Roger Backhouse

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Sir Roger Backhouse
Rbackhouse.jpg
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Backhouse
Born (1878-11-24)24 November 1878
Middleton Tyas, County Durham
Died 15 July 1939(1939-07-15) (aged 60)
London, England
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1892–1939
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held HMS Conquest
HMS Lion
HMS Malaya
3rd Battle Squadron
1st Battle Squadron
Home Fleet
Battles/wars First World War
Awards

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse GCB GCVO CMG (24 November 1878 – 15 July 1939) was a Royal Navy officer. He served in World War I as a cruiser commander and after the War became a battle squadron commander and later Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet. Becoming First Sea Lord in November 1938, his major contribution in that role was to abandon the official British policy of sending a major fleet to Singapore to deter Japanese aggression (the Singapore strategy), realising the immediate threat was closer to home (from Germany and Italy) and that such a policy was no longer viable. He died from a brain tumor in July 1939 just before the start of World War II.

Naval career[edit]

Born the fourth son of Sir Jonathan Backhouse, 1st Baronet and Florence Backhouse (née Salusbury-Trelawny), Backhouse joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship HMS Britannia in 1892 and went to sea as a midshipman in the battleship HMS Repulse in the Channel Squadron in 1894.[1]

Backhouse transferred to the corvette HMS Comus on the Pacific Station in October 1895 and, having been promoted to sub-lieutenant on 15 March 1898[2] and to lieutenant on 15 March 1899,[2] he joined the battleship HMS Victorious in the Mediterranean Fleet in November 1899.[1] After attending the gunnery school HMS Excellent, he was posted as gunnery officer to the battleship HMS Russell in the Mediterranean Fleet in February 1903 and then to the battleship HMS Queen in Mediterranean Fleet in April 1904, before returning to HMS Excellent to join the directing staff in July 1905.[1] He became gunnery officer in the battleship HMS Dreadnought in the Channel Fleet in August 1907 and, having been promoted to commander on 31 December 1909,[3] he rejoined the directing staff at HMS Excellent in February 1910.[1] He became Flag Commander to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet first in HMS Neptune from March 1911 and then in HMS Iron Duke from March 1914.[1]

Backhouse served in World War I, earning promotion to captain on 1 September 1914,[4] and being appointed commanding officer of the light cruiser HMS Conquest in the Harwich Force in November 1915 before being given command of the battle cruiser HMS Lion, flagship of the Battle Cruiser force, in November 1916.[1] He was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on 4 June 1917.[5]

Backhouse became Director of Naval Ordnance at the Admiralty in September 1920 and then commanding officer of the battleship HMS Malaya in January 1923, before receiving promotion to rear admiral on 24 February 1925[6] and being given command of the 3rd Battle Squadron in May 1926.[1] He became Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy in November 1928, and having been promoted to vice-admiral on 9 October 1929,[7] he became Commander of the 1st Battle Squadron and Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet in April 1932.[8] Appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1933 New Year Honours,[9] he was promoted to full admiral on 11 February 1934[10] and became Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet in 20 August 1935.[8] He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order on 20 May 1937.[11]

Advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1938 New Year Honours[12] and appointed First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King on 1 July 1938,[13] Blackhouse became First Sea Lord in November 1938.[8] Taking office shortly after the signing of the Munich Agreement, his major contribution as First Sea Lord was to abandon the official British policy of sending a major fleet to Singapore to deter Japanese aggression (the Singapore strategy), realising the immediate threat was closer to home (from Germany and Italy) and that such a policy was no longer viable.[8] With failing health, he resigned as First Sea Lord in May 1939 and, having been promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 29 June 1939, he died from a brain tumor in London on 15 July 1939 just before the start of World War II.[8]

Family[edit]

In 1907 Backhouse married Dora Louise Findlay, daughter of John Ritchie Findlay proprietor of the British newspaper, The Scotsman; they had two sons and four daughters.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Heathcote, p. 20
  2. ^ a b The London Gazette: no. 27080. p. 3103. 16 May 1899. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28325. p. 29. 1 January 1910. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28902. p. 7293. 15 September 1914. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30111. p. 5458. 1 June 1917. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33025. p. 1426. 27 February 1925. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33542. p. 6476. 11 October 1929. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  8. ^ a b c d e Heathcote, p. 21
  9. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33898. p. 3. 30 December 1932. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34023. p. 1001. 13 February 1934. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34420. p. 4733. 23 July 1937. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34469. p. 3. 31 December 1937. Retrieved 29 October 2012.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34527. p. 4242. 1 July 1938. Retrieved 29 October 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 Ernle Chatfield
Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy
1928–1932
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Forbes
Preceded by
The Earl of Cork and Orrery
Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet
1935–1938
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Forbes
Preceded by
Sir Ernle Chatfield
First Sea Lord
1938—1939
Succeeded by
Sir Dudley Pound
Honorary titles
Preceded by
The Earl of Cork and Orrery
First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp
1938–1939
Succeeded by
Hon. Sir Reginald Drax