Eric Grove: Influential, Inspirational Maritime Historian, dies

Eric Grove: Influential, Inspirational Maritime Historian, dies

Tue, 04/05/2021 - 21:07
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News first broke on social media that Professor Eric John Grove - the much respected and distinguished naval historian, author, lecturer and TV expert - passed away on Thursday 15 April 2021. He was 72.

It didn't matter who Eric Grove was talking to, he was an engaged and animated speaker. He had a unique, passionate presentation style and distinctive voice

Probably Britain's leading authority today on British Naval History with an encyclopaedic knowledge of contemporary warfare. Martin Edmonds

Professor Eric J Grove was a fantastic academic teacher, "an engaging, friendly scholar" and a "great mentor." The Naval Review stated "he was also a giant of our professional development...he wrote *doctrine." In 2000 Eric Grove reviewed the draft of the first edition of the 'Australian Maritime Doctrine'. According to the Australian Naval Institute Eric contributed some important suggestions. 

(*A belief or theory taught and accepted by a particular group).  

Historian and teacher who inspired a generation of naval strategists. Dr Malcolm Davis

James Dunbar, a former student, wrote his "lectures were a goldmine of insight, facts, analysis and opinion which greatly influenced my own research and written work. Professor Grove also supervised my final year dissertation and was at all times available for enjoyable discussion, constructive criticism and feedback and was an indispensable partner for my work. Any student or academic would be lucky to work with Professor Grove."

Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, Eric Grove, Royal Navy, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine,
Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC), commonly known as 'Dartmouth' is located on a hill overlooking the port of Dartmouth, Devon. Naval officers have been trained here since 1863. The late Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Philip was a naval cadet here. | Image Credit Rosemary E Lunn

He loved BRNC with a passion. Captain Roger Readwin, Britannia Royal Naval College 

Eric Grove will have certainly made an impact, and had a profound effect on our former and current serving military. He taught the top Royal Navy officer students when he served as a civilian lecturer at the Britannia Royal Navy College in Dartmouth (1971 - 1984) and the Royal Naval College in Greenwich. 

"A lovely man, ridiculously knowledgeable, lucky to have been under his tutelage at RNC Greenwich during my special duty RN officer training in the '90s." Andy Parrett

"I was fortunate, along with many, to have listened and debated the importance of seapower with Professor Eric." Captain Roger Readwin, Britannia Royal Naval College 

"My tutor at BRNC in 1979 - 1980. A brilliant teacher." Gary Rickard

Always enjoyed Eric's energetic and enthusiastic delivery in Academics at Dartmouth. A Royal Navy Officer

BRNC, Britannia Royal Naval College
The view from Britannia Royal Naval College. BRNC overlooks the River Dart, Devon. This image was taken to mark Commonwealth Day. A number of personnel who serve in the Royal Navy are from Commonwealth countries. 


Mark J Grove is a Maritime Strategy, Warfare & Security Studies Specialist. He also lectures at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth. "Eric was a larger than life figure in our business, one of the few in the UK who could talk authoritatively and with enormous enthusiasm about the full range of naval history and contemporary maritime strategic studies areas.

He always called my brother and I - though we were not related to him - who followed him in teaching the same subjects at Dartmouth, 'his boys' and he continued to visit the College and act as one of our external examiners until recently. Eric always maintained that our role was not only to educate but to "act as the loyal opposition within the Royal Navy", and I have always sought to live up to this advice. He will be sadly missed."

Eric was a fascinating academic, much loved by students. Passionate lecturer. Prof Neal Hazel

In I980 Grove was the first Dartmouth academic to teach on exchange in the History Department at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis.

I think Casper John Hall was designed to be soporific.

A number of former BRNC students mentioned the drowsy effects of the college's theatre and lecture hall, named after Sir Caspar John, an Admiral of the Fleet and First Sea Lord. 

Vice-Admiral Sir Johnathan Woodcock KCB OBE tweeted "A great Maritime Historian" | Image Credit: Simmo Simpson, National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons


Vice-Admiral Sir Jonathan Woodcock KCB OBE tweeted "A great Maritime Historian. My early memories of him are short as I think Casper John Hall was designed to be soporific. In my later career I found him a wonderful person, knowledgeable and full of fun with some top dits." 

Steve Pitcher recalled "I joined BRNC in his last term in 84 - I remember falling asleep in Caspar John Hall (and this is no insult if you haven‚Äôt been there) to him loudly proclaiming ‚ÄėThe spread of venereal disease through the Fleet of 1588...‚Äô He was great fun in person too."

