Main Normal Stephen Stopford – obituary


Main Normal Stephen Stopford, who has died aged 82, was Director Normal Combating Autos and Engineer Gear (DGFVE) on the Ministry of Defence from 1985 to 1989.

Stephen Robert Anthony Stopford, the son of a naval officer, was born in Malta on April 1 1934. Educated at Draw back, one among his earliest recollections was when a Navy Sea Hurricane crashed on the cricket pitch, killing 9 boys. He moved to Millfield and was commissioned in 1954 from Sandhurst into the Royal Scots Greys.

Within the early Sixties, following an incident within the mess involving handguns, virtually each privately owned pistol vanished. Stopford was a junior captain on the time and, being a prize-winning pistol shot, he was reluctant to surrender his high-velocity, gas-powered weapon. Ordered to report forthwith to the brigade commander, he went to the brigadier’s house and located him within the backyard.

The brigadier requested him if he had the pistol with him and was it correct. Stopford replied: “Sure” to each questions. “Might you hit that snail on the finish of the trail?” requested the brigadier. The snail was a direct casualty. “Cling on!” exclaimed the brigadier. “I will need to have a go along with that.” There have been no additional issues.

It quickly grew to become obvious that Stopford’s technical skill can be his energy. He excelled on numerous programs and was appointed as a trials officer of the brand new Chieftain tank. After attending the Technical Workers Course at Shrivenham, he commanded a squadron in Germany after which moved to the MoD as GSO2.  He was appointed MBE in 1971 for his contribution to the guided weapons venture.

Returning to regimental responsibility, he commanded a squadron of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (his Regiment having simply amalgamated with the third Carabiniers) and served in Northern Eire and Cyprus.

In 1972, through the six months’ posting to Cyprus, this squadron was a part of the UN Peacekeeping Pressure in Nicosia. It was earlier than the Turkish invasion of the island and the task was, due to this fact, not exacting. The UN Medal that they have been awarded on the finish of the tour was unofficially often called the Waterski-ing Medal.

Stopford put his technical experience to make use of throughout his spare time by setting up an digital calculator; when it was completed, it was the dimensions of a giant guide.   

After two years on the employees of the MoD, in 1974 he assumed command of his regiment, by then serving in Germany as an armoured regiment geared up with the Chieftain. His skills have been obvious: his tanks labored in a interval when gear failures in BAOR have been excessive, his squadrons have been environment friendly and his troopers have been joyful.

He returned to the MoD in 1977, working within the Procurement Government as venture supervisor for the MBT-80. This was a British experimental third-generation principal battle tank  designed to exchange the Chieftain. After the revolution in Iran, nonetheless, all orders for weapons from Britain have been cancelled. The programme was aborted and the MoD bought what grew to become the Challenger 1.

After a posting as navy attaché in Washington, Stopford returned to London to take up his ultimate appointment as DGFVE. His experience in armoured warfare led to the event of the much-admired Challenger 2 tank, which carried out so nicely within the Gulf Battle.

Appointed CB in 1988 he retired from the Military a yr later and have become a director of David Brown Car Transmissions, serving on the board (1990-99). He was additionally chairman of the Defence Producers’ Affiliation.

In retirement in London, he designed and constructed a extremely delicate seismograph, although some frequencies needed to be filtered out to keep away from recording the vibrations of passing buses. His work led to articles in technical magazines and prizes.

Stephen Stopford wore his skills evenly and introduced out the most effective in folks.

He married, in 1963, Vanessa Baron, who survives him.

Main Normal Stephen Stopford,  born April 1 1934, died Could 27 2016


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