Produced by Al Haines
THE SEA IS HIS
_Thy way is in the sea, and
Thy path in the great waters,
and Thy footsteps are not known.
- Psalm LXXVII. v. 19._
The Sea is His: He made it,
Black gulf and sunlit shoal
From barriered bight to where the long
Leagues of Atlantic roll:
Small strait and ceaseless ocean
He bade each one to be:
The Sea is His: He made it -
And England keeps it free.
By pain and stress and striving
Beyond the nations' ken,
By vigils stern when others slept,
By lives of many men;
Through nights of storm, through dawnings
Blacker than midnights be -
This sea that God created,
England has kept it free.
Count me the splendid captains
Who sailed with courage high
To chart the perilous ways unknown -
Tell me where these men lie!
To light a path for ships to come
They moored at Dead Man's quay;
The Sea is God's - He made it,
And these men made it free.
Oh little land of England,
Oh mother of hearts too brave,
Men say this trust shall pass from thee
Who guardest Nelson's grave.
Aye, but these braggarts yet shall learn
Who'd hold the world in fee,
The Sea is God's - and England,
England shall keep it free.
- R. E. VERN√ИDE.
[Frontispiece: VIKING MAN-OF-WAR.]
FLAG AND FLEET
HOW THE BRITISH NAVY WON THE
FREEDOM OF THE SEAS
Lieutenant-Colonel, Canadian Militia; Member of the Canadian Special
Mission Overseas; Editor of "The Logs of the Conquest of Canada";
Author of "All Afloat: A Chronicle of Craft and Waterways";
"Elizabethan Sea Dogs: A Chronicle of Drake and his Companions"; and
"The Fight for Canada: A Naval and Military Sketch."
WITH A PREFACE BY
ADMIRAL-OF-THE-FLEET SIR DAVID BEATTY
G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., Etc., Etc.
TORONTO: THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
OF CANADA, LTD., AT ST. MARTIN'S HOUSE
COPYRIGHT, CANADA, 1919, BY
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY OF CANADA, LIMITED
_In token of deep admiration
And in gratitude for many kindnesses during the Great War
I dedicate this little book,
Which, published under the auspices of
The Navy League of Canada
and approved by the Provincial Departments of Education,
Is written for the reading of
Canadian Boys and Girls_
Admiral-of-the-Fleet Sir David Beatty, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., etc.
In acceding to the request to write a Preface for this volume I am
moved by the paramount need that all the budding citizens of our great
Empire should be thoroughly acquainted with the part the Navy has
played in building up the greatest empire the world has ever seen.
Colonel Wood has endeavored to make plain, in a stirring and attractive
manner, the value of Britain's Sea-Power. To read his _Flag and Fleet_
will ensure that the lessons of centuries of war will be learnt, and
that the most important lesson of them all is this - that, as an empire,
we came into being by the Sea, and that we cannot exist without the Sea.
2nd of June, 1919.
Who wants to be a raw recruit for life, all thumbs and
muddle-mindedness? Well, that is what a boy or girl is bound to be
when he or she grows up without knowing what the Royal Navy of our
Motherland has done to give the British Empire birth, life, and growth,
and all the freedom of the sea.
The Navy is not the whole of British sea-power; for the Merchant
Service is the other half. Nor is the Navy the only fighting force on
which our liberty depends; for we depend upon the United Service of sea
and land and air. Moreover, all our fighting forces, put together,
could not have done their proper share toward building up the Empire,
nor could they defend it now, unless they always had been, and are
still, backed by the People as a whole, by every patriot man and woman,
boy and girl.
But while it takes all sorts to make the world, and very many different
sorts to make and keep our British Empire of the Free, it is quite as
true to say that all our other sorts together could not have made, and
cannot keep, our Empire, unless the Royal Navy had kept, and keeps
today, true watch and ward over all the British highways of the sea.
None of the different parts of the world-wide British Empire are joined
together by the land. All are joined together by the sea. Keep the
seaways open and we live. Close them and we die.
