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Cumberbatch Family History, Cumberbatch Genealogy and Cumberbatch Ancestry

Surname Origin
Surname Variations
Cumberbatch Distribution
Comberbach Place
To The Trees


Key facts

Born: 8 December 1900 probably at Izmir Turkey.

Midshipman: 15 Aug 1917

Sub-Lieutenant: 15 January 1921

Lieutenant: 15 Dec 1922

Lieutenant-Commander: 15 December 1930

Commander: 2 April 1940

Retired: 1948

Died: 27 January 1966

Commander Henry Carlton Cumberbatch

Henry Carlton Cumberbatch the son of Mr Henry Alfred Cumberbatch (Consul General) CMG and Helene Gertrude Cumberbatch nee Rees married Pauline Ellen Laing Congdon daughter of T.E. Congdon 26 April 1934 St. Mary Abbot's, Kensington, London, England.

See the Times article left from Friday 27th April 1934: The marriage took place at St. Mary Abbot's, Kensington, yesterday afternoon of Lieutenant-Commander Henry Carlton Cumberbatch, R.N., H.M.S. Medway, China, youngest son of the late Mr. H.A. Cumberbatch (Consul-General) and of the late Mrs. Cumberbatch, and Miss Pauline Ellen Laing Congdon, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. T.E. Congdon, of North Court House, Reading. The Rev. E.C. Symes and Canon Edwin Brook-Jackson conducted the service.
The bride, who was given away by her father, wore a gown of white lace with a scalloped oval train, which fell from below the knees. Her long white tulle veil was held in place by a Tudor headdress pf lace, and she carried a sheaf of white iris and roses and wore a bracelet of white heather. She was attended by five bridesmaids - Miss Nancy Cumberbatch (sister of the bridegroom), Miss Isabel Catto, Miss Jean Murray; Miss Rachel Henderson, and Miss Audrey Gillespie. They wore dresses of turquoise lace with short veils to match. They carried bouquets of coral-coloured carnations and lilies-if-the-valley. Lieutenant E.R. Collins, R.N., was best man, and, like the bridegroom, wore full-dress uniform.
A reception was held in the Empress Rooms, Royal Palace Hotel, Kensington. Among those present were:-
Mrs. T.E. Congdon, Mr. R.C. Cumberbatch [Robert Cecil his brother], Mr. and Mrs. V.C. Allen, Mr. C.E. Allen, Mr and Mrs. C.W. Allen, Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson, Sir William and Lady McKercher, Sir Alexander and Lady Murray, Miss Murray, the Hon. Maurice Baring, Sir Thomas and Lady Catto, Mr. Jock Catto, Sir Thomas and Lady Neave, the Misses Neave, Mrs. E.R. Townsend, Miss Townsend, Commander and Mrs. Voelcker, Mr. R.V. Yates, Mr. and Mrs. Murdoch, Mrs. A.C. Fuller, Mr and Mrs. Borrett, Mrs. Murdoch, Mrs. A.C. Fuller, Mr. and Mrs. F.K. Brooke, Mr and Mrs. H.A. Gardner, Miss Whitehouse, Mrs. J.E. Stevenson, Mrs. P.W. Morris, Mrs. H.E. Howe, Mrs. Graves Chamney, Mrs. John Rowland, Miss Madeley, Mis Fuller, Mrs. E. Baggallay, Mrs. le Bailly, Mr. le Bailly, Mr. A.H. Abbott, Mr and Mrs. G.H. Keeton, Major and Mrs. battine, Lieutenant-Commander Silcock, Miss Haggie.
Miss Rosemary Balfour, Mr. and Mrs. Somerset Playne, Lieutenant Venebles, Captain and Mrs. McCillough, Mr. W.H.C. Daniel, Miss S. Webb, Miss E. Harding, Mr. and Mrs. John Best, Mr. and Mrs. John Humphrey, Captan and Mrs. Black, Mr. E.P. Burke. Mr. A.L. Carless, Captain and Mrs. Bruce Ramsay, Colonel and Mrs. Chapman, Mr. and Mrs. Davy, Miss Raphael, Lietenant-Commander and Mrs. Higham, Lieutenant-Commander Barry, Mrs. Robertson, Mr and Mrs. W.B. Andrew, Mrs. Adie, the Misses Adie, Mr. and Mrs. G.E. Moore, Miss Moore, Mr. geoffrey T. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Peter Reid, Mr. and Mrs. J.E. Lawie, Mr. and Mrs. A.R. Nevill, Mr and Mrs. J.P. Ward, Mr. and Mrs. G.N. Kingsley, mrs. E.T. Stuart, Mrs. E.J. Miller, Mrs. C.R. Stanley, Mrs. Doris Jenks, Lieutenant-Commander and Mrs. Bingeman, Mrs. Green, Colonel and Mrs. Hickley, Master Dennis Hickley, Master Michael Barker, Mr. and Mrs. Oliver, Miss P. Farquarson, Mr. and Mrs. C.C.F. Glennie, Mr. and Mrs. H.P. Brown, Miss Brown, Colonel Manders, Mr. and Mrs. Roffey, Mr. R.S. Roffey, Miss Roffey, Mr. and Mrs. C.E. Robinson, Colonel L.A. Grimston, Mrs. Herbert Kingham, Miss Kingham, Mr. and Mrs. T. Cope, Miss Diana Mann, Mr. and Mrs. C. Simkins.

