Roger Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes

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Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable
The Lord Keyes
GCB, KCVO, CMG, DSO
Sir Roger Keyes.jpg
Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, 1918
Member of the House of Lords
as Baron Keyes
In office
22 January 1943 26 December 1945
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded byRoger George Bowlby Keyes
Member of Parliament
for Portsmouth North
In office
19 February 1934 22 January 1943
Preceded by Sir Bertram Falle
Succeeded by Sir William James
Personal details
Born(1872-10-04)4 October 1872
Punjab, British India
Died26 December 1945(1945-12-26) (aged 73)
Tingewick, United Kingdom
Political party Conservative
Relations Sir Charles Patton Keyes (father)
Geoffrey Keyes (son)
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service1885–1935
1940–1941
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands HMS Opossum (1898–99)
HMS Hart (1899–00)
HMS Fame (1900–01)
HMS Bat (1901)
HMS Falcon (1902)
HMS Sprightly (1902)
HMS Venus (1908–10)
Commodore-in-Charge, Submarine Service (1912–14)
HMS Centurion (1916–17)
Dover Patrol (1917–18)
Battle Cruiser Force (1919)
Battlecruiser Squadron) (1919–21)
Atlantic Fleet (1919–21)
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet (1925–28)
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth (1929–31)
Director of Combined Operations (1940–41)
Battles/wars Boxer Rising
First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George
Distinguished Service Order

Admiral of the Fleet Roger John Brownlow Keyes, 1st Baron Keyes, GCB, KCVO, CMG, DSO (4 October 1872 – 26 December 1945) was a Royal Navy officer. As a junior officer he served in a corvette operating from Zanzibar on slavery suppression missions. Early in the Boxer Rebellion, he led a mission to capture a flotilla of four Chinese destroyers moored to a wharf on the Peiho River. He was one of the first men to climb over the Peking walls, to break through to the besieged diplomatic legations and to free the legations.

Admiral of the Fleet (Royal Navy) highest rank of the British Royal Navy

Admiral of the Fleet is a five-star naval officer rank and the highest rank of the Royal Navy formally established in 1688. The five-star NATO rank code is OF-10, equivalent to a field marshal in the British Army or a marshal of the Royal Air Force. Other than honorary appointments no new admirals of the fleet have been named since 1995.

Distinguished Service Order UK military decoration

The Distinguished Service Order (DSO) is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the Commonwealth, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat. Since 1993 all ranks have been eligible.

Royal Navy Maritime warfare branch of the United Kingdoms military

The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.

Contents

During the First World War Keyes was heavily involved in the organisation of the Dardanelles Campaign. Keyes took charge in an operation when six trawlers and a cruiser attempted to clear the Kephez minefield. The operation was a failure, as the Turkish mobile artillery pieces bombarded Keyes' minesweeping squadron. He went on to be Director of Plans at the Admiralty and then took command of the Dover Patrol: he altered tactics and the Dover Patrol sank five U-Boats in the first month after implementation of Keyes' plan compared with just two in the previous two years. He also planned and led the famous raids on the German submarine pens in the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend.

Naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign

The Naval Operations in the Dardanelles Campaign took place against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. Ships of the Royal Navy, French Marine nationale, Imperial Russian Navy and the Royal Australian Navy, attempted to force the defences of the Dardanelles Straits. The straits are a narrow waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Black Sea, via the Aegean, Sea of Marmara and the Bosphorus. The Dardanelles Campaign began as a naval operation but the success of the Ottoman defence led to the Gallipoli Campaign, an attempt to occupy the Gallipoli peninsula with land forces supported by the navies, to open the sea route to Constantinople. The Allies also tried to pass submarines through the Dardanelles to attack Ottoman shipping in the Sea of Marmara.

Dover Patrol

The Dover Patrol and later known as the Dover Patrol Force was a Royal Navy command of the First World War, notable for its involvement in the Zeebrugge Raid on 22 April 1918. The Dover Patrol formed a discrete unit of the Royal Navy based at Dover and Dunkirk for the duration of the First World War. Its primary task was to prevent enemy German shipping—chiefly submarines—from entering the English Channel en route to the Atlantic Ocean, thereby obliging the Imperial German Navy to travel via the much longer route around Scotland which was itself covered by the Northern Patrol.

