Royal Navy officers of the First World War

Royal Navy officers of the First World War, oil on canvas by Arthur Stockdale Cope.

NPG 1913; Naval Officers of World War I by Sir Arthur Stockdale Cope

The portrait depicts Edwyn Alexander-Sinclair, Robert Arbuthnot, David Beatty, Osmond Brock, Montague Browning, Cecil Burney, Walter Cowan, Christopher Cradock, John de Robeck, Doveton Sturdee, Hugh Evan-Thomas, William Goodenough, Horace Hood, John Rushworth Jellicoe, Roger Keyes, Arthur Leveson, Prince Louis of Battenburg, Charles Madden, Trevylyan Napier, William Pakenham, Reginald Tyrwhitt, and Rosslyn Wemyss.

Royal Navy codes stolen from HMS Queen by “a foreign power”, March 1914

From the Daily Telegraph: “Signal Codes of British Warships – Mystery at Sheerness – Cleverly-Devised Plot”

“A remarkable incident has recently occurred on board one of his Majesty’s battleships at Sheerness.”

The Torygraph reported the news on 11th March 1914 without reference to which ship was involved. However, the Daily Chronicle reported the battleship as HMS Queen, a Formidable-class battleship built at Devonport and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 7th April 1904. By March of 1914 she was serving as flagship for Vice Admiral Cecil Burney, in command of the Second Fleet and the Third Fleet. The trail is murky, because Reuters reported the battleship to be HMS Caesar, a Majestic-class pre-dreadnought built at Portsmouth and commissioned into the RN on 13th January 1898, then in reserve at Sheerness.

“A number of members of the crew have been detained, pending the result of the investigation which is being carried out.”

Evening Post: “Naval Signalman Sentenced”

A spot of detective work reveals that the culprit was a signalman aboard HMS Ocean (sorry, Reuters), namely one Herbert Hulton, who was identified by “certain finger-prints” left at the scene of the crime. A court martial sentenced Hulton to four years imprisonment.

Now why the blighter took it… anyone care to dig around for the court martial proceedings?