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 Post subject: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 12:09 pm 
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Very few comments on most of the stuff up recently, no criticism- I'm starting to feel like the drunk jabbering to himself in the corner of the pub. Am I just not writing things that you want to read, or what?

Anyway, this got written in a couple of hours, so what the hell.




The news, when it came, was paralyzing, dumbfounding; the world, at least the world of post war politics, turned upside down. Since Lloyd George's fiery death by zeppelin- and the under the circumstances amazingly quick publication of his personal papers, after which few were prepared to call his death untimely- things had been very much in flux.

A largely caretaker government for the last two years of the fighting, consisting essentially of the cobbled together wreckage of the Liberal party and the only barely civil Conservatives- only good manners, and those not always evident behind closed doors, prevented them behaving as the ravening wolves they were. And the growing movement of the workers, looming in the wings and multiplying towards ends unknown.

Once the Americans had come into the war- and thank whatever mad Jacobite impulse had moved Rupprecht of Bavaria to lunge at them so directly and give that composite, consummate and contumely ass Pershing no choice but to commit, even if the result had been the Third Battle of the Marne- the political fighting had become even more intense, as the prospect of gain became more real.

It was hard to claim the opening moves of the Somme as anything other than a bloody disaster, but if they had been forced to go with the middle plan, the attack north of the river to relieve the pressure on Verdun- into deep, unbreachable field fortification lines instead of against the more fluid flank of an advancing army, the result would undoubtedly have been much worse.

At any rate, the Allies had won in the end, despite the Easterners' best efforts to keep the corpse breathing; the rolling shifts in front and growing skill of the British army- slowly and painfully- had ploughed a way to victory in the end, and the assault across the Rhine was this century's moment to stand with Blenheim and Waterloo.

There would be a few years of peace and personal profit for the victors before the Official Histories spilled the beans about how very nearly they hadn't. For the maniacal adventurer Churchill, some kind of Commission for the Levant would only be justice; help clear up his own mess, except that there was an excellent possibility he would emerge at the head of a new crusade, as caliph of the faithful, or knowing him, both.

Justice was in short supply in British politics- although perhaps not as short as it would have been if Lloyd George had lived- and an ambassadorship in Washington seemed likely. It would be interesting to see which side he would turn out to be on.

The victor of the war at sea, who had largely ruined Churchill's chances in domestic politics albeit mostly by accident, was due something, but what Lord- Viscount Jellicoe of Jutland wanted or would accept was still a mystery. Always a quiet, private man, Cromwell's comment that none rises so high as he who knows not whither he is going fit his career perfectly. He would have to be given something, ideally before he reached the stage of writing his memoirs.

The master of the field, on the other hand, it had seemed fairly safe an assumption that he would not be entering politics. An abysmally, impossibly bad public speaker, at least in English, since he had handed over the Army of Occupation to his old colleague Smith- Dorrien, Douglas Haig had kept himself busy organizing veteran's groups and societies, making peace between them and pointing to the common cause, working days as long and covering more ground than he had as a general.

Possibly it was on the advice of an old enemy, a wise Machiavellian Jacobite; perhaps the experience of military government had given him a taste for it. Possibly that it seemed the only way to ensure what he wanted for his men would indeed happen- perhaps when his ancestors' home was bought and gifted to him by a grateful nation, a blood memory of chivalry and good lordship had been stirred. Possibly the caricature was not the man.

Most probably, whatever the roots, the beginning of the post-war slump was the trigger. Things percolated slowly, undoubtedly his family knew, those veterans whose help and support he would need as a campaign team knew, but only Messines achieved the same degree of surprise as his entry into politics.

Certainly none of his military efforts, not even Pyrmont- Holzminden, caused anything like the same degree of outrage. The Times of 16 February 1923 would have spontaneously combusted, if the sulphurousness of the language had anything to do with it; perhaps it was an old cavalry officer trying to tame a runaway beast, perhaps it was stabbing Wat Tyler, an act of pure upper class cynicism, but the establishment of the day certainly took it the wrong way.

