David Richard Beatty, First Earl Beatty
Admiral of the Fleet THE RIGHT HONOURABLE David Richard Beatty, First Earl Beatty, G.C.B., O.M., G.C.V.O., D.S.O., P.C., Royal Navy (17 January, 1871 – 11 March, 1936) was an officer of the Royal Navy.
Early Life & Career
Beatty was born David Richard Beatty on 17 January, 1871 at Howbeck Villa, Stapeley, in the Registration District of Nantwich, in the County of Chester. His birth was registered on 17 February. He was the second of four sons of Captain David Longfield Beatty (1841–1904), of the Fourth Hussars, and his first wife, Catherine Edith (d. 1896), daughter of Nicholas Sadlier of Dunboyne Castle, County Meath, Ireland. David Richard and his elder brother Charles were both born out of wedlock, as David Longfield Beatty and Catherine Sadlier were not married until nearly six months after David Richard was born.
A fellow officer in Trafalgar, Lieutenant Sydney Fremantle, later recalled of Beatty:
We had some enjoyable shooting trips together. He was a conscientious officer who never failed in his duties and obligations, but showed little interest in the Service outside his immediate functions, and when our ship was at Malta distinguished himself as a member of the naval polo team.
On 18 November, 1896, Beatty was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) for his services in the Sudan. He was specially promoted to the rank of Commander on 15 November, 1898, aged twenty-seven years, nine months, and twenty-nine days.
For his service in China he was promoted to the rank of Captain on 9 November, 1900, aged just twenty-nine. C. S. Forester was later to claim, and Andrew Gordon to repeat, that the average age of officers promoted Captain at the time was forty-two. Actually the average of forty-two was for 1899, and with Beatty's promotion the average age in 1900 was forty years and seven months. Apart from a slight rise in 1901 the average would be forty or thirty-nine years old for the next decade.
On 2 March, 1902, Beatty was appointed Captain of the cruiser Juno in the Cruiser Squadron. He was appointed Captain of the protected cruiser second class Arrogant in the Mediterranean Cruiser Division on 3 March, 1903. When Arrogant's propeller was fouled by a 2½-inch wire he was "cautioned to take better precautions" in January, 1904. On 30 September he took command of the cruiser Diana. On 12 October he was given command of the battleship Mars in the Channel Fleet. On 25 October he was transferred to the new armoured cruiser Suffolk in the Mediterranean. He was disciplined in 1905 after fouling Suffolk's port propeller at Port Said on 26 June. He was adjudged to have committed an "error of judgement." A perhaps apocryphal story from this time has it that Beatty damaged the engines of the ship in order to return to Malta as quickly as possible, overriding the warnings of the Chief Engineer. Having heard that Beatty might be censured for this, Ethel is supposed to have said, "What — court martial my David? I'll buy them a new ship."
Beatty was succeeded in command of Suffolk on 1 September, 1905, by Captain Rosslyn E. Wemyss. According to Lady Wester Wemyss, Sir John Fisher had laughingly described Suffolk as "the worst ship in the navy," and upon taking command Wemyss had supposedly "found the ship plunged in the deepest gloom, the officers discontented, the men unwilling." Beatty meanwhile returned to Britain and on 21 December, 1906, was appointed Naval Adviser to the Army Council. He was discharged from this duty on 15 December, 1908, upon the abolition of the position, and on 26 December the "War Office express apprecn of ready co operation & expert knowledge as Adviser to Army Council."
On 15 December Beatty was appointed Captain of the battleship Queen in the Atlantic Fleet. At a gathering of the Home Fleet at Cromarty in 1909, Beatty complained to his wife, "Many admirals, and not one that inspires a great deal of confidence, this is private, unless it be Prince Louis, and his national or birth qualifications are against him."
