Andrew Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham

Andrew Cunningham was born in Dublin on 7th January, 1883. He took a keen interest in boats after training on the Britannica (1897-980 he joined the Naval Brigade and saw service during the Boer War.

Cunningham was given command of Scorpion (1911-18) and during the First World War was active in the Mediterranean.

In 1932 Cunningham was promoted to rear admiral and commanded destroyer flotillas in the Mediterranean where he kept a close watch on the activities of Italy in Libya and Abyssinia.

Promoted to vice admiral he was given command of the Mediterranean fleet in 1937. On the outbreak of the Second World War Cunningham had the task of maintaining control of the area and 11th November 1940 his fleet put Littorio, Conte di Cavour and Duilio out of action.

When Germany invaded Greece the fleet was called into action and during the fighting the British lost 2 battleships, an aircraft carrier, five cruisers and eight destroyers. Over 2,000 seamen lost their lives during this campaign.

He then served under General Dwight Eisenhower as naval commander in chief for the landings in North Africa. He also organized the amphibious landings in the campaign to take Sicily.

Winston Churchill appointed Cunningham as first sea lord on the death of Dudley Pound on 21st October 1943. He was upset when Admiral Ernest King decided he did not want the Royal Navy involved in the D-Day landings.

In 1945 Cunningham was created Viscount of Hyndhope. After retiring from the navy he published A Sailor's Odyssey (1951) and was lord high commissioner to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. Andrew Cunningham died in London on 12th June, 1963.

Primary Sources

(1) General Dwight D. Eisenhower, diary entry (10th December 1942)

Admiral Sir Andrew Browne Cunningham. He remains in my opinion at the top of my subordinates in absolute selflessness, energy, devotion to duty, knowledge of his task, and in understanding of the requirements of allied operations. My opinions as to his superior qualifications have never wavered for a second.