Wilfrid Woods

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Sir Wilfrid John Wentworth Woods
Born (1906-02-19)19 February 1906
Died 1 January 1975(1975-01-01) (aged 68)
Burley, Hampshire
Allegiance  United Kingdom
Service/branch Royal Navy
Years of service before 1924-1965
Rank Admiral
Commands held HMS Seahorse (1935);
HMS Triumph (1940);
HMS Centurion (Feb 1944-Jun 1944);
HMS Forth & Captain (S) 3rd Submarine Flotilla (1945)
Awards Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire (1963)
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (1960)
DSO (1942) & Bar (1942)
Order of the White Eagle (Yugoslavia)
Knight Commander of the Order of George I, 1963
Other work Commodore RN Sailing Association, (1963-1966); Chairman, RNLI, (1968-1972); President, Sea Cadet Corps Sports Council, 1966; Chairman, Foudroyant Trust, 1967; Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire (1971)

Admiral Sir Wilfrid John Wentworth Woods GBE KCB DSO* DL (9 February 1906 – 1 January 1975) was a Royal Navy officer who served in the Submarine Service in the Mediterranean.[1]


Woods was born at Genoa Villa, Southsea, Hampshire, the only child of Sir Wilfrid Wentworth Woods (1876–1947), a colonial civil servant, and his wife, Ethel Maud, née Palmer (c.1875–1942). Woods was educated at Seabrook Lodge Preparatory School at Hythe, Kent, before attending the Royal Naval College at Osborne and Dartmouth from 1919 to 1923. On 27 January 1930, he married Murray Auriol Ruth Inglis (1907/8–1956), daughter of Charles Stuart Inglis, a retired Royal Navy paymaster. They had one son (who predeceased them) and a daughter. He was widowed in 1956 and, in 1957, he married Joan Bridget Constance Eden, an officer in the Women's Royal Naval Service.

Naval service[edit]

In 1927, he joined the Submarine Service and served on HMS L19 on the China Station.

HMS Triumph

Woods' first command was the modern submarine HMS Seahorse in 1935. At the outbreak of World War II, he was Staff Operations Officer for the 6th Submarine Flotilla at Blyth, Northumberland, before taking his second submarine command, HMS Triumph, to the 1st Flotilla in the Mediterranean, arriving at Alexandria, Egypt in December 1940. Woods' time there saw him savaging Axis supply vessels and warships, including damage to the Italian cruiser Bolzano, as well as landing or recovering military personnel and agents off enemy-occupied shores. In June 1941, he was appointed to the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) for engaging the Salpa in a gun duel and then sinking her with a torpedo.

Woods was decorated with Yugoslavian and Greek orders in recognition of special operations, and a bar to his DSO for "daring, enterprise and devotion to duty". He was promoted to Commander in June 1941 and to Captain four years later. At Normandy, he briefly commanded the old battleship HMS Centurion, which was scuttled as a blockship off the beaches. In 1945, he was appointed Captain (S) 3rd Submarine Flotilla and commander of the submarine depot ship HMS Forth.

He was promoted to rear admiral and became Flag Officer Submarines in 1955 and appointed a CB in 1957. Promoted to vice-admiral, he was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic, from 1958 to 1960 in Norfolk, Virginia, where he cemented Anglo-American ties. He was made a Knight Bachelor in 1960. Warm relationships with NATO continued when he was Commander-in-Chief, Home Fleet from 1960 to 1963, and in his final naval post as Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth from 1963 to 1965.

Between 1967 and 1968 he was Chairman of the Royal Navy Club of 1765 & 1785 (United 1889).[2]


In retirement, Woods was a Deputy Lieutenant of Hampshire and, for four years, Chairman of the RNLI. He died on 1 January 1975 at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Bournemouth, Dorset.


Military offices
Preceded by
George Fawkes
Flag Officer Submarines
Succeeded by
Bertram Taylor
Preceded by
Sir John Eaton
Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Evans
Preceded by
Sir William Davis
Commander in Chief, Home Fleet
Succeeded by
Sir Charles Madden
Preceded by
Sir Alexander Bingley
Commander-in-Chief, Portsmouth
Succeeded by
Sir Varyl Begg
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Sir Caspar John
First and Principal Naval Aide-de-Camp
Succeeded by
Sir Desmond Dreyer