Military (& related) obituaries

A survivor of the Forgotten Army, and a very sobering one.

Captain John Randle was able to break out but it took him two days to get back to the British lines. “All our wounded were butchered by the Japanese,” he said afterwards. “It was an atrocity which governed the battalion’s attitude for the rest of the war.”

Brigadier John Randle, officer who won an MC leading an attack under heavy fire in Burma in 1945 – obituary​

Brigadier John Randle, who has died aged 99, won a Military Cross in 1945 in the last weeks of the Burma Campaign.
On April 30 1945 Randle, then a captain, commanded a company of 7th Battalion, 10th Baluch Regiment (7/10 BR), which had been ordered to attack a strongly defended enemy position at Pegu Hill, north-east of Rangoon.
The Japanese were securely established on three small hill features in bunkered positions containing machine-gun posts which poured out a relentlessly accurate fire. These had to be silenced and Randle put in an attack covered by his mortars.
As soon as the assault began, the Japanese opened up with mortars, a 75mm gun and medium machine guns. Randle’s men had to go through dense undergrowth and in order to direct the operation he moved to a completely exposed position under heavy and continuous fire.
Not until the enemy position was overrun and the 75mm gun destroyed did he take cover.  His outstanding leadership, regardless of personal danger, was recognised by the award of an MC.

John Pomeroy Randle was born on October 17 1921; his father was the manager of a firm of pencil manufacturers. He was educated at Berkhamsted School and then passed the entrance exam for the Royal Military College Sandhurst in summer 1939, only to find that it closed within weeks for the training of officers for regular commissions.
He therefore applied to the Indian Army, and after an eight-week voyage spent six months at a cadet college at Bangalore. Commissioned in September 1941 into the 7/10 BR, part of the 17th Indian Division, he found himself in command of a company of 120 Punjabi Muslims.
Posted to Burma shortly before the Japanese attacked across the Kawkareik Pass on January 22 1942, 7/10 BR was overrun three weeks later at the village of Kuzeik on the west bank of the River Salween. After several hours of fighting, 288 officers and men had been killed and 229 were taken prisoner.
Randle was able to break out but it took him two days to get back to the British lines. “All our wounded were butchered by the Japanese,” he said afterwards. “It was an atrocity which governed the battalion’s attitude for the rest of the war.”
A week later, the Sittang Bridge was blown prematurely, with 100 members of 7/10 BR still on the wrong side of the river. In the space of a little over a week, the battalion had lost eight of its 13 officers and 600 other ranks.
In the long retreat of the British Army out of Burma, across challenging terrain, Randle commanded the rearguard company. Because of the danger of men going to sleep and failing to get up, after every stop numbers were checked.
When they finally reached Ranchi, north-east India, in September 1942, they were in poor shape. Randle was appointed adjutant and the battalion had to be rebuilt and re-trained.
During the retreat, a Pathan havildar (sergeant) had encouraged a dozen Indian soldiers to desert. After a court martial, the battalion was ordered to form a hollow square. The disgraced man was led into the middle in chains. Randle, speaking in Urdu, had to pronounce the sentence of death. This was later commuted to penal servitude for life.
In October 1943, 7/10 BR rejoined the 17th Indian Division – the “Black Cats” – in the Chin Hills, some 170 miles south of Imphal, on the Indo-Burmese frontier. The following year, they carried out a fighting withdrawal into the defensive box around the key area of Imphal and fought a series of fierce battles against the crack 33rd Japanese Division, known as the “White Tigers”.
In the battle for the central Burmese city of Meiktila in March 1945, Randle was blown up on a minefield. He was not wounded but suffered permanent deafness. Naik (Corporal) Fazal Din, also serving with 7/10 BR, was awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross.
The 17th Indian Division led the advance southwards, and on August 15 1945 – VJ-Day – 7/10 BR was little more than 60 miles from where they had been when the Japanese invaded Burma three and a half years earlier.
After the war, normal civil government and the Burma police took some time to establish themselves, and bands of dacoit robbers raided villages and buses, robbing, raping and murdering.
While leading a patrol, Randle was ambushed by a dacoit gang, about 12 in number. They fired a shotgun at him but missed, and then charged at the soldiers wielding knives. A few short bursts from Brens and Tommy guns and they were all dead.
On another occasion, soldiers in a Gurkha battalion dressed up as Burmese women and boarded a bus, posing as passengers. When they were ambushed by armed dacoits, the panic party of “women” fled into the jungle. The dacoits, expecting easy pickings, ran up to the bus, only to be met by a hail of fire from soldiers hidden on board behind camouflaged sandbags.
Randle transferred to the British Army, accepted a commission in the Devonshire Regiment and joined the 2nd Bn in Lüneberg in October 1946. He served in Singapore and Malaya during the Emergency; in Kenya during the Mau-Mau rebellion; in Cyprus during the Eoka uprising and in British Guiana in 1964 after a declaration of a state of emergency.

During the latter tour he commanded the 1st Battalion, the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment. To quote from the citation for his appointment as OBE: “Randle went at once to the mining town of Mackenzie, some 70 miles inland, where racial murders, bomb throwing, savage beatings, arson and rape had begun. He saw to the taking over of the operational area by the Army, coordinated the duties of the police, the British Guiana Volunteer Force and his troops.
“He soothed racial tempers, calmed the nerves of the white population, alternatively pressed and coerced the mining company to provide launches, vehicles and accommodation and arranged for the evacuation of 1,000 East Indian refugees from the area.”
Randle was Divisional Brigadier, the Prince of Wales’s Division, before being appointed Brigadier Overseas Detachments. During an active retirement, he was regimental secretary for nine years, president of the Baluch Regiment (UK) Officers’ Dinner Club and a stalwart supporter of the Burma Star Association. He wrote Battle Tales from Burma, published in 2004.
John Randle married first, in 1947, Peggy Miskimmin, who died in 2003. In 2010 he married Joy Hunt (née Myburgh), who survives with a son from his first marriage who also served with the Devonshire and Dorset Regiment.
Brigadier John Randle, born October 17 1921, died December 14 2020

the late Brigadier John Randle's book, 'Battle Tales From Burma' is a wonderful read.
 
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Thank you for your service sir.

RIP
 

Joan Potts, WAAF who served with Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain


Joan Potts, who has died aged 102, was an early volunteer for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) in the Second World War; she served in a Fighter Command operations room during the Battle of Britain, before being commissioned and training others in fighter control.
Born Winifred Joan Bishop on November 7 1918 in Winchester, she attended Palmers Green High School. In June 1940 she enlisted in the WAAF as a special duties clerk, the trade name used for those serving in a Fighter Command control room and a highly classified role at the time.
In July, a reorganisation of the structure of Fighter Command resulted in the formation of an additional unit, No 10 Group, at Rudloe Manor near Bath, which was responsible for the air defence of south-west England. Joan Bishop was among the first to arrive after its creation.
She worked in the filter room, where the inputs from early warning radar units, the Royal Observer Corps and aircraft on patrol were sifted, analysed and passed to the plotting room. Other WAAFs maintained the large map table displaying the crucial tactical air picture for the commanders responsible for the direction and control of the fighter squadrons, anti-aircraft units and searchlights in the area.
The information was also passed to the HQ of Fighter Command, at Bentley Priory, where the major battle was being controlled.

