Crossed the Bar

It is with so much sadness I report that Commodore Richard (Dick) M Thorn CBE RFA(Retd) crossed the bar on Thursday November 12th, aged 81, at home in Lymington after a long illness, bravely borne.

The funeral will be on Thursday 3rd December and will be a private cremation followed by a Memorial Service at St. Thomas’ Church, Lymington. (HERE for their Website and HERE for a map). Former colleagues and shipmates will be very welcome to attend the memorial service and will be invited for refreshments afterwards.

Family flowers only please but donations in lieu and if desired should be made in Dick’s name to the Oakhaven Hospice, Lymington, (HERE for their Website and HERE for a map)

The arrangements for the funeral are being made by F W House and Son, Lymington, (HERE for their Website and HERE for a map)

On behalf of the RFA Association I offer our sincere condolences to Dick’s widow, Elizabeth and their children Penelope, Sarah, Alex (Alexandra), Peter and all the family.


If you have any remembrances of Commodore Dick please email it to me at and I will post them on this page. I am also looking for photographs of Commodore Dick for this piece and the RFA Association Gallery and Archive, If you have one please email it to me

John Hope writes:- I’m attaching a photo I took of Dick in June 2015, an informal group of Milford on Sea Swimers we would meet on occasions at my beach hut for a chat and a swim in the sea. This was probably one of Dick’s last swims with us

Roger Robinson-Brown writes:- It was my enormous good fortune to serve Captain Richard as Navigator on one of the first ARMILLA deployments. It was my first “Big Ship” Nav/Ops appointment. His quiet, determined manner to provide a first class service to all of our customers was something I took forward to the rest of my career. He allowed enormous freedom to get on with the task allowing one to learn from mistakes. One enduring memory was of RFA RELIANT’s first day of BOST which was either Boxing Day 1984 or New Years Day 1985. I was Staff Navs. Sea Training had to start, it was 50kts, I was the only qualified RIB Coxn on board. “Roger are you happy to man the Seaboat for flying ops?” “Yes, Sir.” We completed a Weybay ‘out’ Circuit. and First Deck landing on The “ARAPAHO” Fitted RFA Reliant was a 15 kts downwind in order to reduce the relative wind to less than 40kts across the deck. Getting the job done. He made “Arapaho” work and helped significantly reinforce the SOUTHLANT ASW Capability.


Pat Thompson writes:- I was Dick’s First Officer in RFA Fort Austin during the Falklands War and I worked for him in COMRFA HQ, Empress State Building. He was a pleasure to work for and with. There have been a number of tributes to Dick posted on the RFA Association Facebook page and the adjective describing the most was that he was a “Gentleman”. Now couple that to this tribute from somebody who hadn’t sailed with him and I think we have the measure of the man, “I don’t know him, before my time but I consider being described as ‘a gentleman’ to be among the highest complements a senior officer can receive.


Dick Elsey writes:- Dick’s His passing brought back memories of a long hot summer 1971 in Sir Galahad ‘running around the gulf…’ Bahrain, Muscat, Masira, Salalah,, for the Sultan of Oman and the SAS. A lot of hard, hot work and also a lot of fun!! ably led by Captain Dick. R.I.P.

Ian Gawn writes:- I had the privilege of knowing Dick as a Committee member and later Trustee of Royal Lymington Yacht Club. He described himself as “the Member for Alternative Boating”. Not only was he a first class sailor, he had an active mind and was in the forefront of all that went on. He was a great personality to work with, generous of his time and skills, and outstandingly courteous, but knew when to bite, gently! At a personal level he was very kind not only to me, but our then 8 year old, when I arrived at the club. Jane , Will and I will remember Dick, and that twinkle in his eye, with great affection. He will be much missed.

Ian Gawn

Wg Cdr RAF (Rtd)

Former Secretary, R Lym YC