Henry’s funeral in North Wales last week was attended by full military ceremonial, including regimental standard bearers and even the regimental goat. There was on that occasion a fine address which concentrated on his very varied military career, and Hugh Bredin has also touched upon it just now. Having been born into a distinguished military family, Henry was quite literally a military man from the cradle to the grave. Second only to his family, whom he adored and of whom he was so very proud, the Royal Welch Fusiliers were at the core of his life. We must not forget that; but today, here and in this Church, I will speak of some of his other great loves.
Henry loved sailing, the sea, and Beaulieu and the Beaulieu river. His grandparents had built, and lived at, Little Salterns, perched high up beyond Bucklers Hard with magnificent views over Gins, Needs Ore and the Solent beyond. As Henry’s father was posted here and there serving with the regiment, Little Salterns was always the base to which Henry returned. Although Henry and Daphne were later to have a home in North Wales for many years, it is Beaulieu which was the backdrop to his whole life. He would describe swimming in the river as a boy from the private jetty below Little Salterns and just upstream of Gins. He regularly sailed a Sharpie in the river. From a young age he was active with the Beaulieu River Sailing Club, which his father had helped to found a few years before he was born.
Little Salterns was on the West bank; Daphne’s parents lived at Braces Quay, some way upstream on the East bank. When they were courting, Henry would take a dinghy and sail up the river from the one to the other to see her. Naturally he went on the tide. Once, the wind went very light, the tide began to ebb, and Daphne was badly stood up! Despite that setback, they were married in this very church over fifty years ago. In recent years, Henry has been immensely proud of his grandchildren as they have learnt to sail Optimists and later Toppers, and gain in confidence and prowess on the river here, just as he did 70 or more years before them.
Henry’s sailing horizons soon extended beyond the river, and once in the army he seized every opportunity to sail in the many services boats which used to be available under the guise of adventure training. I am indebted to Colonel George Curtis, who is here, for the following anecdote. When Henry was a major in his mid 30’s he needed to qualify as an army offshore skipper and as an instructor. Although George was a few years younger and the more junior officer, George was already qualified as an examiner. They both raced in the Sandhurst yacht, Wishstream, to Le Havre. George was skipper. Henry was part of the crew. On the way back it was agreed that Henry would take over as skipper so he could be examined by George, although I guess that George knew already that Henry was highly competent. As they were approaching the entrance to the Hamble River, George was on the helm. Henry, now as skipper, gave George a very precise instruction as to where he should head. George, being for a moment distracted, failed immediately to comply, and they promptly went hard aground on the notorious Hamble spit. Henry exclaimed “you did that on purpose, you bastard” which was very strong language indeed from Henry, whom I later never, ever heard utter so much as a damn. They both fell about laughing; launched the dinghy; and warped or kedged her off the spit. Henry passed his exam with flying colours! So now he could skipper an army yacht on his own, and frequently did so. George has not quite confessed to me whether it was actually on purpose or not.
I myself first met Henry and Daphne in about May 1993 when we both sailed from Lymington to St Vaast and Cherbourg with the late Tony Sheldon in his boat, Palamedes. Tony had recently met the Cadogans by chance in a mountain restaurant while skiing, and he had clearly sussed out that they might be good recruits to his pool of crew; and so it proved. For the next several years Henry and Daphne became the backbone of Palamedes, sailing, on behalf of Tony, far up into the Baltic and the Swedish archipelago and back to the Solent. At that particular time Palamedes was not in quite so good a state as she now is, particularly the engine. Henry and Daphne had many extraordinary exploits coping with her, including having to supervise a total rebuild of the engine somewhere near Stockholm. But it gave to Henry, who had recently retired from all military duties, a wonderful opportunity of much extended cruising which he was later to recall with the utmost amusement and delight.
