Tribute to former Royal Marine who was well known in Warwick and Leamington

Fred Stopps
Fred Stopps

A former Royal Marine who saw active service in the Far East and fought a campaign to get a friend’s name added to Warwick War Memorial, has died, aged 72.

Leamington-born Fred Stopps and his great pal Graham “Gilly” Gillingham joined the Royal Marines, aged 17.

Both commandos took part in the fighting to defend the northern part of Borneo, in what is now Malaysia, from Indonesian aggression.

But on Christmas Eve, 1962, “Gilly”, aged 20, was accidentally shot when the gun of another Marine went off in a busy market place.

Mr Stopps, along with others who knew “Gilly”, eventually got his name on the memorial last year after starting their campaign in 2011.

Mr Stopps’ brother Chris said Fred took great solace from the name being added, saying: “He was pleased that Warwick had acknowledged that one of its sons had died on active service and that he was formally remembered.

“I don’t think the sadness of the loss of a good friend ever left him.”

Mr Stopps was ten years in the Royal Marines, and as well as the Far East, also served in Australia and Europe.

He died at his home in Parkes Street, Warwick, earlier this month, where he had lived on his own since 1986, and he had five children.

The ex-pupil of Leamington College for Boys was born in Chesham Street, behind the old Warneford Hospital, and then the family lived in Whitnash and Lillington.

He was an apprentice toolmaker for a while before he joined up. After military service he returned to the area and was a mechanic at Rugby Autocar and Flavels transport and then a sheet metal worker for Spantile, which made commercial kitchens.

Mr Stopps would take them from design, make and assemble them, take them apart and reassemble on site.

“He was very clever like that and was a fantastic to-scale model maker,” said his brother.

“He was a great character, well-known in the Warwick and Leamington area and will be greatly missed. People respected him.

“In many ways he was quite a private person but also a very sociable person. He was confident in his own opinions but also kept his own counsel.”

The funeral is at Oakley Wood Crematorium, 10.30am, on Monday (August 24).

The coffin will go in draped with the Royal Navy Ensign, where a Royal Marine will give him the salute, and members of the Royal Naval Association will give an official send-off.