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Admiral Sir Barry Edward Domvile,
K.B.E., C.B., C.M.G. (1878-1971)

published in 'Who Was Who, 1971-1980'

Admiral Sir Barry Edward Domvile, KBE (Knight Commander, Order of the British Empire) 1934; CB (Companion, Order of the Bath) 1922; CMG (Commander, Order of St Michael and St George) 1917; RN (retired); born 1878; eldest son of Admiral Sir Compton Domvile, GCB (Knight Grand Cross, Order of the Bath); married 1916, Alexandrina (died 1950), daughter of Mr von der Heydt; one son, one daughter (and one son killed in action, 1941). Education: HMS Britannia. Entered Royal Navy 1892; specially promoted Lieutenant, 1898; Beaufort Testimonial; Ryder Prize; Goodenough Gold Medal; Commander 1909; Captain 1916; Rear-Admiral 1927; Gold Medallist, Royal United Service Institution, 1906; Assistant Secretary, Committee of Imperial Defence, 1912-14; served European War in command of HM Ships, 1914-19 (CMG); Director of Plans Division, Admiralty, 1920-22; Chief of Staff, Mediterranean (Commodore, 2nd Class), 1922-25; Commanded HMS Royal Sovereign, 1925-26; Director of Naval Intelligence Division, 1927-30; Rear-Admiral and Vice-Admiral commanding 3rd Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean, 1931-32; President, Royal Naval College Greenwich, and Vice-Admiral Commanding War College 1932-34; Admiral and retired list, 1936. Publications: By and Large, 1936; Look to Your Moat, 1937; From Admiral to Cabin Boy, 1947. Recreation: outdoor sports. Address: Robin's Tree, Roehampton Vale, SW15. Club: Royal Yacht Squadron (Cowes). Died 13 August 1971.


The rank markings on Admiral Sir Barry Domvile's sleeve, one very broad stripe and two narrower stripes, indicate that he held the rank of Vice-Admiral at the time of the photograph, one rank below his final rank of Admiral. He held the rank of Vice-Admiral from about 1932 to about 1935.

Admiral Sir Barry Domvile visited Germany in 1935. He was impressed by many aspects of the Nazi government and was invited to attend the Nuremberg Rally of September 1936 as a guest of the German Ambassador Joachim von Ribbentrop.

He became a council member of the Anglo-German Fellowship and founded The Link, an 'independent non-party organisation to promote Anglo-German friendship.' The Link generally operated as a cultural organisation, but its journal, the Anglo-German Review, reflected the pro-Nazi views of Admiral Sir Barry Domvile. At its height, membership of The Link numbered around 4,300. The organisation was investigated by Maxwell Knight, head of counter-subversion in MI5, and was closed soon after the start of the Second World War in 1939.

Because of his pro-Nazi views and because he might 'endanger the safety of the realm', Admiral Sir Barry Domvile was interned in Brixton Prison in the Second World War, from 7 July 1940 to 29 July 1943. While he was interned, his anti-semitism increased and he developed a conspiracy theory about a Jewish-Masonic organisation.

His diaries are kept in the National Maritime Museum. His book 'Look to Your Moat' is a history of British naval and merchant seamen. The cabin referred to in the title of his book 'From Admiral to Cabin Boy' was the cell he occupied in Brixton Prison during his internment. In addition to the books listed in the 'Who Was Who' entry, he wrote three other books which reflected his extreme right-wing views.

'From Admiral to Cabin Boy'
by Admiral Sir Barry Domvile
from the opening pages of 'From Admiral to Cabin Boy'

"No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail with the chance of being drowned ... a man in jail has more room, better food, and commonly better company."

Dr. Samuel Johnson.



This book was finished in 1943, but publication was delayed for several reasons, some obvious. B.D.


Barry Edward Domvile, son of the late Admiral Sir Compton Edward Domvile, G.C.B., G.C.V.0., started a brilliant career brilliantly. Born in 1878, in 1892 he passed first into H.M.S. Britannia, and, two years later emerged in the same coveted position. From 1894 to 1897 he served as a Midshipman under sail and steam. Sub-Lieutenant in 1898, he became, by special promotion, Lieutenant in the same year. Lieutenant and Gunnery-Lieutenant from 1898 to 1909, in 1906 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal United Service Institution.

During 1910 and 1911, Domvile was in command of destroyers, and, when the first World War loomed on the horizon, was appointed Assistant Secretary to the Committee of Imperial Defence during war preparation. Throughout hostilities he commanded successively "Miranda," "Tipperary," "Lightfoot," "Arethusa," "Carysfort," "Centaur" and "Curacoa" - destroyers, flotilla leaders and cruisers of the Harwich Force. For the three years preceding 1919, he served as Flag Captain to Admiral Sir Reginald Tyrwhitt.

