Beatty, David, first Earl Beatty 1871-1936, admiral of the fleet, was born at Howbeck Lodge, Stapeley, near Nantwich, Cheshire, 17 January 1871, the second son in a family of four sons and one daughter of Captain David Longfield Beatty, of the 4th Hussars, by his first wife, Katherine Edith, daughter of Nicholas Sadleir, of Dunboyne Castle, co. Meath, a remarkable woman who more than once prophesied that England would ring with David's name. The Beattys were of old Irish stock; the admiral's grandfather was long master of the Wexford hounds, and his parents, when they settled in Cheshire, devoted themselves to hunting and training the horses sent over from the family estates at Borodale in county Wexford. It is not therefore surprising that Beatty's favourite sport was hunting, or that he wrote to his sister about the battle of Jutland as if it had been a hunt. I describe the battle to you thus because only in this way would you understand it.
     Sea and ships had always greatly fascinated young Beatty, and there was never any doubt that he was destined for the navy. At thirteen years of age he passed into the Britannia, and on passing out two years later he was posted to the Alexandra, flagship of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh [qv.], commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet, and he served practically the whole of his time as midshipman in this ship. During the period from 1890 to 1892 he was under training ashore at Portsmouth and at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, as acting sub-lieutenant, emerging with a first-class certificate in torpedo, a second class in seamanship, gunnery, and pilotage, and a third class in navigation. He was promoted lieutenant in August 1892, and spent his watch-keeping days in the training corvette Ruby, and the battleships Camperdown and Trafalgar, for the most part in the Mediterranean.
     Beatty's early enthusiasm for the navy was damped at this time by the monotony of service routine; but his opportunity came in 1896, when Kitchener asked for a small force of gunboats to operate on the Nile in support of his expedition for the recovery of the Sudan. (Sir) Stanley Colville [qv.], commander of the Trafalgar, chose his shipmate Beatty as second-in-command of this little expedition in stern-wheel gunboats. Only three of these boats, one of which was Beatty's, passed the Third Cataract, and immediately above it they were hotly engaged by the Dervishes, not without artillery. Colville, severely wounded, handed over the command to Beatty who immediately decided to attempt the daring maneuvre of leading the flotilla upstream beyond the Arab position. He was assisted in this by the army, which, thanks to the action of the gunboats, had been able to establish artillery and infantry within close range. Beatty, however, pressed on at full speed to Dongola, and after another stiff fight won for the navy the honour of being the first to occupy the town. The enemy were by now in full retreat, but Beatty continued to harass them and did not give up the pursuit until he reached the Fourth Cataract. This gallant piece of leadership was highly praised by Kitchener, Beatty was appointed to the D.S.O., and his name was noted for early promotion.
     After a brief spell at home, Beatty, at Kitchener's special request, was again lent, in 1897, to the Egyptian government for operations on the Nile in a flotilla reinforced by specially designed gunboats. He had a narrow escape when, on 4 August, his ship, the Hafir, capsized at the Fourth Cataract. During the advance on Omdurman in 1898 he was constantly in action, and commanded a rocket battery ashore at the battle of the Atbara (8 April). After the battle of Omdurman (2 September) Beatty was in one of the gunboats that escorted the sirdar to Fashoda, on his return from whence he received special promotion to commander (November) at the early age of twenty-seven, over the heads of 395 senior officers on the lieutenants' list.
     After a winter spent at home in the hunting field, Beatty was appointed (April 1899) to the China station as commander of the battleship Barfleur, commanded by Colville. In spite of his youth, Beatty won the respect of both officers and men. After twelve months of normal duty he found himself again on active service in the Boxer rebellion. Sir Edward Seymour [qv.], the British naval commander-in-chief, made a gallant attempt to reach Pekin with an international force but was compelled to return to Hsiku, where he was completely surrounded. The foreign settlement at Tientsin, six miles to the south, was also besieged, and Beatty landed from the Barfleur to reinforce the garrison. In this he succeeded and was continuously employed in sorties; in one across the river he was ambushed. Wounded and in severe pain, he nevertheless brought his men back in good order, remaining with the rearguard until all the wounded had been embarked. While still suffering from his wounds, he accepted the command of a naval detachment which eventually assisted in extricating Seymour from Hsiku. For his services in this campaign he was promoted captain (November 1900). The average age of a captain being then forty-three, his promotion at twenty-nine caused considerable stir.
