HMS Ajax & River Plate Veterans Association


Frigate Captains Continued


Rear Admiral John Mackenzie CB, was born in Perth in 1929, and entered the Royal Naval College in 1943 at the age of 13½.   He served as Midshipman in HMS Birmingham in 1947 - 48 on the East Indies station. On completion of Sub-Lieutenant's courses, he served in the Royal Naval Rhine Squadron from 1950 to 1952.   During 1952 to 1954 he was in HMS Opossum, a frigate stationed on the Far East and Korean stations. From 1954 to 1956 he served as Destroyer Gunnery Officer of HMS Barossa.   In 1956 he assumed command of HMS Brinkley, an inshore minesweeper, based at HMS Lochinvar. In 1958 to 1960 he served as First Lieutenant of the destroyers Hogue and Finisterre, being promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1959.   He then completed the Royal Naval Staff Course at Greenwich, and from 1961 to 1963 he was Staff Officer Operations on the staff of the Flag Officer Sea Training at Portland.   From 1963 to 1965 he commanded HMS Hardy in the Londonderry Squadron.   He was promoted to the rank of Commander in 1965 and stood by building HMS Glamorgan as her first Executive Officer.   After fifteen months in commission he left the Glamorgan in 1968 for the Joint Services Staff Course, and assumed duties of the Commander Sea Training at Portland, from August, 1968 until August, 1970.   After a short spell, from 4 September, 1970, in command of HMS Lincoln he took command of HMS Hermione, a Leander class frigate serving at Home and Mediterranean waters, from December, 1970 to December, 1971.


He was promoted Captain in December, 1971, he commanded the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Defence School at Portsmouth between 1972 and 1974, after which he attended the Senior Officers' War Course, assumed command of the 8th Frigate Squadron in the Leander Class frigate, HMS Ajax, from December 1974 to June, 1976.   After taking part in exercises in the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, early in 1975, HMS Ajax sailed round the world as a unit of the Group 3 Deployment, leaving Devonport on 22 July.   The squadron (HMS Ajax, Berwick, Llandaff, Plymouth, Rothesay and Royal Fleet Auxiliaries Tidespring, Gold Rover and Tarbatness) was led by Rear-Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, with his flag in HMS Glamorgan.   Group 3 headed towards the Mediterranean, then made the first transit of the Suez Canal by HM ships since the 1967 Middle East War. . After a spell in the Indian Ocean carrying out exercises with Australian and American ships, they visited Gibraltar, Malta, Port Said, Port Sudan and Djibouti.   Then the Group split up for visits to Bombay and Madras (HMS Ajax, Berwick and Llandaff, and RFA Gold Rover to Madras).   Off the west coast of Malaysia the complete Group carried out weapon training in conjunction with the Malaysian and Australian Air Forces and Malaysian fast patrol boats.

On to Singapore for the last planned meeting of the whole Group until February 1976.   HMS Ajax led six ships to Hong Kong, while the Glamorgan, Plymouth, and Tidespring stayed for a three-week maintenance period.   On the return passage to Singapore HMS Ajax and Rothesay were both slightly damaged when they met up with a school of whales.   After leaving Singapore, HMS Ajax, Berwick, Plymouth, Rothesay, Tidespring and Tarbatness exercised with the Royal Australian Navy in the South China Sea.   The rest of the ships were also exercising with the RAN - 'Swift Swing'- and all successfully completed, they headed for the Torres Strait, steered south between Australia and the Great Barrier Reef, and 1,809 miles later, arrived at Sydney for a ten-day visit.


After Christmas 1975, the Group sailed for Pearl Harbour, and three days later for the west coast of America; all but HMS Ajax, who was detained for repairs after a serious fire had damaged her main switchboard.   She rejoined the Group later but missed a visit to San Francisco, and the exercise 'Valiant Heritage'. However, on 16 February 1976 they celebrated the 1,000th deck landing of the Wasp helicopter.


