Frank Twiss

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Sir Frank Twiss
Born (1910-07-07)7 July 1910
Died 27 January 1994(1994-01-27) (aged 83)
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch  Royal Navy
Years of service 1924–1970
Rank Admiral
Commands held Far East Fleet
Battles/wars World War II
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath
Knight Commander of the Royal Victorian Order
Distinguished Service Cross

Admiral Sir Frank Roddam Twiss KCB KCVO DSC (7 July 1910 – 27 January 1994[1]) was a Royal Navy admiral who became Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel. He went on to serve as Black Rod.

Naval career[edit]

Twiss joined the Royal Navy as a cadet in 1924.[2]

During World War II he was Gunnery Officer of HMS Exeter which was badly damaged during the Second Battle of the Java Sea: Twiss was captured and was a Japanese prisoner of war for three years.[2] He was the last captain of HMS HMS Ceylon before she was transferred to the Peruvian Navy on 9 February 1960.[3]

He was appointed Naval Secretary to the First Lord in 1960.[2] Lord Carrington (who had been First Lord at the time) later said: "The Naval Secretary was an officer destined to get to the very top—detailed for two years or so to look after promotion to Captain and Flag rank in the Royal Navy and, in the course of doing so, to look after a civilian First Lord, almost invariably ignorant of naval tradition and likely, particularly when visiting the Fleet, to make mistakes of so fundamental and tasteless a character that it would call into question not just the credibility of the Government but our political institutions. For two years Admiral Twiss—quick witted, nimble and tireless—prevented this ex-First Lord from making too much of a fool of himself. In the course of those two years, which I for one greatly enjoyed and during which we travelled a great deal and laughed a great deal, I came to recognise the quality which his senior officers saw in him and which was to serve the Royal Navy and your Lordships' House so well. He did indeed rise to the top of the Royal Navy, despite an occasion which I remember when cruising with him in HMS Tiger. Anxious to show off the skill of his ship's gunnery in front of an old First Lord, he made the unpardonable error of shooting down a very expensive target aircraft, to the cheers of the ship's company but to a stinging rebuke from their Lordships of the Admiralty. I am glad to say that he responded that, since for 30 years he had been trying to hit a target and failed, he could not quite understand the attitude of their Lordships."[4]

Twiss was appointed Flag Officer Flotillas for the Home Fleet in 1962.[2] He went on to be Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet in 1965 and Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel in 1967.[2] In that capacity he presided over the abolition of the naval rum ration.[5] He retired in 1970.[2]

In retirement he served as Gentleman Usher of the Black Rod from 1970 to 1978 and was a member of Commonwealth War Graves Commission from 1970 to 1979.[2]


  1. ^ "Obituary: Admiral Sir Frank Twiss". The Independent. 28 January 1994. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives[dead link]
  3. ^ Twiss, Frank (28 November 1996), Bailey, Chris Howard, ed., Social Change in the Royal Navy 1924-70 (1 ed.), Sutton Publishing Ltd, p. unknown, ISBN 0750906103 
  4. ^ House of Lords Debates, Tributes to Sir Frank Twiss, 17 January 1978, volume 388 para. 1-5, retrieved 31 May 2017 
  5. ^ Sea your history
Military offices
Preceded by
John Hamilton
Naval Secretary
Succeeded by
John Hayes
Preceded by
Sir Desmond Dreyer
Commander-in-Chief, Far East Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir William O'Brien
Preceded by
Sir Peter Hill-Norton
Second Sea Lord
Succeeded by
Sir Andrew Lewis
Government offices
Preceded by
George Mills
Black Rod
Succeeded by
David House