Naval Career

Joined the submarine course at HMS DOLPHIN on 1 January 1923, on completion joined M1 working from HMS CONQUEST on 13 April 1923.

Transferred to H23, working from HMS DOLPHIN, on 5 March 1924, and was temporarily in command while in refit, then becoming its first lieutenant.

He returned to General Service on 21 March 1926, joining the battleship HMS MARLBOROUGH.

On 3 January 1927, he returned to submarines, joining L5 (3rd Submarine Flotilla) Devonport, also being temporarily attached to 5th Submarine Flotilla. Took the COQC (commanding officer qualifying course) at HMS DOLPHIN from 1 May 1928.

On completion, he took command of H28 (5th Submarine Flotilla), working from HMS ALECTO in Portsmouth, on 1 September 1928.

Almost a year later, on 26 August 1929, he returned to General Service.

He went back to submarines on 30 December 1931, joining the depot ship HMS LUCIA (2nd Submarine Flotilla) Devonport and Atlantic Fleet, being available for submarines.

Eventually, on 2 January 1933, he took command of L21, working from LUCIA, and stayed for over a year.

In April 1934, he travelled to China to join the depot ship HMS MEDWAY (4th Submarine Flotilla) there, on 4 May 1934. Five months later, on 5 October 1934, he took command of HMS/m OSIRIS, working from MEDWAY.

On returning to Britain in 1937, he took command of HMS/m OTWAY, working from HMS DOLPHIN, which he joined on 30 August 1937. The following month, on 25 September, he joined the Reserve Group A at HMS DOLPHIN, moving to the depot ship HMS DWARF in July 1938.

He returned to command HMS/m OTWAY on 26 September 1938, working from HMS DOLPHIN, but for only two weeks, before rejoining Reserve Group A in command.

On 2 August 1939, he took command of HMS/m OBERON working from HMS DOLPHIN, and then HMS FORTH (2nd Submarine Flotilla) Rosyth in the same month, returning to HMS DOLPHIN in October 1939.

OBERON moved again at the end of November 1939, joining the depot ship ALECTO at HMS DOLPHIN.

In April 1940 he became available for command of submarines at HMS DOLPHIN after leaving OBERON and in June was at HMS CYCLOPS (7th Submarine Flotilla). He remained with her until 17 March 1942 when he took command of the depot ship HMS WOLFE in the US with HMS SAKER II (Baltimore).

