Naval Publicity Department (Royal Navy)

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The Naval Publicity Department was a department at the Admiralty which apparently existed between 1918 and 1919. It has an entry in at least two editions of The Navy List. A considerable number of its staff appear to have been drawn from the Publicity Section of the Naval Intelligence Division.[1] Among those lent to it were artists such as Sir John Lavery and Glyn Philpot. Rear-Admiral Sir Guy R. A. Gaunt, was listed in The Navy List dated 18 November, 1918, as "Director of Naval Publicity,"[2] but as of the edition dated 15 December, there was only an "Officer in Charge of Naval Publicity," Commander Colpoys C. Walcott, the former head of the Publicity Section.[3] Admiral Gaunt, whose service record shows only an appointment to the Naval Intelligence Division on 9 May, 1918, had been placed on the Retired List on 27 October,[4] and made no specific reference to the Department in his memoirs.

An idea of the department's duties can perhaps be gathered from those of the Naval Intelligence Division's Publicity Section in January, 1918, which for convenience are shown below.[5]

Office: 47, West Block, Admiralty.
Commander Colpoys C. Walcott, R.N.
Section 31.
(1) Liason officer to N.W.A.C. and Department of Information.
(2) In charge of all work connected with this section. Deals direct with D.I.D. and Chief Censor or other Heads of Departments as requisite in connection with Publicity work, and all questions of policy should be dealt with by Commander Walcott, being referred to him by his staff.
Lieutenant H. Sullivan, R.N.V.R.
31 (V).
(1) Assistant to Commander Walcott.
(2) Arranges details of all visits to the Fleet and Naval Bases.
(3) Reads British Press and German W/T messages.
Paymaster H. Foster, R.N.R. Secretary. Receives and deals with all official correspondence.
Office: Lord Chancellor's Court, House of Lords.
Commander Calthrop.
31 (C).
Assists Commander Walcott on Press matters generally. Liason between N.W.A.C. [National War Aims Committee] and country Press. Attends meetings on Wednesday of N.W.A.C. and country Press. Writes articles as requisite. Assists when required with visits of foreign journalists, etc.
Office: 4a, Cockspur Street, Room "A".
Mr. John Leyland.
31 (A).
Deals with the Editor in Chief, N.W.A.C. Writes articles as requisite on Naval policy and Naval operations. Assists Mr. Fiennes to cover the neglected side of Naval Press work. New dockyards and works of this class.
Lieutenant Gordon Robinson, R.M.A. Deals entirely with the Ministry of Shipping and writes articles on all subjects connected therewith. Keeps in touch with Press of all nations on shipping matters, assisted by Mr. Hanbury.
Mr. Cecil Hanbury.
31 (H).
Assists Commander Walcott. Visits Sections in I.D. and writes trade articles as requisite for the foreign Press from material gained from these interviews after consultation with the Foreign Office News Department. Reads foreign Press shipping matters. Consults Mr. Robinson as requisite when dealing with articles in connection with foreign shipping.
Office: 4a, Cockspur Street, Room "B".
Staff Paymaster Cox, R.N.R.
31 (X).
(1) Deals with operations overseas by articles, etc.
(2) Coast watching and patrol work, minesweeping, the work of fishermen.
Paymaster H. Loughnan, R.N.R.
31 (M).
Deals with articles, etc., relating to German submarine operations against the Mercantile Marine. Honours and awards to Naval Ratings, stories of heroism.
Office: 4a, Cockspur Street, Room "C".
Mr. H. F. Wyatt.
Staff Paymaster Collingwood Hughes.
31 (L).
Deal with all questions relating to or in connection with Naval lectures and lecturers on the Navy and Mercantile Marine. To lecture as requisite and arranged in conjunction with N.W.A.C., War Office and Y.M.C.A. Assist duly credited organisations such as N.W.A.C. and Y.M.C.A., Shipyard Labour, War Office, etc., as requisite by providing Naval anecdotes and statistics for their accredited speakers and lecturers.


  1. Compare the members listed in the following editions of the Navy List with the staff of the Publicity Section listed listed below.
  2. The Navy List, for December, 1918, Corrected to the 18th November, 1918. p. 1517a.
  3. The Navy List, for January, 1919, Corrected to the 18th December, 1918. p. 1817a.
  4. Gaunt Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/49. f. 161.
  5. "Office Memorandum. Naval Intelligence Division. Publicity Section." Docket entitled "Air Department Documents: Organisation of Duties of Admiralty Concerning the Air Services June 1917 – Feby 1918." The National Archives. AIR 1/279/15/226/127. Location of Commander Walcott's office taken from "Admiralty Telephone Exchange List 1918." Revised August, 1918. Accessed at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.


  • Gaunt, Admiral Sir Guy (1940). The Yield of the Years: A Story of Adventure Afloat and Ashore. London: Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd.