This article is concerned with the commemoration of Admirals, Field Marshals and Air Marshals by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). Whilst the highest ranks within the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are Admiral of the Fleet and Marshal of the Royal Air Force, the most senior ranks of personnel commemorated by the CWGC are Admiral and Air Marshal.
The CWGC commemorates those military personnel who died during the periods 4 August 1914 to 31 August 1921 and 3 September 1939 to 31 December 1947.
In addition to the military personnel of both world wars, the CWGC also commemorate more than 67,000 Commonwealth civilians who died as a result of enemy action during the Second World War. Their names are listed on a roll of honour, housed near St George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey, London.
There are 11 Admirals, 9 Field Marshals and 2 Air Marshals commemorated by the CWGC.
SIR SIDNEY ROBERT BAILEY
Died: 27 March 1942
Honours: KBE, CB, CBE, DSO
Commemorated: Golders Green Crematorium (UK)
Remarks:Took part in the 1900 expedition for the relief of Peking during the Boxer Rebellion. Served on the staff of the C-in-C Grand Fleet seeing action at the Battle of Jutland. In 1922, became Naval attache in Washington, DC. Became Assitant Chief of the Naval Staff in 1933. President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in 1937 before retiring in 1939.
Died: 17 November 1918
Commemorated: Frant (St. Alban) Church (UK)
Remarks: Appointed in command of the second class cruiser HMS Amphion in January 1897, and served on the Pacific Station until the ship paid off at Devonport on 13 February 1900. Appointed in command of the battleship HMS Illustrious until early 1902. Later that year, he was appointed Commodore, 2nd class in command of the cruiser HMS Cambrian. In June 1902, he was appointed as commander of the South-East American station. Promoted to Rear-admiral in 1905, and was appointed commander of the Chatham division in the Home Fleet the following year.
SIR FREDERICK TOWER HAMILTON
Died: 4 October 1917
Honours: GCVO, KCB
Commemorated: Rosyth Old Churchyard (UK)
Remarks: Fought in Naval Brigade in the Zulu War in 1879, for which service he was mentioned in despatches. In 1892 he was promoted to commander and serving aboard the HMS Hood (1891). Promoted to Captain on 1 January 1898, and re-appointed in command of HMS Defiance. On 18 March 1902 he was appointed flag captain of HMS Bulwark. At the outset of the First World War, Hamilton was Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel and was promoted to full Admiral in June 1916. Later on in 1916, he went on to be C-in-C Rosyth but died suddenly from a heart attack.
SIR CHARLES EDWARD KENNEDY-PURVIS
Died: 26 May 1946
Honours: GBE, KCB, Legion of Merit (USA)
Commemorated: Woking (St. John’s) Crematorium (UK)
Remarks: In June 1915 was appointed an instructor at the newly formed RN Signal School. After two years’ of service in HMS Southampton and HMS Ajax, returned to the Signal School as its commander, having been promoted to captain in December 1921. Appointed Director of the Signal Division in 1927. In January 1933, appointed as Naval ADC to King George VI. Between 1936 and 1938 he commanded the 1st Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean, receiving promotion to vice admiral on 28 June 1937. In March 1940 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the America and West Indies Station, His time as C-in-C coincided with the Destroyers for Bases Agreement in which fifty elderly destroyers were transferred from the United States to the UK in return for the right of the U.S. Navy and Air Forces to establish bases in British territories. In late 1942 he was recalled to England to become the Deputy First Sea Lord. He died of a heart attack at his home.
Died: 15 March 1919
Honours: CB, Order of Merit (Spain), Order of the Nichau-Imtiaz (Turkey), Order of Redeemer (Greece)
Commemorated: Ta-Braxia Cemetery (Malta)
Remarks: Served in Charybdis in the Lingi and Lukut River Expeditions, Straits of Malacca and Perak; in Zulu War; as Captain of Retribution, at the blockade of Venezuela, and as Commodore at Hong Kong. Returned to active service afloat during the Great War as Captain, R.N.R., H.M. Yacht Safa el Bahr, on Patrol duty in the Mediterranean and later as Commodore, R.N.R., of Patrols at Malta. His son, Lieutenant-Commander. H. I. N. Lyon died on 21 October 1917, when HMS Marmion was accidentally rammed by HMS Tirade when the two were escorting a convoy across the North Sea. HMS Tirade suffered little damage, but HMS Marmion foundered after failed attempts to take her under tow.