     As captain, Beatty commanded (1902-1910) the cruisers Juno, Arrogant, Diana, and Suffolk, and the battleship Queen. His marriage had made him independent of the service and his rapid promotion brought him to the head of the list of captains before he had completed the six years' service at sea required for promotion to flag rank. Nevertheless, in view of the time lost on account of the wounds which he had received in China and his war services, he was promoted rear-admiral by order in council on 1 January 1910, the youngest flag-officer for over a hundred years, being just under thirty-nine years of age, whereas Nelson on his promotion was a few months over thirty-eight. This promotion created even greater stir than the previous one, and with perhaps more justification in view of the length of time during which he had been on half-pay.
     Beatty was far more interested in the proper employment of the fleet in war than in its technicalities, and soon after Mr. Churchill, with his mind full of the dangers of war, became first lord of the Admiralty in October 1911, he chose Beatty, in spite of naval advice to the contrary, for his naval secretary (1912). They were admirably suited to each other; and, probably in order to confound the critics of Beatty and to test his capacity as a flag-officer, the first lord gave him the command of a cruiser squadron in the important maneuvres of 1912. Clearly Beatty fulfilled Mr. Churchill's expectations, for in the spring of 1913 he appointed Beatty over the heads of all to command the battle-cruiser squadron. Beatty hoisted his flag in the Lion in March 1913, and when war broke out on 4 August 1914 he was in northern waters in command of the scouting forces of the Grand Fleet based at Scapa Flow under Sir John (later Earl) Jellicoe [qv.].
     When, on 22 September 1914, the three cruisers Cressy, Hogue, and Aboukir were torpedoed with great loss of life off the Dutch coast, the shock to a fleet which had not wholly appreciated the potentialities of the submarine was such that the commander-in-chief, apprehensive about the security of the Grand Fleet at Scapa Flow, decided to take the fleet to ports on the west coast of Scotland and Ireland until Scapa could be properly defended. Although Beatty recognized the need for this decision, the result of government improvidence was more than he could bear, and he lost no time in pressing his views in the strongest terms by private letter to Mr. Churchill. Believing Scapa to be too distant from the enemy, he urged that Cromarty and Rosyth should also be equipped and defended as operational bases, and these defences were completed by the end of the year.
     It has been a matter for wonder why the Germans did not take fuller advantage of the awkward predicament in which the Grand Fleet found itself at this time. The answer is supplied by the success of the offensive movement into the Heligoland Bight, carried out by Beatty, (Sir) Reginald Yorke Tyrwhitt, and Roger John Brownlow (later Lord) Keyes, during the first month of the war. The plan designed by the Admiralty was, briefly, that Tyrwhitt with his destroyers should penetrate deeply into the Bight under cover of darkness and sweep out at dawn from east to west with the object of destroying all enemy ships encountered, while Keyes with his submarines lay off the mouths of the German rivers in suitable positions to attack enemy heavy ships if they came out. Two older battle-cruisers from the Humber under Rear-Admiral Sir Archibald Gordon Henry Wilson Moore were to act in support. Jellicoe, uneasy as to the adequacy of this support, directed Beatty to proceed to Heligoland with the battle-cruisers Lion, Queen Mary, Princess Royal, and Commodore (Sir) William Edmund Goodenough's six light cruisers. The weather was calm, but visibility was bad. Beatty's first move was to make contact with the Humber battle-cruiser force, which he did at daylight on 28 August, and he was thus able to obtain detailed information of the movements of the other units. The presence of British forces in the Bight having become known, the enemy sent out cruisers and destroyers to reinforce their patrols. In the thick weather, the British flotillas lost touch with one another, the situation became confused, and it was difficult to distinguish friend from foe. In several fleeting actions, the German cruiser Mainz and a destroyer were sunk. Just before noon, Tyrwhitt's flagship Arethusa, which had been badly damaged a short time previously, was attacked by four enemy cruisers. Captain W. F. Blunt in the Fearless, with a division of destroyers, came to her support, but could do little against such a superior force. At this critical moment, to the north-westward out of the mist, Beatty appeared with his battle-cruisers steaming at high speed to the rescue. Sundry other British forces rallied towards the battle-cruisers, and in a hot pursuit of the enemy into the Bight, the Köln and Ariadne were sunk. The two remaining German cruisers, Strassburg and Stralsund, made their escape. At 1:10 p.m. Beatty made the general signal Retire