Although the main activity during the Battle of Britain occurred over south-east England, the Luftwaffe’s attacks in the west increased during the latter stages of that conflict. Late in 1940, during the Blitz, enemy bombers attacked industrial areas and aircraft factories in the region and there were heavy attacks against Bristol and Avonmouth, and on naval bases at Plymouth and Portland.
By March 1941, Joan had performed her duties in the filter room so well she was promoted to corporal, and shortly afterwards was commissioned as an assistant section officer, which gave her greater responsibility in the fighter control room.
Joan Potts: eventually served as an instructor at the Filter school at Bawdsey on the Suffolk coast
She served at another fighter group headquarters in Newcastle and later transferred to Northern Ireland. During this time she was appointed to filter officer duties, acting as deputy to the controller, responsible for the accuracy of the production of the tactical air picture. This was a key role and represented the highest-level operational appointment to which a WAAF could rise at that time.
She served as an instructor at the Filter training school at Bawdsey and at the end of the war decided to remain in the RAF. With a rapid draw-down of operational roles, she filled administrative appointments – serving on numerous units, including the WAAF depot at Wilmslow. She transferred to the reserves in 1947.
With the inauguration of the Women’s Royal Air Force (WRAF) in February 1949, she was recalled to service two months later to serve in the Secretarial Branch and served as a flight lieutenant. After 15 months at the fighter base at Duxford, she moved in July 1950 to work in Combined Operations in the MoD and remained there until the end of 1953, a period that covered the Korean War. For her work on secret operations and plans, she was appointed MBE.
Having married Archie Potts, a scientist at the radar unit at RAF Bawdsey, in 1951, Joan returned to civilian life at the end of 1953. Shortly afterwards she accompanied her husband to the Nato headquarters at Fontainebleau, where they remained for a number of years.
Joan Potts’s husband, who was Director of Scientific and Technical Intelligence at the MoD between 1964 and 1974, died in 1991; a son also predeceased her, and she is survived by their other son.
 
This is quite an interesting one for our EOD contingent.

Sidney Alford, inventor and explosives expert who devised a method of disabling limpet mines – obituary​

While others used big, destructive explosions to neutralise ordnance, Alford applied tiny amounts of high-speed water or molten metal

ByTelegraph Obituaries19 February 2021 • 8:02pm


Sidney Alford: invented the ‘Bootbanger’ among other devices CREDIT: Andy Bush
Sidney Alford, who has died aged 86, was an idiosyncratic gentleman scientist in the long tradition of lone British inventors, who gained a worldwide reputation as the “Gandalf” of explosives technology.
In 1972, terrorist bombings in England and Northern Ireland turned Alford’s attention to the study of effective means of defeating improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
First, he improved on a method of firing a powerful slug of water, used to disable IEDs; later, he developed a similar system to disable limpet mines stuck to ships’ hulls. He experimented at the kitchen table until his wife evicted him to the garden. Neighbours’ complaints about the bangs caused a visit by the security services, who were so impressed that Alford was given access to a military range.
Eventually he patented several new devices, including the “Bootbanger”, which fires water at high speed to destroy IEDs, and – his proudest invention – the “Vulcan disrupter”, a small, highly versatile Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) device using a choice of heads.
Vulcan has since been used worldwide, more than any other EOD device, against munitions ranging from hand grenades to cruise missiles, and is recognised to have an almost 100 per cent success rate. It now forms part of the naval Counter Limpet Mine System.

Alford, and the company he founded, probably did more than any other to neutralise IEDs, minefields left from wars, and dangerous military ordnance.
Sidney Christopher Alford was born at Ilford, Essex, on January 11 1935. As a schoolboy, after wartime blitzes he used to search for bomb fragments and anti-aircraft shells to satisfy his craze for making homemade fireworks, and he experimented with chemicals bought from Dann’s Cash Chemists at Claybury Broadway, five minutes’ walk from his home.
After National Service in the Army, when he qualified as a sharpshooter, Alford started his professional life as a chemist, beginning but not completing studies at various universities, until in 1966, after five years at the Usines Chimiques des Laboratoires Français outside Paris, and without a first degree, he was awarded a doctorate “mention très honorable”.
Next, he undertook research in Japan, before returning to Britain to join a small company conducting clinical trials of food and diet for astronauts.
Alford’s reputation was enhanced in 1981 when, after studying the layout of the museum ship HMS Belfast, he advised on blowing an entry into her sunken sister ship Edinburgh, which lay at the bottom of the Arctic Sea, to facilitate the recovery of five tons of gold. The explosion had to be carefully scaled so as not to disperse the gold or set off Edinburgh’s remaining ammunition.
Subsequent demolitions included Spandau prison (demolished in 1987 – after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess – to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine) and redundant North Sea oil platforms. While others used large-scale explosions with inevitable collateral damage to countermine ordnance, Alford used tiny amounts of high-speed water or molten metal to achieve similar effects.
At one stage he even examined the possibility of shattering kidney stones by tiny explosive charges passed through a cannula in the abdominal wall.
In 1985 Alford founded Alford Technologies, which now provides counter-terrorism products, services and training worldwide to governments and to humanitarian organisations.
In 1995, for the Channel Four documentary Kaboom!, a history of man’s fascination with explosions, he adopted the persona of Roger Bacon, a medieval friar testing black powder in a cellar.
His boyish enthusiasm made him a television natural and he appeared on programmes about counter-terrorism during the troubles in Northern Ireland, the science behind the Dambusters’ raid, and the Gunpowder Plot – which Alford demonstrated with dramatic visual and sound effects.
He was also a gifted linguist, holding his doctoral viva in French and endearing himself to his examiners by using an umbrella as a pointer. In 1971 he hosted the Japanese Emperor Hirohito on a state visit to Britain, when he toured the biochemistry department of the Nuffield Institute.
In 2004 Alford’s company won a Queen’s Award for the Vulcan disrupter, and in 2009 another award for outstanding innovation in the development of explosive charges for the neutralisation of IEDs.
In 2015 he was appointed OBE for services to explosive ordnance disposal and last year was awarded the US Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, though the pandemic made it impossible for him to travel to receive it.
In 1970 he married Itsuko Suzuki, who became a co-director of his company; board meetings were held in the family kitchen, followed by delicious Japanese food prepared by Itsuko, who survives him with their two sons.
Sidney Alford, born January 11 1935, died January 27 2021
 

Yokel

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Captain John Bowen, RN engineering officer who developed steam catapults and arrester gear for the CVA-01 aircraft carrier (cancelled in 1966 but design sold to US and still in use)

In 1957-59 Bowen gained his boiler-room watchkeeping ticket, a requirement for all engineers in the age of steam, in the carrier Ark Royal, the first ship to be constructed with an angled flight deck, hydraulic arrester gear, and steam-driven catapults.

After some months in the heat of the engine room, he was delighted to become second engineer on the flightdeck, in charge of the catapults for launching aircraft. Next he undertook a two-year post graduate diploma course in advance marine engineering design at Greenwich, before service in 1961 in the newly recommissioned carrier Victorious.

When the French navy adopted a catapult system similar to the British for their new carrier Foch, Bowen oversaw its installation in 1962-63. His crash course in French for engineers, and daily practice with his 30-strong Breton workforce, would stand him in good stead later in life.

However, his decision to live in a semi-derelict chateau, with a huge parterre garden, a gardener, and a temperamental central heating stove, was considered eccentric by his hosts, who stayed in married quarters in the town.

In 1963-65 Bowen began an appointment at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Bedford, home of the Royal Navy’s flightdeck machinery trials and development facility, where he developed designs of catapults and arrester gear for a new aircraft carrier, CVA01, a ship which was however cancelled.
 
This is quite an interesting one for our EOD contingent.

Sidney Alford, inventor and explosives expert who devised a method of disabling limpet mines – obituary​

While others used big, destructive explosions to neutralise ordnance, Alford applied tiny amounts of high-speed water or molten metal

ByTelegraph Obituaries19 February 2021 • 8:02pm


Sidney Alford: invented the ‘Bootbanger’ among other devices CREDIT: Andy Bush
Sidney Alford, who has died aged 86, was an idiosyncratic gentleman scientist in the long tradition of lone British inventors, who gained a worldwide reputation as the “Gandalf” of explosives technology.
In 1972, terrorist bombings in England and Northern Ireland turned Alford’s attention to the study of effective means of defeating improvised explosive devices or IEDs.
First, he improved on a method of firing a powerful slug of water, used to disable IEDs; later, he developed a similar system to disable limpet mines stuck to ships’ hulls. He experimented at the kitchen table until his wife evicted him to the garden. Neighbours’ complaints about the bangs caused a visit by the security services, who were so impressed that Alford was given access to a military range.
Eventually he patented several new devices, including the “Bootbanger”, which fires water at high speed to destroy IEDs, and – his proudest invention – the “Vulcan disrupter”, a small, highly versatile Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) device using a choice of heads.
Vulcan has since been used worldwide, more than any other EOD device, against munitions ranging from hand grenades to cruise missiles, and is recognised to have an almost 100 per cent success rate. It now forms part of the naval Counter Limpet Mine System.

