David Notman, who passed away tragically early in May 1967, was my second cousin. I discovered his details when researching my own family tree and was intrigued by his history enough to find out more about him. Sadly, I have no photographs of David, although his naval record from 1962 tells me he was 5ft 9in tall with dark brown hair and hazel eyes.
David Richard Notman was born on the 15th of January 1933 in Kingsbury NW9, a part of London close to where I was born and grew up some 25 years later. He was my second cousin on my mother’s side and the youngest of three brothers.
There was already some military history within the family. During World War 1, his father James served in the Seaforth Highlanders as a Second Lieutenant and was awarded a Distinguished Service Order for bravery. So, this could well have influenced David in his later choice of career.
At the outbreak of World War 2 in 1939, his father’s employers, the Prudential Assurance Company, evacuated the family from London to Larbert in Scotland, which is where David spent most of the war years. His father passed away in 1942 and after the war, the family moved back to London.
In May 1948 at the age of 15, David joined the Royal Navy as an Engine Room Artificer Apprentice at HMS Fisgard, the start of a naval career spanning nearly 19 years. After passing out of Fisgard, David moved to HMS Caledonia in 1950 to complete his apprenticeship. His service record showed that he progressed through the ranks to an ERA Third Class and then eventually to ERA 1, serving on a number of vessels including HMS Rampuna, Manxman, Pembroke, Bramble, Victorious and finally HMS Albion. In 1966, David was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 18 years’ unbroken service. He clearly enjoyed a successful naval career; without exception, David’s conduct was described on his service record as VG (very good) and his efficiency as satisfactory.
In 1957, David married his fiancée Joyce in Barnes (then in Surrey) and became a father to a little girl, Kathleen, two years later.
Sadly, however, his successful naval career was not mirrored in his personal life. In May 1967, whilst living in Southsea, David took his own life at the age of just 34, one week short of completing 19 years’ service. His funeral took place in nearby Portchester, which I visited recently to pay my own respects to a cousin I never knew. I wish I had; he sounded Iike a fine man.
Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire