Cecil Vivian Usborne

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Vice-Admiral Cecil Vivian Usborne, C.B.C.M.G., Royal Navy (17 May, 1880 – 31 January, 1951) was an officer of the Royal Navy. A distinguished gunnery officer, he mixed gunnery appointments with active service afloat, before becoming Director of Naval Intelligence in 1930. His career was brought to a premature end as a result of the Invergordon Mutiny of 1931.

Early Life & Career

At Britannia, Usborne won prizes in Seamanship, Signalling, and French. In the final examination in Mathematics, Seamanship, and other subjects, he obtained 2,199 marks out of 2,500, coming fourth in his term.[1]

Usborne was awarded the Ryder Memorial Prize for 1899 for placing highest in the examination in French at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 15 January, 1900, Usborne was appointed to Excellent on 30 September, 1902 to qualify in gunnery. His first stint as a gunnery officer was in the Hood from 3 January, 1905 to 24 June, 1905 when he was sent to New Zealand. He remained in New Zealand until she paid off on 17 June, 1907. He then went to France for one month to study the language.[2]

He was appointed to Excellent as a Lieutenant (G) on 2 September, 1907, and to President, additional, for duty with the Inspector of Target Practice, dated 1 September.[3] He was appointed gunnery officer of the new dreadnought battleship Bellerophon on 20 February, 1909.[4] Before leaving Bellerophon, Usborne's gunners tied for first with Dreadnought's at a prize firing, scoring 18 hits out of 40 rounds fired at long range.[5]

He was thanked for his service in developing a deflection calculator for 12-in guns about this time, though it was decided that it would not be adopted for service.[6]

On 16 February, 1911, Usborne was appointed to President, additional, for the Naval Ordnance Department as Assistant to D.N.O.[7] He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1912.[8] As an Assistant to D.N.O., from December, 1911, Usborne was responsible for:

  1. Fire control and communications.
  2. Range-finders and plotting.
  3. Sights.
  4. Calibration.
  5. Ballistic questions and range tables.
  6. Alterations and additions, including estimates.
  7. Attends gun trials.[9]

On 1 September, 1913, Usborne left the Naval Ordnance Department and was appointed Commander (Second-in-Command) of the dreadnought battleship Colossus.[10]

Usborne was noted for contributing several important inventions, including a fall of shot indicator helpful in keeping spotters from confusing other ships' shotfall for their own, and accelerating gear to help make gun sights with non-uniform range dials compatible with F.T.P. range and deflection receivers. He was also helpful, by his own competitive invention, in honing Lieutenant Charles D. Burney's work on the paravane.

Great War

Usborne was appointed in command of the minelayer Latona on 18 September, 1916.[11] He was reappointed to her on 1 February, 1917,[12] and was promoted to the rank of Captain on 30 June.[13] After spells as Senior Naval Officer at Salonika and Corfu, in 1918-1919 he commanded the Naval Brigade on the river Danube. In the King's Birthday Honours of 3 June, 1918, Usborne was appointed an Additional Member of the Third Class, or Companion, of the Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George (C.M.G.).[14]

Post-War

On 15 January, 1919, Usborne was appointed Assistant Director of Naval Ordnance.[15]

He commanded Malaya in 1927 and 1928.[16]

Usborne was appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George V on 5 April, 1928, vice Campbell.[17]

In the King's Birthday Honours of 3 June, 1930, Usborne was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.).[18]

Invergordon & Retirement

At a meeting of the Sea Lords of the Board of Admiralty on 1 January, 1932, in the wake of the Invergordon Mutiny, it was minuted that:

The Sea Lords decided that Rear Admiral Usborne was not to have an extension of his appointment as D.N.I.[19]

Usborne was promoted to the rank of Vice-Admiral on 3 January, 1933, vice Hallett, and was placed on the Retired List on 4 January.[20]

World War II

Usborne was appointed as Naval Adviser to First Sea Lord on the U-Boat Question on 19 November, 1941. On 12 December, 1942 he was made Naval Assistant to A.C.N.S.[21], serving in the rank of Rear-Admiral. He was discharged from this post on 1 December, 1944.[22]

Retirement

The British Broadcasting Corporation journalist John Simpson made the preposterous assertion that Usborne "had spent all his adult life in the Navy, and had probably never spoken to a journalist."[23] Given that as D.N.I. Usborne was responsible for naval public affairs Simpson's claim is remarkably ignorant.

