The First Lord of the Admiralty was the head of the Royal Navy who personified the disappointment felt by the Swallows and the rest of the Walker family when Ted Walker was ordered to take up his duties, thus preventing him joining the Secret Archipelago Expedition. (SW1). Although not named in the story Secret Water the person holding this office at the time was Frederick Field.
Frederick Field, 18 April 1871–24 October 1945 was born into a military family. He entered the Royal Navy in 1884 as a naval cadet, aboard HMS Britannia. He saw service during the First World War. As flag Captain to Admiral Jerram, he was commander of the Battleship H.M.S. King George V at the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. While director of torpedoes at the Admiralty, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral in February 1919. He soon joined the Board of Admiralty as the Third Sea Lord and controller in March 1920. He was reassigned as First Sea Lord of the Admiralty and Chief of Naval Staff in 1930. That same year he was made Admiral of the Fleet and received the GCB.
It was primarily Field's work in the committee of Imperial Defence that led to the abandonment in 1931, of the ‘ten year rule’. This had been an attempt by the treasury to control defence expenditure, by requesting the Foreign Office declare whether there was any risk of war during that period. The greatest crisis faced by Field at the Admiralty was the Invergordon Mutiny, the pay crisis that followed in September 1931. With the ongoing effects of worldwide depression and budget restrictions, a 25% pay cut was introduced across the fleet and one shilling was taking from every naval man. The sailors of the Atlantic Fleet at Invergordon, left their ships and refused duty. The cabinet hurriedly reconsidered its budget. The pay cuts were restricted to 10 per cent rather than 25%. During this time of trouble, Field suffered a perforated ulcer. Admiral Field retired as First Sea Lord in 1933 and was given the rank of Admiral of the Fleet.