Weapons Systems Tuning Group Reunion

Home news Events newsletters history members Obituaries Galleries links contact
Home news Events newsletters history members Obituaries Galleries links contact site map

Disclaimer & credits

Go to top of page

Gerald Arthur Ernest O’Gorman (1944 – 2009)

Gerry O’Gorman was a resourceful, practical guy with a capacity for hard work and using initiative. In truth Gerry was ideally qualified to join a mobile organisation such as W.S.T.G. at the peak of its large programme of work.

Gerry was first introduced to W.S.T.G. when he went to Gibraltar in the late 1960s on secondment from Devonport Dockyard. There, he assisted Ted Arnold and Co with the setting to work of a Type 177M Sonar Equipment – a first fitting in that dockyard.

Gerry, who had received his technical training in the RAF, was soon recognised as a good worker, as the setting to work, harbour and sea trials progressed. By the end of the job he appeared quite keen on a post in W.S.T.G.. Ted suggested that if he was interested in joining the group he should contact the Devonport office.

Gerry became a member of the Sonar Section and transferred to Portsmouth in the early 1970s. Much more happened to Gerry around this time: he married nursing sister Ann (with Ted as best man); bought his first house, which he almost rebuilt and invited John Mills to lodge with him until John had found a place of his own - such was Gerry’s generosity.

Gerry worked with the Sonar Section for many years and once again made extensive alterations to his present house to meet the needs of a growing family. In the late 1980s he transferred to the Trials and Sea Ranges Group where he took over the Self Noise Trials, a job where his qualities were all too often needed.

Gerry will be remembered for liking a brandy (or two) after work and, in keeping with many of his generation, a few cigarettes. Gerry took advantage of an early retirement package offered in 1995 and continued to enjoy family life in Gosport. Gerry did re-established contact with W.S.T.G. colleagues when he attended the 2006 Reunions although he had regrettable suffered a stroke back in 2001.

Gerry died at home on 20 August 2009 after a short illness. He was 65.

A service of thanksgiving for his life was held at Portchester Crematorium on 28 August. Gerry’s daughter Zoe read her moving but up-beat tribute at the service led by the Rev. Sue West.

Among the several W.S.T.G. colleagues present were Ted Arnold, Cliff Grainger and Dave Sherris.

Our sympathy is extended to Gerry’s wife Ann and the whole family.

Raymond Walton (1930-2009)

Ray Walton was a long serving member of W.S.T.G. who joined the group in the early 1960s. He spent many years at Cammell Lairds Shipbuilders, Birkenhead as a sonar equipments specialist working in both submarines and surface ships. Ray was confirmed as a PTO 3 (ex electrical fitter) in 1966.

With the re-organisation of W.S.T.G. into Co-ordination (C) and Specialist (S) sections he was recruited, and promoted into " C Group". Much of his work was in Scotland during the late 1970s, and in particular at Scotts at Greenock. Ray was a dedicated co-ordinator who spent a major part of his time in shipyards to the detriment of his domestic life and to some extent his health. Latterly, he suffered reoccurring problems with an earlier leg injury.

Although Ray was from the Liverpool area he was posted to Portsmouth at the time of his separation and divorce where he eventually transferred back to the "S Group". He was retired on medical grounds in the mid-1980s.

Ray died at his home in Portsmouth on 15 July 2009. He was 79 years old. Ray was taken back to his roots for his funeral at Warrington Crematorium, held on 7 August 2009.

Ray came to our first reunion at the Alexandra Bowling Club and is pictured far left in the group photograph taken at that time.

Don Warren (1926-2008)

It was a poignant moment for many of us as we returned home from the W.S.T.G. Christmas Party to learn from the local newspaper or a telephone call from a colleague, who had seen the notice that, sadly, Don Warren had died suddenly on 3 December at the age of 82years.

Don began his career as an electrical fitter apprentice in Devonport Dockyard and although we know little of the time he spent at his home dockyard Don was recruited into W.S.T.G. as a founder member in 1958/59 and worked at Devonport as a TG 1 (PTO 2).


In the early 1960s Don was posted to Portsmouth where on promotion to Tech. Officer Grade B he managed the Sonar section for sometime. In the same decade Don was given the job of managing the Portsmouth office, which in those early days included the administration, documentation and stores. He continued to do this job effectively until the Portsmouth W.S.T.G. organisation became more structured and the Senior Technical Grades A & B were replaced by the PTO 1 grade (SPTO). Even after these changes Don remained one of the "main stays" of the non-mobile staff and as such was well known to everyone within W.S.T.G..

