On 9 July 2022, WWII veteran and former Queens’s Bargemaster Major Ted Hunt MVO died aged 102
Edwin ‘Ted’ Hunt MVO, a retired waterman who served in World War II and was appointed Queen's Bargemaster in 1978, died on 9 July. His children Pamela, Christine and Ron, and his grandchildren Duncan, Geoffrey, Hazel, Jo and Susie will miss him terribly. Ted lived in Worthing and was a regular on trips across the UK and the continent with the Taxi Charity.
Major Ted was born on 23 March 1920 in London. In 1935, aged 15, Ted began training as a Thames Waterman, learning how to tow Thames barges up and down the river. When war broke out, as many did, Ted added a year onto his age and enlisted, and was immediately sent to Norway as a Sapper waterman in the Royal Engineers.
During April and May 1940, Ted was involved with taking the port of Narvik from the Nazis. When Narvik was captured, Ted returned to the UK and helped build military ports across Scotland. Promoted to Captain, he was placed in charge of 15 Rhino ferries tasked with transporting vehicles to Gold Beach for the D-Day landings in 1944. In four months, all 64 of these landing craft put ashore 93,000 tanks, guns and vehicles and 440,000 tons of military stores.
During the last six months of the war in Europe, together with the Dutch hydraulics engineer Lt. Constant Lambrechtsen van Ritthem, he advised on the "opposed crossing of water obstacles", so that a floating Bailey bridge could be constructed at Oeffelt and Gennep.
In May 2022, Ted visited the Netherlands with the Taxi Charity for the Dutch Liberation celebrations and afterwards attended a celebration in Gennep in his honour for his contribution to building the longest Bailey Bridge of WWII.
On 11 May, when Ted was asked about the Gennep celebration, he said: “It was wonderful to be here today to celebrate the courage and skill of a very brave Dutchman. It was an honour for me to work with him and it is lovely for the people here today to see and recognise the result of what he did. The bridge between Oeffelt and Gennep was the lifeline of the war as it moved on into Germany. Constant is the man to be admired, I was just his dogsbody.”
Dutch Ambassador to the UK, Mr Karel van Oosterom, said: “Major ‘Ted’ Hunt’s courage and contributions to the longest floating Bailey bridge of WWII – over the river Meuse between the provinces of Brabant and Limburg – will never be forgotten. His part in the building of the bridge was one of the major turning points in the liberation of the Netherlands. Major Ted will always remain in our thoughts.”
Demobilised from the army as a Major, Ted returned to civilian life as a college lecturer and taught navigation and watermanship at the City and East London College. He was appointed Queen’s Bargemaster in 1978 and retired from royal service in 1990 and was made a Member of the Royal Victorian Order.
Ted said of Her Majesty The Queen: “I was honoured to be appointed as the Queen’s Bargemaster in 1978. As Bargemaster, I was responsible for the Royal Watermen who operated tugs and launches on the River Thames. I held this position until 1990 and met Her Majesty on many occasions. She was always extremely gracious, and we have been very fortunate to have her as our Queen.”
Ted has been supported by the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans for many years and for the last four years his regular driver has been London cab driver and charity volunteer, Mike Hughes.
Ted said of him: “Mike is my regular driver for Taxi Charity events, but he also helps me get from A to B at other times of the year. When I went to get my Coronavirus injections, he took me to the village hall and brought me home again. He even organised for me to safely commemorate D-Day at the local war memorial in the middle of the pandemic for which I am eternally grateful. I constantly tease him about his Welsh heritage and his bad jokes, but he is an incredibly generous man who I am proud to call a friend.”