Joseph Kenworthy, 10th Baron Strabolgi
Strabolgi was born at Leamington in Warwickshire and educated at the Eastman's Royal Naval Academy at Northward Park in Winchester and as a cadet on H.M.S. Britannia. He joined the Royal Navy in 1902 and served for seventeen years. During the First World War, he was for a short but critical period in the Plans Division of the Admiralty War Staff. He left for an appointment in the Mediterranean which enabled him to see the latest developments of war on seaborne commerce at close quarters. He returned to the Grand Fleet in time to be present at the final surrender of German sea power. He resigned from the Navy in 1920 to enter Parliament.
Kenworthy first tried to enter Parliament at the 1918 general election contesting Rotherham as a Liberal but finished in third place. He was soon given another chance though when he was selected to contest Central Hull at a by-election in 1919. Anti-Coalition government sentiment was riding high and he was duly elected Member of Parliament for the Liberals. Kenworthy was one of the more energetic supporters of H H Asquith in Parliament and never lost his hostility to Lloyd George. During the 1924-29 parliament which was dominated by a Conservative majority, he worked closely with a group of radical Liberal MPs that included: William Wedgwood Benn, Percy Harris, Frank Briant and Horace Crawfurd to provide opposition to the government. When Lloyd George became Leader of the Liberal Party in 1926, despite the party taking on a more radical hue, Kenworthy resigned from the party and joined Labour. He also resigned his seat in the House of Commons and fought and won a by-election in Central Hull, standing for Labour. He retained the seat until 1931. In 1934, he succeeded his father as Lord Strabolgi and was the opposition chief whip in the House of Lords from 1938 to 1942. He was disappointed not to be given a position in the postwar Labour government (1945–51).
Lord Strabolgi married twice. Firstly, in 1913, to Doris Whitley, daughter of his fellow Liberal MP, Frederick Whitley-Thomson. They had four children, and divorced in 1941. Later that year, he married Geraldine Francis.
When he died in 1953 aged 67, he was succeeded by his eldest son, David Montague de Burgh Kenworthy, 11th Baron Strabolgi, another left-wing politician and member of the Labour Party.
Lord Strabolgi was an active supporter of the movement for the independence of India, and during the Second World War, he wrote numerous articles on the war, especially the war at sea. These include Secret Weapons in Modern World (27 April 1940) and What’s Wrong with the British Army? in Colliers magazine (22 August 1942).
"That Kenworthy stayed [at the Naval Staff] for only five months was probably the result of factors beyond the need to employ invalid staff. A reading of his service record and his memoirs suggest that he was a man who was neither easy to work with nor necessarily very competent. His memoirs are particularly unreliable. Of the 244 executive officers for whom it has been possible to find their Sub-Lieutenant examination results, twenty-three failed an exam (9 per cent), and Kenworthy was one of these. From his service record it is possible to see that: in 1907 he was refused permission to qualify for a navigation course; in 1911 he failed the signals course for command of a Torpedo boat; in 1912 HMS Bullfinch, of which he was in command, struck HMS Leopard, and Kenworthy was 'cautioned to be more careful'; in 1914 he was sacked from HMS Bullfinch 'on account of unsatisfactory conduct'. The Admiral Commanding Orkneys and Shetlands concluded that Kenworthy was 'not a fit person to be in command of a destroyer'. (ADM 196/50, p. 286.) It should be added in mitigation that collision between ships was not that uncommon. In any case, it is not any of these events that is telling, but the combination. Kenworthy's memoirs make no reference to his departure from HMS Bullfinch. (Kenworthy, Sailors) He merely wrote that when he left the ship the crew cheered. His entry in The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography has also failed to address these inconsistencies. (Grove, E., 'Kenworthy, Joseph Montague', in ODNB, Oxford 2004, vol. 31, 337–8.)"
Books by Lord StrabolgiEdit
His books include –
- Peace or war? (with a foreword by H.G. Wells, Boni & Liveright, New York, 1927)
- India, A Warning (E. Mathews & Marrot, London, 1931)
- The Campaign in the Low Countries: the first full-length account of the epic struggle in Holland and Belgium (London 1940)
- The Battle of the River Plate (Hutchinson & Co., London, 1940)
- Freedom of the Seas (jointly with Sir George Young)
- Our Daily Pay: the Economics of Plenty
- Sailors, Statesmen and Others: an Autobiography
- The Real Navy
- Narvik and After
- From Gibraltar to Suez: a study of the Italian Campaign
- Singapore and After
- Sea Power in the Second World War
- Chairman of the English-Speaking Union
- Vice-President of The Air League of The British Empire
- Strabolgi at thepeerage.com
- Obituary in The Hindu – 10 October 1953
- Speech at the Empire Club of Canada, 1947
Entry by Eric J Grove in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, OUP 2004–08
- Forty Years in and out of Parliament by Sir Percy Harris
- Nicholas Black, The British Naval Staff in the First World War, (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009), 34.
- Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Lord Strabolgi