Great Yarmouth

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Great Yarmouth
HMS Watchful(1939-1945)
Ensign of the Royal Navy animated.gif
AllegianceBritish Empire
BranchRoyal Navy
Garrison/HQGreat Yarmouth, England.

Great Yarmouth often known as Yarmouth was a naval base and area command of the Royal Navy as one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities. The command was founded around 1790 and existed until 1945.[1]


From the 13th to 15th centuries there was an Admiral of the North based at Yarmouth he commanded the Northern Fleet. During the 16th century Vice Admirals were appointed to command the North Sea Squadron then operating out of Yarmouth.

In 1552 Edward VI granted a charter of admiralty jurisdiction, later confirmed and extended by James I. In 1668 Charles II incorporated Little Yarmouth into the borough by a charter with one brief exception remaining in force until 1703, when Queen Anne replaced the two bailiffs by a mayor. In 1673, during the Third Anglo-Dutch War, the Zealand Expedition was assembled in the town. In 1702 the Fishermen's Hospital was founded. In the early 18th century, Yarmouth, as a thriving herring port.

The Yarmouth command was from 1794 until 1803 subordinate to the North Sea command, and before that a part of the Nore Station, to which it reverted in 1815.[2] In 1797, during the French Revolutionary Wars, the town was the main supply base for the North Sea Fleet. The fleet collected at the roadstead, Yarmouth Roads from whence it sailed to the decisive Battle of Camperdown against the Dutch fleet. Again in 1807, during the Napoleonic Wars, the collected fleet sailed from the roadstead to the Battle of Copenhagen. From 1808 to 1814 the Admiralty in London could communicate with its ships in Yarmouth by a shutter telegraph chain. Ships were routinely anchored offshore during the Napoleonic Wars and the town served as a supply base for the Royal Navy.

A grander survival is the former Royal Naval Hospital designed by William Pilkington, begun in 1806 and opened in 1811. Consisting of four colonnaded blocks around a courtyard, it long served as a naval psychiatric hospital before being transferred to the NHS in 1958. During World War I Great Yarmouth suffered the first aerial bombardment in the UK, by Zeppelin L3 on 19 January 1915. That same year on 15 August, Ernest Martin Jehan became the first and only man to sink a steel submarine with a sail-rigged Q-ship, off the coast of Great Yarmouth. It was bombarded by the German Navy on 24 April 1916.

In Command

Commander-in-Chief, Yarmouth & Port Admiral Yarmouth (1803-1814)

  1. Rear-Admiral of the Red Thomas Macnamara Russell, 28 October, 1803 – 9 November, 1805.
  2. Vice-Admiral of the Blue William (Billy) Douglas, 9 November 1805 - 1810.[3][4]
  3. Vice-Admiral of the White Robert Murray, June/July 1811 - 1814 (later VAdm of the Red).[5][6]

Senior Naval Officer, Great Yarmouth (1916-1919)

  1. Commander Oswald T. Hodgson, 28 January, 1916 – 30 November, 1919.

Naval Officer in Command, Yarmouth (1938)

  1. Commander Vincent P. Freeman, 28 September, 1938, (retd).

Flag Officer-in-Command, Yarmouth (1940-1942)

  1. Vice-Admiral Sir Eric J. A. Fullerton, 2 July, 1940 – 14 April, 1942

Flag Officer-in-Charge, Yarmouth (1942-1945)

  1. Vice-Admiral Arthur J. L. Murray, 14 April, 1942 – August, 1942.
  2. Admiral Dudley Burton Napier North, 23 December, 1942 – July, 1945.


  1. "NAVAL STATIONS - YARMOUTH". Kew, Surrey, England.: The National Archives UK. 1803–1815. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  2. The National Archives UK.
  3. Hiscocks, Richard (2018). "Biography: Billy Douglas". More than Nelson. R. Hiscocks. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  4. Marshall, John (1823). "Royal Naval Biography: Bradby, Matthew Barton". London, England.: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. Retrieved 23 July 2020.
  5. The Annual Biography and Obituary. 19. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. 1835. p.441.
  6. Marshall, John (1823). Royal Naval Biography : Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-officers, Superannuated Rear-admirals, Retired-captains, Post-captains, and Commanders, Whose Names Appeared on the Admiralty List of Sea Officers at the Commencement of the Present Year, Or who Have Since Been Promoted, Illustrated by a Series of Historical and Explanatory Notes with Copious Addenda. 1. London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown. p.256.