"His ability to deliver a coherent and enthralling lecture without a formal script was legendary. Eric could even keep junior officers awake in BRNC’s famously soporific Caspar John Hall, a feat achieved by few others." The Australian Naval Institute 

A sad loss to the strategic studies and naval history community. Defence Studies, Kings College London

"He astounded us young pups on the in-service degree course with his historical knowledge and the way he could impart it so vividly, often placing contemporary events into context." Jamieson Stride

Eric Grove, maritime historian, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, XRay Magazine, XRay Mag
Eric Grove pictured at the 'KISS17' Conference. Jeremy Stohns stated on Twitter "I think he was commenting on how one must read British food policy of the 1920s to understand WWII"


Eric Grove "lectured at some of the UK’s most prestigious universities"; the University of Cambridge, the University of Hull (Department of Politics and its Centre for Security Studies) (1993 - 2005), the University of Salford (Professor of Naval History and Director of the Centre for International Security and War Studies) (2005 - 2013), Hope University in Liverpool (Professor of Naval History and Senior Fellow in the Centre for Applied Research in Security Innovation) (2013 - 2015), and the University of Birmingham. 

Eric injected zest, verve and colour into the degree programme. University of Salford

It is very obvious from reading the tributes paid to Eric Grove, and from first-hand knowledge, just how much he was admired, respected and loved. Tim Benbow wrote "He was one of the most enthusiastic, kind and supportive academics that I have ever met, as well as being a delightful company." 

"I had the pleasure of being taught by him at Salford as an undergraduate and postgraduate. Always captivating lectures and seminars," wrote Matthew Powell, Air Power Historian

The master of the unscripted lecture. In this art he was in his element and excelled. Professor Alaric Searle

Professor Alaric Searle at the University of Salford wrote "he was never an academic who 'kept one eye on the clock'; if a student or colleague was interested in a particular subject, he would share his knowledge freely and as ever with his trade-mark enthusiasm. He could always energise a seminar with interesting questions, a striking turn of phrase, or a sudden flash of insight."  (A link to the University of Salford's full tribute can be found at the bottom of this article).  

University of Hull

I am a professional naval historian. Professor Eric Grove

Cannon, Dartmouth, Eric Grove tribute, Naval Historian, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, XRay Magazine
Eric Grove was a great scholar of maritime and naval history. A lover of all things ships and sea. | Image Credit Rosemary E Lunn, a cannon in Dartmouth Harbour, Devon


"A man with an impressive academic pedigree and strong links to Hull." National Coastwatch Institution

Dr Simon Lee, a Politics lecturer stated "I had the privilege of working with Eric for 12 years as a colleague @PoliticsatHull. I have never met anyone in academia who had such a forensic knowledge of and passion for his subject, or a greater joy in sharing that knowledge with others.

Ninad Sheth, Business World Magazine contributing editor wrote "He taught me at Hull. Great scholar of maritime and navy history, a wonderful eye for detail, rigorous approach to academics, and a lover of all things ships and sea."

Radio presenter Tim Griffiths tweeted "I was talking about him just the other day (he’d popped up on TV of course). I was one of his students at Hull and he made everything on our [sic] come alive. Totally bonkers, Totally brilliant."

Still fondly remember his slightly scary lectures some 42 years later. Gareth Sutton

In 2015 Eric Grove retired from full-time teaching, however he continued as a regular lecturer at the Joint Services Command and Staff College until 2018. He remained a visiting supervisor for The Master of Studies programme at Cambridge and an external examiner for PhDs at various universities. 

Glenn Francis Griffith wrote "he certainly was a fantastic peer reviewer - thorough, concise, to the point - and a welcomed endorser of projects."

A superb academic with an infectious enthusiasm for his subject. Richard Scott

David McCormack, a military author and battlefield / historic guide, studied 'Contemporary Military and International History' at the University of Salford. He graduated as a mature student with first-class honours. McCormack wrote "He was my mentor and dissertation supervisor. A great man who will be greatly missed. I'm devastated by this sad news."

Malcolm Davis

Malcolm David is a senior analyst at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI). He has written a tribute to Eric Grove, and you can find the link to it at the bottom of this article. David wrote "When I was a young and inexperienced PhD student with my sights set on a career in strategic analysis, several people shaped my thinking, but none more than Professor Eric Grove.

Eric guided his students like a navigator at sea. He helped steer my career through its earliest period, avoiding rocks and shoals of academic misstep and inspiring my thinking along paths that allowed me to finish the first of many journeys."

Eric was always ready to assist his students, whether they wore a naval uniform or not. Malcolm Davis

"His expertise and deep knowledge of naval technology and the application of modern military capabilities at the policy level helped shape my understanding of modern military affairs and strategy."

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The University of Salford hosted the 'Archaeology of Communications' Conference on Saturday 3 March 2012. Eric Grove discussed air and sea communications. 

