Naval officer and captain of the Royal Yacht Britannia;
Born: February 20, 1926; Died: September 6, 2013.
VICE-ADMIRAL Sir Cameron Rusby, who has died aged 87, "drove" the Queen more than 44,000 miles as Captain of the Royal Yacht Britannia during the 1960s. But he later became the most senior Royal Navy officer in Scotland as Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland. At the time, in the late 1970s, he was based in Rosyth and lived in Edinburgh but he spent much time at Faslane on the Gare Loch when it housed Polaris rather than Trident nuclear missiles. He ended his 40-year Navy career as a senior officer for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), based in the US as deputy commander of NATO forces in the Atlantic, effectively responsible for the defence of the western hemisphere.
It had all started when he enrolled in the British Royal Naval Academy in Devon when he was only 13, in order to follow in the footsteps of his father. By 17, he was a midshipman on the battleship HMS Howe, initially based in Scapa Flow at the start of the Second World War but sent to the Mediterranean in 1943 to support the Allied invasion of Italy.
Although knighted for his Scottish command, he was known to his friends in Edinburgh, Melrose and the Borders (where he spent his latter years) simply as Cameron, animal lover and chief-executive of the Scottish Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals for 10 years; warden of the historic Neidpath Castle overlooking the River Tweed, said to be haunted by the ghost of Jean Douglas - Sir Walter Scott's "Maid of Neidpath"; elder at Melrose Parish Church; or the beaming pensioner who could be seen driving not a royal yacht but Rosie (named after Melrose), the water-carrying buggy that aims to keep Melrose beautiful by irrigating its hanging baskets under the Melrose In Bloom campaign. Nor, during his retirement, would his fellow Scottish rugby fans have known that the man in the next seat or row at Murrayfield had once "driven" the Queen's yacht around the seven seas.
Cameron Rusby was born in the Maltese capital, Valletta, in 1926. His grandfather had been a doctor in Peebles and in 1948 Sir Cameron would renew that connection by marrying Marion Bell, daughter of a Peebles dentist. Having enrolled in the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth aged 13, he and his fellow cadets sheltered in the college's central heating basement when the Luftwaffe bombed and strafed the River Dart. He was assigned to HMS Howe in May 1943 and saw his first action during the invasion of Italy. (The Howe, built by Fairfield of Govan, was broken up in Inverkeithing in 1958 but its soul was adopted by the people of Edinburgh and its bell is on display in St Giles' Cathedral.)
He was appointed captain of the destroyer HMS Ulster in 1958 and attended Ulster reunions for the rest of his life. Named Commander of the Royal Yacht Britannia in 1962, he was immediately ordered to take the Queen through the Panama canal at the start of royal tours to Fiji, Australia and New Zealand. He remained at the helm of Britannia for three years. The monarch conferred a knighthood on him many years later and he was also named Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order (LVO).
It was in 1977 that he was appointed Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland, the most senior officer in those areas, based in Rosyth but also responsible for Faslane. When he retired in 1982, he was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic for NATO, based in Norfolk, Virginia. Until recently, he loved sailing peacefully off the coast of Argyll.
Vice-Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby died in the Borders General Hospital in Melrose after a short illness. He is survived by Marion, his wife of 65 years, and their daughters Anne and Caroline.
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