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In Memory of Maj Gen MJH Walsh

Posted on October 29th, 2015 by Sonia Carswell

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Major General MJH (Mike) Walsh CB CBE DSO DL KStJ passed away on Tuesday 13th October after battling bravely against cancer. Our thoughts our with his family, may he rest in peace.

9th Lymington Sea Scouts wear the Walsh badge with pride.

Major-General Michael John Hatley Walsh, CB DSO DL KStJ was a senior British Army officer and the Chief Scout of the United Kingdom and Overseas Territories between 1982 and 1988.

He was born on 10th June 1927 in North Yorkshire, attended school in Harrogate and then Cumbria and was a member of the local Scout Troop. He attained the King’s Scout Award with the added distinction of Gold Cords, indicating it as the highest award available in Scouting at the time.

Mike Walsh joined the King’s Royal Rifle Corps as a rifleman in 1944 and was commissioned in 1945. He spent the winter of 1945 – 46 in northern Italy guarding against incursion by Josip Broz Tito’s partisans. After instructing at the Small Arms School and the Jungle Warfare School in Malaya, he was seconded to the 3rd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment (known as “3 Para”) and went with them to Cyprus in 1956 as a company commander, where he took part in operations against EOKA insurgents.

In November 1956, the Suez Crisis had come to a head and 3 Para were tasked with capturing El Gamil airfield close to Port Said – part of Operation Musketeer. This was the first and last British operational parachute assault since World War II. Despite fierce opposition including tanks, the airfield was captured in 30 minutes. After various staff and training appointments, he returned to the role of company commander with 3 Para to take part in the 1964 campaign in the Radfan Mountains in Saudi Arabia. After promotion to Lieutenant-Colonel, he took command of 1 Para on an emergency tour to Aden in January 1967. The battalion was responsible for “Area North” for 7 months and were the last British battalion to withdraw. Walsh was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for various actions in June.

Walsh then held staff appointments with British Army of the Rhine and 28th Commonwealth Brigade in Singapore. He was appointed Assistant Chief of Staff, Intelligence in 1973. Following promotion to Major-General he took command of 3rd Armoured Division in 1976 and was then appointed Director of Army Training in 1978 retiring in 1981.

In retirement, Mike went on to follow a distinguished career as Chief Scout from 1982-8. In his six years as The Scout Association’s Chief Scout, he visited over 340 Scouting events. This constant face-to-face contact enabled him to bring what he called ‘personal leadership’ to the Movement.  1982 marked the 75th anniversary of the Movement and had been entitled ‘The Year of the Scout’. One of Michael’s first decisions was to create a theme for the year: ‘Scouts help others’. He also wanted to provide personal recognition of the service given by members and developed the Chief Scout’s Personal Award to be presented to older Scouts and leaders.

One of the most significant developments during Michael’s tenure as Chief Scout was the development of the Beaver Scout section, which was formally launched in 1986. This was the first time since 1916 that the age limits for Scout membership had been changed enabling young people to join the Movement from the age of six.

From 1988 until 1995 he was Knight President of the London-based Society of Knights of the Round Table. Also the Director of Overseas Relations for St. John Ambulance from 1989 until 1995, and Vice President of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

He died on 13 October 2015.

There will be a private family service at East Grafton on 29th October and it is hoped to hold a Memorial Service at RMAS before Christmas.

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