Military (& related) obituaries

Lt Col Tom Pollak, doctor and paratrooper who served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq – obituary​

He designed an airborne ambulance, was one of the Army’s best shots, and served in Oman, where he kept a collection of venomous creatures

ByTelegraph Obituaries7 June 2021 • 12:08pm

Tom Pollak

Tom Pollak
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Pollak, who has died aged 74, was unusual in being both a practising medical doctor and a Major and Officer Commanding a company of paratroopers.
Thomas Edward Pollak was born in Varnsdorf, Czechoslovakia, on January 29 1947 to a Czech father and an English mother. When he was 17 his father died, and his mother returned to England with Thomas and his two brothers.
He arrived speaking little English, but was possessed of a fierce determination to do well, and quickly developed both impeccable English and impeccable manners – hallmarks for the remainder of his life.
He studied Medicine at Sheffield University and while there joined the OTC before commissioning into the B Company of the 4th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, Territorial & Army Volunteer Reserve (4 Para) in Oldham.
Pollak was a natural soldier with exceptional physical fitness, and a crack shot. Although he loved medicine and continued to work in NHS hospitals during his time in the TA, he revelled in the camaraderie and the physical and mental challenges of life as a Para.



He was soon organising and training teams for marching and shooting competitions, such as the Cambrian March, in which the Paras were particularly successful. So fit and skilled were his teams that they frequently outshone the regular army competition during the four-day event.
Pollak, front row, third right, with the 1 Para shooting team at Bisley in 1982

Pollak, front row, third right, with the 1 Para shooting team at Bisley in 1982
By 1977 Pollak was a major and officer commanding a company of paratroopers. He often came under pressure to transfer to the Royal Army Medical Corps and a more conventional TA career. Instead, in 1978 he decided to temporarily forsake medicine and try for the regular SAS.
To prepare himself he resigned his commission, enlisted as a private soldier in the regular Parachute Regiment and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion (3 Para). He attended SAS selection in 1980 and passed the initial phase. However the authorities then realised that his Czech origins, which included compulsory membership of the Communist youth movement, would preclude him from passing the positive vetting demanded of all SAS soldiers, and to his dismay he was returned to 3 Para.
The Commanding Officer of 22 SAS, who appealed the decision, observed that he would have been a “great asset to the SAS, [but] the men in suits decided otherwise, to the benefit of the Paras”. The decision was ironic given Pollak’s hatred of communism.
Pollak then commissioned into the 1st Battalion (1 Para). He captained their very successful shooting team at Bisley and other Skill at Arms meetings, and in 1982 he was one of seven of their number who made the Army 100 (the top 100 rifle shots). He was also a very competent pistol shot.
When on leave Pollak would often moonlight as a locum in hospitals. On one occasion a friend observed that the nurses adored him because when a drunken yob had abused and assaulted them he had stepped in and knocked the culprit out cold. He enjoyed the sobriquet of “the Mad Para Doctor” bestowed by “the lads” in his battalion.
Pollak in 2011 near Arnhem after making his final static-line parachute jump: he was thought to have held the Army record at the time for the most such jumps

Pollak in 2011 near Arnhem after making his final static-line parachute jump: he was thought to have held the Army record at the time for the most such jumps
Pollack then transferred into the RAMC before accepting a four-year posting as the regimental medical officer with the Sultan’s Special Force in Oman, where he kept a collection of venomous snakes, tarantulas and camel spiders. Upon returning from Oman he commanded 16 (Lincoln) Company, 4 Para, while working as an anaesthetist for the NHS.
Between 1990 and 1997 he served with 23 Parachute Field Ambulance in a variety of roles, including forming and commanding its Special Forces Troop. He was the principal designer of a mobile operating theatre for use by Special Forces which fitted into the confines of a Hercules C-130 aircraft.
Never pompous about rank, he threw a memorable party the fourth time he was promoted to major. A fellow officer described him as “something of a Peter Pan figure who never grew up”, while another felt that he “simply enjoyed everything he did [and] really enjoyed helping his fellow man”. When he found that a fellow officer’s cholesterol was somewhat high, he recommended drinking red wine and promptly took the man to a wine bar near Charing Cross, where they proceeded to enjoy several bottles of claret.
Whatever Pollak did he did well. He was renowned for his fitness, and as well as being an experienced and skilled mountaineer and alpine skier he was a fell runner, completing more than 50 fell and mountain marathons.
Pollak qualified as a GP in 1990, and later as a GP trainer. In the late 1990s he developed leukaemia but he continued to work during his treatment, and regained his incredible fitness and returned to full duties.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1997, he served at Shape in Belgium and later as Commander Medical London District. He saw active service in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was senior medical officer, 16 Medical Regiment, in Colchester, before his final Army job as the SMO at Wellington Barracks.
Still parachuting in his early sixties, when Pollak finally retired in 2011 he was reputed to hold the record for the highest number of static-line parachute descents. He was immensely proud of having been an “in-date” military parachutist for 41 years.
In 2020 he endured a difficult six weeks with Covid but recovered and returned to work as a local GP in July that year.
Tom Pollak was unmarried but is survived by a daughter.
Tom Pollak, born January 29 1947, died March 15 2021
Now, there's a CV that would be hard to beat. I have tremendous admiration for people like this; "he endured a difficult six weeks with Covid but recovered and returned to work as a local GP in July that year." Doubless not honoured in any way by a Government which considers cyclists and soapy actors more valuable to society.
 
