-H.M.S. Hood Crew Information-
Biography of Admiral Sir William Jock Whitworth
By Paul Bevand, MBE
Updated 06-May-2014

Sir William Whitworth was the only Admiral to command from aboard H.M.S. Hood twice (1939-1940 and 1940-1941).

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Photo of Sir William WhitworthWilliam Jock Whitworth was born on 29th June, 1884 the son of Major AW Whitworth of Earl's Barton, Northamptonshire. He joined the Royal Navy in 1899. He married Marguerite MacLean in 1910. The couple eventually had two sons and two daughters.

During the First World War of 1914-1918, Whitworth was Mentioned in Despatches and received the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

Having been promoted to Captain in 1925, Whitworth was in command of the Physical and Recreational Training School at Portsmouth from 1926 to 1928.

Later in 1928 he left his shore base to take command of H.M.S. Stuart as Captain (D) of the 2nd Destroyer Flotilla in the Mediterranean.

1931 saw him return to Britain as Director of Physical Training and Sports and Head of the Naval Personnel Committee - posts which he held until 1933.

A return to the Mediterranean came during 1933 and two years later in 1935 Whitworth was appointed Captain of the Fleet to the Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean in H.M.S. Resolution. This was followed in 1936 by appointment as captain of the Battleship H.M.S. Rodney. 1936 also saw him promoted to the Rank of Rear-Admiral.

By 1937 Rear-Admiral Whitworth had been appointed Naval Secretary to the First Sea Lord in which he was to serve until 1939. He received the C.B. during this timeframe.

On leaving the Admiralty in August 1939, Whitworth was appointed Vice-Admiral Commanding Battle Cruiser Squadron and flew his flag from H.M.S. Hood. Within a month war with Germany had been declared and Hood Whitworth found himself in the thick of it. Early September saw Hood covering the Iceland area in case elements of the German Fleet attempted a breakout into the Atlantic. Towards the end of September Whitworth and Hood came under fire for the first time as they were attacked by Ju88s whilst heading back towards Scapa Flow following the rescue of the submarine Spearfish from the Dogger Bank area of Denmark.

Pastel portrait of Sir William Whitworth by Captain Douglas Wales-SmithSpring of 1940 saw Whitworth heavily involved in the Norwegian campaign. Whilst flying his flag from the Battle Cruiser H.M.S. Renown in company with 9 destroyers he came upon the German battleships Gneisenau and Scharnhorst. Whitworth's early opening of the action and aggressive tactic led to sever damage being inflicted on Gneisenau and the German ships fled to the north.

Later in the same campaign he transferred his flag to the Battleship H.M.S. Warspite and was in action during the action of the 2nd Battle of Narvik. He was subsequently Mentioned in Despatches (he would also be awarded St Olav's medal by Norway after the war). Summer of 1940 saw him return to Hood where he was to remain until early May of 1941.

The call to return to the Admiralty came just weeks before Hood was to sail for the last time. Whitworth was to take up post as Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty & Second Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Personnel - posts he held until 1944. During this spell at the Admiralty he received the K.C.B. (July 1941) and was further promoted to the rank of Admiral (December 1943).

On leaving the Admiralty in February 1944, came an appointment as Commander-in-Chief, Rosyth (H.M.S. Cochrane). Here he was to remain until July 1946 when he was placed on the retired list.

Admiral William Whitworth died on 25th October, 1973.

Sources and References:

Who Was Who Volume VII
Somerville Papers
Navy Lists (courtesy of J.N. Houterman)