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Eric Grove speaking at a conference

Obituary: Eric Grove, 1948–2021

News, 16 April 2021
The Institute records with sorrow the death of Professor Eric Grove, one of the United Kingdom’s foremost naval historians and frequent contributor to RUSI’s conferences and publications.

Michael Codner, Senior Research Fellow in Military Sciences and Director of Personnel Services, recalls:

Eric Grove was a great friend of mine. We first met in the early 1990s, taking part together in a series of United States/Russian/Royal Navy (RUCKUS) dialogues. At that time, I was a Desk Officer for strategy in the Naval Staff, Ministry of Defence. We then worked together on the first volume of British Maritime Doctrine published in 1995 just before I joined RUSI. He was then a lecturer in the Centre for Security Studies at the University of Hull and a great mentor for me.

We collaborated to set up a series of Northern Universities Conferences bringing RUSI members together with students from Lancaster, Newcastle, Leeds, Salford, York, Bradford, Hull, Durham and Manchester Metropolitan Universities. The conference in 2002 was held in Hull with Eric as my organising partner.

When he moved to Salford University in 2005 as Professor of Naval History and Director of the Centre for International Security and War Studies, he regularly invited me to take part in very interesting workshops.

Having retired from Liverpool Hope University in 2015, Eric lived in Blackpool. In 2017 I joined him there for his wedding to Swee Poh. 

The last time I saw Eric and Swee Poh for a cup of tea and delicacies was when I was in Blackpool with my wife for an HMS Penelope Association dinner, to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the ship’s sinking in the Second World War. He also sponsored me to be a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Eric was a very provocative character and held his own in debates – the perfect pro/antagonist in the proper Socratic process. He also taught me how to dress as an older man – for instance, to wear a brightly coloured bow tie at a conference. He also sang counter-tenor in choirs. I remember joining him once after a conference in Norway at Oslo Airport: we sang Henry Purcell’s ‘Sound the Trumpet’ as a duet to the amusement of crowds. He far outdid me in his high pitch.

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