This looks, and really is, so very simple, that you may well wonder why
we have to speak about it here. But man is a land animal. Landsmen
are many, while seamen are few; and though the sea is three times
bigger than the land it is three hundred times less known. History is
full of sea-power, but histories are not; for most historians know
little of sea-power, though British history without British sea-power
is like a watch without a mainspring or a wheel without a hub. No
wonder we cannot understand the living story of our wars, when, as a
rule, we are only told parts of _what_ happened, and neither _how_ they
happened nor _why_ they happened. The _how_ and _why_ are the flesh
and blood, the head and heart of history; so if you cut them off you
kill the living body and leave nothing but dry bones. Now, in our long
war story no single _how_ or _why_ has any real meaning apart from
British sea-power, which itself has no meaning apart from the Royal
Navy. So the choice lies plain before us: either to learn what the
Navy really means, and know the story as a veteran should; or else
leave out, or perhaps mislearn, the Navy's part, and be a raw recruit
for life, all thumbs and muddle-mindedness.
THE ROWING AGE
WHEN SOLDIERS FOUGHT ROWBOAT BATTLES BESIDE THE SHORES
OF THE OLD WORLD
From the Beginning of War on the Water to King Henry VIII's
First Promise of a Sailing Fleet
I THE VERY BEGINNING OF SEA-POWER
(10,000 years and more B.C.)
II THE FIRST FAR WEST (The last 5,000 years B.C.)
III EAST AGAINST WEST (480 B. C.-146 B.C.)
IV CELTIC BRITAIN UNDER ROME (55 B.C.-410 A.D.)
V THE HARDY NORSEMAN (449-1066)
VI THE IMPERIAL NORMAN (1066-1451)
VII KING OF THE ENGLISH ERA (1545)
THE SAILING AGE
WHEN SAILORS FOUGHT ON EVERY OCEAN AND THE ROYAL NAVY
OF THE MOTHER COUNTRY WON THE BRITISH COMMAND
OF THE SEA BOTH IN THE OLD WORLD AND THE NEW
DRAKE TO NELSON
PART I - THE SPANISH WAR
VIII OLD SPAIN AND NEW (1492-1571)
IX THE ENGLISH SEA-DOGS (1545-1580)
X THE SPANISH ARMADA (1588)
PART II - THE DUTCH WAR
XI THE FIRST DUTCH WAR (1623-1653)
XII THE SECOND AND THIRD DUTCH WARS (1665-1673)
PART III - THE FRENCH WAR
XIII THE FIRST WAR AGAINST LOUIS XIV (1689-1697)
XIV THE SECOND WAR AGAINST LOUIS XIV (1702-1713)
XV WAR AGAINST FRANCE AND SPAIN (1739-1748)
XVI PITT'S IMPERIAL WAR (1756-1763)
XVII THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION (1775-1783)
XVIII NELSON (1798-1805)
THE AGE OF STEAM AND STEEL
WHEN THE BRITISH COMMAND OF THE SEA SAVED THE WORLD
FROM GERMAN SLAVERY IN THE GREATEST OF ALL WARS
PART I - A CENTURY OF CHANGE (1814-1914)
XX A CENTURY OF BRITISH-FRENCH-AMERICAN PEACE (1815-1914)
XXI A CENTURY OF MINOR BRITISH WARS (1815-1914)
PART II - THE GREAT WAR (1914-1918)
XXII THE HANDY MAN
XXIII FIFTY YEARS OF WARNING (1864-1914)
XXIV WAR (1914-1915)
XXV JUTLAND (1916)
XXVI SUBMARINING (1917-1918)
XXVII SURRENDER! (1918)
XXVIII WELL DONE!
POSTSCRIPT THE FREEDOM OF THE SEAS
[Transcriber's note: The following two errata items have been applied
to this e-book.]
Page XIII. For "Henry VII's" read "Henry VIII's."
Page 254. L. 20 for "facing the Germans" read "away from Scheer,"
VIKING MAN-OF-WAR. . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_
ROMAN TRIREME - A vessel with three benches of oars
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR'S TRANSPORTS
Eddystone Lighthouse, 1699. The first structure of stone and timber.
Build for Trinity House by Winstanley and swept away in a storm.
Eddystone Lighthouse, 1882. The fourth and present structure, erected
by Sir J. N. Douglass for Trinity House.
The _Santa Maria_, flagship of Christopher Columbus when he discovered
America in 1492. Length of keel, 60 feet. Length of ship proper, 93
feet. Length over all, 128 feet. Breadth, 26 feet. Tonnage, full
One of Drake's Men-of-War that Fought the Great Armada in 1588.
ARMADA OFF FOWEY (Cornwall) as first seen in the English Channel.
SIR FRANCIS DRAKE ON BOARD THE _REVENGE_ receiving the surrender of Don
Pedro de Valdes.
SAILING SHIP. The Pilgrim Fathers crossed in a similar vessel (1620).
LA HOGUE, 1692.
H.M.S. _Centurion_ engaged and took the Spanish Galleon _Nuestra
Senhora de Capadongo_, from Acapulco bound to Manila, off Cape Espiritu
Santo, Philippine Islands, June 20, 1743.
The _ROYAL GEORGE_
FIGHTING THE GUNS ON THE MAIN DECK, 1782.
THE BLOWING UP OF _L'ORIENT_ DURING THE BATTLE OF THE NILE.
THE BATTLE OF COPENHAGEN, APRIL 2nd, 1801. (Note the British line
The _VICTORY_. Nelson's Flagship at Trafalgar, launched in 1765, and
still used as the flagship in Portsmouth Harbour.
TRAFALGAR. 21st October, 1805.
MODEL OF THE BATTLE OF TRAFALGAR. (Reproduced by permission from the
model at the Royal United Service Institution.)
THE _SHANNON_ AND THE _CHESAPEAKE_.
THE _ROYAL WILLIAM_. Canadian built; the first boat to cross any ocean
steaming the whole way (1833), the first steamer in the world to fire a
shot in action (May 5, 1836).
Seaplane Returning after flight.
A PARTING SHOT FROM THE TURKS AT GALLIPOLI.
H.M.S. _Monmouth_, Armoured Cruiser. Sunk at Coronel, November 1st,
BATTLESHIP FIRING A BROADSIDE.
Jellicoe's Battle Fleet in Columns of Divisions. 6.14 P.M.
THE BATTLE OF JUTLAND - PLAN II. Jellicoe's battle line formed and
fighting. 6:38 P.M.
Minesweeper at work.
H.M. KING GEORGE V.
FLAG AND FLEET
THE ROWING AGE
THE VERY BEGINNING OP SEA-POWER
(10,000 years and more B.C.)
Thousands and thousands of years ago a naked savage in southern Asia
found that he could climb about quite safely on a floating log. One
day another savage found that floating down stream on a log was very
much easier than working his way through the woods. This taught him
the first advantage of sea-power, which is, that you can often go
better by water than land. Then a third savage with a turn for trying
new things found out what every lumberjack and punter knows, that you
need a pole if you want to shove your log along or steer it to the
By and by some still more clever savage tied two logs together and made
the first raft. This soon taught him the second advantage of
sea-power, which is, that, as a rule, you can carry goods very much
better by water than land. Even now, if you want to move many big and
heavy things a thousand miles you can nearly always do it ten times
better in a ship than in a train, and ten times better in a train than
by carts and horses on the very best of roads. Of course a raft is a
poor, slow, clumsy sort of ship; no ship at all, in fact. But when
rafts were the only "ships" in the world there certainly were no trains
and nothing like one of our good roads. The water has always had the
same advantage over the land; for as horses, trails, carts, roads, and
trains began to be used on land, so canoes, boats, sailing ships, and
steamers began to be used on water. Anybody can prove the truth of the
rule for himself by seeing how much easier it is to paddle a hundred
pounds ten miles in a canoe than to carry the same weight one mile over
Presently the smarter men wanted something better than a little log
raft nosing its slow way along through dead shallow water when shoved
by a pole; so they put a third and longer log between the other two,
with its front end sticking out and turning up a little. Then, wanting
to cross waters too deep for a pole, they invented the first paddles;
and so made the same sort of catamaran that you can still see on the
Coromandel Coast in southern India. But savages who knew enough to
take catamarans through the pounding surf also knew enough to see that
a log with a hollow in the upper side of it could carry a great deal
more than a log that was solid; and, seeing this, they presently began
making hollows and shaping logs, till at last they had made a regular
dug-out canoe. When Christopher Columbus asked the West Indian savages
what they called their dug-outs they said _canoas_; so a boat dug out
of a solid log had the first right to the word we now use for a canoe
built up out of several different parts.
[Illustration: "DUG-OUT" CANOE]
Dug-outs were sometimes very big. They were the Dreadnought
battleships of their own time and place and people. When their ends
were sharpened into a sort of ram they could stave in an enemy's canoe
if they caught its side full tilt with their own end. Dug-out canoes
were common wherever the trees were big and strong enough, as in
Southern Asia, Central Africa, and on the Pacific Coast of America.
