Society News
Newsletter Highlights
Gus' Photos
Historic Photos
Lorraine's Photos
Mark's Photos
Neil's Photos
Robert's Photos
Past Meeting Notes
Past Newsletters-01
WSS 01

We are currently creating content for this section. In order to be able to keep up with our high standards of service, we need a little more time. Please stop by again. Thank you for your interest!

World Ship Society - ANNOUNCEMENTS - Obituaries

This section lists obituaries of noted Society members, from 1979, many of which have been published by the World Ship Society in our monthly magazine, Marine News, or in various branch publications. 


BEDFORD, John G.  It was a great shock to all the members and friends of the Belfast Branch to learn of the death of John on 3rd October. [1998]  John was a founder member of the Branch and had served on the Committee as a Secretary for many years.  He was also a former Chief Naval Architect of Harland & Wolff, Belfast.  His interest in and knowledge of ship design was something he was always willing to share with branch members, especially when he would bring along some ship plans to a branch meeting.  He had a part in the design of many vessels from that great shipbuilding yard, including the CANBERRA.  An interview which he had given to B.B.C. radio for a programme on the building of CANBERRA had been re-broadcast recently.  At our branch meeting on the 14th October, John was to have brought the second part of an illustrated talk on ‘Cross Channel Ferry Services’.  However, this was not to be.  John was a humble, kindly gentleman and it was a pleasure on our part to have known him.  We express our deepest sympathy to his daughter Hilary and son Paul at this time.  [MN52-1,page9] [ [Fred Rainey]


BISHOP, Alan.  It is with great sadness that we note the passing of Alan Bishop at the premature age of 66. Alan was a larger than life character with an ability to throw himself wholeheartedly into everything he touched, attempted and achieved. He was blessed with a great intelligence and there was hardly a subject he could not comment on without knowledge and conviction. His company was always welcome and whether at work or play he always gave 100%.

Alan was born on 30th November 1946 in Littlehampton and enjoyed a happy
childhood playing along the river Arun and visiting the various boatyards where
his nautical interest first manifested itself. After junior school he attended
Chichester High School for Boys from 1958-1965, but sadly, lost his mother when
only 14, leaving his sister Audrey to bring him up.

It was in the early 1960s that he started visiting places such as Portsmouth
and Southampton and honing his interest in ships and boats. Between 1965 and
1970 he was an Auxiliary Coastguard at Littlehampton.  Alan joined the World Ship Society in 1961 and became the chairman of the South Coast Branch in 1977, a role he performed until 1990, also producing the branch magazine South Coast Log for many years. In 1999 he joined the main committee of the World Ship Society where he became advertising manager until 2011.

Alan started his career in public transport with Southdown Motor Services in 1965 rising from a trainee to higher management. He transferred to Stagecoach (South) in 1990 as divisional manager, and then moved from Sussex to Yorkshire where he joined Yorkshire Traction (Huddersfield) as manager 1991. He later moved to Metro (West Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive) in 1998 but finally retired at the end of November 2009 on health grounds.  In addition to shipping his interests were many and varied: all forms of transport, R.N.L.I. lifeboats, music etc, and he was a member of the R.N.L.I. Lifeboat Enthusiasts Society, the Solent Maritime Society, the WSS small Craft Group, and the Yorkshire Ship Enthusiasts.  Sadly Alan was plagued with serious health issues for the past 15 years, which caused him mobility difficulties as time progressed, but despite the pain and discomfort he always tried to attend AGMs and other events as much as possible, and he was fortunate in having a group of close friends who always helped out with transport and companionship.  Alan lived life to the full, enjoying food, Stella Artois (and other beverages) and especially friendships. He was immensely proud of his family and was so pleased when Grandson Harvey was born.

Alan will be sadly missed by his:- Son Michael & his Fiancée Shirley, Daughter Mary, Son in Law Tim, and Grandson Harvey, Sister Audrey, Brother in Law Tony, Nephew Mark and Niece Glenys  Former Wife June, All of his Friends and Colleagues  [MN67, No.5]



