Philip Wylie Dumas

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Admiral Philip W. Dumas, 1918.
© National Portrait Gallery, London.

Admiral Philip Wylie Dumas, C.B., C.V.O., R.N., Retired (9 March, 1868 – 11 December, 1948) was an officer of the Royal Navy.

Life & Career

Dumas scored 1,293 marks in the competitive examinations for cadetships in the Royal Navy, coming fourth out of his batch of twenty.[1] He entered the training ship Britannia on 15 July, 1881, and gained eleven months time on passing out, being rated Midshipman without examination.

Dumas was appointed to the Royal Yacht Victoria and Albert on 1 July, 1890.[2] He was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 26 August.[3]

Dumas was promoted to the rank of Commander on 31 December, 1901.[4]

Captain

On 31 December, 1906, Dumas was promoted to the rank of Captain.[5]

On 20 August 1908, he was given command of the second class protected cruiser Hermes.[6]

Dumas was married on 24 January, 1911, "a glorious sunny winter's day". "We really couldn't face the church in the motor so we got out about fifty yards off and walked with the result that on arrival we were asked if we were invited."[7]

On 1 December, 1913 he was superseded as Joint Secretary of the Oil Fuel Commission by Sydney Stewart Hall.[8]

On the occasion of King George V's birthday Dumas was appointed an Ordinary Member of the Third Class, or Companion, in the Civil Division of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (C.B.) on 22 June, 1914.[9]

On 19 July, at the start of the test mobilisation, Dumas received the C.B. from the King:

Naval divisions & church & then ashore with my golf clubs & out to Furntregtion[??] to lunch where also came Cecil with his little two seater motor & just as well for directly after lunch about 2.30 came a telephone message to say the King wished to see me on board the Iron Duke at 3.45 to present the CB so tore off in Cecils [sic] car got to the pontoon at 3.28 dressed in the boat going off washing in a bucket & alongside the Iron Duke at 3.40 amid cheers from the staff on the quarter deck[.] There I was presented to the Prince of Wales & Prince Albert both cheerful fresh boys in uniform & it struck me as incongruous that we each called the other "Sir". Then to the King who said he had heard much of my good work for many years & was only too pleased to reward it with the CB[.] All this part was very formal after which we fell into our old informal relations & he said how sick he was at being kept away from the review yesterday by a lot of d - d politicians. We also talked of old times in the West Indies together & finally I was bowed out shaking hands very warmly. On deck again & talked to Callaghan Poe [sic] Keppel Everett Lawson Bentinck & after tea with Lawson back to the Roxburgh.[10]
PZ manoeuvres in the afternoon & I passed my time making up confidential reports & certificates. PZ quite interesting & enormously impressed with the number of torpedoes we had a chance of firing so wrote a report on the subject in the evening. Anchored off Bournemouth very late but out again at 9am for more PZ meeting the Battle Fleets & deploying but really rather a case of tearing about than an action based on any first principles & none of the Admirals seems to have an idea what to do after deployment so God knows what will happen in war time[.] However other nations must have still less practice or knowledge than us. At night a succession of destroyer attacks very unreal & none of them pushed home. Very tired and only laid down never to bed. PZ again all the forenoon & total lack of principles displayed by Beatty and Colville who were in charge. Gun arcs mashed ourselves in perfect positions for firing torpedoes, ranges far closer than would be possible in war & finally are ending with the deployment when the real work would begin. Broke away at noon & Pakenham rushing us about to no particular end. In the afternoon it came on thick so we crawled to & anchored in West Bay. Writing a valedictory report on not losing sight of the objective for Pakenham. Weighed at 6.30 & out for a last PZ, with the Argyll in perpetual trouble for bad station keeping. As usual as on any other day & horribly disappointed. At noon left the squadron to proceed to Plymouth getting a signal from Pakenham expressing his great regret at losing my services from the squadron. This is fine for I have supplied him with practically every idea he possesses but on the other hand I doubt he cares for a Capt who plainly despises his efficiency & he is probably glad I'm gone.[11]

On 29 July Dumas wrote,

War [between] Germany & Russia certain & its [sic] only a question of days now for the rest of us to be dragged in. The rest to Goodwood and I to the Vernon where practically all the officers have already left for remobilisation. While I was on board came the warning telegram so wrote to Tudor & Charlton suggesting I had better go back to sea & saying where I am. Long general talk with Nicholson on mines (which seems hopeless) torpedoes (of which we have no reserve) & wireless which is just ripe for transition to the Poulsen system & I shall work this if I go to the Admiralty. Nicholson apparently quite happy that the vernon should be shut down but I doubt this is possible. Out by the 3.30 & found the rest returned from Goodwood where rumours are rife. Decided that I can't stand this inaction & shall go up to the Admiralty tomorrow.[12]

Dumas reported himself to the Admiralty on 30 July, where, "everyone seems a little bewildered. Charlton surprised to see me. However he was glad of my help. To see Hood [Naval Secretary to the First Lord of the Admiralty] who said he had more Captains to spare than he knew what to do with & I couldn't glean any news except that our manoueuvre fleet remains ready & we haven't mobilised on paper."[13]

"Dined & evening alone with ACD [Alfred Charles Dewar] who is the only soul I have met in the past few days with sufficient imagination to understand the situation as I do."[13]

