The 12th Article of War, And Wanting It That Bit More

Nedz Newt

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Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the controversial execution of Admiral John Byng, for breaching the Royal Navy's 12th article of war (above). He was deemed to have given less than the full 110% (called "utmost" in those days) in engaging the French in a bid to relieve a British garrison on Minorca.
It was this execution to which Voltaire referred in Candide, the famous line being pour encouragér les autres.

Leaving aside the controversy around the court-martial and sentence and implementation - the penalty automatically followed the determination of failure to do his utmost, the court-martial hands were tied there, though that penalty had only been inserted a few years earlier, previously the court-martial had discretion to impose a penalty it deemed fit (and this was reinstated subsequently) - did the execution of Byng in fact light a fire under British Admirals, Commanders and Captains that just wasn't quite matched by their enemy counterparts?

The Brits went on quite a winning run for a good while after that, was this anything to do with what N.A.M Rodger called (in The Command of the Ocean - A Naval History of Britain) "a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy. More and more in the course of the century, and for long afterwards, British officers encountered opponents who expected to be attacked, and more than half expected to be beaten, so that [the latter] went into action with an invisible disadvantage which no amount of personal courage or numerical strength could entirely make up for."

Or was that just a load of Britfluff, did the Brits just choose their battles at sea better; and was Byng just unlucky to be caught in a nexus of public opinion, political intrigue and the temporary unfortunate wording of the relevant article of war?

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Byng

https://wordhistories.net/2016/10/22/pour-encourager-les-autres/
 


wombat

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Anyone care?:lol:
 

Telstar 62

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The fact that Brittania ruled the waves for many centuries clearly gets
on Nedz tits!!!:lol:
 

GDPR

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The British Navy was more successful than the French and Spanish one in the c18 (and later), not because sailors thought they would be executed if they didnt do their best, but because they just were better.

Officers couldnt purchase a commission, they had to pass stiff exams of seamanship after demonstrating skill as an ordinary rating, 80 percent were middle-class, the aristos dropped out. That meant they handled their ships better, treated the seamen better, provided higher morale etc.

The French couldnt attempt some of the manoevres the British handled easily, like repeatedly raking another ship. At close quarters the British were nigh on unbeatable, although having fewer ships and men. They were also better at keeping their ships out of danger.

Professional service. Thats all there was to it.
 

Mick Mac

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Wasn't he himself the author of that regulation?

I recall also they gave him the courtesy of holding the handkerchief which would signal when the firing squad was to do it's bit
 

Mick Mac

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former wesleyan

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And the British built ships from Malabar teak which made them lighter and more manouverable, although the deaths and injuries from splinters was much higher.
 

Catalpast

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The British Navy was more successful than the French and Spanish one in the c18 (and later), not because sailors thought they would be executed if they didnt do their best, but because they just were better.

Officers couldnt purchase a commission, they had to pass stiff exams of seamanship after demonstrating skill as an ordinary rating, 80 percent were middle-class, the aristos dropped out. That meant they handled their ships better, treated the seamen better, provided higher morale etc.

The French couldnt attempt some of the manoevres the British handled easily, like repeatedly raking another ship. At close quarters the British were nigh on unbeatable, although having fewer ships and men. They were also better at keeping their ships out of danger.

Professional service. Thats all there was to it.
All true

- but Britain also allocated more of her resources into her Navy than her Armies

But please note a lot is lopsided History

See for instance the huge British defeat at Cartegena:

Vernon, however, was determined. He assembled one of the largest Armadas in history, dwarfing the size of the famous Spanish Armada which had sought to invade Elizabethan England a century and a half earlier. Over 180 ships, 2,620 artillery pieces, and 27,000 men were prepared to assault the fortified city
The War of Jenkins' Ear - And The Defeat Of A Huge British Armada

But who has ever heard of it?
 

Catalpast

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back to the OP

In France the fate of the hapless Admiral Byng is well overshadowed by the fate of the equally hapless Thomas Arthur Lally, Comte de Lally, a descendant of the Wild Geese...


9 May, 1766 - Thomas Arthur Lally, Comte de Lally was executed for losing Pondicherry in India to the English. The General was convicted of ‘treason’ as a result. He was decapitated by sword before a huge crowd at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville in Paris on this day.

He was born at Romans-sur-Isère, Dauphiné, the son of Sir Gerald Lally, an Irish Jacobite from Tuam, County Galway, who married a French lady of noble family, from whom the son inherited his titles.

Entering the French army in 1721 he served in the war of 1734 against Austria; he was present at Dettingen (1743), and commanded the regiment de Lally in the famous Irish brigade at Fontenoy (May 1745). He was made a brigadier on the field by Louis XV.

