Douglas Norman Spratt CBE 1920 - 2010

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Biography

The child of Herbert Spratt (a hotel manager) and Ethel Challis (a hotel manageress), Douglas Spratt, the second cousin once-removed on the father's side of Nigel Horne, was born in Ramsgate, Kent, England on Sep 18, 19201 and married Margaret Nisbet (with whom he had 1 child, Gillian Patricia) c. 1957.

During his life, he was living at 24 Park Road, Ashford, Kent, England in 1949 and at 6 Fernielaw Avenue, Edinburgh, Midlothian, Scotland from 2003 to 20092.

He died on Apr 1, 2010 in Edinburgh (www.scotsman.com "The Scotsman" dated 5 Aug 2010:
Wartime Ack Ack gunner who guarded Bomber Harris and was the guiding light for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo Born: 18 September, 1920, in Ramsgate, Kent. Died: 1 April, 2010, in Edinburgh, aged 89. Colonel Douglas Spratt followed his father, a Royal Engineer, into the army. As a young TA soldier he was one of the first to be called up at the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. Spratt trained initially as an anti-aircraft gunner serving at High Wycombe and he manned a defensive position just outside the bunker where Air Chief Marshal Sir Arthur (Bomber) Harris planned the bomber offensive against Nazi Germany. From there Spratt was posted to northern India, where he was commissioned. Having arrived in India he was given the job of employing local labor and he fell foul at an early stage by accepting a bowl of fruit from an "eager to be employed" supplier. Having convinced his boss that fruit grew on trees in India, Spratt escaped any serious repercussions from the incident. When he returned to the UK he served as the Adjutant of 519 Ack Ack Regiment based at Camp Pilton in Edinburgh. He also spent some time guarding prisoners of war in the Earl of Wemys estate at Aberlady when he was not in charge of a gunand searchlight position near the Forth Rail Bridge. He did not know it at the time but his knowledge of aircraft searchlights was to be put to very good use after the war. Leaving the army in 1948 Spratt joined Unilever, initially selling ice-cream in the Edinburgh area, and rose to the position of sales manager. But how he missed the buzz of army life and so re-joined the Territorials. When the first Edinburgh Military Tattoo was performed in 1950 there was a need to illuminate the castle but no one had any suitable spotlights. Spratt, who was somewhat of a collector, found two heavy duty aircraft searchlights lurkingat the back of his garage and he was immediately offered a job with the Tattoo team. His skill and knowledge of searchlights became apparent and he was eventually appointed to the position of lighting director, a job that he held for no fewer than 40 years. At the very first Tattoo performance he trained the searchlights on the castle drawbridge as the pipe band entered the esplanade and he threw the switch. There are reports of the Drum Major, having never experienced the power of a million candles in his face and himself fresh from the battlefields of Europe, almost jumped into the moat. As he became an experienced "leading light" in the production of military Tattoos, Spratt toured the world with the team. He was arguably the world's most experienced illumination expert that the Tattoo world had ever known. Now marriedto Margaret, he helped produce Tattoos ten times in Australia and 11 times in South Africa. He also ran Tattoos in Italy and in Denmark.Around 1955, 519 Regiment merged with two other units to form 432 Light Ack Ack Regiment and in the early 1960s it became a Corps Engineer Regiment which Spratt commanded as a TA Lieutenant Colonel from 1964 until 1967. He was appointed a High Constable of Edinburgh 40 years ago, a position he held until the end of his life, and he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the City in the early 1980s. On retirement from the TA, he served for a further 12 years as the Honorary Colonel of 71 Engineer Regiment. Always keen to encourage social events into the reservists' calendar, Spratt jointly founded the Volunteer Officers' Ball in 1953 - a highly successful annual event that continues to this day. As president of the ball committee he was delighted and greatly honored when Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal attended three years ago. It was always Spratt's wish that these colourful events should also raise money for those in need, and a succession of more recent VolunteerBalls in Edinburgh has raised many thousands of pounds for both military and civilian charities. Although still recovering from a stroke, he organised this year's ball and, despite his ailing health, was one of the last to leave the function, having spoken personally to almost all the 200 guests. In uniform, he is remembered as a leader who "gotten things done". Never unpleasant, always the gentleman and when asked to help or to do something beyond the norm, his response was always: "Just leave it with me." And things did get done. Awarded an OBE for his quite impressive voluntary work, he was a bit offended when the Palace asked for the medal back - but this was, of course, only to elevate him to the position of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Spratt chaired the Territorial, Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserves' Association (TAVRA) for the Lowlands for a period and he eventually retired from his civilian job as a director of Crawfords, part of United Biscuits. Despite his involvement in myriad other activities, he still found time to continue to support the volunteer ethos of the Reserve Forces in many ways. Identifying a need to foster better team spirit and to improve the integration of reservists of all services and nations, in 1980 Spratt set up an annual military shooting competition called the Nato Shoot. This would have been its 30thyear. The Shoot became one of the UK's most popular military competitions run under the auspices of the United Kingdom Reserve Forces' Association, of which Spratt was the Scottish president. His outreach to many Nato nations was