Dushman took part in some of the bloodiest military encounters of the Second World War, including the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk. He was seriously wounded three times but survived the war along with just 68 comrades in his 12,000-strong tank division.

David Dushman, Soviet tank driver who helped to liberate Auschwitz-Birkenau – obituary​

His tank smashed through the fence at the death camp in 1945, while he later coached the Soviet women’s fencing team to four Olympic titles

ByTelegraph Obituaries7 June 2021 • 6:26pm

David Dushman at home in Munich in 2015 with his military and sporting medals

David Dushman at home in Munich in 2015 with his military and sporting medals CREDIT: Sueddeutsche Zeitung/Alamy
David Dushman, a Jewish Red Army veteran, who has died aged 98, was thought to be the last surviving soldier who took part in the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, a complex of concentration and extermination camps in Nazi-occupied Poland, where more than a million people, most of them Jews, were murdered between 1940 and 1945.
Dushman was a 21-year-old tank driver for the Soviet Army when the division to which he belonged, just after liberating Warsaw, proceeded to Auschwitz-Birkenau, where there were 7,500 prisoners remaining.
In the early afternoon of January 27 1945, Dushman used his T-34 tank to flatten the camp’s electric fence and help to free the prisoners. He later recalled that he and his comrades did not immediately realise the full magnitude of what had happened there. “We hardly knew anything about Auschwitz ….” he said. “We were soldiers in tanks.”

But the grim reality became apparent when Dushman and his comrades saw the prisoners who started to emerge – and, as he put it, there were “skeletons everywhere”. The prisoners, he recalled, “were standing there … all of them in uniforms, only eyes, only eyes, very narrow – that was very terrible, very terrible … they staggered out of the barracks, sat and lay among the dead … We threw them all our canned food.”
David Dushman was born in the free city of Gdansk on April 1 1923, though for political reasons his mother registered Minsk as his place of birth. His father Alexander was a doctor in the Red Army, while his mother, Bonislava, was a paediatrician.
Dushman mourns next to a Soviet tank during a memorial service in Berlin in 2015

Dushman mourns next to a Soviet tank during a memorial service in Berlin in 2015 CREDIT: Markus Heine/NurPhoto via Getty Images
The family moved to Minsk, where young David spent much of his childhood – although rather than schoolwork, he preferred to practise fencing, in which he excelled. They then moved to Moscow, where his father had been hired to head the medical centre at the State Institute for Sports.
In 1938 Dushman’s father was sent to a gulag after falling victim to one of Josef Stalin’s purges; he died there 10 years later.
Dushman took part in some of the bloodiest military encounters of the Second World War, including the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk. He was seriously wounded three times but survived the war along with just 68 comrades in his 12,000-strong tank division.
Dushman received more than 40 medals and decorations, including the Order of the Patriotic War.
After the war, in spite of his injuries, he worked hard to rebuild himself, although, he recalled, “at first, I couldn’t even walk because I was out of breath …”. He went on to become, in 1951, the Soviet Union’s top-ranked fencer.
In his career as a fencing coach Dushman led the Soviet women's team to 14 world titles and four Olympic medals

