Lieutenant David Paton. Aged 27

25th July 2001

A Royal Navy parachutist died in an accident at HMS Excellent in Portsmouth on 25 July 2001. The Royal Navy parachutist was Lieutenant David Paton, aged 27. He was a qualified parachute instructor with over 500 jumps experience. Born in Brisbane, Australia, and raised in Hull, he joined the Royal Navy as a Junior Rating in 1991, and received a commission in 1998. He was studying engineering at the University of Southampton on a Royal Navy sponsored course. He will be sadly missed by colleagues.


In the early afternoon of Monday 16th April 1951, Lt Blackburn the Commanding Officer mustered the Ships Company and told them Affray was to undertake Exercise Training Spring. This called for her to proceed west and spend several days on a simulated war patrol. At an unspecified time she would land and recover a small party of Royal Marine Commandos in two boats at night on any suitable Cornish beach.


The exercise would continue until the morning of 23rd April, after which she would return to Portsmouth for docking and essential defect repairs. Her orders also included making a daily surface reports between 0900 and 1000 and to signal her position to Air Officer Commanding 19th Group RAF by 0900 daily. Some of the submarine crew was then detailed to collect their kit as they were to be landed for the duration of the exercise to provide additional space for the trainees. It is also recorded that another Commanding Officer had refused to undertake this patrol, considering it too dangerous, with an ill prepared crew, to snort at night in busy shipping lanes. After embarking a Marine Sergeant, 2 Marine Corporals, 7 Engineer Lts 13-Sub-Lts, Commander Engineer and Instructor Lt, H M Submarine Affray slipped away from HMS Dolphin at 1615 on 16th April 1951. With 75 aboard, she was 30 miles south of the Isle of Wight at 2115 when her Commanding Officer signalled his position at 50'10" north, 01'45" west and diving. On the morning of 17th April AOC 19TH Group RAF received no signal and submarine missing procedures were put in hand. As Affray had been expected to surface some 20 miles SE of Start Point, the search was initially concentrated there. A number of faint hull tapings and distorted signals were picked up on hydrophones but the location of the sources, using cross bearings, proved fruitless. but nothing was found. That evening, with little hope of saving life, the intensive search was called off. Following the loss of the Affray, the longest and largest search in naval history began. A flotilla of warships systematically searched the seabed over 1500 square miles Towards the middle of June, HMS Affray was found lying on an even keel near the edge of the Hurd Deep 67 miles from St Catherine's lighthouse on the Isle of Wight. She had travelled 37 miles SW of her reported position.


Roll of Honour ... 68 name are recorded Lt (E) J. Alston ERA2. G. Parker Sgt T. Andrews RM L/S W. Green  A/PO. D. Pearson  L/Stoker G. Ashley  Lt J. Greenwood  Stoker. A. Ramplin L/Stew J. Barlow  PO. W. Harkness  Sub Lt R. Reston EM1 D. Bartrup  Stoker R. Hiles Sub Lt A. Rewcastle  Stew D. Beddoes  Sub Lt Howard-Johnson  A/RE. J. Rutter  ERA2 D. Bennington Marine A Hooper RM Lt (E) F. Shaw  Lt (E) W. Bilton Tel A. Irven  Cpl E. Shergold RM  Lt J. Blackburn DSC  Marine D. Jarvis RM Stoker. J. Smith  Stoker O. Bridges  Lt W. Kirkwood  Cook. F. Smith A/CPO (S) A. Burbury Lt. R. Lansbury RNVR A/B. A. Stewart Stoker R. Cardno Stoker G. Larter Sub Lt J. Strachan Lt (E) M. Cole-Adams AB. G. Leakey  ERA3. M. Taylor L/S A. Cook ERA3. N. Lees  Stoker N. Temple PO. J. Cooper Stoker. W. Lewis A/PO. Stoker J. Thirkkettle Stoker. R. Curry Sub Lt W. Linton Lt (E) J. Treleaven A/Elec F. Denny  Sub Lt W. Longstaff A/L/Stoker V. Trimby Stoker. F. Drury Sub Lt C. MacKenzie-Edwards Sub Lt R. Tugman Lt D. Foster CERA. J. McKenzie Steward R. Vincent  Sub Lt A. Frew L/Stoker. J. Miller  Lt (E) A. Welch Sub Lt A. Garwood Sub Lt H. Nickalls CPO/Tel. R. Whitbread Tel H. Gittins Sub Lt R. North PO/Tel. F. Woods Stoker B. Gostling  A/B P. Pane L/Tel. B. Worsfold