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  #51  
Old 18-03-2009, 19:39
herakles
 
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

I am so pleased that this thread has generated so much interest. I have learned so much from the many informed posts made here.

I think on balance that we have come out on Byng's side. The last post by Jan seems to sum it up.

The Articles of War are due for revision this year. Let's hope they reflect our modern society.
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  #52  
Old 18-03-2009, 20:36
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Shipmates,

A little bit more on Admiral Byng. Earlier, I did not know if he was guilty or not, I did not have an opinion, now I do, having read on the internet and in the booklet I obtained from the Church where he is entombed, have formed an opinion. He is "innocent".
Nobody in their right mind could ever come to the conclusion that Admiral Byng was guilty of the charges brought against him. He was eventually shot because the ministers, responsible for the tragic loss of Minorca, deserved to be hanged. The savage penalty inflicted, with gross injustice, on Admiral Byng two hundred and fifty years ago is no longer imposed. But Commanders on both sea and land are still in peril of being degraded to protect the precious reputations of their civilian overlords. The law has never been banned.
Admiral Byng was shot because he failed in an impossible task thrust upon him by an imcompetent government. In 1756, he was sent, much too late, with a weak squadron of undermanned, ill-equipped ships, many of which were leaky, to the threatened island of Minorca in the Mediterrnean. Before he could reach his destination, however, a strong French Fleet had arrived off Port Mahon, and fifteen thousand French troops had already been landed on the island.
At the end of a gallantly fought action, lasting over three hours, Admiral Byng succeeded in driving off the French Fleet, though by this time his own ships had suffered so severely from the heavier guns of the French as to be battered into a state of incapacity, leaving the Admiral no alternative but to limp back to Gibraltar, his vessels loaded with casualties and many of their masts and sails shot away. There was nothing he could do until repairs had been carried out and reinforcements provided.
If anyone deserved shooting for the failure to relieve Minorca it was the Duke of Newcastle, First minister of the Crown at the outbreak of the Seven Years War, who through criminal negligence, had failed to strengthen the islands defences though warned of French preparations to gain possession of the strategically positioned base; who moreover was responsible for the inexcusable delay in sending a British Fleet to the Mediterranean to keep watch on the French at Toulon; and who eventually, when it was too late to be of any use, dispatched an ill-conditioned squadron of insufficient strength, under the unfortunate Admiral Byng, on an utterly impossible mission.

Baz.
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  #53  
Old 19-03-2009, 03:41
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Shipmates,

I would certainly like to agree that Adm. Byng was ill served for political reasons as it fits the norms of our society today and our sense of fair play. Before we rush to unamimous agreement, however, the summary information we possess leaves our conclusion open to question. The key issue is that Byng was 'out gunned' and his ships containing many army types familiar with guns but not the sea due to illness in the ranks. These are credible reasons that account for the negative outcome. That said, ought we not to document the English and French fleets by ship name, type and armnament to prove our hypothesis? Certainly, the ship surgeon kept meticulous records which would have been entered into evidence by the defense. I need more documented facts before I can be persuaded, although nothing would suit me better than to upturn an unjust sentence. We should agree not because we believe an injustice was done, as it fits our conscience, but because the evidence has been reexamined in a less political manner and clears Byng. We ought to assign the same standard of the burden of proof as the original jury ought to have been charged with.

We need a volunteer to find these facts?

Fred
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  #54  
Old 19-03-2009, 15:34
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Thank you Herakles and all for such a stimulating subject.

It may well be that none of us have access to more historical information. There is certainly enough to justify the case being reopened and a through research job done. In today's world, this would be a primary place to post such original information, if it was not of commercial interest. If only we could tap some author to write about this fastenating subject? No doubt, the information is available in the Navy records, newspapers of the time and even some of the key individuals may have left a trace that a young graduate student might ferret out? If nothing else surfaces, the collective opinion favors Bying's name being cleared. There is still a family that seeks justice. The government ought to make all the information available to the public in such cases. We have the Internet now and that changes everything.

Fred
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  #55  
Old 19-03-2009, 16:47
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

I have not read every message in this thread so maybe its covered; I believe Dudley Pope, superb Naval writer, wrote a book about this topic, I have it somewhere, if i can find it i'll post the numbers as it is very well worth a read and covers much of the detailed research the net tends to overlook.
tim
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  #56  
Old 20-03-2009, 03:30
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Tim,
Thanks for the pointer. Here's the title we're looking for. I'll be ordering mine tomorrow. I can't wait to read this now.
Fred

At 12 Mr. Byng was Shot (Paperback)
by Dudley Pope (Author)

5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)

Available from these sellers: Amazon ... others found by google search on Dudley Pope and Admiral Byng
5 new from $99.15 10 used from $7.00

Editorial Reviews
Product Description

A wonderfully compelling examination of the infamous episode immortalized by Voltaire in Candide. Admiral John Byng was shot on the deck of the HMS Monarch on March 14, 1757. His offense: following his superiors' orders. The British navy sent his poorly armed ship to fight the French, using outdated tactics. The offensive failed. Though Byng was cleared of cowardice, he received a death sentence for "error of judgment." He died...giving the signal to the firing squad for his own execution.

About the Author
Dudley Pope, author of the best-selling Ramage series and LIFE IN NELSON'S NAVY, needs little introduction. After service during WWII in the Merchant Navy, he went on to work for fifteen years in Fleet Street before settling down to become a full-time writer. In 1965 he set sail for the West Indies where he lived on his boat until his death in 1997.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Product Details
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Phoenix Press (October 28, 2002)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1842126075
ISBN-13: 978-1842126073
5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (1 customer review)
Review By Matherson (New York) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)

The execution (or, as Dudley Pope argues, judicial murder) of Admiral Byng, is one of the most famous firing-squad executions of all time. In the opening rounds of the Seven Years' War, Byng's fleet was sent out to defend Port Mahon on the Mediterranean island of Minorca, then a British colony. Not only was he too late to prevent the forces of the Duke de Richelieu from invading; he was also unable to engage fully the French fleet sailing off the island. For supposed cowardice during this supposedly failed naval engagement, he was court-martialled for cowwardice and shot. As one of Voltaire's characters remarked ironically in Candide, "There is no doubt of that; but in this country it is found requisite, now and then, to put an admiral to death, in order to encourage the others to fight."
In a painstaking reconstruction of both the battle and the judicial proceedings, Pope argues conviningly that Byng ought never to have been charged with cowardice, and that his fleet's engagement was, at worst, inconclusive and that even the French side was highly complimentary of Byng's courage during the battle. More than that, the subsequent trial was orchestrated by Byng's enemies (and the bench packed) in such a way that Byng stood no chance. Finally, the cantankerous King George II was highly vindictive in his determination not to grant clemency and commute Byng's punishment after sentence of death was passed. A gripping retelling of one of British naval history's most infamous chapters - and a passionate defense of a man wrongly
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Last edited by FTM127 : 20-03-2009 at 03:31. Reason: add amazon
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Old 20-03-2009, 03:43
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

John Byng
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For other persons named John Byng, see John Byng (disambiguation).

