A Change of Leadership at the Admiralty

  • G. A. H. Gordon
Part of the Studies in Military and Strategic History book series (SMSH)


Admiral Sir Ernie Chatfield succeeded Sir Frederick Field as First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff near the end of January 1933. Chatfield had an unrivalled record both ashore and afloat. In the 1900s he was a member of ‘Jackie’ Fisher’s group of gunnery radicals, known as the ‘Fishpond’, in the Mediterranean Fleet, and progressed to be Commander of HMS Excellent, the Royal Navy’s gunnery school. In 1911 he was selected to be Flag-Captain for the Royal ‘Coronation’ visit to India, and thereafter enjoyed the private counsel and support of King George V on many naval matters, until the latter’s death in 1936.1 In the Great War he was Flag-Captain to Sir David Beatty in the battlecruiser Lion and then again in the Grand Fleet flagship Queen Elizabeth. After the war he followed Beatty to the Admiralty as Fourth Sea Lord and then Assistant Chief of Naval Staff. He did much to establish the Naval Staff system, and served as Britain’s senior resident naval representative at the Washington Disarmament Conference.


Aircraft Carrier Private Counsel Armament Industry Weapon Development Naval Officer 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    CHT 1/2/30.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Chapters 6 and 8.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Lord Chatfield, It Might Happen Again (1947) p. 8.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    From interviews with Vice-Admiral B. B. Schofield, Rear-Admirals Sir Rowland Jerram and L. A. Boutwood, Captains S. W. Roskill and E. H. Thomas, RN, Commander Malcolm Burnett and Lt-Cdr Peter Kemp, 1979–80.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Written notes lent to the author, 1979.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Chatfield, It Might Happen Again, p. 48 (phrases transposed, but sense unaltered).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
  8. 8.
    See Chapter 12.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    See Chapter 18.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    ‘Convoy Escorts — Armament’ 1936, ADM 1/9410.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Chatfield, It Might Happen Again, pp. 101, 122.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Ibid, p. 19.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    J. D. Scott, Vickers (1963) p. 115.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Chatfield, Navy and Defence (1942) pp. 56, 71. (This is the only reference to Chatfield’s first book.)Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    H. W. Richardson, Economic Recovery in Britain 1932–39 (1967) p. 21.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Hankey to Chamberlain, 2 March 1933, ‘Armaments Industry’, CAB 21/371.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    D. C. Watt, Too Serious a Business (1975) p. 55.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Chatfield, It Might Happen Again, p. 79.Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    Roskill, Naval Policy, vol. II, p. 168.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    Chatfield, It Might Happen Again, p. 79.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© G. A. H. Gordon 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. A. H. Gordon

There are no affiliations available

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