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Naval Related Obituaries


War Hero
I don't know who compiled the obituary for Toby Frere but some of the information concerning his time in Australia is a bit muddled and misleading. I joined Trump in January 67 in Sydney and I am pretty sure he was the Jimmy. Taciturn was not in SM4 at that time. The only other boat out there was Tabard.
I remember him as a good,fair Jimmy.


War Hero
I don't know who compiled the obituary for Toby Frere but some of the information concerning his time in Australia is a bit muddled and misleading. I joined Trump in January 67 in Sydney and I am pretty sure he was the Jimmy. Taciturn was not in SM4 at that time. The only other boat out there was Tabard.
I remember him as a good,fair Jimmy.
I was still in junior school

Deleted 59428

I was still in junior school
Lt RT Frere was Spare Crew First Lieutenant in Fourth Submarine Division (RAN)
comprising HMS Tabard and HMS Trump so would have served as No1 on both boats.
Lt-Cdr Matthew 'Matty' R Todd (3/5/1924 - 29/1/2020) Submariner & pioneer of S/M escape techniques

An off duty moment for the one-time OIC SETT of the RN S/M School, HMS DOLPHIN
Dated mid-1971 or earlier (eg Before the distinctive Dolphin S/M badges were awarded)

"The other half? Oh, go on then..."

- Most of those 5,000-odd of us who qualified and/or re-qualified (Wet & Dry) in Submarine Escape between '63 & '74 are more likely to remember him as the Tank's eagle-eyed & authoritative 'Master of Ceremonies' surveying his swim boys & their charges (via visual & colourful UW CCTV) from his commanding pool-side throne position.
Overlooking and orchestrating all movement within the 100' S/M Escape Training Tank. whilst casually clad in flip flops, towelling dressing-gown and neck towel, our O-i-C's reassuring presence left us with the distinct impression that in any case of difficulty he'd surely leap straight in & drag the casualty out from the depths to safety - even by the short & curlies if necessary !

Whilst working with L/Cdr Matt on the same team (for a Brazilian SSK project at Vickers. B-in-F) I found that we shared a taste for Grants Glen Fiddich Malt & I was later more than happy to point a bottle in his direction in fair exchange for his RN doeskin greatcoat - Leaving the service he had no further use for it and, re-striped (downwards) it was to keep me smart-looking & warm through a fair few winters over the next 20 years...

===================================== =============================

Photograph, above, & Obituary below from the paywalled DT:

ByTelegraph Obituaries 21 April 2020 • 6:00am

Lieutenant Commander "Matty" Todd, who has died aged 95, a submariner and pioneer of S/M Escape.

Whilst commanding the SETT, where 5,000 men from many nations were trained, he also pioneered the replacement of the 50-year old, shallow-water Davis Submerged Escape Apparatus with a hood and suit capable of effecting escape from depth., besides overseeing the first ascent from depth by a woman.

Todd’s research put him at odds with established medical opinion and the diving community, but in 1970, during a series of trials off Malta, he demonstrated that an escape from a submarine at 600 feet could be achieved safely, thereby turning what had been a “death-dealing stunt into a routine event”.

In parallel, Todd advised the Special Boat Service in the techniques of covert exit and re-entry from submarines and designed a five-man diving chamber.

He also oversaw the first ascent from depth by a woman. When four members of the National Association of Underwater Instructors arrived (to be put through the SETT) well-wrapped in duffel coats. Todd was surprised when the SETT doctor told him that he could tell from their full-plate chest X-rays that one of them was a woman.

“For goodness sake!” Todd expostulated, “That sort of thing surely doesn’t show on an X-ray!” “No”, replied the doctor, “I can tell by reading their names on the plates.” Todd allowed her to continue.

“Todd is a legend who has earned this fine reputation by devotion and dedication to his most exacting job,” one of his last reports read. “His humane understanding of young people has been responsible for overcoming complex, personal fears and his own courage and stamina are public knowledge.”

Matthew Robert Todd born in Soham, Cambridgeshire, on May 3 1924, the son of Jack Todd, MP for Berwick-on-Tweed from 1929 to 1935. He was educated at home, where, despite eyesight problems (which he concealed throughout his naval career), he enjoyed mechanical hobbies, once taking apart a car and reassembling it.

Todd entered Dartmouth in 1938, recalling that it was miserable and unpleasant with nasty food: when his term dispersed to the various parts of the Navy in 1941, he joined the battleship Renown. From 1943, however, he served in submarines including Taku, Syrtis (just before her loss with all hands off Norway) and, under the command of the “difficult and unpleasant” Alastair Mars in the Pacific, Thule.

In the 1950s he commanded his own submarines, including the midget submarine XE-8, and he was the oldest attendee at the centenary in 2017 of the “perisher” course for submarine command.

He boxed in the Navy, sometimes incurring criticism from senior officers who thought it inappropriate for him to fight with ratings, an opinion he ignored.

He was appointed MBE in 1971 and retired from the Navy the following year. He spent some time diving commercially but eventually worked in the Civil Service editing manuals for the Ministry of Defence, in which he could use his love of correct English.

