A FAMOUS NAVAL AND INTERNATIONAL FAMILY OF SUFFOLK, UK

This webpage is written for two quite separate audiences, for the villagers of Fornham St Martin and for Royal Naval historians, or those who have a care for British naval history.

The picture below is of a wall plaque mounted in St Martin's Church in the village of Fornham St Martin in West Suffolk

[The text on the bottom of the window above is not associated with the plaque]

Ashore at Normandy.

Left to right Rear Admiral J W Rivett-Carnac, DSC, Flag Officer British Assault Area [FOBAA]; Captain H Hickling, DSO, RN, NOIC [Naval Officer In Command] Arromanches, the Port used for the Mulberry Harbours; Captain Allan Peachy, DSO, RN, Commanding Officer of HMS ENTERPRISE one of the ships dedicated to bombarding the British landing beaches of Gold and Sword with Juno [Canadians] in between; and Mr Churchill 21-23 July 44 - landings successfully achieved and the start of the end of WW2!

To most, a little known family but to me a near neighbour, albeit long gone from the family home!

The Rivett-Carnac's of Fornham St Martin

After the general detail of the Rivett-Carnac family, I will go into some detail to cover the naval life of this iconic naval hero, for he was nothing less, and we in this very small village should be grateful for his time on earth and what he did for us against the enemies of the Realm. I would go further by suggesting we revere his grave especially during times of national remembrance. I should mention that there are several high ranking and enobled persons also buried in this peaceful spot, but by and large not, as is the case for the admiral and his wife, in modern times viz 1970 and 1974 respectively. For those who also served in the Royal Navy and wish to pay their respects at his grave, it can readily be found by entering the churchyard through the main road gate, continuing down the pathway, past the church entrance door [on your left], over a small grassed area at the end of that path, on into a gap in the wall [into the "new" burial ground], where, after just a few paces, over on your left is the Rivett-Carnac tombstone which faces away from the church [and at that point its prominent tower] facing towards the River Lark just a few points west of south.

Rivett-Carnac's fame is understated and unique. As you will read in what follows, as the CO of HMS Rodney [nicknamed Rodnol*] his ship, inter alia, cut a gateway in the north Mediterranean islands [Sicily] and mainland to allow Allied troops to land to start their long haul of driving Axis forces north and out of Italy. Then, as an admiral appointed the Flag Officer of the British Assault Areas [FOBAA], he was in charge of the British Normandy Beaches [Sword, Gold and part of Juno] driving the Axis forces south and east back across the Seine and out of France and eventually back to the 'black country' namely Germany!

* All warships were built with heavy armaments for'ard and aft of the vessel with the main superstructure midships. All tanker superstructures are usually built aft allowing all areas for'ard to be devoted to the carrying and supplying of fuel oil. 'Rodney' and her sole sister 'Nelson' were built like tankers with all of the foredeck given to her massive nine 16" guns, barbets, cordite lockers and ammunition lockers resulting in her superstructure being found aft just like a tanker. As a destroyer, a cruiser, a battleship, for example, have respective suffixes viz 'dd', 'cc' and 'bb' then also do tankers [oilers] have the a suffix which is 'ol'. It is easy to see why sailors referred derisorily,  to the Rodney as Rodnol.

This is a picture taken by an escorting destroyer escort of the rear end of Rodney during her bombardment of the Normandy beaches

Her enormous 16" guns, shells, cordite bags*, speed of loading and firing etc were beyond the bounds of human efforts, and were 95% automated with a 5% manual input. In the following very short film, I have cut a snippet from a story about our wartime navy which gives a very brief insight of  her nine 16" guns in operation.

* Most of you will know that a bullet or a small shell is propelled by a cap [built in the base of the shell] being struck by a trigger mechanism which explodes forcing the bullet/shell out of its casing which is then discarded [jettisoned] on to the deck by opening the breach ready for the next projectile to be loaded. With such massive shells weighing not far short of one ton, that is not possible. Instead the shell itself [without a casing] is rammed into the breach followed by bags of cordite [which replace gunpowder] rammed tight up behind the shell. Cordite burns at a relative slow rate [relative to gunpowder] but the gases produced expand at a great pace and enormous pressure is built-up behind a very heavy shell forcing the shell out of the gun barrel but not so quick apace as to destroy the lining [called riffling] of the barrels interior. This is a demonstration piece not an action piece, which we in the navy call a 'shop window',

Rodney's Guns.wmv

and this is what a magazine full of 16" shells looks like, this one having being grabbed by an overhead [deckhead] mechanised feeder system.

Note all her small-bore guns port and starboard aft masking what we cannot see the other side of that stacked superstructure [to view her big guns in action] with her proud white ensign hoisted high aloft, but which the noise would be deafening  even in the destroyer following

on, and the thought of being ashore doesn't bear thinking about! The recoil from 16" guns is indescribable, and to minimise the effect upon the ship, the guns are fired on the beam across the narrowest part of the vessel [slightly less than 100 feet] rather than firing for'ard when it would travel through the whole length of the vessel, all 710 feet! 

I find it rather strange when so-called authoritative history books [in this case "D-Day The Illustrated  History" - by Dr Steven Badsey,  ISBN 1-85833-095-5] fail to mention Admiral James Rivett Carnac and the ship Rodney his former  command earlier in WW2,  both directly associated with Normandy, whilst mentioning a lesser USA Battleship USS Nevada [page 16] with small 14" guns, when clearly she didn't do as much damage as Rodney did with her 16" guns!

 In my tiny little village, in its 700 year old church, there is a Memorial Plaque to Vice Admiral James William Rivett-Carnac CB CBE DSC DL Legion D'Honneur Croix de Guerre, and his body along with that of his wife's, lies buried in the churchyard

 

 

[The piece of slate has a wonderful pattern running diagonally through it. The stone mason evidently was not told to include his foreign honours and it is pleasing to note that the plaque in the church bears them]!