Christopher Buckey

Whilst researching this tribute I contacted Christopher Buckey, a naval historian based in California. Christopher generously wrote "I met Dr Grove (I still find it hard to use his first name when discussing him) in 2005 when I was attending the University of Salford for a Master’s in Intelligence and Security Studies. He gave a lecture on seapower and afterwards we ended up talking for quite some time and after a few more chats in his office he more or less decided my master’s thesis topic for me (the various revisionist interpretations of the Anglo-German naval arms race pre-WW1).

He convinced me to do my doctorate at Salford through much the same tactics. His mentorship consisted mostly of listening to me rattling off things I had found in my various visits to archives and occasionally saying something about them. We had a very strong personal connection (his late wife Sarian described us as being ‚Äútwo peas in a pod‚ÄĚ) so we often shared ideas with each other, although I don‚Äôt really remember much about our talks other than they were quite frequent. I think he understood that sometimes listening is better than giving directions. He‚Äôs very much the reason I got a PhD at all, as I was at loose ends all throughout my master‚Äôs program and didn‚Äôt have a good idea what I wanted to do with the degree afterwards.

Focus your main line of enquiry and not allow yourself to focus on ancillary matters, no matter how interesting they are. Otherwise you can end up down a rabbit hole. | Image Credit: Glenn Newcomer, via Wikimedia Commons


One thing he did pound into my head was the importance of ‚Äúnot going down rabbit holes‚ÄĚ in research. Christopher Buckey

One thing he did pound into my head was the importance of ‚Äúnot going down rabbit holes‚ÄĚ in research. In other words to focus on your main line of inquiry and not allow yourself to focus on ancillary matters no matter how interesting they were. I also remember his disdain for university politics and bureaucracy was acute and not always correct.

During the preparation for my thesis defense¬†(which had to be done over Skype as I had returned to the US by this time), one of the examiners cancelled her involvement upon taking up a job at a different university at the last minute‚ÄĒso last minute than the external examiner (Andrew Lambert, no less) had already bought tickets to come up from King‚Äôs College to Salford. Dr¬†Grove was furious, and was stunned to discover the administrative staff of the university were, if anything, even more furious than he was. He told me this story over the telephone and it was one of the only times I remember him seeming to be at a loss for words!"

He was a big man with a personality to match. In another life he could’ve made good side money as a department store Santa Claus. Christopher Buckey

An Outstanding Lecturer

The Bilgepumps Podcast made a very pertinent observation in episode 46. That you can have the best researcher, with access to the top materials, who can publish the most wonderful papers and books, and they can't present for toffee.

Eric was a big speaker. He filled the room. Bilgepumps Podcast

When you get someone who can do all of this - research, write, rhetorician - and make it all look easy, they rise to the top in their field. Two classic examples of this in the diving world are Professor Simon Mitchell and Associate Professor Neal W Pollock. Simon, Neal and Eric all can / could pack a large room and work it, feeding off the energy of the audience. 

The Last Lecture?

His enthusiasm for teaching never waned. Professor Alaric Searle

One of the positives of the 2019 / 2021 COVID-19 crisis has been that a number of events have been held online. This includes lectures. On Tuesday 23 February 2021 the Laughton Naval History Unit (on behalf of the British Commission for Maritime History and the Society for Nautical Research) hosted a talk by Eric Grove. 

Eric's talk was entitled 'The Blockade Legend: the Limitations on the British Empire's Blockade of Germany, 1914 - 1917'. 

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An outstanding reputation in the field of Naval and Military history

Dr Phil Weir stated he had watched this seminar. "Prof Eric Grove in full flow for what sadly now turns out to have been perhaps the last time, just a few short weeks ago, talking about the British blockade of Germany in WWI"...Eric had "seemed his usual, ebullient self. Regrettably, of course, in these days, it wasn't off down the pub afterwards for drinks and chat." 

Steve Mortimer also watched this talk. "It was so inspiring, we shot out and bought the Consett book we [sic] recommended. What a wonderful communicator, to the very end."

Devoted Royal Navy Advocate

The Australian Naval Institute wrote "For his part and to his own life-long astonishment, Eric soon developed a devotion to the Royal Navy that would be manifest in almost every aspect of his subsequent career. This devotion never amounted to capture.

Severe critic but usually right. Paul Beaver, Defence & Security Commentator and Analyst

HMS Tamar, River Class Ship, Royal Navy
HMS Tamar entered service in 2020. She is a 'River-Class¬†patrol boat and painted in the iconic ‚Äėdazzle camouflage‚Äô paint scheme. (Various shades of black, white and grey in strange or jarring shapes). She is named after the¬†River Tamar which¬†forms most of the border between Devon and Cornwall.¬†


Eric was always one of the Royal Navy’s most intelligent critics. Australian Naval Institute

Eric was always one of the Royal Navy’s most intelligent critics, perhaps because his own background made him acutely aware of the RN’s challenges in evolving to meet the needs of a United Kingdom that itself was undergoing profound political, social, and economic change.

