A Disabled Admiral

Browning as a Rear-Admiral. Photo: Library of Congress.

To mark International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), a quick post on a naval officer who, despite what might usually have been a career-ending injury, managed to rise to the top of his profession. Lieutenant Montague E. Browning, gunnery officer of the battleship Inflexible, had his left hand amputated following an accident on board ship on 15 August 1899. After being repeatedly found unfit he was reported fit for service on 21 January 1890, ‘having been fitted with an efficient mechanical substitute for his hand’. He returned to duty as gunnery officer of the cruiser Forth for the annual manoeuvres that Summer, and remained on the Active List for another 36 years, retiring as an Admiral in 1926, after holding command afloat during the First World War and serving as Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief, Plymouth, afterwards. He died in Winchester on 4 November 1947, aged 84.

On a personal note, I spend most of my time caring for a father who has only one leg, so regrettably I have a little idea of some of the obstacles that people with disabilities face on a daily basis.


The National Archives, ADM 196/42/104.
The Times, 6 November 1947, 7.

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