 This admiral fought throughout  both world wars;  against the Bolshevik's in the Russian Revolution; was mentioned in dispatches twice; awarded the Distinguished Service Cross [DSC]; commended on several occasions for proposing modifications to armaments to enhance more accurate fire-power; was eternally proud of his captaincy our most joint-mightiest battleship HMS Rodney [her sister being HMS Nelson] having unprecedented 16" guns, and nine of them at that; was Commodore of the Royal Navy New Zealand Division from December 1938 to 1st January 1940 having first served in the NZ Division since the 14th November 1936 in command of the cruiser HMS Leander [HMNZS Leander from 1941 when the Royal New Zealand Navy was first established,

 The three-year commission of HMS ACHILLES in the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy [later in 1941 HMNZS Achilles]  is due to end in March next. To-day, the ACHILLES will leave Auckland for Portsmouth, under the command of Captain I. G. Glennie RN, who has been in the ship throughout the commission, and since June last has been Commodore Commanding the New Zealand Division. In this post he is succeeded from to-day by Captain J. W. Rivett-Carnac, D.S.C., RN, who for more than two years has commanded HMS LEANDER on the station, HMNZS Leander from 1941.

and Admiral in Command [Flag Officer] of British Beaches for the Normandy landings in 1944, a responsibility too great and profound to comprehend? He was also a Deputy Lieutenant of Suffolk in 1958 and the Chairman of Thingo Rural District Council 1958-1961.   He lived from 1891 until 1970 dying when aged 79. Almost directly opposite our church, offset by one block which is the village pub called the 'Woolpack'  is the former large home of Fornham House, the home of the Admiral and his wife plus their children.  It has long been owned by other people and much altered, and the equally splendid park-like grounds have been fragmented and sold off as generous building plots, making for a very tranquil style of living on the outskirts of the West Suffolk Georgian town of Bury St Edmunds.  For the first piece of the puzzle I can tell you that the house in which my wife and I live, is one of three built twenty-odd years ago in what was once the Admirals stables, paddocks and horse grazing areas. Our drive access from the B1106 is the same one the admiral used for access to his house, Fornham House. The sign "Fornham House" long gone but the two angle-iron vertical posts were left on the grass verge at the drive entrance onto which we attached the sign for our named house.

Admiral Rivett-Carnac belonged to a family with an impressive history whose members have held some of the highest administrative positions in the old and new Commonwealth countries including India, Siam, Burma and Canada. However, above all else, the family has a baronetcy, that of Derby, plus a rather unusual reason for it having a hyphenate surname. There are enobled people buried in the churchyard of both genders but none belonging to the Rivett-Carnac family.

In the 18th century General John CARNAC married Elizabeth RIVETT but they had no issue.  They made a pact with Elizabeth's brother James Rivett [enshrined in law] that providing he adopted the name RIVETT-CARNAC in lieu of his own name of Carnac, he would be nominated the sole heir to their estate.  This he did and in 1801 the family name was established.  It wasn't until 1836 that the Governor of Bombay [his eldest son] was created the 1st Baronet Derby. The list, looked like this.

Baronet Name and dates lived Remarks
1st Sir James Rivett-Carnac 1784-1846 Eldest son of James Rivett-Carnac formerly James Rivett [see above].  His younger brother was Admiral John Rivett-Carnac 1796-1869 famous for his discoveries in Western Australia. Sir James' grandson, Charles Rivett-Carnac {1853-1935} remains the oldest Briton, at 55, to have won an Olympic Gold Medal {for Yachting} achieved at the 1908 London Olympics.
2nd Sir John Rivett-Carnac 1818-1883 -
3rd Sir James Henry Rivett-Carnac 1846-1909 -
4th Sir Claude James Rivett-Carnac 1877-1909 Sir Claude went missing for over two years and on the 31st December 1909 he was declared as "assumed dead" by the Chancery Division. He fought in the Boer War as a private soldier in the Cape Mounted Rifles.
5th Sir William Percival Rivett-Carnac 1847-1924 -
6th Sir George Rivett-Carnac 1850-1932 -
7th Sir Henry George Crabbe Rivett-Carnac 1889-1972 Succeeded by his nephew, Nicholas, elder son of Vice Admiral James William Rivett-Carnac C.B., C.B.E., D.S.C., DL., Legion D'Honneur., Croix de Guerre., commemorated on the church plaque.
8th Canon Sir (Thomas) Nicholas Rivett-Carnac 1927-2004 Army [Guards] for 10 years. Various jobs before Ordination in 1963 aged 35. Married in 1977 aged 49.  No issue, and was succeeded by his brother.
9th Sir Miles James Rivett-Carnac 1933-2009 Second son of Vice Admiral James William Rivett-Carnac. A former High Sheriff of Hampshire, a Vice Lieutenant of Hampshire and later a merchant banker. He was also a naval officer and a Long Course Signals Officer - this adds the second piece to the jig saw because of the signals officer connection but also because Sir Miles at one stage in his early life lived on "my patch" at Fornham House.  Left the navy in 1970 and became the 9th Bt, Sir Miles, in May 2004.
10th Sir Jonathan James Rivett-Carnac Born 1962 -

 In a moment I will be showing you the Daily Telegraphs obituary for Sir Miles James Rivett-Carnac who died in September 2009.  In it you will read that Sir Miles was a Communicator and for those archivists amongst you, you may be interested to know that he did his Long Course in HMS Mercury in 1958 but he didn't win the Jackson-Everett Prize for coming top of course.

