Rear Admiral Francis Fitzgerald Haworth-Booth

Francis ‘Frank’ Fitzgerald Haworth-Booth was born at Malton, Yorkshire on 18 May 1864; one of nine children to Benjamin Blaydes Haworth-Booth (timber merchant and landowner) and Cordelia Haworth-Booth (née Wintour). Francis entered the Royal Navy as a Cadet on board the training ship Britannia (moored at Dartmouth) on 15 July 1877; graduating two years later on 24 July 1879. He was appointed to his first ship, the frigate HMS Newcastle, and promoted Midshipman on 23 December 1879.

In early April 1880 Haworth-Booth was appointed to the armoured frigate HMS Agincourt, then part of the Channel Squadron, and serving in her until March 1884. During mid-1882 he spent several months serving on loan to various ships of the Mediterranean Fleet including the corvettes HM Ships Orion and Carysfort, the gunboat HMS Ready and the turret ship HMS Monarch. During this time the ships were involved in the Anglo-Egyptian War although Midshipman Haworth-Booth did not serve ashore as part of the Naval Brigade.

He then returned to serve in Agincourt and was promoted Sub Lieutenant on 14 February 1884, and proceeded to HMS Excellent for gunnery courses before undertaking training courses in seamanship, pilotage, signals and torpedoes at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich during November 1884-December 1885.

Sub Lieutenant Haworth-Booth joined the sloop HMS Caroline in December 1885 and served in her until August 1887. He was promoted Lieutenant on 19 September 1887; serving in HMS Active, a fully square rigged corvette in the Training Squadron, during November 1887-October 1888. Lieutenant Haworth-Both joined the battleship HMS Edinburgh, serving with the Mediterranean Fleet, in November 1888 and remaining with her until April 1892. He was placed on half-pay in May 1892 until joining the ironclad HMS Alexandra in January 1893. Alexandra was flagship of the Admiral Superintendent of Naval Reserves at Portsmouth from 1891 until 1901.

Francis Haworth-Booth married Constance Isabel Moore on 2 November 1893 and they later had two sons and a daughter. After another short period on half-pay, commencing in November 1894, Haworth-Booth joined the armoured cruiser HMS Warspite in January 1895 serving in her as flag-lieutenant to Rear Admiral Claude Edward Buckle, RN (Senior Officer Coast of Ireland Station) until December 1896. During this period Warspite was port guard ship for Queenstown, Ireland. Haworth-Booth was also loaned to the gunboat HMS Albacore for three months during mid-1896. In early 1897 he joined the battleship HMS Howe which had taken over duties as the port guard ship at Queenstown. Again he was loaned to ships as required including two months in the torpedo gunboat HMS Jason and short periods on-board Albacore and the harbour training ship HMS Black Prince.

In early 1898 Lieutenant Haworth-Booth joined the battleship HMS Trafalgar, the guard ship at Portsmouth, and served in her until taking command of the gunboat HMS Redpole on the China Station in early November 1898. He was promoted Commander on 31 December 1899 and relinquished command of the gunboat in May 1900. During his service in China the early stages of what became known as the Boxer Rebellion had begun with increased violence towards missionaries and foreigners. The Royal Navy played a major role in keeping the peace but the main fighting, included the besieging of the foreign legations in Peking, occurred during June-August 1900 after Haworth-Booth had departed China.

After returning to England he served briefly as the commander (second in command) of the battleship HMS Camperdown which was the coast guard ship at Lough Swilly in Ireland. On 10 August 1900 he joined the 2nd class cruiser HMS Arrogant (part of the Channel Fleet) as the commander; serving in her until August 1901. He also served in the civil appointment as Justice of the Peace for the East Riding of Yorkshire during 1900.

Haworth-Booth was appointed as the commander (second in command) of HMS Vivid, the Royal Naval barracks, at Devonport in November 1901. In this role he was responsible for the morale, welfare and discipline of many hundreds of Royal Navy sailors undergoing training as seaman, stokers, telegraphists and signalers at the various training schools in Devonport.

Haworth-Booth was promoted Captain on 30 June 1905 and after completing the Senior Officers’ War Course he was appointed to the Admiralty, in late December of that year, as an assistant director within the Naval Intelligence Division. On 20 March 1908 he took command of the light cruiser HMS Brilliant, based at Bermuda, but often operating off the east coast of Canada as part of the Newfoundland Fisheries Patrol. This was to ensure the terms of the 1904 Anglo-French Newfoundland Fisheries Convention were maintained following several years of tense interaction between fishermen from Newfoundland (then still a British dominion) and rival French fisherman for the lucrative fish stocks in the western Atlantic.

He relinquished command of Brilliant in May 1910 and returned to England for service in the Admiralty. His career had been somewhat mediocre compared with many of his peers and punctuated by many periods on half pay while awaiting his next appointment. While he had served extensively at sea he had tended to avoid the larger ships and service on the staff of senior officers. This was all soon to change.

In August 1910 he became chief of staff to Admiral Sir Reginald Henderson, and accompanying him on his naval mission to review Australia’s naval defence issues. This was Haworth-Booth’s first direct connection with Australia as he had never served on the Australia Station. The Henderson Naval Mission arrived in Western Australia on 6 September 1910 to commence its review of Australia’s naval defence needs. Henderson visited every state and the Northern Territory as part of an in-depth analysis of the naval defence requirements for the new nation. While many aspects of Henderson report were sound they were, at the time, simply unaffordable for Australia.

