels by the knowledge that this course is more likely to be efficacious than resort to advocacy and pressure from outside sources’. Whilst suggesting that the problem was predominantly a wartime one and could be held in check provided the loyalty of active service men was maintained, he also sent a warning that the grievances that were said to exist affected most acutely the very men whose loyalty was vital. Here we see the fear of outside influences and an overt recognition that regular ratings were crucial to the maintenance of the ‘traditions and customs’ of the service. They were part and parcel of the paternalistic discourse and anything which undermined them was of concern to those in authority in the RN. Beatty went on to suggest, possibly unhelpfully at that stage, that the problems might have been avoided ‘had the administration of such questions been in the hands of those whose lives are spent with the Bluejacket, who have studied his ways, and can understand his outlook’. In so doing he was suggesting that the policy planners at the Admiralty were out of touch with the fleet, because they had not, in Beatty’s rather anthropological turn of phrase, ‘studied [the Bluejackets’] ways’. He also added his personal weight to the calls for a substantive pay increase for ratings.53 In effect Beatty was suggesting that paternalism was not functioning as it should. The problem was not, to his mind, paternalism per se, but rather its failure to operate correctly. The first, second and fourth Battle Squadrons had been with the Grand Fleet since its inception in August 1914. They had seen action at Jutland, but since then had been engaged in what Beatty termed ‘weary waiting’.54 Jutland had been a victory in as much as the Royal Navy continued to dominate the sea after the battle, but it had not been a convincing one. The Grand Fleet was still stationed at its remote outpost of Scapa and had to remain alert to the clear threat still posed not only by German U-​boats, but also by the High Seas Fleet. Beatty, by this point C-​in-​C of the Grand Fleet, ‘kept [the Grand Fleet] busy with exercises, antisubmarine sweeps and manoeuvres at sea, along with sports competitions and regattas in harbours. He was usually careful to attend such gatherings, and whenever possible he would address the men, making stirring speeches about annihilating the enemy when they

53 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201 –​Beatty to Admiralty, 27 September 1917. 54 As Beatty wrote in a letter to his wife on the first anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. Quoted in Nick Hewitt, ‘ “Weary Waiting is Hard Indeed”:  The Grand Fleet after Jutland’, in Ian F.W. Beckett (ed.), 1917:  Beyond the Western Front (Leiden:  Brill, 2009), p. 47.

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finally dared to emerge from port.’55 The frustration of the fleet was ‘compounded by their enjoyment of almost complete command of the sea and, increasingly, the air –​it seemed impossible that such domination could exist without a parallel ability to hit at the enemy’.56 The Grand Fleet’s light forces continued to be very active on antisubmarine duties, enforcing blockade and later convoy duty, but the big ships –​the pre-​war jewels of the RN –​had to be content with a less direct role in the war. It is no coincidence that it was on these ships that the revival of the lower-​ deck societies occurred. The commanders of the first, second and fourth Battle Squadrons set out a number of issues affecting the ratings under their respective commands. Many of the grievances highlighted were common to all three, in particular the feeling that the Admiralty and Accountant General’s department were unsympathetic to the needs of the men and that trade unionism posed a very real threat to the discipline of the navy. They indicated that whilst there was no ill-​feeling whatever against individual officers or ships, there was much ill-​feeling against the way in which the fleet had been treated by the Admiralty.57 They all also stated that the lack of consideration demonstrated by the Admiralty was leading to an estrangement between officers and men, which in turn helped trade union and socialist ideas58 to penetrate. The commander of the First Battle Squadron went further by systematically listing the individual grievances that had been brought to his attention: pay, pensions, separation allowances (which were deemed inadequate in the face of the large rise in the cost of living), hospital stoppages, prize money, and promotion. He outlined the extent to which outside organisations were already in contact with the lower decks, pointing out that committees had already been formed on board ships for the purpose of drawing up petitions. In addition he attached a letter written to him by the commanding officer of HMS Resolution on 14 September, who had recently received a letter threatening that, amongst other things, the writer would blow up the ship. When the letter was read to Resolution’s company they expressed their indignation and sympathy with the commander. On further investigation the commander concluded that service clubs were a direct result of the men’s fear of punishment if they brought complaints directly, and they were ‘rapidly becoming powerful trade unions’. He listed further 55 Ibid., p. 57. 56 Ibid., p. 58. 57 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201  –​Commander of HMS Resolution to Commander of First Battle Squadron, 14 September 1917. 58 As the Admiral of the First Battle Squadron suggested in his submission to Beatty on 21 September 1917 (TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201).

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sources of discontent, the principal cause of which was, to his mind, the inequality of pay between active service men and direct entry. However, rations, clothing, and separation allowances were also cited as causes of grievance.59 On 29 September, Beatty made a further submission with worrying developments for Their Lordships, which struck at the heart of service procedure, and which caused great anxiety to the Board.60 He attached a copy of a hectographed circular which had been sent, along with a new Loyal Appeal, to the senior petty officers in the fleet from the ‘Social Representatives’ of HMS Resolution, with the object of inducing them to present the petition for the redress of lower-​deck grievances to their respective captains, who would pass it to the admiral in command from whom it would ultimately be forwarded to the commander-​in-​chief and then to the Board of Admiralty itself.61 The circular went so far as to propose that each ship present the petition in the second week in October in order for it to reach the Board before the opening of Parliament in November.62 The petition itself posed almost as much of a problem as the method by which it was issued. It made six requests: a 50 per cent pay increase for all ratings; pensions to be issued to all men who had completed the requisite time; the rate of pensions to be increased in line with the increased time now required to be served in order to become eligible for it; the removal of the current stagnation of promotion; victualling allowances to be increased; and hospital stoppages to be abolished. It also highlighted the fleet’s displeasure at recent statements by Macnamara and Lord Lytton in the House of Commons.63 In a somewhat threatening tone to this nominally ‘loyal’ appeal, the Board itself came directly under fire when its authors suggested that Their Lordships’ ‘attitude clearly indicates that the extent of the dissatisfaction is not realised nor the seriousness of the 59 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201  –​Commander of HMS Resolution to Commander of First Battle Squadron, 14 September 1917. 60 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Memorandum from Beatty to Flag Officers and Commodores of the Grand Fleet, 29 September 1917. 61 The Appeal and the accompanying hectographed circular were only exposed when Petty Officers who had received them reported the fact to their respective Commanding Officers  –​see TNA, ADM 156/​35 minutes of the proceedings of the court martial of Master at Arms J.W. Scrivens and Petty Officers W. Vale of HMS Resolution on 24 October 1917. 62 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Copy of the Hectographed Circular ‘to the Chief Petty Officers, Petty Officers and Non Commissioned Officers of HMS Erin’ enclosed with the memorandum from Beatty to Flag Officers and Commodores of the Grand Fleet, 29 September 1917. 63 The Earl of Lytton was, at this point, the Civil Lord at the Admiralty; the Rt Hon. T. Macnamara was the Parliamentary and Financial Secretary to the Admiralty.

106

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‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions

situation understood’64 Perhaps it was these words that the Board took to heart, as well as the recent mutiny on HMS Amphitrite (where fifty-​eight able and ordinary seamen mutinied over the long hours worked and the bullying ways of their captain), when it set about a series of concessions.65 Responses to Admiralty Concession Between 5 and 26 October, hospital stoppages (with the exception of those for venereal diseases, which were deemed to be entirely the men’s own responsibility) were abolished; increases of pay were given to certain ratings after three years’ service; the messing allowance was increased to 1½d a day; and pensions were granted to men on completion of their time.66 With the new round of concessions in mind, and possibly influenced by the Bolshevik Revolution which had broken out a week before, the Board wrote to the commanders-​in-​chief and senior naval officers of all the various home ports and establishments on 14 November 1917 to assess the impact of these reforms: I am to acquaint you that it has been reported that a certain measure of unrest exists on the lower Deck in connection with pay, pensions, promotions etc., I am to request that you will furnish a report stating to what extent such unrest exists in your command and how the position has been affected by the concession which have recently been granted to the Lower Deck.67

Responses to this letter were analysed by the Board in two batches: the first included the submissions from the Commander-​in-​Chief of HM Ships and Vessels the Nore; the Rear-​Admiral and Senior Officer Sheerness; the Vice-​ Admiral Commanding the Third Battle Squadron; the Commander-​in-​Chief Devonport, Commander-​in-​Chief Portsmouth. Their responses to Walker’s request on behalf of the Second Sea Lord have been tabulated in Table  3.1. The Admiralty compiled their own table based upon the submissions (see Table 3.2).

64 TNA, ADM 178/​157  –​Petition and Statement of Demands, presented by the Chief Petty Officers and Non-​Commissioned Officers of His Majesty’s Grand Fleet enclosed with the memorandum from Beatty to Flag Officers and Commodores of the Grand Fleet, 29 September 1917. 65 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​ October 1917. 66 Further concessions followed later: on 20 November 1917 concessions were made to the allotment system and on 4 December 1917 there was a general (although not universal) increase in pay to seamen and marines. See TNA, ADM 178/​157 for lists of concessions, dates and order numbers. Details of the concessions can be found in the Admiralty Minutes summarising the responses to their enquiries about the effects of the concessions on the fleet in the same file. 67 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​letter from Charles Walker to the Commanders-​in-​Chief, and the Senior Naval Officers of all the Home Ports and establishments, 14 November 1917.

newgenrtpdf

107

Commander-​in-​Chief the Nore

Actæon Chatham Barracks

Preferential treatment of HOs Other positive comments

Future announcements should come directly from Admiralty

Suspicion and mistrust of Admiralty

X X

X

No unrest observable X

X

Rear-​Admiral & Senior Wildfire Officer Sheerness Vice-​Admiral Commanding 3rd Battle Squadron

Unfavourable comparison with wage-​rates shore

Would have preferred flat rate of increase for all, rather than allotment relief Victualling allowance still insufficient

Pay increases did not benefit all ratings

Stagnation of promotions for POs

Suspicion concessions will be withdrawn after war

General satisfaction

Table 3.1  Responses to Admiralty request for the fleet’s reaction to recent concessions68

X X

X

X

X X

(continued)

107

68 This was compiled by the author using all the returns sent to the Board of Admiralty in response to Charles Walker’s request of 14 November 1917, including: letter from the captain of HMS Actæon to the Commander-​in-​Chief (C-​in-​C) HM Ships and Vessels the Nore, 16 November 1917; letter from the Commander of HMS Wildfire to Rear-​Admiral and Senior Officer Sheerness, 17 November 1917; letter from the Rear-​ Admiral Chatham Barracks to C-​in-​C HM Ships and Vessels the Nore, 24 November 1917; letter from Vice-​Admiral Commanding 3rd Battle Squadron to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 25 November 1917; submission from the C-​in-​C Devonport to the Admiralty, 30 November 1917; letter from C-​in-​C Portsmouth to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 1 December 1917; letter from Rear-​Admiral Portsmouth Barracks to C-​in-​ C Portsmouth, 20 November 1917; letter from Captain HMS Excellent to C-​in-​C Portsmouth, 25 November 1917; letter from HMS Vernon to C-​in-​C Portsmouth, 19 November 1917; letter from Commanding Officer, HMS Dolphin to C-​in-​C Portsmouth, 23 November 1917 (all TNA, ADM 178/​157).

Commander-​in-​Chief Devonport

Commander-​in-​Chief Portsmouth Rear-​Admiral Portsmouth Barracks X

Excellent X

Vernon

Dolphin

Admiral Colville

X X

X X

X

X X

X

X

X

X

Preferential treatment of HOs Other positive comments

Future announcements should come directly from Admiralty

Suspicion and mistrust of Admiralty

Unfavourable comparison with wage-​rates shore

Would have preferred flat rate of increase for all, rather than allotment relief Victualling allowance still insufficient

Pay increases did not benefit all ratings

Stagnation of promotions for POs

Suspicion concessions will be withdrawn after war

General satisfaction

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108

Table 3.1  (Continued)

X X No apparent unrest

X X

X

X X

X

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Labour on shore has forced concessions from the state Promotion denied to lower deck and civilians given commissions Period of service for promotion to CPO should be shortened Allotment70 concession instead of a rise of 6d per day a disappointment to men who do not allot Announcement that recent concession are for duration of war only a disappointment

Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes Yes

Yes Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes Yes

Yes Yes

C-​in-​C Plymouth

V-​A Commanding 3rd Battle Squadron

SNO Sheerness & Wildfire

Yes Yes

Yes

‘Actæon’

RN Barracks Chatham

‘Vernon’

‘Excellent’

RN Barracks Portsmouth

C-​in-​C Portsmouth

Table 3.2  Grievances listed by ship in response to enquiries into lower-​deck unrest. Tabulated by the Board from the information supplied in response to Charles Walker’s request of 14 November 191769

Yes

Yes

69 TNA, ADM 178/​157. 70 In order to be eligible for separation, marriage or children’s allowances a rating had to ‘allot’ a minimum amount from his own pay to the recipient of the allowance; thus a wife in receipt of a marriage allowance would also receive a payment directly from her husband, which must be over a designated minimum (there was no maximum allotment).

109

110

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‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions

This clearly demonstrates the areas the Board felt to be of greatest concern, but does not necessarily reflect the frequency with which complaints were made. It is of particular interest that the first issue mentioned on the table was that of shore-​based labour being able to agitate to achieve concessions. The Admiralty seized upon a relatively infrequently expressed concern because it was the one that was most at odds with Their Lordships’ paternalistic discourse. It was this that the Admiralty feared most, and was also an issue they had to deal with directly in their role as a civilian employer. In civilian industries there had been a marked change in the nature of the unrest. In 1917 shop-​ floor militancy had become the predominant force in industrial relations. The concept of men taking industrial action without being sanctioned by union officials was one of which the Board would have been aware, although it is not mentioned explicitly in the Admiralty files. Of course, having no unions (only quasi-​unions in the form of benefit societies) no ‘industrial action’ on the part of the fleet could have been officially sanctioned; thus the example of ill-​disciplined and unofficial action taking place ashore would have increased Their Lordships’ fear that the fleet might decide that this was not simply an effective but also a legitimate form of protest. The Board of Admiralty was part of the political process, and despite its members having entered the navy at the age of thirteen they were no more cocooned, as a body of men, from events in the industrial sphere than were any others of their social background. They did, however, struggle to grasp the complexities of ‘socialist’ ideology, organisation and politics  –​frequently conflating them with unionism or the labour movement more generally. Beatty also made his own report following Walker’s request for information about the way concessions had been received in the fleet. The numerous responses received revealed a range of causes of grievance. Of the reports submitted in response to the Admiralty’s letter of 14 November 1917, only the admiral commanding the First Battle Squadron included copies of the reports he received from individual ships and vessels under his command. The only other individual submissions were one from HMS Lion (attached to the submission from the Battle Cruiser Force) and one from HMS Calliope (with the Light Cruiser Force submission). Whilst all bar HMS Resolution explicitly reported general satisfaction with the concessions, a number of other grievances were voiced. The complete list of the complaints highlighted for the Admiralty’s information submitted by the Grand Fleet Commanders is given in Table 3.3. The submissions highlighted other areas of concern for the commanders, and it is the Board’s extrapolation of events from the commanders’ respective analyses rather than the actual grievances, which was perhaps

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1st Battle Squadron

Admiral Commanding 1st BS

X

X

X

Other positive comments

Other minor & specific grievances

Dr Macnamara

Prize money

Unfavourable comparison with wage-​rates shore Suspicion and mistrust of Admiralty Future announcements should come directly from Admiralty Beneficiaries of separation allowances should be extended

X

Pay increases did not benefit all ratings Would have preferred flat rate of increase for all, rather than allotment relief Disappointment that minimum scale of pension not increased Victualling allowance still insufficient

X

Suspicion concessions will be withdrawn after war Stagnation of promotions for POs

Recent concessions merely Redress of Legitimate Grievances

Beatty

General satisfaction

Table 3.3  Grievances as given to the Board in response to Their Lordships’ request of 14 November 191771

X X

X

(continued)

111

71 This table has been compiled using all the returns sent to the Board of Admiralty in response to Charles Walker’s request of 14 November 1917, including: Beatty’s report to the Admiralty, 27 December 1918; submissions from the Admiral Commanding 1st Battle Squadron (BS) to Beatty, 10 December 1917; HMS Resolution to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 9 December 1917; HMS Royal Sovereign to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 27 November 1917, HMS Royal Oak to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 9 December 1917; HMS Emperor of India to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 5 December 1917; HMS Benbow to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 3 December 1917; HMS Iron Duke to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 27 November 1917; HMS Canada to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 9 December 1917; HMS Marlborough to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 8 December 1917; HMS Ramillies to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 8 December 1917; HMS Revenge to the Admiral Commanding 1st BS, 9 December 1917; Admiral Commanding 2nd BS to Beatty, 9 December 1917; Admiral Commanding 4th BS to Beatty, 9 December 1917; Vice-​Admiral Commanding 5th BS to Beatty, 8 December 1917; Vice-​Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Force

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Resolution (1913/​14 Dreadnought) Royal Sovereign (1913/​14 Dreadnought)

X

X

X

Other positive comments

Other minor & specific grievances

Dr Macnamara

Prize money

Unfavourable comparison with wage-​rates shore Suspicion and mistrust of Admiralty Future announcements should come directly from Admiralty Beneficiaries of separation allowances should be extended

Pay increases did not benefit all ratings Would have preferred flat rate of increase for all, rather than allotment relief Disappointment that minimum scale of pension not increased Victualling allowance still insufficient

Suspicion concessions will be withdrawn after war Stagnation of promotions for POs

Recent concessions merely Redress of Legitimate Grievances

General satisfaction

112

Table 3.3  (Continued)

X

X

(BFC), 20 December 1917; Rear-​Admiral Commanding 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron (BCS) to Vice-​Admiral Commanding BCF, 13 December 1917; Rear-​Admiral Commanding 2nd BCS to Vice-​Admiral Commanding BCF, 13 December 1917; HMS Lion to Vice-​Admiral Commanding BCF, 28 December 1917; Vice-​Admiral Commanding Light Cruiser Force (LCF) to Beatty, 13 December 1917; Commodore of Calliope to Vice-​ Admiral Commanding LCF, 12 December 1917 (all from TNA, ADM 178/​157). This table includes only the complaints stated to have come from the men and does not include the fears or other causes of unrest extrapolated from this by the reports’ authors. The class of each vessel was found in Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War 1 (London: Studio Editions, 1990) –​originally published by Jane’s Publishing Company in 1919.

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113

Royal Oak (1913/​14 Dreadnought)

X

Emperor of India (1912 Dreadnought)

X

Benbow (1912 Dreadnought)

X

Iron Duke (1912 Dreadnought)

X

Canada (1911 Dreadnought)

X

Marlborough (1912 Dreadnought)

X

Ramilies (1913/​14 Dreadnought)

X

Revenge (1913/​14 Dreadnought)

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X All sources of disappointment removed + messing allowances very fair X

X

X

X

X

Some increases better than expected (continued)

Admiral Commanding 2nd Battle Squadron X

Admiral Commanding 4th Battle Squadron X

Vice-​Admiral Commanding 5th Battle Squadron X

Battle Cruiser Force 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron X

2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron X X X

X X X

X X X

X X X

Other positive comments

Other minor & specific grievances

Dr Macnamara

Prize money

Unfavourable comparison with wage-​rates shore Suspicion and mistrust of Admiralty Future announcements should come directly from Admiralty Beneficiaries of separation allowances should be extended

Pay increases did not benefit all ratings Would have preferred flat rate of increase for all, rather than allotment relief Disappointment that minimum scale of pension not increased Victualling allowance still insufficient

Suspicion concessions will be withdrawn after war Stagnation of promotions for POs

Recent concessions merely Redress of Legitimate Grievances

General satisfaction

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114

114

Table 3.3  (Continued)

X X

X

X

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Lion (1909 Battle Cruiser) Light Cruiser Force

X

X

V-​A X Commanding Light Cruiser Force

X

Calliope

X

(1914 Light Cruiser)

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

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116

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‘Addressing’ Pay and Conditions

the more important factor. It is of interest now, and was indeed of interest to the fleet then, because of the way in which it shaped and coloured Their Lordships’ responses. The Board feared an upsurge in trade union activity and that this, combined with the men’s belief that the Admiralty lacked sympathy, would lead to the alienation of officers and men, thus destroying the basis for service discipline. Hence, it was on these areas, despite their being relatively unmentioned in the submissions, that the Board focused. The prevailing discourse of paternalism framed the Board of Admiralty’s subsequent discussions. They concluded that the petition had been drawn up because the men did not recognise the concessions given in the early part of the war as an advance in pay and that much of the ‘alleged’ feeling could be removed if allowances were ‘simply and clearly’ explained.72 The Second Sea Lord’s assessment that allowances were not fully understood was absolutely correct, even if he failed to appreciate the significance of the situation. The Board were finally beginning to appreciate that the complexities of the system might have escaped the men. The regulations were widely publicised onboard in depots and barracks, and they were also regularly reproduced in the pages of The Bluejacket and the Soldier,The Fleet, and The Fleet Annual and Naval Yearbook. Publicity, however, did not negate the highly complex and bureaucratic nature of the regulations. To take just one example, the following extract from Admiralty Orders January 1917 was published in The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book: 12. Within the maximum of the rate payable to a wife the allowance to the dependant of an active service rating will equal half the amount of the dependence, as defined above, provided he continues to allot a sum equal to the amount of such dependence. If he allots a smaller sum the allowance will be proportionately reduced, but if he is able to allot more, the allowance will remain unaltered. Thus in the case of an active service rating the allowance granted will not exceed half the amount of the dependence or half the amount of the current allotment, whichever is the less.73

Macnamara echoed the Sea Lords’ concerns that regulations were not understood and devised a booklet and poster campaign, to be displayed prominently in all public areas, explaining to the men the value of these new allowances. He felt it should be pointed out that in the pre-​war period there were no such allowances, whereas now 73 per cent of all ratings were benefiting from them. In doing so Macnamara was seeing the issue 72 TNA, ADM 1/​8501/​229  –​remarks of Second Sea Lord to First Lord and Financial Secretary, 19 October 1917. 73 The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, 1917, Separation Allowance Regulations, pp. 63–​70.

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The Underlying Reasons Why

117

in purely service terms. He did not fully appreciate that allowances did not simply have an impact on the men, but upon their families. Whilst pay and allowances were just enough on board, and whilst the concessions meant that those with dependants could retain more of their salaries for themselves, in light of very large price rises on shore they did not represent enough for dependants to live on. Macnamara overlooked the existing prominence given to regulations and instead adopted a stance akin to the proverbial British man addressing a foreigner by repeating his message louder and more slowly! It demonstrates a failure to understand the full significance of the grievances for the men of the lower decks; paternalism and democratism were once again talking through each other. The Underlying Reasons Why Superficially, the majority of grievances were financial, but in reality there was a complex and inseparable relationship between the tangible and intangible demands of the men. Thus it is the thorny relationship between pay and status, and its impact on the discourse of democratism, which is fundamental to our understanding of the nature of the grievances. They were concepts that operated at once separately and together and existed, not only within the naval system, but also with reference to external society. It would seem obvious that the higher a man’s wages the higher his status, but within the navy this was not necessarily the case. Men of equal rank, length of service, and service record were paid differently depending on their branch, giving the men the impression that the service valued some roles above others. Perceived inequality between branches went further than pay; some branches were denied privileges given to others of the same rating from other branches. One such case was that of Carpenters and Shipwrights. In August 1917 the, by this point rather impatient, General Secretary of the Shipconstructors’ and Shipwrights’ Association wrote to Macnamara requesting permission for members to wear the Distinguished Service ring and rename themselves ‘construction officers’ (since the dreadnoughts were not built of wood the title ‘carpenter’ seemed ‘absurd’). This would have been of no financial cost to the Board. They also requested that since they were skilled workers, who had to obtain certification, they should be paid a skilled worker’s wage. At that time they were paid below the rate of their ‘brother mechanics’.74 Lower-​deck journals were full of similar instances of class-​specific claims. 74 TNA, ADM 1/​8497/​196 –​these claims were made as part of a submission in a letter to Macnamara from the General Secretary of the Shipconstructors’ and Shipwrights’ Association, 31 August 1917.

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Some of these were concerned with money, but others were very specifically concerned with status.75 The Bluejacket and the Soldier carried some leading articles devoted solely to class issues. A 1915 article proclaimed ‘it is scarcely believable that one branch of England’s Navy [stewards], when ashore, are mistaken for taxi-​drivers, tram-​conductors, etc., yet this is the state of affairs existing at present’.76 Unlike pre-​war unrest these new manifestations came from a more unified lower deck. They ceased to be simply single interest groups, but instead began to address issues which affected the lower deck as a whole. Within this overarching theme of status and respect the main grievances brought to the ears of the Admiralty were pay, concessions, promotion, pensions, representation of grievances, perceived preferential treatment of reservists and HOs, and a feeling that the Board of Admiralty lacked sympathy for the men. The most common complaint reported in the wake of the recent concessions was that the pay increases had not been applied evenly across the fleet, followed by irritation over the stagnation of promotions and unrest over the Admiralty’s refusal to confirm that these concessions would continue after the war. Another commonly reported cause of ‘unrest’ was the belief that concessions ought to have been given in the form of a general pay rise, rather than in a piecemeal fashion. In these reports Dr Macnamara was the subject of some personal criticism; although this was positively restrained in tone when compared to the assessment of his ability and character found in the pages of The Bluejacket.77 Many of the same areas highlighted by the November report had also been discussed in the pages of the lower-​deck journals. Although the journals placed a different emphasis on some of these issues, there was a large amount of overlap between the two. By 1916 the calls for pay increases had become more frequent; however, in tone they remained a simple call for better financial remuneration. They had not yet taken on any militant overtones or become blurred by the implications of pay 75 The Fleet, ‘Recommendations as to Status, Pay, Dress, etc., of Blacksmith, Carpenter, Cooper, Painter and Plumber ratings, Royal Navy’, March 1918, p. 46. 76 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What the Stewards are “Waiting” For. Why Not Anchor-​ Buttons and Badges?’, June 1915, p. 64. 77 Macnamara suffered particularly because he was the public face of the Admiralty and a civilian. He was also the son of a sergeant in a line regiment, and as such should have had a keener feeling for the needs of rankers (see The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1917, p. 202; ‘Parental Pension Parsimony. The “Little Fathers of the Fleet” and the “Order of the Fleece” ’, February 1917, p. 207). The Fleet made a small attempt to defend Macnamara (The Fleet, ‘What They Ask For!’, September 1916, pp.  272–​273), but quickly joined the attack (The Fleet, ‘Our “Little Fathers”, by “a Peak Capped Child” ’, January 1917, p. 26).

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The Underlying Reasons Why

119

on status. As in 1915 it was The Bluejacket and the Soldier which took the lead in calling for pay increases, and within the paper it was the coastguards who were most vocal. Despite acknowledging in April 1916 that coastguards afloat were now receiving equal pay with active service ratings engaged on the same job,78 they continued to campaign to ensure that the pay of coastguards ashore (who undertook vital tasks such as running wireless stations) should be increased to the level of fleetmen serving afloat.79 This is particularly interesting in light of future complaints from the fleet that civilians, who put themselves in no danger, received greater pay than the men of the fleet who daily risked life and limb, although it is perhaps indicative of the sense of unity felt within the service and of their sense of self-​identity as fleetmen regardless of the role or the location of the role they actually fulfilled. Indeed frustration over the discrepancies of pay within the service is a feature of the 1916 articles on this subject. A leader in the May 1916 edition cited the examples of men from the Australian Navy or someone from the retired list to illustrate the instances of men carrying out the same role being paid very different amounts, warning that ‘where the rate paid to one class is higher than that paid to another class of the same rating, discontent is sure to be engendered and to some extent cheerful execution of regular duties is largely discounted’.80 In one of its rare sorties into the realm of personnel matters ‘Shot & Shell’ highlighted the case of gunnery men who returned to the fleet for the duration of the war and were getting allowances for the obsolete gunnery rating, rather than the higher rate given to their active service counterparts. This injustice, the column felt, should be rectified.81 By the final edition of 1916 it appeared that one of the most important things ‘Jack and Joe’ wanted to know was why they were fighting a war on peace wages.82 It must, of course, be questioned whether, had The Bluejacket and the Soldier not brought the matter up so frequently, ‘Jack and Joe’ would have wanted to know anything of the sort. The tone of these requests shifted dramatically in 1917 and assumed something of their pre-​ war militancy. The leader in The Bluejacket and the Soldier for April was headed:  ‘Britain’s Blood-​Bread! Fearless 78 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, April 1916, p. 12. 79 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, July 1916, p. 82 and November 1916, p. 164 –​individual cases of financial woe were also illustrated. See June 1916, p. 63 for examples. 80 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Equity and Emoluments  –​An Advisory Appeal to the Admiralty’, May 1916, p. 25. 81 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Shot & Shell’, November 1916, p. 148. 82 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, December 1916, p. 179.

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Food-​Furnishing Fleetmen Forgotten.’83 Putting to one side the dreadful alliteration, this paean of praise for both the RN and the merchant marine (MM), which outlined their level of service to king and country in addition to their unquestioned bravery, concluded with the dramatic assertion that the fleet needed to be rewarded with more than ‘lip-​service’ and called for a 50 per cent increase in wages for everyone ‘from Admiral to Cook’. At least they retained a note of equality amongst the militancy! In both May and June ‘Jack and Joe’ called for increases in the rate of pay.84 Despite the ‘answering’ of these calls by the Admiralty, the tone of the journal became increasingly aggressive. Another leader in September 1917, entitled ‘The Lower Deck “Rising”! From Hawse-​Hole to Quarter Deck’, outlined how far the pay of the lower decks had come and how it had still to go.85 This represents an even more forceful demonstration of the levels of discontent than any which reached the Admiralty through official channels. Although the most outspoken, The Bluejacket and the Soldier, was not alone in its assessment of the inadequacy of pay. The Fleet proclaimed that the Bluejacket ‘would be something more than human if he did not feel aggrieved at the long list of concessions to all and sundry outside himself!’ Meantime his folk on shore feel an ever-increasing call on a purse that does not grow fatter.’86 In October 1917 the ANG also spoke out on the subject of pay, not only for the lower deck, but also for officers:  ‘After “careful consideration” far too prolonged, the War Cabinet has come to a decision about the pay of the fighting men of Britain. The improvements, as Mr. Lloyd George admits, do not satisfy the Cabinet. It will be no surprise, therefore, if they do not entirely satisfy the men.’87 The article asserted that the pay of both branches of the military compares poorly with that received by their dominion counterparts, and that this disparity ‘only tends to emphasise’ the different treatment accorded to the civilian worker.88 Furthermore, any concessions on the part of the Admiralty were nothing more than ‘obligations, and would have been dealt with before if the Treasury had sanctioned the outlay’. The desirability of increasing service pay was seen as nothing more than a method by which the nation could pay its ‘debt’ to those men who were fighting for it. The Prime Minister’s 83 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Britain’s Blood-​ Bread! Fearless Food-​ Furnishing Fleetmen Forgotten’, April 1917, p. 3. 84 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, May and June 1917, p. 32 and p. 52, respectively. 85 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Lower Deck “Rising”! From Hawse-​Hole to Quarter Deck’, September 1917, p. 103. 86 The Fleet, ‘The Pay of the Navy!’, July 1917, pp. 188–​190. 87 Army and Navy Gazette, 6 October 1917, p. 651. 88 Ibid., p. 651.

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The Underlying Reasons Why

121

‘announcement that measures to deal adequately with [the question of pay and allowances for junior ranks of commissioned officers] will be issued shortly, will be received by the nation with complete approval’.89 This was a subject about which the ANG had been lobbying for some time. In this article, and in those of  The Bluejacket and the Soldier and The Fleet, the blurring of the distinction between issues of pay and status can be clearly seen. Not only was the financial position of the sailor judged inadequate, his character and status was being maligned by his comparative treatment. In common with the references in official submissions to the Admiralty, and in the lower-​deck journals, 48 per cent of respondents to the Imperial War Museum’s questionnaire confirmed that sailors regularly compared their wages to those of other groups.90 Sadly for this study, they frequently did not elaborate. Those who did, mentioned a range of different points of comparison from civilian wages to ‘the Yanks’. The rate of pensions also received close attention. However, during time of war this had more to do with fears for dependants than self-​ gain (see Figure 3.1). It is self-​evident that the chances of death or permanent incapacity were dramatically increased during wartime, and with that in mind these professional men sought to ensure that in either of these events their dependants would be not simply adequately, but rather generously provided for. It comes as little surprise then that the delay of the course of the Naval and Military Pensions Bill through the House of Lords incited vitriol in several columns of The Bluejacket and the Soldier. The September 1915 edition carried a leader devoted to the subject which proposed that ‘the name of every peer who caused the delay should be printed out and posted on every barrack room door and in every ship of the RN’,91 as well as comment in both ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’,92 and ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ columns.93 All three also made reference to the different rates awarded depending on whether the deceased was ‘killed in action’ or ‘killed on duty but not in action’, a problem which, as the leader observed, affected junior officers just as much as men. ‘There are times’, the leader proclaimed, ‘when we champion the interests of the Quarter Deck quite as warmly and keenly as those of the Lower Deck’94 (although certainly not as frequently!). The coastguards took this particular complaint to heart since it would have 89 Army and Navy Gazette, 6 October 1917, p. 651. 90 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583). 91 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Pensions Postponed’, September 1915, p. 123. 92 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, September 1915, p. 137. 93 Ibid., p. 138. 94 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Pensions Postponed’, September 1915, p. 123.

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Figure  3.1 ‘The Widow’s Only Son’. The Bluejacket and the Soldier, November 1916, p. 145

been almost impossible for a member of the coastguard to be ‘killed in action’.95 This distinction was an important one for the fleet because of the nature of the naval war. If a ship struck a mine during a patrol any men killed would be registered as ‘killed on duty but not in action’ and their dependants would receive a lower rate of pension. Aside from any feelings of injustice at even making such a distinction in the first place, both died in the line of duty, and relative valour was immaterial to the financial necessities of keeping a home in the absence of the major breadwinner. Despite ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ offering a slightly barbed ‘thank you’ to the Admiralty in October 1915 for the recent increases to pensions to widows and orphans of seamen, marines and soldiers, 95 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, October 1915, p. 168 had a number of questions about this discrepancy, all of which suggested it should not be made.

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The Underlying Reasons Why

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complaints about the rate of pensions continued in much the same tone throughout 1916.96 ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ continued to point out the inadequate levels of pensions for coastguards97 and ‘Jack & Joe’98 appeared to have many questions on the subject too. Indeed, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ remained very vocal on the subject until the end of the war. Despite their hope in January 1917 that the new Pensions Minister, Mr Barnes, would redress injustices in naval pensions,99 they were still complaining about the level of coastguard pensions in the July/​August edition in 1918.100 However, The Bluejacket and the Soldier was not alone in its criticism of pension provisions. The Army and Navy Gazette at first championed the increases in pensions, which, it professed, showed that the authorities had finally recognised that the issue of war pensions was both urgent and large, and that it was the place of the state to provide the large volume of money necessary.101 By November 1918 even the Army and Navy Gazette was highlighting the inadequacies of the provision and the resentment this caused to both officers and men. They believed that there was still a large degree of bitterness about pensions because reform had not gone far enough, and that the ‘odious red tape which still exist[ed] minimise[d]‌ the effect of the reforms’. They further claimed that the medical boards were not classifying disabled men correctly, so that many were unable to get a full pension, which would, in any case, have been inadequate. The maximum pension was 27s 6d a week, which was ‘less than an unskilled lad can get in the labour market’.102 Here we see clearly the conflation of issues at play by 1918. Pensions were not simply inadequate because they were too small; they were inadequate because they were too small 96 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, October 1915, p. 162: ‘One cannot peruse the revised list of Pensions to Widows and Orphans of Seamen, Marines and Soldiers, without emitting a sigh of relief and thankfulness. All at once the reproaches of former generations in respect of the niggardliness have been wiped off the slate with the moist generosity of a sponge filled with helpfulness and neighbourly kindness.’ Note the characteristic reference to the length of time it has taken to achieve any redress. 97 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, January and August 1916, pp. 225 and 104, respectively. 98 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, December 1916, p. 179. 99 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, January 1917, p. 204; The Fleet was also optimistic about Mr Barnes’ appointment. It hoped that his trade union background would equip him well for the job and that the lower deck would benefit from his appointment (The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, January 1917, p. 8). 100 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, July/​August 1918, p.  47. (from July/​August 1918 The Bluejacket was issued once every other month ‘owing to paper restrictions, and in order to assist the Government’ –​The Bluejacket and the Soldier, July/​ August 1918, p. 36 –​thus carefully taking the opportunity to stress the loyalty of the publication). 101 Army and Navy Gazette, 10 March 1917, p. 156. 102 Army and Navy Gazette, 2 November 1918, p. 704.

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compared to the wages of civilians. If the perceived relative difference of status between sailor and civilian could not be maintained then it challenged the men’s sense of self-​identity. The failure of the Board of Admiralty to provide the lower deck with an uncomplicated and unequivocal concession provoked feelings of resentment and suspicion amongst the men. At every stage each set of concessions appeared to be dragged out of the Board with no spirit of generosity. Of course, the Board was not telepathic, but there were enough signs, and enough areas of injustice that, had the Board acted on them before being called upon to do so, they might not only have avoided the accusation of reacting only when they could no longer get away without so doing, but would also have shown consideration for their men. When discussing how unrest might be ‘cured’ they must have cursed the fact that they had not previously looked at more preventative measures. Even when concessions were made there was a fear amongst the men that the concession would be negated by other corresponding rises in expense. The lateness of concessions, and the fact that the Board had seemingly ignored the pleas of the fleet for the first two years of war, made the 1917 concessions appear no more than a simple, although tardy, redress of legitimate grievances. In addition, the announcements of concessions in the press before being made through the Board left the men feeling undervalued and had the further complication that ratings, seeing articles in the press, would naturally ask their officers about the issues therein contained. Yet since the policy had not officially been announced to the fleet, the officers were not in a position to respond, thus leaving the men to speculate.103 Whilst these points apply to all the concessions made, changes to the separation allowances require particular mention. Throughout the war the presses were careful to praise and thank the Admiralty for concessions. However, by 1916 the gratitude had been diluted by continued remonstrations either for their inadequacies, tardiness or ‘niggardliness’. This emotion was not limited to the lower-​deck journals alone. The Army and Navy Gazette made similar observations, though with less venom. ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ column for December 1916 addressed the recent concessions made by the Admiralty to the ‘so-​called minor Artizans’.104 Whilst pleased that an ‘act of justice’ had at least been done, there were those overlooked by the ‘niggardly’ concessions: ‘These days of high wages and War-​bonuses 103 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​report from Vice-​Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron to Secretary of Admiralty, 25 November 1917. 104 ‘Minor artizans’ included joiners, blacksmiths, painters, coopers, plumbers, etc.

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outside the Service, and ordinary Peace and War rates in the Navy, with no War-​Bonus, is not the time when little meannesses [sic] on the part of the Admiralty are forgivable or even understandable.’105 Throughout 1917 phrases and words like ‘Dribbling Recognition’106, ‘sub rosa’,107 ‘filching’,108 and ‘partial’109 appeared in various articles in The Bluejacket and the Soldier with reference to Admiralty reforms and concessions. Complaints about this area were not exclusively the preserve of The Bluejacket and the Soldier any more than they were solely the result of comparison with the situations of other groups. The Fleet, which had generally tried to be generous towards the Admiralty throughout the war, also felt that the recent concessions gave with one hand whilst taking with the other.110 Two months later, however, The Fleet tried to illustrate how men would benefit from the concessions, and argued that they were more generous than the men of the fleet believed.111 The essential problem with the Board of Admiralty, The Fleet argued, was that it did not have a separate department to deal with welfare which negated the efforts of the sympathetic ‘Little Fathers’ to look after the best interests of the fleet.112 According to the Army and Navy Gazette resentment was also generated by the fact that it took a war for concessions that were already long overdue to be granted at all, and then in a ‘piecemeal’ fashion.113 The introduction of the various marriage, separation and children’s allowances was initially greeted with pleasure –​they had, after all, been the subject of lower-​deck requests for a decade. Once war broke out it seemed only right that they navy be put on an equal footing with the army in that respect.114 However, from as early as 1915 the allowances generated grievances. Some of these grievances were essentially practical, such as calls for an increase in the rates of allowances following steep price rises, or calls for the Admiralty to make clear whether the allowances would remain after the war. However, these allowances had an even closer link to concepts of status than did grievances over pay. 105 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, December 1916, p. 183. 106 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Cog & Can’, January 1917, p. 197. 107 Ibid., p. 197. 108 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Admiralty Concessions. In Parliament’, September 1917, p. 109. 109 Ibid., p. 109. 110 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, September 1917, pp. 218–​219. 111 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, November 1917, pp. 249–​251. 112 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, February 1918, p. 20. 113 Army and Navy Gazette –​see 19 January 1918, p. 35 and 28 September 1918, p. 617 for examples 114 The army already had these various allowances.

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It was comparatively early in the war, and very explicitly, that the issues of allowances became clouded by those of status. In December 1915 and January 1916 ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ launched damning attacks on the Admiralty’s separation allowance policy because it did not take into account the relative statuses of the recipients: ‘That, ever with the best intentions, Authority fails which ignores the views or fails to ascertain the views, of the Classes for whom they legislate, as … is seen in the official tables which have been drawn up for distribution of the Separation Allowances and National Relief for the Widows of Children.’ The article then lays out two examples: a married youth of twenty with one child living in the London area receives only 1s per week less than a PO of eighteen years’ service who also has a wife and child: ‘As any Service-​Man of experience will well know, the social standing of these two dependants is as wide as the poles and their needs and expenses as widely different as it is possible to be. No one but a person unacquainted with the needs and relative positions of these two sets of relatives of our Fleetmen could possibly have blundered so in-​excusably as has been done in either levelling up the lower grades to the higher, or of levelling down the higher to the lower.’115 To the journal such a ‘mistake’ insulted not only the status of the men involved, but also demonstrated the gulf between the Admiralty and those over whom they governed. It is clear from the following edition that not all The Bluejacket and the Soldier’s articles were accepted without question by their readership: Widow’s Weekly Pensions. A correspondent calls attention to the fact that when recently criticising the Table of Pensions and comparing the cases of the Chief Petty Officers’ Widows with that of much younger and subordinate Ratings, we failed to take into account the fact that many Wives (and Widows) of Ordinary and Able Seamen and corresponding Ratings are socially of a superior type or class from those of Chief Petty Officer. Exceptions but prove the rule. There may be –​in fact there are many Wives of Subordinate Ratings whose standard of living and social position is in advance of some of the Womenfolk of higher Ratings. That being conceded, each class has its average of social status and that this is distinctly in the ratio of their husband’s Service positions. It is practically a rule of economics. Given a certain income the classes which enjoy it will live in an equivalent average of social status. It is because the Committee who drew up this scale failed to appreciate this economic fact that we criticised their work.116

Later that year this column returned to the issues of relative status by stressing that single men were faring much better out of the systems than their married counterparts.117 The thorny issue of class and collective 115 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, December 1915, p. 213. 116 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1916, p. 237. 117 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, October 1916, p. 139.

