Rear Admiral Robin Campsie Dalglish

Robin Campsie Dalglish was born at Wynella, Goulburn, NSW on 3 December 1880 one of six children to James Campsie Dalglish (Surveyor) and Marie Sophie Dalglish (nee de Lauret). Although both his parents were born in New South Wales the family had strong Scottish and French Roman Catholic roots. In late 1888 the family was preparing to sail to the United Kingdom, in the new year, to enable the children to undertake further education in Scotland when James Dalglish died suddenly from heart disease. Marie Dalglish took the six children, aged between 12 years and six months, to England on her own in 1889.

Robin Dalglish was educated at the Roman Catholic Oratory School, Birmingham before  entering the Royal Navy as a naval cadet on 15 January 1895. On graduation from Britannia Royal Naval College, in January 1897, he was promoted to Midshipman and appointed to the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Majestic for training. After six months service in Majestic he joined the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS Renown, which took part in the 1897 Fleet Review at Spithead for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, before sailing for service on the North America and West Indies Station.

He was promoted Sub Lieutenant on 15 July 1900 and commenced his Sub Lieutenant's courses at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich in September 1900. After completing his courses in early 1902 Dalglish served in a variety of destroyers (including HM Ships Snapper, Zebra and Success) while based at Chatham and Portsmouth. He was promoted to Lieutenant on 1 October 1902 and the following month joined the 3rd Cruiser Squadron in the Mediterranean serving in HMS Bacchante (1902-05) and HMS Leviathan (1905-06). In November 1906 he was appointed as 1st Lieutenant in the Condor class sloop HMS Shearwater based at Esquimalt on the Canadian Pacific coast. Shearwater was one of the vessels transferred to the Naval Service of Canada in 1910 (on 29 August 1911 the Naval Service of Canada became the Royal Canadian Navy).

On his return to England Dalglish joined the pre-dreadnought battleship HMS King Edward VII, part of the Home Fleet, in March 1909. In January 1910 he was appointed as 1st Lieutenant of the sloop HMS Racer which was a tender attached to the Royal Naval College, Osborne. Robin Dalglish was promoted Lieutenant Commander in October 1910 and in January 1912 he joined the Home Fleet battle cruiser HMS Indefatigable. He was also selected to represent Great Britain, in fencing, at the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm but due to service reasons was unable to attend.

He married Dulcie Gertrude Florence Stephen (granddaughter of Henry Pelham Fiennes Pelham-Clinton KG, 4th Duke of Newcastle-under-Lyme) at Brompton Oratory, Kensington on 15 October 1912 and between 1913 and 1931 they had seven children (three boys and four girls). His eldest son, James Stephen Dalglish later joined the Royal Navy and retired as Captain James Dalglish CVO, CBE, RN. Another son Douglas Robin Dalglish served with The Royal Leicestershire Regiment (Royal Anglian) as a Lieutenant Colonel during World War II and was awarded a Military Cross. One daughter, Daphne Cicely Dalglish, became 'Sister Claudia', a nun with the Society of the Holy Child Jesus.

In August 1913 Lieutenant Commander Dalglish joined the battleship HMS King George V and was serving in her when war broke out in August 1914. Dalglish was promoted Commander on 31 December 1914 and appointed to the battleship HMS Canada, as second-in-command, serving in her for almost the entire period of the war. Canada took part in the Battle of Jutland (31 May-1 June 1916) firing 42 rounds of 14-inch ammunition and 109 rounds of 6-inch. She suffered no hits or casualties in the battle and although claims that some of her shells struck German warships the poor visibility, due to funnel and gun smoke, precluded an accurate enemy damage report.

Robin’s younger brother Kenneth Park Dalglish (1888-1923) also served in the Royal Navy; reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander.  Kenneth was loaned to the RAN from mid-1913 until early 1919 and served in the light cruiser HMAS Pioneer in the German East African campaign in 1915-16. He later commanded the destroyer HMAS Torrens during 1916-1918. Another brother Charles Antoine de Guerry (born 1883) was killed in action in France on 8 September 1914 while serving as a Captain in the 1st Battalion of the Black Watch Regiment (Royal Highlanders). His sister Dorothy married a naval officer (Commander Arthur Edward Silvertop) but unfortunately he was also killed in action, at the Battle of Jutland, when HMS Defence blew up after suffering several shell hits. The eldest brother Alexander (Alec) Augustus Dalglish (1875-1926) returned to Australia in the late 1890s and became a pastoralist in the Goulburn area.