Portrait of John Byng by Thomas Hudson, 1749Sir John Byng (29 October 1704 – 14 March 1757) was a British admiral who was court-martialled and executed for failing to "do his utmost" during the Battle of Minorca, at the beginning of the Seven Years' War.

Contents [hide]
1 Early life and career
2 Battle of Minorca
3 Court-martial, trial and execution
4 Legacy
5 See also
6 References
7 Further reading
8 External links



[edit] Early life and career
John Byng was born in Bedfordshire, England, the fourth son of George Byng, 1st Viscount Torrington.

By the time he entered the Royal Navy in 1718, aged 14, his father was a well-established admiral with a rising and stellar career, who since supporting William III in his successful bid to be crowned King of Great Britain in 1689 had seen his stature and fortune grow. A highly-skilled naval commander, George Byng won distinction in a series of battles and was held in esteem by the monarchs he served. In 1721, he was rewarded by King George I with a viscountcy, and created the 1st. Viscount Torrington.

Like most younger sons of British nobility, John Byng would have to support himself, since his father's title and estates would ordinarily pass on only to the eldest. However, with such an illustrious father, Byng's rapid promotions through most likely owed much to his father's influence. The careers of father and son could hardly have ended more differently.

Early in his career, Byng was assigned to a series of Mediterranean postings. In 1723, at age 19, he was made a lieutenant, and at 23, rose to become Captain of HMS Gibraltar. His Mediterranean service continued until 1739 and was without much action.[1]

In 1742, he was appointed Commodore-Governor of the British Empire colony of Newfoundland.[1]

He was promoted to rear-admiral in 1745, and to vice-admiral in 1747.[1] He served on the most comfortable stations, and avoided the more arduous work of the navy.[2]


[edit] Battle of Minorca
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Admiral John Byng's account of the Battle of Minorca (1756)On the approach of the Seven Years' War, the island of Minorca, which had been a British possession since 1708, when it was captured during the War of the Spanish Succession, was threatened by a French naval attack from Toulon, and was invaded in 1756.[2]

Byng, then serving in the Channel, was ordered to the Mediterranean to relieve the British garrison of Fort St Philip (Port Mahon).[2] Despite his protests to the contrary, he was not given enough money or time to prepare the expedition properly. His sailing orders were inexplicably delayed by 5 days, and this turned out to be crucial to the lack of success of the expedition. He set out with ten unseaworthy ships that leaked and were inadequately manned. Byng's marines were landed to make room for the soldiers who were to reinforce the garrison, and he feared that if he met a French squadron, he would be dangerously undermanned.[2] His correspondence shows that he left prepared for failure, that he did not believe that the garrison could hold out against the French force, and that he was already resolved to come back from Minorca if he found that the task presented any great difficulty. He wrote home to that effect to the Admiralty from Gibraltar, whose governor refused to provide soldiers to increase the relief force.[2]

Byng sailed on 8 May. Before he arrived, the French landed 15,000 troops on the western shore of Minorca, spreading out to occupy the island. On 19 May, Byng was off the east coast of Minorca and endeavoured to open communications with the fort. Before he could land any soldiers, the French squadron appeared.[2]

The Battle of Minorca was fought on the following day. Byng, who had gained the weather gage, bore down on the French fleet at an angle, so that his leading ships went into action while the rest, including Byng's flagship, were still out of effective firing range.[2] The French badly damaged the leading ships and slipped away. When his flag captain pointed out to Byng that by standing out of his line, he could bring the centre of the enemy to closer action, he declined because Thomas Mathews had been dismissed for so doing. The French, who were equal in number to the British, sailed away undamaged.[2]

After remaining near Minorca for four days without being able to reestablish communication with the fort or sighting the French, Byng realised that there was little more he could do without effecting badly needed repairs to his ships. As the nearest port available for carrying out repairs and landing his wounded men was Gibraltar, Byng's plan was to sail there, repair his ships, and try once again to get extra forces before returning to Fort St Philip. Before he could do any of this, a ship arrived from England, relieved Byng of his command and took him into custody. The garrison on Minorca held out against the overwhelming French numbers until 29 June, when it was forced to capitulate. Under negotiated terms the garrison was allowed passage back to England, and the fort and island came under French control.


[edit] Court-martial, trial and execution
The failure to hold Fort St Philip initially caused an outburst of anger in Britain.[3] Byng was brought home to be tried by court-martial for breach of the Articles of War, which had recently been revised to mandate capital punishment for officers who did not do their utmost against the enemy, either in battle or pursuit.

In 1745, during the War of Austrian Succession, a young lieutenant called Baker Phillips was court-martialed and shot after his ship was captured by the French. His captain, who had done nothing to prepare the vessel for action, was killed almost immediately by a broadside. Taking command, the inexperienced junior officer was forced to surrender the ship when she could no longer be defended.[2]

Although the negligent behaviour of Phillips' captain was noted by the subsequent court martial, his sentence was approved by higher officers in the navy (who showed leniency to those of their own rank). This injustice angered the nation and the Articles of War were amended to become one law for all: the death penalty for any officer who did not do his utmost against the enemy in battle or pursuit.[2]

The court martial sitting in judgment of Byng acquitted him of personal cowardice and disaffection, and convicted him only for not having done his utmost, since he failed to pursue the superior French fleet to protect his own.[3] The court martial had no discretion under the Articles of War and condemned Byng to death. However, its members recommended that the Lords of the Admiralty ask King George to exercise his prerogative of clemency.

The severity of the penalty, aided by a not unjust suspicion that the Admiralty sought to cover themselves by throwing all the blame on the admiral, led to a reaction in favour of Byng in both the Navy and the country, which had previously demanded retribution.[2] William Pitt the Elder, then Leader of the House of Commons, told the king: "the House of Commons, Sir, is inclined to mercy", to which George II responded: "You have taught me to look for the sense of my people elsewhere than in the House of Commons."[3]

The king did not exercise royal prerogative and John Byng was shot on 14 March 1757 in the Solent on the forecastle of HMS Monarch by a platoon of musqueteers.


