Obituaries

Lt Cdr Gwilym Roberts RNR                                              

SANO was sad to learn of the death on 31 July of Lieutenant Commander David Gwilym Morris Roberts, CBE FICE FIMechE FREng RNR, at 95.

Born at Harlech 1925, and having read engineering at Cambridge on a state bursary, Gwilym entered the RNVR Engineering branch at London Division 1945.  He served in HMS Sheffield whilst flagship of the America and West Indies Station.  During this time he transferred to the RN as a temporary Sub-Lieutenant (E).  He returned to the RNVR 1948 and was promoted Lieutenant 1949 and Lieutenant Commander 1957, in which rank he retired 1961.

In civilian life Gwilym was an accomplished water engineer with consultancy John Taylor & Sons (partner 1956, senior partner 1981), becoming founder chairman of its successor Acer Consultants 1987.  He worked in the UK and abroad, particularly the Middle East, largely on wastewater, water-treatment and transport schemes; these included the design of Baghdad’s first sewage treatment scheme.  He served as president of the Institution of Public Health Engineers 1968-9 and Institution of Civil Engineers 1986-7, and wrote a number of books and noted academic papers.  The Sunday Times Magazine described him, 2004, as one of Britain’s four major international engineers of the twentieth century.

In retirement he was active in several engineering and other organisations, including the governance of Brighton Polytechnic, Chailey School and Roedean School.

Gwilym joined the then Sussex RNVR & RNR Officers’ Association, later SANO, 1984, and was a regular attender at events.  He married Rosemary, 1960 (died 1973, two children) and Wendy, 1978.

Gwilym’s obituary appears in The Times for 4 September; link here (sign-up required to read in full).

Cdr Chris Roberts RNR                                        

Commander Christopher Jeffrey Roberts, FNI RD* RNR, died in the early hours of 22 June after a fall at home a few days previously.

Chris had been a SANO member since 2007, having served 1967-92 at Sussex Division RNR on List 1.  He was regarded as a fine example of an officer committed to helping others and furthering themselves.  His service included 2 years RN recall 1986-87 as Merchant Navy Staff Officer at the School of Maritime Operations.

A Master Mariner, his main naval career was in the merchant navy, where he reached Captain.  He spent much of his career in vessels trading in the Far East, Australia and New Zealand, notably with P&O and Clan Line, when Master often accompanied by his wife Wendy.  He then became Master of the Gulf Navigation and Buoyage Authority’s tender operating out of Bahrain, forming a close relationship with RN ships in the Gulf.  He was intensely proud that in the Gulf he was exempt from taking a pilot, and thus an acknowledged expert ship handler.  Once when on RNR training, he was asked by the RN CO to berth the ship, in strong onshore wind with no tug available, by using the merchant navy practice of dropping an anchor upwind.

He was a prominent figure in East Preston, where he had been Chairman of the parish council and made a huge contribution over many years.  He was a former Chairman of Littlehampton Sea Cadets, remaining a trustee at the time of his death, where he gave the cadets great support and was regarded as most professional in all his dealings

He was one of the few SANO members capable of wearing his uniform right up to the last function he attended, shortly before Wendy died.

Chris Roberts had been ill for some time.  His son and daughter survive him.