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During the First World War, Lt D'Oyly-Hughes was a submariner and second in command of HMS E11 which was highly successful in the Dardanelles Campaign. He was awarded the DSC in June 1915 after a patrol in which his captain, Lt. Cdr. Martin Nasmith, was awarded the VC. Hughes was awarded the DSO in August after swimming ashore from E11 with explosives and blowing up part of the Constantinople-Baghdad Railway.
In June 1939, as a Captain, he was given command of the aircraft carrier HMS Glorious. D'Oyly-Hughes had learned to fly and continually rejected the advice of the ship's professional aviators, according to Winton. Returning to Britain from the Norwegian Campaign on 8 June 1940, Glorious and her destroyer escort of HMS Acasta and HMS Ardent were surprised and caught by Scharnhorst and Gneisenau in the Norwegian Sea. All three ships were sunk with the loss of at least 1,533 lives. D'Oyly-Hughes went down with his ship. He died at 48.
Glorious had been sighted in conditions of maximum visibility, a condition in which an aircraft carrier would normally have one or more aircraft out on a Combat Air Patrol. Glorious had no such patrol, and was unable to reach maximum speed before coming in range of the enemy's 11-inch guns. Winton describes D'Oyly-Hughes' lack of belief in the effectiveness of air patrols and the questions raised by numerous commentators, including eyewitnesses from Glorious and Scharnhorst, about the Captain's judgement in this and other matters.
- John Winton (1986), Carrier Glorious, Leo Cooper/Secker & Warburg, London, p?
- The Tragedy of HMS Glorious, Channel-4 Television, London 1997