Josef Byng was born before 1821 PD. He was second-generation prolong recipient. He originated from family with a tradition of naval service going back almost seven hundred years. He studied at a naval academy on Old Earth before entering service with the Solarian League's Battle Fleet.
In 1862 PD, while still a Captain, Byng was officially reprimanded and moved back on promotion lists as a result of pressure from the Star Kingdom of Manticore after he had been harassing Manticoran shipping and was unequivocally caught doing so. He ended the harrassment episode by impounding three Manticoran freighters on smuggling charges and imprisoning their crews, all without the benefit of a hearing or trial. He placed the blame for his humiliation, and the relatively minor damage to his career, on Manticore and this was reflected in his conduct almost sixty years later.
By 1889 PD, he had become an Admiral. In 1921 PD, he was – unusually – assigned to command of Frontier Fleet's Task Group 3021, which was sent to the Madras Sector in connection with the Talbott Cluster crisis.
Late in the year, Byng responded to a complaint filed by New Tuscany with the Office of Frontier Security by deploying two squadrons of his battlecruisers to the system. The complaints related to the alleged harassment of New Tuscan shipping in the Pequod System by the Royal Manticoran Navy picket there. The complete destruction of a merchantman in the Pequod System was ascribed to Manticore by the New Tuscan government, on advice of Aldona Anisimovna – namely a pinnace from HMS Reprise. In fact, it was destroyed deliberately to provide a provocation.
Byng did not appear to have realized he was being manipulated to create an incident between the Solarian League and Manticore. Shortly after his arrival, three Manticoran destroyers arrived at New Tuscany, delivering the diplomatic response from the government of the Talbott Quadrant to the claims of harrassment. The destroyers had no sooner arrived than the space station Giselle was destroyed in a nuclear explosion, killing the forty to fifty thousand inhabitants. Assuming the Manticorans to be responsible – and despite the protests of his flag captain Warden Mizawa – Byng opened fire on all three destroyers, fearing that they would do likewise while his impellers were cold and he was relatively defenseless. The three ships were completely destroyed without survivors.
A fourth destroyer, HMS Tristram, had been observing the rest of the destroyer division from the system outskirts and reported immediately to the Manticoran Tenth Fleet under Vice Admiral Gold Peak. She mobilized her own squadrons and arrived twenty-three days after the First Battle of New Tuscany, demanding Byng's surrender. By this point Byng had admitted privately that he had acted too hastily, but was scheming to conceal this fact. However, this was blocked by Mizawa's refusal to give him editorial access to the flagship's original sensor data.
On Henke's arrival, Byng declined to respond to her demands and instead attempted to withdraw, believing that the League would refuse to make any concession to Manticore over the incident, and doubting that Henke would actually risk war by firing on SLN warships, even in they were from Frontier Security. He was incorrect and, along with the entire crew of SLNS Jean Bart, was killed by the first and only missile volley of the Second Battle of New Tuscany. The rest of this squadron surrendered to Admiral Gold Peak, pending an investigation. (SI2)
Service Record Edit
- Captain ( before 1862 PD )
- Admiral ( 1889 PD )
- Commanding Officer, Task Group 3021 ( 1921 PD )