Henry Burrell (admiral)

Sir Henry Burrell
Henry M. Burrell.jpg
Vice Admiral Henry Burrell c. 1959
Born(1904-08-13)13 August 1904
Wentworth Falls, New South Wales
Died9 February 1988(1988-02-09) (aged 83)
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory
Service/branchRoyal Australian Navy
Years of service1918–1962
RankVice Admiral
Commands heldHMAS Norman (1941–43)
HMAS Bataan (1945–46)
10th Destroyer Flotilla (1946)
HMAS Australia (1948–49)
HMAS Vengeance (1953–54)
HM Australian Fleet (1955–56, 1958)
Chief of the Naval Staff (1959–62)
Battles/warsSpanish Civil War
World War II
AwardsKnight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Mentioned in Despatches

Vice Admiral Sir Henry Mackay Burrell, KBE, CB (13 August 1904 – 9 February 1988) was a senior commander in the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). He served as Chief of the Naval Staff (CNS) from 1959 to 1962. Born in the Blue Mountains, Burrell entered the Royal Australian Naval College in 1918 as a 13-year-old cadet. His first posting at sea was aboard the cruiser HMAS Sydney. During the 1920s and 1930s, Burrell served for several years on exchange with the Royal Navy, specialising as a navigator. During World War II, he filled a key liaison post with the US Navy, and later saw action as commander of the destroyer HMAS Norman, earning a mention in despatches.

Promoted captain in 1946, Burrell played a major role in the formation of the RAN's Fleet Air Arm, before commanding the flagship HMAS Australia in 1948–49. He captained the light aircraft carrier HMAS Vengeance in 1953–54, and was twice Flag Officer of the Australian Fleet, in 1955–56 and 1958. Burrell was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1955 and a Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1959. As CNS, he began a major program of acquisitions for the Navy, including new helicopters, minesweepers, submarines and guided-missile destroyers. He also acted to reverse a plan by the government of the day to dismantle the Fleet Air Arm. Knighted in 1960, Burrell retired to his farm near Canberra in 1962 and published his memoirs, Mermaids Do Exist, in 1986. He died two years later, aged 83.

Early life and career

Henry Mackay Burrell was born at Wentworth Falls, in the Blue Mountains district of New South Wales. He was the third child and only son of schoolteacher Thomas Burrell and his wife, Eliza.[1][2] Henry's father, who had emigrated from England, joined the Australian Imperial Force aged 55 during World War I, seeing active service in Egypt.[1] His grandfather and great-grandfather had served in the Royal Navy.[2] Henry attended Parramatta High School before entering the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, on 1 January 1918,[3][4] aged 13.[5] A keen sportsman, he competed in rugby union, tennis and hockey, winning colours for hockey. Burrell graduated from the college in 1921 and became a midshipman the next year.[1] He went to sea first aboard the light cruiser HMAS Sydney and then the destroyer HMAS Stalwart. Posted to the United Kingdom for further training in 1924, he served on the light cruiser HMS Caledon and the battleship HMS Malaya.[5][6] In April 1925, he was promoted to sub-lieutenant, rising to lieutenant by July 1926.[1]

HMS Devonshire during the Spanish Civil War

After attending a Royal Navy course in 1930, Burrell became a specialist navigator,[5] and saw service aboard the minesweeper HMS Pangbourne, destroyers HMAS Tattoo and Stuart, and cruiser HMAS Brisbane. He married Margaret MacKay at Scots' Church, Melbourne, on 27 December 1933. Burrell was promoted to lieutenant commander in July 1934, and graduated from an advanced navigation course the next year.[1]

Burrell served on exchange with the Royal Navy as navigator aboard the cruisers HMS Coventry and HMS Devonshire, the latter during her tour of duty in the Spanish Civil War.[7] Described as being "egalitarian" and "approachable", his familiarity with ratings earned him the criticism of Devonshire's captain. Burrell, however, believed that a close relationship between officers and men was necessary for the smooth running of a ship.[1][8] After completing the Royal Navy's staff course in 1938, he returned to Australia and was appointed staff officer (operations) at the Navy Office, Melbourne, in March 1939.[9][10] It was Burrell's first shore-based position, and he spent the next four months bringing naval sections of the War Book (preparations for war) up to date.[9]

Other Languages
العربية: هنري بوريل
français: Henry Burrell
Bahasa Indonesia: Henry Burrell (laksamana)