The Guy Hudson Memorial Trust

Lieutenant R G O Hudson DSC Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Richard Guy Ormonde Hudson was born on 6 September 1920 in King’s Norton, Staffordshire, and grew up in Seaton, South Devon. He was educated at Rugby School, and matriculated at Oxford in 1939, reading jurisprudence at St John’s College.

Only a year later, he volunteered for service in the Royal Navy, joining the training establishment HMS Royal Arthur as a Hostilities Only Ordinary Seaman on 11 September 1940.

After training and service in HMS Sikh, he was selected for a commission in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) and went to HMS King Alfred, the wartime officers’ training establishment and was commissioned into the RNVR as a Temporary Sub-Lieutenant on 25 September 1941. 

Following Motor Torpedo Boat (MTB) training in the Coastal Forces base HMS St Christopher at Fort William and a brief spell attached to MTB 233 (HMS St Christopher) and MTB 62 (HMS Hornet – Gosport), in February 1942 he was sent to HMS Mosquito, the Coastal Forces base at Alexandria. 

He arrived in the Mediterranean during the blackest days of the war, with Rommel and the Afrika Corps advancing to within 60 miles of Alexandria in May that year. 

Hudson served at as 1st Lieutenant (second in command) in the 7th MTB Flotilla, working onboard MTBs 62, 65 & 77, as well as acting as a “spare CO”, assuming temporary command of MTBs where necessary. 

During this period HM Coastal Forces were largely employed in harrying the German army from the coast, attacking supply shipping to disrupt the effective resupply of their front line.

In May 1943 he was transferred to HMS Gregale, the Maltese base of the 7th MTB Flotilla, but was injured in action on 10 June 1943 and invalided home. 

Promoted Temporary Lieutenant in September, he served in HMS Bee, the Coastal Forces base at Holyhead, as a navigation instructor whilst he was recovering from his injuries. Once passed as fully fit for sea service, he was appointed to HMS Hornet in May 1944, for special service with Captain Coastal Forces (CCF) Channel. 

It was here that he was involved in the development of radar control tactics for MTBs that would lead to the award of his DSC.

MTB actions were often highly confused, as the situational awareness of such small platforms was low, and in the run up to Operation Overlord there was concern at the risk of friendly fire accidents with so many allied vessels operating in the channel. 

As a result, officers from the MTB force were embarked in radar-equipped frigates which were directed to operate with groups of MTBs. The control officer would use early radar displays, known as Plan Position Indicators (PPIs) to vector MTBs onto prospective targets, deconflicting them with other allied operations.

The technique was implemented for the D-Day landings and continued during the subsequent allied advance along the French coast. During this period Hudson and his colleagues Lt P G Lee DSC* RNVR and Lt R G Fison DSC RNVR were embarked in a variety of frigates, including HM Ships Thornborough, Retalick and Seymour.

In the Action Report, CINC Portsmouth, Admiral C Little, remarked:

“In general the reports indicate that the destroyer Commanding Officers found the control exercised from the frigates to be invaluable.” 

Indeed at the technique matured, the frigates were, in extremis, vectoring non-radar equipped destroyers onto targets, such as in this example from the night of 29/30 August 1944: 

“At 2225, the MTB units had broken down, and were instructed to rejoin having repaired their defects, so HMS Retalick, having obtained contact of a convoy of TLCs (Tank Landing Craft), 1 coaster and R-Boats vectored HMS Cattistock to intercept and took station on her. 

"Both ships attacked with gunfire at 2235, and HMS Retalick disengaged to continue the plot, while HMS Cattistock re-engaged.."

For his work in this field, and specifically for the attacks mounted on German forces as they evacuated Le Havre by sea from 23 to 28 August, Hudson was nominated for the DSC.  He was nominated as follows:-

“During the evacuation of Le Havre this officer acted as a controller on five out of the seven nights.  The frigates in which he was embarked were frequently under heavy and prolonged fire from shore batteries.

"As the pioneer, with Lieutenant Lee, in the control ship technique, he has acted as a controller on 45 nights since 5th June 1944. 

"He has shown himself skilful and courageous and a sound tactician, and has been tireless in his devolution to duty and determination. 

"Signed Patrick V M McLaughlin, Captain Royal Navy, Captain Coastal Forces, Channel."

His DSC was gazetted on 14 November 1944 along with Lieutenants Lee and Fison. After a brief spell with Captain Coastal Forces Nore, Hudson joined HMS Dryad, the Navigation School, in November 1944 for instructional duties, remaining there until he was released from the service in July 1946. 

Having been demobilised, he remained in the Royal Naval Volunteer Service Reserve (RNVSR) until the mid-1960s. He married Miss Sylvia Mary Price on 6 Jan 1945, and died in August 1995.

The Trust manages the bequest, though the University central trust administrators, primarily to support the Hudson Fellow, a senior officer who spends a year in Oxford on an extended research project. 

It also provides grants to fund conferences on naval history, other research areas of naval or military interest, and projects by students in the URNU.