Reginald Drax
Admiral The Hon.
The Honourable
The prefix The Honourable or The Honorable is a style used before the names of certain classes of persons. It is considered an honorific styling.-International diplomacy:...

 Sir Reginald Aylmer Ranfurly Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, KCB, DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

, JP
Justice of the Peace
A justice of the peace is a puisne judicial officer elected or appointed by means of a commission to keep the peace. Depending on the jurisdiction, they might dispense summary justice or merely deal with local administrative applications in common law jurisdictions...

, DL
Deputy Lieutenant
In the United Kingdom, a Deputy Lieutenant is one of several deputies to the Lord Lieutenant of a lieutenancy area; an English ceremonial county, Welsh preserved county, Scottish lieutenancy area, or Northern Irish county borough or county....

 (28 August 1880 – 16 October 1967) was a British admiral. He is often referred to as Reginald Plunkett or Reginald Drax.

He was the younger son of the 17th Baron of Dunsany
John William Plunkett, 17th Baron of Dunsany
John William Plunkett, 17th Baron of Dunsany , whose seat was Dunsany Castle, County Meath, Ireland, was the second son of Edward Plunkett, 16th Baron of Dunsany , and Lady Anne Constance Dutton .John William Plunkett received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Trinity College, Dublin...

 (1853–1899) and his wife, the former Ernle Elizabeth Louisa Maria Grosvenor Ernle-Erle-Drax (1855–1916), née Burton. His elder brother was Lord Dunsany, a prolific writer and author of over 60 books.

Quadruple-barrelled name

Sir Reginald, born a Plunkett, was christened Reginald Aylmer Ranfurley (Plunkett) on 9 September 1880 at Holy Trinity Church, Marylebone
Marylebone is an affluent inner-city area of central London, located within the City of Westminster. It is sometimes written as St. Marylebone or Mary-le-bone....

, Westminster, and assumed the Ernle-Erle-Drax on 4 October 1916. His long series of titles, Christian names, surnames and postnominals has made him famous beyond his career as an Admiral 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...

. Elsewhere, the name has been cited as having inspired some of the more fanciful appellations employed by writers about the British aristocracy such as P. G. Wodehouse
P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse, KBE was an English humorist, whose body of work includes novels, short stories, plays, poems, song lyrics, and numerous pieces of journalism. He enjoyed enormous popular success during a career that lasted more than seventy years and his many writings continue to be...

 and Evelyn Waugh
Evelyn Waugh
Arthur Evelyn St. John Waugh , known as Evelyn Waugh, was an English writer of novels, travel books and biographies. He was also a prolific journalist and reviewer...

. See double-barrelled name
Double-barrelled name
In English speaking and some other Western countries, a double-barrelled name is a family name with two parts, which may or may not be joined with a hyphen and is also known as a hyphenated name. An example of a hyphenated double-barrelled surname is Bowes-Lyon; an example of an unhyphenated...


Early naval career

Plunkett was educated at Cheam School
Cheam School
Cheam School is a preparatory school in Headley in the civil parish of Ashford Hill with Headley in the English county of Hampshire. It was founded in 1645 by the Reverend George Aldrich in Cheam, Surrey and has been in operation ever since....

 and joined the navy at the age of 16, training aboard the stationary school ship, HMS Britannia
HMS Prince of Wales (1860)
HMS Prince of Wales was one of six 121-gun screw-propelled first-rate three-decker line-of-battle ships of the Royal Navy. She was launched on 25 January 1860...


He served during the First World War
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...

 aboard the battlecruiser
Battlecruisers were large capital ships built in the first half of the 20th century. They were developed in the first decade of the century as the successor to the armoured cruiser, but their evolution was more closely linked to that of the dreadnought battleship...

 HMS Lion
HMS Lion (1910)
HMS Lion was a battlecruiser of the Royal Navy, the lead ship of her class, which were nicknamed the "Splendid Cats". They were significant improvements over their predecessors of the in terms of speed, armament and armour...

 and was present at the naval battles of Heligoland Bight, Dogger Bank
Battle of Dogger Bank (1915)
The Battle of Dogger Bank was a naval battle fought near the Dogger Bank in the North Sea on 24 January 1915, during the First World War, between squadrons of the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet....

 and Jutland
Battle of Jutland
The Battle of Jutland was a naval battle between the British Royal Navy's Grand Fleet and the Imperial German Navy's High Seas Fleet during the First World War. The battle was fought on 31 May and 1 June 1916 in the North Sea near Jutland, Denmark. It was the largest naval battle and the only...

. He was promoted 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...

 on 30 June 1916.

He was awarded the DSO
Distinguished Service Order
The Distinguished Service Order is a military decoration of the United Kingdom, and formerly of other parts of the British Commonwealth and Empire, awarded for meritorious or distinguished service by officers of the armed forces during wartime, typically in actual combat.Instituted on 6 September...

 in 1918 whilst commanding HMS Blanche
HMS Blanche (1909)
HMS Blanche was a Blonde class scout cruiser of the Royal Navy. She was laid down in December 1909 at Pembroke Dockyard, launched on 25 November 1909 and completed in November 1910.-Design:...


