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Encyclopedia > The Ballad of the "Clampherdown"

The Ballad of the "Clampherdown" is a satirical poem written by Rudyard Kipling in 1892. Satire is a literary technique of writing or art which principally ridicules its subject (individuals, organizations, states) often as an intended means of provoking or preventing change. ... Poetry (ancient Greek: poieo = create) is an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional and semantic content. ... Rudyard Kipling, British author Joseph Rudyard Kipling (December 30, 1865 – January 18, 1936) was a British author and poet, born in India. ... 1892 was a leap year starting on Friday (see link for calendar). ...


The poem describes an engagement between the Clampherdown, a fictional Royal Navy battleship, and a light cruiser of indeterminate origin; she is described as "of the ancient foe", and carrying "a dainty Hotchkiss gun", which implies the French navy. After the Clampherdown's guns fail to sink the cruiser, and she drifts aimlessly being shelled, she collides with the cruiser, and her crew "out cutlasses, and board!" the enemy. The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the senior service of the armed services, being the oldest of its three branches. ... HMS Victory in 1884 In naval history, battleships were the most heavily armed and armored warships afloat. ... A light cruiser is a warship that is not so large and powerful as a regular (or heavy) cruiser, but still larger than ships like destroyers. ... The Hotchkiss gun was a revolving barrel machine gun invented in 1872 by Benjamin B. Hotchkiss, (1826-1885). ... The French Navy (Marine Nationale) is the naval arm of the French military and is the second-largest Western European navy (the largest being the United Kingdoms Royal Navy). ...


It was inspired by a letter written to the St James's Gazette, whose author "seemed to believe that naval warfare of the future would be conducted on the old Nelsonic battle lines,including boarding, etc.", to quote Kipling's explanation. He wrote the poem as a deliberate humorous play on this idea; however, to his surprise, it was taken quite seriously and published. Naval warfare is combat in and on seas and oceans. ... In naval warfare, the line of battle is a tactic in which the ships of the fleet form a line. ...


It is worth noting that whilst boarding did, of course, never return as a major part of naval warfare, it did occur occasionally. The last major boarding action by the Royal Navy was the Altmark Incident, in 1940. The Royal Navy of the United Kingdom is the senior service of the armed services, being the oldest of its three branches. ... The German tanker Altmark in Jøssingfjord, Norway, February 1940 The Altmark Incident (Norwegian: Altmark-saken) was a naval skirmish of the Second World War between United Kingdom and Nazi Germany, occurring in at that time neutral Norwegian waters on 16 February 1940. ... 1940 was a leap year starting on Monday (link will take you to calendar). ...


The Clampherdown is described in some detail in the poem, allowing some comparison to be made to real vessels. Whilst the name is similar to HMS Camperdown, the physical description - "one bow-gun of a hundred ton / and a great stern-gun beside" - is closer to that of her sister ship the Benbow, which was built with an experimental armament. (Both were Admiral class battleships, pre-dreadnoughts launched in the 1880s) HMS Camperdown was an Admiral class battleship of the UK Royal Navy. ... The British Royal Navys pre-dreadnought Admiral-class battleships of the 1880s was a followed the pattern of the Devastation class in having the main armament on centre-line mounts with the superstructure in between. ... The HMS Illustrious, an example of a pre-dreadnought battleship launched 1896 The term pre-dreadnought refers to a battleship designed and built between about 1890 and the 1906 construction of HMS Dreadnought for the British Royal Navy under the influence of First Sea Lord Fisher in 1906. ...


The 16.25" guns of Benbow, the largest and most powerful then fitted to a Royal Navy battleship, were not greatly successful in service; they took four or five minutes to load and fire, the barrels only had a life of 75 rounds, and the muzzles tended to droop. The ships of this class were only partially armoured, with the bow and stern being lightly protected, and had low freeboard; these factors are noted and reflected in the text. In 1892, Benbow had recently been removed from active service and was serving as a guard ship at Greenock; the defects in her design would have been clear by this point. Greenock (Grianaig in Scottish Gaelic) is a town in the district of Inverclyde in western Scotland. ...

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The Ballad of the "Clampherdown"

 
 

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