Naval Related Obituaries

RIP Vice Admiral "Beastie" Biggs.

Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Biggs - Telegraph

[h=1]Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Biggs[/h]


12:10AM BST 03 Jul 2002
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Vice-Admiral Sir Geoffrey Biggs, who has died aged 63, was a leading Cold War submariner responsible, as captain of the nuclear-powered submarine Superb, for helping to check Soviet presumptions to dominance in the Arctic.

His patrolling of the Barents Sea, above Norway, in the late 1970s provided vital intelligence which cemented the close relationship of the American and British navies, and drew praise at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic.

It led later, when Superb was under the command of another officer, to a photograph showing her with two American submarines at the North Pole, which was deemed a classic example of what the naval strategist Sir James Cable described as "naval diplomacy".

During "Beastie" Biggs's command in the late 1970s Superb, which was specially equipped with the most advanced technology, came to be universally recognised as one of the most successful of all peace-time submarines.

Biggs's achievement was all the more remarkable for the fact that he was at the same time bringing up three young sons with the help of his mother; he would cook Sunday lunch for them in Hampshire before driving to Devonport to lick his inexperienced crew into shape.

Geoffrey William Roger Biggs was born on November 23 1938, the son of Admiral Sir Hilary Worthington Biggs, C-in-C, East Indies. He went to Charterhouse, where he was nicknamed "Shag", a reference to his distinct lack of sartorial elegance; later one of his confidential reports complained that Biggs was "a tailor's nightmare, if ever he was acquainted with that profession"; and when he was promoted Flag Officer, Submarines, it was stated that he now had no excuse for failing to buy a new uniform.
Passing out of Dartmouth in 1958, Biggs had two short appointments in the aircraft carrier Eagle and the cruiser Belfast, before joining the Submarine Service in 1960. As a junior officer, Biggs enjoyed an unusually full social life, being the only officer on his lieutenants' course at Greenwich to have his own box at Ascot.
However senior the other passengers in the coach back to Greenwich from the races, the drivers always insisted on waiting for Lieutenant Biggs to finish his champagne - a practice which did not enhance his popularity.
Biggs's name appeared so frequently in the society pages that he was warned that he was damaging his career in the "silent service"; as a result, when he was spotted with a glamorous girl on his arm by a photographer and reporter from Tatler, he agreed to a picture being taken only on condition that his name was given as "A N Anon".
Biggs served in a number of diesel-powered submarines - Ambush, Teredo, Artful and Orpheus - before undertaking the commanding officers' qualifying course, known as the "Perisher" because so many officers' careers perished on it. After passing with flying colours, he commanded the submarine Otus and then, unusually, attended the Army Staff Course at Camberley before being appointed to the staff of Captain, 3rd Submarine Squadron.
In 1973, Biggs became executive officer of the nuclear-powered Swiftsure, then "Teacher", the officer commanding "Perisher". This enabled him to demonstrate his sound judgment of character, proving he had "a nice blend of iron and humour in his counsel and direction", according to another senior officer. Although Biggs did not suffer fools gladly he never showed his displeasure by belittling the object of his ire.
At sea he read paperback novels voraciously, but, when called, would spring into the control room or on to the bridge with a complete tactical picture in his mind of what was going on around his ship or submarine.
Unsurprisingly, his crews retained total confidence in him, seeing through the bluffness, hard living, love of a party and clouds of cigarette smoke to the considerate man within. Between senior appointments at the Ministry of Defence in the 1980s, Biggs commanded the Type 22 frigates Brilliant and Broadsword, where he inspired his ships and squadron with great flair and dash as well as contributing markedly to their operational efficiency.
Promoted Rear Admiral in 1990, Biggs became Flag Officer, Gibraltar, where he introduced a new joint service command, dressing his officers in purple pullovers, the uniform of the soldiers under him as Commander British Forces. One high spot of this period was when Frankie Howerd came to Gibraltar; when the Telegraph columnist Peterborough rang to ask about the comedian's supposed resemblance to Biggs, Biggs bellowed down the phone: "Who told you about my looking like Frankie Howerd? My adjutant, wasn't it?"
In 1992, Biggs was promoted Vice-Admiral to become Deputy Commander Fleet at Northwood. There he used his experience gained at Gibraltar to convince others of his vision of a Permanent Joint Force Headquarters, which has since become the command and control centre of all deployed British forces.
Biggs could have gone on to enjoy further senior appointments in the Navy, but he chose to retire in 1995, when he was immediately employed by International Computers Limited.
Joining the company's defence strategy board, he was not content merely to open doors for ICL, but became deeply involved in its sales and business campaigns; he helped to transform its relationship with the Ministry of Defence, and also turned one disastrous computer project into a success.
Geoffrey Biggs, who died on June 29, was appointed KCB in 1993.
In 1967 he married Marcia Leask, with whom he had three sons. After the marriage was dissolved in 1978, he married in 1981 Caroline Kerr (nee Daly) with whom he had a daughter. He is survived by his wife, all his children and two stepsons from his second