Between the wars

Plunkett held a series of senior naval appointments between the wars. From 1919 to 1922, he was Director of the Naval Staff College, Greenwich
Old Royal Naval College
The Old Royal Naval College is the architectural centrepiece of Maritime Greenwich, a World Heritage Site in Greenwich, London, described by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation as being of “outstanding universal value” and reckoned to be the “finest and most...

. He then served as President of the Naval Allied Control Commission in Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 from 1923 to 1924.

As a Rear Admiral
Rear Admiral
Rear admiral is a naval commissioned officer rank above that of a commodore and captain, and below that of a vice admiral. It is generally regarded as the lowest of the "admiral" ranks, which are also sometimes referred to as "flag officers" or "flag ranks"...

, he commanded the 1st Battle Squadron of the Home Fleet
British Home Fleet
The Home Fleet was a fleet of the Royal Navy which operated in the United Kingdom's territorial waters from 1902 with intervals until 1967.-Pre–First World War:...

 from 1929 to 1930. From 1930 to 1932 he was ashore in the Admiralty
The Admiralty was formerly the authority in the Kingdom of England, and later in the United Kingdom, responsible for the command of the Royal Navy...

 as Director of Manning.

Promoted to Vice Admiral
Vice Admiral
Vice admiral is a senior naval rank of a three-star flag officer, which is equivalent to lieutenant general in the other uniformed services. A vice admiral is typically senior to a rear admiral and junior to an admiral...

 on 24 September 1932, he held from 1932 to 1934 the much sought after post of Commander of the America and West Indies Squadron.

From 1935 to 1938, he was Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth
The Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth was a senior commander of the Royal Navy for hundreds of years. Plymouth Command was a name given to the units, establishments, and staff operating under the admiral's command. In the nineteenth century the holder of the office was known as Commander-in-Chief,...


Mission to Moscow

Sir Reginald was the British half of the Anglo-French delegation sent to Moscow in August 1939 to discuss a possible alliance with the USSR. As an indication of the low priority the Allied Governments put on the mission, it was sent by sea. The Soviets did not take the delegation seriously.

World War Two

In December 1939, Plunkett was appointed Commander-in-Chief, The Nore serving until 1941. This was an important post as he was responsible for the protection of the east coast convoys from Scotland to London. These faced the multiple threats of acoustic mine
Acoustic mine
An acoustic mine is a type of naval mine which monitors audio activity in its vicinity. Depending on its design, it will either actively send out audio pulses, not unlike a sonar, listening to the speed at which the echo returns to it or passively listen to its environment, depending only on the...

s and magnetic mines as well as attacks from the air and by surface vessels, especially after the fall of The Netherlands and Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...


As the war continued, advancing years caused him to retire from the active navy list and to join the Home Guard
British Home Guard
The Home Guard was a defence organisation of the British Army during the Second World War...

. Nonetheless, he went to sea from 1943 to 1945 as a convoy commodore
Convoy commodore
A Convoy Commodore was the title of a civilian put in charge of the good order of the merchant ships in the British convoys used during World War II. Usually the convoy commodore was a retired naval officer or a senior merchant captain drawn from the RNVR...

, during the Battle of the Atlantic.

Alongside Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond
Herbert Richmond
Admiral Sir Herbert William Richmond KCB was a prominent naval officer, who also served as Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at Cambridge University and Master of Downing College, Cambridge...

 and Vice-Admiral Kenneth Dewar
Kenneth Dewar
Vice-Admiral Kenneth Gilbert Balmain Dewar, CBE, RN was an officer of the Royal Navy. After specialising as a gunnery officer, Dewar became a staff officer and a controversial student of naval tactics before seeing extensive service during the First World War...

, Plunkett was considered to be an intellectual who held controversial views, including the need for naval reform.


  • He wrote a book entitled Handbook on Solar Heating (Montefiore Stalin 272)

  • Admiral Plunkett's papers are at Churchill College, Cambridge
    The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...


  • He is also referred to in the David Niven autobiography "The Moon is a Balloon" when he assisted in the starting of Niven's career. Niven was on his uppers, having left the Army and adrift in the nascent Hollywood. After a cocktail party, on the Admiral's ship, he was deposited the following morning into the Press barge at a PR junket for the launch of the film "Mutiny on the Bounty". Niven goes on to reveal it made him stand out and be recognised and become the only man "to crash Hollywood in a battleship".


In 1916, Plunkett married Kathleen Chalmers. They had one son and four daughters. Their son is Henry Walter Plunkett, who is the father of Richard Drax
Richard Drax
Richard Grosvenor Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax , known as Richard Drax, is a former Army officer and journalist, now Conservative Party politician and Member of Parliament for South Dorset....

, Conservative MP for South Dorset
South Dorset
South Dorset is a county constituency represented in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It elects one Member of Parliament by the first past the post system of election.-Boundaries:...

since the 2010 General Election.
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