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Viewing Topic "Admiral Tryon and his ill-fated manoeuvre of 22 June 1893"
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Posted by: KenA
Posted on: 19/06/2015 06:44:39

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Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 122
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013
Recently, in a second-hand book shop, I came across a book covering various instances where ships were wrecked.  One chapter dealt with the events of 22 June 1893 (and its aftermath) when Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, KCB, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Squadron of the Royal Navy, took his squadron through a manoeuvre off the coast of Syria (now Lebanon).  This did receive a very brief mention in Osprey’s “Naval Miscellany” (GNM) by Angus Konstam.

The good admiral led his ships in two columns somewhat east of north in his flagship, the ironclad battleship HMS Victoria (named after the reigning British monarch no less). As the columns started approaching the Syrian coast the Admiral issued instructions to his staff for the distance between the two ships columns to be maintained at six cables (1,200 yards) and for each ship in turn to turn inwards to make a 180-degree turn [Tryon’s equivalent of an army about-turn].

Sounds good you might say. Haul up the right flags and Bob’s your uncle (no radio in those days). Small problem though. The leading ships of both columns [HMS Victoria and HMS Camperdown] each required 600 to 800 yards leeway make a 180-degree turn. When questioned by his staff Tryon confirmed that the distance between the ship columns should be six cables. So, up went the flags issuing the instructions to the other ships.

Rear-admiral Markham in the Camperdown knew it was impossible and impracticable and so he waited hoping for a revised order. All he got was waving flags from the Victoria indicating “what are you waiting for?” Tryon demanded what could at times be almost blind obedience from his officers.

So, Markham complied and the two lead ships (Victoria and Camperdown) turned in towards each other to make their 180-degree turn. And of course the inevitable happened. The Camperdown’s ram buried itself deep into the starboard bow of the flagship (Victoria), about 20 feet forward of her turret and around 65 feet from her bow.

When the Camperdown pulled clear it left a jagged hole in her port bow, her stem broken, some forward compartments flooded, but in no danger. The Victoria, on the other hand, was fatally damaged. There was a great breach 100 square feet open to the sea, with water rushing in at 3,000 tons per minute. The Victoria took on a list to starboard and the bows began to sink. The Admiral is recorded as having said “It is entirely my fault”. It was indeed.

The Victoria rolled over and sank with her screws still churning away. In addition to Admiral Tryon, 321 officers and men lost their lives in this incident. Almost 300 other crewmen of the Victoria were rescued (including the Executive Officer, Commander John Jellicoe who was ill in his bunk at the time and who later went on to command the Grand Fleet).

It was night in London when the Victoria went down and Lady Tyron, wife of Sir George, was entertaining her guests. The drawing-room curtains were looped back and the French windows were open. Everyone was in their best dressed finery. Ladies curtsied and men bowed with all the gallantry of Victoria’s England. Lady Tryon was moving serenely among her guests and chatting away to them when one of them said that he was certain that he had seen Sir George in the drawing-room. Later, when news of his death that night in the Mediterranean became known, there were others who had been present who had also “seen” Sir George that night in the crowded drawing-room of his Eaton Place home. Wow!

The subsequent court martial resulted in the acquittal of the surviving officers of the Victoria. The court expressed its regret that Rear-admiral Markham had not protested more strongly against the fatal manoeuvre, but considered that it was not in the best interests of the Service to censure him for obeying the orders of his superior officer. The reaction to this disaster helped lead to a more intelligent interpretation of the past’s rigid and inflexible adherence to orders (the “blind obedience”) that had blighted the peacetime 19th century Royal Navy.

All the above led me to re-read Richard Hough’s “Admirals in Collision” to refresh my memory of his take on these events, background, and implications. Hough had some interesting thoughts about why the Victoria sank so quickly (no more than 10 minutes) leading to the high loss of life. He also had some views on what Tryon’s intentions might have been but Tryon never communicated them to anyone. Nowhere have I read what Queen Victoria’s thoughts were about the ship bearing her name ending up at the bottom of the Mediterranean.

The wreck of the Victoria was discovered in 2004-05 and unusually it is a vertical wreck, stuck in the sea bed by the bow. Apparently, it is the world’s only vertical wreck. Check out: http://www.memorials.inportsmouth.co.uk/city-centre/victoria.htm and
https://seaworldblog.wordpress.com/2013/08/14/the-worlds-only-vertical-wreck-hms-victoria/.
The video clip in the first link is the best one.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that since the tragedy no further Royal Navy vessel has been named Victoria. However, I gather the RCN has a submarine of that name. The Royal Navy has of course had HMS Victorious but that is another matter.
Posted on: 19/06/2015 06:44:40
Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 359
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

Very nice article, KenA. The Richard Hough book you mention is very good, and to modern sensibilities the court-martial does smack strongly of a cover-up. I'm lucky enough to have a copy of Dr Parkes excellent "British Battleships" and this has a good little chapter on the incident. It also has useful plans of both vessels, which help to explain why "Victoria" was lost so rapidly.   

