Teaching naval history

tiddlyoggy

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#21
Rachel, I find some of your post objectionable from someone who isn't yet serving. I've been round Victory many times, taking family, friends, and once even, a large group of Chilean navy with me. I've never known anyone not to enjoy it, even if they were reluctant to go in the first place. I am by no means a spotter or "sweaty smarmy historian festering away in the staff room". We can always learn from the past, but this isn't about learning. I don't expect part 2 trainees to be able to regurgitate dates of battles or milestone changes to the service. I want them to realise what they are part of and buy into it. I want pride in their uniform and all that it stands for: hundreds of years of being the finest fighting force afloat. If that pride helps to install a little bit of responsibility or even a sense of "England expects", that can only be a good thing.
 
#22
Dunno, I would assume as an outsider that what helps you perform on the day is your oppos, mates and your training, not what some sweaty smarmy historian festering away in the staff room of a polytechnic may judge in hindsight. I love Naval history, I think that as a country we owe everything to the Royal Navy, and the fact that we as a small island managed to have such an impact on global affairs due to her is truly amazing. Sadly it is not the same anymore, not just for us but for Navys worldwide. People often had such an affinity for them as standing armys were seen as a treat to liberty whereas the Navy (along with having exceptional capabilities) were seen more as purveyors of peace (depsite the high amount of sacrifice and bloodshed) and beneficial to the country; the universal ideologies of a countrys Navy are fascinating, and despite interest in say visitng ships in port, its just not the same anymore IMO. Not saying that it is of less worth, but perception isn't the same. Teaching people in training would be ideal, but realistically if you tell some poor baby sailor who already cries with stress due to having to take a higher level of work then they feel capable of due to staffing being cut to the bone, someone who constantly gets shafted for duty etc that they can never plan anything and feel 'trapped' that they have historical bits and bobs to take on board too, time how long it is before the chit goes in. It would be nice, but the armed forces are a skeleton these days, and tbh it is down to the service personnel that they keep on ticking over at all I reckon- anything seen as surplus to absolute demands I can imagine gets shot down. Teaching in schools would be ideal, plant the seeds and if someone wants to let them grow then they will further down the line. Any serving member of any armed force can visit HMS Victory for free as she is still a comissioned ship, but who actually would in their own time is a completely different matter...

I ranted and it probably doesn't make sense. I am delirious on words.
It makes sense, it just might not necessarily be true.... On the first point, that's exactly what this thread is about, training. It's got nothing to do with teaching. If it's teaching because it's a nice story then we shouldn't be doing it - if we think they might learn something from it, on the other hand...

On the second, all I can say is that's the sort of thing you can best judge when you've been there, but "baby sailors" I'm afraid, BRNC or Raleigh, need to suck it up and crack on. If they're getting themselves into that sort of state in training, then they shouldn't be there. If they're staff, in which case they're not "baby sailors," then it's up to the training design schoolies to develop a workable timetable, not the instructors at the coal face. And, trust me, done right instructing new entry is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do in the mob, but it can also be a holiday camp compared to life at sea. Bunging an extra half hour on the beginning and end of the training day will make no difference to those under training, and precious little to the staff - it's not exactly defence watches... And "staffing" is laid out to a minimum ratio post Deepcut, so in theory no one should have more responsibility than they can cope with unless they're one of those types allegedly sent to BRNC so that they can have an eye kept on them - people doing training reviews and design are, in my experience, different to the people doing the training. The former frequently end up burning the candle at both ends, the latter, not so much.

But that's the staff's problem.
 
#23
One way to stimulate curiosity could be to put a short piece up on the notice board (or even just a paragraph in Daily Orders) relating to the place next to be visited, or the piece of ocean one is passing through, giving a very brief account of what the RN did there once upon a time. Passing down the West coast of S America I did this for Coronel, the sack of Payta, the cornering of the Dresden at Juan Fernandez etc. Seemed to be appreciated.
Fully agree. The lack of awareness/interest in where one is amazes me. Conversation with a PO (Wren in old money) SA a few years ago after she had returned from deployment:

PO (mid dit): ...we were off the coast of South America...
Me: Oh right, where?
PO: South America.
Me: Yes but what part? What country?
PO: South America.
Me: OK then, which coast?
PO: *looked at me as though I were insane* I don't know - just South America.

It's beyond my comprehension how anyone can be so disinterested in where they are.
 
#24
Rachel, I find some of your post objectionable from someone who isn't yet serving.
That is a fair point :)

I've been round Victory many times, taking family, friends, and once even, a large group of Chilean navy with me. I've never known anyone not to enjoy it, even if they were reluctant to go in the first place.
I wasn't impying that, I used to work in the ticket office and I loved seeing people come in with their families and that because everyone left commenting how amazing it was and how much they liked it. All I mean is that even though these amazing opportunities exist and people would enjoy them if they took them up, whether people choose to in the first place is up to the individual. And sadly some people don't.


