I believe all patriots should remember this man – not for his career or chosen work but as a patriot, for his commitment to his patriotic beliefs long after his retirement – when many men repair to self indulgence Sir Louis continued to support those who stood for sovereignty and values in these United Kingdoms – as with his unstinting support of Steve Thoburn.
I always believed that UKIP did too little to promote its Patrons who had risked their reputations in declaring as Patrons of UKIP.
Vice-Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly
Vice-Admiral Sir Louis Le Bailly, who has died aged 95, was an iconoclastic naval officer and Director General Intelligence from 1972 to 1975, responsible at the height of the Cold War for the collection (from a wide variety of overt and covert sources) of information on the enemy, principally the Soviet Union and its allies.He had learned his trade in Washington and as Deputy Chief of Defence Staff (Intelligence), and knew his subject, particularly the Soviet Navy, intimately. His strategic warnings of military, economic and technical developments behind the Iron Curtain were given in straightforward language.
Despite rising to the summit of British intelligence, however, he considered espionage a strange twilight world, and his years there were the least happy of his 46 years’ service. He was also embarrassed to discover that the flat he had taken in Dolphin Square had been lived in by the traitor John Vassall, and that his own report of this was leaked to the press.Louis Edward Stewart Holland Le Bailly was born on July 18 1915, the son of an engineer in the Royal Naval Air Service. As a boy Louis and a cousin bought £5 tickets at Victoria station to take them to Germany and Austria, where they went mountain-climbing. His early impressions of Germany were favourable, as he noted its jolly Hitler Youth and clean streets that were a contrast to the slums and squalor of home.
His summons to join the Navy was delivered via a telegram from Gieves, the naval tailors, to a ski resort in Austria in 1928, and he joined Dartmouth in the Drake term.
He served under training in the battleship Hood in 1932, and wanted to pursue a career as a navigator, only to be prevented by defective eyesight. He considered the alternatives of the Army or Oxford, and somewhat reluctantly became an engineer, studying at the Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham, from 1933 to 1937. He returned to Hood as a junior engineer officer, serving from 1937 to 1940. “It was like coming home,” he recalled.
Next Le Bailly stood by the cruiser Naiad while she was building on the Tyne, and saw action in the Mediterranean until, on March 11 1942, she was sunk by a German U-boat south of Crete. Le Bailly was in the after engine room when a single torpedo struck and all lights went out; he helped several men to escape but was ever afterwards haunted by the memory of those who had been trapped, owing to design defects, in compartments below the waterline.
Many of the men were burned or injured on the bilge keel as they slid down the side after the order to abandon ship. The sea was rough, and there seemed to be little hope of rescue as the fleet steamed away at high speed. After an hour or so those “a bit panicky or wounded” had been put on the few Carley floats; a stoker’s voice came over the water, singing Abide With Me. To Le Bailly the last two lines (“Heaven’s morning breaks and earth’s vain shadows flee/In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me”) seemed appropriate as he trod water, 50 miles from the shore, with his ship on the seabed 600ft below. Fortunately, the destroyer Jervis returned to save all but 77 of Naiad‘s company of 480.
From 1942 to 1944, Le Bailly taught at Keyham before joining the battleship Duke of York, flagship of the British Pacific Fleet, from which he witnessed the Japanese surrender on board USS Missouri.
Postwar he served both at sea (in the cruiser Bermuda) and ashore. In 1947 he was secretary to Lord Geddes’s Admiralty Oil Committee, and chaired the Nato Fuels and Lubricants Standardisation Committee until 1952.
From 1955 to 1958 he was second-in-command of the newly-founded Royal Naval Engineering College at Manadon, where he showed outstanding qualities of leadership and management and from where he was promoted captain.
Known to the fleet as “Lou”, Le Bailly was a kind, generous, perceptive and wise mentor to generations of naval officers. He was Assistant Engineer-in-Chief (1958-60); Naval Assistant to Controller of the Navy (1960-63); Deputy Director of Marine Engineering (1963-67); and, unusually for an engineer, was promoted rear-admiral and appointed Naval Attaché and Commander, British Navy Staff, Washington (1967-69).
In 1963, while he was a student at the Imperial Defence College, Le Bailly – along with Neil Cameron (the future Lord Cameron, Chief of the Defence Staff) and Brigadier Kenneth Hunt – wrote to a national newspaper, arguing that Britain needed an independent think tank for the academic study of national defence, and recommended the development of the Royal United Services Institute, an idea which Lord Mountbatten endorsed.
Le Bailly was appointed OBE in 1952, CB in 1969 and KBE in 1972.
In retirement he played a leading role in a think tank, the Institute for the Study of Conflict; was a supporter of Ukip; and became a prolific writer of letters to the editor. He championed the “metric martyr” Steven Thoburn, a greengrocer prosecuted for continuing to use imperial measures. Other letters praised desks at which writers could stand up. A particular bête noire was the undermining of the state education system by what he perceived to be a Left-wing conspiracy.
He published an autobiography, The Man Around the Engine, in 1990. Other books included a collection of his thoughts, From Fisher to the Falklands (1991); an anthology of his published essays, Old Loves Return (1993); and We Should Look to Our Moat (2007), in which he suggested that Britain should concentrate on re-establishing a nation at peace with itself before embarking on overseas adventures. In 1992 he presented the bulk of his papers on naval engineering and intelligence issues to the Churchill Archives at Cambridge.
Le Bailly also campaigned for his local pub at St Tudy, Cornwall, to be renamed after William Bligh of the Bounty, who had been born in the village.
Louis Le Bailly died on October 3. He married, in 1946, Pamela Berthon, who survives him with their three daughters.
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