Wilfrid Richmond.

The Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 online

. (page 47 of 185)
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OBEAT BRITAIN — THE BRITISH NAVY



on the part of these craft as well as the dan-
gerous floating mines must be provided for.
Taken in conjunction with the dispersion of the
British force and the disquieting tables given
above, the success of Great Britain in face of
a combination is by no means as certain as ought
to be the case in view of her military policy.
That policy in 1901 provided 435,000 men to de-
fend the country against invasion. In 1905 it
was altered to a force to defend against a
smaller invasion of 70,000 men. In 1906 the
Army was organized for service abroad, its pas-
sage to be safeguarded by the Navy, while the
Navy was to defend the country against every-
thing but minor raids of a few thousands of men.
In other words, the Government while cutting
down the relative naval strength, demands from
the Navy the absolute certainty of successful de-
fence in war.

Personnel. — In 1903, with some subsequent
modifications, a system of providing officer*
was introduced by which there was estab-
lished a common system of entry and training
for the three great branches of executive offi-
cers, marines and engineers commencing at 13
years of age. Specialization for the different
branches of engineering, marines, gunnery,
navigation and torpedo was to commence at
about the age of 22 to 23. It is still in some
doubt whether the separation of the three great
branches will then be permanent or temporary.
At one time in 1905 it was decided that com-
plete amalgamation should take place as is
the case in the American Navy in regard to the
line and engineer officers, but the new Board
of Admiralty, with the change of government
in 1906, claimed a free hand to defer any deci-
sion. Complete amalgamation was urged by
the old Board on the ground that otherwise no
volunteers would be forthcoming for the engineer
branch, as none of the young officers would fore-
go the chance of commanding fleets and ships.
The original scheme of common entry and train-
ing was held to be justified in practice by the
belief that it had succeeded in America, but
serious doubts were thrown on this by later in-
formation and by the reports of Admirals Mel-
ville and Rae, who succeeded each other as head
of the American naval engineering department
Historically it was held that the military officer
had always combined his work with that of
handling the motive power. This is too sweeping
a statement, for the sailing period in history was
relatively brief, and in a previous period, when
the motive power as to-day was internal to the
ship instead of external, the oarsmen were
separated from the military element. There
were the strongest reasons in the period of
sailing ships for combining the two functions.
The whole art of fighting consisted in bringing
guns to bear with the greatest effect, and this
entirely depended on watching the sails, taking
advantage of shifts of wind, while the men at
the guns, who were necessarily under the con-
trol of the combatant officer, had also to be
used to work the sails. To disable the motive
power of an enemy was equivalent to crippling
his gun power. Things are absolutely re-
versed to-day. The motive power is purely
mechanical, is completely protected below the
armored deck, and is out of sight of the sea-
man. The latter cannot follow his calling as a
Vol. 10 — 12



combatant and be in the engine-room at the
same time. In addition it was contended that
to allow the ordinary officer to take charge
of marines would result in the ultimate ex-
tinction of the marine whose cost was one-third
of that of a seaman, whose discipline was much
more reliable, and who, as the annual prize
firing returns proved, was the better man at
the gun. These in brief were some of the
arguments presented by men of such standing
and influence that there did not se.em to be
any likelihood of permanence about the new
system of providing officers.

