Dudley Pound : biography
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Alfred Dudley Pickman Rogers Pound (29 August 1877 – 21 October 1943) was a Royal Navy officer. He served in World War I 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 World War II. 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 he was blamed for letting the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau slip into the English Channel undetected in February 1942 and criticised for ordering the dispersal of Arctic Convoy PQ 17 in July 1942. He died shortly after resigning from office having suffered two strokes.
In 1908 Pound married Betty Whitehead; they had two sons and a daughter.
First Sea Lord
Pound became First Sea Lord in June 1939Heathcote, p. 217 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. Kennedy, p. 107 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 World War II. His admirals and captains at sea accused him of "back seat driving" and he had some clashes with John Tovey, commander 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.Stanley, p. 90 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 was blamed for letting the battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau slip into the English Channel undetected in February 1942 and criticised for ordering the dispersal of Arctic Convoy PQ 17 in July 1942.Heathcote, p. 218 Pound refused a peerage but was appointed to the Order of Merit on 3 September 1943, four years after the outbreak of the war.Stanley, p. 91
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 tumor 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.
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.