-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Biography of William J. Dundas
By Sarah Dundas
Updated 26-Sep-2016

William (Bill) Dundas was the youngest but most senior ranking of the three survivors of the sinking of H.M.S. Hood.
We are most grateful to his daughter Sarah for writing this very detailed biography.

Chainbar divider
Photo of Midshipman William John Dundas, circa 1941
Above - Bill as a Midshipman

Bill Dundas was born on 9 September 1923 at Walker Street, Edinburgh.  His early years were spent in Midlothian and Perthshire, including a period in East Lothian at Belhaven Hill Prep School, Dunbar

In 1937, aged 14, he entered Royal Naval College, Dartmouth where he remained until 1940, having completed his passing out examinations in December of that year.  At the age of 17, he joined the Royal Navy on 1 January 1941 and was posted to HMS Hood in Scapa Flow on 4 January 1941 serving as Midshipman.

HMS Hood was at that time operating in the area as a convoy escort and later as a defence against a potential German invasion fleet.  Five months after Bill joined HMS Hood the ship was ordered with HMS Prince of Wales amongst others to intercept the German ships Bismarck and Prinz Eugen before they could attack Atlantic convoys.  The Battle of Denmark Strait which ensued and resulted in the loss of HMS Hood with all hands bar three is very well documented here and elsewhere, but the narratives on this web site of the survivors Bob Tilburn and Ted Briggs, are a poignant reminder of the experience of three very brave seamen for which they were all Mentioned in Despatches for mastery, determination and skill in action against the German Battleship Bismarck Bill Dundas never spoke of his experience either in private or in public.

For the remainder of the war and commencing very soon after Hood sank in 1941, Bill’s service included postings to HMS Neptune (1941), HMS Kingston (1941), HMS Queen Elizabeth (1942;), HM Submarine Porpoise with the Eastern Fleet (1944 - 3rd Officer and 1st Lieutenant), HM Submarine Telemachus stationed in the South West Pacific Area and Home (1944-47 - 1st Lieutenant). The Telemachus posting to SW Pacific was with Commander William King DSO, DSC, in whose book ‘The Stick and the Stars’ there are insights about his time as a cadet at RNC Dartmouth and vivid descriptions of active service in Telemachus in 1944-45.

LtCdr William J Dundas
Above: Bill as a Lt Commander. Click to enlarge.

After the war and in common with a lot of officers at that time, postings were mostly involved in the de-commissioning or re-fitting of the post-war Fleet.  Bill’s peace time postings were: HMS Dolphin stationed at Home (1947-48 – Commanding Officer), HMS Anchorite stationed at Home (1949-50 – 1st Lieutenant), HMS Warrior (Troop carrier to Korea 1950-53), HMS Wiay (1953 – in Command).  HMS Wiay took part in the Coronation Review of the Fleet at Spithead on 15 June 1953.  For Pathé News video of the Review go to http://www.britishpathe.com/video/spithead-review-1953 and for the official programme and chart of ships on the day go to http://cloudobservers.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/downloads/2013/05/07.-Jul-Spithead-Review-1953.pdf. HMS Diligence stationed at Home, Reserve Fleet (1955), HMS Rinaldo stationed at Home (1955-56), HMS Starling (1956-57), HMS Gannet Home Air Command (RNAS Eglinton – 1957-58).  After which Bill retired.

Bill married Sylvia Booker in London 1947.  Sylvia had served with the WRNS during the war.  They lived in Southsea with their two daughters, Sarah born in 1948 and Jeannie in 1952, then in Hambledon in Hampshire before Bill’s final posting to Northern Ireland of which the family retain happy memories of living very near Magilligan beach (later to become a military zone).  Their son, David, was born (1958) and the family soon after moved to Argyll where Bill established a successful mink farm.  At a home located on the shores of Loch Fyne the family were to benefit from his enduring love of the sea and spent hours sailing his GP14 with him. 

In 1964, the family moved to Ochtertyre, near Stirling where he continued to run and expand the mink farm.  He was involved in a road accident when driving to visit a mink farming colleague in Argyll.  He died at the Vale of Leven Hospital, Alexandria as a result of his injuries on 2 November 1965.



Additional Photos
In February 1960, the three survivors of Hood attended the premiere of the film "Sink the Bismarck" at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London. Below are two photos from that event. This is believed to have been the last time the three were together in the same place/at the same time. Click each photo to view enlarged versions.

Hood Survivors meet Prince Philip     Hood Survivors at Film Premiere
Above/Left (L-R): Prince Philip Greets LtCdr Ken Pattisson, Bill, Ted, Bob and Esmond Knight; Above/Right (L-R): Rodney & Ken Pattisson, Bob, unknown, unknown, Ted and Bill. Click to enlarge.