unmatched and he was always keen to encourage non-Nato teams to participate. His vision of a Partnership for Peace program was well advanced before the Ministry of Defence took up the idea and teams from Switzerland, South Africa, Estonia, Moldova and Poland were regular visitors to the Edinburgh-based shoot.Many of these countries and more were well represented at his recent funeral in Edinburgh. But sometimes it was not easy. As funding for these extra mural activities became scarce, Spratt was often under extreme pressure from the regular army to cut back or even cancel these events. But it was under this pressure that he wasat his best. He simply did not recognize the word "no". He always saw the refusal of help, lack of funding, shortage of ammunition or the denial of a suitable range as merely the start of a negotiation with higher authority. And he always seemed to win. One year he was under direct orders to cancel the shoot. Most men would have thrown in the towel but Spratt said quietly: "We are going to have to wait until this particular general moves on." And that particular general did move on and the Shoot did go ahead - funded by a raffle that he had set up on his own initiative. It was always a pleasure, and great fun to work with such a dedicated, committed and enthusiastic soldier and a man of considerable vision who never took no for an answer. His sheer determination throughout his illness overly the past couple of years, shone through. His sense of humor never left him and his dogged determination was undoubtedly a major factor in his return to almost full operational capability. He was a remarkable man who was unique in his achievements: a loving husband and father and a soldier who saw the need to foster the volunteering spirit in all those with whom he came into contact. His enthusiasm for all he did was abundantly clear and hugely contagious; you simply had to follow him, sometimes in awe, sometimes in wonder, always in anticipation of success and often with a smile. Douglas Spratt, active to the end, died after a short illness in this, his 90th year. He was pre-deceased by his daughter Gillian in 1997 and is survived by his wife Margaret, to whom he was married for 53 years.
Testimonial
Posted 16 Aug 2016 by nigelhorne From www.friendsandrelations.com From Tom Sneyd: Douglas was passionately committed to promoting friendships throughout NATO to enhance the lives of individuals thus contributing to the setting up of a new international society to replace the rifts of the first half of the 20th Century. He did so with huge stamina, mainly by arranging multi-weapon shooting and Military Skills competitions for Reserve Forces. Teams from USA, Canada and all overly Europe including Switzerland came year after year to Edinburgh for more than20 years. The prize giving dinner would last from 7.30 pm to after 3 in the morning.
A lesser man could never have cajoled the military authorities into providing the necessary resources. Douglas's persistence when committed to his causes was such that even the most parsimonious Generals yielded to him.("This time but never again!") He combined such charm with his determination that, in the end, it was always a joy to help him.
He gave huge support to Scottish Dancing and all elements of Scottish tradition. But the principle aim of his great energy, generosity and humor was to spread the warmth of friendship and cooperation between individuals and nations. His own achievements and those gained through his wide influence overly his great circle of friends are a lasting tribute to him. From www.friendsandrelations.com From Tom Sneyd: Douglas was passionately committed to promoting friendships throughout NATO to enhance the lives of individuals thus contributing to the setting up of a new international society to replace the rifts of the first half of the 20th Century. He did so with huge stamina, mainly by arranging multi-weapon shooting and Military Skills competitions for Reserve Forces. Teams from USA, Canada and all overly Europe including Switzerland came year after year to Edinburgh for more than 20 years. The prize giving dinner would last from 7.30 pm to after 3 in the morning.
A lesser man could never have cajoled the military authorities into providing the necessary resources. Douglas's persistence when committed to his causes was such that even the most parsimonious Generals yielded to him.("This time but neveragain!") He combined such charm with his determination that, in the end, it was always a joy to help him.
He gave huge support to Scottish Dancing and all elements of Scottish tradition. But the principle aim of his great energy, generosity and humor was to spread the warmth of friendship and cooperation between individuals and nations. His own achievements and those gained through his wide influence overly his great circle of friends are a lasting tribute to him. From Lt Col Neil Jordon - 30 Apr 2010 355790 Aged 89 Will be sadly missed by his wife Margaret, family and friends. Former Member of Edinburgh Branch).

. In 1949, he traveled from Lagos, Nigeria to Lagos, Nigeria arriving later that same year. In 1949, he traveled from London, England to Liverpool, England, departing on 28 Sep and arriving on 12 Dec.

Parents

  1. Herbert Jesse was born on Aug 16, 1894
  2. Ethel Lucy was born on May 21, 1891

Children

  1. Gillian Patricia was born on Nov 16, 1961

Media

Statesman newspaper clipping

Statesman newspaper clipping

Gazette 1976 CBE awards

Gazette 1976 CBE awards

UK Outward Passenger List - Douglas Spratt

UK Outward Passenger List - Douglas Spratt

Liverpool Arrival

Liverpool Arrival

Edinburgh Tattoo Programme 1986

Edinburgh Tattoo Programme 1986

Douglas Norman Spratt

Douglas Norman Spratt

https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=bmd/b/1920/3/az/001511/087

Family Tree

Family Tree

Map

Citations

  1. England & Wales births 1837-2006 - Findmypast
  2. UK, Electoral Registers, 2003-2010

To be done

Marriage date (abt 1957) has no citations

Please send your comments and corrections to Nigel Horne
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