Beatty had reached the top of the Captains' list without the necessary six years' of peacetime service, and an Order in Council was promulgated on 2 December, 1909 sanctioning Beatty's promotion to Flag rank, the regulations notwithstanding. No-one has yet offered a satisfactory reason as to why this privilege was granted Beatty. Roskill merely comments that the Order in Council was "exceptional proof of the high regard in which he [Beatty] was held." That explanation which Professor Lambert proffers, that "Beatty was a very good seaman, [who] had commanded four ships and had nothing left to prove," is utterly unconvincing. Hundreds of Beatty's contemporaries on the Captains' list were in command of ships. Many would be retired for age or for lack of sea time, of whom there must have been some who had shown promise. Why was Beatty extended such extraordinary treatment? This mystery notwithstanding, he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on 1 January, 1910, vice Cross, promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral.
He attended the June, 1911 War Course, where he placed fifth out of seven Rear-Admirals. He was judged to be "Well set, an excellent example to the juniors. Smart and able, apt to be rash in conclusion". On the occasion of King George V's coronation he was appointed an Additional Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) on 19 June.
He had apparently asked the Private Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty, Captain Ernest C. T. Troubridge, to be considered for a number of positions, for on 5 July Troubridge wrote to him about his choices. He had evidently asked to be Rear-Admiral Second-in-Command in either the First or Second Divisions of the Home Fleet, or to succeed Rear-Admiral Herbert G. King-Hall as Director of Naval Mobilisation at the Admiralty:
1st Division H.F. vice Peirse Jan 12
2nd Division H.F. vice Patey Oct 11
Director of Mobilisation - when vacant.
"Your not wanting the IIIrd Division or Atlantic has rather narrowed the choice, it must be admitted," wrote Troubridge, "and the business of the other post [Director of Naval Mobilisation] is so far in the future that I am at somewhat at a loss to give you any reply." On 25 July Beatty wrote to the First Lord, Reginald McKenna, apologising for the delay in replying to his letter of the 21st (he had been "up North"), and:
I thank you for the time to think it over which you kindly gave and regret extremely that I am unable to accept the offer of the 2nd in Command of the Atlantic Fleet. As I informed your Private Secretary in the course of several conversations I was ready for service anywhere at the Admiralty or at sea where there was work to do and experience to be gained. But preferably a sea appointment — and being invited by him where, I as early as the beginning of March, asked that my name might be listed for the Home Fleet, where the greatest experience afloat is to be gained, where the work is continuous. I was given to understand that this was quite like to be favourably considered and I stood as good a chance as any and that my seniority would be about right. I have always stated that the one appointment I did not wish to be considered for was that of 2nd in Command Atlantic Fleet. There the work to be done and experience to be gained is of the minimum quality & a Rear-Admiral with a nominal squadron of 6 ships frequently reduced to 5 and even 4 ships, has absolutely nothing to do and occupy himself with — except a study of naval history.
Troubridge replied the following day:
I have your letter today and am truly sorry you have decided to refuse, for one can never tell from day to day whether an appointment afloat will turn out strenuous or otherwise. The fact is that the Admiralty view is that officers should serve where they, i.e. the Admiralty, wish and not where they themselves wish. This is the cold and brutal explanation of your being offered the appointment although I informed the Powers That Be that you did not wish to be offered it.
Beatty was rescued from half pay by Winston Churchill's becoming First Lord of the Admiralty in late 1911. Fisher gave Churchill a list and told him, "you have heaps of time to choose and it must be a personal choice." Churchill selected Beatty. According to Admiral Sir Dudley de Chair, when Beatty met Churchill the latter said, "You seem very young to be an admiral." To which Beatty replied, "And you seem very young to be First Lord of the Admiralty."
The Battle Cruiser Squadron, 1913-1914
On the occasion of King George V's birthday Beatty was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) on 22 June, 1914.
On 9 August, 1915, Beatty was confirmed in the rank of Vice-Admiral.