Alford, and the company he founded, probably did more than any other to neutralise IEDs, minefields left from wars, and dangerous military ordnance.
Sidney Christopher Alford was born at Ilford, Essex, on January 11 1935. As a schoolboy, after wartime blitzes he used to search for bomb fragments and anti-aircraft shells to satisfy his craze for making homemade fireworks, and he experimented with chemicals bought from Dann’s Cash Chemists at Claybury Broadway, five minutes’ walk from his home.
After National Service in the Army, when he qualified as a sharpshooter, Alford started his professional life as a chemist, beginning but not completing studies at various universities, until in 1966, after five years at the Usines Chimiques des Laboratoires Français outside Paris, and without a first degree, he was awarded a doctorate “mention très honorable”.
Next, he undertook research in Japan, before returning to Britain to join a small company conducting clinical trials of food and diet for astronauts.
Alford’s reputation was enhanced in 1981 when, after studying the layout of the museum ship HMS Belfast, he advised on blowing an entry into her sunken sister ship Edinburgh, which lay at the bottom of the Arctic Sea, to facilitate the recovery of five tons of gold. The explosion had to be carefully scaled so as not to disperse the gold or set off Edinburgh’s remaining ammunition.
Subsequent demolitions included Spandau prison (demolished in 1987 – after the death of its last prisoner, Rudolf Hess – to prevent it from becoming a neo-Nazi shrine) and redundant North Sea oil platforms. While others used large-scale explosions with inevitable collateral damage to countermine ordnance, Alford used tiny amounts of high-speed water or molten metal to achieve similar effects.
At one stage he even examined the possibility of shattering kidney stones by tiny explosive charges passed through a cannula in the abdominal wall.
In 1985 Alford founded Alford Technologies, which now provides counter-terrorism products, services and training worldwide to governments and to humanitarian organisations.
In 1995, for the Channel Four documentary Kaboom!, a history of man’s fascination with explosions, he adopted the persona of Roger Bacon, a medieval friar testing black powder in a cellar.
His boyish enthusiasm made him a television natural and he appeared on programmes about counter-terrorism during the troubles in Northern Ireland, the science behind the Dambusters’ raid, and the Gunpowder Plot – which Alford demonstrated with dramatic visual and sound effects.
He was also a gifted linguist, holding his doctoral viva in French and endearing himself to his examiners by using an umbrella as a pointer. In 1971 he hosted the Japanese Emperor Hirohito on a state visit to Britain, when he toured the biochemistry department of the Nuffield Institute.
In 2004 Alford’s company won a Queen’s Award for the Vulcan disrupter, and in 2009 another award for outstanding innovation in the development of explosive charges for the neutralisation of IEDs.
In 2015 he was appointed OBE for services to explosive ordnance disposal and last year was awarded the US Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award, though the pandemic made it impossible for him to travel to receive it.
In 1970 he married Itsuko Suzuki, who became a co-director of his company; board meetings were held in the family kitchen, followed by delicious Japanese food prepared by Itsuko, who survives him with their two sons.
Sidney Alford, born January 11 1935, died January 27 2021
Watched him on TV loads of times, always found him highly entertaining and informative with his explanation of explosives.
One of those British eccentric geniuses this country seems to breed.
 
One of Dads colleagues in MOD during the Falkland Conflict, Dad was Director Engineering Services and Paddy was part of the team. Both got CBEs for it, he had to get the stuff down South, Dad had to say what the Sappers needed. Just noticed they were both sons of the Regiment in that both of them were born at Chatham, Dad in the Brompton medical centre.
Always known as “Paddy”, he was taught mine-laying and lifting and had a natural bent for technical challenges. His career included postings to Libya and Cyprus as well as active service in Aden and Northern Ireland.
Brigadier Paddy Blagden, who has died aged 85, had a sound claim to have been the most important figure in humanitarian mine clearance since its inception.
Blagden drafted the national plans for mine-clearing for eight countries and played a major role in almost a dozen others. He was responsible for setting up the UN’s de-mining department and the world’s only civil de-mining school, of which he became the first technical director.
Patrick Martin Blagden, the son of Brigadier William Blagden, was born at Chatham, Kent, on March 15 1935 and educated at Charterhouse. He joined the Army as a National Serviceman in 1953 and, after attending Sandhurst, in 1955 he was commissioned (like his father) into the Royal Engineers.
Always known as “Paddy”, he was taught mine-laying and lifting and had a natural bent for technical challenges. His career included postings to Libya and Cyprus as well as active service in Aden and Northern Ireland.
From October 1979 to January 1983, based at the MoD, he was the project manager in charge of all Army engineering equipment. During the Falklands conflict he was responsible for the rapid provision and shipment of stores. He was appointed CBE in recognition of his “quite outstanding powers of organisation”.
In 1988 Blagden retired from the Army and joined the Royal Ordnance Factories. The Gulf War had left a legacy of unexploded ordnance and, in September 1991, he was sent to Kuwait and given the hazardous assignment of directing the Royal Ordnance mine clearance and Explosive Ordnance Disposal contract.
A large area of minefields was cleared without loss of life after earlier operations had resulted in casualties. The following year he was recruited by the UN to set up their mine clearance office, which later became the UN Mine Action Service (UNMAS.)
He led work in countries that included Afghanistan, Cambodia and Syria and set up national mine clearing plans for Somalia, Rwanda and Mozambique among other places. He usually worked without armed escorts and in Somalia he lived for a month in a container, subsisting on German field rations.
In 1995 he left to become a freelance consultant for the World Bank, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the EU. The work took him to minefields all over the world. He was the leading author of an ICRC pamphlet which inspired Bill Deedes to seek him out.
In his memoirs Deedes describes how this led him to spearhead the campaign against anti-personnel mines, which Diana, Princess of Wales, prominently supported. “I started this campaign at the suggestion of Brigadier Paddy Blagden… I went over to see him and was appalled by what he told me.”
In 1997 Blagden was invited by the Swiss government to assist in the formation of the Geneva International Centre for Humanitarian Demining (GICHD) and to act as its Technical Director, a post he held until 2000. He built an eclectic team of military and civilian experts and trialled many innovative systems for mine clearing.
He always insisted on personally testing every new idea for mine clearance. On one occasion, he hoisted a large, unexploded anti-tank mine on the end of a mechanical prodder. His entire team wasted no time in excusing themselves and disappearing in search of strong drink.

After he had delivered a presentation to about 200 representatives of the international mine action community in Geneva, the Yemeni delegation asked a mischievous question. Blagden turned towards them and said: “The last time I looked directly at someone from your country was in 1966 in Aden and through the foresight of a machine gun.” No more questions of that sort were asked.
Aged 65, he returned to freelance consulting and, during this period, he set up a school for training mine-clearing dogs in Afghanistan. He continued to visit until he was 77, despite deteriorating health. He never received any recognition for his achievements in organising the de-mining of so many countries.
Blagden was a councillor for Castle Ward, Farnham Town Council and Waverley District Council, and was the Mayor of Farnham from 2013 to 2016. Ill health, possibly caused by working around depleted uranium, forced his final retirement.
As a younger man he had been a member of the Kandahar Ski Club and a junior Olympic ski triallist. He was also a keen sailor, and in the disastrous Fastnet Race of 1979, when a freak storm resulted in considerable loss of life, he was the navigator in the Royal Engineers Yacht Club boat that was towed to safety by a French trawler.
A talented viola player, he also took part in amateur dramatics at the Royal Military College of Science and Staff College. He was also an excellent mimic and raconteur, charming and the best of company.
Paddy Blagden married, in 1962, Ann Bradbury, who survives him with their three daughters.
Paddy Blagden, born March 15 1935, died December 17 2020
 

Major Tommy Turtle, SAS soldier who took part in crucial operations during the Falklands War – obituary​

He was noted for his calmness under pressure, and besides the South Atlantic he also served in Gibraltar, West Germany and the Middle East

Major Tommy Turtle, who has died of cancer aged 70, was an SAS soldier who was involved in a number of special forces campaigns over 39 years of service and saw much action during the Falklands War.
Shortly after midnight on May 12 1982 eight members of 17 (Boat) Troop, D Squadron, 22 Special Air Service Regiment, were covertly inserted into West Falkland to reconnoitre an Argentine airfield on Pebble Island, a small island just to the north, as a prelude to bringing in the remainder of the squadron to destroy any enemy aircraft or radar it might contain.
One of these men was Corporal Tommy “Touche” Turtle, a tall, strongly built Irishman possessed of good looks, charm, a gentle brogue and a genial but resolute disposition. Equipped with two-man collapsible canvas canoes, they paddled and advanced by foot to observe and report.