In his career as a fencing coach Dushman led the Soviet women's team to 14 world titles and four Olympic medals CREDIT: Ayhan Uyanik/Reuters
The following year he began coaching the Soviet women’s team, which he went on to do for more than three decades. At the 1960 Olympics in Rome his team won gold in the foil team competition for the first time.
In 1972, Palestinian terrorists attacked the Munich Olympic village in Germany, taking 11 Israeli athletes prisoner; the Israelis were all killed. Dushman, who was in Munich with his team, recalled: “We heard gunshots and the hum of helicopters overhead. At that time, we lived right across from the Israeli team. We and all the other athletes were horrified.”
By 1988, the year Dushman ended his national coaching career, his athletes had won the world championship 14 times as well as four Olympic titles. He trained some of the nation’s most successful fencers, including Valentina Sidorova, who won a gold medal in the women’s team foil event at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and a silver four years later in Moscow.
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After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Dushman moved to Austria for several years and then in 1996 to Munich, where he spent the rest of his life. In 2003, he became a trainer at the Olympic Fencing Club in the city. His maxim was: “Fencing is not only a sport for the body, but also for the mind. It is about psychology and about learning to read people, to be faster than your counterpart, to know what your opponent is doing before he does it himself.”
He had no hard feelings towards Germany or its people. “We didn’t fight against the Germans,” he said, “but against fascism.”
Along with frequent visits to his fencing club, which he kept up until he was 94, Dushman also visited German schools to tell students about the war and the horrors of the Holocaust. From time to time he would also dust off his military medals to take part in veterans’ gatherings.
David Dushman’s wife Zoja died in 2011. They had a son, who died in 2017.
David Dushman, born April 1 1923, died June 4 2021
 
Ivan Mower, who has died aged 97, was one of the last survivors of the highly secret wartime Auxiliary Units who were trained to leave their homes in the event of an invasion and move to specially prepared Operational Bases (OBs) underground.

Ivan Mower, veteran of the secret wartime Auxiliary Units – obituary​

In the 1990s he learnt that his father had also been an 'Auxilier', trained in guerrilla tactics in the event of German occupation

ByTelegraph Obituaries14 June 2021 • 4:49pm

Ivan Mower

Ivan Mower
Ivan Mower, who has died aged 97, was one of the last survivors of the highly secret wartime Auxiliary Units who were trained to leave their homes in the event of an invasion and move to specially prepared Operational Bases (OBs) underground.
By mid-1940, the defences of Poland, Norway and the Low Countries had been overwhelmed. German forces were in occupation of north-east France and appeared to be poised to invade England. Pillboxes and tank traps began to appear in the countryside and entanglements of barbed wire on the beaches.
It was decided that the regular defences needed to be supplemented with guerrilla-type troops and this led to the formation of Auxiliary Units under Colonel (later Major-General Sir) Colin Gubbins.
Mower was one of nine men who formed the Stradbroke Patrol, with an OB near Eye, Suffolk. There was a sergeant and a corporal; the rest were privates. His comrades, for the most part farm workers, were volunteers for what could have been a suicide mission.
Placeholder image for youtube video: lzilKnFzjGA

They were to remain hidden in their OBs during an invasion, come up behind the German lines and hinder their advance by laying mines and booby traps, blowing up petrol and ammunition dumps, railway lines and occupied airfields.

Tough, resilient and resourceful, many of them were used to handling guns. One unit had a poacher and gamekeeper on the same patrol. They used service with the Home Guard to explain their absences from home; sometimes they were away all night on a training exercise. Their training included close combat and silent killing, and they became skilful at moving soundlessly through close country at night.
Placeholder image for youtube video: 7VlhGbCOMSk

