Usborne, Cecil Vivian
Category: Business and political leaders
Vice-Admiral Cecil Vivian Usborne, CB, CMG (17 May 1880 – 31 January 1951) was a high-ranking officer in the British Royal Navy, an inventor of some note, a painter and an author. He was born in Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland.
After service during the First World War, he was appointed a Commander of the Greek Order of the Redeemer by Alexander, King of the Hellenes in April 1918, a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) by King George V in June 1918, and an Officer of the French Légion d′honneur in May 1919. In June 1930 he was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB).
After the Philberds School, Maidenhead, Berks, he entered Britannia (training ship) as a naval cadet in 1894. On promotion to Lieutenant in 1900 he gained five "firsts", the Beaufort Testimonial, the Goodenough medal and the Ryder memorial prize. He also qualified as a French interpreter.
Usborne entered the navy as an Acting sub-lieutenant. He was confirmed in this rank in July 1899, and promoted to lieutenant in January 1900.
In 1902 he was appointed to specialise in gunnery. He invented a quick firing pom-pom gun and a "fall of shot indicator" patented in 1912. This was first used at the Battle of Jutland. It registered the actual fall of each shot and enabled the necessary correction of each gun to be made with precision. 332 were supplied to the British navy. The Paravane was another of his inventions which was used in both world wars. This helped the safe navigation of a ship through a minefield. In 1920 he was awarded £6,000 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors.
He was further promoted to commander in July 1912, and a captain before 1918.
In 1914 he was Commander on the Battleship Colossus in the Grand Fleet. In June 1916 he took part in the Battle of Jutland. The Colossus was hit twice with five casualties. Later he commanded the mine-layer Latonia in the eastern Mediterranean. He was senior naval officer in Salonica and Corfu in 1917/18. He commanded the Cruiser Dragon, and battleships Malaya and Resolution.
He became Deputy Director of Naval Ordnance in January 1919 and Deputy Director of Gunnery and Anti-Aircraft Warfare in August 1922. He also became vice-president of Chemical warfare Committee and Director of the Senior Officer Tactical school.
He was a trustee, chief organiser and vice-president of the 6 nation "Indian Defence League of America", set up around 1920 to promote the interests of American Indians.
In April 1928 he was appointed a Naval Aide de Camp to the King and promoted to rear-admiral. He served as the Director of Naval Intelligence between 1930 and 1932. Promotion to vice-admiral came in January 1933.
He retired from the Navy before World War 2 and in 1934 was an under- writing member of Lloyds.
At the beginning of World War 2 he became Director General of the Press & Censorship bureau under the Home Office. He resigned to become joint managing director (with Noel Macklin?) of a ship construction firm building Fairmile motor launches.
In 1941 he was recalled to Admiralty for "special services" until 1945, where he was a Naval Adviser to the First Sea Lord developing anti-U-boat weapons. As his assistant he employed Edward Terrell who had developed Plastic Armour.
The observation is very special.
Books written by Vivian Usborne
- The Conquest of Morocco;
- Smoke on the Horizon;
- Blast & Counterblast.
- Blue Tally-ho;
- The Virgin of Atlas;
- Malta Fever.
- Terrell, Edward (1958). Admiralty brief: the story of inventions that contributed to victory in the Battle of the Atlantic.
Much of the information here was obtained from the official Usborne website
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