I can fit my third piece into the jig saw puzzle for two reasons, one as a flunkie but to a sport I have always adored namely cricket, and secondly because as Lieutenant Rivett-Carnac I came into contact with him in the submarine world.   In 1959 I was in HMS Mercury doing my Petty Officers course for Radio Supervisor.  I played cricket but as often as not, I waited-on the scoreboard staff putting the tin plates bearing numbers on them onto the front of the scoreboard hut in Hyden Wood to show the score to the crowd!  I scored for all comers {when I couldn't get a game myself} which included the wardroom team, and met this larger than life figure, Miles Rivett-Carnac on many occasions.  He was a very strong and athletic man but he was good fun often given to skylarking on the pitch.  Later when back in HMS Dolphin on my submarine [HM S/M Turpin] in 1960, Rivett-Carnac came to Blockhouse for a quite lengthy acquaint for duties as an SCO to a submarine squadron.  During this time he put himself around and paid many visits to the W/T department of the SM1 submarines, including the Turpin and this included day-running sea trips. He was a very likable officer, humorous, kind and considerate and he wanted to know everything there was to know about being a submariner [first and foremost] and also about being a submarine telegraphist and signalman.  He was appointed to Malta, to SM5 embarked in HMS Forth, and I am sure that he would have been a breath of fresh air for the communicators of the Forth and of her boats.

The following table shows Miles Rivett-Carnac' naval career.

Navy List Year

Rank & Seniority Date

Ship or Establishment 

Date Joined

Under Command of (if stated)

1950

Not listed

 Dartmouth

Age 17

-

1952

Sub Lieutenant (Executive Branch, Communications specialisation) 1/9/1952

HMS GAMBIA

1/5/1951

Captain P W Gretton DSO++ DSC OBE

1954

ditto

 ditto

 -

 -

1956

Lieutenant (Executive Branch, Communications specialisation) 16/2/1955

HMS DUCHESS

19/2/1956

Lt Cdr H G Austen DSO +

1958

ditto

HMS MERCURY, Petersfield

-

Captain C B Brooke

1960

ditto

HMS FORTH

-

Captain T E Barlow DSC

1961

ditto

ditto

-

Captain M L C Crawford DSC

1962

ditto

Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth

-

-

1963

ditto

ditto

 

-

1964

Lieutenant Commander (Executive Branch, Communications specialisation) 16/2/1963

HMS WOOLASTON

20/2/1964

In Command

1965

ditto

ditto

ditto

In Command

1966

ditto

HMS WOOLASTON

-

-

1967

Commander (Executive Branch, Communications specialisation) 30/6/1966

HMS SAKER, Washington DC USA

-

Admiral Sir Nigel Henderson KCB OBE

1968

ditto

HMS DAINTY

1/5/1967

In Command

1969

ditto

Directorate of Naval Signals

20/9/1968

Captain J E Pope

1970

ditto

ditto

ditto

Captain D A Poynter CVO MBE

My fourth and last piece in the puzzle comes from our contact together in the civilian world in London.  In my second career, I worked in London, in the City of London, earning my living as an independent Consultant in Electronic Security, geared to combatting known industrial electronic espionage leading to volatile London Stock Market fluctuations.  This career lasted for twenty years. I was the Consultant to many of the London finance houses/institutions and many Merchant Banks which included, amongst others, Barclays, De Beers, BZW, UBS, Barings, Lazards, Bank Paribar, Morgan Grenfell, Touche Ross, ABN Amro, Close Brothers, Chase Manhattan, City Corp, BBC, Vickers, Swiss Bank, Goldman Sachs.  It was whilst working for Barings [at London Bridge, London Wall and Lombard Street] that I met with Miles again and I reminded him of our previous meets and that we were RN Communicators together. He was delighted and now a little more portly, he was still a man with a striking and immaculate appearance.  We both lived in Hampshire [I moved to Suffolk in September 2007].  He treated to me to a luncheon in a smart City fish restaurant.  We spent almost two minutes talking about what I did for Barings, and then we talked about nothing else except the navy.  When he was driving the Woolaston {mentioned in dispatches}, I was in HM S/M Auriga in SM7 [embarked first in HMS Medway later relieved by HMS Forth {Singapore}] and we used to take the SBS to sea in indirect support of the war against President Sukarno.  The meet was agreed to be an extremely pleasant two hours of pure nostalgia.

 

What follows are two broadsheet obituaries, the first coming from the Daily Telegraph.

Sir Miles Rivett-Carnac, Bt

Sir Miles Rivett-Carnac, 9th Bt, who died on September 15 aged 76, was a naval officer who made a successful second career as a merchant banker with Baring Brothers.

06 Oct 2009

Rivett-Carnac joined the Royal Navy in 1950, and was a midshipman in the cruiser Gambia in the Mediterranean before joining the Royal Yacht Britannia as a sub-lieutenant in 1952. He went on to be a popular divisional officer (the equivalent of housemaster) at Dartmouth, returning to sea to command the minesweeper Woolaston in the Far East.

In 1965 Woolaston was on patrol off Borneo during the Confrontation with Indonesia when she encountered a sampan that had been booby-trapped with a mine; it exploded, killing one man and wounding eight, and putting the minesweeper out of action for six weeks. Rivett-Carnac was mentioned in despatches.

After staff college at Norfolk, Virginia, Rivett-Carnac was appointed captain of the large fleet destroyer Dainty at the young age of 34 and looked set to go higher. But he did not relish spending much of his senior career in Whitehall, and left the Navy in 1970 to make a new start in the financial world.

He was swiftly recruited by the Baring banking family, with the idea that — since he lived in Hampshire — he might be useful running an office in Southampton. That never came about, but his sound judgment of people and cheerful willingness to undertake any difficult task soon made him a key member of the bank’s corporate finance team in the City.

He was also highly numerate, an aptitude that had been honed at the casino tables of Le Touquet, where he once broke the bank after an all-night session playing baccarat. On returning to his hotel very early the next morning, he threw open the door of his room to announce delightedly to his wife: “I’ve broken the bank” — to which the reply came: “Do you know what time it is?” Other casinos also lost out. One trainee joining the bank in the mid-1970s inherited a desk from Rivett-Carnac which was entirely empty except for a £5 chip from Crockfords.

He became a director of Baring Brothers in 1976, and did stints running its businesses in South Africa and New York. Returning to London, he became a managing director in 1981, a deputy chairman of the group in 1988, and chairman of Baring Asset Management from 1989 until his first retirement from the bank at the end of 1992.