The Auxiliers had priority in the allocation of weapons, and explosives and stores included gelignite, oil bombs, magnesium incendiary bombs, pistols, revolvers and fighting knives.
Some of the OBs were in existing mines and tunnels. Others were constructed of corrugated-iron sections sunk into the ground with concrete-pipe access and escape tunnels. Many were in dense woodland in remote areas with access by way of a grassed-over trap door which only close inspection would reveal.
Mower’s OB was built by the Patrol. It consisted of a main chamber constructed from timber and corrugated sheeting with a separate room for bunk beds. The hide-out had a flat roof which was covered with soil and well camouflaged. Access was by way of a trapdoor with a gully leading away from it into woodland.
Two schoolboys, for many weeks playing truant daily from school, found the OB and had the time of their lives underground surrounded by weapons, ammunition and incendiary devices.
Despite a search by their master and classmates, it was some time before they were discovered and, as a result of their pranks, the OB had to be abandoned and rebuilt elsewhere. Remains of it were found by researchers about 60 years after the end of the war.
On one occasion, General (later Field Marshal) Montgomery came to inspect an underground OB. It was in a little spinney on an isolated farm; what looked like a mousehole in the earth was pointed out to him.
A marble inserted into the hole ran down a length of concealed gas pipe and fell into a biscuit tin. This was the signal for the patrol leader to emerge from the camouflaged entrance.
Ivan James Frederick Mower was born at Huntingfield, Suffolk, on February 21 1924. Aged 14, he left Stradbroke School and joined the Auxiliary Units in 1940. He underwent training at Bury St Edmunds and Cley on the Norfolk coast.
Unknown to him, his father, Albert, served in the same Patrol but at a different time. They had both signed the Official Secrets Act and throughout the war neither said anything to the other about being an Auxilier. It was not until the names of members of the patrol were released in the late 1990s that he discovered the truth.
In November 1944, as the threat of invasion diminished, the Units were stood down. Mower was properly conscripted, retrained and shipped off to fight the Japanese in Burma.
On V-E Day, May 1945, he was at Gibraltar on a ship bound for Calcutta. After the Japanese surrender, he spent several months in Rangoon clearing up the detritus of war. He received the Defence Medal.
In 1947, he returned to England and worked as a nurseryman at Etheridge Nursery, Stradbroke. After a short illness, he retired aged 71. In retirement, he enjoyed shooting, game rearing and gardening.
Ivan Mower married, in 1950, Marjorie Mary Boast. She predeceased him, and he is survived by their son and daughter.
Ivan Mower, born February 21 1924, died April 27 2021
 

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Lt Col Tom Pollak, doctor and paratrooper who served in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq – obituary​

He designed an airborne ambulance, was one of the Army’s best shots, and served in Oman, where he kept a collection of venomous creatures

ByTelegraph Obituaries7 June 2021 • 12:08pm

Tom Pollak

Tom Pollak
Lieutenant Colonel Tom Pollak, who has died aged 74, was unusual in being both a practising medical doctor and a Major and Officer Commanding a company of paratroopers.
Thomas Edward Pollak was born in Varnsdorf, Czechoslovakia, on January 29 1947 to a Czech father and an English mother. When he was 17 his father died, and his mother returned to England with Thomas and his two brothers.
He arrived speaking little English, but was possessed of a fierce determination to do well, and quickly developed both impeccable English and impeccable manners – hallmarks for the remainder of his life.
He studied Medicine at Sheffield University and while there joined the OTC before commissioning into the B Company of the 4th Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, Territorial & Army Volunteer Reserve (4 Para) in Oldham.
Pollak was a natural soldier with exceptional physical fitness, and a crack shot. Although he loved medicine and continued to work in NHS hospitals during his time in the TA, he revelled in the camaraderie and the physical and mental challenges of life as a Para.



He was soon organising and training teams for marching and shooting competitions, such as the Cambrian March, in which the Paras were particularly successful. So fit and skilled were his teams that they frequently outshone the regular army competition during the four-day event.
Pollak, front row, third right, with the 1 Para shooting team at Bisley in 1982

Pollak, front row, third right, with the 1 Para shooting team at Bisley in 1982
By 1977 Pollak was a major and officer commanding a company of paratroopers. He often came under pressure to transfer to the Royal Army Medical Corps and a more conventional TA career. Instead, in 1978 he decided to temporarily forsake medicine and try for the regular SAS.
To prepare himself he resigned his commission, enlisted as a private soldier in the regular Parachute Regiment and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion (3 Para). He attended SAS selection in 1980 and passed the initial phase. However the authorities then realised that his Czech origins, which included compulsory membership of the Communist youth movement, would preclude him from passing the positive vetting demanded of all SAS soldiers, and to his dismay he was returned to 3 Para.
The Commanding Officer of 22 SAS, who appealed the decision, observed that he would have been a “great asset to the SAS, [but] the men in suits decided otherwise, to the benefit of the Paras”. The decision was ironic given Pollak’s hatred of communism.
Pollak then commissioned into the 1st Battalion (1 Para). He captained their very successful shooting team at Bisley and other Skill at Arms meetings, and in 1982 he was one of seven of their number who made the Army 100 (the top 100 rifle shots). He was also a very competent pistol shot.
When on leave Pollak would often moonlight as a locum in hospitals. On one occasion a friend observed that the nurses adored him because when a drunken yob had abused and assaulted them he had stepped in and knocked the culprit out cold. He enjoyed the sobriquet of “the Mad Para Doctor” bestowed by “the lads” in his battalion.
Pollak in 2011 near Arnhem after making his final static-line parachute jump: he was thought to have held the Army record at the time for the most such jumps

