Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton -1Geoffrey Layton was born on 20th April 1884, he was the son of a Liverpool solicitor, George Layton.

He joined the navy as a naval cadet in May 1899 on H.M.S. Britannia.

From 1931 to 1933, he was posted as Chief of Staff on the China station. He then flew his flag on H.M.S. Hood from August 1938 - August 1939.

Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton, took over as Commander-in-Chief China Fleet, September 1940.

In May 1941, he was informed that Admiral Sir Tom Philips would be taking over from him if a battle force was sent to Singapore.

The Prince of Wales and Repulse were sent to Singapore as a moral boaster for Churchill in December 1941 with Admiral Sir Tom Phillips flying his flag on the Prince of Wales, but with no aircraft carrier as support, it spelt disaster.

Sir Geoffrey even broadcast a message to the Malayan people, telling them of the improvements to defence on the arrival of these two battleships to Singapore.

At a meeting Admiral Tom Phillips did not hide his opinion as to the condition of the fleet at Singapore to Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton. He requested the Revenge and Royal Sovereign be sent to Singapore from the Indian Ocean. He also requested the Ramillies and Resolution which were still in England, be sent to Singapore and the Warspite, which was passing Singapore waters soon, to be retained at Singapore. Sir Tom Phillips wanted strength and did not believe Churchills small fleet was the answer.

On the 10th December at 8am Sir Geoffrey Layton handed over the naval command to Sir Tom Phillips and made preparations to embark for home.

At 1.20pm on the same day Admiral Sir Tom Philips was lost on the Prince of Wales off Malaya, when both ships were sunk by Japanese action. Admiral Sir Geoffrey was then recalled as C-and-C Eastern Fleet.

On January 5th Sir Geoffrey left Singapore taking his headquarters to Java in order to organise better convoy protection, he took Rear-Admiral Palliser with him and appointed him as Senior Naval Officer at Tanjong Priok, Balavia, untill Singapore had fallen. In mid January Sir Geoffrey was moved to Ceylon to make preparations to operate the fleet in the Indian Ocean from his new base.

The command of the Eastern Fleet was given to Sir James Somerville. Sir Geoffrey was not in Ceylon long before being appointed by the government as Commander-in-Chief of the island.

On March 9th Java fell and on the 24th Sir James Somerville arrived at Colombo in the carrier Formidable, urgent talks between the two Admirals took place, for the defence of Ceylon.

On April 2nd about seventy carrier aircraft attacked Colombo, this was a hard fought campaign in which the Allies had their first success against the Japanese. On April 11th Sir Geoffrey sent a signal that the enemy had withdrawn from Ceylon to Singapore. The Japanese now switched their attack from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.

Admiral Sir Geoffrey Layton kept a diary of events leading up to the surrender of Singapore.


      Force Z London Gazette 1948 - Force Z by Sir G.Layton 1941 Dispatch

      War Diary War Diary C-in-C Eastern Fleet 1941-1942 by Admiral Sir G. Layton


Following the war Layton returned to the UK as Commander in Chief, Portsmouth a post he held until his retirement in 1947.

Geoffrey Layton died at Portsmouth on 4th September 1964 at the age of 80.


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