-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Biography of Vice-Admiral Wilfred Tomkinson
By Paul Bevand, MBE
Updated 06-May-2014

Wilfred Tomkinson was the first captain of H.M.S. Hood and the only man with the distinction of having returned to command from the ship as an Admiral.

Chainbar divider
Wilfred Tomkinson as a Rear-AdmiralWilfred Tomkinson was born in 1877, the fourth son of Michael Tomkinson, Franch Hall Kidderminster. He was educated at Stubbington House, Fareham and entered the Royal Navy (Britannia) in 1891. He saw service in the China War of 1900.

He married Edith Joan Bittleston in 1907. They eventually had one son and four daughters.

Wilfred Tomkinson as Captain of H.M.S. Hood in 1920, photo courtesy of Shawne Lavender, 2007

During the First World War, Tomkinson took part in the operations against Zeebrugge and Ostend (which were led by Sir Roger Keyes). In 1918, Tomkinson received the C.B. and was made the Naval ADC to the King. He received the M.V.O. in 1919 and was subsequently chosen to be Sir Roger Keyes's flag captain in the new battle cruiser H.M.S. Hood. He held this position until 31 March 1921.

1926 saw Tomkinson as the Chief of Staff to Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, Commander in Chief Mediterranean Fleet. He was promoted to Rear-Admiral the following year. At that time, he was serving as the Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff.

In 1929 he took command of the Battle Cruiser Squadron. At this point in time, Hood was starting a lengthy two year overhaul, so Tomkinson commanded from one of the other ships. Once Hood rejoined the fleet in April 1931, Tomkinson set up his command flag in her. He was in command during the infamous Invergordon Mutiny of September 1931. His leniency and understanding of the men's concerns caused him to lose favour with the Admiralty and he retired from service as a Vice-Admiral in late 1932.

Tomkinson stayed active after retirement: In 1935 he was the Flag officer in charge of the Bristol Channel. From 1940 to 1944, he was the Officer of the orders of St Maurice and Lazarus of Italy and Leopold of Belgium. His decorations included the French Croix de Guerre and the Gold medal of Royal Humane Society. In his twilight years he lived in Devizes. Wilfred Tomkinson passed away on 7 October 1971.


Sources and References
Navy Lists (courtesy of J.N. Houterman)