BLACKHURST, Derek.  Derek Blackhurst passed away sadly on 13th February 2005 after a long illness.  He was the former Honorary Treasurer of the World Ship Society, a task that he carried out with charm, ability and great aplomb.  He was a staunch supporter of the Plymouth Branch of the World Ship Society and a close friend and helper to all their members – despite a two hour round trip drive there from his home.  HE often entertained the branch at his “office” and at home with Margaret and they shared many happy occasions with them both over the years.  His guidance, support and presence will be sadly missed.  He was also a founder member of the South West Maritime Historical Society and served on the committee for a number of years.  His help and knowledge was also invaluable in setting up the Small Craft Group of the WSS and his assistance with the research for the various projects of the SCG was welcomed and appreciated.  Derek ran his own engineering company in Cheshire but had a holiday home in Salcombe and on his retirement he and Margaret moved there permanently.  His great collection of books, photographs, artefacts and paintings soon filled the house and thus his “office” was found on the waterfront at Salcombe to house his collection.  His great passions were for Fisher & Co of Barrow and Philip & Sons of Dartmouth and his book on the latter was a testimony to his meticulous research and a truly magnificent volume.  I will always remember the assistance he gave me with my many queries and know he will be sadly missed by all who knew him.  [MN59-9,Page520] [PS] 09.2005]


BONSOR, Noel R.P.  It is with great regret that we record the death during April [1985] of our Vice-President, Mr. Noel Bonsor.  Internationally renowned as a shipping historian, the first edition of his “North Atlantic Seaway” set a new standard of scholarship on the subject when it appeared in 1955.  He was an indefatigable researcher and over the years built up a unique archive of material relating particularly to the passenger ships of the North and South Atlantic and members will share our feelings of pride and gratitude that in his will, Mr. Bonsor has left this books and written records to the Central Record of the World Ship Society, of which he became a Vice-President in 1981.  [MN39-6.page313]


BOWDEN, Bob.   Bob Bowden, who passed away on 26 February 2011 aged 76 after a short illness, had been a member of the World Ship Society and of Merseyside Branch for over fifty years.  He was well-known as the printer of our programmes, dinner menus, calendars and any other documents needed, a task he also undertook for a number of WSS branches in the UK for many years. He also made an excellent job of binding members’ shipping magazines and producing postcard albums. His last special job was the production of the fine dinner menus for the WSS AGM hosted by Merseyside Branch in May 2010.

Bob lived his whole life in Wallasey. He served his time as a bookbinder in one of the large printers in Liverpool but also took a keen interest in printing itself, so much so that in the late 1960s he set up his own jobbing printing business in Borough Road, Seacombe, acquiring redundant presses and ancillary equipment, all of which he maintained in excellent working order over the coming decades.

As far as shipping was concerned, Bob’s “patch” was Birkenhead Docks where from a very young age he would go aboard the variety of traditional cargo vessels that abounded there until the 1970s. He always asked for an impression of the ship’s stamp to go into his self-produced albums and amassed a considerable collection over the years. He was particularly interested in Chinese ships and made some remarkable friendships with individual crew members whom he would invite home for meals and shows them around Merseyside.

Apart from his active participation in branch activities, Bob was very keen on making model ships, being an active member of the New Brighton Model Boat Society. Being a very practical person, he produced some fine models and fellow members would gather at his house on a Friday evening discussing ships and modelling until the early hours. Bob’s funeral at Landican was attended by a large number of his ship and model enthusiast friends including branch members. We send to his family our sincere condolences on their loss.


BROCK, Rear Admiral P.W.,   C.B., D.S.O.  It is with deep regreat that we record the death during October [1988] of the Society’s Vice-President, Rear-Admiral Brock.  A Trustee of the National Maritime Museum, Admiral Brock had been a Vice-President for 20 years.  During his service career he was awarded the D.S.O. for services during the Korean War and subsequently served as Flag Officer, Middle East from 1954 to 1956, in which year he was appointed a C.B.  [MN42-12,page698]


BROWN, David Keith, MEng, CEng, FRINA, RCNC.   The name of David Brown, who died in Bath on 15 April 2008, will be well known to every reader of Warships and every member of the World Ship Society, for his contributions to the naval interests of the Society.  He spent his entire career as a naval architect with the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, and after retirement in 1988 wrote extensively on every aspect of British warships and their design.  Born in 1928, his interest in warships developed in his schooldays in Leeds, where he and Geoffrey Hudson would follow wartime news of British warships, build models of them and take every opportunity to see them.  Good at maths and science, he took a first class honours degree in naval acrchitecture from Liverpool University in 1949, shortly before the course there closed.  He spent a short period with Vickers-Armstrong's shipyard at Barrow before being selected to join the RCNC.  As part of the well planned RCNC training, he spent time with the RN to gain first hand experience of warship operation, valuable for every ship designer, where awareness of operational issues is paramount.  He had short attachments to a variety of warships, including the carrier GLORY in the Med in 1953, where he was horrified at the accident rate of Fleet Air Arm pilots in those days before angled decks, mirror landing sights and steam catapults.  Other vessels included cruise EURYALUS, a Loch class frigate and a T class submarine.

