Edward Beckwith Ashmore

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Admiral of the Fleet

Sir Edward Beckwith Ashmore

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Beckwith Ashmore.jpg
Born11 December 1919
Queenstown, Ireland
Died28 April 2016 (Age 96)
AllegianceFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif United Kingdom
Service BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom from 1801.png Royal Navy
Years Active1900-1937
Highest RankFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held6th Frigate Squadron
Plans Division
British Forces, Caribbean & West Indies
Flag Officer, Second-in-Command, Far East Fleet
Vice-Chief of Naval Staff
Western Fleet
Fleet Command & Channel & Eastern Atlantic
Royal Navy
Chief of the Defence Staff

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Beckwith Ashmore GCB, DSC, (11 December 1919 – 28 April 2016) was a senior Royal Navy flag officer. He went onto serve as First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff at the Navy Department, then finally Chief of the Defence Staff at the Ministry of Defence.

Naval Career

Ashmore was born in Queenstown, Ireland (today known as Cobh) and the son of Vice Admiral Leslie Haliburton Ashmore by his marriage to Tamara Vasilevna Schutt, and brother of Vice Admiral Sir Peter Ashmore, who was the Master of the Household to HM the Queen from 1973 to 1986,[1] Ashmore was educated at various schools including Yardley Court in Kent and then at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in September 1933 and was posted to the Cruiser HMS Frobisher in May 1937 and then, having been promoted to Midshipman, to the Battleship HMS Rodney in September 1937. He transferred to the light cruiser HMS Birmingham on the China Station January 1938 and was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 1 September 1939. He was also involved in a confrontation with the Imperial Japanese Navy at Tsingtao over the SS Vincent de Paul in January 1939.[2]

Ashmore was posted to the destroyer HMS Jupiter in January 1940, early in the Second World War, and saw action during the Norwegian Campaign. Promoted to Lieutenant on 1 January 1941, he transferred to the destroyer HMS Middleton in June 1941 and took part in the Arctic Convoys and as well as a convoy to relieve Malta in June 1942: it was during this latter operation that he was awarded the D. S. C..[3] In August 1942 he went to Russia to help evacuate the survivors of the ill-fated Convoy PQ 17. He attended signals and radar training courses in 1943 and was posted to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, as Fleet Wireless Assistant in December 1943. He became Squadron Signal Officer for the 4th Cruiser Squadron in September 1944 and helped provide naval support during the Battle of Okinawa in April 1945. In that capacity he experienced a Kamikaze air attack in July 1945 and observed the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on USS Missouri in September 1945. He was mentioned in despatches for distinguished service in the Far East on 11 June 1946.[4]

After the war Ashmore qualified as a Russian interpreter and became Assistant Naval Attache in Moscow in 1946. He joined the staff of the Royal Navy Signals School in September 1947 and, having been promoted to Lieutenant Commander on 1 January 1948,[5] he attended the Royal Naval Staff College in 1949. He was appointed Squadron Communications Officer for the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron in October 1949 and, having been promoted to Commander on 31 December 1950,[6] was posted to the British Admiralty as Assistant Director, Communications in the Radio Equipment Department. He was given command of the Frigate HMS Alert in June 1953 and returned to the Royal Navy Signals School as Second-in-Command in October 1954 before being promoted to Captain on 30 June 1955.[7] He attended the Joint Service Staff College before becoming Chief Signals Officer at the Headquarters of the Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Northern Europe in Oslo. He went on to be Captain (F) of the 6th Frigate Squadron sailing in the frigate HMS Blackpool in October 1958.

Ashmore became Deputy Director of Plans at the Admiralty in June 1960, Director of Plans there in November 1960 and then Chairman of the Service Directors of Plans at the Ministry of Defence in December 1961.

Flag Rank Appointments

Promoted to Commodore in March 1962, he became Commander, British Forces in the Caribbean and Senior Naval Officer, West Indies in July 1963. He was appointed Naval Aide-de-Camp to Queen Elizabeth II on 7 July 1964[8] and promoted to Rear -Admiral[9] on appointment as Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Signals) on 7 January 1965. Appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1966 Birthday Honours,[10] he became Flag Officer, Second-in-Command, Far East Fleet based in Singapore in April 1967. Promoted to Vice-Admiral on 24 July 1968,[11] he went on to be Vice-Chief of Naval Staff in December 1968 and, having been promoted to the rank of full Admiral on 4 November 1970,[12] he was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1971 New Year Honours.[13] He became the last Commander-in-Chief, Western Fleet in September 1971 and then the first Commander-in-Chief, Fleet and NATO Commander-in-Chief, Channel and Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Atlantic, as a result of the amalgamation of the Far East Fleet and the Western Fleet into the a single Fleet Command in November 1971. He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1974 New Year Honours.[14]

Ashmore became First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff on 1 March 1974.[15] In that role he advised the incoming Labour Party Government on a major defence review and on the implications of the Turkish Invasion of Cyprus in July 1974. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 9 February 1977[16] and was appointed Chief of the Defence Staff that month serving in a caretaker capacity (following the death of his predecessor) before retiring at the end of August 1977..

Ashmore died on 28 April 2016 in London at the age of 96.[17]


  1. "Obituary: Vice-Admiral Sir Peter Ashmore". The Telegraph. 2 August 2002. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  2. "Tsingtao January 1939". Global Maritime History. 2019-01-30. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  3. London Gazette, Issue, 35713, p.4119, 18 September 1942.
  4. London Gazette, Issue, 37603, p.2886, 7 June 1946.
  5. London Gazette, Issue, 38210, p.1128, 17 February 1948.
  6. London Gazette, Issue, 39127, p.365, 19 January 1951.
  7. London Gazette, Issue, 40540, p.4172, 19 July 1955.
  8. London Gazette, Issue, 43394, p.6412, 28 July 1964.
  9. London Gazette, Issue, 43600, p.2632, 16 March 1965.
  10. London Gazette, Issue, 44004, p.6531, 3 June 1966.
  11. London Gazette, Issue, 44661, p.9347, 27 August 1968}}.
  12. London Gazette, Issue, 45251, 11 December 1970.
  13. London Gazette, Issue,45262, p.2, 31 December 1970.
  14. London Gazette, Issue, 46162, p.2, 28 December 1973.
  15. London Gazette, Issue, 46239, p.3525, 19 March 1974.
  16. London Gazette, Issue,7160, p.2825, 1 March 1977.
  17. "Ashmore". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 April 2021.