But men have always been trying to invent something better than what
their enemies have; and so they soon began putting different pieces
together to make either better canoes or lighter ones, or to make any
kind that would do as well as or better than the dug-out. Thus the
ancient Britons had coracles, which were simply very open basket-work
covered with skins. Their Celtic descendants still use canvas coracles
in parts of Wales and Ireland, just as the Eskimos still use
skin-covered kayaks and oomiaks. The oomiak is for a family with all
their baggage. The kayak - sharp as a needle and light as a feather - is
for a well-armed man. The oomiak is a cargo carrier. The kayak is a
When once men had found out how to make and use canoes they had also
found out the third and final principle of sea-power, which is, that if
you live beside the water and do not learn how to fight on it you will
certainly be driven off it by some enemy who has learnt how to fight
there. For sea-power in time of war simply means the power to use the
sea yourself while stopping the enemy from using it. So the first duty
of any navy is to keep the seaways open for friends and closed to
enemies. And this is even more the duty of the British Navy than of
any other navy. For the sea lies between all the different parts of
the British Empire; and so the life-or-death question we have to answer
in every great war is this: does the sea unite us by being under
British control, or does it divide us by being under enemy control?
United we stand: divided we fall.
At first sight you would never believe that sea-power could be lost or
won as well by birchbarks as by battleships. But if both sides have
the same sort of craft, or one side has none at all, then it does not
matter what the sort is. When the Iroquois paddled their birch-bark
canoes past Quebec in 1660, and defied the French Governor to stop
them, they "commanded" the St. Lawrence just as well as the British
Grand Fleet commanded the North Sea in the Great War; and for the same
reason, because their enemy was not strong enough to stop them.
Whichever army can drive its enemy off the roads must win the war,
because it can get what it wants from its base, (that is, from the
places where its supplies of men and arms and food and every other need
are kept); while its enemy will have to go without, being unable to get
anything like enough, by bad and roundabout ways, to keep up the fight
against men who can use the good straight roads. So it is with navies.
The navy that can beat its enemy from all the shortest ways across the
sea must win the war, because the merchant ships of its own country,
like its men-of-war, can use the best routes from the bases to the
front and back again; while the merchant ships of its enemy must either
lose time by roundabout voyages or, what is sure to happen as the war
goes on, be driven off the high seas altogether.
The savages of long ago often took to the water when they found the
land too hot for them. If they were shepherds, a tyrant might seize
their flocks. If they were farmers, he might take their land away from
them. But it was not so easy to bully fishermen and hunters who could
paddle off and leave no trace behind them, or who could build forts on
islands that could only be taken after fights in which men who lived
mostly on the water would have a much better chance than men who lived
mostly on the land. In this way the water has often been more the home
of freedom than the land: liberty and sea-power have often gone
together; and a free people like ourselves have nearly always won and
kept freedom, both for themselves and others, by keeping up a navy of
their own or by forming part of such an Empire as the British, where
the Mother Country keeps up by far the greatest navy the world has ever
The canoe navies, like other navies, did very well so long as no enemy
came with something better. But when boats began to gain ground,
canoes began to lose it. We do not know who made the first boat any
more than we know who made the first raft or canoe. But the man who
laid the first keel was a genius, and no mistake about it; for the keel
is still the principal part of every rowboat, sailing ship, and steamer
in the world. There is the same sort of difference between any craft
that has a keel and one that has not as there is between animals which
have backbones and those which have not. By the time boats were first
made someone began to find out that by putting a paddle into a notch in
the side of the boat and pulling away he could get a stronger stroke
than he could with the paddle alone. Then some other genius, thousands
of years after the first open boat had been made, thought of making a
deck. Once this had been done, the ship, as we know her, had begun her
But meanwhile sails had been in use for very many thousands of years.
Who made the first sail? Nobody knows. But very likely some Asiatic
savage hoisted a wild beast's skin on a stick over some very simple
sort of raft tens of thousands of years ago. Rafts had, and still
have, sails in many countries. Canoes had them too. Boats and ships
also had sails in very early times, and of very various kinds: some
made of skins, some of woven cloth, some even of wooden slats. But no
ancient sail was more than what sailors call a wind-bag now; and they
were of no use at all unless the wind was pretty well aft, that is,
more or less from behind. We shall presently find out that tacking,
(which is sailing against the wind), is a very modern invention; and
that, within three centuries of its invention, steamers began to oust
sailing craft, as these, in their turn, had ousted rowboats and canoes.