He remained a non-executive director, but was recalled to duty early the following year to chair Baring Securities, the group’s trading arm which had fallen into losses and parted company with its high-profile chief executive, Christopher Heath. The new management team under Rivett-Carnac’s chairmanship brought the business back to what seemed to be an even keel — but also gave free rein to a young trader called Nick Leeson in Singapore.

Rivett-Carnac retired for the second time at Christmas 1994, when profits for the year looked set for £60 million; but within three months, Leeson’s dealings had brought the bank down. Rivett-Carnac’s response was one of intense sadness: “Something of which I had been incredibly proud had been turned into rather a bad joke,” he wrote; the room provided by ING, Barings’s new owners, for the use of retired partners was “depressingly full of ghosts”.

Miles James Rivett-Carnac was born on February 7 1933, the second son of Vice-Admiral James Rivett-Carnac, who was Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Navy in the 1930s and “admiral of the beaches” during the Normandy landings. The family surname was the result of the marriage of General John Carnac, commander-in-chief of the Indian Army, to Elizabeth Rivett, whose brother James was governor of Bombay. The marriage was childless, but James became the general’s heir on condition that the name was adopted.

James’s eldest son, also James, was chairman of the East India Company, MP for Sandwich and briefly governor of Bombay; he was created a baronet in 1836. The family’s association with the Raj in succeeding generations was such that Kipling mentioned them in Tales from the Hills as one of the four leading families of British India.

Miles, however, chose to follow his father into the Navy, and went straight from Lambrook prep school in Berkshire to Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, where he became chief cadet captain. An outstanding sportsman even as a small boy — according to legend, Lambrook’s opponents would whisper with awe: “But they’ve got Rivett-Carnac!” — he played cricket for Dartmouth in his first term and went on to captain the rugby team.

In his business career Rivett-Carnac was also a director of the London Stock Exchange from 1991 to 1994 and of Domecq (formerly Allied Lyons). He was a member of the Council of King George’s Fund for Sailors (now Seafarers UK); chairman of Hampshire Boys’ Clubs; High Sheriff of Hampshire in 1995; and Vice-Lord Lieutenant of the county from 2000. He was also chairman of White’s Club, where he had to contend with the embarrassment of a blackball for the writer Auberon Waugh.

In 1992 he was elected an Elder Brother of Trinity House, at a time of great change in its role both as a lighthouse and coastal navigation authority and as a grant-giving charity in the maritime sector. Rivett-Carnac’s analytical mind and business sense helped set the ancient corporation on a new course, and he was particularly instrumental in restoring the finances of its charitable arm, which had been hit by falling investment and property values.

Besides his sporting enthusiasms, Rivett-Carnac was a lifelong stamp collector. His autobiography, From Ship to Shore, was published in 1998. He succeeded in the baronetcy on the death in 2004 of his brother Canon Sir Nicholas Rivett-Carnac, who was vicar of St Mark’s, Kensington.

Miles Rivett-Carnac married, in 1958, April Villar. They had a daughter, Lucinda — better known as the handbag designer Lulu Guinness — and two sons, Jonathan and Simon. Jonathan, born in 1962, succeeds in the baronetcy.

The Times newspaper puts things a little differently, and I believe mentions some important detail not given in the Telegraph.  However, the Telegraph is correct in that he joined Dartmouth in 1950 and not in 1946.
Miles Rivett-Carnac’s family has a long history associated with India — indeed, Rudyard Kipling opens his short story The Tomb of his Ancestors with: “If there were but a single loaf of bread in all India it would be divided equally between the Plowdens, the Trevors, the Beadons and the Rivett-Carnacs.”

Initially following his father, a distinguished vice-admiral, into the Royal Navy, Rivett-Carnac subsequently established an exemplary career in banking, business, public duty and charitable activity.

Joining the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, in 1946, he quickly made his mark, perhaps not as much academically as an athlete. Having been selected for the college team in his first year, he nearly scuppered his naval career at the age of 14 by scoring a century against a team of cricketing admirals. He represented the Navy at squash while still at Dartmouth. Later he played rugby for Combined Services and for the Navy at Twickenham, cricket at Lord’s, athletics at White City and tennis at Wimbledon.  {My comment: I remember him in HMS Mercury as a formidable cricketer, and anyway, surely this prowess in all sports must make him a very special man and officer and unique as a Signals Officer}.

He graduated from Dartmouth as Chief Cadet Captain with the award of the King’s Telescope, equivalent to Sandhurst’s Sword of Honour.

A tour in the Royal Yacht Britannia was followed by participation in the 1956 Suez invasion while in the destroyer Duchess. After specialising in communications and a posting to a submarine squadron in Malta, Rivett-Carnac went back to Dartmouth on the staff. In 1963 he joined his first command, the minesweeper Woolaston based at Singapore, and took part in the confrontation with Indonesia in support of the fledgeling state of Malaysia.

When boarding a sampan after an exchange of fire which had killed the insurgents, a booby trap killed a midshipman and badly damaged the Woolaston, also blowing a number of sailors overboard who were swiftly recovered. Rivett-Carnac was mentioned in dispatches for Woolaston’s contribution to the campaign.

On promotion to commander’s rank, he was the youngest in the Navy at that time. After attending the US Armed Forces Staff College course at Norfolk, Virginia, he was appointed in command of the large destroyer Dainty, operating mainly in home waters. In 1968, having enormously enjoyed his time in the Navy, he decided that it was, in his words, “a slightly prescriptive way of life. There was a huge world outside and I would only have one life.” His resignation was accepted subject to a further two years working in the Signals division of the Admiralty, putting his very best into his responsibilities for electronic warfare development — “No one could say I had thrown in the towel,” he said.

At this point Rivett-Carnac renewed his enthusiasm for stamp collecting, becoming in due course a Fellow of the Royal Philatelic Society and in 1992 being awarded a gold medal and a cup for “best in show” at the British National Stamp Exhibition.

He left the Navy in August 1970 and sought a job in merchant banking. He was accepted for 18 months’ training by Baring Bros. After five years he was made a partner and chief executive of its South Africa business, mainly advising the overseas subsidiaries of Baring clients and operating a substantial pension fund management business.

