Commander A.R. Freeman. RN.

Commanders house.
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Commander: AR Freeman RN 

 (WNTS : 1948-1949). (PSTS: 1949-1955)

1901 - 1955

Commander Arthur Reginald Freeman RN.

Born: 15th January 1901, Caernarvonshire, Wales, the 3rd  son of Captain Edward Freeman of the 3rd Welsh Fusiliers.

Died: 1955,Marylebone. Age 54            

Royal Navy


On 15th September 1914 Arthur Reginald Freeman entered the Royal Naval College Osborne, Isle of Wight, as a Cadet.


Midshipman Arthur Freeman was posted HMS COURAGEOUS on 6th September 1917 additional for training until January 1919. The Courageous Class of Battle cruiser has been described as ‘ large light cruisers’  they were built as part of Admiral Fishers ‘Baltic Project’, fast, lightly armoured and with few really heavy guns ( 4 x 15inch). Of a shallow draught designed for the Baltic, they were ideal for patrolling the North Sea. Midshipman Freeman experienced his first Naval engagement in the brief 2nd battle of Heligoland Bight, where the light cruiser HMS CALYPSO was badly damaged by the German Battleships.





Cruiser: Courageous Class Battlecruiser

Built: Armstrong Whitworth, completed November 1916 

Displacement 22,500 tons

Armament: 4 x 15 inch – 18 x 4inch

Speed; 32 knots

Complement: 842


In January 1919 Midshipman Freeman was posted to the destroyer HMS VOYAGER, 11th Destroyer Flotilla of the Grand Fleet.

In 1933 HMS VOYAGER was transferred to the RAN. Early in WW2 HMAS VOYAGER saw action in the Mediterranean and was knick-named as part of the ‘Scrap Iron Flotilla. After Japan entered the war HMAS VOYAGER commenced patrols in the Far East. In 1942 during troop landings and evacuations in Timor, the ship was bombed sustaining heavy damage she was beached and abandoned.




Destroyer; V & W Class

Built: Alexander Stephen & Sons  1918

Displacement: 1,300 tons (about)

Armament: 4 x 4inch

Speed; 34 knots


On the 1st June of 1919 Midshipman Freeman joined HMS VALIANT.




Battleship: Queen Elizabeth Class

Built: Fairfield Shipbuilding, Govan.  1913 -1916  

Displacement 30,600 tons

Armament: 8 x 15 inch – 8 x 6 inch – 8 x 4 inch

Speed; 24 knots

Complement: 900


In May of 1920 he was promoted Acting Sub Lieutenant and in June was posted to HMS VIVID, the RN Barracks at Devonport, for a Torpedo Training Course on HMS DEFIANCE.  His Service Reports rate him highly with comments; 

‘ very hard working and competent young officer’ …….. ‘good with the men’   …..’ very promising officer ………’good at games, good at football’………

HMS DEFIANCE formed the RN Torpedo School and was moored in the Hamoaze off Wearde Quay, below Saltash. Captain Candy RN and a considerable number of Chief Gunners and Schoolmasters formed the Staff.




Class: Renown – Line of Battle Ship,  2nd Rate

Built : 1858-61 Pembroke Dockyard

Displacement: 5,270 tons       Speed: 11 knots


Act. Sub Lieutenant Freeman was posted to the China Station and joined HMS ALACRITY a Despatch vessel. Originally built as the Steam Yacht Margarita. She was requisitioned by the Royal Navy as an Armed Boarding Vessel (ABV). She was renamed SERAMIS and then became the ABV. MLADA in 1918. On the 8th Aug 1918 she was commissioned as HMS ALACRITY. She was affectionally known as the  ‘Admirals Yacht’ on the China Station.




Built: 1900 by Scotts Shipbuilding, Greenock

Displacement: 1,850 tons

Machinery: Twin screws      Speed: 16 knots


By October 1922 Sub Lieutenant Freeman had returned to UK and was posted to HMS PRESIDENT (additional) for a long term Gunnery Training Course at CAMBERIDGE  and HMS EXCELLENT. Neither of these two Gunnery Schools were in 1922/23 what they later evolved to be. CAMBRIDGE was a collection of hulks moored in the River Tamar, Plymouth. Whilst HMS EXCELLENT in 1919 was the tender; a Trawler named ‘JACKDAW’, all part of the Gunnery Training.


