Peter Hill-Norton, Baron Hill-Norton

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Lord Hill-Norton
Hillnorton.jpg
Admiral of the Fleet The Lord Hill-Norton
Born (1915-02-08)8 February 1915
Germiston, South Africa
Died 16 May 2004(2004-05-16) (aged 89)
Studland Bay, Dorset
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch United Kingdom Royal Navy
Years of service 1929–1977
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Decoy
HMS Ark Royal
Battles/wars World War II
Suez Crisis
Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Admiral of the Fleet Peter John Hill-Norton, Baron Hill-Norton, GCB (8 February 1915 – 16 May 2004) was a senior Royal Navy officer. He fought in World War II as gunnery officer in a cruiser operating on the Western Approaches and in the North Sea taking part in the Norwegian Campaign, then in a cruiser taking part in the Arctic convoys and finally in a battleship operating in the Eastern Fleet. After the War he commanded a destroyer and then an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff and then Chief of the Defence Staff in early 1970s. In the latter role he gave the final commitment to Project Chevaline, the Polaris missile improvement programme. He went on to be Chairman of the NATO Military Committee.

Naval career[edit]

Born the son of Captain Martin John Norton RFC and Margery Birnie Norton (née Hill), Peter John Norton (he changed his surname to Hill-Norton in 1931)[1] was educated at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.[2] He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1928 and, having been promoted to midshipman on 1 May 1932, was posted to the cruiser HMS London later that year.[3] He transferred to the battleship HMS Rodney in September 1934 and, having been promoted to sub-lieutenant on 1 September 1935,[4] he was posted to the battleship HMS Ramillies in August 1936.[3] Promoted to lieutenant on 1 October 1936,[5] he attended the gunnery course at the shore establishment HMS Excellent in 1939.[3]

Hill-Norton served during the Second World War initially as a gunnery instructor at HMS Excellent and then as gunnery officer on the cruiser HMS Cairo operating on the Western Approaches and in the North Sea and taking part in the Norwegian Campaign in Spring 1940.[6] He then transferred to the cruiser HMS Cumberland which took part in the Arctic convoys.[3] He joined the staff of the gunnery division at the Admiralty in 1943 and, having been promoted to lieutenant commander on 1 April 1944,[7] became gunnery officer on the battleship HMS Howe operating in the Eastern Fleet later that year.[3] With HMS Howe he took part in the attack on the Sakishima Islands.[6]

After the end of the War Hill-Norton became gunnery officer on the cruiser HMS Nigeria in the South Atlantic and then, having been promoted to commander on 31 December 1947, he was posted to the naval ordnance division at the Admiralty.[1] He became executive officer of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in 1951 and participated in Exercise Mainbrace.[6] Promoted to captain on 31 December 1952,[8] he was posted to Buenos Aires as naval attaché to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay in September 1953 before commanding the destroyer HMS Decoy during the Suez Crisis in 1956.[1] He became Head of the Weapon Equipment Section at the Admiralty in 1957 and Director of the Tactical and Weapons Policy Division there in 1958.[9] He was given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal in October 1959, before being promoted to rear admiral on 8 January 1962[10] and being appointed Assistant Chief of Naval Staff in February 1962.[9] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1964 New Year Honours.[2][11] He was made Flag Officer Second in Command Far East Fleet in June 1964 during the Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and, having been promoted to vice admiral on 7 August 1965,[12] he became Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Personnel and Logistics) at the Ministry of Defence in 1966.[9] He was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1967 New Year Honours.[13] Becoming Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel in January 1967, it was in this capacity that he took the brave decision to abolish the Royal Navy's traditional daily rum ration.[14] He went on to be Vice Chief of the Naval Staff in August 1967 and, having been promoted to full admiral on 1 October 1968,[15] he became Commander-in-Chief Far East Command in March 1969.[9] He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1970 Birthday Honours.[16]

Hill-Norton was swiftly propelled into the post of First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in July 1970 and then, having been promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 12 March 1971,[17] into the post of Chief of the Defence Staff in April 1971[18] following the unexpected early retirement of Sir Michael Le Fanu due to ill health.[9] In the latter role he gave the final commitment to Project Chevaline, the Polaris missile improvement programme.[6] He became Chairman of the NATO Military Committee in 1974, remaining in that post until his retirement in 1977.[9]

Later career[edit]

Hill-Norton was made a life peer as Baron Hill-Norton, of South Nutfield in the County of Surrey, in February 1979,[19] and took an active role at the House of Lords as a crossbencher.[20] He was President of the Sea Cadet Association, Chairman of the Royal Navy Club of 1765 & 1785 (United 1889),[21] a Liveryman of the Shipwrights' Company[2] and a Freeman of the City of London.[6] He authored a book entitled "No Soft Options: The Politico-Military Realities of NATO" in 1978 and another entitled "Sea Power: Story of Warships and Navies" in 1982.[2] He also narrated a series on sea power for BBC Television in 1985.[22] In later years he took an interest in UFOs, writing about them and expressing concern in Parliament about the potential destruction of files on them.[23]

Hill-Norton's interests included gardening and shooting.[2] He lived at Hyde near Fordingbridge in Hampshire and died of a heart attack at Studland Bay in Dorset on 16 May 2004.[1]

Family[edit]

In 1936 he married Eileen Linstow; they had one son (Vice-Admiral Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton) and one daughter.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Peter John Hill-Norton". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f People of Today 1994, Debrett, ISBN 1 870520 19 X
  3. ^ a b c d e Heathcote, p. 114
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34314. p. 5343. 14 August 1936. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34379. p. 1641. 12 March 1937. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  6. ^ a b c d e "Obituary: Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton". The Telegraph. 19 May 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 36522. p. 2297. 19 May 1944. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 39749. p. 220. 9 January 1953. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Heathcote, p. 115
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 42516. p. 8344. 17 November 1961. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 43200. p. 2. 1 January 1964.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 43758. p. 8447. 7 September 1965. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44210. p. 2. 30 December 1966. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  14. ^ "Obituary: Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton". The Guardian. 20 May 2004. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 44699. p. 11321. 18 October 1968. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45117. p. 6366. 5 June 1970. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45331. p. 2937. 30 March 1971. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45168. p. 8853. 7 August 1970. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 47765. p. 1737. 8 February 1979. Retrieved 9 September 2012.
  20. ^ Heathcote, p. 116
  21. ^ "Royal Navy Club of 1765 & 1785 (United 1889)". Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  22. ^ "Seapower". British Film Institute. Retrieved 8 September 2012. 
  23. ^ "House of Lords questions". Hansard. 3 May 2001. Retrieved 8 September 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]

  • Hill-Norton, Peter (1978). No Soft Options: The Politico-Military Realities of NATO. C. Hurst & Co. ISBN 978-0773505032. 
  • Hill-Norton, Peter (1982). Sea Power: Story of Warships and Navies. Faber and Faber. ISBN 978-0571118908. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Desmond Dreyer
Second Sea Lord
1967
Succeeded by
Sir Frank Twiss
Preceded by
Sir John Bush
Vice Chief of the Naval Staff
1967–1969
Succeeded by
Sir Edward Ashmore
Preceded by
Sir Michael Carver
Commander-in-Chief Far East Command
1969–1970
Succeeded by
Sir Brian Burnett
Preceded by
Sir Michael Le Fanu
First Sea Lord
1970–1971
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Pollock
Preceded by
Sir Charles Elworthy
Chief of the Defence Staff
1971–1973
Succeeded by
Sir Michael Carver
Preceded by
Johannes Steinhoff
Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
1974–1977
Succeeded by
Herman Zeiner Gunderson