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National Maritime Museum

Oliver, Vice Admiral R Don (1895-1980)


Reference code(s): GB 0064 OLI

Held at: National Maritime Museum

Title: Oliver, Vice Admiral R Don (1895-1980)

Date(s): [1960-1978]

Level of description: Collection

Extent: 169 items

Name of creator(s): Oliver | R Don | 1895-1980 | Vice Admiral


Administrative/Biographical history:

Oliver was educated at Osborne and Dartmouth Royal Naval Colleges. He served as Midshipman on HMS GOOD HOPE, Flag ship of the Mediterranean Fleet, in 1912 and HMS INFLEXIBLE from January 1913. Oliver was promoted to Acting Sub-Lieutenant in 1914, then lent to HMS ALBION as Acting Lieutenant in March 1915, when he volunteered in command of a pair of Trawlers sweeping Minefields off Chanak. In April 1915, he was appointed to HMS PRINCE OF WALES, which landed five hundred Australian troops at ANZAC beach and supported their operations with gun fire. Oliver joined HMS MURRAY in September 1915, and was promoted to Lieutenant and became Second in Command in April 1916: he was subsequently awarded the Swedish Gold Medal 5th Class for life saving. In 1917, Oliver transferred to HMS TELEMACHUS, Destroyer, which lay mines for the most part in the German Swept channels in the Heligoland Bight, sinking numerous U Boats and Sweepers: he was awarded the D.S.C. in 1918. He was on HMS RENOWN during H.R.H. the Prince of Wales' tours to North America from May to December 1919, and to Australia and New Zealand from March to November 1920. From April 1921 to May 1922, Oliver was at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, for a preliminary gunnery course and from May 1922 to Feb 1923, he attended the Long (G) Course at HMS EXCELLENT (The Gunnery School at Whale Island, Portsmouth). In April 1924, Oliver was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and was on the Senior Staff of HMS EXCELLENT from 1925 to 1927. In November, he was appointed First Lieutenant and HMS WARSRITE, Mediterranean Fleet. Oliver was promoted to Commander on 31 December 1929 and was on the staff at HMS EXCELLENT until November 1930. From April 1931, he was Squadron Gunnery Officer in the Battle Cruiser Squadron, Home Fleet, until he was commissioned HMS RESOLUTION as Executive Officer Second in Command in September 1933. Oliver was promoted to Captain in 1936, and attended various courses at Greenwich and Portsmouth before moving to Wellington in order to take up an appointment as Second Member of the New Zealand Navy Board. He returned to the U.K. at the end of 1938 and took command of HMS IRON DUKE, proceeding to his War Station at Scapa Flow in August 1939. In 1940, Oliver joined HMS DEVONSHIRE, which was involved with Convoy work in the South Atlantic and convoying troops in the Indian Ocean: he was awarded the C.B.E. in 1942. From January 1943 to February 1944, Oliver was in Command of HMS EXCELLENT, Gunnery School, Portsmouth. From March 1944, he was in command of HMS SWIFTSURE building at Vickers, Newcastle, and subsequently proceeding to join the Pacific Fleet at Sydney, N.S.W. Oliver became Rear-Admiral in 1945 and was Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Weapons) at the Admiralty from March to September, when he was appointed Deputy Chief of Naval Staff with a Seat on the Board of Admiralty. In August 1947, he hoisted his Flag in HMS SUSSEX as Flag Officer Commanding 5th Cruiser Squadron. Oliver was promoted to Vice Admiral retired list in 1948 and was made Deputy Lieutenant for the county of Roxburghshire in 1962.


Scope and content/abstract:

Papers of Vice Admiral R Don Oliver. They consist mainly of family correspondence, but there are some official service documents; Vice Admiral Robert D Oliver's recollections; files of personal papers from the 1960s and 1970s; papers of both his first wife, Mrs Torfrida L.A. Swann (nee Huddart) and the Huddart family, and those concerning his second wife, Mrs Marion Joyce Glendinning Van de Velde; diaries for 1960-1978; newspaper cuttings and photographs. There are also papers belonging to his father, Colonel William James Oliver, and his uncle, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Henry Francis Oliver: these include Sir Henry Oliver's recollections, 100th birthday letters and letters of condolence to his wife, Dame Beryl Oliver, on his death in 1965.


Language/scripts of material: English

System of arrangement:

Conditions governing access:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Please contact the Archive for further information.

Finding aids:

Detailed catalogue online at the: National Maritime Museum website .


Archival history:

Immediate source of acquisition:

The papers were acquired in two parts, both presented by Mrs M Joyce Oliver in 1984.



Archivist's note: Edited by Sarah Drewery, Sep 2011.

Rules or conventions: Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions: 2010-08-26

Diaries | Nonfiction
Naval affairs | Military affairs | Military science | Social sciences
World War Two (1939-1945) | World wars (events) | Wars (events)
Primary documents

Personal names
Oliver | R Don | 1895-1980 | Vice Admiral
Oliver | Sir | Henry Francis | 1865-1965 | Admiral Of The Fleet

Corporate names
Royal Navy