As regards the men, for 50 years they had
been entered under a long service system of 12
years, The system has lately been tempered
by entering a certain number for shorter pe-
riods with subsequent service in the Royal
Fleet Reserve, and the latter is also re-
cruited from pensioners who had served their
full time in the navy. In 1906 this force num-
bered 19,500 men. The old pensioner reserve
which is to be allowed to die out numbered
nearly 6/XX) in 1906. In addition there is formed
out of the merchant service and fishermen the
Royal Naval Reserve of about 28,000 men. Al-
lowing for the Royal Naval Volunteers 3,800 men,
and Colonial Reserves in Newfoundland and
Australia 1,400 men, we obtain a total of 58,528
in reserve and 129,000 serving in the navy. The
tendency is, however, to discourage the Royal
Naval Reserve on the ground that it would
deplete the merchant service of British seamen
during war and that with the large permanent
force and Royal Fleet Reserve the country has
ample men. It is held that the waste of war is
rather one of material than men, and that the
result is that if the supply of men in proportion
to ships is adequate at the beginning of war it is
in excess of requirements after a short period
of hostilities, the conclusion beinjr. the reverse of
that universally acknowledged in the case of
land war. Certainly in 1906, following on a
policy of rooting out all obsolete vessels the
permanent force of 129,000 men was capable of
manning all the ships with but slight reinforce-
ment from the reserves. This marks a notable
change from the beginning of the 18th century
when the manning difficulty was Great Britain's
chief concern, so much so as to lead her into a
war with the United States rather than sacrifice
her system of impressing those who were be-
lieved to be British seamen wherever found.
At that time enough officers and men were em-
ployed on the impress service alone to have
formed the crews of half a dozen line of battle-
ships while vessels remained out of commission
in war for want of men. The habit of looking
to the seafaring profession to man the navy on
the outbreak of war resulted in large fluctua-
tions. Thus in 1762 85,000 men were borne,
whereas in 1773 when England was at peace
less than 22,000 were borne. The next year war
broke out and the number rose in 1781 to over
99,000. In 1792 or a few months before the
French Revolutionary War it was just over
17,000 men and by 1814 it rose to over 126,000.
As a contrast it may be mentioned that at the
present time while the regular fleets are con-
centrated and ready to strike an immediate blow,
many of the remaining ships of fighting value
have a nucleus crew of all their officers and



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GREAT BRITAIN — THE BRITISH ARMY



skilled ratings. To commission such ships for
war is a mere matter of a few hours involved
in marching the seamen, stokers and marines
from the barracks. The skilled ratings being
kept in contact with the ships they have to
serve in, break-downs should be less frequent
if repairs are attended to, whereas formerly
these delays were a feature with newly com-
missioned ships. The progress in training is
equally remarkable, the year 1906 being one of
what are popularly called ^records* in gunnery
as well as coaling. It is interesting to note
that in this respect there is a friendly rivalry
between the British and American navies, the
record for the former with the six-inch gun
being 12 rounds in 60 seconds with n hits, and
for the latter the Pennsylvania's achievement of
17 rounds in 90 seconds with 17 hits. The
British record with the 9.2-inch gun is the re-
markable one of 10 hits in 11 rounds fired in
90 seconds.

The Admiralty. — It only remains in the short
space at our disposal to say a few words as to
administration. The Board of Admiralty is
organized on a constitutional basis, giving com-
plete cabinet control. The First Lord of the
Admiralty decides the duties of the different
members. As the board never votes, if there
is a disputed point, the First Lord decides, and
he can lean on the junior Sea Lord as much as
the senior, for constitutionally all are of equal
status. The arrangement has worked so well
that a recent change by which the junior Sea
Lords are ordered to consult and report on
all important questions with the First Sea Lord
has been sharply attacked. This view of Admir-
alty procedure was well described by a former
First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord George Ham-
ilton, in the House of Commons in 1905:

The Board of Admiralty met for general consultative and
advisory purposes, and every Naval Lord was in a position
of perfect equality. He attached great importance to that
equality of status. It had made the Admiralty efficient, and
the want of it had made the War Office inefficient. There
were always in the Navy two schools— the young school and
the old school— and the probability was that the eld school
would be more represented by the Senior Naval Lord. If the
First Lo"d was a sensible man and hud free access to the
Inner minds of the Junior Lords, he very often got hold of
some idea of the new school, which he put forward in his
name and which the Senior Naval Lord accepted, though he
might not have been inclined to do so had it originated en-
tirely with the new school.

The drawback is that Parliament has no cog-
nizance of the views of the experts as Congress
has through the admirable reports of the chiefs
of the various naval departments. A commis-
sion under the present Duke of Devonshire 16
years ago urged that the American practice
should be followed, but nothing has been done.
As Parliament has no expert guidance and the
navy estimates can be readjusted between the
Treasury and the Admiralty after they have
been voted, while no particulars are given of
the construction programme, which does not
even indicate whether the ships are to be bat-
tleships or armored cruisers, it is clear that
Parliament has been deprived of all effective
control. The tendency that results is for indi-
vidual members to object to the magnitude of
the naval estimates rather than to discuss the
reasons which have guided the government in
presenting them.

