In January 1944, Vice Admiral Percy Walker Nelles was fired from his position as head of the Royal Canadian Navy. Betrayed reveals the true story behind the dismissal: a divisive power struggle between two elite groups within the RCN pitted the navy’s regular officers against a small group of self-appointed spokesmen for the voluntary naval reserve. Threats of public scandal, mass insurrection, and political intimidation caused one of the worst breakdowns in Canadian civil-military relations, revealing complex aspects of military professionalism and leadership.
This fascinating investigation into the machinations of a divided navy tackles important questions of military professionalism, leadership, and identity. Betrayed will appeal to readers interested in military history and security studies, political science, and sociology.
[Mayne’s] insights into the cultural clash between parts of the reserves and regular officers are interesting and truly original. The book is highly recommended for specialists and informed general readers in Canadian naval history.
Betrayed has been attractively produced and includes excellent photographs not previously published, extensive endnotes and a comprehensive index which enables the reader to easily zero in on details. Based on careful research and rich in detail, this is a revealing look at how the strains of managing the creation of a modern navy while fighting a vicious campaign proved overwhelming for both the minister and his senior professional advisor. With its rich store of details this book is an essential source of information about internal dynamics within the RCN between 1940 and 1944. Fascinating.
Mayne's exhaustively researched and crisply written Betrayed is the sorry tale of tensions within the navy and between the RCN and its government.... The cognoscenti will see Mayne's book for the wonderful revelation it is. He has exposed the rich texture of the navy's internal politics and shed light on the machinations of some of the RCN's key officers during the most difficult years of the war.
This book will be a key title in my own library. Betrayed tells a fascinating story about Canada’s effort during the critical years of the Battle of the Atlantic, shedding new light on relations between volunteer-reserve personnel and the permanent force, the complicated issues involved in the equipment of the fleet, and the quality of leadership of the wartime navy.
Richard Mayne probes behind the scenes of wartime naval and staff operations and uncovers a web of careerism, politics, opportunism, grievance, intrigue, slander and betrayal. All to portray the chief of the naval staff and his senior staff as incompetent and unworthy. Percy Nelles fights back with frightening vigour but is forced out. Mayne rights this wrong. A triumph of masterful research and brilliant intuitive analysis, woven into compelling narrative and a dramatic confrontation. Places Mayne squarely in the front rank of a new generation of young Canadian naval scholars.
A fascinating topic, of significance not only for Canadian naval history, but for Canadian history writ large. The interactions, machinations, and suspicions of two key wartime social groups – the professional “regular force” officers of the Royal Canadian Navy, and the volunteer “hostilities only” reserve officers who swelled their ranks – offer a wealth of insights into questions of professional and social identity in times of national crisis. A remarkable book.
Introduction: The Game and Its Players
1 Confused Seas
2 Equal Privileges for Greater Sacrifices
3 The Strange Interpretation
4 Trying to Keep Afloat
5 Informers, Collaborators, and Promise Breakers
6 A Loaded Investigation
7 Covering Up the Conspiracy
Afterword: Game’s End and the Final Score
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