Eric was a very provocative character and held his own in debates - the perfect pro/antagonist in the proper Socratic process. Michael Codner, Senior Research Fellow

When he arrived at BRNC, the Navy had yet to fully abandon many of its own distinctions of class. Eric early recognised that the RN was struggling in this and other ways to reconcile a poorly understood and largely mythical past with a difficult present and an uncertain future. It is not an exaggeration to say that he spent the rest of his life trying to help the RN ‚Äď and other navies ‚Äď find their way." (A link to ANI's full tribute can be found at the bottom of this article).¬†

A UK liveaboard in Scapa Flow. The 'Grand Harbour' was once the base of the Home Seas Fleet. | Image Credit Rosemary E Lunn


I always remember his quote ‚Äúthe vastness of the sea will provide the bulk of your protection‚ÄĚ.¬†Mark Schweikert

Eric Grove was quite prepared to fight for what he deemed right for Britain when it came to naval and maritime defence. Whilst he admired Margaret Thatcher’s performance during the Falklands’ conflict, he was an acute critic during her premiership. Three decades later his reaction to both the 2010 and 2015 UK Strategic Defence and Security Reviews were especially caustic. Eric Brown was a socialist, yet he was highly scathing and critical of the Labour party and the Blair Brown government, when he saw its divergence between their rhetoric and actual commitment to maritime security.

Dimitris Mitch, a military analyst stated "my favorite always-a-bit-angry and¬†passionate Professor¬†Eric Grove" told¬†the 2018 'KISS' Conference just how important it is to have a well balanced Navy. ‚ÄúDo not turn your Navy into a Coast Guard, do not create a Navy consisting only of warfighting ships. You HAVE to build a proper Navy!‚ÄĚ ¬†

HMS Hood

I saw him at HMS Hood Association meetings and dinners. @MJJSeagull, Twitter

Eric Grove was part of the team to locate the wreck of 'the mighty' HMS Hood in July 2001. He helped shed new light on Hood's demise - from the position of the rudder, it appears that the Hood was turning when she blew up. Eric stated in The Guardian "The more she turned to port, the more vulnerable her side armour became. This may be a key to her destruction. But we also have a new mystery. What happened to separate the bows so violently from the fore part of the ship? Implosion - or explosion?"

"The Man knew his stuff" 



You always knew it was going to be a fairly decent programme if Eric was on it as one of the experts.

Eric Grove appeared in numerous TV programmes because he had "an encyclopaedic knowledge of the intricacies of naval affairs." "A keen intellect and a remarkable memory for an extraordinary array of subjects." 

"I've watched many a documentary involving Professor Grove, he was always engaging and knowledgeable." Jack Henry

"An amazing fund of expertise." Jane Maddocks, BSAC Vice President

If you let your fingers do the walking you will quickly discover via the search engines that if there was a maritime documentary of merit, it was more than likely that Eric would have been interviewed, in his role as a Naval Historian. 

One of the fun things when watching a serious, in depth documentary, was "is it going to be Eric Grove or Andrew Lambert talking about the proper serious stuff?" Bilgepumps Podcast

Eric Grove covered everything between the two Elizabethan eras - "he always had absolute mastery of events in individual battles at sea." From English naval power during the 16th Century and Nelson’s Trafalgar, to current day submarine operations. His expertise included the vessels that saved D-Day, SS Great Britain, the sinking of Lusitania and the battles of Hood and Bismarck. 



Whilst writing this article I have noticed that someone has thankfully tided up IMDB, and now Eric Grove has a single dedicated page on the Internet Movie Database. His programme credits include "Drain the Oceans" series, "History" series, "Great British Ships" series, and "Sworn to Secrecy: Secrets of the War" series. 

I can't think of any naval or wreck programme I've watched in the last decade that hasn't featured Grove's analysis.

It is no surprise that he was the go-to expert for the likes of Sky News. 

Innes McCartney

A big loss - inspired so many to enter the field of maritime history and always had time for everybody! Maritime Training Cymru

Now that we have lost a massive personality, someone of Eric Grove's expertise, who is going to step up and fill his very large boots? There will never be another carbon-copy Eric Grove. In my opinion however, one person that could take on some of Eric's roles is Dr Innes McCartney. McCartney is primarily a respected submarine expert, and he's a technical diver. Innes, like Eric Grove, is an educator, an author and a broadcaster.

Innes wrote a few hours after Eric's death "I am deeply saddened to hear that Prof Eric Grove has died. Eric was a mentor, friend and a wonderful colleague. Always great company and an absolute mine of knowledge. He will be missed very much". 