[edit] Legacy
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Candide - Chapter 23French Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Candide - Chapter 23Byng's execution was satirized by Voltaire in his novel Candide. In Portsmouth, Candide witnesses the execution of an officer by firing squad; and is told that "in this country, it is wise to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others" (Dans ce pays-ci, il est bon de tuer de temps en temps un amiral pour encourager les autres).

Byng was the last of his rank to be executed in this fashion, and 22 years after the event the Articles of War were amended to allow "such other punishment as the nature and degree of the offence shall be found to deserve" as an alternative to capital punishment.[3] In 2007, some of Byng's descendants petitioned the government for a posthumous pardon; the Ministry of Defence refused.[4] Members of his family and a group at Southill in Bedfordshire where the Byng family lived continue to seek a pardon.

Byng's execution has been called "the worst legalistic crime in the nation's annals".[3] It nevertheless may have had a salutary effect on the behaviour of later naval officers, by instilling in them "a culture of aggressive determination which set British officers apart from their foreign contemporaries, and which in time gave them a steadily mounting psychological ascendancy".[5] This in turn may have contributed to the success of the Royal Navy and the acquisition and defence of the British Empire, as commanders knew that while there was a chance of failure in battle, not to risk battle was certain to result in punishment.[5][6] In the words of one historian of the Royal Navy, this "judicial murder" had brutally demonstrated that more was expected of naval officers than just courage and loyalty.[3]

Such policy considerations were no comfort to the family of their victim. Admiral Byng's epitaph at the family vault in All Saints Church,[7] in Southill, Bedfordshire, expresses their view and the view of much of the country:[3]

To the perpetual Disgrace
of PUBLICK JUSTICE
The Honble. JOHN BYNG Esqr
Admiral of the Blue
Fell a MARTYR to
POLITICAL PERSECUTION
March 14th in the year 1757 when
BRAVERY and LOYALTY
were Insufficient Securities
For the
Life and Honour
of a
NAVAL OFFICER[8]


[edit] See also
Execution by firing squad in the United Kingdom
British military history
Governors of Newfoundland

[edit] References
^ a b c Godfrey, Michael (2000). "Byng, John". Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online. Library and Archives Canada. http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.0...p?&id_nbr=1231. Retrieved on 2008-03-04.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Byng, John, Wikisource 1911 encyclopedia project.
^ a b c d e f g Tute, Warren (1983). The True Glory, The Story of the Royal Navy over a thousand years. London: Macdonald & Co. pp. 81–83. ISBN 0 3561 0403 6.
^ Bates, Stephen; Richard Norton-Taylor (March 2007). "No pardon for Admiral Byng. The MoD don't want to encourage any others". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/st...034239,00.html. Retrieved on 2007-03-15.
^ a b Rodger, N.A.M. (2004). The Command of the Ocean : A Naval History of Britain, Volume 2, 1649-1815 (2004. London: Allen Lane. pp. 272. ISBN 0 7139 9411 8.
^ In The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, volume II, N.A.M. Rodger states: "More and more in the course of the century, and for long afterwards, British officers encountered opponents who expected to be attacked, and more than half expected to be beaten, so that [the latter] went into action with an invisible disadvantage which no amount of personal courage or numerical strength could entirely make up for."
^ "The Church History and Guide: A Guide". All Saints Southill Church Website. All Saints Church. http://www.all-saints-southill.ik.co...ical_Data.ikml. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
^ "Memorial: M4085". Maritime Memorials. National Maritime Museum. http://www.nmm.ac.uk/memorials/Memor...morialID=M4085. Retrieved on 2007-11-28.
Wikisource has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article Byng, John.This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.


[edit] Further reading
The facts of Byng's life are fairly set out in John Charnock's Biographia navalis; or, Impartial memoirs of the lives and characters of officers of the navy of Great Britain, from the year 1660 to the present time; drawn from the most authentic sources, and disposed in a chronological arrangement, vol. iv. pp. 145 to 179. Contemporary pamphlets and publications about his case are:

