Search billions of records on


Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey

Sir Lionel Halsey (1872-1949) served at the naval battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank and Jutland prior to his appointment as Fourth Sea Lord in December 1916.

View a map of naval operations in 1914.

Having joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1885 he was promoted to Lieutenant eight years later.  He served in the South African War of 1899-1902, during the course of which he played a role in the defence of Ladysmith.  He was promoted Commander in 1901 and Captain four years later.

In the pre-war years before 1914 Halsey served as Flag Captain to the Commander-in-Chief, Australia, Sir Wilmot Fawkes.  1912 brought Halsey command of HMS
New Zealand.

Halsey saw more wartime service than many of his contemporaries.  In August 1914 he again commanded HMS
New Zealand, and once more at Dogger Bank five months later.

Called upon by Sir John Jellicoe, the commander of the Grand Fleet, to be his Captain of the Fleet in June 1915, he was on board HMS
Iron Duke during the Battle of Jutland on 31 May/1 June 1916.

Subsequently promoted to Rear-Admiral he became Fourth Sea Lord in December 1916 when he followed Jellicoe to the Admiralty (where the latter was appointed First Sea Lord).  Eric Geddes' appointment as First of the Admiralty in July (replacing Sir Edward Carson) brought Halsey a brief to oversee naval design.

In October 1918 - the month before the war ended - Halsey was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Navy.

Sir Lionel Halsey, who was knighted in 1918, died in 1949.



Source Information:
In 1999, The Dacorum Heritage Trust mounted a major exhibition focusing on local soldiers who served in the First World War. In preparation for the exhibition, we gathered material (including photographs) from local families whose relatives had served during the conflict. We also began to compile a database of all soldiers in the Borough whose names appear on the war memorials. We used sources such as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, local newspapers and family testimony.


Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey

Lionel Halsey was the fourth son of the Rt Hon Sir Frederick Halsey of Gaddesden Place. He saw action in the Boer War during the siege of Ladysmith and was later made Captain of the battle cruiser, HMS New Zealand. When this ship stopped off at New Zealand in 1913, Halsey met some local Maori chiefs. One of them presented him with a Maori warrior’s costume and said that it had belonged to his father who had been victorious in all his battles. The chief asked Halsey whether he would wear the outfit if ever he was in battle. Halsey agreed to do so not thinking he would ever have to honour this promise.

A year later the First World War broke out and when HMS New Zealand took part in the Battle of Heligoland Bight of August 1914, Halsey honoured his promise and donned the Maori costume. One of crew declared at the time "The old man has gone dippy!" But the ship emerged from battle without a single scratch and there no fatalities.

Halsey was promoted to Captain of the Fleet and was on the bridge of HMS Iron Duke at the Battle of Jutland for which he was made Companion of The Order of The Bath. He became Third Sea Lord in 1917 and commanded the Australian Navy from 1918-20. He later served members of the royal family and died in 1949 at the age of 77.


This page was last updated May 5, 2004.