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Reginald Henderson

Admiral Sir Reginald Guy Hannam Henderson, GCB[2] (1 September 1881 – 2 May 1939) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy.[3]

Sir Reginald Henderson
Birth nameReginald Guy Hannam Henderson
Born1 September 1881[1]
Falmouth, Cornwall, England
Died2 May 1939(1939-05-02) (aged 57)
Haslar, Hampshire
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Commands heldHMS Erin
HMS Furious
Battles/warsWorld War I
AwardsKnight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath

Early life and educationEdit

Henderson was born into a naval family in Falmouth, Cornwall, the son of Commander John Hannam Henderson and Betsy Ann May. He was the nephew of Admiral Sir Reginald Friend Hannam Henderson and Admiral Sir William Hannam Henderson. He had one brother, Lt.-Col. Henry May Henderson, who was killed in action in the First World War.[3][4]

He entered HMS Britannia as a naval cadet in 1895.[3]

Naval careerEdit

Henderson was appointed an acting sub-lieutenant in the Royal Navy in November 1900, confirmed as such in 1902,[5] and posted to HMS Syren in April that year.[6] He was promoted to lieutenant on 15 May 1902,[7] and in November that year was posted to the battleship HMS Venerable, on her first commission, to the Mediterranean Fleet.[8] He took part in the Naval Mission to Greece in 1913.[9] He served in World War I as commanding officer of the battleship HMS Erin in 1914[9] and took part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916.[10]

In 1917, as a commander involved in anti-submarine warfare, he quietly opposed the Admiralty's official position that the volume of merchant shipping was too great to be protected by warships. Henderson demonstrated that the vast majority of the 2,500 ships completing voyages each week were in fact coastal voyages, and only between 120 and 140 ocean-going. Hankey's biographer Stephen Roskill suggested that Henderson's contribution to the introduction of convoys (in particular to Hankey's memorandum of February 1917) was not acknowledged on paper at the time in order to avoid imperilling the younger officer's career.[11]

After the War he became Chief Staff Officer to the Commander-in-Chief, China Station and then, in 1923, joined the staff of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.[9]

Henderson later promoted the Fleet Air Arm and the construction of aircraft carriers.[11] He was given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Furious in 1926 and became Naval Aide-de-Camp to King George V in 1928.[9] He was appointed Rear Admiral commanding aircraft carriers in 1931 and Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy in 1934.[9]

He was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB) following the First World War and knighted in the order (KCB) in 1936. Henderson fell ill and was forced to retire in March 1939. In April 1939, he was promoted to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB), which owing to his illness, was accepted by his wife on his behalf at Buckingham Palace.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

In 1911, he married Islay Edith Campbell Campbell. They had three sons, two surviving to adulthood.[12][3]

He died in May at the Royal Naval Hospital in Haslar, Portsmouth, aged 57.[3]


  1. ^ "Catalogue description: Henderson, Reginald Guy Hannam". The National Archives' catalogue. The National Archives (UK). Retrieved 15 May 2019.
  2. ^ accessed 18 Feb 2012 Who was Who
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Obituary: Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson". The Times. The Times Digital Archive. 3 May 1939. p. 20.
  4. ^ "Casualty Details: Henderson, Henry May", Commonwealth War Graves Commission, retrieved 15 May 2019
  5. ^ "No. 27432". The London Gazette. 9 May 1902. p. 3089.
  6. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36750). London. 24 April 1902. p. 11.
  7. ^ "No. 27491". The London Gazette. 4 November 1902. p. 7013.
  8. ^ "Naval & Military intelligence". The Times (36910). London. 28 October 1902. p. 9.
  9. ^ a b c d e Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives
  10. ^ Battle of Jutland
  11. ^ a b Grigg 2002, p50-1
  12. ^ The Chronicles of Mark Henderson

Further readingEdit

  • Grigg, John. Lloyd George: War Leader, 1916–1918 Allen Lane, London 2002 ISBN 0-713-99343-X
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Charles Forbes
Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy
Succeeded by
Sir Bruce Fraser