In 1871 Frederick Charles Doveton Sturdee, not yet a teenager, entered the British Navy, a service he would leave, many many years later, as one of the most distinguished naval figures of his day.
Having distinguished himself as a senior officer during an insurrection in Samoa, he found himself on the chief of staff at the Admiralty when the First World War broke out. Appointed to command a squadron that included Devonport-manned cruisers, Cornwall and Carnarvon, and charged with locating a German squadron under Admiral Von Spee – a squadron that had already claimed two British cruisers – Sturdee caught up with his enemy, in the Invincible, in November 1914. After a long running fight, in what proved to be probably the most significant and decisive sea battle of the war – off the Falklands on 8 December – Sturdee’s squadron sank Von Spee’s flagship, Scharnhorst, and her sister ship Gneisenau and two other light cruisers. For his services Sturdee was created a baronet and after commanding a squadron at the battle of Jutland, and later enjoying a period as C-in-C Chatham, the redoubtable seaman was made Admiral of the Fleet. Sturdee, who died in 1925, was, incidentally, also, at one time, captain of the last sea-going HMS Drake.