Friday, 22 September 2017

Captain Sir Thomas Edgar Halsey, Bt, DSO, DL, JP

Admiral Sir Lionel Halsey's nephew, who became the third Baronet, also joined the Royal Navy. His life was almost as interesting as that of his uncle, but for rather different reasons.

Thomas Edgar Halsey was educated at Eton and Jesus College, Cambridge, and besides being a naval officer he was a first-class cricketer. He was a batsman and fast right-hand bowler, and played cricket for his school in 1915 and 1916. He made his first-class debut for the Royal Navy team when they played Cambridge University in 1920. He also played for his university team during the same season, but after that most of his cricket was played for the Navy against the Army or for Hertfordshire. In 1936 he captained the Egyptian national team(!) in a match against the visiting Hubert Melville Martineau XI, scoring a century during the first innings.

Until the Second World War his naval career followed a slow but steady path. He became a Midshipman in 1917, a Sub-lieutenant in 1918, a Lieutenant in 1920, a Lieutenant Commander in 1928, and a Commander in 1933. In August 1934 he was given his first command, the destroyer HMS Boadicea, which was serving with the Mediterranean Fleet), and he stayed with her until February 1936. He then attended the Senior Officers' War Course before becoming an Assistant to the Naval Assistant to Second Sea Lord.

He was promoted to the rank of Captain just fourth months before the outbreak of war, when he took over command of the destroyer HMS Malcolm and became Captain D, 16th Destroyer Flotilla. He remained with her from July 1939 until October 1940 (except for a short break from late June to early August 1940 when she was commanded by Captain Augustus Willington Shelton Agar, VC, DSO, the so-called 'secret VC'). After a brief spell ashore he moved to command of another destroyer, HMS Worcester. He only served as her captain from January to May 1941, when he moved yet again, this time to command of the destroyer HMS Mackay.

He left HMS Mackay in September 1941, and again served ashore before becoming Flag Captain of the battleship HMS King George V in February 1943. He remained with her until April 1945 except for a short break when he seems to have taken command of the battleship HMS Revenge for a couple of months from April 1944 onwards.

During his time commanding HMS Malcolm Captain Halsey was awarded a DSO for 'good services in the withdrawal of the Allied Armies from the beaches at Dunkirk'. The ship made eight runs across the Channel to pick up soldiers from Dunkirk and is estimated to have brought back well over two thousand men.

He married Jean Margaret Palmer Brooke, the daughter of Bertram Willes Dayrell Brooke, the Tuan Muda (literally 'Little Lord') or 'White Rajah' of Sarawak, and they had one son (the current Baronet) and two daughters.


  1. I'd say that Captain Halsey had a fast and steady career advancement for an Officer during the interwar period.

    1. Mike Myst,

      He certainly made progress when others didn't or were 'beached'.

      All the best,



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