John Saumarez Dumaresq

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Rear-Admiral John S. Dumaresq, C.B., C.V.O.
Photo: Australian War Memorial.

Rear-Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq, C.B., C.V.O., Royal Navy (26 October, 1873 – 22 July, 1922) was an officer of the Royal Navy who made an important contribution to the field of long-range naval gunnery with the invention of the Dumaresq. He was the first Australian-born officer to command the Australian Fleet.

Early Life & Career

Dumaresq was confirmed in the rank of Sub-Lieutenant dated 26 October, 1892.[1]

Dumaresq was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1904.[2]

Following King Edward VII's visit to Russia, Dumaresq was appointed a Member of the Fourth Class of the Royal Victorian Order (M.V.O.) on 10 June, 1908.[3]

He was appointed to command the battleship Prince of Wales on 18 November, 1912.[4]

Great War

At the outbreak of war, he was in flag captain to Rear-Admiral Gough-Calthorpe in Shannon, operating with the Second Cruiser Squadron.[5]

On 15 September 1916 he was appointed an Additional Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) dated 31 May.[6]


Dumaresq remained in command of Sydney until 22 February, 1919 when he became Commodore commanding His Majesty's Australian Fleet, with the rank of Commodore, First Class, dated 22 March.[7] On 15 June, 1921 he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral,[8] becoming the first Australian-born officer to attain that rank, and to command the Royal Australian Fleet.

By the early 1920s, cutbacks in defence spending led Dumaresq into conflict with senior political figures as he sought to ensure that the Navy was properly resourced. He returned to the Royal Navy on 29 April, 1922, thus ending his service with the R.A.N. Dumaresq's final gesture, criticising Australia's apathy towards defence spending, suggests something of his willingness to publicly state his views on matters of national importance. Some regarded him as a strict disciplinarian but he was widely respected, shy of publicity, and has been credited with introducing an esprit de corps into the Navy that the young service had been lacking.

Having raised a stir, on the way to Japan, Dumaresq fell seriously ill in the Philippines with pneumonia.[9] He died in Manila on 22 July of septic pneumonia.[10] The funeral service was held in the Episcopal Cathedral, and he was buried in the British cemetery at San Pedro Macati. His coffin was escorted by a contingent of 1,200 infantry, and a thirteen gun salute was rendered at the cemetery.[11]

See Also


  1. London Gazette: no. 26508. p. 2510. 1 May, 1894.
  2. London Gazette: no. 27691. p. 4182. 1 July, 1904.
  3. London Gazette: no. 28148. p. 4404. 16 June, 1908.
  4. Dumaresq Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 340.
  5. Corbett. Naval Operations, Volume I. p. 439.
  6. London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29751. p. 9070. 15 September, 1916.
  7. "End of Grand Fleet" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 3 April, 1919. Issue 42065, col D, pg. 13.
  8. London Gazette: no. 32384. p. 5486. 8 July, 1921.
  9. "News in Brief" (News in Brief). The Times. Wednesday, 17 May, 1922. Issue 43033, col D, pg. 9.
  10. "Deaths" (Deaths). The Times. Monday, 24 July, 1922. Issue 43091, col A, pg. 1.
  11. "Death of Admiral Dumaresq" (Obituaries). The Times. Monday, 24 July, 1922. Issue 43091, col E, pg. 14.


Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Sir Lionel Halsey
Rear-Admiral Commanding H.M. Australian Fleet
1919 – 1922
Succeeded by
Albert P. Addison