     There is no doubt that by his prompt action Beatty turned what would certainly have been a disaster into an important success. It is interesting to note how he arrived at his decision, which was no easy one in view of the risks involved in the face of mines, submarines, and enemy heavy ships. At 10 a.m., realizing that the whole position was confused, Beatty broke wireless silence and informed all concerned where he was and what he was doing. He became very uneasy, and on receipt of various signals for assistance he decided to disregard the dangers and proceed at high speed in support of the Arethusa. His reasons for this are given in his own dispatch: The situation appeared to me to be extremely critical — there was the possibility of a grave disaster. At 11:30 I therefore decided that the only course possible was to take the battle-cruiser squadron at full speed to the eastward — I had not lost sight of the danger to my squadron. Here he enumerates the risks and discounts them methodically one by one, a good example of Beatty's power of tempering boldness with caution but, once the situation had been weighed, acting with vigour and determination. No British ship was lost in an action which, although a marked success, disclosed grave deficiencies in staff work and system of command. Nevertheless, the moral effect was profound: the German navy in particular was severely shaken, and the inactivity of the enemy from August to September enabled the defences of the British bases to be completed and the position of the Grand Fleet in the North Sea was consolidated.
     December 1914 was an anxious month for the British command. Owing to the commitments in other seas, only three battle-cruisers were available. There were signs of German naval activity and on 14 December the Admiralty reported that the enemy battle-cruisers were about to carry out a ‘tip and run’ raid on the east coast of England. As it was impossible to ascertain where the enemy would choose to attack, a strong British force, including the second battle squadron under Admiral Sir George Warrender [q.v.] and the first battle-cruiser squadron under Beatty, were dispatched to a point between Heligoland and Flamborough Head, where they would be in a good position to intercept the enemy on his return.
     At dawn on 16 December, when the British forces were in process of concentrating, news was received that Scarborough, Whitby, and Hartlepool were being bombarded. The weather was thick and the situation was complicated by the fact that a German mine-field lay between the British fleet and the five bombarding battle-cruisers. Aided by mist and the mine-field, the enemy slipped through the British forces and escaped. It was an exasperating day for the British admirals who were frustrated because there was no scientific means of locating the enemy or of synchronizing the movements of the four British squadrons groping blindly for their prey. The success of the raid emphasized the need for basing strong British forces farther south. Accordingly Beatty's battle-cruisers were stationed at Rosyth, and they had not long been there before Beatty found himself speeding across the North Sea to intercept Admiral Hipper, who, according to Admiralty intelligence, was expected to be near the Dogger Bank with four battle-cruisers, accompanied by cruisers and destroyers, on the morning of 24 January. So accurate was this intelligence that the British scouting forces sighted the enemy, as if at a pre-arranged rendezvous, at 7.30 a.m. on that day.
     Beatty pressed forward at full speed to attack with the Lion, Tiger, and Princess Royal. Rear-Admiral Moore with the older and slower Indomitable and the New Zealand began to fall astern. Hipper turned to run for home but Beatty was overhauling him and had a good chance to destroy the enemy ships before they could reach their base. But it was not to be. At 9 a.m. the British ships opened fire, the Seydlitz was severely damaged, and the Blücher, the rear ship of the enemy, very soon fell out of line and was abandoned to her fate. On the other hand, Beatty's flagship Lion became the target for the concentrated fire of the German squadron and after two hours' fighting received a blow which stopped one engine and caused her to list heavily to port. The other ships swept past her, and Beatty, who could no longer lead his squadron, was obliged to issue instructions by flag signals.
