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

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for Gerard Henry Uctred Noel appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
24 May 1918


Admiral of the Fleet Sir Gerard Noel, G.C.B, K.C.M.G., died at Fincham, Downham, Norfolk, yesterday, aged 73.
Gerard Henry Uctred Noel was sprung from a younger branch of the Gainsborough family, and was directly descended in the female line from that Lord Barham to whose promptitude, when First Lord of tie Admiralty, has been assigned the defeat of Napoleon's scheme for the junction of the French Mediterranean Fleet with that of Brest. He was born on March 5, 1845, entered the Navy at the age of 14, and was just 21 when he was made lieutenant. After a commission in China under the command of Admiral Sir Henry Stephenson, then a young commander, he joined the Excellent and the Royal Naval College at Portsmouth for a course of practical and theoretical gunnery, through which he passed with marked distinction. He was then appointed gunnery lieutenant of the Minotaur, the flagship of Rear Admiral (Sir Geoffrey) Hornby in the Channel.
The "luck" that' has been pointed out as so much in the career of a naval officer moved him at the end of 1873 to the Active, on the West Coast of Africa, where, in command of the seamen landed with the force under Sir Garnet (Lord) Wolseley, he had a distinguished share in the advance on Kumasi, and was promoted to commander on March 31, 1874. In that rank he served for a commission in the Immortalité, one of the detached squadron, and in 1878 he was appointed to the Royal yacht, from which he was promoted to captain on January 11, 1881. After a few years on half-pay he was appointed, in September, 1885, to the Rover, one of the training squadron; four years later to the Téméraire in the Mediterranean; and, in June, 1801, to the Nile, which he was still commanding on the fatal June 22, 1803, when his prompt action saved the Nile from the terrible fate that befell the Victoria. In the following November he joined the Board of Admiralty as a Junior Sea Lord, and remained there till January, 1898, when he had attained flag rank two years before he was appointed second in command in the Mediterranean.


It was the time of the disturbances in CreteExternal link, and Noel relieved his predecessor, Sir Robert Harris, in the charge of watching over British interests. On September 6 [1898] the mob of Candia broke into open violence and attacked the small British force which was occupying the Custom House. It was not till after many hours' hard fighting, and the loss of nearly 60 English killed and wounded, not to dwell on the massacre of some 800 native Christians, that the Turkish Governor of the town thought it necessary to interpose. When order was restored, Noel sent to the Governor an order, in the form of an ultimatum, to hand over the ringleaders of the riot within 48 hours. There remained no doubt in the Turk's mind that the English Admiral was in grim earnest the ringleaders were delivered up, were tried by Court-martial and hanged. At the same time the Concert of the Powers had delivered an ultimatum to the Porte, which led to the withdrawal of the Turkish troops from the island. Noel's admirable conduct in very trying circumstances was rewarded with the K.C.M.G., a distinction which was commonly thought to be inadequate to the great service lie had rendered the country. It was not till nearly four years later that he received the K.C.B., and the G.C.B. in 1913. From May, 1900, he was Superintendent of Naval Reserves and in command of the Home' Fleet, in which capacity he had command of one of the divisions in the summer manoeuvres. He was in command of the China Station from 1904 to 1906,vwhen he was appointed Commander-in-Chief at the Nore. He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet in 1908, and retired in 1915.
From an early period of his career, Noel had paid close attention to the theoretical side of his profession. The distinction with which he passed through the gunnery course at Portsmouth has been already mentioned. In 1874 he was awarded a prize for an essay on naval tactics, which was published under the title of " Gun, Ram, and Torpedo;" and in 1875 he received the Gold Medal of the Royal United Service Institution. But the work of his life vas too severe to leave much time or energy for literary pursuits, and he was best known in the service for his thoroughgoing pursuit of excellence. He married In August, 1875, Rachel, eldest daughter of Mr. F.J. Cresswell, and -had issue, a son and two daughters

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