Zeebrugge Raid naval battle in WW1

The Zeebrugge Raid on 23 April 1918, was an attempt by the Royal Navy to block the Belgian port of Bruges-Zeebrugge. The British intended to sink obsolete ships in the canal entrance, to prevent German vessels from leaving port. The port was used by the Imperial German Navy as a base for U-boats and light shipping, which were a threat to Allied control of the English Channel and southern North Sea. Several attempts to close the Flanders ports by bombardment failed and Operation Hush, a 1917 plan to advance up the coast, proved abortive. As sinkings by U-boats increased, finding a way to close the ports became urgent and the Admiralty became more willing to consider a raid.

Between the wars Keyes commanded the Battlecruiser Squadron, the Atlantic Fleet and then the Mediterranean Fleet before becoming Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth. During the Second World War he initially became liaison officer to Leopold III, King of the Belgians. He went on to be the first Director of Combined Operations and implemented plans for the training of commandos and raids on hostile coasts.

Atlantic Fleet (United Kingdom) early 20th century formation of the Royal Navy

The Atlantic Fleet was a major fleet formation of the Royal Navy. There have been two main formations in the Royal Navy officially called the Atlantic Fleet. The first was created in 1909 and lasted until 1914. The second lasted from 1919 until 1932.

Mediterranean Fleet fleet of the Royal Navy of the United Kingdom

The British Mediterranean Fleet also known as the Mediterranean Station was part of the Royal Navy. The Fleet was one of the most prestigious commands in the navy for the majority of its history, defending the vital sea link between the United Kingdom and the majority of the British Empire in the Eastern Hemisphere. The first Commander-in-Chief for the Mediterranean Fleet was the appointment of General at Sea Robert Blake in September 1654 the Fleet was in existence until 1967.

Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth former operational commander of the Royal Navy

The Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth was a senior commander of the Royal Navy for hundreds of years. Portsmouth Command was a name given to the units, establishments, and staff operating under the post. The commanders-in-chief were based at premises in High Street, Portsmouth from the 1790s until the end of Sir Thomas Williams's tenure, his successor, Sir Philip Durham, being the first to move into Admiralty House at the Royal Navy Dockyard, where subsequent holders of the office were based until 1969. Prior to World War One the officer holder was sometimes referred to in official dispatches as the Commander-in-Chief, Spithead.

Early years

Born the second son of General Sir Charles Patton Keyes of the Indian Army and Katherine Jessie Keyes (née Norman), [1] Keyes told his parents from an early age: "I am going to be an Admiral". [2] After being brought up in India and then the UK, where he attended preparatory school at Margate, he joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship HMS Britannia on 15 July 1885. [3] He was appointed to the cruiser HMS Raleigh, flagship of the Cape of Good Hope and West Africa Station, in August 1887. [3] Promoted to midshipman on 15 November 1887, he transferred to the corvette HMS Turquoise, operating from Zanzibar on slavery suppression missions. [3] Promoted to sub-lieutenant on 14 November 1891 [4] and to lieutenant on 28 August 1893, [5] he joined the sloop HMS Beagle on the Pacific Station later that year. [3] After returning home in 1897 he became commanding officer of the destroyer HMS Opossum at Plymouth in January 1898. [3]

General Sir Charles Patton Keyes, was a British Indian Army officer.

British Indian Army 1858-1947 land warfare branch of British Indias military, distinct from the British Army in India

The Indian Army (IA), often known since 1947 as the British Indian Army to distinguish it from the current Indian Army, was the principal military of the British Indian Empire before its decommissioning in 1947. It was responsible for the defence of both British Indian Empire and the princely states, which could also have their own armies. The Indian Army was an important part of the British Empire's forces, both in India and abroad, particularly during the First World War and the Second World War.

Margate town in East Kent, England

Margate is a seaside town in Thanet, Kent, England, 15 miles (24.1 km) north-east of Canterbury, which includes Cliftonville, Garlinge, Palm Bay and Westbrook.

China

Lieutenant Keyes (sitting) with other officers aboard the destroyer HMS Fame in 1900 Keyes HMS Fame 1900 AWM A05029.jpg
Lieutenant Keyes (sitting) with other officers aboard the destroyer HMS Fame in 1900

Keyes was then posted out to China to command another destroyer, HMS Hart, in September 1898 transferring to a newer ship, HMS Fame in January 1899. In April 1899 he went to the rescue of a small British force which was attacked and surrounded by irregular Chinese forces while attempting to demarcate the border of the Hong Kong New Territories. He went ashore, leading half the landing party, and, while HMS Fame fired on the besiegers, he led the charge which routed the Chinese and freed the troops. [6]

HMS Hart was a Handy-class destroyer which served with the Royal Navy. She was built in 1895 at Fairfield Shipbuilding and Engineering Company, spent most of her career on the China Station and was sold in 1912.