He had previously served the Jacobite cause, and in 1745 accompanied Prince Charles Edward to Scotland, serving as aide-de-camp at the battle of Falkirk (January 1746). Escaping to France, he served with Marshal Saxe in the Low Countries, and at the capture of Maastricht (1748) was made a maréchal de camp.

When war broke out with Britain in 1756 Lally was given the command of a French expedition to India. He reached Pondicherry in April 1758, and at the outset met with some measure of military success.

He was a man of courage and a capable general, but the desperate situation he found himself in -short of troops, money and supplies, and been put in charge of what was rally a pretty hopeless task made him take severe measures to raise cash from both natives and Frenchmen alike. He tried to enforce rigid discipline on those who were slow at obeying. His relations with the Admiral of the east Indian French Fleet were disastrous and he he felt abandoned when the fleet departed for Mauritius.

In consequence everything went wrong with him. He was unsuccessful in an attack on Tanjore, and had to retire from the Siege of Madras (1758) owing to the timely arrival of the British fleet. He was defeated by Sir Eyre Coote at the Battle of Wandiwash (1760), then besieged in Pondicherry. On January 16 1761, Lally was forced to capitulate at Pondicherry where he had been besieged for months. The fortress was razed and Lally was sent to Great Britain as a prisoner of war.

On arrival in London in September 1761 he heard that he was accused in France of treason, and insisted, against advice, on returning on parole to stand his trial. He was kept prisoner for nearly two years before the trial began; then, after many painful delays, he was sentenced to death on May 6, 1766, and three days later beheaded. Louis XV tried to throw the responsibility for what was undoubtedly a judicial murder on his ministers and the public, but his policy needed a scapegoat, and he was probably well content not to exercise his authority to save an almost friendless foreigner.

The son of an Irish Jacobite exile The Count de Lally was 64 years old when he was beheaded and had been a loyal servant of the Ancien Regime throughout his lifetime. This execution was one of the worst inequities of the government of Louis XV. Lally was eventually pardoned and his Name restored to the honourable position it had held before these unfortunate events unfolded. His judical murder is one of the most infamous cases in French legal History.
 

Lumpy Talbot

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Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the controversial execution of Admiral John Byng, for breaching the Royal Navy's 12th article of war (above). He was deemed to have given less than the full 110% (called "utmost" in those days) in engaging the French in a bid to relieve a British garrison on Minorca.
It was this execution to which Voltaire referred in Candide, the famous line being pour encouragér les autres.

Leaving aside the controversy around the court-martial and sentence and implementation - the penalty automatically followed the determination of failure to do his utmost, the court-martial hands were tied there, though that penalty had only been inserted a few years earlier, previously the court-martial had discretion to impose a penalty it deemed fit (and this was reinstated subsequently) - did the execution of Byng in fact light a fire under British Admirals, Commanders and Captains that just wasn't quite matched by their enemy counterparts?

The Brits went on quite a winning run for a good while after that, was this anything to do with what N.A.M Rodger called (in The Command of the Ocean - A Naval History of Britain) "a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy. More and more in the course of the century, and for long afterwards, British officers encountered opponents who expected to be attacked, and more than half expected to be beaten, so that [the latter] went into action with an invisible disadvantage which no amount of personal courage or numerical strength could entirely make up for."

Or was that just a load of Britfluff, did the Brits just choose their battles at sea better; and was Byng just unlucky to be caught in a nexus of public opinion, political intrigue and the temporary unfortunate wording of the relevant article of war?

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Byng

https://wordhistories.net/2016/10/22/pour-encourager-les-autres/
Not sure that the execution of Byng would necessarily have had much to do with an ensuing string of naval victories. Although at times the Royal Navy did peculiar things such as turning over many of the ageing vessels to sheer-hulks in the temporary peace lulls with France and then had to scrabble around to re-commission anything possible when the uneasy peace broke inevitably broke down, the Royal Navy tended to have ships at sea when the French were bottled up and slowly rotting in both terms of wear on the wooden ships and eventually emerging with crews untested outside of Toulon roads, Brest and so on.

The French had enterprising and daring captains and so had the British but I suspect that given the relative geographies of the two nations, British bases as Gibraltar, Mahon, Madeira taken from the receding Portuguese emperor that they just had their chess pieces in more favourable positions on the board along with the ability as an island nation to constantly have fleets at sea, even if it was just on blockade duty.

Use makes master, as they say. Although the heinous habit of de-comissioning and stuttering re-armamament in the face of the German Imperial Navy's dreadnought building in the later age of iron very nearly did for them in the early days of WWI where the royal navy were fortunate on occasions.
 

