6924-CAREER OF HERBERT KING-HALL

 

CAREER OF HERBERT KING-HALL

 

1862 - 1936

 

                  

 

Unlike his elder brother George, Herbert King-Hall did not keep a diary and the main source of information that we have about his life in the Royal Navy comes from a memoir that he wrote called Naval Memories and Traditions,  which was published by Hutchinson in 1926. This book, although very readable, does not include any incidents of major naval importance and it is therefore intended to restrict this Page to a  summary of Herbert’s naval career for the benefit of the family and only draw the general reader’s attention to a number aspects of his career which may be of wider interest.

 

NAVAL CAREER

 

 

DATE        SHIP                   TYPE                   STATION  

 

CADET

1875           Britannia                                          Two years training

 

MIDSHIPMAN

1877           Alexandra             Ironclad.               Med

1879           Newcastle             Frigate                 Home waters

1880           Martin and  Minotaur                        Home waters

 

SUB - LIEUTENANT

1881           RNC Greenwich 

1882           Sultan                     Ironclad.             Med                                                Bombardment of

                                                                                                                         Alexandria

 

LIEUTENANT

1883            Rifleman              Gun vessel            S. America. River Plate.

1884-85      Gunnery course      Penelope             Home waters

1886-89      Canada                  Steel Corvette      North American and W.I

1890-92      Raleigh                  Iron Frigate          Cape Station.

1892-93      Undaunted             Cruiser                Med.           

1893-95      Magpie                  Gunboat              West Africa                          Gambia river action.

                                                                                                                        Receives DSO 

 

COMMANDER

1895-96      Admiralty              Staff of Director of Naval Intelligence.    Mobilising Division.

1896           Nelson                  Cruiser                 Med                                     Invalided home.

1897           Theseus                Cruiser                 Home waters                        Diamond Jubilee

1898           Sharpshooter        Gunboat.              Home waters                        Stokers training

1898-1900  Hearty                                              North Sea                             Fishery Protection

 

 

CAPTAIN

1901-03      Naval Transport Officer                    Durban and Cape Town        Final stages of Boer War

1903-06      Endymion             Cruiser                 Channel Squadron                 Visit to USA 

1906-08      Admiralty              Intelligence Dpt                                                 Head of Foreign Division

1908-09      Indomitable           Battle Cruiser        Special Service                     Visit to Canada with

                                                                                                                        Prince of Wales.

REAR ADMIRAL

1909-10      Admiralty              Director of Mobilisation.                                    Embryo Naval War Staff.

1911           Hibernia                Battleship              Home Fleet                           FO 2nd  Division/Squadron

1912           Orion                    Dreadnought         Home Fleet                           FO 2nd  Division

1913-15      Commander-in-Chief, Cape Station                                   Sinking of Konigsberg

1916-17      Half Pay

1918-19      Flag Officer Orkneys and Shetland

                                               .

 

It is interesting to compare the naval careers of George and Herbert. At first sight it would seem that George was the more successful, ending his service as Commander-in-Chief Australia. However at one time it looked as if this would not be the case.

Up to the rank of Captain their progress was very similar. But in the ranks of Captain and Rear Admiral matters were very different. Between 1906 and 1913 Herbert had a series of extremely good appointments.

As a senior Captain he served in the most important department in the Admiralty and was then given command of a new Battle Cruiser, with the additional honour of taking the Prince of Wales to Canada. As a Rear Admiral he held a very important post in the Admiralty and later flew his flag in a brand new Dreadnought. To back up his professional success he had served twice under Lord Charles Beresford, yet remained on good terms with Lord Fisher and had served under Prince Louis of Battenberg, a future 1st Sea Lord.

Having finished his time with the Home Fleet Herbert was told that he was being considered for three posts: Chief of Naval Staff, Commander in  Chief of the Cape and a Cruiser Squadron in the S. Atlantic. On being asked his order of preference he chose them in the order given above. In the event the post of Chief of Staff went to another officer and then Admiral Sturdee and Herbert was given the Cape. Admiral Craddock went to the cruiser squadron and his death at the Battle of Coronel.

From the family’s point of view it is intriguing to ask what would have happened if Herbert had chosen the third job. In the view of many historians Admiral Craddock fought the Battle of Coronel  in an imprudent, if heroic manner. Would Herbert have been more cautious and refused engagement until the battleship Canopus had joined his squadron. If he had, would he have been the victor of the subsequent battle?

However fame was not to be his reward. Having spent two and a half years as Commander-in Chief of the Cape during which time he provided naval support for the conquest of German South West Africa and the destruction  of the  German raider  Konigsberg at her anchorage up the Rufiji river, he returned to England.

The next two years must have been a frustrating time for him. He had hoped for a sea-going job in the Grand Fleet but it was Admiral Jellicoe’s policy only to employ senior officers who had previous experience of the naval war in the North Sea. Herbert remained unemployed until January 1918 when he was appointed Flag Officer Orkney and Shetland  Islands. This was not a very prestigious post to for an officer whose career at one time had shown such promise.

As a footnote: It has been said within the family that one reason Herbert chose the Cape was because his wife Mabel was considered to be delicate and he thought the climate would be good for her. Ironically Mabel turned out to be far from fragile. She lived to the age of 103 and died in 1969.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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