General Sir Patrick Howard-Dobson, GCB

Born: 12th August, 1921

Died: 8th November, 2009

Chorister, Sportsman, Soldier, and Endless Volunteer

General Pat”, as he was fondly known, managed throughout his life to combine a love of music and sports with both his formal career as a soldier, and his ‘retired’ career supporting a host of National and Regional organisations.  A glance at this biographical summary shows just how effectively he blended these rare skills together:

1931-33

Chorister, Kings College Choir School – a period which he described as “all too short a stay in paradise”

1933-40

Framlingham College: Head Boy; Captain of Cricket –  Scored 1,000 runs in the 1940 season – a record not broken for many a year

1941

Commissioned into The Yorkshire Hussars, but on arrival in Egypt was snapped-up by The 7th Queen’s Own Hussars

1942-43

Burma Campaign

1944-45

Italian Campaign: Fought alongside American and Polish forces.  Awarded US Silver Star and Polish Virtute Militari (Poland’s highest award for bravery)

1946

Talked into a Regular Commission by his commanding officer – an event which allowed him to marry his girlfriend, Barbara Mills

 

1947-50

Regimental duty, Germany

Daughter, Susan, is born 1949.

Pat & Bar compete in many Horse Trials

1950-53

Passes Staff College1950

Regimental duty, UK

Son, Peter, is born 1951

Golf and Cricket predominate

1955-57

Regimental duty, Hong Kong

President Hong Kong Cricket Club.

Son, Simon, is born 1955

1957-60

Regimental duty at Tidworth – 7th & 3rd Hussars combine to form The Queen’s Own Hussars

Joint Services Staff College 1958

Some serious Cricket ensues:

MCC

Free Foresters CC

I Zingari CC

1960-63

Directing Staff, Staff College

More of the same, time permitting

1963-65

Appointed a Lt. Colonel, and commanded his Regiment in Germany and the UK

Told to “do something about the Choir” by his Brigadier – so first joined it, and then took over as Choirmaster.  The family starts Skiing

1965-67

Appointed a Brigadier, and commanded Twenty Armoured Brigade in Germany

Still plenty of time for Cricket, Golf, Squash and Hockey, and to develop a new love, Sailing

1969-71

Appointed a Major General and Chief of Staff, Far East Command in Singapore

In spite of a highly pressured role, finds plenty of time for the family, who all develop a passion for water-skiing and skin-diving. Pat become honourary Colonel of the Queen's Own Hussars in 1969, a position he holds until 1975

1972-74

Commandant, The Staff College, Camberley – thus completing a full-house: Student, Directing Staff and Commandant

President of the Society of Old Framlinghamians 1973-5.  Pat was appointed a Commander of the Order of the Bath (CB) in 1973

1974-76

To the Ministry of Defence, as Military Secretary, in the rank of Lieutenant General

Appointed a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB).  Sir Pat and his Lady begin to patrol the waters of the Channel and the North Sea each summer aboard “White Knight”, a Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club Cruising cruiser

1977-79

Appointed Quartermaster General in the Ministry of Defence (a post once held by Samuel Pepys in Marlborough’s army of 1703)

Pat and Bar buy their own small yacht, “Ready About” in preparation for serious cruising in retirement 

1979-81

Appointed a Full General and Vice Chief of Defence Staff, Personnel and Logistics – legend has it that it wasn’t the Army’s “turn” to hold the highest rank in the Armed Forces, otherwise he just might have been Chief of Defence staff and a Field Marshal to-boot!

Appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) in 1979.

From 1978-81 he also held the honorary post of Aide-de-Camp to Her Majesty the Queen.

Becomes honorary Colonel Commandant of the Army Catering Corps

Inducted into the Worshipful Company of Cooks, and becomes a Freeman of the City of London

1981

Retires from the Army and, in 1986, moves to Snape, near Saxmundham, Suffolk

– The plan being to spend a lot more time sailing.  However, there were to be many more demands on his time

1981-87

National President, Royal British Legion.

Becomes a Governor of Framlingham College

1981-88

Chairman of the Race Committee, Cutty Sark Tall Ships Races.  Subsequently, Vice-Patron of the Tall Ships Youth trust until 2006

An excellent excuse for even more sailing back and forth across the North Sea

Just a small sample of some of Pat’s other retirement roles

Chairman, St Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy

President, Friends of the Imperial War Museum

President, Burma Star Association regional group

Regional Director, Lloyds Bank

1987-91: Chairman of Governors, Framlingham College

1988-98: President, King’s College School Cambridge Association

Governor, St John’s School, Leatherhead

President, Herts Dunkirk Veterans Association

Here’s a more complete list of the organizations he remained connected with until his death (but there were a good few more)

Royal British Legion

Army Benevolent Fund

St. Luke’s Hospital for the Clergy

Tall Ships Youth Trust

Gurkha Welfare Trust

Burma Star Association

Royal Start and Garter Home

Alzheimers Society

Friends of the National Army Museum

Royal National Lifeboat Institution

St. John’s School, Leatherhead

Friends of the Imperial War Museum

Friends of St Edmundsbury

War Memorials Trust

Hertfordshire Conservation Society

King’s College Choir School Association

King’s College School Association

Alde and Orr Association

The Royal Logistics Corps

Society of Old Framlinghamians

Army Catering Corps Association

The Worshipful Company of Cooks

Staff College Club

Friends of Aldeburgh Music

Royal Cruising Club

Royal Armoured Corps Yacht Club

Royal Worlington & Newmarket GC

Aldeburgh Golf Club

Army Catering Corps Golfing Society

Army Golfers Society

Senior Golfing Society

Army Golf Association

Army Cricket Association

Free Foresters Cricket Club

Stragglers of Asia Cricket Club

I Zingari Cricket Club

Sail Training Association

Sail Training International

Pat and Bar remained stalwarts of the East Coast sailing, golfing and musical fraternity after moving to Snape in the mid-80s.  They made their final two-handed channel crossing in “Ready About” in the Summer of  1998 – at the tender age of 77! (and they only stopped then because their adult children convinced them, somewhat against their will, that they’d had one too many ‘eventful’ crossings).

In May 2002, Patrick was “installed”, with some dozen others of the most senior members of the Order of the Bath, in the King Henry VII Chapel of Westminster Abbey, where his standard and shield remain until the Spring of 2010, when the next installation of Knights occurs.  His Arms feature the pierced crowns of St Edmund, mirroring the shield of Framlingham College; an Owl representing the Staff College; and the rearing white stallion of the Queen’s Own Hussars.

Bar died in August 2004 after a long stroke-induced decline, leaving an enormous hole in Pat’s life.  He began to be affected by Alzheimers disease not very long afterwards.  Fortunately, its progression was slow and gentle and, with the support of a wonderful care team, he was able to remain in his own home, and to take some part in many local and regional events, until just before he died.

Soldier Pat   Armorial Bearings   Sailing Pat

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