A Candid Examination of the Resolutions and Sentence of the Court-Martial on the Trial of Admiral Byng ... In a letter to the gentlemen of the Navy. By an Old Sea Officer. London, J. Cooke, 1757.
A Collection of several Pamphlets, very little known, some suppressed letters, and sundry detached pieces ... relative to the case of Admiral Byng. London, T. Lacy, 1756.
A Dialogue between the Ghost of A.....l B.... [i.e. Admiral John Byng], and the Substance of a G....l [i.e. Lord George Sackville]: shewing the difference between a chop and a pop. [A satire in verse on Sackville’s conduct at Minden.] London, Smith, 1759?].
A Full and Particular Account of a most dreadful ... apparition [i.e. Admiral Byng’s Ghost] which appeared to a certain Great Man [i.e. T. P. Holles, Duke of Newcastle], etc. [London? 1757?].
A Further Address to the Publick. Containing genuine copies of all the letters which passed between A-l B-g [i.e. the Honourable John Byng] and the S-ry of the A-ty [i.e. the Secretary of the Admiralty, John Cleveland]; from the time of his suspension, to the twenty-fifth of October last. With proper remarks and reflections on the unprecedented treatment he has met with since his confinement. London, J. Lacy, 1757.
A Key to the Trial of Admiral Byng: or, a Brief state of facts relating to the action in the Mediterranean on the 20th of May, 1756, etc. London, [1756.]
A Late Epistle to Mr C---------d [i.e. John Cleveland]. [Signed: B-g]. A lampoon in verse on Admiral Byng. With an engraving.] [London?, 1756.]
A Letter to a Gentleman in the Country, from his friend in London: giving an authentick and circumstantial account of the confinement, behaviour, and death of Admiral Byng, as attested by the gentlemen who were present. London, J. Lacy, 1757.
A letter to a member of Parliament in the country, from his friend in London, relative to the case of Admiral Byng: with some original papers and letters which passed during the expedition ... London, J. Cooke, 1756.
A Letter to Admiral Smith, President of the Court Martial, for the tryal of the hon. J. Byng, Esq.; occasioned by a late performance [entitled, British Policy and British Bravery, a tragedy]. London, 1757.
A letter to Lord Robert Bertie, relating to his conduct in the Mediterranean, and his defence of Admiral Byng ... London, R. Griffiths, 1757.
A Letter to Lord Robert Bertie, relating to his conduct in the Mediterranean, and his defence of Admiral Byng. The second edition, to which is added, a Postscript, to the publick, relating to the execution of the Admiral. London, R. Griffiths, 1757.
A Letter to the Right Honourable Lord A----. London, Printed for William Bizet ..., 1757.
A Letter to the Right Honourable the L---ds of the A------y [i.e. the Lords of the Admiralty]. [By the Hon. Sarah Osborn, petitioning for their intercession with the King in behalf of Admiral John Byng.] [London, 1757.]
A Letter to the Rt. Hon. William Pitt; being an impartial vindication of the conduct of the Ministry, ... in answer to the aspersions cast upon them by Admiral Byng and his advocates. London, Printed for Philip Hodges ..., 1756.
A Modest Apology for the Conduct of a certain Admiral [i.e. the Hon. John Byng] in the Mediterranean, etc. [Based on the “Serious Apology.”] London, M. Cooper; B. Dodd, 1756.
A Narrative of the Proceedings of Admiral B---g [i.e. the Hon. John Byng] and of his Conduct off Mahon on th 20th of May. By an officer of the squadron. London, Owen, [1756.]
A parallel (in the manner of Plutarch) between the case of the late honourable Admiral John Byng, and that of the right honourable Lord George Sackville by a Captain of a man of war. London, Printed for R. Stevens ..., 1759.
A Ray of Truth darting thro’ the thick clouds of falshood: or, the Lion, the foxes, the monkey, and the gamecock. A fable, to which is added, a hymn to Jupiter. [A pamphlet in favour of Admiral John Byng.] Printed & sold at all the Booksellers, London, [1756.]
A Real Defence of A-l B-’s [i.e. Admiral Byng’s] Conduct ... By a Lover of Truth, and a Friend to Society. [A satire.] London, 1756.
A Rueful Story, or Britain in tears, being the conduct of Admiral B-g [i.e. the Hon. John Byng], in the late engagement off Mahone with a French fleet the 20. of May 1756. Printed by Boatswain Hawl-up: London, [1756.]
A Serious Apology and Modest Remarks on the Conduct of a Certain Admiral [i.e. Admiral Byng] in the Mediterranean, etc. [With woodcuts.] London, T. Bailey, 1756.
Admiral B----g [i.e. the Hon. John Byng] in Horrors at the Appearance of the Unhappy Souls, who was killed in the engagement crying for revenge. [In verse. With a woodcut.] [London?, 1756.]
Admiral B--g’s [i.e. the Hon. John Byng’s] Answer to the Friendly Advice, or, the Fox out of the pit and the geese in. [London?, 1756.]
Admiral Byng and the loss of Minorca, by Brian Tunstall. London, Philip Allan & co. ltd. London, 1928.
Admiral Byng’s Complaint. [A ballad, beginning: “Come all you true Britons and listen to me.”] [London, 1756?]
Admiral Byng’s Defence, as presented by him, and read in the Court January 18, 1757 ... containing a very particular account of the action on the 20th of May, 1756, off Cape Mola, etc. [With an appendix of letters.] London, J. Lacy, 1757.
Admiral Byng’s Defence, as presented by him ... in the Court January 18, 1757, etc. Dublin, J. Hoey, etc., 1757.
Admiral Forbes’s Reasons for not signing Admiral Byng’s Dead Warrant. London, 1757.
An account of the expedition of the British fleet to Sicily, in the years 1718, 1719 and 1720, under the Command of Sir George Byng (Collected from the Admiral's manuscripts and other original papers). London : J. and R. Tonson, 1739.
An Address to the Public, in answer to two pamphlets, intitled, An Appeal to the People of England, and A Letter to a Member of Parliament, relative to the case of A-l B-g [Admiral Byng] ... By an Ante Italianite. London, A. Type, 1756.
An Appeal to the People: containing, the genuine and entire letter of Admiral Byng to the Secr. of the Ad-y ... Part the first. (Part the second. On the different deserts and fate of Admiral Byng and his enemies, etc.). London, J. Morgan, 1756, 1757.
An appeal to the people: part the second. On the different deserts and fate of Admiral Byng and his enemies: the changes in the last administration: the year of liberty or thraldom ..., London, J. Morgan, 1757.
An Appeal to the People: containing, the genuine and entire letter of Admiral Byng to the Secr. of the Ad-y: observations on those parts of it which were omitted by the writers of the Gazette: and what might be the reasons for such omissions ... To this edition are added, some original papers and letters, etc. Dublin, L. Flin, 1756.
An Exact Copy of a Remarkable Letter from Admiral Byng to the Right Hon. W- P-, Esq; dated March 12, 1757, two days before his execution. London, J. Reason, 1757.
At 12 Mr. Byng was shot. [by Dudley Pope, with plates, including portraits.] London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, [1962.]
At twelve Mr. Byng was shot. Philadelphia, Lippincott [1962].
Boh Peep-Peep Boh, or A-l Bing’s apology to the Fribbles. A new ballad. [London, 1756?]
Bungiana, or an Assemblage of What-d’ye-call-em’s, etc. London printed; re-printed and sold by the Booksellers: Dublin, 1756.
Bungiana, or an Assemblage of What-d’ye-call-em’s, in prose and verse, that have ... appeared relative to the conduct of a certain naval commander [i.e. Admiral Byng], now first collected in order to perpetuate the memory of his wonderful atchievements. London, J. Doughty, 1756.
Byng return’d; or, the Council of expedients. [A satirical print, with verses.] [London?, 1756?].
Byng's tours: the journals of the Hon. John Byng 1781-1792 edited by David Souden. London, Century in association with The National Trust, 1991, Series National Trust classics. General note: Full edition originally published in 4 vols. London, Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1934-38.
Charles premier, roi d’Angleterre, condamné à mort par la nation Angloise. Et Bing, amiral anglois, fusillé par ordre de la même nation. Entretiens de leurs ombres aux Champs Élisées. Amsterdam, 1757.
Essential Queries relating to the Condemnation and Execution of Admiral Byng. [London? 1757.]