Innes McCartney, Eric Grove, maritime experts, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, X-Ray Mag, XRay Magazine, scuba diving news, Battle of Jutland
Eric Grove (left) and Innes McCartney (right) worked on a number of documentaries together. 

Eric was a mentor, friend and a wonderful colleague. Always great company and an absolute mine of knowledge. Innes McCartney

Innes McCartney posted this image on Twitter. "One of my favourite photos with Eric. I cherish it because although we worked on many of the same documentaries, it was rare for us to be on screen together. This was in 2005 during the filming of ‚ÄúDeath of a Battleship‚ÄĚ, at the time I got to know him."¬†

His commitment to the field of naval history [was] beyond doubt. His career and publications were substantial. King's Laughton Unit


Twitter lit up following the news of Professor Eric Grove's death, and I have attempted to weave the many voices into this homage. I noted that several Australians posted 'Vale', pronounced 'valet'. This is Latin for 'farewell', and is commonly used in Australia in relation to an obituary.

Here are a selection of tributes. 

"A fine historian and a nice man." Professor Gary Sheffield, Professor of War Studies, University of Wolverhampton

"He will be greatly missed by so many. Eric was a good friend to many navies and many naval people. His enthusiasm and expertise made a compelling combination, both in person and on the many history programmes on which he was featured." James Goldrick, Rear Admiral (retired), Royal Australian Navy

Rob Scott, a retired naval officer wrote "Eric Grove was my tutor at BRNC when I was a cadet. He was only a couple of years older than me but a mine of information, particularly about tanks if I recall. Presumably aware that the tank was an Admiralty invention, his abiding interest in the navy was no doubt kindled." 

A Titan of naval history..could enthusiastically deliver his points and held you in his palm. James Dawson

"Eric was a larger than life figure in our business, one of the few in the UK who could talk authoritatively and with enormous enthusiasm about the full-range of naval history and contemporary maritime strategic studies areas." Chris Cavas, Naval warfare journalist and commentator.

"He was a first-class historian who was able to examine naval warfare on both a strategic and tactical level." Evren Mercan

"An absolute giant and a genuinely decent person." Ray Giggs

"Eric, my teacher, my mentor and my second dad, I will miss you. I hope you’re in the company of Corbett and Mahan; talking sea lines of communication and being the genius you are, just in another space and time." Rebecca Brown

A loss to the world of Navy affairs. Ninad Sheth, Journalist


"Energy, Enthusiasm, Eccentricity" (Michael Burt)

There have been various remarks made on social media about bright waistcoats and bow ties. Eric Grove had a penchant for vivid hues, and inspired several men, including Michael Codner, "to wear a brightly coloured bow tie at a conference."

A 'Butterfly' bow tie | Image Credit: Wualex~commonswiki, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Known for his trademark bow tie. King's Laughton Unit

Many tributes spoke about Eric Grove's compassionate nature. Simon Anglim tweeted "Eric was one of the first to make me believe I could be a 'proper' historian. He was a very kind man among everything else."

A 'Bilgepumps' podcast presenter also acknowledged Eric Grove's kindness. He recalled Eric attending an academic conference where the food was particularly pathetic. Apparently, the organiser said "we have vol au vents" and Eric's response was along the lines of "those aren't even bite-sized". He rounded up all the PhD students saying "you're all hungry aren't you? Yes! And you are all having to stay in a hotel as well. Then don't worry, foods on me. Come on, come on, we're going for pizza, I am not having you starving!" 

He always had time for people. Didn’t matter if you were First Sea Lord or a Leading Seaman he was always willing to help. Behavioural Conflict

Peter Elliott chaired a lecture that Eric Grove gave to The Royal Aeronautical Society on the Naval Wing of the RFC. "Due to a misunderstanding, he went to the wrong venue, so there was something of a delay, but the lecture - given with much enthusiasm - was well worth the wait."

Great company at a mess dinner. Jamieson Stride

Nicholas Bassett, a former Royal Navy Weapon Engineer met Eric Grove in October 2016, at a Royal Navy Trafalgar Night dinner in Portsmouth. "Very sad at the passing of Professor Eric Groves. An encyclopaedia of naval and maritime knowledge. I enjoyed a good port-laden conversation (he and I) at 1am in the Wardroom on HMS Excellent, on all things Royal Navy and current military politics. Eric, you will be missed."

When you mixed alcohol with Eric, invariably he would spontaneously sing 'Rule Britannia'. His step-daughter recalled it didn't matter where he was. He sang at his wedding and often after a glass or two at a family meal in the local Chinese restaurant. Naturally, Eric was an accomplished countertenor. As a young man, he had been a member of the choir at St Andrews Cathedral in Aberdeen. Michael Codner recalled how he and Eric had sung together in an unusual venue. "I remember joining him once after a conference in Norway at Oslo Airport: we sang Henry Purcell's 'Sound the Trumpet' as a duet to the amusement of crowds. He far outdid me in his high pitch."

