|Sir Dudley Pound|
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound
29 August 1877|
Ventnor, Isle of Wight
|Died||21 October 1943
Royal Masonic Hospital, London
|Years of service||1891–1943|
|Rank||Admiral of the Fleet|
|Commands held||First Sea Lord
Battle Cruiser Squadron
|Battles/wars||First World War
Arab revolt in Palestine
Second World War
|Awards||Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath
Member of the Order of Merit
Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
Mentioned in Despatches
Officer of the Legion of Honour (France)
Grand Cross of the Order of Polonia Restituta (Poland)
Grand Cross of the Royal Norwegian Order of St Olav
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (United States)
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alfred Dudley Pickman Rogers Pound, GCB, OM, GCVO (29 August 1877 – 21 October 1943) was a senior officer of the Royal Navy. He served in the First World War as a battleship commander, taking part in the Battle of Jutland with notable success, contributing to the sinking of the German cruiser Wiesbaden. He served as First Sea Lord, the professional head of the Royal Navy, for the first four years of the Second World War. In that role his greatest achievement was his successful campaign against German U-boat activity and the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic, but his judgment has been challenged regarding the failed Norwegian Campaign in 1940, his dismissal of Admiral Dudley North in 1940, Japan's sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse in late 1941, and his order in July 1942 to disperse Convoy PQ17 and withdraw its covering forces to counter a non-existent threat from heavy German surface ships, leading to its destruction by submarines and aircraft. His health failed in 1943 and he resigned, dying shortly thereafter.
Born the son of Alfred John Pound, an Eton-educated barrister, by his marriage to Elizabeth Pickman Rogers, an American from Boston, Pound was descended on his mother's side from Dudley Leavitt Pickman, an early Salem, Massachusetts, merchant. He was educated at Fonthill School in East Grinstead, Sussex.
Pound joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in the training ship HMS Britannia in January 1891 and was posted as a midshipman to the battleship HMS Royal Sovereign in the Channel Squadron in January 1893. He transferred to the cruiser HMS Undaunted in May 1894 on the China Station and then joined HMS Calypso in the Training Squadron. Promoted to sub-lieutenant on 29 August 1896, he joined the destroyer HMS Opossum in October 1897 and the battleship HMS Magnificent in January 1898. Promoted to lieutenant on 29 August 1898, he joined the torpedo school HMS Vernon in September 1899 and qualified as a torpedo specialist in December 1901. He served as a torpedo officer in the cruiser HMS Grafton on the Pacific Station before transferring to the battleship HMS King Edward VII in the Atlantic Fleet in January 1905 and then to the battleship HMS Queen in the Mediterranean Fleet in March 1907.
Pound joined the staff at the Ordnance Department of the Admiralty in January 1909 and then, having been promoted to commander on 30 June 1909, he transferred to the battleship HMS Superb in the Home Fleet in May 1911. He joined the staff of the Royal Naval War College in early 1913 and then transferred to the battleship HMS St Vincent in the Home Fleet in April 1914.
Pound served throughout the First World War. After being promoted to captain on 31 December 1914, he became an Additional Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord before being given command of the battleship HMS Colossus in May 1915. He led her at the Battle of Jutland with notable success, contributing to the sinking of the German cruiser Wiesbaden. He returned to the Admiralty in July 1917 to become Assistant Director of Plans and then Director of the Operations Division (Home) and was closely involved in the planning for the Zeebrugge Raid.
Pound was appointed a Companion of the Order of the Bath in the 1919 Birthday Honours and given command of the battlecruiser HMS Repulse in October 1920 before becoming director of the planning division at the Admiralty in June 1923. He became a Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King on 1 January 1925. Following Roger Keyes' appointment as commander-in-chief of the Mediterranean Fleet in May 1925, Pound became his chief of staff. Pound was promoted to rear admiral on 1 March 1926 and became Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff in April 1926. He went on to be Commander of the Battle Cruiser Squadron in May 1929 and, having been promoted to vice admiral on 15 May 1930, he became Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel in August 1932. In the King's Birthday Honours 1930, Pound advanced to rank of Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath. On 16 January 1933 Pound was promoted to full admiral he became Chief of Staff of the Mediterranean Fleet. In March 1936, was appointed Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet. On 20 May 1937 Pound was appointed as a Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order. In the 1939 New Year Honours, Pound advanced to the rank of Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath.
First Sea Lord
Pound became First Sea Lord in June 1939 and was promoted to Admiral of the Fleet on 31 July 1939. His health was doubtful even then, but other experienced admirals were in even poorer health. He also became First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp to the King in October 1941.
There are sharply divided opinions of Pound as First Sea Lord during the early years of the Second World War. His admirals and captains at sea accused him of "back seat driving" and he had some clashes with Charles Forbes and John Tovey, commanders of the Home Fleet. Winston Churchill, with whom he worked from September 1939, worked with him closely on naval strategies such that he was referred to as "Churchill's anchor". However he has also been described as a "cunning old badger" who had used guile to frustrate Churchill's dramatic idea of sending a battle fleet into the Baltic early in the war. Perhaps Pound's greatest achievement was his successful campaign against German U-boat activity and the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic but he has been blamed that the Navy allowed the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau to slip into the English Channel undetected in February 1942 and criticised for ordering the dispersal of Arctic Convoy PQ 17 in July 1942 in which 35 merchant ships were left without any protection leading to 24 of the 35 merchant ships being sunk with the loss of 153 men. Pound refused a peerage but was appointed to the Order of Merit on 3 September 1943, four years after the outbreak of the war.
Resignation and death
Pound suffered from hip degeneration, which kept him from sleeping, causing him to doze off at meetings. In July 1943 Pound's wife died; by this time it was clear that his health was declining and after suffering two strokes he resigned formally on 20 September 1943. He died from a brain tumour at the Royal Masonic Hospital in London on 21 October (known in the Royal Navy as Trafalgar Day) 1943 and, after a funeral service in Westminster Abbey, his ashes were scattered at sea.
In 1908 Pound married Betty Whitehead; they had two sons and a daughter, Barbara.
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- Nailor, Peter. "Great Chiefs of Staff – Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound, OM, GCB GCVO," RUSI Journal: Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies (1988) 133#1 pp 67–70.
- Stanley, Martin (2006). The Order of Merit. I.B. Tauris & Co. Ltd., London. ISBN 978-1860648489.
- Brodhurst, Robin (2000). Churchill's Anchor: A Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound. Pen & Sword. ISBN 978-0850527650.
- Murfett, Malcolm (1995). The First Sea Lords from Fisher to Mountbatten. Westport. ISBN 0-275-94231-7.
- The Dreadnought Project: Dudley Pound
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