R. A. LEEMING
45 Commando Royal Marines
Robert Arthur Leeming was born on the 2nd September 1949, in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. He was the youngest child of Edgar and Eileen, and had both a sister, Elizabeth and a brother, Stuart. Robert went to school locally, but after the family moved to Erith in Kent, he completed his secondary education there. Bob, as he became known, then joined the Royal Marines on 18th September 1967. After basic training at Deal, he moved on to Commando training, and gained the Green Beret in 1968. His King's Squad was particularly proficient at Drill, and took part in many representative displays at home and abroad.
Bob was then posted to 45 Commando RM in Singapore. Like most Royal Marines, he particularly enjoyed training and soldiering in the Far East, but a total change of role was to follow when the Unit returned to HMS Condor, the base at Arbroath in Scotland, to become the Corps' Arctic Warfare specialists. One contemporary nickname for 45 Cdo was 'The Frozen Chosen'!
Bob really loved the environment of snow and ice. He was selected to become a Military Ski-ing Instructor after passing the Arctic Warfare course out in Norway, and ski-ing, both downhill and cross-country, then became his main hobby. 45 Cdo RM also took their turn to deploy to Belfast in support of the Army there, a tour of duty for which Bob later received the General Service Medal with 'Northern Ireland' clasp.
During his time in Scotland, Bob met and married a local Arbroath girl. Margaret was a widow with two children, Tracey and Colin; Bob adopted them both, and then he and Margaret went on to have a third child, Mark, to complete what became a very close and loving family.
In 1980, Bob was promoted to Sergeant. In the same year, his mother died, and he also reached the peak of his chosen profession as a Heavy Weapons specialist, First Class. Tragedy struck in March 1982 when several members of 45 Cdo's Mortar Troop were killed in a live firing training exercise. Bob had only just completed the round of funerals when the Unit was warned for duty in the South Atlantic. They deployed south in RFA Stromness and landed at Red Beach (Ajax Bay) on Friday May 21st 1982. Bob then took part in 45 Cdo RM's famous 'yomp' forward, via Teal Inlet and Douglas Settlement, to the area between Mount Kent and the Unit's final objective, Two Sisters.
On 11th June, tragedy struck again. While conducting a reconnaissance patrol, Bob and two other members of his team were mistaken for the enemy and killed in the subsequent firefight, which occurred just before the main assault on Two Sisters.
His body was temporarily interred at Teal Inlet, then moved to its final resting place at San Carlos settlement, in the Blue Beach cemetery. The horseshoe-shaped stone corral that encloses the graves is beautifully maintained. It sits on gently rising ground and looks over San Carlos Water to Ajax Bay, where Bob and the rest of 45 Commando Royal Marines had landed just three weeks earlier.
His widow, Margaret, remains in the Arbroath area. Tracey also married a Royal Marine from 'the Scottish Commando', who has now retired, but they still live nearby. She organises fund-raising events for both local and national charities, and is helped by the HMS Condor base organization to hold some of these events with them. Colin is also still in Scotland, and is a steel construction engineer. Mark now lives and works in Spain. Bob's older brother Stuart served in the Fleet Air Arm as a Buccaneer pilot, before going on to complete a career in commercial aviation.
Bob Leeming's memory is still cherished by all his relatives, friends and colleagues, but he is especially missed by the wonderful and happy family that he loved so much.