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Pakenham, Sir William Christopher, Admiral (1861-1933)


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Collection Archive
Gallery locationNot on display

Record details:

Biographical details Pakenham was born in 1861 into a titled and naval family. He entered the navy in 1874 and spent two years training on HMS BRITANNIA. He was promoted to sub-lieutenant in 1880 and lieutenant in 1883. At these ranks he served on ships including HMS ALEXANDRA and a series of cruisers in the Pacific and the Mediterranean, mainly with responsibility for gunnery. He was promoted commander in 1896 and served in naval intelligence for 18 months to August 1901. He became a captain in 1903 and was naval attache in Japan, 1904-1905. While there he spent much of his time on board HMIS ASAHI, including its periods engaged in battle in the Russo-Japanese war. Between 1906-1910 he served in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and was made Fourth Sea Lord in 1911. He was present at the Battle of Jutland where he commanded a battle cruiser squadron from HMS NEW ZEALAND. In 1916 he was appointed as commander in chief of a battle cruiser force. After World War I he served briefly at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich and then as commander in chief of the North America and West Indies station. His visit to the west coast of the United States on HMS RALEIGH in 1922 was a diplomatic success. He was appointed admiral in that year. He retired in 1926 and died at San Sebastian, Spain in 1933
Description The papers relate to official and personal aspects of Pakenham's life and cover the period 1884-1933, though the main focus is 1904-1922. They are particularly strong on his period as naval attache to Japan (1904-1905), with whom Great Britain had an alliance and include copies of reports to the Naval Intelligence Department; accounts of battles at Port Arthur and Tsushima including position charts and photographs and freqent personal letters to his aunt, Lady Jessica Sykes. They also cover his period in the eastern Mediterranean and role intervening in the Armenian massacre of 1909, including requests from the local population for protection. In the period leading up to and during World War I there are reports and correspondence of both a strategic, technical and operational nature. In the period after World War I there is a lengthy series of personal correspondence with Admiral David Beatty (1871-1936). Other correspondents include Admiral Charles Beresford (1846-1919); Winston Churchill; Admiral Sir Asheton Gore Curzon-Howe (1850-1911); Admiral John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841-1920); Lord Geddes, British Ambassador, Washington (1879-1954); Walter Hume Long, politician (1854-1924) and Sir Claude MacDonald (1852-1915). Includes dispute between Fisher and Beresford over naval reform and the controversy over the Battle of Jutland. There is correspondence, lecture notes and photographs relating to the tour of the coast of Noth America in 1922 and the later grounding and salvage of his ship HMS RALEIGH. The papers were received on loan in two accessions from Sir Robert Strickland-Constable, Pakenham's nephew, in 1980 and 1982. They were gifted to the Museum in 2001 after the death of Lady Lettice Strickland-Constable, Sir Robert's widow
Date made 1884 - 1933

Finding Reference PKM
Catalogue section Personal collections
Creator Pakenham, William Christopher
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Extent 6 boxes
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