SIR GEORGE HIMILTON D’OYLY LYON
Died: 20 August 1947
Commemorated: Woking (St. John’s) Crematorium (UK)
Remarks: Played first-class cricket for Hampshire, and rugby union for England. Saw active service at the Battle of Jutland, aboard HMS Monarch. He was appointed Head of the British Naval Mission to Greece in 1929 and Commodore commanding the Home Fleet Destroyers in 1932. He went on to be Rear Admiral commanding 3rd Cruiser Squadron in 1935 and Commander-in-Chief of the Africa Station in 1938. From 1941, he served as C-in-C The Nore from 1941 and retired in 1943.
SIR TOM SPENCER VAUGHAN PHILLIPS
Died: 10 December 1941
Commemorated: Plymouth Naval Memorial (UK)
Remarks: During the First World War, Phillips served on destroyers in the Mediterranean and in the Far East. Phillips attended the Royal Navy Staff College from June 1919 to May 1920. He was a military adviser on the Permanent Advisory Commission for Naval, Military, and Air Questions Board at the League of Nations from 1920 to 1922. Between 24 April 1930 and September 1932, Phillips served as assistant director of the Plan Division in the Admiralty. He then served for three years in the Far East as the flag captain of a cruiser. In 1935, he returned to the Admiralty to head the Plan Division. In 1938, Phillips was promoted to commodore, commanding the destroyer flotillas of the Home Fleet. On 10 January 1939, Phillips became a rear admiral while also acting as a naval adviser to King George VI. From 1 June 1939 until 21 October 1941, Phillips was Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff and then Vice Chief of the Naval Staff. Appointed Commander-in-Chief of the China Station in late 1941. Appointed acting admiral, and he took to sea on 25 October 1941 en route to his headquarters in Singapore. Force Z (HMS Prince of Wales, HMS Repulse, HMS Electra, HMS Express, HMAS Vampire and HMS Tenedos) sailed from Singapore on 8 December 1941. On 10 December 1941, both HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse were attacked and sunk by Japanese aircraft. The destroyers saved 2,081 of the 2,921 crew on the stricken capital ships, but 326 sailors were lost. Admiral Philips went down with his flagship HMS Prince of Wales.
SIR BERTRAM HOME RAMSAY
Died: 2 January 1945
Honours: KCB, KBE, MVO, Legion de Honneur (Fra), Legion of Merit (USA), Order of Ushakov (Russia)
Commemorated: St. Germain-en-Laye New Communal Cemetery (France)
Remarks: As Vice-Admiral Dover, he was responsible for the Dunkirk evacuation (Operation Dynamo). Working from the underground tunnels beneath Dover Castle, he and his staff worked for nine days straight to rescue troops trapped in France by the German forces. Ramsay was to be appointed the Naval Force Commander for the invasion of Europe on 29 April 1942, but the invasion was postponed and he was transferred to become deputy Naval commander of the Allied invasion of North Africa (Operation Torch). During the Allied invasion of Sicily (Operation Husky) in July 1943, he was Naval Commanding Officer, Eastern Task Force and prepared the amphibious landings. In 1944, Ramsay was appointed Naval Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Naval Expeditionary Force for the Normandy invasion. On 2 January 1945, while en-route to a conference with General Bernard Montgomery in Brussels, he was killed when his plane crashed on takeoff at Toussus-le-Noble, southwest of Paris.
SIR HENRY JOHN STUDHOLME BROWNRIGG
Died: 24 January 1943
Honours: KBE,CB, DSO
Commemorated: Liverpool Naval Memorial (UK)
Remarks: Took part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916, as executive officer of HMS Barham. He became Rear Admiral commanding 3rd Cruiser Squadron in 1933 and Vice-Admiral Mediterranean Fleet in 1935. He was Admiral commanding the Reserves from 1936 and C-in-C, The Nore from January to December 1939. He served in World War II as officer commanding the Home Guard at Chatham from 1940 to 1941. He came out of retirement to take charge of convoys. He sailed as Commodore of Convoy ON16 in SS Ville de Tamatave departing Liverpool on 12 January 1943 en route for New York. The convoy ran into a violent storm in the North Atlantic towards the evening of 23 January. Messages were received from the Ville de Tamatave indicating that she had lost her rudder and, an hour later, that she was sinking. The other ships were not able to render assistance, and Ville de Tamatave was lost with all hands on 24 January 1943.
SIR WILLIAM ERIC CAMPBELL TAIT
Died: 17 July 1946
Honours: KCB, MVO, Order of Orange-Nassau (Netherlands)
Commemorated: Harare (Pioneer) Cemetery (Zimbabwe)
Remarks: Tait was Naval ADC to King George VI in 1938. In 1941, appointed Commodore of the principal naval depot at Portsmouth. From 1942, served as C-in-C South Atlantic Station, and in this capacity, he established and headed a Combined Headquarters in Cape Town, which was considered an important factor in maintaining allied domination around the Cape. Appointed Governor of Southern Rhodesia on 20 February 1945. Tait’s tenure as Governor proved to be fleeting as, ailing for some time, Tait relinquished the Governorship in February 1946 after twelve months and died at Government House, Salisbury, five months later.