On completion of this mission, in March 1911, Haworth-Booth returned to England, arriving back in London in late April 1911. He then completed a signals course and in September 1911 commenced a refresher Senior Officers’ War Course where his political knowledge and abilities was noted. While still on course he accepted a two year appointment as Naval Advisor to Sir George Houstoun Reid; the Australian High Commissioner in London since January 1910.

In 1913 he agreed to a five year extension; retiring from the Royal Navy on 1 July 1913 and was re-appointed as the Naval Advisor. During his early years as Naval Advisor he greatly assisted with the administration to support the construction of the battlecruiser HMAS Australia and the two light cruisers HMA Ships Melbourne and Sydney. He also organised large numbers of Royal Navy officers and ratings to be loaned, or transferred, to the RAN to provide technical, administration and leadership skills and expertise to the new navy. One of his sons, Francis Adrian Blaydes Haworth-Booth, a Royal Navy Midshipman, served in HMAS Australia during the period May 1913-February 1915. Captain Haworth-Booth was appointed as a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) on 3 June 1913 for his work as naval advisor.

Thus when war with Germany and the other Central Powers broke out in August 1914, the RAN had a skilled and capable naval administrator in London. Many RAN personnel undertook training courses in England and were seconded to Royal Navy ships for consolidation training; in fact three RAN sailors were serving in HMS Kent at the Battle of the Falkland Islands in December 1914. RAN personnel numbers in England increased in February 1915 with the arrival of the battlecruiser HMAS Australia (with a ship’s company in excess of 800 men) and this was further increased when the light cruisers HMA Ships Melbourne and Sydney arrived in September 1916; each with a crew of 400 men./p>

In mid-1917 the six Australian destroyers, each with a crew of 70 men, arrived in the Mediterranean, thus increasing Haworth-Booth’s administration responsibility to over 2000 personnel. These personnel were not just in the RAN ships but spread across England and Europe in training depots, hospitals, detention quarters, prisons and Royal Navy ships. He was also responsible for monitoring the location and well-being of the crew of the submarine AE2 (sunk in the Sea of Marmara in April 1915) who were held as prisoners of war in various locations in Turkey. All of this administrative work was done by Haworth-Booth and a staff of just 12; resulting in long hours and little leave for Haworth-Booth./p>

The former Australian Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, was appointed as the Australian High Commissioner in January 1916 and was to fulfil the role until early 1921. Haworth-Booth continued as Naval Advisor and was described as:/p>

Energetic and dependable, with a great grasp of principle and detail, he was undoubtedly the right person for the job.

He was promoted Rear Admiral on the Retired List on 3 April 1917.

Additional to his services to the High Commissioner he also worked tirelessly to keep the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board, and 1st Naval Member Rear Admiral William Rooke Creswell, up to date on naval matters in England; via a wide-ranging fortnightly written report. He also responded to Creswell’s frequent requests for information on a number of questions such as munitions, engineering matters, naval aviation, mine-sweeping and new training techniques. However, with his substantial administrative work load and the fact that the Australia Station was seen by many in England as a ‘backwater’, there was little Haworth-Booth could do to influence Royal Navy policy in assisting Australia to further develop its naval capability during the war.

In mid-1918 the Australian Prime Minister, William Hughes and the Navy Minister, Sir Joseph Cook, visited England to attend the 1918 Imperial War Conference. During this trip, Haworth-Booth arranged visits for Cook to numerous British weapons facilities as well as visits to the RAN ships based in British waters. In recognition of his work Haworth-Booth was appointed as a Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George (KCMG) on 1 January 1919 (New Year’s Honours List).

Following the Armistice, Haworth-Booth commenced the major task of returning the RAN’s warships and personnel to Australian waters. He ensured that the ships, especially the destroyers and the newly arrived cruiser HMAS Brisbane, undertook refits in British dockyards before departure, thus allowing a number of upgrades to their capability to be completed. He also planned the handover of six British J Class submarines, part of the Royal Navy’s gift fleet to Australia, and the return to Australian service of the submarine tender HMAS Platypus, which had been built in England and commissioned in the Royal Navy in 1917. These seven vessels proceeded to Australia in early 1919.

By mid-1919 all the RAN ships, and the bulk of its personnel that had been in England, had returned to Australia. There was still much work to do as RAN personnel, especially Midshipmen from the RAN College, continued to undertake training in England. A further gift of six destroyers was also in progress, with the bulk of their ships companies to be Royal Navy ratings on loan to the RAN; these ships departed for Australia in early 1920.

Haworth-Booth handed over his responsibilities as naval advisor to Captain Astle Scott Littlejohns, CMG, RN (Ret’d) in early 1920. Littlejohns had been Haworth-Booths assistant since early 1918 so was more than ready to take on role. At this point the Australian Prime Minister, William ‘Billy’ Hughes wrote to Haworth-Booth stating:

The eight years of your service to the Commonwealth have seen the inception of the Royal Australian Navy, its gradual development into an efficient fighting force and its utilisation in war. The Government recognises the value of your assistance in the inauguration of the Australian navy and in the subsequent routine of its maintenance, but desire especially to express their thanks for and appreciation of, the most efficient manner in which, under your direct responsibility, the vessels of HMA Fleet have been administered while in European waters.

Haworth-Booth replied that even in retirement he expected to:

Watch with the greatest interest the development and advance of the service with which it has been both my privilege and pride to be so closely associated.

He subsequently retired fully from naval service.

Rear Admiral Sir Francis Haworth-Booth KCMG, CMG, RN (Ret’d) died in England on 21 February 1935. He was survived by his wife and three children.