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Commander R.N.Buckley

 16th June 1931 to 23rd September 2009


Nigel Buckley was born in Cheshire on 16 June 1931, the youngest son of a Liverpool business man, who had commanded the Fifth Battalion of the King’s Liverpool Regiment in the First World War and been awarded a DSO and bar.  Nigel attended school in the Lake District during the Second World War. Four of his cousins served in the Royal Navy during the war, one of them was a Charioteer and another Rear Admiral Peter Noel Buckley DSO was a Submariner.  Nigel joined the Royal Naval College, Eaton Hall, Chester in January 1945 at the age of 13. As a Midshipman he served in HMS Kenya, HMS Cockade and HMAS Warramunga; these ships were part of the United Nations Force in Korea.  HMS Kenya bombarded Inchon prior to the landings in 1950.


Nigel joined Submarines at the end of 1952 and his first submarine appointment was Navigating Officer of HMS Trespasser, based at Fort Blockhouse.  In January 1955 he joined HMS Astute also as Navigating Officer, this was the first submarine in the newly formed Sixth Submarine Squadron, based at Halifax Nova Scotia.  In the spring of 1956 he was appointed First Lieutenant of HMS Sturdy, based at Portland.  After a year in HMS Sturdy he was moved to HMS Andrew, which was destined to be the first streamlined A class to be based at Sydney; however this was some way off because a refit was scheduled in Singapore.  Nigel left HMS Andrew in the middle of refit and went south to Sydney where he served as First Lieutenant in both the other submarines in the Squadron.  In the autumn of 1958 he came home in HMS Aurochs via Tahiti and the Panama Canal, thus completing a personal circumnavigation of the globe by submarine.


After Perisher in 1959 Nigel commanded HMS Sentinel, based at Portland.  He did his General Service as the First Lieutenant of HMS Exmouth – the submarine target ship based at Faslane.  Following a Royal Naval Staff Course in 1963 he returned to submarines as the Squadron Operations Officer of the Second Squadron based in HMS Adamant at Plymouth.  In January 1965 he took command of HMS Sealion which was the trial submarine for a new sonar known by the code names “Soap 1 and Soap 2”.  The Soap 1 trials were outstandingly successful and this equipment was widely fitted to all patrol submarines and the Resolution class as Sonar 2007.   The Soap 2 passive ranging  trials were not successful and the system was not followed up.  During Nigel’s second year in command Sealion carried out two patrols in the Barents Sea, she was the last diesel submarine to do so.  In the summer of 1967 Nigel was the NATO Perisher Teacher and then he took command of the Submarine Attack Teacher at Rothesay.


Nigel was promoted to Commander on 30 June 1968 and appointed as Commanding Officer designate of HMS Churchill, which he joined at Barrow-in-Furness in September 1968.  HMS Churchill incorporated a considerable number of modifications from the Valiant Class mostly to improve the reliability of the propulsion plant, more importantly she was the trial submarine for the pumpjet propulsor.  Most of Nigel’s time in command was taken up with pumpjet trials, these had to be conducted with a great deal of caution because we really were entering into “uncharted waters”. The dived performance was generally better than a propeller, but the pumpjet was very unpredictable when manoeuvring at slow speed on the surface.


After two years in the Ministry of Defence he returned as Commander (S/M) of the Second Submarine Squadron at Plymouth.  In 1974/5 this squadron was building up its nuclear strength as the new Swiftsure class commissioned, there were also six P and O class.  Nigel was the Naval member of the Directing Staff at the RAF Staff College, Bracknell from April 1976 to March 1978.  His last appointment was in the Directorate of Naval Operations and Trade, where he was responsible for world wide Naval Control of Shipping planning and liaison with the Merchant Navy.  He retired from the Royal Navy in June 1981.


Nigel lived in the Lake District where he had bought a home in 1971.  After a brief spell selling life insurance he went into educational administration; for six years he was the College Secretary at Charlotte Mason College Ambleside, his responsibilities were Clerk to the Governors, finance, the site and personnel.  In other words everything except teaching.  He retired from full time employment in 1990.


Nigel had also been very active in voluntary work.  He was a Justice of the Peace on the Furness and District Bench from 1982 – 2001.  He was Chairman of the Cumbria Branch of SSAFA Forces Help from 1985 – 2005 and is now a Vice President.  He has been Churchwarden and Treasurer of All Saints Church Satterthwaite since 1982 and he also chaired Satterthwaite (Civil) Parish Council from 1990 – 2006.