Fond farewell to South Shields Navy officer

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A FORMER Commanding Officer of TS Collingwood Sea Cadets in South Shields, who trained hundreds of youngsters, many of whom went on to careers in the Royal and Merchant Navies, has died aged 95.

 Lieut Commander Fred Troughton passed away in South Tyneside District Hospital after a short illness.

He became associated with the Sea Cadet Corps in 1956 through the then-vicar of St Stephen’s Church, who was padre of the unit. Because of his 14 years’ service in the Royal Navy, he was able to put his experience and training to good use with the unit. He acted as Chief Petty Officer, Petty Officer and became Commanding Officer in 1965.

Born in South Shields in 1919, Fred was educated at Westoe Boys’ School, then received a scholarship to attend South Shields Boys’ High School. Although a gifted scholar, the cost was too prohibitive for his family and he decided to join the Royal Navy.

He became a 16-year-old naval cadet at HMS Ganges, the shore-based naval training school. After his training, he was recruited fully into the Navy and at 20 was an able seaman serving on a destroyer with the Mediterranean Fleet when war broke out in 1939. During his career he served on destroyers, minesweepers, cruisers and battleships, but his favourite vessel was always the aircraft carrier.

It was while on the famous carrier HMS Formidable, having been promoted to Petty Officer, that he was involved in the naval action leading attacks on the German battleship Tirpitz, berthed in a Norwegian fjord.

Then, in the Far East with the Pacific Fleet and the US Navy, Fred almost met his end during an attack by the Japanese Air Force. A Kamikaze bomber crashed on to HMS Formidable’s flight deck, narrowly missing the gun tower he was commanding. Several of his comrades 
were killed.

When the war with Germany ended in 1945, Fred was still sailing around the Far East until the Japanese surrender and did not return home for a further six months. Finally leaving the navy after 14 years’ service, he returned to South Shields and joined the GPO as a postman.

He then became a counter clerk at the head Post Office in the town for several years before joining the Department of Health and Social Security at Longbenton, from where he retired in 1981 as an executive officer

Fred was commanding officer of the Sea Cadet Unit for 12 years and, having been promoted to Lieut Commander was, in 1977, appointed assistant district officer for all the units in the south Tyne area, including South Shields, Jarrow, Hebburn, Gateshead, Chester-Le-Street and Sunderland.

One of his proudest moments was as Guard Commander with the Sea Cadets acting as escort to the Duke of Edinburgh when he officially opened the new South Shields Marine and Technical College.

On a later occasion Fred was again Guard Commander and Escort to Princess Anne when she opened the Flying Angel Club at the Missions To Seamen, Mill Dam.

Fred, whose funeral was held yesterday, leaves three sons, Gerald, Keith and Malcolm.