Lt Arthur Reginald Willis Sayle RNR

WW2 Photo

1887 Aug 8. . Born Stanstead Abbotts, Hertfordshire. the son of Boardman Bromhead Dalton Sayle, who had set up a successful draper’s business in Hong Kong.

1888 May 19 Baptised

1891 census at Airlie, Hoddesdon, Herts

1901 census at school at 12a, Carthusian Square, Glasshouse Yard, London. Arthur and his elder brother Robert were both sent as boarders to the Merchant Taylors’ School in London.

1907 He left Merchant Taylors School to join the merchant officers’ training ship HMS Worcester on the Thames. And went on to join P&O, serving aboard ships such as the Arabia (third mate) and Moldavia (second mate).

1911 census. Not there, presumably at sea.

RNR Record

1913 Oct 1. Commission Sub.Lt RNR. Undergoing ten weeks’ training at Chatham the following year when his ability was described as above average. In 1914 he was sent to the Portsmouth gunnery school at HMS Excellent, followed by a torpedo course at HMS Vernon. On 29 June 1914, soon after being confirmed in the rank of sub-lieutenant, he applied unsuccessfully for appointment to the Royal Naval Air Service. Instead he was sent for ten days in the cruiser HMS Isis, then in the Third Fleet at Devonport.

1914 Aug 2. Posted to the light cruiser Vindictive, where he was described as ‘zealous and capable’. On 4 August Vindictive was allocated to the 9th Cruiser Squadron, serving on the Finnisterre station under Admiral John de Robeck. Three days later she captured the Norddeutscher Lloyd ship Schlesien, followed next day by the Slawentzitz, loaded with 5,000 tons of Welsh coal.

In November Vindictive was equipped with the latest wireless gear before being sent to Ascension Island. Her new duty was to act as a link in the communication chain being established to connect the Admiralty with Admiral Sir Doveton Sturdee during the hunt for von Spee’s squadron in the aftermath of the disastrous Battle of Coronel.

1915 Oct 1. Promoted Lt in RNR. He was described in his captain’s report as ‘excellent in every way’. His next posting was to the depot ship Titania at Blyth for service in submarines. The following month he was transferred to the Lucia for the newly commissioned submarine E39 with the 10th Flotilla on the Tees. E39 had been launched by Palmers at Jarrow but was completed by Armstrong Whitworth at Newcastle, Lt George S Walsh becoming her first skipper.

1916 Jul 5. Gains Masters Certificate

1917 He report notes ‘for good service’, receiving an expression of Their Lordships’ appreciation for useful hydrographic information he had provided.

1918 Mar 25. His report described him as ‘most efficient, zealous and trustworthy’, with a recommendation that he should be given his own command

1918 Oct. Mention in Despatches for submarines was announced in the London Gazette.

1918 Nov. His flotilla commander, Capt Martin E Nasmith VC, one the Royal Navy’s most famous submarine skippers, singled him out as a ‘very promising officer’.

1918 Nov 15. Arthur was appointed to the submarine R3 on her commissioning.

1919 Feb 28. He was sent to the J4 in the 11th Flotilla at Blyth. Six of the J boats, including J4, were transferred to the Royal Australian Navy under the command of Capt E.C. ‘Paddy’ Boyle, VC. Together with six destroyers, they left Britain on 9 April 1919, arriving in Sydney on 15 July. A photograph exists of J4 passing through the Suez Canal where Australian troops lined the banks to give her what one commentator described as a ‘tumultuous passage’. The voyage was a leisurely one, with stops at Gibraltar, Malta, Suez, Aden, Colombo, through the Timor Sea and Torres Strait via the Thursday Islands, then down the Great Barrier Reef to Brisbane and finally to Sydney. The flotilla was valued at £1.5million but the Australians spent more than £400,000 upgrading the submarines because they were in such a dilapidated condition when they arrived. J4 eventually came to a sad end, decommissioned in 1922 and scuttled five years later.

1920 Feb 17. Demobilised.

1920 Mar He told the Admiralty that he was studying for his extra master’s certificate and had no intention of renouncing the sea, although at present he was ‘unattached’.

1920 Dec 1. Joined ADRIC with service no 1154. Posted to F Coy

He reported to the Admiralty that he was now serving in the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary as a cadet on the Police Adviser’s staff for marine duties.

1921 Jan 11. "permitted to resign"

1921 May 21 Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class. For a Colonial Office post as an administration officer in South Nigeria.

1922 Jul . He came home on leave and he was admitted to Gray’s Inn where his referees included Commander John F. B. Barrett, RN, with whom he had served in the submarine depot ship Lucia. He wrote to the Admiralty to say that he was in the Nigerian Government Service in the Ondo district which, although consisting largely of lagoons and creeks, mean that his service could not be described as ‘sea-going’.

