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This article is about the Admiral of the Fleet. For Charles Lambe's stepfather, the Royal Naval Air Service and RAF officer, see Charles Laverock Lambe.
Sir Charles Lambe
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Lambe
Born (1900-12-20)20 December 1900
Died 29 August 1960(1960-08-29) (aged 59)
Place of birth Stalbridge, Dorset
Place of death Newport-on-Tay, Fife
Allegiance United Kingdom United Kingdom
Service/branch Naval Ensign of the United Kingdom.png Royal Navy
Years of service 1917–1960
Rank Admiral of the Fleet
Commands held Far East Fleet
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Commander of the Royal Victorian Order

Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Edward Lambe GCB, CVO (20 December 1900 – 29 August 1960) was a senior Royal Navy officer. He fought in World War II in command of a cruiser, as Director of Naval Plans and then in command of an aircraft carrier. He served as First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff from 1959 until 1960 when he was forced to retire early because of a heart condition. He died only a few months later.

Naval career

Born the son of Henry Edward Lambe and Lilian Hope Lambe (née Bramwell),[1] Lambe was educated at the Royal Naval College, Osborne.[2] He joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1914 and was posted as a midshipman to the battleship HMS Emperor of India on 15 August 1917: he remained with her until the end of the First World War.[2]

Lambe transferred to the battleship HMS King George V in June 1919 and, having been promoted to sub-lieutenant on 15 January 1921, was posted to the cruiser HMS Raleigh in March 1921.[2] Promoted to lieutenant on 15 February 1922,[3] he joined the battleship HMS Benbow in the Mediterranean Fleet on August 1923.[2] He attended the torpedo school, HMS Vernon, in 1926 and after qualifying there, joined the destroyer HMS Stuart in the Mediterranean Fleet as torpedo officer.[2] Promoted to lieutenant-commander on 15 February 1930, he attended the Royal Navy Staff College in 1931 and then joined the cruiser HMS Hawkins on the East Indies Station.[2] Promoted to commander on 30 June 1933,[4] he joined the staff of the Flag Officer, Destroyer Flotillas in the Mediterranean Fleet before returning home to become Commander of HMS Vernon.[2] He was appointed equerry to the King on 1 September 1936[5] and, having been promoted to captain on 31 December 1937 and appointed a Commander of the Royal Victorian Order on 28 September 1938,[6] he was given command of the cruiser HMS Dunedin in January 1939.[2]

Lambe served in the Second World War, initially in command of HMS Dunedin as part of the Northern Patrol, and from October 1940 in the Plans Department at the Admiralty, where he served successively as Assistant Director, as Deputy Director and, from March 1942, as Director.[2] Appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1944 New Year Honours, he was given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the British Pacific Fleet in May 1944 and survived a kamikazi attack in April 1945.[2] He was three times mentioned in despatches[7][8][9] and also awarded the American Legion of Merit for his service during the War.[10]

After the War he served as Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff (Air) from August 1945.[11] He was appointed a Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King on 8 January 1947.[12] Promoted to rear admiral on 8 July 1947, he became Flag Officer, Flying Training in September 1947 and Commander of the 3rd Aircraft Carrier Squadron in the Home Fleet in September 1949.[11] In 1950 he offered a place on the Home Fleet's spring cruise to the composer Lennox Berkeley who was composing Nelson, an opera based on the life of Lord Nelson; the route of the cruise passed through the waters of the Battle of Trafalgar. Lambe, who was an able pianist, had Berkely's cabin fitted up with a pair of grand pianos so that they could play piano duets during the voyage.[13]

Promoted to vice admiral on 1 December 1950,[14] Lambe became Flag Officer (Air) Home at Lee-on-Solent in March 1951 and took part in the funeral of King George VI in February 1952.[15] He was advanced to Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in the 1953 New Year Honours,[16] before becoming Commander-in-Chief, Far East Station in March 1953.[11] Promoted to full admiral on 30 March 1954,[11] he went on to be Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel in October 1955 and, having been advanced to Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath in the 1957 Birthday Honours,[17] he became Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet as well as NATO Commander-in-Chief, Allied Forces Mediterranean in November 1957.[11]

Lambe became First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff in May 1959.[11] He suffered a serious heart attack only six months after taking office and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on his early retirement on 10 May 1960.[18] He died at his home at Newport-on-Tay in Fife on 29 August 1960.[11]


In 1940 Lambe married Lesbia Rachel Mylius (née Corbet); they had one son and one daughter.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Sir Charles Lambe". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 18 September 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Heathcote, p. 149
  3. "No. 32869". 9 October 1923. 
  4. "No. 33957". 4 July 1933. 
  5. "No. 34319". 1 September 1936. 
  6. "No. 34585". 30 December 1938. 
  7. "No. 34893". 9 July 1940. 
  8. "No. 37058". 27 April 1945. 
  9. "No. 37318". 19 October 1945. 
  10. "No. 37661". 19 July 1946. 
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 11.4 11.5 11.6 Heathcote, p.150
  12. "No. 37872". 4 February 1947. 
  13. Dickinson, p. 131
  14. "No. 39136". 30 January 1951. 
  15. "No. 39575". 17 June 1952. 
  16. "No. 39732". 30 December 1952. 
  17. "No. 41089". 4 June 1957. 
  18. "No. 42058". 7 June 1960. 


  • Heathcote, Tony (2002). The British Admirals of the Fleet 1734 - 1995. Pen & Sword Ltd. ISBN 0-85052-835-6. 
  • Dickinson, Peter (2003). The Music of Lennox Berkeley. Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0851159362. 

Further reading

  • Warner, Oliver (1969). Admiral of the Fleet: The life of Sir Charles Lambe. Sidgwick & Jackson Ltd. ISBN 0-283-35293-0. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Sir Guy Russell
Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Norris
Preceded by
Sir Guy Russell
Second Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Deric Holland-Martin
Preceded by
Sir Ralph Edwards
Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Alexander Bingley
Preceded by
Lord Mountbatten
First Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Caspar John

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