Picture of Admiral Sir Cecil Burney
Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, second-in-command of the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Cecil Burney
Jersey has produced many high-ranking Army and Navy officers over the years, and they have fought in some of history’s most famous battles, but one Jerseyman who reached the highest rank possible in the Royal Navy is virtually unknown in the island of his birth, despite becoming Second Sea Lord in World War One and commanding the British fleet during part of the Battle of Jutland.
Cecil Burney was the second son of Navy Captain Charles Burney and Catherine Elizabeth Jones, of La Ferriere, St Saviour.
Primary Documents - British Report on the Battle of Jutland, 24 June 1916
Reproduced below is the official British report issued in the wake of the 31 May-1 June 1916 Battle of Jutland - up to that point arguably the greatest naval battle in history. The report's author was Sir John Jellicoe, British Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet.
Although regarded by many as tactically a German victory - more damage was inflicted upon the British Grand Fleet than upon the German High Seas Fleet - strategically the victory belonged undeniably to the British. The German Kaiser, Wilhelm II, afraid of the dangers faced by his fleet, forbade them to engage the British in similar fashion for the remainder of the war.
Thus the German fleet remained in port while the British controlled to patrol freely, imposing an increasingly effective naval blockade upon Germany.
Click here to read the first official German report on the battle click here to read the first British reaction click here to read German naval minister Eduard von Capelle's report click here to read an account of the battle by a German sailor click here to read a British memoir.
Sir John Jellicoe's Report on the Battle of Jutland, 31 May-1 June 1916
Be pleased to inform the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that the German High Sea Fleet was brought to action on May 31, 1916, to the westward of the Jutland Bank, off the coast of Denmark.
The ships of the Grand Fleet, in pursuance of the general policy of periodical sweeps through the North Sea, had left its bases on the previous clay, in accordance with instructions issued by me.
In the early afternoon of Wednesday, May 3lst, the 1st and 2nd Battle-cruiser Squadrons, 1st, 2nd and 3rd Lightcruiser Squadrons and destroyers from the 1st, 9th, 10th and 13th Flotillas, supported by the 5th Battle Squadron, were, in accordance with my directions, scouting to the southward of the Battle Fleet, which was accompanied by the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron, 1st and 2nd Cruiser Squadrons, 4th Lightcruiser Squadron, 4th, 11th and 12th Flotillas.
The junction of the Battle Fleet with the scouting force after the enemy had been sighted was delayed owing to the southerly course steered by our advanced force during the first hour after commencing their action with the enemy battle-cruisers. This was, of course, unavoidable, as had our battle-cruisers not followed the enemy to the southward the main fleets would never have been in contact.
The Battle-cruiser Fleet, gallantly led by Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, and admirably supported by the ships of the Fifth Battle Squadron under Rear-Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas, fought an action under, at times, disadvantageous conditions, especially, in regard to light, in a manner that was in keeping with the best traditions of the service.
On receipt of the information that the enemy had been sighted, the British Battle Fleet, with its accompanying cruiser and destroyer force, proceeded at full speed on a S.E. by S. course to close the Battle-cruiser Fleet.
During the two hours that elapsed before the arrival of the Battle Fleet on the scene the steaming qualities of the older battleships were severely tested. Great credit is due to the engine-room departments for the manner in which they, as always, responded to the call, the whole Fleet maintaining a speed in excess of the trial speeds of some of the older vessels.
The Third Battle-cruiser Squadron, which was in advance of the Battle Fleet, was ordered to reinforce Sir David Beatty. At 5.30 p.m. this squadron observed flashes of gunfire and heard the sound of guns to the southwestward.
Rear-Admiral Hood sent the Chester to investigate, and this ship engaged three or four enemy light-cruisers at about 5.45 p.m. The engagement lasted for about twenty minutes, during which period Captain Lawson handled his vessel with great skill against heavy odds, and, although the ship suffered considerably in casualties, her fighting and steaming qualities were unimpaired, and at about 6.05 p.m. she rejoined the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron.
The Third Battle-cruiser Squadron had turned to the northwestward, and at 6.10 p.m. sighted our battle-cruisers, the squadron taking station ahead of the Lion at 6.21 p.m. in accordance with the orders of the Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle-cruiser Fleet.
Meanwhile, at 5.45 p.m., the report of guns had become audible to me, and at 5.55 p.m. flashes were visible from ahead round to the starboard beam, although in the mist no ships could be distinguished, and the position of the enemy's battle fleet could not be determined. The difference in estimated position by "reckoning" between Iron Duke and Lion, which was inevitable under the circumstances, added to the uncertainty of the general situation.
Shortly after 5.55 p.m. some of the cruisers ahead were seen to be in action, and reports received show that Defence, flagship, and Warrior, of the First Cruiser Squadron, engaged an enemy light-cruiser at this time. She was subsequently observed to sink.
At 6 p.m. Canterbury, which ship was in company with the Third Battle-cruiser Squadron, had engaged enemy light-cruisers which were firing heavily on the torpedo-boat destroyers Shark, Acasta and Christopher as a result of this engagement the Shark was sunk.
At 6 p.m. vessels, afterwards seen to be our battlecruisers, were sighted by Marlborough bearing before the starboard beam of the battle fleet.
At the same time the Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle-cruiser Fleet, reported to me the position of the enemy battle-cruisers, and at 6.14 p.m. reported the position of the enemy battle fleet.
At this period, when the battle fleet was meeting the battlecruisers and the Fifth Battle Squadron, great care was necessary to insure that our own ships were not mistaken for enemy vessels.
I formed the battle fleet in line of battle on receipt of Sir David Beatty's report, and during deployment the fleets became engaged. Sir David Beatty had meanwhile formed the battle-cruisers ahead of the battle fleet.
