Lt Col RS Nelthorpe MBE TD DL JP
Roger Sutton Nelthorpe died on 4th May 2000 after a lifetime of service to his country, his county and his family estates.
He was especially devoted to the Territorial Army and in particular to the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry, a regiment with which he was associated for more than fifty years. He joined in October 1937 at the invitation of his friend and neighbour the Earl of Yarborough, who was then Commanding Officer.
The Regiment was mobilised at the outbreak of war as a horsed regiment in the 1st Cavalry Division which was sent to Palestine on public order duties. It was there that he took part in a cavalry charge down the main street of Tel Aviv to quell a riot.
The Regiment was soon diverted to more warlike tasks, initially as coastal defence artillery in Tobruk and Crete before being converted to an armoured regiment, and Nelthorpe saw his first action with tanks at the battle of Alam El Halfa, where Rommel’s last attempt on Egypt was defeated.
After that battle, he took over command of the Regiment’s HQ Squadron, a position he retained until the end of the War two and a half years later. It was his responsibility to supply the Regiment with everything it required and especially with great quantities of fuel and ammunition as it advanced a thousand miles from Egypt to Tunisia and again from Normandy into Germany. During this time, all administrative problems tended to fall on him, a responsibility which he discharged with unfailing skill and good humour.
Tall and slender, with a puckish, almost schoolboy air, he dealt unerringly with all the problems of supplying an armoured regiment at war. In his book Alamein to ZemZem, Keith Douglas described him as “an efficient person with deceptive, adolescent manners, whom no-one would suspect of being an Etonian. It is difficult to imagine him at any public school at all: if you look at him, he seems to have sprung, miraculously enlarged, but otherwise unaltered, from an inky bench in a private preparatory school. He looks as if he had white rats in his pockets.”
Perhaps his greatest task was that of totally re-equipping the Regiment during the five short months between its return home from North Africa and its landing in Normandy on D Day. In recognition of his services he was awarded a military MBE.
In 1947, when the Regiment was re-formed, he immediately re-joined, becoming second in command and then Commanding Officer from 1959 to 1964. He was awarded the TD with three clasps.
He devoted much time to public service in the county of Lincoln, being a Governor of the Sir John Nelthorpe School in Brigg, a Justice of the Peace and a Deputy Lieutenant.
His interests in agriculture, and in forestry in particular, are evidenced by the improvements he brought to his estate and he gave much time to numerous committees and organisations connected with these activities.
He was also a General Commissioner of Income Tax and Vice-Chairman of the Lincolnshire Territorial and Auxiliary Forces Association.
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