They could not understand why the former Commander-in-Chief BEF should choose to stand at election for the Labour Party.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 2:36 pm 
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Pretty sure standing as an MP would be really out of character for DH. He couldn't stand most politicians and was not much of a fan of politics in general.
In @ DH was created an Earl in 1919, which meant he was already in parliament, albiet the Lords by 1923. ;)

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Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2015 3:41 pm 
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In the rather changed circumstances of this time line, his post- 1916 reasons for hating politicians are somewhat different; the hybrids, the soldier- politicians like Wilson and his French friends, were always the worst anyway- and admittedly there would be an entirely new set of them with the American army in play from June 1916.

He had a lot of service as an adjutant and staff officer, essentially paternalistic roles that his post- 1919 activities are very much of a piece with; and wasn't Ulysses Grant' s chief logistics officer so good at his job precisely because he hated mules with a passion? No affection for them at all, so he was scrupulously correct and demanding, and got far more out of them than a more empathic man would have. Applying the same logic to politicians...

Also the war was still running when German society collapsed into revolution behind it, Plan 1919 turned out to involve fewer Medium D's and rather more crowd control and establishment of civil order.

You don't run for office on an anti- establishment ticket because you like politicians, after all- you do that because you think you can do a better job than the clowns in charge at the moment. To defuse the potential problems, maybe, if you hail from the establishment. The Thunderer would have been much less upset if they had thought he was being entirely cynical.

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 3:51 am 
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The issue I have is that he can't be an earl and run for elected office. If the CinC BEF has not been enobled and Jellicoe has then that is a massive snub to the army. In @ Haig turned down the government's initial offer partly because the issue of pensions for ex-soldiers had not been sorted out and he thought it innapropriate for him to take an honour and partly because he was being offered the same level of peerage as French had received on being sacked, which he felt was an insult.

If, as in @, Haig is an earl then all he needs to do is to become more active in the House of Lords and take the Labour whip. That in itself would have the establishement in uproar.

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Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 8:02 am 
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One of the factors I do believe about alternate history- although managing to say so in the dodgiest and most dubious manner possible- are the twin theses that people are shaped by their times and circumstances, and that those times and circumstances consist mostly of other people. Individuals can and do change; it's the background factors- the geography, the economics and history to that point, the million- headed hydra of what we mean by culture- that offer the mould, which itself changes slowly as the burbling pot of people press against it, and each other.

The answer to why something didn't happen, why alternate history is alternate, is often to be found in the personalities of those involved, not the practicalities of it all.

What has changed here is an immersion in the world of the Freikorps and Spartakusbund, and the switch from trying to defeat the Kaiser's Germany to holding the bloody mess together and stopping it descending into revolution. Versailles will have to have been very different- somewhat later, for a start, and most of Krupp's machine tools have probably already been lifted and ended up in places like Barrow and Elswick.

Politicians are sent to the House of Lords to neuter them; what was it, moving from the animals to the vegetables? It has been a long war and there are few, least of all the C-in-C, with much immediate appetite for more, but prodding his sense of duty to his men is one of the few things that could get him going. Assuming that the pensions mess has not yet been sorted out- cockup rather than conspiracy- then between the bloody shambles of Germany 1919-21, a duty to his men still not fully discharged, the rise of Labour movements at home, and the advice of a respected enemy- Rupprecht of Bavaria had quite a lot to do with it- an old cavalryman may very well decide that riding tigers can't be all that hard.

The constitutional issue (which you can see that I have left the hardest bit till last)- yes, he would have received something, did get Bemersyde at least, but even taking the whip in the Lords would be a limited bite and hold operation for a man who repeatedly planned and gambled on breakthroughs. Look what happened to the last-but-one commander of a british expeditionary force in Europe, after all. If he went into politics at all, he would go all in. Unlikely to resign his earldom- Jellicoe was content with a viscountcy, which can be explained by the line in Victory's log; Partial firing continued until 4.30, when, a victory being reported to Vice-Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson...- but if he has his eye on the top job, hm. 1920's. Not so long since Arthur Balfour- in time, although how much change. Might be doable from the Lords after all.

The arguments within the Labour Party are going to be volcanic, though.

