This website uses cookies

We use cookies to personalize content, remember visitors and to analyse our traffic. Cookies are small files stored in your browser and are used by most websites to help personalize and enhance your web experience. By continuing to use our website you are agreeing to our use of these cookies.

The Fisgard Association

Royal Naval Artificer Apprentices

Donald William Murdoch (1944 Anson) (1929 - 2014)

Founder member of The Fisgard Association.

We report with great sadness that Don Murdoch of 1944 Anson passed away in October 2014.

Don was born in Southsea on the 18th January 1929. He suffered ill-health from the age of seven and spent 15 months in hospital and then two years in an 'Open-Air School of Recovery'. Fully restored in 1940 his education was then limited to half days during the 1940-41 Blitzes on Portsmouth. Nevertheless he gained a Secondary education by passing the 12+ exam and joined the Junior Technical School, at the time evacuated to Salisbury, in September 1941. In the absence of workshop facilities the A stream at the JTS followed the grammar school syllabus and Don was able to catch up on his schooling. In April 1944 he sat the Civil Service Open Competitive Examination for Artificer Apprentices, and being placed 18th in order of merit was able to choose his branch. Don joined RNATE Torpoint on the 2nd August 1944 in Anson 44. Don, known as Dan in 'the boys, is remembered as a being a bit of a 'skate' whose indiscipline was marked in his final year by a Captain's Warning or 'Skipper's Lobs' for conduct. Where 'Crushers' had failed for nearly four years, an angry reprimand from his tiny Irish mother succeeded in making him 'see the light'. From then until he 'passed-out' in August 1944 he was known as 'All-puss(er) Dan.

Whilst qualifying as an EA at HMS Collingwood, he regained the advancement forfeited by his Captain's Warning and was rated Acting EA4. More importantly Don met his future wife Eileen.

In May 1949 he joined the carrier Theseus with responsibility for the crane, lifts, and engine-room electrics. He married Eileen in April 1950 and shortly afterwards saw active service in the Korean War, finally leaving the ship in October 1951. He subsequently served as- Squadron EA of the 2nd TS at Portland , Fire-Control EA in HMS Saintes in the Med, and Low-Power Chief EA in HMS Cleopatra. After qualifying as Chief EA in February 1956 he joined the new frigate Dundas.

In September 1957 Don was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant and underwent the Radio and Radar course at Collingwood before joining HMS Cheviot in April 1958 as DLO, and later as head of department. Whilst in Cheviot he gained his Bridge Watch Keeping Certificate and left the ship in February 1960.

He then joined HMS Vernon with responsibility for Anti Submarine training equipment. In October 1961 he was promoted Lieutenant and joined the HMS Nubian as DWEO serving in her for three years including a year in the Gulf. Three years, 1964 to 1967, as Electrical (and Radio) Officer of Portsmouth Fleet Maintenance Group were followed by two years as a WE 'Sea-rider' on the staff of FOST at Portland. During this time at Portland he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander.

In mid-1969 he joined Collingwood as Head of the GE Training Group. In late 1970 he was appointed WEO of HMS Falmouth. During the three years he served in her she won the 1972 Fleet Gunnery Championship by winning the Surface and Bombardment trophies, coming second in the AA and third in the Seacat competitions. His department also achieved the top grade possible in the two FOST work ups he led them through.

Two years as 2nd in command of the Control School in Collingwood were followed by two years with Captain Weapon Trials as XP's Type 21 Trials Team Leader, the first engineer officer to hold such a post. During this time, together with his team of five Officers and three Chief Artificers, he carried out the full gambit of installation inspections and harbour and sea acceptance trials on all the surface weapons, radar and radio equipment in these new 'State of the Art' frigates.

In late 1977 he joined the carrier Bulwark as WEO with instructions to get and keep the WE department ready for sea, (This included the electrics now being maintained in other ships by the ME department). A year later he was also tasked with coordinating the 'Bring Forward' plan for the whole ship. Bulwark met the programme, and after working up at Portland, took part in the long NATO A/S exercise in the Atlantic.

Don was 'dined out' of the navy whilst at sea on return to Rosyth and left the Bulwark, and the RN, during her subsequent visit to Hamburg. Two weeks later whilst on terminal leave in the USA he was awarded the MBE.

During his naval career Don, always a 'hands-on' engineer, won three awards for inventions, the last a sea-borne tactical teacher and was at the time the third highest amount ever awarded. He also produced ten successful modifications to a wide variety of the WE equipments in HMS Falmouth that improved their efficiency.

On return from the USA Don, a Chartered Engineer, joined Marconi at Portsmouth as a trials manager, later becoming Sting Ray ATE Trials and Acceptance Manager. In April 1982 he was responsible for installing, commissioning and presenting to the MOD for acceptance the first Sting Ray ATE, installed 'at the rush' over the Easter weekend at an RNAD. It was then successfully used to test the first batch of Sting Ray torpedoes supplied to the task force engaged in liberating the Falkland Islands. He was later appointed Project Manager of the separate Spearfish Safety Trials contract, which he had drawn up for the company, and ran this multi-million pound project for eight years until he retired one year early in 1973 to look after Eileen.

In retirement Don undertook a number of charity and church jobs, and joined the Portsmouth Retired Naval Officers' Association, PROBUS and Mensa. He was a founder member of The Fisgard Association and, at different times during its first ten years, held the posts of Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-Chairman, Editor and Sub-Editor of the Fisgardian. He was also the major contributor to, and principal editor of 'Second to None' the story of 100 years of RN Artificer Apprentices published in 2003.

The love of his life, Eileen, died in March 2011.