Ken Ambrose MID - Founder of the RGJRA Website

A eulogy on C/Sgt Ken Ambrose by Maj Ron Cassidy who because of the time allowed to him had to shorten what he said in the Chapel at the Crematorium.

Kenneth Clifford Ambrose MID

Born on the 19th of October 1945 in Birmingham  Ken couldn’t possibly have had any idea what the future had in store for him or the very high esteem that he would be held in, by so many people, many of whom were to accept his wisdom and advice in later years.

He enlisted at Bushfield Camp into 3 Green Jackets, The Rifle Brigade on the 15th of May 1963, the Rifle Depot in Winchester soon to be renamed Peninsula Barracks was closed for renovation.

3 Green Jackets moved from Cyprus to Felixstowe forming their post block leave in the summer of 1964, in the January of 1965 proceeding on an unaccompanied Far East tour of one year of Hong Kong, Malay Peninsula and Borneo.

Lord Ramsbotham; wrote about the boxing final in Hong Kong prior to Borneo, “Ken was up against a young officer named Alexander Hood in the Heavyweight bout and it was clear who was going to win, but Ken appeared to be being politely kind, early in the second round however Alexander was unwise enough to hit Ken in the face, who looked up at the ceiling, delivered the telling blow and then stood to attention. I often see that resigned upwards look, as if to say ‘Enough is enough; good night!’ What a nice gentle giant and what a lot he did for the Regiment.”
I believe we would all echo that statement.

Colonel Mike Dewar Ken’s platoon commander in Borneo wrote I am so sorry to hear of Ken's death. He was a great guy. He and I got into a few scrapes together in Borneo, in particular a very close recce-him and me basically-of an Indonesian base camp. It was very reassuring having his bulk next door to me.”

The Rev’d Colin Fox, wrote, “Ken was part of B Company 3 RGJ when I joined in Felixstowe in October 1966, he stood out from the rest because he was a larger than life character I got to know him particularly well as my platoon Sgt in Iserlohn and then when we moved to Celle. One year we took a team to Holland from the company for the Nijmegen marches Ken was great inspiration and we managed to keep Rifle pace throughout the 4 days; carrying our kit 25 miles a day, his admin was excellent.
We had a private battle against the Canadians and the Americans each day, and on the final day we overtook them, they had failed to take advice never to run. They were spread out for miles you can imagine the comments as we sped passed them. We shall miss you Ken, a real stalwart of the regiment every blessing. Foxy.”

Ken left the army on 2  December 1977; having seen service in Cyprus, Felixstowe, Hong Kong, the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Germany, the UK and Northern Ireland.
It was in Northern Ireland that he was to be awarded the Mention in Despatches, published in the London Gazette of 15 February 1972.

General Sir Garry Johnson in whose company Ken was a Pl Sgt wrote, Really sorry to hear about Ken. Please give my sincere sympathy to his family. He was outstanding in every way on that tour, physically tough, fearless, cool-headed, competent in his job, someone whom his riflemen respected and his officers trusted, and the other way round, too. I personally witnessed him in action on a number of occasions and admired what I saw. There's an old bit of internalised peer evaluation which asks ‘Would I go to war with so-and-so?’ In Ken's case, absolutely and without hesitation, yes. There is another angle, too. For some time he commanded a platoon, perhaps the only SNCO in the battalion at that time to do so. In this role he provided an experienced input to our planning and much common sense as well. I thought at the time, and still do, that his inclusion in the company command team had a beneficial influence on less-experienced subalterns, and made for a good mix. Definitely 'above and beyond......’ He well deserved his MID. And it goes without saying that a similarly strong role back in barracks and in the training sphere. Great soldier, great Greenjacket. Very sad, Garry”

Brig Mike Smith wrote: Ken was Pl Sjt of 6 Platoon B Company on the ‘71 tour of West Belfast.  It was a busy tour including the internment operation in August and the subsequent widespread disorder throughout W Belfast, including the incident in the Markets area which was briefly known as the ‘Battle of the Bakery’.
 
His Pl Comd was Lt-Col James Jackson who wrote, Ken was an outstanding field soldier. On a Brecon course escape and evasion exercise the enemy force trapped him against a reservoir. Most would have called it a day but not Ken; to the amazement of one and all he stripped off in the middle of winter and swam to freedom and safety.

‘Battle for the Bakery’: A number of well known IRA gunmen had taken over the Bakery in the Market Area. Gen Garry’s plan to clear the area was for 7PL to provide the cordon; 6 Pl to force entry into the Bakery and then 5 Pl to pass through 6 Pl to clear the building (very large task). It was decided that the best way to force entry was to blow a hole in the wall at the back of the building as the IRA may well have booby trapped the doors. To that end Col George Styles – the ATO who was awarded the GC for defusing an IRA bomb in the Europa Hotel and defusing many other IRA bombs – was attached to 6 Pl as he was going to lay the charges for the entry. Ken acted as his guide for the night.  I will not cover the details here; suffice to say that by the time we reached the Bakery it was starting to get light so Mike Smith stormed the building and we did not blow a hole in the wall.”   

Brigadier Mike Smith writes, I served with Ken on the 72 (Motorman, Andersonstown) tour, by which time he was commanding 6 Pl and on the ’73 (Lower Falls) tour when he was my Pl C/Sjt in the Recce Platoon.  I thought that Ken was just about everything that a young Rfn, JNCO or Young Officer could want close by, especially on operations.  I found him to be absolutely loyal and reliable, calm under pressure and not the least influenced by bull.  Although he was built like a brick outhouse there was very definitely a thinking rifleman inside, as he has so clearly demonstrated in recent years with his recent work for the RGJ Association.”

What more can one say that those above haven’t touched on. Ken was a first class Rifleman in the true meaning of the word. But in my view he went on to become much more than that; voluntarily creating a web-site with a team of loyal and dedicated helpers, which enabled everyone in the Regiment to be in touch with each other, find out what was happening, report news, good, bad, sad, amusing and some times irritating, nothing was too difficult for him and the countless telephone calls and e-mails he received at home, usually cries for help or to give him more work, was something that only he could have achieved, no doubt and obviously Penny, with your support and perhaps even more so, your patience, you were a fine team.

Ken has surely done more for the Regiment he loved than anyone else I can think of, Penny you must be proud, I can assure you we in the Regiment are.

Ron Cassidy

25th January 2013