OA Sword – 2022

Lieutenant Ross Lyth Royal Navy – Citation

Lt Lyth joined Victory Squadron (VS) as one of two Training Officers during an extremely complex period dominated by an unprecedented high throughput of Phase 2 trainees and the ongoing Covid pandemic. Within weeks of joining, and due to the unplanned and sudden departure of the Officer in Charge (OiC), Lyth assumed the role of acting OiC for a period of 5 months. Immediately grasping the intricacies of both positions, he made a demonstrably positive impact from the outset, managing and leading the largest concentration of Junior Rates in the RN, with a demographic ranging from 16 to 40 years of age. This included circa 80 under 18s, and individuals on protracted periods of directed leave resulting from Covid-19 isolations and other training delays.

With up to 650 trainees and 48 support staff, he proactively ensured the development of Welfare and Duty of Care initiatives as well as progressing matters raised by an OfSTED inspection that occurred immediately after the easing of Covid restrictions. Closely supported by a dedicated team, his engaging leadership ensured that the welfare of all individuals was at the forefront of daily business. Routinely faced with a high volume of the most challenging N1 issues, some for which there was minimal policy guidance, he led his team to successfully resolve all issues pragmatically, empathetically and with integrity to meet the needs of the individual and the Service. The impact on his team (with some positions gapped) of dealing with the complexity of the issues that they faced cannot be overstated, and it is to Lyth’s credit that he safeguarded their wellbeing whilst sustaining the Victory Squadron mission.

With an analytical mind he continually applied common sense, lateral thinking, and significant initiative to the management of not only his personnel but also to the resolution of some testing infrastructure failures that threatened to impact training delivery. Additionally, he oversaw the reintroduction of extraneous activities such as sport, adventurous training and Ships visits that had been curtailed during the pandemic. Against this, and until late Spring 2022, the management of trainees and staff with Covid-19 was a perpetual challenge that required constant engagement, personal application and strong leadership from Lt Lyth and his small management team.

Photo of Lt Ross Lyth being presented with the OA sword by First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC. The sword previously belonged to Cdr Jack Shirley and was kindly donated by his daughter, Mrs Pamela Nason
Lt Ross Lyth is presented with the OA sword by First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC. The sword previously belonged to Cdr Jack Shirley and was kindly donated by his daughter, Mrs Pamela Nason

With the return to normalised working Lyth reset VS routines reinvigorating standards and practises, as well as procedures that had been curtailed as protective measures. Listening to both Staff and Trainees he reviewed administrative functions and processes to improve efficiency and the lived experience. Out with VS he has led the 2022 Collingwood Field Gun Crew regenerating interest and enthusiasm following the enforced break. He is also instrumental in developing participation in the Junior Leaders’ competition engendering core Royal Navy values in young and prospective trainees.

Lyth’s quiet and unassuming character masks a leadership ability that is plainly evident from his performance during a particularly demanding period. The diversity and complexity that the Squadron has faced in the last year cannot be overstated. He has risen to every challenge and through his selfless leadership and personal application, VS has not only maintained the throughput of trainees but made tangible improvements to the overall wellbeing of all personnel. Consistently demonstrating and upholding the core values of the Royal Navy, Lt Lyth exhibits leadership qualities above those routinely seen in his peers. His ability to inspire and motivate his team, address a disparate range of issues whilst representing the Squadron to the broader Command is commendable. For these reasons, he is extremely deserving of recognition.

Commander Frederick Jack Shirley, D.S.M., Royal Navy

14 January 1913 – 13 September 2007
Photo of Cdr Jack Shirley raising a toast at a formal dinner
Cdr Jack Shirley

Jack joined the RNVR in 1931 as a Boy, First Class.  On the outbreak of World War II he was called up as a Leading Telegraphist and drafted to HMS The Queen of Thanet, a paddle steamer working as a minesweeper.  He moved to HMS Golden Eagle one of the earliest ships to be fitted with radar.  In her he made five trips to the Normandy Beaches during the evacuation from Dunkirk.  Jack was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal in late 1940. He had enabled his captain to avoid enemy gunfire by reporting the Germans’ spotting corrections on his radar; an advanced use of this modern technology.

Commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant RNVR in August 1940, he was appointed to HMS Colombo as her radar officer.  He participated in the invasion of Sicily, the convoys between Gibraltar, Bizerta and Alexandria, the landings in the South of France and the Naval Force in Yugoslavia.  After the war he was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander and awarded a permanent RN commission.  He had spells teaching in HMS Dryad and as the Squadron Electrical Officer in HMS Saintes.  Then it was off to HMS Dolphin, the home of the Submarine Service, as Squadron Deputy Electrical Officer.  The Guardian Angel that kept him safe during the War was still on duty because pressure of work stopped him joining HMS Affray for her final tragic voyage.  In 1951 he was promoted to Commander and appointed to the Admiralty Systems Radar Establishment, Portsdown where, with a team of eight officers, he was responsible for the acceptance into service with the Fleet of all radio and radar installations.  After that he moved to HMS Adamant the Submarine Depot Ship based at Rothesay, looking after the largest operational submarine squadron.  Then it was back to HMS Dolphin where his vast understanding and experience could be deployed in support of the whole Submarine Command.  For his final appointment in the Service he moved to Singapore as the Fleet Electrical Officer to Admiral Sir Davis Luce. 

After his retirement he worked first for the Directorate of Naval Ordnance and, from 1971, at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, as the Services Adviser to the Weapons Department.