National Park supporter and naval hero dies

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A former naval commander awarded the DSC for Atlantic U-boat operations who also escorted the young Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret in Malta, has died at the age of 96.

Michael Marwood lived in Lewes for 30 years. He joined the Royal Navy in 1936 serving as Navigating Officer of HMS Antelope from 1939-1941, escorting convoys from the Clyde into the Atlantic before returning with inbound convoys from the USA.

When Antelope engaged and sank U41 most of the U-boat crew were rescued and officers made honorary members of the wardroom mess, much to their surprise.

Antelope also helped evacuate the British Army from Norway in 1940. Promoted Lieutenant in 1941 – Marwood and HRH Prince Philip were the two youngest Naval lieutenants – he served as second in command on HMS Verdun escorting convoys between the Firth of Forth and Sheerness, dealing with the mines, aircraft attack and E-boats. Verdun’s captain, Commander William Donald wrote in his book Stand by for Action: “Michael Marwood was the First Lieutenant: tall and slim, he was a good seaman, and carried out his duties as Number One very well. He had a remarkable penchant for laying on wild parties, and an even more remarkable ability for emerging unscathed from all of them.”

In 1943-44 Marwood saw action at the Anzio landings, the invasion of Elba and in the Aegean. In 1944 he joined the 26th Destroyer Flotilla leader HMS Saumarez where he served as signals officer. In May 1945 the flotilla under Captain Manley ‘Lofty’ Power attacked and sank the Japanese battle cruiser Haguro, more than twice the size of five destroyers combined, the last major destroyer action of the war. Recommending that Marwood be Mentioned in Despatches, Captain Power wrote of his ‘coolness, skill and devotion to duty under fire as Flotilla Signal Officer.’ He served as Flag Lieutenant to Rear Admiral George Creasy on HMS Theseus and then to Rear Admiral William-Powlett aboard HMS Tyne based in Malta. Prince Philip was also based in Malta Marwood escorted Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret around the Grand Harbour.

As Secretary of Friends of Lewes from 1986-1993 Michael Marwood brought the Society into the administrative modern age. He also helped persuade the Society to join the South Downs Campaign, set up to campaign for a National Park.

He was concert secretary to Lewes’ Nicholas Yonge Society for many years. Their four children are well known in the world of classical music.

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