Don Warren retired early from his post at Milldam House in March 1983.

Don’s interests were very much his home and garden, his motorcar, and collection of crested china. Although he did not usually attend W.S.T.G. social functions, we were pleased that he came to our first reunion at Alexandra Bowling Club in March 2004. For many of us this was our last meeting with Don. See photo below.

Don’s wife Beryl predeceased him by almost 5 years and we learned that in his final years he suffered from severe depression.

A funeral service was held in the afternoon of 17 December at St Wilfred’s Church Cowplain. Ted Arnold, a member of Don’s sonar team in those early days, Ivan Winter and Ken Wingate were among the group of family and friends who attended this service.

We extend our sympathy to Don’s family and close friends.

William John Alfred Henson (1923–2008)

It is with great regret that we report the death of John Henson at the age of 85. John died in early March this year, but we only learnt of this sad news from Peter Horrocks, who had tried to make contact with John in May; unfortunately it was too late for inclusion in our last Newsletter.

 John Henson joined the Production Pool (test team) at Portsdown in 1953 and became a founder member of W.S.T.G. when Captain J Noel with Bill Middlemas and Les Marks were tasked with amalgamating the Dockyard based test teams into Director General Weapons (Navy) in 1959. We remember John as an operations room/displays specialist on the first County Class destroyers before his transfer from W.S.T.G. to further his career in the Bath area early in the 1960s.

 John returned to take over W.S.T.G. (Co-ord) as a Grade 7 upon the retirement of Les Marks in early 1981. John retired in March 1982.


We believe John would have very much liked to come to at least one of our reunions. Our very first invitation flyer prompted him to respond with a letter stating that he was looking forward to finding out how retirement had been for others from W.S.T.G. as he had had “a wonderful life”, but due to an emergency stomach operation he was unlikely to be able to get to Portsmouth. To our November 2005 flier and Newsletter came the response: “feeling much better now and looking forward to a cruise in the Mediterranean in June (06)”.  It is very much regretted we were unable to meet up with John once again.

Peter Spreadbury (died 2008)

Six of Peter’s ex-W.S.T.G. colleagues, together with his family and friends gathered at Portchester Crematorium on 29th April to pay their last respects. The short service was well attended, filling the South Chapel. During the service we were reminded of Peter’s sporting talents at cricket and fishing, also his abilities at growing prize Begonias as well as his devotion to his family.

Peter started his career as an apprentice in Portsmouth Dockyard and on completion worked for a period in No2 Electrical Shop. From there together with many others he decided that W.S.T.G. would provide a better and more lucrative future, so, in 1965 Peter joined the group. He started in the Radio section under Ken Rust and specialized in UHF radio, Message Handling and Secure Systems. In the late sixties he spent some time in Singapore, assisting with the Fleet wide fit of BID660/580, the new Tactical/Broadcast Crypto equipment. Peter stayed in the Radio section throughout his career, during the eighty’s he became the expert on RWE, the first of the modern processor controlled message handling systems. Unfortunately, ill health, which included two hip replacements and a heart attack, meant that Peter had to take early retirement in 1994.

His early retirement gave him the opportunity to devote more time to his family and to his love of raising Begonias.  He could always be seen proudly showing off his prize blooms at the Southsea Show every year.

Our sincere sympathies go to his family at their sad loss.

Gordon Hoare (died 2008)

It is with much regret that we report the death of Gordon Hoare, at the age of 83 years on 21 March 2008. He had suffered from cancer for the past 2 years.

Gordon was born in Portsmouth and was an electrical apprentice with a local firm during WW2. During that time he worked on the Mulberry Harbour units that were used in the Normandy landings.

He became an electrical fitter in Portsmouth Dockyard in the late 1940s and progressed to chargeman and inspector and ended his career as a PTO2 in W.S.T.G.. Before joining W.S.T.G. in the late 1960s, Gordon had volunteered for service in Malta and Singapore.  He spent brief periods in Portsmouth and time as an AREE overseer in Nottingham.

Gordon’s time in W.S.T.G. was spent initially in the Radar Section followed by some time on sonar equipments, and finally as a member of the Coordination group. He retired from W.S.T.G. in March 1985.