He returned to General Service on leaving WOLFE on 10 February 1943, retiring five years later.

[Source: Richard Taylor & RN Submarine Museum]


Naval Career Researched & Contributed by Richard Taylor & Hans Houterman; Presented with their kind permission.

His unnamed miniatures. The first two are his First World War awards (British War Medal and Victory Medal) followed by the 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, Italy Star, Defence Medal and War Medal.

Mediterranean Fleet Rifle Meeting; top bar dated 1929 and silver 'Barfleur Cup' bar.
Mediterranean Fleet Rifle Meeting; top bar dated 1930. With original award case.
Silver rowing medallion awarded by HMS Revenge in 1930. Reverse engraved ' Commd Officers' Gig, H C Cumberbatch'
China Fleet Rifle Meeting. Reverse engraved 'Officers' Revolver 3rd 1935'
Devonport Port Rifle & Revolver Meeting. Reverse engraved 'Rifle'. Ribbon has three clasps all indicating events in 1932.

Commander Henry C Cumberbatch

Medals Awarded:

  1. British War Medal

  2. Victory Medal

  3. 1939-45 Star

  4. Africa Star

  5. Italy Star

  6. Defence Medal

  7. 1939-45 War Medal

(Miniatures extant)

Also Royal Navy shooting and sports medals, including:

  1. Mediterranean Fleet Rifle Meeting; Top bar dated 1929 and with silver ‘Barfleur Cup’ bar

  2. Mediterranean Fleet Rifle Meeting ; Top bar dated 1930 and with silver ‘Barfleur Cup’ bar; with original award case

  3. Silver rowing medallion awarded by HMS Revenge 1930; Reverse engraved Commd Officers’ Gig, H C Cumberbatch

  4. Devonport Port Rifle & Revolver Meeting; Reverse engraved ‘Rifle’ with three clasps all indicating events in 1932

  5. China Fleet Rifle Meeting; Reverse engraved Officers’ Revolver 3rd 1935

8 December 1900 Born the son of Henry Alfred Cumberbatch, CMG, and Helene Gertrude Cumberbatch, probably at Smyrna [now Izmir], Turkey. His parents had married in 1891. Other children were Robert Cecil (b 1892 in Smyrna), Ida Sybil (b 1895), [Sir] Hugh Douglas (b 1897 in Smyrna), Nancy Maria (b 1905) .

May 1914 Joins the Royal Navy as a cadet at Osborne 15 August 1917. Passes out from Dartmouth as a midshipman. Is appointed to the battle cruiser Repulse (The 27,333-ton Repulse, completed only a year before Cumberbatch joined her, was with the 1st Battle Cruiser Squadron in the Grand Fleet. She and the Prince of Wales were sunk by Japanese aircraft on 10 December 1941).

November 1917 Repulse is in action with German light cruisers during operations in the Heligoland Bight when she flies the rear-admiral’s flag in the 1st BCS.

3 December 1918 his father Henry Alfred Cumberbatch, who had been born on 27 June 1858 in Berdiansk, Russia, dies at Weymouth.

22 January 1919 Repulse prepares to undergo a refit so Cumberbatch is posted to the battleship Marlborough, to be commissioned on 12 March for service in the Mediterranean. At Yalta in April she embarked members of Russian imperial family fleeing the Bolsheviks (The 25,820-ton Marlborough was built at Devonport, where she was launched in October 1912 and completed in June 1914. She was torpedoed at Jutland but survived. Stricken under the Washington Treaty and sold in May 1932).

31 January 1919 To 3,380-ton depot ship Woolwich, for service in destroyers.

1 June 1919 To the battleship King George V, flagship in the Mediterranean (King George V, 23,000 tons, was launched at Portsmouth on 9 October 1911 and completed in November the following year. She was at Jutland in 1916 and was sold in December 1926).

