Commander Rohan Edwin (Ted) Lesh RAN Rtd; 21 May 1925 – 28 November 2010
(This obituary was first published in NOCN 84, 1 March 2011.)
Ted was a soft touch for voluntary organisations needing a Treasurer (he undertook Accountancy studies from 1961 to 64 whilst in the RAN). “Are you sure that you can take this on Ted?” various Committees in Canberra would query. “As long as I can”, would be the immediate response from Ted, known to all in Canberra as the gentleman officer.
Academically Ted Lesh was amongst the top of his class. On graduation from the RANC in 1942 he was awarded “maximum time” for promotion and the prizes for Physics and Chemistry and for Navigation. During ‘Subs’ courses he was awarded a prize of £10 and the Ian Macdonald Memorial Prize (IM), now the Prize for the most improved trainee during the Junior Warfare Application Course (JWAC) at HMAS Watson; and later the Jackson-Everett Prize (JE) for topping his Communications qualification course in England.
With such academic ability Ted was well suited to ably lead, as Superintendent, the RAN Experimental Laboratory at Rushcutters Bay in 1966, and to cross swords with the many brilliant and well known naval scientists there such as Mal Buckham, Jack Lonergan and John Waller.
After graduation, from 1942 to 1945 as Midshipman and Lieutenant, Ted served in HMS Devonshire (Heavy cruiser) , HMS Renown (Battle cruiser), HMAS Quickmatch (Destroyer) and HMS Emerald (Light cruiser) before proceeding on Courses in May 1944. On completion he was appointed to HMAS Norman (Destroyer) for a short period and to HMS Wessex (Destroyer) in January 1945, in which ship he was serving off Japan at the conclusion of hostilities.
Ted and his wife Jill married in 1952 on his return from service in HMAS Warramunga off Korea and near the Yalu River. He is survived by Jill, their four children, 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. The grandchildren have been the source of immense pride to them both. “My word – I‘m proud of them all”, he would often say.
Amongst them the eldest, Hannah, is an RAAF Squadron Leader and was Dux of her ADFA Graduation Class and University Medal winner. Dimity is a ballerina currently dancing with the Australian Ballet; Thomas is a clarinetist at the ANU School of Music whilst Michael (who has a BEng with First Class Honours for Aerospace Engineering from RMIT) graduated from the Naval College as a Sub Lieutenant three days after Ted died. For many months prior, attendance at Michael’s graduation has been Ted›s dearest wish. Michael intends to apply to become a Naval aviator.
Of all Naval postings, Ted had most pride in his work as Director of Naval Communications 1959-1965. During this time he studied to become a Chartered Accountant and passed with an Australia-wide prize for an essay on Inflation Accounting. Then he was posted as Commanding Officer at HMAS Rushcutter (and RANEL) and later to the Joint Staff Communications Directorate, from where he retired.
During his second career in accountancy Ted eventually became the Chief Internal Auditor of the Australian Industry Development Corporation (AIDC) from 1983 to 1990; and the Institute of Internal Auditors 1991-2002. Ted and Jill retired to Canberra in 2002, where he voluntarily became the Treasurer for four local organisations: ACT Legacy, the Defence Force Welfare Association, the Friends of the ANU’s School of Music and the Naval Officers Club ACT Division.
His many friends, colleagues and family remember Ted Lesh as self-effacing, modest, loving and deeply attached to his family. In summary, he asked that on the back page of his Funeral’s Order of Service the following be printed:
I am a Bear of Very Little Brain and long words Bother me. [Winnie – the- Pooh (A.A.Milne, 1926)]
(Mike Taylor )