Bleu Poppy

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I note that one of the two Irish connections to Admiral Byng's fate has been mentioned.

The other is Lt. Gen. Sir William Blakeney, a long time M.P. for Kilmallock (the townland of Mountblakeny outside the town owes its origins to the family name), was the lieutenant-governor of Menorca who was being besieged in Fort St. Philip along with some 5,000 men. It was to this force that Byng was dispatched to relieve. Blakeney had had a long military service, advancement being thwarted owing to petty rivalries, and was quite late in life before he obtained senior command, despite sterling service in the field.

He happened to be stationed in Scotland, and successfully defended Stirling Castle against Bonny Prince Charlie's Highlanders during the '45'. He was 73. Two years later he got the posting to Menorca and had served there for ten years when the Seven Years war broke-out, with the French targeting Menorca very early on.

With the failure of Byng's mission there was no option but surrender- the Fort St. Philip siege had lasted 71 days. The defenders' gallantry was recognised by Cardinal Richlieu, and Blakeney (aged 85) and his forces were allowed march out with full military honours, the officers retaining their swords and the men their arms. The French transported them to Gibraltar.

Voltaire referenced Byng's death in Candide (published three years later in 1759), explaining his fate to his readers as 'Dans ce pays-ci il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres'- "In this country [England] from time to time it is necessary to shoot an admiral, to encourage the others".

Ironically, Compte De Lally's pardon came down, in part, to the campaigning undertaken by Voltaire. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Arthur,_comte_de_Lally#Voltaire's_efforts_at_rehabilitation

Another Irish connection with the events of possibly the actual first global war include a bloke by the name of Eyre Coote, also from Kilmallock, who masterminded the tactics and strategies for many of the encounters on the sub-continent that won India for Britain (not that pen-pusher Robert Clive). Another Limerick family named the grounds of their estate on the outskirts of Limerick 'Plassey' so that their friend (the pen-pusher Clive) could take that name when he was ennobled for his efforts in India. The estate is the core, today, of the campus of the University of Limerick.

Blakeney too was ennobled, becoming the first, and last, Baron Blakeney. He died unmarried and childless, at the ripe old age of 90 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.
 
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Lumpy Talbot

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You know how it is with history. All sorts of grandeur can be associated later with what at the time was sheer good fortune and equally all sorts of opprobrium can be heaped on the poor johnny-on-the-spot by people who weren't there from their offices in Whitehall and who are in sore need of a useful scapegoat.

Look at the two views of Captain Bligh. On the one hand the cruel martinet who lost his ship to mutiny and the other view being the old sea-dog who took an open boat of men cast adrift with him and his few loyal men left and survived an astonishing trip of some thousands of miles to preserve all their lives. History is ambivalent about him.
 

Bleu Poppy

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You know how it is with history. All sorts of grandeur can be associated later with what at the time was sheer good fortune and equally all sorts of opprobrium can be heaped on the poor johnny-on-the-spot by people who weren't there from their offices in Whitehall and who are in sore need of a useful scapegoat.

Look at the two views of Captain Bligh. On the one hand the cruel martinet who lost his ship to mutiny and the other view being the old sea-dog who took an open boat of men cast adrift with him and his few loyal men left and survived an astonishing trip of some thousands of miles to preserve all their lives. History is ambivalent about him.
The Bull Wall, Dublin, was built on Bligh's recommendation.
 

Mitsui2

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Or an even more humiliating British Defeat

- that hardly anyone has ever heard of....


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raid_on_the_Medway
Hardly anyone in Britain, you mean! :D

For fairly obvious reasons the Medway Raid is a pretty celebrated event in the Netherlands. Apart from the seamanship and bravery involved, the sheer cheek of it made it one of the most effective (and cost-effective - there were remarkably few Dutch casualties) propaganda coups of the age.

The coat of arms from the Royal Charles - the British navy flagship that the Dutch raiders basically thieved and brought home in the raid - is on proud display in the restored Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam to this day.



I must admit that the story of the raid, and the fact that it's so little known in the UK, always rather tickled my sense of humour. I've spoken with Brits who'd visited the Rijksmuseum and been astonished to learn about it, having never heard of it back home. I wonder why? :)

Though in fairness, and to give the Brits their due, they did have a series of events last year to mark the 350th anniversary.
 
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Eire1976

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The British Navy was more successful than the French and Spanish one in the c18 (and later), not because sailors thought they would be executed if they didnt do their best, but because they just were better.