Incidentally, what do you think of Jellicoe as a potential Viceroy of India?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 24, 2015 10:57 am 
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If DH is not enobled then that could be a slap in the face enough combined with the government not sorting out pensions to propel him into politics. Since the Liberals are the one doing the slap in the face then the Tories, or Labour would be the obvious choice for him. IIRC Arthur Henderson was their leader around that time and again, IIRC he was quite moderate. Adding someone as conservative (note the small c) as DH to the party would be a away to attract a lot of Liberal and Conservative voters to Labour.

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Incidentally, what do you think of Jellicoe as a potential Viceroy of India?


Probably no better than worse than Chelmsford, or Reading. Depends on how he views Indian nationalism. I have a feeling that in @ Mountbatten was the first ex-naval man to hold the post. Be interesting to see how Jellicoe would handle something like Amritsar, or the 3rd Afghan War.

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 7:34 am 
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The text of Haig's first campaign speech, with his usual abbreviations, missed clauses, skipped participles and the speech patterns of a very poor public speaker, as reported almost verbatim (and mercilessly mocked) by the Times;


"Here today, stand as a candidate for election. Labour Party. Surprised many people. Including myself. Not a natural labourite? What is Labour? New party. Marxist? Hm. Been to Germany. Bloody hard work that, most of those who were there can say. Seen Marxism at work. Dream, without grasp. Busy shooting each other.

British tradition. Peasants' Revolt, Saxon Fyrd. Putney. Levellers. Marx wrote in Highgate, and got it bloody wrong. Long british tradition of liberty. No liberty in Marxism. No expectations that anybody keep their word. No honour. Only bloody war. Class war, social war, kill your neighbour. Had enough of that.

Promises made to the men who fought. Men I led. Men who fought and bled and died to save the world for civilisation. Promises not kept.
British liberty, roots deep in the army. Putney. New Model. Glorious Revolution.

Parliament? Long history of not caring. Tried to sack the new model, year's back wages unpaid. Navy as bad or worse. Very British thing, precedent. Not this time. Always tries to get out of paying it's due.

Most of the bloody country went off to fight? Not quite; needed some of you at home. Turned upside down? Yes. Not far enough. Same old bloody complacency. Millions of men owed back pay, pensions.

Liberals don't keep their promises. Free not to? Hmph. Conservatives happy to go back a hundred years. Conserving what? Not honour, good faith, justice. Country, people, people, country. Go together. Got to.

Party of the common man. Met too many uncommon men. Thought the rules didn't apply to them. One law for me and another for you. Country can't work like that. Liberty isn't freedom from law. Even, fair law, yes.

Young once, myself. Slogged my way up. Old men were young once; and young men get old, too. Parties forget that. In it together. Have to be. Class war? Can't commit to that. Not enough artillery.

Labour, only party of everybody. Point of party politics? Let competing opinions be heard? Not really. Party whip system. Political discipline. Completely different from army. There, important everybody works together, might get killed otherwise, worse, get someone else killed. Party? Have to do what you're told in case you think.

Labour, young party, still arguing, still thinking. Not the best at it myself, slow tongue, but good for the country. Can't be given revolution; cottage industry. Everyone involved. Change the world, keep our word. So much to do."


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 1:09 pm 
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Not my preferred period, so ignorant of too many subtleties...

Funnily enough, I like his speech style.

FWIW, did Kipling's lad get saved by the butterflies ??

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Hey, you think getting comments on *this* forum is a struggle ??

HPCA is positively garrulous compared to some, where the best-crafted tales yet fail to go viral !!

I don't usually field a large cast-- I lack the skill-- but I often have more characters than comments...

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 1:51 pm 
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Haig did indeed begin as an atrociously bad public speaker; it was very probably a psychological hangup, as he did become much more fluent with practise- and in languages not his native tongue, he was always more fluent in French and in print. This was caricatured and made fun of, mainly by his detractors Wilson chief among them- he was a deep rather than a quick thinker, and much of his hesitation may have been down to deciding what to say. He won't be a good politician; statesman, maybe, but not politician. (The number of hostages to fortune he gave away with that speech alone...)


