Commander Ian Hamilton RN (Ret’d)

A Tribute by Tom Hart

Commander Ian Hamilton was born in Motherwell on 31 January 1911 and attended Calder Primary School.  When aged 12, he was given a book on ships, including naval ships, and he made up his mind that he was going to join the Royal Navy.

After secondary education at Dalziel High School, he took a 2-year Business Studies course at Coatbridge Technical College and a further Advanced Business Studies course at Glasgow Technical College.  Among the subjects he studied was shorthand and typing that became extremely useful in his Naval career.

On the 4th of March 1937, Ian joined the Royal Navy and was appointed to the battleship HMS Malaya for service in the Mediterranean with the rank of Lieutenant.  After service in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, the ship was torpedoed and was ordered to make for the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York  –  the first British Ship to be repaired there under the Lease-Lend Agreement.

In 1942, after returning  to the UK, he was appointed to the staff of the Combined Operations Base at Inveraray, and then Supply Officer at the Combined Operations Officers’ Training Establishment at Lochailort in Inverness-shire.

Anxious to get back to sea, “strings were pulled” and Ian was sent to join HMS Rodney in the Mediterranean at the time of the invasion of Sicily.  The ship returned to the UK a few months later and joined the Home Fleet.  Early in 1944, when he was 33 years of age, Ian was promoted Acting Commander (S) and Supply Officer of HMS Rodney that was then Flagship of the Home Fleet.  He remained on the ship until she paid off at Rosyth prior to going to the breakers’ yard at the end of 1945.

During the Second World War, Ian was engaged in the Atlantic, South Atlantic, Mediterranean and Arctic Convoys  and the fighting on D-Day and Normandy Beaches.

Following his retirement from The Royal Navy in 1963, Ian Hamilton spent a number of years teaching Business Studies in secondary schools in Ellon and in Newton Stewart.  However, his love of the west coast of Scotland resulted in Ian buying a small working croft on the Isle of Seil.

Thereafter he and his wife, Maud, returned to the Isle of Bute which was Maud’s home town and where she died in July 1998. Due to failing health and the fact that he was 100 years old, Ian moved in October 2011 to the Erskine Home for War Veterans at Erskine in Renfrewshire and he was always very grateful for the care and attention given to him.   He remained there until his death on 9 February 2014 aged 103 years old.

Commander Hamilton was a very warm and generous man whose thoughts often turned to those who needed a helping hand, and a number of organisations on the Isle of Bute, including the Bute Highland Games, have been helped by his generosity. While attending the Bute Highland Games aged 102, with other Erskine Veterans in August 2013, Ian was honoured with the renaming of the Cromach as “The Commander Hamilton Cromach” which was proudly carried during the course of the Games by the Chieftain for that year, David Grevemberg, the Chief Executive Officer of the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. It now remains a tradition that all subsequent Chieftains become recipients of their very own Commander Hamilton Cromach.

Ian had an amazing memory of his life, from his birth in Motherwell; to his Naval Career and the ships on which he served and the people with whom he worked; to his research into many different subjects, and he loved to reminisce and pass on his fascinating recollections.

Ian is sorely missed by all who had the privilege to have known him.