East Indies Station

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Commander-in-Chief, East Indies
HMS Swiftsure (1903) gunnery practice 1913.jpg
HMS Swiftsure at gunnery practice on the East Indies Station in the summer of 1913
Active 1744–1958
Country  United Kingdom
Branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
Type Fleet
Part of Admiralty
Garrison/HQ Trincomalee

The Commander-in-Chief, East Indies was a British Royal Navy admiral and the formation subordinate to him from 1865 to 1958.[1] Even in official documents, the term East Indies Station was often used. In 1941 the ships of the China Squadron and East Indies Squadron and were merged to form the Eastern Fleet under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet.[2] The China Station then ceased as a separate command. The East Indies Station and its shore establishments and geographic area of responsibility continued under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station until 1958.

History[edit]

Navy House, Trincomalee, residence of the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station from 1811 to 1942

The East Indies Station was established as a Royal Navy command in 1744. From 1831–1865, the East Indies and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station.[3] The East Indies Station, established in 1865, covered the Indian Ocean (excluding the waters around the Dutch East Indies, South Africa and Australia) and included the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.[4] These responsibilities did not imply territorial claims but rather that the navy would actively protect British trading interests.

The East Indies Station had bases at Colombo, Trincomalee, Bombay, Basra and Aden. In response to increased Japanese threats, the separate East Indies Station was merged with the China Station in December 1941, to form the Eastern Fleet.[5]

In early May 1941, the Commander-in-Chief directed forces to support the pursuit of Pinguin, the German raider that eventually sank after the Action of 8 May 1941 against HMS Cornwall.

On 7 December 1941, cruisers on the station included the heavy cruisers Cornwall, Dorsetshire, and Exeter; the light cruisers Glasgow, Danae, Dauntless, Durban, Emerald and Enterprise (some sources also place the heavy cruiser Hawkins as being on station on that date, while others report her being under refit and repair in the UK between early November 1941 & May 1942), and six armed merchant cruisers. Also assigned to the station was 814 Naval Air Squadron at China Bay, Ceylon, which unit was at that time equipped with Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers.[6][6][7]

In 1958 the station closed and was replaced by the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station.[8]

Commanders-in-Chief[edit]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies[edit]

Prior to 1862 flag officers were appointed to coloured squadrons command flags shown below. see: Royal Navy ranks, rates, and uniforms of the 18th and 19th centuries
Post holders included:[9][10]
Rank Ensign Name Term Ref
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
1 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Curtis Barnett (1744–1746) [11]
2 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Thomas Griffin (1746–1748) [12][a]
3 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Edward Boscawen (1748–1750) [13][14]
4 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Red Squadron Royal Navy.png Charles Watson (1754–1757) [15][16][b]
5 Vice-Admiral Flag Admirals of the White Squadron Royal Navy.png George Pocock (1757–1759) [17][c]
6 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Charles Steevens (1760–1761) [18][d]
7 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Red Squadron Royal Navy.png Samuel Cornish (1761–1763) [19].[20][e]
8 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png John Byron (1764) [21][f]
9 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png John (later Sir John) Lindsay (1769–1772) [22]
10 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Robert Harland, 1st Baronet (1771–1775) [23][24]
11 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Edward Hughes (1773–1777) [25]
12 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Edward Vernon (1776–1780) [26][g]
13 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Edward Hughes (1780–1784) [25][h]
14 Vice-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet (1782) [27][28][i]
15 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Andrew Mitchell (1784–1785) [29]
16 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png William Cornwallis (1788–1794) [30]
17 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Peter Rainier (1794–1805) [31]
18 Vice-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir George Keith Elphinstone (1795) [32][33][j]
19 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Red Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Edward Pellew, 1st Baronet (1804–1809) [34][35][k]
20 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the White Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Thomas Troubridge, 1st Baronet (1805–1807 [36][37][l]
21 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Red Squadron Royal Navy.png William O'Bryen Drury (1809–1811) [38]
22 Vice-Admiral Flag Admirals of the White Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1811–1814) [39][m]
23 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png George Sayer (1814) [40]
24 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the White Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Richard King, 2nd Baronet (1816–1820) [41][n]
25 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet (1820–1822) [42][o]
26 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Charles Grant (1822–1824)
27 Commodore Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Sir James Brisbane (1825–1826) [43]
28 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the White Squadron Royal Navy.png Joseph Bingham (1825) [44][p]
29 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Red Squadron Royal Navy.png William Hall Gage (1825–1829) [45]
30 Rear-Admiral Flag Admirals of the Blue Squadron Royal Navy.png Edward Owen (1829–1832) [46]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and China Station[edit]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies & Cape of Good Hope Station[edit]

