Cecil Harcourt

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Sir Cecil Harcourt
The Royal Navy during the Second World War A21407.jpg
Born 11 April 1892
Bromley, Kent
Died 19 December 1959
Chelsea, London
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1904 - 1952
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Wessex
HMS Stuart
HMS President
HMS Duke of York
HMS Sheffield
HMS Aurora
HMS Cleopatra
HMS Venerable
HMS Tamar
HMS Newfoundland
HMS Swiftsure.
Battles/wars World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Admiral Sir Cecil Halliday Jepson Harcourt, GBE, KCB (Chinese Translated Name: 夏慤; 11 April 1892 – 19 December 1959), was a British naval officer. From September 1945 to June 1946, Harcourt was the de facto governor of Hong Kong as commander-in-chief and head of the military administration. He was called by the Chinese name "Ha Kok", a reference to the fourth-century Chinese nobleman Chung Kok.[1]

Biography[edit]

He was born in Bromley, London, son of Halliday Harcourt and Grace Lilian née Jepson. He had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, which he entered as a midshipman on 15 September 1904, at the age of 12. He served in both world wars.[2]

In 1939, he was appointed Director of the Admiralty's Operations Division. In 1941 he was Flag Captain of the Home Fleet, while commanding HMS Duke of York. From 1942 to 1944 he took part in the North Africa campaign, the capture of Tunisia, Pantelleria. Lampedusa and Sicily, and the landing at Salerno. In 1944 he became Naval Secretary.[3] In 1945, he was Flag Officer Commanding 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron,[2] with his flag in HMS Colossus.

He became famous after he personally took the surrender of Japanese forces (under Vice-Admiral Fujita and Lieutenant-General Tanaka) in Hong Kong.[1] He became the head of a provisional military government in Hong Kong from September 1945 to April 1946, serving as administrator until civilian rule could be established. He was knighted during this time, in December 1945.[2]

In 1947, Harcourt became Flag Officer (Air) and Second in Command Mediterranean Fleet. In 1948, he became Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel as well as a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty, and in 1950 Commander-in-Chief, The Nore.[2] He retired in 1952.[2]

Ships he commanded[edit]

Ships under Harcourt's command included:

Private life[edit]

On 17 April 1913, he assumed the surname "Harcourt-Morris", but this lasted only a short time.[2]

In 1920 he became the second husband of the English pianist Evelyn Suart, a widow. They had no children of their own. One of her daughters by her first marriage was the noted ballerina Diana Gould, who became the second wife of the violinist Yehudi Menuhin.[4] Her sister Griselda became the second wife of the pianist Louis Kentner.[5] After Evelyn Suart's death in 1950, Harcourt married Stella, widow of Air Commodore David Waghorn, in 1953.[2]

Honours[edit]

  • He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1940.
  • In 1943 he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Bath (CB).
  • On 18 December 1945, he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).
  • In 1953 he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (GBE).

Places named after him[edit]

Harcourt Road, a main road in Hong Kong Island, and Harcourt Garden are named after him.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Frederick Dalrymple-Hamilton
Naval Secretary
1944–1945
Succeeded by
Claud Barry
Political offices
Preceded by
Franklin Charles Gimson
Provisional Government

as Governor of Hong Kong
Administrator of Hong Kong
1945–1946
Succeeded by
Sir Mark Young
as Governor of Hong Kong
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Arthur Power
Second Sea Lord
1948–1950
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Madden
Preceded by
Sir Henry Moore
Commander-in-Chief, The Nore
1950–1952
Succeeded by
Sir Cyril Douglas-Pennant