I am by no means a spotter or "sweaty smarmy historian festering away in the staff room". We can always learn from the past, but this isn't about learning. I don't expect part 2 trainees to be able to regurgitate dates of battles or milestone changes to the service. I want them to realise what they are part of and buy into it. I want pride in their uniform and all that it stands for: hundreds of years of being the finest fighting force afloat. If that pride helps to install a little bit of responsibility or even a sense of "England expects", that can only be a good thing.
I was just referring to the pevious poster who had said that a knowledge of history would make people work harder to overcome times of adversity as they wouldn't want people to judge them for bringing the service down (that's what I gleamed from it anyway). All I meant was that from the people I know it would be their oppos who keep them going and not the fact that one day someone (sweaty historian) might look back and say ah- that was a shambles, shame on them. I totally agree that history is important, I have spent the last year researching my thesis which is to do with the navy and despite the stress I have enjoyed every moment, as the history of the Navy is amazing.

I like difference of opinions btw, I find it interesting so I am not trying to counteract what you have said to prove I think I am right. I am not serving (yet), I just have spent alot of time with people who are and so what I said about the extra burden of learning is from my experience with that- the government have cut the forces so much that history seems to be an unfortunate casualty- I dunno. I need sleep.
 
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Seaweed

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#25
We are the heirs to these people and we owe it to them to understand them; long ago they forged the finest fighting force the planet ever saw. They are us, just years ago.

All teaching works best in an entertaining and relevant way, a good visit to Victory or Alliance etc is worth hours in a lecture room and will stimulate curiosity to find out more. As far as WW2 is concerned there are some vg (but b/w) films which are so close to the real thing that a dog-watch showing can teach much, like The Cruel Sea and In Which We Serve. The later was served up to us in our first week at Dartmouth on a basis of 'If you can't take a joke ...'

As for 'why did we beat the Fr' - because that's what they are for.
 
#26
History was my favourite subject at school. Joining Ganges in 1989 i really enjoyed the naval history we were taught. My class visit to HMS Victory when I was a junior RO at Mercury in the early 60's I found to be really inspiring. I finally ended up as a further education lecturer, teaching history as one of my subjects. When I was in the Andrew I was able to take a history O level by pusser's correspondence course which was purely naval history. I don't know if you are still able to do this.
 

sgtpepperband

War Hero
Moderator
Book Reviewer
#27
I agree with Tiddly: I served on HMS Victory as a Tour Guide in 19*cough, cough* and I was daunted by the prospect of having to learn - and then present - a phenomenal amount of factual history to service personnel and the general public, from the UK and abroad.

I have to say that, apart from one or two individuals, I managed to send my guests away with a wealth of information, presented in a fun and enjoyable manner, and managed to dis-spell a few myths in the process.

The 'history' is out there, available to everybody. You just have to encourage them to take an interest in the first place. apart from a handful of museums in the country, most I visit are static and rather routine (pay your money, collect an MP3 player and walk around in the rain). There is little interaction involved.

Last year I visited the Rynek Museum, beneath the Cloth Hall in Kraków's Old Town. Not expecting much, I went inside... and came out about 4 hours later having learned a vast amount about the history of the place after thoroughly enjoying it. There was plenty of 'hands on' exhibits, all presented in a variety of (expertly-translated) languages. I now use this museum as the benchmark for others I visit - and I have yet to find one that beats it. It proved that no matter what the subject of the exhibition, providing it is presented in a professional but enjoyable way, people will visit and learn from their experience.
 
#28
The history of England is the History of the Navy, and a little bit of te Army. The RAF don't have a history, they have only habits, some of which are quite questionable
 
#29
I agree with Tiddly: I served on HMS Victory as a Tour Guide in 19*cough, cough* and I was daunted by the prospect of having to learn - and then present - a phenomenal amount of factual history to service personnel and the general public, from the UK and abroad.

I have to say that, apart from one or two individuals, I managed to send my guests away with a wealth of information, presented in a fun and enjoyable manner, and managed to dis-spell a few myths in the process.

The 'history' is out there, available to everybody. You just have to encourage them to take an interest in the first place.
I agree as well, I worked in the dockyard and I found everything fascinating, and judging by people's comments as they left so did everyone who visited. It is exactly the getting people interested if it's not mandatory that is the conundrum (or however it is spelt...) I have friends who are based in the dockyard and have never been to the historical part to have a shuft round.
 
#30
It makes sense, it just might not necessarily be true.... On the first point, that's exactly what this thread is about, training. It's got nothing to do with teaching. If it's teaching because it's a nice story then we shouldn't be doing it - if we think they might learn something from it, on the other hand...

On the second, all I can say is that's the sort of thing you can best judge when you've been there, but "baby sailors" I'm afraid, BRNC or Raleigh, need to suck it up and crack on. If they're getting themselves into that sort of state in training, then they shouldn't be there. If they're staff, in which case they're not "baby sailors," then it's up to the training design schoolies to develop a workable timetable, not the instructors at the coal face. And, trust me, done right instructing new entry is one of the most rewarding jobs you can do in the mob, but it can also be a holiday camp compared to life at sea. Bunging an extra half hour on the beginning and end of the training day will make no difference to those under training, and precious little to the staff - it's not exactly defence watches... And "staffing" is laid out to a minimum ratio post Deepcut, so in theory no one should have more responsibility than they can cope with unless they're one of those types allegedly sent to BRNC so that they can have an eye kept on them - people doing training reviews and design are, in my experience, different to the people doing the training. The former frequently end up burning the candle at both ends, the latter, not so much.