Post holders included:[47]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies & Cape of Good Hope Station
1 Commodore UK-Navy-OF6-Flag.svg Frederick Montresor (1865) [3]
2 Commodore UK-Navy-OF6-Flag.svg Charles Hillyar (1865–1867) [3]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station[edit]

[3][48][49]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Leopold Heath (1867–1870)
2 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg James Cockburn (1870–1872)
3 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Arthur Cumming (1872–1875)
4 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Reginald Macdonald (1875–1877)
5 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg John Corbett (1877–1879)
6 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg William Gore Jones (1879–1882)
7 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg William Hewett (1882–1885)
8 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Frederick Richards (1885–1888)
9 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Edmund Fremantle (1888–1891)
10 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Frederick Robinson (1891–1892)
11 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg William Kennedy (1892–1895)
12 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Edmund Drummond (1895–1898)
13 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Archibald Douglas (1898–1899)
14 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Day Bosanquet (1899–1902)
15 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Charles Drury (1902–1903)[50]
16 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg George Atkinson-Willes (1903–1905)
17 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Edmund Poë (1905–1907)
18 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir George Warrender (1907–1909)
19 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Edmond Slade (1909–1912)
20 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Alexander Bethell (1912-1913)
21 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Richard Peirse (1913–1915)
22 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Rosslyn Wemyss (1916–1917)
23 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Ernest Gaunt (1917–1919)
24 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Hugh Tothill (1919–1921)
25 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Lewis Clinton-Baker (1921–1923)
26 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Herbert Richmond (1923–1925)
27 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Walter Ellerton (1925–1927)
28 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Bertram Thesiger (1927–1929)
29 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Eric Fullerton (1929–1932)
30 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Martin Dunbar-Nasmith (1932–1934)
31 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Forrester Rose (1934–1936)
32 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Alexander Ramsay (1936–1938)
33 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg James Somerville (1938–1939)
34 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Ralph Leatham (1939–1941)
35 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Geoffrey Arbuthnot (1941–1942)[6]
36 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Geoffrey Layton (1942–1944)
37 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Arthur Power (1944–1945)
38 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Arthur Palliser (1946–1948)
39 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Charles Woodhouse (1948–1950)
40 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Geoffrey Oliver (1950–1952)
41 Admiral Flag of Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir William Slayter (1952–1954)
42 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Charles Norris (1954–1956)
43 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Hilary Biggs (1956–1958)


Fleet headquarters[edit]

Chief of Staff[edit]

Included:[51]

Rank Flag Name Term
Chief of Staff, East Indies Station/Eastern Fleet
1 Captain Generic-Navy-O7.svg Frederick Rodney Garside 3 January 1939 - June 1941 [52]
2 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Arthur F. E. Palliser June - December 1941

Note: Under East Indies Station briefly when the Eastern Fleet its established Rear-Admiral Palliser becomes COS to C-in-C, Eastern Fleet.

Operational and shore sub-commands[edit]

East Africa Command[edit]

Originally established by the Royal Navy as East Coast of Africa Station (1862–1919) was a military unit of the British Royal Navy administered by the Flag Officer, East Africa and a sub-command of the East Indies Station then later Eastern Fleet from 1862 to 1962.

Flag Officer, East Africa[edit]
Within the Eastern Fleet command from April 1942 to September 1943 then transferred back under East Indies Station
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
Flag Officer, East Africa
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Charles G. Stuart September, 1943 – 11 January 1944. [53]
4 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Richard Shelly Benyon 11 January 1944 - November 1944 [54]
5 Commodore UK-Navy-OF6-Flag.svg Sir Philip Bowyer November 1944 - 1945
Royal Indian Navy[edit]

The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) was the naval force of British India and the Dominion of India from 1 May 1830 – 26 January 1950. It came under the East Indies Station at the outbreak of World War Two on 3 September 1939 [55] until December 1941 transfers to Eastern Fleet command.

Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy[edit]
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy
1 Vice-Admiral Flag of Vice-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Sir Herbert Fitzherbert Sptember 1939 - December 1941
Red Sea Force[edit]

Notes: On 21st October 1941 the title is changed to Flag Officer Commanding, Red Sea and his command but now reporting to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet until 17 May 1942.[56] On 18 May 1942 the title is changed again to Flag Officer, Commanding Red Sea and Canal Area and transferred again to the Eastern Fleet.

