Final Farewell to RN

  • Author: admin
  • Date: Wednesday 30th June 2010
Final Farewell to RN

After 46 years serving in the Royal Navy, Britannia Association member Lieutenant Commander Tom Suddes has finally hung up his cap and retired from the service.


Over the last seven years Tom has been a visitor to Britannia Royal Naval College each term as the Staff Officer responsible for the delivery of the two week long Royal Naval Reserve acquaint course. Approximately ten young RNR officers walk through the doors of BRNC for leadership development training each term and Tom has been providing continuity and a wealth of experience for them all.


“It is so important for the reservist young officer to experience this part of training,” Tom explained. “It means that when they work alongside their full time counterpart there is a common denominator of BRNC for them all.


Aged just fifteen-years-old Tom began his service with the Royal Navy in 1964 at the basic training establishment HMS Ganges in Shotley, Suffolk. “I certainly grew up during my time there,” confessed Tom. He served as a Radio Operator (General) for ten tears before branch transfer to the photographic specialisation in 1975. After an initial draft to HMS Neptune Tom then moved to the staff onboard the HM Yacht Britannia. “Nothing can begin to describe the most amazing experiences during the four years on the yacht,” Tom suggested, “not only the places we travelled but the people I photographed from royalty to political leaders, unbelievable!”


In 1982 Tom was selected for officer training at BRNC and promoted to the rank of Sub Lieutenant Warfare (Aviation) specialist. Seven years later he returned to BRNC as part of the Dartmouth Training Squadron staff leaving in 1991 to be the Commanding Officer of HMS Manley which was attached to HMS Raleigh providing the Junior Rate trainees with their first experience of life at sea. “This time has got to be a highlight for my career,” said Tom. “Nothing can beat the experience of command no matter how large or small the ship or unit you are in charge of.”


After a little time at the Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose Tom returned to HMY Britannia as the Bosun and then was the Officer in Charge at Sand Quay, Dartmouth overseeing all elements of river training for BRNC.


“Leaving BRNC in 1999 I then became the RN Staff Officer at the RNR Unit in South Wales, HMS Cambria,” Tom explained “before finishing my time in the RN at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth. Two weeks before I was due to leave I was asked if I’d like to do the Staff Officer role at BRNC for the RNR young officers and here I am seven years later and finally bowing out!”


As with all RN Officer’s though Tom has a hidden talent and hobby – he is a Punch and Judy Professor! A competent magician and children’s entertainer Tom’s other skills include playing the guitar, mandolin and flute not to mention painting and drawing. Many officers in the RN know Tom as a teacher of Golf too although he declined to reveal his handicap for the sport.


Retirement will be far from quiet though for Tom. “I keep saying I’m going to put my feet up but I simply think there will be too much for me to get involved with!”


Initial training for reservists at BRNC will of course continue. Lieutenant Commander Mark Broster has taken over the reigns from Tom. A former RN officer of six years, Mark is based in HMS King Alfred and very much looking forward to his work in BRNC.

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