Pollak in 2011 near Arnhem after making his final static-line parachute jump: he was thought to have held the Army record at the time for the most such jumps
Pollack then transferred into the RAMC before accepting a four-year posting as the regimental medical officer with the Sultan’s Special Force in Oman, where he kept a collection of venomous snakes, tarantulas and camel spiders. Upon returning from Oman he commanded 16 (Lincoln) Company, 4 Para, while working as an anaesthetist for the NHS.
Between 1990 and 1997 he served with 23 Parachute Field Ambulance in a variety of roles, including forming and commanding its Special Forces Troop. He was the principal designer of a mobile operating theatre for use by Special Forces which fitted into the confines of a Hercules C-130 aircraft.
Never pompous about rank, he threw a memorable party the fourth time he was promoted to major. A fellow officer described him as “something of a Peter Pan figure who never grew up”, while another felt that he “simply enjoyed everything he did [and] really enjoyed helping his fellow man”. When he found that a fellow officer’s cholesterol was somewhat high, he recommended drinking red wine and promptly took the man to a wine bar near Charing Cross, where they proceeded to enjoy several bottles of claret.
Whatever Pollak did he did well. He was renowned for his fitness, and as well as being an experienced and skilled mountaineer and alpine skier he was a fell runner, completing more than 50 fell and mountain marathons.
Pollak qualified as a GP in 1990, and later as a GP trainer. In the late 1990s he developed leukaemia but he continued to work during his treatment, and regained his incredible fitness and returned to full duties.
Promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1997, he served at Shape in Belgium and later as Commander Medical London District. He saw active service in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was senior medical officer, 16 Medical Regiment, in Colchester, before his final Army job as the SMO at Wellington Barracks.
Still parachuting in his early sixties, when Pollak finally retired in 2011 he was reputed to hold the record for the highest number of static-line parachute descents. He was immensely proud of having been an “in-date” military parachutist for 41 years.
In 2020 he endured a difficult six weeks with Covid but recovered and returned to work as a local GP in July that year.
Tom Pollak was unmarried but is survived by a daughter.
Tom Pollak, born January 29 1947, died March 15 2021

Crikey, remember him from the Cambrian March in 1977. RIP Major Tom.
 
An AcSM obituary:

Fantastic, what a treasure trove The Guards Magazine is:
Magnet fishers beware!!
Look what I found Michael Giles late Grenadier Guards had been caught up in!
Sent to occupied Germany in late 1945, one tale of high jinks goes that, with a few friends, he stockpiled some German small arms with a view to selling them on return to the UK. However, upon arriving in Windsor, they realised how difficult this would be, so opted to dump them in the Thames. Twenty or so years later, while dredging the Thames along the Windsor waterfront, the authorities found a mysterious German cache of guns. At the time they concluded that there must have been a German secret sleeper cell based in Windsor!
 

Air Marshal Sir John Kemball, pilot on ground-attack missions over Aden who took senior roles in defence intelligence and during the Gulf War – obituary​

Despite the onerous nature of his appointments at the end of the Cold War, Kemball found time to take a degree with the Open University

ByTelegraph Obituaries16 June 2021 • 2:26pm

Kemball: great integrity and sense of duty

Kemball: great integrity and sense of duty
Air Marshal Sir John Kemball, who has died aged 82, was a former fighter ground-attack pilot who became chief of staff and deputy commander-in-chief at the British Joint Force Headquarters during the First Gulf War.
Kemball had been serving for nine months as the deputy commander-in-chief at HQ Strike Command when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in August 1990. His superior, Air Chief Marshal Sir Patrick Hine, was appointed the joint commander of all British forces, a role which necessitated much travel to the Gulf region and to the United States.
In the frequent absences of his C-in-C, Kemball, as the chief of staff, was at the Primary War Headquarters at High Wycombe, where he chaired the command group daily briefings, a crucial role during the build-up phase and then when operations began with the first air strikes on the night of January 17 1991.

