The Letters of Lionel Halsey
By the age of thirteen, in 1885, Lionel Halsey had taken his first steps on the way to what was to become a distinguished naval career and was undergoing training on the Britannia. By 1891 he had attained the rank of Sub-Lieutenant, and two years later Lieutenant. Even if he had not joined the navy to see the world, he certainly saw a great deal of it having served among other places with the Mediterranean Fleet, on the North American Station, then based at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and in South Africa. His promotion to Captain in 1905 led eventually to taking command of HMS New Zealand in 1912 where he stayed until June 1915.
It was from HMS New Zealand that he kept up a constant flow of letters to Gaddesden Place the home of his father Sir Thomas Frederick Halsey and his mother Mary. Lionel was their fourth son, having been born on 26 February 1872 and it appears from his letters that they were a very close family. The tone of the letters, when they talk about the war, changes from almost a light-hearted optimism to bleak reality and a wish to see the end of it all.
After the war he was appointed to serve the Prince of Wales as treasurer, which he did until 1936 after which he served King George V1 for a while before retiring. In the meantime his services had been recognised by many overseas governments, among which were: France, awarding him the Legion of Honour; Russia, the Order of St Vladimir and St Anne; Japan, the Order of the Rising Sun; and America the Distinguished Service Order.
He was Deputy Lieutenant of Bedfordshire, took an active roll in the affairs of the County and had a house at Biggleswade. He died 0n 26th October 1949.