- Letter Writer
- None noted
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2000 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
The attached article from the British International Express about the future of Field Gun competitions in the RN should interest many of our members who have taken part in, or watched, them.
The quoted differences in attitudes between Ministers and an Admiral of the Fleet could not be more extreme. Will sports competitions involving “danger and sheer brute force” such as rugby be next?
Errol Stevens (Member)
Sadly, the answer to Captain Stevens question is… “Yes”! See the President’s remarks on page 5 of N.H.R. Vol 18, No 3, 1997!
Below is the article from the British International Express…
Navy’s Gun Run gets the Bullet
The Field Gun Race, star attraction at the Royal Tournament, is to end this year.
Ministers have decided that the race is too dangerous and too wasteful of time and money to let it continue.
A senior Ministry of Defence source said: “The whole thing is an expensive anachronism. In this day and age it is a waste of time, men and resources.
“It doesn’t represent what the modern Royal Navy is about at all. It’s simply a competition of needless danger and sheer brute force.
The Royal Tournament, which has taken place annually at London’s Earl Court arena, itself ends this year in its current format. Whatever replaces it will not include the gun run.
However, armed forces chiefs are furious at yet another cutback in tradition which they believe helps maintain service morale and assists with recruiting new people.
Former Chief of the Defence Staff and First Sea Lord Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton said: “It is a total misunderstanding by this Government of what modern warfare is all about.
“The field gun display is a marvellous advertisement to the young for the Royal Navy. It is all about teamwork and facing danger together. It is a very sad end to a great tradition.”
The race dates back to an event in the Boer War in 1899. A naval brigade was called to assist the relief of a British garrison at Ladysmith. In the process their oxen died so the six ship’s guns with ammunition had to be carried over rough and rugged terrain by a detachment of the ship’s crew.
Their bravery caught the public’s imagination and in 1913 an annual race was incorporated into the Royal Tournament.