15 May 1920 Appointed acting sub-lieutenant.

29 June 1920 Capt Arthur J Davies, flag captain in King George V, reports that Cumberbatch is ‘very thorough; good command but rather slow’. June 1920 An appointment to the destroyer Ulster (in reserve) is cancelled. Instead he goes to the 1,687-ton destroyer minelayer Abdiel, which, like the Ulster, is a tender to the destroyer depot ship Hecla at Chatham (Abdiel was the ex-Ithuriel and could carry 70 mines. She had been launched by Cammell Laid on 12 October 1915 and was sold in 1936)

20 July 1920 Is granted permission to proceed to France, travelling in the Glengorm Castle which sails on 1 September.

22 July 1920 Posted to the 1,800-ton destroyer leader Montrose (Montrose was built by Hawthorn Leslie and launched on 10 June 1918. In March 1920 she was one of the British warships involved in the evacuation of refugees from Novorossisk in South Russia. Sold in 1946 for breaking up).

1 September 1920 Sails for France (See entry for 20 July).

30 December 1920 Report by Cdr Lewis Crabbe states that Cumberbatch is good at games. Is promising but lacks experience

15 January 1921 Appointed sub-lieutenant.

28 December 1921 Crabbe reports: ‘In all respects fit for promotion to the rank of lieutenant’

1 January 1922 Crabbe adds: ‘Improved as regards general ability and knowledge in a most satisfactory way during the past 12 months. Efficient TS officer. Good at and keen on games.’

19 April 1922 Attends Naval College course, including time at Cambridge.

26 August 1922 Captain Argentine H Allington reports: ‘Fair French. Very nice lad(!), of quite the right type. Fine manly physique. Plays a strong game of tennis. Well mannered and turned out officer. Very good ability in school.’

12 December 1922 Volunteers for submarine service. (Passed medically fit on 30 November).

15 December 1922 Seniority as lieutenant from this date.

1 January 1923 Joins the submarine course at Dolphin at Fort Blockhouse, Gosport.

1 February 1923 Capt Crabbe recommends him for promotion to lieutenant and he is appointed with seniority from 15 December

13 April 1923 On completion of the course joins M1, working from Conquest. Temporarily in command while in refit, then becoming its first lieutenant Achieved only a 3rd Class Certificate at the end of his submarine course. Confidential report states: ‘Poor exam but has personality. Good physique.’ (M1 was an unusual vessel, a 1,600-ton [surfaced] submarine equipped with a 12in gun. She also had four 18in bow tubes. Launched by Vickers in 1917, she sank on 12 November 1926 after a collision with s.s. Vidar off Start Point. Conquest was a Caroline class light built at Chatham and completed on 1 June 1915. In reserve 1919-22 and became Captain S/M with the 1st Submarine Flotilla until 1926. Sold in 1930).

5 March 1924 Transfers to H23, working from Dolphin  (H23 was built by Vickers and launched on 29 January 1918. The class had a surface displacement of 440 tons. H23 was sold in 1934).

April 1924 Lieut-Cdr Stanley reports: ‘Hardworking, conscientious; little slow at times but improving; v keen; anxious to get on; shown ability as correspondence and (N) officer; plays all games.’

May 1924 Further report by Capt (Max) Horton states: ‘Has all the necessary characteristics to make a good SM CO.’ Other entries on his confidential sheet are hard to read but he is said to be ‘quiet’ and ‘forceful’ with a ‘pleasant and equable disposition’. Again, he ‘plays games well; g messmate’. Report signed by Rear Adm Nicholson as ‘satisfactory’.

9 November 1925 Volunteers to return to submarines after (forthcoming) period in general service.

21 March 1926 Returns to general service, joining the battleship Marlborough, then with the Atlantic Fleet.

3 January 1927 Rejoins the submarine service with L5 in the 3rd Submarine Flotilla at Devonport. He is also attached temporarily to the 5th Flotilla (L5, which displaced 890 tons on the surface, was launched in 1918 by Swan Hunter. Broken up at Charlestown in 1931).

