England Expects More....

England Expects More.... CH 1-1
England Expects More from Every Man....

This is a sequel to England Expects that Every Man.... from last year. It is implicitly assumed that readers have read that one, although I think this one could be read on its own – you just need to know that events have progressed on a different path than OTL, and there will be both puzzles and spoilers if you read this one first. There is no scene-setting piece here at the beginning so as not to spoil England Expects for a new reader, but it will inevitably be exposed so I recommend you go read it first.

England Expects introduces some of the characters in this story and will make them rather more clear. As for what this story is, I have some ideas and I think it will be fun to roll them out. Posting will be slow – I have nothing 'in the can' to post and only a bare outline past the first few parts. That all means that the characters have to live it out before I can record it, and report it here. Patience will be a virtue.

There will be minimal research, but I will try to keep it real. This story starts a few months after a highly recognizable moment in WWI, and moves away when a few people think about how the world works – not how they have been trained to believe how it works – and then start putting pieces together.

All named characters are real, unless otherwise noted. (I will try to remember to mark those who carry over from
England Expects – they have become real to me.) There are some other roles where my limited research has not turned up names for the OTL persons, and so I may be making up a few names. I will also be inventing names and even complete positions to fill in roles which may or may not have been there, but that I think need filling.

Finally, I can say that I am flattered by the nomination of
England Expects for a Turtledove Award for 2019, and I thank those who nominated and who are voting for me. It was your kind words, and talk of nominations (Quoi? Turtledove Award? Qu’est-ce que c’est?) many months ago that caused me to think about moving on with this sequel. Thank you all. // VP

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CHAPTER 1 Part 1: England Expects More....

ONE

“Commander Torrance Smythe?* Captain Green can see you now, sir.”

“Thank you.”

Commander Louis Francis Torrance Smyth* stepped into Captain John Green's day cabin on HMS New Zealand. “Welcome Commander. Take a chair. I am happy to have the opportunity to thank you personally for all you did for us before the Battle of Jutland, to get us ready. And sometimes in spite of ourselves.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“And Admiral Pakenham has probably told you himself how much he came to appreciate the experience.”

“Yes, sir. He has, sir. He was most generous.”

“During the battle we even shared a word about the value of having had a tense time at your FACT sessions. It helped us be in a better frame of mind to deal with situations and give the huns a thumping. From what I have heard they got one of their battle cruisers home, severely damaged, and perhaps another. Do you have any more recent information on that?”

“Yes, sir. With a few months to work on it our intelligence services have a bit more to say. Their one surviving battlecruiser is in the dockyard for some months yet, if they have not actually concluded that it is not worth repairing. They had another which recent information suggests they got close to home before losing it. The confusion in information we were receiving is because they were apparently trying to beach the ship for later recovery, but it sank a few miles too soon – in deeper water.”

“Thank you. That's a bit more detailed than the latest information I have received here in Rosyth. We won't have to worry about their fast wing until their new ships are completed.

“Now I understand that you are here to ask after Lieutenant Walke?* What is it you would like to know? I presume you are sizing him up for a job.”

Torrance Smythe ("Smithy" in the Service) was a bit uneasy. “Well, sir, I don't know where to start, except that he is under consideration for a new assignment. All I can say at this time is that his facility to see patterns and make sense in the numbers when others see none – as Admiral Moore described to me over a year ago – is highly desirable.”

“Smithy, I don't know what to say about that part. I pulled out his file and it has splendid reports on him as an officer. And I can say that I have watched him and he is indeed a very fine young man. He rose from turret officer of 'X' at Dogger Bank to 'A' turret and then to Assistant Gunnery Officer. Some think him young for that, but he has been a great success as AGO, sufficiently that the GO considers himself almost redundant. Walke also qualified as a watch-keeping officer, and I have watched him learn ship-handling rapidly and well. The navigator reports that he is the best he has ever seen at celestial navigation.

“The one point of question is the Wardroom. He doesn't seem to.... He is not disliked, far from it, but he doesn't seem to get on particularly well with anyone either. Not that he has no friends, just that he gets on with everyone on a similar and very professional basis. And he is quietly, and I think he believes invisibly, dismissive of those who are not working as hard as he is to be as professional as they can be. I don't know what to say about that, not if your job involves working in a team. If he fits then he's your man, but if not, then it might be a very bad fit.”

