(Eulogy given by VADM D. W. Leach AC, CBE, LVO, RAN (Rtd) at the Memorial Service in the Chapel of St George the Martyr in HMAS WATSON on 4 May 2002)
Today we honour and give thanks for the life and services of Commodore John Snow – a Prince of a man, and to use an expression of his, “a straight shooter”. In fact, I don’t think I have met a straighter one. Born in Adelaide in July 1929, he was the son of G.W. Snow of the 1st AIF. The family later moved to Tasmania.
I first met John nearly 60 years ago when he joined the RAN College in 1943 from Launceston. John had a distinguished Service career. After graduating from the Naval College in 1946, he did his Midshipman’s training in HMAS Shropshire and joined the British cruiser Sussex in the Far East. Then on completion of his cruiser time he travelled to the United Kingdom for Sub Lieutenant’s Courses.
John saw operational service in HMAS Murchison in 1951 in Korea and took part in the action in the Hann River, and later in HMAS Yarra in 1965 in Borneo. He was selected as a Term Officer at the RAN Fleet Communications Officer in HMAS Melbourne and Director of Naval Communications in Canberra. In 1968 he took his first command as Captain of HMAS Anzac. In 1972 he was posted to the United Kingdom for 2 years Exchange Service with the Royal Navy at the Admiralty (Ministry of Defence – Navy). It was here that he worked with, and formed a close friendship with John Fieldhouse (who later became Admiral of the Fleet, promoted to Captain and later posted as Captain of HMAS Supply, a Fleet replenishment ship.
In 1978 he took up the prestigious posting of Captain of the RAN College at Jervis Bay, where he imbued loyalty to the Service and a sense of tradition in a generation of young officers. His love and interest in the Navy never faltered and he was always the first with, as he called it, a “Heads Up”, to relay significant, or sometimes not so significant, events about the Navy and people associated with the Service. Promoted to Commodore in 1981, he went to Canberra as Director General Facilities – Navy. His last posting was as Australian Naval Attaché, Washington, and Sir Robert Cotton who was our Ambassador at that time, attests to his dedication, professionalism and the splendid job he did with our Guided Missile Frigates which were building in America.
Apart from his 42 years in the Navy, John has given a lifetime of service to others. He joined Canberra Legacy in 1967 and served for 20 years before transferring to Sydney. After his retirement, he was tireless in his Legacy work. He was on the Enrolment Committee, the Programme Committee and Chairman of the Eastern Suburbs Division.
John joined the Regular Defence Force Welfare Association ten years ago as part of his continuing interest in things Naval, Service and Ex-Service, and was elected President of the Association in NSW in 1995 for 4 years. Another interest was the Naval Historical Society, which he had joined 20 years ago, elected Vice President in 1998 and President a year later. He had an abiding interest in history (having won the History Prize at Naval College) and was an authority on the life of Nelson.
It is fitting, in the beautiful Chapel where John and Brinnie were married 40 years ago that we honour and say farewell to an outstanding Officer and a true gentleman, who was held in such high esteem.
JOHN SNOW: Husband, Brother, Father, father-in-law, Grandfather and friend. We salute you, we are richer for knowing you and you will not be forgotten.