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self-​identity underlie all these issues and discussions, and provide a clear example of the various protagonists ‘talking through’ each other because of a lack of common understanding. The Fleet was far more positive about the allowances, and devoted considerable attention to combating some of the ‘wilder’ rumours which were circulating amongst the fleet. As early as July 1915 The Fleet was telling its readers that the Admiralty had already conceded the idea of separation allowances becoming permanent, and that it was only the wartime rates they were not prepared to commit to.118 Gradually the focus of the grievance became increasingly blurred.119 Whilst complaining that only a limited number of men benefited from allowances, and whilst calling for allowances to be made permanent, there were also suggestions that allowances were not really what was required at all. Some of the grievances put before the Board focused on the fact that only those who allotted benefited from the concession. However, the Board found it hard to sympathise with such a complaint. The allowances were designed to keep married and unmarried men aboard on a par in terms of their personal spending power, whilst at the same time ensuring that dependants did not suffer. However, at a time when there were calls for a general pay increase it is easy to see why a concession which benefited one group and not another could appear unjust or divisive. Looked at generously the grievances about the limited number of men who benefited from allowances could be seen as part of more general calls for a ‘living wage’, which would allow them to provide for their families from their regular pay packet, just as workers in every other sphere did. Whilst the increases may have helped financially, they did nothing to alleviate the desire for a straightforward wage increase, which would not only have been easier to understand, but would also have benefited everyone and would have given the men a greater sense of self-​worth. Allowances were perceived to be a form of charity, whereas a pay rise would have shown that the work being done was valued in its own right. A pay increase would also have been far harder for a future administration to revoke –​allowances, especially when no announcement as to their duration was forthcoming, were more easily removed, and the uncertainty this generated added to the resentment.

118 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, July 1915, p.  192; ‘Separation Allowances’, March 1916, pp. 80–​82. 119 To Macnamara, as has been seen, grievances were generated by the men failing to understand the regulations; he failed to see that the grievances themselves were becoming increasingly more complex.

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Just as with prize money, the issue of allowances came to take on unwelcome overtones of charity. In the article ‘Separation –​Reparation’, The Bluejacket and the Soldier suggested that ‘financial assistance’ should more correctly be referred to as ‘recompense’, and was poor recompense at that, especially when compared to the allowances made to the sister service.120 The November 1918 article ‘Why Charity’ was a scathing attack on the principle of charitable collection for service causes. ‘Charity’ was nothing more than giving servicemen what they were ‘entitled to’: Then why call it Charity? If mill owners, factory owners, or firms which employed a large number of hands were situated selling flags, promoting concerts and bazaars or sports to obtain money to pay their employees when they were unable to work, or give compensation to those injured in their employ, what would be the result?… We have heard of paupers who starved in a garret rather than apply for Poor House relief. The Coroner said it was ‘PRIDE’ prevented them. Fighting men to possess NO pride? Why then, have Charity Flag Days? Why Charity Concerts? If the people can afford it one way, why not another? Why not a 1d. tax day? Say once a week. The service man could also be stopped that 1d. a week, if it was held weekly instead of Flag Days. The people would get off lighter and a good many places, and everyone would pay. Tommy, Jack or Joe buys his flag, he would willingly enough subscribe a 1d. a week. I know he did it Voluntary for the Prisoners of War Bread Fund. Ask all Music Halls to give one extra performance weekly. The PROFITS to go as a Tax for this Fund. Ask all Churches to hold Bazaars or Sports once a month. The PROFITS to go to this fund. And this Fund will be called The War Bonus –​not CHARITY … then let it be utilised to pay every Soldier, Sailor, or Marine in the service a War Bonus in proportion to his service … Accepting Charity does away with PRIDE. God knows we do not want to those who have fought so nobly and well to be without PRIDE.121

The links with status and self-​identity are self-​evident, yet the language of this article, as with the language of the Loyal Appeals, owes much to the various discourses in labour relations, and is indicative of the renewed militancy found in The Bluejacket and the Soldier. It is telling that the technical and traditional naval terms ‘prize money’ and ‘prize bounty’ have been replaced by discussion of ‘war bonuses’ like those being awarded to civilians. The language of civilian labour was being adopted and used as an ideological tool against the paternalism of the Admiralty. The position was also somewhat contradictory; what else would the donation of profits from a church bazaar be other than charity; something which Yexley had deeply opposed in the pre-​war period.122

120 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Separation –​Reparation’, February 1917, p. 209. 121 The Bluejacket and the Soldier ‘Why Charity’, November/​December 1918, p. 80. 122 Lionel Yexley, Charity and the Navy. A Protest against Indiscriminate Begging on Behalf of ‘Poor Jack’ (London: The Fleet, 1911).

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It was frequently the more senior of the active service men who suffered particularly because of Admiralty policy, and this, in itself, was a particular cause for concern. To cause dissatisfaction amongst the group most important for the maintenance of morale and loyalty was an issue about which the Admiralty were frequently warned, particularly in the aftermath of the March Revolution in Russia.123 It was POs who suffered as a result of promotion stagnation. They tended to be older men who had families to support and who were therefore more conscious of comparisons of the situation ashore. In addition, these were men who were respected by and influential amongst the younger men, and who formed an important link in the chain of command. Their continued loyalty was extremely important, and for the Board the possibility of losing that was very serious indeed. All of these financial grievances were tightly linked with the situation ashore. One of the most commonly recurring grievances brought before the Board was the comparative affluence in which dock and industrial workers were living despite ‘run[ning] no risk of wounds or death’124 simply because they were in a position to agitate and because these workers were ‘backed by powerful trade unions and have votes while the Bluejackets have no trade unions behind them and are for all practical purposes voteless.125 There is undoubtedly an impression that the Admiralty are taking advantage of their loyalty.’126 These were men with whom the fleet was in close contact, both in docks and whilst on leave. Ratings’ wives would shop in the same markets and would report the difference in spending power back to their husbands: ‘Their wives rub it in by constant reference, in communications no doubt, and personally when the men come home on leave, to the expenditures possible to their neighbours whose husbands, as they put it, are able to sleep comfortably at home, and run no personal risk.’127 Taking into account the 1917 pay increases an ordinary seaman received 22l 16s 3d per annum,128 whilst the average wages for a male labourer in a national shell factory was 123 TNA, ADM 178/​157  –​secret report from the C-​in-​C Portsmouth to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 1 December 1917; Admiralty minute 29 July 1918; ADM 1/​8494/​ 201  –​Letter from Beatty to the Admiralty entitled ‘Unrest on the Lower Deck’, 12 September 1917. 124 From Beatty’s submission to the Board, in which he drew attention to the resentment generated amongst the men because of spiralling civilian wages –​TNA, ADM, 1/​8498/​ 201. 125 Most sailors did not fulfil the property requirement for voting, and those who did were disenfranchised if their ship went out to sea. 126 TNA, ADM 178/​157  –​Submission from commanding officer of HMS Vernon, 19 November 1917. 127 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Memorandum from Macnamara, 28 December 1917. 128 David Wragg, Royal Navy Handbook 1914–​1918 (Stroud: Sutton, 2006), pp. 169–​170.

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127l 4s.129 In reality, of course, the discrepancy was less than these figures suggest. Naval men supplemented this basic wage through the acquisition of badges and specialisms. In addition, they had very little day-​to-​ day expenditure. However, the shortfall in purchasing power was large enough to place naval families in real financial hardship. This was not simply a matter of finance –​much more important was the underlying problem of subversion of status. On board a ship the POs and CPOs were effectively in charge of the day-​to-​day running of a ship. Whilst they held such senior positions afloat, financial constraints often meant that ashore they were unable to maintain a standard of living appropriate to that seniority. Shore workers with comparatively lower seniority in their respective places of work were often paid more than naval POs and CPOs. These high civilian wages meant that distinctions between these relative seniorities could not be maintained, and were a source of many of the grievances of the POs. The grievances generated by comparisons with shore workers, particularly those in industry, which were reported to the Admiralty, were portrayed in exactly the same way in the service presses, as was comparison of the sailor’s position with that of the soldier. These comparisons were a regular, though infrequent, feature of  The Bluejacket. The relative pay given to civilian workers was the most common of these kinds of grievances found in the pages of the service journals. The question was raised as to whether the Admiralty realised that it cost just as much to feed the offspring of a naval man as those of any other. Working men who ‘remain in the comfort of [their] home[s]‌’ receive war bonuses denied to the men entrusted with the ‘security of these islands’.130 Although this quotation is taken from the March 1917 edition of  The Bluejacket and the Soldier there are many examples of this feeling. Nor was this a class resentment. Comment was passed in many different columns including ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ and ‘Cog & Can’. As we have seen in the surviving official documents, Their Lordships were aware that the higher rates of pay being earned by workers ashore were thought to be the cause of resentment and unrest on the lower decks. However, the Admiralty’s role as a civilian employer added another dimension to these grievances. Perhaps surprisingly it was not only the specifically lower-​deck journals which made reference to this, 129 Jonathan Manning, ‘Wages and Purchasing Power’, in Jay Winter and Jean-​Louis Robert (eds), Capital Cities at War:  Paris, London, Berlin 1914–​1919 (Cambridge:  Cambridge University Press, 1999), table 9.11, p. 274. 130 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, March 1917, p. 242.

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but also the Army and Navy Gazette which made a telling reference to the Admiralty’s alter ego. Following the report of an announcement that the Admiralty was to give a war bonus to employees of the Royal Dockyards and other naval establishments, the 21 April 1917 edition carried an article in which it suggested that the announcement ‘must have been read with curiosity in the Fleet’. Seamen, the article asserts, have noticed that agitation yielded results, but that nothing similar has been forthcoming in the case of ratings or indeed for married officers, who needed it just as acutely. It then concluded that: It is all very well for Sir Edward Carson, in the name of John Travers Cornwell, to advise the men in the shipyards one day to ‘obey your orders, cling to your post, don’t grumble, stick it out,’ and the next to sanction the payment of a bonus to these men for doing their duty. Perhaps the First Lord will also remember the men of the Fleet, who continue to carry on night and day without either exhortations or bonus.131

For the Army and Navy Gazette this was a rare sortie into the realm of politics, and that it did so is indicative of the strength of feeling engendered by this issue. The position of The Bluejacket and the Soldier should, by now, be unsurprising. It can be most accurately be summarised with one question from ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ in which a contributor wonders ‘Why the rewards meted out to Admiralty employees should be calculated in the inverse ratio to the risks run?’132 It should be noted, however that consistency of logic was not necessarily the paper’s forte. In previous editions it had argued vehemently that the naval man on shore manning a wireless station was as instrumental in the waging of war as the gunner on ship, and should consequentially receive equal pay. The implication of its remarks about civilian workers was that they should be paid less because they did not daily expose themselves to the threat of violent death. Their role in the waging of war by providing and servicing the weaponry, being clearly only tangential to the whole process! The Bluejacket and the Soldier’s applause for the attitude of Arthur Henderson MP, in respect of the welfare of soldiers, was held up as a challenge to his naval opposite number, and smacked of playing one service off against the other.133 However, in other columns the resentment was more simply articulated. In October 1916 both the ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’ and ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ columns were full of the higher levels of leave, the better kit and the more substantial family 131 Army and Navy Gazette, 21 April 1917, p. 243. 132 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, April 1917, p. 12. 133 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, October 1916, p. 144.

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provisions received by the army.134 Once again, aside from issues of finance, there was a deeper issue at play  –​that of status. In the pages of The Bluejacket and the Soldier there emerged a desire for the role of the navy to be recognised. This was frequently expressed in terms of a supporting role  –​but an important one nonetheless. This argument was never taken to its logical conclusion; if the navy supported the army and should get equal pay for that role, then the civilian workers who supported the navy should surely also have been seen as entitled to equal pay? Perhaps it was the fact that civilians in fact got a higher rate of pay which stanched this logical flow. Grumbling about comparative service pay was increased following the entry of the ‘Yanks’, whose government had kindly increased their rate of pay to a war-​rate which would continue for six months after peace. To make matters worse the USA had also put legislation into place to arrange for the immediate promotion of a number of warrant ranks to commissioned ranks. ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ then expressed the hope that a similar act of ‘justice’ might be managed by the British government.135 It should be added at this juncture that this was one of the few positive comments made about the US Navy in the pages of any lower-​deck journal. ‘Insiders’ and ‘Outsiders’ So far as the Board of Admiralty was concerned, the single most important cause of grievances was the introduction of HO ratings and the large number of reservists drafted for the duration ‘who may infect 134 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, October 1916, p. 139 and ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, October 1916, p. 135; issues of comparative leave arrangements were returned to in ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, April 1917, p. 12. Censorship was also contentious issue just as it was for the army. There were a number of grievances about the fact that the officers with whom the men served and from whom they could not escape, were able to read details of the men’s lives which were, in reality, not their concern. However, the naval case was compounded by the concessions granted to the army. ‘Cog & Can’ reproduced a letter from a naval wife, which amongst other things, called for an uncensored envelope: ‘Some weeks ago you advocated for an uncensored envelope for the Sailors. When are we going to get it? Surely the Men of the Fleet are just as much to be trusted as the Men of the Army? I for one don’t wish to know Navy secrets, but I  should like an affectionate letter the same as I  get in Peace-​time which the men won’t write, when they have to live day in day out with the Officers who Censor them, and who sometimes are not very tactful’ (The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Cog & Can’, December 1915, p. 178). Whilst the army had ‘green envelopes’ (Charles Messenger, Call to Arms: The British Army 1914–​1918 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005), pp. 436–​438) the navy did not get ‘naval privilege envelopes’ issued until April 1918 (TNA, DEFE 1/​131 Report on postal censorship 1914–​1919). As with so many issues it was the inequalities and what that said about identities and status which lay at the heart of the disquiet. 135 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, August 1917, p. 87.

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the remainder of the Ships’ Companies with socialistic ideas’.136 HO ratings caused a twofold problem for the Board. Their Lordships found it difficult to fit these men into the framework of ‘service’ since they were not career sailors, which in turn meant that they challenged the prevailing discourse of paternalism. They were the embodiment of the conflict between ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ which plagued the Admiralty. They were not professional sailors, raised from boyhood breathing the ether of indefinable ‘traditions and customs’ of the service, yet they were essential for the navy’s war effort. They were a seemingly corrosive influence on the insular world of the Royal Navy; yet the navy could not have managed without them. Warnings about the influence of the HOs and the unrest their presence produced amongst the fleet came from all squadrons and stations, and the Board found itself in a quandary: they could not be removed, but nor could they be moulded to fit the ‘service’ model. Active service men could not be promoted in their place because at the end of war this would have produced a surfeit of leading hands and petty officers and a dearth of ratings over whom they could exercise their new-​found authority, and which would clog up the rotas for years.137 In addition, as the Board acknowledged, the skills and experiences provided by the HOs were very useful, and many deserved the promotions they were given. It is easy to see the difficulties the Board faced, but as ever it failed to find a way to communicate these difficulties to the fleet. Had they found a way to do so it might have served to alleviate some of the antagonism. Not so readily justifiable, yet equally divisive, was the Board’s decision that, in a number of cases, HOs were to be paid more than active service ratings doing the same job. The higher wages given to direct-​ entry ratings compared to those of their active service counterparts led to a feeling amongst the lower decks that the Board did not value them as highly as they felt they should. A letter from the commanding officer of HMS Resolution to the admiral commanding the First Battle Squadron stated that the principal cause of discontent was ‘undoubtedly the inequality of pay between active service men and direct entry’. He cited one example where a direct entry wireless rating brought in as a PO obtained 5s 6d a day after six months ‘and [was] probably incapable of looking after and adjusting a battleship’s wireless installation’, whereas 136 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201 –​report from the Commander of the First Battle Squadron to Beatty, 21 September 1917. 137 As the Second Sea Lord explained in an internal memorandum on 19 October 1917. He also indicated that in his opinion the promotion of HO men did not prejudice the interests of the fleet and that the number of HOs promoted was far smaller than the fleet believed –​ see TNA, ADM 1/​8501/​229 & ADM 178/​157.

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an active service rating doing the same job was paid 3s 3d a day which it took him between four and five years to obtain.138 Similar reports were received from Captain Hall.139 A report dated 1 December 1917 from the Commander-​in-​Chief Portsmouth to the Secretary of the Admiralty observed: ‘the Service in general resents the manner in which youths are allowed to obtain the ranks of Chief Petty Officer practically on entry, and obtain privileges and the fore-​and-​aft rig which the majority of active service ratings only obtain by years of service’.140 Crucially, the rapid promotion of new men over others’ heads flew in the face of naval tradition and reduced the opportunity and incentive for active service men to earn promotion since the rosters were clogged up by the retention of pensioners and the introduction of Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR) men.141 The Admiralty felt its views about the effects of HOs were borne out in the wartime mutinies. Mutiny broke out on HMS Teutonic in March 1916, HMS Jonquil in May 1917, on HMS Amphitrite in September 1917, on HMS Fantome in August 1918, and on HMS Leviathan in October 1918.142 In all three incidents for which reports of enquiries or full transcripts of courts martial survive,143 HOs and reservists played a role, and in all three cases the men involved regarded their protest in the nature of a strike and seemed unaware of the full implications of their actions. In no case was the mutiny accompanied by violence, and no ringleaders could be found (in the absence of which the men with the best records were selected to stand trial). The details of these incidents will be discussed at length in Chapter  5; however, the difficulty the Admiralty faced in responding to them is indicative of the clash of discourses which underpinned calls for reform. Whilst in many cases sympathising with the mutineers’ case, the Board had to ensure that they were not seen to treat mutiny lightly, or that mutiny would in any way be countenanced as a legitimate method for airing grievances. Mutiny could not be allowed to displace captains –​however inept –​since the mutineers 138 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201 –​this letter was then submitted by the Admiral Commanding the First Battle Squadron to the Board. The Commanding Officer on board HMS Resolution collected the information contained within his letter from a number of sources:  an anonymous letter which threatened to blow up the ship, and the subsequent investigation into it ‘among the best of the Chief and other Petty Officers, as to any causes there might be of discontent on the Lower Deck’. 139 Commanding Officer of HMS Dolphin. 140 TNA, ADM 178/​ 157  –​C-​ in-​ C Portsmouth to the Secretary of the Admiralty, 1 December 1917. 141 TNA, ADM 178/​157  –​Captain of HMS Excellent to the C-​ in-​C Portsmouth, 25 November 1917. 142 However, the last of these, HMS Leviathan, was subsequently reclassified as an ‘outbreak’ and no courts martial followed. 143 That is HMS Teutonic, HMS Amphitrite and HMS Leviathan.

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could not be permitted to feel that they had succeeded in achieving their aims. Collective action was incompatible with the ethos of paternalism, and could not be permitted, regardless of the justice of such action. The Admiralty were not alone in their fear of HOs. Just as the Admiralty feared their influence on the ratings, so lower-​deck journals feared the influence HOs were having on Their Lordships. The lower-​ deck journals disliked ‘outsiders’ as much as the Admiralty; a fact which Carew has entirely overlooked in his work. The journals alleged that not only were HOs being promoted over the heads of active service ratings, but  they also received better pay. This inequality led to a feeling that Their Lordships did not value active service men as highly as these men thought they should be valued. There was, however, another layer to the lower-​deck journals’ dislike of HOs. Just as in industry, workforce dilution was seen as a threat to the ‘professional status’ of different trades, so it was the navy. If semi-​trained men could perform naval tasks, they could not be as difficult as the lower deck claimed, and if specialists were brought in from workshops and shipyards, they might bring with them ideas and work practices incompatible with the elusive ‘traditions and customs’ of the RN. ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ drew the comparison directly in July 1917. However, they thought that ‘dilution’ had been done ‘with the express object of keeping the men from the Lower Deck off the Quarter Deck’. Although, as they acknowledged: ‘the dilution of the personnel of the Fleet has, however, its beneficent side. It brings together the men of the two great Services of the Empire, and living, fighting, and dying together, these find many of their divergences disappearing and the true man shewing up in each.’144 Some of the complaints surrounding ‘outsiders’ related to those brought in with a commission, others to those brought as senior lower-​ deck men. In either case the contentious issue was the same. As one ‘Jack or Joe’ put it ‘why should outsiders be called in by the score to do work they have not been trained for?’ There were numerous lower-​deck men who could do it, and by denying these men their chance the Admiralty was ‘rob[bing] them of their birthright by filling gaps’ with civilians.145 These early sentiments were repeated frequently and with increased venom for the remainder of the war. In March 1916 ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ was somewhat direct on the subject: We should direct our attention to the experience of what has been called the Premier Lower Deck Society –​that of the Naval Warrant Officers. This old and

144 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1917, p. 202. 145 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, June 1915, p. 63.

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loyal body, which has a larger comparative and relative membership than any other, publicly renounced all its aggressive policy at the outbreak of the War on the sentimental grounds that the Authorities should not be hampered and that the interests of their Class could safely be left in an appreciative Admiralty’s hands. What has been the result? Their claims have been ignored; their aspirations ridden over rough-​shod; outsiders of small, of indifferent, and even of negative qualifications, have been pitch-​forked into the Service as Sub-​Lieutenants, Lieutenants, Lieutenant-​Commanders and Commanders by the hundred, and their own ripe and experienced classes have been granted in all six Lieutenants; Verb sap!146

It then proceeded to urge all eligible men to join the Executive Petty Officers’ Benefit Society so that the coffers could remain filled and to stick together in these societies because ‘unity is strength’.147 The Fleet attempted to defend the Admiralty, by stressing that HOs had not disadvantaged active service men’s promotion because the same proportion of active service men were being promoted during the war as before it. The only exception was POs whose promotion to CPO was being held up because existing CPOs were being retained rather than retiring, resulting in far fewer vacancies for new CPOs being created.148 As ever Yexley’s paper took a more conciliatory tone. He recognised that recent events, particularly in Russia would have raised the Admiralty’s anxiety levels, so sought to diffuse the situation in the interests of progress. These difficulties reflect issues surrounding wartime manning. By 1917 the RN was the largest it would be during the war. Because of its various reserve systems the Royal Navy needed comparatively few additional men, and where it did, it needed specialists. For the army a simple increase in numbers was sufficient; the RN needed wireless operators, 146 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, March 1916, p.  272  –​ only the month before an article in the journal had proclaimed it a ‘national scandal’ that experienced warrant officers were being passed over for lieutenantship in favour of ‘men who in many cases had had neither experience of the sea, of gunnery, torpedo, navigation, etc.’ (‘ “Our Silent Navy.” Fulsome Flatter Doesn’t Feat Fleetmen’, February 1916, p.  242). Similar stories also appeared in ‘Cog & Can’, April 1916, p. 14 and July 1917, p. 78; and ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, July 1916, p. 82. In a small but interesting aside that Army and Navy Gazette made only one reference to the stagnation of promotions, and this referred to officers –​a contentious area not even considered by Their Lordships. The article expressed concern that officers who distinguished themselves in battles should receive promotion; however, there might be equally brave and talented officers who never got the chance to prove themselves, and their promotion chances should not be prejudiced because it. The article, however, offered no solution to the quandary (Army and Navy Gazette, 3 May 1917, p. 131). No other references to the effects of the stagnation of promotion on officers have been found during the research for this study, which suggests that either the matter never generated grievances or that the grievances it did generate where not deemed serious enough to record. 147 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, March 1916, p. 272. 148 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, December 1917, pp. 269–​274.

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engineers, telegraphists, etc. and these men expected their skills to be reflected in their pay packets. There were also calls for lower-​deck promotions to officer rank. If more officers were needed then, the lower-​deck papers argued, the vacancies should be filled by lower-​deck candidates rather than by ‘outsiders’.149 Clearly these arguments mirror calls for promotions within the lower decks; however, they are also connected with the calls for representation which will be examined in Chapter 4. Officers promoted from the ranks would, in theory, be better equipped to speak for lower-​deck men from a position of knowledge rather than simply as benign father figures. They should have been welcomed as part of the search for a lower-​ deck ‘voice’ which formed a key part of the discourse of democratism. In practice, however, officers who were promoted from the lower deck sometimes simply assumed the ways of ‘regular’ officers.150 This process is similar to that of the ‘socialisation’ of wartime army officers described by Gary Sheffield. Sheffield argues that in the army this process was about more than ensuring new officers did not commit a faux pas, or any snobbery surrounding the shortcomings of temporary officers. ‘Rather’, he argues, ‘it was part of the army’s pragmatic response to the shortage of officers from the traditional officer-​providing classes. It was an attempt to manufacture passable imitations of gentlemanly officers by providing, via the medium of an intensive course, the kind of social training that the upper-​class young received in homes, at public schools at universities. The entire process was rooted in the belief that the only effective officers were those who possessed certain qualities.’151 In the RN’s case, however, this seems to have been a self-​imposed process, with those promoted from the lower-deck activity seeking to adopt the manner of ‘regular’ officers. Any hints of antagonism between the active service and ‘outsiders’ were not solely within the sphere of promotions. The Army and Navy Gazette believed the inequalities in pay and pensions between active service officers and those from RNR and RNVR created dissatisfaction amongst the officers.152 ‘Jack & Joe’ felt that the new mercantile marine officer’s uniform copied too closely that of the Royal Navy, thus demonstrating the importance of identity and status to the men of the 149 This was a particularly common feature of both lower-​deck journals. Throughout the war it appeared in every issue of The Bluejacket and the Soldier. It appeared less frequently in The Fleet although the tone of the discussion, as with most other discussions, was more measured. 150 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 736 –​Parsons, William. 151 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, p. 56. 152 Army and Navy Gazette, 16 February 1918, p. 99.

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service.153 They had a particular position which they sought to preserve. Even The Bluejacket and the Soldier’s ‘Told at One Bell’, a story submitted by a reader each month, usually funny or sometimes a mystery, turned decidedly militant in September 1917. None of the previous wartime stories had been in the least political, yet in this story ‘ “As the ‘Sparks’ Fly Up-​ward!” A Few Words –​but not Ire-​less –​about Wireless’, ‘Sparks’ and ‘Spud’ are seen bitterly discussing the higher rates of pay given to ‘many of the ex-​grocers and ticket-​clerks [Sparks’d] been up against since August, 1914’. AB Nutty Parker agreed, ‘The War’ll be over before some them fellers learn to splice a rope an’ the motor-​launches would be better employed in the trenches. They do things differently in the Army. If a bloke’s a Private he gets a bob a day, whether he’s a lord or a gutter-​ snipe.’154 Even the story’s title indicated that such treatment was generating ‘ire’. There was also a belief that the presence of HOs threatened the status of petty officers because of: the influx during the War of a number of Officers from the Mercantile Marine; who, whatever their qualifications as Sailors (and of these there is no doubt) have naturally from their training but little knowledge of the Naval Hierarchy and the responsibilities which devolve upon Petty Officers in the maintenance of discipline. The ordinary R.N.R. Officers whose sole subordinate authority has been the “Bo’s’n” of a tramp and who has been in the habit of working side by side with this Petty Officer shipping and painting ironwork and handling awnings, etc., is handicapped which he enters the R.N. by finding a number of Lower Deck grades of highly educated and trained men wearing the same uniform as the ordinary Sailor … Apparently there is nothing which the R.N.R. Officer serving in the Fleet finds more difficult to understand than this matter of the status, responsibility, and rights of the men who, while they still wear the blue shirt, have functions of command and responsibilities which are not only beyond the “Bo’s’n” before-​mentioned: but practically much above those ordinarily devolving on, say, the Second Officer of a British tramp steamer, posts which have provided a very considerable number of the R.N.R. Lieutenants and Sub-​Lieutenants now serving in the Fleet.155

What this demonstrated very clearly is a lower-​deck desire to preserve the elusive ‘traditions and customs’ of the Senior Service as much as the Admiralty. The influence of HOs was not seen as wholly negative. However, the following example of their influence in a more positive light is a rare one. ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ saw the development of closer links 153 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, November 1917, p. 151. 154 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Told at One Bell’, September 1917, p. 110; similar sentiment, though more moderately expressed, can be found in The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, June 1915, p. 162. 155 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Petty Officers’ Status’, November 1916, pp. 158–​159.

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between the mercantile marine and the RN as a means of forwarding the ambitions of the latter: ‘It is not too far-​fetched even to hope that some system of long service and pensionable [sic] employment may be evolved with possibly interchangeability [sic] of duty in the R.N. and M.M.’ More importantly ‘common duties being thus evolved, equal rights to parliamentary representation would have to follow’.156 The evidence of veterans suggests that like the lower-​deck journals they held no animosity against HO ratings on a personal level. However, veterans, like the journals and Admiralty, were concerned about the influence of HOs, but not for exactly the same reasons.157 One question often put to veterans in the interviews was whether the HOs had brought any new ideas with them. Representative of opinions often offered by interviewees was Arthur Ford who felt that ‘even if [HOs] did [bring in new ideas] we wouldn’t want to know it. We only wanted to know our own life you see … you see you could recognise your own, you see, but we tolerated them and we had no animosity.’ To Ford, they ‘were recognised as not one of us’ because they had not experienced the same training and did not have the same ‘knowledge’.158 Haigh believed that far from changing the traditions and customs of the RN, ‘the Navy changed [HOs] to suit the Navy’.159 There were dissenters. William Halter felt that HOs had improved the terms of naval service. He believed that the addition of HOs meant that wives started to be recognised as part of naval life. Before the war naval seamen received no allowances and the basic salary was not enough to keep a family. Allowances and increased pay meant 156 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, July/​August 1918, p. 36. 157 In the interviews one can find examples of veterans who did feel that HOs were unfairly advantaged by the Admiralty. Men like Seaman William Parsons, who thought that HOs provoked jealously because they were promoted more quickly (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 736 –​Parsons, William Allen), or George Clarkson who believed that there was a lot of hostility because the Admiralty took more notice of the HOs ‘they got quicker promotion. In our branch in particular. There were blokes getting made POs with about twelve months in. It seemed as if they were promoting them to encourage them to remain in the Navy. But otherwise they were er, you all lived together, all suffering together and so you naturally er, there was a brotherhood built up whether you were a hostile [sic] or whether you were active service, although the active service ratings were inclined to feel superior … But, of course, some of those hostile ratings they did prove very valuable, they picked up the job pretty quick … I was surprised later on to learn that quite a lot of these hostile people were especially, were promoted to officers and eventually in submarines and that, they rose to be captains’ (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 679 –​Clarkson, George Michael). It is more common that the belief that the Admiralty favoured the HOs came from skilled artisans on board ship, and Clarkson was certainly one of those. However, even he is careful to point out the value of the HOs, and it appears that there was no personal animosity between active service men and HOs. 158 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur William. 159 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George Ernest.

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that wives could be kept, and the increase in pay ‘raised the status of a sailor and he got more self-​confidence’.160 Others felt they had learnt something from their HO counterparts.161 In typical naval fashion, where there is one view, there is also the polar opposite. Edward Pullen blamed the entry of HOs for the advent of swearing and thieving on the lower decks –​according to Pullen neither of these two phenomena had been present in the service prior to the war!162 Some veterans disliked the influence of HOs on the spit and polish system. Because of the lived experience of naval discipline it was felt that HOs, who had not been indoctrinated in the same way through this experience, brought about a slackening of the spit and polish system. Not all veterans felt that this slackening was a product of HO influence; many felt it was simply a product of the war. PO Willis attributed it to the lack of shore leave which meant that ‘being cooped up like that, naturally, we were relaxed. Get me? And that’s how it was, it gradually went.’ Although Willis did acknowledge the influence of one particular HO who ‘was one of these lower deck lawyers’ and upset the rest of the crew, who then took their cue from this individual and slackened their own personal discipline.163 Sick Berth Attendant Thomas Bunter recalled in his interview of June 1976, that his ship, HMS Cumberland, was not a happy one because of the way in which reservists responded to naval discipline, and the way in which the over-​strict disciplinarians, Commander Braithwaite and Captain Beatty-​Pound, handled them. Bunter believed that it was the temporary nature of the HOs service which made them unreceptive to naval discipline; they had no concerns about their future career prospects and so felt themselves at more liberty to fail to answer the bugle’s summons. The captain dealt with the problem in a variety of ways, including tying up reservists who got seasick on the upper decks and letting the sea wash over them, which the captain thought could cure them. Bunter felt a little sympathy from the officers would have helped the situation.164 However, Seaman Cyril Punt found that by the end of the war there was little difference between HOs and regulars. Unless

160 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 721 –​Halter, William. 161 Boy Seaman William Roberts felt that HOs fitted in well:  ‘In fact they did a lot of good in a way, see. Because I got to know a chap when I was young who was, he was something to do with electrical [sic] in civvy like. Well, you know, I got to know him and I learnt a lot from him, you see. Well, a lot of the others did, see.’ He also felt that HOs influenced change in the longer term (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 682 –​ Roberts, William George). 162 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 692 –​Pullen, Edward. 163 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 758 –​Willis, Reginald. 164 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 782 –​Bunter, Thomas William.

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‘a chap volunteered to tell you [whether or not he was HO] you didn’t know’.165 HOs brought about an imbalance. Like the army, naval discipline had to be adapted to encompass these interlopers  –​yet the RN seems to have found this a more difficult feat than its land counterpart, ironically because it took proportionately fewer HOs. In the army Kitchener’s recruits sometimes had their own ‘pals’ battalions and were proportionately so significant that it was in the army’s interests to adapt its disciplinary systems to cope with this civilian invasion.166 For the navy there was no such incentive. Certainly the Admiralty wanted to ensure that HOs caused as little disruption as possible, but what they failed to appreciate was that many active service men were in agreement with this desire. The distinction between the lower-​ deck view of grievances about the influence of HOs and that portrayed by the Admiralty is crucial for understanding the clash of discourses. The Admiralty were worried that HOs would damage their ‘traditional’ hierarchical structure and the underlying service ethos. The journals saw the ‘preferential treatment’ of HOs as a sign of the Admiralty’s lack of respect for active service ratings. This was compounded by the widespread belief that the Admiralty lacked sympathy with the causes of grievances brought forward by the men. They simply did not believe that their grievances would receive a fair or sympathetic hearing, and furthermore where announcements were made they often came via the public press, rather than directly from the Admiralty, which only fuelled the men’s belief that the Admiralty lacked respect for service personnel, bringing about a breakdown in communication between the Board of Admiralty and the Service over which it was so desperate to retain ultimate responsibility. The debate about the best method by which to bring forward grievances was one which outran the war. Beatty and the Admiralty were united by their desire not to revoke Article 11. To allow combination would be to undermine the sovereignty of the Board, because it would be to conceive of another body of men who were able to comment on the organisation and well-​ being of the fleet. It is evident that to allow combination would have been contrary to ‘tradition’. However, one could also argue that it might have been injurious to traditional disciplinary structures, and therefore in the Admiralty’s mind it risked undermining the welfare of the fleet which depended on the maintenance of good discipline.

165 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 12245 –​Punt, Cyril. 166 Sheffield, Leadership in the Trenches, pp. 73–​78.

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With these considerations in mind the ‘Little Father’167 scheme was devised. It was emblematic of the clash of discourses central to unrest. However, the logical obverse of the ‘Little Father’ was the child –​and it was to this role that Macnamara’s scheme confined the men. In so doing he overlooked one of the most important reasons for the grievances. Ratings were skilled professionals and wished to be treated with respect. This scheme failed in part because it did not remove the threat of punishment if a complaint was felt to be unjustified. It provided a method whereby the Admiralty could try to restore itself to its position as the ‘champion’ of the fleet.168 It was small wonder that with the threat of punishment hanging over a complainant at, in effect, the captain’s whim, ratings were increasingly turning to outside organisations to express their grievances for them. The ‘Little Father’ scheme only served to make the existing system more paternalistic  –​it merely encouraged the ‘correct’ spirit in which complaints should be handled –​the decision about what constituted a justified complaint remained in the hands of the ship’s officers, so it was, as Macnamara told the Board, ‘eminently necessary that our justification for refusing the right of combination should be the genuine and kindly readiness to pass grievances along in the way I have already described’.169 It did instruct officers to be more industrious in seeking out sources of grievance and nipping them in the bud, but it did not allow men the opportunities their shore-​ based counterparts possessed. Ratings were being treated like children who needed close attention; industrial workers were men whose views counted and whose influence was treated with respect because of the potential impact it could have. In effect, the Admiralty was proposing a solution to the unrest surrounding the representation of grievances by making the existing system more sympathetic, rather than by understanding the true nature of the grievance. It was also an interestingly timed scheme. Although it came from much older concepts of discipline, to talk of a benign ‘Little Father’ in December 1917, only months after the violent deposition of Russia’s ‘Little Father’, seemed to tempt fate somewhat. According to some sections of the lower-​deck presses the Admiralty’s paternalistic attitude, personified in the characterisation of Their Lordships as ‘The Little Fathers’ of the fleet, was so disliked as to make them welcome the possibility of orphanhood. This attitude became

167 The image of Their Lordships as the Little Fathers of the fleet is one which they had themselves created in the pre-​war period –​see Chapter 2 for details of how the scheme was supposed to work. 168 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Memorandum from Second Sea Lord, 2 August 1918. 169 TNA, ADM, 178/​157 –​Macnamara’s memorandum, 21 December 1917.

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apparent from early 1917 onwards following a leader in The Bluejacket and the Soldier in January of that year: A short time since the Financial Secretary to the Admiralty claimed in the House of Commons, when speaking on the question of Pensions, that the Admiralty were the “Little Fathers of the Fleet.” … but indeed, if the Board of Admiralty claim to be the “Little Fathers” of Fleetmen, many of us will rejoice in recent changes which have orphaned us for a time as least, nor shall we adopt mourning garb as a result … The settled policy of ignoring men of and from the Lower Deck in the award of Honours, the bestowal of the highest Honours only posthumously, the clear indication that any live Civilian or outsider from the Mercantile Marine is to be preferred for commissioned rank to the tried and proved and thoroughly trained Warrant and Petty Officer of the Fleet, clearly indicate that our “Little Fathers” have no parental affection … It would appear that our “Little Fathers” have determined that their Children shall never, if it can be avoided, rise in position so to take an active part in the Family business. Rather will they take inferior material from other sources to keep the “Children” strictly in their places.170

From this point onwards, the pages of The Bluejacket and the Soldier made frequent and deeply sarcastic references to their ‘Little Fathers’ (whom they always placed inside double inverted commas!). The Transmission of Information The Board’s ability to respond to alleged grievances was determined by a number of factors: its organisational structure, its ethos, and sheer practicalities. The Royal Navy operated as a highly centralised, red-​tape-​ ridden, organisation. Gordon cites the wonderful example of Captain Fitzgerald, whose inadvertent misplacement of a corkscrew produced administrative repercussions which took four years to run their course!171 It is this centralised mindset which is fundamental to our understanding of the Admiralty’s attitude towards unrest in its various manifestations. It reflected the Victorian values of authoritarian administration. Fittingly dubbed ‘anally retentive’ by Gordon,172 this attitude developed from the erroneous creation of a cult of Nelson, which believed that his victories were the result of authoritarianism and centralisation. It was aided by technological improvements, particularly in the field of communications, which allowed manoeuvres to be carried out with the absolute minimum of initiative.173 As Gordon argues throughout The Rules of the Game, the ethos of paternalism even dictated the way in which the Royal Navy 170 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1917, p. 202. 171 Gordon, The Rules of the Game, p. 170. 172 Ibid., p. 177. 173 Ibid., p. 177.

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fought its First World War engagements. This helps to explain the attitude prevalent within the Admiralty which believed that problems should be dealt with by a benevolent Board, sovereign over all it surveyed, dictating policies for the good of its subjects. The rapidity of technological changes had fuelled this attitude. It is indicative of the speed of these changes that sails were only abandoned thirty-​three years after Fisher and fifteen years after Jellicoe had joined. During the First World War the Royal Navy was being commanded by men who had entered a service fundamentally different from the one they now led, and whose mindsets had not altered at the same pace. Clearly the Board was not entirely to blame for the cumbersome bureaucratic nature of the department –​all government departments were similarly bureaucratic. What is important, however, is that regardless of whether this particular department could have been reformed, it was nonetheless the nature of the beast with which Their Lordships had to wrestle. Given the equivocal and ambiguous nature of the grievances it is little wonder that the Board’s response was correspondingly ambiguous. The response of the Board was further complicated by the realisation that its traditional answers to unrest, which had worked on the assumption that the navy was distinct from civil society, were no longer possible. The Admiralty had now to take into account the world beyond the confines of the foul anchor. In addition to the problems created by ethos, the Admiralty also faced a number of practical problems. Regardless of the Board’s desire to retain ultimate responsibility, it was divorced from the financial power that would have allowed it to act entirely autonomously. Despite feeling deeply sympathetic to the desires of the men for a simple, straightforward pay rise, they were not in a position to grant it; that right lay with the Treasury. The Fourth Sea Lord proposed the idea that instead of saying ‘Their Lordships regret that’ it could be changed to ‘Their Lordships regret that the Commissioners of the Treasury are unable to…’. This idea was enthusiastically received by the other Sea Lords and it took a civilian member of the Board to point out the obvious flaw: Attractive though the proposal made by the 4th Sea Lord and 3rd Sea Lord may be, and disagreeable as may be the position in which we find ourselves, –​namely, a position of authority without final power –​the more I think about it the less I am convinced of the wisdom of adopting it. Our duty is to be the Fleet’s final authority, and to put up the very best fight we can, even to the extent of making ourselves intolerable nuisances, until we get for the Fleet what our judgment and experience tell us is necessary. Failing that, we must, as I think, face the responsibility of accepting and announcing.174 174 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Memorandum from Macnamara, 28 December 1917.

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Furthermore, as Geddes argued, if they wished to absolve themselves of responsibility for failure to secure concessions, they had to accept the obverse and devolve credit for concessions granted.175 It took a politician to remind them of the conventions of ministerial responsibility, and there followed a series of memoranda in which various sea lords hastily explained that it had never been their desire to absolve themselves of responsibility, they had merely been striving to find a method of communicating with the fleet which made it clear that refusal to agree to concessions was not always the Board’s fault.176 This was not convincing, but it does brilliantly illustrate the difficulties the Board faced. As has been seen, the Board’s method of communicating with the fleet, and the piecemeal concessions made, contributed to a breakdown in confidence between men and officers and negated the effect of the very genuine care and concern the Board had for the men, and produced a feeling of distrust. It was not simply the way in which the Board communicated with the fleet, but also its relationship with Parliament which was a source of difficulty for the Admiralty and grievance for the men. Despite being essentially a group of career sailors, the Board had to traverse the minefield of politics and politicians, whilst the fleet looked on and commented. It had to try to foster a good working relationship with government, whilst being conscious of the impression of that relationship which the fleet would receive. Much of the difficulty for the Board in deciding how to handle the grievances presented by the fleet was the nature of the service. The vast volunteer British army was, in that form, a temporary one. The Royal Navy was a permanent service, the Senior Service –​after the war it would revert to its original system of a nucleus force with reservists on hand. The Fourth Sea Lord noted: In the case of the recent increases in pay both to Officers and men, pressure has been brought to bear on the Admiralty to assimilate the increases granted to the Army and those to the Navy and in my opinion this is wrong. The two Services are entirely different, one is largely a temporary Service compulsorily enlisted from men up to 41 years of age, the Navy is voluntarily recruited from youngsters who intend to make it their life’s profession and who are the inheritors of long-​ established custom and tradition.177

175 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Memorandum from the First Lord, 15 January 1918. 176 In reality, of course, the lower-​deck presses were well aware of the Treasury’s role and took pains to publicise it. See The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam and Jetsam’, February 1915, pp. 302–​303; ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, March 1915, p. 319; The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, April 1915, p. 100; ‘Service Notes’, September 1915, p. 253. 177 ADM 178/​157 –​Minute from the Fourth Sea Lord on the responses to Charles Walker’s letter of 14 November 1917, 15 December 1917.

