Admiral of Patrols

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Rear-Admiral John M. de Robeck was appointed Admiral of Patrols on 8 April, 1912.

The Patrol Flotillas

On 1 May, 1912 de Robeck hoisted his flag in the St. George at Harwich upon taking command of the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Destroyer Flotillas, formerly the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Flotillas of the Third and Fourth Divisions of the Home Fleet.[1] It was publicly announced on 16 April that the office of the Admiral of Patrols would be at the Admiralty.[2]

In the words of de Robeck's assistant, Captain (later Admiral Sir) Walter H. Cowan:

We had an old Cruiser for Flagship[,] 'St. George' … but we were very seldom in her except when John de Robeck wanted to give a dinner-party. We soon learnt to combine business with pleasure - we were both very fond of playing golf and hunting the FOX.[3]

Admirals of Patrols

Assistants to Admiral of Patrols

The Auxiliary Patrols

Before the war, it had been planned to have a number of trawlers for anti-submarine and minesweeping work, but the number of craft immediately available amounted to just fourteen vessels. To increase the size of the force quickly, it was decided that private vessels should be requisitioned.[11]

In 1914, the Board of Admiralty ordered the Admiralty War Staff to devise, in Dr. Nicholas Lambert's words, a "different organisation" for the patrol flotillas on the East Coast of Great Britain. The First Sea Lord, Prince Louis of Battenberg, directed that the doctrine of patrol was to be replaced by that of coast defence. The War Staff contemplated the use of fifty aeroplanes, equipped with W/T equipment, capable of searching up to one hundred miles distant from their bases. Rear-Admiral de Robeck was replaced by the architect of the new doctrine, Captain George A. Ballard.[12] Ballard assumed the duties of Admiral of Patrols on 1 May, 1914, with the rank of Commodore, First Class.[13]

On 20 December, 1914 new patrol areas were establishing encompassing all of the coastal waters of the UK. There were 21 to 23 of these areas, depending on source or definition, all under the Admiral of Patrols. They included trawlers, drifters, etc. as well as destroyers. By about August 1915, these patrols became known as the Auxiliary Patrols.[14][15]

Drifters joined the effort in 1915, and primarily worked with maintaining net barrages. In 1916, Admiralty trawlers and drifters were being built to specification and yachts and motor launches were being purchased. In the last year of the war, American Sub Chasers arrived in great numbers, greatly increasing overall strength. By the end of the war, the total number of auxiliary patrol craft in commission had mushroomed to approximately 3,100.[16]

Auxiliary Patrol Areas near Britain

Patrol Areas near Britain

Each Patrol Area was provided with a shore base and a Senior Naval Officer who was either a flag officer or a captain of the Royal Navy, though the patrol vessels were under officers of the Royal Naval Reserve or the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. The larger areas might have ancillary bases with a Commander. The bases were not entirely static in definition, and lines were occasionally redrawn as circumstances warranted.[17]

Auxiliary Patrol Area I (Hebrides and the Minch, based at Loch Ewe and Stornoway)

Auxiliary Patrol Area II (Shetlands, base at Longhope)

Auxiliary Patrol Area III (the Orkneys, base at Longhope)

Auxiliary Patrol Area IV (Moray Firth, base at Cromarty)

Auxiliary Patrol Area V (off Rattray Head, base at Peterhead)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VI (Forth to Rattray Head, base at Rosyth)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VII (Seaward of the Forth, base at Granton)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VIII (the Tyne, based at Tyne)

Auxiliary Patrol Area IX (Humber, based at Grimsby)

Auxiliary Patrol Area X (off East Anglian coast, bases in Yarmouth and Harwich)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XI (Dover Straits, based in Dover)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XII (East Channel, based in Portsmouth with sub-bases at Newhaven and possibly Poole[21])

Auxiliary Patrol Area XIII (Mid-Channel, based at Portland)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XIV (Western Approach, based in Devonport) This area had sub-bases at Plymouth, Penzance and Scilly Islands.[24]