In 1918 Robin Dalglish was described by Canada’s commanding officer as ‘specially gifted with powers of organisation and command for dealing with officers and men. Shows a keen understanding of tactical and strategical problems. The service will gain if he is promoted to Captain as soon as possible’. In July 1918 Dalglish was posted to the Admiralty as the Superintendent of Physical and Recreation Training which was part of the 2nd Sea Lords department. Dalglish was promoted Captain in December 1918.  

At the 1920 Olympic Games, in Antwerp, he represented Great Britain in fencing (both epee and sabre) and reached the finals for the sabre in which he finished eighth. He also contested the sabre at the 1924 Olympic Games, in Paris, but was eliminated in the semi-finals. At the 1925 Royal Tournament in London, he was the officers champion in both epee and sabre. Throughout his early to mid-career he was frequently described by his superiors as very physically fit.

Captain Dalglish commanded the battleship HMS Barham from October 1920 to October 1922 and was also Chief Staff Officer to Vice Admiral Sir William Nicholson, KCB, RN who commanded the 1st Battle Squadron and flew his flag in Barham (of note is that Nicholson had commanded Canada during 1915-16 when Dalglish was her second in command). During November 1922-May 1923 Dalglish served briefly as Captain of the Harwich Naval Dockyard before taking command of the boys training establishment, HMS Ganges, at Shotley in Suffolk.

On relinquishing command of Ganges in May 1925 he undertook the Senior Officers Technical Course before assuming the duties of Naval Assistant to the 2nd Sea Lord in July 1926. In July 1928 Dalglish was promoted Commodore 2nd Class and appointed as Commodore (Destroyers), embarked in the light cruiser HMS Centaur, during which time he commanded all the destroyer flotillas of the Atlantic Fleet. He was naval Aide de Camp (ADC) to King George V during 1930-31 and promoted Rear Admiral on 2 April 1931. Dalglish completed the Senior Officers War Course during 1931 but his results were below average and his course report stated ‘I do not think this particular form of study is quite in this officer's line’.

In April 1932, Dalglish was appointed as the Rear Admiral Commanding the Australian Squadron (RACAS); flying his flag in the heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra. He was made a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB), on the Civil List,  on 2 January 1933 for his services as the Naval ADC. While commanding the Australian Squadron the RAN began the slow rebuilding process after the austerity of the Great Depression. Recruiting of officers and ratings had recommenced in January 1932 after a 12-month pause and the ships began to exercise more frequently and conduct port visits to New Zealand, New Guinea and the Netherlands East Indies. The squadron also increased in size with the addition of five destroyers on loan from the Royal Navy (HMA Ships Stuart, Vampire, Vendetta, Voyager and Waterhen) in early 1933 and the survey vessel HMAS Moresby was recommissioned in April 1933 for strategic survey work in northern Australian waters.

The 1st Naval Member (Vice Admiral Hyde) stated that during Dalglish’s tenure as RACAS the standard of general efficiency of the Squadron had improved substantially and that he was very popular with both the officers and men. When not at sea Dalglish would often spend time with his extended family at Pomeroy near Goulburn. However, throughout his time in Australia a number of persistent rumours circulated stating Dalglish was often drunk and used obscene language at social functions. These rumours had also come to the notice of Prime Minister Joseph Lyons, resulting in Hyde being unwilling to recommend Dalglish for further command.

Dalglish relinquished command of the RAN Squadron on 19 April 1934 and returned to England where his tenure in the RAN formally ceased on 6 August 1934. Rear Admiral Robin Campsie Dalglish died suddenly at his home in Ipswich, Suffolk on 17 December 1934.


According to his RAN Service Record the place of birth was Dubbo, NSW. His RN Service Record states place of birth as Goulburn, NSW and this is confirmed by the NSW Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages as well as all his siblings were born in Goulburn. Additionally his name on his birth certificate is listed as Robert Campsie Dalglish.