Sir Edmond Slade

This is based on his Times Obit, his Admiralty Navy Record, the 1901 Census and a few other thingsThere are some other files indexed about him in the National Archives which I haven't looked up. There could be rather a lot more to find out.

Edmond John Warre Slade was born on March 20 1859 in Alderbury, Shropshire, the eldest son of Rev George Fitzclarence Slade (who was presumably the Rector).  He went to Eton where his uncle Dr Warre was Assistant Master (he was later Headmaster and then Provost). He left early, spent a few months at Marlborough and then entered the Royal Navy on 15 July 1872 (as a Cadet I think, there is a National Archive Catalogue entry about this which I didn't have time to follow up. The Times Obit says Jan but his Naval Record says July). 

He became a midshipman in 1874 and was appointed to HMS Northumberland, and 18 months later he moved to the frigate Narcissus. He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant in March 78 and Lt in 8 Dec 79.  On 1 Jan 80 he was appointed to the sloop Fawn which was surveying in the Red Sea. He then joined the Helca a torpedo depot-ship commanded by Capt (afterwards Admiral of the Fleet, Sir .. VC) AK Wilson, and served in her during the Egyptian war of that year. In 83 he joined the Vernon, a torpedo-school ship and went to the Minotaur, flagship of the Channel Squadron, in 86 for torpedo duties,  transferring to the Northumberland when that became the Flagship in Nov 87.  He went back to Defiance, the torpedo school-ship in Devonport, as Staff Officer, where he was lent out for Torpedo duties to 2 Torpedo Boats (No 60 and No 53). In Dec 88 he was recommended by Lord John Hay for promotion. He resumed sea-service in May 1890 as Torpedo Lt of Rodney. 18 months later he was Torpedo Lt of the Channel flagship Camperdown commanded by Sir Michael Culme-Seymour.  It is also recorded   In Jan 93 1st and Torpedo Lt of Trafalgar the Rear Admiral's Flagship in the Mediterranian. His report in Feb 94 from Capt Robinson on Trafalgar was "V.G. (Torpedo), Zealous, Talented (French, Spanish, German)"

He was promoted to Commander in Jan 94  and in 1 Jan 95 was appointed to command Cocktrice, a paddle gunboat stationed in the Danube to represent Great Britain on the Danube Commission. On the 4th Sept the Cockatrice was grounded, but an inquiry found 'no blame attributable'. On the 16th Sept a Foreign Office dispatch from HM Charege d'Affaires 'expressing his sense of prompt assistance rendered to him by Commander Slade on providing for protection of British Colony during recent disorder at Constantinople' and on 13 Nov 97 'satisfaction expressed for very able report of examination of a shoal(?) on Western Shore of Black Sea

In March 98 he commended the sloop Algerine in China. On 13 Nov 97 Satisfaction was 'expressed at zealouis manner in which he carried out recovery of Miss Hever(?) and Pagoda Anchorag and he was promoted Captain in Dec 99. There is a report on file from Vice-Admiral Sir Edward Seymour  that Slade knew 'French, Spanish, German, Russian, Italian and Roumanian. This officer has abilty above the average by far: he is also studious and makes good use of his abilities. I have given him some special work with very good results to the service. For a post requiring diplomacy and tact he would be found well suited'  This could be a reference to intelligence work.

In 8 Aug 01 there is 'Satisfactory inspection of Spartan by Capt Corry' which suggests that Slade may have transferred to the Spartan but this is not recorded in the Times Obit. He was allowed to visit continent for 15 days from 16 Dec (Urgent Private affairs) - it's not clear what these were and it's possible that they were a diplomatic mission arising from the Boxer rebellion which was put down by an international force. He is shown as having returned to England on 24 Dec 01 (although he and his wife and daughter Madeleine are shown as present in the 1901 Census, living at 20A Cheyne Walk) and after a term at the Royal Naval College and was selected to undergo a course of Signals and Fleet Tactics at Portsmouth from 4-28 June and in April 02 he was appointed Captain of the cruiser Diana in the Mediterranian. When the King visited Malta in 1903 Slade was made an MVO.  Later we see 'satisfaction expressed at report by this officer on Wireless telegraphy Signalling by Russian Warship at Suez'  which must be one of the ealier radio intercepts at sea.

On 13 May 1904  he was placed in command of the war course for senior officers at the Royal Naval College, later transferred to Portsmouth as the Royal  Naval War College (later Staff College). This course had been initiated by Rear-Admira HJ May and when he died  Slade was appointed, the only non-flag  officer ever to have held this post.  He was also enlightened in encouraging cooperating with the Army Staff College at a time when inter-service rivalry was a problem. During that year 38 naval, marine and military officers attended a course of lectures organised by him.  It seems the Goliath was attached to this course for fleet tactics, and in Nov 1906 he commissioned the light cruiser Terpsichore for duties in connection with the college. In Sept 06 he was 'granted private permission to accept and carry Cross of Legion of Honour proposed to be conferred by French Government' (it's be very interesting to see what this was for!)

