At the time of going to press, an obituary to Pat wasn’t available. Our thanks to Mike Day for allowing the use of his tribute to Pat. Below are also some of the very many comments made on our Facebook page.
My recollections of Captain Pat, as he became to be known as, are of a good shipmate, then steadiest of friends and a hilarious companion with many a good yarn and dreadful jokes, when swinging the lamp.
And you here would say similar things because that is why we are here, today, to remember this exceptional person.
I first met Pat on the Super Sampam (RFA STROMNESS) when he arrived as the Cadet Training Officer just after refit in autumn 1975. In fact, two of his cadets from that trip are here today, David Turner and Chris Woods, which says a lot about the man.
I was first trip Navigating Officer and we hit it off immediately with a common interest in Tom Lehrer, the Harvard mathematician and writer of absurd songs such as the “Masochism Tango” and “Poisoning the Pigeons in the Park”. Humour was the key.
I have a memory of one day in Valetta, after watching the film The Great Escape, of Pat arranging a meeting in his cabin and organising the cadets is an escape plan. Two cadets to go to the saloon to smuggle two teaspoons up to the cabin, organising trips out on deck to dispose of the earth from the escape tunnel without being spotted. Somehow, we all got into the event with the utmost “seriousness” even though the escape tunnel was from a ship moored to buoys in Grand Harbour.
We sailed together a few times, on Fort boats and his beloved “O” boats when I was Cadet Training Officer and he was First Officer and then Chief Officer. On Global 86 we were on OLMEDA with him, supposedly to escort INVINCIBLE or was it ILLUSTRIOUS, around Cape Horn to rendezvous with the group in San Diego. Sadly, the carrier’s gear box blew up off the Isle of Wight and we had to carry on with a “notional” carrier to escort, as it said in the signal. The cadets thought this silly, but were reminded by Pat that as a result of rounding the Cape they would be allowed to put an elbow on the table. If they went around the Cape of Good Hope as well, they would be able to put both elbows on the table.
We remained good friends after I left the service in 1989, and heard about his exploits in Gulf 2. He was in command of a ship coming to the end of it service life and when asked by someone, “Are you the captain?”, He replied “I am the Curator”.
Christmases would often involve receiving a CD with his latest find on, such as Fascinating Aida, or “Fidicula Inter Angelos” by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, or some similar wildly funny music.
As a result of such stress Captain Pat sadly had a heart attack, had a massive by-pass operation, and ended his career prematurely in the RFA. He spent some time working for the National Statistics Office and was delighted to be called and asked if he would like to join the Board of Trustees of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Association with a view to becoming Chairman when the founder and current Chairman Captain Rex Cooper stepped down.
He launched himself into the work and started some initiatives such as the RFAA webpage, Crossing the Bar page for obituaries, and the RFAA Facebook page for keeping people up to date with RFA and Association news, and interesting articles from other Defence pages and anything to do with the maritime world.
When the time came for him to stand down, he kept busy with the pages and being in the background to help future Chairman and Trustees manage the Association.
Captain Pat’s passing leaves a huge gap in my life and in those of us attending today.
There were over a hundred comments on the post announcing his death. One or two especially stood out for me, including this one which all of us here will appreciate.
The person said “He was in particular an Engineer’s Captain”. I think that is a very special epitaph.
He was funny, kind, understanding, professional and always a Captain who we would all want to go that little bit extra for.
Thank you, Captain Pat.
Oh no – one of the real good guys. RIP Pat.
Rest In Peace Captain Pat, a true Gentleman.
This is truly very sad news for everyone within the RFA family. Pat had become the father figure of the Association and wider RFA veterans keeping in touch with our past and present. Our paths were entwined over many years. He will be sadly missed. RIP Pat and thank you.
So sorry to hear this Pat was my last Captain in the RFA onboard Brambleleaf in 96/97. Condolences to his family.
Sleep tight Captain Pat not only a great man but a great friend also.
Sad news. RIP Capt Pat. A true gentleman and a genuinely nice man.
Aww no! Such a shame! A great man!
Oh no how sad a great man and captain. Rest in peace Capt
A fantastic Gentleman and he did so much for the RFA. I never sailed with him but I know he will be missed by many former friends and colleagues RIP
Captain of my first RFA the Olwen as FOST tanker. He was a fantastic Captain for cadets sending the 0400-0800 OOW off for breakfast and letting me look after things while he sat in his chair reading the signals. In reality he was watching closely, but it didn’t show until he asked about the one fishing boat I hadn’t seen! RIP.
RIP Capt Pat you have been the best support for RFA you will be missed big style.
A genuinely nice man. He had a lot of time for everyone under his command. RIP skipper.
RIP Capt Pat. As a first trip cadet I couldn’t have wished for a better CTO to give me and my fellow cadets a better introduction to life at sea and the RFA. Fair winds and following seas.
He was my first Choff in 1984 and my last 4 ring Captain when I served as his Navigator in 1998. He had a great sense of humour and was an outstanding Commanding Officer. My lasting memory of him was the time I called him at 2 in the morning to let him know we had lost the Port Boiler, he said “Tell the engineers to look in the boiler room”. Thank you Sir RIP
Very sad news. Condolences to all his family. A CO I always had the utmost respect for and a lovely man too. We shared a lot of good humoured banter on this forum too. RIP Captain Pat one of the best.
Sad sad news a true officer and a gentleman who will be greatly missed. RIP Capt Pat your duty is done.
I remember Pat from the 80s an officer you could have a conversation with RIP to this good man.
RIP Captain. One of the best Captains I sailed with in 40 years. Rest easy.
My 1st Captain a pleasure to sail with. To get to know us he took the Cadets for knot tying lessons.
RIP Pat. After a long career at sea you did so much for the RFA Association as Chairman Trustee Ceremonial and webmaster. You will be sadly missed by all who knew you.
RIP Captain Pat a great seaman fair winds and calm seas.
RIP Sir absolute pleasure to sail with you and equally an honour. Sincere condolences to family and friends.
RIP my condolences to the family a great Captain and an absolutely lovely man. A very humble man with a great sense of humour who I was proud to work for.
So sorry to hear this news. Sailed with Pat more than once and learned a lot from him. Great sense of humour and always professional. I will miss you Pat. I’m sure many others will too. RIP.