Air Cdre "Pinky" Grocott CBE AFC HonFRIN RAF
29 October 2019
Posted by: DAVID WILLIAM BROUGHTON
We are very sad to announce the passing of Past-President "Pinky" Grocott in his 97th year.
"Pinky" - he claimed to be so named due to his rosy cheeks whilst in training - joined the RAF in 1942 and trained as a navigator in Canada. He immediately found himself navigating large transport aircraft across the Atlantic until he attended what became the Staff Navigation Course. This resulted in him serving as Navigation Leader on No 24(Commonwealth) Squadron, flying VIPs around the world; as a result he was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1947.
In 1951, he attended the Specialist Navigation Course, leading to his long association with operational requirements and testing of navigation and weapons systems. During the course, he became a member of the crew that took the Lincoln ‘Aries III’ on its historic flight to the North Pole.
The SpecN qualification led Pinky to tours in Operational Requirements Directorates in the MoD, as Chief Experimental Navigational Officer at Boscombe Down, Senior RAF Officer at the Defence Operational Analysis Establishment and Director of Navigation Staff at the RAF College of Air Warfare, Manby. Other postings ranged from Singapore to Cyprus and Canada. Whilst at Boscombe Down he was awarded the Johnson Memorial Trophy by the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 1962 and received the CBE in 1969; he retired from the RAF in 1977.
On leaving the RAF, he became Director Europe of the US company Singer Kearfott, later to merge with GEC-Marconi Electronics Systems Corporation, a post he held in Brussels until retiring in 1990.
Pinky’s devotion to the Royal Institute of Navigation was without equal. He joined in 1949, received Fellowship in 1954 and became an Honorary Fellow in 2013. He was for many years active on the Technical Committee and became its Chairman in 1987, sat on Council three times and was appointed Institute Vice-President in 1970-72 and President 1996-99.
But it is in the animal navigation world that Pinky is still held in the highest esteem, having been involved in the formation of the Animal Navigation Special Interest Group as well as the inauguration of its triennial conference in 1989; he was still a member of the 2019 Conference organising committee. He also set up and ran the Group’s Forum, which holds over 15,000 complete research papers and informs members of new additions each week.
Pinky was also wonderful and generous company to old and young alike; although unable to attend this year’s conference, he donated many £1,000s to enabling students to register themselves and for all to enjoy a glass of port at the final dinner.
In the words of the Group’s current leader, Dr Miriam Liedvogel:
’The Animal Navigation Group looses a wonderful, passionate, clever, humorous and, on many levels, truly unique person - and in essence its founder. We should remember the happy moments - of which there were many.'
Pinky's last request of his carers on the evening before he died was, appropriately, a gin & tonic in bed. He was predeceased by his wife, Jean, in 2007. We pass our deepest condolences to his son and daughter, Paul and Sue, and their families.
D F H ‘Pinky’ Grocott 8 February 1923 - 27 October 2019