In 1976 Barings sold the South African activity and transferred him to New York to set up an office. There he made many friends and was able to expand the business, returning to London in 1980 to be invited to join the bank’s executive committee with particular responsibility for international affairs and also to create a structure to deal with venture capital.

Characterised by energy, expertise and excellent judgment, all leavened by personal qualities of charm, directness and an interest in other people, Rivett-Carnac rose to the highest levels of management at Barings.

In 1992, when he retired as chairman of Baring Asset Management, the company sat on top of myriad specialist companies with more than £16 billion under management. He was something of a rarity in having been simultaneously a member of council of both Lloyd’s and the Stock Exchange, for which he was a director from 1991 to 1995. He was also a director of Allied Domecq from 1992 to 1997, chairing the trustees of the pension fund.

They say that a busy man always has time for something more and that was certainly true of Rivett-Carnac. He was chairman of the Hampshire Boys’ Clubs from 1982 to 1990. In 1995 he undertook to become the treasurer for the King George’s Fund for Sailors and was prominent in efforts to rationalise the many overlapping nautical charitable organisations. His other activities included being a board member of the King Edward VII Hospital and in 1996 chairman of White’s, the London club.

A particularly demanding task concerned Trinity House, the historic guild, lighthouse authority, charity and centre of maritime expertise. An unfortunate decision to sell for redevelopment a property behind the headquarters near Tower Bridge and forgo rental income caused the corporation considerable difficulty when the development company went bust.

With the notable businessman Sir Brian Shaw, Rivett-Carnac was initiated in 1992 as an Elder Brother and Assistant, bringing for 16 years much-needed financial expertise to the management board and instituting cost-cutting, sales of assets and a search for new income, with the happy result that by 1997 Trinity House was again in a position to make charitable donations.

Shortly after retirement from Barings Asset Management in 1992, an appeal to his loyalty to the company persuaded him to return as chairman of Barings Securities, this company having made its first loss after a huge expansion, the breakneck speed of which led to a feeling that it was out of control. Rivett-Carnac used his leadership qualities to “settle the people down” and further a merger with Barings Bank, forming Baring Investment Bank. Having recovered from a slight stroke, he retired again late in 1994.

The massive and fraudulent arbitrage operations by the rogue trader Nick Leeson in Singapore were exposed in early 1995, and on February 26 Barings was declared insolvent. Rivett-Carnac remarked: “Something of which I had been incredibly proud had been turned into rather a bad joke — with tragic outcomes for many.”

In 1995 he was enrolled for a year as High Sheriff of Hampshire. He continued to be active in many charitable and county activities, being notably generous in discreetly advising friends in financial difficulty. He was appointed Vice Lord-Lieutenant for Hampshire from 2000 to 2007. In 2004 he succeeded his brother as the 9th Baronet of Derby, created in 1836 for James Rivett-Carnac, chairman of the East India Company and Governor of Bombay.

He is survived by his wife, April Villar, whom he married in 1958, and their two sons and daughter.

Commander Sir Miles Rivett-Carnac, 9th Bt, naval officer and merchant banker, was born on February 7, 1933. He died on September 15, 2009, aged 76

A powerhouse of a man, of a naval officer and of a captain of industry.

So much for an extremely pleasant son of Admiral James Rivett-Carnac.

From the beginning it has to be said that *Admiral Rivett-Carnac's record does not record what most consider to be heroics measured by awards of knighthoods KCB or KBE the naval norms, or Distinguished  Service Orders  [DSO] although after WW1, way up north in the Baltic  he won a Distinguished Service Cross [DSC] as the first lieutenant and gunnery officer on board HMS Cleopatra, a cruiser operating against the Russian Revolution [1917] Bolshevik  armed forces which threatened shipping in Baltic, and the sovereignty of Estonia.

* All four ranks of admirals - rear, vice, full admiral and admiral of the fleet are addressed in writing as Admiral so and so.

 

Launched in the wake of the Russian collapse and revolution of 1917, and called Operation Red Trek the purposes of which were to stop the rise of Bolshevism, to protect Britain's interests, and to extend the freedom of the seas.

The situation in the Baltic states in the aftermath of World War I was chaotic. The Russian Empire had collapsed and Bolshevik Red Army, pro-independence, and pro-German forces were fighting across the region. Riga had been occupied by the German army in 1917 and German Freikorps and Baltic-German Landeswehr units were still active in the area. Estonia had established a national army with the support of Finnish volunteers and were defending against the 7th Red Army's attack.

The Royal Navy suffered many casualties [the loss of 1 cruisers, 2 destroyers, 2 sloops, 1 submarine and several coastal craft]. In addition 112 deaths and 9 captured. It was the signing of a peace treaty between Estonia and the Bolshevik's which brought Operation Red Trek to an end.

 

During Cleopatra's involvement, her first lieutenant/gunnery officer Lieutenant James Rivett-Carnac RN,  displayed outstanding bravery and initiative whilst engaged with the Russian Bolshevik's which was fully deserving of a DSC. Soon after the event he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander RN.

 

However, his involvements at sea  for lengthy periods of combat put him and his ship in direct  harms way, and he was quintessentially one of the countless thousands of unsung hero's even when appointed to command our largest battleships and to a job as a flag officer [as shown in my first picture]  which would have unnerved the strongest of characters.  That he was mentioned in dispatches on more than one occasion [Gazetted events all] tells one that he was never far short of winning a medal of honour for meritorious service in action.

 

The following picture shows Captain James William Rivett-Carnac Royal Navy [L] promoted captain 30.06.1934 when the commanding officer of HMS Rodney in 1943, with the ships second in command Commander Ronald Gordon Mackay Royal Navy. Not long before these two officers joined the ship in July 1941, the then CO Captain Dalrymple-Hamilton RN, whilst in company with another battleship HMS King George V, had used their guns [Rodney's 9x16" and KGV 10x14"] to wreck Hitler's megalomaniac dreams of having a potent incomparable surface fleet, by sending his brand new, first time at sea, so-called super battleship the [Kriegsmarine = Nazi Navy] Bismarck to the bottom of the Atlantic taking most of her huge crew with it. She had a sister, the Tirpitz, a battleship hemmed into the Norwegian Fjords by the British denying her sea room and the chance of sinking our 'survive or perish' convoys, until she too was destroyed, this time by the magnificent RAF Bomber Command. 