Histoire de l'expedition de l'Almiral Byng dans la Sicile, en 1718, 1719 et 1720, trad. del'angl. par M. Paris, Ballard, fils, 1744.
If Justice is begun? Let it continue. [Being an attack upon the Newcastle Administration, after the execution of Admiral Byng.] [London? 1757?].
Impartial Reflections on the Case of Mr. Byng, as stated in an Appeal to the People, etc. and a Letter to a Member of Parliament, etc. London, S. Hooper, 1756.
Letter to the Lords of the Admiralty [from the Hon. Sarah Osborn? imploring their intercession with the King for mercy to her brother, Admiral Byng, under sentence of death for breach of the Twelfth Article of War]. [London, 1757.]
Mémoire pour les ministres d'Angleterre, contre l'amiral Byng et contre l'auteur du ″Peuple instruit″. Ouvrage traduit de l'anglois. [by Edme-Jacques Genet.] 1757.
More Birds for the Tower, or, who’ll confess first. [A ballad, on the conduct of the Duke of Newcastle in relation to Admiral J. Byng.] [London? 1756?].
Noticia verdadeira da grande batalha naval que no canal de Malta houve entre hum navio inglez, e outro francez ... e se dá noticia da morte de grande almirante Jorze Bing [i.e. John Byng], etc. Lisboa, 1757.
Observations on the Twelfth Article of War: wherein the nature of negligence, cowardice, and disaffection, is discussed ... and the difference between error of judgment and negligence clearly stated ... and exemplified in the case of the late Admiral Byng ... In a letter to the President of the late Court Martial. By a Plain Man [i.e. David Mallet]. London, W. Owen, 1757.
Oh! Tempora. Oh! Mores ... Dedicated to the Captains Kirby, Constable, Wade, &c. in the regions below. [A lampoon in verse on Admiral Byng. With an engraving.] [London,] 1756.
Papers relating to the loss of Minorca in 1756 / Edited by Captain H. W. Richmond.[London], Navy Records Society, 1913.
Past twelve o’clock, or Byng’s ghost, an ode, inscribed to the Triumvirate; more particularly his Grace of N******** [Newcastle] ... The second edition. London, J. Scott, 1757.
Queries addressed to Capt. C-ll [Cornwall] late of His M.'s ship Revenge. [In reference to his conduct in the action off Cape Mola, and to his evidence before the court martial for the trial of Admiral Byng.] [London, 1757.]
Some Friendly and Seasonable Advice to Mr. Admiral Byng. [On his approaching trial by court-martial.] [London, 1756.]
Some Further Particulars in relation to the Case of Admiral Byng. From original papers, &c. ... By a Gentleman of Oxford. London, J. Lacy, 1756.
Some queries on the minutes of the council of war held at Gibraltar ... May 4 [1756.]; from which good reason may be drawn, for a noble colonel's [Lord Robert Bertie] having taken so large a part in the defence of Admiral B[yn]g. Edition Second edition. London, 1757.
Some reasons for believing sundry Letters and Papers ascribed to Admiral Byng, not only spurious, but also an insidious attempt to prejudice the Admiral’s character. By a By-stander (C- W-e). London, [1756.]
Testament politique de l’amiral Byng, traduit de l’anglois. Portsmouth [Paris?] 1759.
Testamento politico del almirante Bing: en el que se manifiestan las maxîmas del partido realista para sojuzgar al pueblo inglés, y quitarle la libertad que se ha adquirido; y asi mismo la senda que éste debe seguir para conservarla. Tr. del francés por Don Antonio Rato ... Valencia, Por. J. y T. de Orga, 1780.
The Block and Yard Arm. A new ballad, on the loss of Minorca and the danger of our American rights and possessions. [Against T. P. Holles, Duke of Newcastle and Admiral J. Byng.] [London, 1756.]
The Byng papers selected from the letters and papers of admiral Sir George Byng, 1st viscount Torrington, and of his son admiral the Hon. John Byng, and edited by Brian Tunstall. Vol. I -III). [London] the Mary Records Society, 1930-1932. 3 vol.
The Case of the Hon. Admiral Byng, ingenuously represented ... Likewise his letter to the Secretary of the Admiralty ... also two letters from M. Voltaire & the Marshal Duke de Richlieu to Mr. Byng. With an account of his execution ... Also an elegy on his death, etc. London, H. Owen, 1757.
The Chronicle of B----g [i.e. Hon. J. Byng], the son of the great B---g [Byng] that lived in the reign of Queen Felicia [i.e. Queen Anne]. Containing an account of his mighty transactions against Gallisoniere, his flight and happy arrival at G-r, [Gibraltar] and from thence to Sp-th-d. [Spithead]. By Israel Ben Ader of the tribe of Levi. The second edition. London, 1756.
The Counterpoise: or, B---g [Byng] and the M-----y [Ministry] fairly stated. By a By-stander, etc. Dublin, J. Murphy, 1756.
The Hon. Mrs. Osborn's Letter to the Lords of the Admiralty [dated, February 17, 1757; petitioning for their intercession with the King in behalf of Admiral J. Byng]. [London, 1757.]
The martyrdom of Admiral Byng. Glasgow, William Maclellan, 1961.
The New Art of War at Sea, now first practis’d by the English ships, under the command of the prudent Admiral Bung. [An engraving representing the English and French fleets, being a satire against Admiral Byng.] [London, 1756.]
The Original Paper delivered by Admiral Byng to the Marshal just before his execution, etc. [London? 1757.]
The Portsmouth Grand Humbug: or, a Merry dialogue between a Boatwain and his mate on board the Monarch, relating to Admiral Byng, etc. [London? 1757.]
The Proceedings of the ... Lords ... [1, 2 March, 1757] upon the Bill, intituled, An Act to relieve from the obligation of the Oath of Secrecy, the Members of the Court-Martial appointed for the tryal of Admiral J. Byng ... Together with the examinations of the several members of the said Court-Martial; taken ... at their Lordships’ Bar. London, T. Baskett, 1757.
The Proceedings of the ... Lords ... upon the Bill intituled, An Act to release from the obligation of the oath of secrecy, the members of the court-martial appointed for the tryal of Admiral John Byng ... Together with the examinations of the several members of the said court-martial ... To which is prefixed, an abstract of the proceedings of the Hon. House of Commons, upon the said Bill, etc. Dublin, G. Faulkner, etc., 1757.
The Resignation: or, the Fox out of the pit, and the geese in, with B----G [i.e. the Hon. John Byng] at the bottom. London, 1756.
The Sham Fight; or Political Humbug. A state farce in two acts [and in prose] as it was acted by some persons of distinction in the M[e]d[iterranea]n and elsewhere. London, printed and sold [by J. Ryall], 1756.
The Shooting of Admiral Byng, on board the Monarque, March 14, 1757. [An engraved plate, with descriptive letterpress and “a copy of a paper delivered by the Hon. Admiral Byng, to W. Brough, Esq., Marshal ... before his death,”] [London? 1757.]
The Sorrowful Lamentation and Last Farewell to the World of Admiral Byng. [A ballad.] [London, 1757.]
The Speech of the Honble Admiral Byng, intended to have been spoken on board the Monarque at the time of his execution, etc. London, T. Lindsey, [1757.]
The State of Minorca, and its Lost Condition when A-----l B--g [i.e. the Hon. John Byng] appeared off that island. London, S. Baker & G. Woodfall, [1757.]
The Trial of the honorable admiral Byng, at a court-martial held on board His Majesty's ship the St. George, in Portsmouth harbour, Tuesday, Dec. 28, 1756, for an enquiry into his conduct, while he commanded in the Mediterranean. Together with his defense... London, printed for and sold by J. Lacy, 1757.
The Trial of the Honourable John Byng, at a Court Martial, as taken by Mr. Charles Fearne ... To which are added, a copy of their Lordships memorial to the King, in relation to the sentence passed upon Admiral Byng [and other documents], etc. Dublin, J. Hoey, etc., 1757.
The Trial of Vice-Admiral Byng ... Together with the Admirals defence, taken down in short-hand. [An abridgment.] London, J. Reason, 1757.
To the People of England. [An address, signed Triton, in behalf of Admiral J. Byng.] [London, 1757.]
To the worthy Merchants and Citizens of London. [Urging the execution of sentence on Admiral Byng.] [London, 1757.]
Zuverlässige Lebens-Geschichte des grosbritannischen Admirals ... Johan Byng, etc. Frankfurt & Leipzig, 1757.