     The British squadron had now lost some distance on account of a turn to avoid a reported submarine. Beatty has been criticized for having ordered this turn, but he was no doubt influenced by the fate which had befallen the three cruisers in September. In order to continue the pursuit and get his guns to bear on the fleeing enemy, Beatty gave the order to his signal officer: ‘Course north-east¾attack the rear of the enemy.’ But the Lion had only two signal halyards left, and the arrangement of the signals as hoisted conveyed the meaning ‘Attack the rear of the enemy bearing north-east’, and so it was interpreted by Moore, the second-in-command. The effect was tragic, for by coincidence the Blücher, now well separated from her consorts, bore north-east: consequently the whole of the British squadron attacked and destroyed her. The Lion by now had dropped well astern, and Beatty was at a loss to know why his squadron was not continuing the pursuit of the main German force. He accordingly gave the order to use Nelson's signal ‘Engage the enemy more closely’, but was told that it had been omitted from the signal book. The modern substitute ‘Keep nearer to the enemy’ was then hoisted, but by this time the Lion was so far away that the signal could not be read. He transferred to a destroyer and gave chase; but it was too late: the enemy had escaped. So ended an action, which, although acclaimed as a British victory, was not so satisfactory as it might have been had Beatty been able to retain his leadership.
     In December 1915 Beatty, now promoted to vice-admiral, had under his command ten battle-cruisers organized into three squadrons, three light cruiser squadrons, and the thirteenth destroyer flotilla, with the Lion as fleet flagship. As that year wore on it was clear that the Germans had no intention of challenging British sea power in the North Sea, and no major action took place, but in January 1916 Admiral Scheer, the new commander-in-chief of the German fleet, announced his intention of coming to ‘close grips with England’. He implemented his threat by carrying out some ineffective ‘tip and run’ raids at scattered points on the east coast, hoping that public indignation would cause dispersal of the British fleet. He was disappointed; so he planned a more ambitious operation in which his light forces were to attack trade off the Norwegian coast and in the Skagerrak while the High Sea Fleet remained fifty miles to the south ready to pounce on any British detachment which might be sent to deal with the raiders. Before putting this plan into action, he placed strong forces of submarines in positions where they could intercept British units coming out from Rosyth, Cromarty, and Scapa.
     The date selected was 31 May, and by an extraordinary coincidence Jellicoe had also prepared for 2 June an operation which was in essence the same as Scheer's, namely, to draw the German forces into the Skagerrak and destroy them with the Grand Fleet. Towards the end of May the fleet had taken up its disposition for the impending operation, and as the third battle-cruiser squadron under Rear-Admiral (Sir) H. L. A. Hood [q.v.] happened to be at Scapa for routine gunnery practice, Jellicoe sent Rear-Admiral (Sir) H. Evan-Thomas [q.v.] with the fifth battle squadron to replace it in Beatty's fleet at Rosyth.
     On 30 May the Admiralty warned Jellicoe that the enemy intended to go to sea by way of Horn's Reef on 31 May; on the evening of the 30th the Grand Fleet sailed from Scapa, and Beatty left Rosyth with six battle-cruisers and the fifth battle squadron. Jellicoe's plan was that the Grand Fleet should pass through a position 200 miles east of Kinnaird Head on a southerly course. Beatty was to take his force to a point seventy miles south of this, and, if nothing was sighted, to turn north and take up his position ahead of the Grand Fleet. The whole fleet would then sweep south towards Horn's Reef with the cruiser screen ahead covering a wide front.
     Scheer left the Jade the same night, but neither Beatty nor Jellicoe had any definite information that the enemy was at sea. About noon on the 31st, the Admiralty incorrectly informed Jellicoe and Beatty that the German flagship was still in the Jade. Beatty reached his rendezvous at 2 p.m., and having sighted nothing he turned his whole force to the north to meet Jellicoe. He stationed the fifth battle squadron five miles to the northward of him so that it could be conveniently situated to drop into its normal position ten miles north of the battle-cruisers when the whole fleet had finally concentrated, and was proceeding to the southward in accordance with Jellicoe's plan. A few minutes later Commodore (Sir) Edwyn Sinclair Alexander-Sinclair in the Galatea, scouting to the eastward, reported the presence of enemy cruisers and destroyers. Beatty immediately turned to south-south-east to place himself between the enemy and his base. Evan-Thomas with the fifth battle squadron did not turn to follow Beatty until six minutes later, partly because he had not at the moment received the report of the enemy, and partly because smoke had prevented him from seeing the turning signal. This, opening the distance between the two squadrons, caused Beatty to go into action without the support of the four battle-ships. It has been suggested that he should have waited for Evan-Thomas, but his primary duty was to locate the enemy, and, if in superior force, to destroy him. In view of the Admiralty intelligence received two hours previously, he had every reason to believe that he would be in superior force, and he had six battle-cruisers against Hipper's five.
