David Beatty was born in 1871 into a family with a strong Army tradition. Despite this at the age of 13 he was sent to Dartmouth Naval College and after 2 years was posted to the China Seas. His mother however was not keen on this and used her influence to get his posting changed to the flagship of the Meditteranean fleet, which was commanded by Prince Albert, second son of Queen Victoria.
In 1890 he returned to his studies in the UK first in Greenwich and then at Portsmouth before bring promoted to Lieutenant.He was appointed second in command of a flotilla of gunships which saw action in the Sudan. During one action his commander was wounded and Beatty took command, The results of that action led to him being awarded the Distinguished Service Order. He was made a commander in 1898 and posted to China a year later, seeing action in the Boxer Rebellion, the result of which he was promoted Captain at the age of 29.
He returned to the Meditteranean, first as captain of HMS Juno and then HMS Suffolk and, after a spell at the Admiralty, as captain of the Battleship HMS Queen. In 1910 he was made a Rear-Admiral – only Nelson had reached this rank at a younger age and then only by a couple of months. However a serious disagreement with his superiors soon found Beatty without a job, His rescue came from his appointment as Naval secretary by Winston Churchill, himself newly appointed as First Sea Lord. After 2 years he was appointed to the command of the Cruiser squadron and shortly afterwards as commander of the battle-cruiser squadron. In this role he saw action at the battles of Heligoland Bight; Dogger Bank and Jutland, In November of 1916 he was appointed as commander of the Grand fleet following Admiral Jellicoe’s appointment as First Sea Lord. In this role he was responsible for overseeing the surrender of the German fleet at the end of the First World War.
Following the war he was promoted Admiral (the youngest ever) and 8 months later replaced Jellicoe as First Sea Lord, a post he was to hold for 8 years until his retirement. Beatty died at his home in 1936.
His bust stands in Trafalgar Square alongside that of Admiral Jellicoe. For more details of Admiral Jellicoe’s life see https://petesfavouritethings.wordpress.com/2016/03/14/statues-and-monuments-earl-john-jellicoe/.