HMS <i>Fame</i> (1896)

HMS Fame was a two funnel, 30 knot destroyer of the Royal Navy, ordered under the 1894 – 1895 Naval Estimates. She was launched in 1896, served in Chinese waters for the whole of her life and was sold at Hong Kong in 1921.

New Territories Place

The New Territories is one of the three main regions of Hong Kong, alongside Hong Kong Island and the Kowloon Peninsula. It makes up 86.2% of Hong Kong's territory, and contains around half of the population of Hong Kong. Historically, it is the region described in the Convention for the Extension of Hong Kong Territory. According to that treaty, the territories comprise the mainland area north of the Boundary Street of Kowloon Peninsula and south of the Sham Chun River, as well as over 200 outlying islands, including Lantau Island, Lamma Island, Cheung Chau, and Peng Chau in the territory of Hong Kong.

In June 1900, early in the Boxer Rebellion, Keyes led a mission to capture a flotilla of four Chinese destroyers moored to a wharf on the Peiho River. Together with another junior officer, he took boarding parties onto the Chinese destroyers, captured the destroyers and secured the wharf. [1] Shortly thereafter he led a mission to capture the heavily fortified fort at Hsi-cheng: he loaded HMS Fame with a landing party of 32 men, armed with rifles, pistols, cutlasses and explosives. His men quickly destroyed the Chinese gun mountings, blew up the powder magazine and returned to the ship. [7]

Boxer Rebellion anti-imperialist uprising which took place in China

The Boxer Rebellion (拳亂), Boxer Uprising, or Yihetuan Movement (義和團運動) was an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial, and anti-Christian uprising that took place in China between 1899 and 1901, toward the end of the Qing dynasty. They were motivated by proto-nationalist sentiments and by opposition to Western colonialism and the Christian missionary activity that was associated with it.

Hai River river in the Peoples Republic of China

The Hai River, formerly known as the Peiho, Pei He or Pei Ho, is a Chinese river connecting Beijing to Tianjin and the Bohai Sea.

Keyes was one of the first men to climb over the Peking walls, to break through to the besieged diplomatic legations and to free the legations. For this he was promoted to commander on 9 November 1900. [8] Keyes later recalled about the sack of Beijing: "Every Chinaman...was treated as a Boxer by the Russian and French troops, and the slaughter of men, women, and children in retaliation was revolting". [9]

Diplomatic service

Keyes was in May 1901 appointed to the command of the destroyer HMS Bat serving in the Devonport instructional flotilla. In January 1902 he was appointed in command of the destroyer HMS Falcon, which took Bat´s crew and her place in the flotilla, [10] [11] and four months later he again brought his crew and was appointed in command of the destroyer HMS Sprightly, which served in the flotilla from May 1902. [12] He was posted to the intelligence section at the Admiralty in 1904 and then became naval attaché at the British Embassy in Rome in January 1905. [3] Promoted to captain on 30 June 1905, [13] he was appointed a Member of the Royal Victorian Order on 24 April 1906. [14] He took up command of the cruiser HMS Venus in the Atlantic Fleet in 1908 before going on to be Inspecting Captain of Submarines in 1910 and, having been appointed Companion of the Order of the Bath on 19 June 1911, [15] he became commodore of the Submarine Service in 1912. [3] As head of the Submarine Service, he introduced an element of competition into the construction of submarines, which had previously been built by Vickers and tended to go to sea in a destroyer because of the primitive visibility from early submarines. [1] He became a naval aide-de-camp to the King on 15 September 1914. [16]

First World War

Sketch of Keyes by Glyn Warren Philpot, 1918. Imperial War Museum Sketch of 'Vice Admiral Sir Roger Keyes (1872-1945), KCB, CMG, CVO, DSO'.jpg
Sketch of Keyes by Glyn Warren Philpot, 1918. Imperial War Museum

When the First World War broke out, Keyes took command of the Eighth Submarine Flotilla at Harwich. [3] He proposed, planned and took part in the first Battle of Heligoland Bight in August 1914 flying his broad pendant in the destroyer HMS Lurcher. [3] He went alongside the sinking German cruiser SMS Mainz and picked up 220 survivors for which he was mentioned in dispatches. [3]

