Admiral Sir Alexander Edward Bethell GCMG KCB (28 August 1855 – 13 June 1932) was a British naval officer who served as Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth of the Royal Navy.


Alexander Bethell
1917 portrait by Francis Dodd
Born(1855-08-28)28 August 1855
London, England
Died13 June 1932(1932-06-13) (aged 76)
London, England
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Service/branchRoyal Navy
Years of service1869–1918
Commands heldHMS Arethusa
HMS Naiad
HMS Hindustan
East Indies Station
Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Plymouth Command
Coastguards and Reserves
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
RelationsRichard Bethell, 3rd Baron Westbury, brother

Born the second son of Richard Augustus Bethell, 2nd Baron Westbury,[1] Bethell joined the Royal Navy in 1869.[2] In July–August 1899 he commanded the Arethusa, which was commissioned for the annual manoeuvres.[3] He was given command of the cruiser HMS Naiad serving in the Mediterranean Fleet in March 1901, and landed the Somaliland Field Force in East Africa[1] before returning to the United Kingdom to become assistant director of torpedoes.[2] He was given command of the battleship HMS Hindustan in 1908.[1] He was appointed Director of Naval Intelligence in 1909.[2]

In that capacity he attended the famous CID meeting on 23 August, at which the government rejected the Royal Navy's proposal that 5 divisions guard Britain whilst one land on the Baltic coast in the event of war with Germany. Instead the Army's plan, to send an Expeditionary Force of between four and six divisions to France, was adopted.[4] He was appointed Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station in 1912.[2] He was appointed Officer Commanding the Royal Navy War College at Portsmouth in 1913.[2]

He served in World War I as Commander, Battleships for the 3rd Fleet.[2] He was President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, from 1914 to 1915 and was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, in 1916 and Admiral commanding the Coastguards and Reserves in 1918.[2] He retired later that year.[2]

He lived at Wadeford House in Combe St Nicholas in Somerset.[1] He died in a London nursing home on 13 June 1932.[5]



In 1890 he married Hilda Huntsman; they had two sons and a daughter.[1] Both his sons were killed in World War I.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "The Bethell Family and Wadeford House" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 March 2010. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  3. ^ Navy List, August 1899, corrected to 18 July 1899 - Supplement: Ships and Officers Engaged in the Naval Manoeuvres, page 28.
  4. ^ Jeffery 2006, p96-7
  5. ^ Admiral Sir Alexander Bethell" (Obituaries). The Times. Wednesday, 15 June 1932. Issue 46160, col C, p. 9.


  • Jeffery, Keith (2006). Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson: A Political Soldier. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-820358-2.
Military offices
Preceded by Director of Naval Intelligence
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
Succeeded by
Preceded by President, Royal Naval College, Greenwich
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Succeeded by