Auxiliary Patrol Area XV (St. George's and Bristol Channel, based at Milford with sub-base at Rosslare)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XVI (Irish Channel, based at Liverpool, Kingstown and Belfast)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XVII (North Coast of Ireland, based at Lough Larne)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XVIII (North-west Coast of Ireland, based at Lough Swilly)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XIX (West Coast of Ireland, based at Blacksod Bay)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XX (West Coast of Ireland, based at Galway Bay)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XXI (South and South-west Coast of Ireland, based at Queenstown with a sub-base at Berehaven)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XXII (Eastern Irish Sea, west of the Mersey based at Holyhead)

Nore Auxiliary Patrol Area (mouth of the Nore, east of London)

Harwich Auxiliary Patrol Area (off Harwich, just north of Nore area above)

Bristol Auxiliary Patrol Area (in Bristol Channel)

Mersey Auxiliary Patrol Area (off mouth of Mersey, east of Area XXII)

Clyde Auxiliary Patrol Area (mouth of Clyde)

Auxiliary Patrol Areas in Mediterranean

Mediterranean Patrol Areas

The Mediterranean Patrol Areas were variously under British, French and Italian control and were (vexingly) also designated by Roman numerals, but it is possible that they had national suffices as shown in the figure above. We will assume this is the case for purposes of clarity.

Auxiliary Patrol Area I.Br (all Mediterranean west of Oran, including Gibraltar)

Auxiliary Patrol Area II.Fr (east of Oran, west of Sardinia and Corsica)

Auxiliary Patrol Area III.It (Tyrrhenian Sea)

Auxiliary Patrol Area IV.Fr (eastern coast of Tunisia)

Auxiliary Patrol Area V.Br (central Mediterranean, South of Sicily)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VI.It (Adriatic and "insole" of Italy)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VII.Fr (Southwest of Greece)

Auxiliary Patrol Area VIII.Br (between Greece and Turkey, encompassing Dardanelles)

Auxiliary Patrol Area IX.Fr (Eastern Mediterranean)

Auxiliary Patrol Area X.Br (Central Mediterranean south of Crete, including Egyptian coast)

Auxiliary Patrol Area XI.It (Gulf of Sidra)

Footnotes

  1. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Wednesday, 17 April, 1912. Issue 39875, col A, p. 17.
  2. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Tuesday, 16 April, 1912. Issue 39874, col C, p. 4.
  3. Cowan Memoirs. f. 252.
  4. de Robeck Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 128.
  5. de Robeck Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 128.
  6. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Friday, 1 May, 1914. Issue 40512, col B, p. 6.
  7. Cowan Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 249.
  8. Cowan Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 249.
  9. Lowther-Crofton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/316. f.347.
  10. Lowther-Crofton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/316. f.347.
  11. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 1, Part 7. p. 5.
  12. Lambert. Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution. p. 286.
  13. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Friday, 1 May, 1914. Issue 40512, col B, p. 6.
  14. Naval Operations. Volume II. pp. 18-9, 133-4.
  15. Thanks to Keith Allen for contributing to this section.
  16. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 1, Part 7. p. 9.
  17. The Technical History and Index, Vol. 1, Part 7. pp. 9-10.
  18. Dicks Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 145.
  19. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (December, 1918). p. 8.
  20. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1918). p. 3.
  21. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1916). p. 18.
  22. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (November, 1918). p. 2.
  23. Bernard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/88. f. 121.
  24. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (January, 1916). p. 18.
  25. Phillimore Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/511. f. 511.
  26. Phillimore Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43/511. f. 511.
  27. Luard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 313.
  28. Luard Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 313.
  29. Wilkin Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 175.
  30. Chatterton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 170.
  31. Chatterton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 170.
  32. Barlow Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 31.
  33. Barlow Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 31.
  34. Cuming Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 280.
  35. Cuming Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/38. f. 280.
  36. Carpendale Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 443.
  37. Carpendale Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 443.
  38. Chatterton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 170.
  39. Chatterton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 170.
  40. Hardy Service Record The National Archives. ADM 196/44/316. f. 355.
  41. Hardy Service Record The National Archives. ADM 196/44/316. f. 355.
  42. Wrightson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/101. f. 112.
  43. Wrightson Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/101. f. 112.
  44. Raby Service Record. The National Archives. 196/43. f. 51.
  45. Supplement to the Monthly Navy List. (June, 1916). p. 9.
  46. The London Gazette: no. 30008. p. 3206. 3 April, 1917.
  47. Da Costa Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 266.

Bibliography

  • Lambert, Nicholas A. (1999). Sir John Fisher's Naval Revolution. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1570032777.