At 6.16 p.m. Defence and Warrior were observed passing down between the British and German Battle Fleets under a very heavy fire. Defence disappeared, and Warrior passed to the rear disabled.
It is probable that Sir Robert Arbuthnot, during his engagement with the enemy's light-cruisers and in his desire to complete their destruction, was not aware of the approach of the enemy's heavy ships, owing to the mist, until he found himself in close proximity to the main fleet, and before he could withdraw his ships they were caught under a heavy fire and disabled.
It is not known when Black Prince, of the same squadron, was sunk, but a wireless signal was received from her between 8 and 9 p.m.
The First Battle Squadron became engaged during deployment, the Vice-Admiral opening fire at 6.17 p.m. on a battleship of the Kaiser class. The other Battle Squadrons, which had previously been firing at an enemy light-cruiser, opened fire at 6.30 p.m. on battleships of the Koenig class.
At 6.06 p.m. the Rear-Admiral Commanding Fifth Battle Squadron, then in company with the battle-cruisers, had sighted the starboard wing division of the battle fleet on the port bow of Barham, and the first intention of Rear-Admiral Evan-Thomas was to form ahead of the remainder of the battle fleet, but on realizing the direction of deployment he was compelled to form astern, a manoeuvre which was well executed by the squadron under a heavy fire from the enemy battle fleet.
An accident to Warspite's steering gear caused her helm to become jammed temporarily and took the ship in the direction of the enemy's line, during which time she was hit several times. Clever handling enabled Captain Edward M. Phillpotts to extricate his ship from a somewhat awkward situation.
Owing principally to the mist, but partly to the smoke, it was possible to see only a few ships at a time in the enemy's battle line. Towards the van only some four or five ships were ever visible at once. More could be seen from the rear squadron, but never more than eight to twelve.
The action between the battle fleets lasted intermittently from 6.17 p.m. to 8.20 p.m. at ranges between 9,000 and 12,000 yards, during which time the British Fleet made alterations of course from S.E. by E. to W. in the endeavour to close.
The enemy constantly turned away and opened the range under cover of destroyer attacks and smoke screens as the effect of the British fire was felt, and the alterations of course had the effect of bringing the British Fleet (which commenced the action in a position of advantage on the bow of the enemy) to a quarterly bearing from the enemy battle line, but at the same time placed us between the enemy and his bases.
At 6.55 p.m. Iron Duke passed the wreck of Invincible, with Badger standing by.
During the somewhat brief periods that the ships of the High Sea Fleet were visible through the mist, the heavy and effective fire kept up by the battleships and battle-cruisers of the Grand Fleet caused me much satisfaction, and the enemy vessels were seen to be constantly hit, some being observed to haul out of the line and at least one to sink.
The enemy's return fire at this period was not effective, and the damage caused to our ships was insignificant.
As was anticipated, the German Fleet appeared to rely very much on torpedo attacks, which were favoured by the low visibility and by the fact that we had arrived in the position of a "following" or "chasing" fleet.
A large number of torpedoes were apparently fired, but only one took effect (on Marlborough), and even in this case the ship was able to remain in the line and to continue the action. The enemy's efforts to keep out of effective gun range were aided by the weather conditions, which were ideal for the purpose. Two separate destroyer attacks were made by the enemy.
The First Battle Squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, came into action at 6.17 p.m. with the enemy's Third Battle Squadron, at a range of about 11,000 yards, and administered severe punishment, both to the battleships and to the battle-cruisers and light-cruisers, which were also engaged.
The fire of Marlborough (Captain George P. Ross) was particularly rapid and effective. This ship commenced at 6.17 p.m. by firing seven salvoes at a ship of the Kaiser class, then engaged a cruiser, and again a battleship, and at 6.54 she was hit by a torpedo and took up a considerable list to starboard, but reopened at 7.03 p.m. at a cruiser and at 7.12 p.m. fired fourteen rapid salvoes at a ship of the Koenig class, hitting her frequently until she turned out of the line.
The manner in which this effective fire was kept up in spite of the disadvantages due to the injury caused by the torpedo was most creditable to the ship and a very fine example to the squadron.
The range decreased during the course of the action to 9,000 yards. The First Battle Squadron received more of the enemy's return fire than the remainder of the battle fleet, with the exception of the Fifth Battle Squadron. Colossus was hit but was not seriously damaged, and other ships were straddled with fair frequency.
In the Fourth Battle Squadron - in which squadron my flagship Iron Duke was placed - Vice-Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee leading one of the divisions - the enemy engaged was the squadron consisting of Koenig and Kaiser class and some of the battle-cruisers, as well as disabled cruisers and light-cruisers.
The mist rendered range-taking a difficult matter, but the fire of the squadron was effective. Iron Duke, having previously fired at a light-cruiser between the lines, opened fire at 6.30 p.m. on a battleship of the Koenig class at a range of 12,000 yards. The latter was very quickly straddled, and hitting commenced at the second salvo and only ceased when the target ship turned away.
The rapidity with which hitting was established was most creditable to the excellent gunnery organization of the flagship.
The fire of other ships of the squadron was principally directed at enemy battle-cruisers and cruisers as they appeared out of the mist. Hits were observed to take effect on several ships.
The ships of the Second Battle Squadron, under Vice-Admiral Sir Thomas Jerram, were in action with vessels of the Kaiser or Koenig classes between 6.30 and 7.20 p.m., and fired also at an enemy battle-cruiser which had dropped back apparently severely damaged.
During the action between the battle fleets the Second Cruiser Squadron, ably commanded by Rear-Admiral Herbert L. Heath, with the addition of Duke of Edinburgh of the First Cruiser Squadron, occupied a position at the van, and acted as a connecting link between the battle fleet and the battle-cruiser fleet.
This squadron, although it carried out useful work, did not have an opportunity of coming into action.
