The South African
Military History Society

Die Suid-Afrikaanse Krygshistoriese Vereniging

Military History Journal
Vol 18 No 6 - June 2020

Obituary: Major Tony Gordon

Major Antony George Drumearn Gordon who died at his home in Newlands (Cape Town) on 17 July 2020, played a key role in the growth and development of the Cape Town Branch of the SAMHS between 1985 and 2012, and was also deeply involved in a number of other military history projects.

Born on 5 September 1927, he was one of the twin sons of Lieutenant-Colonel E.I.D. Gordon, OBE, of the Royal Scots Fusiliers. Lt- Col Gordon was a friend of the legendary Colonel Deneys Reitz. After completing his education at the Diocesan College, Rondebosch (Cape Town), Tony, with his twin brother, Ian, and Darrell Hall, joined the British Army in 1946.

Tony was commissioned into his father’s regiment, the Royal Scots Fusiliers, in October 1948. In 1959 the regiment and the Highland Light Infantry were amalgamated and became the Royal Highland Fusiliers. Among other postings, he saw operational service in the Malayan and Aden Emergencies during the 1950s and 1960s.

For his final four years with the British Army before retiring, he was attached to the Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Navy as CBGLO (Carrier- Borne Ground Liaison Officer), the first two years being to the aircraft carrier HMS Eagle based at Plymouth. This included ten months at sea to the Middle and Far East with many different types of “operations”. The second two years were at the RN Air Station at Lossiemouth in the same capacity working with the pilots there. He found these four years both interesting and fulfilling - but he also felt this overall about his twenty-four year service career.

After his retirement from the army in 1970 he returned to South Africa. He joined the Cape Town Branch of the SAMHS in 1985 and served on the Committee as chairperson, vice- chairperson and committee member from 1985 to 2012. During these 27 years he conducted fascinating tours to places of military interest in the Cape Peninsula, which were always very well organised. Not only was he known for his excellent lectures at the Branch meetings, but also his ability to recruit many distinguished and knowledgeable guest speakers.

He made important contributions to the events commemorating the 150th anniversary of the loss of HM Transport Birkenhead in February 2002 and the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Blouberg in January 2006.

Tony Gordon holding the Honorary Life Membership certificate on the conferral of this honour to him by the SAMHS

In July 1989 he joined the British War Graves Committee of the National Monuments Council and served on the committee until April 1996. He then became an honorary curator for the National Monuments Council, doing much the same work until the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA) was established.

He was a founding trustee of the Castle Military Museum Foundation at the Castle in Cape Town. In recognition of his long and distinguished service to the SAMHS he was made an honorary member of the Society in 2014.

Tony was a wonderful friend to all the members of the Cape Town Branch and will be greatly missed. We extend our deepest sympathy to his widow, Mrs Pat Gordon, and the family, in their great loss.

Mac Bisset

Return to Journal Index OR Society's Home page

South African Military History Society /