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East Indies Station

The East Indies Station was a formation and command of the British Royal Navy created in 1744, it was defined so by the Admiralty to identify the geographical area jurisdiction of the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies.[1]

East Indies Station
HMS Swiftsure (1903) gunnery practice 1913.jpg
HMS Swiftsure at gunnery practice on the East Indies Station in the summer of 1913
Active1744–1958
Country United Kingdom
BranchNaval Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg Royal Navy
TypeFleet
Part ofAdmiralty
Garrison/HQTrincomalee

Even in official documents, the term East Indies Station was often used. In 1941 the ships of the China Squadron and East Indies Squadron were merged to form the Eastern Fleet under the control of the Commander-in-Chief, Eastern Fleet.[2] The China Station then ceased as a separate command. The East Indies Station and its shore establishments continued until disbandment in 1958.

For both strategic reasons and identifying areas of jurisdiction the Royal Navy was distributed around the world, separated into various fleets or squadrons operating from a number of regional stations, also known as commands.[3][4]

It encompassed Royal Navy Dockyards and bases in East Africa, Middle East, India and Ceylon, and other ships not attached to other fleets. Command-in-Chief of the command was usually vested in an Admiral or a Vice-Admiral.

HistoryEdit

 
Navy House, Trincomalee, residence of the Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station from 1811 to 1942

The East Indies Station was established as a Royal Navy command in 1744. From 1831–1865, the East Indies and the China Station were a single command known as the East Indies and China Station.[5] The East Indies Station, established in 1865, covered the Indian Ocean (excluding the waters around the Dutch East Indies, South Africa and Australia) and included the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea.[6] These responsibilities did not imply territorial claims but rather that the navy would actively protect British trading interests. From 1913 the station was renamed the Egypt and East Indies Station until 1918.[7][8]

The East Indies Station had bases at Colombo, Trincomalee, Bombay, Basra and Aden. In response to increased Japanese threats, the separate East Indies Station was merged with the China Station in December 1941, to form the Eastern Fleet.[9]

In early May 1941, the Commander-in-Chief directed forces to support the pursuit of Pinguin, the German raider that eventually sank after the Action of 8 May 1941 against HMS Cornwall.

On 7 December 1941, cruisers on the station included the heavy cruisers Cornwall, Dorsetshire, and Exeter; the light cruisers Glasgow, Danae, Dauntless, Durban, Emerald and Enterprise (some sources also place the heavy cruiser Hawkins as being on station on that date, while others report her being under refit and repair in the UK between early November 1941 & May 1942), and six armed merchant cruisers. Also assigned to the station was 814 Naval Air Squadron at China Bay, Ceylon, which unit was at that time equipped with Fairey Swordfish torpedo bombers.[10][10][11]

The last flagship of the station, in 1957-58, was HMS Gambia.[12] In 1958 the station closed and was replaced by the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station.[1]

In CommandEdit

Commander-in-Chief, East IndiesEdit

Prior to 1862 flag officers were appointed to coloured squadrons command flags shown below. see: Royal Navy ranks, rates, and uniforms of the 18th and 19th centuries
Post holders included:[13][14]
Rank Ensign Name Term Ref
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
1 Commodore   Curtis Barnett (1744–1746) [15]
2 Commodore   Thomas Griffin (1746–1748) [16][a]
3 Rear-Admiral   Edward Boscawen (1748–1750) [17][18]
4 Rear-Admiral   Charles Watson (1754–1757) [19][20][b]
5 Vice-Admiral   George Pocock (1757–1759) [21][c]
6 Commodore   Charles Steevens (1760–1761) [22][d]
7 Rear-Admiral   Samuel Cornish (1761–1763) .[23][24][e]
8 Commodore   John Byron (1764) [25][f]
9 Commodore   John (later Sir John) Lindsay (1769–1772) [26]
10 Rear-Admiral   Sir Robert Harland, 1st Baronet (1771–1775) [27][28]
11 Commodore   Edward Hughes (1773–1777) [29]
12 Commodore   Sir Edward Vernon (1776–1780) [30][g]
13 Rear-Admiral   Sir Edward Hughes (1780–1784) [29][h]
14 Vice-Admiral   Sir Hyde Parker, 5th Baronet (1782) [31][32][i]
15 Commodore   Andrew Mitchell (1784–1785) [33]
16 Commodore   William Cornwallis (1788–1794) [34]
17 Commodore   Peter Rainier (1794–1805) [35]
18 Vice-Admiral   Sir George Keith Elphinstone (1795) [36][37][j]
19 Rear-Admiral   Sir Edward Pellew, 1st Baronet (1804–1809) [38][39][k]
20 Rear-Admiral   Sir Thomas Troubridge, 1st Baronet (1805–1807) [40][41][l]
21 Rear-Admiral   William O'Bryen Drury (1809–1811) [42]
22 Vice-Admiral   Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet (1811–1814) [43][m]
23 Commodore   George Sayer (1814) [44]
24 Rear-Admiral   Sir Richard King, 2nd Baronet (1816–1820) [45][n]
25 Rear-Admiral   Sir Henry Blackwood, 1st Baronet (1820–1822) [46][o]
26 Commodore   Charles Grant (1822–1824)
27 Commodore   Sir James Brisbane (1825–1826) [47]
28 Rear-Admiral   Joseph Bingham (1825) [48][p]
29 Rear-Admiral   William Hall Gage (1825–1829) [49]
30 Rear-Admiral   Edward Owen (1829–1832) [50]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and China StationEdit