The Fourth Light-cruiser Squadron, under Commodore Charles E. Le Mesurier, occupied a position in the van until ordered to attack enemy destroyers at 7.20 p.m., and again at 8.18 p.m., when they supported the Eleventh Flotilla, which had moved out under Commodore James R. P. Hawksley, to attack.
On each occasion the Fourth Light-cruiser Squadron was very well handled by Commodore Le Mesurier, his captains giving him excellent support, and their object was attained, although with some loss in the second attack, when the ships came under the heavy fire of the enemy battle fleet at between 6,500 and 8,000 yards.
The Calliope was hit several times, but did not sustain serious damage, although, I regret to say, she had several casualties. The light-cruisers attacked the enemy's battleships with torpedoes at this time, and an explosion on board a ship of the Kaiser class was seen at 8.40 p.m.
During these destroyer attacks four enemy torpedo-boat destroyers were sunk by the gunfire of battleships, lightcruisers and destroyers.
After the arrival of the British Battle Fleet the enemy's tactics were of a nature generally to avoid further action, in which they were favoured by the conditions of visibility.
At 9 p.m. the enemy was entirely out of sight, and the threat of torpedo-boat destroyer attacks during the rapidly approaching darkness made it necessary for me to dispose the fleet for the night, with a view to its safety from such attacks, whilst providing for a renewal of action at daylight.
I accordingly manoeuvred to remain between the enemy and his bases, placing our flotillas in a position in which they would afford protection to the fleet from destroyer attack, and at the same time be favourably situated for attacking the enemy's heavy ships.
During the night the British heavy ships were not attacked, but the Fourth, Eleventh and Twelfth Flotillas, under Commodore Hawksley and Captains Charles J. Wintour and Anselan J. B. Stirling, delivered a series of very gallant and successful attacks on the enemy, causing him heavy losses.
It was during these attacks that severe losses in the Fourth Flotilla occurred, including that of Tipperary, with the gallant leader of the Flotilla, Captain Wintour. He had brought his flotilla to a high pitch of perfection, and although suffering severely from the fire of the enemy, a heavy toll of enemy vessels was taken, and many gallant actions were performed by the flotilla.
Two torpedoes were seen to take effect on enemy vessels as the result of the attacks of the Fourth Flotilla, one being from Spitfire, and the other from either Ardent, Ambuscade or Garland.
The attack carried out by the Twelfth Flotilla (Captain Anselan J. B. Stirling) was admirably executed. The squadron attacked, which consisted of six large vessels, besides light-cruisers, and comprised vessels of the Kaiser class, was taken by surprise.
A large number of torpedoes was fired, including some at the second and third ships in the line those fired at the third ship took effect, and she was observed to blow up. A second attack made twenty minutes later by Maenad on the five vessels still remaining, resulted in the fourth ship in the line being also hit.
The destroyers were under a heavy fire from the lightcruisers on reaching the rear of the line, but the Onslaught was the only vessel which received any material injuries.
During the attack carried out by the Eleventh Flotilla, Castor (Commodore James R. P. Hawksley) leading the flotilla, engaged and sank an enemy torpedo-boat destroyer at point-blank range.
There were many gallant deeds performed by the destroyer flotillas they surpassed the very highest expectations that I had formed of them.
Apart from the proceedings of the flotillas, the Second Light-cruiser Squadron in the rear of the battle fleet was in close action for about 15 minutes at 10.20 p.m. with a squadron comprising one enemy cruiser and four light-cruisers, during which period Southampton and Dublin suffered rather heavy casualties, although their steaming and fighting qualities were not impaired. The return fire of the squadron appeared to be very effective.
Abdiel, ably commanded by Commander Berwick Curtis, carried out her duties with the success which has always characterized her work.
At daylight, June 1st, the battle fleet, being then to the southward and westward of the Horn Reef, turned. to the northward in search of enemy vessels and for the purpose of collecting our own cruisers and torpedo-boat destroyers.
At 2.30 a.m. Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney transferred his flag from Marlborough to Revenge, as the former ship had some difficulty in keeping up the speed of the squadron. Marlborough was detached by my direction to a base, successfully driving off an enemy submarine attack en route.
The visibility early on June 1st (three to four miles) was less than on May 31st, and the torpedo-boat destroyers, being out of visual touch, did not rejoin until 9 a.m.
The British Fleet remained in the proximity of the battlefield and near the line of approach to German ports until 11 a.m. on June 1st, in spite of the disadvantage of long distances from fleet bases and the danger incurred in waters adjacent to enemy coasts from submarines and torpedo craft.
The enemy, however, made no sign, and I was reluctantly compelled to the conclusion that the High Sea Fleet had returned into port.
Subsequent events proved this assumption to have been correct. Our position must have been known to the enemy. as at 4 a.m. the Fleet engaged a Zeppelin for about five minutes, during which time she had ample opportunity to note and subsequently report the position and course of the British Fleet.
The waters from the latitude of the Horn Reef to the scene of the action were thoroughly searched, and some survivors from the destroyers Ardent, Fortune and Tipperary were picked up, and the Sparrowhawk, which had been in collision and was no longer seaworthy, was sunk after her crew had been taken off.
A large amount of wreckage was seen, but no enemy ships, and at 1.15 p.m., it being evident that the German Fleet had succeeded in returning to port, course was shaped for our bases, which were reached without further incident on Friday, June 2nd.
A cruiser squadron was detached to search for Warrior, which vessel had been abandoned whilst in tow of Engadine on her way to the base owing to bad weather setting in and the vessel becoming unseaworthy, but no trace of her was discovered, and a further subsequent search by a light-cruiser squadron having failed to locate her, it is evident that she foundered.
The enemy fought with the gallantry that was expected of him. We particularly admired the conduct of those on board a disabled German light-cruiser which passed down the British line shortly after deployment, under a heavy fire, which was returned by the only gun left in action.
