Brian Egerton

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Rear-Admiral Brian Egerton (14 March 1886 – 1973) was an officer of the Royal Navy. A naval engineer by training, in retirement Egerton also became interested in science, mathematics and astrophysics.[1]

Early Life & Career

Egerton was born on 14 March 1886 in Gosport, Hampshire.[2] His father was George Le Clerc Egerton (1852 – 1940), then a naval Lieutenant who would later rise to the rank of Admiral, and his mother was Frances Emily Gladstone (c. 1888 – 5 January 1926).[3] Egerton had one older brother, William Markham Le Clerc Egerton (28 October 1883 – 29 May 1969) and a younger sister, Dorothy Egerton (18 July 1887 – ?).[4] All three children were born in Gosport, Hampshire and all three would have naval connections - Brian and his brother William both joined the Navy as officers and Egerton's only sister Dorothy married naval officer Philip Wylie Dumas on 24 January 1911.[5]

Egerton was nominated as a Naval Cadet and was called for examination on 10 July 1900.[6] Egerton achieved the top marks (3206) by far of the sixty-three boys accepted for cadetships in the Royal Navy and on 15 September 1900 he began his naval cadetship.[6][7] His earliest evaluation from Captain Bradford commended him for his "good French" and "fair draughting".

On 15 March 1905, Egerton was appointed acting Sub-Lieutenant[8][9] and promoted to Sub-Lieutenant on 23 August 1906.[9] On 4 September, he was appointed to join the newly-launched H.M.S. Hindustan, initially serving under Captain Stanley Cecil James Colville.[9]

On the 14 October 1906, Engineer Lieutenant W. H. Cleghorn of Hindustan got into difficulty while bathing in Lagos Bay, Portugal; Egerton swam out, and at great risk, succeeded in bringing him to land after a struggle lasting twenty minutes.[9]

Egerton was awarded the inaugural Ronald Megaw Memorial Prize for 1906-07, being the Sub-Lieutenant who obtained the highest place during the preceding year in the various examinations prescribed for Officers qualifying for the rank of Lieutenant.

Lieutenant

Egerton was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 8 March 1907.[9] On 12 December 1911 Egerton was amongst eighteen officers and men injured when an explosion occurred on H.M.S. Orion, then at Portsmouth.[10] In January 1913, Egerton was thanked for his role in the successful tests of the Argo Range Clock in Orion.[11]

From 1 August, 1914 Egerton served as torpedo officer and first Lieutenant-Commander of the cruiser H.M.S. Euryalus, flagship of Rear-Admiral Wemyss.[12][13] Between March 1915 until June 1917 Egerton served as torpedo officer and first Lieutenant-Commander of the battleship Valiant and served on her during the Battle of Jutland.[13]

In June 1917, Egerton was promoted to the rank of Commander and was appointed to the newly-established Department of Torpedo and Mining, where he would serve on naval staff under Jellicoe.[13][14]

Between 1919 and 1921, Egerton served on the staff of H.M.S. Vernon, the Torpedo, Mining and Electrical Training Establishment, and was also in command of their tender Vesuvius.[13] Between 1921 and August 1923, Egerton served two years as squadron torpedo officer on the flagship Coventry, commanding the Destroyer Flotillas of the Atlantic Fleet.[15][13] Between August and December 1923, Egerton returned to H.M.S. Vernon, the Torpedo, Mining and Electrical Training Establishment.[15]

Captain

Egerton was appointed to the rank of Captain in the New Years List on 31 December 1923 and was appointed to the Naval Staff College, Greenwich ( H.M.S. President).[16] Between 15 July 1924 and January 1925 Egerton served as Assistant Director of the institution, in succession to Captain C. E. Turle.[17] Between 1925 and 1926, he was promoted to Director.[18]

On 3 January 1927, Egerton was appointed Commanding Officer, H.M.S. Calypso, part of the Third Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean.[19] In June Calypso sailed to Chatham Dock where she was refitted and was recommissioned in August before returning to the Mediterranean.[20]In December Egerton relinquished command of Calypso and on 28 December 1928 he returned to the Admiralty.[13]

On 8 January 1928, Egerton returned to the Department of Torpedoes and Mining, in which he had served during wartime, but this time as Director and would remain in the role for three years until December 1931.[13][1]

In December 1931, Egerton was appointed to command the cruiser H.M.S. Cumberland then serving in China.[21] In August 1932 Cumberland was due for recommissioning and she returned from China between November and December 1932.[22] In February 1933, Egerton was relieved of the command of the Cumberland and in May was appointed Commander of the newly-recommissioned aircraft carrier Courageous and was also made Chief Staff Officer of R.G.H. Henderson.[23] Courageous would serve in the Home Fleet and as flagship of the Rear Admiral Commanding Aircraft Carriers.[23]

On 24 September 1933, Courageous was grounded off Great Yarmouth and stranded leading to Egerton and his navigation officer, Lieutenant-Commander Geoffrey Fleming Dixon, being called to court-martial in Portsmouth in early November.[24][25] Egerton was charged: "(1) with negligently or by default stranding his ship on September 24 last, (2) with hazarding his ship negligently or by default on the same date."[25] Egerton pleaded not guilty but it was found the charges were proved and it was ordered that Egerton be be "severely reprimanded."[25] As Egerton was not found guilty (although he was not found 'not guilty' either), he was allowed to remain on in his current role and in February, Courageous sailed for Gibraltar with Egerton in command.[26] In May 1934, Egerton was relieved of the command of Courageous after a year of serving in the role.[27]