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The last sentence unwittingly sums up the conflict between the ‘service’ and ‘professional’ nature of a career in the Royal Navy. The implication of the Sea Lord’s comment was that being the ‘inheritors of long-​ established custom and tradition’ should be some kind of substitute for the higher grants given to the sister service (a statement far easier for a man at the top of the Senior Service, on a large salary, and highly possibly a substantial private income, to make178). However, it clearly illustrates the disparity whereby sailors entered the service as a career or profession, but were part of a service tradition.179 The Admiralty had not yet been able to find a balance between the two, and whilst paternalism prevailed it would have been almost impossible to do so. With this in mind the Board had not simply to deal with the fleet in wartime, but had to plan for peace. Like the government, it was unwilling to bind future administrations to decisions made in a very specific context. It was for this reason Their Lordships were reticent about making any statement that committed post-​war leaders to the continuation of allowances, and were careful not to promote purely from regular sailors, despite the resentment this naturally caused. Conclusion Contrary to the belief said to be prevalent on the lower decks, the Board of Admiralty was not lacking in sympathy. They too wanted an all-​ round pay rise.180 They recognised the victualling allowance was inadequate.181 They were not blind to the difficulties which were the result of comparisons with the financial situations of civilian workers. The Board lobbied hard for concessions from the Treasury. The Assistant Secretary for Finance wrote to Macnamara claiming that it was ‘undoubtedly the fact that during the war the Admiralty Board have themselves been far more lenient, not to say generous, in matters affecting the pocket of individuals in the Fleet, with the result that many applications, which in former years would have been refused by the Sea Lords themselves, 178 There clearly was pride in the Royal Navy amongst the men and it was a factor in men’s decisions to join up. However, the facts, as they were being presented to the Board, indicated that ratings also wanted a fair, living wage; not one made up by intangible feeling of pride. 179 Similar difficulties arise in the police, who were at once a service and a profession. This culminated in the police strikes of 1918 in London and Merseyside. 180 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Minutes in response to Charles Walker’s letter of 14 November 1917: Plummer, 10 December 1917; and Fourth Sea Lord, 15 December 1917; Second Sea Lord, 18 December 1917. 181 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Minute in response to Charles Walker’s letter of 14 November 1917: Macnamara, 28 December 1917.

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are sent to the Treasury’.182 Where they were in a position to act independently, however, they often failed to do so, such as in the case of the calls for parity of status between the various branches. Had the Board been seen to act on these small matters, which meant so much in terms of status to the men concerned, it may well have improved the way in which the Board was perceived by the lower decks. In failing to do so these ‘little fathers’ were blind to what was of significance to their ‘children’; once more the discourses of paternalism and democratism talked through each other. However, the Board’s hands were also tied because it did not want to be seen to be responding to agitation, or to demands made by combinations of men. The requirements of fighting the war needed to take precedence; yet many of these calls pre-​dated the conflict and in the interests of the morale, and therefore the efficiency, of the fleet these small areas of compromise could have been potentially invaluable. The Board faced a difficult balancing act. It had always to consider whether unrest was a wartime phenomenon which would vanish when peace came, HOs returned to their pre-​war lives and pre-​war industrial relations and prices returned, or whether the calls for institutional changes had taken too firm a grip on the lower deck to ever simply vanish. Just how ‘infected’ was the navy? In essence, the Board’s problem was one of reconciling ‘insiders’ versus ‘outsiders’: how to bring in expertise from outside to help it to function efficiently within the broader context of total war, whilst at the same time retaining its traditional autonomy and distance from civilian society. For the Board it was a question of ‘us’ and ‘them’, ‘active service’ against ‘hostilities only’, ‘tradition and customs’ versus ‘change’, ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’. What the Board struggled to comprehend was that the lower decks also saw many of these issues in the same terms; both feared the impact of outsiders on the other. Facing pressure from continuing pre-​war social changes, the effects of war, and the forced adaptation of the navy’s role in warfare from its traditional offensive one, the navy’s carefully cultivated mythology of autonomy was being tested at the same time that outside society was undergoing huge changes. The navy had always maintained its own unique social structure, which at different points in its history had corresponded to a greater or lesser extent with the society outside it. By the First World War the Royal Navy was a miniature society which did not reflect that from which its members came. The Board of Admiralty faced the task of searching for solutions that could be grafted onto its existing structure. 182 TNA, ADM 178/​ 157  –​Assistant Secretary for Finance to Macnamara, 22 December 1917.

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By 1917 the Admiralty had seen the possible implications of unrest. They were familiar with mutinies in other armed forces which had had severe impacts on the ability to wage war, and in Britain they had witnessed the effects of industrial unrest on productivity and labour relations. The heightened conditions of war could easily encourage unrest to escalate, so it is little wonder that we see the bulk of the Admiralty’s response to unrest coming in 1917. Despite the accusation contained within the October 1917 Loyal Appeal the Board continued to try to achieve such a reconciliation. Let us not forget that they faced simultaneously the pressures of keeping such a large fleet in constant readiness for battle and on convoy duties. Could they really have been expected to undertake a total overhaul of their personnel policies at such a time? By doing enough to avoid full-​ scale mutiny, and by stalling consideration of the major issues until such time as they could be thoroughly discussed, the Board was offering a response within the confines of the wartime situation whilst struggling with internal conflicts concerning the changing face of the Royal Navy. The discourse of democratism framed the calls for a living wage rather than various allowances which were equated to charity, as well as the underlying issues of self-​image and status which were at the heart of the wartime grievances. However, democratism also framed the way in which the grievances were expressed; Loyal Appeals and the interventions of the lower-deck presses were part of the desire for a collective voice. No amount of sympathy, or indeed agreement with the calls for increased wages, on the part of the Admiralty could make good the lack of recognition the Board demonstrated for the underlying reasons behind the unrest, and their failure to articulate the pressures they were facing to the men of the fleet only served to compound the problem.

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Underlying all the substantive grievances over pay and conditions was a fear, by both the Admiralty and ratings, about the influence of ‘outsiders’ on the service. This fear was particularly acute over the role of the lower-​ deck societies, trade unions and naval representation. Many, at all levels of the service, were concerned about the influence the trade unions might have on both lower-​deck societies and on individual members of the lower decks. Both the methods of trade unionism and its ethos struck at the heart of the service’s ‘traditions and customs’ because it was essentially incompatible with paternalism. What those in power in the service failed to recognise, however, was that it was also incompatible with democratism, even if democratism had absorbed much of the language and some of the methods of the trade union movement. On 10 September 1917 a copy of a most secret memorandum from the Intelligence Division was forwarded by the Board to the Commander-​in-​ Chief of the Grand Fleet, Admiral Sir David Beatty, for comment. He was instructed to forward a copy of the memorandum to his flag officers and use their responses to comment on the discontent alleged to exist.1 The memorandum warned that reliable evidence had been received which indicated that meetings of lower-​deck societies were occasionally being held at the Union Jack Club in London and at Portsmouth, Devonport, and Chatham. The Intelligence Division had reason to believe the trade unions had approached the lower-​deck societies asking them to assist in securing better pay and improved conditions for the men. The report stated that ‘there appears little doubt that the idea of amalgamation and joint action with outside labour organisations has been brought into the Service by the Trades Unionists temporarily employed in the Navy’. It stated that agreement had already been reached between a number of trade unions and lower-​deck societies ‘ensuring the joint action and support of the former in any measures taken by the latter to obtain better pay, etc.’ Investigations had revealed that there was a long list of 1 See Chapter 3.

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grievances amongst the lower decks who felt that they had been tricked on nearly every occasion over rises in pay, etc. A  recent conversation with an old petty officer had been held in which he stated that ‘there was a great deal of discontent which perhaps might not be known to the officers, and he felt confident that there would be serious trouble before very long’.2 Trade unionism was frequently referred to as a disease. In his response to Beatty of 21 September 1917, the admiral commanding the First Battle Squadron warned that HO ratings ‘may infect the remainder of the Ships’ Companies with socialistic ideas’.3 Where opinions diverged was regarding the infectiousness of the disease and how it might be cured. Any outbreak, however limited, would, they feared, strike at the heart of the service ethos and fundamentally undermine the nature of service discipline. But what exactly was the nature of this ‘disease’ that struck fear into the hearts of stout admirals? This chapter examines the activities of societies and their interaction –​or alleged interaction –​ with the trade unions. In many ways the history of the benefit societies mirrors that of the trade unions. Indeed the origins of the trade unions are partially to be found in the eighteenth century Friendly Societies,4 which were formed for the purpose of mutual insurance against the privations caused by sickness, old age and death. Like the naval societies which followed, they almost invariably comprised skilled artisans rather than labourers, and they came at a time when the government was concerned for public order in light of revolution abroad.5 Initially the forebears of trade unions acted largely independently, with only informal links to particular trades.6 However, like the naval societies, unionism received increasing support from professionals which led to a blurring between industrial and political action as pressure groups became more prominent, and unionisation became more legitimate in the eyes of the general public.7 Further parallels can be found in the diversification of the movement. Unionisation sprang up amongst new, non-​artisanal groups and was ‘galvanised by the organising spirit of the time’.8

2 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Most Secret I.D. Memorandum, 10 September 1917. 3 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201  –​From Commander of First Battle Squadron to Beatty, 21 September 1917. 4 Though clearly we can date them back further still to the guild systems. 5 Henry Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism (Basingstoke: Macmillan Press, 1987), pp. 11–​15. 6 Ibid., p. 25. 7 Ibid., c­ hapter 4: ‘The Formation of a Pressure Group, 1860–​80’. 8 Ibid., pp. 72–​73.

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With a new generation came ‘new unionism’ at the start of the twentieth century, differing from the old in both tactics and organisation. Heavily influenced by socialism, it catered for the unskilled and poorly paid, with low entrance fees and subscriptions. New unionism depended not on benefits, but on aggressive strike action to win concessions. Many unions also operated a membership without making distinction by type of employment  –​hence the appearance of the word ‘general’ in their titles.9 However, Alistair Reid has argued that the most prominent unions in the dockyards remained firmly rooted in the craft union tradition. Despite producing the most advanced machinery in the world –​the very symbol of modernity –​working conditions in the docks were dirty and dangerous, and traditional methods of production survived well into the twentieth century because of the specialisation amongst dockyard workers.10 In many ways the naval benefit societies sought to emulate the achievements of these dockyard unions. From 1908 there had been a real initiative for social change led by Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Churchill at the Board of Trade. Lloyd George sought not to weaken the pattern of benefits started by the unions, but rather to make the unions agents for the operation of the state system.11 Benefit societies sought to assume a similar position with the Admiralty. Although trade unionism and the philosophy of socialism began as quite distinct movements, there was a sense in which the First World War brought them together.12 Prior to the war trade unionism had been by far the greater and more influential of the two. Whilst ‘new unionism’ had expanded rapidly in the decade prior to war, with its incumbent blend of militancy and socialism, it was still the decidedly un-​socialist ‘old unionism’ that predominated.13 Reid has also argued that this predominance even extended its reach to the Labour Party of 1918: when the Labour Party made its first appearance before the electorate as a potential party of government it did so as a radical-​liberal one. The famous socialist clause calling for “the common ownership of the means of production” was balanced by a liberal one calling for “the political, social, and economic 9 Ibid., pp. 94–​98. 10 Alistair Reid, Tides of Democracy: Shipyard Workers and Social Relations in Britain, 1870–​ 1950 (Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2010), ­chapter 1. 11 Ibid., p. 126. 12 For a discussion of the distinction between the theory and action of socialism, see Jay Winter, Socialism and the Challenge of War:  Ideas and Politics in Britain 1912–​18 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974). 13 Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, pp. 83–​112.

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emancipation of the people”; the party’s social vision was based on cooperation, participation and consent; and its economic vision was based on the elimination of waste, the promotion of industrial efficiency and, once again, cooperation. Indeed, in order to move on from its previous position as a trade union pressure group towards a new role as a fully-​fledged national party, Labour adopted all the classic issues of nineteenth-​century popular radicalism: civil rights, constitutional reform, local provision of social services, improved education, temperance and even land reform. Nationalisation of industry only featured in a subordinate role and only as a pragmatic way of dealing with the economic infrastructure of the public utilities and energy supply.14

Through cooperation with the government and the war effort in the early part of the conflict the workers accumulated a power that would permanently alter their relationship with their employers and the government. The war demonstrated the reality of the unions’ industrial power. Temporarily their leaders won national recognition.15 The creation of the Ministry of Munitions resulted in the government owning, by March 1917, over 250 factories, mines and quarries, while exercising authority over a further 20,000 controlled establishments. State control meant that government and workers were placed in an automatically adversarial relationship. The government could no longer act as an independent arbiter and labour disputes automatically took on political overtones.16 That the March 1915 Treasury Agreement17 was drawn up directly between government and unions without even consulting employers was almost as significant as the fact that it was almost immediately disregarded by the workers.18 The welfare services provided by the Ministry of Labour were unpopular with the trade unions who feared it deepened attitudes of deference and paternalism at work,19 an emotion mirrored by some sections of the lower decks despite the fact that they were already accustomed to a great deal of control over their daily lives. The regulation of alcohol, for example, was nothing new to a naval man. Industrial relations deteriorated further until their climax in 1917, due mainly to the fear of industrial conscription and resentment at the loss of exemptions contained within the 1916 Military Service Act.20 Significantly, the workers remained firm in their support of the war. Strikes were over pay and inspired by price rises.21 Only a tiny minority were overtly political in motivation and by 14 Reid, Tides of Democracy, pp. 336–​337. 15 Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, p. 87. 16 DeGroot, Blighty, pp. 121–​123. 17 For details of the Treasury agreement, see Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, pp. 152–​153. 18 DeGroot, Blighty, p. 114. 19 Winter, Socialism and the Challenge of War, pp. 206–​207. 20 Chance, Industrial Unrest, pp. 22–​25. 21 Marwick, The Deluge, pp. 203–​210.

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1918 the tide had turned as the German advances once again focused minds on the need for victory. Despite government actions to restrict pre-​war industrial practices, the First World War was a period of unprecedented union power. Fear of outside agitation was uppermost in Their Lordships’ minds. The Admiralty was as aware as any government department –​and more aware than many because of its position as an industrial employer  –​ that there had been a marked change in the nature of the unrest. As in other industries dockyard unions were initially enthusiastic about cooperating with employers in the first few weeks of the war. However, by December 1914 this had melted away in the Clyde shipyards and the pre-​war adversarial approach to labour relations had returned.22 Although the Treasury Agreement went some way to pacifying the shipyard unions, small-​scale strike action rumbled on, growing again in the winter of 1917–​1918 following a year of unrestricted submarine warfare which ‘put shipping at the top of the agenda of domestic war production’.23 In response to the various wartime shipyard crises a Shipping Controller was appointed in December 1916 to rationalise the use of existing vessels, supervise the convoy system, and issue new contracts of ‘standard ships’. In January 1917 the Admiralty incorporated this into its own Shipyard Labour Department with statutory powers transferred from the Ministry of Munitions. By April 1917 it had built up an effective network of local negotiators and by May the number of strikes and stoppages per week had reduced from fifty per week to almost none, despite this being a period in which the engineering industry more widely was experiencing a major upsurge in industrial unrest. This level of success was the result of union cooperation.24 Across industries in 1917 shop-​floor militancy had become the predominant force in industrial relations. The concept of men taking industrial action without being sanctioned by union officials was one of which the Board was all too familiar, although it is not mentioned explicitly in the Admiralty files. The Admiralty faced a dilemma in regard to the unions. They were unable to countenance union ideology or methodology, and feared its influence on the fleet, yet it was something with which they came into regular contact. For the Admiralty unionism could not simply be treated as an abstract concept; it was something that was tangible. Not only did union activity have an impact upon the Admiralty 22 Reid, Tides of Democracy, ­chapter 9. 23 Ibid., pp. 196–​197. 24 Ibid., pp. 195–​204.

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because strike action could delay production and repairs at commercial yards, but also because the Admiralty was itself an employer. The Admiralty had been duelling with unionism in the Royal Dockyards since the 1880s when there had been an influx of workers from other areas with some experience of trade union representation and confrontation,25 and these numbers increased vastly as a result of the pre-​ war naval arms race. In examining this difficult relationship many parallels with the Admiralty’s relationship with the fleet can be discerned. Neil Casey’s work on the Royal Dockyard schools examines their role within the dockyard and more importantly within the dockyard town. For Casey the schools’ ‘historical interest resides not simply in their position of a technical and academic education but also because boys were being educated in the very institutions to which, as qualified artisans, they would devote much if not all of their employable lives’.26 The same could be said, in many respects, of the way in which the RN trained its recruits, and in both instances this insularity affected the way in which trade unionism was able to take hold. From the second half of the nineteenth century dockyard men became increasingly vocal. Dockyard workers employed a variety of methods to ensure their grievances were heard. The annual naval estimates debate ensured that dockyard matters were aired at least once a year in Parliament, making direct representation in the House of Commons through local MPs an effective means of seeking redress for grievances.27 Workers also made use of petitions.28 The process of drawing them up helped to increase the sense of solidarity and to focus the minds of workers on grievances. They also created a channel of communication whereby both sides were able to get a clearer idea of the nature of the grievances. Waters argues that the language of these petitions shows dockyard workers were not subservient –​they were forceful documents that demonstrated an advanced degree of political awareness.29 By the eve of war, trade unionism had

25 Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day, eds, History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London: Mansell Publishing, 1999), p. xiv. 26 Neil Casey, ‘Class Rule: The Hegemonic Role of the Royal Dockyard Schools, 1840–​ 1914’, in Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day (eds), History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London: Mansell Publishing, 1999), pp. 66–​86 (p. 66). 27 Mavis Waters, ‘The Dockyardmen Speak Out:  Petition and Tradition in Chatham Dockyard, 1860–​1906’, in Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day (eds), History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London: Mansell Publishing, 1999), pp. 87–​98 (pp. 89–​90). 28 For a discussion of the history of petitioning in the Royal Dockyards, see Commander H. Pursey, RN, ‘From Petitions to Reviews. The Presentation of Lower-​Deck Grievances’, Brassey’s Naval Annual (1937), pp. 97–​110 (pp. 101–​102). 29 Waters, ‘The Dockyardmen Speak Out’, pp. 91–​95.

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spread throughout the dockyard workforce, and all the dockyard trades had substantial memberships of the nationally organised Trades Union Congress-​affiliated shipbuilding trade unions.30 The bonuses to working in a Royal Dockyard were increasingly less marked. The naval race meant there was near full employment in both commercial and Royal yards alike; measures like old-​age pensions and National Insurance meant that the perks such as pensions and insurance were no longer the sole preserve of those employed in Royal Dockyards.31 However, it must be remembered, as Galliver points out, that it was not ideology but material considerations which lay at the heart of pre-​war unrest in the dockyards.32 The same can certainly be said of activities in the Royal Dockyards during the war itself. Protest was about money and conditions, not syndicalism and socialism. Just as it had with the ‘Little Father’ scheme, the Admiralty responded to pre-​war unrest by attempting to re-​emphasise the distinctiveness of the Royal yards, rather than moving closer to the commercial model.33 David Englander and James Osborne assert that the success of Royal Dockyard workers encouraged combination on the lower decks.34 Unionism in the Royal Dockyards presented the Admiralty with problems not dissimilar to those in the fleet; the crucial difference being that dockyard workers could strike with comparative impunity. This meant the Admiralty were in no position to threaten or cajole –​or even to appeal to the men’s sense of service. In 1914 the Admiralty finally recognised the place of the unions, and proposed that the annual London conference of the TUC should be seen as the principal means by which it negotiated with the workers.35 Because Royal Dockyards were not designated ‘controlled establishments’ under the terms of the Munitions of War Act 1915, they were not obliged to abide by any trade union agreements, so resisted formal negotiations with union representatives until the formation of the joint industrial council in 1916.36 It was only in July 1918 that the principle of joint consultation was finally officially conceded in Royal Dockyards.37 However, unofficially, and very swiftly, the Admiralty found 30 Peter Galliver, ‘Trade Unionism in Portsmouth Dockyard, 1880–​1914:  Change and Continuity’, in Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day (eds), History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London: Mansell Publishing, 1999), pp. 99–​126 (pp. 99–​116). 31 Galliver, ‘Trade Unionism in Portsmouth Dockyard, 1880–​1914’, pp. 118–​119. 32 Ibid., p. 119. 33 Ibid., p. 120. 34 Englander and Osborne, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb’ (p. 609). 35 Galliver, ‘Trade Unionism in Portsmouth Dockyard, 1880–​1914’, p. 121. 36 Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day, ‘Continuity and Change: Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards, 1914–​50’, in Kenneth Lunn and Ann Day (eds), History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London:  Mansell Publishing, 1999), pp.  127–​150 (p. 136). 37 Englander and Osborne, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb’, p. 616.

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it necessary to negotiate directly with union representatives through the superintendents of the various Royal Dockyards. One such superintendent was Rear-​ Admiral Henry Bruce, Superintendent in charge of Rosyth Dockyard, 1915–​1920. He kept a series of detailed, if frequently illegible, diaries describing his duties overseeing construction in the yard, and dealing with unrest. The diaries are littered throughout with plans, illustrations, press cuttings and printed papers.38 From April 1917 onwards Bruce records at least one, and frequently up to three, incidents of strike action, unrest, or labour deputations per week. He lists the various labour demands –​both local and national –​in some detail. It is clear from his records that the Admiralty dockyards suffered from the effects of labour disputes in exactly the same way as any other employers. He recalls frequent mass-​meetings held both inside the yard and further afield. Importantly from a service perspective, these were being held at a time when the dockyard serviced the Battle Cruiser Fleet. A significant sector of the fleet was immediately on hand to witness the effect –​or indeed effectiveness –​of labour dispute resolution methods. Even more significantly they were witnessing their own ungenerous employers supposedly ‘lavishing’ the civilian workforce with financial rewards, and even more importantly recognising the legitimacy of the organisation set up to lobby for them.39 It is no coincidence that it was in this period that unrest amongst the fleet peaked, especially coming as it did after a protracted period of relative inactivity for the capital ships of the Grand Fleet. Like some of the lower decks, Bruce clearly demonstrates a sense of frustration with the Admiralty and Macnamara in particular who he believed was ‘condemned by all hands for his back handed work in dealing with dockyard labour & some home truths on the subject’.40 He

38 Royal Naval Museum Document Archives, Record No. MSS 134, Diaries kept by Rear Admiral Henry Bruce. 39 In an entry for 12 July 1917 Bruce outlined the means whereby grievances at Rosyth were represented: ‘Grievances will … be represented by the Shop Stewards to the Inspector of the shops with the request, if necessary that this matter be taken at once to the Head of the dept. Failing action on the part of the Inspector the shop steward had the right to proceed direct to the Head of his dept & directly to the Admiral Superintendent. If a settlement is not obtained by this course, the Shop Steward to report to his Society and the District Committee will then approach the Admiral Superintendent. Shop Stewards to be recognised as the representatives of their Unions’ (RNM, Diary kept by Rear Admiral Henry Bruce, Vol. 4). There are distinct similarities between this system and that of the service methods outlined in Chapter 2 –​however, it is the differences which most warrant comment, namely that dockyard workers had the right of combination. 40 RNM, Diary kept by Rear Admiral Bruce, Vol. 4, 6 June 1917 –​his feeling that Admiralty mismanagement was commonplace appears throughout the volumes.

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also, in some instances, sympathised with the grievances of the workers.41 Though a senior naval man, he did not share his overlords’ sense of paranoia about the activities of the unions. Although he recorded annoyance when the work of the yard was disrupted, he never expressed any concern about the influence of the unions on the men of the fleet. The relationship between the Admiralty and the unions in the Royal Dockyards was not exclusively poor, as one of Bruce’s press cuttings shows: Patriotic Dockyard Workers. Standing by the Army and the Fleet. The Admiral Superintendent of His Majesty’s Dockyards, Chatham, reports that at a meeting of established dockyard men on Monday evening the following resolution was carried by a large majority:-​That having been requested by an unauthorised body of Trade Unionists to leave work at 5 p.m. this day we, the established men, fail to see grounds for such drastic action, and desire to remain at our several occupations for the following reasons:-​1. Our duty to the country in its present need. 2. That such a request is against all principles of justice to those fighting. 3. That the request is an unconstitutional act, and has not the official sanction of our various societies. The First Lord of the Admiralty has sent the following reply for communication through the Admiral Superintendent to those who passed the resolution:-​I have read with much satisfaction the resolution passed last night at the meeting of established workmen in the Chatham Yard. The spirit which inspired it is entirely in keeping with the patriotism which has characterised the employees generally of the Royal Dockyards throughout the war period. It will be read with certainly no less satisfaction by the men of the Fleet and our soldiers at the front, who are enduring such hardships and dangers at this time on our behalf. (signed) Edward Carson.42

There was, of course, unionism amongst seamen through Joseph Havelock Wilson and the National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union. After its foundation in Tyneside, Wilson’s union spread rapidly to several ports. By 1889 membership stood at 65,000.43 A  permanent dockers’ union had been established, which by 1889 had a membership of over 30,000.44 With such large memberships it would seem probable that a significant proportion of HOs were members of a civil union. However, evidence of the interaction between either seamen or industrial dockyard workers’ unions and the lower decks is even more scant than that for benefit society activity. The naval intelligence report mentioned above 41 For an example of this see the entries for May 1917 (Vol. 4 of his diary) in which he expresses sympathy with the workers over the severe housing and transport difficulties they were encountering which the Admiralty were dealing with at a painfully slow pace. 42 RNM, Diaries kept by Rear Admiral Bruce, Vol. 4 –​the press cutting, which does not indicate which paper it came from, was pasted in the 16 May 1917 entry. 43 Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, p. 93. 44 Ibid., pp. 94–​97.

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means that there was certainly intelligence suggesting such activities, but nothing indicating the extent of this endeavour has been found. The Admiralty convinced itself that it was HOs who provided the link between unions and the lower deck. Even if HO ratings did not bring with them a specific union, they certainly brought trade union methods. These were not new to the navy, but they were, so the Admiralty believed, developing a new momentum. Trade union methods, particularly collective bargaining, and direct representation of grievances, were the antithesis of service procedures, and were deeply subversive of discipline because they challenged paternalism. Quasi-​trade unions, in the shape of benefit and friendly societies, had been present in the fleet for many years, but increasingly they were taking on the forms and powers of large trade unions. With events in Russia and the German navy in 1917,45 in addition to British industrial unrest, it is little wonder that the fear of trade unions and combinations was so powerful, especially when it was so easily conflated, in Their Lordships’ minds, with the even more dangerous socialism, in spite of the fact that very few of the submissions had mentioned it explicitly.46 Nowhere was any suggestion made that the unrest took on any political dimension at all –​to the contrary in fact, all the information the Board received stressed that unrest was apolitical and was never aimed at the officer class as a whole. Even the Director of Naval Intelligence laid stress on this in July 1918 when he submitted that there had ‘never been any serious political unrest’.47 Fear of trade unionism seemed disproportionate to the actual extent of trade union activity reported to the Admiralty. This phenomenon was inflated by the Admiralty because it tapped into pre-​existing concerns both in the military and civil spheres.

45 Throughout the summer of 1917 there were a series of ‘strikes’ within the High Seas Fleet primarily caused by the extremely poor quality of food. These culminated in August when roughly 600 men of the Prinzregent Luitpold broke ship in Wilhelmshaven. Although some of the ringleaders were found to have links to the Unabhängige Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (Independent Social Democratic Party of German), Daniel Horn has argued that ‘the Prinzregent walkout constitutes the best proof that the movement was grossly lacking in political inspiration and leadership. No political leadership, least of all an astute and cautious leadership like that of the USPD, would have tolerated a strike over such a trivial issue [as the imprisonment of some stokers]. Even if it had, it would almost certainly have attempted to coordinate it with simultaneous strikes on the others ships of the fleet, or if such a tactic proved impossible to carry out, to at least prevent implicating more men by halting all isolated instances of protest.’ Horn, The German Naval Mutinies, p. 135. For further discussion of the August Mutinies, see Horn, The German Naval Mutinies, ­chapter 4. 46 However, army and navy unrest was included in a report by Basil Thomson, CID, for New Scotland Yard. TNA CAB 24/​4 G-​173. 47 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Minute from the Director of Naval Intelligence, 28 July 1918.

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Like their men, the Board saw trade unions holding the government to ransom because of their ability to take industrial action. It was not simply a threat to them as commanders of the navy, but also to them as a class. The Lower-​Deck Presses and Trade Unions The relationship between the lower-​deck presses and the trade unions was ambiguous and at times self-​contradictory. Unionism was seen as incompatible with service discipline whilst at the same time there were calls for a de facto service union. Mention of the trade unions was studiously avoided until 1916, from which point it became a regular feature. Like Their Lordships, editors of lower-​deck journals were preoccupied with the influence of the trade unions. However, where the Admiralty feared the influence of the trade unions over the lower decks, lower-​deck journals feared the influence of the unions over the Admiralty. The lower-​ deck presses believed Their Lordships to be buckling under pressure from unions. Discussion opened in ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ when questions were raised about whether boy artificer graduates were being passed over for promotion for ‘outside “Trade-​Union” Mechanic[s]‌’, and arguing that if this was indeed the case it was ‘contrary to the best interests of the Service and against Regulations’.48 The paper alleged that there were over 20,000 Nautical Trade Unionists currently in the fleet. This was not done in an effort to scare the naval authorities, but rather in the hope that this shared experience would benefit both groups. The trade union influence, the papers accepted, could not be avoided, so it must be harnessed in a positive manner. The Senior Service would learn to be ‘less rigid in its rules’, whilst the mercantile men would ‘without doubt gain much in method, system, habits and discipline’.49 The subtext to this article was much more direct: trade unionism had much to teach the service. The Bluejacket and the Soldier was joined in the belief that the trade unions were exerting influence over the Admiralty by the Army and Navy Gazette. An article in April 1917 reported on the announcement that the Admiralty was to give a war bonus to employees of the Royal Dockyards and other naval establishments. This news, it suggests, must have been greeted by ‘curiosity’ in the fleet: The seamen afloat will have noticed the agitations, carried even to the point of stopping work, in the private establishments, and what looks like a corresponding movement succeeding in the public yards. It certainly seems that the civilian workers for the war have only to agitate loud enough or long enough to obtain 48 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, February 1916, p. 259. 49 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, November 1916, p. 159.

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anything they want; but nothing in the shape of a war bonus has been proposed for the seamen of the Navy, nor for those who need it quite as much –​the married junior officers. There are no powerful trade union leaders interested in their case, and the mere idea of these valued servants of the State afloat giving less than their best work –​let alone refusing to work at all –​to them in unthinkable.50

The article stressed the loyalty of the fleet and its condemnation of the tactics used by civilian workers, as a means to highlight the injustices facing the men, and their dislike of the influence of trade unions. The Fleet was emphatic that lower-​deck benefit societies were not trade unions ‘as that term is generally understood’.51 Moreover, it believed that there was no desire for or benefit to be gained from a closer association with the unions: ‘Trade Unionism in civil life has meant an eternal clash between Capital and Labour. Trade Unionism in the Navy would mean an eternal clash between the Lower Deck and the Powers that be –​that would spell disaster for the Navy.’52 In many respects the paper agreed with the Admiralty; calls for service unionism came from HO ratings who remained active members of their various unions.53 If the service was unionised: the whole social fabric would collapse like a house of cards; anarchy would come in, and we should rapidly descend to the level of poor distracted Russia. That is why we say that no disciplined force can ever be given the same freedom of combination as a civil worker.54

The paper argued that, in order to forestall such a calamity, workable machinery for ‘direct representation’ with the Admiralty had to be put swiftly into place. Democratism, like paternalism, wanted a service solution to service issues. Dislike of trade union activities extended to areas in which the unions were ostensibly helping active service men. In its report on the forthcoming Hyde Parker committee, The Bluejacket and the Soldier expressed the belief that the lot of ‘minor’ artisans had been made considerably worse by the efforts of the Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE), along with allies of cognate unions, to achieve ‘great things’ for the ERAs, who had, as a result, been ‘able to ignore the combined efforts of other Naval Societies’.55 In this instance, there was a jealousy of the ERAs’ relationship with the unions, and the advancement they were 50 Army and Navy Gazette, 21 April 1917, p. 243. 51 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, June 1918, p. 84. 52 Ibid., p. 84. 53 The Fleet, ‘Direct Representation’, October 1918, p. 152. 54 Ibid., p. 152. 55 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, March 1918, p. 20.

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Figure 4.1  ‘The Two Striking Forces’. National Museum of the Royal Navy, Record No. 1991.4  –​‘Trot Talk’ (magazine of the Harwich Force), October 1918, p. 65

believed to have achieved as a result of that association. Here we see the inherent contradiction in The Bluejacket and the Soldier’s response to the unions. Civilian strikes also received short shrift from naval presses (see Figure  4.1). The Army and Navy Gazette had previously attacked civilians for striking during wartime which had held up the work of the navy for a week.56 In 1918 there was little support for the police strikes,57 and by September of that year, the Army and Navy Gazette was bemoaning Britain’s ‘strike habit’, a disease which was ‘becoming

56 Army and Navy Gazette, 7 April 1917, p. 211. 57 Army and Navy Gazette, 7 September 1918, pp. 562–​563; also TNA ADM 116/​1603; and Naval and Military Record, 11 September 1918; for details of the police strike, see V.L. Allen, ‘National Union of Police and Prison Officers’, The Economic History Review, 11:1 (1958), 133–​143.

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more virulent’.58 The Bluejacket and the Soldier was also scathing about civilian workers striking.59 However, as Yexley warned in a pamphlet sent to the Admiralty, the sympathy for strikers displayed by the public and press had an effect on the lower decks.60 ‘The open sympathy and denunciation of their authorities has had a startling effect, and men are discussing their “right to strike” and when it shall take place. The public have justified the “Police Strike”, and they will justify the lower deck when they know the facts. That is the argument heard on all sides.’61 Using a 1929 edition of The Fleet to assess the situation in 1918, Carew asserts that there was widespread talk of strike action fuelled by unrest over civilian strikes. Furthermore, he quotes a letter supposedly written in 1918 from John Cummings (an official of the Stewards’ Society at Portsmouth) in which Cummings states his belief that the Admiralty’s attitude would ‘cause grave dissatisfaction among our people and will cause many of them to throw in their lot with the Political agitation party, a thing we were very anxious to avoid’. The same edition also mentioned that in 1918 there had been rumour of ‘monster’ political demonstrations to be held on Southsea Common, and of possible joint action between German and British ratings.62 Yexley claimed that he had only published these rumours eleven years later because he had been so concerned by those and others which suggested the societies should develop closer links with the Labour Party. Whilst Yexley’s distaste of any association with the labour movement has the ring of truth about it, it must be remembered that in 1929 The Fleet was engaged in a new battle with the Admiralty, and that these words were more designed to bolster that cause than they were a true reflection of the strength of feeling in 1918. Lower-​Deck Benefit Societies and Unionism However much these presses professed to dislike trade unionism, many of the reforms called for amounted to unionism in all but name. An all-​pervasive lower-​deck society was called for whose purview extended 58 Army and Navy Gazette, 21 September 1918, p. 594. 59 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Short Shrift for Strikers’, June 1917, p. 55. 60 Only twenty-​five copies of this were printed. Its recipients included the Admiralty, the Prime Minister and the King. TNA, ADM 116/​1603, Yexley’s pamphlet which was sent to the Admiralty on 4 September 1918. Yexley also addressed this theme is his article ‘Strikes and “Strikes.” A Midsummer Madness’, TNA ADM 116/​1603. 61 TNA, ADM 116/​1603,Yexley’s pamphlet, sent to the Admiralty 4 September 1918, p. 7. 62 Ibid., p. 89 –​Yexley also made this claim in his September 1918 pamphlet (TNA ADM 116/​1603).

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beyond that of the existing Joint Committees.This society would ‘in time … grow, as some of our industrial Co-​operatives and Insurance Societies have grown, until they are in a position of commanding power in their own particular direction’.63 In an article entitled ‘No Trades Unionism’, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ column laid out its proposals for an ‘organization’: There can be no Trades Unionism in a Disciplined Service. There can, however, be most usefully set up an organization common to all men of whatever rating on the Lower Deck, charged with the duty of caring for the Widows, Orphans and Fatherless, for the Maimed and Disabled, and also taking cognizance of all disabilities of every class of seafarers belonging to their Society, and by respectful and persistent advocacy of their claims gradually winning over Authority to the correct view of their cause.64

Quite what the distinction would be between the proposed Lower Deck Society and a union was left unanswered. Although implicitly the distinction could be seen as whether or not strike action would be permissible. If an organisation struck, it qualified as a union; if it restricted itself to the ‘respectful and persistent advocacy’ mentioned above, it was a legitimate society. Whilst condemning union tactics, any words of support, such as those from the triennial meeting of the Dockers’ Unions who unanimously passed a resolution calling the government’s attention to the inadequate pay of soldiers and sailors,65 were gladly welcomed. Clearly lobbying the government was a trade union tactic that The Bluejacket and the Soldier at least could bring itself to endorse. One article from that journal felt that by having members in both services the trade unionists could see, for the first time, the injustices facing fighting men; and through these unions issues could be brought to the notice of Parliament.66 In October 1917 the Army and Navy Gazette reported that Lloyd George had received a trade union deputation concerning soldiers’ and sailors’ pay, and calling for 100 per cent increase in pay for able seamen, marine privates and army privates, as well as further increases for all ranks below commission. Lloyd George, reportedly, outlined the difficulties inherent in the proposal, but referred it to a Cabinet Committee headed by Carson. The paper then reported on the proceedings of this committee, which incidentally included no service personnel.67 Similarly a leader in The Bluejacket 63 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, November 1916, p. 159. 64 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, February 1917, p. 211. 65 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Cog & Can’, July 1917, p. 87. 66 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Fleetmen’s Appeal’, September 1917, p. 116. 67 Army and Navy Gazette, 13 October 1917, p. 677.

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and the Soldier reported the results of a special meeting of the Council of the General Federation of Trade Unions, which had been held recently in Birmingham. The union was demanding 3s per day for soldiers’ and sailors’ pay, because it was ‘not honest, human or christian [sic]’ that the wives of soldiers and sailors were forced to go out to work.68 At the same time The Bluejacket and the Soldier were reporting on the Birmingham meeting, the Assistant Commissioner of Police was reporting that the Lower Deck Society, by which he meant the Joint Committee, was ‘financially strong and has the backing of all organised Trades Union delegates in the country’.69 Though consciously disliked, the unions were not without use, and whilst outwardly portrayed as anti-​service, some journals, such as The Bluejacket and Soldier, were actively seeking to encourage closer association with highly unionised groups.70 There is a limited amount of anecdotal evidence to suggest that some unions had attempted to recruit members from amongst the ERAs.71 Carew talks about ERAs links with the Amalgamated Society of Engineers, amongst others, predominantly in relation to the divisions he believes this created in lower-​deck efforts to take truly collective action.72 Citing The Fleet from June 1918, Naval Chronicle from January 1920, and Naval and Military Record from November 1918, Carew states that the Workers’ Union proposed to the Portsmouth Joint Committee that they forge formal links. He further states that Lionel Yexley argued strongly against the idea at the meetings, but that the offer was receiving serious consideration. In the summer of 1918 Yexley spent six weeks in Portsmouth to gauge the mood of the men, recognising that it was in the ports where militancy would be most likely to display itself.73 However, Carew then goes on to state that a formal approach in August 1918 from the Portsmouth local Labour Party to the Joint Committee suggesting united action was rejected by the Committee.74 It seems then, that contrary to Carew’s stated belief, the mood of the lower decks was not yet so militant that it would consider formal links with trade unions in a concerted, lower-​deck wide fashion. 68 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Pay: Trade Union Demand for 3/​-​a Day’, November 1917. 69 TNA, CAB 24-​4 G-​173 Pacifist and Revolutionary Organisation. 70 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ called for closer links between RN and MM which have been formed in war to continue in peace, July/​August 1918, p. 36. 71 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 759 –​Bruty, Charles. 72 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 94. 73 Ibid., pp. 88–​89. It was after this experience that he wrote his confidential twenty-​five copy limited run pamphlet (TNA ADM 116/​1603). 74 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 93.

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The growth of socialism developed parallel to that of trade unionism. In the pre-​war period socialist theory had been marked by vagueness which made it hard for contemporaries and historians alike to establish the essence of socialist ideas.75 In Britain there was no large-​scale support for militant socialism in the Marxist style, and no important body of analytical work comparable with Lenin’s or Rosa Luxemburg’s which had developed on the continent.76 However, the Labour Party itself had seized upon the war as an opportunity to pursue its own agenda. The formation of the War Emergency Committee (WEC) brought together different socialist groups to address issues affecting workers and sought to influence government policies in those areas by advising a Cabinet Committee.77 They wanted to defend the whole of the working class and were not simply concerned with the organised minority. The WEC was resented by the trade unions who felt they were intruding on their privileged position as the defender of the organised wage earner. The Labour Party’s opposition to conscription, though not strong enough to alter the policy, undermined the wartime political truce and gave new life to a party that was increasingly seen as the party of dissent. Labour’s rise was further boosted by the infectious optimism of the Russian Revolution, which gave Western socialism renewed confidence.78 The leaders of the Independent Labour Party and the British Socialist Party summoned a special conference at Leeds in June 1917. Attended by delegates from socialist parties, trade unions and trade councils, the conference was a great success. It resolved to establish Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils on the Russian model within Great Britain. Whilst this turned out to be no more than a revolutionary gesture, it signified a weakening of ties of authority within the labour movements.79 After his Russian mission, Henderson returned convinced that the best policy would be a negotiated peace. This conclusion precipitated his removal from the Cabinet, but was emblematic not only of the renewed confidence of British socialism, but of the international dimension being injected for the first time. The Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress sought powers from the 1917 Congress which would enable it to play a more active role in the foreign diplomacy of the labour movement. It also asked for, and obtained, powers to increase its staff and to levy affiliated societies for the money necessary for this to happen. The result was that by 1918 a

75 Winter, Socialism and the Challenge of War, p. 3. 76 Ibid., p. 6. 77 Ibid., ­chapter 7: ‘Sidney Webb and the War Emergency Committee’. 78 Ibid., ­chapter 8: ‘Socialism and Political Independence’. 79 Pelling, A History of British Trade Unionism, pp. 157–​159.

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special international bureau was set up.80 The fact that the Independent Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress had pledged themselves to a foreign policy distinct from that of the government went some way to reducing the distrust of the union leadership which had manifested itself in the shop stewards’ movement and unofficial strikes.81 What is more, at the end of the war the Labour Party was the only party untarnished by the machinations that had brought war and the incompetence of its prosecution. By the end of the war socialist thought had been unified under the Webbian model,82 thus the war did not decisively affect theory, but rather it was political activity and the influence of socialism which were changed by the impact of war. The Labour Party formally adopted a commitment to socialism in 1918, however any extension of public sector ownership was envisioned more in traditional radical terms than that ‘Fabian-​socialist gloss [given] by its main draughtsman’ might have suggested.83 Lower-​Deck Societies The conflation of ideology and methodology found amongst some members of the Board of Admiralty, led to similar concerns about the activities of lower-​ deck benefit societies. However, the extent of the activities of naval benefit societies during the First World War is difficult to ascertain with any great certainty. The surviving evidence is sketchy partly because no one appears to have taken the trouble to maintain the records for future study; but also because many were forced to meet in secret. In a letter to Lionel Yexley, Frank Tewkesbury (a pensioned chief writer) explained that: ‘At present we meet in secret, with a furtive eye on the door as it were. We are not seditionists … we want the sword [i.e. Article 11] removed which dangles over our heads.’84 Each society met on a monthly basis, and reports of their progress appeared regularly in wartime editions of The Fleet. The Joint Committees met monthly to discuss the programme before it. Any decisions made were then submitted to the other two home port Joint Committees, where they were either agreed or revised and then returned. A  further discussion with reference to the other Joint Committees’ comments ensued, and the results were placed on record. The Joint Committees would then meet at

80 Ibid., pp. 157–​159. 81 Ibid., pp. 157–​159. 82 Winter, Socialism and the Challenge of War, ­chapter 2. 83 Reid, Tides of Democracy, ­chapter 14. 84 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 88.

