F305 Winter 2020 Fascinating Insights into Naval History
Wednesdays, 11:50–1:15, Jan. 29–Feb. 19
Instructor: Alan McKie
- Jan. 29: One of Hitler’s secret weapons, prowling the South Atlantic at the outbreak of WWII, the technically advanced ”pocket battleship,’’ Graff Spee, wreaked havoc with ships supplying the British Isles with much needed food from South America. It took eight British battle groups, consisting of three battleships, two battle cruisers, and four aircraft carriers, plus a large measure of intrigue, to put the Graff Spee out of action. Hitler was furious that Captain Langsdorf did not fight his way out of Montevideo harbor. Recently uncovered evidence tells us why.
- Feb. 5: Unable to challenge Great Britain’s grand fleet, Hitler built several capital ships, like the well-known Bismarck, to ravage British merchant shipping. While these ships were sunk early in the war, the battleship Tirpitz, sister to the Bismarck, remained a threat for much of WWII. This raider tied up a large number of British warships—battleships, aircraft carriers, cruisers, and destroyers—desperately needed elsewhere. The tale of Britain's attempts to sink the Tirpitz is one of never ending frustration, determination, and innovation lasting over three years before they were finally able to overcome “The Beast.”
- Feb. 12: Horatio Nelson continually thwarted Napoleon Bonaparte’s burning ambition to conquer Great Britain and the British Empire. On October 5, 1805, he defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets off Cape Trafalgar in what history records as Great Britain’s, and even one of the world’s, greatest naval victories. In four hours, Nelson dashed forever Napoleon’s plans to invade England.this battle Nelson gave his life to ensure that Great Britain would rule the oceans of the world for over 100 years, a period now known as the Pax Britannia.
- Feb. 19: Major aspects of Nelson’s life and death will be compared with those of his arch-enemy Napoleon Bonaparte. These two seminal world leaders of the 19th century had a major impact on world history for over a century. Both became symbols of their nations’ struggles for power and supremacy. Each became to the other the personification of the enemy. Their current resting places will be viewed to see how England, France, and thehonor their greatest heroes.
studied management and public administration at American University and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces. He retired from federal service as a senior executive in 1994. He served 15 years as a docent at the Museum of the US Navy and more recently at the Lorton Workhouse Prison Museum.