Obituary: Mr Richard Hugh Donger

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Mr Richard Hugh Donger has died at his home. He was 91.

Born at Peacock Farm, Muston, on May 15, 1923, he was the son of Reginald and Cecily Donger; the youngest of five children.

He attended primary school in Muston, followed by The King’s School, Grantham.

When war broke out in September 1939, he was 16 years old and training as an accountant in Nottingham. On his 17th birthday he joined the Local Defence Volunteers, later known as The Home Guard, and on his 18th birthday he enlisted in the Royal Navy (hostilities only) Communications branch (Signals).

He joined HMS Impregnable at Plymouth as Ordinary Signalman and was later recommended for Commission Warrant Training and transferred to HMS Raleigh on a seaman gunnery course, later moving to HMS Victory at Portsmouth, before embarking the battleship HMS Nelson on convoy support en route to Cape Town, Durban and the Middle East.

In July 1942 HMS Nelson returned via Freetown to Scapa Flow and in August, Nelson supported the Pedestal convoy to Malta.

After returning to Rosyth for repairs, Nelson joined Operation Torch to support the landings in Algiers, North Africa. Mr Donger then returned to Gibraltar at the end of Commission Warrant Training, left the Nelson and took passage on SS Sobieski destined for Gourock and for three months up to February 1943 completed his officer trianing at Lancing College as Midshipman RNVR Special Services.

He joined SS Duchess of Bedford for passage to Suez and was offered the chance to join RN Commando unit F for “Fox”. He was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant RNVR and later as assistant to Principal Beach Master Commander Ransome and sailed through the Suez Canal for Operation Husky - the assault on Sicily.

In the early hours of July 10, 1943 he landed on Avola Beach as Beach Master and was wounded by shrapnel and received burns to his legs. He was patched up and wounded again the next day; his injuries this time needed a visit to a hospital ship.

After Sicily “Fox” were ordered back to the UK, and Mr Donger was appointed Full Beach Master.

On June 4, 1944 he boarded landing craft carrier HMS Battleaxe at Portsmouth for Operation Overload and his landing craft hit Queen Red sector of Sword Beach at 0610 on June 6 under heavy defensive fire. At 0700 he was badly wounded in the left upper arm by a sniper and was ordered to a returning landing craft. However, this craft was hit by a shell and he was back in the water and with only one useful arm was drowning. Fortunately the two German prisoners he was taking back rescued him and got him to another landing craft and he was transferred to HMS Torrington and then to a hospital ship at Portsmouth.

He spent the next three months in various hospitals and for his gallant actions he was mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the Croix de Guerre with silver star.

With beach assaults in Europe over, he returned to general service in April 1945 as 1st Lieutenant/Navigator on HMS Fir, clearing minefields in the Channel and along the Atlantic Wall in the North Sea until he was demobbed in October, 1946.

After demob he decided not to return to accountancy, but instead to return to Peacock Farm and in March, 1947 he married his childhood sweetheart Mary Armitage and they lived in Muston. In 1955 they moved to Peacock Farm where Celia, William and Geoff grew up.

Sport played a big part in his life and with his brother, Bob, played rugby for Bourne. In 1946 and 1947 he and a few others formed Kesteven Rugby Club playing from Stoke Rochford. Mr Donger was to play for only one season for Kesteven due to a knee injury.

Mr Donger also enjoyed playing cricket and he proved a useful batsman, transferring to Belvoir where he played for the rest of his career and was until the end, vice-president of the club.

When his sporting career finished, he took up shooting and around 1970 when the shooting rights to the land on and around Peacock Farm became available, he formed the Muston Shoot with his brother Bob, Les Shipman, Robert Crawford and others and it is still running now.

Mr Donger served on numerous committees including Kesteven Rugby Club, Bottesford Cricket Club, Newark Internal Drainage Board and the Earl of Rutland and Dr Fleming Hospital Trust. He was chairman of the Bottesford Conservatives and a member of the RN Commando Association and the George Cross Island Association and a member of the Royal British Legion, Hose and Harby branch.

Burial took place at Muston churchyard, followed by a service of thanksgiving at St Mary’s Church, Bottesford, both services conducted by the Rev Stuart Foster.

Standard bearer from the Royal British Legion, Hose and Harby branch was Brian Colbourne and other members were Peter Hackett, Trevor Coy, Pat Preston, John Blundy, David Bolton and Gordon Spence.

Family mourners included: Geoff and Carole Donger, William and Louise Donger, Celia and Steve Owen, Leigh and Donya Donger, Kerrie and Antony Longden, Richard and Alison Owen, James and Emma Donger, Grant Willis, Eleanor and Morgan Cheshire, Betty Smerdon and Claire, Giles and Pia Smerdon, Diana and Dane Jarrod, Diana Heptinstall, Sally and Serena, Robert and Di Donger, Peter and George Donger, David and Christine Donger, Anne Armitage, Jane and Carrie, Sue and Joe Grindal and Anne, Ian and Nancy Hodgkinson, Sue and Martin Bellamy, Muriel and John Goodacre, Richard Wood, Ben and Dan Foster, John and Helen Donger.

Other mourners included: Frances, Dowager Duchess of Rutland, Ian Blackburn, Tina Buggins, Margaret Wilkinson, Ken and Barbara Walker, Shane Hallam, Trevor Hallam, Eileen Boyce, Donald and Sylvia Smart, Beverley and Chris Greasley, Bill Berridge, Derrick Smith (KRFC), George and Pauline Martin (GCIA), Dean Taylor (Home Help, Melton), Edward and Shirley Hennessey, Peter Sheardown, Mrs M. Cooke, Shirley Dennis, Linda Clayton (Tinkler), Mr and Mrs K. Pacey, Jennifer Hellen, John Howitt, Frances and John Stapleton, Angela Marsh, Pru Chandler, Andrew Chandler, John and Pauline Goodson, Barbara Hart, Brian Durant, Martyn Hallam, Laura Hallam, Janet and Brian Kitson, Herbert Daybell, Peter and Sheila Murphy, Peter and Peggy Topps, and Christine and Mike Saunders.

Funeral arrangements were by William Roberts and Sons, Devon Lane, Bottesford.

Donations to be divided between The Royal British Legion (Hose and Harby branch) and Muston Church amount to £860.06 to date.