William Henry Dudley Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery

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Admiral of the Fleet

Sir William Henry Dudley Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork and Orrery

Sir William H. D. Boyle as a Vice-Admiral in 1930. © National Portrait Gallery, London.
Born30 November 1873
Farnham, Surrey
Died19 April 1967 (aged 93)
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 of service1886–1940
Highest RankFlag United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.gif, Admiral of the Fleet
Commands heldH.M.S. Starfish (1895)
H.M.S. Hardy (1895)
HMS Haughty (1895)
HMS Skirmisher (1905)
HMS Fox (1893)
Red Sea Patrol
HMS Repulse (1916)
HMS Tiger (1913)
Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport
1st Cruiser Squadron
Reserve Fleet
Royal Naval College, Greenwich & Royal Naval War College
Home Fleet
Portsmouth Station
Battles/warsBoxer Rebellion
First World War
Second World War

Admiral of the Fleet Sir William Henry Dudley Boyle, 12th Earl of Cork, 12th Earl of Orrery, CB, GCB, GCVO, KCB, (30th November 1873 – 19th April 1967) was a Royal Navy flag officer who went on to serve as Vice-Admiral Commanding, Reserve Fleet (1928–1929) then President, Royal Naval College, Greenwich (1929–1932) then Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet (1933–1935) and finally Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth Station (1937–1939).[1]

Naval Career

He entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth (HMS Britannia) as a Naval Cadet on the 15th January 1887. In December 1888 then served aboard the turret battleship HMS Monarch (1868) then part of the Channel Squadron, he was promoted to Midshipman on 15th June 1889. He next transferred to the battleship H.M.S. Colossus (1882) then assigned to the Mediterranean Fleet. Boyle transferred to the corvette HMS Active in the Training Squadron in July 1892 and, having been promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 1st July 1894, he joined the gunboat H.M.S. Lizard (1886) on the Australia Station in September 1894. He next promoted to Lieutenant on 1st October 1895.[2]

He then transferred to the cruiser HMS Furious in the Channel Squadron in July 1898 and then became 1st Lieutenant in the sloop H.M.S. Daphne (1866) on the China Station in November 1898, in this capacity he saw action during the Boxer Rebellion. He was next appointed commanding officer of the torpedo boat destroyer H.M.S. Starfish (1895) on 20 June, 1902, before becoming commanding officer in the destroyer H.M.S. Haughty (1895) on 28th August 1902. On 9 October, 1903 he was appointed commanding officer of H.M.S. Hardy (1895) a torpedo boat destroyer until 14 October, 1903.[3]

He went on to be Executive Officer in the cruiser HMS Astraea in the Mediterranean Fleet in February 1904 and, having been promoted to Commander on 31st December 1906, he was reassigned as Executive Officer in the battleship HMS Hibernia in the Channel Fleet in January 1907. He joined the Naval Intelligence Department at the Admiralty in January 1909 before becoming Executive Officer in the armoured cruiser H.M.S. Good Hope (1901) in the Atlantic Fleet in 1911. He went on to be commanding officer of the scout cruiser HMS Skirmisher (1905) in the Home Fleet in January 1912 and was promoted Captain on 30th June 1913. He was then appointed British Naval Attaché, Rome in July 1913 and in that capacity was involved as an observer during the Second Balkan War.[4]

Boyle served in the First World War initially as a staff officer on the staff of Rear-Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss during the Dardanelles Campaign. He was given command of the light cruiser H.M.S. Fox (1893) on the Red Sea Station in September 1915 and went on to be Senior Officer Red Sea Patrol in January 1916. In that capacity he led a six-day bombardment of the Turkish held port of Jeddah in June 1916 and worked closely with T. E. Lawrence in support of the Arab Revolt. For his services to Egypt, he was awarded the Order of the Nile, 3rd Class on 4 December 1916. He went on to be Flag Captain to Admiral Sir Henry Oliver, then commanding the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron in the Grand Fleet, in the battlecruiser H.M.S. Repulse (1916) in November 1917. Boyle became next became commanding officer of the battlecruiser H.M.S. Tiger (1913) in the Atlantic Fleet in April 1919 until June, 1921.[5]

Flag Appointments

In July 1921 he was promoted to Commodore and appointed Commodore-in-Command, Royal Naval Barracks, Devonport. He was appointed a naval aide-de-camp to the King on 8 November 1922. He was promoted to rear admiral on 1st November 1923, he became Second-in-Command, 2nd Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet with his flag in the battleship HMS Resolution in May 1924. After attending the senior officers' war course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. In September 1936 he was next appointed Rear-Admiral Commanding, 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Mediterranean Fleet with his flag in the cruiser H.M.S. Frobisher (1920) in September 1926.[6]

After a tour with his squadron on the China Station followed a promotion to Vice-Admiral on 12th June 1928. In December, 1928 he was then appointed Vice-Admiral Commanding, Reserve Fleet with his flag in the light cruiser H.M.S. Constance (1915) in December 1928. In April 1929 he was simultaneously appointed President of Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and Admiral Commanding Royal Naval War College until 1932. He was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 3rd June 1931. He was promoted to full Admiral on 1st November 1932. In March 1933 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet flying his flag in the battleship H.M.S. Nelson (1925).[7]

He was advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 16th July 1935. He was appointed First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King on 12th July 1936. He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth Station in July 1937. In 1938 he was advanced to the rank of Admiral of the Fleet. In 1939 during World War Two he was sent back to the Admiralty (HMS President) in London until 1940. Also in 1940 he was appointed Commander, Combined Expedition to Narvick in Norway, after which he was placed on the retired list.[8]


  1. "Cork and Orrery, 12th Earl of, (William Henry Dudley Boyle) (30 Nov. 1873–19 April 1967)". WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO (2020). London and Oxford: A & C Black and Oxford University Press. 1 December 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u55581. Retrieved 8 October 2020.
  2. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  3. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  4. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  5. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  6. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  7. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).
  8. Who's Who and Who Was Who (2020).