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Commander-in-Chief, China (Royal Navy)

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Commander-in-Chief, China
A British warship inside the Admiralty IX floating dry dock at Singapore Naval Base in September 1941
Country United Kingdom/British Empire
Branch Royal Navy
TypeNaval formation
Part ofAdmiralty
Garrison/HQSingapore Naval Base (1865–1942, 1945–1971)
HMS Tamar (1865–1941, 1945–1997)
Wei Hai Wei station on Liugong Island (1898–1940)

The Commander-in-Chief, China, was the admiral in command of what was usually known as the China Station, at once both a British Royal Navy naval formation and its admiral in command. It was created in 1865 and deactivated in 1941.

From 1831 to 1865, the East Indies Station and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station.[1] The China Station, established in 1865, had as its area of responsibility the coasts of China and its navigable rivers, the western part of the Pacific Ocean, and the waters around the Dutch East Indies.[2] The navy often co-operated with British commercial interests in this area.

Navy Office, Singapore

The formation had bases at Singapore (Singapore Naval Base), HMS Tamar (1865–1941 and 1945–1997) in Hong Kong and Wei Hai (at Liugong Island) (1898–1940). The China Station complement usually consisted of several older light cruisers and destroyers, and the Chinese rivers were patrolled by a flotilla of suitable, shallow-draught gunboats, referred to as "China gunboats".[3] Ships on this station usually had a distinctive livery of white hull and superstructure and dark funnels.

Between the two world wars, the Insect class gunboats were mainly used in the Far East and they were present during the Japanese invasion of China. In 1937, on the Yangtze river, the Japanese attacked Ladybird, firing on her from a shore battery. A U.S. gunboat, USS Panay was also attacked, by Japanese aircraft, and sunk. Ladybird sailed the 20 miles to the scene of the sinking, took on board some of the Panay survivors and took them to Shanghai. Scarab and Cricket were off Nanking in 1937 as the Japanese started to bomb the city.

In response to increased Japanese threats, the separate China Station was merged with the East Indies Station in December 1941 to form the Eastern Fleet.[4]

Commanders-in-Chief, China[edit]

Dates Admiral Commanding[1][5]
1865–1867 Vice-Admiral Sir George King
1867–1869 Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Keppel
1869–1871 Vice-Admiral Sir Henry Kellett
1871–1874 Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Shadwell
1874–1877 Vice-Admiral Sir Alfred Ryder
1877–1878 Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Hillyar
1878–1881 Vice-Admiral Robert Coote
1881–1884 Vice-Admiral Sir George Willes
1884–1885 Vice-Admiral Sir William Dowell
1885–1887 Vice-Admiral Sir Richard Hamilton
1887–1890 Vice-Admiral Sir Nowell Salmon
1890–1892 Vice-Admiral Sir Frederick Richards
1892–1895 Vice-Admiral The Hon. Sir Edmund Fremantle
1895–1897 Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Buller
1897–1901 Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour
1901–1904 Vice-Admiral Sir Cyprian Bridge
1904–1906 Vice-Admiral Sir Gerard Noel
1906–1908 Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Moore
1908–1910 Vice-Admiral Sir Hedworth Meux
1910–1913 Vice-Admiral Sir Alfred Winsloe
1913–1915 Vice-Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram
1916–1917 Vice-Admiral Sir William Grant
1917–1919 Rear-Admiral Sir Frederick Tudor
24 July 1919 – 1922 Vice-Admiral Sir Alexander Duff
10 September 1922 – November 1924 Admiral Sir Arthur Leveson
November 1924 – 1925 Rear Admiral Sir Allan Everett
1925 Rear Admiral David Anderson (acting)
22 April 1925 – 8 November 1926 Vice-Admiral Sir Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair
8 November 1926 – 28 November 1928 Vice-Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt
28 November 1928 – 28 February 1931 Vice-Admiral Sir Arthur Waistell
28 February 1931 – 11 March 1933 Vice-Admiral Sir Howard Kelly
11 January 1936 – 5 February 1938 Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Little
5 February 1938 – 1940 Admiral Sir Percy Noble
November – 2 December 1941 Admiral Sir Tom Phillips[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b William Loney RN
  2. ^ Royal Navy Foreign Stations
  3. ^ HMS Falcon Archived 2007-09-29 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse". Archived from the original on 13 December 2016. Retrieved 26 September 2010.
  5. ^ Paul Bevand; Frank Allen (21 October 2007). "Commander-in-Chief, China Station". Royal Navy Fleet Officers, 1904–1945. Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 4 July 2008.
  6. ^ Jackson, Ashley (2006). The British Empire and the Second World War. London, England: A&C Black. pp. 288–289. ISBN 9780826440495.