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Sir Charles Douglas Carpendale
Born 18 October 1874
Died 21 March 1968 (1968-03-22) (aged 93)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Rank Vice-Admiral
Commands held HMS Good Hope
HMS Shannon
HMS Donegal
HMS Benbow
Battles/wars First World War
Greco-Turkish War (1919–22)
Awards Commander of the Order of the Bath
Other work Controller of the BBC
President of the International Broadcasting Union

Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Douglas Carpendale CB (18 October 1874 – 21 March 1968) was a Royal Navy officer who saw active service in the First World War and later served as Controller of the BBC.

Naval career[edit | edit source]

HMS Good Hope, one of Carpendale's commands

Born at Brixworth, Northamptonshire, in 1874, Carpendale came of a long line of clergymen. He was the son of the Rev. William Henry Carpendale,[2] by his marriage to Julia Ellen, a daughter of Henry Hall Joy, of Hartham Park, Wiltshire;[3] the grandson of the Rev. William Carpendale, Rector of Silton, Dorset;[3] and the great-grandson of the Rev. Thomas Carpendale, of Armagh.[4] He joined HMS Britannia, a Cadet Training Ship, at Dartmouth, in 1887. He was commissioned as a Lieutenant in 1894, promoted to Commander in 1904, and to Captain in 1910. In February 1911, he was given command of HMS Good Hope and went on to command the armoured cruiser Shannon (1912 to 1914) and then another cruiser, Donegal, in the first year of the First World War (1914 to 1915).[1] Donegal had just been refitted and was assigned to the 5th Cruiser Squadron at Sierra Leone for convoy protection duties. In January 1915 she was transferred to the 6th Cruiser Squadron of the Grand Fleet.[5] After that until 1917 Carpendale was flag captain to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly at Queenstown until taking command of the armoured cruiser Achilles in June 1917. In March 1918 he was put in charge of Auxiliary Patrol Area XVII as a Commodore.[1]

Following the First World War, Carpendale commanded HMS Benbow from 1919 to 1921, during which time he commanded a landing party of Royal Marines from Benbow and Marlborough at the time of the Occupation of Constantinople during the Greco-Turkish War. On 6 July 1921, while commanding Benbow, he was promoted to Rear-Admiral.[1] He retired from the Royal Navy (at his own request) on 1 August 1923 and joined the Retired List. On 25 October 1926, he was promoted to Vice-Admiral.[1]

In 1940, as the British war effort in the Second World War was intensified, Carpendale agreed to serve as the Ministry of Information's Liaison Officer at the Air Ministry and was brought back from retirement.[1]

BBC and International Broadcasting Union[edit | edit source]

Broadcasting House (centre), home of the BBC, built in 1932

In June 1923, John Reith, the first General Manager of the BBC, was under pressure and looking for a Deputy, and F. J. Brown (Assistant Secretary of the General Post Office) suggested Carpendale for the job. Reith interviewed him at length on 14 June, with Carpendale not at first understanding that Reith was looking for a second-in-command.[6] Reith liked Carpendale, they met again on 5 July, the post was offered and accepted, and Carpendale started work on 13 July with the title of Assistant General Manager.[7] He was later given the title of Controller of the British Broadcasting Corporation.[8] He retired in 1938.[1]

On 3 April 1925, at Geneva, Carpendale became President of the First General Assembly of the International Broadcasting Union (Union Internationale de Radio-Diffusion), remaining in office until 1932.[1]

Lionel Fielden has described Carpendale as "a handsome blue-eyed man with a barking manner".[9] An obituary in The Times referred to his "famous quarter-deck manner... belied as often as not by an ultimate twinkle in his eye" while he was at the BBC. During the General Strike of 1926, he made himself useful in the studios.[1] Maurice Gorham has told the anecdote of Carpendale interviewing the musician Harry S. Pepper for a job at the BBC. He asked Pepper "How old are you?" and got the reply "Forty-four, how old are you?"[10]

Private life[edit | edit source]

In 1907 Carpendale married Christina Henrietta Strange, at Winchester,[1] the daughter of J. S. Strange, lord of the manor of Epsom.[11] They had one son, Richard Douglas Strange Carpendale (1908—1975).[12]

From 1946 to 1948, Carpendale worked as a volunteer in the library of the Royal College of Surgeons, organising and re-binding books.[13]

Honours[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 "Vice-Admiral Sir C. D. Carpendale" (obituary) in The Times dated 23 March 1968, Issue 57208, column F, p. 10; copy online at ocotilloroad.com, accessed 1 August 2016
  2. Sydney A. Moseley, Who's Who in Broadcasting (I. Pitman, 1933), p. 31
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Gentleman's Magazine, Volume 211 (1861), p. 81: "William Henry Carpendale, eldest son of the late Rev. William Carpendale, Rector of Lilton, Dorset, and Perpetual Curate of Wincanton, Somerset, to Katherine Julia Ellen, dau. of the late Henry Hall Joy, esq., of Hortham-park, Wilts..."
  4. Edward Cave, John Nichols, The Gentleman's Magazine (1838), p. 449: "At Wincanton, the Rev. William Carpendale, Perpetual Curate of that parish, and Rector of Silton, Dorset. He was the youngest son of the late Rev. Thomas Carpendale, of Armagh ; and was presented to Wincanton in 1829..."
  5. Robert Gardiner, Randal Gray, eds., Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1921 (Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984, ISBN 0-85177-245-5), p. 12
  6. Brian Hennessy, John Hennessy, The Emergence of Broadcasting in Britain (2005), p. 283
  7. Asa Briggs, The birth of broadcasting (Oxford University Press, 1961), p. 199
  8. Stephen Herbert, A History of Early Television, Volume 2 (2004), p. 9
  9. Lionel Fielden, The Natural Bent (A. Deutsch, 1960), p. 101
  10. Maurice Anthony Coneys Gorham, Sound and Fury: Twenty-one Years in the B.B.C. (1948), p. 47
  11. The descent of Epsom Manor at epsomandewellhistoryexplorer.org.uk, accessed 30 July 2016
  12. Francis Keenlyside, "R. D. S. Carpendale (1908—1975)" in Alpine Journal 1977, pp. 268-269
  13. In Memoriam: Vice-Admiral Sir Charles Carpendale, C.B. (1874-1968), in Ann. R. Coll. Surg. Engl. 1968 May; 42 (5), pp. 344–345
  14. The London Gazette (Supplement), issue 30723 dated 3 June 1918, p. 6527
  15. The London Gazette (Supplement), issue 33831 dated 31 May 1932, p. 3568
  16. The London Gazette, issue 33838 dated 24 June 1932, p. 4112

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