[edit] External links
Biography at the Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online
Newgate Calendar
John Byng at Ward's Book of Days
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Old 20-03-2009, 04:02
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There apparently was an earlier book too.
ADMIRAL BYNG
His Rise and Execution
Chris Ware


Born the son of George Byng, a favorite of the king and himself an admiral and member of the admiralty board (and later First Lord of the Admiralty), John Byng seemed destined for a shining career in the Royal Navy. He saw his first fleet action at Cape Passaro, the elder Byng's finest hour, as a Captain's Servant, aged just 14. He qualified as a lieutenant at 19 years old (although the minimum age was 21) and was Post Captain at 23. By the outbreak of the Seven Years' War he had risen to Admiral of the Blue. Then it all went wrong with the Battle of Minorca (20 May 1756), where his failure, or rather the nature of it, earned him accusations of cowardice and a court martial. His trial and execution were the hottest topic of the day, the media lampooning him mercilessly and his reputation has never recovered. Chris Ware reassesses Byng's whole career and carefully untangles the politics surrounding his final days to see how far his poor reputation is justified.

This is a valuable and long overdue addition to the literature of the Georgian navy.





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Old 20-03-2009, 19:36
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Greeting's shipmate,
Phew!! how do you follow that, great stuff.
I'm busy trying to find the strength of the British and French ships, how many guns etc, I'm only a novice at this game so please bear with me.

Baz.
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Old 22-03-2009, 05:59
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Baz,

We thank you for picking up the gauntlet. It's a fine old English tradition. The English have many great historical traditions, but among them all, the desire by folks to organize, catalogue and present informaiton of all kinds may be of the utmost importance. It has added immensely to the book of human understanding and it's just plane fun to boot. Enjoy the journey.

Fred
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Old 22-03-2009, 20:24
tim lewin tim lewin is offline
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Dear Fred, the greatest history of the Royal Navy was actually written by Americans who included Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and edited by the redoubtable Captain Mahan!

PS. If anyone feels extrordinarily flush i have a complete set to sell, its in good original condition but before my specific era of interest.
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Old 23-03-2009, 18:19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by barry-sheila@tiscali.co.u View Post
Nobody in their right mind could ever come to the conclusion that Admiral Byng was guilty of the charges brought against him.
Hi lads
Evidently by the rules and standards of his time, Byngs actions where just that bit too wide of the mark as an charge like this against an admiral wouldn't start from nothing. In short, there's no smoke without fire... there must be some basis to the claim.

The basic fact of his offence is that he wasn't aggressive (or lucky?) enough... he led an equal number of ships against the enemy and with factors in his favour, came off worse. There is the cause... one simply doesn't hand 'his Lordships' an unpalatable defeat when the circumstances decreed you should have had a victory.

You could cite all manner of alibis for him, that his fleet had less canon/under-manned/crewed with soldiers, that the french were better shots, his ships where old, etc, etc, etc.

But their Lordships will say get more canon yourself or devise tactics so that the enemies excessive canon can't dominate, that you should press men, train the soldiers, train your gunners, fix defects, etc, etc, etc.

If all you see before you are obstacles, you'll never get over them. I thik our Admiral here wasn't aggresive enough to make facilitate the factors that would enable a victory and that's why he was shot. The Americans call it 'the right stuff'.... Byng didn't have the right stuff.


For the encouragement of others
This still forms a basis to many of the sentenses handed down by our courts today only we call it 'making an example of... '.

'Flogging round the fleet' and 'Hands fall in to witness punishment' are prime examples of this, both cases where the max number of persons are called to witness a punishment.
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Old 23-03-2009, 18:59
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Byng's only crime would appear to be that he did not engage the enemy with the reckless disregard for odds that was expected of naval officers in desperate times.

Jan
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Old 23-03-2009, 21:50
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Battle of Minorca.

The Battle of Minorca (20 May 1756) was a Franco Spanish naval victory over a British fleet, leading to the courts martial and execution of the British commander. It was the opening sea battle of the seven years war in the European theatre. Shortly after Grear Britain declared war on the house of Bourbon, Their squadrons met off the Mediterranean island of Minorca.
The British defeat led to the controversial court-martial and execution of the British commander, Admiral John Byng, for "failure to do his utmost" to relieve the siege of the British garrison on Minorca.

Background.

The French had been menacing the British held garrison on Minorca, which had come under British control during the war of the Spanish Succession in 1708. Great Britain and France had commenced hostilities in the New World colonies earlier in 1754 (the French and Indian War), and at this point the conflict was not gtoing well for Great Britain. The gtovernment was anxious to protect her presence closer to home, and was concerned that the French might even be planning to invade Great Britain themselves (as France had done in previous wars by supporting the Jacobite pretenders).

The long expected French move on Minorca finally caused the British government to act, albeit too belatedly, and a squadron of 10 ships of the line was dispatched from Gibraltar to it's defence, under the command of John Byng (then a Vice Admiral, but quickly promoted to Admiral for the purpose). Despite have considerable intelligence of the strength of the French fleet at Toulon that was designated for the invasion of Minorca, the ships allocated to Byng were all in a poor state of repair and undermanned.

