No matter how cool you think you are or how interesting you think your life is or has been Commander John Rigge, who sadly passed away aged 94 this June, is cooler and had a better life. In fact if some smart publisher doesn’t commission a biography of Rigge double quick then they should all be fired – he’s just a writer’s gift. Royal Navy vet, evacuated Brits out of Spain during the Civil War, hunted the Graf Spee, stated his honeymoon on the first day of the Blitz and ended up in the shelter of the Savoy, during WW2 served in the North Sea and Atlantic North-west Approaches and Russian convoys to Murmansk. As if that wasn’t enough he foiled the only known sabotage attack by the Nazis on mainland America during the war, prevented a French ship being scuttled. After the war he served for the Royal Navy in Bermuda and was posted as the Commodore’s Secretary in Hong Kong in the 1950s before becoming a specialist and businessman in Spain. A great life and a full obituary here in the Daily Telegraph.
Rigge was born in 1918 in Shanghai to Winifred and Harry Rigge. Harry was a China merchant trading a range of products – “peanuts to elephants” famously. Rigge was educated at the Cathedral School until he returned to Yorkshire in England in 1926. Those Cathedral School boys!