5 January 1927 Report describes him as ‘conscientiously efficient’. Very good at games, especially rugby. ‘A fine type of officer; an excellent example’. He is described by Capt Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax as being tactful and having a very attractive personality. His physical and social qualities are very good.

22 April 1928 Lieut-Cdr John Leathes reports: ‘A conscientious and zealous officer who has carried out his duties of Execut Offr in able manner; reliable initiative although at times he lacks in foresight. Command is good; shows tact and firmness’

1 May 1928 Begins his COQC (Commanding Officer’s Qualifying Course) at Dolphin.

15 August 1928 His mother, Helene Gertrude (nee Rees, born 14 May 1869) dies 1 September 1928 On completion of the course, he takes command of H28 in the 5th Flotilla, based on the depot ship Alecto at Portsmouth (H28 was launched by Vickers in 1918 and broken up at Troon in 1944. During WW2 the class mostly stayed in home waters on training duties. Alecto was a 935-ton ship, built by Laird in 1911. She was sold in 1949 and broken up at Faslane).

22 April 1929 Cumberbatch is described as a capable submarine CO of ‘average attacking ability’.

25 August 1929 Is said to have made a ‘v g all-round commanding officer of a S/M’.

26 August 1929 Returns to general service in the Revenge, which had just completed a refit and was now in the Mediterranean (The battleship Revenge, 27,500 tons, was built by Vickers and launched on 29 May 1915, completing in March 1916. Sold in May 1848).

30 June 1930 Again described as a good messmate and popular.

15 December 1930 Appointed lieutenant-commander.

30 December 1931 Joins the depot ship Lucia (2nd Submarine Flotilla), being available for submarines (Lucia was a 5,805-ton depot ship, originally the German merchantman Spreewald, captured in September 1914 by Berwick and converted in 1916. She was sold on 4 September 1946 and renamed Sinai. She measured 3672ft x 45ft and carried two 3pdrs).

2 January 1933 Takes command of L21, working from Lucia (L21, 895 tons surfaced, was built by Vickers and launched in 1918. She was sold in 1939 after becoming stranded while in tow. The class was designed for overseas patrol work and minelaying but was used for training in WW2.

26 April 1934 Marries Pauline Ellen Laing Congdon at St Mary Abbot’s, Kensington. The bride is the daughter of Mr and Mrs T E Congdon, of North Court House, Reading. Best man was Lieutenant E R Collins, RN. The groom’s sister, Nancy, was one of the bridesmaids (Collins was to be appointed lieutenant-commander on 30 May 1934. He was posted on 15 April 1935 as torpedo officer of the cruiser Ajax) For full wedding report, see The Times of 27 April.

April 1934 Cumberbatch travels to China to join the depot ship Medway (4th Submarine Flotilla) 5 October 1934 Takes command of the 1,6210-ton submarine Osiris, working from Medway (Osiris, an Odin class patrol submarine, was launched by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow on 19 May 1928. She was sold in September 1946 for breaking up at Durban Medway, 14,650 tons, was launched by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow in 1928 and was sunk by U372 off Alexandria on 30 June 1942).

30 August 1937 Assumes command of Otway, based on Dolphin at Gosport (Otway, 1,349 tons, was another Odin class submarine, also built by Vickers Armstrong and launched on 7 October 1926 for the Royal Australian Navy. She was transferred to the RN in 1931 and sold in August 1945 for breaking up).

25 September 1937 Joins Reserve Group A at Dolphin.

July 1938 Moves to the depot ship Dwarf (1936) which had been commissioned as a submarine depot ship on 26 March 1937 with the 5th Submarine Flotilla at Portsmouth.