In January 1923, Arthur Reginald Freeman was gazetted Lieutenant and posted to HMS WALKER for Seaman duties. 

The V&W destroyers were fast but considered good in a sea. Between the wars they were the mainstay of the RN’s destroyers and were highly regarded. Over 40 were built and a number of modified variations were developed. During WW2 a number of the V&W’s were modified to increase their range for convoy duties. This was achieved by reducing their speed, giving the destroyers much improved endurance, as convoy escorts, a most successful modification.

Between the war years the Destroyer Flotillas alternated their summer cruise between the Baltic and the Mediterranean, Lieutenant Freeman, would have experienced both.

Much later in March 1941, HMS WALKER achieved fame when as escorts for convoy HX 112, with HMS VANOC as part of the 5th Escort Group, they were to sink U-boats; U-100 and U-99. The Captains (Kretschmer & Schepke) of these 2 U-boats were regarded as ‘Aces’ by the U-boat skippers, it was a severe blow to the German Kriegsmarine,




Destroyer; V & W Class

Built: 1916/18 William Denny, Dumbarton 

Displacement: 1,100 tons (about)

Armament: 4 x 4inch       Speed; 24/32 knots


In 1925 Lieutenant Freeman was posted to HMS VICTORY, to undertake the long course at the School of  Physical and Recreational Training.

Upon the completion of Training, Lieutenant Freeman, now a PT&R Specialist was posted as additional HMS VICTORY Naval Barracks.


In June of 1928 Lieutenant Freeman was posted to HMS FISGARD, PTI for Artificers Training. In 1928 HMS FISGARD was a series of ‘Hulks’ at Chatham.


In September of 1930 Lt Freeman was posted to HMS COVENTRY as Fleet PTI. On 15th August of 1930 he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander.

During the 1920’s HMS COVENTRY was Flagship of the 2nd Light Cruiser Squadron, in the Atlantic for Rear Admiral Cunningham. In 1930 to 1934 HMS COVENTRY served as Flag Officer (D) for the Mediterranean Fleet. In 1936 she was converted to a n Anti Aircraft Cruiser.

HMS COVENTRY was sunk in action with enemy aircraft off Tobruk, 14 Sept 1942





Class: C Class Light Cruiser

Built: 1916/18 Swan Hunter and Wigham Richardson  Wallsend-on-Tyne

Displacement: 4,290 tons (about)

Armament: 5 x 6 inch   2 x 3 inch   8 x 21inch torpedo’s

Complement: 400+

Speed; 24/32 knots


At the outbreak of war in 1939, Lt Commander Freeman services were in high demand to cope with the training in fitness of the tens of thousands being called up for War Service. He was at the Royal Naval Barracks at the School of Physical & Recreational Training, Portsmouth.


On the 31st March 1942 Lt. Commander Freeman was posted to HMS NILE, RN Base Alexandria, as Fleet PT Officer on the staff of Rear Admiral G. Creswell.

The RN Base was located at Ras el Tin Point.

The  Royal Navy had expanded rapidly, in 1939 as War broke out the Royal Navy  had some’ 145,000 personnel, by 1940  it had reached 250,00 at the end of the War the Royal Navy stood at; 450,000.

The Navy’s of the ‘Dominions’ (as they were known) were no exception, the;

- Royal Canadian Navy had expanded to 90,000 by 1945, 

- Royal Australian Navy; reached over 30,000 by 1944,

- Royal Indian Navy; 30,000 with over 100 warships

the South African Navy reached 8,000 by July of 1945.

The Training of personnel from the ‘Dominions’ was a very high priority, so the next posting for Lt. Commander Freeman was to HMS GOOD HOPE, the newly established Shore Training Base in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He took up his post in August of 1942.

