Frederick Field (Royal Navy officer)

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Sir Frederick Field
Ffield.jpg
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Field
Born (1871-04-18)18 April 1871
Killarney, County Kerry
Died 24 October 1945(1945-10-24) (aged 74)
Escrick, North Yorkshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1884–1933
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Defiance
HMS Duncan
HMS King George V
Battlecruiser Squadron
Mediterranean Fleet
First Sea Lord
Battles/wars Boxer Rebellion
First World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Frederick Laurence Field GCB, KCMG (18 April 1871 – 24 October 1945) was a senior Royal Navy officer. He served in the Boxer Rebellion as commander of a raiding party and in the First World War as commanding officer of the Battleship HMS King George V, flagship of Admiral Martyn Jerram at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet before serving as First Sea Lord during the early 1930s in which role dealt with the response to the Invergordon Mutiny in September 1931 and ensured the abandonment in 1932 of the 'ten year rule', an attempt by the treasury to control defence expenditure by requesting the Foreign Office to declare whether there was any risk of war during the next ten years.

Early career[edit]

Born the second son of Colonel Spencer Field, 6th Royal Warwickshire regiment and Catherine Field (née) Darrah, Field was educated privately before joining the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship HMS Britannia in 1884.[1] He was posted as a midshipman to the armoured frigate HMS Minotaur in the Channel Squadron in November 1886.[1] He transferred to the armoured cruiser HMS Imperieuse on the China Station in March 1888 and to the corvette HMS Constance also on the China Station in early 1889.[1] Promoted to sub-lieutenant on 14 November 1890,[2] he was posted to the battleship HMS Dreadnought in the Mediterranean Fleet in April 1892.[1] Promoted again to lieutenant on 1 April 1893,[3] he joined the corvette HMS Volage in the Training Squadron in October 1894 before attending the torpedo school HMS Vernon from November 1895.[1]

The Boxer Rebellion during which Field led a raiding party

After serving on the directing staff at the torpedo school HMS Defiance at Devonport, Field became torpedo officer in HMS Barfleur on the China Station in July 1898.[1] He was mentioned in dispatches for leading a small raiding party which landed at Tianjin in response to the Boxer Rebellion tasked with repairing damaged trains under heavy fire:[4] he was wounded during the action.[1]

Promoted to commander on 30 June 1902,[5] Field was posted to the battleship HMS Albion on the China Station in August 1902 before rejoining the staff at HMS Vernon in 1904.[1] Promoted to captain on 31 December 1907,[6] he became commanding officer of HMS Defiance, the torpedo school at Devonport.[7] He was given command of HMS Duncan as flag captain to Admiral Martyn Jerram, Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in 1910 and then became superintendent of the Royal Navy signal schools in 1912.[7]

First World War[edit]

The battleship HMS King George V which Field commanded at the Battle of Jutland

He saw service during the First World War, initially as Captain of HMS Vernon and then as commanding officer of the battleship HMS King George V, flagship of Admiral Jerram at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916.[7] He was applauded for 'the great skill with which he handled the King George V, as leader of the line, under very difficult conditions'.[8] Appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath on 15 September 1916,[9] he became chief of staff to Sir Charles Madden, commanding the 1st Battle Squadron in November 1916 and, having been appointed to the Russian Order of St. Anna 2nd Class (with Swords) on 5 June 1917,[10] he became director of torpedoes and mines at the Admiralty in June 1918.[7] He was appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King on 26 October 1918.[11] In recognition of his war service he was appointed an Officer of the French Legion of Honour on 12 December 1918,[12] a Commander of the Romanian Order of the Crown on 17 March 1919[13] and a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on 17 July 1919.[14] He was also awarded the American Distinguished Service Medal on 16 September 1919.[15]

Admiral in the Royal Navy[edit]

