Invergordon Mutiny of the Royal Navy – Part 9

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Invergordon Mutiny of the Royal Navy – Part 9

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Magnificent photograph of HMS Rodney firing her guns on June 7, 1944, the day after D-Day. She is supporting British troops ashore and her fire is being directed by Royal Navy fire control teams who are with the ground forces.

From a confidential report to Their Lordships of the Admiralty by Rear Admiral Tomkinson, who served as acting C-in-C Atlantic Fleet during the mutiny:

Information from the ships which was received during the course of the forenoon (Tuesday 15 September 1931) indicated that although in most ships the men were carrying out their ordinary harbour routine, the state of affairs in Rodney was not so satisfactory… the men on the upper deck stood to attention when Colours were hoisted at 08.00; they showed no disrespect; and they cleared up and cleaned the mess decks; but they remained absent from their places of duty, although all essential service were maintained.

One of the more curious facts of the Invergordon Mutiny is that the ratings and even officers refused to use the word ‘mutiny’ since the penalty for mutiny in every navy is death. At no time on any ship, including HMS Rodney, did the men mistreat or act disrespectfully to the officers (unless they said ridiculous things as some of the senior officers did when addressing the men). Officers continued to be saluted and always addressed as ‘sir.’

The cooks and stewards continued to prepare and serve meals to the officers in the wardroom without indication that anything was amiss. Stewards continued to clean the cabins of the officers and Royal Marines continued to mount guard in front of the Captain’s cabin and the entrance to the officer’s quarters.

In fact, the officers aboard most ships did almost nothing to impede the men and in letters and statements afterwards many of the ratings believed, with some justification, that the officers were themselves almost in a state of mutiny against the Admiralty which ignored them as well.

Harsh feelings against the Admiralty existed throughout the entire Royal Navy, writes Alan Ereira in his book The Invergordon Mutiny:

There was a universal feeling that the Navy had been kicked around for too long, that the Admiralty was dominated by civil servants who cared nothing for the ships or the men in them and who were always willing to knuckle under to political pressure… for yet more economies… The Admiralty had broken faith with the men on the old scale of pay, and betrayed the officers for not warning them.

[Source: The Invergordon Mutiny by Alan Ereira. Image courtesy of the Imperial War Museum Website.]

About the Author:

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: