3 March 2022

From Cadet Force to Armed Force - A Royal Navy Profile

In the last edition, I wrote an article on how the CCF has influenced Old Kirkhamians over the years. Some loved it; others hated it. Many used it as a stepping-stone to a career in the Armed Forces, especially the Army and the RAF. Others picked it up again whilst teaching and emulated their role models - such as Derek Butterworth, Fred Sayer and Shirley Piggott at other schools much later in life.

I wrote a piece on Facebook asking if individuals would like their story told in a profile form. I had too many to choose from the Army and the RAF but only one Old Kirkhamian messaged me to tell me that he chose the Royal Navy for his career. As the Royal Navy is the Senior Service, it seems like the correct place to start…

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JOHN WYPER (1984-1985)

Brief Military History to date (years served, highlights and achievements, current role)

Royal Navy, 25 years, 1986 – 2011

Served at: Devonport, Portsmouth, Faslane & Rosyth

After completing a three and a half year Artificer Apprenticeship, served in the surface fleet and gained promotion through the ranks including selection to the Officer Corps. 

A brief summary of service includes:

Head of Main Electrical Power Section, HMS NORTHUMBERLAND (Type 23 Frigate) - Chief Petty Officer

Head of Propulsion Section, HMS WESTMINSTER (Type 23 Frigate) - Chief Petty Officer

Propulsion Manager, HMS PORTLAND (Type 23 Frigate) – Warrant Officer II                                                     

Marine Engineer Officer (DMEO) HMS ARGYLL – Lieutenant         

Military highlights:

  • Being promoted to the Officer corps from the lower deck; only four individuals are promoted annually so I was pretty chuffed to say the least.
  • Passing my Marine Charge Qualification (equivalent to Chief Engineer), mainly because this meant that over the course of my career I had passed every professional exam that could be taken by a Marine Engineer from apprentice to commissioned officer.
  • I completed my MSc in Engineering & Management at Portsmouth University also whilst serving. Mainly because the RN paid for 80% of it, so it seemed like a no-brainer!
  • The travel! Furthest points travelled to on the compass: Lofoten Islands, South Georgia, Fort Lauderdale, Singapore. Best places visited: Singapore, Rio De Janeiro, Gibraltar, Nassau, Dubai, Dubrovnik. Travelled extensively and enjoyed it all (even the, in my opinion, dumps: Karachi, Dakar and Freetown (Sierra Leone). Dakar was definitely the worst though).

KGS CCF Military History (years, highlights, anecdotes)

1984/85 - promoted to L.Cpl. in the Fifth Year so that I could attend the UK Land Forces Annual Cadets 'thing' (I forget its official name). There I discovered that I was completely out of my depth and the keenness that I had shown on the quad and surrounding shrubbery at KGS did not help me one bit. I had also volunteered to be the right hand marker and with hindsight, I always put too much effort in the arm swinging which resulted in my hands exceeding the height of my head!

Fred Sayer and Brian Gornall were the only two members of staff sorry to see me go as they had plans for me in the Lower Sixth; I don’t think the academic staff really cared.

Most influential member of staff/role model: Mick Clarkson (School House Master) – a nicer bloke you could not wish to meet. Fair and always struck me as calm and usually saw the good in every situation.

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Next time, you can look forward to reading about Chris Kay (1977-1984) and his RAF career.

Mike Ward

Tags: CCF 2021-2022 OKA