When we had a Fleet


Lantern Swinger

Just read this article - I was at the '77 spithead review on Devonshire. Even though foreign navies were in attendance, the RN still had a serious amount of ships there.

In '97, I saw Britannia for the last time when she sailed with Charles and Chris Patten on board after the Hong Kong handover. It brought back great memories seeing her for I had a great time at the review.
As impressive as the statistics in the article is the man who wrote it, 93 and still working! I think he would have to be the Englishman alive today whom I most admire:

William Francis Deedes, Baron Deedes, KBE, MC, (born 1 June 1913) is a veteran British journalist and a former politician. He has been both a member of the British cabinet and the editor of a major daily newspaper.
Deedes began his career as a reporter on the Morning Post in 1931, joining the Daily Telegraph when it took over the Post in 1937. Deedes fought in the Second World War, gaining the Military Cross, and was elected Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Ashford, Kent in 1950. He served as a junior minister under Churchill for three years. He entered Harold Macmillan's Cabinet in 1962 as Minister without Portfolio. He left the Cabinet in 1964, as Minister of Information, and stood down as an MP 10 years later.He served as editor of the Daily Telegraph from 1974 to 1986 and after he was replaced by Max Hastings he continued as a journalist.
Deedes was made a life peer in 1986. Lord Deedes continues to comment on social and political issues through his newspaper columns. He has recently gained a new, cult fanbase after two memorable appearances on Have I Got News For You and is the oldest guest ever to have appeared on the programme. He has been an ambassador for UNICEF since 1998, running high-profile campaigns against landmines. In 2006 he wrote an opinion piece for The Daily Telegraph saying that Islam "is the only faith on Earth that persuades its followers to seek political power and impose a law — sharia — which shapes everyone's style of life" adding that Islam "forbids" Muslims from conforming with British society.
I posted this earlier in the year, some things seem never to change.

The following is taken from the introduction to a book I am reading on UK sea power at present.

"In the dark days towards the end of the century, men looked back with longing to their grandfathers' time, to a lost age of imperial and naval greatness sixty years before, 'when no fleet was ever heard of except of our own people who held this land'.! The phrase, and the sentiment, has perhaps a certain modern resonance, but it is not quite a modern author from which it comes. It is in fact from the Life of 5t 5within by Aelfric of Eynsham, a book written approximately a thousand years ago. Looking back on the reign of King Edgar, as the clouds gathered over Aethelred II, it must have seemed sadly obvious that England's brief period as a great naval power was past beyond recall, as another, greater, empire rose to dominate the northern world.Aelfric was probably not the first, and certainly not the last English historian to look back with nostalgia, and forward with melancholy satisfaction to a future of inevitable national decline."
I have just started reading the same book (Safeguard of the Sea by NAM Roger), and I agree with the sentiment that it still applies. Hopefully brighter days are coming.
wookie said:
I have just started reading the same book (Safeguard of the Sea by NAM Roger), and I agree with the sentiment that it still applies. Hopefully brighter days are coming.
An excellent series, I am waiting to find the third book, but they did have to wait some 500 odd years from that statement till they had recovered. It was really only after the Restoration that the Navy really started to get well established and sometimes funded, up till then at best it was a PPP.
Do you know if there is a release date for the third yet? I read Command of the Sea before realising there was a first volume, so I've only just started to dig into it. I find his style of writing very easy to follow, and the level of detail in it is impressive.
Re the first post and the article by Lord Deedes, here is a letter in today's Telegraph by a top man, Rick Cosby about the article:

In praise of the Navy

Sir - It takes a man of Lord Deedes's standing and experience to put things into perspective (Notebook, April 20).

A blunder in 2007 must not be allowed to wipe out all the glorious achievements of the preceding centuries, when, time and again, the Royal Navy proved our surest shield.

The thousands who are proud to have served in the Senior Service and who remain staunchly behind it, despite being dispirited by recent events, can take comfort from Lord Deedes's wise words.

I've stuck his comments up on the kitchen fridge, and I remain very proud that my son hopes to join this incomparably fine service this autumn.

Capt Richard Cosby RN, Crewkerne, Somerset

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