Officers couldnt purchase a commission, they had to pass stiff exams of seamanship after demonstrating skill as an ordinary rating, 80 percent were middle-class, the aristos dropped out. That meant they handled their ships better, treated the seamen better, provided higher morale etc.

The French couldnt attempt some of the manoevres the British handled easily, like repeatedly raking another ship. At close quarters the British were nigh on unbeatable, although having fewer ships and men. They were also better at keeping their ships out of danger.

Professional service. Thats all there was to it.
I'm impressed with your knowledge of Seamen
 

GDPR

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I'm impressed with your knowledge of Seamen
I hope you are not making a Captain Pugwash joke. My ancestors were sailors, so I have an interest, particularly in the c18. Odd for a girl, I know. The "Master and Commander" series of novels by Patrick O'Brian gets it very accurate, for the most part. Plenty of Irish heroes on the waves too in the books - as there were in real life. :)
 

owedtojoy

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Every person in the fleet, who through cowardice, negligence, or disaffection, shall in time of action withdraw or keep back, or not come into the fight or engagement, or shall not do his utmost to take or destroy every ship which it shall be his duty to engage, and to assist and relieve all and every of His Majesty's ships, or those of his allies, which it shall be his duty to assist and relieve, every such person so offending, and being convicted thereof by the sentence of a court martial, shall suffer death.

Yesterday was the anniversary of the controversial execution of Admiral John Byng, for breaching the Royal Navy's 12th article of war (above). He was deemed to have given less than the full 110% (called "utmost" in those days) in engaging the French in a bid to relieve a British garrison on Minorca.
It was this execution to which Voltaire referred in Candide, the famous line being pour encouragér les autres.

Leaving aside the controversy around the court-martial and sentence and implementation - the penalty automatically followed the determination of failure to do his utmost, the court-martial hands were tied there, though that penalty had only been inserted a few years earlier, previously the court-martial had discretion to impose a penalty it deemed fit (and this was reinstated subsequently) - did the execution of Byng in fact light a fire under British Admirals, Commanders and Captains that just wasn't quite matched by their enemy counterparts?

The Brits went on quite a winning run for a good while after that, was this anything to do with what N.A.M Rodger called (in The Command of the Ocean - A Naval History of Britain) "a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy. More and more in the course of the century, and for long afterwards, British officers encountered opponents who expected to be attacked, and more than half expected to be beaten, so that [the latter] went into action with an invisible disadvantage which no amount of personal courage or numerical strength could entirely make up for."

Or was that just a load of Britfluff, did the Brits just choose their battles at sea better; and was Byng just unlucky to be caught in a nexus of public opinion, political intrigue and the temporary unfortunate wording of the relevant article of war?

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Byng

https://wordhistories.net/2016/10/22/pour-encourager-les-autres/
I have read Rodger & it was an impressive read.

The Royal Navy was one of the most feared and most successful military organisations the world has ever seen, and dominated the world's oceans for two-hundred years, maybe even 250 years. You have to look to the Roman legions or the Mongol cavalry to find an organisation to equal its record.

Rodgers hows that some of the manufacturing methods used in the RN's dockyards foreshadowed the Industrial Revolution. As Eagle points out above, a Navy has to be meritocratic and even democratic - it cannot afford to make senior officers of the dimwit sons of the aristocracy. The social differences were not of class but of commission. Picture Captain Bligh dining alone all the way to the South Seas because he was the only commissioned officer on the Bounty.

Byng just did not press home his attack in the expected style, but it was a judicial execution. Jellicoe was similarly criticised for being too cautious at Jutland, but there was a hell of a lot more at stake.
 

owedtojoy

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I hope you are not making a Captain Pugwash joke. My ancestors were sailors, so I have an interest, particularly in the c18. Odd for a girl, I know. The "Master and Commander" series of novels by Patrick O'Brian gets it very accurate, for the most part. Plenty of Irish heroes on the waves too in the books - as there were in real life. :)
When I was a kid I read a book called The Golden Ocean about two Irish boys sailing around the world with George Anson on HMS Centurion a real expedition to capture Spain's Manila Galleon in the 1740s. Years later I rediscovered it and found it was written by the famous Patrick O'Brien. A boy's book but the archtypical "rattling good yarn".

The Hornblower books of CS Forester was also excellent on the Napoleonic Royal Navy.
 

McTell

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//

Another Limerick family named the grounds of their estate on the outskirts of Limerick 'Plassey' so that their friend (the pen-pusher Clive) could take that name when he was ennobled for his efforts in India. The estate is the core, today, of the campus of the University of Limerick.//.

At one stage there was some head-scratching as to the original gaelic pre-colonial version of Plassey petunia
 


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