Todd was a great raconteur, but family was the centre of his life. He also kept in contact with his wider family including his term mates at Dartmouth. As a volunteer driver, he often drove people younger than himself to hospital appointments. He maintained his own car into his eighties, made wooden and whale tooth ornaments, and substantial pieces of furniture for St Barnabas, Swanmore. Previously, at St Peter’s, Titchfield, he was churchwarden and editor of the parish magazine.

RIP, Sir & Resurgam.

An autobiography, A Long Time Under Water, was privately printed in 2014.

He married Viv Tetlow (née North). She predeceased him, and he is survived by two stepdaughters, two daughters and a son, Mark, who was MP for South Derbyshire from 1997 to 2010.
Lt Col John Weston, born April 11 1928, died March 27 2020

Royal Marines intelligence officer who started a menagerie in Borneo, owing to an injury, he attained the rare privilege of being allowed to salute with his left arm

By Telegraph Obituaries 4 May 2020 • 6:14am

Lieutenant Colonel John Weston, who has died aged 91, was the intelligence officer of 45 Commando, Royal Marines, when it made a first-ever heli-borne assault from the sea at Suez, and later won an MC during the Konfrontasi with Indonesia.

On November 5 1956, as the dust and noise of the helicopters subsided to reveal the De Lesseps statue alongside the Suez Canal, a British fighter delivered a devastating attack, killing several marines and wounding others, including Weston and his commanding officer.

Weston was swiftly evacuated to Malta where an accomplished surgeon reconstructed his right arm, though it never regained full mobility. Subsequently he held the rare privilege of saluting with his left arm. Later he met the pilot, who insisted that he had attacked only after several protests to the forward air controller had been overruled.

On September 12 1966, Weston was commanding C Company, 40 Command in dangerous jungle along the border in Sarawak. Locating an enemy platoon, he executed a textbook pre-emptive strike, using lethal firepower and sound tactics, before withdrawing successfully and without casualties.

The citation for his MC identified his calmness under fire during an intense engagement in which some 30 enemy were killed: “Weston who, although severely handicapped himself by an arm badly wounded at Suez, never spared himself and has set a magnificent example to his men.”

John Culpeper Weston was born on April 11 1928. His father, Eric Culpeper Weston, would serve during the Second World War as a Major-General in the Royal Marines. An ancestor was Thomas Culpeper, beheaded by Henry VIII.

Weston joined the Marines in 1946 and was on amphibious training exercises in 1950 when he was urgently recalled to Eastney Barracks to take command of a detachment of bewildered marines. They were isolated in secrecy before being dispatched with sealed orders to Devonport, to join the frigate Austell Bay, whose captain seemed equally confused. Leaning over the bridge he called out: “Who the hell are you and what do you want?”

After the orders were opened the ship sailed two hours later for the Falklands, to deter one of the first post-war Argentine threats to invade the islands. On arrival in Port Stanley, Weston was presented with a white charger by a welcoming committee who thought this was the proper way for an officer to lead his men into town.

During service in Borneo (1963-66), Weston started a collection of wild animals, including two honey bears, a giant hornbill, several mongeese, a vicious monitor lizard and five pythons.

Royal Marines intelligence officer who started a menagerie in Borneo, owing to an injury, he attained the rare privilege of being allowed to salute with his left arm

Covertly shipped to his next posting, Singapore, one of the bears broke loose, but Weston managed to thrust the animal into the back of his car and, with a shaken young daughter beside him, sped off to his quarters at Johore Bahru while the bear rampaged on the back seat. His arrival coincided with a truck carrying the rest of the collection: “It’s OK, darling, I can explain everything,” he told his wife.

Weston subsequently served in the Admiralty, with the USMC in Virginia and in Scotland, and was universally popular and respected. In 1978, however, he took early retirement to assume a management role at the Design Council in London.

For almost 30 years he lived in Liss Forest where he was an active member of the community. A rare blood infection led to the amputation of both legs, which he bore courageously, while insisting that he should live at home to the end.

Weston married, first, in 1951, Pamela Bowden. She died in 1997 and he married, secondly, Jean Bruce, the widow of a brother officer and a former House of Worth model known as “Rowlande”. She died in 2013. He is survived by a son and two daughters.

RIP Royal.
Lieutenant Commander Gavin Menzies, born August 14 1937, died April 12 2020

Submariner turned author of far-fetched oceanic histories

By Telegraph Obituaries 14 May 2020 • 7:54pm

Lieutenant Commander Gavin Menzies, who has died aged 82, was a submariner and a banker who, in retirement, turned to writing controversial maritime histories.

Menzies’s long interest in cartography and astronavigation turned into a fascination with Chinese maritime history during a silver wedding anniversary trip in 1991 to Beijing. There he learned about the eunuch Admiral Zheng, who had made a series of voyages in a fleet of giant junks in the early 15th century and whose exploits inspired him to write a book.

Menzies’s first draft, a rambling manuscript, took 11 years to write, and was deemed unpublishable. His agent, Luigi Bonomi, using a ghost writer and a research team, restructured it, resulting in a historical detective story which grew to three times its original length as an avalanche of information poured in about the extent of Chinese voyaging.