     Scheer left the Jade the same night, but neither Beatty nor Jellicoe had any definite information that the enemy was at sea. About noon on the 31st, the Admiralty incorrectly informed Jellicoe and Beatty that the German flagship was still in the Jade. Beatty reached his rendezvous at 2 p.m., and having sighted nothing he turned his whole force to the north to meet Jellicoe. He stationed the fifth battle squadron five miles to the northward of him so that it could be conveniently situated to drop into its normal position ten miles north of the battle-cruisers when the whole fleet had finally concentrated, and was proceeding to the southward in accordance with Jellicoe's plan. A few minutes later Commodore (Sir) Edwyn Sinclair Alexander-Sinclair in the Galatea, scouting to the eastward, reported the presence of enemy cruisers and destroyers. Beatty immediately turned to south-south-east to place himself between the enemy and his base. Evan-Thomas with the fifth battle squadron did not turn to follow Beatty until six minutes later, partly because he had not at the moment received the report of the enemy, and partly because smoke had prevented him from seeing the turning signal. This, opening the distance between the two squadrons, caused Beatty to go into action without the support of the four battle-ships. It has been suggested that he should have waited for Evan-Thomas, but his primary duty was to locate the enemy, and, if in superior force, to destroy him. In view of the Admiralty intelligence received two hours previously, he had every reason to believe that he would be in superior force, and he had six battle-cruisers against Hipper's five.
     At 3.25 p.m. Beatty sighted the German battle-cruisers and reported their position to Jellicoe, at this time about sixty miles to the northward. The two squadrons closed, and at 3.48 p.m. a fierce battle began on a southerly course at high speed. The British were unfavourably placed for wind and light, and the Germans quickly found the range. The Lion was repeatedly hit, and twenty minutes after the battle was joined the Indefatigable, which was struck by two plunging salvoes, blew up. Twenty minutes later the Queen Mary blew up, which caused Beatty to remark to his flag-captain: ‘There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships to-day, Chatfield.’ In spite of these two disasters, Beatty kept at close action range; meanwhile Evan-Thomas, by cutting corners and cramming on maximum speed, had skilfully managed to bring his squadron into action against the rear of the enemy. At this critical moment, Beatty threw his destroyers into the attack. Hipper did the same, and a brisk destroyer battle took place between the lines in which the British attack was the more successful, for a torpedo struck the Seydlitz and Hipper was forced to turn away. The German attack failed completely, and this gave the British a slight breathing space and from now onwards their fire began to tell. ‘Nothing’, reported Hipper, ‘but the poor quality of the British bursting charges saved us from disaster.’
     At 4.40 p.m. with dramatic suddenness the scene changed. A forest of masts appeared on the southern horizon where for the moment visibility was good. This was the High Sea Fleet, reported for the first time seven minutes previously by Commodore Goodenough, who had been scouting ahead of the battle-cruisers. Beatty's duty was clear. He must retire to the northward at once and endeavour to lead Scheer into Jellicoe's clutches. Accordingly he reversed his course and after another hour and a half of dogged fighting, in which the fifth battle squadron bore the brunt, he sighted the Grand Fleet. During this time the two British squadrons inflicted very heavy damage on the German battle-cruisers, all the turrets of the Von der Tann being put out of action.
     At 5.35 p.m. Beatty, realizing that Jellicoe was not far off, turned sharply to the eastward in order to bend back Hipper's van and prevent him from sighting the main British battle-fleet. This maneuvre gave Beatty improved visibility and after a sharp encounter the enemy withdrew from the action behind a smoke screen. Of this action, the German official account says: ‘Hard pressed and unable to return the fire, the position of the German battle-cruisers soon became unbearable.’
