John Luce (Royal Navy officer)
Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral (Royal Navy)
Rear Admiral is a flag officer rank of the British Royal Navy. It is immediately superior to Commodore and is subordinate to Vice Admiral. It is a two-star rank and has a NATO ranking code of OF-7....

 John Luce CB (4 February 1870 – 22 September 1932) was a senior officer in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 during and after World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...


Early and family life

John Luce was born on 4 February 1870 at Halcombe, Malmesbury
Malmesbury is a market town and civil parish located in the southern Cotswolds in the county of Wiltshire, England. Historically Malmesbury was a centre for learning and home to Malmesbury Abbey...

 in the English county of Wiltshire. In 1902 he married Mary Dorothea Tucker and they had two children. John David Luce
David Luce
Admiral Sir John David Luce GCB, DSO & Bar, OBE was First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy. He was the son of Admiral John Luce.-Naval career:David Luce joined the Royal Navy in 1919 and chose to become a submariner....

 was born on 23 January 1906 and also joined the Navy, becoming First Sea Lord
First Sea Lord
The First Sea Lord is the professional head of the Royal Navy and the whole Naval Service; it was formerly known as First Naval Lord. He also holds the title of Chief of Naval Staff, and is known by the abbreviations 1SL/CNS...

 from 1963 to 1966. William Henry Tucker Luce was born the following year and in later life became the Governor of Aden from 1956 to 1960.

Naval career

In June 1909 Luce was promoted to Captain
Captain (Royal Navy)
Captain is a senior officer rank of the Royal Navy. It ranks above Commander and below Commodore and has a NATO ranking code of OF-5. The rank is equivalent to a Colonel in the British Army or Royal Marines and to a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force. The rank of Group Captain is based on the...

 and from October 1910 to August 1912 he was the captain of the battleship Hibernia
HMS Hibernia (1905)
HMS Hibernia was a King Edward VII-class predreadnought battleship of Britain's Royal Navy. Like all ships of the class she was named after an important part of the British Empire, namely Ireland....

during which time she was converted for flight operations and was the platform for the first launch of an aircraft from a warship underway.

In September 1912 Luce took command of HMS Glasgow
HMS Glasgow (1909)
HMS Glasgow, the sixth ship of that name, was launched on the Clyde at Govan in 1909 and was a Town-class light cruiser.On the outbreak of the First World War, she was operating off the coast of South America under Captain John Luce, and on 16 August 1914 she captured the German merchant ship SS...

, a light cruiser. and was still in command at the start of the First World War. In November 1914 he took part in the Battle of Coronel
Battle of Coronel
The First World War naval Battle of Coronel took place on 1 November 1914 off the coast of central Chile near the city of Coronel. German Kaiserliche Marine forces led by Vice-Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee met and defeated a Royal Navy squadron commanded by Rear-Admiral Sir Christopher...

 in the South Atlantic. During the Battle Glasgow together with the cruisers HMS Good Hope
HMS Good Hope (1901)
HMS Good Hope was a 14,100-ton Drake-class armoured cruiser of the British Royal Navy; she was originally planned to be named Africa, but was renamed before she was launched...

 and HMS Monmouth
HMS Monmouth (1901)
The sixth HMS Monmouth of the British Royal Navy was the lead ship of a class of armoured cruisers of 9,800 tons displacement. She was sunk at the Battle of Coronel in 1914....

, engaged the German East Asia Cruiser Squadron, including the new cruisers Scharnhorst
SMS Scharnhorst
SMS Scharnhorst was an armored cruiser of the Imperial German Navy, built at the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany. She was the lead ship of her class, which also included her sister . Scharnhorst and her sister were enlarged versions of the preceding ; they were equipped with a greater...

 and Gneisenau
SMS Gneisenau
SMS Gneisenau was an armored cruiser of the German navy, part of the two-ship . She was named after August von Gneisenau, a Prussian general of the Napoleonic Wars. The ship was laid down in 1904 at the AG Weser dockyard in Bremen, launched in June 1906, and completed in March 1908, at a cost of...