Bibliography. — Of late years there has been
a great improvement in works dealing with the



British Navy. Former histories were mere
chronicles of events. The following works may
be consulted with advantage: Colomb's ( Naval
Warfare > ; Mahan's c The Influence of Sea
Power upon History,* <The Influence of Sea
Power upon French Revolution ) ; White's Can-
tor Lectures at the Society of Arts on < Modern
War Ships>; <The Naval Annual> (1886 to the
present day) ; < Journals of the Royal United
Service Institution } ; transactions of the Insti-
tutions and Admiralty Instructions* (1906) ;
<The Navy Records Society* ; Clowes', <The
Royal Navy> (5 vols.); White's <Naval Archi-
tecture > ; The Royal Navy List (quarterly).

Official Publications. — ( The King's Regula-
tions and Admiralty Instructions > (1906) ; ( The
Navy Estimates > (annual) ; Statement of the
First Lord of the Admiralty explanatory of the
Navy Estimates > (annual 1887 to the present
day) ; ( Report of a Treasury Committee on the
Relative State of the Navies of England and
France, 1852-58, > No. 182 of 1859; Return No.
168 of i860, statistics of ships, men and money
voted for each year from 1736 to 1859; Returns
dealing with relative naval strength No. 218 of
1888, No. 90 of 1889, No. 465 of 1893, and Return
of Fleets (Great Britain and Foreign Countries)
for 1897 and subsequent years; the Statistical
Reports of the Health of the Navy (annual) ;
Cd. (2416) of 1905 showing distribution of work
among the Lords of the Admiralty; annual re-
turns are also published as to court-martial and
summary punishments, the gunlayers' competi-
tions, and Hydrographer's report as to Admir-
alty surveys. Carlyon Bellairs,
Lieutenant Royal Navy, M. P.

38. Great Britain — The British Army.
The Regular Army. — The British Army is in
many respects like the British Constitution. It
has grown, it has not been made. No single
idea has dominated its history, no directing
mind has prescribed its form or denned its
functions. But while the forces, which formed
and moulded the British Constitution, and
made it from time to time the reflex of the pre-
vailing opinion of the British people, have exer-
cised a constant pressure — a pressure which has
never been relaxed — the forces which have pro-
duced the British Army of to-day have been
intermittent and irregular. The history of the
British Army is a long record of the vicissi-
tudes of public favor and public neglect. To
a nation in whose long history the gates of the
Temple of Janus have rarely been closed for a
decade, each new war has come as a surprise.
Every war, whether it has ended in victory or
defeat, has furnished the British people with
lessons which they have vowed to learn and
never to forget, and which they have invari-
ably forgotten before the ink has dried on the
peace preliminaries. Every war has brought
with it good resolutions born of anxiety and
alarm, and every peace has produced the apathy,
the neglect and the self-confidence which are
the outcome of real or fancied security.

It would be unjust, and untrue to historical
teaching, to infer from these facts that the
British arc an unwarlike, or, in all their pub-
lic concerns, an improvident people. The popu-
lation of the United Kingdom is composed of
warlike races, and in regard to the conduct of
public affairs it cannot be said that England



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GREAT BRITAIN — THE BRITISH ARMY



has been behind the rest of the world. But
it is possible to be a warlike without being a
military nation, and there can be no doubt that
the scientific evolution of a consistent military
policy in the United Kingdom has not kept
pace with other branches of national develop-
ment.

The reason is not far to seek. An insular
position and the immense protection afforded
by a powerful navy have relieved the inhabit-
ants of the British Islands from the dangers
which ever threaten the great nations of Con-
tinental Europe whose long land frontiers ex-
pose them to attack by an ambitious and un-
friendly neighbor. For nearly 300 years the
people of England have been spared the knowl-
edge of what war on their own soil actually
means. While from Brest to Moscow, from
Bergen to Gibraltar, every part of Europe has
rung to the tramp of hostile soldiery, and has
been the suffering witness of the tragedy of
war, the dwellers in English counties carry
back their immemorial tradition of undisturbed
peace to the day when Oliver Cromwell won
the last great battle fought on English soil on
the field of Worcester.

