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About Admiral of the Fleet Rosslyn Wemyss, 1st Baron Wester Wemyss GCB, CMG, MVO
Admiral of the Fleet Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss, 1st Baron Wester Wemyss GCB, CMG, MVO (12 April 1864 – 24 May 1933), known as Sir Rosslyn Wemyss between 1916 and 1919, was a British naval commander. He served in active naval command positions during the First World War, with postings to the Mediterranean and Egypt, and was appointed First Sea Lord in December 1917.
Wemyss (pronounced "Weems") was the third and youngest son of James Erskine Wemyss and the former Millicent Erskine. He was the great grandson of William IV of the United Kingdom, through his mother, who was herself a descendant of the 1st Marquess of Ailsa. His father, born James Wemyss, was the great x2 grandson of the 5th Earl of Wemyss. After their time together as naval cadets, Wemyss was also a close friend of King George V.
Wemyss joined the training ship Britannia in 1877 and went to sea in 1879. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 31 March 1887 and to Commander on 31 August 1898. On 17 January 1911, by now a Captain, he was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George, and on 20 April that year was promoted to Rear-Admiral.
His war activity began with command of a cruiser squadron, followed in February 1915 he was despatched to Lemnos with a brief to prepare the harbour of Mudros for operations against the Dardanelles. Following command of a battle squadron working along the Gallipoli Front and its later evacuation, Wemyss was given command in January 1916, as head of the East Indies & Egyptian Squadron where he aided operations on the Palestine Front. Wemyss was a supporter of the Arab Revolt under T. E. Lawrence, and is mentioned prominently in Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom. On 1 January 1916, he was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath.
Returning to the Admiralty in 1917, Admiral Wemyss was appointed Second Sea Lord and then, from October 1917, Deputy First Sea Lord. In light of Sir Eric Geddes's decision to dismiss the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir John Jellicoe, due to his opposition to the adoption of naval convoys, Wemyss was appointed Jellicoe's replacement. Although Wemyss enjoyed cordial relations with Geddes, he was regarded warily by colleagues given the nature of Jellicoe's ousting from office. Wemyss was in favour of the Zeebrugge raid that ultimately failed in April 1918 and also sponsored the North Sea Mine Barrage.
After representing Britain at the Armistice, Wemyss attended the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 as Britain's naval representative. He resigned in November 1919 following persistent calls for Sir David Beatty to be given his job. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on resignation, and on 18 November he was raised to the peerage as Baron Wester Wemyss, of Wemyss in the County of Fife. In retirement he wrote his memoirs under the title "The Navy in the Dardanelles Campaign".
Lord Wester Wemyss married Victoria Morier (died 22 April 1945), daughter of Sir Robert Morier, on 21 December 1903. The couple had one daughter, Alice Elizabeth Millicent (born 1906, died 31 December 1994; married 11 February 1953 to Francis Henry Cunnack, died 5 January 1974). The family lived in Wemyss in Fife.
Lord Wester Wemyss died in Cannes, France, (where the Avenue de l'Amiral Wester Wemyss is named after him) on 24 May 1933, aged 69. As he had no sons the barony died with him.