Reginald Hugh Spencer Bacon

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Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon, portrayed as a Vice-Admiral.
Portrait: Francis Dodd, 1917.

Admiral SIR Reginald Hugh Spencer Bacon, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O., Royal Navy, Retired (6 September, 1863 – 9 June, 1947) commanded the Dover Patrol from 1915-17 and embarked on a post-retirement career as a naval historian.

Contents

Early Life

Having entered the navy in 1878, Bacon chose to specialise in a variety of areas dealing with innovations: from ship design to electricity to submarines (he conducted the first Royal Navy trials) to mining.

Bacon was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant with seniority of 20 August, 1883. He was appointed in command of the first-class torpedo boat T.B. 33 on 7 July 1887, for manoeuvres.[1]

On 11 July, 1893, Bacon was appointed to T.B. 81 for the annual manoeuvres.[2]

He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1895.[3] He was thirty-one years, nine months and twenty-four days old at promotion. He later claimed that he was the youngest of the lieutenants promoted in that batch.[4] However, he was the second-youngest, after Arthur W. Waymouth.

For his services in Benin he was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) on 25 May, 1897.[5]

Captain

Bacon was promoted to the rank of Captain on 30 June, 1900.[6]

On 23 March, 1901, Bacon was appointed to President for "Special Service" at the Admiralty,[7] for, in his own words, "service with the submarine boats, on which work had already been commenced."[8] He served on the staff of the Controller, with an office at the Admiralty.[9]

On 21 October, 1904, he was appointed to Hercules as Naval Assistant to Sir John Fisher, the new First Sea Lord.[10]

He was appointed in command of the Irresistible on 20 December, 1905

On 2 July, 1906, he was appointed in command of the Dreadnought.[11]

From 27 March, 1907, he was also appointed Chief of the Staff to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, Francis C. B. Bridgeman. He was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (C.V.O.) on 3 August.[12]

Director of Naval Ordnance

In May, 1907, it was announced that Bacon would succeed Jellicoe as Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes (D.N.O.).[13] He was appointed to the Admiralty for temporary service on 12 August, 1907, and became D.N.O. on 25 August.[14]

The Commander-in-Chief on the China Station, Vice-Admiral Sir Hedworth Lambton, wrote to the First Lord, McKenna, on 11 May, 1909:

Bacon is in a great many ways the ablest man in the Service & I can say no more than that, should I ever command a fleet in war, I think I would rather have him for my second in command or "Captain of the Fleet" than any other man I know.[15]

Rear-Admiral & Retirement

On 12 July, 1909, he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, vice Dare.[16] In accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 8 December, 1903, he was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 25 November.[17]

By the year of his resignation from the navy - 1909 - he had reached the rank of Rear-Admiral, and settled into an entirely appropriate civilian career as Managing Director of the Coventry Ordnance Works, having served his last two years as Director of Naval Ordnance.

Great War

The outbreak of war in August, 1914 brought Bacon's recall to active service and following a brief stint on the Western Front (using his own company's weaponry - a howitzer of his own design) as a Colonel, Second Commandant in the Royal Marine Artillery was handed command of the Dover Patrol the following April. He relinquished his temporary commission as Colonel, Second Commandant on 13 April, 1915[18] when he was appointed in command of the Dover Patrol, hoisting his flag in the second class protected cruiser Arrogant.[19]

On 15 July, 1915, he was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List.[20] Bacon's task was apparently simple: to prevent German U-boat access to the English Channel, and to facilitate the despatch of supplies, both men and materials, across to the Western Front in France.

On 1 January, 1916, he was appointed an Additional Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (K.C.B.).[21] On 15 August he was appointed a Knight Commander in the Royal Victorian Order (K.C.V.O.) after the King visited the Army in France.[22]

The Chief of the Admiralty War Staff of the time, later Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, Sir Henry F. Oliver, later recalled, "Bacon was most energetic and tireless, he slept in his Office and when anything happened at night in his command and I telephoned[,] the Secretary would tell me he had gone afloat. He had the most exacting and arduous command of and Flag Officer in the War[,] and was very badly treated at the end of it. Keyes intrigued against him and when Lord Westerwemyss [sic] became 1st Sea Lord[,] pushed him out and supplanted him."[23]

On 1 January, 1918, Bacon was superseded as Vice-Admiral, Dover Patrol, and on 12 January he was appointed for duty with the Ministry of Munitions, where he served as Controller of the Department for Munitions Inventions. He was promoted to the rank of Admiral on the Retired List on 1 September, and ceased duty on 31 March, 1919.[24]

Retirement

Bacon wrote an account of his service in command of the Dover Patrol, and later wrote a book about the Jutland Scandal. He wrote biographies of both Fisher and Jellicoe, as well as two volumes of memoirs.