We lost Prince Philip last week. Eric Gove this week. Please can someone wrap Andrew Lambert in bubble wrap! Bilgepumps Podcast

A good Death?

Dissection of a human cheek from Gray's Anatomy (1918) Henry Vandyke Carter Dissection, showing salivary glands of right side
The dissection of a human cheek from Gray's Anatomy (1918). This shows the salivary glands of right side. | Image Credit: Henry Vandyke Carter, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Eric Grove intended to be an educator to the last. He wanted to leave his body to science. It would have meant that trainee doctors would of have access to, and learn from, a valuable cadaver.  

A friendly colleague of mine - Associate Professor Neal W Pollock - used to teach gross anatomy. He taught me why it is important that we need to leave our bodies to science, and how it is drummed into the students from day one that they must always respect and care for the donated body. Neal told me that at the end of the term, the donated body is cremated, and the ashes returned to the family. It is also traditional that a memorial service is held where all the students, teaching staff and the bereaved families give thanks for the lives of those who died.  

It's such a shock. I just saw him last week, and he was his energetic, enthusiastic self. Dr Cathryn Pearce

After speaking with his family, it seems that Eric Grove passed away suddenly in the early hours of Thursday 15 April 2021, possibly suffering a heart attack. Whilst it is hoped this was a quick and good death for Eric - neither his mind nor his body chronically deteriorated - it is an almighty shock to those left behind. Unfortunately it also means that his last wish cannot be met. Because Eric had not seen a doctor in two years, and his death was sudden and unexplained, a post mortem will needed to be conducted. This renders his body not fit to be donated to science.  

Eric's Funeral

"We will all especially miss the random bizarre conversations". A family member

We are currently under COVID-19 conditions, hence only 30 people will be able to attend Eric Grove's funeral, despite many Royal Navy admirals wanting to pay their respects. It is believed that the Royal Navy wishes to organise a celebration of Eric Gove's life in the future.

Eric Grove's funeral will take place on Tuesday 11 May 2021 at 14.15. A family member has confirmed that the funeral will be live streamed. If you would like to watch the service please write an email and you will be sent a link in due course. Eric Grove will be cremated and his ashes scattered in The Thames. 

Lucky Me

Eric's influence has touched many lives. Some of them significant, influential policy and military decision makers. Rosemary E Lunn

In the last couple of years we have lost a number of important diving and maritime experts. As I write this I instantly think of Dr John Bevan (Historical Diving Society), Dr Richard D Vann (diving and space medicine researcher) and Greg McFall (NOAA). Professor Eric Grove was cut from the same cloth - a passionate educator who knew his subject through and through. 

One of the best naval historians! Dr Sal Mercogliano, Associate Professor of History, Campbell University, NC 

In 1999 Matt Groening created the cartoon 'Futurama'. The series featured the 'Heads in Jars' motif where heads of celebrities and long dead historical figures were stored and preserved. Characters in Futurama could talk to these heads.

I remember mentioning this to Dick Vann when I worked with him, saying I truly wished that we could put the heads of noted specialists in jars, to preserve their hard-earned expertise. To be able to get key questions answered, or just have the ability to talk to them. Dick's response was a wry smile.

I wish I could still talk to John Bevan, Dick Vann, Greg McFall and Eric Grove. All brilliant educators, whose breadth of knowledge took years to acquire. Rosemary E Lunn

I was fortunate to briefly work with Eric in his role as a TV expert.

The author (Rosemary E Lunn) working as a production assistant on 'Deep Sea Detectives'. Part of the filming for 'Mysterious Loss of the German Fleet' was done in November 1994 in Scapa Flow. She observed "I am not sure if this photo conveys just how cold I was at the time." | Image credit: Simon Mills


There is an art form when presenting to camera because it is a hard audience. You get no feedback, hence you have to imagine the audience's response and behaviour. I saw first hand that Eric Grove had nailed this skill. He was an impressive, effervescent speaker. I worked on a handful of documentaries with John Chatterton and Richie Kohler for National Geographic and History Channel. Several witnesses and experts were interviewed including Millvina Dean (the youngest RMS Titanic survivor) and Eric Grove. 

It was fascinating standing behind the camera and watch him talk. You could point a camera at him, ask a question, and fluid, accurate answers just poured out of him. He was pithy. He was succinct. He gave real insight into naval matters. A truly brilliant educator with a rich vocabulary and a cheery persona. His knowledge was phenomenal. Eric was a one-take wonder. No wonder he was the 'go to' expert for TV, he always gave great sound bites, and he was admired by all. 

It didn't matter who Eric was talking to, he was an engaging and animated speaker. He had a unique, passionate presentation style and distinctive voice, and he positively fizzed with enthusiasm. I regularly imagined lightning bolts exploding from his hair when he got very excited, because you could clearly see he so loved his subject.