“I see, sir. At least I think I do. He's competent as an officer in general, in both gunnery and seamanship, anything he turns his hand to. He is highly intelligent, but we are not certain how he works with others.”

“Not quite. I think we can say that he works well with others in some, even most, circumstances, but there is some doubt about how he fits in. Personable enough when he is around, but doesn't spend time socially and some other junior officers consider him quite snobbish. Some say he spends his time with other ranks and POs, and hold him in disdain for that. But I suspect that for his leisure he just works at the details of his assignment. There is some odd thing there that I can't quite identify.”

“Sir, he sounds like the kind of man we want, but he must be able to work hand-in-glove, hands-in-others-pockets even, with the team. Sir, this is an important job – I can tell you that I have been reassigned to it myself and others are being sought from across the RN. Is there anyone else I can speak with about Walke? The GO?”

“I talked with the GO and he has no more to add, is ashore at the moment in any event. We both think you should meet with the Gunner, Mr. MacDougall.* He seems to have mentored Walke to some large degree, and they are seen working on gunnery matters all over the ship.”

“Very good, sir. Where might I find him?”

“He was notified of your arrival and,” Green checked the wall clock, “I expect he arrived outside a few minutes ago. I'll leave you this cabin to meet with him, if that suits you?” Smithy's surprise at this foresight brought a smile from Captain Green, who offered his hand as he picked up his hat with his left. “Good luck in your new assignment.”

Smithy got past his surprise and stood. “Thank you, sir. This is most kind of you.”

“You are most welcome. There is a lot of capability in that young man, if you can find the right place to put it to work.” Green paused. “I'll send The Gunner in. See me before you leave the ship.”

“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
== ==
*In England Expects we did not see the full name of (ficticious character) Commander Torrance Smyth (Smithy). Lieutenant Walke is a ficticious character whom we met briefly. Mr. MacDougall is a ficticious character we also saw briefly in England Expects.
 
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Hurrah, it begins resumes!

The only thing I want to know is how you got hold of my old annual reports - Lt Walke sounds suspiciously like how I was described <redacted> years ago!
 
We haven't heard about Admiral Moore, but I imagine that there will be some chatter about him at some point.

I am happy to see some familiar names in the comments and likes. Thank you for the kind words and expressions of happy anticipation.
I hope I don't disappoint you too much. I don't have the critical early years of Dogger leading along toward Jutland to write around this time.
The only thing I want to know is how you got hold of my old annual reports - Lt Walke sounds suspiciously like how I was described <redacted> years ago!
Ha! I don't know whether Smithy or Walke (or maybe Moore?) is more like me, or maybe my father. LOL. I guess they are all some combo of characters we have known. ROFL.
Walke is clearly a high-IQ individual, and his problem with unclear rules is that he can see too many potential eventualities and contingencies without consciously trying. Hence he is fine if there are no rules - he can get on with it.
Smithy also meets or exceeds the 51st percentile of ursine intelligence, but is more able to think laterally, and to see things from alternate points of view.
 
England Expects More.... CH 1-2
CHAPTER 1 Part 2: England Expects More....

TWO

“Come in Mr. MacDougall. Please, have a seat.”

“Thank you, sirr.”

“I expect Captain Green told you that I am considering Lieutenant Walke for a new assignment. It's a special job and I do need to understand as much as I can before I decide to offer him the job. Please feel free to tell me what you can. Nothing you tell me will be held against him in any way – I just need to know who I am asking to join me.”

“Yes, sirr. I will try to answer whateverr questions you have.”

“Thank you, Mr. MacDougall.” Smithy smiled, “now before I start asking dumb questions about all the wrong things, what would you like to say? I know it is not usual for a Warrant Officer to be asked for an opinion of an officer, but I assure you this is a special situation, and I've been told that you're his mentor. How have you found him?”

“Sirr, the short answer is that he is as good a young officer as I have worked with in my four decades in the navy. He looks, listens, and learns, asks questions and when he needs to he can make up his mind right quick. He'll tackle any situation you give him. And sirr, I should say that he passes one of the best tests for any young officer – his men like him and they work hard for him and with him.”

