Lieutenant Commander 

Edward Philip 




Royal Navy

Boat Crest
Died On:
6 May 1942


Edward (Teddy) Tomkinson was born on 22 September 1911, the son of Robert Edward and Beatrice Lucy Tomkinson.  He was known to contemporaries as “Tommo”.

He joined the Royal Navy as a Cadet at the Royal Naval College Dartmouth in May 1925 at the age of 13.  On 5 January 1929 he joined the Battle Cruiser HMS REPULSE. He was promoted to Midshipman on 1 September 1929 and In July 1931 he was still serving in HMS REPULSE.

He was promoted to Acting Sub Lieutenant on 1 January,1932, Sub Lieutenant on 1 May 1932 and to Lieutenant on 1 October 1933.

He started the Submarine Course at HMS DOLPHIN on 3 September 1933 and on completion on16 December joined HMS L69.  On 16 May 1934 he joined HMS SEAHORSE as Third Hand.  He was next appointed to HMS THAMES as navigator on 13 April 1935 and transferred to the Submarine Flotilla Leader HMS DOUGLAS (1st Submarine Flotilla) at Malta on 13 May still with HMS THAMES but now as the Navigator and First Lieutenant. He was awarded the Naval General Service Medal with Palestine 1936 clasp for service in Palestine.

On return in late 1936, several temporary appointments followed including temporary First Lieutenant of HMS SEALION. He then served as First Lieutenant of HMS UNDINE for nearly two years, standing by whilst completing at the Vickers Armstrong Yard at Barrow in Furness on 28 July 1937 and serving on and after commissioning.

He returned to HMS DOLPHIN on 14 April 1939 for Submarines and on 6 May 1940 commenced his Commanding Officers Qualifying Course. On completion of the course, he was appointed to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS ALECTO (6th Submarine Flotilla) at Portland for HMS H33 in Command on 11 July 1940.

On 14 September 1940 he was appointed to HMS URGE in Command standing by whilst building at Barrow in Furness. He was in command for the commencement of trials on 30 November 1940 and on commissioning.

On 5 January 1941 HMS URGE joined HMS AMBROSE in Dundee and carried out 2 war patrols in the North Sea before transferring to HMS ST ANGELO in Malta on 14 April 1941.

Edward Tomkinson was recommended for decorations at least three times in 1941, receiving the following awards:

1.    DSO and Bar (London Gazette, 2 December 1941 for outstanding bravery, skill and resolution in successful submarine patrols).

2.    Mentioned in Despatches (London Gazette 16 December 1941 for courage, skill and resolution in successful submarine patrols).

3.    Two years’ seniority for Meritorious War Service (Navy List, 1 January 1942).

The awards at 2 and 3 were for an attack on an enemy merchant ship convoy in August 1941 during which the Italian merchant ship Aquitania was torpedoed. He was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander on 1 October 1941 (seniority being adjusted to 1 October 1939 as a result of the award for meritorious war service).

Thereafter, under Edward Tomkinson’s command on 14 December 1941 HMS URGE torpedoed the Italian battleship Vittorio Veneto and in Spring 1942 undertook successful special forces operations and damaged an enemy merchant ship. On 1 April 1942 HMS URGE sank the Italian 6” cruiser Giovanni Delle Bande Nere.  It is believed further decorations were recommended for these significant successes but either paperwork was lost to enemy bombing or the final awards (believed to be further awards of the DSO) were not able to be made posthumously. On 27 April 1942, HMS URGE sailed from Malta on passage to Alexandria and was reported as lost with all hands when she became overdue on 6 May 1942. In total, Edward Tomkinson had been in command for 16 of HMS URGE’s 18 Mediterranean patrols.

Thirty-year-old Edward Tomkinson was the husband of Myrtle Alice Tomkinson (née Land) of Langham in Suffolk who came from a submarine family as her father was a former submarine captain, Commander CB Land, RN.

In May, 1942 Admiral Sir Max Horton, Flag Officer Submarines, wrote to Edward Tomkinson’s widow: 

“It is true to say that your husband’s courage, leadership and great skill were second to none in the Submarine Service either in this War or the last…his loss to the nation is irreparable and bitterly felt.”

Edward Tomkinson was the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Golf Champion in 1939, a title held throughout WW2, and in 1975 an accommodation block at HMS DOLPHIN was named after him.

He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval War Memorial on Panel No. 61 Column No. 3, and on the HMS URGE MEMORIAL at Fort St Elmo, Malta, which was unveiled on 27 April, 2022 by the President of Malta and the British High Commissioner, attended by families and the Royal Navy.


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