Obituary: Vice Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby, 87

Sir Cameron Rusby. Picture: contributed
Sir Cameron Rusby. Picture: contributed
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VICE Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby, a former Captain of the Royal Yacht Britannia and chief executive of the Scottish SPCA, has died, aged 87.

He was born in the Maltese capital Valetta in 1926 while his father was stationed there with the Royal Navy. He later attended Westerhall school in Weymouth, Dorset, and Wooton Court school near Canterbury, Kent before attending the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon.

A teenager when the Second World War broke out, he and his fellow cadets were forced to shelter from Luftwaffe bombing in central heating tunnels in the college.

He was assigned to the battleship HMS Howe in May 1943 and saw his first action during the invasion of Italy.

The Howe would later be broken up in Inverkeithing, but its soul was adopted by the people of Edinburgh and Rusby was said to have been proud to see the ship’s bell on display in St Giles’ Cathedral, where it remains.

In 1948, he married Marion Bell, and the couple went on to have two daughters, Anne and Caroline.

He was named Captain of the destroyer HMS Ulster in 1958, and then in 1962 he was appointed Commander of the Royal Yacht Britannia – with his first duty being to take the Queen through the Panama Canal en route to a royal tour of Australasia.

In all he “drove” the Queen more than 44,000 miles on official tours, including to Fiji, New Zealand and Australia.

He remained in charge of Britannia for three years and the Queen later conferred a knighthood on him for his work in charge of Royal Navy forces, ships, missiles and equipment in Scotland.

In 1967, he was appointed Flag Officer Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Based in Rosyth, he spent much of his time at Faslane in charge of submarines and nuclear missiles, although his formal residence was Admiralty House in North Queensferry.

When he retired in 1982 he was Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Atlantic for Nato, based at Norfolk, Virginia, where his mission was to safeguard Nato’s sea lines of communication, protect the allies’ sea-based nuclear deterrence and be ready to support any amphibious or land operations by Nato forces.

To friends and neighbours in Edinburgh, however, he was simply Cameron, an animal lover who for ten years served as chief executive of the Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

He was also an avid supporter of rugby. According to his daughters he moved from Edinburgh to Melrose ten years ago mainly so he could live in the spiritual home of the Rugby Sevens.

Vice Admiral Sir Cameron Rusby died in the Borders General Hospital in Melrose following a short illness.

He is survived by wife Marion and their two daughters.