A publishing deal was secured at a lecture Menzies gave to a packed Royal Geographical Society. The Daily Telegraph had run an article a week before the lecture which attracted many major publishers to the event.

Menzies believed he had evidence that the Chinese discovered the New World
A representative of Bantam Books made an offer of £300,000 for the worldwide rights to the book, provided that it was accepted on the spot. Bonomi asked for £500,000, an eye-watering sum for a first-time author of a work of non-fiction, and, when this was agreed, Menzies was told moments before he went on stage. “How he carried that lecture off, heaven alone knows,” Bonomi said later.

Menzies’s contentions included claims that transoceanic trade and migration were far older than the eurocentric “Age of Discovery”; that the Jesuits had facilitated an exchange of information between the Chinese emperor and the Pope, and that Christopher Columbus had benefitted from a Chinese map before he sailed to the New World.

Most iconoclastic was the proposition that Admiral Zheng had landed in the Americas, as evidenced by ancient charts which Menzies had seen in China and which contained details which could only have been known if they had been observed at first hand.

The ideas in the book were widely contested, leading historians rejected these ideas and refused to engage with Menzies, though others sided with him, and his interpretation of history was particularly welcomed in China.

However, every attempt to debunk Menzies boosted sales of the book and 1421: The Year China Discovered the World has not been out of print since 2002, running to 79 editions in 29 languages.

On the back of the book’s success, Menzies turned his five-storey north London home into a history machine, the 1421 Foundation, with one room given over to files of evidence on the top floor and a team of four graduates working in the basement.

Three more books followed: 1434: The Year a Magnificent Chinese Fleet Sailed to Italy and Ignited the Renaissance (2009) in which Menzies described the transfer of knowledge between East and West via a maritime silk route, which, he believed, had sparked the inventiveness of the Renaissance, and The Lost Empire of Atlantis: History’s Greatest Mystery Revealed (2011), in which Menzies hypothesised that Atlantis was an empire controlled by the ancient Minoan civilisation.

Who Discovered America?: The Untold History of the Peopling of the Americas (with Ian Hudson, 2013) brought together evidence that the Americas had been populated over thousands of years via multiple seaborne voyages, primarily from Asia.

Rowan Gavin Paton Menzies was born in London, but spent his first years in Hong Kong where his father, Captain GCP Menzies DSO, a submariner, was serving. Young Menzies was educated at Charterhouse and at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.

Menzies was short-sighted and started his naval career as a supply officer, but he persuaded a reluctant medical fraternity that contact lenses were as good as eyes, and the Admiralty, perhaps influenced by his father’s wartime record, were sympathetic.

On transfer to the seaman branch, he joined “the trade”, and specialised in torpedo and anti-submarine warfare. He served one commission in the missile-carrying nuclear-propelled Resolution, before passing the “perisher” under the future admiral (Sir) Sandy Woodward in 1968.

His one command was the submarine Rorqual in the Far East, when he saw no more need for contact lenses as he could compensate by adjusting the periscope settings. As, according to submarine conventions, the periscope goes down on the captain’s settings, there was a flurried winding of settings whenever anyone else raised or lowered the periscope.

During his naval career, Menzies gained a diploma in nuclear engineering, and read Economics and Law. Though called to the bar, he never practised except once at a friend’s court-martial when his advocacy overturned what everyone expected to be a guilty verdict.

Menzies resigned from the Navy in 1970 to challenge Enoch Powell in his Wolverhampton constituency, standing as an Independent (he gained 777 votes, coming in second last), before joining the merchant bank Singer and Friedlander on a substantial salary.

An intelligent, generous man who conducted himself with great humility, Menzies inspired trust and loyalty in those around him.

In 1966 he married Marcella Marengo, an Italian woman whom he had met after they had both boarded the wrong train on the previous Boxing Day. She survives him with their two daughters.

Courtesy of Telegraph Obituaries 28 May 2020 • 2:25pm

Rear-Admiral Roger Morris, former Hydrographer of the Navy

During the 1979 Iranian revolution, the scholarly Morris chose an excerpt from the Koran to be painted on the nose of his ship’s helicopter

Rear-Admiral Roger Morris, who has died aged 87, commanded a flotilla of survey ships in the Gulf during the Iranian Revolution and later became Hydrographer of the Navy.

In early 1979, as the Iranian Revolution gained momentum, Morris in his flagship, the hydrographic survey ship Hydra, surveyed the south-eastern Iranian coast for a new seaport at Chabahar, which had been proposed by the Shah. As tensions grew, Morris, a scholar as well as a notable surveyor, who kept a translation of the Koran in his cabin, selected an excerpt from the sacred text to be painted on the nose of the ship’s helicopter.

While construction of the new port facilities faltered and international workers were arbitrarily detained, Morris liaised with the British resident naval officer ashore. He kept his four unarmed ships, in their distinctive white liveries, close inshore as a visible reminder of his presence, until at last the revolutionary authorities began to release their hostages from house arrest.

On his own initiative, Morris seized the chance to pluck several hundred Americans, British and other nationalities from the shores of Bandar Abbas (on the Gulf coast) and from small boats in the Gulf of Oman, and commenced a shuttle across the Gulf to the United Arab Emirates and to American warships further out to sea.

