May 20, 2004
R.I.P., Lord Hill-Norton
As the members of my old Clear Thinkers email list know, I enjoy reading British obituaries. The British have a long and special talent for writing witty obituaries, and the good folks over at Southern Appeal point us to the latest example, this London Telegraph obituary of Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton, who died this past Sunday at the age of 89. The entire obituary is a hoot, and you get a flavor for it in the first two paragraphs:
Admiral of the Fleet Lord Hill-Norton, who died on Sunday aged 89, was a formidable Chief of the Defence Staff before becoming the senior military officer in the Nato alliance; he also had a reputation for being one of the rudest men in the Royal Navy. Almost from the beginning of his career some considered him destined either to be court martialled or to end up as First Sea Lord. His reputation for ruthless efficiency and meticulousness, combined with good luck and an irritating habit of being right, took him to the top. This made it seem all the more strange when, as a retired officer in the House of Lords, he placed rather more credence on the possible existence of unidentified flying objects than did less talented individuals.
Sounding like a character out of the brilliant British comedy "Fawlty Towers," Lord Hill-Norton's immediate post-WWII duties are described as follows:
By now his reputation as an abrasive and short-tempered officer was well established. He was in the habit of answering the telephone with the words: "Gunnery Division. Hill-Norton. Kindly state your business briefly; we're busy men here." An inadequate response would result in the telephone receiver being slammed down.
Even in retirement, the Lord's demeanor did not improve, as is reflected by his reaction to some proposed cuts in military appropriations:
The defence cuts ordered by Options for Change did not improve his view of politicians, whom he regarded as sufferers from sea blindness. He was scathing about proposals to economise on Armed Forces pensions, and most notoriously called the then defence secretary Michael Portillo "a little creep" for suggesting the sale of Admiralty Arch.
But in classic British obituary style, Lord Hill-Norton's obit closes with an acknowledgement of his good side:
Although Hill-Norton was feared, hated and respected in equal measure he led from the front. His harsh manner and foul language belied a man who could, on rare occasions, demonstrate an otherwise well-concealed humanity. He was always receptive to sound arguments but would not suffer fools or those who weakened before his onslaughts.
He married, in 1936, Margaret Linstow, whom he selflessly brought out of hospital to nurse at home himself in recent years. She survives him, with their daughter and son, Vice-Admiral Sir Nicholas Hill-Norton.
Posted by Tom at May 20, 2004 2:59 PM |
After watching a programme on UK TV yesterday which Lord Hill-Norton was featured I deceided to look him up on the net --- I was sorry to hear of his death but he sounded and looked like a great guy. The programme was on British UFO's and like it says in his obiturary the appeared to be a man of great principles especially when it came to his friend Horsley - author of "Sounds from another Room" which I intend to purchase. Your title 'Houstons Clear Thinkers' sounds like an interesting concept to keep abreast of the items you list --- interesting!
Good luck with your site and Yes! we are a bit eccentric us Brits - Ken Walton
Posted by: ken walton at August 28, 2005 2:01 PM
A TV interview with Lord Hill Norton, on the subject of UFO's, immediately marked him as an efficient communicator, one who used few and, to the point, words to express his view(s) on the extreme importance of the subject of UFOs.
Hill Norton's brevity of discourse and his grasp of the importance of the subject about which he spoke, marked him as a man of commanding presence and intellect, a man superbly fit for the high command that he held.
Posted by: Gene Phillips at March 19, 2006 7:41 AM
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