Rear Admiral John Saumarez Dumaresq
|Birth date:||26 October 1873|
|Birth place:||Australia: New South Wales, Sydney, Rose Bay|
|Death date:||22 July 1922|
|Final rank:||Rear Admiral|
John Dumaresq was the first Australian-born officer to command the Australian fleet. He was born on 26 October 1873 at Rose Bay in Sydney but his family moved to England when Dumaresq was just two.
Dumaresq joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1886, aged 13. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in 1894 and served with the Channel Fleet. In 1904 he was promoted to commander and, having taken an interest in torpedo work earlier in his career, was attached to the Admiralty to supervise the equipment of torpedo vessels. Dumaresq was keenly interested in the science of naval warfare and he invented a rangefinder that greatly improved the accuracy of naval gunnery.
In 1907 Dumaresq married Christian Dalrymple and the following year he commanded the torpedo flotilla when it escorted King Edward VII on a visit to Russia. After his return, Dumaresq commanded two of the Home Fleet's torpedo destroyers. Promoted to captain in 1910, he invented several fire-control devices that were used in the First World War.
Dumaresq commanded the Shannon, a light cruiser, in the battle of Jutland in 1916. During this action he conceived the idea of launching aircraft from a ship's deck. In February 1917 he was transferred to the RAN as captain of HMAS Sydney and later in the year he took command of the British vessel Repulse, which he captained in a successful battle against the German flagship, Königsberg. Dumaresq returned to Sydney in December 1917. To his great pleasure the admiralty had agreed to the installation of an aircraft-launching platform on Sydney, the first to be fitted to a ship. The first flight was a success and the device offered ships some protection against zeppelins and land-based aircraft.
Dumaresq remained in command of Sydney until the end of February 1919. The following month he was given command of the Australian fleet with the rank of commodore. In June 1921 he was promoted to rear admiral, becoming the first Australian-born officer to attain that rank and to command the Navy.
By the early 1920s, cutbacks in defence spending led Dumaresq into conflict with senior political figures as he sought to ensure that the Navy was properly resourced. He returned to the Royal Navy on 29 April 1922, thus ending his service with the RAN. Dumaresq's final gesture, criticising Australia's apathy towards defence spending, suggests something of his willingness to publicly state his views on matters of national importance. Some regarded him as a strict disciplinarian but he was widely respected, shy of publicity, and has been credited with introducing an esprit de corps into the Navy that the young service had been lacking.
Dumaresq never reached England to take up his new appointment. He fell ill on the voyage and died of pneumonia in the Philippines on 22 July 1922.
Rolls and Awards
SYDNEY, NSW. C.1919. PORT BOW VIEW OF THE BATTLECRUISER HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) AS FLAGSHIP OF THE AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON AFTER WORLD WAR 1. THE SHIP FLIES THE BROAD PENNANT OF COMMODORE FIRST CLASS JOHN S. DUMARESQ RN, THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN BORN OFFICER TO COMMAND THE SQUADRON. THE SHIP DISPLAYS THE...300246
Unidentified seamen and officers watch as a Sopwith F.1 Camel biplane aircraft takes off from a platform above the forward gun mounting on HMAS Sydney. HMAS Melbourne can be seen in the background. This was an initiative of Captain John Dumaresq, RN; the first successful flight took place on 8...EN0224
STUDIO PORTRAIT OF REAR ADMIRAL JOHN SAUMAREZ DUMARESQ CB CVO RAN, COMMODORE COMMANDING AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON, 1919-03-22 TO 1921-06-14, REAR ADMIRAL COMMANDING AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON 1921-06-14 TO 1922-04-29. HE WAS THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN BORN OFFICER TO COMMAND THE AUSTRALIA SQUADRON. HE DIED AT MANILA...305332
C.1919. STARBOARD BOW VIEW OF THE BATTLECRUISER HMAS AUSTRALIA (I) AS FLAGSHIP OF THE AUSTRALIAN SQUADRON AFTER WORLD WAR 1. THE SHIP FLIES THE BROAD PENNANT OF COMMODORE FIRST CLASS JOHN S. DUMARESQ RN, THE FIRST AUSTRALIAN BORN OFFICER TO COMMAND THE SQUADRON. THE SHIP DISPLAYS THE MODIFICATIONS...300242
Group portrait of four officers and the ship's band with their instruments on board HMAS Sydney. In the front row are (left to right): an unidentified Royal Marine, holding the conductor's baton; Captain John Saumarez Dumaresq, RN, with a telescope under his arm; Commander Henry Priaulx Cayley;...EN0215
