Geoffrey Oliver

Geoffrey Oliver

Infobox Military Person
name=Geoffrey Nigel Oliver
lived=22 January 1898-26 May 1980

allegiance=United Kingdom
branch=Royal Navy
serviceyears=1915 - 1955
HMS "Hermione" (30 Oct 1940-16 Jun 1943), Senior Officer Inshore Squadron, North Africa (1 Jan 1943-Jul 1943), Naval Force "N" (Operation Torch) (4 Jul 1943-Oct 1943), Naval Force "J" (Operation Neptune) (Feb 1944-24 Jun 1944), 1st Aircraft Carrier Squadron (Oct 1944 - Feb 1945), 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron (23 Feb 1945 - Jul 1945), Royal Naval Air Stations (April-Dec 1946), Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (2 Dec 1946-Jul 1948), Royal Naval College Greenwich (Sep 1948-2 Mar 1950),
East Indies Station (Apr 1950-20 Aug 1952),
The Nore (15 May 1953-Apr 1955)
battles=World War II
- "Bismarck"-Seige of Malta
-Operation Torch
-Operation Husky
-Operation Neptune

Admiral Sir Geoffrey Nigel Oliver (22 January 1898-26 May 1980) GBE, KCB, DSO and two bars was a British Royal Navy officer during the Second World War.

Early career

The oldest son of a botanist, Professor Francis Wall Oliver, he was educated at Durnford Preparatory School in Langton Matravers, and at Rugby School, and joined the Royal Navy in 1915 as a Special Entry Cadet at Keyham College. He was assigned as a midshipman to HMS "Dreadnought" in 1916.

In May 1917 he was reassigned to HMS "Renown" and in September promoted to sub-lieutenant. In October 1918 he was promoted again, to Lieutenant following technical courses in which he performed brilliantly, obtaining First Class certificates in all five subjects, and receiving the Goodenough Medal and prize as the best gunnery student in his year.

After a short period serving on HMS "Resolution", in 1920 he attended two terms at Queen's College, Cambridge to make up for the short education he received because of the war, followed by promotion courses into 1921. Following this he specialised in gunnery and underwent training at the Royal Navy gunnery school, HMS "Excellent", in Portsmouth. He was top of his class in both theory and practical work and was awarded the Commander Egerton prize for the best examination result in practical gunnery.

He joined the school as a staff member in the Experimental Department in March 1924. In August 1925 he was assigned as gunnery officer to HMS "Carlisle" which was serving on the China Station where he remained into 1927. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in October 1926.

In 1928 he returned to the Experimental Department of HMS "Excellent", and in January 1930 became gunnery officer on HMS "Rodney" which at that time was part of the Atlantic Fleet. In March 1932 he returned once again to HMS "Excellent", as head of the Experimental Department.

He married Barbara Jones, daughter of a jurist, Sir Francis A. Jones, in 1933. The couple had three children, of whom only one son survived. His second son died aged 8 of pneumonia, and his daughter died in a bathing accident during a holiday in Norfolk.cite journal | author = Stephen Roskill | title = Admiral Sir Geoffery Oliver GBE, KBE, DSO** | journal = The Naval Review | date = January 1981 | volume = 69 | issue = 1 | pages=4-9 | url = | format = PDF | accessdate=2008-09-12]

econd World War

In June 1937 he was promoted to captain and the following year joined the naval staff at the Admiralty, in the Tactical Division. In May 1939, a few months before the outbreak of Second World War he became deputy director of the Training and Staff Duties Division.

In October 1940 he was given command of a "Dido"-class light cruiser, HMS "Hermione" then under construction on the Clyde. The ship worked up at Scapa Flow and as part of the Second Cruiser Squadron took part in the May 1941 hunt for the "Bismarck". The ship was then assigned to Force H based at Gibraltar on convoy duties to relieve Malta.The ship rammed the Italian 600-Serie "Adua " submarine "Tembien" near Tunis on 2 July 1941, for which Oliver was awarded a DSO in November.

In 1942 the ship was part of the force which captured the Vichy French island of Madagascar after which it was assigned to Admiral Sir Henry Harwood's Eastern Mediterranean fleet.

In June 1942 as part of the 15th Cruiser Squadron the cruiser took part in Operation Vigorous, an attempt to supply Malta with a convoy dispatched from the Eastern Mediterranean whilst another Malta-bound convoy was simultaneously dispatched from Gibraltar (Operation Harpoon). On 15 June, Operation Vigorous was abandoned because of the strength of the air attacks, the depletion of ammunition and fuel caused by them and the nearby presence of the Italian Fleet. The convoy turned away from Malta and headed back towards Alexandria, but early the following morning "Hermione" was torpedoed and sunk by "U-205" south of Crete with the loss of 87 crew out of 570.

Oliver survived the sinking and served as naval liaison officer to the Nile Delta Army for the next few months, until October 1942 when he was promoted to Commodore 2nd Class and assigned in Gibraltar to organise shipping for Operation Torch, the invasion of French North Africa.

Following the successful invasion, in January 1943 he was assigned as the senior officer of the North Africa Inshore Squadron, based at Bone, Algeria which at that time was under repeated air attack, until May 1943 when he moved to a newly captured base at Bizerte. For his work during Operation Torch, Oliver was awarded a second DSO and American Legion of Merit.

In July 1943 he became commander of Force "N", with flagship HMS "Hannibal" for Operation Husky, the invasion of Sicily which took place on 9 July. He was the naval commander of the British assault force at Salerno on HMS "Hilary". Following the successful conclusion of the operation he was awarded KCB, and Commander of the American Legion of Merit.

From late 1943 until February 1944 he was the chairman of a commission, "Accuracy of Gunnery Committee". He was then promoted to Commodore 1st Class and assigned as commander of Force "J" for Operation Neptune, the invasion of Normandy, for which we was awarded a third DSO.

From October 1944 until February 1945 he was in command of the First Aircraft Carrier Squadron on HMS "Royalist", part of the Eastern Fleet, clearing mines in the Aegean Sea and providing humanitarian relief. He was promoted to rear admiral in May 1945 when the force was attached to the Eastern Fleet's 21st Aircraft Carrier Squadron where it took part in the amphibious landing at Rangoon. When Japan surrendered in August 1945 the force was preparing for the attack on the Malay Peninsula.


In 1946 he was president of a committee examining aircraft maintenance, and in April was appointed Flag Officer in command of Naval Air Stations. In December 1946 he became a Lord Commissioner of the Admiralty and Assistant Chief of Naval Staff, posts he held until September 1948 when he became president of the Naval College at Greenwich. He was promoted to vice admiral in February 1949.

From April 1950 until August 1952 he was admiral in command of the East Indies Station, and promoted to admiral in May 1952. He was awarded Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath on 1 January 1951. In May 1953 he became commander in chief of The Nore, a capacity he served in until April 1955. He was awarded Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire on 1 January 1955. He retired from the Royal Navy on 1 December 1955 and moved to a farm he purchased near Henfield, West Sussex.


*cite web| url = | title = Royal Navy (RN) Officers 1939-1945 "O" | work= World War II unit histories and officers| accessdate= 2008-09-11
*cite web| url = | title = Content and context of the Papers of Admiral Sir Geoffrey Oliver | work= Janus | accessdate= 2008-09-11


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