Captain James Rivett-Carnac in Rodney at anchor off Mers-El-Kabir, Oran, Algeria in 1943. It must have been a bitter sweet memory for any member of the Royal Navy for it was here, in 1940 that the British navy, with HMS Hood prominent with her 15" guns,  had fired upon the French Navy because it wouldn't surrender its ships to the British after the fall of France to save it from being taken over by the Kriegesmarine, the Nazi navy.  Many French sailors lost their lives and French ships were sunk or damaged at their moorings in a harbour too small to manoeuvre to take evasive action. However, French ships did escape and eventual continued the fight that France had abandoned with its capitulation and surrender to the Nazis, serving with the British under their proud free-French navy Ensign [FNFL], which was the French tricolour defaced with the Cross of Loraine on the centre white panel.

 

 

The admiral comes a calling. Admiral Algernon Ushborne Willis -  Flag Officer Force H North African Operations with Captain Rivett-Carnac on board the Rodney at Mers-El-Kabir. I have a most  sad and dubious connection with Admiral of the Fleet Sir Algernon Willis. He lived near to the same town as we did [my wife and I] of Petersfield Hants and I had seen him on several occasions. In  April 1976 and now aged 86, he was taken to the Royal Naval Hospital Haslar in Gosport where he died. Many of us attended his funeral. I was stationed in HMS Mercury at the time, and come the 5th of December, I too took the route to RNH Haslar in the back of a speeding ambulance a journey of 18 miles during which I had to be resuscitated. On arrival at Haslar I had technically died again and was resuscitated on arrival as an emergency case. I had had a major rupture caused by a burst duodenal ulcer and had lost a massive amount of blood. Whilst now repaired and resting in the hospital a nurse commented on my case and cross referenced it with that of Admiral Willis, simply referring our local town and asking what was going on up there? Fortunately I came home, and after five months was fully fit again and back at sea.

 

For some inexplicable reason there appears to be no broadsheet obituary of this great warrior, which is a travesty. However, during this period [1970] many great admirals had passed on and some of these were, Admiral Le Fanu which we rather rudely called the 'Chinese Admiral' but a much loved naval commander; Hill-Norton whose son Vice Admiral Nicholas Hill-Norton I served with in the 1960/70's; John Martin a famous salt-horse naval commander; William Pillar and 'Chico' Roberts a pan navy famous fleet air arm fighter pilot.

I first show you a table which tells of James' naval career copied from his original service record with additions added from other authoritative sources. His unbelievably long list of command appointments shown for 1944  in the pdf below viz, CNAO + ANCXF + FOBAA must have preoccupied his every waking moment, although when Normandy was achieved and Germans were crossing the Seine in their tens of thousands, he must have been so very proud of his part played in the success of driving Germans back to an already destroyed Third Reich, torched and tormented at every turn!

 

James Rivett-Carnac Copied Naval History.pdf

 

But, if you were to see his original record of service you would be shocked to see how the armed services of those days treated such a senior officer, and this was not uncommon. I am showing you it because I want to point out a couple of events which almost humanise his career.

 

 First have a look at it. ADM 196_52_330.pdf and once opened concentrate throughout only on Page 2 by clicking on in the left hand column if necessary. It took me some time to interpret the jargon and to decypher what appears to have been a drunken fly with inky feet stamping all over the sheet of paper, so your chances of understanding it on your own effort is zero. Enough for me to just point out a few high and low points [at the time] which in no way defined or hindered his career. I have included this ADM record for the naval devotees to mull over, but for most of you it is suffice that you know the following and where to view it if at all interested!

 

Title of or part of record  Entry  My Comment 
Dates of Orders and Commissions  25.11.46 placed on retirement list as a rear admiral. 3.5.47 vice admiral retired.   This was common and often used today. Shortly after leaving active service [placed on retirement list by the Admiralty], a complementary promotion is granted in retirement as a thank you and recognition for excellent services rendered. From the 3rd May 1947 he was always called and referred to as a vice admiral. This equates with a civilians  ex gratia payment called a 'golden hand shake' but rather less than a serviceman can hope for.
Rewards and distinctions  Packed full of meritorious service and the awards/rewards associated with an outstanding career.   Note that because of his brilliant junior officer results he was granted two months seniority for subsequent promotions. That meant that he could become a lieutenant [for example] two months before his basic course peers which could roll-up into other ranks as he progressed.
Note the bottom 'bold inked' entries, which tell a tale of James' rewards for his total commitment and resolve in the face or "war adversity" His main London Gazetted awards have been copied and are displayed on this website.
  