When Morris needed to replenish his ship, Foreign Office representatives in Dubai and Abu Dhabi vacillated, obliging him to make his own arrangements at Muscat. No journalists witnessed events, there was little reporting in the UK press, the thanks of the British government were muted, and no awards were made.

Later that year the US embassy in Tehran was occupied. It was also the end of a long era when the Gulf had been an area of British influence and peace had been maintained by a small squadron of the Royal Navy. Morris had the satisfaction that he had acted in the highest traditions of his Royal Navy predecessors.

Roger Morris: during the tensions of 1979 he rescued civilians from the Gulf of Oman

Roger Oliver Morris, a doctor’s son, was born on September 1 1932 and grew up within sight of Devonport dockyard. He was taught at Mount House, Tavistock, before joining Dartmouth in 1946.

He began specialising in hydrography in 1956. After surveys in ships in home waters and the Far East, three months under canvas on South Georgia, and then more surveys in the Indian Ocean and the islands of the South Pacific, his first command, as a lieutenant-commander, was the inshore surveying craft Medusa in 1964.

In 1968-70 he was given command of the brand-new Beagle; but he was rumoured to have been passed over for further promotion when sent to command Hydra on a survey in the Malacca Strait.

There, however, he was called to join the relief operation in East Pakistan after the devastating 1970 Bhola cyclone which killed 500,000 people, his task to find and mark channels for small craft to ferry in food and supplies, and for his success he was promoted to commander.

Subsequently, he commanded Fawn in 1972, Hecla 1975-77 on the west coast of Scotland and at the Jubilee Fleet Review, and Hydra 1978-80.

After the Iranian episode, Morris took Hydra to conduct surveys in the Minches between the Hebrides and the west coast of Scotland, as well as charting a shoal between St Kilda and Harris which he named Whale Rock, for a minke whale which watched over his work. Morris came ashore for the last time in 1980 to go first to the Hydrographic Office at Taunton, and then to Whitehall before being promoted to rear-admiral.

In 1985 he succeeded Rear-Admiral D W Haslam, who had taught him his craft 30 years before, as Hydrographer of the Navy, an appointment first established more than two centuries earlier.

He was made CB and retired to Somerset in 1990, where he wrote Charts and Surveys, in Peace and War (1995). Morris studied heraldry, was an ornithologist and a talented watercolourist, some of whose paintings were used to update Admiralty Sailing Directions.

Rear-Admiral Roger Morris, born September 1 1932, died April 18 2020

RIP, Sir.


War Hero
Admiral Sir John Brigstocke, born July 30 1945, died May 26 2020

His first sea appointment was nearly his last: when the destroyer Caprice put into Aden, he was seconded to the Irish Guards who were fighting dissidents in the Radfan, and he was wounded in the premature explosion of an anti-tank gun. He had be evacuated by air to Britain and spent six months in convalescence.
Next he was assistant navigator in the Royal Yacht on a visit to South America in 1969, and operations officer of the frigate Whitby 1969–70, before becoming a poster boy for the recruiters as the 24-year-old captain of the minesweeper Upton 1970-71.
Brigstocke wanted to be a signals officer, but instead was persuaded to specialise in gunnery 1971–72. He then served in the frigate Minerva 1972–74; in 1974 he was one of two lieutenants chosen to attend the Royal Navy staff college at Greenwich, a course usually only open to more senior officers; he was a staff officer at Dartmouth 1974–76; and first lieutenant of the frigate Ariadne 1976–78.
Brigstocke showed himself to be unafraid of standing up to his seniors: he would ensure that he knew his facts, would not give in because he was “out-striped”, and was once overheard telling his captain: “It’s no good shouting at me, sir, I’m not giving in. If you want me to run your ship then this is what I recommend needs to be done.”
He commanded the frigate Bacchante 1978–79, where he proved himself to be a demanding boss, but a great friend to those who grew to know him well, and he was well liked by ships’ companies.
He served a first stint in the Directorate of Naval Plans as a desk officer 1980–81, when he learnt how the levers of power worked, and deployed his undoubted charm among civil servants.
In 1981-82 he was Commander Sea Training at Portland, when most of the ships which went to fight in the Falklands war benefited from his skills and experience, though he was personally and professionally disappointed not to find a more active role for himself – a pattern which was to recur throughout his career.
Returning to the Plans directorate as a newly promoted captain in 1982, he absorbed the “Lessons Learned” from the Falklands and oversaw many operational enhancements in the fleet.
In 1987 he returned to Dartmouth, where with characteristic energy he embarked on a radical reform of training and education, the most contentious part of the package being a proposal to replace Naval History, which was taught on Saturday mornings to young officers exhausted after a week’s largely physical training, with a course in Defence Studies taught in tutorials.
The proposal provoked letters and op-ed articles in the broadsheets, and created the impression that the reforms to officer training had been rushed.
After attending the Royal College of Defence Studies in 1985, his thesis was distinguished enough to be published in the Seaford House papers.
Admiral Sir John Brigstocke

