George Henry Cherry

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Vice-Admiral George Henry Cherry, Royal Navy, Retired (11 December, 1850 – 29 September, 1926) was an officer of the Royal Navy, best known for his notorious command of the first class protected cruiser Argonaut from 1900 to 1904.

Life & Career

George Henry Cherry was born on 11 December, 1850, the third son of John Henry Cherry, of the Madras Civil Service. He entered the training ship Britannia on 1 October, 1864, and left on 18 December, 1865, obtaining a First Class certificate and 12 months' sea time, and was immediately rated Midshipman.

He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 15 June, 1874.

Cherry was appointed First Lieutenant of the Sapphire on 18 January, 1883.

Admiral Sir Edward B. Kiddle, who served in Sapphire as a midshipman under Cherry, recalled that he had:

a reputation as the hardest man in the Navy - a fine seaman - very strict. As a first introduction he informed us midshipmen that he hated all midshipmen, which boded no good for us and so it fell out.[1]

Cherry was promoted to the rank of Commander on 31 December, 1888.

Cherry was promoted to the rank of Captain on 31 December, 1895.

Cherry was appointed in command of the first class protected cruiser Argonaut on 19 April, 1900.[2]

Cherry's command of the Argonaut gave rise to the Cherry Medal:

Captain George Henry Cherry, R.N., took command of H.M.S. Argonaut and sailed for Hong Kong in August 1900, where it acted as a guardship. It was these four years in the China seas which gave birth to the Cherry Medal, for the years were a constant struggle against Captain Cherry, a martinet who niggled his way through rules and regulations. It was originally intended that only the five sole survivors of the commission should have the medal, but those who had served one, two, or three years under Captain Cherry objected and so they were granted the medal and eventually those with six months service were likewise awarded. One hundred medals were struck and supplied by Gamages of London. The loathing felt towards Captain Cherry was not confined to the officers of Argonaut, for there were many others who had had the misfortune to serve under him in other ships. Amongst these was Admiral Lord Fisher who deviously obtained a Cherry Medal through another Argonaut officer. Captain Cherry had become a legend in his own time and the joke Cherry Medal of such interest that King George VI accepted one for his own collection. It is also reported that many years later, Admiral Cherry was offered one of the medals, and doubtless finding no rule or regulation against the medal, graciously accepted it.[3]

A junior midshipman in the Argonaut later recalled:

As midshipman of a duty cutter, I had probably as good touch as anybody with the lower deck. The men were not unhappy; there was no feeling of frustration or resentment. Captain Cherry was what we called a "nut"; he was severe but just and fair. Every defaulter knew exactly what he had coming to him. He was not capricious.[4]

Admiral Sir William M. James, an officer whom this editor will confess to holding in contempt, and who never served in Argonaut or under Cherry, took issue with the above and claimed that if the officers suffered then the men must have as well; a spurious claim at best.[5] Also, based on nothing but second-hand information, James damned Cherry as "utterly incompetent."[6]

On 16 February, 1904, Argonaut paid off and on the 18th Cherry was appointed to Firequeen for command of the Medway Fleet Reserve. On 30 April, 1905, the Fleet Reserve was abolished, and on reaching the age of fifty-five Cherry was placed on the Retired List, under the terms of the Order in Council of 22 February, 1870, on 11 December.

See Also


  • "Vice-Admiral Cherry" (Obituaries). The Times. Saturday, 2 October, 1926. Issue 44392, col C, p. 12.
  • Lowis, Commander Geoffrey (1959). Fabulous Admirals and Some Naval Fragments: Being a Brief Account of some of the Froth on those Characters who Enlivened the Royal Navy a Generation or Two Ago. London: Putnam.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Robert D. B. Bruce
Captain of H.M.S. Firefly
6 Jan, 1887[7] – 31 Dec, 1888
Succeeded by
Henry Harris
Preceded by
Alfred L. Winsloe
Captain of H.M.S. Spartan
15 Jun, 1897[8] – 30 Jul, 1897[Inference]
Succeeded by
Henry E. F. Worthington
Preceded by
Alfred L. Winsloe
Captain of H.M.S. Juno
5 Oct, 1898[9]
Succeeded by
Henry B. Jackson
Preceded by
Archibald J. Pocklington
Captain of H.M.S. Argonaut
19 Apr, 1900[10] – mid Feb, 1904
Succeeded by
Evelyn R. Le Marchant


  1. Kiddle. Naval Memories. National Museum of the Royal Navy. p. 24.
  2. The Navy List. (January, 1901). p. 225.
  3. "The Cherry Medal." Dix Noonan Webb [DNW], Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (1 December 2004) [auction catalogue], lot 1370.
  4. "The Cherry Medal." The Naval Review. Vol. XXXVI. No. 4. p. 41.
  5. "The Cherry Medal." The Naval Review. Vol. XL. No. 1. p. 95.
  6. "Fabulous Admirals." The Naval Review. Vol. XLVI. No. 2. p. 257.
  7. The Navy List. (February, 1888). p. 208.
  8. "The Diamond Jubilee" The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Jun 16, 1897; pg. 8; Issue 35231.
  9. The Navy List. (February, 1900). p. 265.
  10. The Navy List. (May, 1903). p. 228.