Note: for the period 1832–1865.

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies & Cape of Good Hope StationEdit

Post holders included:[51]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies & Cape of Good Hope Station
1 Commodore   Frederick Montresor (1865) [5]
2 Commodore   Charles Hillyar (1865–1867) [5]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies StationEdit

[5][52][53]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
1 Rear-Admiral   Leopold Heath (1867–1870)
2 Rear-Admiral   James Cockburn (1870–1872)
3 Rear-Admiral   Arthur Cumming (1872–1875)
4 Rear-Admiral   Reginald Macdonald (1875–1877)
5 Rear-Admiral   John Corbett (1877–1879)
6 Rear-Admiral   William Gore Jones (1879–1882)
7 Rear-Admiral   William Hewett (1882–1885)
8 Rear-Admiral   Frederick Richards (1885–1888)
9 Rear-Admiral   Edmund Fremantle (1888–1891)
10 Rear-Admiral   Frederick Robinson (1891–1892)
11 Rear-Admiral   William Kennedy (1892–1895)
12 Rear-Admiral   Edmund Drummond (1895–1898)
13 Rear-Admiral   Archibald Douglas (1898–1899)
14 Rear-Admiral   Day Bosanquet (1899–1902)
15 Rear-Admiral   Charles Drury (1902–1903)[54]
16 Rear-Admiral   George Atkinson-Willes (1903–1905)
17 Rear-Admiral   Edmund Poë (1905–1907)
18 Rear-Admiral   Sir George Warrender (1907–1909)
19 Rear-Admiral   Edmond Slade (1909–1912)
20 Rear-Admiral   Alexander Bethell (1912-1913)

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and Egypt StationEdit

Note:The post was sometimes styled as Senior Naval Officer, Egypt and Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station.[55]

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies and Egypt Station
1 Rear-Admiral   Richard Peirse (1913–1915) [56]
2 Rear-Admiral   Rosslyn Wemyss (1916–1917) [57]

Commander-in-Chief, East Indies StationEdit

Rank Flag Name Term
Commander-in-Chief, East Indies Station
21 Rear-Admiral   Ernest Gaunt (1917–1919)
22 Rear-Admiral   Hugh Tothill (1919–1921)
23 Rear-Admiral   Lewis Clinton-Baker (1921–1923)
24 Rear-Admiral   Herbert Richmond (1923–1925)
25 Rear-Admiral   Walter Ellerton (1925–1927)
26 Rear-Admiral   Bertram Thesiger (1927–1929)
27 Rear-Admiral   Eric Fullerton (1929–1932)
28 Rear-Admiral   Martin Dunbar-Nasmith (1932–1934)
29 Vice-Admiral   Frank Rose (1934–1936)
30 Vice-Admiral   Alexander Ramsay (1936–1938)
31 Vice-Admiral   James Somerville (1938–1939)
32 Admiral   Sir Ralph Leatham (1939–1941)
33 Vice-Admiral   Geoffrey Arbuthnot (1941–1942)[10]
34 Admiral   Sir Geoffrey Layton (1942–1944)
35 Vice-Admiral   Sir Arthur Power (1944–1945)
36 Admiral   Sir Arthur Palliser (1946–1948)
37 Vice-Admiral   Sir Charles Woodhouse (1948–1950)
38 Admiral   Sir Geoffrey Oliver (1950–1952)
39 Admiral   Sir William Slayter (1952–1954)
40 Vice-Admiral   Sir Charles Norris (1954–1956)
41 Vice-Admiral   Sir Hilary Biggs (1956–1958)

Fleet headquartersEdit

Chief of StaffEdit

Included:[58]

Rank Flag Name Term
Chief of Staff, East Indies Station/Eastern Fleet
1 Captain   Frederick Rodney Garside 3 January 1939 - June 1941 [59]
2 Rear-Admiral   Arthur F. E. Palliser June - December 1941

Note: Under East Indies Station briefly when the Eastern Fleet its established Rear-Admiral Palliser becomes COS to C-in-C, Eastern Fleet.