Jutland and After
Around 7 p.m., G.M.T., various sources allege that the battlecruisers following H.M.S. Lion circled to starboard – a full 32 point turn around the time when Captain Chatfield left the bridge to inspect damage to his ship. Andrew Gordon implies that David Beatty sought to expunge this from the record of the battle, a suggestion supported by the B.C.F.'s track chart (as prepared under Beatty's authority) showing not a circle but an inquisitively aggressive slalom towards the High Sea Fleet. Gordon further supposes that the turn may have been attributable to a steering casualty in Lion of some kind or to a human failure to arrest an intended but more modest turn in an attempt to conform to the Grand Fleet's then southerly heading heading, which he'd just declared by wireless broadcast addressed to Beatty et alia at 6.54. But the track chart of light cruiser Falmouth, flagship leading Third Light Cruiser Squadron in the Official Despatches shows this turn commencing at 6.52 and ending at 7.06, as does the officially submitted track for H.M.S. New Zealand, at just the same time. Moreover, Lion's own gunnery report of the battle indicates the ship was in a protracted turn to starboard from 6.38 to 7.07.
No record of executive intent regarding the turn has been found in the narrative reports of the action. Why Beatty might choose to alter the nature such a turn is also worthy of discussion, as it would seem that a line of ships performing an "S" turn toward an enemy rather than wheeling in place would suffer much the same penalties in masking his own ships – only the final range to the enemy would differ substantially. If Beatty were indeed trying to tune the record regarding such a widely witnessed navigational matter, his success seems partial, at best.
On 15 September he was appointed an Additional Member of the First Class, or Knight Grand Cross, in the Military Division of the Order of the Bath (G.C.B.) dated 31 May.
Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet, 1916–1919
Asquith wrote to Balfour on 20 November of a successor to Jellicoe, "I quite realise the difficulty of taking him at this moment from the Grand Fleet, especially as his only possible successor in the command (I am sure you would agree) from the combatant point of view is Beatty, who, with all his fine fighting qualities, is yet comparatively untried in the domain of fleet administration on a large scale."
On 1 January, 1919, Beatty was confirmed in the rank of Admiral, with seniority of 27 November, 1916 while holding command of the Grand Fleet.
First Sea Lord, 1919–1927
On 18 October, 1919, Beatty was granted an Earldom of the United Kingdom, with the courtesy titles Baron Beatty of the North Sea, and of Brooksby in the County of Leicester, and Viscount Borodale of Wexford in the County of Wexford.
|Chronological Record of Services of Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty|
|Ship||Rank||Period of Service||Remarks|
|Britannia||Naval Cadet||15 January, 1884||14 January, 1886|
|Alexandra||Naval Cadet||15 January, 1886||14 May, 1886|
|Alexandra||Midshipman||15 May, 1886||20 July, 1888|
|Cruiser||Midshipman||21 July, 1888||20 October, 1888|
|Alexandra||Midshipman||21 October, 1888||19 March, 1889|
|Duke of Wellington||Midshipman||20 March, 1889||14 September, 1889|
|Ruby||Midshipman||15 September, 1889||13 May, 1890|
|Ruby||Sub-Lieutenant||14 May, 1890||15 May, 1890|
|Duke of Wellington||Sub-Lieutenant||16 May, 1890||10 June, 1890|
|Ruby||Sub-Lieutenant||11 June, 1890||31 August, 1890|
|Duke of Wellington||Sub-Lieutenant||1 September, 1890||1 September, 1890|
|Excellent||Sub-Lieutenant||2 September, 1890||13 January, 1892|
|Victory II||Sub-Lieutenant||14 January, 1892||4 February, 1892|
