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News > Announcements > Obituaries > P.G.J. MURISON (50-54)

P.G.J. MURISON (50-54)

9 Dec 2020

Peter G.J. Murison (50-54), a retired Captain in the Royal Navy, died on November 19, 2020, aged 83. He leaves a wife Sandra and two children. He had been suffering from cancer. During a 35-year naval career, as a Commander he captained the destroyer HMS Eskimo 1978-79. Promoted Captain in June 1982, he became commanding officer of the Fisheries Protection Squadron to mid-1984. In 1985 he took command of HMS Fearless, the amphibious assault ship that had been part of the Falklands Task Force. His last job in the RN was as Naval Assistant to the Second Sea Lord from 1989-91. In retirement he became the Secretary of Bucks Club in London before moving to Cornwall and fund-raising on a significant scale for King George’s Fund for Sailors. Latterly, he lived in Somerset.

In Ewen Southby-Tailyour’s 2013 “biography” of HMS Fearless, Murison describes his reaction on beginning a seven-month commission that involved the ship visiting the Caribbean, Norway and the Baltic: “I remember feeling a sense of enormous pride, anticipation and sheer good fortune. Pride, because Fearless was a proud ship, and what commanding officer is not proud of his command? Anticipation, because much of what we did was totally new to me. Good fortune, because I was supported by first-rate heads of department and officers and an extremely professional and willing ship’s company.”

One of the Tributes at his funeral on December 12, was given by his lifelong friend Captain Tim Lee (51-53). In part, he said: “I feel particularly honoured to be asked to talk about the early part of Peter’s life in uniform. He and I first met at Pangbourne 70 years ago when we were 13 years old. We were in different divisions so I really hardly knew him then. I left to go to Dartmouth after three years so did not have the chance to see Peter showing his true colours – I say that advisedly as he excelled in field sports, and gained his colours in all of them.  The College magazine – The Log – noted that as Full Back in the Rugby 1st XV he “concealed his extreme slowness by resolution, coolness and application.” I don’t recall that he was slow - but the other three attributes, allied with natural qualities of leadership, certainly led to his becoming the Chief Cadet Captain of his division (Macquarie) during his last year at the Nautical College.

Our paths finally crossed properly when we left Dartmouth in 1955. We were fortunate in being the last batch of officers to go to the training carrier Triumph as Cadets, then to the Gunrooms of capital ships as Midshipmen (the carrier Ark Royal and then the cruiser Newcastle in our case), to frigates as Acting Sub Lieutenants (St Brides Bay for us) and finally to Greenwich for eight months on the last ever Sub Lieutenants Course.  This was followed by eight months in the same Group for Warfare courses, making the total time together more than four years.  We got to know each other pretty well! That early friendship endured ever since.

In those four years there were some stand- out moments that reflected well Peter’s zest for life and love of being in the forefront when it came to having a bit of fun. In Newcastle, we Midshipmen were sent on an Initiative Course to travel overland from Sydney to Melbourne so as to get there before the ship’s arrival for the Olympic Games in 1956. Hitchhiking in Australia was not that easy, and motorists were wary of picking up two men. So, Peter stood by the road while I hid in a garage. He flagged down the first car and used his charm to persuade the driver and his wife to take us both. They said later that they did not expect someone to come all the way from England to knock them off.

While in Melbourne, we were taken to see two retired English lady doctors; I have no doubt that it was Peter’s charm that led to us both having a note tucked into our top pockets as we left. It turned out to be a fiver. During the Olympic Games all the Midshipmen were invited to a Ball where we were provided with partners from the local Modelling agency. They were an international lot, and it was just Peter’s luck that he was assigned the one who spoke good English. Nineteen days alongside in Melbourne tested our stamina somewhat but Peter, and the rest of us, came through it well!

During our three months in St Brides Bay the ship had the arduous task of taking a New Zealand administrator on his official bi-annual visits to seven Pacific Islands. In Western Samoa, Tonga, and Fiji we played cricket, rugby or hockey – sometimes all three.  The Commission book notes that after a major cricket defeat in Western Samoa, the ship was lucky in acquiring Sub Lieutenant Murison who was to revitalise the team. My recollection is that he did the same for the Rugby and Hockey teams.  

Back in UK we were lucky enough to be sent for eight months to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich where we were the last ever Sub Lieutenants Course.  As part of that course every Monday morning was devoted to a “Special Study” of our own choosing. By our time it had been decreed that “Wine Tasting” could not be studied after far too many Sub Lieutenants went fast asleep during the afternoons’ lectures.  However, Peter found that by studying the Port of London Authority we could spend most of our time there studying sherry or wine in the extensive vaults under the Surrey Docks. For those four or more years when we were under training, in theory we had no official responsibilities. To assume that we were irresponsible might be taking it too far, but we did enjoy life and it was always great fun to be in Peter’s company. Most of all – for me – I enjoyed true friendship and I consider myself to be all the richer to have done so.”

A second Tribute was given by the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathan Band, at one time Operations Officer in HMS Eskimo when Peter Murison was in command. “At the core of Peter’s naval make-up was his understanding that competence and professionalism was the bedrock of a capable and safe ship – but that leadership, example and humanity were at the core of the better ships,” he said. “A calm navigation specialist, Peter had excellent judgement and a phenomenal memory, honed by a varied seagoing career.”

In Eskimo Band “was able to witness the absolute gentleman, completely charming, considerate and with no side to him. He had a natural sense of proportion, fun and empathy. His sailors thought the world of him…In his final job at the Admiralty, he proved the perfect choice as the head of the people management team for all seamen and warfare officers. His memory of people was quite extraordinary…So, a great life. Like so many others, we were fortunate to know him and admire him.”

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