Admiral Lord Fisher - Hon. Colonel, 1st Royal Naval Brigade, Royal Naval Division, WWI (First Great European War) 1914
Who Did The German High Command Fear Most Pre- the Great War?
Three Englishmen in particular compelled the admiration, grudging respect, and ultimate fearfulness, of the leaders of pre-1914 Germany :
- Sir Edward Grey,
- Earl Kitchener, and
- Baron Fisher of "Kilverstone".
And, for many, no matter their point of view, the greatest of these was probably Fisher.
In 1911, on reaching the age-limit of seventy, he hauled down his flag on the 'Victory', and retired. A well-known public figure of the time declared:
"It is almost as if Nelson had stepped down from his monument in Trafalgar Square."
On October 30th, 1914, Prince Louis of Battenberg retired. It was then that Lord Fisher returned to the Admiralty. The men and women of the British Isles again felt that, to use his own words of 1907, they could "… sleep quietly in their beds."
Royal Navy 1811-1914
Battle of the Falkland Islands
Lord Fisher's Link with Nelson
Lord Fisher's life-story is full of romance and stirring interest.
- 1841 - January 25th - John Arbuthnot Fisher was born in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).
His father, Captain William Fisher, once of the 78th Highlanders, had taken up the life of a coffee planter on his retirement. Sophia, his mother, was daughter of Mr. A. Lamb..
- 1854 - Fisher entered his teens and the Royal Navy at the same time. He was the last midshipman to be received into the Senior Service by Admiral Sir William Parker, the last of Nelson's sea-captains.
He was nominated for this distinction by one of Nelson's nieces. The introduction took place on board the famous 'Victory', at Portsmouth.
Battle Of Falkland, Part 2
Lord Fisher's Career
Lord Fisher's so-called "revolutionary" policy found its roots from the Nelson tradition, that is to say, Mahan's dictum that:
"Nelson's far-distant, storm-beaten ships, upon which the Grand Army never looked, stood between it and the dominion of the world,"
was one of his favourite quotations. In addition, his homes in East Anglia and Surrey were, in a way, a further link with that great predecessor.
Lord Fisher's early days in the Navy were passed in the Baltic and the Black Sea during the Crimean War.
- 1851 - he became lieutenant.
- 1851-1860 - he took part in the China War, being present at the capture of Canton and the Peiho Forts.
- 1866 - he married Frances Katharine Josepha, daughter of the late Rev. T. Delves Broughton.
- 1869 - promoted commander. He joined the 'Ocean', on the China station.
- 1874 - he became post-captain
- 1876 - he was appointed to the 'Hercules' in the Mediterranean.
- 1877 - also in the 'Hercules', he served as commander-in-chief of a Particular Service Squadron.
What was a 'Particular Service Squadron'?
The 'Particular Service Squadron' was a British Royal Navy squadron, raised on January 14th, 1896, on the possibility of war with the German Empire, following the infamous telegram of German Emperor Wilhelm II..
It was renamed the 'Flying Squadron'.
Battle of the Falklands, Part 3
There followed periods of service:
- on the 'Bellerophon' as flag-captain to Sir A. Cooper-Key on the North America and West Indies station,
- as commander of the 'Pallas', and
- as flag-captain to Vice-Admiral Sir Leopold McClintock, of Franklin Expedition fame.
He served on the:
- 1882 -
- 1883 - he becomes captain of the Gunnery School at Portsmouth, when his staff included Admiral Sir J. R. Jellicoe.
- 1886-1891 - he was Director of Naval Ordnance.
- 1890 - he received his appointment as rear-admiral.
- 1891 - he was Admiral Superintendent of Portsmouth Dockyard, when his flag was hoisted on the 'Asia'.
- 1892 - he went to Whitehall as Third Sea Lord, on the eve of the public agitation regarding the strength of the Navy.
- 1894 - he was made Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (K.C.B.)
- 1896 - he was promoted to the rank of vice-admiral.
- 1897-1899 - he was commander-in-chief on the North America and West Indies station.
Pre World War One Arms Race, 1909 - in German
Arms Race before World War One - in German
Achieving the Highest Prizes in his Profession
- 1899 - at the Hague Conference he was the British naval representative, as Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. It was the high efficiency of the British Mediterranean Fleet, initiated and carried through by Fisher, to which the world largely owed the preservation of European peace during the South African War.
Promotion followed rapidly on Lord Fisher's service in the Middle Sea.
- 1901 - he became full admiral.
- 1902 - he was Second Sea Lord.
- 1902 - he became Grand Cross of the Bath (G.C.B.)
- 1903 - he was Commander-in-Chief at Portsmouth.
- 1904 - with, Lord Esher and Sir George Clarke, he was on the 'Committee of Three', appointed to reorganise the War Office.
- 1904 - October 21st (Trafalgar Day) - Lord Fisher entered the Admiralty as First Sea Lord, when an Order in Council was issued materially increasing the duties of that office.
- 1905 - he became Admiral of the Fleet.
- 1905 - he was awarded the Order of Merit.
- 1908 - he received the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (G.C.V.O.)
- 1909 - he was raised to the peerage.
- 1909 - Mr. Reginald McKenna and all his colleagues on the Board of Admiralty - including Lord Fisher, Sir William May, and Sir John Jellicoe - resigned to secure eight 'Dreadnoughts' for the nation.
- 1911 - January 25th - he retired, but acted as chairman of the Royal Commission on Oil Fuel, and continued to sit on the Council of Imperial Defence.
- 1914 - September - he was appointed honorary colonel of the First Royal Naval Brigade, of the new Royal Naval Division.
On that occasion he sent the following telegram to Commodore Wilfred Henderson, the commander :
"Tell the First Royal Naval Brigade how very deeply I appreciate the privilege of being their honorary colonel. I am coming to see them immediately. Tell them to look forward to splendid duty both by sea and land. Our island history is full of glorious deeds of sailors' brigades in every war. Let us beat the record. A fight to the finish.” - FISHER.
Lord Fisher was:
- First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp (A.D.C.) to King Edward VII.,
- First and Principal Naval A.D.C. to King George V.,
- awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Legion of Honour,
- awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of Osmanieh,
- awarded the Order of St. Alexander Nevsky of Russia,
- awarded the Order of Charles III. of Spain; and
- conferred an honorary degrees by the University of Cambridge,
- conferred an honorary degrees by the University of Edinburgh, and
- conferred an honorary degrees by the University of Glasgow.
Battle of the Falklands, Part 4
Fisher's Supreme Services to his Country
Lord Fisher has gone down in history as the creator of the modern British Navy. He was the "father" of the 'Dreadnought' and 'super-Dreadnought', and the big battle-cruisers.
Within the British Fleet, he brought the study of four things:
- speed, and
up to a standard never before attained.
From the outset he was a devoted student of all things affecting his profession. Within two months of his appointment as First Sea Lord he revolutionised the whole distribution of the British Fleet, up until then one of the most conservative professions in the world .
During the Boer War he installed wireless in "the imperial conning-tower" at Whitehall. He also perfected a system of intelligence by which the Lords of the Admiralty were kept constantly in touch with the movements of every warship in the world.
It would be perfuse merely to catalogue Lord Fisher's many achievements, as that would assuredly prove to be a long list, but they may be summarised as:
- reforms of naval education,
- terms of entry to the Navy,
- naval distribution, so planned as to render practicable the delivery of the maximum blow possible at any place and time,
- development of big-gun power in big ships,
- increase of speed,
- the development of the submarine,
- the use of oil fuel, and
- the elimination of "lame ducks."