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their Annual Conference to flesh out an Appeal.85 The only minutes to have been found were those of the Portsmouth Joint Committee given to Lionel Yexley who was one of its members.86 The surviving minutes reflect the same worries and concerns as those found in the Admiralty files and lower-​deck journals.87 Clearly there is no way of knowing definitively whether these are typical of the activities of all the societies, but anecdotal evidence suggests they are. The only other evidence of their activities that survives is that reported in other sources such as The Fleet (often years afterwards), the petitions, Naval Intelligence reports, an appendix to the second (interim) review of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Pay Committee compiled by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, and other occasional mentions, such as those in courts martial. Perhaps in part because of these difficulties very little has been written about the societies at all. The only major work is that of Anthony Carew over thirty-​five years ago,88 though this has significant limitations. Despite presenting a case which leads one to believe he is arguing the opposite, Carew, argues that: The increasing signs of unrest and the development of collective lower-​deck organisation during [the pre-​war period] were undoubtedly related. The more numerous the cases of desertion and of men seeking to buy themselves out, the more justification there was for the reform campaign and the greater was the appeal of the benefit societies. Similarly, some, if not all, of the many instances of negative protest in the form of refusal of duty were prompted by the selfsame conditions that led a minority of ratings to combine and lobby for positive change. What was clear, however, was that the lower-​deck societies were not responsible for any of the more dramatic forms of protest action in individual ships or establishments.89

Carew does not cite his source for his claim that instances of desertion and buying-​out were on the increase. However, it is certainly the case, as will be seen in Chapter 5, that offences like mutiny appear to have no link to the activities of the various societies. The wartime activities of the societies rather undermine Carew’s belief that divisions between societies were being overcome. The societies largely curtailed their activities in response to the outbreak of war. Some class complaints continued to reach the Admiralty, and appeared

85 The Fleet, ‘Substance and Shadow’, July 1918, p. 104. 86 He was invited to join by the society’s secretary, Tewkesbury, on 9 May 1918 (NMM Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 9 May 1918). 87 The surviving minutes can be found at NMM Pursey Box 20. 88 Carew, The Lower Deck. 89 Ibid., p. 79.

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in service journals,90 however, patriotism combined with the drafting of a number of pensioners and the necessities of war, ensured that the activities of the societies were largely confined to those originally conceived for these death benefit societies. In the early part of the war, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ column’s most pressing concern was the financial strain the war placed on the different societies. War-​deaths meant the societies had to make unprecedented levels of payments from funds.91 This strain became particularly severe after the Battle of Jutland in 1916.92 Not only were societies facing acute financial pressure, they also faced what they saw as something in the nature of ‘competition’ from civilian funds set up to provide ‘charity’ for the navy. As the war progressed the societies, like their instruments of expression the lower-​deck journals, began to re-​enter the debate on welfare and conditions. Reports which reached the Admiralty93 as well as frequent notices in The Fleet94 and other local papers, show that meetings were being held both in ports, on board and at the Union Jack Club, Waterloo. We also know that some social events on board ships were, if not a mask, then an opportunity for the discussion of grievances. Although this had been reported on previously, the discussion of contentious areas at nominally ‘social’ events came into sharp relief during the trial of Scrivens and Vale.95 Several prosecution witnesses testified that they had attended a social entertainment on HMS Resolution in the middle of September 1917, at which a document was read out whose contents appertained to pensions, hospital stoppages and extra victualling allowances. Ernest Charles Mould, Master-​ at-​ Arms, HMS Royal Oak, gave an interesting testimony for the prosecution. According to Mould the document was read out by Scrivens and discussed in the same manner as at any other meetings, indicating that the reading and discussion of documents was a common occurrence on His Majesty’s ships. Mould continued, saying that the document was voted on. When asked how he had voted, he replied, ‘It alluded to the rise of pay and we were naturally agreeable.’ The Commander of HMS 90 See Chapter 3. 91 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, January 1915, p.  267; February 1915, p. 304. 92 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, July 1916, p. 79; August 1916, p. 98. 93 For example, TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Most Secret I.D. Memorandum, undated; extract of letter from Yexley to Admiralty, 30 August 1918. 94 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, June 1915, pp. 156–​158; ‘Service Notes’, May 1916, pp. 137–​ 138. However, the activities of the club feature in most issues. 95 Master at Arms J.W. Scrivens and Petty Officers W. Vale of HMS Resolution were tried by court martial in connection with the hectographed circular of 1917 (TNA, ADM 156/​35).

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Resolution also gave evidence for the prosecution. He was asked whether he knew that the Appeal was to be discussed at the meeting on HMS Resolution, to which he responded:  ‘A letter was received in the ship which the Captain read to me, and said he had received a complaint that the so-​called social meetings were being used as a cloak for political meetings on board, and ordered me to make enquiries at once as to what had taken place when the Petty Officers of the “REVENGE” had been on board.’96 Clearly these meetings were not conducted under the banner of the benefit societies; however, in style and proceedings they were undoubtedly influenced by them. It is also important that the men claimed that these meetings were not political. Perhaps this perception arose from the fact that they did have a large element of social entertainment: at the same meeting Scrivens acted as chairman during the debate and compère between the singing items! However, it may also have been a product of the ambiguous relationship between the lower decks and ‘politics’ in the sense of party politics. In his report into pacifist and revolutionary organisations, Basil Thomson, the Assistant Commissioner of Police at New Scotland Yard, specifically highlighted the trial of Scrivens and Vale as an area of discontent in the navy. Basil suggested that naval discontent ‘centred around the Lower Deck Society’ and that the society’s committee believed the trial of Scrivens and Vale was motivated by association between Scrivens and the society. Basil reported that: The sum of 150l has already been subscribed to in his defence, of which 50l has been received from members of the society serving on the “Resolution.” Messers. Bond and Pierce, solicitors, have been engaged for the defence, and a reporter has been engaged to give full publicity to the proceedings. It is believed that, in the event of the punishment of the master-​at-​arms, there will be great discontent in the Grand Fleet, and possibly a mutiny on the “Resolution.” I am told that Lord Beresford has been apprised of the pending court-​martial, and asked to intervene.97

Despite this alleged link to Lord Beresford, no other evidence for which can be found in the Admiralty files, there is little evidence that links lower-​deck organisation to Westminster-​style politics, and the idea that the issues being discussed at these meetings were anything other than a purely naval issue would have been offensive to many there. This is not to suggest that they were not influenced by outside issues  –​it has already been shown that they were –​but it is to suggest that lower-​deck 96 TNA, ADM 156/​35 –​Evidence of Commander S.J. Meyrick of HMS Resolution found in the Minutes of Proceedings of the trial of Scrivens and Vale. 97 TNA, CAB 24-​ 4 G-​ 173, Pacifist and Revolutionary Organisations in the United Kingdom. Report by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Appendix.

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complaints were perceived as a separate issue  –​a right which should be granted by the service. Even the naval authorities accepted these meetings in such a spirit. In response to the trial of Scrivens and Vale, the First Sea Lord stated: ‘I have formed the opinion that the Petty Officers’ “Social Entertainments” mentioned probably commenced innocently, but developed into meetings which might have led to political agitation on the lower deck.’98 Given the links being made by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner between pacifist and revolutionary organisations, the discontent in the army and navy, and the relationship between Scrivens and the so-​called Lower Deck Society, the relaxed attitude of the Admiralty seems more remarkable. If, however, we look at the sentencing of the two POs, we can see that Scrivens’ punishment was more severe. No reference is made to his association with any lower-​deck society, but reference is made to the previously good character of Vale. Vale lost none of his pension and was permitted to try for future promotion.99 Most significant was the resumption of the issuing of Loyal Appeals in 1917. Whether its authors spotted a window of opportunity in a period of general industrial unrest, or whether it grew organically from the navy’s own dynamic we can but speculate. Either way the timing of the Appeal was significant. In July 1917, in the Union Jack Club, there was a conference of Joint Committee representatives and petty officers on leave from the Grand Fleet. According to Commander Pursey, the Appeal’s author (whom he does not name) left the Grand Fleet for Devonport at the end of June 1917 following his promotion to warrant officer. He spent his leave in London, thus becoming aware of the situation in the home ports as well as in the fleet. Pursey concluded that: ‘Actually, discontent at the naval ports, where the men had more knowledge of increased prices and civilian war bonuses, was even more serious than it was in the Fleet.’100 Together these representatives drafted the first Loyal Appeal since 1914. Naturally it attracted attention. It received a good deal of support in the national press and was discussed in Parliament.101 Between July and September 1917, the Grand Fleet lay in Rosyth (partly, it was rumoured, because Beatty found that lying in Scapa rather limited his social life). Whilst there leave was given, and for the first time since the war had begun large numbers of ratings were able to mingle together. Formal meetings were held in shore canteens, and when the fleet returned to Scapa in mid-​September discussions continued through POs visiting 98 TNA, ADM 156/​35 –​memorandum from the First Sea Lord, 6 December 1917. 99 TNA, ADM 156/​35 –​see Admiralty minutes in relation to the court martial. 100 Pursey, ‘From Petitions to Reviews’, pp. 104–​105. 101 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 73–​74.

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other ships.102 In many regards 1917 had been one of the most dramatic years for the war at sea. Unrestricted submarine warfare had placed great pressure on the Admiralty and on the crews of the predominantly destroyer escorts who convoyed merchants vessels, but for the Grand Fleet this was a period of relative inactivity. Following the controversial and indecisive action at Jutland in 1916 the main body of the Grand Fleet had been restricted to blockade enforcement and broader sweeps. This inactivity, combined with the coming together of the fleet in Rosyth and the increase in civil discontent, provided the perfect breeding ground for the Appeals. A hectographed circular was sent to all POs of the Grand Fleet accompanied by another petition.103 Though two POs, Master-​at-​Arms J.W. Scrivens and PO W. Vale of HMS Resolution, were charged in connection with the accompanying hectographed circular, the authorship of the petition itself remains shrouded in mystery. Further limited appeals were issued in early 1918, and in October and November 1918 the Joint Committees of the home ports met to draft another Loyal Appeal, although its issue was delayed by the armistice.104 Importantly, the tone of the Appeals and of the activity more generally stood in marked contrast to their pre-​war counterparts which had made ‘polite requests’. The increasingly militant tone of the general expression of wartime grievances has already been noted, however, if the Appeals are examined more closely another linguistic shift can be seen. From 1917 the Appeals took on the language of militant trade unionism. The letter signed by Scrivens and Vale to accompany the Appeal of September 1917 is addressed ‘Dear Brother Petty Officers’. The evocation of trade union language did not go unnoticed by Their Lordships. Nor did Scrivens’ and Vale’s assertion that they had already received messages of solidarity go un-​remarked.105 The Appeal itself, whose authorship was so ambiguous, no longer contained ‘requests’ which Their ‘Lordships have not hitherto favourably considered’, but ‘demands’, barely concealed threats, and personal attacks.106 Their ‘Lordships’ attitude clearly indicates that the extent of the dissatisfaction is not realised nor the seriousness of the

102 Ibid., p. 75; and Pursey, ‘From Petitions to Reviews’, pp. 105–​106. 103 For details of the hectographed circular, see Chapter 5. 104 Pursey, ‘From Petitions to Reviews’, p. 107. 105 TNA ADM 156/​35 –​this assertion was made in the letter signed by Scrivens and Vale which was circulated to the petty officers of the Grand Fleet, a copy of which was included with the circumstantial letter written to the C-​in-​C of the Grand Fleet by the Captain of HMS Ajax laying out the circumstances and advising the court martial of Scrivens and Vale. 106 TNA ADM 156/​35 –​October 1917 Loyal Appeal.

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situation understood … The conviction of every man of the GRAND FLEET as to the justice and urgency of these demands is unshakable … SENIOR RATINGS cannot contemplate the present injustices being upheld by the GOVERNMENT without serious NATIONAL RESULTS.’107 The hectographed covering letter talked of the need for ‘unanimous action’ which would give ‘strength’.108 This was no respectful request, as many on the lower deck conceded. Indeed witnesses for the defence were not entirely comfortable with the style of the letter.109 Even the lower-​deck presses found the style and tone of the Appeal unhelpful to the general cause. The challenge to the service nature of lower-​deck identity meant that this language did not fit with the prevailing discourse of democratism. By 1918 the drafts for the next Loyal Appeal had reverted to ‘respectfully ask[ing]’ for redress of grievances.110 As with so many other areas the Admiralty had a confusing relationship with the Loyal Appeals. Though vehemently rejected as contradictory to service discipline, they were nevertheless discussed at length by the Board. Their Lordships even recognised that the men had just cause to wonder whether Appeals were a legitimate means of representing grievances. There is little doubt that the 1917 petition was sincere and loyal in its inception –​the accompanying hectographed circular opened by stating that it is the duty of petty officers, as senior members of the lower deck, to bring to the Board’s attention any causes of discontent ‘bearing in mind that the removal of this discontent will add considerably to the efficiency and welfare of the Fleet’.111 However, for the Board the issue was about not only the grievances outlined which could be absorbed into the discourse of paternalism because they could respond as concerned fathers, but also, and far more importantly, the method of their presentation which challenged the Admiralty’s position as the unlimited arbiters of the fleet’s welfare, especially when the circular demonstrated so clearly a new level of fleet-​wide organisation and a keen political awareness.112 The circular assured the POs to whom it was addressed that ‘[The Social

107 TNA ADM 156/​35 –​October 1917 Loyal Appeal. 108 TNA ADM 156/​ 35  –​Hectographed circular from ‘The Social Representatives’, undated. 109 TNA ADM 156/​35 –​See testimony of Electrical Artificer, Fourth Class, Frederick John Stevenson of HMS Resolution. 110 July–​August 1918 various drafts for the 1918 Appeal –​NMM Pursey Box 20. 111 TNA, ADM 178/​ 157  –​Hectographed circular issued to POs from ‘The Social Representatives’, October 1917. 112 In that the hectographed circular went so far as to propose that each ship present the petition in the second week in October in order for it to reach the Board before the opening of Parliament in November.

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Representatives] are in a position to assure you that we can honestly hope for every assistance from the Commander-​in-​Chief in presenting this loyal and unanimous Petition in accordance with strict service procedure.’113 It should have been clear to the POs that in no respects could such a petition conform to ‘strict service procedure’, contravening as it did King’s Regulations. Whilst Loyal Appeals might have been tolerated in the pre-​war period, they were never officially recognised as legitimate, and to even hope that Beatty would be prepared to offer assistance to such a method of representing grievances was naïve in the extreme; in forwarding it to flag officers and commodores of the Grand Fleet for their comments, Beatty stated that ‘Such action would be subversive of discipline and contrary to the best traditions of the Service.’114 The Second Sea Lord suggested that the views expressed in the petition were not those of the men of the fleet, but rather those implanted by ‘so-​called agitators’. In this way, he was to an extent dismissing and denigrating them. He was trying to distance the ‘regular’ RN from the complaints made by these temporary entrants, and by doing so was arguing that it was not the paternalism of the service that was at fault. However, even accepting the possibility that such feelings would not have emerged without outside influence, that would not have mitigated their potential dangers. The Loyal Appeals solicited an equally varied response from the lower-​ deck presses. Whilst being largely in accord with the requests themselves, worry was expressed about the manner in which they were conveyed. The Appeals and the circular were frequently spoken about in the same breath with little distinction made between the two. In some instances it appears that the two terms were used interchangeably. An article in The Bluejacket and the Soldier regretted the ‘truculent’ tone of the circular, which it felt had turned some naval officers and members of the press who might have been disposed to be sympathetic, hostile.115 However, the journal had nothing but support for the causes advocated in the circular, which were all issues that had been mentioned in that very journal throughout the war. In that same issue, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ took up the mantle. Although this column found the requests more than reasonable it expressed ‘apprehension’ at its tone, and feared that those responsible would be punished. To that

113 TNA, ADM 156/​35  –​Hectographed circular from ‘Social Representatives’, signed Scrivens and Vale, undated. 114 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​Letter from Beatty to Flag Officers and Commodores of the Grand Fleet, 29 September 1917. 115 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fleetmen’s Appeal’, September 1917, p. 116.

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end, they warned their readership, though it is clear that such a comment was aimed at Their Lordships, that ‘Fleetmen may be certain that the punishment of any of their number for the offence of having “combined” for the purpose of stating their Disabilities, however unwisely these may have been expressed, would set every liberty-​loving Briton ablaze and redress would follow in short order.’116 If correspondents in ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’ are to be believed there was a general sympathy with Scrivens and Vale, and concern over what action the Admiralty would take against them. In an issue in which discussion of the circular featured in many columns, the following are typical of the questions found in ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’: ‘Will not [the Admiralty] learn that the times have changed?’ ‘That men now-​a-​days may be loyal, faithful to the state, and devoted to duty, and may yet rebel against injustice?’ and ‘Will Senior Naval Officers remember that their attributes are not almighty and that they in common with the Fleetmen are but public servants?’117 It was seized upon not simply as an act of highlighting injustice, and of defying the service systems, but also as a means of asserting their sense of identity as men rather than the infantilised version of the lower decks promulgated by the Admiralty. Whilst accepting that the July 1917 Appeal was written in a spirit of loyalty, The Fleet was concerned about the repercussions of issuing such a document during the war: What disturbs us most is that it should have been compiled at all. We are at war; the Defence of the Realm Acts have given enormous powers to the Executive, and yet we have a body of Petty Officers … daring all the pains and penalties attached to launching a document like this. Feeling and resentment must have reached a pretty high pitch to make it possible. And now let us make an appeal to our readers. The Lower Deck had blown off steam, and no one could have done it more forcibly, consistently or effectively than those responsible for this document. But there are a good many millions involved … Such sum cannot be dealt with at a moment’s notice; therefore, having blown off its steam, we trust the lower deck will possess its soul in patience. On the other hand, we appeal to My Lords to take this document as expressing serious lower deck feeling and to give some reply at the earliest possible date.118

Commentary on the Appeals was not confined to lower-​deck journals. In 1918, once the tone became more measured once again, the Army and Navy Gazette was able to express its belief that the Appeal was ‘a

116 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, September 1917, p. 118. 117 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, September 1917, p. 112 –​this whole issue was full of mention of the hectographed circular. 118 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, August 1917, p. 204.

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respectful request for more pay and in amelioration of the conditions of service, &c.’ and that there was ‘no apparent reasons why the Admiralty should not give a sympathetic consideration to this appeal’.119 Dislike of the tone expressed in some journals may have been the result of their fears that injudicious language would harm the cause for which they had been advocates for so long. However, there is another, more convincing, interpretation. Apprehension about the tone of the requests can be seen as a genuine support for the use of agreed service language. The ‘demands’ of the 1917 Appeal were criticised because they overstepped the unspoken line which separated good service discipline from bad. Democratism looked to find a service answer; they actively supported ‘good’ service discipline. It should be noted that the backlash against the tone of the Appeal occurred before the October Revolution, meaning that it was not a result of the heightened international tension. The lower-​deck presses had largely welcomed the February Revolution, and congratulated the Russians on the overthrow of tyranny. However, they were careful to avoid references to Bolshevism, or even socialism. Instead they praised the achievements of the Russian people in the name of democracy and as a means to forward the aims of naval reform. The penning of Appeals was not the sole activity of lower-​deck societies. They also produced a wide range of society-​specific literature some of which from the Officers’ Stewards’ and Cooks’ Benefit Association was discovered in the battleship HMS Centurion.120 However, literary production was only one facet of their activities. Sometimes they championed the case of individual members and of particular classes or groups.121 It would seem, by looking at the evidence from veterans, that the lower-​deck societies’ relationship with the trade unions posed little real threat to the disciplinary systems of the service. In the questionnaires issued to potential interviewees, questions were put to them directly about the lower-​deck benefit societies. Only 13 per cent of respondents to questionnaires had been members of one, and all of those were writers. One man said he had never even heard of the societies. None of the interviewees mentioned membership of such an organisation. Despite the Admiralty’s fears about the actions of these groups, and the reports 119 Army and Navy Gazette, 30 November 1918. 120 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 88. 121 Details of the case of Petty Officer Telegraphist Stock have survived. In early 1918 Stock’s wife had yet to receive her allowances despite filling in the forms promptly and correctly. Consequentially, she was in acute financial difficulty. Yexley was approached by Tewkesbury and took the case directly to the Admiralty where it was dealt with personally by Murray (NMM Pursey Box 20).

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of their activities found in the pages of lower-​deck journals, this lack of reference to them from ex-​servicemen suggests that their effects were not as far-reaching as the authorities believed or their advocates hoped. In fact, it barely featured in veterans’ memories, even when asked about them directly. Only those who had been members of a society recalled the campaigns for improved conditions in which the societies had been involved. Admiralty Responses to the Activities of Lower-​Deck Societies Bearing in mind the level of fear engendered within the Admiralty by the activities of the trade unions and their pervasive influence on the lower decks through the medium of HOs, and the broader context of wartime unrest, the Board was remarkably measured in its response to the activities of the quasi-​trade union societies. The Admiralty made the conscious choice to postpone any decision about how to handle benefit societies until after the war, believing the loyalty of the fleet to be strong enough that ratings would resist outside agitators. In the interim the Board decided to deal with each infringement on an individual basis as it arose. In part it was hoped that the return to peace and the ensuing departure of the HOs, would remove the problem and the need to cure it, and that the lower deck would simply revert to its pre-​war state,122 a sentiment with which Yexley concurred. It was also expedient to avoid distraction from the important task of actually fighting the war. The only move the Board made was to stress that these societies did contravene Article 11 of King’s Regulations and, as such, were illegal. So far as the Admiralty was concerned it was not the discussion that it wished to suppress, so much as the organisation of discontent. Just as in industry, it was the organisation and politicisation of labour, more than the discontent expressed, which posed the bigger threat. To suppress discussion risked exacerbating the problem, as Beatty warned the Board; suppression of discussion afloat would ‘likely lead to the men meeting ashore and bringing forward their complaints through outside agencies’,123 and would seal a valuable safety valve, with potentially explosive results. To curtail the activities of these societies might also have cut off a valuable source of information about the state of the fleet from Their Lordships. By August 1918 details of plans for the instigation of a permanent committee to 122 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 89. 123 TNA, ADM 1/​8498/​201  –​from Beatty to the Board, ‘Alleged Unrest on the Lower Deck’, 21 September 1917.

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look at the treatment of personnel in the hope that it would ‘encourage the men to represent their grievances and aspirations through the proper channels instead of seeking the aid of politicians’ was still under discussion eight months after it was initially suggested.124 The chairman of the proposed committee was not to be a member of the Board, so that its findings could be considered by Their Lordships without prejudice. However, on this permanent committee would sit a member of the Board so that it would retain close links with the Admiralty. Whilst the committee never progressed past the theoretical during the war, what is evident from this proposal is a very genuine attempt on the part of the Board to address these problems, and an appreciation of their seriousness. Not only did these issues pose a potential threat to the command of the navy, they were also recognised by the Board as a matter of concern for the men themselves, whom they had a genuine desire to ensure were treated justly. However, the proposed committee would still not have allowed lower-​deck societies or have modified Articles 8, 9, and 11. Democracy Rises: The Lower Decks and Representation Fear about ‘outside’ influences extended beyond the lower-​deck societies and the trade unions. A leader in The Bluejacket declared in September 1917: ‘Now Democracy rises … and Authority has, we are pretty sure, lost its opportunity to concede or give, for it will now be under duress that Justice Will Be Done!’125 The democratic movement within the Royal Navy reflected that towards an age of mass politics which was occurring throughout Great Britain in the era of the First World War. The navy was a microcosm within a macrocosm, calling for its democratic rights. But just what was meant by ‘its democratic rights’? Whatever a sailor’s personal politics, the influence of the naval societies and the trade unions on shaping the debates surrounding naval representation was important. Calls for representation reflected desires for a voice not only in Parliament, but also within the service itself and were a crucial part of the discourse of democratisation. Although parliamentary representation had featured in the pre-​war reform agenda,126 the war gave it a new focus and a far more militant tone.

124 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​memorandum from the Fist Sea Lord to the Second Sea Lord, 29 August 1918. 125 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Lower Deck “Rising”! From Hawse-​Hole to Quarter Deck’, September 1917, p. 103. 126 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 8–​9; 82–​84.

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With such revolutionary sentiment in the air it is perhaps unsurprising that the Admiralty was so concerned about the potential influence of socialism, especially when in papers like The Bluejacket and the Soldier the example of the Russian masses was initially held up as a shining example of democracy. Under another of its gloriously alliterative headings (in this case ‘Representative Representation. Reform Rapidly Reaching Realisation’) it argued: The sudden democratizm [sic] of Russia, the pronounced progressiveness of our own Colonies, and the undoubted electricity of, shall we say, Brotherhood, which the action in this War of the latter has engendered, has made quite a new and little-​expected development not only probable but even more certain. In the country for so many years governed by the cast-​down Czardom [sic] the Army and Navy have by a stroke of the most amazing character achieved what in this country has for many years been but the chimerical dream of some iconoclastic enthusiastic reformers who bear the badge and label of “(adjectived) [sic] agitators.” Not only do the men who compose the Russian Army and Navy now possess equal franchise with their civilian contemporaries, but the forces have their own representatives in the Legislative Chambers.127

Whatever the paper may have professed to the contrary there was little veiled about this threat. However, the paper was careful to avoid reference to any political ideology, and instead praised the achievements of the Russian people as a means to forward the aims of naval reform. The theme continued the following month when ‘Jack & Joe’ apparently asked such things as:  ‘Is there any danger of British Fleetmen following the lead of the Russians, even when these cruel injustices are perpetuated?’, ‘Has it occurred to Whitehall that the Fleetman of to-​day is a thinking person?’, ‘That he has no Trades Union but is yet fairly well organized, and that therefore the Lower Deck Vote will be one to reckon with?’128 By the following September the paper’s position had softened somewhat, perhaps as the realities of the revolution in Russia played out. Since the outbreak of war the RN had been closely involved with Russian armed forces. Units were sent to the Arctic Sea, the White Sea and the Baltic. British officers and men lived and worked closely with their Russian counterparts, sometimes even under Russian command. For those men the events of 1917 were profoundly difficult. Aside from fears for their own safety, they saw their former comrades turn on their officers, and watched the institution they had helped to build turn on its own government. Whilst claiming that, despite the ‘evils of “caste” ’, 127 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Representative Representation. Reform Rapidly Reaching Realisation’, June 1917, p. 43. 128 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, July 1917, p. 72.

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which still remained, the RN would never have recourse to Russian methods because ‘there is fortunately the not less effective if slower method of Parliamentary pressure which during the last thirty-​five years has been continually rendering great results and which with the new added pressure Democracy is exerting is sure to achieve success’,129 the paper also claimed that the recent government committee on the causes of industrial unrest, with the example of Russia and its ‘Soldier Workers’, had ‘come to the conclusion that the times are too risky to pass such claims [as those covered in the recent circular] by in the old contemptuous style’. Reform, the paper believed, was ‘in the air’.130 Given such overt threats, it seems strange that no references to these kinds of feelings were made in the official papers, or at least in the surviving ones. However, no evidence can be found which suggests any concerted movements to inspire socialism in the fleet. The superintendent of Rosyth recorded various leaflets which appeared in his yard aimed at inciting Bolshevism, but he seemed remarkably unconcerned by this, suggesting that socialist sentiment had little resonance with the men of the fleet. Certainly there was no general anti-​officer sentiment, and though there were calls for the officer class to be opened up on a wider and more meritocratic basis, there is nothing to suggest that this was a view to which the majority of men would have subscribed. Prior to the First World War there had been no branch of the Independent Labour Party in either Portland or Weymouth. The Portsmouth branch had very few servicemen amongst its members, and according to a letter from J.H. Matthews, its secretary, in the Labour Leader, 29 March 1912, socialist propaganda in the RN was limited to the personal and private sphere.131 Naval Representation and Parliamentary Democracy Although commentary on socialism and the Russian Revolution was a feature of the debate, the majority of discussion focused on gaining and exercising rights within the existing framework of parliamentary democracy.132 Discussion was militant rather than radical,133 despite calls from some quarters for a system of social hierarchy based on merit rather than 129 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Fleetmen’s Appeal’, September 1917, p. 116. 130 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, September 1917, p. 118. 131 Englander and Osborne, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb’ (p. 608). 132 Events in Russia were by no means universally praised in the lower-​deck presses, and even those who did not outrightly condemn the revolution felt they were not seeing something relevant to Britain because it was not remotely comparable to the British situation. 133 These two terms are used rather cautiously because they are politically loaded. Here, however, they are used in a very close sense: ‘militant’ is used to describe an assertive

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money, and some desire for the formation of alliances between the societies and both the Parliamentary and Independent Labour Parties. This move toward democratisation must not be seen as purely socialist –​what was wanted was a voice which might just as easily have been Liberal or Tory as Labour in tone. Only 11 per cent of respondents to the Imperial War Museum’s questionnaire thought that the lower deck voted Labour; 7 per cent thought it predominantly Liberal; 26 per cent thought that most men voted Conservative; but most significantly 56 per cent thought the lower decks indifferent to party politics with many stating that they were there only to serve.134 The calls which appeared in the lower-​deck presses were for a wider male franchise and for the removal of the disenfranchisement which occurred when men who technically had the right to vote were away at sea. Both represent a call for changes to the existing electoral system. Both called for legislative changes, yet neither represent a radical change. Clearly the extent to which it can be seen as radical is a point for debate –​however, what is important is that the lower decks were not seeking anything more radical than the right to vote within the existing parliamentary system. They did not want to replace the system of government and bring about a Soviet system along the lines of the Russian model. Yexley perhaps expressed what the lower decks were calling for most clearly in his 1918 article ‘What is Democracy?’: What, then, is Democracy? We interpret it as meaning the people –​the whole people, with equality of opportunity. Nature is no respecter of birth or money power [sic]; she makes no discrimination between rich and poor, humble and exalted, when lavishing her mental and physical gifts, and unless we make the fullest use of those gifts wherever we find them we are not only inflicting an injury on ourselves as a nation, we are stultifying nature; we are fighting God!135

His views were predominantly a reflection of a Wilsonian rather than a socialist vision of democracy. It was about the breakdown of class barriers, but was in favour of a hierarchical structure provided it was meritocratic.136 What is more it was expressed as a vision of the future of the navy where ‘a brilliantly clever lad who joins, no matter in how humble a capacity, no matter what his genesis [can] have a clear road to

and forceful (even demanding) tone; ‘radical’ is used to mean something dramatically changes the status quo, shaking its very foundations. IWM Document Archives, Misc 101 (1583) –​in response to the question ‘If it is possible to generalise, for which political party do you think the majority of the Lower Deck voted?’ 135 The Fleet, ‘What is Democracy?’, March 1918, p. 40. 136 Ibid., p. 40. 134

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Admiral if his abilities can take him there; [and] the fool boy, no matter whether he be the son of an Earl, or a Marquis, or a dustman, to attain only that level that his abilities fit him for’.137 Though ostensibly a vision for the navy, it was clearly part of Yexley’s wider national view. What is more, for Yexley, democratisation was not simply an aspiration, it was, he professed, already a reality: The Prime Minister of England is a democrat of democrats, and has come to the top by sheer force of character and ability. When we turn to the fighting Services what do we find? Surely not the high commands in the hands of men of the big political families; the great organizing brain of the Army at the moment is General Robertson, a man who joined as a private, while Admiral Jellicoe can hardly be called an aristocrat. All round one can only see the furnace of war consuming and eliminating the effete and incompetent, and so far has all been to the benefit of democracy. We have no class prejudice or feeling, and all we look forward to is that merit and ability, and not influence, shall be the stepping stones of the future.138

Calls for democratisation existed on two levels: parliamentary representation and service representation. Calls for parliamentary representation were not as unifying as might be presumed. Despite the frequency of calls for it, no one clear idea of exactly how this could be achieved, or more importantly exactly what form this representation should take, emerged. Clearly the Admiralty was less than enthusiastic about lower-​deck parliamentary representation, which would have posed a challenge to Admiralty hegemony; however, they were far from averse to sympathetic Members of Parliament who would champion the navy –​by which, of course, was meant ‘lobby for money’. Where the debate became most interesting was in the diversity of opinion expressed by those who professed to represent lower-​deck interests. Like many other areas which have been analysed in this study, calls for parliamentary representation lay dormant until late 1917 and from then continued through into 1918, picking up pace once it became clear that a general election would be called.139 The minutes from some meetings of the Portsmouth Joint Committee and Yexley’s private correspondence suggest that letters were being received from men in the fleet wondering about the possibility of a lower-​deck candidate standing for election.140

137 Ibid., p. 40. 138 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, June 1917, p. 160. 139 This pattern is similar to that seen with calls for women’s suffrage. 140 NMM Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of Joint Committee held at Portsmouth on 19 July 1918 –​this is typical of the occasional reference to be found within Pursey Box 20.

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The debate focused on five main issues, which fell into the categories of ‘rights’ and ‘logistics’:  the voting rights of the sailors; the financing of campaigns; sailors’ campaigning rights; the selection of candidates; and the political affiliation (if any) of the candidate. The first three of these areas featured heavily in the lower-​deck presses, the latter two were discussed more in the private correspondence of Yexley and the Portsmouth Joint Committee. Perhaps not surprisingly voting rights of the sailors was not in the least contentious  –​there were no dissenting voices suggesting that the sailor be disenfranchised. It was a topic which was raised remarkably early in the war. From 1916 The Bluejacket and the Soldier began to discuss reform of the electoral system. A leader in June 1916 called for votes for all soldiers and sailors regardless of whether they were property owners.141 A  year later another article followed in which the position of the Bluejacket was compared to his Australian or New Zealander colleagues who had been given the vote regardless of current geographical location.142 The article maintained that measures for securing representation of the fighting forces in Parliament ‘will not be allowed to pass into law without violent and bitter opposition … There are too many vested interests.’143 Quite what these ‘vested interests’ were, it did not say. Yexley was concerned that naval men without a home address would be disenfranchised. He suggested to the secretary of the Portsmouth Joint Committee that a resolution be passed to the effect that where a naval man had no permanent home address his Port Divisional Depot should be accepted as such.144 Discussion of the Representation of the People Bill brought much relief, and once the Representation of the People Act 1918, had come into force the de facto disenfranchisement

141 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Votes –​Notes –​and “Coats” ’, June 1916, p. 43. 142 Although no reference to it is made in the surviving literature there is an interesting comparison to be made with the referendum of 28 October 1916 in which Australians were asked: ‘Are you in favour of the Government having, in this grave emergency, the same compulsory powers over citizens in regard to requiring their military service, for the term of this War, outside the Commonwealth, as it now has in regard to military service within the Commonwealth?’ The referendum was defeated with 1,087,557 in favour and 1,160,033 against. Whilst Australians were being consulted about whether or could they could be compulsorily made to fight, British fighting men were often in effect disenfranchised. See L.L. Robson, The First A.I.F.: A Study of its Recruitment 1914–​1918 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1982), pp. 82–​103. 143 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Representative Representation. Reform Rapidly Reaching Realisation’, June 1917, p.  43; ‘Votes for the Valiant! Every Sailor Should “Say Something!” ’, October 1916, p. 129, also called for votes afloat as well as ashore. 144 NMM Pursey Box 20, letter from Lionel Yexley to Tewkesbury, 3 July 1918 –​Yexley’s suggestion was duly accepted and a motion passed at the meeting of 10 July 1918 (see Pursey Box 20, extract from minutes of a Joint Committee meeting held at Portsmouth on Wednesday 10 July 1918).

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of the pre-​war period was ended.145 This right secured, the presses turned their attention to the logistics surrounding elections. Apparently one question which ‘Jack & Joe’ were anxious to have answered was ‘Whether the voting rights now to be conferred on Fleetmen will be accompanied by the privilege of “party meetings”?’, with many other questioners worried that radical speakers might face punishment or that political affiliation might affect a man’s chances of promotion, and whether or not the political allegiance of a ship might be determined by the choice of an admiral.146 It was hoped that the campaigns could be financed through the existing society structure. Many managed to raise substantial contributions; however, those registered under the Friendly Societies Act were prohibited by the terms of the act from using their funds to help finance any parliamentary campaign. In those cases the societies contacted their members suggesting they might like to make an independent contribution.147 The financing of a parliamentary election campaign represented the single largest hurdle to those who longed for a lower-​deck man to cross the threshold of the debating chamber. Without money for a deposit or any of the expenses incurred in campaigning, there would be no candidate upon whom the lower-​deck men could lavish their newly won vote. The possibility he might prefer another candidate to the naval one occurred worryingly infrequently to campaigners! The crippling financial pressure of a campaign was one of the motivations for seeking out a means of direct representation with the Admiralty. In response to a letter received from a petty officer in the Grand Fleet, Tewkesbury (the Secretary of the Portsmouth Joint Committee) wrote: The question of a Naval representative into Parliament has for some time past engaged the serious attention of the Lower Deck Societies, more especially since the passing of the Peoples Representation Bill. Our great difficulty is of course the question of expense … We realise there are bound to be expenses running into several hundreds of pounds, and we are dubious as to whether we could find any Lower Deck Man prepared to face the financial outlay … At present we are endeavouring to obtain direct representation with the Admiralty, with a view to bringing about many important reforms in Lower Deck life.148

The problem of money, it transpired, was surmountable, and a number of candidates presented themselves –​Yexley amongst them. 145 Prior to this ratings who qualified to vote were disenfranchised if they were not living at a shore address at the time of the election. 146 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, December 1917, p. 181. 147 Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 31 December 1918. 148 Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to a PO in the Grand Fleet, undated.

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Like the issue of voting, the selection of suitable candidates was a comparatively early feature of the revival of representation grievances. By October 1916 there were calls for a lower-​deck Member of Parliament –​ not simply one sympathetic to naval causes, but one who had himself served.149 This marked a distinct shift in the discussion of potential naval candidates. As has been seen there had been much sympathy and reforming zeal demonstrated in the House of Commons in the decade leading up to war –​as ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ put it: In more than one daily paper and in some of the Service Journals has again come up that perennial subject of discussion the representation of the Lower Deck in the House of Commons by a man who has served on the Lower Deck. The Lower Deck has been well served by its friends in the House these past ten years, but  –​at the best  –​even Naval Officers such as Lord Beresford, Commander Bellairs, and Admiral of the Fleet Meux are but indifferent mouthpieces for men of another class, which, though they may have lived with and commanded them, they are not competent to speak for because not of it.150

Gone were the days when an aristocratic champion of the lower decks would suffice –​now a lower-​deck candidate meant just that. The call was not altogether new; as early as 1879 Captain Verney publicly advocated that a rating should stand for Parliament and if elected be transferred to a quiet posting on the Royal Yacht. His suggestion was not welcomed at the Board of Admiralty. If a serving rating were to stand it would require a change in law. An Act of Queen Anne had safeguarded the right of serving officers to simultaneously hold an active commission and sit in the House, but the same privilege was not extended to ratings.151 However, the calls had acquired a new momentum, and The Bluejacket had embraced the politics of class distinction. A candidate’s suitability was not simply a matter of his substantive rating –​his political affiliation became a fundamental part of the discussion. The lower decks had an ambiguous and troubled relationship with party politics. As The Fleet argued: if lower deck men are to go to the House let them go free of all Party shackles and that can only be done by concentrating sufficient Naval votes at the Naval Ports. The great Political Parties –​Conservative, Liberal or Labour –​do not care a “twopenny damn” for the interests of the lower deck man, and we should be very sorry to see political agitation brought into lower deck affairs. But unless the Admiralty take the one and only course open to them political agitation will come. Naval democracy is clamant and had got to be heard, and if the Admiralty 149 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Votes for the Valiant! Every Sailor Should “Say Something!” ’, October 1916, p. 129. 150 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, December 1916, p. 183. 151 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 82–​84.

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will not listen to it in the quietude of the consulting room it will find it shouted from the housetops.152

The lower-​deck presses were far from united about the advisability of putting a lower-​deck man in Parliament at all. In many issues of The Fleet Yexley points out that there can never be ‘a lower-​deck MP’.153 In an article entitled ‘Every Sailor Should “Say Something”’ The Bluejacket renewed calls for the army and navy to be regarded as constituencies along the lines of the universities.154 However, The Fleet was opposed to this idea. In October 1916 The Bluejacket had published an article ‘Votes for the Valiant!’; Yexley thought it unfeasible on a number of levels: turning the fleet into a constituency would require a constitutional change that Parliament was unlikely to grant, and moreover the lower deck was so divided that it would be impossible to find a candidate who would be acceptable to all. When the Societies talk of representation, argued The Fleet, they ‘look at the lower deck from the Society point of view:  they make the great mistake of thinking that the lower deck societies were the lower deck –​which they most decidedly were not’.155 The Fleet returned to this theme in the following edition. Following a large number of letters from readers proclaiming they wanted a lower-​deck MP,Yexley devoted the whole of the ‘Service Notes’ column to arguing against a lower-​deck MP in the form called for by The Bluejacket and the Soldier and the Societies. It stressed that it was in favour of MPs who could speak out for the naval interest, but warned against the idea that a lower-​deck MP (even if such a thing were possible) would be the panacea for lower-​deck grievances.156 There was a disparity between the parliamentary aspirations of the Joint Committees of the three home ports.157 Throughout the summer of 1918 Portsmouth’s Joint Committee was still favouring direct contact with the Admiralty  –​through Lionel Yexley158  –​in preference to taking the parliamentary route to representation.159 By August 1918 the 152 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, August 1918, p. 114. 153 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, November 1916, p. 331. 154 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Votes for the Valiant! Every Sailor Should “Say Something!” ’, October 1916, p. 129. 155 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, November 1916, p. 331. 156 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, December 1916, pp. 356–​364; this is a recurrent theme in The Fleet, and further examples can be found therein: ‘That Lower Deck MP’, April 1917; ‘Service Notes’, August 1918, p. 114. 157 This can be seen throughout Yexley’s correspondence. See NMM Pursey Box 20. 158 The Joint Committee had invited Yexley to attended their meetings in order that his influence at the Admiralty might be harnessed (see NMM Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 9 May 1918). They were not alone in so doing; Yexley received a number of similar requests from various societies asking him to assist them in bringing their claims to the Admiralty. 159 In June 1918 Chatham were giving serious consideration to putting forward a candidate; by comparison ‘Owing to the peculiar circumstances prevailing at Portsmouth,

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Portsmouth Joint Committee finally agreed to the principle of supporting a lower-​deck candidate160 –​though they still rejected the advances of the local Labour Party because of the Committee’s continued commitment to direct representation with the Admiralty.161 From this ambiguity emerged various lower-​ deck parliamentary candidates. The Chatham Joint Committee proposed its own candidate, Chief Writer Joseph Cronin.162 In Portsmouth three potential lower-​deck candidates for the Portsmouth constituency emerged: Lionel Yexley, Richard Willis and George Crowe. Of these it was Willis whose selection proved most contentious. Petty Officer Sick Berth Attendant Richard Willis, a member of the Labour Party, was canvassing the idea of standing as a lower-​deck candidate himself. He was eventually adopted as the Labour Party candidate in Portsmouth North, sponsored by the Operative Society of Bricklayers.163 Despite the Joint Committee’s commitment to ‘avoiding political organisations and go[ing] ahead with the work [of the Joint Committee], through [Yexley], to the Admiralty’,164 he conceded that ‘it is up to us to give Mr Willis a hearing, for we profess to represent lower-​deck thought, and Mr Willis is entitled to be heard’.165 However, Willis’ candidature caused upset within his own society, the Sick Berth Stewards’ Society, and Willis was subsequently expelled from it. In response the Joint Committee declared that if Willis did not have the respect of his own society he could not expect it from them, and was thus barred from attending the October Joint Committee meeting,166 which an earlier notice had hoped would be attended by all three candidates to discuss the situation ‘without introducing too much of the political atmosphere [to] try and avoid splitting the Naval Vote at the next Election’.167 His absence from the October meeting caused the political action is being deferred for the present. It is hoped to get straight in touch with the Admiralty, and so state our legitimate aspirations. Upon the success, or otherwise, of this, depends out future action.’ Pursey Box 20 –​minutes of a special meeting of the Joint Committee held at Portsmouth on 12 June 1918. 160 Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of Joint Committee held at Portsmouth on 14 August 1918. 161 ‘A letter from the local Labour Party was read inviting members of the J.C. to meet the Party Officials was discussed, but it was decided to take no further action in the matter, as it was felt the J.C.  should not commit itself to local politics while it was endeavouring to get into direct touch with the Admiralty.’ Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of Joint Committee held at Portsmouth on 14 August 1918. 162 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 92–​96. 163 Pursey Box 20, cutting from the Portsmouth Evening News, 3 October 1918. 164 Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 4 October 1918. 165 Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 4 October 1918. 166 Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 6 October 1918. 167 Pursey Box 20, Notice of 30 September 1918 advertising the forthcoming meeting of the Portsmouth Joint Committee.