Once, and once only since the creation of
modern firearms did the people of England come
in contact with the realities of war. In 1645
Parliament in conflict with the king found it-
self confronted by the necessity of fighting, or
surrendering to an implacable enemy. Follow-
ing the custom of the country, the House of
Commons sought at first to meet the emergency
by the aid of amateur soldiers, maintained by
voluntary contributions. But the logic of facts
soon convinced them that war cannot be trifled
with. The a New Model 3 * Army was called into
existence by Act of Parliament, funds were
provided by vote of the House of Commons,
compulsory service was imposed when volun-
teering failed to produce the required number
of men ; and the recalcitrant were hanged.
A Regular Army was called into existence, and
that Regular Army almost immediately became
a "Standing Army.* It is from the days of
the "New Model" that the history of the Stand-
ing Army of England really dates. War on
English soil taught its lessons to a practical
people. To the Commonwealth England owes,
not only the establishment of her Standing
Army, but the actual groundwork of the mili-
tary institutions of the present day. One of
the most famous regiments of 'the British Army,
the Coldstream Guards, came into existence
at this time; and the very establishment of
the modern British Cavalry and Infantry regi-
ment is practically what it was made by Oliver
Cromwell and the soldiers of his day.

In 165 1 the Civil War ended. In 1658
Oliver Cromwell died, and a military Coup
d'etat placed Charles II. on the throne. Never
since that day has a British Parliament legis-
lated for the army with a knowledge of war
borne of experience. A generation grew up
which had forgotten the lessons of Marston
Moor and Worcester. The reaction was
prompt, and its effects far reaching. The army
soon came to be regarded as an evil, scarcely
a necessary evil. The soldier soon learnt that
the utmost he could expect was toleration. The
accession of a foreign king surrounded by



Dutch guards increased that antipathy to the
army, which for the next two centuries marked
the proceedings of Parliament. In 1689 was
passed the first Mutiny Act. The primary ob-
ject of the Act was to confer upon the sovereign
the right to punish certain military offences not
dealt with by the ordinary law ; but the Act
contained a section of a totally different pur-
port The words which have become famous
run as follows : *The raising or keeping of a
Standing Army within the United Kingdom of
Great Britain and Ireland in time of peace, un-
less it be with the consent of Parliament, is
against law.®

The law as passed in the time of King
William III. is to this day solemnly re-enacted
every year by Parliament, and the illegality of
maintaining a Standing Army is palliated by a
special Act of Dispensation for one year only.
This annual performance has become a mean-
ingless anachronism. The necessity for main-
taining a Standing Army in time of peace is
110 longer questioned or questionable, and the
army itself has long ceased to be the instru-
ment of a sovereign, and has become the ser-
vant of the nation. But the original passage of
the Act and its renewal by many succeeding
Parliaments is typical of the tone and temper
of the Legislature toward an institution which
is as essential to the safety and welfare of the
State as Parliament itself.

The result of this want of sympathy between
Parliament and the army is very noticeable.
The favor of the Legislature, and the funds
which that favor can alone provide, have been
available during periods of crisis and national
danger: They have been grudgingly given or
withheld in those intervals of peace which
ought also to be intervals of preparation. As
a result there has been an absence of continu-
ity, and of deliberate adaptation of means to
ends, which has greatly interfered with the
proper development of the military power of
Great Britain, and have provided her with mili-
tary institutions which bear upon them the un-
mistakable evidence of their having been cre-
ated at haphazard, altered to meet political
rather than military exigencies, and adapted
to meet a single emergency rather than to deal
scientifically with the work of a world-wid«
empire. .