Examinations  Dec 1916. Examinations for gunnery lieutenants [failed], achieving only 870 marks out of  1200 = 72.5% He sat this exam, and studied to do so, during the uncertainties of  WW1 and not long after the Battle of Jutland in which he served in the new Dreadnought battleship HMS Orion. Ordinarily, that would spell a specialist change and a set-back for further promotions, but for James, it propelled him into great fame of gunnery procedures, and eventually he was acclaimed [militarily and publicly] the gunnery "Range Finder of the navy personified" well able to advise upon finding and destroying targets via naval gunnery. He held and maintained that adulation until the end of WW2 and was consulted on all aspects of naval big gun aspects, be they  intra-RN or pan allies. On the naval operational side he scored many hits other gunner officers might have missed, and on the logistics side he avoided wasting shells, cordite and warped gun barrels which needed to be unscrewed and replaced, bringing the distorted barrels back home for dockyard re-lining.
Special attainments  July 1921  James qualified at the Warfare staff officers course with a pass mark of 830 out of 1000 marks, an 83%  overall achievement, which set him up for a successful middle rank understanding of of all aspects of warfare.
Under most of 'the ship area'   Which reflect his service throughout the whole of WW1 and WW2 without a break. By consulting the official Navy List, one would be confused with his appointments during the world wars. By consulting his original whole career records one sees the sheer enormity of his service to this country for, believe it or not, the whole of the first and second world wars. One of the ' iconic services'  in the navy of WW1 was whether one was at Jutland. James was, having first joined the battleship HMS Orion in 1914 and leaving it on the 9th July 1916. Other ships in WW1 times were the Amphion, HMS Excellent for gunnery courses, and back to sea in yet two more battleships HMS Benbow, followed by the HMS Queen Elizabeth. Finally, in WW1, after a stressful time, he saw service in the cruiser HMS Cleopatra in the Baltic fighting Bolshevik's. In between wars he stayed in big ships [battleships and cruisers mainly] notably the Kent, the Queen Elizabeth, the Coventry, the Carysfort, and then to be appointed the Commodore of the New Zealand Division of the Royal Navy, an appointment he was extremely proud of.  All and every one of these appointments at a time of peace , boredom and flux, brought varying pressures, peer pressures, and morale, both upper and lower deck. Overall, he was clearly and regularly assessed as a good and highly capable officer. At no stage is there an adverse or derogatory remark and all is set fair for a good and long career. 
Special Reports or Service Many entries of merit and adventure. W/K =watch keeping certificate December 1911, the start of a professional seaman officer's career being trusted on the bridge of the ship to carry out the CO's instructions without ambiguity in all states of operations whilst at sea, as part of a team of trusted officers usually in a watch system of four hours on and six hours off.
On the 7.3.13 he is directed to return home to the UK. He leaves Malta in the Carole arriving in Rome 16.3.1913. He is warmly thanked for the his efforts in improving gunnery  fire control.    He is chosen as a candidate for the prestigious naval gunnery [G] course. Many further acclaims are repeatedly  lavished upon  him.
Then there is much crossings out of written data from a 21/11/18 entry, but this is what I believe was written and intended " CW - query range finding............it is a comment about his failure of his gunnery exams as lieutenant [G]  in HMS excellent in 1916 given his inherent merit and understanding of gunnery per se.  There are many explicit and implicit commendations for his abilities to finesse naval gunnery. 
Note entry 24.4.19 - causing unnecessary obstruction with motor car. Note fined eight shillings at London's Bow Street Magistrates Court.
Note award of mention in dispatches for bravery  and distinguished service in the North African landings. Again for gallant and distinguished services  in HMS Rodney in operating in the Mediterranean from the time of entry of Italy into the war until  the surrender of the Italian fleet.
CBE for distinguished services in operations which led to the successful landings of Allied Forces in Normandy .  Gazetted 18.12.45.  Awarded CB  for distinguished services  throughout the war in Europe. 
That's it - a very quick de-cypher of a almost incoherent script, but you have an insight into the long record of this dedicated officer. I particularly like the traffic offence, and that police station is in the heart of the City of London almost literally under the Royal Opera House!

 

Now an animation of what James Rivett-Carnac was heavily involved with showing the start and finish of WW2, specifically the start of the push north from southern Europe and the brilliantly incomparable planned and executed Normandy landings dislodging Germany's grip of north west Europe, albeit at a dreadful loss of life. Your speakers are required for sound effects.

 

WW2 Map and Events.WMV

 

Normandy was a once in history event, unprecedented, and could never ever again be repeated.

As one would expect it was a multi facetted operation divided into Phases, with Phase 1 starting well before D-Day 6th June 1944 and finishing many weeks after the first landing craft hit the beaches, from 6th March to 20th July 1944.

 

Normandy Campaign PHASE 1.pdf

 

Of some great historic interest are two recorded events in the Eisenhower archives relating to Phase 1

1.

While the Normandy operation was decidedly Anglo-American, Eisenhower felt gathering French support was important. Roosevelt, however, opposed the notion of giving French General Charles de Gaulle any kind of recognition as a French leader, for that he seized that title for himself without any democratic process among the French people. Nevertheless, Eisenhower approached him. De Gaulle, however, felt ridiculed that he was asked to support a landing operation on French soil led by an American. He refused to publicly announce his support for Overlord, and would not comply with any Allied request for his support.

 2.

Besides de Gaulle, another wartime leader gave Eisenhower headaches. Prime Minister Churchill, a veteran of WW1, requested to accompany the landing operations; the request was naturally denied immediately by Eisenhower. Churchill responded with his intent to overrule Eisenhower. "Since this is true it is not part of your responsibility, my dear General, to determine the exact composition of any ship's company in His Majesty's Fleet", he said to Eisenhower, "by shipping myself as a bona fide member of a ship's complement it would be beyond your authority to prevent my going." Eisenhower expressed that this would unnecessarily add to his personal burden, but the Prime Minister refused to budge. When King George VI heard of it, he cleverly noted that if Churchill felt compelled to accompany the landing force, then he, as the King of the United Kingdom, should share equal duty and privilege of leading the British and Commonwealth troops as well. After the King's comments were made known to Churchill, he withdrew his request to personally lead the landing forces.

 

For his services to his country he was awarded two very special honours, and more so the wording of the awards.

First came the CBE - Commander of the Order of the  British Empire - which was awarded for "the distinguished service in the planning of operations concerned with the invasion of Normandy"

 

CBE FOR RIVERTT-CARNAC.pdf

 

then  the CB - Commander of the Order of the Bath -  which was awarded for "the distinguished service throughout the war in Europe"

 

Admiral Rivett-Carnac for his services throughout WW2.pdf

 

Additionally he was awarded a well earned Mention in Dispatches for his role in Force H with the Rodney which were:-

 

Malta convoys [several]

Operation Husky - the invasion of Sicily

Operation Avalanche - the invasion of Italy

Husky and Avalanche opening the way to driving the Germans out of Italy

 

and again in Rodney for Operation Torch - the invasion of French North Africa which took over the French role in the Mediterranean which they abandoned on surrendering to Germany in a Paris which fell without a single shot being fired - does that or doesn't it stink of rank cowardice?