Keyes became Chief of Staff to Vice-Admiral Sackville Carden, commander of the Royal Navy squadron off the Dardanelles, in February 1915 and was heavily involved in the organisation of the Dardanelles Campaign. [3] After slow progress, the bombardment of the Turkish defences was called off due to low ammunition stocks and fears of a newly laid Turkish minefield. Writing to his wife, Keyes expressed frustration at the lack of imagination of his new superior, Vice-Admiral John de Robeck, arguing that "We must have a clear channel through the minefield for the ships to close to decisive range to hammer the forts and then land men to destroy the guns." [17] Keyes took charge in an operation in March 1915 when six trawlers and the cruiser HMS Amethyst attempted to clear the Kephez minefield. The operation was a failure, as the Turkish mobile artillery pieces bombarded Keyes' minesweeping squadron. Heavy damage was inflicted on four of the six trawlers, while HMS Amethyst was badly hit and had her steering gear damaged. After another abortive attempt to clear the mines a few days later, the naval attempt to force the straits was abandoned and instead troops were landed to assault the guns. [18] For his service during the Dardanelles Campaign, Keyes was appointed a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George on 1 January 1916 [19] and awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 3 June 1916. [20]

Keyes took command of the battleship HMS Centurion in the Grand Fleet in June 1916 and, having been promoted to rear-admiral on 10 April 1917, [21] became second in command of the 4th Battle Squadron with his flag in the battleship HMS Colossus in June 1917. [22] He went on to be Director of Plans at the Admiralty in October 1917 and then became Commander-in-Chief, Dover and commander of the Dover Patrol in January 1918. [22] Prior to Keyes, the Dover Patrol had been commanded by Admiral Reginald Bacon and had succeeded in sinking two German U-Boats in the English Channel in the previous two years, but out of 88,000 crossings by ships only five had been torpedoed and one sunk by gunfire. [23] After Keyes took control, he altered tactics, and the Dover Patrol sank five U-Boats in the first month after implementation of Keyes' plan. [24]

In April 1918 Keyes planned and led the famous raids on the German submarine pens in the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Ostend. [22] He was advanced to Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on 30 March 1918 [25] and promoted Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 24 April 1918. [26] He was then advanced to Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on 10 December 1918 [27] and made a baronet on 29 December 1919. [28] In March 1919 he was appointed (Acting) Vice-Admiral in command of the Battle Cruiser Force until it was disbanded in April 1919. [29]

Inter-war years

The battleship, HMS Royal Oak, scene of an incident which Keyes was thought by the Admiralty to have handled badly HMS Royal Oak (08).jpg
The battleship, HMS Royal Oak, scene of an incident which Keyes was thought by the Admiralty to have handled badly

Keyes was given command of the new Battlecruiser Squadron hoisting his flag at Scapa Flow in the battlecruiser HMS Lion in March 1919. [22] He moved his flag to the new battlecruiser HMS Hood in early 1920. [30] Promoted to vice-admiral on 16 May 1921, [31] he became Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff in November 1921 and then Commander-in-Chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in June 1925 with promotion to full admiral on 1 March 1926. [32]

In January 1928 at dance on the quarterdeck of the battleship HMS Royal Oak Rear Admiral Bernard Collard, Second-in-command of the 1st Battle Squadron openly lambasted Royal Marine Bandmaster, Percy Barnacle, and allegedly said "I won't have a bugger like that in my ship" in the presence of ship's officers and guests. [33] Captain Kenneth Dewar and Commander Henry Daniel accused Collard of "vindictive fault-finding" and openly humiliating and insulting them before their crew, referring to an incident involving Collard's disembarkation from the ship in March 1928 where the admiral had openly said that he was "fed up with the ship"; [34] Collard countercharged the two with failing to follow orders and treating him "worse than a midshipman". [35] Letters of complaint from Dewar and Daniel were passed on to Keyes. The press picked up on the story worldwide, describing the affair—with some hyperbole—as a "mutiny". [36] Keyes was thought by the Admiralty to have handled the matter badly and this may have adversely affected his chances of becoming First Sea Lord. [37] He became Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth in May 1929, was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 8 May 1930 [38] and was advanced Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath on 3 June 1930. [39] He then bought a house at Tingewick in Buckinghamshire and retired in May 1935. [40]

Keyes was elected Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North in January 1934. [37] In Parliament he fought disarmament and sought to have the Fleet Air Arm put back under the control of the navy. [37] He was opposed to the Munich Agreement that Neville Chamberlain had reached with Adolf Hitler in 1938 and, along with Winston Churchill was one of the few who withheld support from the Government on this issue. [37]

