England Expects that Every Man.... This is the beginning of a story I wrote a few months ago, and am re-editing. It will be a short confection, posted in tiny pieces as I have time to re-think the nuance and edit it. I have some ideas and I think it will be fun to roll them out. There will be minimal to no research, but I will try to keep it real. It starts in a highly recognizable moment of OTL and moves away when one person thinks about how the world works, and then starts putting the pieces together. All named characters are real, unless otherwise noted. 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 posts to fill in roles which may or may not have been there, but that I think need filling. == == == CHAPTER 1 Part 1: England Expects that Every Man.... == == == ONE “Admiral, that's the signal. We make out only two hoists: ENGAGE THE REAR OF THE ENEMY and NE. Nothing else, and nothing by light or W.T. … Sir.” “Damn. That can't be all. Damn. Doesn't make sense. That would mean engage the enemy ship at the rear – the casualty falling behind and now bearing NE – and let the rest of them escape.” “Sir, the flagship's falling further behind and is out of effective view. So there might be more, but we can't see it. The enemy knows where we are – should I break W.T. silence and ask for clarification?” “Good thought, Captain. Please do that immediately.” The Captain turned away to issue the order while the admiral paused and stood with his binoculars down, gazing – staring actually – toward the distant smudge that was the German squadron. Escaping! His Flag Lieutenant spoke quietly: “Sir, the Fleet Commander must know something we don't, that's why he ordered the turn NE, and now this signal. It seems odd and it's letting the enemy run off home, but he must have a reason.” There was a moment of silence. The Admiral looked at his staff of two, and the Captain standing nearby. The Captain's face was clearly reflecting what was in his own mind. Over many long decades the Victorian RN had trained every officer to follow orders – to expect that his superior had a plan and that his own part was to follow orders and see that others followed theirs. Of course that had led to HMS Camperdown tearing the guts out of HMS Victoria and sending her down with over half her crew, along with Admiral Tryon who had given the orders. But the culture was clear. Your job was to do your part and not question your senior officer's plan just because he wasn't telling you what it was. “Yes. It doesn't make sense – but it has to. He must be expecting the High Seas Fleet to be right over the horizon.” The admiral hesitated, then looked to his Staff Commander: “Commander, go to the W.T. Room. Go yourself and see if they have picked up any other signals addressed to the flagship, or anything. They might tell us what the Admiral knows.” There was one thing he could do. He turned on his heel and spoke clearly: “Signal all ships ASSUMING COMMAND. RA2BCS. Repeat by light and W.T. and repeat to the Admiralty.” As senior officer in contact that was expected – and it gave him another minute to think. “Flags, I'll be.... Just give me a moment.” He stood looking out at the distant Germans.