It was in part through Tony that Henry was elected a member of the Royal Yacht Squadron in 1997. He and Daphne entered very fully into the life and activities of the club. He became a very well known member with his boundless capacity for friendship, good conversation, and conviviality; and, as I shall describe, he participated very fully in the club’s cruises and rallies. It is a tribute to Henry that as well as the Commodore and other members, the Secretary and the Senior Steward are both here today, reflecting the affection and respect in which he was held by the staff.
There was one thing missing. Henry, now in his mid 60’s, had never owned a yacht himself. In 1999 he joined Sir Anthony Evans, who is here, as a joint owner of Aqualeo of Lymington, which Henry was to own for the next 18 years until his death. Henry and Daphne loved Aqualeo and maintained and cared for her immaculately. In part with Anthony and Caroline Evans, in part on their own or with other friends, they cruised her very extensively in South Brittany, where she was based for several years at Vannes, across the Bay of Biscay to the Northern coast of Spain, and to Ireland and Scotland.
Ten years later, in 2009, Anthony felt the time had come to move on, and that was when I came in. I was extraordinarily lucky that Henry approached me and asked if I would buy Anthony’s share, which I did. So began, for me, the happiest sailing partnership that you could possibly imagine. Henry and Daphne, and Fiona and I frequently sailed together, particularly at RYS events; but, as with the Evanses, often separately with our own families and friends. The boat continued to be extremely well used. At my request, but with Henry’s complete agreement, Aqualeo became based at the Squadron and Cowes, but we sailed her extensively throughout the Channel from the Bishop to Boulogne, and in South Brittany.
As Anthony had found before me, Henry, together with Daphne, was the perfect sailing partner. We never had, nor had the slightest need for, a single piece of paper or word in writing. I cannot remember ever the slightest cross word, or disagreement, or even a quibble, about anything, large or small. There was never, even, any need for give and take. We simply agreed about everything, whether it was the choice of the next port of call, or a decision to splash out on a new genoa.
Of course, sailing together was the best part; but I think Daphne will agree that the four of us also had great fun, and many laughs, at the beginning and end of each season as we fitted out, or laid up, the boat ashore at East Cowes. Henry’s particular speciality was painstakingly dismantling and servicing all the winches, which requires both patience and dexterity.
When you sail with someone a lot in a small boat, you really get to know them. I rapidly discovered, as so many here will know for yourselves, what a very fine man and wonderful companion Henry was. He had great patience and kindness, and was incapable of an unkind thought about anyone or anything. He had a wonderful sense of humour, a permanent twinkle in his eye, and an infectious laugh. He was intensely loyal, and utterly reliable and dependable. He had impeccable manners and courtesy. He had zest and boyish enthusiasm for all that he did. He was, in short, a complete gentleman. He was also a fine seaman with whom one felt great confidence and totally safe at sea. Things can quickly go wrong in a small boat, and they did. But Henry never panicked and was always completely unflappable and calm. And he never, ever, raised his voice.
In mid June, Henry and Daphne and I sailed back to Beaulieu after the wonderful Squadron cruise in company to the Bay of St Malo and the Chausey Islands which Henry had hugely enjoyed. Little could they, or I, have guessed that it would be Henry’s last evening ever at sea, or on a boat. We had made a fast and exhilarating passage from St Peter Port. As we entered the Solent, the sunset inland of Hurst Castle was spectacular. Off Yarmouth, Daphne cooked as tasty and warming a curry as one could dream of. We reached the entrance to the river sooner than we had planned or expected, and it was still very low water over the bar. Henry always knew instinctively and unerringly the deepest groove in, and we glided over the bar with, probably, inches to spare. We picked up a buoy for the night a few cables upstream from Needs Ore, under the gaze of Little Salterns and in sight of that jetty where Henry used to swim. It was an utterly peaceful night with only the sound of the sea birds. Early the next morning there was a magnificent dawn and sunrise over Fawley and East Lepe. At about 07.30 we motored up to Bucklers Hard, where Henry and Daphne hopped quickly ashore to go to Winchester Match, while I went on to Cowes. I never saw this wonderful man again.