Rear-Admiral Hugh Francis Pullen: A legacy of naval excellence and philanthropy

Rear-Admiral Hugh F. Pullen (left) shakes hands with Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf. Photo supplied.

Rear-Admiral Hugh F. Pullen (left) shakes hands with Vice-Admiral Harry DeWolf. Photo supplied.

Sabina Kukurudziak, 
Communications Officer, NTG 

Hugh Francis Pullen joined the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a Naval Cadet in 1920. He had no idea he had just embarked on what would be remembered as a life of naval legacy. 
His legacy is acknowledged today through the Pullen building at CFB Halifax Stadacona, which houses communications and radar technical training for Naval Fleet School Atlantic. His career took him on a journey marked by numerous appointments and commands, demonstrating his exceptional dedication to education and his country.
Rear-Admiral Pullen’s commitment to excellence was evident from the very start. As a midshipman, he was awarded the Admiralty Dirk as ‘Best All Around Cadet’ in 1925. An illustrious career followed with highlights that included service on various ships and key appointments such as Commander of the Royal Guard at the unveiling of the Canadian Memorial at Vimy Ridge in 1936, as well as holding command of the Escort Company of RCN officers and ratings during the presentation of the King’s Colour to the RCN in Victoria in 1939. 
Not content with his military achievements alone, Rear-Admiral Pullen was also an accomplished author, penning several books on naval history, including Atlantic Schooners (1967) and The Shannon and the Chesapeake (1970). His work on The Pullen Expedition (1979) garnered him the prestigious John Lyman Book Award in 1980 from the North American Society for Oceanic History, solidifying his place as a distinguished historian of maritime affairs.
Beyond his naval and literary endeavours, Rear-Admiral Pullen was deeply involved in philanthropic activities and community service. He played instrumental roles in the establishment of organizations, such as co-founding the Maritime Museum of Canada in 1948 (now the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic), and served in executive positions in various voluntary organizations, including the Royal Life-Saving Society of Canada and the Canadian Mental Health Society.
His commitment to service extended beyond his retirement from the Navy in 1960, as he continued to contribute to society through his involvement in numerous civic and charitable initiatives. Rear-Admiral Pullen’s dedication to his country and community was further exemplified by his leadership roles in organizations such as the Anglican Church of Canada and his advocacy for mental health awareness.
In recognition of his outstanding contributions, Rear-Admiral Pullen was honoured with the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).
Rear-Admiral Pullen’s son, Hugh Pullen, eloquently said in November 2008 at the unveiling of the refurbished display in the lobby of the Pullen building, “He had two families. He had us and he had the Navy”. Indeed, Rear-Admiral Pullen’s legacy continues to inspire generations of naval officers to strive for excellence and service to others, embodying the values of duty, honour, and sacrifice that Rear-Admiral Hugh Francis Pullen exemplified throughout his remarkable life.
Lieutenant-Commander Hugh Pullen of Chaudière, 1944.

Lieutenant-Commander Hugh Pullen of Chaudière, 1944.

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