|Nile||Sub-Lieutenant||5 February, 1892||6 July, 1892|
|Victoria and Albert||Sub-Lieutenant||7 July, 1892||30 August, 1892|
(Seniority of 25 August, 1892)
|31 August, 1892||30 September, 1893|
|Camperdown||Lieutenant||1 October, 1893||2 October, 1895|
|Trafalgar||Lieutenant||3 October, 1895||18 May, 1896|
|Victory I||Lieutenant||19 May, 1896||2 June, 1896|
|Egyptian Government||Lieutenant||3 June, 1896||19 November, 1896||Half Pay|
| Victory III for Ranger
|Lieutenant||9 January, 1897||30 June, 1897|
|Egyptian Government||Lieutenant||1 July, 1897||24 October, 1898||Half Pay|
|—||Commander||15 November, 1898|
|Barfleur||Commander||20 April, 1899||12 September, 1900||Wounded|
|Duke of Wellington||Commander||13 September, 1900||30 September, 1900|
|—||Captain||9 November, 1900||Half Pay|
|Juno||Captain||2 June, 1902||17 December, 1902||Half Pay|
|Arrogant||Captain||3 November, 1903||29 September, 1904|
|Diana||Captain||30 September, 1904||11 October, 1904|
|Mars||Captain||12 October, 1904||24 October, 1904|
|Suffolk||Captain||25 October, 1904||19 September, 1905|
|Victory I||Captain||20 September, 1905||14 October, 1905|| |
|Naval Adviser to the Army Council||Captain||21 December, 1906||14 December, 1908|
|Queen||Captain||15 December, 1908||3 January, 1910||Half Pay|
|Naval Secretary to the First Lord|| Rear-Admiral
(Seniority of 1 January, 1910)
|8 January, 1912||1 July, 1912|
|Aboukir (Sixth Cruiser Squadron)||Rear-Admiral||2 July, 1912||27 July, 1912|
|Naval Secretary to the First Lord||Rear-Admiral||28 July, 1912||8 January, 1913|| |
|Lion||Rear-Admiral||1 March, 1913||2 August, 1914|
|Lion||Acting Vice-Admiral||3 August, 1914||28 January, 1915|
|Princess Royal||Acting Vice-Admiral||29 January, 1915||8 April, 1915|
|Lion||Acting Vice-Admiral||9 April, 1915||8 August, 1915|
|Lion||Vice-Admiral||9 August, 1915||27 November, 1916|
|Iron Duke|| Acting Admiral
(Seniority of 27 November, 1916)
|28 November, 1916||15 February, 1917|
|Queen Elizabeth||Acting Admiral||16 February, 1917||31 December, 1918|
|Queen Elizabeth||Admiral||1 January, 1919||2 April, 1919|
|Queen Elizabeth||Admiral of the Fleet||3 April, 1919||7 April, 1919|
|President||Admiral of the Fleet||8 April, 1919||31 October, 1919|
|First Sea Lord||Admiral of the Fleet||1 November, 1919||29 July, 1927||Half Pay|
- ↑ Beatty. Our Admiral. p. 2. The 1871 Census shows the Beattys as living in Howbeck VIlla, not Howbeck Lodge as is commonly recorded. The census has been deemed to be more accurate.
- ↑ Beatty. Our Admiral. p. 3. Apparently Beatty Senior's marriage certificate may be found in volume 8b, f. 121, for the district of Liverpool.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 26253. p. 544. 2 February, 1892.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 26322. p. 5016. 2 September, 1892.
- ↑ Fremantle. My Naval Career. p. 68.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 26795. p. 6271. 17 November, 1896.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 27023. p. 6692. 15 November, 1898.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 27245. p. 6855. 9 November, 1900.
- ↑ Chalmers. p. xxi. Gordon. p. 26.
- ↑ "Report of the Conference on the Executive Lists of the Royal Navy. 1913." f. 21. in The National Archives. ADM 1/8370/65.
- ↑ The National Archives. ADM 196/87. f. 102.
- ↑ Beatty Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 156.
- ↑ Quoted in Roskill. p. 41.
- ↑ Quoted in Wester Wemyss. Life and Letters. p. 76.
- ↑ Wester Wemyss. Life and Letters. p. 78.
- ↑ Letter of 13 April, 1909. National Maritime Museum. Beatty Papers. BTY/17/13/68-71. Reproduced in Beatty Papers. p. 22.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 28317. p. 9514. 14 December, 1909.
- ↑ Roskill. Earl Beatty. p. 43.