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Labour Party officials some misgivings about his adoption as their candidate for Portsmouth. The minutes of the meeting recorded that ‘The labour party officials [who were present] stated they would call a meeting of their executive at once, and as they had now found Mr Willis was not popular with the lower deck Societies, they would suggest his withdrawal, and would consider the suggestion put forward that they should not contest the seat for which we intend to nominate Mr Yexley.’168 Following the meeting of the local Labour Party Executive, it was indeed agreed not to oppose Yexley, who, despite his own professed misgivings about the advisability of lower-​deck representation in the Commons, was not averse to standing. The Joint Committee meeting of 9 October 1918 formally adopted Yexley as an independent candidate in the ‘Naval Interest, to contest the North End District at the next General Election’.169 Yexley stated ‘that he was quite willing to withdraw in favour of a democratic policy such as would possibly be advanced by the Labour Party, but if returned to Parliament he preferred to be independent of the party whips’.170 He was supported by a number of societies including the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers,171 and by the Admiralty itself. In the face of such support for Yexley, George Crowe withdrew in his favour.172 Yexley had previously been in communication with the Admiralty in 1917 asking for their blessing for him to stand as a Liberal candidate for Plymouth, but they had refused. Their Lordships also refused his 1918 request to stand as a Liberal candidate for Portsmouth North.173 Carew has argued that this demonstrated that Yexley’s fear was a link between the lower decks and the Labour Party rather than with the prospect of a lower-​deck candidate as such.174 However, Yexley never claimed to be opposed to the theory of lower-​deck parliamentary representation, he merely wanted its proponents to think about the logistics behind it. Carew is largely 168 Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of the Portsmouth Joint Committee, 9 October 1918. In the end Yexley did not win the seat, but he polled a respectable 7,000 votes (see NMM Pursey Box 20, letter from Tewkesbury to Yexley, 31 December 1918). 169 Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of the Portsmouth Joint Committee, 9 October 1918. 170 Ibid. 171 Pursey Box 20, letter from Albert Hickey (on behalf of the Secretary of the National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers) to Yexley, 21 October 1918, laying out the conditions of the Federation’s support. 172 Pursey Box 20, minutes of a general meeting of the Portsmouth Joint Committee, 9 October 1918 –​Crowe was recorded in these minutes as saying that he only put himself forward as a candidate for Parliament with a view to stimulating local action and preventing the naval votes ‘going begging’. 173 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 92–​96. 174 Ibid., p. 93.

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correct in claiming Yexley disliked the Labour Party which he thought would damage the cause of the lower decks by distracting the men from the cause of reform. Yexley was, at heart, a liberal; however, he was not completely without sympathy for some of Labour’s policies. It is hard to countenance that he would have disliked calls for living wages, but what he did dislike was what were seen as Labour methods of achieving those aims. The discourse of democratism, under which Yexley worked, sought solutions which it conceived as compatible with service discipline. The methods of Labour were not seen as fitting a service narrative. Local Democracy Advocates of ‘representation’ and ‘democratisation’ were not solely concerned with Westminster. There were also calls from some sectors of the lower decks for what might be thought of as ‘local democracy’. Not every sailor was in favour of sullying themselves in the political intrigues or machinations of Westminster. However, even those who wanted a voice in the Commons also wanted a collective voice within the confines of the foul anchor. The desire for local representation took a variety of forms: first, calls for committees to be set up to consult lower-​deck men on particular issues; second, calls for the affairs of lower-​deck charities to be run by lower-​deck men; and third, calls for the official recognition of lower-​deck societies as a means for the representation of grievance. Exponents wanted the opportunity to air a collective opinion directly to the Admiralty; they wanted to be consulted routinely as a body of men rather than via the somewhat oblique methods often employed by Their Lordships, who would ask benign commanders to make discreet enquiries about their men’s opinions by privately consulting a handful and offering them no official opportunity to discuss the issues. Local democracy was not divorced from politics, but nor was it married to it. These were calls for democracy in the widest sense. They wanted to widen participation in decision-​making, striking out against the paternalism which prevailed in the service. They were a key part of the discourse of democratism. Internal representation was not a call to which all naval journals rallied. Ashore and Afloat, for example, was rather ambiguous with regard to this. Whilst appreciating the inadequacies of the existing system, its editor was of the opinion that to alter it would be detrimental to discipline. As to exactly how, or in what regard it would be detrimental, the paper seems unclear, or at least fails to specify.175 The paper’s attitude does, however, 175 Ashore and Afloat –​see all editions for 1914.

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fit into the pattern of the nineteenth-​century philanthropy in which it was conceived, rather than the prevailing twentieth-​century concepts of welfare. The Bluejacket and the Soldier was, unsurprisingly perhaps, far clearer in its position. Far from undermining discipline, direct representation would, in reality, underpin it. As early as September 1914 The Bluejacket’s ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ column thought that ‘Direct Representation will also do away with or at least greatly modify, some of the bickerings [sic] and little jealousies that used to find expression at the meetings of Lower Deck Societies a short time back.’176 Some even harboured the deeply misguided, and startlingly optimistic, hope that internal collective representation might actually be welcomed.177 This belief was a product of the pre-​war reform movement during which lower-​ deck opinion had been sought more keenly than ever before. Churchill and Fisher made no secret of their reforming zeal and, if the views of lower-​deck journals are taken at face value, were admired for it, even in the aftermath of the Dardanelles.178 The Fleet was more ambiguous towards ‘direct representation’. Whilst the papers fully supported the notion of lower-​deck men having greater influence at the Admiralty, it took issue with the calls for direct representation as they appeared in the Loyal Appeals. These, the paper argued, were simply unworkable and that the lower decks would do better to try and effect change on a more manageable level.179 The journal was, however, absolutely convinced of the inadequacy of the current systems for representing grievances. Although the Admiralty was as keen as The Fleet

176 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, September 1914, p. 176. 177 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Flotsam & Jetsam’, September 1914, p. 171. 178 Lots of articles praising these two men appeared throughout the war in both The Fleet and The Bluejacket. Considering the editor of the former this is not, perhaps, unexpected! Fisher even made an appearance as a pin-​up in The Fleet in June 1915 which included a pull-​out poster. By 1918 the same journal published his photograph sub-​ headed ‘‘Many Happy Returns of the Day’  –​‘England’s greatest Seaman. The man who has done more for the Navy –​materiel and personnel –​than any man living’ (p. 9). For further examples of pro-​Churchill sentiment, see The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, July 1915, p. 78; ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, June 1916, p. 59; The Fleet, ‘Winston Churchill at Forty’, January 1915, p. 22; ‘Sound as a Bell’, March 1915, pp. 72–​74; ‘Winston Churchill’, June 1915, p. 174; ‘Service Notes’, September 1915, pp. 252–​253; ‘New Claims by Old Grumbles’, January 1916, pp. 18–​ 20; ‘Service Notes’, April 1916, p. 102; and ‘Service Notes’, April 1917, p. 107. For further examples of pro-​Fisher sentiment, see The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘BRING FISHER BACK!’, June 1915, p. 63; ‘What Jack & Joe Want to Know’, July 1915, p. 78; The Fleet, ‘Winston Churchill at Forty’, January 1915, p. 22; ‘Lord Fisher’, June 1915, p. 172; ‘Service Notes’, April 1916, p. 102; ‘Service Notes’, April 1917, pp. 104–​106; and ‘Service Notes’, June 1917, pp. 156–​158. 179 The Fleet, ‘Direct Representation’, October 1915, pp.  296–​ 298; ‘Service Notes’, November 1916, p. 330.

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to meet calls for direct representation ‘if some practical method could be invented’, argued the paper, it warned Their Lordships that: the closer the Admiralty can be brought into touch with the lower deck the better it will be for the Service. Never was this more true than at the present moment. We are absolutely at the parting of the ways, and unless the Admiralty can inspire the men with confidence in their sympathetic attitude and fairness of dealing the men will seek others and most disastrous channels to push their claims.180

The principle of lower-​deck committees had already been theoretically conceded by the Admiralty with the setting up of canteen committees as part of the first round of what Carew calls the ‘Yexley-​Fisher Reforms’.181 Over 39 per cent of respondents to the questionnaires stated that they had themselves served on one canteen committee or another.182 Even taking into account the self-​selecting nature of these respondents it seems likely that the committees had a wide participation base. Calls for the establishment of further committees continued throughout the war, growing steadily in militancy. In May 1915 ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ called for the formation of a committee comprising some lower-​deck members so that the effects of the new pensions’ regulations could be assessed and reported on.183 Ideas of direct representation were frequently found as part of articles on other subjects. During a discussion on the many discrepancies in pay, in ‘Equity and Emoluments –​An Advisory Appeal to the Admiralty’, it was suggested that the Admiralty appoint a ‘small committee composed in the main of Naval Officers and with the usual Civil Representation of the Accountant-​General’s Department, to investigate the above matter, so serious and far-​reaching as it is to the Men of the Fleet, and to their contentment and well-​being, which last is in effect the highest efficiency of the Service’.184 The article is interesting on a number of levels. For the purposes of the current discussion it is important to note that it called for officers and not men to make up this committee. This indicates that between May 1916 and the end of the war, the concept of ‘democracy’ amongst the lower decks had changed dramatically. It moved from the tacit acceptance of paternalistic welfare and representation seen in ‘Equity and Emoluments’ to calls for direct lower-​deck representation. On some levels the societies and the Joint Committees acted as quasi-​official committees, which at least gave some 180 The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, June 1918, pp. 82–​83. 181 Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 17–​37. 182 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583). 183 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, May 1915, p. 34. 184 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Equity and Emoluments –​An Advisory Appeal to the Admiralty’, May 1916, p. 25.

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vent to the desire to collectively deliberate and pronounce. In the same way lower-​deck journals acted as monthly quasi-​Appeals. As in many other areas, the Admiralty responded to calls for committees –​though not in the form requested. In 1918 a committee under the chairmanship of Rear-​ Admiral Hyde Parker was established. It was originally convened at the Second Sea Lord’s suggestion to select warrant officer candidates for promotion to the rank of lieutenant, but it was subsequently decided that this committee should deal with other matters.185 When the Admiralty announced the setting up of the Hyde Parker committee the journals were swift to respond in a fascinating, if slightly predictable, fashion. Although welcoming the appointment of the Hyde Parker Committee, The Bluejacket took immediate objection to the distinction being made between ‘minor’ and ‘major’ artisans since all were equally important in the maintenance of the ship. The journal blamed the ERAs for the lot of the artisans because their size and lobbying power eclipsed the needs of smaller groups like coopers and blacksmiths. Because ERAs started out with CPO rating and hence had no ladder to climb, it was, in the opinion of the journal, a fundamental mistake which the Admiralty would be foolish to repeat. It concluded with the hope that Hyde Parker and his committee would rectify this imbalance, give voice to smaller artisanal groups, and ensure that pay and promotions were finally adequately dealt with.186 When at last Hyde Parker’s Committee reported the response was generally positive. The Bluejacket and the Soldier proclaimed that ‘The Hyde Parker Committee have been more than liberal. It has been generous if not lavish’,187 and recommendations about shipwrights and minor artisans were ‘indeed, satisfactory, and will give unbounded satisfaction’.188 Indeed the journal went so far as to lambaste the Warrant Officers’ Journal for its opinion that whilst: these concessions just made are a tremendous boon to the great majority of the ranks and we feel exceedingly pleased with the enhanced outlook afforded to the warrant rank as a whole … The juniors’ bread has been buttered, then jammed, then treacled, whilst the seniors have been served out with the wevilly [sic] biscuit of blighted hopes. The latter feel that their prospects have been butchered to make a young man’s holiday, and yet they are the very officers 185 See TNA ADM 116/​1692 for details of the committee’s work. 186 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, March 1918, p. 20. 187 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Warrant Officers’ Concessions’, November/​December 1918, p. 68. 188 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Shipwrights & “Minor Artizans” ’, November/​December 1918, p. 77.

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for whom recommendations for promotion flowed in thick and fast from their Captains.189

As ever, Their Lordships, felt that there should be a service solution to lower-​deck calls for alterations to the methods of representing grievances. For the Second Sea Lord: The remedy  –​or rather the preventative [for grievances]  –​is in the hands of the Admiralty. It is that close touch should be kept through the Flag and Commanding Officers with the legitimate aspirations of the Lower Deck, and that these should be dealt with expeditiously and sympathetically. Provided the men can be made to feel that the Admiralty is anxious and willing to champion their cause in all reasonable matters, I  am convinced that they will not be led astray by agitators.190

For His Lordship the solution was bound up in the discourse of paternalism. So long as paternalism was applied effectively, discipline could be maintained. However, the only solution Their Lordships devised which did not, in their minds, contravene existing regulations was a system of Welfare Committees. Under this ‘one rating from each branch of the service at each port … would meet at an inter-​port conference to be held annually at each port in rotation … The meeting would elect from among the representatives eighteen men to an act [sic] in an advisory capacity to the Admiralty while the requests were being considered.’191 However, in taking this approach he again missed the crucial aspects of the complaints. In late December 1918 the Lordships reconstituted the Naval Personnel Committee to inquire into lower-​deck pay under the chairmanship of Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram, although this committee did not report until 1919.192 Both of these were temporary, if thorough, consultation exercises. What the lower-​deck presses had been calling for was something more permanent in nature. There were also calls from the lower decks for a greater degree of influence over the financing and activities of naval charities. Just as with calls for committees, these reflected a desire not to be the passive recipients of a philanthropic world, but rather the architects of their own affairs. Efforts at ‘charity’ were not always well received in the 189 Quoted in The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘Warrant Officers’ Concessions’, November/​ December 1918, p.  68; The Fleet also applauded the efforts of the Hyde-​ Parker committee (see The Fleet, ‘Service Notes’, May 1918, p. 65). 190 TNA, ADM 178/​157 –​memorandum from the Second Sea Lord, 2 August 1918. 191 Carew, The Lower Decks, pp. 113–​114 (for more details how the system actually worked in the post-​war navy, see Carew, pp. 113–​123). 192 See TNA ADM 116/​1728 for details of the committee’s work. A copy of the report can be found in Cmd. 149. For more discussion of the Jerram Committee, see Anthony Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 102–​105.

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lower-​deck presses.193 What others thought of as charity these journals thought of as merely the just payment of dues. In the case of certain funds, however, this position was somewhat modified. The societies disliked the concept of charity on principle –​the country should reward its defenders as a duty rather than as a result of pity. However, they were seemingly willing to overcome this objection were naval men to be included on the boards of such funds. There they could offer expert guidance as to the best use of this money and also give the fund the veneer of being a service organisation.194 Similarly ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’ championed the interests of the lower decks not simply in terms of what they were entitled to receive but also in terms of what they were entitled to give. Their advocacy of the right of lower-​deck men to have their voices enshrined in naval law is evident even as early as 1915. Even on the subject of pensions the column contended that it was not simply changes to the regulations which were needed, but rather that those changes should be devised by lower-​deck men: ‘Everybody is very busy just now at Whitehall and many men are suffering disabilities in their Pay and Allowances on that account. When new Regulations are brought into play to meet War-​conditions it is not reasonable to expect to find that every single interest of every man has been safeguarded by those who framed these new Regulations. It is when the boot is on that the wearer knows where it pinches and can point out the tight place to the maker.’195 Consultation on issues seen as important by higher naval authorities and a voice in the distribution of charitable funds was not all that the movement for internal representation wanted. Recognition of the legitimacy and function of the lower-​deck benefit societies as a means for the representation of collective grievance was a regular feature of lower-​deck journals and private correspondence. As Tewkesbury wrote to Yexley in June 1918: With regard to the  “Recognition”. What we feel is that the Admiralty should so amend Article 11 of K.R, to recognise that there are such things as L.D. Societies … We are not seditionists, we simply want to assist the Admiralty in improving L.D. Life as a result of our own experiences … At the other ports 193 See Chapter 3. 194 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, August 1916, p.  98; October 1916, p.  144; January 1918, p.  213; ‘Naval Funds and Fleetmen’s Friends. Nominated –​Not Nominal –​Naval Representatives Required’, July 1917, p. 63; this was also the subject of a leading article in the September/​October 1918 edition in which it was suggested that the navy follow the army’s example and have lower-​deck representatives on the boards administering naval charitable funds (p. 55). 195 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘The Fellowship of Fleetmen’, May 1915, p. 34.

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serious political agitation is brewing, and we shall not hesitate to join in if our legitimate aspirations are despised. I quite agree with you that it is not in the best interests of the Service for the Lower Deck to mix up with the political life of the country, and the upholding of the best traditions of the Navy can be preserved if the Admiralty treat us with confidence.196

In being able to formulate their own areas of concern the societies could determine and not simply respond to the reform agenda. This was the area in which the linguistic emphasis turned from ‘democratisation’ and, to a lesser extent, ‘representation’, to the language of ‘recognition’, reinforcing the idea that ratings wanted to be recognised and valued as men, and recognised within the service itself. This was not a call with which the Admiralty had any sympathy. Why was it so hard to marry the calls for representation with strict service procedure? The presence of Article 11 made combination illegal, but what was it that made repeal of that article unthinkable? In part it was a function of Admiralty fears about whether such representations were a facet of something inherently more radical, but for the most part it was the result of the clash of the discourses of paternalism and democratisation in the widest sense. For the Admiralty, Article 11 was fundamental to discipline. If it was removed naval discipline would crumble. Beatty and the Admiralty were united by their desire not to revoke Article 11. To allow combination would be to undermine the sovereignty of the Board, because it would be to conceive of another body of men who were able to comment on the organisation and well-​being of the fleet. It is evident that to allow combination would have been contrary to ‘tradition’. What is of particular interest, however, is the implicit links the Admiralty and senior commanders made between actions which undermined discipline and welfare. Because discipline is seen as the measure of welfare, anything injurious to discipline is intrinsically injurious to welfare. However, to the men whose views were represented by the lower-​deck journals it was also a question of discipline; to them the removal of the Damoclesian sword of Article 11 would considerably improve discipline.197 Discipline was dynamic –​it lived –​it could, the papers proselytised, only improve with modification. To hold the disciplinary systems rigid whilst its component parts changed would cause it to shatter. Here again can be seen the conflict between paternalism and democratism. In an article in Naval Review Lieutenant Commander Spicer debated the meaning and effect of democracy. After a dubious history of ‘democracy’, Spicer argued that 196 NMM Pursey Box 20, Tewkesbury to Yexley, 7 June 1918. 197 NMM Pursey Box 20, Tewkesbury to Yexley, 13 September 1918, ‘We are not seditionists … we want the sword removed which at present dangles over our heads.’

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‘though the Navy is an institution in a democratically governed country, it cannot be democratically governed itself’.198 The answer to calls for democracy, Spicer argued, was to strengthen paternalism and ensure it was practised fairly, although he conceded that it might be necessary to allow lower-​deck promotion to office rank.199 For all this discussion, the importance of democratisation is not one which features in the remembrances of veterans. Representations of grievances in the broadest use of this term were frequently addressed by the ex-​sailors, though all these responses were elicited as a result of specific questioning, rather than spontaneous offerings. One of the questions on the questionnaire was ‘Generally speaking, do you think there was adequate opportunity for men to express complaints about conditions?’ Only 17 per cent replied in the affirmative. Most confined themselves to the one-​word answer ‘no’, but Mr Adams decided to expand the point with a suitable amount of capitals: No, definitely NO. To express opinions was one thing; but to take your opinion to the requisite authority was another thing. In sea-​going ships, your complaints must be told to your CPO; then he expressed these to Duty-​officer, who then brings your ‘grouch’ to the Junior-​officer representing the Captain; hence the Loyal Appeals. If that was done it should have been done without malice. There I’m afraid all complaints NEVER REACHED THE PROPER AUTHORITY. It took courage to complain in the supposed constitutionally [sic] way.200

Of the interviews with ex-​ratings examined for this study just under 7 per cent thought it was not possible to represent grievances, 11 per cent thought the system of taking a complaint individually to an officer was sufficient, and in rest of the interviews the question never arose. It would seem then, that where the issue was raised directly the majority of ex-​ servicemen felt the system to be adequate, although those who disagreed were often vehement in their condemnation. However, it is interesting to note that it was not an issue which so preoccupied old sea dogs that they would raise it spontaneously. Some veterans remembered indirect means of getting grievances across, such as Arthur Ford, who recalled in his 1975 interview that whilst in Scapa Flow during the First World War many men found the food rations a bit low. Some men would write home for ‘jam and cheese and one thing or the other’ knowing very well that all letters were censored. The captain would then address the ship saying ‘he didn’t have 198 Lieutenant Commander M.D. Spicer, ‘The Rise of Democracy and Its Effect on the Navy’, Naval Review (1919), 394–​407 (p. 400). 199 Ibid., p. 405. 200 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Arthur, Adams.

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jam, and he didn’t have this, and all this sort of thing, and realise it’s war, and all that sort of caper, and that died down you see’.201 Sadly for the men involved this gentle subversion of the grievance system failed to achieve their ends; however, it was certainly not an isolated incident, and provided the Admiralty with a useful source of information about the mood of the men. Roughly 13 per cent of the questionnaire respondents could recall a member of the lower decks getting in touch with his Member of Parliament to complain about conditions. Were this to be true of the fleet as a whole it would represent a significant proportion of the fleet looking for redress through non-​service channels. However, it is not possible to ascertain when MPs were approached. Those who did approach their MP were active service men rather than hostilities only, so could have done this at any point of their service careers. Indeed, bearing in mind the general positive feelings towards the war, it is probable that this was not done during the war. Nevertheless, it could be said to be symptomatic of the disgruntlement of long-​serving men which was of such particular concern for Their Lordships. Conclusion Despite the subconscious adoption of trade union techniques and language, ratings cannot be said to have been ‘brothers’ in arms. Although undoubtedly serious for Their Lordships, the activities of the societies and the trade unions seem largely to have had little impact on ratings in their daily lives. Although impossible to quantify, it is likely that if asked directly about the issues championed by the societies the men might well have responded positively; but that without such prompting they were not significant enough to raise comment. By contrast the activities of the trade unions provoked an ambiguous response from the lower-​deck societies which hovered between jealousy and disapproval. Whilst calls for democratisation in the navy reflected those in society as a whole they came with a specifically naval flavour. ‘Democracy’ was not seen simply in terms of parliamentary representation, but also ‘local’ representation. Sections of the lower decks wanted an officially recognised service voice. However, the paternalism discourse of the Admiralty caused Their Lordships to interpret these calls as signifying that the paternalistic system needed to be reinforced in order to regain the trust of the men. The advocates of lower-​deck representation were not always keen to resort to outside forms of representation, but the 201 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur William.

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Admiralty’s inability to accommodate their calls for a lower-​deck service voice drew some of the agitators towards the parliamentary system. The issue of representation is at the very heart of the clash of discourses; the ideological standpoints of the two were completely at odds, yet they both wanted a specifically service solution to the problem. Where they differed was what they considered a ‘service solution’ to be. For those who saw the problem through the lens of paternalism, the only solution could be for them to demonstrate more clearly to the lower decks that they were prepared to promote the interests of ratings. However, for those who came from the tradition of democratism, the idea of giving lower-​deck men a recognised collective voice was a key part of a service solution. Most lower-​deck men, like the Admiralty, did not want outside organisations lobbying about naval affairs; they wanted naval organisations and a naval structure within the boundaries of accepted naval discipline.

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5 Counting Unrest1

All sides in the clash of discourses surrounding lower-​deck grievances were concerned by the deeply infectious ‘disease’ of trade unionism, which they believed was being ‘spread’ by HOs and reservists, and which would, they felt, undermine naval discipline in its broadest sense. The extent of this fear should not be overstated –​only the most polemic articles believed the fleet to be on the point of large-​scale indiscipline. It was, however, a genuine and substantial concern which tapped into pre-​ war fears about the trade union movement. Were unrest to have been serious this would have been borne out by the offences being committed against the Naval Discipline Act (NDA) or King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions. By examining the Courts Martial Returns and the few remaining transcripts of court martial proceedings, we can investigate just how prevalent incidents of indiscipline were. Statistical Analysis There are, however, a number of limitations with this system of assessment. Most importantly the Courts Martial Returns represent only a small proportion of the offences punished. The majority of offences committed by ratings were summarily punished –​records for which, sadly, do not survive in any systematic way. Officers above the rank of midshipman, of course, could only be punished by court martial, although in wartime officers could be tried by a Disciplinary Court according the terms of Article 57A of the Naval Discipline Act which states: Where any officer borne on the books of any of His Majesty’s ships in commission is in time of war alleged to have been guilty of a disciplinary offence, that is to say, a breach of section seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty-​two, twenty-​three, twenty-​seven, or forty-​three of this Act, the officer having power to order such a court-​martial may, if he considers that the offence is of such a character as not to 1 This is a revised and extended version of a chapter which appeared in Ian Beckett (ed.), 1917: Beyond the Western Front (Leiden: Brill, 2008).

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199

necessitate trial by court-​martial, order a disciplinary court constituted as hereinafter mentioned.2

Needless to say ‘hereinafter mentioned’ went on for pages. The offences tried by courts martial represent, in theory at least, the most serious breaches of naval law –​either by virtue of the offence itself or of the recalcitrant nature of the offender. Restrictions were placed on the severity of punishment it was possible to award summarily, according to Article 56 of the NDA as amended in 1917. Hence, if it was desirable for the potential punishment to include penal servitude, or imprisonment for a period in excess of three months, the case had to go before a court martial. Despite such restrictions it should be remembered that the death penalty and dismissal with disgrace from the service could, theoretically, be awarded as a summary punishment. In respect of the ratings who faced court martial, the figures still present a number of difficulties. There is the dilemma of how to treat men facing multiple charges. From the evidence in the Courts Martial Returns it can only speculated as to whether one alleged offence was dependent on another: for example, there is no way of knowing for certain whether the intoxicated condition of the able seaman directly led to his assault on the lieutenant or not; nor is the offence of smuggling liquor aboard automatically linked to the charge of drunkenness. We must also consider whether multiple charging was a means of ensuring that at least one of them would result in conviction. From the surviving records it cannot be determined which offences are linked. This presents a particular problem in the case of ‘sexual offences’. The figures for this category are skewed in a number of respects. Importantly, charges like sodomy are generally, although not always, brought against two people  –​thus effectively doubling the numbers of people charged for one offence.3 Many of the sexual offences listed were committed by a limited number of men. In one case a single officer was charged with ten different sexual offences and it is hard to make adjustments for the propensity for a man to commit multiple cases of certain classes of offence. Most offences of a sexual nature were tried by courts martial, rather than summarily. However, this may not distort the figures as much as one might initially think: there are a significant number of sources to suggest that ratings found to be committing these types of offences were often dealt with unofficially by their messmates, or by the messmates of those against whom the offence was committed.4 2 Naval Discipline Act 1866 (29 & 30 Vict, c. 109, as amended 1917). 3 There was no offence of male rape. When it was felt that one man had been an unwilling participant only the other would be formally charged. 4 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 10722 –​Blunt, Charles.

200

200

Counting Unrest

Similar difficulties can be found in the case of mutiny. There were forty-​ one charges of mutiny convicted by courts martial during the war; however, these refer to only four incidents. For this reason this study explores the data in two separate ways. It looks at each offence as if they were independent of each other as well as looking at each man tried irrespective of the number of offences he was charged with. For the purpose of this statistical analysis it has been necessary to award each offence a category. From the evidence available, it has, on occasion, been extremely difficult to determine into which of these categories some of the more euphemistic offences should be placed. Into what class, for instance, should one place ‘being in a room with a Boy, 1st Class, with the lights off and the door closed’? Or ‘Guilty of scandalous action in derogation of God’s Honour and corruption of good manners’?5 Thus, it can be seen that the use of Courts Martial Returns presents significant problems. Nonetheless, were the Admiralty’s fears to have been well-​founded and the allegations of serious unrest professed by the lower-​deck journals accurate, one would still expect to have been able to see this reflected in the figures for these most serious of offences.6 The first thing to be noted from the Courts Martial Returns is the numerical insignificance of the charges. From a force which by 1918 numbered over 640,000 men (not including the mercantile marine),7 only 2,328 men (or 0.4 per cent) faced a total of 4,111 charges between the beginning of 1914 and the end of 1918, 82 per cent of which resulted in conviction. Another striking feature of the Courts Martial Returns is the tiny number of murders and attempted murders. There was only one conviction for murder and two for attempted murder in the entire period. Temporary Engineering Sub-​ Lieutenant Robert Porteous, RNR, was convicted of both murder and attempted murder, although he was declared insane and ordered to be detained in the Royal Naval Hospital until a more suitable arrangement could be made. The other man convicted of attempted murder was an active service petty officer. Clearly murder is a very personal crime, and not indicative of systemic unrest. However, the 5 A ‘scandalous action in derogation of God’s honour and corruption of good manners’ was an offence under Article 27 of the NDA. However, nowhere in the Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure can a definition be found. By contrast, the definition of ‘sodomy’ runs from page 187 to 189. A number of ex-​servicemen, however, assure me that this is a service euphemism for masturbation. 6 All of the tables and figures used throughout this chapter (with the exception of table 5.13 which is taken from Christopher M. Bell and Bruce A. Elleman, ‘Naval Mutinies in the Twentieth Century and Beyond’, in Christopher M. Bell and Bruce A. Elleman (eds), Naval Mutinies of theTwentieth-Century (London: Cass, 2003), pp. 264–276 (p.266, Table 1 ‘Types of Naval Mutinies’).) have been compiled by the author using the Courts Martial Returns and supplemented in tables 5.3, 5.4, 5.5, 5.8, 5.9, and 5.10 by cross referencing them with the surviving service records of all those named in the Returns. 7 Figures taken from Newbolt, History of the Great War Based on Official Documents, Vol. 5, Appendix J.

201

Ratings

201

numbers of murders are so small that it could be said to indicate good morale amongst the lower decks. Of course, unlike in the army, naval men did not routinely carry personal arms which helps partially to explain these figures; however, that there were only three such cases in four years is indicative of an organisation which faced no serious levels of unrest. There is some very limited anecdotal evidence of unpopular masters-​at-​ arms ‘falling’ mysteriously overboard. Arthur Crown, for one, recalled a detested master-​at-​arms, who ‘slipped’ when the ship put to sea in the Shannon and was never seen again. According to Crown even the officers were happy this particular master-​at-​arms had gone.8 Due to the different regulations governing the trial and punishment of officers and men we will examine the figures for ratings, officers tried by court martial, and officers tried by Disciplinary Court separately. The data presented here focus largely on prosecutions rather than convictions because the decision about whether to prosecute is as indicative of the authorities’ fear of indiscipline and their desire to quell it, as much as the actual state of indiscipline.9 Ratings Between 1914 and 1918 a total of 2,118 charges were brought against lower-​deck men, of which 85 per cent were upheld, from a total of just over 584,000 men who served during the war.10 Lists of the categories of offences tried by court martial and of the offences for which men were prosecuted can be found in Tables 5.1 and 5.2. In keeping with service stereotypes drinking, disobedience and sexual offences feature within the top eight. If those offences that might be considered to best indicate the presence of unrest:  violence against superior officers; contempt and insubordination; threatening language and behaviour; desertion; absence without leave; overstaying/​not returning from leave; disobedience; neglect of duty; refusal of duty; desertion of post; absence from place of duty; improperly leaving ship; and, of course, mutiny, are isolated it is discovered that combined these offences come to only 1,104 convictions, with the greatest single charge, violence against a superior, accounting for 477 of them. At the other end of the scale there were only six convictions on the very serious charge of refusal of duty. However, it is not just the substance of the charge as the general presence of acts contrary to naval law which might be said to indicate widespread indiscipline and hence poor morale. 8 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 8742. 9 All the data used in this chapter are based on statistical analysis of the Courts Martial Returns for 1914–​1919 held at the Naval Historical Branch, Portsmouth, which the author turned into a database. 10 Newbolt, History of the Great War, Vol. 5, Appendix J.

202

202

Counting Unrest

Table 5.1  Charges brought against ratings at courts martial, 1914–​1918 Category of charge

Royal Active Marines service

Type of service

Reservists Grand total

Mercantile Other marine Violence (against superior) Sexual offence Disobedience Theft Contempt/​insubordination/​ insulting an officer Desertion Drinking offence Threatening language/​behaviour AWOL Violence (other) Improperly leaving ship Other Neglect of duty Mutinous assembly Fraud Deserting post Censorship offence Uncleanness (STD) Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​language Absent from place of duty Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Lying Hazarding/​stranding/​damaging ship Possession of weapon Being in improper place Breaking and entering Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Complicity Manslaughter Gambling Refusal of duty Asleep on watch (NOT in presence or vicinity of enemy) Striking Over-​staying/​not returning from leave Asleep on watch (in presence or vicinity of enemy) Attempted murder Forgery Grand total

48

343

13

73

477

23 20 35 3

238 154 140 84

6 7 6 7

23 22 20 25

295 203 202 119

9 10 7

61 68 37

6 2 3

28 9 14

104 89 61

4 5 1 4 1

39 33 33 39 43 28 28 9 23 23 18

2 2 1 1

7 12 16 6 5

52 52 51 50 49 36 31 28 26 25 24

1

18 6

1 8

2 2

22 16

1

14 4

2

1 9

16 15

4 1

11 10 8 8 7 7 6 6 4

1 4 1 1 2

3 4 4 3 1 1

5 1

8 2 15 2 1 3

1

4 5 4 7 6 3 5 6 3

1 1 1

3 1

1 1

1

1 1 197

1532

3 2

1 1 78

8

303

2,118

203

Ratings

203

Table 5.2  Percentage of each category of charge brought against ratings of each service type at courts martial, 1914–​1918 Category of charge

Royal Active Marines Service

Type of service

Reservists

Grand Total

3.4% 1.1% 1.0% 0.9% 1.2%

22.5% 13.9% 9.6% 9.5% 5.6%

Mercantile Other Marine Violence (against superior) Sexual offence Disobedience Theft Contempt/​insubordination/​ insulting an officer Desertion Drinking offence Threatening language/​ behaviour AWOL Violence (other) Improperly leaving ship Other Neglect of duty Mutinous assembly Fraud Deserting post Censorship offence Uncleanness (STD) Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​language Absent from place of duty Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Lying Hazarding/​stranding/​ damaging ship Possession of weapon Being in improper place Breaking and entering Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Complicity Manslaughter Gambling Refusal of duty Asleep on watch (NOT in presence or vicinity of enemy) Striking Over-​staying/​not returning from leave Asleep on watch (in presence or vicinity of enemy) Attempted murder Forgery

2.3% 1.1% 0.9% 1.7% 0.1%

16.2% 11.2% 7.3% 6.6% 4.0%

0.6% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3%

0.4% 0.5% 0.3%

2.9% 3.2% 1.7%

0.3% 0.1% 0.1%

1.3% 0.4% 0.7%

4.9% 4.2% 2.9%

0.2% 0.2% 0.0% 0.2% 0.0%

1.8% 1.6% 1.6% 1.8% 2.0% 1.3% 1.3% 0.4% 1.1% 1.1% 0.8%

0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%

0.3% 0.6% 0.8% 0.3% 0.2%

2.5% 2.5% 2.4% 2.4% 2.3% 1.7% 1.5% 1.3% 1.2% 1.2% 1.1%

0.8% 0.3% 0.7% 0.2%

0.0% 0.4%

Grand total

9.3%

0.0% 0.2% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%

0.1% 0.0% 0.0%

0.2% 0.0%

0.4% 0.1% 0.7% 0.1% 0.0% 0.1%

0.0% 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.4%

1.0% 0.8% 0.8% 0.7%

0.2% 0.2% 0.2% 0.3%

0.2% 0.0%

0.5% 0.5% 0.4% 0.4%

0.3% 0.1% 0.2% 0.3% 0.1%

0.0% 0.0%

0.1%

0.0%

0.1% 0.0%

0.0% 0.0%

0.1% 0.1% 0.0%

0.0% 0.0% 72.3%

0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2%

0.0% 0.0% 3.7%

0.4%

14.3%

100.0%

204

204

Counting Unrest

Figure 5.1  Number of ratings prosecuted at courts martial per year

What can be seen from these prosecutions, however, is a perceptible peak for the year 1917 (see Figure 5.1). Bearing in the mind there was no significant change in the overall size of the service between 1916 and 1918 this increase, however numerically small, must be seen as significant from the Admiralty’s perspective, coming as it did at a period of other, more general concerns:  mutinies were ripping through other fighting forces, revolution was engulfing Russia, and industrial unrest was becoming a significant factor in British politics. It may also be indicative of the fears of the Admiralty. At a time when they were concerned by increased unrest it is possible that they were keener to prosecute in order to help restore discipline. If the Admiralty’s fears about the disease-​spreading quality of the HOs were grounded, this should be evident in the proportion of offences committed by men from each type of service; however, the Courts Martial Returns do not state which of the men facing trial had entered for hostilities only and so it cannot be established if offences were being committed by a disproportionate number of HO ratings. The Returns merely differentiate between the active service (which would include HOs), reservists, marines, and mercantile marines (with a handful of others thrown in).11 What we can compare are the figures for reservists (the Admiralty’s other disease-​vector). By 1918, 10 per cent of the RN

The mercantile marine was placed under military discipline using T128 forms. Hence they appear in the Courts Marital Returns. 11

205

Ratings

205

Table 5.3 Years of service for active service ratings at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial 0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above  Total number of trials in year

1914

1915

1916

1917

1918

Total

1 11 18 44 37 20 0

9 7 17 51 52 34 2

3 29 11 49 41 24 5

3 18 25 42 45 30 6

4 16 13 45 58 21 4

20 81 84 231 233 129 17

131

172

162

169

161

795

was composed of reservists12 –​yet they faced 14 per cent of the offences tried by court martial. This discrepancy is not statistically significant, and it cannot be inferred from it, as the Admiralty feared, that reservists were firebrand trade unionists or revolutionary socialists causing unrest in the midst of the RN. The small differential may be easily accounted for by the numbers who suddenly found that actions considered to be legitimate and normal (particularly in regard to the representation of grievances) in their respective pre-​war professions, had become infringements of the Naval Discipline Act. If we cross-​reference the Courts Martial Returns with the service records of the men prosecuted we can ascertain how long the men had been in the service before they were tried. There are some limitations to this because not all service records have survived. We have service records for all bar fifty-​one of the 846 active service ratings who faced courts martial, 106 of the 107 marines, 146 of 158 reservists, but only two of the forty-​one mercantile marines who faced a naval court martial (see Tables 5.3, 5.4, and 5.5). What we can see from these is that for active service ratings 58 per cent of trials involve men who have served for between three and twelve years. We can also see that for those who re-​enlisted after completion of their first twelve years of service there is a slight peak in 1917; however, the increase is only seven additional trials, so is statistically insignificant. What this tells us, is that contrary to Admiralty and lower-​deck fears, discipline was not noticeably poorer amongst senior ratings who were alleged to be suffering disproportionally as a result of Admiralty policies and the difficulties caused to their families by price increases ashore. The figures also suggest that the majority 12 Newbolt, History of the Great War, Vol. 5, Appendix J.

206

206

Counting Unrest

Table 5.4 Years of service for men and NCOs of the Royal Marines at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial 0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above Total number of trials in year

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Total 0 1 2 3 9 3 0

0 3 5 9 2 4 0

0 2 4 6 6 8 1

0 1 2 14 4 2 1

0 2 3 4 2 1 2

0 9 16 36 23 18 4

18

23

27

24

14

106

Table 5.5 Years of service for reservist ratings at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Total

0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above

      0 2 1 0

2 11   4 3 4 0

  10 6 2 7 8 0

1 3 24 18 6 3 1

    2 22 3 1 2

3 24 32 46 21 17 3

Total number of trials in year

3

24

33

56

30

146

of offences were not being disproportionately committed by men enlisted for hostilities only, since only 23 per cent of trials involve men with less than three years’ service. Officers (Court Martial) When the officers convicted at court martial are examined the picture changes somewhat. Between 1914 and 1918 1,259 charges were tried by court martial, of which 76 per cent led to conviction. Over 55,300 officers were borne on the RN’s books by the end of 1918, of which only 6 per cent were reservists.13 However, throughout the course of the war 48 per cent of the officers convicted of an offence at court martial were a member of the reserves:  the most common offence was 13 Ibid., Appendix J.

