Wisdom and War : The Royal Naval College Greenwich 1873–1998 book cover
1st Edition

Wisdom and War
The Royal Naval College Greenwich 1873–1998

ISBN 9781138271753
Published November 17, 2016 by Routledge
324 Pages

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Book Description

Opened in 1873, in buildings constructed by Charles II to house retired sailors, the Royal Naval College was founded with the aim of providing officers with 'the highest possible scientific instruction in all branches of study bearing upon their profession'. For more than 125 years it taught officers ranging in rank from Sub Lieutenants to Vice Admiral, providing the technical instruction that equipped a corps of naval architects to build some of the most advanced warships in the world and in later years, trained the Royal Navy's nuclear engineers. Despite the College's undoubted contribution, towards both the education of Royal Navy personnel, and technical research more broadly, this is the first book to address the history of the institution from its Victorian roots to its closure in the aftermath of the Cold War. Taking a chronological approach, the book traces the history of the College from its establishment in 1873, a period during which technical training for a steam-powered navy was increasingly vital. It then shows how, during the First World War, academic staff at the College made a vital contribution to the development of naval weapons systems, and its medical school initiated a vaccine production programme that later produced major improvements in the public health of the nation. During the Second World War, damaged by enemy action that set London's docklands ablaze, the College provided the first taste of naval life for more than 27,000 men and women called from civilian life to serve on shore and at sea. Later chapters conclude with an exploration of the College's post-war role, focusing particularly on the establishment in 1959 of the Department of Nuclear Science and Technology (DNST) which ran a nuclear reactor on site until the College was closed in 1998. Both as a history of the Royal Naval College itself, and as an exploration of the Navy's attitude toward research and education, this book provides a fascinating insight into what is arguably one of Britain's most significant educational establishments.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Palace, hospital, college; A faltering start 1869-1877; Retrenchment and reform 1877-1900; Golden years 1901-1914; The college at war 1914-1918; Under the White Ensign 1919-1926; Parsimony and pageant 1927-1939; Gentlemen (and ladies) at arms 1939-1945; Post-war prospects 1946-1958; Going nuclear 1959-1972; A second century 1973-1987; Final years 1988-1998; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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Harry Dickinson is a Senior Lecturer in the Defence Studies Department, Kings College, London. He taught previously at the Royal Naval Colleges at Greenwich and Dartmouth and in the History Department of the United States Naval Academy. An MA and PhD graduate of the University of London, he was awarded the Julian Corbett Prize for Modern Naval History by the Institute of Historical Research in 1996. He has written widely on various aspects of naval history, particularly officer education and training.


'Wisdom and War provides a well paced, detailed and interesting narrative of the 125-year history of one of the Royal Navy’s best known training establishments, but it is also of wider interest, for throughout developments at Greenwich are carefully related to the wider naval, strategic, political and economic context.' International Journal of Maritime History '... a good overall historical summary for close study of the curriculum and doctrine taught at the single service college - good and bad - before closing.' The Northern Mariner