Admiral 'Jackie' Fisher was one of the greatest naval reformers in British history, responsible for a revolution in naval construction, and for preparing the Royal Navy for a possible war, but his first period as First Sea Lord was ended by a feud with Charles Beresford, an aristocratic, popular, but insubordinate admiral.
Freeman starts by tracing the early careers of the two men as they rose through the ranks in the Victoria navy, eventually serving together in the Mediterranean Fleet, with Fisher as commander-in-chief and Beresford as his second in command.
It is this period that saw the beginnings of the feud. Fisher undoubtedly publically snubbed Beresford on at least two occasions, while Beresford frequently went behind his commander's back in his dealings with the press and the Admiralty.
After their return from the Mediterranean it was Beresford who began the feud, which intensified after Fisher became First Sea Lord. Freeman traces the development of the feud, which culminated in an enquiry in the state of the navy that took place after Beresford had been dismissed from his last command, and that played a major part in Fisher's resignation.
This is a fascinating account of a feud between two great naval commanders, and an interesting view of the late Victorian and Edwardian navy, during the last period of clear British naval dominance, and increasingly in the shadow of German naval expansion.
Prologue: The Roots of the Feud
Act 1: Giants in the Making
Act 2: Giants into Action
Act 3: Friendship and Rivalry in the Mediterranean
Act 4: The Daily Mail Letter
Act 5: Fisher Takes the Prize
Act 6: An Uneasy Truce
Act 7: Beresford Declares War
Act 8: McKenna Calls Time
Act 9: Maelstrom
Act 10: Consequences
Epilogue: Beresford's decline and Fisher's return
Author: Richard Freeman
Publisher: Pen & Sword Marine