Operational and shore sub-commandsEdit

Flag Officer, East AfricaEdit

Originally established by the Royal Navy as East Coast of Africa Station (1862–1919) was administered by the Flag Officer, East Africa and a sub-command of the East Indies Station then later Eastern Fleet from 1862 to 1962.

Within the Eastern Fleet command from April 1942 to September 1943 then transferred back under East Indies Station

Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
Flag Officer, East Africa
1 Rear-Admiral   Charles G. Stuart September, 1943 – 11 January 1944. [60]
4 Rear-Admiral   Richard Shelly Benyon 11 January 1944 - November 1944 [61]
5 Commodore   Sir Philip Bowyer November 1944 - 1945
Royal Indian NavyEdit

The Royal Indian Navy (RIN) was the naval force of British India and the Dominion of India from 1 May 1830 – 26 January 1950. It came under the East Indies Station at the outbreak of World War Two on 3 September 1939 [62] until December 1941 transfers to Eastern Fleet command.

Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian NavyEdit
Rank Flag Name Term Notes/Ref
Flag Officer Commanding, Royal Indian Navy
1 Vice-Admiral   Sir Herbert Fitzherbert September 1939 - December 1941
Red Sea StationEdit

The Red Sea Station was one of the geographical divisions into which the Royal Navy divided its worldwide responsibilities for most of its existence was a sub-command of the East Indies Station.

Senior Naval Officer, Red SeaEdit

Base afloat:HMS HMS Egret

Senior Naval Officer, Red Sea ForceEdit

On 21 October 1941 the title was changed to Flag Officer, Red Sea and his command but now reporting to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean Fleet until 17 May 1942.[63] On 18 May 1942 the title is changed again to Flag Officer, Commanding Red Sea and Canal Area and transferred again to the Eastern Fleet.

Persian GulfEdit

The Royal Navy's presence in the Persian Gulf was originally located at Basidu, Qishm Island in Persia (c. 1850-1935) then later Juffair, Bahrain. It was commanded by the Senior Naval Officer, Persian Gulf. It included a naval base, depot and naval forces known as the Persian Gulf Patrol, then the Persian Gulf Squadron later called the Persian Gulf Division. It was a sub-command of the East Indies Station until 1958 when it merged with the Red Sea Station to create the Arabian Seas and Persian Gulf Station of the new Middle East Command.

Naval officers ports and basesEdit
# Location In command Dates Notes
1 Aden Naval Officer-in-Charge, Aden 1839 to 1917, 1921 to 1943, 1945 naval base/shore establishment
2 Addu Atoll Naval Officer in Charge, Addu Atoll 1942 to 1945 fleet base [64]
3 Calcutta Naval Officer in Charge, Calcutta 1939 to 1945 during WW2 only normally under FOCOMM, Royal Indian Navy
4 Colombo General Staff Officer, Colombo 1938 to 1939
5 Diego Suarez Naval Officer in Charge, Diego Suarez 1935 to 1945 fleet base [65]
6 Kilidini, Mombasa Senior British Naval Officer, Kilindini 1935 to 1945 shore establishment
7 Port Louis Naval Officer-in-Charge, Port Louis 18 shore establishment
8 Port Sudan Naval Officer-in-Charge, Port Sudan 1935 to 1945
9 Seychelles Naval Officer-in-Charge, Seychelles 1915 to 1945 fleet base [65]
10 Lake Tanganyika, Africa Naval Officer-in-Charge, Tanganyika 1915 to 1945
11 Trincomalee Captain-in-Charge, Ceylon 1915 to 1945
12 Zanzibar Naval Officer-in-Charge, Zanzibar 1915 to 1945

Naval formations that served in this commandEdit

Various units that served in this command included:

Naval Units Based at Date Notes
4th Cruiser Squadron Colombo/Trincomalee, Ceylon August to December, 1916
4th Light Cruiser Squadron Colombo/Trincomalee, Ceylon November 1918 to April 1919
Arabian Bengal Ceylon Escort Force (ABCEF ) Aden, Colony of Aden 1941 to 1942 Under the Eastern Fleet command from April 1942 to November 1943.[66]
East Indies and Egyptian Seaplane Squadron Port Said, Egypt 1916 to 1918 Royal Navy's first carrier squadron
Red Sea Division Port Tawfik, Egypt August 1914 to November 1918
Red Sea Force Port Tawfik, Egypt April 1940 to 1944 Naval base HQ Red Sea Force [66]
Persian Gulf Division Basidu, Persia,(1818-1935), Ras Al-Jufair, Bahrain 1885 to 1958
Persian Gulf Squadron Basidu, Persia/ Ras Al-Jufair, Bahrain 1818 to- 1885