In Nov 1907 Slade was appointed Director of Naval Intelligence  and in Nov 08 was promoted Read-Admiral.  He represented the Admiralty at the International Maritime Conference (Dec 08-Feb 09) which resulted in the Declaration of London.  In Mar 09 he was appointed C-in-C East Indies. His chief concern there was the contraband traffic in arms and ammunition between Muscat and Mekran and other ports in the vincinity of the Persian Gulf, and these measures were so vigorous effective and thourough that the traffic had practically died out by March 1912.  The Secretary of State for India expressed high appreciation of measures organised by Admiral Slade with regard to arms traffic in the Persian Gulf . In 1910 he was awarded Africa General Service Medal with Clasp "Somalialand 1908-10". During these three years I think his daughter Madeliene was with him in India, which possibly sowed the seeds for her later deep involvement with India and Ghandi.  In Jan 1911 he was made KCIE (Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire) and in1912 when the King and Queen visitied India for the Durbar he was also made a KCVO  (Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire) He gave up C-in-C East Indies on 23rd March 1912.

Meanwhile, Winston Churchill (who was First Lord of the Admiralty) had become convinced of the strategic importance of Oil as a fuel for the fleet.  The first step was to set up, in 1912, a Royal Commission on Oil Supplies which was chaired by Lord Fisher.  Having recommended a switch from Coal to Oil the Admiralty (headed by Churchill) and the Treasury (LLoyd George was Chancellor of the Exchequer) decided to negotiate a deal whereby the government would take a 51% stake in The Anglo-Persian Oil Company to guarantee supply of oil.  They sent a four-man Commission to Persia to report on the Oilfields and Slade was "Head of Expedition to Persia in connection with Anglo-Persian Oil Company Oct 1913-Feb 1914."  This Expedition included two  geological experts, one of whom (Prof John Cadman, Professor of Mining at Birmingham University and Petroleum Adviser to the Colonial Office) later became Chairman of the Company.  The expedition gave a positive report and the investment was made just in time for the war.  As part of the agreement the Government had the right to appoint two directors, and Slade became one of these, a position he held until his death.  In fact he became Vice-Chairman of the company on 8 Jan 1917 and 'was placed on half pay on his own request'  It was agreed that he was to continue duties at Admiralty and Committees.  Indeed his service record shows that he served on the following committees and duties:
He was made Admiral on 19 August 1917 and was "Placed on Retired List at own request 1.9.1917 to facilitate the promotion of younger officers"  but according to his obit he continued to be employed upon special service until the end of the war.  He took a keen interest in all matters relating to his profession, and was a member of the Naval Records Society and of the Society for Nautical Research.  I recall that both of these organisations were represented at his Memorial Service. His widow Lady Slade is shown as living at 13 Bedford Gardens, Campden Hill, W8.

The Times printed a list of some of those present at his Memorial Service (24 Jan 1928) which included the Prime Minister, many representatives of the bodies on which he served, and amongst his family Lady Slade, Mr & Mrs Reginald Slade, Mr & Mrs Felix Warre, Miss Alice Slade, Miss Marie Slade and Miss Olga Slade. I can't see a reference to Madeliene - but since it was just a few days after his death she may have been too far away to return.  I think my grandparents were in Persia at the time, my Grandfather having joined the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company possibly because of the connection. 


Admiral Arthur Knyvet Wilson VC CB

Vice Admiral Wilson was in charge of the Channel Squadron in 1902. He had a notable career apart from the inspiring occasion when at El Teb, on February 29th 1884 he won the Victoria Cross for preventing a gap in the square from being rushed by the enemy, whom he held in check single-handed first with his sword, and, when that broke with his fists. As a middy Admiral Wilson served in the Black Sea during the Russian War, and he was also at the capture of the Peiho Forts in 1858 and at the attack on Canton. He was an experienced administrator and commander and also the inventor of the double-barrelled torpedo tubes.  He famously declared that the submarine was "underhand, unfair, and damned UnEnglish." The government, he wrote, should "treat all submarines as pirates in wartime . . . and hang all crews."

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward H Seymour Bt

Seymour was made CiC China Station in 1898 and commanded the relief expedition in the Boxer Rebellion in June 1900 (It's not clear to me whether Slade was involved in this or not).  He was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 20 Feb 05.

Directors of Naval Intelligence

According to Nigel West's Dictionary of British Intelligence the Director of Naval Intelligence is the oldest of the formal Intelligence posts in the UK.  He gives a list of the holders since 1882-7 (Hollis, Sir R Hollis's father) which includes:
I have updated the Wikipedia list accordingly.