16/07/2024
Norwich, GB 15 C
Researching and reporting on the lives of some really interesting people (RIP)

TONY DAVIDSON, aged 90

THE FACE OF THE ROYAL NAVY

Little is known about Tony’s younger years, but he joined the Royal Navy as a junior seaman in 1949. He was assigned to TS (Training Ship) Mercury, and from there went on to train at HMS Vincent in Gosport, Hampshire, where there were hundreds of young recruits.

Out of all of them, Tony was selected to be painted by A.R. Thompson, a member of the Royal Academy. This artist had undertaken lots of work for the War Office during the Second World War, as well as doing portraits for railway companies and working in Hollywood. One of his famous paintings was of Alec Guinness in ‘The Man in the White Suit’.

Tony became the face of the Royal Navy. His image was used on posters for recruitment.

Tony on recruitment poster (courtesy eBay)

Various slogans were on the posters, such as, ‘Make the Royal Navy Your Career’ and ‘A Man’s Life in the Royal Navy’.

There was reputedly another slogan – ‘Join the Navy and Feel a Man’ (but that is probably apocryphal).

Tony was on the Plymouth Navy Days poster of 1959, and on the cover of Kevin Brown’s recent book about fitness and morale in the Navy, ‘Fittest of the Fleet’.

In 1952, whilst serving at shore establishment, HMS Excellent, Tony was selected to be part of the team that pulled the gun carriage from Windsor, for the funeral of King George 6th. He said it was his proudest moment.

For this, Tony was awarded the Royal Victorian Medal, by a young Queen Elizabeth 2nd.

Tony went on to serve on the last British battleship, HMS Vanguard, frigates Ulysses and Murray, and the minesweepers HMS Stubbington and HMS Yarnton.

HMS Vanguard (courtesy Naval Historia)

He rose to be the commander of HMS Yarnton and was at the helm when it completed the first ever circumnavigation of Bahrain.

Tony had always been a keen sportsman, a cricketer and rugby player. He was once flown all the way to Malta as the only passenger on a plane, to compete in a rugby game.

Once there, he was not only awarded the captaincy of his team, but Tony scored the winning try.

Whilst based in Bahrain, Tony also became involved in amateur dramatics.

From there, Tony was sent to HMS Jaguar, to train gun crews. He was in charge of armaments.

His final position in the services was as Staff Gunner to the senior Royal Navy Commander in the Gulf region.

Tony retired after 22 years in the military, after which he had a lengthy career in the financial industry.

Eventually, Tony gave up his job and, on a whim, moved to Vancouver in Canada, where he became a professional actor.

He was an extra in many films and television programmes including the X-Files and science fiction film, ‘Stargate’.

In Vancouver, Tony also met the lady who became his wife. They were married for nineteen years.

When he finally retired, Tony and his wife moved to Cumbria and he died in the town of Brampton.

The Royal Navy recognized Tony’s contribution by saying, ‘A life filled with adventure, service and stories.’

Then and Now (courtesy Portsmouth.co.uk

RIP -Royalnavy Image (for) Posterity

 

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