Visits to Long Beach, Rodman, Panama City, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Waikiki followed.   On the passage across the Atlantic, the final exercise 'Last Chance Three' took place, in company with HMS Zulu and the nuclear submarine Sovereign.   On 14 April, 1976, four of the ships sailed into Portsmouth and on the same day HMS Ajax, and Berwick berthed at Devonport.

After a period of weapon training, Captain Mackenzie was appointed as Director of Naval Equipment at Bath from August 1976 to August 1978, and in January, 1979 he was transferred to the Royal Navy helicopter cruiser HMS Blake in command until December 1979.


In December 1979, Captain Mackenzie took command of HMS Hermes until November 1980.   The ship's refit being put back, she sailed in mid-January on a training cruise from Portsmouth on a U.S. deployment.   During this period the ship visited Pensacola and Fort Lauderdale before calling at Bermuda.   Midshipman Prince Andrew and 19 others of his class from Britannia joined the Hermes from 22 February to 9 March and left the ship at Bermuda.   The rest of her pupils were 40 sons of members of the crew.


Captain Mackenzie was promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral 7 January 1981, as Flag Officer Gibraltar (Commander, British Forces, Gibraltar) until January 1983.


In 1982 he was awarded a CB.

He died 26/11/2015



Vice Admiral Robert Risley (Tubby) Squires was born in March, 1927 and was educated at Geelong Grammar School, Australia, and Eton.   He joined the Navy in 1944, as a 17½ year-old .   After serving as a Midshipman in the Battleships King George V and Anson, he transferred to the Submarine Service and served in HMS Tabard in the Mediterranean from 1948 to 1951. As a Lieutenant he took command of HMS Aurochs in 1955 and in the following year, after promotion to Lieutenant Commander, he was given command of another submarine, HMS Aeneas, until 1957.   After a period as Executive Officer of the destroyer HMS Lagos, he spent nearly a year on nuclear submarine training with the United States Navy, and following this, he took command of the submarine HMS Porpoise.


He was appointed Executive Officer of HMS Dreadnought, the Royal Navy's first nuclear-powered submarine, in 1961, and was promoted Commander during this appointment.    In November 1965 he took command of the frigate HMS Eastbourne.


In December, 1965 he was appointed Commanding Officer of the nuclear submarine HMS Warspite, and in 1968, following promotion to Captain, he attended the Joint Services Staff College at Latimer.   He was appointed an Assistant Director of Naval Warfare at the Ministry of Defence, in 1969, and in December 1971 he became Commanding Officer of the frigate HMS Hermione, and also Captain of the 5th Frigate Squadron.   In February, 1973» he assumed command of the 3rd Submarine Squadron, at HMS Neptune, the Clyde Submarine Base.   He took command of HMS Bristol in April 1975 until June 1976, and then was appointed to command the 8th Frigate Squadron, in HMS Ajax 15 July, 1976.   In August, the Ajax sailed for Canada, and visited St John's, Newfoundland, Halifax and Ottawa.   The climax of the trip was the visit to Oshawa, the port on Lake Ontario for the town of Ajax, named after the cruiser of the Battle of the River Plate fame.   HMS Ajax, the frigate, received the Freedom of the City.   During the passage home the ship took part in NATO exercises, with ships from Canada, America, Portugal, Holland, France, Germany and Norway.   She arrived at Devonport 25 September 1976.


A maintenance period was followed by visits to the Clyde and Dundee.   On 29 November 1976 the Ajax began a Deep Water Fish Patrol, and in the New Year took part in various exercises, including 'Locked Gate' and 'Spring Train'.


On 7 January, 1977 Captain Squires was appointed an Aide-de-Camp to the Queen, and on 10 March, 1977 Flag Officer 1st Flotilla as Acting Rear Admiral until October 1978.   He was promoted Rear Admiral 20 June, 1977.    In December 1978 he was appointed Flag Officer Submarines and Chief of Staff, Operations, The Fleet until December 1981. Rear-Admiral Squires was appointed Vice-Admiral on 2 May 1980. He became Flag Officer, Scotland and Northern Ireland from January 1982 until December 1983 and Admiral Superintendent/Port Admiral, HM Dockyard, Rosyth from August until December 1983


‘Tubby’ attended the 2011 HMS Ajax and River Plate Veterans Association reunion and was in seemingly good health.

