Vice Admiral Sir Edward Anson KCB was born in Adelaide, South Australia. After being educated at Westgate-on-Sea, Kent and in Nairobi, Kenya, ‘Ted’ entered the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth in 1943. As a Midshipman and Sub-Lieutenant he served on board the aircraft carrier HMS Implacable and in the destroyer HMS Agincourt. After pilot training he served in the aircraft carriers HMS Glory, HMS Ark Royal, HMS Bulwark and HMS Victorious.
As a newly qualified pilot in the Korean War, he was designated wingman to the commanding officer of 801 Naval Air Squadron in the carrier Glory, and then flight leader in 807 Squadron from the carrier Ocean. He flew 107 ground attack sorties over enemy territory and numerous fighter patrols; he flew many more, in the Seahawk jet, as senior pilot of 895 Squadron during the Suez crisis in 1956.
In 1957 Anson joined the elite group attending the Empire Test Pilot School, and later flew Scimitar jets in 803, the first Scimitar squadron. On its first embarkation, in Victorious on September 22 1958, its commanding officer, Commander Des Russell, was killed in an aircraft accident. Though Anson was still only a lieutenant, it fell to him as senior pilot (second-in-command) of 803 to maintain the morale of the other pilots .
In 1961, after two years with Blackburn, Anson returned to the Navy as senior pilot of 700Z Naval Air Flight, the Navy’s Buccaneer trials unit, based at Lossiemouth. The first version of the Buccaneer was underpowered and its engines unreliable. Anson’s job, at which he succeeded superbly, was to meld the aircrew into a team and teach them to fly an aircraft whose aerodynamics were completely different from anything they had flown before.
Over the next 18 months Anson continued to develop the Buccaneer’s distinctive weapon system and tactics, and from 1962 to 1964 he commanded the Navy’s first Buccaneer squadron, 801 Naval Air Squadron. The squadron embarked in Ark Royal and was later deployed to the Far East in Victorious during the Indonesian Confrontation. The Buccaneer was the largest aircraft to embark in a British carrier, and Anson’s firm but personable leadership, allied to his great experience, resolved all difficulties; the aircraft gave outstanding service in the fleet.
On promotion to commander in 1964, Anson took command of the frigate Eskimo before serving as commander (Air) at Lossiemouth, and in Eagle. He subsequently commanded the Inter-Service Hovercraft Unit. In 1972-73, as a captain, he was naval and air attaché to Japan and South Korea.
Anson was recalled to command the frigate Juno and the 4th Frigate Squadron, and to prepare him to take command in 1976 of Ark Royal, then thought to be the Navy’s last fixed-wing carrier; when her Buccaneers launched for the final time, Anson flagged them off from the flight deck.
After promotion to rear-admiral in 1980 he became flag officer Naval Air Command at Yeovilton. He was promoted to vice-admiral in 1982 and appointed chief of staff to the Commander-in-Chief Fleet at fleet headquarters at Northwood. On his retirement from the Navy, Anson had flown 2,700 hours in scores of aircraft from biplane to fast jet, and made 571 deck launches and 534 deck landings.
After a spell with BAe at its Filton headquarters, he was made president of BAe’s civil aircraft division in the United States.