Tribute to WWII veteran who chauffeured town’s mayors

Roy in his work as a mounted police officer outside Buckingham Palace
Roy in his work as a mounted police officer outside Buckingham Palace
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From shooting down planes to chauffeuring mayors, Royston Rowland who died last month led a fascinating life and will be ‘terribly’ missed.

“People couldn’t not like him,” his partner Gill Chittenden said at their home in Abbotts Close, Worthing:“I shall miss him terribly.”

Roy went up to Scotland, touring lochs that had access to the sea to make sure the Germans did not sneak in

Gill Chittenden

Born in 1924 in Richmond upon Thames, Roy eventually moved to Ramsgate in Kent with his family. His brother John, a member of the Royal Signals, died trying to escape from Dunkirk in 1940, but this did not stop teenage Roy enlisting two years later.

Gill said: “Roy went up to Scotland, touring lochs that had access to the sea to make sure the Germans did not sneak in. He said it was ‘jolly cold and very boring’.”

Soon he was sent to warmer waters, patrolling around Malta as a ship’s gunner.

One bizarre turn of events saw Roy shoot down a Spitfire accidentally after his captain thought it was an enemy plane. The pilot parachuted out safely and apologised for flying out of the sun.

The war left its mark on him in October 1944 when his ship hit a mine in the Adriatic Sea, which caused him to develop an endocrine disorder later in life.

Two years after leaving the navy in 1946, Roy signed up to the Metropolitan Police.

Nicknamed ‘Jack’ for his time in the navy, Roy worked guard duty for high profile events as a mounted officer.

One such event was Churchill’s funeral, or as Roy put it, the ‘coldest day ever’.

Gill said: “He just preferred something ceremonial to nabbing nasty people.”

Roy and his wife Joan moved to Worthing in 1973, where he eventually became chauffeur for the mayor.

“He was so perfect for the part, he was unflappable.”

Mayor Winnie Frampton, told Roy “if we are out on a Saturday, get me back in time for Match of the Day”, Gill said.

After 11 years and several mayors, Roy retired to spend more time with his wife Joan, but she died within a year.

Three years later, he got together with his partner Gill, whom he knew through her role as mayor’s secretary.

She recalled their many holidays, including a ‘magical moment’ when they saw the Diamond Jubilee Pageant on the Thames in 2012.

In his later years Roy worked as a tour guide at Arundel Castle, which Gill said he called his ‘office’.

Roy died aged 93 on April 27 following a chest infection. He leaves behind his partner Gill and son Chris. People are invited to attend Roy’s funeral at Worthing Crematorium on Monday, May 19, at 11.40am.