CPOATWL4 Frank Major Markham R123841 by Barry Hicks
Frank Markham R123841 was born on the 23rd of December 1935 at Smeeton Westerby in Leicestershire UK and enlisted in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm as an Acting EM(Air)2 on the 7th of October 1952.
He began his training at HMS Collingwood then posted to Ariel, Osprey, Deadalus then HMS Heron as EM2(air), joining 1834 Naval Air Squadon on 30th April 1954. Posting to 891 Squadron (Sea Venom A/c) followed on the 5th of December 1955, embarking on HMS Ark Royal in early January 1956. Promotion to A/LEM(Air) followed postings to Daedalus, Ariel, Heron, Goldcrest, then another promotion to A/POEL(AIR) on 31st of January 1962. Recategorised at Ariel to El Mech3 on 15th of August 1962 then promoted to El Mech2 on the folowing day then postings to Goldcrest, Royal Arthur and Goldcrest again where he was promoted to El Mech1 on the 14th of May 1964.
October 1964 saw him embarked on HMS Victorious with 893 Sqn (Sea Vixen A/c) then back to HMS Heron on July 1965, alternating between HMS Hermes and Heron until September 1971 when he was posted to HMAS Carpentaria for a two and a half year loan to the RAN at HMAS Albatross, returning to the RN 24th February1974 for Foreign Service leave and then HMS Heron until he paid off from the RN on the 30th of December 1975.
Frank liked what he saw in Australia and his next adventure was to move there with his wife Wendy and children Gary, Sally and Julie to enlist as a CPOATWL in July 1977, serving on 723, 851, 816 squadrons. Recategorised again to CPOATWL4 Frank was employed as S2E/G Electrical Section Chief, Tracker Maintenance Supervisor then Iroquios Maintenance Supervisor, then Wessex Electrical Supervisor. Posting to AMAFTU followed on October 1984 where he remained as ATWL Trials Co-ordinator until his discharge on Christmas Day 1990.
Frank had a remarkable career in both the RN and RAN and should have been rightly proud of his achievements and his service to the UK and Australia. He was awarded the RN General Service Medal for service in the Malayan confrontation, the LSGCM and the RAN Long Service Medal and the Australian Defence Medal.
His post retirement saw him starting to play golf at Creswell Golf Club with mostly ex sevice members, more laughter than actual golf. He was highly amused when he was able to win a ball in the “chook run” on a Friday afternoon but was never a serious golfer, being there only for the company. His other great love was his model train collection. He would spend hours in his shed with his train layout, but failing eyesight eventually meant he couldn’t do the maintenance on his locomotives and many times he called on me to help with the small parts, and I was happy to assist where I could.
He didn’t speak much about his service with the RN but one story I will never forget is the tale he told about the time he was in the Mediterranean on one of his carrier deployments and his squadron was disembarked to Malta and the troops billeted ashore. One night the sailors had a few too many and became a little frisky and decided to heave the piano in the top floor rec room over the railing and down the floor well to the ground floor 3 floors down. The way Frank told it, the noise the piano made when it hit the tiled floor was amazing and within less than 30 seconds the building was empty!! What happened next was not revealed but I can imagine the shore patrol would have been keen to take names.
Frank died suddenly at his home in Huskisson on 18th May 2023. He was 87.
You were a great friend and will be sorely missed by your family, military and civilian friends.