Osmond de Beauvoir Brock

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Admiral of the Fleet Sir Osmond de B. Brock, 1934.
© National Portrait Gallery, London.

Admiral of the Fleet SIR Osmond de Beauvoir Brock, G.C.B.K.C.M.G.K.C.V.O., D.C.L., R.N. (5 January, 1869 – 14 October, 1947) was an officer of the Royal Navy.

Contents

Early Life & Career

Brock was born at Plymouth 5 January, 1869, the eldest son and second of the six children of Commander Osmond de Beauvoir Brock, R.N., of Guernsey, by his wife, Lucretia Jenkins, daughter of Henry Clark, of Clifton, Bristol. Brock entered the Royal Navy in January, 1882, and after leaving the Britannia served as a midshipman in masted ships for three and a half years. While in the Raleigh he was awarded the Royal Humane Society's certificate on vellum for saving a stoker from drowning in Simon's Bay. In his Sub-Lieutenant's courses he gained the maximum award of seniority, being promoted to Lieutenant, dated 14 February, 1889.[1] He specialized in gunnery and served as gunnery officer in the Cambrian, and then for five years in the flagship of the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean.

Promoted to the rank of Commander on 1 January, 1900,[2] he became executive officer of the Repulse in the Channel, and afterwards of the Renown, the flagship in the Mediterranean of Sir John (later Lord) Fisher.

Brock was promoted to the rank of Captain on 1 January, 1904.[3]

On 1 May, 1905 he was appointed to the battleship Bulwark.[4]

He was appointed command of the battleship King Edward VII on 27 March, 1909.[5]

He was flag captain to Lord Charles (later Lord) Beresford in the Mediterranean and later to Sir Berkeley Milne in the Home Fleet. Between sea appointments he served at the Admiralty as assistant director of naval intelligence and as assistant director of naval mobilization.

Great War

In 1913 he commissioned the new battle cruiser Princess Royal and joined the flag of David (later Earl) Beatty. He fought his ship successfully at the battles of Heligoland and the Dogger Bank, becoming Beatty's flag captain while the Lion was being repaired. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral on 5 March, 1915, vice King-Hall.[6]

On 15 September he was appointed an Additional Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G.) for his services at Jutland, dated 31 May.[7]

Beatty said of him in a letter: "O. de B. has developed a tremendous capacity for work and is perfectly excellent, clear as a bell, and is of the very greatest assistance." He was appointed an Additional Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, of the Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (K.C.M.G.) on 1 January, 1918.[8]

Post-War

In recognition of his services during the war, Brock was appointed an Additional Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.) on 5 April, 1919.[9] He was promoted to Vice-Admiral on 3 October, vice Heath.[10] He accompanied Beatty to the Admiralty as Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff. He became Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in April, 1922, and held the appointment for three years. His firm attitude to the Turks, after they had driven the Greeks out of Anatolia, was commended by the First Lord of the Admiralty in the House of Commons in 1923. He was confirmed in the rank of Admiral on 31 July, 1924, vice Madden,[11] and in 1926 hoisted his flag as Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet on 31 July, 1929.[12] and was placed on the Retired List on 31 July, 1934,[13] after five years in that rank. He died at Winchester 14 October, 1947.

As the result of the King approving that Admirals of the Fleet should in future be borne on the Active List of the Royal Navy for life, on 4 March, 1940, Brock was replaced on the Active List with seniority of 31 July, 1929.[14]

Brock was appointed C.B. (1915), K.C.B. (1919), G.C.B. (1929), C.M.G. (1916), K.C.M.G. (1918), and K.C.V.O. (1917); he received the honorary degree of D.C.L. from the university of Oxford in 1929; he was a commander of the Legion of Honour and held a number of other foreign decorations. There is a portrait of him in Sir A. S. Cope's group "Some Sea Officers of the War of 1914–18" in the National Portrait Gallery; and a drawing by Francis Dodd in the Imperial War Museum.

He married in 1917 Irene Catherine Wake (died 1939), daughter of the late Vice-Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker, second baronet, granddaughter of Admiral Sir Baldwin Wake Walker, and widow of Captain Philip Francklin who was killed at the Battle of Coronel. They had one daughter.

In a letter to Sir Vincent W. Baddeley of 1945, Brock closed by writing: "We are getting older & I hate old age; people write about its compensations, but don't convince me."[15]

Brock had great tact and charm of manner, and a humility which endeared him to those with whom he was closely associated. He was brilliantly clever and a tremendous reader. His analytical brain was ever active, and his knowledge ranged over a wide field from art to the nuclear theory. He was more interested in things than in people, but he was generous, tolerant, and a great example. Although he paid great attention to detail, he never lost sight of the principles governing a problem, and his judgement was always sound.

Footnotes

  1. The London Gazette: no. 26030. p. 1268. 7 March, 1890.
  2. The London Gazette: no. 27150. p. 3. 2 January, 1900.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 27632. p. 25. 1 January, 1904.
  4. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 24 April, 1905. Issue 37689, col C, p. 8.
  5. Brock Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 49.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 29094. p. 2365. 9 March, 1915.
  7. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9071. 15 September, 1916.
  8. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30451. p. 82. 1 January, 1918.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31274. p. 4515. 5 April, 1919.
  10. The London Gazette: no. 31610. p. 12892. 21 October, 1919.
  11. The London Gazette: no. 32962. p. 5889. 5 August, 1924.
  12. The London Gazette: no. 33523. p. 5145. 6 August, 1929.
  13. The London Gazette: no. 34076. p. 5054. 7 August, 1934.
  14. The London Gazette: no. 34807. p. 1394. 8 March, 1940.
  15. Letter of 5 November, 1945. Baddeley Papers. National Museum of the Royal Navy, Portsmouth. MSS 264.

Bibliography

  • "Admiral of the Fleet Sir Osmond Brock" (Obituaries). The Times. Wednesday, 15 October, 1947. Issue 50892, col D, p. 7.

Service Records


Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Edward M. Phillpotts
Captain of
H.M.S. Bulwark (1899)

1905 – 1907
Succeeded by
Bertram M. Chambers

Preceded by
Henry B. Pelly
Captain of
H.M.S. King Edward VII (1903)

1909 – 1910
Succeeded by
Allan F. Everett

Preceded by
New Command
Captain of
H.M.S. Princess Royal (1911)

1912 – 1915
Succeeded by
Walter H. Cowan

Preceded by
Sir David Beatty
Rear-Admiral Commanding,
First Battle Cruiser Squadron

1915 – 1916
Succeeded by
Richard F. Phillimore

Preceded by
Sir Charles E. Madden
Chief of the Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet
1916 – 1919
Succeeded by
Position Abolished

Preceded by
James A. Fergusson
Deputy Chief of Naval Staff
1919 – 1921
Succeeded by
Sir Roger J. B. Keyes, Bart.

Preceded by
Sir John M. de Robeck, Bart.
Commander-in-Chief,
Mediterranean

1922 – 1925
Succeeded by
Sir Roger J. B. Keyes, Bart.

Preceded by
Sir Sydney R. Fremantle
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
1926 – 1929
Succeeded by
Sir Roger J. B. Keyes

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