Senior Officer, Red Sea Force[edit]
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
Senior Officer, Red Sea Force
1 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg A. J. L. Murray 24 May 1939 - 1st April 1941 [57]
2 Rear-Admiral Flag of Rear-Admiral - Royal Navy.svg Ronald H. C. Hallifax 1st April 1941-21 October 1941 [58]
Persian Gulf Station[edit]

The Persian Gulf Station was originally located at Basidu, Qishm Island in Persia (c. 1850-1935) then later Juffair, Bahrain. It included a naval base, depot and naval forces known as the Persian Gulf Patrol, then the Persian Gulf Squadron later called he Persian Gulf Division it was a sub-command of the East Indies Station until 1958 when it merged with the Red Sea Station to create the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station of the new Middle East Command.

Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf[edit]

The Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf was responsible for administering the Persian Gulf Station.

Naval officers ports and bases[edit]
# Location In command Dates Notes
1 Aden Naval Officer in Charge, Aden Example naval base/shore establishment
2 Addu Atoll Naval Officer in Charge, Addu Atoll 1942 to 1945 fleet base [59]
3 Calcutta Naval Officer in Charge, Calcutta 1939 to 1945 during WW2 only normally under FOCOMM, Royal Indian Navy
4 Colombo General Staff Officer, Colombo 1938 to 1939
5 Diego Suarez Naval Officer in Charge, Diego Suarez 1935 to 1945 fleet base [60]
6 Kilidini, Mombasa Senior British Naval Officer, Kilindini 1935 to 1945 shore establishment
7 Port Louis Naval Officer-in-Charge, Port Louis 18 shore establishment
8 Port Sudan Naval Officer-in-Charge, Port Sudan 1935 to 1945
9 Seychelles Naval Officer-in-Charge, Seychelles 1915 to 1945 fleet base [60]
10 Lake Tanganyika, Africa Naval Officer-in-Charge, Tanganyika 1915 to 1945
11 Trincomalee Captain-in-Charge, Ceylon 1915 to 1945
12 Zanzibar Naval Officer-in-Charge, Zanzibar 1915 to 1945

Naval formations that served in this command[edit]

Various units that served in this command included:

Naval Units Based at Date Notes
4th Cruiser Squadron Colombo/Trincomalee, Ceylon August to December, 1916
4th Light Cruiser Squadron Colombo/Trincomalee, Ceylon November 1918 to April 1919
Arabian Bengal Ceylon Escort Force (ABCEF ) Aden, Colony of Aden 1941 to 1942 Under the Eastern Fleet command from April 1942 to November 1943.[61]
East Indies and Egyptian Seaplane Squadron Port Said, Egypt 1916 to 1918 Royal Navy's first carrier squadron
Red Sea Division Port Tawfik, Egypt August 1914 to November 1918
Red Sea Force Port Tawfik, Egypt April 1940 to 1944 Naval base HQ Red Sea Force [62]
Persian Gulf Division Basidu, Persia,(1818-1935), Ras Al-Jufair, Bahrain 1885 to 1958
Persian Gulf Squadron Basidu, Persia/ Ras Al-Jufair, Bahrain 1818 to- 1885

Establishments and facilties in this command[edit]

