Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield


Ernle Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield

Infobox Military Person
name= The Lord Chatfield
lived= 27 September 1873 – 15 November 1967
placeofbirth= Southsea, Hampshire, England
placeofdeath= Farnham Common, Buckinghamshire, England


caption= Admiral of the Fleet Sir Ernle Chatfield
nickname=
allegiance=flagicon|United Kingdom United Kingdom
serviceyears= 1886 - 1938
rank= Admiral of the Fleet
branch=
branch
commands=Atlantic Fleet
Mediterranean Fleet
unit=
battles=World War I
awards=GCB, OM, KCMG, CVO
laterwork=

Admiral of the Fleet Alfred Ernle Montacute Chatfield, 1st Baron Chatfield, GCB, OM, KCMG, CVO, PC (27 September 1873 - 15 November 1967) was a Royal Navy officer and held the position of First Sea Lord from 1933 to 1938. He subsequently served as Minister for Coordination of Defence between 1939 and 1940.

Early Royal Navy Career

Chatfield was born in Southsea, the only son of Admiral Alfred John Chatfield, and entered the Royal Navy in 1886. During the First World War he served as Flag Captain of HMS "Lion" and was present at the Battle of Heligoland Bight in 1914, at the Battle of Dogger Bank (1915) in 1915 and at the Battle of Jutland in 1916.

After the war Chatfield served as Third Sea Lord and Controller of the Navy from 1925 to 1928, as Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet from 1929 to 1930 and of the Mediterranean Fleet from 1930 to 1932, and as First Sea Lord from 1933 until 1938. He was promoted to Admiral in 1930 and to Admiral of the Fleet in 1935, and in 1937 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Chatfield, of Ditchling in the County of Surrey.

Minister for Coordination of Defence

In 1939 Lord Chatfield succeeded Sir Thomas Inskip as Minister for Coordination of Defence in the government of Neville Chamberlain, despite having a non-political background. In this role his view of Russia in 1939 as a possible ally against Germany was that she "would be of considerable, though not of great, military value". However as the Cabinet continued to discuss a possible alliance he said that:

"..."if for fear of making an alliance with Russia we drove that country into the German camp we should have made a mistake of vital and far-reaching importance".

Chatfield chaired the Expert Committee on the Defence of India which, using the work of the 1938 Auchinleck Committee, outlined in 1939 the re-equipment, modernisation and expansion of the British Indian Army (which grew to over 2,250,000 men by the end of the war from 183,000 in 1939). He also advocated transforming the British economy into war production before war broke out in 1939 by curtailing domestic consumption. However Oliver Stanley at the Board of Trade refused, arguing that such a move would be 'revolutionary' in peacetime. Chatfield served as Minister for Coordination of Defence through the outbreak of the Second World War, but exercised little influence. He was asked to resign in April 1940 and the post was abolished.

References

* Heathcote, T. A. (2002). "The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 - 1995". Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0 85052 835 6
* Murfett, Malcolm H.(1995). "The First Sea Lords from Fisher to Mountbatten". Westport. ISBN 0-275-94231-7

External links

* [http://www.admirals.org.uk/admirals/fleet/chatfieldaem.php Transcription of Official Service Records on www.admirals.org.uk]


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