. The German light cruisers had only 4.1 in (104.1 mm) guns, which had left Glasgow relatively unscathed, but these were now joined by the 8.2-inch guns of Gneisenau. Luce determined that nothing was to be gained by staying and attempting to fight. It was noticed that each time he fired, the flash of his guns was used by the Germans to aim a new salvo, so he also ceased firing. One compartment of the ship was flooded, but she could still manage 24 kn (29.2 mph; 47 km/h). He returned first to Monmouth, which was now dark but still afloat. Nothing was to be done for the ship, which was sinking slowly but would attempt to beach on the Chilean coast. Glasgow turned south and departed. Having inflicted little damage on the enemy, Glasgow escaped with moderate damage considering that an estimated 600 shells were fired at her, although the other British cruisers were lost with all hands.

The following month, Luce, still commanding Glasgow, took part in the Battle of the Falkland Islands
Battle of the Falkland Islands
The Battle of the Falkland Islands was a British naval victory over the Imperial German Navy on 8 December 1914 during the First World War in the South Atlantic...

. During the battle Glasgow and the armoured cruiser Cornwall
HMS Cornwall (1902)
HMS Cornwall was a 9,800 ton Monmouth-class armoured cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was launched at Pembroke, Wales in 1902, and commissioned in 1904....

had chased down the German light cruiser Leipzig
SMS Leipzig
SMS Leipzig was a Bremen class light cruiser, of the German Imperial Navy. It was named after the German city of Leipzig.The ship was stationed off the west coast of Mexico at the outbreak of war in 1914...

; Glasgow closed to finish Leipzig which had run out of ammunition but was still flying her battle ensign. Leipzig fired two flares, so Glasgow ceased fire. At 21:23, more than 80 mi (70 nmi; 130 km) southeast of the Falklands, Leipzig rolled over, leaving only 18 survivors.

In 1917 Luce was appointed Commodore of the Royal Naval Air Service
Royal Naval Air Service
The Royal Naval Air Service or RNAS was the air arm of the Royal Navy until near the end of the First World War, when it merged with the British Army's Royal Flying Corps to form a new service , the Royal Air Force...

's Central Depot and Training Establishment at Cranwell. However, the following year when Cranwell became part of the newly founded Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

, Luce was replaced by Brigadier-General Briggs who had transferred from the Navy to the RAF.

In February 1919 Luce took command of HMS Ramillies
HMS Ramillies (07)
HMS Ramillies was a Revenge-class battleship of the Royal Navy, named after the Battle of Ramillies. The ship is notable for having served in both the First and Second World Wars...

 and remained as captain until some point in 1920.

Towards the close of 1921 Luce was appointed Admiral in charge of Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. After he had retired, Luce served as High Sheriff of Wiltshire
High Sheriff of Wiltshire
This is a list of High Sheriffs of Wiltshire.Until the 14th century the shrievalty was held ex officio by the castellans of Old Sarum.-To 1400:*1066: Edric*1067-1070: Philippe de Buckland*1085: Aiulphus the Sheriff*1070–1105: Edward of Salisbury...

 from 1930 to 1931.

Luce died on 22 September 1932 at Little Cheverell House near Devizes
Devizes is a market town and civil parish in Wiltshire, England. The town is about southeast of Chippenham and about east of Trowbridge.Devizes serves as a centre for banks, solicitors and shops, with a large open market place where a market is held once a week...

. There is a memorial to Luce in Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey, at Malmesbury in Wiltshire, England, was founded as a Benedictine monastery around 676 by the scholar-poet Aldhelm, a nephew of King Ine of Wessex. In 941 AD, King Athelstan was buried in the Abbey. By the 11th century it contained the second largest library in Europe and was...


External links

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