John Kipling was killed at Loos, which is too early for much in the way of butterflies except on the naval side; there were a great many unknown unknowns, the British army was still struggling with the practicalities of trench warfare, and the best chance of a junior officer with K1 or thereabouts of making it through the war was that they be quickly promoted to the staff, or quickly injured badly enough to take them out of the line for a while.

From the fragments that I have read about him, he was...not the surviving sort, may be the kindest way to put it. Desperately short sighted, and the family pressure and his own sense of duty would have kept him there at the sharp end until something did go terribly wrong; and the Irish Guards were, like the rest of the Guards regiments, hard used and much was expected of them. (Which they mostly delivered.)

If he survived that, it would be because his father had wangled him into the Navy, which could be almost as dangerous; minesweeping work in the Dardanelles would offer little more in terms of chance of survival.


And about comments, yes. On the site I think you mean, it seems to be a matter of catching the public fancy, there is a very powerful herd effect; either something starts to get comments and snowballs, or it sinks without trace.

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:09 pm 
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Haig's diary entries read very like that. I think he was too 'straightforward' to be a good politician, I suspect the idea of not trying to keep a promise would be alien to his sensibilities and morality.

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2015 7:59 pm 
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Not sure this is really worth starting a new thread for, it's all still part of the political fallout from the war; the inaugural address of the new Viceroy of India, Admiral of the Fleet Lord-viscount Jellicoe of Jutland;


“One of my most illustrious predecessors and prime architects of British India, the Duke of Wellington, spent the length of the voyage out reading all that he could find about this huge and diverse country; the amount he had to know was I hope smaller than it is now, and the voyage longer, but the principle remains the same.

What came to me is that India has risen and fallen several times over, one or other of its many parts, of states and peoples that rival all europe in their extent and many faceted nature, clawing it's way to hegemony, enjoying the exercise of lordship for a while, over- reaching, and falling; for another one to rise out of the chaos.

In the beginning, we came to India partly for trade and to prevent our rivals doing the same, partly out of sheer fascination; there was a period when British visitors were more than willing to enter into the life of India, to start with an outsider's part and work inwards, shake the dust of Europe off their feet and enter into the inner reaches of this vast and turbulent land.

The local princes and powers could not leave well enough alone, and attempted to use the Europeans as weapons in their quarrels; at the same time as the European traders and envoys were involving the powers of India in the disputes of Europe.

There was no hegemony at that point, the Mughal empire was gone and the Mahrattas not yet secure in their power, and it was into this turbulent arena that the Honourable Company entered, and somewhat against it's better judgement found itself propelled to Empire, a process that came to a head when the home country and the rest of Europe blundered into war.

Britain and her allies won that war a century ago; those of you agitating for greater rights may find it interesting to consider that it was Indian money, or at least the fruits of trade with India, that paid for Britain's allies on the continent, that made them able to fight for their freedom from the tyranny of Napoleonic France.

Alas, victory hardens the heart; magnanimity in triumph is not a British trait, as much as we may admire it in principle, and we were at our arrogant, dismissive worst after Waterloo. A generation that had been fascinated by India was replaced by a generation that came to profit from it, nothing more, and regarded the locals as if anything rather an inconvenience.

Much offence was given, and much resentment stored up; and terrible events in due course took place. The result was the end of the Company, and direct attachment to the Crown, and a loss of confidence and of faith, on both sides.

Eventually, things were patched back up well enough to carry on with, for the time being, helped greatly by the irruption of the modern age into India- which has become to a large extent a nation held together by railways and telegraphs.

We have just passed through a great and terrible war, in the course of which certain wild promises were made, mainly to the men who fought, that we could not go on as we had been up until now; that things must, and would change.

Where in this great war was the strength of India? It was not evident, at sea. There were a few troop convoys, but apart from those who came forward and chose to fight, and who were welcome, and to whom the same promises were made as to British fighting men- apart from those hundred thousand men, what came forth from the land of three hundred million?

What is the power of India, in the age of the dreadnought, the aeroplane and the tank? The Raj has made mistakes before. We will almost certainly do so again. We have forced some things upon India, and neglected others. The power of government has too often been wielded blindly and bureaucratically.