1923 Oct 1 Promoted Lt. Commander RNR. He asked to remain on the active list for a further month so he could qualify for the Reserve Decoration. The award was gazetted on 22 May 1923. He was placed on the Retired List on 18 August, receiving promotion to lieutenant commander in October.

1924 Nov 16. Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class

1925 Aug. An Appointment as station manager at Ibadan, Southern Nigeria.

1926 Oct 27 . Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class

1927 Jan . He was called to the bar and Gray’s Inn’s records describe him an RNR officer and a magistrate in Nigeria.

1928 Oct 24. Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class

1930 Aug 23. Arrives UK from Nigeria. Police Magistrate. He was appointed Crown Counsel in Nigeria in 1930, acting as Solicitor-General in Nigeria from 1932 to 1935.

1932 May 2. Arrives UK from Nigeria. 1st Class. Civil Servant

1932 Aug 23. Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class

1934 Jul 28 Engaged

1934 Jul 31. Leaves UK for Nigeria. He is a Civil Servant. Travels 1st class

1935 Jan 24. Married in Lagos Nigeria to Margaret Ashton. He is "Crown Council"

1936 Aug 26 Leaves UK for Freetown. He is Solicitor General. Travels alone

1939 . He was recalled for active service and appointed to the Contraband Control Service at HMS Forte, the Royal Navy’s base at Falmouth. A later report on his service in the CCS said: ‘An elderly officer of great and varied experience… Has been most valuable as Intelligence Officer in Contraband Control.’

1940 Jun. He was posted to HMS Ambrose, the recently commissioned submarine depot at Dundee, as an additional for active service. It is not clear what his duties were during this period but he had become Staff Officer (Operations) for the 9th Submarine Flotilla by at least June 1941.

1941 Nov. The flotilla commander, Capt James Roper, wrote to the Admiralty: This officer has been Staff Officer (Operations) of an operating flotilla of mixed allied submarines for many months. He has carried out these duties with great enthusiasm, energy, common sense and tact. He is a man of wide experience in the Merchant Navy, Royal Naval Reserve, and the Colonial Administrative and Legal Services, in all of which he has served with distinction. He is a good messmate, takes part in all flotilla activities, plays games and keeps himself fit.

1943 Jan. The flotilla’s commander, now Capt Lancelot M Shadwell, reported: A most conscientious, reliable and efficient officer, possessing foresight, loyalty and tact to a marked degree. A painstaking and very thorough staff officer, to whom no trouble was too great to ensure that every contingency and the effects thereof taken into account. He has been a first class SO(O) to the Ninth Flotilla for over two years.

1943 Jan 28. he was placed in command of the 572-ton armed yacht HMS Kihna, attached to the submarine depot ship Cyclops at Rothesay on the west coast of Scotland. Capt Harold R Conway, who commanded Cyclops from April 1943 to June 1944, wrote in a confidential report to the Admiralty : This charming gentleman has served me with particular diligence during his command of Kihna and his organisation and handling of an escort-cum-target vessel attached to a busy S/M Flotilla have been admirable. He had been serving in Northern areas for over three years and the sole reason for his change of appointment was that at the age of 57 and after a career in West Africa, he was beginning to ‘feel the climate’. While not an outstanding seaman, he possesses common sense and uses it well.He was popular with his officers and company, maintained good discipline in a ship manned by RNPS (Royal Naval Patrol Service) crew, and an entertaining companion and a valued adviser, particularly on questions of the law, being a barrister.

He was briefly an additional at HMS Drake, the Devonport base, before sailing for Trincomalee, Sri Lanka where he was senior submarine officer in the accommodation ship City of London, attached to the submarine depot ship HMS Adamant and the 4th Submarine Flotilla.

1944 Sep. He was in Adamant in lieu of a navigating officer and for duty with submarines.

1945 Mar. He was admitted to hospital at Colombo with debility. He was later found fit for limited sea service, excluding the tropics, which is probably why he was returned to the UK and, with the war in Europe now over, placed briefly in command of the destroyer Shikari.

1945 Jun 20. He was given the command of another destroyer, the Brilliant, and the following month she escorted surrendered U-boats to Lishally and Loch Ryan, Scotland, in what was named Operation Deadlight.

1945 Oct 21. Arthur was given terminal leave before release from naval service. By November he was reporting to the Admiralty that he had joined the legal department of the Control Commission for Germany.

1947 he was in the legal branch of the Military Government for Schleswig-Holstein, based in Kiel. From there he returned to the UK to take up an appointment as a barrister with the Board of Trade prosecution department. He retired as a Commander.

His home was in Russell Court, Woburn Place, London, and he continued to live there after his retirement. His wife died there in 1965 and he survived her by little over 18 months.

1957 May 7. Arrives UK from Los Angeles. With wife Gertrude. They live in UK. .

1967 Jul/Sep . Died London aged 80


Extensive life details included from this web site