For the following three years he was employed as Assistant Director and Director of the Plans (Policy) Division of the Admiralty Naval Staff, attending a number of conferences, including those at Paris, Brussels, Spa and San Remo, winding up with the Washington Naval Conference. From 1922 to 1925, he was Chief of Staff to Admiral Sir Osmond Brock, of the Mediterranean Fleet, and during 1925 and 1926 commanded the "Royal Sovereign," which has now been handed to the Soviet Union.

In 1927 he was promoted Rear-Admiral and up to 1930 held the important position of Director of Naval Intelligence. During 1930 and 1931, first as Rear-Admiral and then as Vice-Admiral, he commanded the Third Cruiser Squadron, Mediterranean Fleet. From 1932 to 1934 he was President of the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and Vice-Admiral Commanding the War College. In 1936 he retired with the rank of Admiral.

In 1917, Captain Domvile was created a Companion of the Most Distinguished Order of St. Michael and St. George, and in 1922, as Commodore, a Companion of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath. Finally, in 1934, His Majesty King George V was pleased to honour him further by creating him a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

This was the record our misguided rulers saw fit to impugn. In 1940 the Home Secretary, Sir John Anderson, vainly attempted to abort this magnificent career by appointing the Admiral cabin boy at Brixton Prison: Anderson was succeeded shortly afterwards by Morrison, who at one time could be classed as a conscientious objector, and was author of an article taunting British soldiers and urging them not to fight for their country, but the Admiral held his position for three years, acquitting himself in his customary exemplary manner, save for a little lapse which took the form of manufacturing a stove, contrary to regulations, of an old tobacco tin, a lump of margarine and a piece of string .

Nothing could excuse delaying the reader from embarking upon this exciting and extraordinary story. He will find himself buffeted exhilaratingly upon the high seas of every human emotion before he reaches the port of his own judgment. Sir Barry Domvile is fortunate in one sense: he will not have to wait, as so many men who have suffered injustice have had to do, for the verdict of history to complete his vindication. Each successive year, like the one that has just passed, will provide fresh proof of his wisdom and foresight. Yet, since this must inevitably bring suffering to his fellow-countrymen, the Admiral, in his patriotism and the greatness of his heart, will be the first to deplore the fact.

In appraising him, the words of Horace rise readily to the mind: "The just man, firm to his purpose, is not to be shaken from his fixed resolve by the fury of a mob laying upon him their impious behests, nor by the frown of a threatening tyrant, nor by the dangers of the restless Adriatic, when the stormy winds do blow, nor by the loud peals of thunder as they rend the sky; even if the universe were to fall in pieces around, the ruins would strike him undismayed."



Many worthy individuals in their declining years yield to the temptation to inflict upon their fellow mortals accounts of their successful voyages through life in the various states to which it has pleased the Almighty to call them.

But whether we are in this way invited to read about a peasant becoming a peer, a waster achieving the Woolsack, or a congenital idiot attaining Cabinet rank, all these tales have one thing in common - they portray the hero on the upward grade, or in modern slang, on the 'up and up.'

Probably there will be a few minor setbacks during the Odyssey, which will only serve to enhance the subsequent ascents, culminating in the complete self-vindication, and presumably in the self-satisfaction, of the author.

But this tale, which I am offering to you at whatever price my publishers decide, is of a totally different order. Alas, there is no sign of an ascent. The peak has been reached already before this denouement begins. Only the downward slope is in view, and the pitch is so steep that it amounts almost to a fall, against which my family motto "Qui stat caveat ne cadat" *, warned me.

For this is the plain unvarnished tale of a retired admiral, living a happy, contented life and wanting nothing more, who, to his own amazement, became a cabin boy in one fell swoop.

I hasten to add that the cabin was in a prison, and that the prison was on Brixton Hill.

Some ill-natured people would call this cabin a cell, but if it is all the same to you, cabin sounds nicer, and gives this book a better title. So there you are.

If you are too tender-hearted to study such a calamity, stop right here. If, on the other hand, you feel that perchance there might be a lesson to be learnt from this horrid catastrophe, go right ahead.

But you must deduce the moral for yourself.




* The family motto "Qui stat caveat ne cadat" translates as "Let he who stands (or has status) beware, lest he fall." It is taken from I Corinthians X, 12: "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." (The Bible reference was first brought to our attention by Alex Dumbill.)

See also:

Sir Compton Edward Domvile (1842-1924), G.C.B., G.C.V.O., father of Admiral Sir Barry Edward Domvile

Nobles and admirals on war 'Suspect List'