     And now the battleships of the Grand Fleet appeared out of the mist in six columns to the northward, and Beatty found himself streaking across their front. In spite of conflicting reports as to the position of the enemy battle fleet, Jellicoe deployed into line of battle in the nick of time on an easterly course, with the object of getting between the enemy and his base, and Beatty was able to take up his position in the van while Evan-Thomas proceeded to his alternative battle-station in the rear. By 6.30 p.m. the main battle fleets were in action, and Beatty was joined a little later by the two remaining battle-cruisers out of the three that composed the third battle squadron under Hood, who at 6.34 had been lost in the Invincible. At 8.25 p.m., Beatty, who was conforming as arranged with the movements of the Grand Fleet, got a sight of the German battle-cruisers and one of their battle squadrons. He immediately closed and opened fire; but the Germans, having no spirit for further fighting, turned away and were lost in the mist.
     Although Beatty's force had sustained heavy losses, he had by nightfall under his command, ready for action next day, six battle-cruisers, whereas Hipper had only one. To Evan-Thomas Beatty gave full credit in his dispatch for the part played by the fifth battle squadron in achieving this result.
     Professional investigations at the Royal Naval War College and Staff College over many years confirm the view expressed in Jellicoe's dispatch that Beatty carried out the duties assigned to him with conspicuous success. Despite heavy losses, he located the enemy battle fleet and led it to a position where the Grand Fleet could engage it. He also, at the critical moment, prevented Hipper from sighting the British main fleet and so enabled Jellicoe to complete his deployment unobserved in the right direction while Beatty himself took up his position in the van of the British line of battle in accordance with the commander-in-chief's plan. It is true that reports of the enemy's positions coming in from Beatty and his cruisers were misleading to Jellicoe. The main reason for this (apart from bad visibility) was that each ship's position was based upon her own individual calculations, and no means then existed for synchronizing these estimates on a common basis. Errors of omission can be accounted for by the fact that Beatty was hotly engaged most of the time, and the Lion's wireless was inoperative. It was only natural, therefore, that there should have been recriminations, arising mainly from the fact that in the conditions of visibility prevailing, no two commanders got the same view of the action, and that, although 250 ships took part, there were never more than three or four enemy ships in sight at the same time from any point in our line of battle. It must always be remembered that a complete bird's-eye view of the battle was denied to those who took part, and particularly to the commander-in-chief, who that day bore on his shoulders the responsibility for possibly losing the war in an afternoon.
     At the end of 1916 Jellicoe became first sea lord, and Beatty, at the age of forty-five, when most of his contemporaries were still on the captains' list, was appointed with the acting rank of admiral to command the most powerful fleet in history. Early in 1917 he chose the Queen Elizabeth as his flagship because she had the speed to enable him to get to the most favourable position for exercising supreme command in battle. He immediately set to work to enforce the lessons of Jutland. To make his system of leadership clear to all, he changed the title ‘Battle Orders’ to ‘Battle Instructions’, thereby implying that senior officers could use their own initiative to the fullest extent in translating into action the general intentions of the commander-in-chief. Being determined that the confusion in information experienced at Jutland should not recur, he introduced a system of plotting the positions of British and enemy units upon a synchronized basis. He always believed in aircraft and arranged for kite balloons to be flown by various selected units. Ships were taken in hand by the dockyards to improve their magazine protection, and meanwhile the Admiralty had designed a really effective projectile and was hastening its supply to the fleet.
     The anti-submarine campaign of 1917 aroused Beatty's hunting instincts. While keeping a sharp look-out for a sortie by the German fleet¾there was indeed one abortive attempt¾he used every means in his power to combat the menace. He was a firm believer in the convoy system, and, growing impatient with the Admiralty slowness in organizing it, asked and obtained permission to run convoys under his own direction to and from Norway. Over 4,000 ships sailed in convoy in the North Sea with negligible loss in six months. But it was only a question of time before one of the Norwegian convoys would be located by fast enemy surface ships, using the hours of darkness to evade the British patrols. This happened on two occasions in the autumn of 1917 and the following winter. Fortunately neither convoy was large and the total loss was sixteen merchant ships, four destroyers, and four armed trawlers. It was, nevertheless, only to be expected that the enemy would try again, so Beatty decided to send larger convoys at longer intervals, but escorted by a division of battleships. The inherent hope that this would entice the enemy to send out still stronger forces to attack the convoys was nearly fulfilled, for Scheer, in April 1918, did make one more sortie, but he miscalculated the date and dared not prolong his stay in waters where Beatty might be met.