# Unit name Location Dates Notes
1 Admiralty House Trincomalee, Ceylon 1813 to 1958 Official residence of the Commander-in-Chief
2 HM Naval Dockyard, Trincomalee Trincomalee, Ceylon 1813 to 1939, 1945-1958 Headquarters East Indies Station
3 HMS Gloucester II HM Naval Office, Colombo, Ceylon 1939-1945 Headquarters East Indies Station [63]
4 HM Naval Dockyard, Madras Madras, India 1796 to 1813 Headquarters, East Indies Station [64]
5 HMS Anderson Colombo, Ceylon 1939 to 1949 Listening station of the Far East Combined Bureau,
6 HM Naval Base, Basra Basra 1939 to 1949 Naval base
7 HM Naval Dockyard, Bombay Bombay, India 1811 to 1958 naval base during WW2 known as HMS Braganza
8 HM Naval Base, Calcutta Calcutta, India 1811 to 1958 Naval base during WW2 known as HMS Braganza
9 HMS Lanka Colombo, Ceylon 1939 - 1958 Naval base and shore station
10 HMS Mauritus Tombeau Bay, Mauritius 1810 to 1958 Telegraphic then Wireless Station [65]
11 HM Naval Base, Port Jackson [66] Port Jackson, New South Wales 1785 to 1865 Naval base transferred to China Station
12 Port Louis Port Louis, Mauritius 1810 to 1968 Naval base
13 HM Naval Base, Port Tawfik Port Tawfik, Red Sea, Egypt August 1914 to 1944 Naval base HQ Red Sea, Patrol/Division/Force
14 HMS Sheba Steamer Point (now Tawahi) in Aden Example Naval and shore base till 1958
15 RNAS China Bay Trincomalee, Ceylon 1938 to 1945 Air Station HMS Bambara
16 RNAS Colombo Racecourse Prince of Wales Island, George Town, Penang 1943 to 1945 Naval air station - HMS Bherunda
17 RNAS Katukurunda Katukurunda, Ceylon 1938 to 1945 Naval air station - HMS Ukussa
18 RNAS Mackinnon Road Mackinnon Road, Kenya, East Africa 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Tana then HMS Kipanga II [67]
19 RNAS Puttalam Puttalam Ceylon 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Rajaliya [68]
20 RNAS Port Reitz Port Reitz, Mombasa, Kenya 1942 to 1944 Naval air station, Aircraft Repair Yard, Reserve aircraft storage - HMS Tana then HMS Kipanga II HQ of Commdre-in-Charge, NAS, (Eastern Stations.).
21 RNAS Tanga Tanga, Tanzania 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Kilele [69]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Thomas Griffin promoted later Rear- then Vice-Admiral
  2. ^ Charles Watson promoted later to Vice-Admiral
  3. ^ George Pocock appointed Vice-Admiral of the White, February 1757, Ref:Harrison. Simon, (2010-2018)
  4. ^ Charles Steevens promoted later to Rear-Admiral
  5. ^ Samuel Cornish promoted later to Vice-Admiral
  6. ^ Byron's appointment was initially a subterfuge, designed to provide apparent legitimacy for a voyage along the coast of Spanish South America and around the Cape of Good Hope. Byron's true mission was to establish a British naval presence on an uninhabited island off Spanish South America, which he achieved via landings on the Falkland Islands in December 1764.[21]
  7. ^ Edward Vernon promoted later to Rear-Admiral
  8. ^ Edward Hughes, second term as Commander-in-Chief
  9. ^ Hyde Parker appointed 1782 but lost at sea on his way out
  10. ^ Elphinstone went to capture the Dutch East Indies in 1795 but Rainier had already done it
  11. ^ Pellew was later promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Red, 9 November 1805
  12. ^ Troughbridge served jointly with Edward Pellew
  13. ^ Samuel Hood appointed Vice-Admiral of the White, 4 June 1814, Harrison, 2010-2018
  14. ^ Richard King appointed Rear-Admiral of the White, 4 June 1814 ref: Harrison, Simon (2010-2018)
  15. ^ Henry Blackwood appointed Rear-Admiral of the Blue, July 1819 ref: Harrison, Simon (2010-2018)
  16. ^ Joseph Bingham appointed 1825 but died before taking up post

References[edit]

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  3. ^ a b c d William Loney RN
  4. ^ Royal Navy foreign stations
  5. ^ The sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse
  6. ^ a b c "East Indies Fleet". Orders of Battle. 
  7. ^ Whitley, Mike J. (1995). Cruisers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia (1st ed.). London: Arms and Armour Press. p. 80. ISBN 1-86019-874-0. 
  8. ^ Roberts, John (2009). Safeguarding the Nation: The Story of the Modern Royal Navy. Barnsley, England: Seaforth Publishing. p. 18. ISBN 9781848320437. 
  9. ^ Joseph Haydn, The Book of Dignities, Longman, Brown Green and Longmans, 1851, p. 272–273
  10. ^ Ward, Peter Augustus. "Admiral Peter Rainier and the Command of the East Indies Station 1794-1805 : Chapter: East Indies Station Commanders-in-Chief & p. 227 Senior Naval Officers 1754-1814" (PDF). core.ac.uk. Submitted by Peter Augustus Ward to the University of Exeter as a thesis for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, August 2010. pp. 227–228. Retrieved 12 July 2018. 
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  21. ^ a b Rea, Robert R. (October 1981). "Florida and the Royal Navy's Floridas". The Florida Historical Quarterly. Florida Historical Society. 60 (2): 187. 
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  40. ^ The United Service Magazine, 1831, Part 2, page 222
  41. ^ J. K. Laughton, Andrew Lambert, King, Sir Richard, second baronet (1774–1834), rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004, accessed 18 Dec 2011.
  42. ^ J. K. Laughton, Blackwood, Sir Henry, first baronet (1770–1832), rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008, accessed 18 Dec 2011.
  43. ^ J. K. Laughton, Brisbane, Sir James (1774–1826), rev. Andrew Lambert, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, May 2008, accessed 18 Dec 2011.
  44. ^ Marshall, John (2010). "Rear-Admirals of the White". Royal Naval Biography: Or, Memoirs of the Services of All the Flag-Officers, Superannuated Rear-Admirals, Retired-Captains, Post-Captains, and Commanders. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press. p. 722. ISBN 9781108022651. 
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