Group portrait of officers on board HMAS Sydney. Not all have been identified. Identified left to right: back row, unidentified lieutenant (gunnery officer); unidentified; possibly Chief Gunner William Chisholm; possibly Paymaster Midshipman Thomas F Maynard; unidentified midshipman, possibly...EN0178
Portrait of Captain John Saumarez Dumaresq RN in his cabin aboard HMAS Sydney. He commanded the Sydney from April 1917 until 1919. Note a copy of the Tatler magazine on the table (foreground).EN0168
Group portrait of senior officers aboard HMAS Sydney. Identified left to right (back row): possibly Lieutenant Commander Rupert Garsia; Paymaster Lieutenant Commander Donald Andrew Peart; Surgeon Lieutenant Commander William J Carr; unidentified lieutenant. Front row: Commander Henry Priaulx...EN0174
Group portrait of the ship's company on the fore deck of HMAS Sydney. Several sailors are sitting or standing on top of the 12 inch gun. Officers in the front row are (left to right): possibly Paymaster Midshipman Thomas F Maynard; possibly sub lieutenant Harry L Howden; unidentified lieutenant;...EN0164
The ship's band on board HMAS Sydney at Portsmouth, England, in January 1919.EN0172
His Royal Highness Edward the Prince of Wales chats to a seaman while inspecting the ship's company on board HMAS Brisbane during his visit to HMAS Brisbane and HMAS Australia. Standing behind the Prince and looking on are an unidentified army officer, Commodore John Saumarez Dumaresq and...EN0483
His Royal Highness Edward the Prince of Wales steps onto the wharf after visiting HMAS Australia. Descending the gangway behind him is Commodore John Saumarez Dumaresq, RN, commander of His Majesty's Australian Fleet. An unidentified seaman salutes on the right.EN0486
His Royal Highness Edward the Prince of Wales inspects the Guard of Honour on the wharf during his visit to HMAS Australia and HMAS Brisbane. Walking beside the Prince is Commodore John Saumarez Dumaresq RN, Commander of His Majesty's Australian Fleet. The man behind the Prince and to his right...EN0478
Group portrait of seamen, officers and visitors on board HMAS Australia on the occasion of a visit by the Prince of Wales. Most of those sitting on the deck in the front row are midshipmen. Second seated row: unidentified; unidentified commodore; unidentified captain; Sir Joseph Cook, Minister...EN0475
Group portrait of His Royal Highness Edward the Prince of Wales and several officers on board HMAS Australia during his visit to the ship. Identified left to right, front row: (half hidden, wearing civilian clothes) Sir Joseph Cook, Minister for the Royal Australian Navy (and Prime Minister of...EN0484
Featured in this work is an unusual action involving the Australian light cruiser 'Sydney', which took place on 4 May 1917. Under Captain John Dumaresq the cruiser was leading a British ship, 'Dublin', and four destroyers on a sweep of channels south east of Rosyth, Scotland, between the Forth and...ART12418
Letters relating to the First World War service of Chief Petty Officer William Smith Rhoades, Royal Australian Navy. Rhoades served on HMAS Sydney during the war this file contains letters written by Rhoades and by others pertaining to his service with the Royal Australian Navy. They include...RCDIG0001347
Documents relating to the First World War service of Chief Petty Officer William Smith Rhoades, Royal Australian Navy. Rhoades served on HMAS Sydney during the war and this file contains various documents relating to his naval service, including details on the encounter between the Sydney and the...RCDIG0001235
|Date of birth||1873-10-26||Rose Bay, NSW.|
|Date and unit at enlistment (ORs)||1886||Joined the Royal Navy as a cadet.|
|Other||1894||Served with the Channel Fleet.|
|Date promoted||1894-08-28||Appointed lieutenant.|
|Date promoted||1904-06-30||Appointed commander.|
|Other units||1908-02-07||Commanding Officer HMS Nith.|
|Date promoted||1910-06-30||Appointed captain.|
|Other units||1910-06-30||Royal Naval College.|
|Other units||1912-11-18||HMS Prince of Wales.|
|Other units||1913-12-19||Commanded HMS Shannon.|
|Date of honour or award||1916-09-15||Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).|
|Other units||1917-02-05||Commanding Officer HMAS Sydney.|
|Other||1917-11-06 - 1919-02-28||Commanding Officer of HMAS Sydney.|
|Other units||1919-02-28||Returned to Royal Navy.|
|Date promoted||1919-03-22||Commodore 1st Class.|
|Other units||1919-03-22||Captain of HMAS Australia.|
|Other units||1919-03-22||Commanding Officer HM Australian Fleet.|
|Date of honour or award||1920-10-15||Commander of the Royal Victorian Order (CVO).|
|Date promoted||1921-06-15||Rear Admiral.|
|Date of death||1922-07-22||Died of pneumonia.|