James Cecil Skinner Hughes

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Lieutenant-Commander (retired) James Cecil Skinner Hughes, R.N. (21 June, 1876 – 21 October, 1943) served in the Royal Navy. His service record is a work of art, as he was found by many to be a scurrilous sort.

Life & Career

Born in Richmond, Surrey, Hughes gained eight months' seniority on passing out of Britannia as a Naval Cadet in July, 1892. His first appointment, in the armoured cruiser Immortalité in the Mediterranean lasted eight months and did not arouse displeasure. He then went to her station-mate Hood for a further eighteen months.

Hughes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in December 1898 while serving in the second class protected cruiser Astræa in the Mediterranean.

In March 1903, the Navy noted that Hughes had exhibited discreditable conduct in failing to settle betting debts in Bombay. He was censured and removed from command of T.B. 104.

On 5 September 1904, he left Haulbowline Hospital without leave in disobedience of the Rear-Admiral's orders and forwarded an unsatisfactory medical certificate and explanation. He was superseded in Mars and incurred severe displeasure.

Hughes was sent to China, first to the armoured cruiser Sutlej where he received an unfavourable report stating that he "lacks zeal & proper sense of responsibility." His performance was subjected to quarterly reports. He was placed in command of Virago in December, 1905 and promptly grounded her at Hong Kong through an error in judgement. Despite this, Captain Charlton reported that Hughes handled the destroyer well and that complaints that had followed him from his previous appointment in Sutlej had been lightened in that he had made good on debts to the mess and the canteen fund.

Hughes was appointed to command Fame on 20 March 1906 but on 1 November, Hughes was superseded there for "absenting himself from the ship after hoisting typhoon signal and for generally showing want of appreciation of his responsibilities."

While serving in the first class protected cruiser Diadem in December 1906, Hughes was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. By 1907, he continued to receive generally acceptable reports on his performance, and was reported to have made good on debts outstanding at the Astor House Hotel and the Kowloon Hotel. In June, 1907, he left Diadem and went on half-pay at his own request. Later that month, he joined Charybdis and swiftly gave the messman a bad checque. He was to be subjected to a Court Martial in the matter, but opted to be placed on the Retired List on 31 August, 1907.

In 1912, he requested re-instatement to the Active List and was refused. He did, however, serve during the war, reporting to Crescent for "war service" on 1 August, but being sent home sick on the 4th, reportedly "permanently unfit for service owing to deformed right foot." In November, Hughes was considered for a post training newly-entered Air Service Mechanics, but this was cancelled and he was appointed to Ariadne on the 18th of November, and then to Diadem on 31 December, 1914.

Hughes lasted one year in Diadem. He resigned his commission on 14 December, 1915 to avoid a Court Martial for "disgraceful behaviour in Diadem on 8/11/15". Almost surely related to this is a notation that Hughes received the severe displeasure of the Commander-in-Chief, Portland for "using most improper language to a police officer."

See Also

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
George A. Rooke
Captain of H.M. T.B. 100
6 May, 1901[1] – 20 Jan, 1903[2]
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Captain of H.M. T.B. 104
20 Jan, 1903[3] – 11 Mar, 1903[4]
Succeeded by
Thomas F. Britton
Preceded by
Ernest Stevenson
Captain of H.M.S. Fame
20 Mar, 1906[5][6] – 1 Nov, 1906[7]
Succeeded by
Arthur L. Gresson


  1. The Navy List. (May, 1902). p. 276.
  2. Skinner Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/244. f. 276.
  3. Hughes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/244 f. 276.
  4. Hughes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/244 f. 276.
  5. The Navy List. (June, 1906). p. 313-15.
  6. Hughes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/244 f. 276.
  7. Hughes Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/44/244 f. 276.