- ↑ Lambert. Admirals. p. 344.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 28325. p. 30. 4 January, 1910.
- ↑ ADM 203/99. f. 45.
- ↑ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28505. p. 4588. 19 June, 1911.
- ↑ BTY 2/2/1. Beatty Papers. I. p. 32.
- ↑ Draft in BTY 2/2/24. Beatty Papers. I. p. 33.
- ↑ BTY 2/2/2. Beatty Papers. I. p. 34.
- ↑ Quoted in Churchill. Winston S. Churchill. p. 532.
- ↑ de Chair. The Sea is Strong. p. 142.
- ↑ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28842. p. 4876. 22 June, 1914.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 29262. p. 8016. 13 August, 1915.
- ↑ The Rules of the Game. p. 457.
- ↑ Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. boxed chart 8a.
- ↑ The Rules of the Game. p. 559.
- ↑ Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. p. 461. Relating Gordon's meaning to a specific order is Tone's inference.
- ↑ Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. Plate 10.
- ↑ Battle of Jutland Official Despatches. Plate 31.
- ↑ Beatty Papers at the National Maritime Museum. BTY 6/6.
- ↑ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9070. 15 September, 1916.
- ↑ Letter of 20 November, 1916. Balfour Papers. British Library. Add. MSS. 49692. ff. 175-178.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 31104. p. 199. 3 January, 1919.
- ↑ The London Gazette: no. 31610. p. 12889. 21 October, 1919.
- ↑ Chalmers. Life and Letters of David Beatty. pp. 434-435.
- "Lord Beatty, O.M." (Obituaries). The Times. Wednesday, 11 March, 1936. Issue 47320, p. 17.
- "Funeral of Lord Beatty" (Obituaries). The Times. Wednesday, 17 March, 1936. Issue 47325, p. 21.
- Beatty, Charles (1980). Our Admiral. London: W. H. Allen / Virgin Books. ISBN 049102388X.
- Beatty, Admiral of the Fleet David, First Earl Beatty (1989). Ranft, Bryan McL.. ed. The Beatty Papers. Volume I. London: Navy Records Society. ISBN 0859678070.
- Beatty, Admiral of the Fleet David, First Earl Beatty (1993). Ranft, Bryan McL.. ed. The Beatty Papers. Volume II. London: Navy Records Society. ISBN 0859679640.
- Chalmers, Rear-Admiral W. S. (1951). The Life and Letters of David, Earl Beatty Admiral of the Fleet. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
- Churchill, Randolph Spencer (1967). Winston S. Churchill: Young Statesman 1910–1914. II. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0395075262.
- De Chair, Admiral Sir Dudley (1961). The Sea is Strong. London: George G. Harrap & Co. Ltd..
- Lambert, Andrew (2009). Admirals: The Naval Commanders who made Britain Great. London: Faber and Faber Limited. ISBN 978-0-571-23157-7.
- Roskill, Captain Stephen Wentworth (1980). Admiral of the Fleet Earl Beatty: The Last Naval Hero: An Intimate Biography. London: Collins. ISBN 0-689-11119-3. (on Bookfinder.com).
- Papers in the possession of the National Maritime Museum. For a detailed list see Beatty Papers at the National Maritime Museum.
| Preceded by
Ernest C. T. Troubridge
| Naval Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty
1912 – 1913
| Succeeded by|
Dudley R. S. de Chair
| Preceded by
| Vice-Admiral Commanding,
First Battle Cruiser Squadron
1913 – 1915
| Succeeded by|
Osmond de B. Brock
| Preceded by
| Vice-Admiral Commanding,
Battle Cruiser Fleet
1915 – 1916
| Succeeded by|
Sir William C. Pakenham
As Vice-Admiral Commanding,
Battle Cruiser Force
| Preceded by
Sir John R. Jellicoe
1916 – 1919
| Succeeded by|
| Preceded by
Sir Rosslyn E. Wemyss
| First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
1919 – 1927
| Succeeded by|
Sir Charles E. Madden, Bart.