COMMODORE MICHAEL CLAPP CB
President AnyFace Association
Michael Clapp joined the Royal Navy as a Special Entry Cadet in January 1950. His first major deployment was as a Midshipman to the Far East in the cruiser HMS Ceylon during the Korean War. On his return to the UK in August 1952 he attended the Junior Officers Staff Course at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and technical courses at the major RN schools. On completion he was appointed to HMS Comet as the Correspondence Officer and also her Torpedo, Anti-Submarine Warfare Officer. He led the Boarding Party that captured the first Greek Caique caught running guns into Cyprus.
In 1955, much against his wishes, he was pressed into the Fleet Air Arm. The MoD was concerned at the growing submarine threat of the Soviet Navy and five General List officers were selected to become Observers in airborne Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW). He was appointed to No. 1 Long Observer Course, expecting to specialise in airborne anti-submarine warfare. In the end however he never joined an ASW Squadron. Instead, he was streamed to Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and his first operational flying tour was with 849 NAS C Flight on the Skyraider aircraft. AEW opened his eyes as to the huge tactical and strategic advantages of aircraft. He then became a committed Fleet Air Arm Observer.
He was briefly appointed to the Electronic Warfare Flight, which tracked and jammed ships and aircraft radars. In 1959, he was posted to Ferranti Ltd, Edinburgh, to assist in test flying the weapon system for the Blackburn Buccaneer Mk 1 before joining 700 NAS Z Flight, the Intensive Flying Trials Unit.
In 1962, He was then appointed as Senior Observer of 801 NAS, the first operational Mk 1 Blackburn Buccaneer squadron. They embarked on HMS Ark Royal and then on HMS Victorious in which they sailed for the Far East and tropical trials returning home in January 1964. After ship command courses, he returned to the Far East to command HMS Puncheston. Indonesian Confrontation had begun and he experienced several close encounters. He received a mentioned in despatches.
In December 1965, he returned home and took command of 801 NAS now equipped with the Buccaneer Mk. 2 and embarked in HMS Victorious. Operational trials were carried out at home and in the Far East. He was promoted to Commander in 1968 and went on to command HMS Jaguar and sailed around the World. He then joined the Directorate of Naval Air Warfare in MoD and made the case for an Aircrewman Branch. He then became Executive Officer of HMS Norfolk, the first Royal Naval ship to be fitted with Exocet missiles.
Promoted to Captain in 1974 he served in the Directorate of Naval Plans and won the case for the Sea Harrier. He then commanded HMS Leander and later became the Naval Director of the Joint Maritime Operational Training Staff. In 1981, he was appointed as Commodore Amphibious Warfare.
In 1982, he commanded the Amphibious Task Group 317.0 during the Falklands operation. He landed 3 Commando Brigade and, later, Divisional HQ and 5 Infantry Brigade successfully in San Carlos Water. He then supported the Land Force logistically and provided naval gunfire support. He was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath for his services in the conflict.
Commodore Clapp retired from Naval Service on 7 July 1983.