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

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Reginald Friend Hannam Henderson appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
13 July 1932


Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, who died yesterday at his home, Felder House, Worth, Kent, at the age of 85, had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, and served on the active list from 1860 to 1910. He may be regarded as the "father" of the Royal Australian Navy, of which he devised the original organization. He was also one of the officers who did so much to educate, train, and prepare the Navy for the Great War.

Born on November 20, 1846, at Worth, Kent, Reginald Friend Hannam Henderson came of a family having many associations with the sea. He was the second son of Mr. John Henderson, of Felder, Worthy and Laura, daughter of Henry Pett Hannam, of Northbourne Court. Three of his brothers became officers in the Royal Navy, two of them reaching the rank of admiral. The eldest was Admiral Sir William Hannam Henderson, born in 1845, who died in April, 1931, and of the two younger brothers, Frank Hannam, born in 1850, became an admiral and died in 1918, and John Hannam, who retired in 1893, died as a commander in 1923.

After being privately educated, Sir Reginald entered the Navy in June, 1860, and received his commission as lieutenant in February, 1869. A year later he was awarded the bronze medal of the Royal Humane Society for jumping overboard at sea to the rescue of a boatswain’s mate of the screw frigate Phoebe. In 1871 he joined the Glasgow, flagship in the East Indies, and in 1874 became first lieutenant of the sloop Daphne on that station. In December, 1875, he took up the same appointment in the iron screw corvette Rover, on the North American Station; and in October, 1880, in the battleship Superb, in the Mediterranean, from which he was promoted commander in June, 1881. He had not long to wait for a new ship, being appointed in July to the Invincible in the Mediterranean, in which he served for over four years. He was commander of the Invincible at the bombardment of Alexandria (he died the day after the fiftieth anniversary of it), and, being afterwards landed for duty on shore, was placed in command of the armoured train, with which he served for the rest of the campaign. He was mentioned in dispatches, and in addition to the Egyptian medal and Alexandria clasp he was awarded the Khedive’s bronze star and the third class of the Medjidieh. On leaving the Invincible he was given command, in January, 1886, of the St. Vincent, training ship for boys in Portsmouth Harbour, and 18 months later was promoted to captain.

After a period of study at the Royal Naval College, his knowledge and experience of the training service led to his appointment to the cruiser Rover, in the Training Squadron, of which he became captain in November, 1888, and from which he transferred six months later to the Ruby, on similar service. In November, 1891, he was selected to command the cruiser Severn, in China, where he served for nearly four years. During this time he was created C.B. on Queen Victoria’s birthday, 1892. In December, 1895, he took command of the battleship Royal Sovereign, in the Channel Squadron, after which he was appointed, in January, 1898, in charge of the Dockyard Reserve at Portsmouth. His success in this post paved the way for his appointment as Captain-Superintendent of Sheerness Dockyard in June, 1899, where he served until his promotion to flag rank two years later.

On the appointment of a committee in the following year under Sir Edward Grey (afterwards Viscount Grey of Fallodon) to inquire into the question of our Naval Reserves, Rear-Admiral Henderson was appointed a member. On September 1, 1902, he became Admiral-Superintendent of Portsmouth Dockyard, and in February, 1905, was selected for the post of Admiral Commanding Coastguard and Reserves. His tenure of that office coincided with the numerous and far-reaching changes in organization introduced by the Admiralty Board under the inspiration of Lord Fisher, whose confidence in Sir Reginald was expressed in his book, "Memories," wherein he said, speaking of an invitation to visit Australia, "At my entreaty a far better man went. Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, G.C.B. He is a splendid seaman and he devised a splendid scheme."

Sir Reginald occupied the post of Admiral Commanding the Coastguard and Reserves for a longer term than anyone else in its history, until January 1 1910, and was promoted to vice-admiral in July, 1905, and to admiral in December 1908, while so employed. He retired on giving up the post, and in June, 1910, went to Australia to advise the Commonwealth Government upon the creation of a naval service of their own. The result was the admirable report of March, 1911 upon which the organization of the Royal Australian Navy, established later in that year, was chiefly modelled. He was a member of the Royal Commission on oil fuel and oil engines for the Navy in 1912. On the King’s birthday in 1914 Sir Reginald, who had been promoted K.C.B. in 1907, was further advanced to G.C.B.

On retiring from active service the late admiral went to live at his native place, Felder House, Kent, and he was made a J.P. for Kent in 1912. He married, in 1909, Eunice, daughter of the late Admiral Henry Boys. His nephew, Rear-Admiral Reginald Hannan Henderson, C.B., Rear-Admiral Commanding Aircraft Carriers, is with his flag in the Courageous now in Weymouth Bay. The King, with the Prince of Wales and Prince George, took a cruise in her yesterday.

The funeral will be at Worth parish church on Friday at 3 o’clock. It is requested that no flowers be sent.

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