26 September 1938 Returns to the command of Otway, based on Dolphin. Two weeks later he rejoins Reserve Group A in command 2 August 1939 Placed in command of the submarine Oberon, working first from Dolphin and then Forth (2nd Submarine Flotilla) at Dundee (Oberon, one of the earlier Odin class boats, was launched at Chatham in 1926. Broken up in August 1945 Forth, 8,900 tons, was launched by J Brown on 11 August 1938).

October 1939 Oberon returns to Dolphin.

November 1939 Oberon moves again, working from Alecto at Dolphin.

2 April 1940 Appointed commander and becomes available for command of submarines at Dolphin after leaving Oberon.

June 1940 Posted to Cyclops (7th Submarine Flotilla). When war broke out in 1939, Cyclops became parent ship of the newly  formed 3rd Flotilla at Harwich. Later she was depot ship to the 7th Flotilla at Rothesay on the Firth of Clyde. The flotilla’s duties were mainly concerned with anti-submarine training and the training of new ratings. Here, too, midget submarine and ‘chariot’ crews did their submarine training before joining their respective craft for practical work. (The Cyclops, 11,300 tons, was the ex-Indrabarah, built by Laing of Sunderland and launched 27 October 1905. She was 477ft (oa) x 55ft and her single-shaft reciprocating engine (3,500ihp) gave her a speed of 13 knots. She carried two 4-in guns and had a complement of 266. She was built as a repair ship but became a submarine depot ship in 1922. Scrapped by Cashmore at Newport, where she arrived in July 1947)

He was promoted to Acting Commander in 1940 [Source: Hans Houterman].

17 March 1942 Takes command of the depot ship Wolfe in the US at Saker II. (Baltimore) (Wolfe was formerly the Montcalm, previously an armed merchant cruiser, converted to a submarine depot ship at Baltimore in May 1942. She ended her commission in January 1943 and was recommissioned the following month.

From March 1943 [after Cumberbatch left her] she was with the 3rd Submarine Flotilla on the Clyde, going to the Eastern Fleet after a 1944 refit).

10 February 1943 Returns to general service on leaving Wolfe.

Placed on the retired list as a Lieutenant Commander in Dec 1945 with the rank of Commander (retired). [Source: Hans Houterman]

1948 Retires.

27 January 1966 Dies. Address given as Buckhurst Manor, Wadhurst, Sussex.

Naval Career Researched & Contributed by Richard Taylor & Hans Houterman; Presented with their kind permission.

See Hans Houterman's website at: Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939 - 1945

Principal sources:

H C Cumberbatch’s RN Service record

WWI Admiralty Medal Roll (PRO)

Navy Lists

RN Submarine Museum records

Cumberbatch website

Correspondence with Bob Cumberbatch

The Times, 27 April 1934

Ships of the Royal Navy, Vol I, by J J Colledge (David & Charles 1969)

Shore Establishments of the Royal Navy, by Lt-Cdr Ben Warlow (Maritime Books, 2nd edtn 2000)

British Warships 1914-19, by F J Dittmar & J J Colledge (Ian Allan 1972)

British Battleships, by Dr Oscar Parkes (Leo Cooper, 1966 edition)

HM Submarines in Camera, by Cdr J J Tall & Paul Kemp (Sutton 1996)

Jane’s Submarines - War Beneath the Waves, by Robert Hutchinson (Harper Collins 2001)

Royal Naval Submarines 1901-1982, by M P Cocker (Warne 1982)

Submarine Boats, by Richard Compton-Hall (Conway 1983)

Submarines of the World, by David Miller (Salamander 2002)

Cruisers of the Royal and Commonwealth Navies, by Douglas Morris (Maritime Books 1987)

Devonport-built Warships since 1860, by Lt-Cdr K V Burns (1981)

Chatham-built Warships since 1860, by Philip MacDougall (1982)

Warship Names, by Capt T D Manning and Cdr C F Walker (Putnam 1959)

Official History - Naval Operations, Vol V, by Henry Newbolt

At War with the Bolsheviks, by Robert Jackson (First pub Stacey 1972; Tandem edition 1974)


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