We are blessed that he was a prolific author, but yet again we have lost another decent, proper expert. I regret Eric Grove's passing. He is sure going to be missed terribly by the very many he educated, informed or enjoyed singing with. 

From Bolton to Blackpool

Eric Grove was born on 3 December 1948 in Bolton, Lancashire. In 1960 his father moved the family to Aberdeen, because he had accepted a senior medical appointment with the Blood Transfusion Service at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Eric Grove therefore attended Aberdeen Grammar School, subsequently reading History at Aberdeen University. He left with a First-Class Honours degree in 1970. After obtaining a post-graduate degree in war studies at Kings College London, Eric became a teacher, and he was brilliant at it!

Eric Grove married three times. He married Elizabeth Stocks in 1973, and the marriage was dissolved in 2005. In the same year Eric married Sarian Grevelle, an opera singer Sarian Grevelle. She died in 2016. In 2017 Eric married Swee Poh Kanagasabay. 

Eric Grove and Swee Poh Kanagasabay were married in Blackpool on 21 April 2017. Eric was an accomplished countertenor and spontaneously started singing 'Rule Britannia' during the Wedding Breakfast. 

Written Work

When Eric gained his PhD from the University of Hull in 1996, he wasn't awarded it because he successfully defended a dissertation. Instead, the breadth and quality of his published work was assessed.  

His publications were substantial. Kings Laughton Unit

Eric Grove "authored several highly regarded books on the British Navy and the future of ocean-going vessels". His 'Vanguard to Trident: British naval policy since World War II’ is considered to be his seminal work. The 'Future of Sea Power' was published at a turning point in world history, and is an important scholarly contribution to naval history. 



His 'Vanguard to Trident' is a brilliant book. David Wilkins

Eric Grove "doesn't produce a bad book. Never been near an Eric Grove I have walked away from and thought was a waste of money." Bilgepumps Podcast

His writings always became the references of my works. 

 His work included;

  • World War II Tanks. Published 1976
  • German Armour Poland and France, 1939 - 40.¬†Published 1977
  • Russian Armour, 1941 - 43.¬†Published 1977
  • Sea Battles in Close Up Volume I.¬†Published 1983
  • Vanguard to Trident: British Naval Policy since World War II. Published 1987
  • Big Fleet Actions. Tsushima. Jutland. Phillipine Sea.¬†Published 1998
  • The Future of Sea Power.¬†Published 1990
  • Battle for the Fiords.¬†Published 1991
  • Fleet to Fleet Encounters. Published¬†1991
  • Sea Battles in Close Up, Volume II.¬†Published 1993
  • Great Battles of the Royal Navy: As Commemorated in the Gunroom, Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. Published 1994
  • The Battle and the Breeze: the Reminiscences of Admiral of the Fleet Sir Edward Ashmore.¬†Published 1997
  • The Defeat of the Enemy Attack on Shipping.¬†Published 1997
  • The Price of Disobedience: The Battle of the River Plate reconsidered.¬†Published 2000
  • The Royal Navy Since 1815: A New Short History (British History in Perspective). Published 2005
  • The Defeat of the Enemy Attack upon Shipping, 1939 - 1945: A revised edition of the Natal Staff History. Published 2019

Well researched by one of the best maritime historians in modern times, with some detailed accounts and views on infamous sea battles.

"...watching him on various BBC 'Timewatch' episodes, as a kid, played a big part in getting me interested in naval history."

The Magazines

Eric Grove was an effective defence journalist and since 2015 he has regularly written for 'Britain at War'. The magazine confirmed "was a valued regular contributor...his masterful knowledge and cheerful persona were admired by all on the team."

A naval author and historian of deep and wide repute. Chris Cavas, Naval Warfare journalist and commentator

Richard Hargreaves, Naval journalist posted "I've just finished subbing his latest review for Navy News - interesting, insightful, iconoclastic as ever. I spoke to him every couple of months - he always seemed as if he was in a rush, and always wanting more naval history books to read." 

A brilliant naval historian and theorist...he actively engaged in debate as a member of, and contributor to, the Naval Review 

A great character, speaker and thinker who brought history to life. Armed with the signature bow tie one couldn't miss Eric in a crowd. A constant supporter of @NavalReview and frequent contributor to the journal; we will all miss his insight and friendship." Bruce Williams, Naval Review 

"Eric was a brilliant contributor and was rarely unavailable." Nigel Thompson


  • Vice-President and Fellow of the Society for Nautical Research
  • A member of Council of the Navy Records Society
  • A Fellow of the Royal Historical Society
  • President of Maritime History North
  • First Sea Lord's Fellow


Rear Admiral Iain Lower, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff, spoke at Eric Grove's funeral on 11 May 2021. His office kindly sent me Rear Admiral Lower's eulogy. 