"Just after I went along to the war room & lit upon Winston who shook hands & was very pleasant saying he glad to see me here. The scene was wild thousands of telegrams littered about & no one keeping a proper record of them. Leveson shrieking - a dishevelled looking jew [??]- & the only person with his head screwed on the right way seemed to be Vyvyan. Everyone watching the great wall maps with interest to see the positions of German ships & above all the the Augsburg which is on her way up Channel!"[14]

Dumas was appointed to command the armoured cruiser Roxburgh on 26 December, 1913.[15]

Great War

"Discussed chucking up this job with Charlton but Moore goes to sea Tudor takes his places as 3rd SL Singer comes from the Excellent as DNO & is junior to Charlton so won't do although Charlton has offered to serve under him. Jellicoe has gone up as Reserve C in C - now C in C - of the Grand Fleet & Hamilton takes his place also Sturdee has just taken over COS from Jackson! Imagine changing 2nd & 3rd SL COS & DNO on the outbreak of war. Truly we are a mad people and deserve to lose any war."[16]

"Very unhappy evening & night fearing an unequal battle in the Mediterranean between the Goeben & our four cruisers of the Warrior class[,] Milne meanwhile having withdrawn (!) our battle cruisers to Malta. It is incredible & must lead to a Court Martial.[17]

On 9 August, Dumas got to the, "Office at 9.30 & unable to stand it[.] Saw Hood & begged to be sent to sea. He noted my name but says it is quite impossible. I feel miserable in safety here & all my friends on the sea." Later, "Again sent for by COS about 5 who had Prince Louis with him. While I was there came in a wireless message from the Grand Fleet saying the Monarch had just been missed by a torpedo fired from a submarine. PL at one & in great agitation sent off an urgent & insistent message for the Grand Fleet to proceed to the North Westward for the night but the whole thing tells a senseless tale of the fleet being at sea doing nothing but charge up & down."[18]

"Singer taking over from Tudor & Tudor taking over from Moore who came in to say good bye before proceeding to sea & it's madness to make such changes at such a moment."[19]

Dumas finished taking over from Charlton on 14 August, 1914.[20] The next day he wrote in his diary, "Office at 9 & feeling a little proud of myself as ADT at last but also frankly that I am not fit for such a position in war time & with the submarine menace to cope with."[21]

Dumas' wife had tea with Lady Jackson, with Admiral Sir George Callaghan present, "who told her that he only learned heard of his supersession by a bald telegram." Dumas speculated, "It all looks like a nasty intrigue by Jellicoe who is permeated with JF's methods."[22]

On 31 October, noting Prince Louis' supersession by Lord Fisher, Dumas noted in his diary, "PL has been a failure …"[23]

He was appointed command of the battleship Agamemnon on 18 February, 1917.[24]

Flag Rank & Post-War

Dumas was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on 2 September, 1918,[25] and placed on the Retired List on 3 September, in accordance with the provisions of the Order in Council of 9 March, 1914, at his own request.[26][27] He was advanced to the rank of Vice-Admiral on the Retired List on 30 June, 1924,[28] and to Admiral on 21 January, 1928.[29]

He died at Moat House Farm, Brockham,[30] on 12 December, 1948, of bronchial pneumonia and heart failure, at the age of eighty.[31]

Bibliography

  • "Adml. P. W. Dumas" (Obituaries). The Times. Tuesday, 14 December, 1948. Issue 51254, col G, p. 6.

Papers

Service Records


 

Footnotes

  1. "Naval and Military Intelligence" (Official Appointments and Notices). The Times. Monday, 27 June, 1881. Issue 30231, col E, p. 8.
  2. The Navy List. (July, 1890). p. 252h.
  3. The London Gazette: no. 26084. p. 4773. 2 September, 1890.
  4. The London Gazette: no. 27393. p. 3. 3 January, 1902.
  5. The London Gazette: no. 27982. p. 31. 1 January, 1907.
  6. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  7. Diary Entry of 24 January, 1911. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/DUMAS/15a in Box 7.
  8. Hall Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/43. f. 258.
  9. The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28842. p. 4876. 22 June, 1914.
  10. Diary Entry of 19 July, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  11. Diary Entries of 21, 22 and 23 July, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  12. Diary Entry of 29 July, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Diary Entry of 30 July, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  14. Diary Entry of 1 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  15. The Navy List. (April, 1914). p. 368.
  16. Diary Entry of 6 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  17. Diary Entry of 8 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  18. Diary Entry of 9 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  19. Diary Entry of 11 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  20. Diary Entry of 14 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  21. Diary Entry of 15 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  22. Diary Entry of 22 August, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  23. Diary Entry of 31 October, 1914. Liddle Collection. University of Leeds. RNMN/Dumas/16a in Box 7.
  24. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 391d.
  25. The London Gazette: no. 30892. p. 10661. 10 September, 1918.
  26. The London Gazette: no. 30892. p. 10662. 10 September, 1918.
  27. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  28. The London Gazette: no. 32953. p. 5162. 4 July, 1924.
  29. The London Gazette: no. 33354. p. 856. 7 February, 1928.
  30. "Deaths" (Deaths). The Times. Monday, 13 December, 1948. Issue 51253, col A, p. 1.
  31. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  32. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  33. The Navy List. (January, 1910). p. 325.
  34. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  35. The Navy List. (April, 1914). p. 368.
  36. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  37. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  38. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.
  39. The Navy List. (November, 1917). p. 391d.
  40. Dumas Service Record. The National Archives. ADM 196/42. f. 500.