Roger Keyes – Churchill’s Admiral in two World Wars
I had eight relations at the Battle of Jutland. My father was not among them, he was busy working up HMS Resolution a super dreadnaught battleship. The most distinguished of my family’s sailors was Commodore William Goodenough who gained well deserved plaudits for his performance, scouting for the battlefleet and sinking a German cruiser with a torpedo. I’ve never done anything brave like that -actually I have done nothing brave at all, but I have felt a curious affinity for the Royal Navy and I have an enormous admiration for the officers and men who served in it early in the last century. It was no place for milksops. The Commodore and his fellows were brought up under sail. They had to climb masts and fight with flapping heavy canvass a hundred feet over a raging sea. They had to handle small sailing cutters dodging around big ships in gigantic ocean waves. Ashore they were sometimes expected to establish order among frightened or furious crowds, drawing on the authority invested in a Royal Navy officer in those days. It is impossible not to admire the courage and the self confidence of that generation of British sailors.