There must be a greater measure of local government in India, to give the common people of this land greater ability to meet the changing waves and tides of the future; but a land almost without machines must be brought into the industrial age, if anything approaching the enormous amount of things that must be done for the betterment, for the greater strength of India are to be achieved.

India must not be allowed to remain a neglected industrial backwater, peacefully agrarian, a grazing animal in a world of tigers- cannot. That would be of no credit to either party.

Britain's role as the workshop of the world was put to the test in the late war. We did not, entirely, rise to the challenge. Our needs far outran our means, and much of our wealth went on obtaining the tools of war- chiefly from our own strongest rivals.

That could and should have been spent within the Empire, on Indian factories and assembly lines, on growing the strength of the Raj- a missed opportunity, partly from that want of confidence and faith, but the future will not be calm, and if India and the Empire are to be fit to face it, we must make good that want from here on.

What worked for India before must be cast loose and allowed to grow; what never was before must be brought into being. There must be public works that private industry- and do not try to tell me that India is not a nation of entrepreneurs, given the chance- can build upon; sanitation, education electric power, coal, steam and steel.

We must remember the past on our way to better things- the British in India were at our worst when we looked down on the people, and at our best when we bear in mind how much India is worth, and strive to be worthy of it, to build on what we have done well, and build anew.”


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:06 am 
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Hear, hear. Yon, you'd make a good speechwriter for real you know. That's genuinely stirring.

HPCA vs The World chapter 3!

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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Wed Oct 21, 2015 2:33 pm 
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Seconded!

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Frankly I had enjoyed the war...and why do people want peace if the war is so much fun?


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2015 3:21 pm 
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Now I have to raise my standards even more...

un (?) fortunately, I'm not connected with any political party any more- and anything like that would really involve being inside the machinery. The only party I feel any real kinship for these days is probably the Monster Raving Loonies; the sanest of the lot a far as I can see. ( :D )

the address does dwell a bit too much on the past and what went wrong, I can easily imagine advisers screaming at him, but that was more or less in character for a born worrier like Jellicoe; one interesting thing that will come out of this modernisation initiative is distance learning by radio as a very efficient means of mass public education, eventually building up to something like an Open University at least forty years earlier.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 4:53 pm 
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As this seems to have become the random political bits thread,





May Sixteenth, 1937, a Sunday by the Christian calendar for those to whom, in this vast and complicated land, it applied. Last Wednesday, a prince who had briefly attempted a career at sea had been officially crowned King of the United Kingdom, Dominions, Commonwealth and Empire, belatedly and somewhat reluctantly.

Today in India, a sailor who had never really intended to attempt a career as lord of the subcontinent and monarch in all but name was giving notice that he would soon be laying down his crown.

The coronation had achieved a respectable official audience- that was to say consisting mainly of the respectable, and the official. The Viceroy's annual address, likely for the last time, drew all from the highest to the lowest. In five thousand railway stations, in two thousand hospitals, clinics and practices, in three thousand factories and foundries, three giant Royal Dockyards and their sprawling supports, something close to twenty thousand town and village squares, something close to half the population of India gathered.


'Rumour is correct, unfortunately; this probably will be the last chance I have to address the peoples of India, the doctors tell me I do not have much time left. For myself it hardly matters, it is only my family that I am concerned about; I have had a long, busy life, and have seen far too many taken before they had a chance to live up to their potential, and too many more grow grey in regret over things undone.

One of the things I never got around to was the relatively minor detail of my memoirs; what I attempted was essentially about the fleet I was part of, not merely the small part of it that constituted it's commanding Admiral; and while Nelson was very much the epitome of the Navy of his age, I was in considerable aspects of character the antithesis of mine- which worked because I and the technically minded officers of my ilk, and the old traditions of the Navy, covered each other's blind spots.

We gave the old drive and ferocity it's modern cutting edge, our ancestors and what they expected of their children supplied the force to make the blade bite- either alone would have achieved little.

I will probably ramble a good deal about that, just to ensure that things that would otherwise go unsaid are not lost- and it is only fair to add that the Indian Civil Service and myself more or less completely failed to achieve the same symbiosis.