Prelude.

When Byng and his small fleet, reinforced by ships of the Minorca squadron that had escaped the island, arrived off Minorca on May 19, they found the island already overrun by French troops, with only the garrison of Fort St Philip (Port Mahon) holding out. Byng's orders were to relieve the garrison, but a French squadron of 12 ships of the line and 5 frigates intervened as the afternoon was wearing on. The two fleets positioned themselves, and battle was drawn up on the morning of the following day.

Battle.

Facing 12 French ships of the line, Byng formed his 12 largest ships into a single line of battle and approached the head of the French line on a parallel course whils maintaining the weather gage. He then ordered his ships to go about and come alongside their opposite numbers in the French fleet. However, the poor signalling capability of the times caused confusion and delay in closing. The British van took a considerable pounding from their more heavily armed French adversaries, while the rear of the line, including Byng's flagship, failed to come within effective cannon range. During the battle Byng displayed considerable caution and an over-reliance on standard fighting procedures, and several of his ships were seriously damaged, although no ships were lost on either side.
Following a Council of War, at which all the senior officers present concurred, it was agreed the fleet stood no chance of further damaging the Frech ships or of relieving the garrison. Byng t5herefor gave orders to return to Gibraltar.

Aftermath.

The battle could be considered a draw, but Byng's actions in failing to press on to relieve the garrison or persue the French fleet resulted in severe criticism. The Admiralty, perhaps concerned to cover for it's own poor preparation for disastrous venture, charged Byng for breaching the Articles of War by failing to do all he could to fulfill his orders and support the garrison. Byng was court martialled, found guilty and sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on 14 March 1757 on the battleship HMS Monarch in Portsmouth harbour.

Order of Battle. British

Defiance 60 guns
Portland 50 guns
Lancaster 66
Buckingham 68 (Flag 2)
Captain 64
Intrepid 64
Revenge 64
Princess Louisa 60
Trident 64
Ramillies 90 (Flag 1)
Culloden 74
Kingston 60
Deptford 48
Dolphin 22
Chesterfield 44
Experiment 24
Phoenix 56
Fortune 18

Bearing in mind all of Byng's ships were undermanned and in a state of dis-repair old and leaking etc:

French

Orphee 64
Hippoptame 50
Redoubtable 74
Sage 64
Guerrier 74
Fier 50
Foudroyant 80 (Flag)
Temeraire 74
Content 64
Lion 64
Couronne 74
Triton 64

Plus 5 Frigates which I can't find the names of, it seems fair to assume that the Frigates would not have more than 20 guns each, maybe less.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg British and French fleets.jpg (154.8 KB, 15 views)
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Old 23-03-2009, 22:02
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Battle of Minorca.

The Battle of Minorca (20 May 1756) was a Franco Spanish naval victory over a British fleet, leading to the courts martial and execution of the British commander. It was the opening sea battle of the seven years war in the European theatre. Shortly after Grear Britain declared war on the house of Bourbon, Their squadrons met off the Mediterranean island of Minorca.
The British defeat led to the controversial court-martial and execution of the British commander, Admiral John Byng, for "failure to do his utmost" to relieve the siege of the British garrison on Minorca.

Background.

The French had been menacing the British held garrison on Minorca, which had come under British control during the war of the Spanish Succession in 1708. Great Britain and France had commenced hostilities in the New World colonies earlier in 1754 (the French and Indian War), and at this point the conflict was not gtoing well for Great Britain. The gtovernment was anxious to protect her presence closer to home, and was concerned that the French might even be planning to invade Great Britain themselves (as France had done in previous wars by supporting the Jacobite pretenders).

The long expected French move on Minorca finally caused the British government to act, albeit too belatedly, and a squadron of 10 ships of the line was dispatched from Gibraltar to it's defence, under the command of John Byng (then a Vice Admiral, but quickly promoted to Admiral for the purpose). Despite have considerable intelligence of the strength of the French fleet at Toulon that was designated for the invasion of Minorca, the ships allocated to Byng were all in a poor state of repair and undermanned.

Prelude.

When Byng and his small fleet, reinforced by ships of the Minorca squadron that had escaped the island, arrived off Minorca on May 19, they found the island already overrun by French troops, with only the garrison of Fort St Philip (Port Mahon) holding out. Byng's orders were to relieve the garrison, but a French squadron of 12 ships of the line and 5 frigates intervened as the afternoon was wearing on. The two fleets positioned themselves, and battle was drawn up on the morning of the following day.

Battle.

Facing 12 French ships of the line, Byng formed his 12 largest ships into a single line of battle and approached the head of the French line on a parallel course whils maintaining the weather gage. He then ordered his ships to go about and come alongside their opposite numbers in the French fleet. However, the poor signalling capability of the times caused confusion and delay in closing. The British van took a considerable pounding from their more heavily armed French adversaries, while the rear of the line, including Byng's flagship, failed to come within effective cannon range. During the battle Byng displayed considerable caution and an over-reliance on standard fighting procedures, and several of his ships were seriously damaged, although no ships were lost on either side.
Following a Council of War, at which all the senior officers present concurred, it was agreed the fleet stood no chance of further damaging the Frech ships or of relieving the garrison. Byng t5herefor gave orders to return to Gibraltar.

Aftermath.

The battle could be considered a draw, but Byng's actions in failing to press on to relieve the garrison or persue the French fleet resulted in severe criticism. The Admiralty, perhaps concerned to cover for it's own poor preparation for disastrous venture, charged Byng for breaching the Articles of War by failing to do all he could to fulfill his orders and support the garrison. Byng was court martialled, found guilty and sentenced to be shot. The sentence was carried out on 14 March 1757 on the battleship HMS Monarch in Portsmouth harbour.

Order of Battle. British

Defiance 60 guns
Portland 50 guns
Lancaster 66
Buckingham 68 (Flag 2)
Captain 64
Intrepid 64
Revenge 64
Princess Louisa 60
Trident 64
Ramillies 90 (Flag 1)
Culloden 74
Kingston 60
Deptford 48
Dolphin 22
Chesterfield 44
Experiment 24
Phoenix 56
Fortune 18

Bearing in mind all of Byng's ships were undermanned and in a state of dis-repair old and leaking etc:

French

Orphee 64
Hippoptame 50
Redoubtable 74
Sage 64
Guerrier 74
Fier 50
Foudroyant 80 (Flag)
Temeraire 74
Content 64
Lion 64
Couronne 74
Triton 64

Plus 5 Frigates which I can't find the names of, it seems fair to assume that the Frigates would not have more than 20 guns each, maybe less.