207

Officers (Court Martial)

207

overwhelmingly drinking, accounting for 31 per cent of all convictions. In fact, the most striking feature of the officers who were convicted by a court martial was the gross over-​representation of the reservists (see Tables 5.6 and 5.7). As with their lower-​deck counterparts, overwhelmingly the most common offence was related to drinking, with 27 per cent of all prosecutions involving a drinking offence. Neglect of duty was the second most numerous, accounting for a little over 10 per cent of prosecutions. If we look at the number of officers prosecuted it can be seen that the numbers increase slightly from 1914 to ​1915 before rising sharply between 1915–​1916 and 1916–​1917. The prosecutions against active service officers reached their peak in 1917, whilst those for reservist officers continued to rise into 1918 (see Table  5.8). However, since the maximum number of prosecutions in any one year was 125, this would hardly indicate any deep underlying disciplinary problem. One of the most interesting aspect of these figures is the continued increase in prosecutions against reserve officers right through into 1918, whilst those against active service officers decreased. It might suggest that as the conflict drew to an end the desire to return to their peacetime jobs might have weakened the reservists’ ties with the RN now that the national emergency had passed. The figures for active service officers doubled between 1916 and 1917, before falling away in 1918. The fact that this does not correlate with the peak amongst the reservists is also interesting, and could be seen as a reflection of the reduced time spent training by new officers before going to sea. Whatever the cause, with a peak of just 125 prosecutions, it can be concluded that the RN faced no significant unrest amongst its regular officer corps. If we look at the Courts Martial Returns in conjunction with individual officers’ service records we can see some interesting patterns. As with this technique for ratings, not all of the service records survive. Of the active service officers, 381 of the 426 records survive, for Royal Marines officers seven out of nine survive, and of the reserve officers 208 records from 309 men prosecuted. Only one mercantile marine officer was tried by court martial and his record does not survive. If we look at the years of service each officer completed before he faced his court martial, some very different patterns emerge to those found amongst ratings (see Tables 5.9, 5.10, and 5.11). Of those prosecutions brought against active service officers, 75 per cent had served for over thirteen years. In the case of officers of the Royal Marines all officers tried by courts martial had served at least thirteen years. In the case of reservist officers, 75 per cent had completed less than five years of service at the time of their trial. This suggests a number of possibilities. Reservists, with less experience of the navy’s disciplinary systems, may have transgressed

208

208

Counting Unrest

Table 5.6  Charges brought against officers at courts martial, 1914–​1918 Category of charge

Royal Active Marines service

Type of service

Reservists

Grand total

Mercantile Other marine Drinking offence Neglect of duty Hazarding/​stranding/​damaging ship Disobedience Theft Enquiry into loss of ship Fraud AWOL Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​language Contempt/​insubordination/​ insulting an officer Improperly leaving ship Sexual offence Other Censorship offence Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Lying Violence (other) Absent from place of duty Deserting post Threatening language/​behaviour Borrowing money from the ranks Forgery Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Asleep on watch (NOT in presence or vicinity of enemy) Desertion Being in improper place Mutinous assembly Violence (against superior) Cowardice Over staying/​not returning from leave Refusal of duty Gambling Attempted murder Breaking and entering Murder Grand total

6    

201 68 52

     

2    

136 63 50

345 131 102

  1     1  

42 39 47 18 25 27

           

  1        

50 37 13 35 26 19

92 78 60 53 52 46

 

12

 

 

25

37

  3 2   1                  

12 26 20 13 9 5 2 9 5 6 7 1 6 3

                          1

                           

24 5 9 5 6 11 14 3 6 5   6 1 2

36 34 31 18 16 16 16 12 11 11 7 7 7 6

           

2 2 1 1 1 3

           

           

4 3 4 4 2  

6 5 5 5 3 3

         

  1   1  

         

         

3 1 1   1

3 2 1 1 1

14

667

1

3

574

1,259

209

Officers (Court Martial)

209

Table 5.7  Percentage of each category of charge brought against officers of each service type, 1914–​1918 Category of charge

Royal Marines

Active service

Type of service

Reservists

Grand total

Mercantile Other marine Drinking offence Neglect of duty Hazarding/​stranding/​damaging ship Disobedience Theft Enquiry into loss of ship Fraud AWOL Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​language Contempt/​insubordination/​ insulting an officer Improperly leaving ship Sexual offence Other Censorship offence Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Lying Violence (other) Absent from place of duty Deserting post Threatening language/​ behaviour Borrowing money from the ranks Forgery Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Asleep on watch (NOT in presence or vicinity of enemy) Desertion Being in improper place Mutinous assembly Violence (against superior) Cowardice Over staying/​not returning from leave Refusal of duty Gambling Attempted murder Breaking and entering Murder

0.5%    

16.0% 5.4% 4.1%

     

0.2%    

10.8% 5.0% 4.0%

27.4% 10.4% 8.1%

  0.1%     0.1%  

3.3% 3.1% 3.7% 1.4% 2.0% 2.1%

           

  0.1%        

4.0% 2.9% 1.0% 2.8% 2.1% 1.5%

7.3% 6.2% 4.8% 4.2% 4.1% 3.7%

1.0%

 

 

2.0%

2.9%

1.0% 2.1% 1.6% 1.0% 0.7% 0.4% 0.2% 0.7% 0.4% 0.5%

                   

                   

1.9% 0.4% 0.7% 0.4% 0.5% 0.9% 1.1% 0.2% 0.5% 0.4%

2.9% 2.7% 2.5% 1.4% 1.3% 1.3% 1.3% 1.0% 0.9% 0.9%

 

0.6%

 

 

   

0.1% 0.5%

   

   

0.5% 0.1%

0.6% 0.6%

 

0.2%

0.1%

 

0.2%

0.5%

           

0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2%

           

           

0.3% 0.2% 0.3% 0.3% 0.2%  

0.5% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.2% 0.2%

         

  0.1%   0.1%  

         

         

0.2% 0.1% 0.1%   0.1%

0.2% 0.2% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1%

Grand total

1.1%

53.0%

0.1%

0.2%

45.6%

100.0%

    0.2% 0.2%   0.1%          

 

0.6%

210

210

Counting Unrest

Table 5.8 Years of service for active service officers at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Total

0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above

    1 2 8 23 12

1   2 1 10 31 10

  5 2 2 13 40 19

  4 5 10 12 52 24

  1 4 7 6 47 27

1 10 14 22 49 193 92

Total number of trials in year

46

55

81

107

92

381

Table 5.9 Years of service for officers of the Royal Marines at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Total

0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above

             

          3 1

          0 1

          1 0

          1 0

0 0 0 0 0 5 2

Total number of trials in year

0

4

1

1

1

7

Table 5.10 Years of service by reservist officers at the time of their trial by courts martial Years of service at time of trial

1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 Total

0 1 2 3 to 5 6 to 12 13 to 22 23 and above

3   1 1 2 0 1

5 8 1 1 4 6 0

1 18 16 3 2 8 1

1 7 13 27 8 7 1

2 7 7 35 5 5 1

12 40 38 67 21 26 4

 Total number of trials in year

8

25

49

64

62

208

211

Officers (Disciplinary Court)

211

Table 5.11  Charges brought against officers at disciplinary courts, 1914–​1918 Category of charge 

 Royal Active Marines service 

Type of service

Reservists Grand total

Mercantile marine Drinking offence AWOL Disobedience Improperly leaving ship Contempt/​insubordination/​insulting an officer Violence (other) Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​ language Absent from place of duty Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Threatening language/​behaviour Neglect of duty Other Lying Over staying/​not returning from leave Violence (against superior) Borrowing money from the ranks Breaking and entering Censorship offence Deserting post Desertion Fraud Hazarding/​stranding/​damaging ship Possession of weapon Gambling Sexual offence Theft Grand total

      1  

22 18 3 5 6

9 12 1 5 2

219 70 94 52 47

250 100 98 63 55

   

2 4

2 1

23 19

27 24

            1  

3 2 1   2 2   2

1 4   3   1   2

16 10 11 9 9 5 5 2

20 16 12 12 11 8 6 6

                        2

    2 1                 75

                1       44

4 3 1 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 613

4 3 3 3 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 734

them more easily because of a lack of socialisation. It is also possible that the authorities felt more comfortable prosecuting reservist officers rather than active service ones. The large percentage of long-​serving active service officers prosecuted may reflect either a growing discontent felt by these officers, or that higher standards of behaviour were expected. Officers (Disciplinary Court) Similar patterns in the distribution of offences can be seen emerging from the disciplinary courts. Some 426 officers were prosecuted at a

212

212

Counting Unrest

Table 5.12  Percentage of each category of charge brought against officers of each service type, 1914–​1918 Category of charge

Royal Active Marines service

Type of service

Reservists

Grand total

Mercantile marine Drinking offence AWOL Disobedience Improperly leaving ship Contempt/​insubordination/​ insulting an officer Violence (other) Inappropriate/​improper behaviour/​language Absent from place of duty Disorder/​provoking a quarrel Smuggling/​avoiding paying duty Threatening language/​behaviour Neglect of duty Other Lying Over staying/​not returning from leave Violence (against superior) Borrowing money from the ranks Breaking and entering Censorship offence Deserting post Desertion Fraud Hazarding/​stranding/​damaging ship Possession of weapon Gambling Sexual offence Theft Grand total

      0.1%  

3.0% 2.5% 0.4% 0.7% 0.8%

1.2% 1.6% 0.1% 0.7% 0.3%

29.8% 9.5% 12.8% 7.1% 6.4%

34.1% 13.6% 13.4% 8.6% 7.5%

   

0.3% 0.5%

0.3% 0.1%

3.1% 2.6%

3.7% 3.3%

            0.1%  

0.4% 0.3% 0.1%   0.3% 0.3%   0.3%

0.1% 0.5%   0.4%   0.1%   0.3%

2.2% 1.4% 1.5% 1.2% 1.2% 0.7% 0.7% 0.3%

2.7% 2.2% 1.6% 1.6% 1.5% 1.1% 0.8% 0.8%

               

    0.3% 0.1%        

               

0.5% 0.4% 0.1% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3%

0.5% 0.4% 0.4% 0.4% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3% 0.3%

        0.3%

        10.2%

0.1%       6.0%

0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 83.5%

0.3% 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 100.0%

disciplinary court between 1914 and 1918, of which 34 per cent were for drinking offences and 14 per cent were for being absent without leave (see Tables 5.11 and 5.12). Reservists were heavily represented at these courts; despite making up only 6 per cent of the service they constituted 83 per cent of those tried by disciplinary court. By contrast, only 10

213

Officers (Disciplinary Court)

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Figure 5.2  Number of officers prosecuted at courts martial per year

per cent were active service officers. The disproportion of reservists at this type of court is entirely to be expected given that the courts were constituted with reservist officers in mind. Less familiar with the rigours of naval discipline than their active service counterparts who had entered at thirteen years of age, it was expected that they would transgress the disciplinary code more frequently and the disciplinary court was designed in order to avoid a full court martial in these cases. One of the most striking figures is that for reservist skippers convicted of a drinking offence at a disciplinary court. Many of these men would have been skippers of trawlers in civilian life, and they frequently treated their naval crews in the same, more familiar, fashion as they had done their civilian predecessors. In the RN, however, sharing a drink with your crew was a disciplinary offence. As with reservist officers tried at court martial, the number of prosecutions of reservists continued to increase throughout the war (see Figure  5.2  and 5.3). We might, therefore, offer the same hypothesis and suggest that as the war progressed their less secure bonds to the service meant that they were less able to endure the strains of war. In the case of these officers, the strains were also particularly great. Very few of the officers tried at disciplinary courts served on large vessels; only twenty-​three of the 426 officers prosecuted served on capital ships.14 The remainder served on smaller vessels which were engaged in activities

14 Capital ships include battleships, battle cruisers, cruisers, light cruisers and aircraft carriers. In 1915 only three officers who served on this type of vessel were tried by disciplinary court; in 1916 it was four; in 1917 it had risen to six; and by 1918 it was ten.

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Figure  5.3 Number of officers prosecuted at disciplinary courts per year

such as convoy duty, minesweeping and minelaying. The men engaged on these duties had a higher mortality rate than any other section of the British armed forces. Unlike the men on capital ships, they faced far more constant and present threats and lived in far more cramped and unpleasant conditions. It might be this, rather than their loyalty to the disciplinary strictures of the Senior Service, which caused them to be disproportionately represented in the Courts Martial Returns. Quality not Quantity? It would seem then that the fears of Their Lordships were hardly borne out by any huge upsurge in either collective or individual insubordination in any of its manifestations. This leads to the question of whether it was the substance rather than the quantity of the offences which generated such concern in the Admiralty. With this in mind, that most evocative of manifestations of unrest must be turned to –​mutiny! To the lay mind, the phrase ‘naval mutiny’ generally conjures an air of romance and heroism. Pictures of gallant members of the lower orders fighting to throw off the shackles of their oppressors abound. The reality, of course, is not so picturesque. Mutiny is an imprecise word, even in its legal definition; yet it is a very highly charged one –​so highly charged in fact that it is a natural inclination during most incidents of ‘mutiny’ for all sides to play it down –​frequently substituting such euphemisms as ‘incident’ or ‘outbreak’. The Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial

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Procedure from 1912 defines ‘mutiny’ thus:  ‘The offence of “mutiny” is not defined in any statute, but it implies collective insubordination, or combination on the part of two or more persons, subject to military or naval law, to resist the lawful authority of superior military or naval officers, whether by violence or passive resistance; or to induce others to resist such lawful authority.’15 In effect this meant that any contravention of Article 11 of King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, could potentially be classified as mutiny, depending on the judgement of individual captains. In 1969 Cornelis Lammers published a paper in the Administrative Science Quarterly which set out to determine whether organisational conflicts (i.e. strikes and mutinies) could be analysed in terms of a single theoretical framework. He regarded both strikes and mutinies as protest movements which may fall into one of three types: promotion of interest, secession, and seizure of power. He suggested that strikes and mutinies form a sub-​class of protest movements ‘because they have in common several components that are relevant from the point of view of a sociological theory of organizations’, namely (1) the context of the conflicts are formal organisations; (2)  the participants are lower-​level members who come into conflict with higher-​level decision-​makers; (3) the strategies employed in the conflict, such as the suspension of usual tasks and/​ or taking violent action; and (4) the goals of the conflict aim at attaining certain advantages or preventing disadvantages.16 He hypothesised that the social conditions conducive to strikes in industry are the same as those that heightened the chances of mutiny in military units, but that mutiny was a comparatively infrequent occurrence in part because of the threat of heavy retribution against mutineers, but predominantly because sailors consider the strong military taboo on mutiny to be correct. Most sailors, he argues regard work stoppages as being incompatible with military discipline and as therefore being a serious threat to the functioning of their ship. However, mutiny may be provoked when extreme hardship or injustice combine with either a widespread belief that no serious negative sanctions will follow a collective action, or ‘when basic commitments to the goals and means of the organisation are so weak that the taboo on mutiny is no longer considered legitimate’. Ties of loyalty to the organisation may also be severed by long periods of inactivity or by

15 Stephens, Gifford and Harrison Smith, Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure, pp. 137–​139. 16 Cornelis Lammers, ‘Strikes and Mutinies:  A Comparative Study of Organizational Conflicts between Rulers and Ruled’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 14:4 (1969), 558–​572 (p. 559).

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the mismanagement of officers, which has the additional side-​effect of closing off an important avenue of alternative protest.17 In Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century, Christopher Bell and Bruce Elleman have used the framework outlined by Lammers to investigate a selection of naval mutinies.18 They conclude that sailors’ grievances are often linked to broader social or political problems affecting the society from which they come. Bell suggests that ‘ships’ crews represent a cross-​ section of the nation and tend to reflect the social and political values within it. Conflict within a navy may therefore be either partially or predominantly a spill-​over from a state’s social, economic, or political ills.’19 However, they suggest that mutinies usually stem from relatively minor causes relating to the conditions of service. Mutinies can take one of two forms: ‘ship specific’; or ‘fleet-​or navy-​wide’, the former developing as a result of particular circumstances on a specific ship, the latter caused by more widespread problems, sometimes, though not always, generated by more systematic problems such as poor officer–​man relations.20 In such cases the complaint may not be with their direct superiors, but rather with the higher naval command. Bell classifies the various types of naval mutiny along the Lammers’ model as in Table 5.13.21 The Royal Navy itself also sought to find a framework through which to understand the phenomenon of mutiny. In July 1933 the Training and Staff Duties Division of the Naval Staff produced a confidential pamphlet entitled ‘Mutiny in the Royal Navy.’ Its purpose was ‘to set out past events in such a way that the reader can draw his own conclusions and furnish himself with material for thinking out a course of action’.22 Just as Lammers was to do thirty-​six years later, the pamphlet’s authors saw links between mutiny in its ‘passive form’ and a ‘workman’s strike’.23 It suggests that mutiny is generally caused by material conditions since ‘[m]‌en do not often concern themselves deeply with the abstract’.24 It acknowledges that the causes of some mutinies lie outside the control of an individual captain and might, therefore, take place on ‘the

17 Ibid., pp. 565–​566. 18 Christopher M. Bell and Bruce A. Elleman, ‘Naval Mutinies in the Twentieth Century  and Beyond’, in Christopher M. Bell and Bruce A. Elleman (eds), Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth-Century (London: Cass, 2003), pp. 264–276. 19 Ibid., pp. 264–265. 20 Ibid., pp. 264–​265. 21 Ibid., p. 266, Table 1, ‘Types of Naval Mutinies’. 22 Training and Staff Duties Division, Admiralty, C.B.3027 Mutiny in the Royal Navy, Volume I –​1691–​1919 (London: July 1933), p. 3. 23 Ibid., p. 3. 24 Ibid., p. 3.

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Table 5.13  Types of naval mutinies Type of mutiny

Goals

Naval (or promotion Sailors seek to improve or of interest) maintain their position with mutinies respect to income or other working conditions.

Political mutinies

Sailors seek either:

Seizure of power

(a) to improve conditions within the navy by exerting pressure on political authorities rather than (or in addition to) their superior officers; or (b) to effect changes of a political (but non-​revolutionary) nature. Sailors seek either:

or Secession mutinies

Characteristics Grievances relate solely to naval issues, and may be relatively minor and mundane. Grievances may be extended throughout the entire navy, but are more commonly confined to a single ship or squadron. Usually resolved quickly and easily. Usually passive. Demands go beyond what a ship’s captain or even the naval high command can concede. Demands may be unrelated or only indirectly related to conditions of service in the navy.

Are most likely to occur in authoritarian, corrupt or (a) to produce far-​reaching or weak states. revolutionary changes in the composition or nature of the Are most likely to involve government; or violence and the outright (b) to escape from the authority of seizure of ship(s). a government entirely.

best-​ordered ships as well as those where the discipline is poor’.25 The pamphlet then takes a series of examples dating from as early as 1691. Interestingly, it does not take any examples of mutinies from the First World War, but instead selects that which took place on HMS Zealandia in March 1914 and those amongst the First Destroyer Flotilla and on HMS Vindictive in 1919. In the case of Zealandia, the blame was placed squarely on the commander for ‘the very foolish order he gave for the stokers to clean brightwork on the upper deck so soon after coaling (before many of the stokers would have had time to clean themselves), and for them all to fall in on the quarter deck with their scrubbed coaling 25 Ibid., p. 3.

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suits, an unnecessary and impossible order, as they had been trimming bunkers long after the actual coaling had been completed’.26 The commander was also blamed for his subsequent handling of the affair and his failure to restore discipline.27 In the case of the 1919 mutinies, the pamphlet suggests that the incidents were not the result of actions on the part of any officers, but rather a product of the conditions of service in the Baltic: The service was hard; and owing to the want of a proper base, the distribution of provisions was at fault, especially the small extra comforts … which mean so much. Even the pay was sometimes in arrears. The men would have put up with these things cheerfully, if they felt they were unavoidable. But the crews of the destroyers, who suffered most hardships and who spent more time in the Baltic than men in other ships, thought they had more than their share; they thought that some of the many destroyers laid up at home ports might be manned from the large ships or the depots to give them a spell. Furthermore, they did not understanding the object of the service; we were not at war, there seemed to be something underhand about it; and some were perhaps affected by the specious arguments spread abroad through the Bolshevik wireless, fatuous as these arguments plainly were. Above all, the men had come to believe their officers had now power to redress their grievances.28

It is through the use of these definitions and frameworks, given by Lammers, Bell and the RN’s own Naval Staff, that this book explores the mutinies in the Royal Navy during the First World War.29 Throughout the war itself forty-​one officers and ratings were charged with mutiny (of whom twenty-​nine were active service men, eight were from the mercantile marine and four were reservists); twenty-​eight of the active service 26 Ibid., pp. 136–​137. 27 Ibid., p. 140. 28 Ibid., pp. 141–​142. 29 In his appendix Carew also lists incidents of collective action:  in February 1916 on HMS Psyche when seven stokers were charged with wilful disobedience of a lawful command of their superior officer; in March 1916 on HMS Teutonic when eight men were convicted of mutiny; in May 1916 on HMS Dartmouth when four men were court martialled for attempting to frustrate the execution of Admiralty punishment No. 8; in April 1917 on HMS Fantome seven men were court martialled for wilful disobedience of a lawful command of their superior officer; in August 1917 on HMS Fantome when twelve men were convicted of mutiny; in September 1917 on HMS Amphitrite when eight men were convicted of mutiny; and in October 1917 on HMS Resolution two men were convicted for writing and distributing a hectographed circular canvassing the views of other petty officers about the recent Loyal Appeal. This information is taken from Carew, The Lower Deck, pp. 210–211 with additional details about each incident supplemented by this author from the Courts Martial Returns held by the Naval Historical Branch, Portsmouth. Interestingly, Carew makes no reference to events on HMS Jonquil or HMS Leviathan. His selection of ‘acts of collective indiscipline’ appears arbitrary with no clear indication of why particular incidents have been chosen above others.

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men were found guilty, all eight mercantile marines were convicted, and all four reservists acquitted. These relate to incidents on His Majesty’s Ships Teutonic, Jonquil, Fantome, and Amphitrite. The courts martial proceedings relating to HMS Teutonic and HMS Amphitrite survive, and it is from these that conclusions as to the type and nature of the mutinies can be drawn. The case of HMS Leviathan, where the mutiny was re-​classified by the Admiralty an ‘outbreak’ and no charges were brought by court martial despite 150 of her complement breaking out of the ship (taking with them the ship’s piano), is also examined. The earliest of the mutinies took place on HMS Teutonic (a White Star steamship, launched in 1889 and used as an armed merchant cruiser).30 On 28 March 1916, whilst anchored in Liverpool, 178 mercantile ratings refused to turn to. The mutineers were assembled on the upper deck and addressed by the Senior Naval Officer, Liverpool, Rear-​Admiral Stileman. Accompanied by a 200-​strong armed guard, Stileman informed the mutineers, as had the captain before him, that what might have been termed a ‘strike’ in the mercantile service qualified as ‘mutiny’ under the Naval Discipline Act. He pledged to put their grievances before the Board of Admiralty personally and then asked them to return to work; eight refused and were imprisoned. During their subsequent trial the eight offered the following statement in their defence: In pleading guilty to the first charge may we also plead for special consideration on the grounds of ignorance of our refusal of duty. We have been for years firemen and trimmers of the Mercantile Marine and unfortunately we have been in the habit of settling any grievance or dispute in the same lamentable manner as we have done on this occasion, with one vast difference, that we have overlooked the fact of our own signing under Naval discipline. It is equally unfortunate that usually when signing any articles as Mercantile Marine firemen and trimmers, the general individual (through force of habit) does not attach enough importance to such articles, and we state that such habitual carelessness was present in this case, but that now, on realising our own unenvyable [sic] position and being very penitent and extremely sorry for the method adopted we beg for leniency in judgement of our offence.31

They were not granted leniency. Their Lordships, not perhaps unreasonably, thought that two reminders during the mutiny that they were under the NDA and that they were committing mutiny should really have been sufficient. Each received two years’ hard labour and was dismissed from the service: a seemingly heavy price to pay for a complaint over no more than food and pay. 30 See the classified wartime Navy Lists. Copies can be found in The National Archives. 31 TNA, ADM 156/​19 –​Report written by Benson, 28 March 1916.

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This incident falls clearly into the ‘protest movement’ type of mutiny. The goals related solely to naval issues and were pursued using the ‘stoppage of work’ tactic, complicated only by the mutineers’ non-​typical relationship to the service in which they were employed. It is here that the Lammers model falls short:  it makes no allowance for differences in the relationships with the governing military body between career servicemen and those temporarily drafted. They were not career servicemen, but mercantile men co-​opted for the duration, and hence were bound less tightly by professional and personal loyalty to, and pride in, the Royal Navy as an institution, thereby weakening the normative type attachment between the sailor and his employer, and thus the normal taboo on mutiny was not something they would have felt applied to them. They regarded the incident as a strike, not because they were attempting to downplay it, but because they genuinely regarded it as nothing more. They had merely undertaken a normal, legitimate, form of protest movement –​sadly for them, the naval authorities did not share their view as to its legitimacy. The second case study chronologically is HMS Amphitrite (an 11,000 ton first class protected cruiser launched in 1898, which had been converted to a minelayer in 1917).32 At 1.15 pm on the 23 September 1917, whilst she was stationed in Portsmouth, fifty-​ eight able and ordinary seamen refused to obey the pipe for both watches to fall in. At the subsequent court of enquiry twenty-​two of those men were examined. The court found that the collective insubordination was carried out as a personal protest against the general behaviour of Amphitrite’s captain (Edmund Clifton Carver), the longer hours worked, the irregular hours at which the men got their tea, and the dirty conditions of the mess deck. Just as Admiral Colville, the Commander-​in-​Chief, Portsmouth, had concluded in his initial investigation, so too did the court of enquiry: the blame for the whole incident lay firmly at the feet of Captain Carver. In their submission to the Admiralty outlining the results of the court of enquiry, Captains Skipwith and Garforth firmly stated that: ‘We are of opinion that the cause of this protest was Captain Carver’s tactless and overbearing method of dealing with the Officers and men and that he is most seriously to blame and should be held responsible for the whole series of events which culminated in this most serious offence against Naval discipline.’33 The accompanying letter by Admiral Colville was even more direct: ‘Captain Carver is solely and entirely to blame for the lamentable state of affairs on board that ship; he has most thoroughly 32 See the classified wartime Navy Lists. 33 TNA, ADM 156/​34 –​Findings of the Court of Enquiry, 25 September 1917.

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Quality not Quantity?

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maintained his service reputation [by which he meant Carver’s reputation as an appalling leader], and I  submit to their Lordships that he should be instantly relieved of his command and never employed again in any position where he commands officers and men. If he is left any longer in this ship, there will probably be more serious trouble.’34 That Colville was prepared to recommend this course of action, even though he recognised the potential effect on discipline of allowing the men to achieve the objective they so obviously desired, is indicative of the exceptional circumstances surrounding the case. Once again this is an incident which clearly falls in the ‘protest movement’ model of mutiny. It was limited in scope and arose from a belief, with which the Admiralty grudgingly agreed, that there was no alternative method for the men to bring forward their grievances.35 Indeed, the Board of Admiralty was in a large degree sympathetic to the men, but felt that this show of insubordination could not go unpunished in view of the recent concessions granted to the lower decks, events on the Teutonic and the recent mutiny in Germany.36 Of the eight men selected, for no reason other than their seniority, to stand trial at court martial, six were sentenced to two years’ hard labour, and two to eighteen months. These were formally reduced by the Admiralty to sixteen and twelve months, respectively. It was also decided that the sentences would be suspended after eight and six months, but that this suspension would not be announced until the time for suspension arrived: the Second Sea Lord commented, ‘Any form of mutiny must be sternly repressed. The sentences are not severe, and to reduce them at the present moment would be inopportune and tend to weaken authority.’37 As for Captain Carver, the mutiny on Amphitrite sounded the death knell of a career which ought, by all accounts, to have ended quite some time before. The First Sea Lord adjudged that since no formal charges could be formed against Carver, despite the unanimous conclusion of everyone concerned that he was solely and entirely to blame: An expression of their Lordship’s opinion on the cause of the dissatisfaction in the ship, coupled with the fact that they do not intend to employ this officer again, should be inserted in the Court Martial Return in the form of a memorandum placed under the sentences on the men convicted of mutiny. I [the First Sea Lord] have thoroughly considered the point as to whether this course would be subversive to discipline, but since true discipline is founded on justice, and

34 TNA, ADM 156/​157 –​Letter from Admiral Colville to the Admiralty, 26 September 1917. 35 TNA, ADM 156/​34 –​Minute from Plummer to the Second Sea Lord, 13 October 1917. 36 TNA, ADM 156/​34 –​Minute from Plummer to the Second Sea Lord, 13 October 1917. 37 TNA, ADM 156/​157 –​Minute from the Second Sea Lord, 14 October 1917.

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since equal justice has not so far been meted out to the captain of the Amphitrite and the men who were convicted, such a public expression of their Lordships’ opinion will go some way towards redressing the balance.38

The mutiny on Amphitrite cannot be said to have been the result of long periods of inactivity –​as a minelayer she was frequently engaged; however, she clearly suffered as a result of the mismanagement of officers, and the consequent injustices in treatment. Hence the First Sea Lord (who would not normally have become involved in such matters), was anxious to see that injustice was not present in the judgement of the case. The last incident for investigation has not been recorded as a mutiny  –​but it was investigated as such and was only rechristened after the investigations were completed. This ‘outbreak’ took place on board HMS Leviathan (an 1898 cruiser) at Birkenhead on 6 October 1918.39 Leviathan had a wartime history of discontent. W.A. Jenkins, a senior rating of many years’ experience, served onboard her until shortly before the mutiny. He left a thorough diary, which amongst other things, recorded the petty irritations the ship’s company had suffered at the hand of Leviathan’s previous captain, Captain Marcus Hill (though Jenkins had a variety unflattering of names for him!). According to Jenkins, the crew had been subject to a high turnover so that by July 1917 of the 980 officers and men who joined on 15 July 1914, only three officers and 200 men from that original crew remained.40 He also recalled a substantial amount of leave-​breaking and a large number of men appearing before the defaulters’ table on a regular basis. No other similar records of indiscipline have been found elsewhere in the fleet, suggesting that HMS Leviathan was, and had been for some time, an unfortunately unhappy ship. The incident in question occurred between the afternoon of Sunday 6 October and the morning of Tuesday 8 October, during which time over 150 men (and one piano) broke ship.41 Even more unusual was that the ship took on the role of a hostel with men popping back to sleep, wash and change, before once again leaving the ship along with even more men than before. No action was taken by the ship’s authorities until the 38 TNA, ADM 156/​34 –​minute from First Sea Lord, 17 October 1917 –​this was duly done and can be found in the Court Martial Returns held in the Naval Historical Branch, Portsmouth. 39 Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War One, p. 53. 40 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​14/​1 –​W.A. Jenkins, entry for Sunday 15 July 1917. 41 HMS Leviathan had a complement of 900. This means that nearly 17 per cent of the ship mutinied –​a worryingly large proportion (details of complement found in Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War One, p. 53).

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Quality not Quantity?

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Monday morning to prevent this stream of unauthorised entrance and egress. There had been a significant period of discontent amongst the stokers because of the unhealthy and even dangerous condition of the engine room, and it was the stokers who were at the fore throughout this ‘outbreak’; however, the trigger for this mass ship-​breaking was the tactlessly cancelled leave on the Sunday, when the ship’s captain, Captain Evans, managed to tell the crew that he would not permit them to go ashore because he could not trust them. Twenty-​nine men had already over-​stayed leave and he was afraid that if he lost any more the ship would not be able to sail.42 What ensued, if the report of the court of enquiry is to be believed, was a spontaneous decision to leave en masse. Every one of the men examined responded that they had only left because everyone else had, there had been no ringleaders, it was pure coincidence that they had all independently decided to leave at precisely the same moment, no outside agitators had been involved (although a couple of men made claims to the contrary), and no one had any idea how the piano had made it down the gangway onto the quay. They all agreed that their only real grievances were Captain Evans’ assertion that they could not be trusted and the subsequent stoppage of leave.43 The vast majority of the mutineers were young men, most of whom had only served a comparatively short period of time, and some of whom were enlisted for the period of hostilities only. The court felt that a great number of the men failed to realise the gravity of their misconduct. Some of the older seamen interviewed suggested that the relatively young age of the crew had been a factor in the incident since there were not enough ‘staid’ men to ‘keep the young chaps steady’.44 This, these senior hands felt, was compounded by the industrial strikes taking place ashore. The court concluded that the action taken by Captain Evans to deal with the incident had been inadequate. The incident, it felt, had shown a ‘lamentable lack of cohesion between Officers and Men … With the exception of the Fleet Surgeon who volunteered for the work and Mr Hambley, Mate, the officers were not called upon to explain to the men how rash and improper was their conduct.’ The court was, though, at pains to stress that ‘throughout the outbreak no manifestation of ill feeling or disrespect towards the Officers or Petty Officers was shown and no damage was done or rioting took place on board or

42 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Findings of the Court of Enquiry into alleged mutiny on Leviathan, 11 October 1918. 43 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Minutes of Evidence taken by Senior Naval Officer Liverpool. 44 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Evidence of Seaman Dawson, who had served twenty-​five years.

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ashore’,45 with the possible exception of the piano which ended its life as firewood. Rear-​Admiral Stileman, Senior Naval Officer, Liverpool, agreed with the findings of the court –​the general tone of discipline throughout the ship was, in his words, ‘slipshod and slack’,46 the captain was tactless, and a lamentable lack of initiative was shown by failing to restrain the men earlier. He suggested, however, that the incident should be dealt with summarily and that the ship should proceed to sea as it had been destined to do. The Second and Fourth Sea Lords in their assessment of the case agreed that much of the blame should be borne by Captain Evans and the commander for their handling of the situation, but believed he should not be removed from his position for fear it gave the ship’s company the feeling it had only to mutiny in order to gain advantage.47 The Second Sea Lord also opposed the paying off of the ship since it ‘would in a sense be a confession that the Admiralty regards the outbreak in a more serious light than is really the case, and would moreover result in the crew returning for a time to the more comfortable life of the Barracks and escaping from the somewhat severe conditions of the service on which the ship is employed; they would thus in a sense obtain a reward for their bad behaviour’.48 It was on his recommendation that the word ‘outbreak’ be substituted for ‘mutiny’. In so doing he was demonstrating another facet of mutiny as discerned by Lammers:  namely desire of all involved to downplay the significance of events. It is clear that this incident conforms to the ‘protest movement’ style of mutiny against unhealthy conditions aboard and a tactless captain, although it had no specific goals beyond the registering of displeasure. The Admiralty had been faced with three, not insignificant ‘protest movement’-​ style mutinies during hostilities  –​to say nothing of the mutinies which followed the armistice.49 Mutinies and mutineers were numerically insignificant, but the seriousness of mutinies cannot be judged by the number of participants: Invergordon was relatively moderate; Potemkin sought to spark a national revolution whilst acting in virtual isolation.50 In many ways it is hard to draw any broad conclusions 45 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Findings of the Court of Enquiry into alleged mutiny on Leviathan, 11 October 1918. 46 TNA, ADM 156/​ 89  –​Findings of Rear-​ Admiral Stileman, Senior Naval Officer, Liverpool, 11 October 1918. 47 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Minutes of Fourth Sea Lord, 13 October 1918 and Second Sea Lord, 23 October 1918. 48 TNA, ADM 156/​89 –​Minute of the Second Sea Lord, 23 October 1918. 49 No evidence has been found as to the nature of the mutinies on HMS Jonquil and Fantome. 50 Clearly both these mutinies happened as a result of very particular political circumstance which are not comparable to the situation for the Royal Navy during the First

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from these instances. It is almost impossible to generalise as to when grievances will become serious enough to spark a mutiny since the conditions which are sufficient in one ship will not be enough in another. Following Bell’s theory, were these mutinies, which were triggered by particular circumstances, in reality a reflection of broader social and political problems affecting British society? Largely, this was indeed the case, because at their heart was the issue of the relationship between employer and employee. The rights of the employee, and not simply the responsibilities of the employer, were taking centre stage in civilian industrial relations, alongside the recognition of the power of collective action. The RN faced a crisis of identities; a conflict between notions of service and self. Whilst being careful not to overstate the importance of naval collective action it was symptomatic of the difficulties of representing grievances. In none of the mutinies or ‘outbreaks’ discussed was there any alternative, legitimate means for the grievances to be aired, and in this respect they do represent a deep blow to naval methods of the maintenance of discipline. This was a continuation of the dialogue ashore about the rights of workers. When the Admiralty saw concessions being granted ashore it is small wonder that action on board which mimicked civilian methods of agitation would have been a cause of concern; hence in their investigations they were anxious to establish whether each incident had been provoked by outside agitation. However, no evidence was discovered which might have substantiated this. Indeed, none of these incidents were concerned with Admiralty policy, none suggested any general breakdown in officer–​man relations, and none were even supported by the entire ships’ complements. All were apolitical and were not a reaction to the war. What is significant is that in those courts martial which did not simply pick the most senior participants to prosecute, the majority of ‘mutineers’ were either HOs or very new recruits who had not yet developed the sort of intimate relationship with the service which might, under normal conditions, have prevented such actions. Despite a multitude of reasons that explain how and why the Board developed such deep-​seated concerns about the morale and discipline of the lower decks, and despite the claims about the level of unrest found in the lower-​deck journals, it would appear evident that in neither instance were these fears or claims substantiated by the types of offences being tried by court martial, the number of these offences, or indeed by their substance.

World War; however, it does demonstrate the importance of wider circumstances in the generation of grievances and the seriousness of any the resultant unrest.

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Conclusion

This study has argued that the discipline of the Senior Service, in its broadest possible sense, was determined by the interaction between two discourses, ‘paternalism’ from above and ‘democratism’ from below. This interaction governed not only the adherence of members of the service to its various rules and regulations, but also their spirit of well-​ being and confidence. In many respects the two very different ‘world views’ of paternalism and democratism were incompatible. This often led to them ‘talking through’ each other because they failed to see what was at the heart of the issue for the other side in the debate. So whilst both might have, for example, recognised the benefits of increased pay, the Admiralty failed to appreciate that this was a question of status as much as finance, and the men of the organised lower decks failed to appreciate that the Admiralty was wary of binding future administrations to what they saw as a specifically wartime problem. These discourses framed the way in which each ‘side’ understood and responded to wartime grievances. War imposed new challenges on the Admiralty’s paternalism and gave increased impetus to the lower deck. Despite these issues surrounding sympathy and understanding, the level of wartime unrest cannot be said to have reached critical levels. Underlying grievances were made more acute by wartime conditions and had they been left unchecked may well have become more serious. Although there were calls for democratisation which echoed those in civil society, grievances in this area cannot be said to have formed a movement, and there were few serious attempts to ally the lower-​deck cause with any form of radical politics –​even the Labour Party was considered too extreme by some lower-​deck advocates of reform. Calls for reform were largely internal, with advocates wanting a service solution rather than seeking recourse to outside agitators. No doubt had all the calls for democratisation in its various forms been fully implemented they would have been welcomed; however this does not imply that failure to fully implement them caused serious unrest. For the majority of the men issues of self-​determination would never even have arisen. If the active lobbying 226

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base for such reforms is examined it becomes apparent that it was small (though vocal). Although these calls must be, and were, treated as significant, they were not significant enough to feature in veterans’ testimony fifty years later. Indeed the only areas of grievance which can be deemed to have been widespread by that marker were those expressing a desire to rid the service of the institutional infantilisation enshrined in the petty and humiliating elements of the disciplinary and spit and polish systems. It is telling that mutiny only occurred in reaction to events on a specific ship, which indicated the more general grievances found in some Admiralty reports and in the pages of lower-​deck journals were not severe enough to challenge naval discipline. Although the men’s mood may have become low enough in a handful of ships to cause collective indiscipline, the essential spirit of the fleet remained sufficiently high to preserve discipline. The maintenance of discipline cannot be said to have been purely a result of some inherent triviality in the grievances. The RN as an institution had many positive qualities which enabled it to respond –​if not perfectly, then effectively  –​to wartime grievances. The clash between the ‘service’ and ‘professional’ nature of life in the RN, and the role of ‘traditions and customs’, were flexible enough that ‘dilution’ of nucleus crews could be accommodated and the sense of group unity expanded to include HOs, at least on a personal level. Despite some unfavourable comparisons between the position of the sailor and the shore worker, the ‘service’ element of naval life was a powerful motivating force and one which mitigated grievances. The dislike of civilian strike action (in spite of its effectiveness in securing concessions) is symptomatic of the strength of pride in the notion of ‘service’ and the high level of the men’s spirits. Whilst there was clearly an inherent incompatibility in the two discourses with paternalism confining its recipients to the role of ‘child’, and democratism calling for that same group to be recognised and treated as men, the maintenance of good discipline was also a product of certain aspects of those two discourses. In particular, paternalism was remarkably adept at providing for the temporal needs of the men. At the heart of the maintenance of discipline and morale was the enduring strength of the relationship between officers and men, and the various collective self-​identities within the service. Paternalism, with all its concomitant respect and responsibility, was remarkably robust in the face of trade unionism, socialism, and war. It may not have been enough on its own, and certainly may not have been enough indefinitely, but it was elastic enough to absorb many of the pressures specific to the wartime environment into which the navy found itself thrust in August 1914. The relationship between officers and men remained solid throughout

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this period. Recognition of the duty of care on the part of the officers and its successful implementation did much to negate the influence of grievances. The RN may have been as class-​ridden as the society of which it was a key institution; it may have been stratified and hierarchical; it may have had faults within its system of representing grievances, but it was not authoritarian. The disciplinary system was not so rigid as to completely remove discretion from the equation, and nor were the officers and Admiralty so removed from the lower ranks to cause excessive friction. In essence, there was no serious political unrest because the systemic checks and balances worked effectively. Recognising the restrictions of war, and following its paternalistic nature, the Admiralty strove to provide for the men’s corporeal and spiritual needs. Abstract concepts of ‘service’ and ‘pride’, along with good inter-​rank relationship are not enough to explain the inert nature of the service mentality. The material world was an equally important force, and it would be unwise to underestimate the effect of the tangible on the fleet. Boredom and hunger are often far worse enemies for any armed force than any enemy it would meet in battle. They were, however, enemies the RN did defeat. A great deal of care was taken, where at all possible, to ensure the fleet was kept well-​fed and busy, both at work and play. Though leave was severely restricted communication with civilian life in the form of news –​personal, social and war-​related –​was readily available when based in home waters. When stationed overseas, or on constant convoy duties, it was not unheard of for men to go three months without receiving letters from home because of operational pressures, and on one occasion because the captain could not be bothered to meet the ship carrying post,1 although it appears this was rare. Post, like newspapers, enabled men who were often physically isolated from civilian life to maintain a sense of belonging, especially in time of war. The service presses of all varieties were full of articles which outlined the progress of the war, and helped the men to put the efforts of the Senior Service into the wider context of the war. Understandably, it was far easier for men in home ports to receive newspapers. This link was one the Admiralty was keen to establish as soon as the Grand Fleet took up residence in Scapa Flow, and a means of mitigating the effects of being physically isolated in such a geographically remote and hostile part of the British Isles. The number of letters and parcels dealt with in a single day at the Fleet Post Office on Impérieuse amounted to 50,000, and the men at Scapa were able to receive the early copy of the Manchester edition of the Daily Mail, the 1 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 03/​ 14/​ 1  –​Jenkins, W.A., Thursday 22 November 1917.

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Glasgow Herald, and the Edinburgh Scotsman by 19:30 on the day of their publication, because ‘early in the war the Commander-​in-​Chief had the happy inspiration of keeping officers and men in the Grand Fleet well informed concerning the issues at stake and the developments brought about from day to day, and measures were taken to attain this purpose by the provision of an early, regular and abundant supply of newspapers’.2 On foreign stations news was either delivered a little out of date, or it was posted on notice boards by signalmen who took it upon themselves, for the benefit of their shipmates, to transcribe in longhand the Morse news signals they received over the wireless.3 For some men religion was an important means of counteracting the effects of war, and a means whereby they could gain spiritual strength to help them through the fear and isolation. For others it was a collective inconvenience, but it did at least unite officers and men through a mutual irritation and dislike of the whole process. Organised religion could be largely escaped in smaller vessels, and professing to be a dissenter could mean a pleasant trip ashore once a week.4 However, on a large ship even war did not bring about an end to the daily religious rituals. In fairness, many veterans spoke of the chaplains with respect5 –​though some did not.6 Even those who liked the chaplains on a personal level disliked the element of compulsion in the church services. William Humphries 2 Pratt, British Railways and the Great War, Vol. 2, p. 520. 3 Once such man was William Piggott. When in harbour he used to listen to the news from Poldhu in Cornwall (a wireless station which sent the news every evening at 23.30 in Morse). He would then write it out in about five pages and give it to the rest of the crew to read so they got a bit of news (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 12235 –​Piggott, William). 4 Alan Whittingham recalled: ‘I was lucky being a Wesleyan, I escaped [compulsory church service], as where possible I went to a service ashore, which I enjoyed.’ IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583)  –​Whittingham, Allan. According to King’s Regulations Article 771, ‘Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and others who entertain religious scruples in regard to attending the services of the Church of England, are to have full liberty to absent themselves from these services. When no opportunity offers for them to attend their own places of worship they are to be allowed to remain in their mess places or in such a part of the ship as may be appointed by the Captain, who will take care that the place appointed is so situation as not to give the appearance of their being obliged to form part of the congregation.’ Interestingly, Article 711 is part of Chapter XIX Discipline. 5 For example: IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 679 –​Clarkson, George; Accession No. 719 –​Ford, Arthur; IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​ responses of Purslow, Sidney; Jenkins, Thomas; Dowsett, Arthur; and Ainsworth, Lewis. Although this level of respect was not necessarily the case when training. Some of the veterans, such as Harry Vine, found the chaplains’ desire to confirm everything that moved rather irritating (IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 730). 6 For example: IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 730 –​Vine, Harry; IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​responses of Thompson, Thomas; Robinson, Philip; Evans, John; and Dwyer, Albert.

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Table C.1  Reactions to naval chaplains and compulsory church services

Compulsory church services Chaplains

Positive

Negative

Neutral

17% 35%

61% 26%

22% 39%

thought compulsory service was ridiculous. He even saw older ratings reading the News of the World on their laps.7 Table C.1, based on the surviving responses to the questionnaire, summarises naval responses to chaplains and compulsory church service8 Because chaplains held no officer rank, despite being members of the wardroom, they were men with whom ratings and officers alike could, theoretically, speak without fear of retribution. Whilst many men may have taken advantage of this confidentiality, others were sceptical about the sanctity of a confessional which messed in the wardroom.9 More overtly popular than provision for the well-​being of the men’s immortal souls, were the various activities laid on for their temporal entertainment. Sport was, and had been for centuries, one of the most important activities for the fleet. It provided a means of letting off steam and of shouting abuse at the officers’ team in the name of good discipline. They also brought officers and men together. By not keeping themselves completely aloof officers were able to form a bond with their men away from the more formal atmosphere of the ship. Sporting events varied in type and size. Some were intra-​ship and inter-​rank, others inter-​ ship, and some inter-​squadron. Aside from providing a welcome distraction from the rigours, and indeed boredom, of wartime routine, the theatre ship SS Gourko played another important role in maintaining discipline. She would moor alongside a ship, and the crew of that ship could go aboard in watches to stage and watch both theatrical entertainments and music concerts. Respondents to Brown and Meehan claimed they could do anything as well as could the West End. If the ship were called to battle all she had

7 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583) –​Humphries, Boy Signalman William. 8 Table based upon the answers given to the question: ‘Do you have any strong feelings about Naval Chaplains as a group of people or the system of compulsory church service?’ IWM Document Archives, Accession No. Misc 101 (1583). 9 For example, IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 735 –​Haigh, George.

