Tony Criddle, who was known by everyone by the nickname of his west country upbringing (“Jan” for “Janner”) passed away in Merimbula on Saturday 29th July 2023.
Jan joined the RN at age 15 as an electrical technician and worked his way to a Commission and eventual training as a Fleet Air Arm pilot.
I first met Jan when he joined 705 Squadron as an instructor. He’d just returned from two years exchange with the RAN and spent much time enthusing about the country and its people, and what a fantastic time he had had.
He was one of those ‘larger than life’ characters. He could paint like a Master, having studied under Leonard Long (one of the great landscape artists) whilst in Australia. He was also a member of the ‘Sharks’ aerobatic team), could play a mean hand of cards and was invariably opinionated and outspoken. Whether you agreed with him or not, you never got bored by his company!
Following his time in the Royal Navy, Jan emigrated to Australia with his family, where he joined the RAN. He served in various ground postings before taking up a position with the Jindivick team out at Jervis Bay. Unfortunately, not long afterwards, he suffered a very severe stroke and was invalided out of the Service.
Shrugging off what would have killed or crippled many people, Jan went on to have a further thirty or so years of active, productive life. He had bought a farm south of Canberra and had one of the old Married Quarters trucked from Albatross, which when refurbished became a surprisingly comfortable home, and he became a small-holder farmer rearing beef, mainly for the freezer. He told me once that the only way he could do this was to name his beasts after joints of meat: topside, rump and so on. In his later years, having sold the farm, he moved to Merimbula where he achieved a lifelong desire to write a novel, and where he started what was to be many years of service to the local State Emergency Service.
In his latter years we lost touch, and I’m told that he was in ill health for his final weeks – but I doubt if that slowed him down much. He was that kind of bloke.
Jan leaves behind his ex-wife Carole and children Louise and Alan. We extend our deepest sympathies to them all.
May he rest in peace.