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Ian Hamilton

Teacher and naval officer.

Born: January 31, 1911; Died: February 9, 2014

Commander Ian Hamilton, who has died aged 103, was a long-serving naval officer and veteran of the Second World War who saw action in the Atlantic, South Atlantic, Mediterranean and Arctic Convoys and the bombardment of Fort Capuzzo, Bardia, Rhodes, Genoa, Messina, Salerno, Anzio and Alderney. He was also on the bridge of HMS Rodney during the bombarding of the Normandy beaches on D-Day in June 1944.

He was born in Motherwell, where he attended Calder Primary School, and decided his destiny lay in the Royal Navy after he was given a book on ships when he was 12 years old.

After his secondary education at Dalziel High School in the Lanarkshire town, he took a two-year business studies course at Coatbridge Technical College and advanced business studies at Glasgow Technical College. Among the subjects he studied were shorthand and typing both of which would become extremely useful in his naval career.

In August 1932, when he was 18 and working as a clerk with Scottish Gas and Shell Mex, he joined the Clyde ­Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After training on the ­battleship HMS Rodney, HMS Iron Duke and HMS Vernon at the Torpedo School at Portsmouth, he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy during the period of the Italian invasion of Abyssinia.

In 1937, he was appointed to the battleship HMS Malaya for service in the Mediterranean with the rank of lieutenant. Prior to the Second World War, he saw active service with naval howitzers in support of the army in Palestine.

After wartime service in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, his ship was torpedoed and was ordered to make for the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York - the first British ship to be repaired there under the Lease-Lend Agreement.

After his return to the UK, Commander Hamilton was appointed to the staff of the Combined Operations Base at Inveraray and was then appointed supply officer at the Combined Operations Officers Establishment at Lochailort in Inverness-shire.

Anxious to get back to sea, strings were pulled and he was sent to join HMS Rodney in the Mediterranean at the time of the invasion of Sicily.

The ship returned to the UK a few months later and joined the Home Fleet.

Early in 1944, when he was 33, Commander Hamilton was promoted acting commander and supply officer of HMS Rodney, which was then the flagship of the Home Fleet.

He remained on the ship until she paid off at Rosyth prior to going to the breaker's yard at the end of 1945.

Returning home in 1948, he was appointed supply officer of HMS Caledonia, the naval apprentices training establishment at Rosyth, before being appointed supply officer of the Royal Naval Air Station at Gosport and to the aircraft carrier HMS Albion.

He was appointed to HMS Lochinvar in 1958 as base supply officer, Port Edgar, on the Firth of Forth. He retired in 1961.

Following his retirement, he spent a number of years teaching business studies in secondary schools in Ellon, Aberdeenshire and in Newton Stewart, Dumfriesshire.

But Commander Hamilton's love of the west coast of Scotland led to him buying a small croft on the Isle of Seil near Oban.

Thereafter, he and his wife Maud returned to the Isle of Bute where Maud came from and where she died in July 1998.

While on Bute, Commander Hamilton edited the magazine of the Scottish Military Historical Society and was later chairman and life member of the society.

He produced books and articles on the naval and military history of Bute from Napoleonic times up to the end of the Second World War.

Due to failing health and the fact he was 100 years old, in 2011 he moved to The Erskine Home for War Veterans in Renfrewshire and was always grateful for the care and attention given to him by staff there.

He was a warm and generous man whose thoughts often turned to those who needed a helping hand and a number of organisations on Bute have been helped by his generosity as have the Gurkha Welfare Trust and SCIAF.

Many other organisations have benefited from his research and he was always generous in passing on the findings from his various written papers and reports.

He spent many of his last days looking through his extensive collection of papers. Reading and re-reading them gave him enormous pleasure and he loved to share that pleasure in his many thought-provoking conversations.

He is survived by his daughter Veronica, who lives in Colorado in the US, his two grandchildren and a great granddaughter.

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