As a result, in the early hours of 15 May 1982 the remainder of the squadron, inserted by Sea King helicopters flying from HMS Hermes, attacked the airfield in an operation reminiscent of the first SAS operations, in North Africa during the Second World War.
Eleven enemy aircraft (including a Skyvan built in Belfast) and an ammunition dump were destroyed. Glamorgan provided gunfire support, and a potential threat to the imminent task force landings at San Carlos Water, East Falkland, was eliminated. All SAS men were successfully extracted with only two minor casualties.
Several weeks earlier, during the operation to recover South Georgia, Turtle and his Boat Troop companions had narrow escapes shortly after casting off in five inflatable boats from Antrim.
It soon became obvious that three of the boats’ engines had malfunctioned, but the men were confident they could tow and paddle ashore in the relatively benign conditions. But almost immediately after Antrim had departed they were hit by a fierce wind which rose to Gale Force 9 in an instant. The men clung on to avoid being swept away to certain death.
Turtle’s engine did start, and he took one boat in tow to the safety of the small island which was their destination and then returned in a vain search for the other three boats.
After an hour his boat was swamped by a wave and the engine cut out, but they made it to South Georgia, where they spent a day in cover repairing their engine. After dark they set out again only for the engine to fail once more.
They returned to shore and scaled a cliff in freezing conditions; the following day they sighted Endurance entering Stromness Bay and flashed “SOS SAS” on a torch. They were airlifted the following day, at the second attempt, by Endurance’s Wasp helicopter. Thereafter the members of 17 Troop christened themselves “The South Georgia Boating Club”.

After Pebble Island, Turtle took part in a number of actions, including the diversionary raid on Goose Green on the night of the landings, the action on Bluff Cove Peak against Argentine Special Forces, whom they put to flight, and the boat raid on Cortley Ridge on the night before the Argentine surrender.
In this daring operation a number of SAS men were driven on to the enemy-held shore in Rigid Raider assault craft. Quickly realising that they were in a minefield, they pressed on, only to come under fire.
As they withdrew in the Rigid Raiders, an Argentine hospital ship, in contravention of the Geneva Conventions, illuminated them with searchlights enabling on-shore enemy guns to put them under intense fire. Turtle’s badly damaged craft sank just as they made the far shore, only for them to come under fire again, this time from mortars, as they withdrew on foot.
One of his crew commented: “Throughout it all Tommy was totally calm and composed. You would have thought he was on an exercise.”

Thomas Turtle was born on December 24 1950, the eldest of four sons and a daughter born to James and Mary Turtle; his father was an Ulster Protestant, his mother a Catholic from the Republic, where Tommy was mostly brought up.
Though the family was not well off, they formed a strong unit, and he acquired an aptitude for hard work Leaving school at 14, he had a number of jobs, including working in a woollen mill, then joined the Irish Army reserves at 16. When a friend decided to join the British Army, Turtle followed.
He enlisted in the Royal Irish Rangers in Ballymena and served in Gibraltar, West Germany and the Middle East. Although a big man, he was an accomplished runner, representing his battalion in the Army Cross Country Championships. He was one of the first non-Paras to graduate from the Parachute Regiment Battle School in Brecon, and in 1977 he passed selection for the SAS.

After the Falklands he was posted as an instructor to 21 SAS (Volunteers) in London and then served in Northern Ireland, where his competence and personality impressed his opposite numbers in the Royal Ulster Constabulary. An RUC officer said of him: “His strong gentle nature, modesty, total integrity, love of good company, a Guinness or two and the craic, all while being the completely professional soldier, endeared him to all he worked with. He sounded quite easy going but you just knew that he was as tough as teak.” Turtle received a Mention in Despatches and in 1988 was awarded the British Empire Medal.
A capable organiser, in 1990 he was promoted to warrant officer and posted to the International Long-Range Reconnaissance Patrol School in Germany, then two years later was commissioned into the Royal Irish Regiment. He remained there until 1995, when the SAS recalled him for an advisory role in Bosnia.
Turtle’s final years in the SAS included appointments in the Directorate of Special Forces and in the Middle East. He retired in 2005.
He is survived by his wife Sue and their two sons.
Tommy Turtle, born December 24 1950, died December 29 2020
 

Lieutenant-Colonel Aidan Sprot, officer who won an Immediate MC in France in 1944 – obituary​

Led his tank squadron over two bridges wired for demolition, crossed a third under intense fire and later drove off an enemy counterattack

Lieutenant-Colonel Aidan Sprot, who has died aged 101, won an MC on the Somme in 1944 while serving with the Royal Scots Greys.
On September 1 1944, Sprot was in command of the Reconnaissance Troop during the advance to seize a crossing over the River Somme. At Bettencourt, north-west of Amiens, he discovered a concealed approach over a tributary to the Somme and crossed it before the Germans had time to blow it.
In a Stuart tank, he led the forward squadron to Longpré-les Corps-Saints, where there were two stone bridges wired for demolition. He drove across these, ignoring the presence of a man who seemed to be preparing to blow them.
At the third bridge, constructed of wood, he was held up by enemy 20 mm guns firing at a range of 80 yards. When these were knocked out, a Scissors bridge was laid to strengthen it. This did not completely span the bridge, and in order to test whether it would take the weight of a tank, Sprot took his tank across under intense sniper fire from the houses around the bridge.


No more than half a squadron had crossed to the village of Long when one of their Sherman tanks slipped off the ramp, blocking the bridge. The tank and the Scissors bridge then had to be pushed into the river. The sappers declared that the bridge had become too weak to take any more tanks.
Sprot and his small force went through the village and took up positions on the high ground beyond it. The following day, he helped to drive off a determined attempt to retake the village. He was awarded an Immediate MC and was invested with the decoration by Field Marshal Montgomery.
Aidan Mark Sprot, the son of Major Mark Sprot of Riddell, was born on June 17 1919 at his family home, near Selkirk, Scottish Borders, and was educated at Stowe. After a spell at a London City desk, he volunteered for Army Service on the outbreak of the Second World War and followed his father into the Greys.
He was commissioned in 1941 and served in Palestine on internal security duties before moving to the Western Desert, where he took part in the Battle of El Alamein and the pursuit to Tripoli. After landing at Salerno he experienced hard fighting in the long slog north through the mountains of Italy before returning with the Greys to England to re-equip for the invasion.
D+1 saw the first of their tanks ashore on the Normandy beaches. Sprot commanded the Reconnaissance Troop consisting of lightly armoured scout cars equipped with machine-guns.
The regiment played a notable part in the break-out and the push eastwards through Belgium and the Netherlands and the forced crossing of the Rhine before meeting the forward elements of the Soviet Army at Wismar, on the Baltic coast, at the end of the war.
In 1950 he commanded C Squadron, and in 1952 took it to Cyrenaica. He served as training officer to the Ayrshire Yeomanry, and in 1959 assumed command of the Greys, moving them to Detmold in Germany, the following year.

Sprot retired from the Army in 1962 and, at the request of his uncle, Duncan Hay, moved to Haystoun, near Peebles, to help run the estate which he subsequently inherited. He was, variously, a county councillor, county director of the Red Cross, Boy Scouts Commissioner, and Lord-Lieutenant of Tweeddale for 14 years.

He was appointed to the Légion d’honneur in 2015 in a ceremony performed in a French destroyer anchored in the Firth of Forth. He listed his interests as country pursuits and motor cycle touring. He published Swifter Than Eagles: War Memoirs 1939-1945 in 1998.
Aidan Sprot, born June 17 1919, died January 28 2021
 

yank_eyetie

Old-Salt
Charles Hill, A Brit who served with the US forces in Vietnam and with the London Metropolitan Police


Charles Hill, a widely respected art detective who aided in the recovery of masterpieces by going undercover, has died at 73, according to a representative for England’s Association of Ex-CID Officers of the Metropolitan Police. Arnie Cooke, a close friend of Hill, said that Hill died of a heart attack on February 20.