He completed the Constructors course at the RN College at Greenwich with high marks — his later analysis showed that high marks there were a good predictor to rising to high rank in the profession.  As a young Assistant Constructor, his second posting in 1954 was to the small office in Whitehall - the bulk of the RCNC had moved to Bath in 1940.  Here he was involved in the royal yacht BRITANNIA and early studies for the Tribal class frigates.  It was during this period that we first met, both being members of the Naval Photograph Club.  Although most of the Club's activities centred around the circulation by mail of batches of photographs, prints of which could then be ordered, it held occasional meetings in a room above a restaurant opposite Victoria station in London.  Here photos could be exchanged and the Club's surplus prints sold off at prices of 2d and 3d (1p today!)

David's subsequent career postings reflected the RCNC philosophy of moving staff around to broaden their experience.  Although his primary interest was in ship design and secondarily in hydrodynamics, he held a variety of other posts mainly in the Bath area, including attending the Senior Officers War Course in 1973.  He retained a lifelong interest in rallying and motor racing, and latterly in industrial archaeology.  He married relatively late in life, having met teacher Avis Pritchard in London while teaching at Greenwich 1967-70.  Katharine was born in 1969, now a successful lawyer and Richard in 1971, now an officer in the Royal Engineers.  He was always proud of their achievements, and pleased to become a grandfather in 2006.  By that time he was divorced from Avis, although remaining on good terms with her.

As with any professional engineer (or Chartered Engineer or Eur Ing as he was happy to style himself) he had to write many official reports.  While some were classified, he was sometimes able to persuade the authorities to let him publish technical papers based on them, for example in the Transactions of Royal Institution of Naval Architects (e.g. evaluation of the hyrdofoil SPEEDY in 1981).  Articles on purely historical aspects of warship design were less constrained, so from about 1980 a steady stream of such appeared including a series on Attack and Defence in the quarterly Warships.  These drew not only his knowledge of technical aspects and foreign warships but an awareness of the relevant political and economic backgrounds.  For example he challenged the belief of superior French warship design during the Napoleonic era, pointing out that it was 'horses for courses', so while French ships sometimes showed superier speed, the balance of advantage lay with British designs needing good seakeeping and endurance for blockading roles.

He was one of the first members of the Ship News Club that became the World Ship Society, so was a member for over 60 years.  He encouraged the warship enthusiasts — always a minority — becoming a member of the Naval (Sub) Committee when it was formed in the 1960s.  He was a keen supporter of the annual naval meeting at Bristol, making a contribution at nearly every one.  Shortish articles appeared in Warships (Supplement) although his 'meatier' papers tended to be published by RINA or in journals such as Mariners Mirror (e.g. form and speed of sailing warships in 1998) and Warship International (e.g. submarine diving depths in 1987).  These covered a broad range, not only in time covering 19th and 20th centuries, but also topics ranging from the introduction of steel to speed trials.

He rose to the position of Deputy Chief Naval Architect in the MInistry of Defence in 1982.  By that time his beloved RCNC (whose centenary history he wrote in 1983) had lost its pre-eminent role in warship procurement, becoming more of a technical adviser to administrative civil servants, accountants and systems analysts, who had little awareness of the complexities of warship design.  However he was proud of the Castle class offshore patrol vessel design, which drew on his knowledge of performance of WW2 escorts, insisting on a length of at least 250ft (80m) for seakindliness.

Although not really ready for retirement at the civil service age of 60, it did provide the opportunity for him to write much more prolifically, helped by the acquisition of an Amstrad word processor in 1986.  That enabled him to send out drafts to colleagues for comment, but more importantly easiest to decipher.  It was gratifying to see his readiness to accept suggestions and to acknowledge them publicly.  At this time, the Head of the Naval Historical Branch was another David Brown, ex Fleet Air Arm, but they were usually disitiguished by their initials DK and JD.

