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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Today in History

I found a (not very well typed) extract of something written by Winston Churchill on the Battle of the River Plate.  This is the battle between the German Pocket Battleship ADMIRAL GRAF SPEE and a small British Task Force consisting of the Heavy Cruiser (EXETER, joined after the initial engagement by CUMBERLAND) and two Light Cruisers (AJAX and ACHILLES).

This extract was provided by J Bradford DeLong, an economics professor at UC Berkley.  However, notwithstanding the typos, you get a sense of the action.  Risks were taken on both sides and there was payout.  If one reads a little more, one can see how International Law played a part in how it all came to a denouement.

This episode also raises the question as to what Germany was doing building a Navy, both at the beginning of the 20th Century and in the 1930s.  And it shows the value of a naval tradition, a concept somewhat disparaged by the author of this "live blog" from 1939.  Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope, KT, GCB, OM, DSO and two Bars, summed up the value of tradition when asked about the cost in ships of evacuating the British Army from Crete in May of 1941.
It takes three years to build a ship; it takes three centuries to build a tradition.
Regards  —  Cliff

  Winston Churchill's view of the traditions of the Navy Can be found here.  This was attributed to him when he was the First Lord of the Admiralty.  This was supposedly addressed to the Sea Lords when they expressed concern that he was damaging the "traditions of the Navy".

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