When I was offered the job of Viceroy of India, it was something of a surprise to me. I was very much a man of the sea, salt water in my veins, head full of the administrative detail of the Grand Fleet in transition from war to peace, deciding what and who to invest effort in preserving from peacetime economy, what lessons to take and keep against the likely need of the next war.

It was a tiring business, as anyone who has had to deal with bureaucracy will have experienced to their great mental fatigue and torment, and without- for those who recall the business of war, there are long periods where it seems that the service itself is on a course to self- destruction, killing itself with pen and ink, and only the enemy supplies us with the energy to carry on from day to day.

The high glory days were a glow on the horizon astern, and only the labour went on. I had more than half expected to die Collingwood's death, too important to be allowed to retire and worn out in harness, when I made a severe tactical error and accidentally exposed myself as the most terrible political heretic. Despite not quite understanding what the issue was at the time.


What I demanded on behalf of the Navy was a return to the old system of Royal Dockyards driving innovation, new ideas and new advances being pioneered in house, by people with a rather more than merely professional interest in whether they worked or not, with the institutional ability to take risks and lead the way into the future and private enterprise following where it may.

What the government of the time had in mind was something entirely different of course, they and their friends were intent on restoring things as they were, which meant the primacy of private industry- they wanted to de- nationalise, to transfer control of the dockyards to private owners, to what I would and did call at the time de- professionalise the Docks.

Quite why this was an issue the Coalition Government was quite so desperate not to give ground on was opaque to me, one of those things that is simply so foreign to one's habits of thought that one understands it even less, the more it is explained; but with Marshal Haig's unlikely championing of the British working and therefore soldiering class, they could not afford my going into politics also.

They also could not afford to look as if they were reneging on their promises to the services and the nation at large; a hurried backstairs compromise was put together, and presented to me as a fait accompli. It seemed to me far more of a surprise and a mystery, but once the facts of life had been explained I was persuaded to accept. Not the least of the navy's duties, after all, has been to protect Britain from herself.


On the way out to India I came to realise that I was en route to an entire new world, a different realm of possibility, problem and potential, that needed more than the efforts of a tired and weary man. India deserved better than that, and for some time I was uncertain whether I was the man for the job.

On the other hand, the last thing the job needed was an uncertain man, so I took counsel of the White Ensign, determining that I would not merely become a component of a well worn system, that poise and perseverance would carry me through until I managed to evolve a modus vivendi with what I found.

I began making rather more radical sounds than I really meant to follow through with at the time, intending that as something of a beginning bargaining position, a statement of principle that would of course and rightly adapt itself to the circumstances- making ready to come crashing in as a prelude to negociation and compromise. Unfortunately, the then system of India believed me entirely.


When all is said and done, the Royal Navy has produced a rich crop of eccentrics down the centuries, at all levels of the system; both because of the mysteries and wonders of the sea that set us apart from land-dwelling men, and because of the life of a ship- living so close to one's fellows, one has to be tolerant, put up with their quirks and foibles and their moments of madness, and in return they will support you in yours.

It takes a very great deal of history by land, more than most people's heads can hold, to inculcate the same degree of tolerance, and most landsmen never see the full flower of the result- only the drunken maniac rampaging down the rue d' argel. I say that that is the glass darkly, and, well.

There is a north European proverb, that it would be a wonderful thing to have a giant's strength; but it would be ruinous tyranny to use it as a giant would. The greatest gentle giant I know is Jack Tar, and there are moments when even an Admiral of the Fleet has to hold himself to rigorous inspection as to whether he is living up to that standard.

I could easily have become the sort of retired Admiral so common in oddly-far-inland villages in Middle England, who always seem to tend to caricature and faint ridiculousness, but being who they are are generally indifferent to the peculiarities of their neighbours. And I could have reigned in that capacity, as an essentially quietist if occasionally quirky Viceroy, if the system of India had been willing.

That, alas, was not what I found in the government of India. I was somewhat unready for the extent to which they had already decided I was an interloper and an enemy; having little help and support, I fell back on the experiences of the sea, and took command of India as I would have a very large and slightly disorderly ship of the line.

