Rohrsheim, Graham “Zork” LCDR DSC RAN (Ret’d) R51327

Rohrsheim, Graham “Zork” LCDR DSC RAN (Ret’d) R51327

Graham Roland ‘Zork’ Rohrsheim has finally crossed the bar after a long struggle with dementia. 

Born in Port Pirie (SA) on 6 December 1931, ‘Zork’ joined the Fleet Air Arm on 10 September 1955 and qualified as a pilot on Fireflies and Sea Furies, before moving on to the jets (Vampire and Sea Venoms). 

The decision to axe the Fleet Air Arm’s fixed wing aircraft in 1959 (a policy later reversed) saw him elect to fly helicopters.  In those early days the Navy’s rotary-wing aircraft were somewhat more unreliable than fixed-wing and he walked/swam away from no less than eight engine failures over successive years, including one where he autorotated a Wessex onto the deck of HMAS Melbourne in Wellington Bay – a stunning piece of airmanship. 

Zork was probably most remembered for his command of the second Flight of the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam (RAN HFV), a position in which he served with distinction from September 1968 to October 1969.  You can read the story of the RAN HFV here

After leaving the RAN in 1983 he flew for various civilian operators, mostly for TV filming and in the oil industry. 

Zork was one of the great personalities of the Fleet Air Arm, but the affliction from which he suffered eventually took his life on Monday 3rd September 2018.   The day before he had been given his RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) medallion by his daughters, who had received it on his behalf.  We like to think that he knew exactly what it was, and it was a source of great pride and satisfaction to him just before his final journey.   He leaves behind his widow Margaret, children Michaela, Geoffrey, Heidi, James (deceased) Andrew and David and 14 grandchildren.

A short piece by himself, inaccurately called “Tales of a Dull, Colourless Old Fart” provides a little about his life. As the title suggests, it is written with a directness and humour which were hallmarks of this remarkable individual.  You can read it here.  

The funeral service was held at the Port Pirie Anglican Cathedral on Monday 10 September 2018, followed by internment  at the Port Pirie Garden of Memory Cemetery.   

Graham Rohrsheim 6/12/1931-03/09/2018.  RIP

Below: Funeral 10 September 2018. 

Comments (7)

  • beachball

    ZORK An instructor who could bring out the best in a young Subby and who let you know when it was not forthcoming!!
    He did not suffer fools lightly but was quick to give praise when deserved even if it was only a nod of the head.
    It was on our first trip during his in country training in Vietnam that he questioned why I turned off the ‘Force Trim’ as that was his big NONO in the Wessex and on handing the helo over to him he immediately switched it back on.
    About 15 minutes later I wisely kept my mouth shut when he turned it off and flew the remainder of the day with it off.
    He also realised that his back stick was restricted somewhat when wearing a ‘chicken plate’ and ‘flak vest’. It resulted in a few hairy flares into the rice paddies.
    A ‘Grumpy old man’ who lived to fly and who enjoyed his time having a few with his fellow aviators.
    He will be remembered!!

    September 4, 2018 at 2:59 pm
  • Eaglebeak

    Zork and Eddy scourge of the subs and mids.
    I remember a monumental uckers match in the 723 crew room.
    Zork Ed vs Ted Giff.
    The place was packed – inversion layer about two foot ADL.
    Massive deft ( read cheating) moves by Theodore allowed Giff and him to thump the “old blokes” to the thunderous applause of the mob.
    Great times great people.

    September 4, 2018 at 4:19 pm
  • daggers

    Zork a man who did not mince words particularly with an ASLT/SBLT. I only had the pleasure of serving with Zork on a Squadron as a very junior FAA Officer so I was not immune to being critiqued by the SP 817 during the 1967 SEATO Cruise particularly after I ditched one of his beloved Wessex 31A’s 831 after another of the mysterious engine failures that he alludes to in his “ Tales of a Dull and Colourless Old Fart”. A man of great talent and experience who liked a beer in the Wardroom and gave a good talking to his Junior Officers but I would have to disagree with his description as being a “Dull and Colourless Old Fart”- Zork was never either of these!
    Vale. Fair Winds and Clear Skies. Daggers

    September 4, 2018 at 4:22 pm
  • Max Speedy

    As his Senior Pilot in the Second RANHFV, I had the great honour of being called a passable pilot by him. Once I’d done my co-pilot time and then became Slick leader, he began to tutor me as an Air Mission Commander in the C&C aircraft and after a suitable period he sent me off on my own. On the flight line nearly ready to pull pitch and get going, he came out to see me off and as an after thought, asked if I had a note book to diarise the day’s events. As I didn’t, he gave me his. An easy day more or less and on return he was there not to see how I’d gone but to have his notebook back as he needed it for an inquiry into some events when he had been C&C. To his horror and my shame, I’d used the vital pages to fire up the JP4 that was SOP for heating our C Rations.
    He always reminded me of this over the years and I take it as a great compliment to have flown with him and to have seen a really fine Officer lead with such distinction in war.
    RIP, Zork.

    September 4, 2018 at 5:46 pm
  • Falcon115

    I was a young NAAH on Melbourne following my time on the deck I was promoted into Flyco in 1974 where Zork was Little F (Ken Douglas was Flyco).
    Zork always had a bloody good story and taught me a few “tricks” about navy life which came in handy over the years.
    He even made me a Special Sea Dutyman meaning NO Procedure Alphas entering port, although I think it was more about having someone to talk to as he was always there to supervise!
    It wasn’t until I became a SAR Diver and then an Aircrewman that I realised who he really was and what he had achieved in the FAA.
    RIP, Sir.

    September 4, 2018 at 6:12 pm
  • Junior

    Fond memories of musical evenings – newly-weds being entertained by Zork and the late Pat Vickers, in our little flat behind the store in Bomaderry. Great times and will be always remembered. A great pilot, musician and all round friend and good guy. We are sorry that we have lost touch in recent years and offer sincere condolences to family members.

    September 5, 2018 at 3:54 pm
  • John Buttle

    I was a near neighbour in Perth Drive when posted to Albatross in 1967. As a chippy in the workshop I was approached by Zork for a “Rabbit”. It was for a shallow wooden box to be used as a mould for a seat to improve his comfort whilst flying. That was part 1 and part 2 followed a few days later when Zork reappeared with the completed mould being a convex shape of his rear end. He had cast the mould shape by sitting in the bed of a plaster slurry wearing only his boxer shorts. Stage 3 obviously was the finished article that Zork finished like a Dentist doing a denture. I believe it was a success as there were no Warranty Claims on the construction.

    September 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm

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