Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Charles Cooper Penrose Fitzgerald appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
12 August 1921


Admiral C.C. Penrose Fitzgerald died at his residence at Folkestone yesterday, after a long illness, aged 80 years.
Admiral Charles Cooper Penrose Fitzgerald was the second son of Robert Fitzgerald, of Corkbeg, Co. Cork, where he was born on April 30, 1841. As the record of his career shows, he was essentially a sea officer, born and bred to the sea. His boyhood was spent on that inland arm of Cork Harbour which stretches out towards Youghal, the home of Sir Walter Raleigh, and he early became an expert boat sailor, a pursuit to which he was devoted throughout his active life, and about which he wrote a well-esteemed little manual, published in 1883. He went afloat before he was 14, so that he is justly described in "Who's Who," presumably by himself, as having been "educated at sea." Thus he was a shining example of how good an education the Navy afloat could give in the days before the Britannia, or Osborne, or Dartmouth, or Cambridge, or the public schools were successively enlisted in the service of the Fleet For in his later years he gave proof of his mettle in naval biography, naval discussions, and naval reminiscences, written with an incisive pen, and, where the subject matter allowed it, instinct with a humour all his own, and always racy of the sea. He was universally recognized in the Service as a capable officer, equal to all the duties of his profession, but perhaps he was even better known as a man of rare wit and readiness of repartee, alike in private talk and in public discussion. He held strong opinions, and expressed them without fear or favour.
Many a time our readers have been entertained, even if not always convinced, by one of his racy letters addressed to The Times, and whenever he rose to take part in a discussion at the Royal United Service Institution or at the Institute of Naval Architects his audience knew what to expect — plenty of wit, much common sense, and not seldom a grain or two of prejudice or even perversity. On one occasion the late Admiral of the Fleet Sir John Commerell said of him: "It is always a pleasure to listen to Admiral Fitzgerald, for he is always, entertaining, and sometimes — but not always — instructive." In fact, he was rather the Yorick of the Service than its Solomon — a good officer, a fine fellow, a sturdy but a good-natured disputant, and a delightful companion.
In 1896 Admiral Fitzgerald wrote a little treatise on "Modem Naval Tactics." In 1897 his principal contribution to naval literature appeared in his "Life of Admiral Sir George Tryon" — one of the greatest sea officers of his time, whose tragic death in the Victoria will long be remembered and never fully explained. In 1913 and 1916 he published two volumes of reminiscences and personal opinions, entitled respectively "Memories of the Sea" and "From Sail to Steam."
The record of Fitzgerald is as follows: — He entered the Navy in 1854 and served in the Baltic as a midshipman of the Colossus, receiving the Baltic medal. His next ship was the Retribution, in which he went round the world and was present at the bombardment of Nanking in 1858, receiving the China medal. As a lieutenant he served in the Ariadne, the Cordelia, and the Hercules, and as a commander in the Agincourt, Asia, and Rapid. Promoted to captain, he first served in the Inconstant as flag-captain to Sir Francis Sullivan in the Egyptian campaign, being mentioned in dispatches and receiving the Egyptian medal and the Khedive's bronze star. He was Captain of the Royal Naval College at Greenwich from 1883 to 1885, and subsequently commanded the battleships Bellerophon, Inflexible, and Collingwood. Later he became Superintendent of Pembroke Dockyard, and, having been promoted to flag rank, he served as second in command of the China Squadron in 1898-9. He was promoted to admiral in 1905, shortly before his retirement by seniority.
Fitzgerald was a brother of the late Robert Uniacke Penrose Fitzgerald, who sat in Parliament for Cambridge for many years, and was created a baronet in 1890. The late admiral married in 1882 Henrietta, daughter of the late Rev. F. Hewson, and had two sons and two daughters.

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