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Thread: Admiral Sir John Treacher KCB

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2009

    Ensign Admiral Sir John Treacher KCB

    It is with great sadness that I have to inform you that "Our" Admiral, Sir John Treacher 'crossed the bar' on the 30th April 2018.
    Sir John and Lady Kirstie were great supporters of the HMS Lowestoft Association from its inception by sponsoring our tree and plaque at the NMA and attending our first five reunions before sadly he became too frail to make the journeys.
    As you will see from his 'Telegraph' obituary below he was a great leader and those who served under him would have followed him anywhere without question. It was a great honour and pleasure to have served with him 1968-1970 in HMS EAGLE.
    He will have a private funeral with a service in London in September to celebrate his life.

    Admiral Sir John Treacher, who has died aged 93, was a charismatic leader, successful both in the Navy and in business.
    He was Vice Chief of the Naval Staff from 1973 to 1975, a critical time for the Service involving another bruising round of Defence cuts, this one under an incoming Labour administration, with Roy Mason as Secretary of State for Defence and one of his predecessors, Denis Healey, as Chancellor.
    The Navy was anxious about the future of the Royal Marines, the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and the Royal Yacht, but an issue which also concerned Treacher was the need for naval air power and the acquisition of the Sea Harrier “jump jet”.
    Treacher skilfully brought his energy, charm and intellect to bear, made new friends in the Treasury (particularly the brilliant Left-wing civil servant Leo Pliatzky), cultivated his opposite number in the RAF, Ruthven Wade, and brought in British Aerospace to give an impressive display of the new aircraft to Mason.

    The eventual decision to acquire the Harrier was a historic moment for the Navy and Treacher mused: “In the long term [it] turned out to have been as good for the RAF.”
    John Devereux Treacher was born in Chile on September 23 1924; his father was an Anglo-Argentine trader and his mother a Canadian who had nursed on the Western Front in the First World War. The family lost their fortune in the crash of 1929 and returned to England to start again.
    Treacher was educated at Colet Court prep school, where he first met the future radio presenter Nicholas “Jimmy” Parsons. He spent his first term at St Paul’s, in September 1938, digging air-raid shelter trenches.
    In his last term, in 1942, he shocked General Montgomery, an Old Pauline, who discovered while inspecting the CCF that Treacher, the parade sergeant, was about to join the Navy.
    Treacher served as midshipman, under training, in the battleship Nelson at the landings in Sicily and Italy, and saw the surrender of the Italian Fleet. In the cruiser Glasgow he was at the D-Day landings off Omaha Beach, and in the winter of 1944-45 he served in the destroyer Keppel on Arctic convoys, and later in the frigate Mermaid in the Mediterranean and Red Sea.

    Treacher beside his Seafire MK 47 during the Korean War

    Postwar he volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm, and during training flew many types of aircraft before joining 800 Naval Air Squadron in the light fleet carrier Triumph in 1949, to fly the Seafire Mark 47, the last manifestation of the Spitfire.
    During the Korean War he flew fighter cover for a raid on airfields near Pyongyang on July 3 1950, the first day of UN operations, and later provided cover over the Inchon landings, as well as ground-attack on other sorties.
    Despite losses in 800 NAS (his wingman was shot down by friendly, American, fire and his CO was killed in a freak ground accident), the FAA reached a peak of operational performance, achieving higher sortie rates than had been considered possible. “This was,” Treacher wrote, “very much the Navy’s air war.”
    His flying ability and experience were recognised, and while still only a lieutenant he was chosen to bring into service the Skyraider airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, purchased in the US, and to command 778 Naval Air Squadron. The Americans could not believe that a junior officer could be picked for such a responsible task and insisted on treating him as someone more senior.
    At the handover ceremony for the first aircraft he appeared in uniform to be greeted by a USN officer with “S–––, commander, you’re only a f–––––– lootenant!” Treacher demonstrated the effectiveness of the new AEW system when he searched for and found the hulk of the merchantman Flying Enterprise in 1952.
    He returned to general service second-in-command in the South Atlantic guardship ship Protector 1956–57, when he was also made aviation adviser, insisting on qualifying to fly the ship’s Sikorsky S51 helicopter.
    A highlight of the commission, as Treacher later recalled, was the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit to Antarctica: the Prince, wanting to view the wildlife from a helicopter, frequently “glowered” from the deck at the low cloud base while his advisers, “beseeching him to keep calm”, insisted conditions precluded flying.
    Protector returned to Portsmouth with half a dozen King penguins bound for London Zoo, which Treacher insisted should be on deck, correctly dressed in their white fronts, for ceremonial entry into harbour.
    He rose easily through the Service with a variety of flying and staff appointments in Britain and the US. From 1961 to 1962 he lead the team which successfully assisted the Indian Navy to commission the carrier Vikrant (originally HMS Hercules).
    Promoted captain in 1962, Treacher was Naval Assistant to the Controller of Navy from 1961 to 1963. It was a formative experience, and he was “exposed to the senior management of a great number of companies with contracts to win and concerns about the future … I switched my senses to ‘receive’ only. Listening proved very valuable.”
    Next he commanded the frigate Lowestoft (1964–66), when his was the first ship to establish the Beira Patrol, the blockade of oil shipments to Rhodesia.

