“The Navy’s Here”


Famed for his command of HMS Cossack, Sir Philip Louis Vian was a true, if abrasive, fighting admiral, as Allan George reveals

He was the embodiment of Royal Navy spirit. His was a career that stretched from being a cadet in a pre-dreadnought battleship to Fifth Sea Lord. Yet, but for a single incident, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Philip Vian remains largely unknown today.

He was a gifted, forceful leader, but one with a complex personality. Despite myriad successes, Vian was unpopular and unlikeable. He had a reputation for rudeness and was prone to fits of temper, but he was as ruthlessly demanding of his subordinates as he was of himself. At his best in battle, acting on initiative, Vian had plenty of scope to hone his trade, serving at sea almost constantly – despite his ill health, perhaps brought on by the intense stress of responsibility and exposure to perpetual hazard.

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