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20th Century Portraits Catalogue

Rosslyn Erskine Wemyss, Baron Wester Wemyss (1864-1933), Admiral of the Fleet

Born in London and entered the ship Britannia for his initial naval training; between 1879 and 1882, he accompanied the princes Albert Victor and George on their training cruise around the world, developing a strong friendship with the latter; in 1901, he became second in command of the liner Ophir, and then received a promotion to captain; Wemyss was appointed commodore of the naval barracks at Devonport after completing the necessary sea time for promotion to flag rank, and promoted rear-admiral in 1910; after a period spent on half pay, at the outbreak of war, he was sent as base commander at Lemnos in the Aegean, to prepare for the upcoming assault on the Dardanelles; Wemyss went on to play an active role in the rest of this campaign; he replaced John Rushworth Jellicoe as first sea lord in 1917; by the end of the war, his relationship with Admiral Beatty, commander-in-chief of the Grand Fleet, was breaking down and becoming problematic; having been excluded from the 1919 victory honours list, Wemyss resigned his post later that year; he was, however, at that point promoted to admiral of the fleet and created Baron Wester Wemyss; later, most of his time was spent in France, although he did hold a number of directorships and presidency of the Institution of Naval Architects in England; he died in Cannes in 1933.