Gordon was noted for a wicked sense of humour and his many artistic skills. His animal and portrait paintings were very much admired, and later, examples of his new found talent as a glass engraver; moreover, he had also a reputation as a very competent wood-turner.

His funeral was held at Portchester Crematorium on 1 April 2008 with a sensitive non-denominational service of remembrance and committal. At the Chapel, among Gordon’s family and friends were a number of W.S.T.G. colleagues; there was standing room only.

Our sympathy is extended to his entire family.

Michael Kenneth Stenson  (died 2008)

We were saddened by the sudden and unexpected death of Mike Stenson on 14 February 2008. Mike had worked in W.S.T.G. for almost 31years before retiring in March 1996. Many will recall seeing Mike at our 2006 Christmas Party when Dennis Collard persuaded him to come along.

 Mike joined W.S.T.G. from Portsmouth Dockyard following an apprenticeship with an electrical/electronics firm (Bentleys?) in the city and further education at the Portsmouth College of Technology. He completed his training in Portsmouth Dockyard (No2 Electrical Shop). Like most young men of his time Mike was conscripted for National Service, spending 2years in the Royal Corps of Signal as a Radio Technician before returning to the Dockyard.

 Mike had a life interest in sports cars. He owned several over the years including models from the Lotus and Triumph stables, and was involved in motor racing. We understand that through this hobby Mike struck up an acquaintance with the late Malcolm Campbell. Other interests included photography and cycling.

In later years he developed an interest in good wine and food that often encouraged him to return home with wine from a favourite haunt in Glasgow “ The Ubiquitous Chip” (off Byres Road), sausages, when working in Barrow, from a world renown Cumberland butcher and “Smokeys” (kippers), again, when returning from Scotland.    

 Mike spent his entire career in the Sonar section, which he joined in 1965 when Don Warren was his Grade B. He specialised in echo sounders and the smaller sonar equipments and could be relied upon to provide such equipments on time for “contractor’s sea trials”. Few remember Mike spending much time at sea, but due to his consistent reliability, he often provided the shore base for underwater communications at any selected location, on time, and at any time. Mike was happy to work alone.

 There are some interesting stories arising from working with W.S.T.G. with, perhaps, some of them best left unrecorded. There is, however, none more extraordinary than one that involved Mike Stenson and a number of our W.S.T.G. colleagues who worked in the Clyde bank shipyards. This story illustrates the regard and affection for which an elderly Glasgow hotelier had for her W.S.T.G. guests.

 The story begins when, in the late 1960s, W.S.T.G. travellers had graduated from residing at Clyde-bank lodgings to private hotels and guest houses in the more attractive parts of Glasgow. Two such places off Byres Road were the Rosslyn Private Hotel and, next door, the Rosslyn Guest House. The writer actually preferred the Guest House because it was kept very warm during the winter and Robert Crawford who ran the establishment appeared to feel the cold as much as the W.S.T.G. “soft southerners”. However we soon learnt, and in no uncertain terms, from the formidable lady proprietor of hotel that “old Bob”, her widower brother in law was in her employ and that she owned both businesses.

 As the years went by old Bob died and the guest-house was sold, but the hotel continued to be patronised by W.S.T.G. workers. The formidable lady, Mrs Godsman, an accountant by profession, and now quite elderly continued to welcome W.S.T.G. as well known friendly visitors who would do the odd job and help her where possible. Needless to say Mike, being a friendly and helpful guy became one of her favourite visitors.

 In the early 1980s Mrs “G” then in her eighties died and many W.S.T.G. visitors to Glasgow lost their lodgings of many years standing. However, Mrs “G” had not forgotten W.S.T.G.’s loyalty. To everyone’s astonishment several of our colleagues were left a small legacy in the old lady’s will. But there was a further surprise. Mike Stenson was left a very much larger proportion of the estate!

 Mike’s funeral was held on 3 March 2008 at Portchester Crematorium. Family members attending were his two cousins together with a large number of friends and a good turn-out of his W.S.T.G. colleagues. The vicar’s tribute to Mike was an integral part of the simple service that preceded committal. There was a brief quiet period where everyone was encouraged to remember Mike in their own personal way.

And during those few poignant moments it was probable that we all had a similar thought: Mike Stenson was without doubt one of the most memorable characters in W.S.T.G.

Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu Top of Page Obit Menu