He will be best remembered for his five volumes series on the development of British warship design from 1815 ("Before the Ironclad" 1990) to the 1990s ("Rebuilding the Royal Navy" 2003 with co-author George Moore). In these, he drew on the breadth and depth of his knowledge and experience, so they will stand for all time as his legacy.  The extensive appendices provide detailed information on specific topics ranging from ship stability to construction costs.  These topics had often previously been the subject of articles in Warhsips (at first a quarterly then an annual), Warship International, Mariners Mirror and Journal of Naval Engineering (a publication of MoD).  He wrote many book reviews, especially for the latter journal — a good way to build up his personal library.  His reputation with editors and publishers was such that they welcomed his contributions, often supported by photos from his extensive collection.  However when he wrote a biography of one of his heroes, William Froude pioneer of scientific ship model testing, with some associated industrial archaeology, it took him 15 years to find a publisher; limited market, they said.

Like any good professional, he was keen to learn from mistakes.  His investigations into the deficient stability of the Type I Hunt class escort destroyers identified the unchecked calculation errors that reduced their performance.  His note on the subject identified not only the source of the error but the individuals concerned, but by code only despite the events having occurred 60 years previously, although when pressed, he did tell me their names.

He was always ready to help others and share his experience, for example when he heard of my interest in tank landing craft, he sent me a wad of notes on WW2 LCT designs.  He was always willing to express a technical opnion, whether on his favourite design (the WW1 V and W destroyers) or a design issue such as the risks of longitudinal subdivision in damaged warships.  Indeed he was happiest writing on subjects that drew together his wide experience, for example 'History as a Design Tool' (RINA 1992).  He was always complimentary about others' writing where they had done original research, less so when they were repetitive 'pot-boilers' or contained avoidable techincal errors.  He was kind enough to say that my 'Big Gun Monitors' was the best of its type, although sadly did not live to see the (improved) second edition.  Although happy to give talks and make presentations, his delivery was somewhat hesitant for such an authority in his field, but he was always willing to answer questions with further information and insight.

He became first a Vice President of WSS, then President in 2000.  He was elected a Vice President of the much larger RINA, always willing to serve on its committees or chair meetings.

David was one of those fortunate people where profession and hobby were virtually indistinguishable.  Most of his career was spent during the time that professional engineers were highly regarded and nurtured in Ministry of Defence circles.  The variety of ship related posts expanded his experience, so enabling him (and his colleagues) to make a full contribution to the demanding art and science of warship design.   Sadly such opportunities have all but disappeared in today's UK government and industrial organisations, with fragmented procurement processes and corporate knowledge, experience and continuity.  But David's legacy will last, contributing to and chronicling the golden decades of the Royal Navy's warship design, construction and operation.

[report by Dr. Ian Buxton, Vice President, World Ship Society, was published in Issue 159 of the World Ship Society's publication "Warships"]

                                                 * * *

BROWN, David K.  1928 - 2008. Members will be saddened to learn of the unexpected death of David K. Brown on 15th April, 2008.  David was one of the half dozen or so founder members of Michael Crowdy's Ship News Club in 1946 and went on to become President of the World Ship Society in 2001 and was a Vice-President at the time of his death.  He became Chairman of the Society's Naval Sub Committee in 1990 and served with distinction in that role for more than a decade.  After graduating in 1949 with a First Class Honors degree in Naval Architecture, David joined the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors and subsequently played a major role in the design and development of many of the Royal Navy's warships until he retired as the Deputy Chief Naval Architect in 1988.  He served as a Member of the Council and as Vice-President of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, President and later Vice-President of the Naval Photographic Club and was keenly interested in motor sport proving to be a successful rally navigator.

David was also a keen naval historian and was eidely recognised as a leading expert on British warships from 1815.  From 1982 onwards he was a regular attendee at the Society's Annual Naval Meeting in Bristol giving his name to the Annual Savid K Brown lecture in 2007.  Warship enthusiasts will best know David for his outstanding series of books entitled "Before the Ironclad", "Warrior to Dreadnought", "The Grand Fleet", "Nelson to Vanguard" and "Rebuilding the Royal Navy" in which he explored the design, technical and performance history of British warships during the last 150 plus years.  He had the happy knack of making this intellectually demanding subject accessible to the layman and in so doing brought a huge amount of pleasure to all interested in warships.  In conversation with him the day before he died, he seemed instictively to know that the recently published "Atlantic Escorts, Ships Weapons & Tactics in World War II" would be his last book.  He was scheduled to give a talk entitled "Capsize, the loss of destroyers in bad weather" at the Annual Naval Meeting on 31st May - fortunately his script was submitted in early March and will be presented on the day as he would have wished.  I was always impressed by the breadth and depth of his technical and historical knowledge which shone through in his books.  David was always keen to share his knowledge with other enthusiasts and he will be sorely missed.    [MN62-06,page327] [report by Dr. Richard Osborne, WSS Chairman] [06.2008]


BROWN, J. David.  Members will be saddened to read of the death of former World Ship Society Vice President David Brown on 11th August, 2001, at the age of 63, after a long illness.  David Brown served in the Royal Navy from 1957-69 before joining the Naval Historical Branch of the Ministry of Defence, of which he became Head in 1977.  He published a number of books and monographs and will be remembered particularly for Carrier Operations of World War II, The Seafire and The Royal Navy and the Falklands War.  David was an enthusiastic naval historian and supported the research work being undertaken by many WSS members at the Naval Historical Branch.  His efforts were recognised in 1983 when he was invited to become a Vice President of the Society but ill-health forced him to resign just a few years later.  He will be particularly missed by all those who knew him for his drive, enthusiasm and sense of fun. [RO] [MN55-10,page583] [10.2001]


BROWN, John.  In December 2007, members of the Dorset Branch were very saddened on hearing the news of John's death after a long battle against pancretic cancer.  John was a Life member of the Society and a staunch member of the Dorset Branch since it was founded twenty one years ago. He has frequently held office and for many years has been Branch Vice Chairman.  Members have had the privilege of listening to many of John's excellent talks.  He was a very keen QE2 "cruiser" and had been due to sail on the Christmas cruise.  Our condolences go to John's two sons and their families.  We shall all miss him.


BRUNTON, Jim.  It is with sadness that we have to report that Jim Brunton died on 13th August after a short illness.  Jim joined the newly formed mid-Essex branch shortly after moving from Liverpool to London with Ellerman Lines in 1973 and became their first Chairman.  Five years ago, having moved back north, he became Mutual Interests secretary, deriving great pleasure from being able to bridge the gap between hundreds of members in all parts of the world.  We extend our sympathies to his widow, Ella.  [MN46-40,page597]


BRYAN, John.  Our good friend and long-term member of the Firth of Forth Branch, John Bryan, passed away suddenly in January 2003.  Around 10 members attended his funeral and we extend our very sincere condolences to his family and many friends.  John made many good friends in the branch and his presence and good nature will be sadly missed. [MN57-6,page328] [06.2003]


BURT, Dennis. Captain Dennis Gordon Burt was born on Denman Island, British Columbia, on January 14, 1948 and grew up on Gabriola Island.  At 18 he left for sea, working on deep-sea vessels around the world, moving up the ranks, until he became one of the youngest Master Mariners in Canada, at the age of 31.  A gentleman to the end!  His wry sense of humour and intelligent curiousity were his trademark.  Dennis lived his life to the fullest.  He stood on the North Pole, traversed the Kyber Pass, and rounded the Cape Horn.  His life at sea granted him tremendous opportunities and he shied sway from none of them.  At 30 he returned home fo Gabriola Island on leave and met his wife to be and later with two sons Dennis now decided to settle in North Vancouver, where he worked for Transport Canada, at the Port of Vancouver for 24 years where he worked as a ship inspector.  Dennis took a keen interest in community programs and served as President of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 118, President of the World Ship Society-Vancouver Branch, President of the Navy League-BC Mainland Division and was a member of the Union Club and a former Director of the Plimsoll Club of Vancouver.  Dennis passed away on April 13, 2007 after a long battle with cancer.  Dennis will be missed by all of those who experienced his presence.  [MN61-06,page327] [06.2007]


BYASS, Keith. - Society Photographer and Printer.
We were very saddened to hear in early November 2009 of the death of Keith Byass who passed away peacefully at home in his sleep.  Keith for over twenty years handled the printing side of the Society's print offers producing photographs from negatives held in the WSS/WSPL Archive and spent many hours in the dark room.  Keith had a large collection of his own photographs and If on occassion he found a negative did not match up to his expectations and he had a better one himself , he would substitute it so that WSS members got a better photograph. If a mistake occurred with ordering, a word with Keith and he would go back to his dark room and within a day or so matters were put right, nothing was too much trouble.  He also supplied photographs for the Society's and  other publications and his work graces many books.  Keith  was a member of West Riding Branch WSS for many years and  a judge at their annual slide competition.  He took an increasing interest in the painting of ships at which he also excelled and a number of Society members are proud owners of his work.  Despite reaching an age of 88 Keith continued to supply images for other ship enthusiasts to enjoy and will be greatly missed.  Our condolences to his wife Cynthia and his son and two daughters.   [02.2010]