Later Career and Retirement

Between 21 July and 17 September 1935, Egerton was appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George V.[1][9] In serving as a Naval Aide-de-Camp, Egerton was following in his father's footsteps who was appointed to this role to King Edward VII on 8 December, 1903.[28] On 17 September 1935 Egerton was appointed to the rank of Rear-Admiral and on the following day, 18 September 1935, Egerton was placed on the retirement list after a long, distinguished, and eventful career of just over thirty-five years in naval service.[9]

In 1938 Egerton held the office of Justice of the Peace (J.P.) for Hampshire.[29]

World War Two

In November 1939 and shortly after the outbreak of war, Egerton was reactived from retirement and was recalled to the Navy in order to command Vernon, where he had previously served in 1923.[1][9] He would serve in this role until about February 1943. Between June 1943 and June 1944, he was appointed to the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, H.M.S. Victory, the naval base at Portsmouth.[9] Around 1944 or 1945, he again retired.[9]

Later Life

In his second retirement, Egerton became interested in matters of science, mathematics and astrophysics.[1] His surviving papers from this time dealt with work on mathematical problems, especially those involved in artificial satellites and space exploration. Edgerton appears to have planned several popular textbooks on these subjects, though none were completed.

Egerton died in 1973 at the age of 87.

Service Records

Papers

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
John F. Finlayson
Captain of H.M.S. Calypso
3 Jan, 1927[30][31] – 22 Oct, 1923[32]
Succeeded by
Guy L. Coleridge
Preceded by
Arthur H. Walker
Director of Torpedoes and Mining
Dec, 1928[33]
Succeeded by
Henry R. Sawbridge
Preceded by
Thomas B. Drew
Captain of H.M.S. Cumberland
9 Dec, 1931[34][35] – Feb, 1933[36]
Succeeded by
Cyril H. G. Benson
Preceded by
Frank Elliott
Captain of H.M.S. Courageous
2 May, 1933[37][38] – May, 1934
Succeeded by
Maitland W. S. Boucher
Preceded by
Denis W. Boyd
Captain of H.M.S. Vernon
Nov, 1939[39] – 4 Jun, 1943
Succeeded by
Harold E. Morse

Footnotes

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 National Archives. Papers of Rear Admiral Brian Egerton (1886 - 1973)
  2. Robarts, Stepney. Ancestors of Rear Admiral Brian Egerton, Citing 1891 Census.
  3. Robarts, Stepney. Admiral Sir George Le Clerc Egerton.
  4. The Peerage. Admiral Sir George le Clerc Egerton
  5. The Peerage. Dorothy Egerton
  6. 6.0 6.1 The Standard (London, England), Saturday, August 11, 1900; pg. 7; Issue 23752.
  7. The National Archives. ADM 196/143/614.
  8. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/46. f. 194.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Houterman, J.N. Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 - E.
  10. Explosion at the Orion. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Dec 13, 1911; pg. 7; Issue 39767.
  11. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/46. f. 194.
  12. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/46. f. 194.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 Naval And Military. The Times (London, England), Friday, Dec 28, 1928; pg. 14; Issue 45086.
  14. Jellicoe, John Rushworth. The Crisis of the Naval War. London; New York: Cassell , 1920, 309.
  15. 15.0 15.1 Naval And Military. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Dec 04, 1923; pg. 22; Issue 43515.
  16. Naval And Military. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Jun 17, 1924; pg. 7; Issue 43680.
  17. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Jul 15, 1924; pg. 20; Issue 43704.
  18. Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives Survey of the Papers of Senior UK Defence Personnel, 1900-1975. EGERTON, Brian (1886-1973), Rear Admiral.
  19. The Times (London, England), Monday, Jan 03, 1927; pg. 19; Issue 44469.
  20. The Times (London, England), Friday, Aug 12, 1927; pg. 8; Issue 44658.
  21. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Nov 28, 1931; pg. 7; Issue 45992.
  22. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Oct 19, 1932; pg. 9; Issue 46268.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Apr 18, 1933; pg. 6; Issue 46421.
  24. Stranding Of The Courageous. The Times (London, England), Friday, Nov 03, 1933; pg. 11; Issue 46592.
  25. 25.0 25.1 25.2 Stranding Of The Courageous. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Nov 04, 1933; pg. 7; Issue 46593.
  26. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Friday, Feb 16, 1934; pg. 25; Issue 46680.
  27. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Apr 21, 1934; pg. 6; Issue 46734.
  28. The London Gazette: no. 27632. p. 25. 1 January, 1904.
  29. The Peerage. Rear-Admiral Brian Egerton.
  30. The Navy List. (July, 1927). p. 221.
  31. The Times (London, England), Monday, Jan 03, 1927; pg. 19; Issue 44469.
  32. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/46. f. 194.
  33. National Archives. Papers of Rear Admiral Brian Egerton (1886 - 1973)
  34. The Navy List. (January, 1933). p. 227.
  35. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Saturday, Nov 28, 1931; pg. 7; Issue 45992.
  36. Royal Navy. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Apr 18, 1933; pg. 6; Issue 46421.
  37. The Navy List. (July, 1934). p. 225.
  38. Egerton Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/50/46. f. 194.
  39. National Archives. Papers of Rear Admiral Brian Egerton (1886 - 1973)