The conduct of officers and men throughout the day and night actions was entirely beyond praise. No words of mine could do them justice. On all sides it is reported to me that the glorious traditions of the past were most worthily upheld - whether in heavy ships, cruisers, light-cruisers, or destroyers - the same admirable spirit prevailed.
Officers and men were cool and determined, with a cheeriness that would have carried them through anything. The heroism of the wounded was the admiration of all.
I cannot adequately express the pride with which the spirit of the Fleet filled me.
Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. IV, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923
Introduction History of Occupants 1916 to 1996 Description from British Listed Buildings Norwegian Royal Family Connections King George VI and Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mother) 20th Century Photographs 2021 – A Sad Coda
St Margaret’s Hope, on a steep hillside overlooking the Forth, with the craggy eminence of St Margaret’s Head in the background, is the former residence of the Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland and Naval Base Commander Rosyth.
The site has a fine view westward over the estuary, to the North, the Rosyth Naval Base to the South, across the water, the harbour of Port Edgar and Hopetoun House and to the East, the Forth Road and Rail Bridges.
The land on which the House stands was originally purchased in 1739 by the Dunfermline Guildry, being part of the lands of Ferryhill belonging to Dunfermline Abbey and Friary. The book ‘The story of Inverkeithing and Rosyth’, (Published in 1938 by the Rev William STEPHEN) says the land was acquired in 1825 by Elias Cathcart of Auchindrae who, in or soon after 1829, built the original part of the house and called it St Margaret’s. The name is derived from the story of Queen Margaret’s journey to Dunfermline. St Margaret fled from the Normans at the time of the Conquest seeking shelter from storms in South Ronaldsay in the Orkneys the village where she landed was called St Margaret’s Hope the word ‘hope’ being once used to describe a roadstead where ships could lie at anchor in safety. In 1069 she sailed south and came ashore in the sheltered bay below these cliffs, hence the name of the house. She was given refuge by Malcolm CANMORE, the King, then living in Scotland’s ancient capital of Dunfermline she founded the Abbey at Dunfermline and subsequently married King Malcolm.
In 1855 Captain William, ELDER, the Company of Artillery Volunteers, became the owner. He died in 1882 and it was from his nephew, W G ELDER, and the latter’s son, W H ELDER, that the Admiralty requisitioned the house for the Commander in chief Coast of Scotland in 1916. Subsequently the House and grounds were purchased outright during the First World War for £5,500 at which time the property became known as ‘Admiralty House’.
The Lodge, which was two cottages until 1916, is all that now remains of the original village and harbour. Five other cottages in various states of disrepair survived on the land below the driveway until the 1960s, when they were demolished to make room for the building of the lower garages. Of the small bay, which lent its name to the house, little now remains. This area, with the exception of the cove known as Cult Ness, was reclaimed during the First World War, using the debris excavated by the building of the Dockyard. The Marshland contains the remains of the narrow gauge railway used in the dockyard’s construction and the village and old quarry pier where ships were regularly berthed.
The Marsh provides a stable and protected habitat for several species of water fowl. It was here in 1954 that the Wilson’s Phalarope was first sighted in the UK. Now, although lacking statutory protection, this area is designated a site of interest by the Scottish Wildlife Trust and is recognised by Dunfermline District Council.
Approaching the house down the drive from the North Queensferry Road there is a large stone archway surmounted on either side by shields bearing Coats of Arms. The arch was knocked down by an inconsiderate lorry in 1987 but rebuilt in time for a visit by HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh in 1988.
The shield on the south side bears the initials W N and I F with the date 1376. (For the connoisseur of Heraldry:- Arms: Per pale, dexter, or, on a bend Azure a crescent between two spurrowels of the first – NAPIER, Wright’s House, Scotland and sinister, Argent, three buglehorns Sable, stringed gules FORRESTER, Scotland.) The Latin motto ‘Sicut Olivafructifera’ translates ‘Fruitful as an olive tree’. The three hunting horns are the Arms of the Forresters of Corstorphine. So the combined Arms are therefore of William Napier and his wife, who would have been a daughter of the House of Forrester.
On the north side, the Coat of Arms has the initials W N and E P with the date 1570. (Again for the knowledgeable:- Per pale, dexter, Or, on a bend Azure a crescent between two spurrowels of the first NAPIER, Wright’s House, Scotland and sinister, or, a fess chequy Argent and Azure between three stags heads couped gule PARK of that Ilk.) Again there is a motto in Latin ‘Didat Servata Fides’, which translates ‘Faith preserved maketh rich’. The Arms are those of William Napier of Wrychthouse, a Burgess of Edinburgh in the second half of the 16th century, and his wife Eliza Park. The shields belong to a much later period than the date they carry. It is almost certain that they have no historical connection with St Margaret’s. The presumption is that originally they formed part of the collection of armorial shields that are known to have existed at Wrychthouse, Edinburgh. They must have been acquired and set in their present position by a previous owner of St Margaret’s.
To the side of the arch is the old saluting base of the Commander in Chief Coast of Scotland. In more recent years the Admirals, now termed Area Flag Officers, have flown their flag in HMS Cochrane at Rosyth. The flag flying at the house today is only saluted by ships passing on ceremonial occasions, when the Admiral often acknowledges the salute from the Balcony, known as the Bridge.
