Born at Charlton, Kent; he attended the Royal Navy School, New Cross, before entering the Britannia
as a naval cadet in 1871; he passed out, went to sea as a midshipman in 1873 and then served in the channel squadron and on the East India station until 1878; in this year he was promoted to sub-lieutenant and returned to study at the gunnery school ship Excellent
in Portsmouth for courses and examinations; Sturdee was promoted lieutenant in 1880 and was in the Vernon
torpedo school from 1882 to 1885; he made his mark as a brilliant torpedo officer, working as torpedo lieutenant in the Bellerophen
, in command of torpedo boats on the Vernon
, and then serving at the Admiralty for four years as a torpedo specialist; he commanded the British force in Samoa in the summer of 1899 and was promoted captain; Sturdee subsequently became assistant director of naval intelligence until 1902, chief of staff to Lord Charles Beresford
in 1905 and achieved a promotion to flag rank in 1908; during the war, he was appointed commander-in-chief in the south Atlantic and south Pacific and achieved victory over German cruisers at the Falkland Islands in 1914; he was rewarded by a baronetcy in 1916; at the battle of Jutland, he commanded the 4th battle squadron of the Grand fleet and remained in this position until 1918; he was promoted admiral of the fleet in 1921 and ceased active service soon after; he died in Camberley, Surrey in 1925.