 

instinct

Lantern Swinger
Lt-Cdr Kenneth Kempsell - obituary

Lt-Cdr Kenneth Kempsell - obituary - Telegraph

Lieutenant-Commander Kenneth Kempsell, who has died aged 83, was an outspoken leader of the Royal Navy’s elite band of mine clearance divers.

On August 15 1963 a torpedo exploded in the armoury at RAF Kinloss, killing two men, severely damaging the building, and bringing down the 19-ton armoured roof on to 24 other torpedoes. Fruitless attempts were made to move the torpedoes, from which acid was leaking on to the floor; Kempsell and the Navy’s Scotland and Northern Ireland Disposal Team were duly summoned.



Kempsell arrived at 1am on August 17 and quickly established that the type of torpedo was new to him — and that the only man who could brief him was one of the dead. Several of the torpedoes were too hot to touch, and he could hear their batteries hissing and bubbling. He estimated that there was about two-and-a-half tons of explosive ready to blow at any second and suggested detonating the unstable weapons. There was little he could do in the dark, however, so he went to bed and slept like a log.

At 7.30am, dressed in an asbestos suit, Kempsell crawled into the 20-inch gap between the fallen roof and the torpedoes on which it was resting. For 71 minutes he worked to place 16 charges around the weapons, while the acid ate at his suit. When he had finished, Kempsell crept out and sauntered to a safe distance. “It would have looked bad to run,” he noted later, before confessing: “I have never been so scared in my life.”

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Three hundred yards away he lay down behind a hummock and pressed the plunger to set off the charges and produce “a lovely big bang” – which broke windows a mile away.
Kempsell was awarded the George Medal .
Kenneth Douglas Kempsell was born in Glasgow on January 6 1931, and educated at Spiers School in Beith, Ayrshire. He joined the Navy on November 18 1946 as a 15-year-old Boy 2nd Class at the training establishment HMS Ganges, at Shotley, Suffolk.
He served in the frigate Black Swan during the Malayan campaign in 1948 and the Yangtze Incident in 1949, and saw service as a sonar operator during the Korean War. After two years on the America and West Indies station, in Sparrow, and a spell as a petty officer in the Training Squadron at Portland, he was commissioned in 1956. He qualified as a mine warfare and clearance diving officer in 1961.
While on the staff of the Flag Officer Scotland, in 1963 Kempsell boarded an Aberdeen trawler, where a fisherman had been trapped by a wartime mine which the nets had brought in. Kempsell wrestled for three hours in heavy seas to make the mine safe; the next day crowds lined the shore to watch him blow it up at sea.
Kempsell was chosen to be the first lieutenant of the Royal Navy’s first operational minehunter, Kirkliston; he then served on the staff of Britannia Royal Naval College before being appointed first lieutenant of the newly commissioned mine countermeasures command and support ship Abdiel; in 1969 he commanded the minehunter Nurton.

[SUP]Kenneth Kempsell about to make safe a mine[/SUP]
In 1973 Kempsell was lent to the Royal Australian Navy as diving training officer, and was commended by the Australian Commonwealth Naval Board for disposing of hazardous explosive ordnance at Cairns in Queensland.
From 1975 to 1979 he commanded the deep trials diving ship Reclaim, then became staff officer to Tay and Clyde Divisions RNR, during which time he commanded the divisions’ training ships Montrose, Petrel, Walkerton and Hodgeston.
In 1980 he was appointed Resident Naval Officer, Invergordon, and, in 1982, Queen’s Harbour Master, Cromarty Firth. When the latter was made a civilian post, Kempsell won his own job in an open competition, and when the Ministry of Defence put his official residence on the market, he acquired that too. He retired in 1986.
Kempsell was a forthright character, and was never known to shed a tear. His decisiveness no doubt proved essential in the disposal of mines and bombs, but may have prevented him gaining further promotion. He loved dogs, particularly Cairn terriers.
Kenneth Kempsell married, in 1955, Doreen Fluker, who survives him with their two sons. In 2008 Kempsell attended the passing-out parade of his grandson, James, at HMS Raleigh, where James’s father was serving as a lieutenant-commander.
Lt-Cdr Kenneth Kempsell, born January 6 1931, died April 19 2014


Had the pleasure of knowing him and his lovely wife in the last few years. A great shame as he will be missed. :salute:



 
Commander Roger Guy, born Dec 22 1935, died July 19 2018

Commander Roger Guy was a naval apprentice who rose from the ranks to become an outstanding nuclear submarine engineer during the Cold War.