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to do was slip her wires.10 As with physical exercise, theatrical performance, if it did not break, certainly dented inter-​rank barriers. Officers could be laughed at with impunity, and a human face shown to the crew. Officers and men participated in shows and watched them together. By not feeling themselves to be above socialising (however formally) with the ratings, officers helped to strengthen the bond with their men, and reduce the scope for complaining about officers. SS Gourko had been specially commissioned by the Admiralty at the outbreak of war to ensure that sailors stuck at such a remote anchorage as Scapa Flow could be kept entertained. It was an act of both foresight and thoughtfulness on Their Lordships’ part, which served a useful role in mitigating the effects of disquiet. Concerts and cinema showings were not uncommon and had similar effects to their thespian counterparts. Between 1 October 1917 and 30 April 1919 alone, the amount spent by the Fleet Cinema Committee on purchase and hire of films, and installation gear sent out to ships of the Grand Fleet, was over £14,000.11 With the men’s temporal (and spiritual) needs basically well met on a day-​to-​day basis, and despite worries from some quarters about the diminishing purchasing power of their loved ones, more radical ideas found it harder to root. Activities such as sporting competitions or concert parties also gave a sense of normalcy in the turbulence of war, and provided an additional form of protection against an increase in the level of unrest. War also helped to increase the sense of unity between officers and men. In some stations during the pre-​ war period (particularly Malta), officers and men were anecdotally believed to have very separate spheres of socialising. Officers played polo, fished, shot things and drank tea accompanied by fine ladies in fine dresses. It was a glorious outpost of London society. Ratings drank, got drunk and fraternised with not so fine ladies in not so fine dresses. War stripped back, if not completely eradicated, these perceived gulfs. Men and officers frequently socialised together through various wholesome activities and in so doing cemented the already strong bonds between them. Sufficient and (debatably) good food, as well as adequate provision of suitable clothing, medical care and even sleeping facilities also helped to stop grievances generating serious levels of unrest. It was not only aspects of paternalism that helped to maintain discipline; democratism also had aspects that enabled the service to withstand wartime grievances. Democratism was not opposed to what it regarded as ‘good service discipline’. The maintenance of service discipline 10 Brown and Meehan, Scapa Flow, p. 67. 11 Pratt, British Railways and the Great War, p. 521.

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was a crucial part of the professionalism inherent to democratism. Democratism was looking for a service solution to the various wartime grievances. However much it might have subconsciously have adopted the language and methods of militant trade unionism by 1917, it was adamant that trade unionism was the antithesis of the service professionalism on which the lower decks prided themselves and which formed a fundamental aspect of their self-​identity. The nature of the grievances themselves meant that their ability to induce unrest was limited. Although war had brought more unity to the various grievances, class-​specific issues remained common; even grievances which theoretically affected all ratings were often couched in terms of their effect on specific groups. Carew contends that the presence of HOs served to unify the lower decks; however, jealousy at the supposed preferential treatment given to these men by the Admiralty was still largely confined to certain branches and professions within the navy, in particular the more skilled or artisan branches. The division of interests by column in The Bluejacket and the Soldier only serves to demonstrate that grievances were not universal even by the end of the war (although they were certainly developing more similarities). Although the Joint Committees of the lower-​deck benefit societies helped to unite the voices of their various members, there were still rivalries and disagreements between the respective Joint Committees of the three home ports. The membership base of the societies also meant that the grievances raised often affected senior ratings more acutely than their junior colleagues, thus further reducing the numbers for whom the grievances were immediately applicable to their personal circumstances. It was indeed the case that grievances which affected such an important body of men were a particular cause for concern; however, this does not alter the fact that grievances affecting a numerically more limited body of men within it helped to prevent the level of unrest generated from becoming even more serious. The compartmentalisation of the fleet was another important factor in preventing grievances from generating more severe unrest. Where conditions on board were good, the impact of grievances could be lessened. Life in the Royal Navy offered a multiplicity of experiences. Even during training a sailor’s impression of and feelings towards the service were dependent upon his branch, the officers and petty officers under which he served and the station in which he undertook his service. This lack of a homogenised service experience meant that not every rating could associate with the supposed grievances the services presses and other sources told them they were feeling. The many men who were unmarried and with no dependants felt the effects of the wartime economy less keenly, and may arguably

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have felt only limited solidarity with financial difficulties faced by their married colleagues. Running around playing football may well have helped the men to let off steam, but the steam which escaped through small ‘safety valves’ in the system may well have been even more important. The importance of these unofficial but largely tolerated cracks should not be underestimated. As has been seen, Admiralty discussions on how best to deal with unrest recognised that plugging these gaps would be unwise. The infamous Article 11 of King’s Regulations strictly and without exception forbade combination for any purpose, in particular for the representation of grievances. However, there were unofficially sanctioned methods whereby men could air collective complaints, thus giving them the vital space to express their feelings to a limited extent. The existence of benefit societies, if not their adversarial role, was accepted by Their Lordships. No attempt was made to close down either the societies or their mouthpieces, the lower-​deck journals. Despite the declared truce breaking down, these organs of lower-​deck expression were not suppressed. After much discussion the Admiralty felt that it was in the best interests of the service for them to continue. For the most part these journals remained well behind the line of acceptable grousing, although the occasional toe may have crossed the threshold once or twice. Clearly these methods of voicing complaints did not satisfy the calls for an official system; nevertheless their role as a limited release valve was invaluable. Petitions were discussed at length by the Board and their importance noted  –​though unofficially of course. In many respects the journals provided a form of monthly ‘petition’ in which the loyalty of the men could be stressed alongside the grievances alleged to exist. The system of parliamentary democracy, even with its limited suffrage, helped to moderate the level of unrest generated by grievances. Ratings were drawn from a society with a tradition of moderate reform. Dissenting voices were not crushed, and debate was a recognised and welcome part of the political landscape. Though technically forbidden to contact Members of Parliament about service matters, those ratings passionate and brave enough could approach sympathetic Members of Parliament without too great a fear of retribution; thereby providing another important safety valve against increasing discontent. The expression of grievances also existed on a more basic level –​ grousing: It must have been a “sad ship!” One of the first stories I ever heard (says “The Rambler” in The Daily Mirror) was of a certain dream-​ship, where everything was

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Conclusion perfect, Skipper and Officers all that could be desired, food plentiful, accommodation excellent, work light. Yet no one was happy abroad [sic] her; she was a miserable ship, and one Old Shellback explained the situation thus: “ ‘Evin ‘elp the poor bloke wot serves in that bloomin’ packet. There ain’t nothink to grouse in ‘er, miserable ship she is”.12

Grousing and grumbling is part and parcel of institutional life, and its careful control is in itself a safety valve. The wartime Royal Navy was no exception; grousing and grumbling formed an integral part of service life, and of the maintenance of the balance of morale and discipline. Grumbling, grousing, moaning, muttering, bleating and bellyaching were part of the ‘traditions and customs’ which kept the navy afloat. Whilst collective muttering was clearly against regulations this particular part of King’s Regulations was not enforced with a draconian hand. Petty officers kept an ear open to such talk, and were ready to intervene should it turn seditious. If there were particular troublemakers, action could be taken against them, either discreetly or otherwise. This was not a common occurrence, either because the men involved were too careful or because everyone involved understood the unwritten rules of acceptable grousing. It was tolerated in moderation because it provided useful and necessary commentary on lower-​deck life. In many respects censorship provided a similar function. The provision of censorship in wartime, as well as being seen as an annoyance, was also adapted by some as a means of grousing. Knowing that their letters would be scrutinised by officers onboard, epistolography was embraced as a means of laying out minor irritations. For example, men might write home to ask for a food parcel, thereby implying that their rations were insufficient. Toleration of moderate grousing was not the only means whereby the systems demonstrated their flexibility. The strict and rigid disciplinary system discussed earlier was actually more flexible in its implementation than in the letter. To an extent the elasticity of the system was actually improved during the war and zealous polishing was deemed impractical (at least temporarily). The fact that this petty and irritating part of the disciplinary system was removed by the necessities of a unifying national emergency helped to increase its effects. Wartime punishments were not more severe than their peacetime counterparts and the fact that certain offences which might have received harsh penalty in peace were actually treated more leniently in war because Their Lordships appreciated the increased pressures under which war routines placed the men. By 12 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, ‘It Must Have Been a “Sad Ship!” ’, September 1914, p. 165.

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treating the mutineers and petitioners with sympathy the Admiralty was not pandering to fears of further unrest, as Carew has suggested, but were rather utilising the flexibility of the system where they thought it reasonable to do so in the interests of justice.13 Discussion about shortening the terms of imprisonment for those convicted of mutiny on HMS Amphitrite was not couched in terms of the fear of reprisals, but rather in terms of justice and fairness. Furthermore, far from trying to curry favour, Their Lordships were unwilling to allow the extent of their generosity to become known throughout the service. The lenient sentences given to the authors of the 1917 hectographed circular was not even commented upon in the service presses. In fact, as we have seen, the petitioners’ methods were condemned for not being in the spirit of the service. The ability of the formal systems of rules and regulations to absorb unrest was aided by their ability to tolerate the turning of blind eyes where appropriate. This could be said to have applied as much in peace as in wartime; however, since the consequences of transgression were potentially so much more severe in wartime, the potential benefits of the blind eye were proportionately greater. Blind eyes could be applied to men committing very serious offences such as being asleep on watch, or to those simply bending the odd rule. Gambling, provided it was not too flagrant, was one of those activities which was frequently the recipient of officers’ and senior ratings’ blind eyes. Humour had its place, as it always must, in the maintenance of morale, and hence of ‘discipline’. The beautiful sarcasm of some of the diarists shone through, but uses of humour go much further than that. The ability to joke with, or to make witty comments to officers, helped not only to lift the tension in times of stress, but to strengthen the solidarity between quarter and lower decks. According to Arthur Ford the navy ‘liked high spirits. They don’t want people walking about with a Bible in their hands in the Navy you know. They like people with spirit. They cultivate it, you see, they like to see high spirits. They like to see people alive, you see. That’s the sort of people they want.’14 Interviews and questionnaires are littered with tales of amusing incidents –​some of which must only have assumed this status with hindsight. However, many more serve to demonstrate the spirit of the navy. Lieutenant Commander Fairthorne recalled one particular incident ‘when [he] was serving in a battleship involved in night collision with another after firing exercise in Scapa Flow, a voice alongside [him], before the tremor had subsided, piped 13 Carew, The Lower Deck, p. 77. 14 IWM Sound Archives, Accession No. 719.

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up “There’s a week’s leave” ’.15 That such kind of banter was permitted, and even welcomed, helped to maintain morale and indeed order and discipline. These unofficial ‘systems’ did nothing to remove the clash of discourses. Nor did they answer calls from some sections of the lower deck for official, collective means of making representation to the Admiralty. However, this pale imitation of such a system did help to relieve some of the pressure. Lower-​deck voices were heard and discussed, even if the interpretation their ‘Little Fathers’ drew from the situation did not tally with the men’s. Crucially the ‘Little Fathers’ not only listened, they responded with all the sympathy of a parent for a child. Requests followed by concessions had become something of a ‘tradition and custom’ for the service. This historical precedent helped to absorb much of the unrest which might otherwise have been generated by wartime grievances. However tardy, and however incomplete or misguided some quarters of the lower deck may have found these concessions, the fact that Their Lordships were seen as willing to unbend to the ‘legitimate’ calls of the long-​suffering ratings, meant that there was little necessity for recourse to more drastic action. Concessions demonstrated to the fleet that even in such difficult times, when the Board of Admiralty was rather preoccupied with the business of waging war, Their Lordships were not wholly inflexible or insensitive to the material needs of the men, however clumsily they may have handled the situation. It was hard to portray men who did listen and make concessions as an uncaring class apart. The impact of the navy’s war on issues of discipline and morale should not be underestimated. The course of the war, and sailors’ feelings about their role in that war, undoubtedly helped to shield the service from serious discontent. Despite a few defeats and numerous losses due to mines and submarine action, the Royal Navy’s sailors remained convinced that they were successfully performing the job for which they had been trained. They maintained a successful blockade of Germany, and since Jutland, had ensured that the High Seas Fleet remained skulking in Kiel and Wilhelmshaven. This is not to suggest that the men of the Royal Navy believed unswervingly in ultimate victory, or indeed that Britain and her allies were constantly winning the war. Newspaper articles and articles in lower-​deck journals were relatively honest about the situation and the nature of the struggle ahead of them. Many of the lower-​deck journals were written for soldiers as well as sailors, and contained as much information about the land war as the war at sea. There was also an 15 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 78/​47/​1 –​‘Some Thoughts on the Navy over Sixty-​Five Years’.

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awareness of conditions in the trenches, against which men of all ranks favourably compared their own positions. Much sympathy was generated for the men of their sister service, and this appreciation of their comparatively fortuitous position may well have added a different perspective to their own grievances.16 What it does say is that the men of the fleet do not appear to have lost confidence in the war they were fighting and in the way it was being fought. Some criticism of the conduct of the naval war did appear, but it was extremely limited. There was a pride even in the monotony of life at sea in the latter stages of the war. Sailors did what they had always done –​battled with the elements and with their enemy, and it was a battle they knew they were winning. After all this was the Royal Navy: what else could it do but rule the waves! War had tested the navy’s spirit and found it was not wanting. If obedience and willingness are used as indicators of morale then the morale of the fleet in general terms can be said to have remained ‘good’ throughout the war. Incidents of poor morale, as witnessed by incidents of ‘indiscipline’, were extremely unusual. As has been shown from the Courts M ​ artial Returns very few offences suggestive of unrest, and therefore poor morale, were being committed. It is evident both the Admiralty and the organised lower deck identified HOs as a particular source of discontent and suggested that it was the older, staid men, who were being most adversely affected by the conditions of war; yet neither of these groups were overly represented in the Courts ​Martial Returns. What we can see, therefore, is that the Admiralty’s fears, and the organised lower decks’ claims, of unrest were greatly in excess of its actual extent. Afterword Even the acts of collective unrest towards the end of the war do not indicate widespread indiscipline or poor morale. Recalling his time as a midshipman on HMS Glorious Captain Weymouth found that discontent amongst the men became more acute as the war drew to an end. In his memoirs he recollected an incident that highlighted Glorious’s poor morale in the autumn of 1918. One night there had been a gale of hurricane force causing Oak Royal and Campania to drag anchor towards the Glorious. ‘As the ships slowly approached, the watches were turned out 16 Whilst a number of private sources and journals express sympathy with the army and recognise that their own position was far more comfortable, they make no reference directly to how this affected their responses to the grievances and alleged unrest. For examples, see The Fleet, ‘ “Ships” for the Trenches’, March 1916, p. 86.

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to turn in the boats and prepare the ship for collision stations. It was then that many of the men, when ordered out to man and turn in the cutters, just stayed under cover and, in the darkness and rain and wind and noise, the officers failed to get control and nothing effective was done … it was the first experience I had of a breakdown of discipline on a mass scale.’ He attributed this to the ‘disillusionment’ which came with the end of the war ‘at long last, the men were not going to sacrifice their comfort or their lives for the sake of saving a ship from damage’.17 Although this incident in itself cannot be said to be indicative of a worsening level of unrest it throws open questions about what happened once the armistice had been declared. As the Great War drew towards its close in the west, a new conflict was growing in the east. The RN had remained active in Russia following the signing of the Brest-​Litovsk treaty in March 1918. From an initial desire to protect supplies and thwarting German attempted incursions into northern Russia the intervention gradually shifted focus to hostilities against the Bolshevik government. By November 1918 the Allies had taken Murmansk, Kandalaksha, Kem, and Archangel. This northern offensive was complemented by operations in the Black Sea, the Caspian, and the Baltic. Action in Russia triggered further unrest. Collective indiscipline took on new dimensions and occurred with alarming frequency: in January 1919 the Grand Fleet minesweepers refused to put to sea in protest over low pay. Later that month on HMS Kilbride the red flag was hoisted and a number of men refused duty, and on HMS Cicala there was a general refusal of duty –​which was cured by Cowan’s threat to fire on them himself. Between February and September there were four separate spates of collective indiscipline amongst the 6th Battalion of the Royal Marines, which culminated in September when around ninety men refused to engage the enemy or withdrew without orders from their positions. In October the First Destroyer Flotilla mutinied, and the following month the men of HMS Vindictive demonstrated over the lack of leave which followed Baltic service. In December it was the turn of the men of the light cruiser HMS Delhi to mutiny as a result of general conditions in the Baltic –​this time the situation was only resolved when the captain threatened to blow up the ship. Just what effect the undeclared naval war of 1919–​1920 which brought the Royal Navy into close touch with the Russian civil war, or the demobilisation of HOs had on the morale of the fleet will repay future examination. What we can say, however, is that the reasons for these incidents are unconnected with the indiscipline of the Great War. 17 IWM Document Archives, Accession No. 87/​16/​1 –​Weymouth, Captain G.R. CBE RN.

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Select Bibliography

Online Sources Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, www.oxforddnb.com/​

Service Newspapers and Journals Army and Navy Gazette, Ashore and Afloat, Brassey’s Naval Annual, Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, Navy and Army Illustrated, Naval Review, Punch, The Bluejacket and the Soldier: Our Defenders’ Magazine, The Fleet, The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book

Theses Conley, Mary A., ‘From Jack Tar to Union Jack:  Images and Identities of British Naval Men 1870–​1918’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, Boston College, 2000) Farquharson-​Roberts, Michael, ‘To the Nadir and Back: The Executive Branch of the Royal Navy 1918–​1939’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, 2012) Romans, Elinor Frances, ‘Selection and Early Career Education of Executive Officers in the Royal Navy c1902–​1939’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, 2013) Walton, Oliver Clement, ‘Social History of the Royal Navy 1856–​ 1900:  Corporation and Community’ (unpublished doctoral dissertation, University of Exeter, 2003)

Published Primary Sources Bachrach, Harriet, ed., Jutland Letters June–​October 1916 from Commodore C.E. Le Mesurier RN (Newton Toney: Wessex Books, 2006) Bateman, H.M., A Book of Drawings (London: Methuen, 1922) By Authority of the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, A Seaman’s Pocket-​ Book (London: Conway, 2006) –​reproduction of 1943 book Carr, William Guy, By Guess and by God: The Story of the British Submarines in the War (London: Hutchinson, 1930)

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Chance, Sir William (Chair of the Committee), Industrial Unrest. The Reports of the Commissioners (July 1917) Collated and Epitomised (London: P.S. King & Son, 1917) Gardiner, Robert (ed), Conway’s All the World’s Fighting Ships 1906–​ 1921 (London: Conway Maritime Press, 1985) Hainsselin, Montague, In the Northern Mists: A Grand Fleet Chaplain’s Note Book (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1916) Jellicoe, Admiral Viscount of Scapa, The Grand Fleet 1914–​1916:  Its Creation, Development and Work (London: Cassell, 1919)   Admiral Viscount of Scapa, The Crisis of the Naval War (London: Cassell, 1920) Kipling, Rudyard, Sea Warfare (London: Macmillan, 1916) Lloyd George, David, War Memoirs of David Lloyd George, 2 vols (London: Odhams Press, 1938) Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty, The King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions, vol. 1 (1913) Moore, John, Jane’s Fighting Ships of World War I (London:  Studio Editions, 1990) –​originally published by Jane’s Publishing Company 1919 Morgan, Charles, The Gunroom (London: Chatto & Windus, 1969) Opie, Robert (compiler), The 1910s Scrapbook:  The Decade of the Great War (London: New Cavendish Books, 2000) Ranft, Bryan, ed., The Beatty Papers:  Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty (Aldershot: Navy Records Society, 1989) Sabatini, Rafael, A Century of Sea Stories (London: Hutchinson, 1934) Stephens, J.E.R., Gifford, C.E. and Harrison Smith, F., Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure in Which Is Embodied Thring’s Criminal Law of the Navy. Together with The Naval Discipline Act and an Appendix of Practical Forms, 4th edn (London: Stevens and Sons, 1912) Temple Patterson, A., ed., The Jellicoe Papers: Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe of Scapa, Vol. 1 1893–​1916 (London: Navy Records Society, 1967)  ed., The Jellicoe Papers: Selections from the Private and Official Correspondence of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Jellicoe of Scapa, Vol. 2 1916–​1935 (London: Navy Records Society, 1968) Training and Staff Duties Division Naval Staff, Admiralty, Mutiny in the Royal Navy,Vol. 1 1691–​1919 (London: July 1933) Yexley, Lionel, Charity and the Navy. A Protest against Indiscriminate Begging on Behalf of ‘Poor Jack’ (London: The Fleet, 1911)   The Inner Life of the Navy (London: Pitman, 1908) Naval Courts-​Martial Returns 1906–​14 and 1915–​1919 (HMSO) Parliamentary Debates Volumes 68 to 111 The Naval Discipline Act 1866 (Vict 29 & 30 c. 109) –​with amendments The Navy Lists for 1914–​1918 Training and Staff Duties Division, Admiralty, C.B.3027 Mutiny in the Royal Navy, Volume I–​1691–​1919 (July 1933)

241

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241

Archival Material Imperial War Museum Document Archives Accession no.

Record Name

P389 P389 PP/​MCR/​301 90/​31/​1 91/​11/​1 P366 81/​48/​1 91/​29/​1 92/​13/​1 95/​3/​1 P456 85/​26/​1 85/​28/​1 06/​127/​1 85/​26/​1 89/​3/​1 98/​17/​3 78/​11/​1 01/​2/​01 P228 92/​4/​1 91/​11/​1 76/​207/​1 & 76/​207/​2 & 76/​207/​3 86/​58/​1 & 86/​58/​2 78/​47/​1 83/​55/​1 & 1A Con Shelf 67/​38/​1 03/​14/​1 P438 Misc 27 (491) Misc 101 (1583) Misc 194 (2880) Misc 200 (2925) 7281

Acheson P.G.E.C. Captain The Hon DSO MVO RN Adams, Commander G.C. Allen, C.F.S. Anderson, Lieutenant-​Colonel H.S. CMG Archer, C.J. Baillie-​Grohman, Vice Admiral H.T. CB DSO OBE Barraclough, Captain E.M.C. CBE RN Bayne, Captain R.C. RN Bell, Lieutenant C.G.H. Benfied, F.C. Benham, E Bickmore, Dr G.H. Boydell, P. Brown, H. Caspersz, Reverend T.W.L Cemm, D. Chapman, B.F.J. Clifford, Lieutenant G.F. Davis, W.J. de Burgh C Captain DSO RN De Courcy-​Ireland, Captain S.B. RN Drury, F. Duckworth, Captain A.D. RN Eady, Commander G.H. RN Fairthorne, Lieutenant Commander R.B. RN Gotto, Captain R. CBE DSO RN Gyles, Paymaster Rear Admiral H.A.D.J. Hird, J.H. Jenkins, W.A. Mason, Surgeon Probationer W.E. RNVR Miscellaneous 491 Miscellaneous 1583 Miscellaneous 2880 Miscellaneous 2925 Photocopy of a Newspaper Cuttings Album Relating to Lieutenant G L Drewry, VC) Ramsbotham, Captain R.R. OBE RN Roberts, W.G. Rose, R.F. RN Waymouth, Captain G.R. CBE RN Wilkinson, A.T. Wright, Rear Admiral N. CB OBE

P209 76/​8/​1 & PP/​MCR/​98 76/​238/​1 87/​16/​1 78/​51/​1 PP/​MCR/​364 & P161

242

242

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Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

9000

Adams, Frank Octavius O’Brien

660

Adshead, Gilbert

7172

Agar, Augustus Willington Shelton

9880

Allen, Frederick Stanley

661

Ashley, Reginald Claude

669

Basford, Walter Nicholson

Seaman served as blacksmith aboard HMS Irresistable, HMS Iron Duke, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Revenge, 1913–​1935 Boy artificer trained aboard HMS Tenedos, Chatham and HMS Indus in Devonport, GB, 1909–​1912; served aboard HMS Lord Nelson in Home Fleet based at Portland, Dorset, and in Mediterranean Fleet based at Mudros, 1913–​1917; artificer served aboard HMS Thisbe with Harwich Flotilla, GB coastal waters, 1917–​ 1919; served aboard HMS Stuart at Malta and Constantinople, Turkey, 1920–​1922 Officer commanded Royal Navy coastal motor boats transporting MI6 agents into Russia, 1919; awarded Victoria Cross for sinking Russian cruiser Oleg, 17 June 1919 Boy seaman and signal boy trained at HMS Ganges and Chatham Barracks, 1912–​ 1913; served as signal boy and signalman aboard HMS Vengeance, HMS Dominion and HMS Patrol in GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1913–​1919; served as signalman aboard HMS Repulse in GB coastal waters, 1920–​1922 Signaller served aboard HMS Iron Duke in GB coastal waters, 1914–​1917; served aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth in GB coastal waters, 1917; served aboard submarines C4 and D4 in GB coastal waters, 1917–​1918 Boy seaman trained at HMS Powerful, Devonport, GB, 1918; served aboard HMS London in GB coastal waters, 1918; seaman served aboard HMS Curlew in GB coastal waters, 1918–​1919; served aboard HMS Delhi in Baltic, 1919–​1920; attended gunnery course at Gunnery School, Whale Island, GB, 1920; served aboard HMS Vortigern, HMS Vivienne and HMS Barham in GB coastal waters, 1920–​1925; served on shore duties at Gunnery School, Whale Island, GB, 1925–​1926; served aboard HMS Suffolk on China station, 1928–​1930

243

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243

Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

10915

Bell, Sid

9364

Bethell, Reginald Ernest

9004

Betsworth, George Samuel

756

Bevis, Cyril Charles

10722

Blunt, Charles Percival

Miner worked in coal mines in Co. Durham, 1912–​1916. Served as seaman aboard HMS Renown based at Rosyth, Invergordon and Scapa Flow, Orkney, 1917; served aboard HMS Mermaid with 6th Destroyer Flotilla based at Dover and Immingham, GB, 1917–​1918; present at Battle of Zeebrugge, 23 April 1918; served as PO aboard Princess Victoria based at Immingham, GB, 1939–​1940 Bugler and marine served aboard HMS Amethyst in South Atlantic, 1916–​1918; served with North Russia Relief Force in Murmansk area, 1919; served aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMS Revenge, HMS Centaur and HMS Hawkins with Home Fleet, 1920–​1939; NCO served with prison service in Malta, 1939–​1942; served aboard HMS Scylla during Normandy landing, 1944; served with Royal Marines in GB, 1944–​1945 CPO with Royal Navy, 1903–​1916, served in Mediterranean and China stations, 1900s, served aboard HMS Nestor, 1915–​1916. Sunk at Battle of Jutland. POW in Germany, 1916–​1918; served aboard HMS Vampire, 1919–​1920 Boy shipwright at Portsmouth Dockyard and Rosyth, GB, 1913–​1918. Various draftings as shipwright with Royal Navy, 1918–​1935 Seaman trained at Greenwich and HMS Ganges, 1908–​1914; served aboard HMS George V at Scapa Flow, Orkney, 1914–​1916, including Battle of Jutland; served aboard P 34 class escorts in English Channel, 1916; trained as torpedoman on HMS Vernon/​HMS Warrior, Portmouth, 1917; served aboard HMS Swift on Dover Patrol in English Channel, 1917–​1918; inter-​war naval service, 1918–​1938, including rescue of Emperor Haile Selassie from Abyssinia, 1936; present at Dunkirk evacuation, 1940; served aboard HMS Aurora in North Sea and Arctic Ocean, 1940–​1945 (continued)

244

244

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Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

666

Boin, Henry W

9009

Broadway, William Ernest Carlyle

7035

Brockhurst, Alan

759

Bruty, William George

782

Bunter, Thomas William

10927

Bushby, Leslie Thomas

670

Clarke, Allan Arthur

679

Clarkson, George Michael

Stoker served at Pembroke Barracks, Chatham, GB, 1917–​1918; served aboard HMS Exe in GB coastal waters, 1918 Signal rating served aboard HMS Queen Mary, 1914–​1915; served aboard HMS Princess Royal, HMS Bayano, HMS Nerissa, HMS Oriana, HMS Padstow and HMS Wallflower, c. 1915–​1918 Seaman served aboard HMS Defence in GB coastal waters, 1914–​1918 Boy artificer trained at Boys’ Artificers Training Establishment, HMS Fisgard, GB, 1917–​1921; engine room artificer served aboard HMS Argus in GB coastal waters, 1921–​1924 Seaman served as sick berth attendant aboard HMS Cumberland in GB coastal waters, 1915–​1916 Boy seaman trained on HMS Impregnable and at Chatham Barracks, GB, 1914–​1917; served aboard HMS Theseus in Mediterranean and Black Sea, 1917–​1919; served as storekeeper on HMS Vernon/​Warrior at Portsmouth dockyard, 1920–​1924 Signaller served aboard HMS New Zealand, HMS Furious and HMS Southampton in GB coastal waters and East Indies station, 1917–​1923 Carpenter trained at HMS Victory Barracks and aboard HMS Fisguard, Portsmouth, GB, 1915; served aboard HMS Empress of Japan on East Indies station, 1915; served aboard HMS Lunka in Red Sea, 1915; served aboard HMS Suva in Red Sea, 1916–​1919; served aboard HMS Royal Sovereign in Atlantic, 1919–​1921; served aboard HMS Canterbury in GB coastal waters, 1921–​1922; served aboard HMS Iron Duke in Mediterranean, 1923–​ 1928; served aboard HMS Benbow in GB coastal waters, 1928–​1929; served aboard HMS Dauntless in West Indies, 1930–​ 1932; served aboad HMS Courageous in GB coastal waters, 1933–​1936; served on Royal Naval Benevolent Committee at Portsmouth, GB, 1936–​1937

245

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Record name

11945

Claxton, Henley Charles

728

8742

12243

783

245 Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

Seaman served aboard HMS Implacable in English Channel, North Sea and Mediterranean, 1914–​1915; served as wireless telegraphist aboard HMS Leda based at Scapa Flow and operating in North Sea, 1916–​1917; served aboard HMS Patrol in North Sea and Atlantic, 1917–​1918; served aboard HMS Sprightly based at Holyhead and operating in Atlantic, 1918; served aboard HMS Swallow in Black Sea, 1919–​1920; served aboard HMS Vindictive on China station, 1925–​1928 Cox, James George Boy trained aboard Warspite with Marine Society, 1906–​1907; boy seaman trained aboard HMS Impregnable in GB coastal waters, 1907–​1908; served aboard HMS Sutlej in Mediterranean, 1908–​1909; seaman served aboard HMS Natal in GB coastal waters, 1909–​1911; served aboard HMS Hannibal in GB coastal waters, 1914–​1915; PO served aboard HMS Abdiel in GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1916–​1917; served aboard Q ship HMS Ceto in English Channel, 1917–​1918; served aboard HMS Gibraltar in GB coastal waters, 1918 Crown, Arthur Boy artificer served with Royal Navy in GB coastal waters, 1910–​1915; engine room artificer served aboard HMS Shannon in GB coastal waters, North Sea and Atlantic, 1915–​1918, including Battle of Jutland; served with Royal Navy in Caspian Sea, 1918–​1921 de Courcy-​Ireland, Brian Officer served aboard HMS Bellerophon with Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, 1915–​1916; present at Battle of Jutland; attached to HMS Relentless, 1917; served aboard HMS Pellew in North Sea, 1918; served aboard HMS Westcott in North Sea and Baltic, 1918–​1919; present during scuttling of High Seas Fleet Deer, William George Apprentice shipwright at Chatham Dockyard, GB, 1916–​1921; served aboard HMS Repulse in GB coastal waters, 1921–​1922 (continued)

246

246

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Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

8250

Drake, Charles Hawken

769

Dunn, James

12598

Faune, Bonham de Laune

9020

Fooks, Charles Robert

719

Ford, Arthur William

9166

Fordyce, Robert Macpherson

22248

Fright, Alfred

Cadet with Royal Naval College, Osborne, 1913–​1916; midshipman served aboard HMS Emperor of India, Grand Fleet in GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1916–​1917; officer served aboard HMS Valhalla in GB coastal waters and Baltic, 1918–​1919; served as instructor with Navigation School, Portsmouth, during Invergordon mutiny, 1931; served with Naval Intelligence at the Admiralty, 1939–​1945 Stoker trained at HMS Vivid, Devonport and aboard HMS Devonshire, 1910; PO stoker served aboard HMS Gabriel, HMS Hood and HMS Curlew in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1926; CPO stoker served aboard HMS Hood, 1926 and HMS Renown in GB coastal waters, 1929–​1931 Cadet at Osborne and Dartmouth Colleges, 1912–​1916; midshipman served aboard HMS Hercules in North Sea, 1916–​ 1918, including Battle of Jutland; officer served aboard HMS Neptune and HMS Vindictive in North Sea, 1918; served with Royal Navy in Baltic, 1919 Boy seaman served aboard HMS Minotaur on China station, 1910–​1912; leading seaman served aboard HMS Superb, 1912–​1913; leading seaman and PO served aboard HMS Canada and HMS Sable in North Sea, 1914–​1918. Boatswain served with Royal Navy in GB, 1940–​1945 Boy seaman trained at HMS Ganges and aboard HMS Caesar in GB coastal waters, 1911; seaman served aboard HMS Albemarle in Mediterranean and Red Sea, 1913–​1916; served aboard HMS Black Prince with Grand Fleet in GB coastal waters and during Battle of Jutland Seaman served as armourer aboard HMS Resolution in GB coastal waters, 1918–​1919 Boy seaman trained at HMS Ganges, 1913–​1914; served aboard HMS Undaunted, 1914–​1918 including Battle of Jutland; served aboard HMS Matchless, 1918–​1919 including Zeebrugge Raid

247

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247

Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

9021

Gardner, William

9344

Gaskin, Arthur

760

Goldspink, Ernest William Gowlland, Langton

Seaman served aboard HMS Alacrity on China station; served as gunner and gunnery instructor aboard HMS Neptune, HMS Enchantress and HMS Callgarian, 1912-​1916 and as a mate aboard HMS Renown, 1916–​1918; officer served with South Russian Relief Force, 1919–​1921 Seaman served aboard HMS Malaya in North Sea, 1916–​1919; present at Battle of Jutland. Served with South Russia Relief Force at Novorossisk, Russia, 1919–​1920. Served with Naval Guard at coalmines during General Strike, 1926. Served in south China, 1926–​1930 Seaman served aboard HMS Dianthus in Black Sea, 1919 Cadet with Royal Naval College, Osborne in GB, 1916–​1917 Seaman served aboard HMS Amphion in North Sea, 1914; served aboard HMS Louis in Dardanelles, 1915; served aboard HMS Wryneck in Baltic Sea, 1918–​1919 Seaman served as signaller with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve in GB, 1917–​1918; served as private with Machine Gun Corps as part of North Russian Relief Force in Russia, 1919 Boy seaman trained at HMS Impregnable, HMS Ganges and Portsmouth Barracks, 1911–​1912; seaman served as signalman aboard HMS St Vincent, HMS Good Hope, HMS Drake and HMS Swift with Home Fleet in GB coastal waters, 1912–​1919 Boy telegraphist trained aboard HMS Impregnable and HMS Essex in GB coastal waters, 1911–​1912; seaman served aboard HMS Royal Arthur in GB coastal waters, 1912–​1913; served aboard submarines C18, D4 and E17 in GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1913–​1916; interned in Netherlands, 1916–​1919; served on various ships and shore stations with Royal Navy, 1919–​1934 BBC Radio 4 programme entitled ‘The Case of The Luminous Sea Lions.’ Dave Harvey tells the story of how the Royal Navy trained sea lions to track German U Boats during the First World War (continued)

9871 9024

Greatwood, Herbert Frank

9342

Green, George

735

Haigh, George Ernest

721

Halter, William

13417

Harvey, Dave

248

248

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Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

9534

Hempenstall, George

681

Heron, Albert Arthur

9032

Hill, Henry A

9033

Hill, Stephen

687

Holt, Leonard

667

Hutchings, William Alfred

4137

Ibbett, William

757

Jeffery, Robert John

664

Lazenby, Charles Henry

553

Leary, James

750

Lilley, Albert Ernest Edward

Seaman served aboard Q Ship HMS Antwerp in Atlantic, 1915; served aboard Q Ship HMS Baralong in Atlantic and Mediterranean, 1915–​1916; served aboard HMS Indomitable in North Sea, 1916–​1919 Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Impregnable at Devonport, GB, 1918–​1919; served aboard HMS Carlisle, Light Cruiser Squadron on China station, 1919–​1920 Boy seaman trained on HMS Powerful, HMS Impregnable and HMS Endymion, 1912–​1914; seaman served aboard HMS Liverpool in North Sea, 1914–​1916 and aboard HMS Greyhound with Dover Patrol, 1917–​1918; served aboard HMS Tobago in Black Sea and Mediterranean, 1918–​1919 Seaman and PO served with Royal Navy, 1912–​1932 Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Impregnable and HMS Ganges in GB, 1917–​1918; served as boy telegraphist aboard HMS Donegal in Atlantic, 1918 Boy seaman trained at HMS Powerful and HMS Ganges, 1913; served aboard HMS Hercules and HMS Surly in GB coastal waters, 1913–​1916 Submarine officer served as liaison officer with Russian Navy after revolution in Petrograd, Russia, 1917 Writer served aboard various ships with Royal Navy, 1908–​1946 Torpedoman served aboard HMS Empress of India and HMS Benbow, 4th Battle Sqdn in Black Sea and Mediterranean, 1918–​1923 Seaman served as stoker with Anson Bn Royal Naval Division in GB, on Western Front and at Gallipoli, 1914–​1916; served aboard HMS Arab in North Sea, based at Scapa Flow in GB coastal waters, 1916; served aboard HMS Wolf in Irish Sea, 1917–​1918 Stoker served aboard HMS Hannibal and HMS Colossus with Home Fleet in GB coastal waters, 1911–​1918

249

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249

Accession no.

Record name

663

Maloney, James Anthony Stoker trained at Pembroke Barracks, Chatham, GB, 1911–​1912; served aboard HMS Yarmouth in Mediterranean, 1912–​1914 Masters, Albert William Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Ganges, 1912 aboard HMS Edgar in GB coastal waters, 1912–​1913; boy seaman served aboard HMS Chatham in GB coastal waters, 1913–​1916; seaman served aboard HMS Blonde with Grand Fleet in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1917; served aboard HMS Royal Sovereign in GB coastal waters, 1924–​1928; served aboard HMS Sussex in Mediterranean, 1928–​1934 Morris, Frederick Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Arethusa Charles and HMS Ganges, 1913–​1914; served aboard HMS Marlborough in GB coastal waters and during Battle of Jutland, 1915–​1917; seaman served as torpedoman aboard HMS Sikh in English Channel and Black Sea, 1918–​1921; PO served aboard HMS Ramillies in Mediterranean, 1931 Parsons, William Allen Boy seaman trained at HMS Ganges, 1910–​1911; boy seaman served aboard HMS Prince George in GB coastal waters, 1911; served aboard HMS Good Hope in GB coastal waters, 1914; PO served aboard HMS Munster in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1918 Piggott, William Boy seaman and seaman served as wireless signaller aboard HMS Iron Duke and HMS Oak with Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow, 1916–​1917; present at Battle of Jutland; served aboard HMS K5 based at Rosyth, 1917–​1918; sunk whilst attached to HMS K4. Civilian fireman with London Fire Brigade, 1920–​1945 Pullen, Edward Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Northampton, 1903; seaman served aboard HMS Caesar in GB coastal waters, 1904–​1905; served aboard HMS Essex at Portsmouth, GB, 1906, served aboard HMS Aboukir at Portsmouth, GB, 1906; served aboard HMS Bacchante on China station, 1906; served aboard HMS Drake in GB coastal waters, 1907–​1909; served aboard HMS Spartiate in GB (continued)

720

12218

736

12235

692

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

250

250

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Accession no.

Record name

12245

Punt, Cyril

682

Roberts, William George

754

Rose, Richard Frank

24934

Stone, William

718

Sweet, William Frank

688

Terry, George Albert

770

Tevendale, Arthur Hector

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue] coastal waters, 1909; served aboard HMS Swiftsure in Mediterranean, 1909–​1910; served aboard HMS Glasgow in South Atlantic, 1911–​1916; served aboard HMS Ready with Grand Fleet in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1917; served aboard Q ship HMS Marsh Fort in Atlantic, 1917–​1919; served aboard HMS Cordelia in Baltic, 1921; served aboard HMS Thunderer in GB coastal waters, 1922–​1924 Seaman served with Merchant Navy, 1912–​1915, including Gallipoli, Turkey, 1915; served as leading seaman with Royal Navy aboard HMS Courageous in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1918. Officer served with Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on minesweeping duties in GB coastal waters, 1941–​1945 Seaman served aboard HMS Marlborough and HMS Salmon in GB coastal waters, 1916–​1920 Stoker served aboard HMS Irresistible, HMS Birmingham and HMS Kennett and HMS Cleopatra in GB coastal waters, 1913–​1920 PO served aboard various ships in Royal Navy, 1918–​1945 Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Impregnable and at HMS Ganges, 1915; served as boy seaman aboard HMS Erin, Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, 1916–​1919 Civilian schoolchild educated at Royal Hospital School Greenwich, London, 1903–​1908; boy seaman trained at HMS Ganges and aboard HMS Leviathan, 1908–​1909; served aboard HMS Grafton and Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert in GB coastal waters, 1910 Blacksmith served on shore duties at HMS Pembroke, Chatham and HMS Wildfire, Sheerness, Kent, 1918–​1919; served aboard HMS Caesar in Black Sea, 1919; served on shore duties at HMS Pembroke, Chatham, Kent, 1919–​1920; PO served as blacksmith aboard HMS Benbow in GB coastal waters, 1923–​1925; served aboard HMS Renown in GB coastal waters, 1933–​1934; served aboard HMS Royal Sovereign in GB coastal waters, 1938–​1941

251

Select Bibliography Accession no.

Record name

730

Vine, Joseph Harry

689

9953

731

11299

758

251 Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

Boy seaman trained at HMS Granges and aboard HMS Grafton in GB coastal waters, 1912–​1913; served aboard HMS London and HMS Vanguard in GB coastal waters, 1913–​1915 Vorstius, William Ernest Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Arethusa and HMS Ganges, 1911–​1912; served aboard HMS Berwick in GB coastal waters and on voyage to Spain, 1912–​1913; boy seaman and seaman served aboard HMS Antrim in Mediterranean, GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1914–​1917; served aboard HMS Garry in GB coastal waters and North Sea, 1917–​1919; served aboard HMS Birmingham, HMS Cleopatra and HMS Benbow in GB coastal waters and Irish Sea, 1920–​1925; PO served aboard submarines L71, HMS Oberon and HMS Proteus in GB coastal waters and on China station, 1926–​1936 Wainford, George Seaman served aboard HMS Impregnable, HMS Crescent, HMS Albemarle, HMS Onslaught, HMS King George V and HMS Orion in GB and North Sea, 1913–​1920; present at Battle of Jutland Wallace, Thomas Boy seaman trained aboard HMS Black Prince in Queenstown, Ireland, 1903–​1904; seaman served as signaller aboard HMS Vengeance on China station, 1904–​1907; served aboard HMS Triumph in GB coastal waters, 1907–​1908; served aboard HMS Locust, HMS Lysander and HMS Retriever with Harwich Force in GB coastal waters, 1914–​1918 White, Richard Kennedy Boy seaman, 1918–​1927; political activist in London, 1930s; volunteer served with Australia-​New Zealand section, 15th International Bde in Spain, c. 1/​1937-​2/​ 1937, leg amputated after battle of Jarama Willis, Reginald Cook and baker trained aboard HMS Duke of Wellington in GB, 1900; served aboard HMS Lion in GB coastal waters, 1901–​1903; served aboard HMS Caernarvon, HMS Impregnable and HMS New Zealand in GB coastal waters, 1905–​1911; chief cook served aboard HMS Thunderer and HMS Valiant in GB coastal waters, 1912–​1921 (continued)

252

252

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Accession no.

