Commander Richard Herbert Denny Townsend RN (5A11)

Date of Birth: 25 Jul 1879
Date of Death: ka 31 May 1916
Generation: 8th
Residence: Unknown
Father: Doctor Richard Hungerford Townsend [5A02]
Mother: Denny, Arabella Jane
  1. Hill, Phyllis Marion Gathorne
  1. Barbara Mary [5A24]
  2. Patricia Malvinas Audrey (Patsy) [5A25]
See Also: Table VA ; Scrapbook ; Lineage ; Ancestors' Tree ; Descendents' Tree

Notes for Commander Richard Herbert Denny Townsend RN. See also.

Married 11 April 1912 at the Parish Church Westbury on Trym, Bristol. Phyllis Marion Gathorne Hill (1) was the third daughter of Charles Hill of Clevedon Hall (2), Clevedon, Somerset.

Richard was educated at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth July 1893 - September 1899 and was commissioned Sub Lieutenant on 10 October 1899 (London Gazette 27236). Following this he attended Royal Naval College Greenwich until 1901 when he was commissioned Lieutenant on 31 December 1901 (London Gazette 27393) and served in the Pelorus class cruiser, HMS Pandora and the battleship HMS Dreadnought. Later, specializing in communications, Richard served as Flag Lieutenant to Admiral Frank Finnis and was on the staff of Admiral Sir William May, Second Sea Lord 1907-09. He was serving in HMS Exmouth, a Duncan Class battleship, at the time of his marriage in 1912.

Promoted Commander in 1913 Richard was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Invincible on commissioning on 1 August 1914. Three months later the battle cruisers HMS Invincible and HMS Inflexible, accompanied by a task force of five cruisers (3), set sail for the South Atlantic to intercept the German Fleet under command of Admiral von Spee, which had sunk the cruisers HMS Monmouth and HMS Good Hope at Coronel off the coat of Chile on 1 November. The ensuing Battle of The Falklands took place on 8 December 1914 and Richard was was Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 29087) for the part he played in the action. A detailed account of the battle can be found at chapter 7 of The Royal Navy and the War at Sea 1914-1919. Many of his letters from this time to his wife and brother Thomas Townsend [5A10] are in the Imperial War Museum, as they are of great interest.

Richard continued to serve as First Lieutenant on HMS Invincible and was last in action at the Battle of Jutland in 1916 (4). He was drowned when the ship was sunk by the German Fleet.

Reports of the naval engagements are given in Richard’s ‘Scrapbook’

(1) Phyllis was born on 11 May 1883 and died on 1 October 1977.

(2) Originally called 'Frankfurt Hall'. It was built by Conrad Finzel, a wealthy City merchant, born in Germany, who left that country to avoid conscription into Napoleon's army. The next owner was Charles Hill who founded the Bristol ship-building firm of Charles Hill & Sons. He renamed the house Clevedon Hall.

(3) HMS Carnarvon, HMS Cornwall, HMS Kent, HMS Bristol and HMS Glasgow.

(4) See also for a fuller account of the battle.