Establishments and facilities in this commandEdit

# Unit name Location Dates Notes
1 Admiralty House Trincomalee, Ceylon 1813 to 1958 Official residence of the Commander-in-Chief
2 HM Naval Dockyard, Trincomalee Trincomalee, Ceylon 1813 to 1939, 1945-1958 Headquarters East Indies Station
3 HMS Gloucester II HM Naval Office, Colombo, Ceylon 1939-1945 Headquarters East Indies Station [67] Also linked to Navy House, Colombo, Official residence of the Commander-in-Chief in Colombo.
4 HM Naval Dockyard, Madras Madras, India 1796 to 1813 Headquarters, East Indies Station [68]
5 HMS Anderson Colombo, Ceylon 1939 to 1949 Listening (station of the Far East Combined Bureau built on Anderson Golf Club and reverted to previous use after war.
6 HM Naval Base, Basra Basra 1939 to 1949 Naval base
7 HM Naval Dockyard, Bombay Bombay, India 1811 to 1958 naval base during WW2 known as HMS Braganza
8 HM Naval Base, Calcutta Calcutta, India 1811 to 1958 Naval base during WW2 known as HMS Braganza
9 HMS Lanka Colombo, Ceylon 1939 - 1958 Naval base and shore station
10 HMS Mauritus Tombeau Bay, Mauritius 1810 to 1958 Telegraphic then Wireless Station [69]
11 HM Naval Base, Port Jackson [70] Port Jackson, New South Wales 1785 to 1865 Naval base transferred to China Station
12 Port Louis Port Louis, Mauritius 1810 to 1968 Naval base
13 HM Naval Base, Port Tawfik Port Tawfik, Red Sea, Egypt August 1914 to 1944 Naval base HQ Red Sea, Patrol/Division/Force
14 HMS Sheba Steamer Point (now Tawahi) in Aden Example Naval and shore base till 1958
15 RNAS China Bay Trincomalee, Ceylon 1938 to 1945 Air Station HMS Bambara
16 RNAS Colombo Racecourse Prince of Wales Island, George Town, Penang 1943 to 1945 Naval air station - HMS Bherunda
17 RNAS Katukurunda Katukurunda, Ceylon 1938 to 1945 Naval air station - HMS Ukussa
18 RNAS Mackinnon Road Mackinnon Road, Kenya, East Africa 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Tana then HMS Kipanga II [71]
19 RNAS Puttalam Puttalam Ceylon 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Rajaliya [72]
20 RNAS Port Reitz Port Reitz, Mombasa, Kenya 1942 to 1944 Naval air station, Aircraft Repair Yard, Reserve aircraft storage - HMS Tana then HMS Kipanga II HQ of Commdre-in-Charge, NAS, (Eastern Stations.).
21 RNAS Tanga Tanga, Tanzania 1942 to 1944 Naval air station - HMS Kilele [73]

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Thomas Griffin promoted later Rear- then Vice-Admiral
  2. ^ Charles Watson promoted later to Vice-Admiral
  3. ^ George Pocock appointed Vice-Admiral of the White, February 1757, Ref:Harrison. Simon, (2010-2018)
  4. ^ Charles Steevens promoted later to Rear-Admiral
  5. ^ Samuel Cornish promoted later to Vice-Admiral
  6. ^ Byron's appointment was initially a subterfuge, designed to provide apparent legitimacy for a voyage along the coast of Spanish South America and around the Cape of Good Hope. Byron's true mission was to establish a British naval presence on an uninhabited island off Spanish South America, which he achieved via landings on the Falkland Islands in December 1764.[25]
  7. ^ Edward Vernon promoted later to Rear-Admiral
  8. ^ Edward Hughes, second term as Commander-in-Chief
  9. ^ Hyde Parker appointed 1782 but lost at sea on his way out
  10. ^ Elphinstone went to capture the Dutch East Indies in 1795 but Rainier had already done it
  11. ^ Pellew was later promoted to Rear-Admiral of the Red, 9 November 1805
  12. ^ Troughbridge served jointly with Edward Pellew
  13. ^ Samuel Hood appointed Vice-Admiral of the White, 4 June 1814, Harrison, 2010-2018
  14. ^ Richard King appointed Rear-Admiral of the White, 4 June 1814 ref: Harrison, Simon (2010-2018)
  15. ^ Henry Blackwood appointed Rear-Admiral of the Blue, July 1819 ref: Harrison, Simon (2010-2018)
  16. ^ Joseph Bingham appointed 1825 but died before taking up post

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Further readingEdit

  • Peter A. Ward, British Naval Power in the East, 1794-1805: The Command of Admiral Peter Rainier, Boydell Press

External linksEdit