The Neptune Association

Obituary - Surgeon Commander (D) Eric King-Turner RN - 1 November 2009

Obituary - Surgeon Commander (D) Eric King-Turner RN - 1 November 2009

Surgeon-Commander (D) Eric King-Turner RN who died at the age of 104 at Nelson Hospital, New Zealand on Sunday 1st November was an enthusiastic supporter of the Neptune Association from its inauguration. Although not directly connected to HMS Neptune or any specific crew member, Eric had a distinguished and eventful World War II naval career which included service in the Mediterranean after Neptune’s loss. His connections with Malta (he was an active member of the George Cross Island Association and a Freeman of Valetta,) together with his New Zealand affiliations, made him feel a particular affinity with the cruiser and her crew.

His wartime experience included service aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Indomitable on which he was bombed in the Mediterranean supporting Operation Pedestal, the famous convoy to supply Malta, of which only five of fifteen merchantmen survived, and which culminated in the tanker Ohio reaching the island barely afloat. He was also on the extremely hazardous Arctic convoys carrying supplies to Russia.

A modest and unassuming gentleman with a quiet but quick sense of humour, Eric achieved an unlooked-for celebrity when he became New Zealand’s oldest ever immigrant at 102, sailing there on the Saga Rose with his New Zealand-born wife, Doris. Television coverage in Britain was followed by what at least one New Zealand paper referred to as “a media frenzy” on their arrival in Wellington in February 2008. Eric rationed his subsequent media appearance to a fishing trip with a local Nelson newspaper on which he caught his own fish rather than take credit for that caught by  the accompanying journalist!

Lively and alert up to the time of his death with a grasp of current technology embracing digital photography and email, that can be attested personally by the writer, Eric will be missed by all who knew and admired him. We extend our condolences and sympathy to his wife Doris and his family.

Rorie Grieve (who was fortunate enough to enjoy a final meeting with Eric a week before his death)



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