J C Stuttard - In Memoriam

Jack Stuttard, Editor of our annual Proceedings since 1990, died at his home on 23rd January, aged 88 years. He was born and grew up in Yorkshire, and after two years at Hull University reading history and geography, he went to Cambridge University. When war broke out in 1939 he was recruited to a Naval Intelligence Division in Cambridge where he remained until 1944.

After the war he joined the Ministry of Defence (MOD) in London, and from 1949 onwards held a very senior post as one of three Resident Clerks of the Ministry, responsible for defence questions "out of office hours", for which they were required to live on the premises while on duty.

In 1952 he became Head of the MOD Office in Egypt, travelling extensively throughout the Middle East. On returning to London in 1954 he found his work there rather dull by comparison! He and his wife and family moved to Leatherhead in 1965 when he was put in charge of overseeing the export of advanced strategic materials to the Soviet Bloc and China, which entailed a good deal of travelling, mainly in Europe and the Far East.

In 1981 Jack retired from the MOD and soon after this he was invited by St John's School to become their Librarian and also their Archivist. He joined our Society and became Editor of our annual Proceedings in 1990 - a post which he carried out with his customary enthusiasm and dedication.

In addition to this, he did an immense amount of work indexing the Proceedings, and published his booklet on A Short History of Leatherhead in 1986, republished in 1996 and again in 2000. He also published St John's School Leatherhead - a Short History in 1998.

He will be greatly missed.

Linda Heath, from the February 2005 Newsletter, in which Peter Tarplee also notes that Jack was responsible for editing the Society's histories of Ashtead, Fetcham and Headley.

from the Proceedings of the Leatherhead & District Local History Society, Vol 6 no.9 2005

Jack Stuttard, who was the Editor of our Proceedings, died at his home in Leatherhead on January 23rd 2005. Apart from editing 15 issues of the Proceedings, and compiling the index for volume 5, Jack also edited several of the Society's books: A History of Ashtead (1995), History of Fetcham (1998) and History of Headley (2001).

Jack was born in Yorkshire, of a Yorkshire father and a Lancashire mother. He won a Scholarship to Hull University, where he read history and geography, and thence went to Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he completed an M.Sc. thesis on The Historical Geography of the Forest of Dean.

When the war broke out, he joined the Naval Intelligence Bureau in London. The brainchild of Mountbatten, the Bureau was a high-powered research unit composed of members of each of the armed forces, plus civilian experts.

This was responsible for the production of Handbooks about countries that the Navy might have to visit, and included details of peoples, religion, history and cultures, coasts, climate, economic geography etc. They were works of great distinction, and Jack's two volumes on what is now Indonesia were accepted as one of the finest of the Handbooks.

After the war, Jack was for a while the senior of the three bachelor members of the Bureau who provided 24 hour intelligence cover for some of the Ministers. They lived in the Residents' Flat in the old Ministry of Defence, where they were looked after by a housekeeper. At the end of the working day, they had to be available there to receive telephone calls to the Cabinet, and had the responsibility of deciding whether the news merited waking up the Prime Minister or the Foreign Secretary. While there, Jack threw wonderful parties, with excellent food, wine and conversation.

From 1952 to 1954, Jack was Head of the Joint Intelligence Bureau (JIB) Middle East branch, at first in Cairo but later in the Canal Zone. The JIB became the Defence Intelligence Staff in 1963, and in 1965 Jack was put in charge of overseeing the export of advanced strategic materials to the Soviet Bloc and China. This was highly responsible work and involved a good deal of travelling in both Europe and the Far East. Before he retired, Jack was pictured in the Evening Standard wearing his bowler hat, as one of the last in Whitehall to do so. He was a real gentleman of the old school, invariably courteous and helpful. a man of integrity and honour. He retired from the Ministry of Defence in 1981 after a long career in which he gave valuable service to his country.

Jack's meeting with Eleanor in 1957, through the English Speaking Union, was the beginning of both a lifelong marriage and a lifelong love affair, which brought great happiness to both of them. They lived in London for a time and in 1965 moved to Leatherhead with their growing family. Soon after he retired, Jack was invited by St John's School to become their Librarian and Archivist. He published a booklet on A Short History of Leatherhead in 1986 and another on St John's School Lent/ierhead - A Short History in 1998. He enjoyed collecting books, particularly on history, and loved mountaineering and music.

Much of the above will be a surprise to members of the Society, for Jack Stuttard was a very modest man, who never talked about the work that he had done or mentioned the very senior position that he had held in the Ministry of Defence.

I have compiled this obituary from contributions by Jack's brother Geoffrey, from his colleague and friend Donald Chamberlain and by Linda Heath, with their permission.

As his successor as Editor, I only wish that I had had the privilege of learning the job from Jack, for his achievements in that post will be difficult to emulate. Barry Cox

Appreciations of Jack Stuttard on the Leatherhead Parish Church website

updated 25 Feb 2005