Hill is most fondly remembered for having helped locate Edvard Munch’s 1893 version of The Scream after it was stolen from the National Museum in Oslo in 1994. That year, with the Winter Olympics set to take place in Lillehammer, Norway, thieves broke into the museum, snapped the wires that held the painting to the wall, and toted it off, leaving behind a note that read, “Thousand thanks for the bad security.”

While working for Scotland Yard’s elite Art Squad, Hill posed as a representative for Los Angeles’s Getty Museum and arranged a meeting with “a dodgy art dealer known to the thieves,” as he told Garage in 2018. After viewing the painting in person and returning to an Oslo hotel, Hill phoned the Norwegian police, who subsequently arrested the dealer. (The dealer was later released without any charges. The painting was recovered in 1996, and it has since returned to the National Museum.)

Hill’s willingness to take major risks in order to find some of the world’s greatest stolen artworks made him one of the most celebrated art detectives in the world. Periodically, he even landed himself in danger. One such occasion came in 1993, after gangsters stole Jan Vermeer’s Lady Writing a Letter With Her Maid from Russborough House in Ireland seven years earlier. Hill went on the hunt, posing once again as an art dealer and claiming this time to be working on behalf of Arab clients. He connected with the Irish gangster Martin Cahill, who brought him to a car park in Antwerp, where Hill personally unwrapped the packaging that held the work. “It’s the greatest masterpiece I’ve had the pleasure to hold,” Hill told Country Life in 2009. The Vermeer, along with a Goya stolen alongside it, were later returned to Russborough House.

Born in 1947 in Cambridge, England to a British mother and an American father, Hill moved to the U.S. as a child and later fought in the Vietnam War as a paratrooper. Having studied history at George Washington University, he later went to Trinity College in Dublin and then King’s College in London, where he studied theology. “I’d come to the conclusion that I wasn’t going to make it as a clergy man in the Church of England, and I didn’t want to teach because of that wonderful jibe of Henry Kissinger—‘The stakes are so low,’” he told Garage.

He then joined the Metropolitan Police, where he would work for more than two decades. In the process, he would help retrieve works by Titian, Paul Cézanne, J. M. W. Turner, Goya, and many others. In 2002, he struck out on his own and worked freelance. He stopped going undercover, citing the risks of doing so at such an old age.

With his detective work now the stuff of history, Hill has achieved a cult following in recent years. In 2020, the BBC produced a documentary that charted Hill’s efforts to solve the mystery of who stole priceless artworks from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston in 1990. His more than 25 years of research led him to believe the crime boss Whitey Bulger was responsible for the heist. “There is no hard evidence for this but I combat art crime both rationally and irrationally, intellectually and viscerally,” he told the Guardian.

Throughout his career, Hill’s work evinced a curiosity and a genuine passion for art history. “I love art and I know the important thing is to get the stuff back,” he told the BBC in 2019. “Someone has got to do it; who else is going to get these things back if I don’t try?”
 

Commander Rupert Best, outstanding midshipman who later commanded the hunter-killer submarine Courageous – obituary​

Commander Rupert Best, who has died aged 77, was Britain’s most highly decorated midshipman, and a cider-maker who revived Portland harbour.
On the night of December 11/12 1962, after an insurrection had broken out in Brunei, 19-year-old Midshipman Best, while still under training, was made second-in-command of one of two Z-craft or motorised barges, which ferried L company of 42 Commando, Royal Marines, commanded by Captain Jeremy Moore (the future Commandant General Royal Marines), upriver to Limbang in Sarawak.
There, Communist-inspired rebels were holding hostage the district officer, his wife and a dozen others. At dawn, all appeared quiet on the final approach to Limbang, when “all hell let loose”. The well-armed insurgents, positioned on rooftops and in trees, fired down on the barges, and the first attempt to land the marines had to be aborted when the petty officer at the wheel was shot.
While Best ran up and down the Z-craft giving out much-needed ammunition and encouragement to the marines, his commanding officer Lieutenant David Willis took the helm, and the second Z-craft held off to give covering fire. Another attempt to land was successful, and, after fierce close-quarters fighting, the rebels were killed or driven off, five marines lost their lives and two ratings were wounded, but all the hostages were rescued.
Willis was awarded the DSC and Moore a bar to his Military Medal, but Best, for his gallantry, calmness and good humour under fire received a colourful, personal award from the Sultan of Brunei. Thus he returned to Dartmouth for his third year of academic training wearing not only a campaign medal but the exotic Star of Brunei.

Rupert Thomas Nicholas Best was the son of Rear-Admiral Tom Best CB and the New Zealander Brenda Hellaby, and educated at Farnborough school before joining Dartmouth in 1960. Best could trace his ancestry to William Draper Best, the 1st Baron Wynford and Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas, who was a close personal friend of Captain Thomas Masterman Hardy of Trafalgar fame, and one of whose sons had as a midshipman fought under Hardy in the War of 1812.
Best became Senior Sub-Lieutenant at Dartmouth, and volunteered for submarines, seeing service in diesel-powered on special operations in the Arctic in Sealion, and on loan service in Australia in the submarine Trump. He passed the notorious “perisher” course in 1974 and took command of Ocelot 1974-76. Next he served in various nuclear-powered submarines, among them the USS Groton which in 1981 was diverted for a special mission.
Returning to the Royal Navy, Best commanded the hunter-killer submarine Courageous, where after trials of the Harpoon missile in the West Indies, he deployed in May 1982 to join the submarine screen off the Argentine mainland during the Falklands War.
When Best left the Navy in 1989, he won a place as a Sloan fellow at the London Business School before taking over the running of the cider orchards at Hincknowle, Melplash, in Dorset, which his grandfather had bought on return from India in 1921. Planting new orchards, Best raised production to 950 tonnes per annum (or 140,000 gallons), supplying both English and Spanish cideries.

His mantra was “cider has, in the past, had a poor reputation: if you drink rough cider, you’ll get a frightful hangover, but good, proper cider is on a par with fine wine, to be drunk from a wine glass, with food. And I don’t mean a pasty.”

His family association with the Royal Bath & West Society ran so deep that it was known by some as the “Bath and Best”, and under his leadership the cider exhibition at the show grew from a couple of demijohns of scrumpy on a table to become a significant feature of the three-day show and fill its own "Orchards and Cider" tent.
There, Best’s speeches (which were often overlong, but memorable for his infectious, boyish chuckles) at the annual Thursday night dinner sometimes turned into bun-fights between the ladies of the flower tent and the cider-makers, and once, threatened by a flash flood, led to dancing on the tables.
Best also participated in a “lost and found” project to rediscover old cider apple trees, and the true taste of traditional Dorset cider, his favourite varieties being Golden Ball and Buttery Door. It was natural that he would become master of the 700-year-old Worshipful Company of Fruiterers in 2015.
Besides his farming interests, in 1990 Best was one of three founders of a company which bought Portland port on the Dorset coast from the Ministry of Defence.
Building on ideas inherited from his father, Best mobilised political and financial support for revitalising the Portland area, turning the harbour into a thriving commercial port whose facilities ranged from dry cargo to bunkering, marine services for cable-laying ships, a prison ship, a destination for cruise ships, the 2012 sailing Olympics, and a national sailing centre.

“I am passionate about Dorset,” Best said. “And Portland has such tremendous potential for good. I’ve been lucky and I want to pass that on. I’ve had a lot of fun, out of everything, and I’ve never been busier.” He was at work until a few days before his death from cancer.
Having learnt and practised his leadership in the Navy, Best was a compassionate, caring employer, always keen to encourage the younger generation. Though never cautious or reticent, he remained modest about his achievements: nevertheless, he lived life fully and, appropriately for someone of his energy and cheerful enthusiasm, a new tug has been named after him.
A strong family man, he organised large reunions, never forgetting his mother’s family in New Zealand. In 1971 he married the barrister Maggie Murray, who survives him with their two sons and daughter.
Commander Rupert Best, born May 15 1943, died February 3 2021
 

chimera

LE
Moderator
Sgt Tom Hicks, 1st Parachute Squadron RE, passed away on the 24 Jan at the thoroughly Airborne age of 101.

