De Ruyter

Originally, this blog was just a Facebook Page with a restriction to just myself so that I could bookmark articles that I wanted to read later as my prep time for the show often involves numerous eMails and articles that I don’t really have time to enjoy until later. It still is a Facebook Page, although I opened up for public viewing because I found that a lot of my friends and acquaintances like history.

I also have this fantasy that I will contribute to the volumes of history by writing about things that interest me. That never seems to work out, between the show and just my general life, there is little time for writing.

But I have this week off for a variety of reasons, most of which involve my health and long term plans. So I began perusing history… and this is a great example of how my mind works…

On February 19, 1674, England and the Dutch Republic signed the Treaty of Westminster which ended the third Anglo-Dutch War. The war was really more of a war between Sweden, which had an ally in the Dutch, and France, who for reasons that aren’t as much of a historical anomaly as you might think, was allied with England. Charles II had secretly negotiated a treaty with France to allow England to subjugate the Dutch, but it wouldn’t be as easy as Chuck thought it would be.

The Dutch Admiral, de Ruyter, turned out to be a pain the English butt, defeating the Royal Navy four times and stopping the English from being able to land troops on Dutch soil. Parliament found out about the secret treaty and figured that is was really a trick to try and make England Roman Catholic again, so they forced the King to end his quasi-secret campaign against the Dutch, who also wanted an end to the fighting so that they could get on fighting the French.

The Dutch sent an emissary (a trumpeter) to Harwich to carry letters proposing the Peace, which happened to happen before King Charles let it slip that he too wanted to end the fighting. Knowing a good public relations coup when he saw it, Chuck took the initiative and made it seem as if the Dutch Republic was suing for peace and demanded terms that “punished” the Dutch for their insolence of defeating England.

As a part of the settlement of the war, The Dutch Republic handed over New Amsterdam to the British, who, as you know, renamed it, New York. Which is cool because I have this fantasy that I could live in New York. I’ve watched Seinfeld and Friends and The Odd Couple and figure that I have that odd mix of elegance and grit that defines New Yorkers.

Then I drive to Bremerton and realize that I want nothing to do with City living. Sigh.

Anyway, in 1942, the ABDA* fleet met its heroic end off the Island of Java trying to stop one of the Imperial Japanese offensives early in the war. At the end of the month, the Flagship of Admiral Doorman was a Cruiser (although the categorization is rather liberal) named “De Ruyter” after the great Dutch Admiral who embarrassed the British into convincing the Dutch into giving up New Amsterdam 268 years earlier. The ship was torpedoed and sunk with heavy loss of life. The whole ABDA* experiment was a sad moment in both Naval history and among the Allies, it started questions as to whether or not they could actually work together. By the end of the war, it would be obvious that they could.

While the heroic crew of De Ruyter met their tragic end, the name was not forgotten. As of 2002, a new Dutch Frigate sails the seas carrying the name, honoring both Admiral de Ruyter and the men of the Cruiser lost in the Java Sea, February 28, 1942.

None of which has anything to do with what I started to read about, but was quite a journey through the history of a ship name…

*American, British, Dutch and Australian Fleet