 I wonder what the chances of a New Vanguard title on British pre-Dreadnaughts are? 

Posted on: 19/06/2015 08:27:24
Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 122
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

It may be interesting to consider what various naval notables had to say at the time of the HMS Victoria disaster and/or its aftermath:

“It was only the overpowering personality of the man [Tryon] and the confidence he inspired that induced Admiral Markham to carry out an order that was on the face of it insecure.” - Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Knyvet Wilson.

“His [Tryon’s] brain must have failed him”. - Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon.

“I believe simply that Sir George Tryon thought he had a much greater power of control over his ships than was really possible”. - Rear-Admiral Philip H. Colomb.

“No one could tell what was in the Admiral’s mind beforehand, and Sir George Tryon was not a person who was agreeable on being asked questions or cross-examined”. - Admiral Mark Kerr.

“Everyone who knew and esteemed the late Sir George Tryon must feel that, though bodily he was present on the afternoon of June 22 last, the guiding brain that made him so dear to us was absent”. - Admiral of the Fleet Sir Geoffrey Phipps Hornby.

“Have not his countrymen been too hasty in attacking his [Tryon’s] memory?  Is it not possible that they may yet feel ashamed of what they have said or written about him?” - Sir William Laird Clowes.

“It is very clear that the Rear-Admiral [Markham] did not understand the signal … and went blindly into the danger zone”. - Admiral Sir Charles Dundas of Dundas.

“If I were Markham … I never could hold up my head again”. - Admiral of the Fleet Lord Fisher of Kilverstone.

“He [Markham] was crucified alive for another man’s blunder”. - Admiral Lord Charles Beresford.  (Crucified?  But then Beresford and Fisher were always at odds.)

Taking up your question Painty about a New Vanguard title on British Pre-Dreadnoughts, I think it would need to cover the period 1889-1904.  That is a fairly long period and would include a lot of ships - too many, I submit, for one 48 page New Vanguard title.  I think two volumes would be necessary.

I have been giving some thought to what content should be included Osprey naval titles.  I find that I am continually dissatisfied with Osprey naval New Vanguard titles because they don’t contain the information that I want and I find myself invariably having to buy additional non-Osprey titles to fill in the inevitable gaps.  I then wonder why I bought the Osprey naval titles in the first place.

Osprey caters well for aviation interests and land-based conflicts and weaponry.  What is needed is for Osprey to adapt itself similarly for naval interests.  I have yet to think this matter through properly before making a suggestion to the Osprey Forum but I intend to do so in due course.

Posted on: 19/06/2015 11:21:25
Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 359
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

Fisher and Beresford did seem to spent the 1890's disagreeing about just everything. You do wonder what they really thought about the "Victoria" incident and whether it was just one more opportunity to "have a go" at each other. (I take it you've read Geoffrey Penn's "Infighting Admirals"?)

 It was a knee-jerk reaction on my part to suggest an NV on British pre-dreadnaughts. As you say, many of Ospreys ship titles are very frustrating in that they skim so lightly over their subjects. I would call (again!) for a series called Ship Vanguard to join the recent Air Vanguard series. Ideally each book would cover just one ship (not a whole class) and go into really thorough detail over its design, equipment and a full service history. Mind you I'm not optimistic about ever seeing this. I seem to recall that there have been posts in the blog saying that the current ship volumes sell quite nicely, thank you. So I doubt that things will change just to please your and my quest for decent detail. 

Posted on: 19/06/2015 13:43:54
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013

well, maybe not volumes on "single Ships"..., but at least not lumping too big a theme, or too many ships together!?

I come back to a Book I used as a good example(in my opinion at least) in earlier discussions: British Battlecruisers of WW II! It goes shortly over the Battlecruiser/Carrier conversions and covers the three actually available Battlecruisers in enough detail for a general Readership!
Of course, you can say, "not enough detail" anyways..., but a book on a 48 pages Format will always fall short  for s Specialist!


Examples of how NOT to cover Naval Subjects would be the two Books an US-Destroyers of WWII for instance! 96 Pages to cover over 300 Ships....!!!

The Recent NVG on the US-"Standard" Type Battleships is a middle Way, I would say! Three Classes, seven Ships on 48 Pages..., well, personally, I would rather have had one Book per Battleship Class (they were indeed one after the other an improvement over the previous class..., no intention to "standardise" was intented at all), but maybe, as an introduction for an only superficially interested Reader, this Book can stand?!