Record name

Description [adapted from version given in IWM Sound Archive Catalogue]

9070

Wood, William

Seaman served as stoker served aboard HMS Prince George, HMS Swiftsure, HMS Viking and HMS Enchantress in GB coastal waters and Mediterranean, 1909–​1914; served aboard HMS Rattlesnake in Mediterranean, 1914–​1917

The National Archives ADM ADM ADM ADM ADM ADM

12 1/​9743 1/​8349/​136 1/​8369/​42 1/​8397/​360 1/​8414/​72

ADM

1/​8427/​196

ADM ADM ADM ADM ADM

1/​8447/​22 1/​8479/​22 1/​8485/​74 1/​8489/​119 1/​8491/​147

ADM ADM ADM

1/​8497/​196 1/​8498/​201 1/​8500/​221

ADM ADM ADM

1/​8501/​229 1/​8541/​279 1/​8549/​16

ADM ADM

116/​1603 116/​1728

ADM ADM

156/​157 156/​17

ADM

156/​19

ADM ADM

156/​21 156/​34

Index and Digest to Admiralty In-​letters Commencing of the NACB Naval Recreation Grounds & Canteens Dockyard Amendments to Regulations and Instructions Punishments During War Grant of 3 Days Special Leave to all Employees of Naval Dockyard Draft of a Bill to amend Naval Discipline Act, Clause 4. Admiralty to have power to make deductions from pay of men in the Navy & Marines in respect of maintenance or affiliation orders Gun Crews in Transports Discipline Punishment During War Time Penalties for Desertion Royal George Crew Refusal of Duty Courts Martial. Consideration of Proceedings by Board of Admiralty. Procedure revised Case of Carpenters and Shipwrights Unrest Among Lower Deck Ratings Malta Dockyard. Report on Strike which commenced 7th May 1917 Lower Deck Unrest –​Petition Question of DNI standing for Parliament Physical and Recreational Training of Royal Navy: Proposals in Connection with​ First Lord (Sir Eric Geddes) Alphabetical Files. 1917–​1918 Jerram Committee on Naval Pay: Pay Allowances and Pensions of Royal Navy (RN) and Royal Marines (RM) Mutinies on ‘Zealandia’ 1914 & ‘Amphitrite’ 1917 Dismissal of RNR Officers by Court Martial or Disciplinary Court Application for trial by Court Martial on the charge of Mutiny on board HMS Teutonic Report of Bullying in Battleships Mutiny on Board HMS Amphitrite

253

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156/​35

ADM ADM ADM ADM

156/​39 156/​80 156/​87 156/​89

ADM ADM ADM

178/​15 178/​157 178/​17

ADM CAB DEFE KV MT WO

178/​45 24/​3 1/​131 4/​129 9/​1172 32/​20461

253

Question of effect of punishments on Naval pensions. Master-​at-​Arms J.W. Scrivens R.N. and Petty Officer W. Vale R.N. HMS RESOLUTION. Combining to write and to circulate undated letters referring to Petitions and Demands to be presented to the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty Court Martial of John Brown, Stoker, RNR, of HMS Neptune Courts Martial on Seven Stokers of HMS Psyche Lack of Discipline –​HMS Rhododendron HMS Leviathan, Outbreak amongst men at Birkenhead –​Board of Enquiry Forfeiture of Service as a penalty of Desertion Lower Deck Benefit Societies Courts martial on HM Ships lost: Memoranda by Secretary of Admiralty Grievances of Rear-​Admiral Murray F. Sueter (Retired) Pacifist Propaganda Report on Postal Censorship 1914–​1919 Appreciative Letter From and To Security Services Sodomy Philanthropic bodies: applications for licenses to erect recreational huts

Royal Naval Museum Reference no.

Title

1976.160 1977.233 1979.240/​36 1979.306/​1 1980.48/​2 1980.48/​3 1980.49 1980.79/​9 1981.842 1984.44/​3 1984.428/​2 1984.466/​1 1984.553

Letter from William Rosevere Papers of Leading Signalman RNVR Philip Needell The Chronicles of the Q.E. Scrapbook of cuttings Osborne Magazine Britannia Magazine Records and certificates of William Yendell as a cadet Confidential report of George Ricketts Accounts of various conflicts by Alfred Grave Private journal, scrapbook and photograph album of C. T. Porter Scrapbook containing some items of Naval interest Various items belonging to William Veness Papers of the Royal Naval Friendly Union of Sailors’ Wives Portsmouth Magazine of HMS Cumberland Magazine of HMS Erin Magazine of HMS Cumberland Private diary kept by Thomas Mear with the RNR from August 1914 until February 1919

1985.286/​5 1985.479 1986.14/​2 1986.470/​6

(continued)

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Reference no.

Title

1986.497/​112

Booklet on the separation allowances available to Royal Navy and Royal Marines Trot talk Papers of C.P.O. George Arthur Sayer Handbook of guidance on demobilisation from the Royal Navy Diary of Chief Stoker Robert Percival Scrapbook of Lionel Yexley Scrapbook of Lionel Yexley Diaries kept by Rear-​Admiral Henry Bruce

1991.4 1991.28 1991.291/​43 1995.120 2007.49/​1 2007.49/​2 MSS 134

National Maritime Museum Pursey Box 20

Books and Articles Allen, V.L., ‘National Union of Police and Prison Officers’, The Economic History Review, 11:1 (1958), 133–​143 Anderson, Edgar, ‘An Undeclared Naval War:  The British-​ Soviet Naval Struggle in the Baltic, 1918–​20’, Journal of Central European Affairs, 22:1 (1962), 43–​78 Arthur, Max, Lost Voices of the Royal Navy: Vivid Eyewitness Accounts of Life in the Royal Navy from 1914–​1945 (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2005) Audoin-​Rouzeau, Stéphane and Becker, Annette, 1914–​1918 Understanding the Great War, trans. Catherine Temerson (London: Profile Books, 2002) Barnett, Correlli, The Swordbearers:  Supreme Command in the First World War (London: Cassell, 2000) Bachrach, Harriet, ed., Jutland Letters June–​October 1916, from Commodore C.E. Le Mesurier 4th Light Cruiser Squadron (‘John Jellicoe’s Own’) to His Wife, Florence, from the Grand Fleet in Scapa Flow (Salisbury: Wessex Books, 2006) Bartov, Omer, Hitler’s Army. Soldiers, Nazis, and War in the Third Reich (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991) Beckett, Commander W.N.T., A Few Naval Customs, Expressions, Traditions and Superstitions (Portsmouth: Gieves, 1932) Bell, Christopher M. and Elleman, Bruce A., eds, Naval Mutinies of the Twentieth Century: An International Perspective (London: Cass, 2003) Bennett, Geoffrey Martin, Cowan’s War: The Story of British Naval Operations in the Baltic, 1918–​20 (London: Collins, 1964) Bergerud, Eric, Touched with Fire. The Land War in the South Pacific (New York: Penguin, 1997) Bourne, J.M., Britain and the Great War 1914–​1918 (London:  Edward Arnold, 1989) Brown, Malcolm and Meehan, Patricia, Scapa Flow: The Story of Britain’s Greatest Naval Anchorage in Two World Wars (London:  Allen Lane, The Penguin Press, 1968)

255

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Carew, Anthony, B., The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy 1900–​39: The Invergordon Mutiny in Perspective (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1981) Cecil, Hugh and Liddle, Peter H., eds, Facing Armageddon: The First World War Experienced (London: Leo Cooper, 1996) Conley, Mary, ‘ “Faithful unto Death”: Commemorating Jack Cornwell’s Service in the Battle of Jutland’, in James E. Kitchen, Alisa Miller and Laura Rowe (eds), Other Combatants, Other Fronts: Competing Histories of the First World War (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2011) Conley, Mary A., From Jack Tar to Union Jack. Representing Naval Manhood in the British Empire, 1870–​1918 (Manchester:  Manchester University Press, 2009) Cook, Chris and Stevenson, John, The Longman Handbook of Modern British History 1714–​2001, 4th edn (Harrow: Longman, 2001) Corbett, Sir Julian S. and​Newbolt, Sir Henry, History of the Great War. Naval Operations, 5 vols (London: Longmans, 1920–​1931) Davison, Robert Lynn, The Challenges of Command. The Royal Navy’s Executive Branch Officers 1880–​1918 (Farnham: Ashgate, 2011) DeGroot, Gerald J., Blighty: British Society in the Era of the Great War (London: Longman, 1996) Delap, Lucy, ‘ “Thus Does Man Prove His Fitness to Be the Master of Things”: Shipwrecks, Chivalry and Masculinities in Nineteenth-​and Twentieth-​ Century Britain’, Cultural and Social History, 3 (2006), 45–​74 Dittmar, Frederick James and Colledge, James Joseph, British Warships, 1914–​ 1919 (London: Ian Allan, 1972) Downes, C.J., ‘To Be or Not to Be a Profession:  The Military Case’, Defence Analysis, 1:3 (1985), 147–​171 Englander, David and Osborne, James, ‘Jack, Tommy, and Henry Dubb:  The Armed Forces and The Working Class’, Historical Journal, 21:3 (1978), 593–​621 Fawcett, H.W. and Hooper, G.W.W., eds, The Fighting at Jutland: The Personal Experiences of Sixty Officers and Men of the British Fleet (London: Chatham, 2001) Fennell, Jonathan, Combat and Morale in the North African Campaign. The Eighth Army and the Path to El Alamein (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011) Forester, Wolstan B. C. W. From Dartmouth to the Dardanelles. A Midshipman’s Log (London: William Heinemann, 1916) French, David, Military Identities: The Regimental System, the British Army, and the British People, c.1870–​2000 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005) Fuller, J.G., Troop Morale and Popular Culture in the British and Dominion Armies 1914–​1918 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991) Gatrell, Peter, Russia’s First World War:  A Social and Economic History (Harlow: Pearson, 2005) Gilbert, Martin, The Routledge Atlas of the First World War (London: Routledge, 2002) Gillies, Harold, Plastic Surgery of the Face (London: Henry Frowde, Hodder & Stoughton, 1920), p. 357

256

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Goldrick, James and Hattendorf, John, eds, Mahan is Not Enough: The Proceedings of a Conference on the Works of Sir Julian Corbett and Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1993) Gordon, Andrew, The Rules of the Game:  Jutland and British Naval Command (London: John Murray, 2002) Gregory, Adrian, The Last Great War. British Society and the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) Halpern Paul, G., A Naval History of World War One (London: University College London Press, 1995) Hattersley, Roy, The Edwardians (London: Little, Brown, 2004) Haycock, David Boyd and Archer, Sally, eds, Health and Medicine at Sea, 1700–​ 1900 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2011) Herrick, Claire, E.J., ‘Casualty Care during the First World War: The Experience of the Royal Navy’, War in History, 7:2 (2002), 154–​179 Heuser, Beatrice, Reading Clausewitz (London: Pimlico, 2002) Hewitt, Nick, ‘ “Weary Waiting is Hard Indeed”: The Grand Fleet After Jutland’, in Ian Beckett (ed.), 1917: Beyond the Western Front (Leiden: Brill, 2009) Hill, J.R., The Oxford Illustrated History of the Royal Navy (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 1995) Holmes, Richard, ed., The Oxford Companion to Military History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001) Horn, Daniel, The German Naval Mutinies of World War One (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1969) Horne, John, ‘Remobilising for “Total War”: France and Britain, 1917–​1918’, in John Horne (ed.), State, Society and Mobilization in Europe during the First World War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) Hough, Richard, The Great War at Sea (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2000) Imperial War Museum Department of Sound Recordings, Oral History Recordings:  Lower Deck 1910–​ 1922 (London:  Imperial War Museum Department of Sound Recordings, 1982) Jenkins, Roy, Churchill (London: Macmillan, 2001) Jolly, Rick, and Wilson, Tugg, Jackspeak: The Pusser’s Rum Guide to the Slanguage of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines (Saltash: Palamanando, 1989) Keevil, J.J., Medicine and the Navy: 1200–​1900 (Edinburgh: Livingstone, 1957) Kegan, John, Battle at Sea: From Man-​of-​War to Submarine (London: Pimlico, 2004) Kemp, Peter, The British Sailor: A Social History of the Lower Deck (London: JM Dent & Sons, 1970) Knock, Sidney, “Clear Lower Deck:” An Intimate Study of the Men of the Royal Navy (London: Philip Allan, 1932) Lambert, Nicholas, Sir John Fisher’s Naval Revolution (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2002) Lammers, Cornelis, ‘Strikes and Mutinies:  A Comparative Study of Organizational Conflicts between Rulers and Ruled’, Administrative Science Quarterly, 14:4 (1969), 558–​572 Lavery, Brian, Able Seamen. The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy 1850–​ 1939 (London: Conway, 2011) Liddell Hart, B.H., History of the First World War (London: Papermac, 1997)

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Liddle, Peter H., Gallipoli 1915. Pens, Pencils and Cameras atWar (London: Brassey’s Defence Publishers, 1985)   The Sailor’s War 1914–​18 (Poole: Blandford, 1985) Lunn, Kenneth and Day, Ann, History of Work and Labour Relations in the Royal Dockyards (London: Mansell Publishing, 1999) Lunn, Kenneth, ‘Labour Culture in Dockyard Towns: A Study of Portsmouth, Plymouth and Chatham, 1900–​ 1950’, Tijdschrift voor sociale geschiedenis, 18:2 (1992), 275–​293 MacDougall, Philip, Old Chatham: A Third Picturebook (Gillingham: Meresboro ugh, 1987) Manning, Jonathan, ‘Wages and Purchasing Power’, in Jay Winter and Jean-​ Louis Robert (eds), Capital Cities at War:  Paris, London, Berlin 1914–​1919 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) Marder, Arthur, J., From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: The Royal Navy in the Fisher Era, 1904–​1919, 5 vols (London: Oxford University Press, 1961–​1970) Marshall, S.L.A., Men against Fire. The Problem of Battle Command in Future War (New York: William Morrow, 1947) Marwick, Arthur, The Deluge. British Society and the First World War (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1967) Massie, Robert K., Castles of Steel: Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea (New York: Random House, 2003) McLean, David, Education and Empire. Naval Tradition and England’s Elite Schooling (London: British Academic, 1999) McLean, David, Surgeons of the Fleet.The Royal Navy and Its Medics from Trafalgar to Jutland (London: I.B. Tauris, 2010) McKee, Christopher, Sober Men and True, Sailor Lives in the Royal Navy 1900–​ 1945 (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2002) Merridale, Catharine, Ivan’s War: The Red Army 1939–​1945 (London: Faber & Faber, 2005) Messenger, Charles, Call to Arms:  The British Army 1914–​ 1918 (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2005) Niethammer, Lutz, ‘Oral History as a Channel of Communication between Workers and Historians’, in Paul Thompson (ed.), Our Common History: The Transformation of Europe (London: Pluto Press, 1982) Nolan, Liam and Nolan, John E., Secret Victory. Ireland and the War at Sea 1914–​ 1918 (Blackrock: Mercier, 2009) Page, Christopher, Command in the Royal Naval Division: A Military Biography of Brigadier General A.M. Asquith DSO (Staplehurst: Spellmount, 1999) Partridge, Michael, The Royal Naval College Osborne:  A History 1903–​ 21 (Stroud: Sutton Publishing, 1999) Pelling, Henry, A History of British Trade Unionism (Basingstoke:  Macmillan Press, 1987) Perkin, Harold, The Rise of Professional Society. England since 1880 (London: Routledge, 1989) Perks, Robert and Thomson, Alistair, eds, The Oral History Reader (London: Routledge, 2002) Pratt, E.A., British Railways and the Great War, Organisation, Efforts, Difficulties and Achievements, 2 vols (London: Selwyn and Blout, 1921)

258

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Pursey, Commander H., ‘From Petitions to Reviews: The Presentation of Lower-​ Deck Grievances’, Brassey’s Naval Annual (1937), 97–​110 Razor, Eugene, Reform in the Royal Navy: A Social History of the Lower Deck, 1850 to 1880 (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1976) Reid, Alistair J., The Tide of Democracy. Shipyard Workers and Social Relations in Britain, 1870–​1950 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2010) Reeve, John, ‘An Anatomy of the Face of Naval Battle’, in John Reeve and David Stevens (eds), The Face of Naval Battle. The Human Experience of Modern War at Sea (Crows Nest, NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin, 2003) Robson, L.L., The First A.I.F.: A Study in Its Recruitment 1914–​1918 (Melbourne: Melbourne University Press, 1982) Rodger, N.A.M., The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy (London: Fontana, 1988) Roskill, Stephen, Churchill and the Admirals (Barnsley:  Pen & Sword Military Classics, 2004) Rüger, Jan, The Great Naval Game:  Britain and Germany in the Age of Empire (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007) Sellers, Leonard, For God’s Sake Shoot Straight:  The Story of the Court Martial and Execution of Temporary Sub-​ Lieutenant Edwin Leopold Arthur Dyett, Nelson Battalion, 63rd (RN) Division during the First World War (London: Leo Cooper, 1995) Sheffield, G.D., Leadership in the Trenches:  Officers-​ Man Relations, Morale & Discipline in the British Army in the Era of the First World War (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000) Shils, Edward and Janowitz, Morris, ‘Cohesion and Disintegration in the Wehrmacht in World War II’, Public Opinion Quarterly, 12 (1948), 280–​315 Smail, John, ‘New Languages for Labour and Capital:  The Transformation of Discourse in the Early Years of the Industrial Revolution’, Social History, 12:1 (1987), 49–​71 Smith, Leonard V., Between Mutiny and Obedience: The Case of the French Fifth Infantry Division during World War I (Princeton, NJ:  Princeton University Press, 1994) Somerville, Rear-​Admiral J.F., ‘The Lower Deck, Past and Present: Lecture Parts I & II’, Royal United Service Institute Journal, 8 (1936), 109–​125, 303–​314 Stouffer, Samuel, ed., The American Soldier. Combat and Its Aftermath (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949) Strachan, Hew, ‘The Battle of the Somme and British Strategy’, Journal of Strategic Studies, 21:1 (March 1998), 79–​95 Strachan, H., ed., The Oxford Illustrated History of the First World War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000) Suminda, Jon Tetsuro, In Defence of Naval Supremacy. Finance, Technology and British Naval Policy, 1889–​1914 (Winchester, MA: Unwin Hyman, 1989) Talbot-​Booth, E.C., ed., The Royal Navy, Some Account of Her Manners, Customs and Privileges (London: Sampson Low, Maston, 1942) Taylor, A.J.P., The First World War: An Illustrated History (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1978) Taylor, Miles, ‘Rethinking the Chartists:  Searching for Synthesis in the Historiography of Chartism’, The Historical Journal, 39:2 (1996), 479–​495

259

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259

Thompson, Julian, The Imperial War Museum Book of the War at Sea:  The Face of Battle Revealed in the Words of the Men Who Fought (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 2005) Thompson, Paul, Our Common History: The Transformation of Europe (London: Pluto Press, 1982)   The Edwardians: The Remaking of British Society (London: Routledge, 1992)   The Voices of the Past:  Oral History, 3rd edn  (Oxford:  Oxford University Press, 2000) Thomson, Alistair, ‘Anzac Memories:  Putting Popular Memory Theory into Practice in Australia’, in Anna Green and Kathleen Troup (eds), The Houses of History: A Critical Reader in Twentieth-​Century History and Theory (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999), pp. 239–​252 Todman, Dan, The Great War:  Myth and Memory (London:  Hambleton and London, 2005) Vale, Brian, Physician to the Fleet: The Life and Times of Thomas Trotter 1760–​1832 (Woodbridge: Boydell, 2011) von Clausewitz, Carl, On War (translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret) (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008) Ward, Stephen R., ‘Intelligence Surveillance of British Ex-​Servicemen, 1918–​ 1920’, The Historical Journal, 16:1 (1973), 179–​188 Watson, Alexander, Enduring the Great War. Combat, Morale and Collapse in the German and British Armies, 1914–​1918 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008) Watson, David, ‘Britain, France and the Russian Civil War, 1918–​ 1920’, in Alan Sharp and Glyn Stone (eds), Anglo-​French Relations in the Twentieth Century: Rivalry and Cooperation (London and New York: Routledge, 1999), 89–103 Wessely, Simon, ‘Twentieth-​ century Theories on Combat Motivation and Breakdown’, Journal of Contemporary History, 41:2 (2006), 269–​286 Winter, Jay and Prost, Antoine, The GreatWar in History: Debates and Controversies, 1914 to the Present (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) Winter, Jay and Robert, Jean-​Louis, eds, Capital Cities at War:  Paris, London, Berlin 1914–​1919 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999) Winter, Jay, Socialism and the Challenge of War: Ideas & Politics in Britain 1912–​18 (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974)   The Great War and the British People (Basingstoke: Macmillan Education, 1987)   The Experience of World War I (London: Greenwich Editions, 2000) Wragg, David, Royal Navy Handbook 1914–​1918 (Stroud: Sutton, 2006) Young, Filson, With the Fleet: Studies in Naval Life (London: Grant Richards, 1913)

260

261

Index

Adams, George, 90n147 Administrative Science Quarterly, 215 Adshead, Gilbert, 34n55, 45n100 Africa, 9 Albert, Prince, 29n42, 43 Allen, Charles, 75 Allenby, Edmund, 97 allies, 238 Amalgamated Society of Engineers (ASE), 160, 164 Anne, Queen, 184 Archangel, 238 Arctic Sea, 178 Argentinian Navy, 85 armistice (1918), 171 Army and Navy Gazette (ANG), 81, 89, 120, 121, 123, 124, 125, 131, 136n146, 137, 159, 161, 163, 174 Articles of War, see Naval Discipline Act (NDA) Ashore and Afloat, 81, 88, 89, 188 Astley-​Rushton, Captain, 37 Australia, 12 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), 12 Australian Navy, 119, 182 Bailey, William, 72 Baillie-​Grohman, Vice-​Admiral H.T., 32n47, 77n110 Baltic Sea, 178, 218, 238 Barnes, George, 123 Barraclough, Captain E.M.C., 29n42, 45n100 Battleship Potemkin, 224 Beatty, Admiral Sir David, 102, 103, 104n58, 105, 110, 129n124, 141, 149, 150, 170, 173, 176, 194 Beatty-​Pound, Captain, 140 Belgium, 100 Bellairs, Commander Carlyon, 184 Beresford, Lord Charles, 169, 184

Bermuda, 76 Bickmore, Gilbert, 74n90 Birkenhead, 222 Birmingham, 164 Black Sea, 238 Blackadder Goes Forth (1989), 2 Board of the Admiralty, 4, 5, 11, 17, 22, 28, 33, 35, 36n61, 41, 42, 43, 46, 48, 49, 50n121, 51, 52, 54, 55, 57, 61n35, 66, 67, 70, 78–80, 82, 83, 85, 87–93, 95, 97, 101–106, 110, 116–118, 120, 121, 122, 124–136, 138, 139, 141–149, 151, 153–156, 158, 159, 160, 162, 166, 167, 169, 171, 172, 172n112, 174–178, 181, 183–194, 196, 197, 200, 204, 205, 214, 219–221, 224–228, 231, 232, 233, 235–237 Board of Trade, 98, 151 Boy’s Own, 43 Braithwaite, Commander, 140 Brassey’s Naval Annual, 81 British Army, 7, 8, 17, 30, 30n46, 59, 68, 80, 93, 96, 102, 132, 136, 137, 138, 141, 145, 157, 170, 185, 201 paternalism, 20 pre-​war Army, 24n16 Sandhurst, 30n46 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), 2 British Empire, 1, 2, 135, 178 British Home Front, 97, 98, 100, 101 British Socialist Party (BSP), 100, 165 Bruce, Rear-​Admiral Henry, 156 Bunter, Thomas, 140 Cambrai, Battle of (1917), 97 Camerson, Lieutenant E. H., 27n31, 29 Campbell, Gordon, 75 Caporetto, Battle of (1917), 97 Captain’s Standing Orders, 67 Carson, Sir Edward, 131, 157, 163 Carver, Captain Edmund Clifton, 220, 221

261

262

262

Index

Caspersz, Reverend T.W.L., 38n73, 45n100, 56 Caspian Sea, 238 Central Labour College, 99 Chalmers, Lieutenant Commander, 36 Chatham, 34, 75, 149, 157, 185n159 Chatham Joint Committee, 186 Chief petty officer (CPO)/​chief petty officers (CPOs), 32n47, 33, 33n50, 49n115, 67n57, 74n90, 84, 94n10, 126, 130, 134, 136, 191, 195 Chilean Navy, 85 Christianity, 42, 88 Bible, 235 Jesus Christ, 89 Church of England, 229n4 Churchill, Sir Winston, 23n7, 39n75, 47, 50, 85, 151, 189 Clarkson, George, 139n157 Clausewitz, Carl von, 57, 63 Cole, S. J., 70 Colville, Admiral, 220, 221 Commission on Industrial Unrest, 99 Conservative and Unionist Party, 180, 184 Corbett, Sir Julian, 14 Cornwall, 229n3 Cornwell, John Travers, 131 Court Martial Returns, 11, 198, 199, 200, 201n9, 204, 205, 221 Court of Enquiry, 220, 223, 224 Cowan, Admiral, 238 Cronin, Joseph, 186 Crookes, Lieutenant R.C., 24, 30 Crowe, George, 186, 187 Crown, Arthur, 201 Cummings, John, 162 Dardanelles, 189 Dartmouth, 27n32 Davidson, Dudley, 27n30 Davis, Harry, 86 De Courcy-​Ireland, Captain Brian, 28, 31n47, 32 Defence of the Realm Acts, 174 democratism, 3, 6, 18, 21, 33, 35, 41, 51, 53, 67, 68, 83, 88, 90, 92, 117, 137, 147–149, 160, 172, 175, 177, 188, 194, 197, 226, 227, 231 democratism, definition of, 3 Devonport, 23, 34, 106, 149, 170 Dewar, Commander K., 25n21 Dewar, Lieutenant A. C., 25n22 Director of Naval Intelligence, 158 Disciplinary Court, 198, 199, 201, 211

discipline, 36, 56, 57, 62, 66–68, 71, 72, 73, 75–79, 83, 85, 90, 102n52, 140, 158, 159, 173, 175, 189, 192, 194, 197, 207, 213, 214, 218, 219, 220, 221, 225, 227, 228, 231, 234, 235, 236, 238 discipline, definitions of, 11, 53, 54, 55, 57, 71, 73 Dominion navies, 17 Dunn, James, 75n98 Dwyer, Albert, 72n81 Edinburgh, 229 Edward VII, King, 86 Engine room artificer (ERA)/​engine room artificers (ERAs), 32, 35, 45n100, 160, 164, 191 England, 3n3, 85, 118, 181 Merseyside, 146n179 Midlands, 24n16 South East, 98 Tyneside, 24n16, 157 Étaples, British Army mutiny at (1917), 102 Evans, Captain, 223, 224 Evans, Lieutenant Jocelyn, 27n31, 29 Executive Petty Officers’ Benefit Society, 136 Fairthorne, Lieutenant Commander, 235 Farrall, Fred, 12 First Lord of the Admiralty, 47, 50, 82, 85, 131, 157 Fisher, Admiral John Arbuthnot (Jackie), 22, 23, 39n75, 40, 47, 144, 189, 190 Fitzgerald, Captain, 143 Fleet Surgeon, 73 Ford, Seaman Arthur, 6, 56, 77, 139, 195, 235 Ford, William, 34n54 Foucault, Michel, 3n3 Friendly Societies, 150 Friendly Societies Act (1908), 183 Fright, Alfred, 36n63 Galpin, Lieutenant W. S., 24 Garforth, Captain, 220 Geddes, Eric, 50, 82, 145 George V, King, 1, 15, 43, 86, 162n60 George, Prince, 43 Germany, 5, 101, 221, 236, 238 Glasgow, 24n16 Gorst, Sir John, 22 Grade, Lieutenant C.H., 28

263

Index Graham, Lieutenant Commander Lord Alistair, 26 Great Britain, 1, 5, 26, 72, 97, 98, 99, 119, 120, 148, 161, 165, 177, 179n132, 228, 236 Greenwich, 11, 34 Gunroom, 26 Haigh, George Ernest, 39n78, 44, 50, 71, 74n92, 139 Hall, Captain, 134 Halter, Telegraphist William, 75, 139 Henderson, Arthur, 131, 165 Heron, Seaman Albert, 83n123 Hill, Captain Marcus, 222 His Majesty’s Fleet HMS Actæon, 54 HMS Ajax, 171n105 HMS Amphitrite, 72n84, 106, 134, 219, 220, 221, 222, 235 HMS Benbow, 27n30 HMS Black Prince, 56 HMS Britannia, 22 HMS Calliope, 110 HMS Campania, 237 HMS Centurion, 175 HMS Cicala, 238 HMS Collingwood, 43n91 HMS Cumberland, 140 HMS Dartmouth, 218n29 HMS Delhi, 238 HMS Dido, 74n92 HMS Fantome, 134, 219, 224n49 HMS Ganges, 35 HMS Glorious, 237 HMS Good Hope, 27n32 HMS Hindustan, 22 HMS Impérieuse, 228 HMS Impregnable, 76n103 HMS Jonquil, 134, 219, 224n49 HMS Kilbride, 238 HMS Leviathan, 72, 134, 218n29, 219, 222 HMS Lion, 110 HMS Lord Nelson, 45n100 HMS Malaya, 10 HMS Monmouth, 27n32 HMS Newcastle, 74n90 HMS Oak Royal, 237 HMS Patrol, 75 HMS Psyche, 218n29 HMS Resolution, 102, 104, 105, 110, 133, 168, 169, 171, 172n109, 218n29 HMS Royal Oak, 168 HMS Shannon, 201 HMS Teutonic, 134, 219, 221

263 HMS Valiant, 21, 182n143, 185 HMS Vindictive, 217, 238 HMS Weymouth, 74n90 HMS Zealandia, 217 His Majesty’s Coastguard, 94, 119, 121, 123 Holmes, Chief Petty Officer, 32n47 Horton, Leslie, 73 Hostilities only ratings (HO)/​(HOs), 9, 17, 41, 46, 102, 118, 132–136, 138–141, 147, 150, 157, 158, 160, 176, 196, 198, 204, 225, 227, 232, 237, 238 Humphries, William, 76n103, 229 Hyde Parker Committee, 160, 191 Hyde Parker, Rear-​Admiral, 191 Imperial German Army, 59, 60 Imperial German Navy, 1, 5, 8, 56, 77, 83, 89, 158 High Seas Fleet, 103, 158n45, 236 Mutinies, 61, 89, 158n45 U-​boats, 1, 103, 153, 171, 236 Imperial War Museum (IWM), 11, 12, 13, 30, 34n54, 36n63, 50n122, 83, 90, 121, 180 Independent Labour Party (ILP), 99, 100, 165, 166, 179, 180 Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD), 158n45 Industrial Revolution, 45 invasion of Belgium (1914), 100 Invergordon, 18, 224 Italy, 97 J.N. Masters Ltd, 86 Jaunties (Ship's Police), 74 Jeffrey, Robert, 64, 76 Jellicoe, Admiral Sir John, 1, 38n70, 144, 170, 181 Jenkins, Thomas, 72 Jenkins, W. A., 76, 222 Jerram Committee, 89, 192 Jerram, Sir Martyn, 192 Jerusalem, 97 Journal of the Royal United Service Institute, 81 Journey’s End (1929), 2 Jutland, Battle of (1916), 10, 43n91, 96, 103, 168, 171, 236 Kandalaksha, 238 Kem, 238 Kiel, 56, 236 King’s Regulations and Admiralty Instructions (King’s Regulations), 33, 37, 63, 64, 66, 67, 67n57, 77n110, 92n3, 173, 176, 193, 198, 215, 229n4, 233, 234 Kitchener, Horatio Herbert, 141

264

264

Index

Labour Leader, 179 Labour Party, 151, 162, 164, 165, 166, 180, 184, 186, 187, 226 Lazenby, Charles, 20 League of Nations Society, 100 Leeds, 165 Lenin, Vladimir, 165 Lewis, Eiluned, 26n26 Liberal Party, 180, 184, 187 Liverpool, 219, 224 Lloyd George, David, 120, 151, 162n60, 163, 181 Lloyds Bank, 85 London, 98, 126, 146n179, 149, 155, 170, 231 Waterloo, 168 Lower Deck Benefit Societies/​Lower Deck Societies/​Friendly Societies, 33, 46, 48, 151, 160, 163, 164, 166, 169, 170, 175, 177, 183, 185, 187, 188, 189, 193, 232, 233 Loyal Appeals, 11, 47, 65, 66n57, 79, 80, 84, 105, 128, 148, 170, 171, 172, 173, 174, 175, 189, 195, 218n29 Luxemburg, Rosa, 165 Lytton, Earl of, 105 Macnamara, Dr Thomas, 67, 105, 116, 117, 118, 127n119, 142, 146, 156 Malta, 231 Manchester, 228 Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure, 63 Masters, Albert, 71 Matthews, J. H., 179 Mediterranean Sea, 13 Melbourne, 12 Mercantile Marine (MM), 120, 138, 139, 143, 164n70, 200, 207, 219 Messers Bond and Pierce, 169 Metropolitan Police, 170 New Scotland Yard, 169 Meux, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Hedworth, 184 Middle East, 9 Military Service Act (1916), 152 Ministry of Labour, 152 Ministry of Munitions, 152, 153 Morgan, Charles, 26, 26n26, 27, 28 Mould, Ernest Charles, 168 Munitions of War Act (1915), 155 Murmansk, 238 Mutiny/​mutinies, 134, 200, 201, 214, 216, 218, 219, 221–224, 227, 235, 238

Napier, Captain T. D., 25n21 National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers, 187 National Sailors’ and Firemen’s Union, 157 National Union of Seamen, 47 National War Aims Committee (NWAC), 100, 101 Naval and Military Pensions Act (1915), 121 Naval and Military Record, 164 Naval Artisans’ Death Benefit Association, 49 Naval Chronicle, 164 Naval Discipline Act (NDA), 63, 65, 72, 198, 199, 200n5, 205, 219 Naval Law. See Naval Discipline Act (NDA), King's Regulations and Admiralty Instructions (King’s Regulations) and Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure Naval Personnel Committee, 192 Naval Review, 23, 25, 26n24, 28, 30n44, 36, 37, 72n83, 194 Navy League, 43, 51 Navy Prize Act, 92n2 Nelson, Admiral Horatio, 63, 143 New Zealand Navy, 182 Newbolt, Sir Henry, 14 Nicholas II, Tsar, 142, 178 Non-​commissioned-​officers (NCOs), 30, 68 North Sea, 5, 6, 73 O’Halloran, Petty Officer, 31n47, 32 Officers’ Stewards’ and Cooks’ Benefit Association, 175 On War (1832), 57 Operative Society of Bricklayers, 186 Orkney Islands, 9n20 Our Defenders’ Magazine, 81 Oxford English Dictionary, 53, 55 Palestine, 97 Parker, A.B. Nutty, 138 Parliament, 100, 105, 154, 163, 170, 172n112, 177, 182, 183, 184, 185, 187, 188 House of Commons, 17, 22, 48, 81, 105, 143, 154, 184, 187, 188 House of Lords, 121 Parsons, Seaman William, 75n98, 76n104, 139n157 Passchendaele, Battle of (1917), 97 paternalism, 3, 6, 7, 8, 18, 20, 21, 24, 26, 29, 33, 37, 38, 41, 43, 51, 53, 64, 67, 76, 78, 91, 92, 103, 110, 116, 117, 128, 133, 135, 142, 143, 146, 147,

265

Index 149, 152, 158, 160, 172, 173, 188, 192, 194, 196, 197, 226, 227, 231 paternalism, definition of, 3 Petty officer (PO)/​petty officers (POs), 11, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 35, 49n115, 65n51, 66n57, 68, 74, 76n103, 80, 84, 102, 105, 126, 129, 130, 133, 136, 138, 140, 143, 150, 168n95, 169, 170, 171, 172, 174, 183, 186, 200, 223, 232, 234 Piggott, William, 229n3 Plunkett, Commander Hon R., 25n21, 25n22 Plymouth, 187 Poldhu, 229n3 Porteous, Sub-​Lieutenant Robert, 200 Portland, 179 Portsmouth, 11, 34, 106, 134, 149, 162, 164, 179, 182, 185, 186, 187, 201n9, 220 Portsmouth Joint Committee, 164, 167, 181, 182, 183, 185, 186, 187 Premier Lower Deck Society, 135 Warrant officers, 135 Prinzregent Luitpold, 158n45 Prisoners of War Bread Fund, 128 Prudential Assurance Company, 85 Pullen, Seaman Edward, 69, 75n98, 77, 140 Punt, Seaman Cyril, 38n72, 140 Pursey, Commander, 48, 170 Quarter deck, 75, 93, 121, 135, 235 Representation of the People Act (1918), 182, 183 Roberts, Seaman William, 140n161 Robertson, General Sir William, 181 Rosyth, 156n39, 170, 171, 179 Royal Dockyards, 131, 151, 154, 155, 156, 157, 159 Chatham Dockyard, 157 Clyde Dockyard, 153 Dockers’ Unions, 163 Dockyard workers, 154, 155, 156, 157 Rosyth Dockyard, 156 Royal Fleet Reserve (RFR), 40, 134 Royal Marines (RM), 18, 23n10, 85, 86n133, 207, 238 6th Battalion, 238 Royal Naval Air Service, 18 Royal Naval Colleges Dartmouth, 22, 23, 24n13, 27 Osborne, 22, 23, 24n13, 24n15, 27, 43 Royal Naval Division (RND), 9n19, 18, 28n32 Royal Naval Hospital, 200

265 Royal Naval Reserve (RNR), 40, 47, 96, 137, 138, 200 Royal Naval School (Greenwich), 34 Royal Naval Seamen’s Benefit Society, 49 Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR), 40, 137 Royal Navy (RN) Battle Cruiser Fleet (Battle Cruiser Force), 110, 156 dreadnought programme, 23 early Victorian navy, 70 Elizabethan navy, 92n2 First Battle Squadron, 102, 103, 104, 110, 133, 150 First Destroyer Flotilla, 217, 238 Fleet Cinema Committee, 231 Fourth Battle Squadron, 102, 103, 104 Georgian navy, 15, 70 Grand Fleet, 1, 18, 38n70, 80, 89, 102, 103, 104, 110, 149, 169–173, 183, 228, 231, 238 Light Cruiser Force, 110 Morale, 53, 56, 57, 61, 63, 84, 129, 201, 225, 226, 234, 236, 237, 238 Second Battle Squadron, 102, 103, 104 Selborne Scheme, 22, 23, 24 Third Battle Squadron, 106 Training and Staff Duties Division, 216 Royal Navy Artificers Engineer and Engine-​Room Artificers’ Club and Benevolent Fund, 46 Royal United Service Institute, 97n20 Royal Yacht, 184 Russia, 44, 81, 89, 97, 100, 129, 136, 142, 158, 160, 165, 175, 178, 179, 180, 204, 238 Bolshevik Revolution (1917), 97, 98, 100, 106, 175, 178 March Revolution (1917), 98, 129, 175 Russian Civil War (1917–​1922), 238 Treaty of Brest-​Litovsk (1918), 97, 238 Workers’ and Soldiers’ Councils, 165 Russian Army, 178 Russian Navy, 81n114, 178 Sailor’s Rest movement, 42, 43, 50 Scapa Flow, 9n20, 103, 170, 195, 228, 235 Scotland, 1 Scrivens, J. W., 66n57, 105n61, 168, 169, 170, 171, 174 Sea Lords, 95, 116, 144, 146 First Sea Lord, 47, 170, 221, 222 Fourth Sea Lord, 45n100, 144, 145, 224 Second Sea Lord, 22, 106, 116, 133n137, 173, 191, 192, 221, 224 Third Sea Lord, 144

266

266

Index

Second World War, 2, 13, 58 Senior Service, see Royal Navy Separation Allowances and National Relief for the Widows of Children, 126 Shipconstructors’ and Shipwrights’ Association, 117 Shipping Controller, 153 Shipyard Labour Department, 153 Sick Berth Stewards’ Society, 186 Skipwith, Captain, 220 Social Darwinism, 5 Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Pay Committee, 167 Southsea Common, 162 Spicer, Lieutenant Commander M. D., 194 Spring Offensives (1918), 98, 101, 153 SS Gourko, 230 Stevenson, Frederick John, 172n109 Stewards’ Society, 162 Stileman, Rear-​Admiral, 219, 224 Stock, Petty Officer Telegraphist, 175n121 Tewkesbury, Frank, 166 The Bluejacket and the Soldier, 11, 48, 81, 82, 83, 85–88, 94, 95, 96, 97n19, 116, 118–121, 123, 125, 126, 128, 130, 131, 132, 137n149, 138, 143, 159–161, 163, 164, 173, 177, 178, 182, 184, 185, 189, 191, 232 The Daily Mail, 228 The Daily Mirror, 233 The Entry and Training of Naval Cadets (1914), 24 The Fleet, 11, 47–49, 81, 83, 94, 96, 116, 118n77, 120, 121, 125, 127, 136, 137n149, 138n154, 160, 162, 164, 166–168, 174, 184, 185, 185n156, 189, 189n178, 192n189 The Fleet Annual and Naval Year Book, 81, 84, 85, 116 The Glasgow Herald, 229 The Gunroom (1919), 26, 28, 29 The Manual of Naval Law and Court Martial Procedure, 200n5, 215 The National Archives, 11, 61n35 The Naval Warrant Officers’ Friendly Society, 46 The News of the World, 230 The Scotsman, 229 The Sunday Evening Chronicle, 28 The Times, 1 The Treasury, 85, 100, 120, 144, 145n176, 146 Thomson, Basil, 169 Trade unions, 18, 19, 46, 78, 96, 99, 104, 116, 129, 149, 150, 152, 154, 155,

157–160, 162, 163, 164, 175, 177, 178, 196, 198, 205, 227, 232 Council of the General Federation of Trade Unions, 164 Parliamentary Committee of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), 165 Trades Union Congress (TUC), 155, 166 Treasury Agreement (1915), 152, 153 Truth, 89 Union Jack Club, 51, 82, 85, 149, 168, 170 Union of Democratic Control (UDC), 100 United States of America (USA), 97, 100, 132 University of Sussex, 71 US Army, 89 US Navy, 132 Vale, Petty Officer W., 66n57, 105n61, 168, 169, 170, 171, 174 Verney, Captain, 184 Vicarage, W., 10 Victoria Cross (VC), 96 Vine, Harry, 229n5 Walker, Charles, 106 War Cabinet, 120 War Emergency Committee (WEC), 165 Wardroom or ward room, 26, 39, 74n90, 230 Warrant Officers’ Journal, 191 Western Front, 10 Westminster. See Parliament Weston, Agnes, 42, 43, 51, 88 Weymouth, 179 Weymouth, Captain G. R., 237 White Sea, 178 Whitehall, 87, 178, 193 Whittingham, Alan, 229n4 Wilhelmshaven, 158n45, 236 Willis, Petty Officer Richard, 186 Willis, Reginald, 20, 70n70, 140 Wilson, Joseph Havelock, 157 Wilson, Woodrow, 100 Wintz, Sophia, 88 Xenophon, 57 Yexley, Lionel, 11, 47, 50, 51, 81, 83–85, 128, 136, 162, 164, 166, 167, 175n121, 176, 180–183, 185–187, 190, 193 Young, Filson, 36