Roger Roland Charles Backhouse

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Admiral of the Fleet

Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse

GCB GCVO CMG
upright=Admiral Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse in January, 1938. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Born24 November 1878
Middleton Tyas, Yorkshire, England
Died15 July 1939 (aged 60)
London, England
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 Active1892–1939
Highest RankFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif, Admiral of the Fleet
Commands heldHMS Conquest (1915)
HMS Lion (1910)
Naval Ordnance Department
HMS Malaya (1915)
3rd Battle Squadron
Third Sea Lord & Controller of the Navy
1st Battle Squadron & Second-in-Command, Mediterranean Station
Home Fleet
Royal Navy

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Roland Charles Backhouse GCB GCVO CMG (24 November 1878 – 15 July 1939) was a Royal Navy flag officer who served as Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet (1935 – 1938) and finally First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff (1938 – 1939).

Naval Career

He joined the British Royal Navy in 1892 and trained aboard HMS Britannia as a Cadet. In 1894, he was a Midshipman aboard the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Repulse of the Channel Squadron. In Oct 1895, he was transferred aboard corvette HMS Comus on the Pacific Station. In 1898, he was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant. On 15 Mar 1899 promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. In Nov 1899, he was transferred board battleship HMS Victorious in the Mediterranean Fleet. In the early 1900s, he attended the gunnery school HMS Excellent on Whale Island near Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, United Kingdom. In Feb 1903, he was made the gunnery officer of battleship HMS Russell of the Mediterranean Fleet. In Apr 1904, he was transferred to battleship HMS Queen, also of the Mediterranean Fleet. In Jul 1905, he made a member of the directing staff of HMS Excellent. In Aug 1907, he was made the Gunnery Officer of battleship HMS Dreadnought of the Channel Fleet. On 31 Dec 1909, he was promoted to the rank of Commander. In Feb 1910, he returned to the staff of HMS Excellent. Between Mar 1911 and Nov 1915, he was the Flag Commander to the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, initially aboard HMS Neptune, after Mar 1914 aboard HMS Iron Duke. In Sep 1914, he was promoted to the rank of Captain. In Nov 1915, he was given his first sea-going command, light cruiser HMS Conquest. In Nov 1916, he was made the commanding officer of battlecruiser HMS Lion, flagship of the Battle Cruiser Force. In Jun 1917, he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. In Sep 1920, he was made the Director of Naval Ordnance at the Admiralty in London (HMS President). In Jan 1923, he became the commanding officer of battleship HMS Malaya.

Flag Appointments

On 24 Feb 1925, he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral. In May 1926, he was named the commanding officer of the 3rd Battle Squadron. In Nov 1928, he was made the ₡. On 9 Oct 1929, he was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral. In Apr 1932, he was named the commanding officer of the 1st Battle Squadron and Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1933, he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. On 11 February 1934, he was promoted to the rank of Admiral. In Aug 1935, he was made the Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet, with his flag aboard battleship HMS Nelson. In May 1937, he was made Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. In 1938, he was made Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath. In Jul 1938, he became the First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George VI. In Nov 1938, he was named the First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff. In this position, he sided with those who believe British naval strength should be kept close to Britain to deter the potential threat from Germany and Italy, at the cost of possibly sacrificing far flung possessions from the potential threat from Japan; in other words, he was the one who officially abandoned the Singapore Strategy. In May 1939, he resigned due to poor health. On 29 June 1939, he was promoted to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. Backhouse passed away from a brain tumor in London, England in the following month.