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Rick Jolly Biography
Rick Jolly was born in Hong kong in October 1946. His father was captured there in December and later repatriated to the UK by the Royal Navy from a coal mine in Hokkaido.
After a happy and sunlit childhood in the Far East, Rick attended Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and then qualified as a doctor in 1969 at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital London. He discovered the Royal Marines while working as a RN Reservist in Malta and after gaining a green beret the hard way (1972) as part of a Recruit Troop, Rick subsequently served at every level of medical support to the Royal Marines, ending his career in 1996 as the corps surgeon.
His 24 years of service also involved two tours of duty with the Fleet Air Arms as a Flight surgeon and three enjoyable stints away from the front line - in Medical Officer recruitment and then in Officer training with both the Dartmouth Training Ship HMS BRISTOL and at the Britannia Royal Naval College itself.
From an operational aspect, three winters in Norway (combined with a four month stint in North Belfast in 1974) proved to be excellent preparation for the demands of the South Atlantic Campaign in 1982.
Here, as Senior MO of 3 Commando Brigade, Rick was Brigadier Julian Thompson’s staff medical adviser but also personally involved with care of the wounded. He was deployed to war in the cruise liner ss Canberra; despite dust, dirt, poor lighting and the presence of two unexploded bombs in the Field Hospital at Ajax Bay, only three of those 580 British soldiers and Royal Marines wounded ashore during the land battles subsequently died of their wounds.
His subsequent OBE in the South Atlantic Honours List was matched by the opposition in 1998, on a visit to Argentina with the HRH The Prince of Wales. Having prepared and sent ahead a list of Argentine casualties, he asked the authorities there what had become of them. As a result, the Argentine Foreign Ministry discovered the truth about the battlefield medical care of their wounded and invited over fifty of them to a ceremony in Buenos Aires – where they appointed him as an Oficial Orden de Majo (Officer Order of May).
Her Majesty The Queen personally authorised him to wear the insignia of this decoration ‘on all occasions’, which he now does on behalf of roughly three hundred British Naval, Royal Marines and Army medics who were also involved.
As one of the very few combat veterans in military history to be decorated for distinguished service by both sides in the same war, Dr Rick was also hugely proud in the 200th anniversary year of Vice Admiral Lord Nelson’s death in action at Trafalgar square, having fulfilled the legacy of His Lordship’s last prayer which expressed the hope that: ‘…humanity after the victory should be the predominant feature of the British fleet…’
Twenty years ago Rick wrote the classic reference book Jackspeak, a definitive guide to the island and usage of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines – which has now been reset and republished by Conway, along with his 1982 Falklands War diary Doctor For Friend and Foe.
Rick Jolly is 64, and has been married to Susie, a retired practice nurse, since 1970. Their only son James died in his late teens of a chronic medical problem. In his memory, along with another local family, Jolly raised £50,000 for a teenage Unit within the children’s ward at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth. HRH The Prince of Wales opened this facility in April, 1994 and it has been a great success.