SIR WILLIAM FREDERIC WAKE-WALKER
Died: 24 September 1945
Honours: KCB, CBE
Commemorated: East Bergholt Cemetery (UK)
Remarks: Wake-Walker’s first appointment, in September 1939, was rear-admiral commanding the 12th Cruiser Squadron. This appointment lasted only a short time as he soon returned to the Admiralty as head of a special group created to develop magnetic mine countermeasures. In May 1940 Wake-Walker was appointed rear-admiral, Dover, in command of all ships and vessels off the Franco-Belgian coast for the evacuation of Dunkirk.From June to December 1940 he commanded the 1st Mine Laying Squadron, responsible for setting up the east coast mine barrier, and after a brief time as commander of Force K, flying his flag in the HMS Formidable, he was made commander of the 1st Cruiser Squadron. In May 1941, two of Wake-Walker’s heavy cruisers, HMS Suffolk and HMS Norfolk, were positioned north west of Iceland to intercept and shadow the German battleship Bismarck. HMS Suffolk sighted Bismarck and Prinz Eugen. After a brief exchange of fire, the heavily out-gunned British ships took cover in nearby fog and tracked the enemy by radar. They maintained contact with the two German ships through the night, and successfully guided HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales into position to intercept Bismarck. In the subsequent battle, Vice-Admiral Holland was killed when Hood was destroyed, and many of Prince of Wales’s senior officers were killed or wounded, which left Wake-Walker in command of the surviving ships: Norfolk, Suffolk and the damaged Prince of Wales. In April 1942 he was promoted to vice-admiral and was appointed Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy. His main task was the creation of the huge fleet of landing craft needed to carry out the amphibious landings that began with the invasion of French North Africa (Operation Torch), and ended on D-Day. In September 1945 was appointed C-in-C in the Mediterranean, but on 24 September 1945 he died unexpectedly at his home in London.
SIR CHARLES HENRY BROWNLOW
Died: 5 April 1916
Commemorated: Warfield (St. Michael the Archangel) Churchyard extension (UK)
Remarks: He served on the North West Frontier in the Hazara Campaign of 1853 and the campaign against the Mohmands in 1854. At the start of the Indian Mutiny, Brownlow was asked to raise an infantry regiment and formed the 8th Punjab Infantry which he commanded during that campaign, the Second Opium War, the Ambela Campaign and the Hazara Campaign of 1868. He commanded a column for the Lushai Expedition and then served as Assistant Military Secretary for India for ten years. Brownlow became colonel of the 20th Duke of Cambridge’s Own Infantry (Brownlow’s Punjabis) in May 1904 and, as senior retired officer of the Indian Army, he was promoted to field marshal on 20 June 1908.
SIR CYRIL JOHN DEVERELL
Died: 12 May 1947
Honours: GCB, KBE, DSO
Commemorated: Bournemouth Crematorium (UK)
Remarks: He fought in the Fourth Anglo-Ashanti War and the First World War. Served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1936 to 1937. In May 1937 Leslie Hore-Belisha, the newly appointed Secretary of State for War, sought to implement a new policy of limiting expenditure on the army, particularly on tanks, and when Deverall failed to show enthusiasm for that policy in the context of an increasing threat from Germany, Hore-Belisha wrote to him, advising him that he had been removed from office. Deverell wrote a reply to the Secretary of State, strongly objecting to the adverse comments that had been made on his own performance, and retired from the British Army on 6 December 1937. He was also Colonel of the Prince of Wales’s West Yorkshire Regiment from 21 March 1934. In retirement he became Deputy Lieutenant of Southampton. His interests included local politics; he served on the borough council and chaired the local defence committee during the Second World War. He lived at Court Lodge in Lymington and died there on 12 May 1947.