In 1975/78 Guy was engineer officer of the nuclear-powered submarine Swiftsure, when she spent most of her time carrying out covert patrols in the Barents Sea, monitoring the Soviet Northern Fleet including the aircraft carrier Kiev.

The need for absolute reliability of all equipment was paramount, and Guy provided deeply researched and practical solutions to whatever problems arose, delivering advice with confidence and, despite his gruff exterior, flashes of humour.

When the nuclear reactor needed to be shut down, his calmness and professional knowledge ensured that the submarine spent the minimum time at periscope depth using her diesels and batteries and was able to resume her patrol without being detected. He was appointed MBE.

Roger Noel Guy was born in Penzance on December 22 1935 and was brought up by his seamstress mother after his father died when he was four. A sea cadet, his first seagoing jaunt was an unsupervised, ill-equipped, eight-hour row from Newlyn to Port Leven and back. He was educated at Penzance County Grammar School, but his family was too poor for university to be an option, so he joined the Royal Navy as a shipwright apprentice aged 16.

He was top apprentice in his entry at the engineering school, HMS Caledonia, and went to sea in the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, where his qualities were soon recognised and he became an upper yardman, passing out of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as a sub-lieutenant in 1960.

After serving in the carrier Hermes and the destroyer Finisterre, Guy was sent to study at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, and sit for the exams of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, before specialising as a submarine engineer.

From 1966 to 1968 Guy was engineer officer of the diesel-powered submarines Astute and Oberon, but while in Singapore he was transferred to Rorqual to supervise extensive repairs when she arrived after a poor refit in Britain and a very difficult eastward passage, involving a fatality in the engine room.

Roger Guy on board the submarine Rorqual


Guy returned to school to qualify in nuclear engineering and from 1969 to 1972 was assistant engineer of the nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarine Conqueror, overseeing her building and introduction into service.

He quickly showed himself to be the ideal submariner – reserved, respected and effective, and a good companion to his shipmates. From 1972 to 1975 he was naval operations overseer at the naval test reactor at Dounreay.

After Swiftsure, Guy’s next challenge was Valiant, known, after a series of technical incidents in her first two commissions, as the “black pig”, where he confirmed his reputation for sorting out a whole set of very persistent problems which had plagued Britain’s older nuclear submarines. After promotion to commander he was Squadron Engineer Officer, from 1982 to 1985, of the 3rd Submarine Squadron based at Faslane.

A particular problem required the redesign of seawater coolers essential to the functioning of the propulsion systems – an extreme challenge in the confined spaces of a submarine, and one to which Guy contributed his initiative and experience. He was appointed OBE in 1985.

Next he was head of submarine commissioning as a serving officer with Babcock Engineering at Rosyth Royal Dockyard, and chairman of the Reactor Test Group there.

When the dockyard was taken over by Babcock in 1987, he remained initially on loan from the Navy and then as an employee of Babcock until his retirement in 1998.

Guy, who spoke with a soft Cornish accent, was the model of the West Country pirate-submariner, with a swarthy complexion, black hair and bushy beard. Nevertheless, he fought tirelessly for Rosyth, rather than Devonport, to be given the Trident submarine refit facility.

In retirement, he and his wife devoted much time to local politics. He served five years as a Conservative councillor in Fife. He was chairman of the North East Fife Conservative and Unionist Association and of the How of Fife Rotary.

He read widely in history and biography, with a particular interest in other cultures and religions, loved classical ballet and opera, and was a much sought-after partner at Scottish country dancing.

Guy married Jeanette Paris in 1958. She survives him with their son and daughter. Another son predeceased him.


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2018/09/10/commander-roger-guy-submarine-engineer-obituary/

Edited to add photograph
 
Last edited:
Commander Roger Guy, born Dec 22 1935, died July 19 2018

Commander Roger Guy was a naval apprentice who rose from the ranks to become an outstanding nuclear submarine engineer during the Cold War.

In 1975/78 Guy was engineer officer of the nuclear-powered submarine Swiftsure, when she spent most of her time carrying out covert patrols in the Barents Sea, monitoring the Soviet Northern Fleet including the aircraft carrier Kiev.

The need for absolute reliability of all equipment was paramount, and Guy provided deeply researched and practical solutions to whatever problems arose, delivering advice with confidence and, despite his gruff exterior, flashes of humour.

When the nuclear reactor needed to be shut down, his calmness and professional knowledge ensured that the submarine spent the minimum time at periscope depth using her diesels and batteries and was able to resume her patrol without being detected. He was appointed MBE.

Roger Noel Guy was born in Penzance on December 22 1935 and was brought up by his seamstress mother after his father died when he was four. A sea cadet, his first seagoing jaunt was an unsupervised, ill-equipped, eight-hour row from Newlyn to Port Leven and back. He was educated at Penzance County Grammar School, but his family was too poor for university to be an option, so he joined the Royal Navy as a shipwright apprentice aged 16.

He was top apprentice in his entry at the engineering school, HMS Caledonia, and went to sea in the aircraft carrier Ark Royal, where his qualities were soon recognised and he became an upper yardman, passing out of the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, as a sub-lieutenant in 1960.

After serving in the carrier Hermes and the destroyer Finisterre, Guy was sent to study at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Manadon, and sit for the exams of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, before specialising as a submarine engineer.

From 1966 to 1968 Guy was engineer officer of the diesel-powered submarines Astute and Oberon, but while in Singapore he was transferred to Rorqual to supervise extensive repairs when she arrived after a poor refit in Britain and a very difficult eastward passage, involving a fatality in the engine room.

Roger Guy on board the submarine Rorqual


Guy returned to school to qualify in nuclear engineering and from 1969 to 1972 was assistant engineer of the nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarine Conqueror, overseeing her building and introduction into service.

He quickly showed himself to be the ideal submariner – reserved, respected and effective, and a good companion to his shipmates. From 1972 to 1975 he was naval operations overseer at the naval test reactor at Dounreay.

After Swiftsure, Guy’s next challenge was Valiant, known, after a series of technical incidents in her first two commissions, as the “black pig”, where he confirmed his reputation for sorting out a whole set of very persistent problems which had plagued Britain’s older nuclear submarines. After promotion to commander he was Squadron Engineer Officer, from 1982 to 1985, of the 3rd Submarine Squadron based at Faslane.

A particular problem required the redesign of seawater coolers essential to the functioning of the propulsion systems – an extreme challenge in the confined spaces of a submarine, and one to which Guy contributed his initiative and experience. He was appointed OBE in 1985.

Next he was head of submarine commissioning as a serving officer with Babcock Engineering at Rosyth Royal Dockyard, and chairman of the Reactor Test Group there.

When the dockyard was taken over by Babcock in 1987, he remained initially on loan from the Navy and then as an employee of Babcock until his retirement in 1998.

Guy, who spoke with a soft Cornish accent, was the model of the West Country pirate-submariner, with a swarthy complexion, black hair and bushy beard. Nevertheless, he fought tirelessly for Rosyth, rather than Devonport, to be given the Trident submarine refit facility.

In retirement, he and his wife devoted much time to local politics. He served five years as a Conservative councillor in Fife. He was chairman of the North East Fife Conservative and Unionist Association and of the How of Fife Rotary.

He read widely in history and biography, with a particular interest in other cultures and religions, loved classical ballet and opera, and was a much sought-after partner at Scottish country dancing.

Guy married Jeanette Paris in 1958. She survives him with their son and daughter. Another son predeceased him.


https://www.telegraph.co.uk/obituaries/2018/09/10/commander-roger-guy-submarine-engineer-obituary/

Edited to add photograph
@WreckerL did you know him?
 
Formerly of the RM & SBS - Jeremy John Durham (Paddy) Ashdown,
Baron Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon, CH, GCMG, KBE, PC
27 February 1941 – 22 December 2018.

Diagnosed with "serious" bladder cancer in October 2018. he died on 22 December 2018.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddy_Ashdown

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-46662546

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/nov/02/paddy-ashdown-reveals-he-has-bladder-cancer

https://www.independent.co.uk/topic/PaddyAshdown

'Of medium height & build' nevertheless Sir Paddy was larger than life and hugely popular.

RIP & Resurgam, Sir.
 

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