Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Royal Navy's Lessons of War

The book on Operation Pedestal, the convoy that lifted the siege of the island of Malta contains three lessons for today.

War Means Sacrifice

The late Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Lewin who fought in the battle as gunnery control officer has this to say in the introduction (my ellipsis and emphasis):

1982 brought the fortieth anniversary of Operation Pedestal. It brought also Operation Corporate, the campaign in the South Atlantic to recover the Falklands and South Georgia.

Both operations, although involving all three services and the Merchant Navy, were predominantly maritime in nature. Broadly, the same number of servicemen took part in both campaigns.

Corporate cost the Royal Navy two destroyers, two frigates, a landing ship and a large merchantman. Pedestal's cost was an aircraft carrier, two cruisers, a destroyer and nine merchant ships.

With Corporate, the action was spread over some fifty days while with Pedestal the fighting lasted five. Both operations were successful in achieving their objectives but at a price. Corporate cost 250 lives, Pedestal 350 (not the 600 I gave yesterday).

The first British loss (in the Falklands), HMS Sheffield, shocked the nation. Realization that war involves sacrifice grows dim in time of peace.

The Media Undermines

In a preface dated 2002, the author noted (my ellipsis):

...a constant clamour for instant results by television and radio presenters (and the MSM). In their impatience and intolerant ignorance, they frequently undermine those who fight evil for all our sakes.

Victory Must Be Complete

The author quotes Sir Francis Drake, an earlier Brit Admiral.

"It is not the beginning but the continuing of the the same until it be thoroughly finished that yielded the true glory".