OBITUARY 1898627 Sapper Thomas ‘Tom’ Hicks 14 August 1919 – 24th January 2021

Tom was born in August 1919 in Widnes, Lancashire. His family moved to Nuneaton in Warwickshire and then in 1932 moved to Royston near Barnsley in Yorkshire where he spent most of the rest of his life. When he left school, he started as a grocery delivery boy then in November 1934 joined the London Midland and Scottish Railway where he remained until the late 1930’s. With the threat of war and National Service being introduced Tom volunteered in 1939 for the Army and given his railway background was enlisted in the Royal Engineers and sent to the railway branch. However, after a couple of years of this Tom had had enough and after seeing an order asking for ‘airborne engineers’ he volunteered. Tom passed the physical examination and after selection was sent to RAF Ringway to learn how to parachute. He was a member of course 15 which ran in June 1942 and he successfully passed. He was posted to 1st Parachute Squadron RE and a few months later left with his unit for North Africa as part of the 1st Parachute Brigade. The Squadron were there to support the Brigade in basic engineering functions but also to fight as infantry.

After North Africa Tom took part in the Sicily campaign, target Primosole Bridge, and two months later sailed for Tarranto in Italy. But he arrived there having been ill for three days with a stomach abscess and the first symptoms of malaria. He was immediately evacuated back to a hospital in Sousse where he remained for four or five weeks. He and the Squadron returned to England in late 1943 and settled into life at Donington near Spalding in Lincolnshire. Tom was a member of C Troop – one of about 150 men in the Squadron.

For the Arnhem operation most of C Troop were to support the 3rd Parachute Battalion using Tiger route to get to the road bridge – but Tom was not amongst this number. Around 12 men from the Troop were left behind at DZ X at Renkum to assist with collecting wounded men and also collecting supplies and equipment. So, this is how Tom and other members of the unit ended up in Oosterbeek rather than Arnhem as around half of the Squadron did. He had a few adventures over his time at Arnhem including a patrol to the Driel ferry site and indeed crossing the river by that ferry and also an incident in which his best friend Henry Sherwood was killed.

Tom was wounded towards the end of the Oosterbeek perimeter fighting in the Sonnenberg area and taken prisoner on the 26th September 1944. He was recorded as being at Apeldoorn and left as one of the walking wounded party on 3rd October 1944 to POW camp in Germany. Tom’s train took four days to reach Fallingbostel where he was given the POW number of 118259. He started working in a lead mine on 27 October and continued in the mine at Bad Grund until 7 April 1945.

Tom was liberated on 11 April and soon after his return to England was back at his old camp Longmoor as a locomotive driver. He had to wait until June 1946 to be demobbed and when he left the Army resumed his career on the railways mainly as a driver until he retired aged 63. He married Sadie in 1946 and they had two sons. One of whom, Norman, wrote a book on his father’s experiences called Captured at Arnhem which was published in 2013. Tom was a keen tennis player and was still playing in his 90’s. On retiring in 1982 he took up parachuting again and for many years jumped either as a solo or as a tandem over Ginkel Heath on the Saturday of the Arnhem commemoration. His last jump was made in 2007, aged 88. When he gave this up, he still attended on many occasions and was well known in the Fellowship tent on the Heath, his last visit being in 2019 aged 100. He was particularly proud to be in attendance at the Arnhem-Oosterbeek Cemetery in 2015, when the grave of an unknown soldier buried in 2004 was rededicated as that of his best friend and comrade in 1944, Sapper Harry Sherwood.

With the passing of Tom, it is a sad loss and we believe this leaves just one member of the 1st Parachute Squadron left.
 
Squadron Leader William “Mac” McIlroy, who has died aged 99, was shot down during the Second World War, and later became a signals expert during a long career in the RAF.
Squadron Leader William “Mac” McIlroy, who has died aged 99, was shot down during the Second World War, and later became a signals expert during a long career in the RAF.

McIlroy was the wireless operator of a 408 Squadron Halifax bomber that took off from Leeming in North Yorkshire on the night of April 14 1943. It was his 28th operation. After successfully attacking Stuttgart, the bomber was shot down over Reims by a German night fighter. Seven of the eight-man crew baled out, one evaded capture and the others, including McIlroy, became PoWs.

The pilot, Pilot Officer Mackenzie RAAF, remained at the controls to avoid crashing into houses in the village of La Neuvillette. The villagers later erected a memorial in his memory of his sacrifice.

McIlroy was severely injured on landing and remained in a German-run hospital in Reims for nine months before being transferred to Stalag Luft III, scene of the “Great Escape”.

On the night of January 27 1945, the prisoners were given a few hours to evacuate the camp as the Russians approached from the east. The long column of PoWs headed west with minimum food and belongings during the harshest winter for many years – it became known as “The Long March”, and many prisoners perished. Those who survived eventually reached an overcrowded camp at Luckenwalde.

As the Russians approached, McIlroy and two colleagues escaped and walked westwards for three days. They finally reached the River Elbe, where they met US troops. Within days, they were flown back to Britain.

William Alexander McIlroy, always known as “Mac”, was born on his parents’ farm in Ireland on September 17 1921 and educated at Lisburn Technical School. He joined Post Office Telecommunications as a trainee engineer before joining the RAF in January 1939.

He qualified as a wireless operator and was posted to the flying staff of No 2 School of Air Navigation training navigators. After two years he started a conversion course on bombers.

On the night of May 30/31 1942, Bomber Command launched the first of three “Thousand Bomber Raids”. To achieve the necessary number of aircraft, it was necessary to use some from the bomber-training units. Flying in a twin-engine Hampden, McIlroy flew on all three of the raids, the first to Cologne.

He joined 408 Squadron and completed a further 11 missions on the Hampden before the squadron converted to the four-engine Halifax. On April 3, he and his crew attacked Essen. On return to Leeming, the undercarriage failed to lower and the bomber crash-landed and was destroyed. McIlroy escaped uninjured. Eleven days later he was shot down.

After recuperating on his return from Germany, McIlroy joined 24 (VIP) Squadron as an air signaller. He and his crew were posted to Vienna as the personal crew for General Sir Richard McCreery, GOC of the British Forces of Occupation in Austria. His crew took senior officers, politicians and others to various peace conferences in Europe. Among his passengers was General Sir Bernard Montgomery.

McIlroy’s flying career continued until 1953 and he served on 49 Squadron, initially flying Lancasters and then the Lincoln bomber from Upwood in Huntingdonshire.

McIlroy transferred to the RAF’s engineering branch and specialised in signals and electronics, much of it highly secret. He worked on guided-missile systems, including the ill-fated Blue Streak, and later on strategic communications, which included service in Cyprus.

His final five years in uniform were at the Joint Air Reconnaissance Intelligence Centre at Brampton. On retirement in 1976 he spent a further five years as a specialist with the unit before moving to the engineering department at Cambridge University, where he carried out research and tutored PhD students.

Mac McIlroy’s wife Marjorie died in 2003, and their son and two daughters survive him.

