In keeping with 'we all remember our first this and that', here are a few facts and figures about my Captain of HMS Ganges [1953], my first of many captains in a 30 year career.

David Charles Cairns was a career naval officer born into a family in which, in time to come, he would be created the 5th Earl Cairns. 


David's grandfather, Hugh MacCalmont Cairns, was created 1st Baron Cairns of Garmoyle County Antrim [UK] in February 1874. Four years later, in September 1878 his title changed to {A} 1st Earl Cairns [UK] and {B} 1st Viscount Garmoyle County Antrim [UK].  He had seven children. The eldest, a boy, died in infancy; the second, a girl and therefore non-inheritor died when aged 29; the third Arthur became the 2nd Earl but died when  aged 29; the fourth Herbert became the 3rd Earl but died when aged 40; the fifth, Lt Col Wilfred Dallas Cairns, Rifle Brigade [Captain Cairns' father died in 1946] became the 4th Earl; the sixth died in 1936 and the seventh in 1939. David, who being the eldest son, joined the navy using the title The Hon David Cairns, became the 5th Earl on the 23rd October 1946 whilst appointed as the Commander of the Cruiser HMS Sheffield. Upon his death on the 21st March 1989 when aged 79, his eldest son Simon Dallas Cairns became the 6th Earl Cairns.



1927 - 1st May Midshipman - The Hon David Cairns
1927 - 8th November Midshipman HMS Queen Elizabeth - Battleship on the Mediterranean Station, flagship of Admiral Sir Frederick L Field KCB KCMG "
1930 Sub Lieutenant On course in Portsmouth "
1932 - 1st October Lieutenant - "
1932 - 23rd November Lieutenant HMS Sussex Cruiser 1st Cruiser Squadron Mediterranean Station "
1933-1934 Lieutenant Qualified in Signals at H.M. Signal School Portsmouth "
1934-1935 Lieutenant HMS Nelson as Fleet Wireless Assistant Home Fleet "
1936 Lieutenant Advanced Signal Course R.N.C. Greenwich "
1937-1938 Lieutenant Flag Lieutenant and Signal Officer to CS2 HMS Orion and HMS Southampton "
1939-1940 Lieutenant H.M. Signal School Portsmouth Experimental Department "
1939 - 1st October Lieutenant Commander - "
1940 Lieutenant Commander Flag Lieutenant and Signal Officer to Admiral of the Fleet The Earl of Cork and Orrey in the Norwegian Campaign "
Mentioned in Despatches
1940 Lieutenant Commander Signal Officer on Staff of Captain [D], Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada for transfer to U.S. "Town" Class Destroyer programme The Hon David Cairns
1940-1941 Lieutenant Commander Assistant Naval Attache Washington DC, and for duty in U.S. Pacific Fleet. "
1941-1943 Lieutenant Commander Fleet Signals Officer Mediterraean Fleet and later to C-in-C.  Levant "
1943 - 31st December Commander - "
1943-1945 Commander Admiralty - Radio Equipment Department "
1945-1947 Commander HMS Sheffield - Executive Officer "
1946 - 23rd October Commander " Created 5th Earl Cairns
1947-1949 Commander HMS Mercury - Training Commander and later, as the Executive Officer "
1949 - 30th June Captain - "
1949-1950 Captain Senior Officers War Course "
1950-1952 Captain Deputy Director Signal Division Admiralty "
1952- 1953 Captain HMS St Austell Bay in Command and as Senior Officer Frigates America & West Indies Station "
1953 - 1954 Captain HMS Ganges "
1955-1958 Captain Flag Captain to C-in-C East Indies and in Command HMS Superb "
1958 - 7th July Rear Admiral - "
1958-1961 Rear Admiral President of  R.N.C. Greenwich "
Created CB [Companion of the Order of the Bath]
1961 Rear Admiral Retired from the Royal Navy 5th Earl Cairns CB
1962-1971 Rear Admiral Retired Marshal of the Diplomatic Corps in the Royal Household of the Sovereign of the UK "
Created GCVO [Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order]
1966-1977 Rear Admiral Retired President of the Navy League 5th Earl Cairns GCVO CB
1973 Rear Admiral Retired Deputy Lieutenant for the County of Suffolk "
1977 to 1989 - Many interests.  He died on the 21st March 1989 aged 79. "


David Cairns married his wife Barbara Jeanne Harrisson BURGESS on the 16th April 1936 as a Lieutenant whilst serving at Greenwich. She became COUNTESS CAIRNS on the same day as her husband became the 5th Earl Cairns in 1946. The Earl and his Countess {Lady Cairns} lived at the Captains Residence HMS Ganges which was {is} a beautiful Tudor house set in its own lovely grounds at Erwarton in Suffolk just a few miles from the Establishment. They lived there with their three children, the eldest of whom was The Hon Simon Cairns [to become the 6th Earl], his brother Hugh and sister Elisabeth. The Countess died on the 12th May 2000 aged 83 but of profound sadness to her was that her daughter Elisabeth pre-deceased her in 1998 when aged just 54.