He died 30/6/2016.



Peter Cobb was born in Shanghai in 1930, and educated at Wellington College and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth.   He served in the East Indies and the Mediterranean as a Midshipman before joining the Submarine Branch in 1950.


As a Lieutenant he took command in 1958 of HMS Seneschal in the Home Fleet. Promoted to Lieutenant-Commander in 1962, he was appointed to HMS Narwhal until 1964, when he was promoted Commander and appointed to the Submarine Tactical Analysis Establishment at Rothesay until 1965.   He next took over the submarine HMS Dreadnought until 1969, when he joined the staff of Director of Naval Plans at the Ministry of Defence in London.


He was promoted Captain in 1970, and after leaving the Ministry of Defence took command of HMS Gurkha from 1970 to 1971, in UK waters, the Persian Gulf and the Far East.   In 1972 he moved to Devonport where he commanded the Second Submarine Squadron.   Following a course at the Royal College of Defence Studies Captain Cobb was appointed to Fleet Headquarters, Assistant Chief of Staff, Operations, at Northwood in 1975 until January 1977.


He was appointed to HMS Ajax in March, 1977, and also became Captain of the Eighth Frigate Squadron.   In September, 1977 HMS Ajax was adopted by the City of Truro, at the Centenary Celebrations.   The ship was re-dedicated on 3 December 1977 after a seven-month refit at Devonport.   The service was attended by Sir Desmond and Lady Dreyer, and the Mayors of Ajax, Canada, and the City of Truro.


In April, 1978, the Ajax went to the assistance of an Indian merchant vessel, the State of Kerala, near Falmouth.   She had defective steering and was dragging her anchor.   A messenger line was passed, but before the tow could be passed, the Kerala surged ahead, towing her anchor.   The Ajax, also dragging her anchor, was unable to move seaward without risking a collision, but eventually the Kerala passed clear, and the Ajax, then within a few cables off shore was able to move into deeper waters.

Captain Cobb left the Ajax in December, 1978.

He died 25th June 2017 aged 87.



Michael Rawlinson was born in Hornchurch, Essex in 1931, joined the Royal Navy in 1949, and completed his flying training as an Observer in 1951.   Between 1952 and 1963 he flew from five aircraft carriers - HM Ships Indomitable, Theseus, Albion, Hermes and Victorious.   He saw service in the Korean theatre of operations, in the Royal Australian Navy vessels HMAS Vengeance and HMAS Sydney.   Following promotion to Lieutenant Commander, he commanded 849 Squadron at Royal Naval Air Station, Brawdy, Wales, after which he commanded the Royal Naval Observer School at RNAS Lossiemouth, in the rank of Commander, in 1966.   After two years he was appointed in command of HMS Defender in the Mediterranean and Far East.


From 1971 to 1972 he was in Naval Operations at the Ministry of Defence and then assumed command of HMS Plymouth from 1972 to 1973, during which time he visited the West Indies, Iceland and the Mediterranean again.   After promotion to Captain, he joined the Directing Staff of the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, and subsequently the Admiralty Interview Board.   In 1976 he was appointed Assistant Director of the Directorate of Naval Air Warfare at the Ministry of Defence.

Captain Rawlinson was appointed to the command of the Eighth Frigate Squadron in HM§ Ajax on 28 December 1978.   The ship took part in exercises in the South Atlantic, and showed the flag at Agadir, Morocco.   In August 1979, the Ajax visited the Clyde area for exercises and in October and November, in company with HMS Scylla, visited the ports of Haifa and Toulon, during a Mediterranean deployment.   The City of Portsmouth being twinned with both these ports, the Ajax acted as messenger and carried letters containing the City's official greetings for presentation to the Mayors of Haifa and Toulon.   The ship also called at the Greek islands of Santorini and Patras. (Santorini surrendered to the cruiser Ajax in 1944)


The Ajax arrived back at Portsmouth 13 December 1979 with battle ensigns flying to mark the 4Oth anniversary of the Battle of the River Plate. On 17 December Captain Rawlinson presented the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth with a gift for City from Haifa.