Brigstocke in command of the carrier Ark Royal
In command of the destroyer York (when he was also Captain 3rd Destroyer Squadron) 1986–87, he deployed to the Far East to provide an escort for the Royal Yacht during the Queen’s visit to China. He went on to command the aircraft carrier Ark Royal 1989–90 and, promoted rear-admiral, to hold important operational commands at sea as Flag Officer 2nd Flotilla 1991–92 and Commander UK Task Group 1992–93.
Brigstocke was Assistant Chief of Naval Staff 1993–95 when yet another Defence Review, this one called “Frontline First”, was visited on the MoD. Thirty-three Defence Cost Studies, with hundreds of individual recommendations, fell on his desk on a Good Friday, needing to be summarised and presented to his colleagues on the Navy Board by the following Tuesday. His plan of allotting red, amber or green cards to each item was regarded as “brilliant”.
Promoted to vice-admiral, in 1995 he became Flag Officer Surface Flotilla, and after this, his third seagoing flag appointment, he was disappointed not to become Commander-in-Chief Fleet. Instead, he was knighted KCB and become Chief of Naval Personnel: in a time of shifting and shrinking naval organisation, he concurrently enjoyed the titles of Second Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief Naval Home Command 1997-2000, with a headquarters in Portsmouth.
There he flung himself into the problems of recovery from a recruiting nadir after a succession of defence reviews, and gave his personal and genuine commitment to ensuring both opportunity and acceptance for recruits from minority ethnic backgrounds. He also spoke out against cuts in defence medical services which had left hundreds of sailors unfit for duty, and described the Forces’ medical provision as “parlous”.
Retiring from the Navy at 55, Brigstocke took on a number of roles in health care: chief executive of the St Andrew’s group of hospitals 2000-4, director of the Independent Healthcare Association 2000-3, of the private Three Shires Hospital 2000-4, and 2006-10 he was chairman of the East Midland Strategic Health Authority.
Brigstocke: took an interest in medical services

Brigstocke: took an interest in medical services
His energy and enthusiasm for new challenges was unbounded, and he was characteristically successful, but also frustrated, finding himself dealing with issues that reflected rather too closely the anguish of the prolonged illness and early death of a son.
On hospital visits across the region his persistent good humour seemed only to be challenged by seemingly constant roadworks on the M1. His well-developed leadership and easy charm won over patients and staff and allowed him to champion local causes in the corridors of Whitehall.
In 2006–16 he was an effective first Judicial Appointments and Conduct Ombudsman, responsible for both policy and the complaints service.
Brigstocke was impeccably mannered, always dapper, came top in every examination, sure and uncompromising in his standards, and ambitious. His self-assured exterior hid a kind, considerate but private man who was loyal to those whose careers he believed deserved help, and he supported those quietly but strongly. His quick brain ensured that a conversation with him was direct, fast-moving, and often highly amusing.
Brigstocke had been surprised when in 1965 his parents converted to Roman Catholicism: he remained a member of the established Church.
In 1979 he married Heather Day, who survives him with a son.


War Hero
Vice-Admiral Sir John Coward, naval officer awarded a DSO for his services in the Falklands – obituary
One of the brightest British submariners of his generation, he also commanded the frigate HMS Brilliant in the thick of the Falklands action

ByTelegraph Obituaries10 June 2020 • 10:36am

John Coward
Vice-Admiral Sir John Coward, who has died aged 82, was a charismatic and successful submariner, a Falklands veteran and the Queen’s representative in Guernsey.
In April 1982 Coward was commanding the anti-submarine frigate Brilliant off Ascension Island when he was ordered to steam towards the Falklands as fast and as far as he could, taking with him the destroyers Glasgow, Sheffield, Coventry, the frigate Arrow and the tanker Appleleaf, in order to establish a British presence in the South Atlantic.
Brilliant was exceptionally good at going fast into weather and averaged around 24 knots: when he could, Coward used to get his captains on board each day to talk tactics. Over the ensuing weeks, Brilliant was in the thick of the fighting.
At the recapture of South Georgia on April 25, Brilliant’s Lynx helicopters attacked and helped to capture the Argentine submarine Santa Fe. Then, after joining the main battle group in the British-declared Total Exclusion Zone around the Falklands, Coward continued to show his initiative and capacity to engage the enemy.
By day, Brilliant provided a close anti-aircraft bodyguard to the carrier Invincible, but on several nights she paired with the destroyer Coventry to defend her during bombardments of Argentine positions ashore and hoping to provoke enemy air attack. On May 12, after the software to her Sea Wolf missiles had been altered, Brilliant became the first Royal Navy warship to fire these missiles in anger, shooting down three Skyhawk fighter bombers.
On other nights, Coward took Brilliant close to the islands to insert Special Forces by boat. It was typical that he was happy to delegate to his coxswain, the “marvellous Leading Seaman Robbie Gould, who really liked getting wet and cold, a tough character, the sort of bloke you’d normally find running a boxing booth. I gave him a wireless, and once close inshore we’d direct him like a helicopter and tell him where the rocks were from the radar. His principal interest was the bottle of rum I’d leave for him in my pantry for when he got back. He was the sort of seaman Nelson relied on – and just as good!”
Then, on May 21, Brilliant escorted the amphibious group into San Carlos Water. He was unshaken when heavy air raids developed, even after a burst of cannon fire let daylight into his operations room and left several around him wounded.
Coward’s determination was such that Brilliant successfully took over fighter-direction after another ship had been disabled. Even on retiring from the Amphibious Operations Area for repairs after the second day, Coward joined the frigate Yarmouth in the chase of the Argentinian supply ship Monsunen, and on May 25 Brilliant rescued 24 survivors from Atlantic Conveyor, which had been hit by two Exocet missiles.
HMS Brilliant