SIR JOHN GREER DILL
Died: 4 November 1944
Honours: GCB, CMG, DSO, Legion D’Honneur, Croix de Guerre, Croix de Couronne, Croix de Guerre (Belgium), DSM (USA)
Commemorated: Arlington National Cemetery (USA)
Remarks: Dill commanded British Forces in Palestine (1936-7) and 1st Army Corps in France (1939-40). After returning to the UK, Dill became Vice-Chief of the Imperial General Staff. Later in 1940, Dill became ADC General to King George VI. Meanwhile Dill also served as Chief of the Imperial General Staff (CIGS). Dill arrived in the USA during 1941 as Chief of the British Joint Staff Mission, before becoming the Senior British Representative on the Combined Chiefs of Staff. He also became a close friend of the US General George C. Marshall. On 4 November 1944, Sir John Dill died of aplastic anaemia in Walter Reed Hospital, Washington D.C. He was posthumously awarded an American Distinguished Service Medal in 1944 as well as receiving an unprecedented joint resolution of the United States Congress appreciating his services. The equestrian statue on Dill’s grave is one of only two at Arlington National Cemetery, the other is Major General Philip Kearny’s.
JOHN STANDISH SURTEES GORT
Died: 31 March 1946
Honours: VC, GCB, CBE, DSO and 2 Bars, MVO, MC
Commemorated: Penshurst (St. John the Baptist) Church (UK)
Remarks: As a young officer during the First World War, he was decorated with the Victoria Cross for his actions during the September 1918 Battle of the Canal du Nord. During the 1930s he served as CIGS. Commanded the British Expeditionary Force sent to France in the first year of the Second World War, which was evacuated from Dunkirk. Gort later served as Governor of Gibraltar and Malta, and High Commissioner for Palestine and Transjordan. After leaving Palestine, Gort was admitted to Guy’s Hospital in London, where exploratory surgery revealed that he was dying from inoperable liver cancer.
THE RT. HON. HORATION HERBERT KITCHER OF KHARTOUM
Died: 5 June 1916
Honours: KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG. GCIE
Commemorated: Hollybrook Memorial Southampton (UK)
Remarks: Kitchener won fame in 1898 for winning the Battle of Omdurman and securing control of the Sudan. As Chief of Staff (1900–02) in the Second Boer War he played a key role in Lord Roberts’ conquest of the Boer Republics, then succeeded Roberts as C-in-C. His term as C-in-C (1902–09) of the Army in India saw him quarrel with the Viceroy Lord Curzon, who eventually resigned. Kitchener then returned to Egypt as British Agent and Consul-General. At the start of the First World War, Lord Kitchener became Secretary of State for War. He organised the largest volunteer army that Britain had seen. He was blamed for the shortage of shells in the spring of 1915, and stripped of his control over munitions and strategy. Kitchener drowned on 5 June 1916 when HMS Hampshire sank west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland. He was one of more than 600 killed on board the ship.
LORD FREDERICK RUDOLPH LAMBERT
Died: 28 August 1946
Honours: KP, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE
Commemorated: Ayot (St. Lawrence) Old Churchyard (UK)
Remarks: He served in the Second Boer War, led XIV Corps during the First World War, His first appointment after the war was when he became Lieutenant of the Tower of London on 22 March 1920. Appointed ADC to King George V on 1 October 1920, he became GOC Aldershot Command on 2 November 1920. He was appointed CIGS on 19 February 1922, replacing the murdered Sir Henry Wilson. As CIGS, Lambert advised the Government on the implementation of the Geddes report, which advocated a large reduction in defence expenditure, and he officiated over a major reduction in the size of the British Army. He was also colonel of the Irish Guards from 23 May 1925 and colonel of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment from 10 December 1928. During the Second World War he served as Commanding Officer of the Hertfordshire Local Defence Volunteers.
SIR ARCHIBALD ARMAR MONTGOMERY-MASSINGBERD
Died: 13 October 1947
Honours: GCB, GCVO, KCMG
Commemorated: Gunby (St. Peter) Churchyard
Remarks: He served in the Second Boer War and in the First World War, and later was the driving force behind the formation of a permanent “Mobile Division”, the fore-runner of the 1st Armoured Division. Served as CIGS rom 1933 to 1936. Also Colonel Commandant of the Royal Regiment of Artillery from 19 November 1927, Colonel Commandant of the Royal Tank Corps from 7 December 1934, Colonel Commandant of the 20th Burma Rifles from 5 April 1935, Honorary Colonel of the 46th (Lincolnshire Reserve) Anti-Aircraft Battalion from 17 March 1937 and Colonel Commandant of the Royal Malta Artillery from 11 May 1937. In retirement he became Deputy Lieutenant and then Vice-Lieutenant of Lincolnshire. During the Second World War the Air Ministry attempted to build an airfield at Great Steeping in Lincolnshire that would have extended into Sir Archibald’s wife’s traditional family estate, necessitating the demolition of the magnificent mansion of Gunby Hall. He personally appealed to King George VI and the Air Ministry relented, redrawing the plans that resulted in the resiting of the new RAF Spilsby two miles further south. During the Second World War he also took charge of organizing and recruiting the Home Guard in Lincolnshire for nine months. His major passion in life was horsemanship. He died at his home, Gunby Hall, on 13 October 1947.
