Percival Hall-Thompson

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Percival Hall-Thompson
Percivalhallthompson.jpg
Percival Hall-Thompson
Born 5 May 1874
Totton and Eling, Hampshire
Died 6 July 1950
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1887–1932
Rank Generic-Navy-O11.svg Admiral
Commands held HMS Philomel
HMS Erin
Battles/wars World War I
Awards Companion of the Order of the Bath
Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George

Admiral Percival Henry Hall-Thompson CBCMG (5 May 1874 – 6 July 1950) was a Royal Navy officer who played a key role in the development of the New Zealand Naval Forces and also served in the First World War as commander of the HMS Philomel. He went on to be First Naval Member & Chief of the Australian Naval Staff.

Early life[edit]

Hall-Thompson was born Percival Henry Hall Thompson, the son of Henry Hall Thompson and his wife, Agnes Spooner, on 5 May 1874 in Eling, Hampshire. Educated at a private school, he joined the Royal Navy in 1887 as a midshipman. He was posted to the training ship HMS Britannia as a cadet.[1]

Naval career[edit]

Hall Thompson served in a series of overseas postings,[1] including a period in Australia as Inspector of War-like Stores at Garden Island,[2] but by 1905 was based in London. He was promoted to post-captain in June 1913.[1]

In 1913, through the passage of the Naval Defence Act 1913, the New Zealand government formed the New Zealand Naval Forces. This was in response to the desire of the New Zealand Minister of Defence at the time, James Allen, who wanted to establish a local naval force which would co-operate with the fledgling Royal Australian Navy.[3] An approach was made to the British Admiralty for assistance and Hall-Thompson, who had hyphenated his name after his marriage to Helen Sidney Deacon in 1899, was accordingly appointed naval advisor to New Zealand. He commenced a three-year term on 1 May 1914, which also included command of HMS Philomel, a Pearl-class cruiser,[1] loaned to New Zealand as a seagoing training cruiser. He arrived in New Zealand with his family on 24 June 1914 and settled in Wellington to begin implementing a training program for New Zealand cadets. He took the Philomel on its first cruise in New Zealand service at the end of the following month but was almost immediately recalled to Wellington when it became apparent that war was to break out in Europe.[1]

First World War[edit]

After Philomel was hastily refitted for war service, Hall-Thompson took her into the South Pacific as an escort to the Samoan Expeditionary Force that captured German Samoa in September 1914. She then escorted the main body of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF) to Australia where it joined a convoy of troopships carrying men of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF) destined for Egypt. Philomel continued with the convoy as an escort and once it reached the Middle East, was detached for operations in the Persian Gulf.[1]

By 1917, Philomel was worn out and returned to New Zealand. Despite his own desire to continue on operational service, Hall-Thompson's active participation in the war ended. Now back in New Zealand, he continued to advise the government on the development of the country's naval service.[1] Late in 1917, the German raider ship SMS Wolf laid mines in New Zealand waters. Initially considering it implausible that a minefield was responsible for sunk shipping, Hall-Thompson organised the minesweeping operations of 1918 to clear them.[4] For his services during the war, he was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George[1] and awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, 3rd Class, by Emperor Taishō of Japan.[5]

Postwar period[edit]

In 1919, much to his disappointment as he enjoyed living in New Zealand, Hall-Thompson was recalled to England. The New Zealand defence minister at the time, James Allen, was also disappointed as he had established a good working relationship government with Hall-Thompson.[1]

In 1920 Hall-Thompson was given command of the battleship HMS Erin and two years later became Aide-de-Camp to the King. He contributed to a history of New Zealand's efforts in the conflict, writing about the work of the Philomel and this was published in 1923. He was appointed First Naval Member & Chief of the Australian Naval Staff with effect from January 1924 and later that year was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. He completed his term with the Australian Navy in 1926 and went on to command the 3rd Battle Squadron of the Atlantic Fleet from 1927 to 1928. He then led the Reserve Fleet for two years.[1]

Later life[edit]

Hall-Thompson retired in 1932 with the rank of admiral.[1] He lived in Kent until he died on 6 July 1950, survived by his wife and four children.[1] A son, Derrick, was also a career officer in the Royal Navy and ended his career as a rear admiral.[6]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l McGibbon, Ian. "Hall-Thompson, Percival Henry 1874–1950". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography. Ministry for Culture and Heritage. Retrieved 29 December 2013. 
  2. ^ Naval Board Member The Sydney Morning Herald, 8 November 1923.
  3. ^ McLean 2000, p. 353.
  4. ^ Richard Guilliatt and Peter Hohnen (23 August 2009). "The Wolf at our door". The Sunday Star-Times. Retrieved 2 November 2011. 
  5. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 31811. p. 2865. 5 March 1920. Retrieved 6 January 2014.
  6. ^ "Derrick Henry Hall-Thompson". Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945. unithistories.com. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 

References[edit]

  • McGibbon, Ian (2000). "Hall-Thompson, Admiral Percival Henry". In McGibbon, Ian. The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press. p. 213. ISBN 0-19-558376-0. 
  • McLean, Gavin (2000). "Naval Defence Act 1913". In McGibbon, Ian. The Oxford Companion to New Zealand Military History. Auckland, New Zealand: Oxford University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-19-558376-0. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Rear Admiral Sir Allan Everett
First Naval Member, Australian Commonwealth Naval Board
1924–1926
Succeeded by
Rear Admiral William Napier
Preceded by
Sir William Boyle
Commander-in-Chief, Reserve Fleet
1929–1930
Succeeded by
Sir Frank Larken