He died at his Romsey home on 9 June, 1947.[25] His funeral took place on 12 June at Braishfield Church, Romsey. Amongst the mourners were Admiral Sir Frederic and Lady Dreyer, and two of Jellicoe's daughters, Lady Gwendoline Latham and Lady Norah Wingfield.[26] Lady Bacon died on 18 June, 1955.[27]

Assessment

In his 1946 memoirs, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry F. Oliver wrote that, "Bacon was about the ablest and cleverest Officer I have ever known."[28]

Bibliography

  • "Adm. Sir Reginald Bacon" (Obituaries). The Times. Tuesday, 10 June, 1947. Issue 50783, col E, p. 6.
  • Bacon, Admiral Sir Reginald (1925). A Naval Scrapbook: First Part, 1877–1900. London: Hutchinson & Co..
  • Bacon, Admiral Sir Reginald (1940). From 1900 Onward. London: Hutchinson & Co..

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
?
Captain of H.M. T.B. 33
7 Jul, 1887[29] – ?
Succeeded by
Frederick A. Sommerville
Preceded by
New Appointment
Inspecting Captain of Submarines
20 Aug, 1901[30] – ?
Succeeded by
Edgar Lees
Preceded by
Henry L. Fleet
Captain of H.M.S. Thames
1 Jan, 1903[31] – ?
Succeeded by
Edgar Lees
Preceded by
?
Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord
21 Oct, 1904[32] – ?
Succeeded by
Charles E. Madden
Preceded by
Sackville H. Carden
Captain of H.M.S. Irresistible
20 Dec, 1905[33] – ?
Succeeded by
Lionel G. Tufnell
Preceded by
?
Captain of H.M.S. Dreadnought
2 Jul, 1906[34] – ?
Succeeded by
Charles E. Madden
Preceded by
John R. Jellicoe
Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes
25 Aug, 1907[35] – ?
Succeeded by
Archibald G. H. W. Moore
Preceded by
Horace L. A. Hood
as Rear-Admiral, Dover Patrol
Vice-Admiral, Dover Patrol
13 Apr, 1915[36] – ?
Succeeded by
Roger J. B. Keyes

Footnotes

  1. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Saturday, 2 July, 1887. Issue 32114, col C, p. 12.
  2. "The Naval Manœuvres". The Times. Monday, 10 July, 1893. Issue 33999, col D, p. 10.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 26647. p. 4233. 26 July, 1895.
  4. Bacon. From 1900 Onwards. p. 22.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 26856. p. 2928. 25 May, 1897.
  6. The London Gazette: no. 27211. p. 4433. 17 July, 1900.
  7. ADM 196/42. f. 166.
  8. Bacon. From 1900 Onwards. p. 50.
  9. Ibid. f. 54.
  10. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  11. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  12. The London Gazette: no. 28048. p. 5390. 6 August, 1907.
  13. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 30 May, 1907. Issue 38346, col F, p. 5.
  14. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  15. Lambton to McKenna. "Miscellaneous Papers dealing with the antagonism of Admiral Lord Charles Beresford to the Policy and Administrative Arrangements of the Board of Admiralty 1906-1909." The National Archives. ADM 116/3108. Unnumbered folio.
  16. The London Gazette: no. 28271. p. 5463. 16 July, 1909.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 28313. p. 9123. 30 November, 1909.
  18. The London Gazette: no. 29136. p. 3828. 20 April, 1915.
  19. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List (November, 1915) p. 4.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 29236. p. 7073. 20 July, 1915.
  21. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29423. p. 80. 31 December, 1915.
  22. The London Gazette: no. 29711. p. 8149. 18 August, 1916.
  23. Oliver Memoirs. II. pp. 170-171.
  24. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  25. "Adm. Sir Reginald Bacon" (Obituaries). The Times. Tuesday, 10 June, 1947. Issue 50783, col E, p. 6.
  26. "Funerals" (Obituaries). The Times. Friday, 13 June, 1947. Issue 50786, col F, p. 6.
  27. "Obituaries" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 20 June, 1955. Issue 53251, col C, p. 11.
  28. Oliver. II. f. 33.
  29. "Naval & Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Saturday, 2 July, 1887. Issue 32114, col C, p. 12.
  30. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  31. The Navy List. (January, 1904). p. 384.
  32. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  33. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  34. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  35. Bacon Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  36. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (September, 1917). p. 4.

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