Assuming that the Viceroy's office possessed powers equivalent to that of a captain on board his ship, which it is obvious to any lawyer or constitutional historian that it did not but I had ceased to care about the opinions of lawyers and constitutional historians by that point, I set out to put the subcontinent and her company into good order.

There are very few things that can wake the giant to wrath, but one of them is tolerance not returned. We will not stand to have advantage taken of our good nature, and it was the opposition of the Indian Civil Service which turned me into far more of a dangerous reformer than I would have chosen to be otherwise, which I believe has been fortunate for India in the long run.'



Part 1- more to follow.


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Thu Jun 29, 2017 6:17 pm 
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Roll on pt 2, very interesting!


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Fri Jun 30, 2017 10:45 am 
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Nice start! Keep it coming.

Belushi TD


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 Post subject: Re: Red Seas- DH, MP?
PostPosted: Sun Aug 27, 2017 2:58 pm 
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Well, it looks as if there will have to be a third and final part after this; a satisfactory conclusion is yet to happen. Still,
- - -


Here, though, is one of the places where one finds oneself against the hard and unforgiving edges of Empire- what constitutes superiority, especially as it applies to one human being over another? What constitutes a better man, and can it be done a'purpose? Whither race?

The Army I inherited the command of were racialists to a man; including the Indians, unless the concept of Class Company Regiments has escaped me. I cannot entirely claim the Navy are free from the same vice, only that our loathings are organised on a healthier basis- it being necessary to band together to survive the hazards of the deep, we will accept anyone who does their fair share of that as one of us;

and, as a consequence, turn our backs on someone who does not- perhaps when one considers just how it is that things go wrong, not readily enough.

One of the reasons the British Empire exists, I think, is that people being made by their histories, Britons found ourselves at home here because the main difference between British and Indian history is that the British bothered to write it down, remember it and consciously learn from it. The underlying shape of what actually happened is remarkably similar, if you begin far enough back.

The pattern of triumph, disaster, bloody compromise, difficulties endured as a civilised man should, to the point where they become insults to revolt against as an honourable man must, betrayals and loyalties- the British and the Indian character, as formed by their pasts, are close enough to resonate. The hazards of the tides and swells of human history have been much the same. That is one of the reasons we came to make ourselves at home here.


In the British mythology of ourselves, how we think we are and occasionally because of that strive to be, we believe in liberty, we are essentially a freedom loving people- we have our leaders, but they are required to ask our consent, and our rights are established by ancient charter that they meddle with at their peril. How can such a people justify the possession of an Empire?

Especially over peoples with whom, I believe, we have more than we consciously understand in common?

The historic accidents that took place are what they are, but the essential is that we are at different stages on the same social, political, civilisational trajectory- the British are further along the same road. That being so, it would be criminally delinquent of us not to make the attempt to show the way.

Of course not all the white race who came out to India were of such a mind, and the scars are real and remembered, and in some respects quite gratifying. A people should be able to be proud of their past and the example of their ancestors, and while it cannot be said that India is one people, I begin to think 'indian' is a word only an outsider can use without wincing-

I would think less highly of a people who did not take offence at being looked down upon and try to throw us out occasionally...although once a century is probably quite enough for that scale of offence.


On the reverse of the medal, we have more than enough not in common to be of great interest. Roads are not necessarily always straight and simple things; the road we are all on is nothing like the Via Appia of Roman times, deep and hard and straight and ultimately scorning the landscape around it, it is much more like the grand old Silk Road with it's branches and alternates and byways and interesting places along the way.

And being a sailor and doing many things differently from the landsmen, 'Roads' for us are merely the beginning and end of a voyage, the outer harbour where one passes from marked and piloted channels to the broad, always present and ever- changing ocean.


The Indian Civil Service was in a state of transition in any case, trying to cope with the aftershocks of war in it's own way, and managing to do so quite badly to my mind; not quite sure whom it served, in the last analysis.

It took against me to a high degree, as much for disturbing it in the midst of it's growing pains- and I was far from certain that they actually were- as for the changes I wished to implement, and they would have kept a more peaceful man under virtual house arrest, honoured and feted but kept far, far away from anything resembling decision making authority.

Left to themselves, if I had been tired enough to be overcome, they would have soft- soaped and rubber- stamped and yes- ministered their way into the dusty graveyard of history- and probably dragged the Empire and all our futures, British and Indian alike, down with them.

Oh, there would have been a great multitude of well- meaning men and anxious hand- wringing and worrying about what was to become, and schemes and proposals and none of them fit for the task and the times.

I am, was, and always have been essentially a quiet man. I have never had, in person, the gift of making others catch fire with zeal from my example. It has always been the system, and I found myself, not for the first time, in opposition to the system and with a rival ideal of how it ought to be- furthermore, the command authority to make it-

not in my own image, any man who would do that would genuinely deserve the title of tyrant, but to my and the Navy's ideals, as shaped by that mythology of ourselves, and that of those who were willing to help.


In the last analysis I- and those whom I could persuade of my ideas, I was not alone in this; there was an ancient greek who spoke of a lever long enough to move the world; in my experience one does not move the world with levers, but with tides of men and their opinions- had them trapped between two fires, between being their lawful superior and the opinions of the populace. Not that it was not a struggle in it's own right.

I was extensively criticised, by men whose judgement I came to trust and whom I led in war, and as their commanding officer helped shape, for being a detail- obsessed, centralising, micro- managing, brushstroke counting, interfering, backseat driving- at any rate, a busybody;

I managed not to admit that at the time, that was one of my tests after Great Fisher Bank; once men so hagridden by their Admiral came to object, demonstrate that they had minds of their own, and to employ their own judgement in self- defence, I began to consider them for independent duties and higher things.

The Royal Navy suffered, in the latter half of the eighteenth century, from a plague of theorists speaking in the language of the formalisms of the day- in a vain but exceedingly precise attempt to escape the formalisms of the day, and remake the winning tactic of the mid seventeenth century, the battle line, into a form which could actually restore and uphold our sovereignty of the seas.

We lost an Admiral and half a continent trying, before Nelson discovered and revealed the secret. I began the Great War as a profound formalist of the new technologies, and God be thanked for the aggression of our enemies that put it all to the test so early in the War and gave us a chance to learn the true syntax and move beyond the rigidities of the new warfare.


Dealing with the Indian Civil Service was to begin the cycle all over again. Religion and it's public expression was the crisis of the moment, and although the events of Amritsar were deeply regrettable, reformation would not have been possible without them.

I would have been letting down the men whom I led in the Great War if I had forgotten how to lay traps, by land as well as by sea; although it is strange to relate the decapitation and reorientation of the Indian Civil Service to the 1913 Atlantic Fleet exercises, it is nonetheless true.

It was a very similar trap, and if a man as honest and upright as Admiral Sir George Callaghan was taken by it, there was no realistic possibility of a gang of conniving schemers failing to tort themselves into a position of being utterly dependent for their careers and reputations on a man whom they had just handed ample reason to dismiss with prejudice.

Which was the key, in fact. You would think that a sequence of pillars of the Establishment would have noticed the difference between the opinions expressed in spoken words and in written words, and done rather more thinking about which was the truth I intended to act on. You would think they would have remembered there were three Frenchmen in Victory's crew at Trafalgar.


As Viceroy, I have perhaps taken rather too much advice from one of our great enemies of ages past- Napoleon; who was a man very largely indifferent to religion, except when the human facts of it rose up to confront him- that there were people who would not stand to have their faith insulted, and whatever lack of respect he may have for the divine, he could not afford to be indifferent to the men who believed.

I rather offended the White Indian establishment by admitting this, albeit it has been the de facto policy for three quarters of a century now and the official version a polite fiction. I also cannot help but think that a man's religion, if sincerely held, makes a great deal of difference to how good a man he is likely to be; but there is great danger to be found for the government in encouraging men to differ violently from their neighbours.

The rule I have tried to follow, and convince the Raj to enforce, is that of being without fear or favour; to render unto Caesar- Christian idea though that be- to deal with men, and let men heed the divine as they may, and deal with what their faith suggests to them as the acts of man. Let communities do as they please, and trust the Raj to keep the peace between them.


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