Andrew Lancelot Besant

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Commander Andrew Lancelot Besant, C.B.E., R.N., Retired (10 August, 1895 – 1970) was an submarine officer in the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

Born the son of Reverend J. C. E. Besant, vicar of Sydney.

Besant gained no time on passing out of the Training Establishment on 15 May, 1913. He served first in battleship Centurion from that date to 27 March, 1916. On 29 March, he was appointed to the "M" Class destroyer Mary Rose of the Twelfth Destroyer Flotilla. He would fight in that ship at the Battle of Jutland. On 25 August, 1916 he was appointed to her sister ship, H.M.S. Marvel. He served in her until being appointed to Dolphin for instruction in submarines on 9 December, 1916.[1]

He completed his training on 5 February, 1917 and was appointed to Bonaventure for service in submarines of the Second Submarine Flotilla. He was soon placed in C 9, in which he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 15 April, 1917. He remained with C 9 until being appointed to Lucia for further submarine work in the Tenth Submarine Flotilla in mid-September. By mid-November, he was assigned to E 27. He served the remainder of the war in her. In November 1919 he was sent to oversee submarines that were under Care and Maintenance Parties at Devonport.[2]

On 5 August, 1920, Besant was placed in command of four "H" class boats in reserve submarine group "F" at Portland: H 21, H 25, H 26 and H 29.[3]

Besant was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 15 April, 1925.[4]

Besant was appointed in command of the "P" class submarine Pandora on 30 January, 1930. Some time later that year, a leading cook named Dewey was lost when because he'd not gotten below before the submarine dived. The Admiralty found Besant to blame for having failed to ensure that men he'd permitted on deck had gotten below before submerging. A Court Martial, for this or another incident, proved charges against Besant of having by negligence or default hazarded Pandora. He was severely reprimanded. In February, 1931 he was superseded in Pandora. In April, he was placed in command of X1.[5]

Shortly after being superseded in command of X 1, Besant reverted to General (as opposed to Submarine) Service on 21 January, 1932 and was appointed to Portsmouth to being a year on training duties.[6]

In 1933, Besant was appointed to Hong Kong. This was followed by various staff appointments and a temporary appointment in Durban.

World War II

Besant started on the staff of the Flag Officer in Charge, Greenock.

Though Besant was placed on the Retired List on account of age with the rank of Commander on 10 August, 1940, he continued to work at a wide variety of appointments through the end of the war. On 6 April, 1943, he was gazetted for a mention in despatches for his "bravery and skill in the hazardous operations in which the Allied Forces were landed in North Africa." He was awarded a C.B.E. for distinguished service in the war in Europe, gazetted 11 December, 1945.[7]

See Also

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Alexander McG. McCulloch
Captain of H.M.S. H 21
5 Aug, 1920[8] – 3 Jan, 1921[9]
Succeeded by
John D. de M. Leathes
Preceded by
Oliver North
Captain of H.M.S. H 29
5 Aug, 1920[10] – 3 Jan, 1921[11]
Succeeded by
The Hon. Walter S. Carson
Preceded by
Clive A. Robinson
Captain of H.M.S. H 25
5 Aug, 1920[12] – 3 Jan, 1921[13]
Succeeded by
John D. de M. Leathes
Preceded by
Aubrey C. Newbold
Captain of H.M.S. H 26
5 Aug, 1920[14] – 3 Jan, 1921[15]
Succeeded by
John D. de M. Leathes
Preceded by
Arthur E. Hodgson
Captain of H.M.S. H 33
3 Jan, 1921[16] – Jan, 1922[17]
Succeeded by
John H. Macnair
Preceded by
Leslie H. Ashmore
Captain of H.M.S. L 52
7 Feb, 1922[18]
Succeeded by
Alistair S. Cumming
Preceded by
The Hon. Walter S. Carson
Captain of H.M.S. L 15
10 Apr, 1923[19] – 15 Oct, 1924[20]
Succeeded by
William L. Berridge
Preceded by
James L. Boyd
Captain of H.M.S. L 25
15 Dec, 1926[21][22] – 1 Sep, 1927[23]
Succeeded by
Edward M. Loly
Preceded by
New Command
Captain of H.M.S. Pandora
30 Jan, 1930[24] – Feb, 1931
Succeeded by
William D. Stephens
Preceded by
Lancelot M. Shadwell
Captain of H.M.S. X1
9 Apr, 1931[25][26] – 30 Dec, 1931[27]
Succeeded by
John H. Macnair

Footnotes

  1. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  2. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  3. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 782a.
  4. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  5. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  6. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  7. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  8. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 782a.
  9. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  10. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 782a.
  11. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  12. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 782a.
  13. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  14. The Navy List. (January, 1921). p. 782a.
  15. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  16. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  17. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  18. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  19. The Navy List. (July, 1924). p. 250. This command is indicated vaguely in his Service Record.
  20. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  21. The Navy List. (July, 1927). p. 251.
  22. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  23. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  24. "New Submarine Command." The Times (London, England), Thursday, Jan 16, 1930; pg. 5; Issue 45412.
  25. The Navy List. (July, 1931). p. 291.
  26. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.
  27. Besant Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/118/44. f. 44.