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The 6th Duke of Montrose, James Graham & His Invention: The Aircraft Carrier

His Grace, James Graham, 6th Duke of Montrose, is related to my family by marriage (he was the brother in-law of my cousin's wife's great aunt).

While researching some of this extended family, I came across the picture of the 6th Duke and Duchess of Montrose (Wikipedia) and an interesting fact: the Duke of Montrose is credited with inventing the first "flat top" or aircraft carrier, a fact that I found quite amazing.

A mariner, James Graham served in the Mercantile Marine and ASC in South Africa and during that time he obtained the first film of a full solar eclipse (another amazing feat) in 1899. He was instrumental in founding the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve in 1903 and served in the Auxillary Naval Service during WWI. Later on he became Commodore of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, Clyde Division, then the East Coast of Scotland. Finally he was Commodore for the entire RNVR from 1921-1927. Since 1946, whatever ship is assigned to the Tay Division of the RNVR is temporarily renamed "HMS Montrose" after the Duke.

The Duke of Montrose was an engineer and invented the world's first "flat top" or aircraft carrier. In 1912, as Director of William Beardmore and Company, he designed a 14,450 ton merchant vessel to be delivered to the Llyod Sabaudo Line of Italy (to be named SS Conte Rosso). At the outbreak of WWI in 1914, work on the vessel ceased. In 1916 work resumed on the ship as an aircraft carrier. The work was completed in September, 1918  and the ship was commissioned as the HSM Argus, recognized as the worlds first aircraft carrier.

A photo of the Argus follows below. Just another amazing fact in a family full of historic events and surprises!