THE FIRST FAR WEST
(The last 5000 years B.C.)
This chapter begins with a big surprise. But it ends with a bigger one
still. When you look first at the title and then at the date, you
wonder how on earth the two can go together. But when you remember
what you have read in Chapter I you will see that the countries at the
Asiatic end of the Mediterranean, though now called the Near East, were
then the Far West, because emigrants from the older lands of Asia had
gone no farther than this twelve thousand years ago. Then, as you read
the present chapter, you will see emigrants and colonies moving farther
and farther west along the Mediterranean and up the Atlantic shores of
Europe, until, at last, two thousand years before Columbus, the new Far
West consisted of those very shores of Spain and Portugal, France and
the British Isles, from which the whole New Western World of North and
South America was to be settled later on. The Atlantic shores of
Europe, and not the Mediterranean shores of Asia and of Egypt, are
called here "The First Far West" because the first really Western
people grew up in Europe and became quite different from all the
Eastern peoples. The Second Far West, two thousand years later, was
_Westward Ho!_ is the very good name of a book about adventures in
America when this Second Far West was just beginning. "Go West!" was
the advice given to adventurous people in America during the nineteenth
century. "The Last West and Best West" is what Canadians now call
their own North-West. And it certainly is the very last West of all;
for over there, across the Pacific, are the lands of southern Asia from
which the first emigrants began moving West so many thousand years ago.
Thus the circuit of the World and its migrations is now complete; and
we can at last look round and learn the whole story, from Farthest East
to Farthest West.
Most of it is an old, old story from the common points of view; and it
has been told over and over again by many different people and in many
different ways. But from one point of view, and that a most important
point, it is newer now than ever. Look at it from the seaman's point
of view, and the whole meaning changes in the twinkling of an eye,
becoming new, true, and complete. Nearly all books deal with the
things of the land, and of the land alone, their writers forgetting or
not knowing that the things of the land could never have been what they
are had it not been for the things of the sea. Without the vastly
important things of the sea, without the war fleets and merchant fleets
of empires old and new, it is perfectly certain that the world could
not have been half so good a place to live in; for freedom and the sea
tend to go together. True of all people, this is truer still of us;
for the sea has been the very breath of British life and liberty ever
since the first hardy Norseman sprang ashore on English soil.
Nobody knows how the Egyptians first learnt ship-building from the
people farther East. But we do know that they were building ships in
Egypt seven thousand years ago, that their ninth king was called Betou,
which means "the prow of a ship", and that his artists carved pictures
of boats five hundred years older than the Great Pyramid. These
pictures, carved on the tombs of the kings, are still to be seen,
together with some pottery, which, coming from the Balkans, shows that
Betou had boats trading across the eastern end of the Mediterranean. A
picture carved more than six thousand years ago shows an Egyptian boat
being paddled by fourteen men and steered with paddles by three more on
the right-hand side of the stern as you look toward the bow. Thus the
"steer-board" (or steering side) was no new thing when its present name
of "starboard" was used by our Norse ancestors a good many hundred
years ago. The Egyptians, steering on the right-hand side, probably
took in cargo on the left side or "larboard", that is, the "load" or
"lading" side, now called the "port" side, as "larboard" and
"starboard" sounded too much alike when shouted in a gale.
Up in the bow of this old Egyptian boat stood a man with a pole to help
in steering down the Nile. Amidships stood a man with a
cat-o'-nine-tails, ready to slash any one of the wretched slave
paddlers who was not working hard. All through the Rowing Age, for
thousands and thousands of years, the paddlers and rowers were the same
as the well-known galley-slaves kept by the Mediterranean countries to
row their galleys in peace and war. These galleys, or rowing
men-of-war, lasted down to modern times, as we shall soon see. They
did use sails; but only when the wind was behind them, and never when
it blew really hard. The mast was made of two long wooden spars set
one on each side of the galley, meeting at the head, and strengthened
in between by braces from one spar to another. As time went on better
boats and larger ones were built in Egypt. We can guess how strong
they must have been when they carried down the Nile the gigantic blocks
of stone used in building the famous Pyramids. Some of these blocks
weigh up to sixty tons; so that both the men who built the barges to
bring them down the Nile and those who built these huge blocks into the