In addition, Kemball had to shoulder the routine but essential responsibility for maintaining the operational posture and readiness of the many forces of Strike Command not involved in the Iraq conflict.
A large element of the RAF’s deployment to the Gulf region was drawn from RAF squadrons and units based in Germany: Kemball and his staff had to maintain a close liaison to co-ordinate deployments and reinforcements.
With the overwhelming air contribution being provided, and controlled, by the USAF, the rules of engagement proved to be a difficult issue in some political circles, giving rise to some tension. Kemball recognised this, and took on the responsibility of resolving the matter so that RAF forces could act in co-operation with other allied forces, and aircrews could be given clear procedures to follow.
His calmness under pressure, and ability to absorb the many complex political and military issues, allowed him to focus on the essentials before making sound and carefully considered judgements. He was held in high regard by his commander-in-chief and by his naval and Army colleagues.
Richard John Kemball, known as “Kip”, was born in Bury St Edmunds on January 31 1939 and educated at Uppingham. Conscripted into the RAF for National Service in 1957, he trained as a pilot and decided to remain in the service and accept a permanent commission.
After qualifying as a flying instructor, he served at the RAF College Cranwell. In 1962 he was appointed ADC to the chief of staff at HQ Allied Air Forces Central Europe.
Kemball during his time in Aden

Kemball during his time in Aden
In 1964 he converted to the Hunter ground-attack aircraft before joining 8 Squadron based at Khormaksar in Aden. He flew 43 operational missions providing precision low-level fire in support of ground forces engaged with the dissident tribesmen near the border with Yemen. He went on to fill an exchange post with the USAF in Arizona, serving as an instructor pilot on the Phantom.
As one of the few RAF pilots qualified and experienced on the American fighter, he was an original member of the newly formed RAF conversion unit when the Phantom entered RAF service at Coningsby in 1968. During this tour, he became the first RAF pilot to log 1,000 hours of flight time on the aircraft.
Following a staff appointment, Kemball converted to the Jaguar ground-attack aircraft and took command of 54 Squadron based in Norfolk. After promotion, and another change of aircraft (this time to the Buccaneer), in late 1978 he took command of Laarbruch on the Dutch-German border, where he commanded two Buccaneer strike/attack squadrons, a Jaguar reconnaissance squadron, an RAF Regiment squadron of Rapier air defence missiles, and a large maintenance unit.
He exercised a light touch as the station commander and allowed his executives to get on with their jobs without unnecessary interference, but lending support and advice when it was necessary. At the end of a very successful tour he was appointed CBE.
On return to the UK in 1981, he spent 18 months in the plans directorate at MoD, at a time when the Tornado was about to enter service and a major upgrade of the UK’s air defence organisation was being developed. Promoted to air commodore, he become the Commandant of the Central Flying School, and he was made an ADC to the Queen from 1983 to 1985.
Kemball in front of a Buccaneer at RAF Laarbruch

Kemball in front of a Buccaneer at RAF Laarbruch
In July 1985 Kemball took up the post of Commander British Forces Falkland Islands. During his year in office he was an ex-officio member of the islands’ executive and legislative councils.
In March 1987 he was appointed as Assistant Chief of the Defence Staff (Intelligence). After reorganisation in March 1988 he became Director General of Intelligence (Rest of the World), which included all countries except those in the Warsaw Pact. He also acted as deputy to the Chief of Defence Intelligence at a time when the world order was changing dramatically following the fall of the Berlin Wall and collapse of the Warsaw Pact. In November 1989 he was appointed to HQ Strike Command.
During this period, he also began studying for a degree with the Open University, and over three years, despite the onerous nature of his senior appointments, he studied the development of technology and its impact on society, receiving his BA in 1991.
He retired from the RAF in April 1993, having been appointed KCB.
Kemball lived a busy life in retirement. From 1993 to 1995, he was chairman of Essex River Healthcare NHS Trust; Honorary Colonel 77 Engineer Regiment (Volunteers) from 1993 to 1996; and National President of the Royal Air Forces Association from 1995 to 1998.
He was a Governor of the Corps of Commissionaires from 1994, Chief Executive of Racing Welfare from 1995 and Chairman of the Visitor’s Panel of HM Prison Highpoint. He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant for Suffolk in 1999.
A man of great integrity and sense of duty, John Kemball had a dry sense of humour and a ready smile. An animal lover, he and his family at one stage had four labradors, two cats, a horse, a pony and sundry sheep and chickens. He enjoyed playing tennis, country pursuits, and tending his garden.
He married Valerie Webster, a former WRAC officer, in 1962; she and their two daughters survive him.
Sir John Kemball, born January 31 1939, died June 13 2021
 
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