 

James Rivett-Carnac as FOBAA [Flag Officer British Assault Areas] which were Gold, Sword and a responsibility for supporting  the 15,000 Canadian infantry men on Juno Beach, wrote the definitive British Senior Beachmaster-in-Charge summary of operations submitted to the Allied Commander General Eisenhower. That in turn was rewritten to fit in with the history of the Normandy Landing. Within his remit he had scores of beach master's all there to make sure the people on the beaches were continuously moving forward, and those that weren't or couldn't were 'looked after' and their needs were met. Admiral Rivett-Carnac conscious of his own effort and subsequent rewards and awards, made sure that each of these team members who had all jointly trained for their roles at an almost imaginary establishment called HMS Odyssey, so aptly named. Few, even today, understand the subtlety of the naming of that Herculean effort to rid the world of the Nazi bestiality, copied piecemeal by every so-called non-Nazi German, all of whom embraced Lucifer as their God and guiding light. Despite the high and mighty promises of the protagonists of a nation who in two world wars were manifestly sub-human as these occurrence in the first half of the 20th century had never been know since God is said to have rested on the sabbath, it would be folly to accept that a unified Germany is at peace with itself, and that an under current of dissent and disappointment that two attempts to rule the world have failed, and that a third was inevitable - some day! Rivett-Carnac, strived to make sure that each member of HMS Odyssey would be publicly rewarded.  More on that score in a moment

An Odyssey today, especially for an non-scholar is simply a tough and arduous journey, of a Greek warrior after battling his way through the wars of TROY BC, and survives, takes ten long and worrisome years to get back home to his wife and his son. Some wise and learned person or persons used the word to signify a long struggle against a well organised Axis power, Germany [the Italians surrendered to the Allies in 1943] which would result in thousands upon thousands of deaths before the war is won [possibly analogous to the Wars of Troy which lasted a decade], and that when it is all over for the survivors, combatants and civilians most of the latter displaced persons, it would take eons to get back to normality if that were ever possible, or even attempted,  such was the utterly destroyed human fabric by the incomparable cruelty of the Hun:  a shameful and pitiful nation. There is of course the silver lining so often talked about, and that is the culpable-Germans are now few and far between and that is a blessing, but have you ever thought of the sheer amounts of must-be photographic evidence on German mantle-pieces of revered monsters, fathers, mothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents whose vile faces are on show on a daily basis, as often we see the faces of Nazi murders in public cemeteries in Germany and Austria. Such pictures personify Germany's disgusting and depraved past, and just as I remember my three dear great uncles who served at Passchendaele, and think only of their suffering and naivety exercised in the name of our beloved country, a German of my octogenarian years will have the same respect for what I would consider a sub-human!

 

   Before we enter the medals and awards earned at Normandy, lets first of all look at Rivett-Carnac's [and others of course] report on the day to day proceedings on those highly volatile and often open killing-beaches.

 

The FOBAA report of the British landings.pdf

 

Lt General Sir Christopher Dempsey was in charge of British forces landing and his group was collectively called the 2nd ARMY: the Americans were the 1st ARMY.

This is he

 

 

Now for Normandy proper and the leading lights

 

Admiral Rivett-Carnac was the Flag Officer of the the British Assault Areas.  His job, with scores of other beach masters subordinate to him, was to look after General Dempsey and his two subordinates viz on SWORD Lieutenant General John Crocker and on GOLD Lieutenant General Gerard Bucknall  jointly commanding the troops who landed. The lists below were published in The Times dated November 15th 1944.

 

 

Also look here for the Normandy HQ Commination's ships HMS Bulolo

 

A very important ship, but again unsung like the Rodney, but where Rodney went so too did Bulolo.

 

From January 1940 until April 1943 BULOLO was employed on convoy escort duties and patrols in the Atlantic, during which time she achieved the remarkable record of escorting over 400 ships without losing one.  In 1940-41, she steamed over 175,000 miles in the Atlantic.  In 1942, she was taken into dock and emerged as the first Combined Operations Headquarter ship in the world; the principal task of such a ship being to carry the Naval, Army and Air Force Commanders and their staffs, and, through her communication equipment fit, integrate the whole of the assault build-up, execution and consolidation.  How brilliantly Bulolo and her sister HQ ships did their job is abundantly clear from the wonderful results obtained from 1942 onwards. She was present at the landings on North Africa; Sicily; Syracuse; Anzio; Normandy, after which she refitted in Southampton before being deployed to the Far East station where she arrived in June 1945.  She was to be the Flagship for 'Operation Zipper' [the landings which would have recaptured Singapore from the Japanese] but the war ended a few weeks before Zipper's D-Day when the Japanese surrendered. She spent the summer months in pleasant conditions in and around Singapore waters.  In October she assisted in a mercy mission to Surabaya, bringing back 530 women and children to the relative safety of Singapore. She left Singapore on the 4th January 1946 and arrived Portsmouth on the 15th February.  Bulolo refitted to become once again a  luxury cargo/passenger liner and was taken back home to Sydney commanded by Lieutenant Commander Monteith RN.  She was broken-up in Taiwan in 1968 aged 30.

 

http://www.godfreydykes.info/Bits%20and%20Pieces%20Volume%20III.htm# HMS BULOLO - amongst other things - A Communications HQ ship for Combined Operations, the first one in the world! From 1943 onwards, she saw service at just about every major assault landing in Europe, the Mediterranean and Far East. On opening the URL, SCROLL DOWN to go to story line Number 28. Be careful not to over run into story line Number 29.

 

That, ladies and gentlemen is my story. I think that there is enough detail to satisfy my fellow villagers of Fornham St Martin and my erstwhile naval friends, colleagues, naval historians and visitors.

 

Farewell dear James Rivett-Carnac. You, with your colleagues and countless other naval persons who gave almost ten years of your lives, if not life itself, in the pursuance of saving our country from a terrible fate, we humbly and unreservedly praise and thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

 

God Bless.