Rear Admiral Carlisle

Rear Admiral Carlisle





Bromide print, July 1935, by Walter Stoneman.



Engineering Rear Admiral Frank Scott Carlisle was born in Dartford, Kent on 8 May 1882, the son of William Carlisle and Frances Sarah Carlisle (neé Tye). He was the husband of Elsie May Cecilia Carlisle (neé Sacret). They resided at Searigs in St. Mawes.

He joined the Navy on 1 June 1903. Apart from one year with HMS Kent (1904–5) and two years with HMS Weymouth in South America (1920–21) his service was often shore based. He oversaw the building of several ships and remained aboard them for their initial period of service after commissioning. In this capacity he was aboard the destroyer HMS Morris during the battles of Dogger Bank in 1915 and Jutland in 1916. He was later aboard the destroyer HMS Sceptre when it was part of the covering force for the Zeebrugge raids.  At the end of the war he oversaw the building of the cruiser Frobisher and went with her to the Mediterranean after she commissioned. However, for some of the time he was nominally assigned to the Frobisher he was, in fact, overseeing the construction of a battleship. He was also the fleet engineering officer for the Mediterranean Fleet for two years (1930-31). He was assigned to HMS Revenge and HMS Queen Elizabeth at this time, but it is not clear whether his post was aboard those flagships or in the dockyard in Malta. Most of his service involved overseeing new vessels during building and commissioning, training, technical administration, and some involvement with turbines.

Promoted to Rear Admiral on 8 December 1934 he was placed on the retired list on 14 April 1939 at his own request to facilitate the promotion of younger officers. The note on his service record makes it clear that both the Navy and the Admiral understood that he would be recalled to service in the event of an emergency. This happened on 7 August 1939. His service at this time was with the Admiralty (nominally attached to HMS President), working for the Ministry of Supply. He appears to have been overseeing the building of new vessels.

In September 1941 he was visiting Aberdeen. The Flag Officer in Charge, Aberdeen, sent a telegram to the Admiralty on 9 September 1941 to inform them that Engineering Rear Admiral Carlisle had been found dead in bed at the Caledonian Hotel that morning. The cause of death was subsequently recorded as heart failure. The date of death is initially unclear and recorded as 8/9 September? However, the Navy later settles for the 9th. He was cremated at Aberdeen crematorium, but I have not been able to determine where his ashes are interred. Probate was granted at Llandudno on 18 December 1941 and his estate valued at £2434 17s 4d.

His son John Scott Carlisle, 27 May 1911 – 17 March 1973, was also an engineering officer in the Royal Navy. He served on HMS Echo and HMS Berwick during the war.

Details of his son Anthony Francis Carlisle, a bomber pilot, are detailed extensively in another document.

His daughter Vivien M. Carlisle also served as an officer in the navy during the war. She married a South African Naval Officer and Barrister, Denis Henry Benedict Carlisle, in 1941. He was killed in 1942. She remarried, locally, in 1946.

Below is his obituary from the Western Morning News of 12 September 1941:



There will be deep regret among all branches in the Royal Navy to hear of the death of Engr. Rear-Adml. Frank Scott Carlisle, C.B.E., of Searigs, St. Mawes, Cornwall. He had a distinguished career since entering the Royal Naval Engineering College in 1898.

After passing through Greenwich College in 1905, he served successively in H.M.S.s Good Hope, Essex, Kent, and Vengeance. From 1907 to 1912 he was training naval cadets at the R.N. College, Dartmouth and in H.M.S.s Cumberland and Roebuck

During the last war he was in the Battles of Dogger Bank and Jutland and at the second attempt on Zeebrugge. After supervising the building of H.M.S. Frobisher, he served in her on the staff of Adml. Sir Arthur Waistell. He was also Fleet Engineer Officer on the staffs of Admls. Sir Howard Kelly and Lord Chatfield in the Mediterranean, and supervised the building of H.M.S.s Rodney and Dorsetshire.


Perhaps Adml. Carlisle's chief claim to distinction was that he was the first engineer officer to hold what had hitherto been an executive command, as in January 1932, he was specially selected to command and organize the mechanical building establishment, Chatham.

He was promoted rear-admiral in 1934, and later appointed on the staff of the Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, 1936-1939, when he retired. At the outbreak of the present war he was lent to the Ministry of Supply for service as Area Officer, Midland District, and last month was appointed to the Admiralty for special duties.

"As one of his closest naval friends," writes Engr-Com S. F. Coopper, R.N. Retd., secretary of the English Rugby Union, "I am sure Adml. Carlisle's passing will bring sadness to many old players of Rugby football in Devon, where he was so well known as a half-back for the county for several seasons. He also played for Kent and the Royal Navy at Queen's Club, He will be always remembered for his great sense of humour and true sportsmanlike spirit."

Adml. Carlisle leaves a widow, and has two sons, Lieut. (E) J. S. Carlisle, R.N., and Lieut. A. F. Carlisle, D.C.L.I. (Pilot-Off., R.A.F.), and two daughters.

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