    John Treacher

    Over the next 10 years, Treacher held all the key naval aviation appointments, including Director of Naval Air Warfare (1966–68), when his principal achievement was the introduction into service of the Phantom fighter.
    As captain of the fleet carrier Eagle from 1968 to 1970, he oversaw the deck-landing trials of the Phantom and hosted the Queen at the fleet review in Torbay. This included a ship’s concert party with a spoof “This is Your Life” on Lord Mountbatten which had the royal party roaring with laughter.
    Promoted to rear-admiral, Treacher was Flag Officer Carriers and Amphibious Ships (1970-72) then Flag Officer, Naval Air Command (1972-73).
    He was Commander-in-Chief Fleet from 1975 to 1977, when he was widely tipped to become First Sea Lord. But when he found that the incumbent had laid other plans, he retired, shortly before the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review at Spithead (which he had planned), avowing to secure the financial security of his family.
    Sir Donald Gosling appointed Treacher as chief executive of National Car Parks. Treacher oversaw the company’s rapid expansion, and Gosling encouraged him to take on other directorships, which brought him to the Press Council in 1978. He was sceptical about the press’s response to criticism, although he had approving words to say about the Telegraph and Bill Deedes.
    Head-hunters began to gather around Treacher and, “on a bad day in the office”, he was persuaded to join Playboy UK in 1981. Considerable profits came from the London gambling business and, at risk of losing its licence, the company wanted Treacher as its “Mr Clean”. Despite his enduring two days in the witness box defending charges of breach of the Gaming Act, Playboy lost its case, and Hugh Hefner sold the London operation.
    Treacher was then snapped up by the Westland helicopter company, where he was active on the board between 1983 and 1989. He understood the company’s strength and its importance to defence, and vigorously defended it against what he saw as a Eurocentric and self-promotional bid by the Defence Secretary Michael Heseltine to divorce the firm from its American roots.
    In his entertaining autobiography, Life at Full Throttle (2004), Treacher described the episode, “when Heseltine all but deserted the Ministry of Defence for six weeks”, as the Heseltine Conundrum.

    Life at Full Throttle, by Admiral Sir John Treacher

    Treacher, appointed KCB in 1975, was an amiable and vibrant figure, a friend who unfailingly kept up in touch, and a quick-thinking, fast-moving leader. He worshipped regularly at St George’s, Campden Hill, and on Remembrance Sunday would attend in uniform.
    He loved the sea, and his second home was in the south-west corner of Ibiza, where he taught his children to boat. He married Patcie McGrath, an American, in 1950, and they had one son and one daughter; the marriage was dissolved in 1968. He married Kirstie Landale the following year; they also had a son and a daughter. She and all the children survive him.
    Admiral Sir John Treacher, born September 23 1924, died April 30 2018

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Such sad news. A great man and a true gent. Irene and myself enjoyed our breakfast chats with him and lady kirstie at many reunions. Sleep tight sir the world has lost a good un
    Wij zjin Ajax, Wij zjin de beste

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    On the beach,Severnbeach,near Bristol

    My skipper

    Quote Originally Posted by Richie View Post
    Such sad news. A great man and a true gent. Irene and myself enjoyed our breakfast chats with him and lady kirstie at many reunions. Sleep tight sir the world has lost a good un
    He signed my warrant in JUNE 1965,enabling me 28days in Portsmouth DQs,hating every single day of my interment,I never ever bore that guy a grudge and willingly came back on board and served probably the best commission of my life,thank you Captain Treacher,I certainly will not forget you(my condolences to Lady Kirstie) Jim Riley(rum bosun)
    Remember the golden rule he who has the gold Rules

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Quote Originally Posted by jimbob View Post
    He signed my warrant in JUNE 1965,enabling me 28days in Portsmouth DQ’s,hating every single day of my interment,I never ever bore that guy a grudge and willingly came back on board and served probably the best commission of my life,thank you Captain Treacher,I certainly will not forget you(my condolences to Lady Kirstie) Jim Riley(rum bosun)
    I remember you reminding Sir John that he sent you over the wall at the first reunion in Chatham !!!!
    Wij zjin Ajax, Wij zjin de beste

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Heald Green Cheshire NOT Greater Manchester!!!
    Extremely sad news and our thoughts are with Lady Kirstie and his family. I remember having a few chats with him at the reunions, and a long one at the Arboretum when the Lowie plaque was inaugurated. A true gentleman. RIP Sir.
    "Wot,no Airlocks on the Lowie!!!!"

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2010
    Well, just heard this news. Although inevitable at some stage still a bit of a shock to hear he has passed on. Never my skipper, just missed him on the Eagle, but had a chat at a couple of reunions and of course presented him with my painting of the Lowestoft , which I hope he liked. A true Great Briton and a gentleman. RIP.
    It is never too late to be what you might have been.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Very sad news indeed. Thoughts are with his family. rip

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Nobody lives forever, though you hoped he would somehow defy nature - being something of a force of nature himself.
    The world needed - still needs, people like him.
    A truly great man, a remarkable leader and an officer and gentleman.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    alberta canada
    A true leader and a gentleman RIP sir.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Never knew him untill the reunions RIP sir,but my what a life he had.

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