“Mac” McIlroy, born April 14 1943, died January 13 2021
 

Major-General Jeremy (JJJ) Phipps obituary​

Flamboyant SAS officer who helped plan the dramatic response to the Iranian embassy siege and later became director of Special Forces

Plus was CO of the Senior Light Cavalry Regiment of the British Army


They don't make like this anymore.
Only met him once as a young sprog. Really quite charismatic and I was in awe, on hearing his previous appointments. Held in very high esteem as the CO of the QOH


 

Major-General Jeremy (JJJ) Phipps obituary​

Flamboyant SAS officer who helped plan the dramatic response to the Iranian embassy siege and later became director of Special Forces

Plus was CO of the Senior Light Cavalry Regiment of the British Army


They don't make like this anymore.
Only met him once as a young sprog. Really quite charismatic and I was in awe, on hearing his previous appointments. Held in very high esteem as the CO of the QOH


Here is the one from the DT


Phipps during an escape and evasion exercise, circa 1980

Phipps during an escape and evasion exercise, circa 1980
Major General Jeremy Phipps, who has died aged 78, was a cavalry officer who served with the SAS; as one of two SAS operations officers he played a notable part in helping to prepare for the eventual military assault of Operation Nimrod, the storming of the Iranian Embassy.
Shortly before midday on April 30 1980, six heavily armed members of the self-styled Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan had taken over the Iranian Embassy in Kensington and demanded the release of prisoners held in Iran.
They captured 26 hostages. Among them were members of the embassy staff, two employees of the BBC and a PC serving with the Metropolitan Police.
Lt Col (now General Sir Michael) Rose was CO of 22 SAS Regiment at the time, and he and Phipps immediately left their base at Hereford by helicopter. On the approach to London, however, they were called down to RAF Northolt by Air Traffic Control.
An armoured vehicle during the Iranian Embassy siege in Kensington, London, 1980

Police and an armoured vehicle during the Iranian Embassy siege in Kensington, London, 1980 CREDIT: Kypros/Getty Images
By chance, the RAF was in the middle of a counter-terrorist exercise and the arrival of the helicopter and the subsequent discovery that Phipps was armed with a pistol looked like part of the exercise. There were frustrating delays before the two men were able to complete their journey to London in the Station Commander’s staff car.
The terrorists were threatening to blow up the embassy if their demands were not met. The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had already delegated strategic control of the operation to the Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, and he chaired regular meetings of Cobra, the Government’s emergency committee. These were attended by other ministers, civil servants and expert advisers.
At the operational level, the operation was commanded by John Dellow, the Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner who was in overall charge, Hayden Phillips, an assistant undersecretary in the Home Office, and Lt Col Rose.
Over the next five days Phipps excelled in the challenging job of responding to directives from above and co-ordinating the military side of the operation with the Met police and the security services. His charm and ability to get on with people proved to be indispensable in creating the right intelligence and operational environment for a military assault, should this become necessary.
On the evening of May 5, by which time Phipps had handed over to his fellow operations officer, Major Ian Crooke, successive teams from B Squadron SAS abseiled from the roof down the rear of the building while another group lowered an explosive device through the skylight so as to provide a diversion from what was happening outside. After a sharp firefight, 19 hostages were rescued by the SAS; five had been released before the assault. Five of the six terrorists were killed.
The Special Air Service storm the rooms in the Iranian Embassy in which the hostages were held

An SAS team storms the rooms in the Iranian Embassy in which the hostages were held CREDIT: David Levenson/Keystone/Getty Images
Phipps returned home after the six-day siege to find that his wife, Sue, had gone to bed and locked him out. He climbed up a drainpipe and into a spare bedroom. Awaking from a heavy sleep, he discovered that she had plastered the walls of the room with the front pages of the day’s newspapers.
Jeremy Julian Joseph Phipps was born on June 30 1942 at Beauly, Inverness-shire. His father, Alan Phipps, a naval officer, was the son of Sir Eric Phipps, who had been Ambassador in Berlin and Paris in the 1930s and took part in the battle for the island of Leros in the Aegean in 1943. He was acting as liaison officer at Army HQ on Mount Meraviglia, and was leading a small group of men to recapture an important position when he was killed.
Phipps’s mother, Veronica, was the second daughter of Lord Lovat, the chief of the Fraser Clan, and the sister of “Shimi” Lovat, who led 1st Commando Brigade on D-Day. After the war she married Fitzroy Maclean, diplomat, soldier, politician and author who had served with the SAS in North Africa with her cousin David Stirling and subsequently as Churchill’s envoy on a mission to Central Yugoslavia.
Young Jeremy was baptised a Catholic and was educated at Ampleforth. The family lived in north Lancashire, where Maclean was an MP, until 1962, when they moved to Argyll and lived at Strachur on Loch Fyne. Phipps joined the Army as a private soldier, then went on to RMA Sandhurst, and in 1962 was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Hussars (QOH). He served as a tank troop leader in Germany, and in the Gulf, South Arabia and Singapore.
In the Whitbread Round The World Race, 1974

In the Whitbread Round The World Race, 1974
While he was in Singapore Phipps applied to join the SAS and, having passed the selection test, he served on attachment in Oman. He was involved in the British Army Training Team at Dhofar, the permanent establishment of government forces on the jebel (mountains) and the introduction of a strategy to employ local tribesmen, often surrendered rebels, as operational and intelligence support.
In 1974 Phipps had taken part in the final leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race. He also took part in the disastrous Fastnet Race in 1979 when a freak storm caused many fatalities. His yacht Sigmania was going to the aid of a French yacht in distress when the tow rope broke and fouled the propeller. In a Force 10 gale, and with waves of up to 40 ft, he was lowered upside down with a knife between his teeth and managed to cut the rope and free the propeller.
In 1980, after the Iranian Embassy siege, he went to Norfolk, Virginia, to attend the US Armed Forces Staff Course. The following year he assumed command of the QOH, then stationed in Germany. He returned to Sandhurst as Chief of Staff and then commanded 11th Armoured Brigade at Minden, Germany. He was the only brigade commander in BAOR at the time who had not been to Staff College but his outstanding leadership qualities overrode what could have been a bar to this appointment.
In 1989 he became Director, Special Forces. The job required skill in navigating the corridors of Whitehall, at which he proved himself adroit. During the first Gulf War, Lieutenant-General (later General) Sir Peter de la Billière, Commander British Forces Middle East, pressed for the deployment of Special Forces for covert operations deep behind Iraqi lines.
Phipps in 1997

Phipps in 1997
Phipps supervised the provision of SAS troops and these proved particularly successful in locating enemy Scud missiles operating from well-concealed static and mobile bases, and marking them out for air strikes.
In 1993 he was promoted to major general and posted to Oman as the Senior British Loan Service Officer. His task was to liaise with the Omani General Staff, with whom he shared an office, and to ensure that Sultan Qaboos was satisfied with the support he was getting.
On retiring from the Army in 1997, Phipps was appointed CB. He then worked for a number of security companies including Control Risks, Aegis, Saladin and Kroll. Control Risks was asked into the Jockey Club in 2001 to carry out a review of its security department, and early the following year, Phipps left Control Risks and became the Club’s director of security on a three-year contract.
Horse racing was under investigation for corruption, and in the hopes of restoring the Jockey Club’s reputation for policing the sport he organised raids on a number of trainers to try to establish whether horses were being given performance-enhancing drugs. No evidence of doping was discovered.
Later that year, however, he arranged a meeting with his predecessor in order to find out whether he was in possession of evidence of corrupt practices going back many years and if he intended to provide details in a forthcoming Panorama programme on television.
Phipps believed that serious problems that existed in the Jockey Club should be confronted head-on as, in his judgment, they were being ignored by an irresolute and vacillating management. He expressed these views in forthright terms but, unknown to him, the meeting was being secretly filmed and recorded. It caused a furore, and he felt that the only honourable course was to resign.
Fishing on the Test

Fishing on the Test
In 2010, he and his wife moved to a house in the Borders, where they created a fine garden almost from scratch. Sue, who had studied in Florence with Annigoni, continued her career as a successful equestrian and portrait artist.
Phipps enjoyed shooting and was a skilled fisherman. He was a member of the Houghton Club, where he entertained many of his friends on the Test in Stockbridge. He had a great gift for getting on with the young and worked with Venture Scotland supporting disadvantaged adolescents, as a prison visitor, and also as a Boy Scouts Commissioner.
When the local pony club asked him to give a talk about being in the cavalry, he said that he knew nothing about horses but would do his best to provide some entertainment. He arrived with paintball guns, gave a talk about survival techniques, split the children into two teams and a battle royal ensued. In fact, they all had so much fun that the ponies had a very dull day.
Jeremy Phipps married, in 1974, Susan (Sue) Crawford, who survives him with their son and daughter.
Jeremy Phipps, born June 30 1942, died March 16 2021
 
