Philip Balink-White (1920 - 2013)

Obituary
  • "For dear Philip, Forty (plus...plus) years of incredibly..."
  • "Deeply touched by the information about the passing of CDR..."
    - José Daniel
  • "Dear Balink-White family, I am sorry for your loss. CDR..."
    - Paulo Colaço
  • "He was our english teacher at the portuguese Naval Academy...."
    - Alberto Mesquita
  • "All his English students at Escola Naval (the Portuguese..."
    - Manuel Rosa Mendes

Commander

Philip Arthur

Balink-White

MBE, Royal Navy

Philip Arthur Balink-White, 92, passed away on 5 June 2013 in Pensacola. Commander Balink-White was born on 25 September 1920 in Bognor Regis, West Sussex, England, the youngest son of Royal Navy man Thomas White and his wife Mabel Alice White.

Initially educated at St. Mary's Catholic School, Bognor, Philip followed the family tradition and eagerly joined the Royal Navy on his 18th birthday. At the outbreak of World War II he was serving on HMS Royal Oak. Six weeks later, on the night of Friday the 13th he was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat in the protected anchorage of Scapa Flow, Orkney Islands, north of the Scottish mainland, with the loss of 833. He was one of 370 fortunate survivors, having been in frigid waters for two hours before rescue. Many years later he regularly corresponded with one of the U-boat crew, each respecting the other's professionalism. Philip always carried a heavy heart for his lost shipmates, as well as his middle brother who died in an aviation accident during the war. Six years of war followed, with service aboard HMS Aurora for the Norwegian campaign as well as seeking the battleship Bismarck. There were also several Arctic convoys to Murmansk for which he received a Soviet medal from the Soviet Ambassador to New Zealand. He also spent 18 months at the Naval Headquarters in Alexandria, Egypt making many sorties into the desert, sleeping under trucks and shaking out boots to rid them of scorpions.

In 1947, Philip was a petty officer onboard HMS Vanguard which took the Royal Family to and from South Africa for the Royal tour. Prince Philip was one of Philip's instructors shortly before Philip became a Commissioned Boatswain. On promotion to Lieutenant, he served in Mine Countermeasures vessels, qualifying as a Clearance Diver in underwater Bomb and Mine Disposal. As a Commander, he soon became Commander of the Mediterranean Fleet Clearance Diving team based in Malta. His team of 12 disposed of 900 bombs and mines, mainly underwater in the Med area, in each of his three years there. The underwater disposal in Benghazi of a 1500 pound German acoustic-magnetic mine was a highlight. The team was also involved in the 1956 invasion of the Suez Canal. Philip was honored for his work by Queen Elizabeth II who appointed him a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). Philip was Executive Officer of HMS Loch Ruthven, taking the ship on an 18-month deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Having been educated to senior Royal Navy officer standards, Philip was the first former enlisted man to graduate from the Royal Naval Staff College, Greenwich, England. Following a tour of duty in the Ministry of Defence, London, he filled the prestigious post of Royal Navy Superintendent of Diving for four years.

The Royal Navy twice seconded Philip to the movie world. He briefly appeared with Sir John Mills in "Above Us The Waves". In "The Silent Enemy", he performed all the underwater diving shots for the star, British actor Laurence Harvey. The movie was about a famed Royal Navy diver, CDR Crabb, who later apparently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances involving Russian ships visiting England.

Following his 32 year navy career, Philip became Manager of the Underwater Division of the Siebe Gorman engineering firm. In 1973, he married Lieutenant Commander Linda Joan Balink-White (née Balink), US Navy and accompanied her around the world for the next 19 navy years. In Rhode Island he was first the night manager of a motel and then lived on and managed the 56-acre Van Alen estate. In Monterey, CA, he was First Officer of a modest Oceanographic Research ship. In Hawaii, he appeared in 18 episodes of Hawaii Five-O, the pilot of Magnum P I and numerous TV and radio commercials. In Portugal, he was a Professor of English at the Portuguese Naval Academy. In Japan, he wrote on naval history for the base newspaper and also returned to television acting. In New Zealand, he supported his wife in her duties and travels as US Defense and Naval Attaché.

Upon retirement to Pensacola, Philip audited 25 full time classes at UWF, read for the then-PJC's TV SAP to help the visually impaired, had two articles published in the Royal Navy's Naval Review, one on his Royal Oak sinking experience and the other on his retirement activities. He was the Royal Navy Sailing Association Local Honorary Officer; active in the Panhandle Tiger Bay Club, the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Guild and the Navy League; a volunteer usher at the Saenger Theater for 19 years; an Honorary Member of the Northwest Florida WAVES Unit 52, having been a strong supporter of military women being allowed to achieve their maximum potential. Philip dabbled with painting in oils and acrylic; was a licensed amateur radio (ham) operator; and enjoyed reading about history. Earlier, he and Linda relaxed on their sailboat in the waters around Newport.

Philip was blessed with a wonderful, dry British sense of humor. A masterful storyteller, he had enthusiasm and appreciation for every day. His kindness and loving nature allowed him to easily make friends worldwide. He was a remarkable man, loved by all. He brought sunshine wherever he went. He will be terribly missed -- beyond words.

Survivors include his wife Captain Linda Joan Balink-White, USN (ret); his daughters Penelope Anne Bloxham (Peter) of Coombe Hill, Surrey, England and Jennifer Joan Harrison (Steve) of Cannes, France; grandsons Oliver Philip Bloxham, 28, of Wimbledon, London and James Philippe Harrison, 19, of Cannes; brother-in-law Bob Balink (Adele) of Colorado Springs, CO; sister-in-law Patricia Anne Balink Taylor (Ernie) of Simi Valley, CA.; niece Kathryn Balink Fernandez (Ron), Denver, CO; great-niece Mary Adele Fernandez, 4; great-nephew Mark Andrew Fernandez, 20 months; niece Heather Tyekiff (Richard), Ascot, Berkshire, England.

Harper-Morris Memorial Chapel is in charge of arrangements. Friends may call at the funeral home on Airport Boulevard on Tuesday, 11 June between 5 and 7 p.m. There will be a brief Memorial service at the Harper-Morris Chapel on Wednesday, 12 June at 10:30, immediately followed by a short committal service at Barrancas National Cemetery at 11:45 a.m. Friends will be welcomed at the Pensacola Country Club at 12:30.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Humane Society of Pensacola (5 North Q St, 32505); Covenant Hospice (5041 North 12th Avenue, 32504) and the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra Guild (P.O. Box 1812, 32591).

Special thanks go to Dr. Knefely and his staff as well as to the Baptist Hospital and Covenant Hospice nurses and aides who all so tenderly looked after Philip.

"He fought the good fight."

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HARPER-MORRIS MEMORIAL CHAPEL
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Published in Pensacola News Journal on June 9, 2013
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