Athelstan Paul Bush

From The Dreadnought Project
Jump to: navigation, search
Aboard Orcadia with his father, 1918
Photo provided courtesy of his grandson, Alan Bush.

Commander (retired) Athelstan Paul Bush, D.S.O. (11 June, 1892 – 1972) was an officer in the Royal Navy. He preferred to be addressed as A. Paul Bush in official communications.

Life & Career

Athelstan Paul Bush was the only son of British Army Lt. Col. and surgeon James Paul Bush, C.M.G., C.B.E.. Bush could speak some French and German, and by 1912 was proficient in First Aid to some degree. He gained one and a half months' time on passing out of the Training Establishment and being made Midshipman on 15 September, 1909. His first appointment was to the armoured cruiser Drake of the Fifth Cruiser Squadron.[1]

On 9 November 1910, Bush was assigned to the Suffolk, serving in the Mediterranean. On 15 September, 1911, he transferred to the Exmouth on the same station. In August, 1912, he would leave Exmouth to take examinations. He would qualify for second class certificates in Seamanship, Navigation and Gunnery and third class certificates in Torpedo and Engineering.

Bush was promoted to the rank of Sub-Lieutenant on 30 November, 1912.[2]

In late 1913, Bush commenced Engine Room training in Warrior, continuing these studies upon being appointed to Invincible on 24 November, 1913. He was appointed to the Agamemnon on 1 January received his certificate on 16 February, 1914 before falling ill on 17 April with an unspecified malady. While awaiting a resurvey on his condition, he was approved to travel abroad in May. Bush only returned to a state of fitness on 20 July, 1914 as the war rapidly approached. On 7 August, he was appointed to Doon.

Bush was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 30 November, 1914 and spent two weeks kicking around in Portsmouth before being appointed to the Acasta Class destroyer Spitfire as first lieutenant on 12 December, 1914. Within days of being appointed to the ship, but before joining her, Spitfire fought as one of seven Acasta class destroyers of the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla that saw action during the Scarborough Raid on 16 December 1914, acting as one of three destroyers in the second division.[3] Thus, Bush narrowly missed being part of the battle.[4]

Spitfire was again in action with the Fourth Destroyer Flotilla at the Battle of Dogger Bank on 24 January, 1915.

In late 1915 to early 1916, Bush was making sure that his desire to become a signals officer was noted. Despite the intensity of the war, his name was noted for the first Long Course in signals following the conclusion of hostilities.

Bush also fought in Spitfire at the Battle of Jutland and was wounded in action, though no hospitalisation is expressly recorded in his service record. On 1 July 1916, Bush was appointed to the new destroyer Offa, which was part of the Fourteenth Destroyer Flotilla, which was tasked with screening the Grand Fleet. He remained in her until being appointed in command of the P25 on 29 May, 1917.

Bush left P25 when he was appointed Lieutenant in Command of the destroyer Orcadia on 5 March, 1918.[5] On 13-14 March 1918, Bush attacked enemy submarines with "promptness, skill and good organisation" the Admiralty found worthy of their notice. Later in the year, Orcadia collided with T.B. 16 and Bush was found culpable in some manner, drawing the familiar admonishment that he was expected to exercise greater caution in future.


On 12 July 1919, Bush's D.S.O. for distinguished services during the war was gazetted. This award would be invested at Buckingham Palace on 11 December, 1919. In 1920, Bush traveled to Switzerland and underwent a War Staff course at Greenwich. In 1921, he traveled to Belgium. In March, he applied for an appointment in the Royal Australian Navy.

In July, 1921, Captain Drax wrote that Bush possessed "lots of common sense" and that he was "likely to make a sound & capable, tho' not brilliant staff offr." On 20 July, he was lent to the R.A.N., for two years of War Staff duties.

Bush was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 30 November, 1922. He married in 1923 and acquired a step-daughter before his own daughter was born. This first wife, however, died in 1930.[6][4]

Bush returned to the U.K. in September, 1923 but remained in R.A.N. service until he reverted to Royal Navy service on 15 February, 1924 and started for home again, by way of Marseilles.

Bush spent part of 1924 on the China Station. In 1925, he was appointed to Hawkins, additional, as Staff Officer, Operations. In August, 1926 he was superseded after returning home in Hawkins. After some unpaid time, Bush was appointed to Cornwall. Somehow, Bush wound up in possession of Cornwall's bell later in life, but sadly, this was subsequently sold from the family. He was discharged without relief on 11 May, 1928.[7][4]

After a year and a half in Devonport as Assistant to Drafting Commander, Bush spent some time on half pay before he was placed on the Retired List at his own request with the rank of Commander on 11 June, 1932. Apparently, he was re-married that same day, to Elma Rose Pomeroy Salmon.[8]

World War II

Bush's service in World War II was long deferred by an exemption in that he was working with the Port of Bristol Authority On 7 June, 1944, this exemption was lifted and Bush was appointed for temporary duty on the staff of the Flag Officer in Charge, Cardiff. This appointment was terminated on 14 October, 1944 and Bush reverted to the Retired List the following day.[9]

See Also

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Frederick A. P. Foster
Captain of H.M.S. P25
29 May, 1917[10] – 5 Mar, 1918[11]
Succeeded by
Edward S. R. Butlin
Preceded by
Godfrey R. Chambers
Captain of H.M.S. Orcadia
5 Mar, 1918[12] – 27 Sep, 1920[13]
Succeeded by


  1. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  2. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  3. Naval Operations. Volume II. pp. 26-30.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Email to Tone from his grandson, Alan Bush, 15 May, 2017.
  5. The Navy List. (February, 1919). p. 855.
  6. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  7. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  8. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  9. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  10. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 396e.
  11. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.
  12. The Navy List. (February, 1919). p. 855.
  13. Bush Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/54/87. f. 88.