HMS Brilliant CREDIT: John Walters/ANL/Shutterstock
At home, his wife maintained morale by keeping the wives and families informed of Brilliant’s actions. The citation for the award of the DSO to Coward highlighted his exceptional professional ability, stamina, leadership, initiative, and personal bravery, which was reflected in the performance of his ship and his people.
John Francis Coward, a Sheerness ship broker’s son, was born at Minster on the Isle of Sheppey on October 11 1937. He was educated at Downside Abbey, and in 1954 entered Dartmouth, where he won the Queen’s Telescope.
After two years in the frigate Tenby Coward joined the trade, serving in conventional, diesel-powered submarines (1959 until 1970), culminating in command of Oracle. He also served in nuclear-powered attack submarines from 1970-77, ending with command of Valiant.
His submarine service included loan service in Australia and Canada, and several operations close to the northern coast of the Soviet Union. In the Mediterranean, when observing Russian naval operations, Valiant suffered a seawater flood in the reactor compartment.
Forced to surface, Coward was subjected to a board of inquiry after he turned a blind eye to an order not to run the reactor: the board’s report condemned his decision on engineering grounds, but a top-secret annex acknowledged the political embarrassment that might have been caused had Valiant been found on the surface surrounded by Soviet forces.
As naval assistant to the First Sea Lord (1978–80), Coward saw at close quarters the row over cuts between the Secretary of State for Defence, John Nott, and Admiral Sir Henry Leach.
After Brilliant, Coward held only one other desk job in the Ministry of Defence, as Director of Naval Operational Requirements (1984). Promoted to rear-admiral in 1987, he was better able, as Flag Officer Sea Training (1987–88) to pass on his wealth of personal experience.
His next appointment, as Flag Officer Flotilla One (1988–89), was remarkable because he arrived in his flagship, the destroyer Bristol, in Leningrad on the morning in May 1989 when the British government expelled more than 400 Soviet diplomats. The visit could have been disastrous, but instead its success was entirely due to the strong rapport which Coward quickly formed with his Soviet Navy hosts.
Coward on Brilliant

Coward on Brilliant
Promoted to vice-admiral, Coward, who had been one of the brightest submariners of his generation, felt that he had “come home” when he became Flag Officer Submarines (1989–91), though his term of office proved uneventful. He was knighted KCB in 1990.
His appointment in 1992 as Commandant of the Royal College of Defence Studies (until 1994) seemed a surprising choice: staff training, he thought, was “like the symmetry that the lions bring to Nelson’s column in Trafalgar Square, nothing but mere adornment … officers should be tested at sea and not in the political mire of Whitehall.”
Yet his term of office, ably supported by his wife, was hugely successful: he won worldwide affection, very much to the UK’s benefit, among the international students who worked together and shared social occasions, without obsessing about their attention to studies and written work.
On leaving the Navy, Coward became Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey (1994-2000). It was a far from easy appointment, with an antagonistic Labour government seeking confrontation with proud islanders, while Coward helped to defuse threats to their ancient rights.
He showed himself to the islanders to be as intelligent, calm, humorous, impeccably mannered, pragmatic, brave and determined as he had to his ships’ companies. His quick wit was also well-known: at the opening of a new school building, he was introduced to the oldest surviving pupil, who was 90. “Isn’t it about time you left and found a job?” he asked him.
Coward’s contemporaries regarded him as one of the finest leaders of men – a classic gentleman sea officer in the Nelson tradition, yet always ready to break the rules if the situation required.
His passion was sailing: his last boat was the 40ft Swan sloop, Lutea.
He married his fellow Sheppey islander Diana Sandra Taylor in 1963; she survives him with their two sons.
Vice-Admiral Sir John Coward, born October 11 1937, died May 30 2020


He escaped to sea to command the frigate Brazen (1984-85) with Prince Andrew as his helicopter pilot; evacuated British citizens from Beirut; escorted tankers through the Strait of Hormuz and, as part of a Nato squadron in the Mediterranean, found himself berthed between the Greek and Turkish destroyers during port visits.