Baz.
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Old 25-03-2009, 04:24
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Baz,

Great post! It just goes to show that numbers aren't everything. On paper, the RN squadron appeared quite formidable. It's very, very interesting.

Fred
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Old 25-03-2009, 08:15
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

What an interesting and informative thread this has been. I certainly know more now than I did before. Surely there is nothing new to learn except maybe how many pairs of brown trousers were issued before the battle!!

best
Jan
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Old 25-03-2009, 19:50
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

In looking at the Diagram that Baz attached, it made me think about Nelson at Trafalgar. If Byng had used the weather guage and turned 90 degrees to starboard at first gunshot, he could have cut the French line of battle by filling in every gap. It might have also allowed the van to catch up roll up the rear where they would have a numerical advantage?

Fred
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Old 27-03-2009, 04:42
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Upon reflection, Nelson cut the French line in two at a single point. Leading in Victory, he took the brunt of the assault from broadsides and sharpshooters, but then the ships that followed were able to gain leverage. If Byng had done what I suggested, the entire English line would be exposed to the broadside without being able to fire anything but a bow chaser. Still, I bet Nelson's tactic would have worked but that's why he was Nelson and no one else was. That's not a reflection on Byng. There was then and forever, only one Nelson.

Fred
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Old 27-03-2009, 14:03
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Greeting's shipmates,
A little more on Admiral Byng, I have a copy of his letter that he sent to the Government/Admiralty of the day. The highlighted parts are what was ommited when it was published in a London paper, anything that appeared in Admiral Byng's favour was "cut out" when presented to the general public. I attach them below. Please forgive me for not typing them as I seem to get into all sorts of trouble when I do.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Byng 1.jpg (1.16 MB, 17 views)
File Type: jpg Byng 2.jpg (1.20 MB, 5 views)
File Type: jpg Byng 3.jpg (267.9 KB, 7 views)
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Old 15-02-2010, 23:44
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

according to the series Empire of the seas , the execution of Admiral Byng had a direct bearing on the Battle of Quiberon bay as it acted as an incentive causing the British fleet to press on into rough seas in order to gain the victory
Nigel
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Old 15-02-2010, 23:54
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by nigelweysom View Post
according to the series Empire of the seas , the execution of Admiral Byng had a direct bearing on the Battle of Quiberon bay as it acted as an incentive causing the British fleet to press on into rough seas in order to gain the victory
Nigel

The reckless tradition of attack whatever the odds led to a series of disasters when frigate captains attacked heavy American frigates in the Naval war of 1812. When the RN frigates were sunk or captured the British public and the admiralty blamed the captains. In fact the USS frigates were so well built, gunned, manned and commanded that the British frigates never stood a chance
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Old 16-02-2010, 05:23
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Unhappy Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

I could be wrong, but having just read this thread about the unfortunate Admiral who should never have been treated so harshly guilty or not.

How many of the rank and file shot for cowardice deserved a more lenient sentence? Or is it just war is such a bloody horror. Blind Justice?

JB
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Old 16-02-2010, 16:39
steve roberts steve roberts is offline
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Thumbs down Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Hi John.I think he was treated dreadfully,but it was "Their Lordships" way of ensuring their Senior Officers toed the line.And try a bit harder too boot!!!...Steve.
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Old 03-03-2010, 11:52
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Default Re: Did Admiral John Byng deserve to be executed?

Very interested to find the World Naval Ships forum on the web! Thanks to all who make the site interesting.
My interest is Admiral John Byng, the history surrounding him and the seeking of the exoneration.

Two points:

1.
'Empire of the Seas' BBC series:

There was an immediate response from four Byng descendants in response to the BBC Series, Empire of the Seas (signatures omitted as I am not sure if permission is needed or not – but it is easy to find on web as letters to the editor are on line.)


Letter printed in Telegraph 24th January 2010

'TV unjust to Admiral Byng'

"SIR – We are collateral descendants of Admiral Byng, and have reacted to the BBC 2 programme Empire of the Seas in a similar way. While it is excellent to capture the imagination of the public, it is wrong to repeat historical inaccuracies.
Admiral Byng did not “retreat” from Minorca having failed to engage the enemy. After initially engaging with the French, he withdrew to Gibraltar when the enemy had disappeared, in order to mend his battered ships and to tend to his wounded sailors. It was also his duty to defend Gibraltar from the French.
He wrote to the Admiralty asking for reinforcements and stipulated he would then waste no time in attacking the enemy again. This letter was censored by the Admiralty for political reasons. He presented his full-length letter at his court-martial, yet was imprisoned in Greenwich and shot on the Monarch.
What he had written to the Admiralty, on May 25, 1756, was this: “I send their Lordships the resolutions of the council of war, in which there was not the least contention or doubt arose. I hope, indeed, we shall find stores to refit us at Gibraltar; and, if I have any reinforcement, will not lose a moment of time to seek the enemy again, and once more give them battle.”

London NW3


2.

If anyone lives near Bedfordshire and is interested to see the famous epitaph on Admiral Byng’s tomb (Herakles posted the full wording of the epitaph on 13. 3. 2009) - here is some information:

Admiral Byng is buried in All Saints' Church, Southill, a small village in Bedfordshire, England. It is normally a private tomb. 14th March 1757, the day Admiral Byng was executed, this year, 2010, happens to fall on a Sunday:

[Gunnersmate / Baz posted 16. 3. 2009 that you live nearby. Hope you can make it? ]

Information:
'Admiral Byng. Executed 253 years ago on 14th March 1757.
Church Service, Sunday 14th March 2010. Time: 9.15am
Mr Nico Rodenberg, church warden of All Saints' Church, Southill, Bedfordshire, informs us that during the normal church service on Sunday, 14th March 2010, the vicar, Rev Mark-Aaron Tisdale has kindly agreed to include some details and a special prayer for Admiral John Byng. The newly renovated Byng Vault will be open after the service (and he hopes that the ground water currently in the vault approx 2 inches) will have disappeared by then.
The famous epitaph, “To the perpetual disgrace of public(k) justice ………” , reputedly written by Samuel Johnson, is now clearly visible.

Family and friends and supporters of the exoneration are all welcome.'

[‘Google Maps’ site on the web is quite good for directions: type in ‘Southill, Bedfordshire’ and then ‘Get Directions’. The church is close to the White Horse Pub.]

Seagull
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