SIR FREDERICK SLEIGH ROBERTS
Died: 14 November 1914
Honours: VC, KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCIE
Commemorated: St Paul’s Cathedral (UK)
Remarks: Commissioned to the Bengal Artillery (Dec., 1851); served throughout the Indian Mutiny 1857 during which Roberts was awared the Victoria Cross (VC); and the Abyssinian (1867-68) and Lushai (1871-72) Expeditions. Also served in the Afghanistan Campaign (1878-80) and Commanded the Kabul-Kandahar Field Force Aug.-Sept., 1880. Commanded the Forces in Ireland (1895-99); Commander-in-Chief in the South African War (1899-1900). Commander-in-Chief in India (1885-93) and at Home (1901-04). Master Gunner of St. James’ Park and Colonel-in-Chief of Overseas and Indian Forces in the United Kingdom during the Great War. Roberts died of pneumonia at St Omer, France, while visiting Indian troops fighting in the First World War. After lying in state in Westminster Hall (one of two individuals who were not members of the royal family to do so during the 20th century), he was given a state funeral and was then buried in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Roberts’ only son Frederick Hugh Sherston Roberts was postumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions during the Battle of Colenso; one of three Father-Son pairs to have both been awarded the VC.
ARTHUR WILLIAM PATRICK ALBERT WINDSOR
Died: 16 January 1942
Honours: KG, KT, KP, GCB, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, GCVO, GBE, VD, TD
Commemorated: Frogmore Royal Burial Ground (UK)
Remarks: Member of the British Royal Family who served as the Governor General of Canada. Born the seventh child and third son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, Arthur was educated by private tutors before entering the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich at the age of 16. Upon graduation, he was commissioned as a lieutenant in the British Army, where he served for some 40 years, seeing service in various parts of the British Empire. During this time he became the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, as well as the Earl of Sussex. In 1911, he was appointed as Governor General of Canada. He occupied this post until being succeeded by the Duke of Devonshire in 1916. Given his military service, the selection of Arthur proved to be prudent, as he acted as the King’s, and thus the Canadian Commander-in-Chief’s, representative through the first years of the First World War. After the end of his viceregal tenure, Arthur returned to the United Kingdom and there, as well as in India, performed various royal duties, while also again taking up military duties. Though he retired from public life in 1928, he continued to make his presence known in the army well into the Second World War, before his death in 1942. He was Queen Victoria’s last surviving son.
SIR CHARLES STUART BURNETT
Died: 9 April 1945
Honours: KCB, CBE, DSO
Commemorated: Halton (St. Michael) Churchyard (UK)
Remarks: He was Air Officer Commanding Iraq Command during the early 1930s. During the Second World War, he served as Chief of the Air Staff of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) . Burnett was replaced in May 1942 by an Australian, Air Vice Marshal George Jones. Burnett retired from the RAF shortly after his return to Britain. However, in 1943 he worked full-time in the RAF’s cadet organisation, the Air Training Corps (ATC), as the commandant of the ATC’s Central Command. In this role, Burnett was responsible for ATC squadrons in Hertfordshire, Middlesex, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Bedfordshire. By 1945 Burnett remained as commandant but his health was declining and on 9 April 1945 he died of a coronary thrombosis at the Princess Mary Hospital at RAF Halton.
SIR TRAFFORD LEIGH-MALLORY
Died: 14 November 1944
Honours: KCB, CB, DSO
Commemorated: Allemont (Le Rivier) Communal Cemetery (France)
Remarks: Leigh-Mallory served as a Royal Flying Corps pilot and squadron commander during World War I. Remaining in the newly formed RAF after the war, Leigh-Mallory served in a variety of staff and training appointments throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During the pre-Second World War build-up, he was Air Officer Commanding (AOC) No. 12 Group and shortly after the end of the Battle of Britain, took over command of No. 11 Group, defending the approach to London. In 1942 he became the C-in-C of Fighter Command before being selected in 1943 to be the air commander for the Allied Invasion of Normandy. On 16 August 1944, with the Battle of Normandy almost over, Leigh-Mallory was appointed Air C-in-C South East Asia Command (SEAC). But before he could take up his post he and his wife were killed en route to Burma when their Avro York crashed in the French Alps, killing all on board. He and his wife are buried, alongside 10 aircrew, in Le Rivier d’Allemont, 15 miles east-south-east of Grenoble, a short distance below the site of the air crash.