Naval Staff (Royal Navy)

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The Jellicoe Era

Jellicoe's intention to combine the positions of First Sea Lord and Chief of Staff can be reliably dated to the end of April, 1917. On 30 April the Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, visited the Admiralty to discuss a number of issues connected with the prosecution of the war and the defence of seaborne trade, amongst which was Admiralty organisation. Lloyd George noted in his comments on the conference that:

I was particularly glad to learn that the First Sea Lord, the result of his experience at the Admiralty, is now convinced that he himself should become the Chief of the Staff in place of the old system whereby the Chief of the War Staff was an officer under his immediate orders, interposed, as it were, between the First Sea Lord and the Directors of Intelligence and Operations.[1]

By Order in Council of 19 May the First Sea Lord became Chief of the Naval Staff and was to be assisted by two additional members of the Board of Admiralty, a Deputy Chief of Naval Staff and an Assistant Chief of Naval Staff.[2] On 31 May the Chief of the Admiralty War Staff, Acting Vice-Admiral Sir Henry F. Oliver, became Deputy Chief of Naval Staff (D.C.N.S.),[3] and Rear-Admiral Alexander L. Duff, latterly Anti-Submarine Division of the War Staff, became Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (A.C.N.S.).[4]

By October, 1917 the Naval Staff was organised thus:[5]

First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff Intelligence Division Assistant Chief of Naval Staff
Operations Division Signal Division Mobilisation Division Plans Division Trade Division Anti-Submarine Division Minesweeping Division Mercantile Movements Division


  1. "War Cabinet. Note by the Prime Minister of his Conference at the Admiralty, April 30th, 1917."The National Archives. CAB 24/12.
  2. Order in Council of 19 May, 1917.
  3. Oliver Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 319.
  4. Duff Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 80.
  5. A common-sense combination of tables in Jellicoe. The Crisis of the Naval War. p. 12, and Dewar. Encyclopædia Britannica. XXX. p. 9.


  • Black, Nicholas (2009). The British Naval Staff in the First World War. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press. ISBN 9781843834427.
  • Dewar, Alfred C. (1922). Encyclopædia Britannica: The New Volumes. Volume XXX. London: Encyclopædia Britannica Company, Ltd..
  • Hamilton, C. I. (2011). The Making of the Modern Admiralty: British Naval Policy-Making, 1805-1927. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521765183. (on
  • Naval Staff, Training and Staff Duties Division (1929). The Naval Staff of the Admiralty. Its Work and Development. B.R. 1845 (late C.B. 3013). Copy at The National Archives. ADM 234/434.