The grounds, of about 20 acres, are mostly woodland but there is a walled garden of one acre, a putting green and tennis court. The summer-house situated above the garage was built by Ashburys at the turn of the century. It was originally the private railway carriage of the Admiral Superintendent of Rosyth Dockyard and was renovated and moved to its present position in 1985 shortly after the positions of Port Admiral Rosyth and Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland were combined. At the same time the pergola by the lawn was erected. This is made up of old poles from the Dockyard which were probably once used to support staging for ships in dry docks. Also in the grounds are several mine watching posts dating from the Second World War and the remains of the Jetty used by the Admiral’s barge
The Inter-war years saw the virtual closure of the Navy’s most modern dockyard, to the exasperation of Admiral Beatty. The post of CinC Coast of Scotland was abolished in 1922 and the House was occupied for a short time by Captain NOBLE, Commanding officer Scotland. The decision was soon taken to sell or lease the house and it was Advertised in the Scotsman, Glasgow Herald and Times. It was eventually let on 22 May 1922 to a private tenant Mr J G Watson who died on 31 December 1931. His widow terminated the lease on 15 May 1932, but subsequently decided to take a new lease until 1 May 1933. The Royal Navy reoccupied the House on 22 July 1937 when Rear Admiral E C O Thomson CB DSO, Rear Admiral and Commanding Officer Coast of Scotland, moved in. Since then, apart from a short period when the House was divided up for the Chief of Staff and Admiral’s Secretary, the house has enjoyed virtually uninterrupted occupation by successive Flag officers and their families.
Admiral Sir Cecil Burney - History
Admirals Lord Battenberg and Fisher, First Sea Lords ( click to enlarge)
The introduction to this investigation of the Admiralty in the World War 1-era, is found in what is now Part 2 - Changes in Admiralty Departments 1913-1920.
I'm sorry to drag the visitor through what appears to be yet another list of Admiralty departments, but I have found it a necessary first step in extracting from the World War 1 Navy Lists as much as I can about the Navy's development from 1914-1918. At this point, may I acknowledge with grateful thanks the archives of the National Library of Scotland and its set of wartime Navy Lists ,
Amongst their wealth of information is the organisation of the Admiralty, and in separate and at the time, secret addenda, the shore establishments, fleets and stations of the Royal Navy every month or so. These are being listed in sections two years at a time i.e. 1914-1916 and 1916-1918. As more sections are completed, the Contents links will be accordingly activated.
After so many years concentrating on ships and battles, it's good to start putting faces to names by adding photographs of some the Royal Navy's leaders. Many of these images come from a 1917 publication "Admirals of the British Navy, Portraits in Colour" by Francis Dodd. To see in such human terms, the men who often commanded such powerful fleets and the lives of thousand's of men, is a real eye-opener. My thanks to Graham Watson for sending me this book. Some of the other images from the Library of Congress (LoC) and the others are believed to be in the public domain.
1. Admiralty headings in italics are civilian-headed departments. Civilian appointments are not included here.
2. Where appointment months or the month of taking up an appointment are given in the Navy Lists, these are used. End of appointment dates are mainly from the work of Dr Graham Watson and of Mr Colin Mackie of www.gulabin.com, for which my thanks. When neither starting or ending dates are known, the Navy Lists are used as a guide i.e. the first and last months the appointment is listed, are noted. In such cases the months are preceded by "added as of" or "as of" .
3. The 1914 Navy Lists came out monthly, but only gave limited information as the compilers presumably geared up for the war. By the time a new format had been established, from January 1915 on, they appeared quarterly and with one, two or three of the secret addenda. Two problems result especially as regards the deployment of ships in fleets and stations.
Firstly the 1914 Navy Lists cover little of the opening months of the war and so recourse has been made to the Official History and available Admiralty Pink Lists. These sources have also been used as needed for 1915-18.
Secondly, from 1915 to 1918, there are often gaps of a month or more between listings. Where starting and ending dates are concerned - both men and ships - this means up to three months might elapse between actual and assumed command or deployment.
4. There are also no doubt factual errors in the Lists, apart from any delays in communicating additions, deletions and amendments to the Admiralty. However, in this day of electronic media, it is still a wonder that these often 1,000 plus page Navy Lists were produced by administrative clerks using little more than card indexes, with printers possibly setting type by hand, although Linotype mechanical type-setting had been in use since the late 19th century. And all in the middle of a world war.
5. Wherever possible, information is taken directly from the Navy Lists, supplemented by the dates researched by Dr Watson and Mr Mackie. Other sources and the abbreviations used in the text are:
Nelson and Trafalgar [ edit | edit source ]
Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson twice flew his flag in Victory
Vice-Admiral Nelson hoisted his flag in Victory on 18 May 1803 with Samuel Sutton as his flag captain. Γ] The ship was not ready to sail however, so Nelson transferred to the frigate Amphion on the 20 May and left to assume command in the Mediterranean. ⎱] Victory later sailed to Ushant to serve as flagship to Cornwallis but was not required and so went to the Mediterranean in search of Nelson. ⎱]
On 28 May, Captain Sutton captured the French Embuscade of 32 guns, bound for Rochefort. ⎲] Victory rejoined Lord Nelson off Toulon where on 31 July, Captain Sutton exchanged commands with the captain of Amphion, Thomas Masterman Hardy and Nelson raised his flag in Victory once more. ⎱]
Victory was passing the island of Toro on 4 April 1805, when HMS Phoebe brought the news that the French fleet under Pierre-Charles Villeneuve had escaped from Toulon. While Nelson made for Sicily to see if the French were heading for Egypt, Villeneuve was entering Cádiz to link up with the Spanish fleet. ⎳] On 9 May Nelson received news from HMS Orpheus that Villeneuve had left Cadiz a month earlier. The British fleet completed their stores in Lagos Bay, Portugal and on 11 May, sailed westward with ten ships and three frigates in pursuit of the combined Franco-Spanish fleet of 17 ships. ⎴] They arrived in the West Indies to find that the enemy was sailing back to Europe where Napoleon Bonaparte was waiting for them with his invasion forces at Boulogne. ⎵]
The Franco-Spanish fleet was involved in the indecisive Battle of Cape Finisterre in fog off Ferrol with Admiral Sir Robert Calder's squadron on 22 July before taking refuge in Vigo and Ferrol. ⎶] Calder on 14 August and Nelson on 15 August joined Admiral Cornwallis's Channel Fleet off Ushant. ⎷] Nelson continued to England in Victory leaving his Mediterranean fleet with Cornwallis ⎸] who detached twenty of his thirty-three ships of the line and sent them under Calder to find the combined fleet at Ferrol. On 19 August came the worrying news that the enemy had sailed from there, followed by relief when they arrived in Cádiz two days later. On the evening of Saturday, 28 September, Lord Nelson joined Lord Collingwood's fleet off Cádiz, quietly, so that his presence would not be known. ⎹]
The Battle of Trafalgar [ edit | edit source ]
The Battle of Trafalgar, a composite of several moments during the battle, by J. M. W. Turner (oil on canvas, 1822–1824).
After learning he was to be removed from command, Villeneuve put to sea on the morning of 19 October, and once the last ship had left port, around noon the following day, set sail for the Mediterranean. ⎺] The British frigates sent to keep track of the enemy fleet throughout the night, were spotted at around 1900hrs and the order was given to form line of battle. ⎻] On the morning of 21 October the main British fleet, which was out of sight and sailing parallel some 10 miles away, turned to intercept. ⎼] Nelson had already made his plans: to break the enemy line some two or three ships ahead of their Commander in Chief in the centre and achieve victory before the van could come to their aid. ⎽] At 0600hrs Nelson ordered his fleet into two columns. Fitful winds made it a slow business and for more than six hours the two columns of British ships slowly approached the French line before Royal Sovereign, leading the lee column, was able to open fire on Fougueux. Around 30 minutes later Victory broke the line between Bucentaure and Redoutable firing a treble shotted broadside into the stern of the former from a range of a few yards. ⎾] At quarter-past one Nelson was shot, the fatal musket ball entering his left shoulder and lodging in his spine. ⎿] He died at half past four. ⏀] Such killing had taken place on Victory ' s quarter deck that Redoutable attempted to board her, but they were thwarted by the arrival of Eliab Harvey in the 98-gun HMS Temeraire, whose broadside devastated the French ship. ⏁] Nelson's last order was for the fleet to anchor, but this was countermanded by Vice Admiral Collingwood. ⏂] Victory suffered 57 killed and 102 wounded. ⏃]
V VICE-ADMIRAL SIR REGINALD H. S. BACON, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O.
VICE-ADMIRAL SIR REGINALD HUGH SPENCER BACON, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O., was born in September, 1863, and entered the Navy in 1877. In 1883 he became a Lieutenant (Five Firsts and promotion marks). In 1887 he joined the "Camperdown" as Torpedo Lieutenant. He was awarded a silver medal by the Italian Government for bravery displayed in rescuing the crew of the Indian vessel, "Utopia," wrecked in Gibraltar Bay in March, 1891. As Commander of the "Theseus," he served in the punitive Naval expedition commanded by Rear-Admiral Rawson, C.B., and took part in the landing and capture of Benin City in February, 1897. It was in connection with this campaign that he wrote "Benin, the City of Blood." As Chief of the Intelligence Department, he was mentioned in despatches, received the General African Medal, Benin Clasp, and the D.S.O.
He was the first Inspecting Captain of Submarines, and held the appointment from March, 1901, till October, 1904, being in charge of the Submarine Service during that time. He was Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord from October, 1904, to December, 1905 the first Captain of H.M.S. "Dreadnought," 1906-07, and Flag-Captain and Chief of the Staff in the Home Fleet in the latter year. From August, 1907, to December, 1909, Rear-Admiral Bacon was Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes.
On the occasion of King Edward VII.'s Review of the Home Fleet in the Solent he received the C.V.O., and was Aide-de-Camp to the King from 1908 to 1909, during which year he became a Rear-Admiral.
Having retired in 1909 to take up the post of Managing Director of the Coventry Ordnance Works, he returned to service in January, 1915, as Officer Commanding the Siege Brigade, Royal Marines, with temporary rank of Colonel Second Commandant. He served with the Expeditionary Force in France. Later in the same year Admiral Bacon was placed in command of the Dover Patrol, becoming a Vice-Admiral on July 15th, 1915, and being made a K.C.B. on January 1st, 1916.
On the occasion of the King's visit to his Army in the Field in August, 1916, Vice-Admiral Bacon received the K.C.V.O.
He became a Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour in September, 1916, and was also created Grand Officer of the Order of Leopold by the King of the Belgians in November, 1916. In 1917 he received the Belgian Croix de Guerre.
Admiral Sir Cecil Burney - History
Royal Navy, "Pax Britannica", 1815-1914
FROM IMPERIAL POLICEMAN TO NORTH SEA BATTLE FLEET: THE EVOLUTION OF BRITISH NAVAL DEPLOYMENT 1900-1914
by Dr Graham Watson, retired from HIstory Dept, Cardiff University
My sincere thanks to Graham Watson for all the work he has put into this important account of the Royal Navy leading up to the outbreak of World War 1. Not just the ship deployments, but the organisation itself. It has certainly cleared up for me numerous problems trying to sort out the fleets early in the war.
Graham informs us that the principal source for this work is the Navy List. They were supplemented by Arthur Marder's 'From Dreadnought to Scapa Flow'. His first volume gives an account of the policy of changing the location and fleet composition in the period 1904-1914. Books on individual types of ships such as Oscar Parkes and R A Burt on battleships, and Roger Morris on cruisers have supplemented the basic Navy List data.
Gordon Smith, Naval-History.Net.
In 1900, the prime purpose of the Royal Navy was to protect and defend the Empire patrol and protect the trade routes and to show a British naval presence in areas of concern, such as the Mediterranean.
