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

Sir Wilfred Franklin French, K.C.B., C.B., C.M.G. was the fifth captain of H.M.S. Hood. He commanded the ship from 1927 until 1929.

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Photo of Sir Wilfred French, courtesy of Christopher GreenSir Wilfred French was born in 1880, the son of Sovage French. He was educated at Stubbington and then entered the Royal Navy in the 1890s. He was married to Marianne Nova Hamilton, eldest daughter of Brigadier General WG Hamilton. Together they had one child, a daughter.

He received the C.M.G. in 1919. He was assigned as Flag Captain of H.M.S. Hood from May 1927 to May 1929, under the command of gunnery legend Sir Frederic Dreyer. He was affectionately known as "Pooh" (as in Winnie the Pooh) during this timeframe due to his appearance when he wore cold weather gear. Following his promotion to Rear Admiral, he was the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battle Cruiser Squadron (1931-1932). He received the C.B. at the end of this period.

He was promoted to Vice-Admiral shortly after this. Subsequently to this, he served as the Vice-Admiral in charge of Malta from 1934 to 1937. During the last two years of this timeframe he served as a member of the executive council of Malta. He had also receive his K.C.B. during this period (1936).

The outbreak of the Second World War saw Sir Wilfred serving as the Admiral Commanding the Orkneys and Shetlands. In this capacity he recommended strengthening the submarine defences surrounding Scapa Flow, but his advice went unheeded. In October 1939, a German u-boat penetrated the flow and sank the battleship H.M.S. Royal Oak with heavy loss of life. As the commanding admiral of the area, Sir Wilfred was unjustly blamed and was subsequently retired. He was given the rank of full Admiral upon retirement.

Sir Wilfred later took a position in Washington, D.C., USA as a British administrative and maintenance representative from 1941 to 1944. He returned home to the UK and spent the remainder of his days in retirement. He died on 6 December 1958.

Photo of Sir Wilfred French courtesy of Christopher Green
Above- Photo of Sir Wilfred, his wife and daughter at the launching of H.M.S. Duff at Hingham, Massachusetts, USA on 22 May 1943

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