LETTER: Naval tradition

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From Mr W. B. Hesmondhalgh

Sir: The Government's intended disposal of the building that used to house the Royal Naval College at Greenwich will complete the process steadily followed by Malcolm Rifkind and his two predecessors.

When the late Admiral Cunningham's staff advised him to call off the evacuation of the British forces stranded in Crete during the last war because of the heavy ship losses being suffered in the operation, he declared:

We can build a ship in three years but it has taken 400 years to build up naval traditions. We have always gone to the aid of the Army when they've been in trouble and we'll continue to do so now.

However, during the past 10 years, successive Defence ministers have effectively destroyed that proud tradition - and the navy with it. The irony is that the Royal Naval College is being moved to Camberley, home of the army, which has always been jealous of the Navy being "the senior service".

Yours faithfully,

W. B. Hesmondhalgh

London, SW1

12 September