For these tasks the ships of the Royal Navy were allocated to a number of geographic stations, of which only the Mediterranean was described as a fleet. These were:
A small force of battleships comprised the Channel Squadron, which could be reinforced by the older battleships and cruisers of the Coast Guard. The ships on Coast Guard duty were distributed around the ports of the United Kingdom as guard ships- a visible but not very effective presence.
Between 1901 and 1913, the Royal Navy changed from this imperial role to a battle fleet designed and prepared for conflict in the North Sea. This was in response to the perceived threat brought about by the enlargement of the German Fleet. This process was aided by the generally beneficial attitude towards other navies which might have posed a threat elsewhere in the world- the French, the Americans and the Japanese.
The transition to the North Sea took place in stages, largely as an attempt to disguise the move, and so not provoke a response from Germany. Although a major focus of the period is on the introduction of the 'dreadnought' type battleship, and the increased allocation of armoured cruisers, torpedo boat destroyers, and submarines, the establishment of tactical and administrative organisations such as squadrons and flotillas must be examined.
In 1900, there were no fleets, squadrons or flotillas such as existed by 1914. Ships seemed to have been allocated without too much thought to coherence of class, type, and fighting ability. Apart from the Mediterranean Fleet, there were few, if any, subordinate flag officers, to provide tactical leadership for training and operations.
By 1914, uniformly constituted battle squadrons, cruiser squadrons, destroyer flotillas, and submarine flotillas, with appropriate flag officers in command, had been created in home waters.
Their creation marks the transition to the fleet organisation of the twentieth century.
The pace and nature of this change is summarised below. They were most obvious and frequent in the organisation of warships in home waters to a lesser extent in the Mediterranean and China Stations. The other geographic stations either remained largely untouched, or were abolished.
Admiral Sir Cecil Burney - History
ADMIRAL SIR CECIL BURNEY, G.C.M.G., K.C.B., was born in 1858 and received his education at the Royal Naval Academy, Gosport he served as a Lieutenant of the "Carysfoot" during the Egyptian war, and also in the Naval and military operations near Suakin in the Eastern Soudan. For these services he received the Egyptian Medal, Khedive's Bronze Star and Suakin Clasp.
As a Lieutenant of the "Hecate" Admiral Burney performed a singularly gallant action. His ship having gone outside Plymouth Breakwater for gun trials, a carpenter's mate engaged in some work on the outside of a turret slipped overboard, striking his head as he fell. Lieutenant Burney and Mr. Berridge, gunner, at once plunged to the rescue and succeeded in supporting the man till one of the boats, which unfortunately were stowed inboard owing to gun practice, could be got ready to go to their assistance.
In 1906-7 Admiral Burney was Aide-de-Camp to King Edward VII. He was Rear-Admiral of Plymouth Home Fleet, 1909-10, a member of the Admiralty Submarine Committee, 1910-11 Rear-Admiral Commanding Fifth Cruiser Squadron, February, 1911 Acting Vice-Admiral Commanding Third Battle Squadron (formerly Atlantic Fleet), in December of the same year and Vice-Admiral in September, 1912.
In April, 1913, he became second in command in the Mediterranean and Senior Officer of the International Squadron ordered to blockade the coast of Montenegro, and in May of the same year he was appointed Chief to the Commission to administer the affairs of Scutari on behalf of the Powers.
Vice-Admiral Burney received the K.C.B. on King George's Birthday in 1913, and the K.C.M.G. in October of the same year, in which he also received the command of the Second and Third Fleets.
At the Battle of Jutland he was second in command of the Grand Fleet and was mentioned in despatches. He became a G.C.M.G. and Admiral in 1916, being decorated Grand Officer of the Legion of Honour for his war services in the same year. In 1916 he was also appointed Second Sea Lord of the Admiralty. He also holds the Order of St. Vladimir (Second Class) with swords, the Grand Cross of the Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus, and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun.
Admiral Burney retired from the post of Second Sea Lord in August, 1917, and in October was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the East Coast of Scotland in succession to the late Admiral Sir Frederick Hamilton.
The Command extended along the south coast from Newhaven in East Sussex to Portland in Dorset.  In 1889 the Commander-in-Chief took HMS Victory as his Flagship. 
In the late 18th century port admirals began to reside ashore, rather than on board their flagships the Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was provided with a large house at 111 High Street, which was renamed Admiralty House (and which had formerly been home to the Mayor of Portsmouth).  In the 1830s Admiralty House was sold to the War Office (as Government House, it went on to house the Lieutenant-Governor of Portsmouth for the next fifty years).  The Commander-in-Chief moved in turn into the former Dockyard Commissioner's house, which still stands within HMNB Portsmouth. 
During the Second World War the Command Headquarters was at Fort Southwick.  Operation Aerial, the evacuation from western French ports in 1940, was commanded by Admiral William Milbourne James, the Commander-in-Chief. James lacked the vessels necessary for convoys and organised a flow of troopships, storeships and motor vehicle vessels from Southampton, coasters to ply from Poole and the Dutch schuyts to work from Weymouth, while such warships as were available patrolled the shipping routes. Demolition parties sailed in the ships but it was hoped that supplies and equipment could be embarked as well as troops. 
In 1952 the Commander-in-Chief took up the NATO post of Commander-in-Chief, Channel (CINCHAN). This move added Allied Command Channel to the NATO Military Command Structure. The admiral commanding at Portsmouth had control naval operations in the area since 1949 under WUDO auspices. 
The post of Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was merged with that of Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth in 1969 to form the post of Commander-in-Chief, Naval Home Command.  The posts of Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command were amalgamated in 1994 following the rationalisation of the British Armed Forces following the end of the Cold War.  In 2012, however, all distinct Commander-in-Chief appointments were discontinued, with full operational command being vested instead in the First Sea Lord he now flies his flag from HMS Victory. 
Post holder have included:  
- Rear Admiral Sir Robert Holmes September 1667-? 
