War hero and ‘gentleman’ is laid to rest

Marines bearing the coffin at the funeral of Maj General Houghton
Marines bearing the coffin at the funeral of Maj General Houghton

MARINES recently returned from Afghanistan bore the coffin of war hero and president of the Eastbourne Royal Marines Association (RMA) Major-General Robert ‘Titch’ Houghton at his funeral last week.

Maj Gen Houghton was second in command of 40 Commando when they were sent to destroy port facilities in Dieppe.

His unit came under heavy fire from German guns entrenched on land and despite orders to retreat Maj Gen Houghton tried to storm the enemy lines as his landing craft blew up behind him.

Maj Gen Houghton was captured in the attack and held in irons for 411 days after Adolf Hitler ordered all commando prisoners of war to be shackled.

He was awarded the Military Cross for his bravery and for bearing prisoner-of-war conditions.

Maj Gen Houghton retired in 1964 but carried on his association with 40 Commando until he died on January 17.

Among the 300 people and local dignitaries who packed out the All Saints Parish Church in Laughton were the Lord Lieutenant for East Sussex Peter Field and former Commandant General of the Royal Marines Lieutenant General Sir Henry Beverley.

Maj Gen Houghton’s daughter Lucy Murdoch led the service, and the Last Post and Reveille were played during the ceremony. All guests, including serving Marines from 40 Commando, were invited back to Maj Gen Houghton’s house in Whitesmith after the funeral.

Secretary of the Eastbourne RMA Tony Pitts said, “He was a real gentleman and enjoyed everyone’s company.

“He had met everyone like King George VI and he was very friendly with the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh who he used to go for tea with.”

He married Dorothy Lyons in 1940. She died in 1995, and he is survived by their two sons Adam and Neil, daughter Lucy, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.