Promoted to the rank of rear admiral on 11 February 1919,[16] Field became Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy in March 1920.[7] Advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1923 New Year Honours,[17] he was given the command of the Battlecruiser Squadron with his flag in the battlecruiser HMS Hood early that year.[7] He took the squadron, comprising HMS Hood, the battlecruiser HMS Repulse and the light cruisers HMS Delhi, HMS Dauntless, HMS Danae, HMS Dragon and HMS Dunedin, on an "Empire Cruise" between November 1923 and September 1924.[7] Promoted to vice-admiral on 26 September 1924,[18] he was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George on 29 September 1924 for his service on the Empire Cruise.[19] He went on to be Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff in May 1925 and, having been promoted to full admiral on 5 April 1928,[20] he became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet in June 1928.[7]

First Sea Lord[edit]

Field became First Sea Lord in July 1930.[7] The greatest crisis faced by Field at the Admiralty was the pay crisis that soon followed. With the ongoing effects of worldwide depression and budget restrictions, a 25% pay cut was introduced across the fleet and one shilling per day was taken from every naval man. It were these proposed measures which led to the Invergordon Mutiny in September 1931 when the sailors of the Atlantic Fleet at Invergordon left their ships and refused duty. At King George V's insistence, Admiral Sir John Kelly, who was popular with the fleet, was brought out of retirement to take command of the Atlantic Fleet, and the cabinet, acting on Field's advice, hurriedly reconsidered its budget: the pay cuts were restricted to 10% rather than 25%.[21] During the early months of this crisis, Field suffered a perforated ulcer.[21]

It was also primarily Field's work in the Committee of Imperial Defence, that led to the abandonment in 1932 of the 'ten year rule'. This had been an attempt by the treasury to control defence expenditure by requesting the Foreign Office to declare whether there was any risk of war during the next ten years.[21]

Field retired as First Sea Lord in January 1933 as was promoted to admiral of the fleet on 21 January 1933.[22] He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1933 Birthday Honours[23] and was Chairman of the Royal Navy Club of 1765 and 1785 (United 1889) for the years 1935 to 1937.[24] He retired to his home at Escrick Park near Escrick in North Yorkshire where he died from cancer on 24 October 1945.[21]

Family[edit]

In 1902 Field married Annie Jackson (née Harris); there were no children.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heathcote, p. 74
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26286. p. 2704. 10 May 1892. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26388. p. 2078. 4 April 1893. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27235. p. 6104. 5 October 1900. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 27448. p. 4198. 24 June 1902. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28096. p. 34. 3 January 1908. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i Heathcote, p. 75
  8. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9064. 15 September 1916. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9070. 15 September 1916. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30116. p. 5591. 5 June 1917. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31000. p. 13213. 8 November 1918. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31063. p. 14683. 10 December 1918. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31236. p. 3593. 14 March 1919. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31461. p. 9107. 15 July 1919. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31553. p. 11583. 12 September 1919. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 31201. p. 2738. 25 February 1919. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32782. p. 2. 29 December 1922. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32981. p. 7327. 10 October 1924. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 32978. p. 7101. 30 September 1924. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33376. p. 2740. 17 April 1928. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  21. ^ a b c d Heathcote, p. 76
  22. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33905. p. 524. 24 January 1933. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  23. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33946. p. 3801. 2 June 1933. Retrieved 10 November 2012.
  24. ^ "Royal Navy Club of 1765 and 1785 (United 1889)". Retrieved 10 November 2012. 

Sources[edit]

  • Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 – 1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Murfett, Malcolm (1995). The First Sea Lords from Fisher to Mountbatten. Westport. ISBN 0-275-94231-7. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir William Nicholson
Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy
1920–1923
Succeeded by
Sir Cyril Fuller
Preceded by
Sir Walter Cowan
Commander, Battlecruiser Squadron
1923–1925
Succeeded by
Sir Cyril Fuller
Preceded by
Sir Roger Keyes
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff
1925–1928
Succeeded by
Sir William Fisher
Preceded by
Sir Roger Keyes
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
1928–1930
Succeeded by
Sir Ernle Chatfield
Preceded by
Sir Charles Madden
First Sea Lord
1930–1933
Succeeded by
Sir Ernle Chatfield