Custance, Admiral Sir Reginald.


Constable, FIRST EDITION, 1924. Ix + 214 pp., 4 maps & plans (all fldg.). Blue cloth ; gold lettering ; fore & lower edges uncut. 22 x 15cm. Bright & clean copy and V.G.+. Admiral Sir Reginald Neville Custance (1847-1935) is perhaps best known in literary circles for his works written under the pseudonym of ‘Barfleur’, a name he adopted from his command of a battleship of that name in the 1890s. He entered the Royal Navy in 1860 via BRITANNIA and was in action three years later at the bombardment of the Japanese clan forts. His naval career was a distinguished one and he had reached the rank of captain by 1885. He served and formed friendships with Captain W. H. Hall, Captain Sir Cyprian Bridge, and Captain John Fisher. He was made rear-admiral in 1899 and director of Naval Intelligence. It was during this period that he fell out with Fisher and the two men became bitter enemies, clashing again over the ‘Pollen’ affair and the question of fire-control, but his quarrel with Fisher coloured his judgment and did nothing to further his naval career although Churchill continued to consult him long after he had hauled down his flag for the last time in 1908. During the First World War he publicly criticized Corbett as in his opinion the historian deprecated the importance of seeking decisive battle. In this study of 1924, the author sets out to illustrate a theory of war, attempting to remove the vagueness and ambiguity in which the theory of war is usually enveloped, explaining the difference between the political and naval points of view, and in some degree to reconcile them. He draws on historical naval battles and campaigns to illustrate his points, not just in light of recent events but warfare over the centuries. Dr. Andrew Lambert argues (ODNB) that in this work Custance is "peculiarly wrong-headed, arguing that sound strategy required a concentration on the military aims of destroying enemy armed forces before attempting to secure political aims". Dr. Lambert goes on to quote David Schurman : Custance’s work adds "to our knowledge of naval controversy, but not to the growth of naval history’. Whatever view of Custance the reader may take, there is no denying that his outlook had an influence on the great events leading up to war in 1914 and that together with Laughton, Bridge, Colomb, Sturdee and other naval officers of his generation, he made a weighty contribution to naval warfare around the turn of the last century. A clean and bright copy

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