Sad news indeed.....he was my skipper on the Brazen, a top leader and respected by all. Too many dits to tell, I couldn't fit them all onto this webpage. As the Yeoman I worked closely with him and got to know him better than most onboard. HRH (as Andrew was known) was appointed to Brazen's Lynx flight ("The Hussey") surrounded by a select band of officers.....our Jimmy was Rory MacClean (later Vice-Admiral) and HRH's Flight Commander (Observer) was Robin Wayne. The other officers were all top-of-the-class types. The SO was Richard Aylard, later Equerry to Princess Di and then private secretary to Prince Charles.....etc, etc. We had 4 midshipmen onboard, 3 of which were sons of Admirals, including the son of Rear-Admiral Rob Woodard, later FORY. I've corrected the Telegraph typo (stating 1984-1984), Toby left us in Baltimore in (if I remember correctly) late June/early July 1985, having been relieved by Captain Richard Cobbold (of the brewing family). Toby went to New York for a holiday with the American side of his family and then flew home to UK. I remember talking to him about it. While we were in the Windies he went to his house in Barbados which he shared ownership with Capt Sam Salt. His father, the publisher Alexander Frere, died the day before we got alongside for a jolly in Nice in 1984, and he left the ship immediately to fly home. There was a car from the consul waiting for him on the jetty. That was during our stint with Stanavformed, which was an interesting time to say the very least. Great ship, great skipper, great memories.......
Dink Diesel 'Dodger Dies Downunder (RAN but more than worthy of a respectable mensh here.)

By Telegraph Obituaries 14 July 2020 • 6:00am

Ian MacDougall, born February 23 1938, died July 1 2020

Vice-Admiral Ian MacDougall, the first submariner to be Chief of the Royal Australian Navy – obituary
After training with the Royal Navy he resisted the temptation to stay and instead went on to create the modern Australian submarine service

Vice-Admiral Ian MacDougall, who has died aged 82, was a submariner who became Chief of Navy in Australia and then a fire chief.

MacDougall specialised as a supply officer (logistician) but in 1963 he volunteered to be one of the first Australians to become a submariner: “I jumped at the chance,” he recalled. “The opportunity to enter a new and challenging area of the Navy was very attractive.”

After three years’ arduous training in the Royal Navy, MacDougall was appointed second-in-command of the newly launched HMAS Oxley, the first submarine built for the Royal Australian Navy. In 1968 he was selected for the “perisher”, the Submarine Commanding Officers’ Qualification Course, where his “teacher” was Commander (later Admiral Sir) Sandy Woodward. He then commanded the British submarine Otter.

MacDougall toyed with the idea of transferring to the Royal Navy, hoping to drive a nuclear-powered submarine. Instead he returned to Australia, where in 1972-74 he commanded the submarine HMAS Onslow.

Next, MacDougall commissioned Australia’s own Submarine Command Team Trainer and began to establish his reputation as a change-maker in the RAN. After attending the US Naval War College he was promoted to captain, and in 1982 he commenced three years as director of submarine policy.

There, his leadership and vision shaped the nascent Australian submarine service into the effective strategic force that it is today, with modern torpedoes and missiles, and he relocated the submarine base from Sydney to Western Australia so that the boats were some seven days closer to their main operating areas.

He also oversaw the decision that a new generation of Swedish-designed submarines should be built in Australia, and when he was appointed Commander, Australian Submarine Squadron, in 1985, MacDougall was the first graduate of the Royal Australian Naval College to do so.
MacDougall on duty

Ian Donald George “Doogie” MacDougall was born on February 23 1938 in Sydney, where he was brought up by his widowed mother. Entering the Royal Australian Naval College, Jervis Bay, in 1954, a month before his 16th birthday, he completed training at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, before serving in the Australian destroyers Anzac and Vampire and the carrier Melbourne.

In 1986-87, as Director General of Joint Operations and Plans of the Australian Defence Force, MacDougall melded the operational capability of the three armed forces. Meanwhile, when a new generation of cadets began to join with degrees, he studied at night for a BA.

Promoted to rear-admiral, MacDougall commanded the Australian Fleet in 1989-90, and in 1991-94, as a vice-admiral, he was the first submariner and first supply officer to be head of the RAN. As Chief of Naval Staff he was a proponent of women-at-sea, including in submarines, and he started the cultural changes which were necessary for the RAN to become more innovative, and independent of the mother navy.

After the Navy, MacDougall was appointed Commissioner, New South Wales Fire Brigade, in 1994. The service was heavily unionised, and at his first meeting with the Fire Brigade Employees Union president, he was confronted by a bust of Stalin. MacDougall was small in stature like his hero Napoleon (he made a pilgrimage to St Helena and maintained a 600-book library on Napoleon’s strategy and tactics), and on the union president’s return visit he confronted him with a half-life size bust of the Corsican general.

Nevertheless, over the next decade he modernised the service, which received better communications and technology, and he saw the need for the service to develop its own people. His skill was in managing and guiding subordinates: he was keen to have his people take responsibility and be decisive, and thought that every decision he had to take was a personal failure of his delegation. One of his finest achievements was to ensure that his successor came from the ranks.

He was made an Officer of the Order of Australia in 1991, Companion of the Order in 2003, and was also awarded the Fire Service Medal.

Ian MacDougall married three times, and is survived by two sons and two stepsons.

RIP & Resurgam, Sir.