     The advent of a squadron of United States battleships under Admiral Hugh Rodman diminished the strain on the Grand Fleet. Beatty and Rodman worked in perfect harmony and in a very short time the American squadron became an integral part of Beatty's battle fleet. In 1918 the added strength of the United States navy enabled more effective measures to be brought against enemy submarines, and the patrols round the coasts of Great Britain became so effective that the enemy was compelled to look for targets far out at sea, only to be frustrated by the convoy system. By midsummer the submarine danger was definitely mastered, but in October there were indications that Scheer might take a ‘death-ride’ with his fleet. Beatty countered the German move of concentrating all their submarines in the North Sea in positions where they could attack the Grand Fleet on its way to battle, by massing all available anti-submarine vessels at the threatened points. Then he dispatched Rear-Admiral (Sir) Arthur Cavenagh Leveson with the second battle-cruiser squadron and a strong destroyer force on a high-speed sweep through the submarine-infested waters towards the Skagerrak. When Leveson reported on his return that only one torpedo had been fired at his force, it was evident that the morale of the German navy was broken, and this opinion was confirmed by the news that the High Sea Fleet had mutinied and refused to obey orders to sail.
     Two days after the signing of the armistice on 11 November, the German cruiser Königsberg arrived at Rosyth, having on board Rear-Admiral Meurer and a ‘soldiers' and workmen's council’ which claimed to have plenipotentiary powers. Beatty made it clear that he would only negotiate with a naval officer of flag rank. The delegates could not but agree, and Meurer, while thanking Beatty at the conference table, stated that this was the first time that his rank had been recognized during the last two months. The necessary arrangements were made on 15 and 16 November, and on 21 November the Grand Fleet escorted the High Sea Fleet to its anchorage in the Firth of Forth. A service of thanksgiving was held in every ship, and that evening Beatty made the famous signal: ‘The German flag will be hauled down at sunset, and will not be hoisted again without permission.’ On 1 January 1919 Beatty was promoted admiral and on 3 April admiral of the fleet: four days later he hauled down his union flag and the Grand Fleet ceased to exist.
     On 1 November 1919 Beatty succeeded Admiral of the Fleet Sir R. Wemyss (later Lord Wester Wemyss) [q.v.] as first sea lord, and was immediately confronted with the problem of reducing the navy in order to reconcile the demands of economy with the maintenance of sea power adequate for national security. The presentation of the freedom of many cities gave him a fine opportunity of impressing on the public the need for a strong navy. At the Washington Conference, which assembled in November 1921, although he agreed generally with the principle of parity with the United States, he insisted upon Great Britain retaining the right to have the number of cruisers necessary for her own peculiar needs. He succeeded in getting the British case accepted, and it was not until he had left the Admiralty that the minimum of seventy cruisers for Britain was abandoned. Wrapped up with this problem was that of overseas bases, and Beatty, with his eye on Japan, succeeded in convincing the Cabinet that if the fleet was to operate in Far Eastern waters a strongly defended base with full docking facilities must be established at Singapore. There were some warm controversies with the Air Ministry over this and other problems, including that of the status of the Fleet Air Arm which the Air Ministry considered should be retained within its own organization, including responsibility for providing material and training air personnel, but which the Admiralty maintained must be an integral part of the navy. The dispute was ended by the government decision of 1937 by which the administration, operating, and training of the Fleet Air Arm were put almost wholly under naval control. Experience in the war of 1939-1945 proved that Beatty's view was correct.
     Beatty's experience of naval warfare convinced him of the value, which he had learned under Mr. Churchill, of a trained body of staff officers to assist admirals in all the ramifications of war. He approved and encouraged the Naval Staff College, and re-established the war course for senior officers only. To ensure common doctrine both were established at Greenwich. At the Admiralty he made the naval staff responsible for seeing that construction and armaments were designed to meet fighting requirements, in which he was ably assisted by Rear-Admiral (Lord) Chatfield. He confirmed the creation of the Department of Scientific Research advocated by Rear-Admiral (Sir) William Coldingham Masters Nicholson and established the Admiralty experimental laboratory at Teddington. He played a leading part in the inauguration of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee which has since proved to be a most efficient instrument for the conduct of war under the prime minister. He was first sea lord for seven and a half years, a longer period than any of his predecessors, and all the time he had to resist continual assaults aimed at reducing British naval strength. Yet he left the Admiralty in July 1927, not only with the goodwill and admiration of the navy, but with the thanks of the government for invaluable assistance ‘during a period of exceptional difficulty’.
