Airborne Engineers Association

Roll of Honour



Phil Eccleston. May 1937 - August 2018


Phil Eccleston passed away on Tuesday 7th August 2018. He had undergone a serious surgical operation, which the senior surgeon had initially been delighted with the results. However, unrelated organ complications set in including pneumonia. Despite the wonderful care and attention of the medical staff and Phil's fighting spirit their efforts were to prove in vain.

Having previously (2009) undergone a leg amputation and following months of rehabilitation, Phil was encouraged to attend the BLESMA branch in Christchurch. It was here that he met with Brendan Snoddy who had served with Phil in 9 Sqn during the 70s. As a current member of the AEA, Brendan briefed Phil on the Associations existence. Wasting no time he joined in May 2010. From that moment on, accompanied by his wife Gay, they became stalwarts of the Aldershot branch. Despite the 160 mile round trip from their home near Bournemouth they rarely missed a branch meeting or any of the annual AGM/Reunion weekends located around the country.

Phil once admitted to be somewhat of a recluse, I would suggest more appropriately, a private person. For its only when someone departs that you realise how little you know about that person. It was Phil's last wishes that the only person to be present at his final farewell would be his wife Gay, and reluctantly his friends and colleagues abided by his words.

Phil enlisted into the Corps of Royal Engineers in 1955 and served initially on transport and military engineering. He served two tours with 9 Indep Para Sqn — 1959-1964 and again from 1969-1973. During the latter part of his second tour he was appointed as 1 Troop SSgt and commanded the troop during a Northern Ireland tour and later to Kenya for the Ramisi bridge construction project.

In 1973 on departure from the Sqn he took up post in the RE Sales & Development department in Chattenden. His main project was the proving and development of the Combat Engineer Tractor (CET). It became 'his baby'. Many months were spent on proving trials in BAOR ironing out design and hydraulic faults.

On competing his 22 years military service, Phil took on civilian employment as Overhead Transmission Line Supervisor for Kennedy & Donkin International Consulting Engineers in North Yemen. His responsibilities included feasibility of transmission routes in the extremely mountainous country. He was once warned that the local militia had placed a price on his head. He later took on similar project work in Botswana, Papua New Guinea and with the Gold mining industry in Western Australia.

We shall miss his presence and the cheerful welcome he always gave when meeting friends and colleagues.

R.I.P. dear friend - Dave R



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