Ernest Frederick Augustus Gaunt

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Admiral Sir Ernest F. A. Gaunt, as a Vice-Admiral, 1920.
Photograph: © National Portrait Gallery, London.

Admiral SIR Ernest Frederick Augustus Gaunt, K.C.B., K.B.E., C.M.G., Royal Navy (25 March, 1865 – 20 April, 1940) was an officer of the Royal Navy during the First World War.


Early Life & Career

Ernest Frederick Augustus Gaunt was born on 25 March, 1865, in Beechworth, Victoria, Australia, the son of William Henry Gaunt, barrister and judge (1830 – 1905). A younger brother, Guy Gaunt, also joined the Royal Navy. His sister was the noted author Mary Gaunt. Two other brothers were solicitors in Singapore, and the eldest became a Colonel in the Dragoon Guards. He was educated at Melbourne Grammar School, and on 25 January, 1878, joined the training ship Britannia at Dartmouth.[1]



Gaunt was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1898.[2]

For his services in China, he was appointed a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G.) on 26 June, 1902.[3]


Gaunt was promoted to the rank of Captain on 31 December, 1903.[4]

He was appointed in command the battleship Majestic on 9 January, 1908.[Citation needed]

He was appointed captain of the pre-dreadnought Queen in January of 1910,[5] then to the dreadnought Superb on 22 September, 1911.[6]

He was appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George V on 16 May, 1913, vice Kerr.[7]

Flag Rank

He was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral dated 24 October, 1914.[8] He was reappointed to Chatham barracks as Rear-Admiral on 21 December.[9]

First Battle Squadron

Gaunt was appointed Rear-Admiral in the First Battle Squadron of the Grand Fleet on 25 August, 1915.[10]

"One day an enormous parcel arrived from Australia. The good ladies of Melbourne had stitched the most enormous Rear-Admiral's flag [to] be flown in action. Father thanked [them] profusely but the last thing he intended to do, as Nelson almost did, [was] to advertise his ship's presence so the beautiful silk flag was never used."[11]

According to Mrs de Molyns: "Father worshipped Jellicoe; the greatest sailor ever; far superior to Nelson, Drake and all the others."[11]

Of Beatty he supposedly said: "Friend of Churchill. Rich wife. Helped Churchill with his polo ponies. [Should] never have been allowed to cross the threshold of a quarterdeck. [Self]-Advertiser. No place inside the Senior Service."[11]

In the Battle of Jutland on 31 May, 1916, he commanded the Fifth Division of the Grand Fleet from Colossus.

Fourth Battle Squadron

Following Jutland, on 12 June, Gaunt was appointed Rear-Admiral in the Fourth Battle Squadron.[12] On 15 September 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.) dated 31 May.[13]

East Indies Station

On 23 June, 1917, Gaunt was appointed Commander-in-Chief on the East Indies Station.[14]

He was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 21 February, 1919, vice Wemyss.[15] On the occasion of the King's birthday he was appointed an Additional Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) on 3 June.[16] On 1 August he was superseded on the East Indies Station and gave up command on 15 November.[17]

Western Approaches

Gaunt was appointed a Knight Commander in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (K.B.E.) on 1 January, 1923.[18]

On 30 July, 1924, Gaunt was promoted to the rank of Admiral, vice Evan-Thomas.[19]


Gaunt was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 17 March, 1925.[20]

See Also


  1. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 26983. p. 3984. 1 July, 1898.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 27456. p. 4669. 2 January, 1903.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27632. p. 25. 1 January, 1904.
  5. Mackie, Colin. ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS.
  6. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  7. The London Gazette: no. 28725. p. 3913. 3 June, 1913.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 28984. p. 9690. 24 November, 1914.
  9. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  10. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Sheila de Moleyns. Tape recording in possession of the Liddle Collection, University of Leeds.
  12. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  13. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9070. 15 September, 1916.
  14. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  15. The London Gazette: no. 31223. p. 3295. 11 March, 1919.
  16. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31379. p. 7045. 3 June, 1919.
  17. ADM 196/42. f. 276.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 32782. p. 6. (Supplement) 1 January, 1923.
  19. The London Gazette: no. 32953. p. 5162. 4 July, 1924.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 33031. p. 1954. 20 March, 1925.


  • "Admiral Sir Ernest Gaunt" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 22 April, 1940. Issue 48596, col E, p. 3.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Hugh Evan-Thomas
Rear-Admiral in the First Battle Squadron
1915 – 1916
Succeeded by
Alexander L. Duff

Preceded by
Alexander L. Duff
Rear-Admiral in the Fourth Battle Squadron
1916 – 1917
Succeeded by
Roger J. B. Keyes

Preceded by
Sir Rosslyn E. Wemyss
Commander-in-Chief on the East Indies Station
1917 – 1919
Succeeded by
Sir Hugh H. D. Tothill

Preceded by
Sir Reginald G. O. Tupper
Commander-in-Chief, Western Approaches
1921 – 1922
Succeeded by
Command Disbanded

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