Shute's Proposals

On taking command of the Royal Naval Division, Major General Shute was requested to compile a report on its efficiency as a military fighting unit.

7th November 1916
Shute sent his report to 5th Corps Headquarters and it may have been heavily influenced by one factor:
They are practically New Army, but serving under the Admiralty, the only difference being that whilst receiving nearly double the Army pay...

This report was highly critical of the Division's Naval traditions, Shute stating:
Whilst wishing to preserve the Naval identity of the Division for the sake of its History and Esprit de Corps, it appears to me practically impossible to do so without dangerously impairing its efficiency as a military Division

The report was highly critical of the Division's officers, particularly of the Naval brigades where they were often promoted from the ranks, stating that they should be replaced by officers from the Army to bring the Division up to standard. The report almost mockingly referenced how most had not served at sea and declared that the men were physically inferior to their Army counterparts.

With regard to the Naval brigades Shute wrote:
They can never come up to, or even approach, the standard of other Brigades unless Officers and N.C.O's of the Army, whether New Army or Regular Army, are brought in who have had experience in the recent fighting in France. On this point I am convinced.

Shute felt compelled to declare that the Division was not in a satisfactory state and required two to three months training, as well as an immediate reorganisation, before it could reach the level of the Army divisions. The report was concluded by a number of recommendations for the improvement of the Division.
Medical All Fleet and Naval Surgeons be withdrawn as they did not understand Army organisation and that the entire personnel be transferred to the R.A.M.C.
Divisional Engineers Personnel transferred to and reinforced from the Royal Engineers
Divisional Signal Company Transfer the entire personnel to the Army Signal Service.
Divisional Train To be entirely A.S.C and suitable Marine personnel to be transferred. The remainder to be returned to England and trained as Infantry or otherwise employed.
Police Personnel to return to their Battalions and Police to be sent out from the Corps of Military Police.
Medium Trench Mortars To be taken over by the Artillery and the existing Royal Marine personnel to rejoin the 1st and 2nd Royal Marines.
Ordnance The personnel to transfer to A.O.C. or return to their Battalions.
Machine Gun Coys To be relieved by three MGCs, Royal Marines and R.N.V.R. personnel join their Infantry Units.
Clerks At least one fully qualified head clerk at Branches required.
Battalions Commander or Second in Command and half the Company Commanders to have had experience in France, to be arrived at by degrees.
General To place the Division on a really proper footing in all respects and to ensure trained reinforcements of good physique are available there is but one possible course and that is to transfer all the Naval and Royal Marine personnel except the Staff to the Army. Any unwilling to be so transferred to return to the Service of the Admiralty and their place to be filled up from Army reinforcements
Royal Naval Division .info Major General Cameron Shute
Maj.-Gen. Cameron D. Shute

1st December 1916
Undeterred by the Division's success at Beaucourt, a defensive position the enemy had considered impregnable, Shute only used it to reaffirm his opinion in a report to 2nd Corps Headquarters where it is stated that the attack stalled in certain areas due to inferior leadership of some of the officers. It recommended that the men of the Division be asked to chose between the Naval Division ceasing to exist and the Army. Shute believed with a small 'bounty' all would transfer.

The report went on to state new recruits must be drawn from the Army pool and that the Marines must send some good N.C.O.s and officers. It did recommend the battalions keeping their Naval names, but the Division dropping its 63rd designation and becoming The Naval Division. Officers and N.C.O.s would need to drop their Naval ranks and adopt military ones. The report reiterated Shute's previous recommendations and that these needed addressing urgently.

21st February 1917
A letter from Lieutenant General Jacob, Commanding II Corps, to the Fifth Army was in full agreement with Shute's recommendations stating:
In the circumstances I hope that it may be found possible, at an early date, to withdraw the Division from the line for a considerable period of training and re-organisation.

Until this is done the Division will not, in my opinion, be capable of undertaking any offensive operations extending over a period of three days.

Royal Naval Division .info Lt-General C. W. Jacob
Lt.-Gen. C. W. Jacob

Fortunately, not only did the Royal Naval Division have the ear of those in high places, its control did not fall solely under the War Office. The Division moved to the Arras sector, capturing and securing the pivotal village of Gavrelle just two months after Lieutenant General Jacob's correspondence, no such reorganisation had been necessary for yet another highly applauded success. Those to follow Major General Shute would have far greater respect for the Division's Naval roots with reorganisations undertaken to meet the demands of the time.

Divisional Commanders
Royal Naval Division .info Brigadier-General Sir George Aston
Sir George Aston
R.M. Brigade
Royal Naval Division .info Archibald. C. M. Paris
Archibald. C. M. Paris
25 September 1914
Royal Naval Division .info C.A. Blacklock
Charles E. Lawrie
19 February 1917
Royal Naval Division .info C.A. Blacklock
Charles A. Blacklock
30 August 1918

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