Here is the one from the DT


Phipps during an escape and evasion exercise, circa 1980

Phipps during an escape and evasion exercise, circa 1980
Major General Jeremy Phipps, who has died aged 78, was a cavalry officer who served with the SAS; as one of two SAS operations officers he played a notable part in helping to prepare for the eventual military assault of Operation Nimrod, the storming of the Iranian Embassy.
Shortly before midday on April 30 1980, six heavily armed members of the self-styled Democratic Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Arabistan had taken over the Iranian Embassy in Kensington and demanded the release of prisoners held in Iran.
They captured 26 hostages. Among them were members of the embassy staff, two employees of the BBC and a PC serving with the Metropolitan Police.
Lt Col (now General Sir Michael) Rose was CO of 22 SAS Regiment at the time, and he and Phipps immediately left their base at Hereford by helicopter. On the approach to London, however, they were called down to RAF Northolt by Air Traffic Control.
An armoured vehicle during the Iranian Embassy siege in Kensington, London, 1980

Police and an armoured vehicle during the Iranian Embassy siege in Kensington, London, 1980 CREDIT: Kypros/Getty Images
By chance, the RAF was in the middle of a counter-terrorist exercise and the arrival of the helicopter and the subsequent discovery that Phipps was armed with a pistol looked like part of the exercise. There were frustrating delays before the two men were able to complete their journey to London in the Station Commander’s staff car.
The terrorists were threatening to blow up the embassy if their demands were not met. The Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher had already delegated strategic control of the operation to the Home Secretary, Willie Whitelaw, and he chaired regular meetings of Cobra, the Government’s emergency committee. These were attended by other ministers, civil servants and expert advisers.
At the operational level, the operation was commanded by John Dellow, the Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner who was in overall charge, Hayden Phillips, an assistant undersecretary in the Home Office, and Lt Col Rose.
Over the next five days Phipps excelled in the challenging job of responding to directives from above and co-ordinating the military side of the operation with the Met police and the security services. His charm and ability to get on with people proved to be indispensable in creating the right intelligence and operational environment for a military assault, should this become necessary.
On the evening of May 5, by which time Phipps had handed over to his fellow operations officer, Major Ian Crooke, successive teams from B Squadron SAS abseiled from the roof down the rear of the building while another group lowered an explosive device through the skylight so as to provide a diversion from what was happening outside. After a sharp firefight, 19 hostages were rescued by the SAS; five had been released before the assault. Five of the six terrorists were killed.
The Special Air Service storm the rooms in the Iranian Embassy in which the hostages were held

An SAS team storms the rooms in the Iranian Embassy in which the hostages were held CREDIT: David Levenson/Keystone/Getty Images
Phipps returned home after the six-day siege to find that his wife, Sue, had gone to bed and locked him out. He climbed up a drainpipe and into a spare bedroom. Awaking from a heavy sleep, he discovered that she had plastered the walls of the room with the front pages of the day’s newspapers.
Jeremy Julian Joseph Phipps was born on June 30 1942 at Beauly, Inverness-shire. His father, Alan Phipps, a naval officer, was the son of Sir Eric Phipps, who had been Ambassador in Berlin and Paris in the 1930s and took part in the battle for the island of Leros in the Aegean in 1943. He was acting as liaison officer at Army HQ on Mount Meraviglia, and was leading a small group of men to recapture an important position when he was killed.
Phipps’s mother, Veronica, was the second daughter of Lord Lovat, the chief of the Fraser Clan, and the sister of “Shimi” Lovat, who led 1st Commando Brigade on D-Day. After the war she married Fitzroy Maclean, diplomat, soldier, politician and author who had served with the SAS in North Africa with her cousin David Stirling and subsequently as Churchill’s envoy on a mission to Central Yugoslavia.
Young Jeremy was baptised a Catholic and was educated at Ampleforth. The family lived in north Lancashire, where Maclean was an MP, until 1962, when they moved to Argyll and lived at Strachur on Loch Fyne. Phipps joined the Army as a private soldier, then went on to RMA Sandhurst, and in 1962 was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Hussars (QOH). He served as a tank troop leader in Germany, and in the Gulf, South Arabia and Singapore.
In the Whitbread Round The World Race, 1974

In the Whitbread Round The World Race, 1974
While he was in Singapore Phipps applied to join the SAS and, having passed the selection test, he served on attachment in Oman. He was involved in the British Army Training Team at Dhofar, the permanent establishment of government forces on the jebel (mountains) and the introduction of a strategy to employ local tribesmen, often surrendered rebels, as operational and intelligence support.
In 1974 Phipps had taken part in the final leg of the Whitbread Round the World Race. He also took part in the disastrous Fastnet Race in 1979 when a freak storm caused many fatalities. His yacht Sigmania was going to the aid of a French yacht in distress when the tow rope broke and fouled the propeller. In a Force 10 gale, and with waves of up to 40 ft, he was lowered upside down with a knife between his teeth and managed to cut the rope and free the propeller.
In 1980, after the Iranian Embassy siege, he went to Norfolk, Virginia, to attend the US Armed Forces Staff Course. The following year he assumed command of the QOH, then stationed in Germany. He returned to Sandhurst as Chief of Staff and then commanded 11th Armoured Brigade at Minden, Germany. He was the only brigade commander in BAOR at the time who had not been to Staff College but his outstanding leadership qualities overrode what could have been a bar to this appointment.
In 1989 he became Director, Special Forces. The job required skill in navigating the corridors of Whitehall, at which he proved himself adroit. During the first Gulf War, Lieutenant-General (later General) Sir Peter de la Billière, Commander British Forces Middle East, pressed for the deployment of Special Forces for covert operations deep behind Iraqi lines.
Phipps in 1997

Phipps in 1997
Phipps supervised the provision of SAS troops and these proved particularly successful in locating enemy Scud missiles operating from well-concealed static and mobile bases, and marking them out for air strikes.
In 1993 he was promoted to major general and posted to Oman as the Senior British Loan Service Officer. His task was to liaise with the Omani General Staff, with whom he shared an office, and to ensure that Sultan Qaboos was satisfied with the support he was getting.
On retiring from the Army in 1997, Phipps was appointed CB. He then worked for a number of security companies including Control Risks, Aegis, Saladin and Kroll. Control Risks was asked into the Jockey Club in 2001 to carry out a review of its security department, and early the following year, Phipps left Control Risks and became the Club’s director of security on a three-year contract.
Horse racing was under investigation for corruption, and in the hopes of restoring the Jockey Club’s reputation for policing the sport he organised raids on a number of trainers to try to establish whether horses were being given performance-enhancing drugs. No evidence of doping was discovered.
Later that year, however, he arranged a meeting with his predecessor in order to find out whether he was in possession of evidence of corrupt practices going back many years and if he intended to provide details in a forthcoming Panorama programme on television.
Phipps believed that serious problems that existed in the Jockey Club should be confronted head-on as, in his judgment, they were being ignored by an irresolute and vacillating management. He expressed these views in forthright terms but, unknown to him, the meeting was being secretly filmed and recorded. It caused a furore, and he felt that the only honourable course was to resign.
Fishing on the Test

Fishing on the Test
In 2010, he and his wife moved to a house in the Borders, where they created a fine garden almost from scratch. Sue, who had studied in Florence with Annigoni, continued her career as a successful equestrian and portrait artist.
Phipps enjoyed shooting and was a skilled fisherman. He was a member of the Houghton Club, where he entertained many of his friends on the Test in Stockbridge. He had a great gift for getting on with the young and worked with Venture Scotland supporting disadvantaged adolescents, as a prison visitor, and also as a Boy Scouts Commissioner.
When the local pony club asked him to give a talk about being in the cavalry, he said that he knew nothing about horses but would do his best to provide some entertainment. He arrived with paintball guns, gave a talk about survival techniques, split the children into two teams and a battle royal ensued. In fact, they all had so much fun that the ponies had a very dull day.
Jeremy Phipps married, in 1974, Susan (Sue) Crawford, who survives him with their son and daughter.
Jeremy Phipps, born June 30 1942, died March 16 2021

Thanks Mate.

Classic
When the local pony club asked him to give a talk about being in the cavalry, he said that he knew nothing about horses but would do his best to provide some entertainment. He arrived with paintball guns, gave a talk about survival techniques, split the children into two teams and a battle royal ensued. In fact, they all had so much fun that the ponies had a very dull day.
As I said before, they just don't make them like this anymore
 

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