He joined the RN in 1929, and his early experience of the spit and polish in battleships resulted in his joining submarines in 1937; 1938, Lieutenant; 1952, Commander; 1958, Captain.
At the start of WW2 he was torpedo officer in HMS Triumph, which struck a mine, while on the surface, blowing off the outer ends of her torpedo tubes, luckily without causing sympathetic detonation of the torpedoes inside. While she was under repair, he became liaison officer to the French submarine Circe, where his ginger beard and ample girth earned him the nickname of ‘Henri Huit’. He then became First Lieutenant of the Thunderbolt (the salvaged and renamed Thetis, which had sunk with much loss of life on her trials in 1938) and was awarded the DSC when she sank the Italian S/M Tarantini off the mouth of the Gironde. He completed the CO’s course, and took command of HMS/M P.46, shortly to be renamed Unruffled, CHURCHILL having decreed that for reasons of morale submarines should be named rather than merely numbered. During his twentythree patrols he sank 40,000 tons of enemy shipping, including the cruiser Regolo, and was twice awarded the DSO.