Admiral Hon Sir Herbert Meade-Fetherstonhaugh, GCVO

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About Admiral Hon Sir Herbert Meade-Fetherstonhaugh, GCVO

Admiral Meade-Fetherstonhaugh

Admiral the Hon. Sir Herbert Meade- Fetherstonhaugh, G.C.V.O., C.B., D.S.O., who died on Tuesday 27th October 1964 at the age of 88, had a distinguished career in the Navy which severe lameness and a lifelong propensity to asthma in no way impeded. He was a bold and skilful seaman with a magnificent fighting record, commanding ships in all of the three great North Sea actions of the 1914-18 War. He assumed the additional surname of Fetherstonhaugh in 1931 when he inherited the Fetherstonhaugh property of Uppark. He was born on November 3, 1875, the third son of the fourth Earl of Clanwilliam, Admiral of the Fleet. His first ship, in which he served on the American station in 1891 was H.M.S. Canada, a steel corvette. While he was a Sub-Lieutenant he narrowly escaped death when his leg caught in a running anchor cable. This was the cause of his lame-ness. He was promoted Lieutenant In 1897, and in 1901 he joined H.M.S. Onhir for the voyage of King George V and Queen Mary then Duke and Duchess of York to India. In 1906 he was appointed to H.M.S. Enchantress, the Admiralty yacht, as first lieutenant and executive officer. He was given command of H.M.S. Goshawk, 1st Destroyer Flotilla, in 1912 and began a period of six years' continuous sea service which included the whole of the 1914-18 War. In Goshawk he took part, as leader of the 5th Division of destroyers, in the Heligoland Bight action on August 28th, 1914. when the German destroyer V.187 was sunk. It was for this action that he was awarded the D.S.O. Later in the Year he was appointed to the new destroyer Meteor and commanded the seven ' M " class destroyers of the Harwich Force in the battle cruiser action off the Dogger Bank. After Lion was disabled and had quitted the line, he was sent in by Beatty to finish off the German cruiser Blucher with torpedo. At the exact moment of discharging a torpedo at a range of 1.500 yards the last shot fired from Blucher struck Meteor in the boiler room. Meteor, already hit five times, now disappeared from view in a cloud of smoke and steam. Meade managed. as if by a miracle, to keep her afloat, and she was towed 200 miles back to Immingham. He telegraphed to his wife: "Safe and sound. Fine affair outside.

Battle of Jutland

His next command was the light cruiser Royalist in which he took part in the torpedo attacks on the German battleships in the Battle of Jutland. In Royalist he had an unusual experience. The Grand Fleet had had to put to sea suddenly from Scapa Flow without Jellicoe, who was ashore when the German ships were reported out. Meade took the Commander-in-Chief out from Dundee on a pitch dark night, made the rendezvous with the fleet in the middle of the North Sea, and without lights and with a heavy sea running, transferred him in a whaler to Iron Duke. In 1921 he commanded the battle cruiser Renown for the Prince of Wales's voyage to India, China, and Japan. The Suez Canal pilots refused to take the responsibility of navigating such a huge ship through the canal, so he took her safely through himself. For his last three years in the rank of captain he commanded the Royal Naval College Dartmouth, and was then promoted Rear-Admiral. He went to sea again in 1926, and flew his flag as Rear-Admiral commanding the Destroyer Flotillas of the Mediterranean Fleet. He was promoted Vice-Admiral in 1930, and in the following year was given command of the Royal Yachts, a post which he held till the end of 1934. He retired at his own request in 1936. From 1939 till 1946 he was Sergeant-at-Arms, House of Lords, but characteristically was at sea for most of this time on active service. When the Second World War broke out he at once volunteered and within a week he became Commodore of Convoys. After Dunkirk he was brought back to command the Home Guard battalion allotted to the defence of the Hampshire beaches. When the invasion scare had subsided, he went to sea again, this time in the rank of Lieutenant R.N.V.R., and served till the end of the war, with other veterans, as a member of one of the " runner crews " which took over fleet tenders and other small craft from the shipbuilders and delivered them wherever the Navy wanted them. It was in 1931 that he inherited Uppark, the beautiful William and Mary house which was owned by Sir Harry Fetherstonhaugh in Nelson's time. It was here that Emma Hamilton lived as Sir Harry's mistress when she was in her teens. In his old age Sir Harry married his young dairymaid. She left it to her younger sister (to whom H. G. Wells's mother was lady's maid), who was still living there when Sir Herbert's father was commander-in-chief at Portsmouth and made her acquaintance. On her death in 1895 it was found that the house, with all its treasures, untouched since the eighteenth century, and the estate had been left by her to Lord Clanwilliam's second living son, after a life tenancy by Colonel the Hon. Keith Turner. She had kept the secret of the heir till the end of her life. The house was made over to the National Trust in 1954. Meade Fetherstonhaugh married in 1911 Margaret. the eldest daughter of the Right Reverend the Hon. E. C. Glyn, Bishop of Peterborough. They had two sons, the elder of whom died in 1958, and two daughters.


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