- Captain, John Graydon, January – February 1695 
- Captain James Wishart, February – April 1695 
- Vice Admiral John Neville: 1696 
- Rear Admiral Henry Houghton: March–July 1698 
- Commodore Thomas Warren: December 1698 
- Commodore Basil Beaumont: February–March 1698 
- Rear Admiral James Wishart, September 1703 – October 1703 
- Commodore Richard Lestock, 1741 
- Admiral James Steuart: 1745–1747
- Admiral Sir Edward Hawke: 1748–1752
- Admiral Sir Edward Hawke: 1755–1756
- Admiral Henry Osborn: 1756–1757
- Admiral Sir Francis Holburne 1758–1766
- Admiral Sir John Moore: 1766–1769
- Admiral Sir Francis Geary 1769–1771
- Admiral Thomas Pye: 1771–1774
- Admiral Sir James Douglas: 1774–1777
- Admiral Thomas Pye: 1777–1783
- Admiral John Montagu: 1783–1786
- Admiral Viscount Hood: 1786–1789
- Admiral Robert Roddam: 1789–1792
- Admiral Viscount Hood: 1792–1793
- Admiral Sir Peter Parker: 1793–1799
- Admiral Mark Milbanke: 1799–1803
- Admiral Lord Gardner: March – June 1803
- Admiral Sir George Montagu: 1803–1809
- Admiral Sir Roger Curtis: 1809–1812
- Admiral Sir Richard Bickerton: 1812–1815
- Admiral Sir Edward Thornbrough: 1815–1818
- Admiral Sir George Campbell: 1818–1821
- Admiral Sir James Hawkins-Whitshed: 1821–1824
- Admiral Sir George Martin: 1824–1827
- Admiral Sir Robert Stopford: 1827–1830
- Admiral Sir Thomas Foley: 1830–1833
- Admiral Sir Thomas Williams: 1833–1836
- Admiral Sir Philip Durham: 1836 – March 1839
- Admiral Charles Elphinstone Fleeming: April – November 1839
- Admiral Sir Edward Codrington: 1839–1842
- Admiral Sir Charles Rowley: 1842–1845
- Admiral Sir Charles Ogle: 1845–1848
- Admiral Sir Thomas Capel: 1848–1851
- Admiral Sir Thomas Briggs: 1851–1852
- Admiral Sir Thomas Cochrane: 1852–1856
- Admiral Sir George Seymour: 1856–1859
- Admiral Sir William Bowles: 1859–1860
- Admiral Sir Henry W. Bruce: March 1860 – March 1863
- Admiral Sir Michael Seymour: March 1863 – March 1866
- Admiral Sir Thomas Pasley, Bt.: March 1866 – February 1869
- Admiral Sir James Hope: February 1869 – March 1872
- Admiral Sir Rodney Mundy: March 1872 – March 1875
- Admiral Sir George A. Elliot: March 1875 – March 1878
- Admiral Edward G Fanshawe: March 1878 – November 1879
- Admiral Alfred Ryder: November 1879 – November 1882
- Admiral Sir Geoffrey Hornby: November 1882 – November 1885
- Admiral Sir George Willes: November 1885 – June 1888
- Admiral Sir John Commerell: June 1888 – June 1891
- Admiral the Earl of Clanwilliam: June 1891 – June 1894
- Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon: June 1894 – August 1897
- Admiral Sir Michael Culme-Seymour, Bt.: August 1897 – October 1900
- Admiral Sir Charles Hotham: October 1900 – August 1903
- Admiral Sir John Fisher: August 1903 – March 1904
- Admiral Sir Archibald Douglas: March 1904 – March 1907
- Admiral Sir Day Bosanque: March 1907 – March 1908
- Admiral Sir Arthur Fanshawe: March 1908 – April 1910
- Admiral the Hon. Sir Assheton Curzon-Howe: April 1910 – March 1911
- Admiral Sir Arthur Moore: March 1911 – July 1912
- Admiral of the Fleet the Hon. Sir Hedworth Meux: July 1912 – March 1916
- Admiral the Hon. Sir Stanley Colville: March 1916 – March 1919
- Admiral Sir Cecil Burney: March 1919 – April 1920
- Admiral the Hon. Sir Somerset Gough-Calthorpe: April 1920 – April 1923
- Admiral Sir Sydney Fremantle: April 1923 – April 1926
- Admiral Sir Osmond Brock: April 1926 – April 1929
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes, Bt.: April 1929 – May 1931
- Admiral Sir Arthur Waistell: June 1931 – January 1934
- Admiral Sir John Kelly: January 1934 – July 1936
- Admiral Sir William Fisher: July 1936 – June 1937
- Admiral of the Fleet The Earl of Cork and Orrery: July 1937 – June 1939
- Admiral Sir William James: June 1939 – October 1942
- Admiral Sir Charles Little: October 1942 – February 1945
- Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton: March 1945 – May 1947
- Admiral The Lord Fraser of North Cape: May 1947 – July 1948
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon Willis: July 1948 – September 1950
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir Arthur Power: September 1950 – September 1952
- Admiral Sir John Edelsten: September 1952 – September 1954
- Admiral of the Fleet Sir George Creasy: September 1954 – July 1957
- Admiral Sir Guy Grantham: July 1957 – March 1959 
- Admiral Sir Manley Power: March 1959 – October 1961
- Admiral Sir Alexander Bingley: October 1961 – February 1963
- Admiral Sir Wilfrid Woods: February 1963 – August 1965
- Admiral Sir Varyl Begg: August 1965 – March 1966
- Admiral Sir Frank Hopkins: March 1966 – November 1967
- Admiral Sir John Frewen: November 1967 – 1969
Considered as the most prestigious of the home commands, Portsmouth Command was responsible for the central part of the English Channel between Newhaven and Isle of Portland.    Below is a list of units that served under this command.