Wednesday, August 01, 2018

HMS Cromwell. - a royal battle

“Immediately after becoming First Lord, Churchill proposed Africa, Assiduous, Liberty, and Oliver Cromwell for the four battleships in that year’s [Naval] Estimates. The King rejected naming a dreadnought Cromwell after the man who had chopped off the head of King Charles I. He accepted Africa and proposed Delhi, Wellington,and Marlborough. The four ships eventually went to sea with the names Iron Duke (which Churchill liked better than Wellington), Marlborough, Emperor of India, and Benbow.
The following year, the First Lord proposed four names from England’s warrior history for the four great fifteen-inch-gun, oil-burning superdreadnoughts of the 1912 class. On his desk, the King read: King Richard the First, King Henry the Fifth, Queen Elizabeth, and—again—Oliver Cromwell.
Lord Stamfordham, the King’s Private Secretary, immediately wrote to Churchill that ‘there must be some mistake…that name was proposed for one of the ships of last year’s programme; His Majesty was unable to agree to it and…personally explained to you the reasons for his objection.’
This time, Churchill persevered. ‘Oliver Cromwell was one of the founders of the Navy and scarcely any man did so much for it,’ he wrote to Stamfordham. ‘It seems right that we should give to a battleship a name that never failed to make the enemies of England tremble.’
King George refused to budge and the First Lord declared, ‘I bow.’ The new ship was named Valiant, and of Churchill’s original choices, only Queen Elizabeth went to sea. The other two dreadnoughts were named Warspite and Barham, and a fifth sister of the class, Malaya, was named after the colony that paid to build her.
Churchill’s final brush with the King on the subject of names occurred over two ships of the 1913 class. The First Lord proposed Ark Royal and Pitt.* The King had various arguments against Ark Royal, but he rejected Pitt on an intuition derived from his own many years at sea. Sailors, he knew, tended to find obscene or scatological nicknames for the ships they served on; Pitt was much too easy and would have an inevitable result.
Churchill, presented with the argument, grumbled that this suggestion was ‘unworthy of the royal mind.’ The 1913 dreadnoughts, the last of the prewar building program, were given names to please a monarch: Royal Sovereign, Royal Oak, Ramillies, Resolution, and Revenge.”
Churchill failed with George V but did better under his son. 
HNoMS Bergen was a C-class destroyer built for the Royal Navy as HMS Cromwell. She was built by Scotts of Greenock between 1944 and 1946 and initially was to have been called Cretan. She was sold to the Royal Norwegian Navy in 1946 and renamed Bergen. She was scrapped in 1967.
Churchill was right. His old king prejudiced.

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