Alternative Dreadnought Names for the Royal Navy

Coulsdon Eagle

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Just a bit of fun, prompted by the stories that King George V rejected some of Winston Churchill’s proposed name for dreadnoughts, I wondered what alternative names the Royal Navy could have considered for actual, planned or hypothetical battleships or battlecruisers in the 1910s. I’d like to avoid recycling recent names – Hood, Victoria, etc.


One name that was rejected was Cromwell – perhaps the King Emperor did not fancy launching a ship named for a regicide; the tale is he turned it down a second time when Winston was incautious enough to resubmit it. Seems a shame that an English national hero was not considered fit to name a ship after – the Scots & certainly the Irish may have views on that – but it is one I would put forward, although perhaps in the terms of Jellicoe’s flagship it might be names Ironsides. From the Civil Wars then perhaps Sir Thomas Fairfax might be remembered, although in RN tradition just as Fairfax. Would the Royalists honour Prince Rupert alongside Blake? Duke of York at that time would bring to mind James II or the Grand Old Duke... not the positive views of 1937.


Monarchs are strangely difficult to look for alternatives. Queen Elizabeth is already spoken for, but at least that rules out Virgin Queen; George V would rightly strike that option out. Some martial kings are ruled out: Edward I as Hammer of the Scots would not be welcome at Rosyth or Cromarty; Edward IV would perhaps revive memories of the Wars of the Roses, not the best option with civil war looming in Ireland; Henry III and Edward III had successes in their long reigns but flawed finishes. Richard I has a statue outside Parliament but was very much an absent monarch, but a battleship named Lionheart would stir some blood, although confusion with Beatty’s flagship would abound. Perhaps the most obvious would be the victor of Agincourt, Henry V, even if it might annoy our new allies.


Battles are equally problematical. An existing HMS Blenheim rules out the name Churchill would seize without a moment’s hesitation, while Malplaquet is unknown for all except serious historians, and no-one would suggest Oudenarde given the slogging match & butcher’s bill it presented. Waterloo would really annoy the French (who would insist upon it being renamed La Belle Alliance!), apart from the bad taste in naming a dreadnought after a railway terminus, and would remind us of who our allies were in 1815. Most of Britain’s naval victories were against the French, while the greatest against the Spanish we could name has already been taken by HMS St. Vincent (anyone suggesting HMS Armada should be confined to commanding a net protection vessel off the west coast of Scotland & Ireland). The Dutch offer us Camperdown and could we reuse HMS Nile – or would that be cheating naming two ships after the same victory (HMS Aboukir)? Best not mention Culloden (although Nelson’s fleet had one) or, even worse in retaliation, Bannockburn...


The King ruled out William Pitt on ground Churchill considered beneath a monarch’s contemplation, but George V knew how scatological jolly jack tars could be. So what would be wrong with Earl of Chatham? The 19th Century had many famous politicians but political sensitivities would rule most out – Disraeli and Gladstone would generate as much bad feeling as the proposed names of Jellicoe & Beatty did in the 1930s – and besides Gladstone’s final resignation was over the naval estimates.


Rumoured names for the proposed G3 battlecruisers post-war were the four patron saints of the British Isles – boring but politically correct. Leopard is another obvious “Splendid Cat” and was apparently considered for a sister ship of HMS Tiger; Panther is still available, but woe betides the spoof timeline which had an impressive battle line containing HMS Kitten!


Finally (I bet you’re glad about that) if we do insist upon the early battlecruisers all beginning with the same letter, we start to run short of good options. Personally Intrepid reminds me of the loss of the 13 Colonies, so we might end up with Irreducible or Irrepressible. Shame Illustrious is already taken by an existing pre-dreadnought.


Anyone have any suggestions?
 
Cornwallis? Inkerman? Napier (after Charles James Napier)?

Edit: aw crap, turns out there were already ships named HMS Cornwallis and HMS Napier. HMS Inkerman seems not to have been used, though.
 
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Too late for you, but about 15 years ago I believe there was a campaign for HMS Millennium Falcon. But a British warship should be named after a British sci-fi spaceship like Discovery (for Journey into Space, BTW currently having a repeat run on Four Extra), Anastasia (for Dan Dare), Thunderbird, Stingray, Eagle (Space: 1999), TARDIS or Liberator (For Blake's Seven).

The latter gives me an idea, i.e. ALT Blake class cruisers: Blake; Avon; Villa; Tarrant...
 
There were a few (dreadnought and pre-dreadnought) ships named after countries - Erin, Canada, Malaya, Hibernia, as well as the dreadnought cruisers Australia and New Zealand.

How about Cymru?
 
How about -
Admiral William Parker. ( Admiral post Trafalgar up until 1852 (one of Nelson favourite Captains) Arguably kept the Royal Navy the dominant force during the early Victorian age. Professional , diplomatic, high sailors standards.

Admiral Geoffrey Hornby. ( Admiral during the Victorian Era saw the transition from wooden sailing ships to Iron steam ships - basically created the "modern" Navy.


Admiral Fisher - do I need to say any more ?
 
Shame Illustrious is already taken by an existing pre-dreadnought.
They could just change the name of the original ship: Revenge of 1915 took over the name of the 1892 Royal Sovereign class ship, which became Redoubtable

Admiral Fisher - do I need to say any more ?

The problem is that Fisher was alive when most British BBs were built, and I don't think that the RN names ships after living people, bar Monarchs.
 
HMS Leopard and HMS Panther are two that spring to mind. HCMS Canada, HCMS, Ontario, HCMS Quebec, HCMS New Brunswick and HCMS Acadia might be good for Canadian battleships.
 
They could just change the name of the original ship: Revenge of 1915 took over the name of the 1892 Royal Sovereign class ship, which became Redoubtable



The problem is that Fisher was alive when most British BBs were built, and I don't think that the RN names ships after living people, bar Monarchs.
True. Admiral Fisher , from what I read ,wouldn't have wanted a ship named after him.
 
You have a better knack that I do. I posted mine with tongue in cheek. You went right for the throat. :)
 
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