Vice Admiral Sir John Forbes, popular artillery officer who instilled discipline in Dartmouth – obituary


John Morrison Forbes was born August 16, 1925 in Ireland where he had a bucolic childhood. He was educated at Rockport, a preparatory boarding school on the south shore of Belfast Lough, where he was encouraged to join the Navy by a master, Anthony Trotman. He joined Dartmouth in 1939, excelled on the river, and rose effortlessly to become Chief Cadet Captain and receive the King’s Dirk.

Forbes served during the war, mostly as a midshipman still in training, on the cruiser Mauritius, the destroyer Verulam and the battleship Nelson, participating in the landings in Sicily, Italy and Normandy, and in the last months of the war in the Far East.

As a 17-year-old midshipman, he directed the main armament of Mauritius to provide fire support to troops on land. On D-Day off Sword Beach, he saw the Norwegian destroyer Svenner, 100 meters to port, hit a mine and sink: “I blew air into my inflatable life jacket!

As a second lieutenant in Nelson, he was in charge of 100 men and commanded a 16 inch turret, living in the turret for several days at a time. On September 2, 1945, barely 20 years old, he commanded the motorboat that brought Japanese Rear Admiral Uozumi from Penang Pier to Nelson to deliver 26,000 Japanese troops – to the same table where, two years earlier , the Italian Marshal Badoglio had signed for Italy. .

Forbes was fortunate that his three warships were well-managed and happy ships and by the end of the war he was given more combat responsibilities than many others would in their lifetimes.

Postwar Forbes’ clear focus, intellectual integrity, ability to engage in debate, and lively humor established him as a rising star, and his first appointment as an artillery specialist was loaned. to the Royal Australian Navy.

There he formed the guard for a royal visit in 1954, when he was awarded the Queen’s Flag, and was modeled for a figure in a stained glass window in a new memorial chapel at Flinders Naval Depot, Melbourne .

Professionally, Forbes has held many key positions, including the test officer in the Girdleness test ship during experiments with the Navy’s first long-range surface-to-air missile, and the commanding officer. G “, responsible for all marksmanship and air weapons training at HMS Excellent, the alma mater for all gunners, where he updated the program.

After his first appointment at Dartmouth, he served as Second and Operational Commander of the Royal Malaysian Navy (1966-68) during Konfrontasi. In 1969, although he had been promoted to the “dry” list without waiting for command at sea, he was given command of the Triumph which had been converted from an aircraft carrier to a repair ship.

Promoted to Rear Admiral, he served as Secretary of the Navy 1974-77 and, as Vice Admiral, General Officer in Plymouth and Admiral Superintendent in Devonport 1977-79. He was named KCB in 1978.


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