HMS GOOD HOPE was the ‘Seaview Hotel’, on the outskirts of Port Elizabeth. The Hotel originally built in 1935 for the ‘Wool Millionaire’ Sir Lewis Richardson, was a grand affair for its day. It now housed over fifty, South African Naval Force (SANF) Volunteers, Acting Sub Lieutenants, for basic training before they embarked for England and specialist training.




Seaview Hotel – Port Elizabeth.

HMS GOOD HOPE – Junior Officer Training Shore Base 1942-1946


By October 1944, Lt. Commander Freeman, had been posted to the Royal Naval Air Station Hatston, HMS SPARROWHAWK  was situated near Kirkwall in the Orkneys.

It was a vital Air Station being close to the great anchorage at Scapa Flow. 



 RNAS Hatston

Naval Sea Schools.

Naval Sea Schools have been in existence since the late 1800’s. They have provided training for both the Royal Navy and Merchant Marine. There have been many, some are remembered as ‘Training Ships’ dotted around the coastline in rivers and estuaries others are Establishments, usually close to a Port. Over the years Sea Schools that come to mind;

TS Mercury, River Hamble

TS Indefatigable, Anglesey

TS Warspite at Woolwich.

TS Arethusa, River Medway

Pangbourne Nautical College

TS Vindicatrtix at Sharpness

Others like the Royal Hospital School in Suffolk, can trace their origins back much further; to its Charter in 1712. The British Sailors Society, it is believed founded a Sea School in 1831, the Prince of Wales Sea School commenced about 1920 and was still going well into the 1970’s.

All of these Sea Schools had a common need; to attract experienced Sea Officers from both the Royal and Merchant Navies.

 It was Sir Merton Russell-Cotes that founded the Russell Cotes Nautical School at Parkstone in 1919. The Watts Naval Training School in Norfolk as its history shows became a Dr. Barnardo Home in 1903 for training boys for a life at sea .


On his retirement from the Royal Navy, Commander Freeman joined the Watts Naval School in 1948. With the closure of Watts Naval School, both staff and boys moved to the Russell Cotes School to form the Parkstone Sea Training School, Commander Freeman became its first Commander.



Commander A. R. Freeman, R.N. Rtd.

Commander Freeman joined the Royal Navy in 1917 and was trained at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Owing to his intense interest in sport, he decided to specialise in the Navy as a physical and Recreational Training Officer.

Prior to the second World War he was Fleet P. and R.T. Officer in the Mediterranean. Later he served on the staff at the Royal Naval P. and R.T. School at Portsmouth. During the war he was promoted Commander.

On his retirement from the Royal Navy in 1948 he joined the staff of Dr. Barnardo's Homes and was appointed Executive Officer at the Watts Naval Training School in Norfolk. When the W.N.T.S. and the Russel Cotes Nautical Schools were amalgamated at Parkstone in 1949, Commander Freeman held a similar post at the Parkstone Sea Training School until October, 1955.

The Commander, in latter years, had experienced considerable difficulty and pain from one hip, due to arthritis. He entered the King Edward VII Hospital for Officers in October to undergo an operation to rectify this. The operation was apparently successful, but later the Commander contracted pneumonia. Even this he recovered from, but it doubtlessly left him rather weak and he died from heart attack on the I3th November. He leaves a widow and two sons to whom we extend our sincere condolences.

Commander Freeman lived as he played and officiated his games, a first rate sportsman, as straight as a die, and feared no man.

"When the great Scorer comes, to write against your name;" "He cares not if you won or lost, but how you played the game."



1. The Navy List, various;  1916 to 1945, Admiralty, HMSO.

2. Royal Navy Ships Dispositions (various), Home Waters. 1940-1945 

3. Ships of the Royal Navy; The Complete Record of All Fighting Ships, JJ Colledge and Ben Warlow, Casemate, 17 Cheaop St., Newbury, RG14 5DD, 2010. 

4. The London Gazette – various editions; 1912-1945

5. Jane’s Fighting Ships, various editions, 1922 to 1945, Sampson, Low, Marston & Co. Ltd. London. 

6. Ancestry, FMP, Origins & LDS Indexes