But that's the staff's problem.
By baby sailors I meant those newly serving in the fleet on their first drafts, I meant ideal in training as a seperate point but short sentences are not the one. I am not disagreeing, probably alot of what I wrote is incorrect.
 

Seadog

War Hero
Moderator
#31
Adapted from the post I made on the subject on ARRSE.

The RN Division at Joint Services Command and Staff College has as its motto "Respice, aspice, prospice" ( Reflect on the past, consider the present, provide for the future - ish). One doesn't need an academic's knowledge of naval and military history to inform current and future actions but a wise man or woman will know what to distil from it, what is useful. It isn't about learning dates.

When the RN rescued the army at Crete, in response to the concerns of others about the risk of losing ships, Admiral Cunningham said, "it takes three years to build a ship, it takes three centuries to build a tradition." By 'tradition' he wasn't talking about the rules of uckers and what time 'up spirits' was piped.

Tradition and the history that underpins it are important. History is millenia old, it is also yesterday. The Cornwall incident undermined that tradition - big time. It'll be a long time before General Fulton's report is seen by mere mortals.
 
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tiddlyoggy

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#32
Rachel, I'm also enjoying the contrasting views on this thread. Isn't it possible to be inspired by more than one thing though? Yes, your oppos will always count on that score, but the feeling of "wooden ships, men of steel" is something that I've always been conscious of throughout my career. Slight thread drift, but I also believe this is another great factor as to why the loss of the Royal Tournament was such a big deal.
 
#33
Rachel, I'm also enjoying the contrasting views on this thread. Isn't it possible to be inspired by more than one thing though? Yes, your oppos will always count on that score, but the feeling of "wooden ships, men of steel" is something that I've always been conscious of throughout my career. Slight thread drift, but I also believe this is another great factor as to why the loss of the Royal Tournament was such a big deal.
I think you nearly said "bring back field gun" there, but you might just have got away with it - *walks away whistling with visions of RumRation circa 2007 with 58 page screeds about "turning the gun over" on Southsea beach illuminated by car headlights.....
 
#34
The Cornwall incident undermined that tradition - big time. It'll be a long time before General Fulton's report is seen by mere mortals.
If the buzzes about what's in that report are even half true, or, alternatively if it contains some of the home truths it probably should, it's the sort of thing that should be buried in a lead lined box and not for public/mere mortal consumption ever. You can see what are probably the effects filtering down though, which is nice....
 
#35
Rachel, I'm also enjoying the contrasting views on this thread. Isn't it possible to be inspired by more than one thing though? Yes, your oppos will always count on that score, but the feeling of "wooden ships, men of steel" is something that I've always been conscious of throughout my career. Slight thread drift, but I also believe this is another great factor as to why the loss of the Royal Tournament was such a big deal.
Yeah definitely :) To be honest I didn't really read this thread before I replied haha, and imagined someone asking if it was feasible to add a ciriculum type agenda to the Navy which would be strain on a lot of already over stretched sailors, which looking back seems ridiculous I thought it was about that anyway :p Instilling pride is definitely a good thing.
 
#36
I think there's scope to amalgamate some history with the present Phase 1 training such as the reasons the rig has all it's various bits and bobs (collar, silk, lanyard etc) and the historical reason for Procedure Alpha and so on and so forth. Also Bunting69, as a history teacher, needs to check his post. He says he joined Ganges in 1989, he must have been lonely as it shut down in 1975!!
 
#37
The font of Corps history (within the serving Corps, stand fast the museum) is the drill shed at Lympstone, it is from there that the DL's enforce the learning of Corps history upon the drill square, and of course during induction, lets face it it's not hard to teach someone to walk, so their main role is teaching history, including a visit to the Corps museum, HMS Victory and a battlefield tour in France.
Now I know the Corps is just a drop of history compared to the senior service, but could the same system work at Raleigh?
 
#38
Given the exigencies time-wise at HMS Raleigh and BRNC, I wonder whether there is scope for giving out a nicely produced publication and supplementing that with just a couple of sessions, perhaps one when they are given out and another one later on. It could, perhaps, be based on the History content included on the website:

History | Royal Navy

It would probably be seen by new entrants' families too, thus having a PR bonus to its issue.

I do think, by the way, that, in general, recruits from earlier generations knew more about naval history. Some of it they gained at school, some of it by hearing about it from members of their families. I suspect that if shoppers around the country were stopped this weekend and asked what they knew about naval history, the most comprehensive replies would come from the older generation.
 
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#39
My concern is how we teach this to the un-interested 17 year old who left school precisely to avoid being 'taught' about things like this. Perhaps it should be aimed at LRLC and SRLC?
 
#40
Alfred, that was really the basis of my post, when they're being taught how to do various evolutions or how to wear their rig, the background as to why they do it can be incorporated. Whether it goes in and stays in is another matter.
 

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