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Captain Barry Double
Late Grenadier Guards
by Lieutenant Colonel Henry Hanning
formerly Grenadier Guards

Barry Double died on 2nd February 2018 after several weeks of illness. 

In 1960 the nineteen-year-old Barry went along to the recruiting office in Ipswich in support of a friend and, encountering the renowned WO2 ’Nutty’ Slack, was promptly scooped up as a Grenadier as well. Due to his mother’s ill health he spent most of his youth in children’s homes where he thrived on the routine and communal life and therefore the barrack room held few terrors for him. His quick intelligence and thoroughness were quickly spotted and he was soon on his way up the orderly room ladder, at speed. He served in the 1st and 2nd Battalions, at Horse Guards and in Regimental Headquarters where in due course he reached the top rung as Superintending Clerk. He counted Sharjah as his best posting and two visits to Belfast as the most difficult and demanding.

Exactly three years after becoming Superintending Clerk he was commissioned to become recruiting officer and General Secretary of the Grenadier Guards Association, continuing in the latter role as a retired officer while taking on the accounts as Regimental Treasurer.

He served as General Secretary for twenty-two years, in which time he made a profound mark, overhauling and streamlining the organisation and re-writing the rule book. Welfare was his special interest and his reputation led to an invitation to serve on the Grants Sub-Committee of the Army Benevolent Fund, the only serving regimental secretary to do so. His proudest achievements were to introduce a holiday scheme for the most aged members, and to organise battlefield tours on an almost continuous basis. Both activities became extremely successful and won him legions of friends.
It was my special pleasure to work with him on the Grenadier Gazette, which had been established only a few years before. As General Secretary, he took on the work of Assistant Editor, looking after all the Association material. This was no small job, much of it laborious and time-consuming, and some downright tedious. But, in his spirit of service, he never complained or cut corners. He suggested excellent ideas and took well-deserved pride in work really well done.

My periodic visits to his office were a delight. He always had a story to tell. It might be of that fine quartermaster George Hackett, whose impressive bearing on a battlefield tour caused him to be mistaken for a general, an impression George was in no hurry to correct. It might be his commuting journey into Liverpool Street, when on one occasion two of his companions came to blows over the opening and shutting of a window and then, on arrival, went off happily arm in arm to seek medical attention. It might be him baiting me with the story (well known to him to be nonsense) of how, as Adjutant, I sometimes went in very early to work and insisted on a clerk being on duty to sharpen my pencils. Or he might have a complaint about some troublesome person. ‘Silly ass’ (pronounced with an r) he would say. It was about the fiercest expression he allowed himself, though loaded with meaning.

This master of fast and accurate paperwork had many other talents. As a young soldier he owned motor-cycles and sidecars. He was a long-distance runner. He became a highly proficient photographer. Over many years he not only constructed 160 beautifully made display cases but took on the responsibility for designing, mounting and researching the medal collections which are to be seen in Regimental Headquarters and will certainly be admired for years to come.

Barry and his wife Patricia were married for fifty-six years, raising two boys and also a grandson. In retirement they moved to Sudbury, Suffolk, to be near their younger son and family where he was able to continue his passion for gardening and woodworking. Patricia was a wonderful support to him and together they endured with patience and courage the serious and unpleasant medical misfortunes suffered by Barry over his last years.

Barry’s youthful good looks, slim spare frame and modest demeanour concealed a man of great stature and quality, able, industrious and devoted to the regiment he served with such distinction for forty-two years without a break. His talent for friendship will leave many proud to have known him and greatly saddened by his departure.

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