In January, 1980 Captain and Mrs Rawlinson visited 4th Thames Ditton (Ajax) Sea Scout Group.   The ship sailed from Devonport for the Clyde early in February, and visited Newcastle at the end of the same month.   After main leave she sailed for Liverpool at the end of April, with three Ajax Venture Scouts on board, for a week.


In May the ship was in Scottish waters and visited Aberdeen.   From Aberdeen, in company with HMS Active and RFA Green Rover, she sailed for the Baltic and visited Karlskrona and Stockholm followed by a visit by Ajax and Green Rover to Copenhagen. Karlskrona was celebrating its 300th anniversary as a city.   HMS Ajax then spent a day at the naval cemetery at Hano Island, and Captain Rawlinson presented copper plaques from HMS Victory to commemorate the English sailors of the Napoleonic Wars who are buried there.   One hundred of the ship's company put the cemetery into good order, after which a service of remembrance was held.   The ship's company was entertained at a barbecue and at sunset the Ajax weighed anchor and did a steam-past the harbour.


Two days later all three ships entered Stockholm and immediately the ships' companies were involved in a programme of tours, visits and sports, and the ships had about 6000 visitors.   Captain Rawlinson had the honour of calling on King Carl Gustav XV1.


While the Active sailed for Bremen, the Ajax and the Green Rover proceeded to Copenhagen. After the Baltic deployment the Ajax returned to Devonport, where three more Ajax Venture Scouts joined her for a week.

Captain Rawlinson left the ship on 7 July, 1980 to take command of Royal Naval Air Station, Yeovilton HMS Heron from August 1980 to February 1982. His next appointment was a spell at the MOD, and then to HMS Bristol October 1982 until February 1983.



Rear Admiral Bevan C.B. was born in London on 7 April 1931 and was educated at Eton College before joining the Royal Navy in 1949, when he entered the Britannia Royal Naval College.   His early years of service under training were spent at sea in the cruiser HMS Glasgow, operating in the West Indies, and the cruiser Superb, off South America. As a Sub-Lieutenant he served in the aircraft-carrier Illustrious.


Promoted to Lieutenant he was posted to the Royal Yacht Britannia during her first commissioning in 1954, before he served as Flag Lieutenant to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, Admiral Edwards.


Specialising in Anti-Submarine Warfare, in 1958 he became the Torpedo and Gunnery Officer of the frigate HMS Londonderry early in 1960, again in the West Indies and South American waters, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander during this time.


After a course at home in 1964 he joined the Leander frigate HMS Naiad as First Lieutenant for her first commission.   Some other interesting jobs he had up until then included Navigating Officer of a coal-burning Island class trawler, and First Lieutenant of HMS Reclaim, the last ship in the Navy fitted with sails.


Promoted to the rank of Commander in 1966 he commanded the destroyer Decoy which was then a trials ship; and Caprice in 1967 then in the Far East and Home waters. A further course followed in August 1968, before taking up an appointment on the Planning Staff at the Ministry of Defence, London.


He returned to sea in 1971 to take command of the frigate Minerva, serving in Home waters and the Far East.   In 1972 he became a member of the Directing Staff at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.   He was promoted to the rank of Captain in December 1975.


Captain Bevan took command of HMS Ariadne for the first time in April 1976 to November 1977.   At that time the ship was the half-leader of her squadron, serving at home and in the West Indies, and was present at the Silver Jubilee Fleet Review in July 1977*   After a further appointment at the Ministry of Defence on the Policy Staff, he took command of HMS Ajax and F8 in July 1980, until the ship's refit at Gibraltar in mid-August. Upon arrival at Gibraltar he and the ship's company transferred to HMS Ariadne, this time as Leader of the Eighth Frigate Squadron, in July 1980 to April 1982.   He was appointed in command as Captain Britannia Royal Naval College Dartmouth in June 1982 until September 1984. At some stage he was advanced to the rank of rear-admiral and was awarded a C.B. in June 1986. He retired on 16 May 1987.


Frigate Captains continued