Book Reviewer
Served in the Alaric with him, He was the Nav. and my DO. He'd been onto me for quite a while to go through for promotion to LRO, I was having a great time and always refused. As the result a a rather good run ashore in Falmouth, which he was involved in, I was sent for the following morning and told that I would be going through for my hook. Within a few months I'd passed the course and came back to the Boat, immediately made up to A/LRO.
I next met up with him in Sydney we came in on the Oberon, I was Signalman, Ian came out to meet the boat came up to the Bridge, recognised me and starting reminiscing with me. Cookson the Capt. wasn't amused.

RiP Sir it was a pleasure to know and serve with you.
By Telegraph Obituaries28 September 2020 • 8:00pm

Mary Fetherston-Dilke, naval nurse who served in Egypt and Palestine – obituary
She specialised in theatre nursing, and many surgeons, including Vice-Admiral Sir James Watt, insisted that she be at their side

Mary Fetherston-Dilke, who has died aged 101, was Matron-in-Chief of Queen Alexandra’s Royal Naval Nursing Service.
The eldest of four children, she was born Mary Stella Percival in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, on September 21 1918, and grew up at the family home of Maxstoke Castle, a 14th-century moated and fortified manor house which her ancestors had held for Parliament in the Civil War.
In 1918 her father, Beaumont Albany Percival, a doctor in the Colonial Medical Service in Nigeria, succeeded to Maxstoke Castle, and by royal licence assumed the surname of Fetherston-Dilke. Mary’s brothers made their careers in the Royal Navy, while a sister served in the WRNS.
After leaving school at 16, Mary passed her driving test at 17 and in 1936 was presented at Court as a debutante during the brief reign of Edward VIII. Before the outbreak of war, keen to gain her independence, she trained as a nurse at St George’s Hospital, London.
Once qualified, in 1942 she joined the QARNNS. Her wartime appointments were first to the Royal Naval College at its temporary home at Eaton Hall, the country house of the Duke of Westminster, then two years in the 64th General Hospital in Alexandria, Egypt, followed by six months in the WRNS Sick Quarters at Haifa, Palestine.

Maxstoke Castle, the Fetherston-Dilke family seat, where Mary grew up
Postwar she was rapidly promoted, serving at Royal Naval Hospitals at Gosport, Port Edgar, Chatham, Malta and Devonport, and the Sick Quarters at the Royal Marines Depot, Deal.
She specialised as a theatre nurse and many surgeons, including the eminent Surgeon Vice-Admiral Sir James Watt, insisted that she should be at their side in the operating theatre.
In the rank of Matron, Mary Fetherston-Dilke ran the RN Hospitals in Mauritius (1962-63*), and Stonehouse, Devonport (1963-64). She was promoted to Matron-in-Chief in 1966, when she made it a principle to interview every candidate for the QARNNS. Retiring in 1970, she left a reputation for being kind, thoughtful, jolly and above all professional.
She was awarded the RRC in 1961, the OStJ in 1966, and made CBE in 1968.
In retirement she ran the Citizens Advice Bureau in Chiswick for many years, becoming known as the “Red Aunt” for her practice of handing out “know-your-rights” leaflets on the street, and for her support of Ken Livingstone as mayor of London.
From the age of 70 she volunteered at the Brompton and the Royal Marsden hospitals, without ever disclosing her own nursing background. She was sceptical of what doctors could do for patients and was generally suspicious of pills.

Mary Fetherston-Dilke left the QARNNS with the reputation of being kind, thoughtful, jolly and, above all, professional
In her eighties, convalescing from a hip replacement in Southampton General Hospital, she was confronted by a television crew looking for bad news stories. They were taken aback by Mary Fetherston-Dilke’s vigorous defence of the NHS and her high praise for the treatment she was receiving.
She travelled extensively, usually with Joan Woodgate, her predecessor as Matron-in-Chief, with whom she took exhilarating helicopter and small-plane rides including around Mount Everest; well into their late eighties they visited places as diverse as Bhutan, China, Ethiopia, Greenland, Papua New Guinea, Russia and Uzbekistan.
Never married, Mary Fetherston-Dilke was a much-loved aunt, interested in her many nephews and nieces and their children, generous, and often offering wise counsel.
She was a loyal friend and always modest about her achievements, including as an accomplished seamstress (under the tutelage of a royal dressmaker) and an excellent cook. Later she became the family historian of Maxstoke and its occupants.

Mary Fetherston-Dilke, born September 21 1918, died August 23 2020

*RIP Old Ships...
From Telegraph Obituaries 5 October 2020 • 3:11pm

Brigadier Mark Noble, born March 25 1958, died July 22 2020

In 2009 he took command of the Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, becoming the first Royal Marines officer to command a naval air station since 1917: there he continued to support the Fleet Air Arm’s commitment of the Commando Helicopter Force to Operation Herrick, while planning the introduction of the Wildcat helicopter to the fleet.



War Hero
From Telegraph Obituaries 5 October 2020 • 3:11pm

Brigadier Mark Noble, born March 25 1958, died July 22 2020

View attachment 54896
In 2009 he took command of the Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton, becoming the first Royal Marines officer to command a naval air station since 1917: there he continued to support the Fleet Air Arm’s commitment of the Commando Helicopter Force to Operation Herrick, while planning the introduction of the Wildcat helicopter to the fleet.

that makes one think, only a few months older than myself?
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