Difference between revisions of "Reginald Hugh Spencer Bacon"

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Revision as of 14:28, 31 July 2012

Admiral Sir Reginald Bacon, portrayed as a Vice-Admiral.
Portrait: Francis Dodd, 1917.

Admiral SIR Reginald Hugh Spencer Bacon, K.C.B., K.C.V.O., D.S.O., Royal Navy, Retired (6 September, 1863 – 9 June, 1947) commanded the Dover Patrol from 1915-17 and embarked on a post-retirement career as a naval historian.

Early Life

Bacon was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant with seniority of 20 August, 1883.

Having entered the navy in 1878 Bacon chose to specialise in a variety of areas dealing with innovations: from ship design to electricity to submarines (he conducted the first Royal Navy trials) to mining.

He was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30 June, 1895.[1] He was thirty-one years, nine months and twenty-four days old at promotion. He later claimed that he was the youngest of the lieutenants promoted in that batch.[2] However, he was the second-youngest, after Arthur W. Waymouth.

For his services in Benin he was appointed a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O.) on 25 May, 1897.[3]

Captain

Bacon was promoted to the rank of Captain on 30 June, 1900.[4]

On 23 March, 1901, Bacon was appointed to President for "Special Service" at the Admiralty,[5] for, in his own words, "service with the submarine boats, on which work had already been commenced."[6] He served on the staff of the Controller, with an office at the Admiralty.[7]

He was appointed command of Dreadnought on 2 July, 1906.[8]

Bacon was appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (C.V.O.) on 3 August, 1907.[9]

Director of Naval Ordnance

In May, 1907, it was announced that Bacon would succeed Jellicoe as D.N.O.[10] He was appointed to the Admiralty for temporary service on 12 August, 1907, and became D.N.O. on 25 August.[11]

Rear-Admiral & Retirement

On 12 July, 1909, he was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral, vice Dare.[12] In accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 8 December, 1903, he was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 25 November.[13]

By the year of his resignation from the navy - 1909 - he had reached the rank of Rear-Admiral, and settled into an entirely appropriate civilian career as Managing Director of the Coventry Ordnance Works, having served his last two years as Director of Naval Ordnance.

Great War

The outbreak of war in August, 1914 brought Bacon's recall to active service and following a brief stint on the Western Front (using his own company's weaponry - a howitzer of his own design) as a Colonel, Second Commandant in the Royal Marine Artillery was handed command of the Dover Patrol the following April. He relinquished his temporary commission as Colonel, Second Commandant on 13 April, 1915.[14] On 15 July, 1915, he was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List.[15] Bacon's task was apparently simple: to prevent German U-boat access to the English Channel, and to facilitate the despatch of supplies, both men and materials, across to the Western Front in France.

On 1 January, 1916, he was appointed an Additional Member of the Second Class, or Knight Commander, in the Military Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (K.C.B.).[16] On 15 August he was appointed a Knight Commander in the Royal Victorian Order (K.C.V.O.) after the King visited the Army in France.[17]

The Chief of the Admiralty War Staff of the time, later Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff, Sir Henry F. Oliver, later recalled, "Bacon was most energetic and tireless, he slept in his Office and when anything happened at night in his command and I telephoned[,] the Secretary would tell me he had gone afloat. He had the most exacting and arduous command of and Flag Officer in the War[,] and was very badly treated at the end of it. Keyes intrigued against him and when Lord Westerwemyss [sic] became 1st Sea Lord[,] pushed him out and supplanted him."[18]

Bacon was promoted to the rank of Admiral on the Retired List on 1 September, 1918.[19]

Aftermath

In September, 1918 Bacon was made full Admiral; he retired six months later in the wake of the armistice. It was at this stage that Bacon determined to try his hand as a naval historian. Aside from his Dover Patrol memoir he also published biographies of controversial Admirals Fisher and Jellicoe (whose conduct at the Battle of Jutland Bacon resolutely supported; the former also happened to be a close friend).

Bacon died in 1947.

Assessment

In his 1946 memoirs, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry F. Oliver wrote that, "Bacon was about the ablest and cleverest Officer I have ever known."[20]

Footnotes

  1. London Gazette: no. 26647. p. 4233. 26 July, 1895.
  2. Bacon. From 1900 Onwards. p. 22.
  3. London Gazette: no. 26856. p. 2928. 25 May, 1897.
  4. London Gazette: no. 27211. p. 4433. 17 July, 1900.
  5. Bacon Service Record. ADM 196/42. f. 166.
  6. Bacon. From 1900 Onwards. p. 50.
  7. Ibid. f. 54.
  8. John Roberts. The Battleship Dreadnought. p. 18.
  9. London Gazette: no. 28048. p. 5390. 6 August, 1907.
  10. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Thursday, 30 May, 1907. Issue 38346, col F, pg. 5.
  11. Bacon Service Record. ADM 196/42. f. 262.
  12. London Gazette: no. 28271. p. 5463. 16 July, 1909.
  13. London Gazette: no. 28313. p. 9123. 30 November, 1909.
  14. London Gazette: no. 29136. p. 3828. 20 April, 1915.
  15. London Gazette: no. 29236. p. 7073. 20 July, 1915.
  16. London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29423. p. 80. 31 December, 1915.
  17. London Gazette: no. 29711. p. 8149. 18 August, 1916.
  18. Oliver Memoirs. II. pp. 170-171.
  19. London Gazette: no. 30887. p. 10549. 6 September, 1918.
  20. Oliver. II. f. 33.

Bibliography

  • Bacon, Admiral Sir Reginald (1925). A Naval Scrapbook: First Part, 1877–1900. London: Hutchinson & Co..
  • Bacon, Admiral Sir Reginald (1940). From 1900 Onward. London: Hutchinson & Co..

Service Records

Naval Appointments
Preceded by
Sir John R. Jellicoe
Director of Naval Ordnance and Torpedoes
1907 – 1909
Succeeded by
A. Gordon H. W. Moore
Preceded by
The Hon. Horace L. A. Hood
Vice-Admiral Commanding, Dover Patrol
1915 – 1918
Succeeded by
Roger J. B. Keyes