     On retirement Beatty went back to the hunting field, where he had a serious accident which necessitated his lying for three months with a broken jaw tightly screwed. Some years afterwards, while suffering from a severe attack of influenza, he rose from a sick bed against all medical advice, to attend Jellicoe's funeral in November 1935. During a halt in Fleet Street a member of the staff of a newspaper office, noticing how ill he looked, kindly revived him with a glass of brandy, and he marched on with the procession. Barely four months later he died in London 11 March 1936, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral on the 16th.
     Beatty took a deep interest in the welfare and recreation of the ships' companies and devoted much time and energy to improving their domestic and service conditions. An increase of pay being long overdue, he created two committees under Rear-Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey and Admiral Sir T. H. M. Jerram [q.v.] to investigate the question, and as a result of their report the pay of officers and men was substantially raised in 1919 for the first time for many years. This well-timed measure did much to alleviate distress and successfully checked any discontent which might have arisen during the dangerous period of transition from war to peace. Of the many honours done to him none pleased him more than the invitation issued to him in 1919 by the men of the fleet to be their guest at a banquet at Portsmouth, where amid a vociferous reception, gun teams dragged his car through the streets. Ordinary honours were legion. He was appointed M.V.O. in 1905, C.B. in 1911, K.C.B. in 1914, K.C.V.O. and G.C.B. in 1916, and G.C.V.O. in 1917. In 1919 he was appointed to the Order of Merit and later in that year he was raised to the peerage as Earl Beatty, at the same time receiving the thanks of both Houses of Parliament and a grant of £100,000. In 1927 he was sworn of the Privy Council. He received honorary degrees from the universities of Oxford and Aberdeen and was lord rector of Edinburgh University from 1917 until his death. His numerous foreign decorations included that of grand officer of the Legion of Honour.
     Beatty married in 1901 Ethel (died 1932), only daughter of Marshall Field, of Chicago, and formerly wife of Arthur Magic Tree, of the United States of America. They had two sons, the elder of whom, David Field (born 1905), succeeded as second earl.
     In the course of his naval career, Beatty was sometimes the target of ill-informed criticism, but he never spoke a word in reply, being content to abide by the verdict of his countrymen and of history. He was neither impetuous nor rash; his judgement was sound and his decisions were the result of careful reflection and forethought. During the war he never took any leave, and, although his wife and family lived close to Rosyth, he slept in his flagship every night. He landed every afternoon while in harbour for physical exercise and maintained perfect health throughout, nor did he ever show the slightest sign of the strain imposed upon him. In moments of crisis his brain worked with absolute clarity and he never had cause to reverse an important decision. Above all was his dauntless courage, both moral and physical.
     A portrait of Beatty is included in Sir A. S. Cope's picture ‘Some Sea Officers of the Great War’, painted in 1921, in the National Portrait Gallery. Another portrait is that in Sir John Lavery's ‘Surrender of the German Fleet’ in the Imperial War Museum. Other portraits include a full-length in captain's uniform, by Hugh Riviere (1909), a full-length in evening dress by Cowan Dobson (1930), and a head (black and white), by J. S. Sargent (1919), all in the possession of the second Earl Beatty; a head, by P. A. de László, belonging to the Hon. Peter Beatty; and a painting in admiral's uniform, by an unknown artist, at the Naval and Military Club, Pall Mall. There is a bust, by Feredah Forbes, at Brooksby Hall, near Leicester.

     Official dispatches
     Staff College records
     Admiralty office memoranda, The German official account of the Battle of Jutland
     Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, 1923
     Sir E. H. Seymour, My Naval Career and Travels, 1911
     Geoffrey Rawson, Beatty, 1930
     private information
     personal knowledge.

Contributor: W. S. Chalmers.

Published:     1949