Under these circumstances the services
which the Regular Army of Britain has ren-
dered are indeed a marvel. In every land and
under every sky, against the highly trained
armies of Europe, against the half disciplined
hosts of Oriental princes, against savage tribes,
formidable by reason of their fanaticism, cour-
age and numbers, the Regular Army of Britain
has fought with varying fortunes but with never
failing tenacity and devotion. There is no soil
which does not cover the grave of the British
soldier. In the broad valley of the Danube, on
the plains of Belgium, on the shores of the
Black Sea, in the passes of Spain, among the
vineyards of France they are to be found. The
^Redcoats* have fought and died on the plains
of India, under the walls of the imperial cities
of China ; on the heights of the Saint Law-
rence; in the valley of the Hudson; under the
ramparts of New Orleans ; in South American
cities; before the stockades of the Maori in



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GREAT BRITAIN — THE BRITISH ARMY



New Zealand and in innumerable islands in
every sea. On the great African Continent,
North and South, East and West, from the
Pyramids to Table Mountain; from the blazing
shores of the Red Sea, to tie swamps of the
Gold Coast and the Niger, they have obeyed
orders, and laid down their lives for *the safety,
honor and welfare of their Sovereign and his
Dominions. * But they have not died in vain.
If it be true that the tap of the British drum
follows the rising sun round the world, it is
true also that the planting of the British flag
in five continents js largely due to the patient
heroism of the British soldier. Karely com-
manded by generals of exceptional genius; al-
most invariably suffering from the apathy and
neglect of Parliament in peace time, and from
the faulty administration in war which is the
certain result of neglect in time of peace; the
British soldier by dint of certain great qualities
which he possesses has held his own. To the
Regimental Officers and to the Non-Commis-
sioned Officers credit is above all due. They
have been, and still are, the true strength o$
the British Army.

What is the nature of this Army which has
suffered and accomplished so much? In its
character and composition it is as unique as the
circumstances which have created it. There may
be better armies than the British, there are un-
doubtedly worse armies, but there is no army
like it. It shares with the Army of the United
States the peculiarity of being recruited by vol-
untary enlistment and not by compulsion in any
form. It has a further peculiarity which, until
recent foreign conquests planted the Stars and
Stripes in the China Seas, distinguished it even
from the Army of the United States. Nearly
half of the Regular Army of Britain is main-
tained on a war footing in time of peace, is
maintained in distant lands, and to a large ex-
tent in tropical or sub-tropical countries. The
population of India is 300,000,000 and the mili-
tary force which defends the great Peninsula
and keeps the peace from Quetta to Cape Cam-
orin does not exceed 231,000 all told. Of these
78,000 are British soldiers enlisted within the
United Kingdom; the remainder are the troops
of the Indian Army, 152,825 natives commanded
by British Officers. There are also 14,91? *Im-
perial Service* troops raised by Native States
and held at the disposal of the government ; 2a-
731 Reserves of the Native Army, and 31,906
white volunteers. South Africa, the Mediter-
ranean fortresses of Gibraltar and Malta, the
distant Eastern Ports of Singapore and Hong
Kong, make further demands upon the Regular
Army. In 1010-11 there were 121,009 British
troops serving abroad. It is the necessity for
maintaining this great force abroad that makes
the British Army essentially a voluntary Army.
Conscription for service abroad in time of peace
is impossible. The young soldier cannot endure
the climate of India, and a youth enlisted at
eighteen, must perforce remain for two years at
home before he becomes physically qualified for
foreign service. This fact not only makes it
necessary that the service should be voluntary,
but that it should be long and that it should
greatly exceed the limit of two years which is
the term now accepted in the principal conscript
armies of the world.

For this voluntary Army there are enlisted
on an average 38,000 men a year. The total is
sometimes exceeded; there is rarely any diffi-



culty in reaching it. There is no reason why
there should be a difficulty. The old prejudice
against military service due to the savage con-
ditions of the soldier's life, his scanty pay, his
squalid surroundings, lived long and died hard ;
indeed it is not altogether dead yet. But the
life, pay, and prospects of the British soldier
at the present day are such as may reasonably
attract young men of spirit and ambition. The
pay itself, though not excessive, is good. An
Infantry private of 20 years of age serving at
home receives on an average, week in and week
out throughout the year, n/7d. ($2.50) in cash
after every deduction has been made for •stop-
pages* compulsory and voluntary. When the
soldier receives his pay every need has already
been provided for. He has been clothed, fed,
housed, doctored, and educated ; his general
health has been looked after, his amusements
furnished. If he chooses to remain in the Ser-
vice his pay increases with every step in rank;



Online LibraryWilfrid RichmondThe Americana: a universal reference library, comprising the arts ..., Volume 10 → online text (page 47 of 185)