Tuesday, May 10, 2011

[1938] Mutiny in the Royal Navy

The history of the Royal Navy in the 1930s was fraught with drama. For two days in September 1931, Royal Naval ships were in full mutiny at Invergordon, Scotland. It was over pay and, while polite (mostly) to the officers, several ships worth of men refused to follow orders.

This occurred a full 5 years before the state we find ourselves in and my belief that the situation wouldn't have changed much in less than a decade. With the appointment of Mosley and the fracture of the Empire, the Royal Navy, for the most part, went anti-Fascist, most actually Red. The majority of ships mutinied and Royalist officers were seized and put in the brig.

There were few engagements between the pro- and anti-Royalist navies until mid-1938. The HMS Dorsetshire and the HMS Cornwall supported the Liverpool Free State and the Isle of Man. Mosley ordered the nearest loyal naval vessel, the HMS Hood, as well as the Royal Air Force to break that support. Ironically, on May 1st, Fascist and Royalist forces attacked both ships, with the Hood starting a bombardment and the RAF attacking from above. By the end of the fighting, the Dorsetshire and the Cornwall were still afloat (the Cornwall took extensive damage) but the Hood was sunk, with a loss of over 1000 men.

Before this time, rival ships had been simply content to "pass in the night." With the direct attack by a Royalist ship, the shooting war between the different naval forces began in earnest. Newspapers on both sides of the conflict used the sinking of the Hood and the loss of life to paint the other side as the aggressors and their side was true. The true news, however, was that the Royal Navy, a military tradition since the 16th century, had reached its nadir.

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