“That's indeed a ringing endorsement of any officer. Thank you. What gives him his magic touch with the men?”

“He is just himself, sirr. He is not one of the herredit'ry officers, 'rristocratic RN family and all that, some of them what who regard themselves as better than the men.” His mouth crinkled almost invisibly as he said that, a clear sign of what he thought. “ He's a genuine person and treats them like they matter. They know that, and that he will do what he can for them. Like when.... Ha'hmm.... One of the lads lost his father missing and his brother killed, first day at the Somme. Another brother had gone missing at sea – later rescued – the month before. Lieutenant Walke got him a two week leave, and then sent a telegram to his mother that he was on the way. He also wrote a letter to her and posted it himself. He felt the man's loss himself.”

“Very good.” Smithy paused, thought of his own views, and went on. “He sees different ranks and jobs, but all working together.”

“Aye, sirr, that's just it.” MacDougall nodded as he spoke.

“If I may ask, does he have a weak spot that might trip him up?”

“Commander, I can't speak for how he gets along with the other officers, but otherwise he's solid. And if he doesn't feel solid about something, he finds out what he needs to know.”

“Mr. MacDougall, you are describing the man I want to have, thank you. I can see in your face that you like him, and from what you have said I do too. I can tell you that my team will face challenges in many ways. We will need to learn and adapt, and unlearn what is wrong, and sometimes persuade others. I need him.”

Smithy paused again as Mr. MacDougall waited for him to continue. “I am going too far here, but, I recognize that you have more years in the RN than I have on earth and I seek your help. He gets along well with seniors, and with the men. What happens with his peers, with other junior officers?”

“Sirr.... Sirr, I know he doesn't have bad relations with them, it's just different. Sirr, I raised six kids of my own – or mostly Mrs. MacDougall did, with me away so much.” He smiled faintly as he thought of his family. “They're all older than him and I have seen young folks like him...”

“And me?” Smithy interjected with a wide and genuine smile.

“...yes, sirr.” Mr. MacDougall responded with what was for his serious demeanor a similarly warm expression. “And, I have seen them trying to figure out where they are in the world. Lieutenant Walke needs to know where he stands. He can talk with the Captain and the Admiral, and just like with the men he knows where he stands. With other officers it's fine on working matters, but if it's social and the rules aren't there, he's nervous.” Mr. MacDougall looked thoughtful for a moment and continued.

“Sirr, even within gunnery, if he knows the limits of what he can do he will, but if it isn't in the KR&AI, or written down, or in his orders, he gets tied up in thinking about the rules. That's his odd spot: he needs rules, at least to know what they are or...or if there are none and he is free to act. If you have some special group where he doesn't have to worry about fitting into some unwritten set of rules then he is...he is as good as you can get. Sirr.”

“Wonderful descriptions Mr. MacDougall. Your descriptions not only ensure that he will have the job, but may help me in how I organize it. I am a lot like that myself on the business of rules: unwritten or unclear rules are frustrating, and unfair. At the same time, a lack of rules can be an invitation to get on with the job.” Smithy stood to shake hands. “Thank you for your help, and for all you have done for him.”

“Thank you, sirr,” Mr. MacDougall said as he went to the door. There he paused, and relaxed. “You're right, Commander, he has been like an extra son to me,” he said as he turned and left.

Smithy sat for a moment to think about what he had learned. Yes, probably a very good fit. The problem would be in finding others who could help them. After a few minutes he got up and opened the door to speak to the sentry outside, “Please pass the word for....”

“Lieutenant Walke, sir? The Gunner, ah, Mr. MacDougall, said you wanted to see me right away.”
== ==
 
Vpsoccer,

Found your first timeline late but have read it over this weekend. A great read!

Looking forward to the story continuing.

Regards

Kosh
 
I know it is not usual for a Warrant Officer to be asked for an opinion of an officer
It's always the NCOs and WOs who know most about what's going on. If a young officer learns to listen to them early, he (or she) will do fine.
On that subject, I do wonder how many sailors (not officers) might be seconded to this special team?
 
England Expects More.... CH 1-3
Apologies for the delay in rolling this out. All is more or less generally well, I just could not bring myself to work on it. I will try to move it along a bit faster now.

