A legacy of naval excellence and philanthropy 

RAdm Pullen, left, and VAdm Harry-DeWolf, right, near the end of their RCN careers.

RAdm Hugh Francis Pullen: A legacy of naval excellence and philanthropy 

By Naval Training Group 

Then LCdr Hugh Francis Pullen pictured in 1944 as a member of HMCS Chaudière.

 Joining the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) as a Naval Cadet in 1920, Rear-Admiral (RAdm) Hugh Francis Pullen had no idea he had just embarked on what would be remembered as a legacy of naval service. Acknowledged to this day through the Pullen building at Canadian Forces Base (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.  

RAdm 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, RAdm 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 endeavors, RAdm Pullen was deeply involved in philanthropic activities and community service. He played instrumental roles in the establishment of organizations such as the Maritime Museum of Canada in 1948 (now 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, and leadership roles in organizations such as the Anglican Church of Canada. 

In recognition of his outstanding contributions, RAdm Pullen was honored with the Order of the British Empire (O.B.E.).  

As RAdm Pullen’s son, Hugh Pullen, eloquently stated 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, his legacy continues to inspire generations of naval officers to strive for excellence and service to others, embodying the values of duty, honor, and sacrifice that RAdm Hugh Francis Pullen exemplified throughout his remarkable life.