I would also wellcome a change in coverage of Naval Themes on sprey! It has been done with Air Vanguard, why shouldn't it be done for Ships too??!!  

Posted on: 19/06/2015 17:42:07
Posted by: Paintybeard
Total Posts: 359
Joined Date: Monday, 4 February 2013

Are either of you planning to buy next months NV on the Ottoman Navy in WW1? I am very, very tempted, but the eternal pesimist in me thinks that half the book will be devoted to "Goeben" and "Breslau" and that all the rest will get only a brief name-check. 

 I will post a quick review if I get a copy soon after publication, please let me know your impressions if you read it before I do.  

Posted on: 20/06/2015 08:11:00
Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 122
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Living in what in the Northern Hemisphere sometimes refers to as “the Antipodes”, postage and exchange rates are considerations for me.  Accordingly, I have had Osprey’s NVG 227 “Ottoman Navy Warships 1914-18” on pre-order (not from Osprey) for quite some time.  What swung it for me was the publicity material from Osprey saying that the author (Ryan Noppen) had undertaken exhaustive research, producing rare material with the co-operation of the Turkish Navy.  From that I assume that he has had access to Turkish naval archival material.  I also have a couple of Ryan Noppen’s other Osprey books (namely, NVG 193 and 208) and I found them as good as could be expected within the Osprey New Vanguard constraints.  The other consideration was, of course, that information about the WWI Turkish Navy in English is not readily available, so this Osprey publication will be most welcome and I’m looking forward to it.

I would, of course Painty, be happy to post on the Forum my impressions of this book if I read it before you.

Posted on: 20/06/2015 10:04:42
Posted by: kuvaszsleepybear
Total Posts: 295
Joined Date: Wednesday, 7 August 2013

There's still a real brick and mortar "Second Hand Bookstore"somewhere in the world?!?!

Posted on: 20/06/2015 19:02:32
Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 122
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Ah Kuvas, you have obviously missed out on one of the great pleasures of life.  There is nothing like rummaging through the wares of a second hand bookshop because there is no telling what you might find.  I have discovered some real gems in doing so.  Buying used books on Amazon, Abebooks, eBay (and the like) brings nothing like the same sense of discovery and satisfaction.

Posted on: 21/06/2015 01:38:05
Posted by: kuvaszsleepybear
Total Posts: 295
Joined Date: Wednesday, 7 August 2013

Oh I've spent time in Second Hand Bookstores allright it's just around my location now all the Bookstores of my early days are now Parking Lots or Fast Food outlets.There is a local store of Second Hand goods called "Valu Village" that has a couple of shelves of books where I've found some Gems but it's not a "Book Srore"!!

Posted on: 21/06/2015 03:59:18
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013

I too plan to buy NVG on the Ottoman Navy!

I do have Bernd Langensiepens "Ottoman Steam Navy" and I doubt, much can be added..., but, Painty, even if your (and, quite frankly, mine too) fears are justified, and half of the Book is devoted to Goeben and Breslau (Yavuz-Sultan-Selim and Middili), I still have hope for the Artwork!

but then again,...maybe we will have a pleassant surprise with this Book?   

Posted on: 22/06/2015 19:22:22
Posted by: KenA
Total Posts: 122
Joined Date: Tuesday, 15 October 2013

I missed out on Langensiepen’s book, Achim.  Have you seen how much it costs to buy second hand now at the usual places online?

I’ve found one of the more useful naval web sites to be
http://www.naval-history.net/index.htm
Towards the end of the section on World War I, 1914-18, (about halfway down the page), there is a tab link labelled “Turkish or Ottoman Navy”.  The information there, while not extensive, is certainly better than nothing and is something to be going on with until Osprey’s book comes out.

Posted on: 22/06/2015 22:02:34
Posted by: achim
Total Posts: 40
Joined Date: Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Well KenA, i just looked at Amazon's used Book page...!!! No, I wasn't aware, Langensiepen is over 90 usd nowadays!

However, I remember, even when new, this was a very pricey books for those times (and my pocketbook back then...)!!
Evenso, if interested in this subject, this Book is really a "must"! It narrates the whole Political and Technical discussion, the building of the Vessels, Problems to overcome with the new technology, the employment of foreign Officers, all the Wars and Skirmishes in the 100 years covered, has Fotos on all Ships (as far as available), gives technical detail on all vessels (again..., on some, it seems, the information is lost), and has at least some line drawings...., unfortunately not all to scale...., or, in diffrent scales! 


Thanks for the Web-Page!   Interesting Stuff! On the Ottoman Navy, it is really not very detailed, but I will check the resto of the Articles!!  


and, yes,will see what the upcoming Osprey Book will bring.....  

Posted on: 22/06/2015 22:31:45

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