Rear Admiral Iain Lower, Dave Jenkins, Royal Navy Media Unit, Eric Grove, Rosemary E Lunn, Roz Lunn, XRay Mag, X-Ray Magazine
Rear Admiral Iain Lower photographed aboard HMS Belfast for a commemoration of the Arctic Convoys to Russia, December 2020 | Image Credit: Dave Jenkins - Royal Navy Media 

"Professor Eric Grove‚Äôs long relationship with the Royal Navy began in 1971 when, after completion of his MA in War Studies at King‚Äôs College London, he was appointed as a lecturer at BRNC, Dartmouth. His tenure at the College, spanning 13 years, was hugely to the Navy‚Äôs benefit in two ways: it increasingly diverted his writing away from the early topics of trams, trains and tanks towards maritime strategy and it gave the RN one of the very few people¬† - and this is said with feeling - who could keep a class of naval cadets awake in Caspar John Hall ‚Äď Dartmouth‚Äôs famously sleep-inducing main lecture theatre!

And Eric not only kept people awake, he was always thought-provoking and motivating. He enthralled many thousands of naval officers. To us he was an inspiration. His incredible, almost photographic, memory meant that, to our amazement, he could recall frankly remarkable amounts of detail from his collection of books, piled 6 feet high in his office, while simultaneously preserving the thread of maritime strategy.

Perhaps to Eric’s own surprise he developed a dedication that became a devotion to both the institution of the Royal Navy and to the people within the naval family.  In the mid 1990’s he advised a later new lecturer to BRNC that the opportunity of joining that family was one of the greatest privileges and benefits that anyone could hope for and it was one he treasured.

For the Royal Navy, Eric’s has been "a life of service". Rear Admiral Iain Lower

However, whilst Eric captivated us, he was never so enthralled by either Dartmouth or the Royal Navy that it prevented him from what he knew was the greatest contribution he could make - as a critical friend, able to both advocate and challenge, and willing to work for the good of the Royal Navy both publicly, and behind the scenes.  On leaving Dartmouth, Eric’s willingness to continue to work with the Royal Navy was his greatest professional constant.

He also made an impact beyond these shores, building on his year on exchange at the US Naval War College at Annapolis, his international contribution grew ever more significant both with the Royal Australian Navy and the USN.

But ultimately, his first and foremost wish was to support both his country and the Royal Navy; and he did exactly that as a driving force behind the Russia, UK, US dialogues of the early 1990s designed to build confidence between the RN, USN and Russian Navy.  He went on to be a co-author of British Maritime Doctrine in 1995, a core text that helped set the agenda for the post-Cold War Navy and the success that would be achieved in the Strategic Defence Review of 1998.  Both aircraft carriers, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales, authorised in that review, have recently come into service and we all are ever grateful for Eric’s advice on so many of the twists and turns of that particular journey.

It is entirely fitting that just a week before his death Eric was discussing the result of the recent Integrated Review with Stephen Prince, Head of the Naval Historical Branch. Eric was very pleased with the result and optimistic about the future of the Service and t is no exaggeration to say that we would not be where we are now without Eric‚Äôs profound contribution to our thinking.¬† From British Maritime Doctrine to the seminal Vanguard to Trident; British Naval Policy since WW2 ‚Äď a masterful analysis of the RN from the 1940s to the 1980s. That book has a universal presence on naval bookshelves across the globe ‚Äď it inspired very many subsequent works that have added to our understanding, but it has never been superseded.

And inspiration is probably the most appropriate epithet for Eric. Personally I have very clear and very fond memories of Eric‚Äôs lectures at staff college ‚Äď I was one of those enthralled, not just by the mesmeric speed of his delivery, like a naval mini-gun, rapid, accurate, unrelenting fire ‚Äď but by his energy, the hands wheeling, the bow tie straining, the brow perspiring, the palpable passion for his subject as he soared from the tactical to the strategic like no one I had ever met before, or since. I got to know him a little in later years, I welcomed his wisdom as we worked though the Defence Reviews of 2010, tough years and hard yards, and many First Sea Lord‚Äôs Seapower Conferences. We sparred over finer points of naval strategy, from NATO to the equipment programme ‚Äď he truly was a critical friend to the Service but also a true friend of so many of us as we navigated through the complexity of British Defence policy.

Just look at social media and you get a strength of feeling of affection, the respect, the empathy, the warmth towards Eric from very, very many of my colleagues ‚Äď a feeling I know he reciprocated with his generosity of spirit and his irrepressible enthusiasm.

For the Royal Navy, Eric’s has been "a life of service" that has led to a legacy of enduring significance for which we are eternally grateful."


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