See Also

Bibliography

  • "Vice-Adml. Usborne" (Obituaries). The Times. Thursday, 1 February, 1951. Issue 51914, col E, p. 8.
  • Usborne, Vice-Admiral C. V., C.B., C.M.G. (Cheap Edition, 1938). Blast and Counterblast: A Naval Impression of the War. London: John Murray.

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Wilmot S. Nicholson
Captain of H.M. T.B. 77
3 Jul, 1900[24] – 1 Oct, 1900[25]
Succeeded by
Frederick W. Long
Preceded by
Forster D. Arnold-Forster
Captain of H.M.S. Latona
18 Sep, 1916[26][27] – 5 Oct, 1918[28]
Succeeded by
Arthur F. Powell
Preceded by
Joseph C. W. Henley
Assistant Director of Naval Ordnance
15 Jan, 1919[29] – 25 May, 1921[30]
Succeeded by
Julian F. C. Patterson
Preceded by
Otto H. Hawke-Genn
Captain of H.M.S. Dragon
15 Jun, 1921[31] – 15 Aug, 1922[32]
Succeeded by
Bernard W. M. Fairbairn
Preceded by
Hubert E. Dannreuther
Vice-President of the Chemical Warfare Committee
6 Aug, 1923[33] – 1 Jan, 1925[34]
Succeeded by
Wilfred F. French
Preceded by
Edward A. Astley-Rushton
Captain of H.M.S. Malaya
28 Feb, 1927[35] – 15 Nov, 1927[36]
Succeeded by
Nicholas E. Archdale
Preceded by
Francis A. Marten
Captain of H.M.S. Resolution
15 Nov, 1927[37] – May, 1928[38]
Succeeded by
Roger L'E. M. Rede
Preceded by
Barry E. Domvile
Director of Naval Intelligence
15 Aug, 1930[39] – 15 Aug, 1932[40]
Succeeded by
Gerald C. Dickens

Footnotes

  1. "The Britannia" (News). The Times. Thursday, 19 December, 1895. Issue 34764, col B, p. 10.
  2. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  3. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 29 August, 1907. Issue 38424, col C, p. 4.
  4. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Friday, 12 February, 1909. Issue 38881, col B, p. 9.
  5. Usborne, p. 12.
  6. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  7. "Naval Appointments" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 23 January, 1911. Issue 39489, col C, p. 6.
  8. The London Gazette: no. 28623. p. 4748. 2 July, 1912.
  9. Brooks. p. 64. Date of becoming responsible for fire control from p. 160.
  10. The Navy List. (December, 1914). p. 293.
  11. The Navy List. (December, 1916). p. 395tt.
  12. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 395.
  13. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 77.
  14. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 30723. p. 6530. 3 June, 1918.
  15. "Naval Appointments" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 3 February, 1919. Issue 42014, col F, p. 16.
  16. Mackie, Colin. ROYAL NAVY WARSHIPS.
  17. The London Gazette: no. 33376. p. 2741. 17 April, 1928.
  18. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 33611. p. 3475. 3 June, 1918.
  19. "Minutes of Meeting Held by Sea Lords on Friday, 1st January." The National Archives. ADM 178/129. f. 6.
  20. The London Gazette: no. 33900. p. 127. 6 January, 1933.
  21. What does this acronym mean?
  22. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  23. Simpson. Unreliable Sources. p. 310.
  24. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  25. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  26. The Navy List. (December, 1916). p. 395tt.
  27. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  28. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  29. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  30. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  31. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  32. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  33. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  34. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  35. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  36. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  37. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  38. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  39. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.
  40. Usborne Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/45/115. f. 118.