Deputy First Sea Lord

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Office of the Deputy First Sea Lord
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
Ensign of the Royal Navy
Department of the Admiralty
Member ofBoard of Admiralty
Reports toFirst Sea Lord
NominatorFirst Lord of the Admiralty
AppointerPrime Minister
Subject to formal approval by the Queen-in-Council
Term length1-4 years
Inaugural holderRosslyn E. Wemyss
Formation1917-1919, 1942-1946

The Deputy First Sea Lord (D.F.S.L.) was a senior Royal Navy flag officer on the Board of Admiralty of the Royal Navy and served a immediate deputy to the First Sea Lord.[1]. The office was first created from September, 1917 to August, 1919 before being abolished. It was revived for second and final time from July, 1942 to May, 1946.

History

Vice-Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss was appointed a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty as Second Sea Lord on 6 September 1917.[2] before being relieved on 27 September by Vice-Admiral Herbert L. Heath. In his memoirs, he described the circumstances of his appointment.[3]

The First Lord's [Geddes] original idea had been that I should be Second Sea Lord, but that the traditional duties of that office should be somewhat modified, so as to allow me to take up Staff Duties. The reason for this was that until now, should the First Sea Lord for any reason be absent from the Admiralty, the whole of the burden and responsibility of the war devolved automatically on the Second Sea Lord, whose duties in connection with the personnel did not allow him sufficient time to study Staff matters.[4]

Consequently he the (Second Sea Lord) might find himself called upon at any moment to give decisions on matters with which he could not possibly be familiar. On considering the situation I advised the First Lord that it would be better not to interfere with the duties of Second Sea Lord, which were so well understood on all sides, and which required the full attention of one man, but appoint me as additional with my duties entirely confined to Staff work, and that an officer should be appointed as Second Sea Lord who would be junior to me. By this means the conduct of the war would, in the absence of the First Sea Lord, automatically fall into my hands.[5]

In 1919, Jellicoe wrote that, "This appointment was frankly made more as a matter of expediency than because any real need had been shown for the creation of such an office." [6] He later claimed in his autobiographical notes that,

The introduction of a Deputy First Sea Lord was only agreed to by me as the result of my conversations with Beatty and Madden. The idea emanated from Sir Eric Geddes who saw in the appointment a way of overcoming the Prime Minister's objections to Sir Henry Oliver, Deputy Chief of Naval Staff remaining at the Department of Admiralty. . . . The intention was that in my absence Admiral Wemyss could represent me at the War Council instead of Sir H. Oliver.[7]

In August, 1919, when Rear-Admiral Hope was appointed to command the Third Light Cruiser Squadron, the position of Deputy First Sea Lord was not filled.[8] In 1942, the post was revived again [9] to alleviate the workload of the First Sea Lord during World War II and was held by Admiral Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis until 1946.

Duties

As of 1918:[10]

  • General questions of Naval Policy, other than questions connected with operations in Home Waters.
  • Questions relating to Foreign Stations and Overseas operations. Letters of Proceedings from Commanders-in-Chief abroad.
  • Questions affecting Shore Defences and co-operation with Military (in consultation with D.C.N.S. when necessary).
  • General questions as to Blockade and Trade.
  • Refits of Ships not affecting D.C.N.S. or A.C.N.S.
  • Superintendence of Operations Division (F) of Naval Staff
  • Superintendence of Hydrographic Department.

Office Holders

  1. Vice-Admiral – Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, 6 – 26 September 1917.[11]
  2. Vice-Admiral – Sir Herbert L. Heath, 27 September–December 1917.[12]
  3. Rear-AdmiralGeorge Hope, 10 January 1918– 5 August 1919.[13]
  4. Admiral – Sir Charles Kennedy-Purvis, 29 July 1942–May 1946.[14]

Footnotes

  1. Marder, Arthur. (1917). From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow: Volume IV, Year of Crisis. Seaforth Publishing. ISBN: 9781848322011. p.223.
  2. Harley, Simon; Lovell, Tony (12 November 2018). "Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project". www.dreadnoughtproject.org. England: Harley and Lovell. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  3. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  4. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  5. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  6. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  7. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  8. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  9. "DEPUTY-FIRST SEA LORD (APPOINTMENT)". hansard.millbanksystems.com. Hansard, Vol 382, C1038, 5 August 1942. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  10. Harley and Lovell. (12 November 2018). Deputy First Sea Lord - The Dreadnought Project.
  11. Marder. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow. IV. pp. 223-224.
  12. Marder. From the Dreadnought to Scapa Flow. IV. pp. 223-224.
  13. Rose. Susan. (2008) The naval miscellany. Ashgate Publishing. Aldershot. ISBN: 9780754664314. page.8.
  14. "DEPUTY-FIRST SEA LORD (APPOINTMENT)". hansard.millbanksystems.com. Hansard, Vol 382, C1038, 5 August 1942. Retrieved 13 January 2017.