Second World War

King Leopold III of Belgium to whom Keyes was liaison officer Leopold III van Belgie (1934).jpg
King Leopold III of Belgium to whom Keyes was liaison officer

When the Second World War broke out, Keyes was very anxious to obtain active service, but at the same time criticised the Chiefs of Staff. [37] He reached the conclusion that the regaining of Trondheim was the key to victory in Norway. He advocated the forcing of Trondheim Fjord by battleships and the landing of a military force to recapture the city. He sought an interview with Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, submitted an outline plan to seize the city and offered to lead the expedition. If the Admiralty did not wish to hazard newer ships, he would take in old battleships. The chiefs of staff reached similar conclusions, with the addition of subsidiary landings north at Namsos and south at Åndalsnes. However they failed to send capital ships into Trondheimsfjord. German destroyers dominated the fjord, no airfields were seized to provide air cover and troops earmarked for the centre prong were never landed. When the troops were evacuated in early May 1940 there was shock in Britain. Parliament gathered for the Norway Debate on 7 and 8 May 1940. Making a dramatic entrance in the full uniform of an Admiral of the Fleet, including medals, Keyes defended the navy and strongly criticised the government. [41] In his closing remarks Keyes invoked Horatio Nelson. [42]

Harwood and his captains are typical of the Navy to-day. There are hundreds of young officers who are waiting eagerly to seize Warburton-Lee's torch, or emulate the deeds of Vian of the "Cossack." One hundred and forty years ago, Nelson said, "I am of the opinion that the boldest measures are the safest," and that still holds good to-day.

Roger Keyes, House of Commons, 7 May 1940

Chamberlain's government fell two days later and Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. [37]

When Germany invaded the Low Countries in May 1940, Churchill appointed Keyes liaison officer to Leopold III, King of the Belgians. But when Belgium surrendered suddenly to the Germans later that month both Leopold and Keyes were attacked in the British press. [37]

Keyes became the first Director of Combined Operations in June 1940 and implemented plans for the training of commandos and raids on hostile coasts. [37] He came up with bold schemes which were considered impractical by the Chiefs of Staff and he was removed from office in October 1941. [37] He was elevated to the peerage as Baron Keyes, of Zeebrugge and of Dover in the County of Kent on 22 January 1943. [43]

Keyes suffered a detached retina in early 1944. He then undertook a goodwill tour of Canada, Australia and New Zealand at the request of the British Government in July 1944. During his visit to the amphibious warfare ship USS Appalachian he suffered smoke inhalation following an attack by Japanese aircraft and never fully recovered. He died at his home in Tingewick on 26 December 1945 and was buried at the Zeebrugge corner of St James's Cemetery in Dover. [37]

Family

In 1906 Keyes married Eva Mary Bowlby: they had two sons and three daughters including Geoffrey Keyes, who was killed in action in 1941 and was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. [44]

Honours and awards

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References

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  2. "Admiral Sir Roger Keyes". Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom. www.dover-kent.co.uk. 2000–2006. Archived from the original on 14 October 2004. Retrieved 3 October 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Heathcote, p. 145
  4. "No. 26366". The London Gazette . 24 January 1893. p. 412.
  5. "No. 26444". The London Gazette . 26 September 1893. p. 5433.
  6. Keyes 1939, p. 165–173
  7. Keyes 1939, p. 243–258
  8. "No. 27245". The London Gazette . 9 November 1900. p. 6855.
  9. Preston, p. 284
  10. "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36654). London. 2 January 1902. p. 8.
  11. "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36666). London. 16 January 1902. p. 7.
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Sources

Further reading

Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Reginald Bacon
Commander-in-Chief, Dover
1918–1919
Succeeded by
Post disbanded
Preceded by
New Post
Commander, Battlecruiser Squadron
1919–1921
Succeeded by
Sir Walter Cowan
Preceded by
Sir Osmond Brock
Deputy Chief of the Naval Staff
1921–1925
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Field
Preceded by
Sir Osmond Brock
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
1925–1928
Succeeded by
Sir Frederick Field
Preceded by
Sir Osmond Brock
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
1929–1931
Succeeded by
Sir Arthur Waistell
Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Bertram Godfray
Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North
1934–1943
Succeeded by
Sir William James
Baronetage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baronet
(of Dover)
1919 – 1945
Succeeded by
Roger George Bowlby Keyes
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Keyes
1943–1945
Succeeded by
Roger George Bowlby Keyes