As you will see, this first chapter continues as a sort of prologue to the story - because I don't quite know what they will do or how to move it along, quite apart from the minimal technical research required to make it believable. // VP

PS: Many thanks to those who voted for my stories in the TurtleDove awards. I still shake my head in surprise that I was even in the lists, let alone twice. (Thanks especially to @FriendlyGhost for kicking off the nominations!)


== ==
CHAPTER 1 Part 3: England Expects More....

THREE

“Lieutenant Joseph Walke?” Walke nodded, lips pressed firmly together. “Come in. I'm Commander Torrance Smythe. I was indeed about to send for you.”

“Pleased to meet you, sir.”

“And I am very pleased to meet you. Your Captain speaks well of you.” Smithy paused. “And so did Admiral Moore last year when I was working with him on the Fleet Action Control Tables.”

Walke looked away briefly before he spoke. “Admiral Moore showed me that if you know your ground you can deal with whomever and whatever you need to, sir. I was only back in the navy a few months and he accepted me as if I was a long serving veteran when we analysed the gunnery records after Dogger Bank.”

“And a good lesson it was: be prepared and stand your ground when you know you are right.” Smithy waited a moment. “You said you came back to the navy. That was after your time at Oxford?”

“Yes, sir. After Osborne I went to Dartmouth. There I was in the top tier of the class in anything mathematical or technical. And so when I asked, and begged a bit, they let me go on half pay to attend Oxford. I was there two years to get my degree, Then I had to come back to the navy to keep my career moving along. And, it seemed like the Kaiser was getting restless. I may be a mathematician but I have always wanted to be a naval officer.”

“A naval officer with an advanced mathematical background, you may find yourself making contributions to gunnery or navigation, or other challenges currently unknown.

“Lieutenant, I have an assignment in mind for you – I would like to Shanghai you onto my team. But, it will involve working in what might be an unstructured command. and coordinating with others who may not always want to cooperate fully with us. Nevertheless, this job will require that we be able to work both with them and around them at the same time. That means within what rules there are, and making them up when there are none. Please think about that – can you work with that uncertainty?”

“Sir, of course I can't say for sure, but.... Let me try to put it this way sir: if we have some reasonable idea of where the actual limits are, then we can define the open spaces in between. And that works for me. As to the grey areas, I can't say for sure, sir. I... I... sometimes I am becalmed by uncertainty if I don't know what the limits of my own authority are, but only if I might trespass on others. Otherwise I think I can make use of the absence of limits.

“Sir, I believe you have heard in advance how I dislike ambiguity, that I like to know what my limits are. Another side of that is that I have acquired some experience at rationalizing my way out of a transgression or three.” Walke smiled. “You might say I parse the rules apart in pieces, and identify how I am not actually breaking someone else's rules as they are written. If that might be helpful to you.”

Smithy burst out laughing at this. “Ha! Ha-Ha! A young sea lawyer! Destined for high command no doubt!” He paused and smiled. “Quite seriously, that is actually a skill we will need. Very well then. Lieutenant Joseph Leonard Triggs Walke,* you and Captain Green will be notified forthwith of your transfer to my command. I have the orders here, I just need to endorse them and hand over copies.”

Taken aback at this strong show of approval, Walke spoke quietly. “You sound quite certain sir, all I can promise is to do my best.”

“That's been quite good in your naval career so far, Lieutenant. I'm sure it will be all that England expects.” He stood and offered his hand. “Now, we're going to be a small unit. Do you go by Joseph?”

“Only on official documents, sir. I rather dislike it. Leonard, sometimes very informally Len, sir.”

“Very well, Leonard, you go get packed – yes, now – while I meet with the Captain. Here is your copy of the orders. We'll meet at the next boat. There's one scheduled in about half an hour – at 1100.”
== ==
*Full name for Lieutenant Walke. (Note, his family actually uses ”Triggs Walke" but he has been undecided about using the double-barreled name since Osborne, when he found some of those classmates who were so encumbered were not to his liking.)
 
Looking forward to seeing where you take this... and it was not like there was anything shocking and massively disruptive happening in the past seven weeks....
 
I wasn't even on this site when England Expects came out, which I have read several times, but I am glad to be able to follow this story.
 
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