Cyril Francis Carpmael

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Commander Cyril Francis Carpmael, (20 April, 1899 – 25 November, 1922) served in the Royal Navy. Good fortune kept him from death in the destruction of H.M.S. Vanguard, but drink and perhaps the influences of venereal disease contributed to a poor naval career.

Life & Career

Carpmael was appointed to the Vanguard on 16 March, 1915 and was fortunate to survive her destruction on 9 July, 1917, having been one of sixteen of her crew to visit Royal Oak for an evening of entertainment. This made him one of approximately twenty-four of her men who escaped with their lives.[1] He was sent to a one-week Torpedo Control Course at Vernon and then briefly to T.B. 4 before being assigned to Oriole in September, 1917, where he remained through the end of the war. On 13 May 1918, he was admitted to Plymouth Hospital to be treated for gonorrhea. This, and the trauma of escaping death in Vanguard may explain the rest of his naval career.

Carpmael was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 15 January, 1920. A stint in Rosalind prompted his captain to record that Carpmael had "little idea of the responsibilities attached to the first lieutenant of a destroyer." A Court of Enquiry into the conduct of his duties held in September 1920 foudn that he had failed in his duties as executive officer. He was to be sent to a larger ship and quarterly reports issued on his further performance. He was appointed to Dartmouth on 1 December 1920.

On 25 February 1921, he was logged for being drunk at a public entertainment on shore at Montevideo. Captain Bigg-Wither noted, however, that Carpmael seemed to improve in light of this reprimand.

Appointed to Southampton on 15 April, 1921, Carpmael was logged for direct disobedience and exceeding limits imposed on his wine bill by Captain Braithwaite. Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station Vice-Admiral Tothill added that, "in my judgment, it is not desirable that a young officer with this record should continue to serve in a flagship of a C-in-C." Nonetheless, the man's evaluations continued to be dismal. Intemperance was uniformly noted, as well as a lack of attention and focus.

Carpmael assaulted a native policeman after creating a disturbance at a passenger jetty at Colombo and damaged fittings of a police boat. Though the policeman reported that Carpmael was drunk, none of his fellow sailors confirmed this. In the immediate aftermath, he failed to make his rounds and instead retired to his cabin against express orders. For this final demonstration, Carpmael was tried by Court Martial in Comus. He resigned the service on 8 March 1922 and died later that year of a "long illness contracted on active service".[2]

See Also



  1. The National Archives. ADM 137/3680. f. 445.
  2. "Deaths." The Times (London, England), Monday, November 27, 1922, Issue 43199, p.1.