After the war, Pound served on the Admiralty Staff (1917–1919), was head of the Royal Navy Plans Division (1922), and commanded the battle cruiser squadron (1929–1932). He was knighted in 1933 and served as second sea lord (1933–1935). Pound returned to sea and became commander in chief of the Mediterranean Fleet (1936–1939), training its personnel for the impending war.
On the eve of war, Pound was promoted to admiral of the fleet; he was named first sea lord (the highest Royal Navy post) in June 1939. He was already a tired man who consistently worked too hard and for long hours, and he had few hobbies with which to break the pressure. Yet under him, the navy planned and saw through the initial stages of the successful war at sea, although not without setbacks. Pound blamed himself for the loss of the Prince of Wales and Repulse to Japanese air attack in December 1941. In July 1942, wanting to clear convoy escorts for expected German surface attack, Pound ordered the Russia-bound convoy (PQ-17) merchant ships to scatter, and 22 of 35 ships were subsequently lost to U-boat attack.
In an effort to lighten his load, Pound handed over chairmanship of the Chiefs of Staff to Alanbrook (9 March 1942), and a deputy first sea lord was appointed to assist him two months later. He declined a peerage, but he was awarded the Order of Merit in 1943. Following the death of his wife in July 1943, his own health failed. Although the cause was not realized at the time, he was suffering from a brain tumor that had made him increasingly sleepy in meetings. Pound eventually suffered a stroke while accompanying Prime Minister Winston L. S. Churchill to the Quebec Conference. He died on 21 October (Trafalgar Day) 1943 in London.
Christopher H. Sterling
Brodhurst, Robin. Churchill's Anchor: The Biography of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound. Barnsley, England: Pen and Sword Books/Leo Cooper, 2000.; Nailor, Peter. "Great Chiefs of Staff: Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound." Journal of the Royal United Services Institution 133 (Spring 1988): 67–70.; Roskill, Stephen. Churchill and the Admirals. New York: Morrow, 1978.