Lionel Preston

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Sir Lionel Preston
Born 27 September 1875
Died 21 September 1971 (1971-09-22) (aged 95)
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Years of service 1888–1945
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held HMS Eagle
Battles/wars Boxer Rebellion
World War I
World War II
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath

Admiral Sir Lionel George Preston, KCB (27 September 1875 – 21 September 1971) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Fourth Sea Lord.

Naval career[edit]

Lionel Preston was educated at Stubbington House School[1] and joined the Royal Navy as a cadet aboard HMS Britannia in 1888.[2] He was posted to the sloop HMS Rosario in March 1900,[3] and took part in the response to the Boxer Rebellion after the ship was posted to the China Station in June that year. He was appointed 1st lieutenant on the surveying ship HMS Hearty on 30 May 1902.[4] During World War I he commanded the Grand Fleet Minesweeping Flotilla from 1914 until 1917, when he became Director of the Minesweeping Division at the Admiralty.[2]

After the War he was in charge of the clearance of mines in British waters and then, from 1919, commanded patrol, minesweeping training and fishing protection flotilla.[2] He was appointed Commanding Officer of the Royal Navy Signal School at Portsmouth in 1920 and then given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle in 1923.[2] He was given command of the 3rd Light Cruiser Squadron in 1926 and became Fourth Sea Lord and Chief of Supplies and Transport in 1930.[2] He was made Commandant of the Imperial Defence College in 1933 and retired in 1935.[2]

He also served in World War II as Advisor on minesweeping and then, as the Director of Small Vessels Pool, he took charge of the provision of small craft for Dunkirk evacuation in 1940.[2] In a "War Commentary" broadcast by the BBC he made reference to "the futile years" when the United Kingdom supported the League of Nations as a basis for its foreign policy.[5] He retired again in 1945.[2]

In retirement he became Chairman of Titanine Limited, a business specialising in aircraft finishes.[6] He lived in Chiltern Road in Dunstable.[7]

He also wrote the book "Sea And River Painters Of The Netherlands In The Seventeenth Century".[8]


He married Emily Elizabeth Bryant.[9]


  1. ^ "PRESTON, Adm. Sir Lionel". Who Was Who. A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc, 1920–2008; online edn, Oxford University Press. December 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012. (subscription required)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36076). London. 27 February 1900. p. 6. 
  4. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36761). London. 7 May 1902. p. 10. 
  5. ^ Sir Lionel Preseton's War Commentary Hansard, 24 June 1941
  6. ^ In Brief Flight Global, 1953
  7. ^ Dunstable and Houghton Regis Luton Today
  8. ^ "Sea And River Painters Of The Netherlands In The Seventeenth Century" Oxford University Press (1937)
  9. ^ National Portrait Gallery
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Vernon Haggard
Fourth Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Geoffrey Blake
Preceded by
Sir Robert Brooke-Popham
Commandant of the Imperial Defence College
Succeeded by
Sir Robert Haining