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Ex CSGT M Navarro – Obituary

Ex CSGT M Navarro – Obituary

Family, friends and Old Comrades gathered on 11 June at the Church of All Saints in Sutton Courtenay near Abingdon for the funeral of ex CSgt Miguel Navarro, known as Mike and/or ‘Spanish’ to his comrades during his service in the 1st Battalion The Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Regiment (Berkshire and Wiltshire) (1 DERR).

His son, Michael, gave a moving eulogy which not only captured the character of the soldier we all recall but also gave fulsome testimony to the very private, inspirational and loving husband, father and grandfather that was the other side of his life.

Born in 1941, Miguel and his sister lost both parents at a very young age.  Thus Miguel grew up with relatives in Barcelona while his sister was sent to relatives in England.  It was a tough upbringing which was to stand him in good stead in later life.  Joining his sister in Chippenham, in August 1962 at the age of 20 years, he decided to join the British Army.  Colonel Michael Cornwell writes:

“Although the perennial Mortar Platoon member Miguel “Spanish” Navarro joined 1 DERR in Malta in 1963 and after his continuation training joined the Recce Platoon.  During his time in Malta he took part in a couple of major exercises in Libya with the battalion.  On the sporting front he was a losing finalist the the Lightweight Division of the Battalion Boxing Championship.  Boxing at that time was quite strong in the battalion with several of the battalion boxers taking part in Maltese exhibition matches.  Whilst in the Recce Platoon he passed his regimental signaller cadre.  In 1967, whilst with the battalion in its mechanised role in Minden, he passed his Junior NCO Cadre and gained promotion to LCpl, remaining in the Recce Platoon.  In 1968 he became the Battalion Featherweight Boxing Champion.  In 1969 he joined the Mortar Platoon, where he stayed for the remainder of his military career.

In August 1969, with other members of Support Company still remaining in Catterick he become an augmentee to C Company when they were posted to Northern Ireland to reinforce 1st Battalion, The Queen’s Regiment (1 QUEENS) stationed in Londonderry; for this six month tour he was attached to 10 Platoon.  The next 8 years saw him progress through the ranks to Sergeant, all the time remaining in the Mortar Platoon.  In 1977 he was posted to become the Mortar Platoon Permanent Staff Instructor (PSI) with 1st Battalion The Wessex Regiment (1 WESSEX), a TA battalion, and was based in Andover.  In 1979 he was awarded his Long Service and Good Conduct medal and 1980 saw Sgt Navarro return to his old stomping ground of Mortar Platoon 1 DERR.

In 1980, when 1 DERR took part in Exercise Medicine Hat it is alleged the Sgt Navarro was refused service in a Canadian bar because ‘they would not serve native Indians’ and on a separate occasion he was ‘threatened by rough lumberjacks’ on the same pretext.  On each occasion his robust response enhanced his tough reputation vouched for by the Mortar Platoon.

In 1981 and 1982, Sgt Navarro was instrumental in the Mortar Platoon winning the Inter Platoon Championship two years running.  In 1983 he was promoted to C/Sgt and became the Mortar Platoon Second in Command.  CSgt Navarro completed his regular service in 1985. On retirement he became the Mess Manager of the Garrison Warrant Officers’ and Senior NCO’s messes, at Arborfield and Hermitage.”

‘Spanish’ as he was universally known, will fondly be remembered by his former comrades for his passion for all things to do with the mystique of mortaring, at  which he was widely acknowledged to be a master.  Indeed, Lt Col John Silvester recalls him correcting the staff at British Army Training Unit Suffield (BATUS) in Canada, demonstrating live mortar fire techniques that became standard procedure for future Battle Group exercises there.

His family remember him as a man of strong character and robust opinion who enjoyed discussing religion and politics, and a talented chef who loved to cook for family and friends.  In retirement he brought the same great enthusiasm and rigour to his hobbies, (sea fishing, breeding canaries, and collecting stamps and coins) that he he had applied to his military career.  Above all, they remember him as a deeply affectionate husband, father and grandfather.  We send our condolence to his wife, Ingrid, who he met and married while with 1 DERR in Minden, West Germany, to his children Michael and Iris, and to his grandchildren.

2 Comments

  • Derek South

    Every time I saw Navi, he would stop and chat. He had a very infectious character that always brought a smile and laugh to any gathering. He will be sadly missed by all who knew him.

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