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College & OF History: 1975-2000
Into the Third Millennium
Framlingham College...
By John Maulden

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Obituaries>> Commander J D Molyneux (S33-38)

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Commander J D Molyneux (S33-38)

1920-2012

Contributed by Captain Richard (Dick) Husk, RN CBE – (Chief of Staff, Submarines 1982 - 84):
 
With the death of Derek Molyneux at the age of 92, Framlingham has lost one of its greatest all-round sportsmen and a successful Naval Officer. He represented the College at Rugby, Cricket, Hockey and Squash and was Captain of Athletics in ’37 and ’38. He was a finalist in the under 19 National Squash Championship and Norman Borrett and he played first and second string for the College and Stradbroke!
 
Derek passed the Civil Service examination and joined the Royal Navy as an Engineer specialist in 1938, training at the RN Engineering College Keyham, Plymouth and at sea in HMS Vindictive. Derek’s first sea appointment was to HMS Charybdis a 7,000 ton cruiser which supported the landings at Salerno. One month later in late October 1943, assigned to operations in the Channel area with other warships, Charybdis was hit by two torpedoes fired by a squadron of German E boats off the north Brittany coast. The cruiser sank in half-an-hour. When the sea had reached the base of the funnels, Derek swam off to share a Carley float with a Royal Marine. They were subsequently rescued by the destroyer HMS Wensleydale. Out of a ship’s company of 567, only 4 Officers and 103 ratings survived.
 
After a short recovery (one night in hospital), Derek was appointed to another cruiser – HMS Newfoundland which was being repaired in Boston USA having also been torpedoed. Subsequently HMS Newfoundland saw action in the Pacific, fighting off New Guinea and the Japanese mainland. HMS Newfoundland was in Tokyo Bay at the signing of the Instrument of Surrender on 2 September 1945.
 
Earlier in the war, Lieutenant Molyneux had met a WREN and was keen to renew her acquaintance. To expedite his return to the UK, he therefore volunteered for the submarine branch. Getting his priorities in the right order, he married his WREN and started submarine training in summer 1946. This was a marriage which lasted for 66 years until his death, and produced two more Framlinghamians – Simon and Richard.
 
In the four years after submarine training class, Lieutenant Molyneux served as the Engineer Officer in HM Submarines Thule, Tireless and Artful. Following Artful, Derek was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and served at HMS Fisguard. He was then appointed as Senior Engineer Officer in HMS Sheffield – yet another cruiser where he was promoted to Commander at the early age of 34. After the Naval Staff Course, Commander Molyneux was appointed to HMS Cleopatra (a similar cruiser to Charybdis) to ensure her proper maintenance in the Reserve Fleet.
 
In January 1956, Commander Molyneux returned to the submarine branch in a succession of appointments where his specialist knowledge was essential. He started at the Submarine School where he was in overall charge of engineering training. Following that, he served on the staff of Flag Officer Submarines before joining HMS Maidstone – a submarine depot ship. In December ’59, Derek took over the very demanding appointment of Commander (E) at HMS Dolphin, the submarine base at Gosport which supported up to eight submarines.
 
Following nuclear power courses, Derek joined HM Dockyard Rosyth as Assistant Engineer Manager preparing for the refits of nuclear powered submarines. His final appointment was a return to the staff of Flag Officer Submarines. He retired from the R.N. in 1966.
 
Despite his heavy professional load in the R.N., Derek continued his sporting prowess. He played Squash for Hampshire and was county and Portsmouth Command Champion. He also played Hockey and Squash for the Navy and was particularly proud of winning the Dupree Trophy at Rowlands Castle Golf Club.
 
On leaving the Navy, Derek was invited by the British Aircraft Corporation to run Apprentice Training at Weybridge with up to one hundred trainees at any one time. In 1981 Derek retired from BAC and he and his wife ran an antiques business from Godalming, Derek tailoring his submarine engineering expertise to the repair of grandfather clocks and furniture. Golf at West Surrey, Effingham and Liphook kept Derek well occupied, and he and his wife played Bridge up to their late eighties. Derek and his wife retired to Emsworth for fifteen years before moving to a care home at Bedhampton. Derek died on 22nd July 2012. Their son Simon followed his father into the Royal Navy and Richard became a solicitor.
 

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