John Tovey, 1st Baron Tovey bigraphy, stories - Royal Navy admiral of the fleet

John Tovey, 1st Baron Tovey : biography

7 March 1885 - 12 January 1971

Admiral of the Fleet John Cronyn "Jack" Tovey, 1st Baron Tovey GCB, KBE, DSO, DCL (7 March 1885 – 12 January 1971) was a Royal Navy admiral who served in both World Wars. He signed himself as "Jack", not "John". Tovey joined the Royal Navy before World War I, and commanded destroyers in that war. He rose, with several senior commands, until promoted to Admiral of the Fleet in 1943. He retired in 1946 and died in 1971, in Madeira.


Inter-war years

In June, 1919, Tovey attended the Senior Officers' Technical Course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich for a year; subsequently he was appointed to the Naval Staff Operations Division at the Admiralty for a further two years. His next sea appointment, in August 1922, was to command HMS Seawolf., which he held until his promotion to Captain on 31 December 1923. In August 1924, Tovey was briefly appointed as Captain (D), 2nd Destroyer Flotilla, for exercises before attending a course at the Senior Officers' School, Sheerness.

At the end of 1924, Tovey was appointed as Captain (D) to command HMS Bruce and the 8th Destroyer Flotilla. He commanded the 8thDF and other flotillas, in turn, until he attended the Imperial Defence Course, for a year from mid January 1927, at the Imperial Defence College. This was immediately followed by the Senior Officers' Technical Course at Portsmouth and from February 1928 to April 1930, Tovey was Assistant Director of Tactical School, followed by yet another shore appointment at the Admiralty as Naval Assistant to the Second Sea Lord.

  • Honorary Doctor of Civil Law, Oxford (1946)
  • 80px Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) (13 April 1943)
    Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) (1 January 1941)
    80px Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire (KBE) (14 October 1941)
    80px Companion of the Distinguished Service Order (DSO) (10 July 1919)
    80px 1914–15 Star
    80px British War Medal
    80px Victory Medal With palm leaf for Mentioned in Dispatches
    80px 1939–45 Star
    80px Atlantic Star
    80px France and Germany Star
    80px Defence Medal
    80px War Medal 1939–1945
    80px King George VI Coronation Medal 1935
    80px Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal 1953
    80px Order of St. Anna 3rd class (with swords) (Russian Empire) (awarded 1 October 1917)
    80px 1914–1918 War Cross (France) (2 November 1917)
    80px Order of Suvorov 1st Class (USSR) (29 February 1944)
    80px Commander of the Legion of Merit (United States) (28 May 1946)
    80px Grand Cross of the Order of the Phoenix (Greece) (15 April 1947)

    World War II

    For some months after Britain and Germany had declared war, the Mediterranean was effectively a quiet backwater. Italy remained nominally neutral with her fleet as only a potential threat and France maintained a powerful naval force as a counter to the Italians. As a result, British naval forces were reduced as units were transferred to meet immediate threats elsewhere and Tovey's command was reduced to five elderly Australian Scott and V & W class destroyers The five were HMAS Stuart (leader), Vampire, Vendetta, Voyager and Waterhen.

    When Italy declared war in June 1940, Tovey had been promoted to Vice Admiral (May 1939) commanding the Mediterranean Fleet's Light Forces (i.e., cruisers and destroyers) and had become Second-in-Command of the Mediterranean Fleet, under Andrew Cunningham. As Italy's participation became more certain, the Mediterranean Fleet had been reinforced and by June, Tovey commanded nine cruisers and around twenty-five destroyers, with his flag in HMS Orion.

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