Lt. Col. DAVID M LIMB MBE PARA (1971-1978)
died unexpectedly on 11 Aug 2000 whilst on leave at his home in France.
He was just 39 years old. He had been in command of 3 PARA for a week, and he was looking forward to joining the Battalion at Colchester when it formed up after its Anns Plot move from Dover.
I first met David at Sandhurst in 1982. He was an Army Scholar and had been at Oxford University. We were on different courses and he had already been accepted by the Parachute Regiment. But even then, it was clear that David was something special. He was articulate, gregarious and athletic, despite only being just over five and a half feet tall. He was also well-read and intelligent. More importantly, he was clearly going to be an outstanding soldier and officer, and it was not surprising that he won the Queen's Medal when he passed out of Sandhurst, as the outstanding graduate of his course.
Prior to joining 3 PARA, he took part in a successful expedition to the Himalayas led by Jon Fleming. Six years later, we served together in 1 PARA in 1988-9 when he was the Adjutant and I was the Signals Officer. In the intervening period. David had continued his very successful military career. Initially with 3 PARA as a PI Comd, he then had served in Uganda with the British Military Training Team, after which he was awarded an MBE at the age of 24 for assisting in the evacuation of British nationals during a coup. There then followed 18 months as ADC to Gen Geoffrey Hewlett in Norway.
David was an outstanding Adjutant and it was then that he really made his mark. His enthusiasm, drive and positive attitude were hallmarks of his 2 years under John Keith and Dick Trigger. He involved himself in all aspects of Battalion life, not just limiting himself to Gl matters. He knew virtually all of the Battalion by name. I particularly recall his fiercely competitive spirit which always came to the fore during inter-company sports, or even whilst playing a quick game of squash. In everything that he did, David gave his all.
After he left 1 PARA and before going to Staff College, David served with I RGJ as a Coy Comd in Germany. I was not at all surprised when I heard that he had managed to be deployed on Operation GRANBY in 1990/1, serving as a Liaison Officer between British and US Headquarters. He did extremely well in the Gulf and he was awarded the Bronze Star by the Americans. This was another significant achievement.
After completing Staff College, David returned to 1 PARA as a Coy Comd, serving in both Northern Ireland and Aldershot. He did his major's staff appointment also in Northern Ireland, serving at HQNI on the Operations/Policy staff. He worked extremely hard during this period, and it was of no surprise that he picked up his promotion to Lt Col at the earliest opportunity. Quite rightly, he was then posted to the Staff College as a member of the Directing Staff. His students thought the world of him there.
David was then chosen personally by SACEUR, Gen Wesley Clark, to be his British Military Assistant. This prestigious appointment suited David down to the ground. It was high profile, very important, dealt with big issues and was great fun. He enjoyed getting involved, and his role during the Kosovo operations in 1999 was significant.
I remember speaking with him in the middle of the bombing campaign, when things were a little tense between SHAPE and the MOD, where I was working. Despite the incredible pressure and high pace of life, David relished the excitement of the moment. He enjoyed the military networking and he excelled at the verbal jousts in which he actively engaged. David was always worth a good argument and, often much to my annoyance, he was very rarely wrong. His experience, intellect, original thought and boundless energy made for a powerful combination.
But for all the enjoyment of his staff appointments, it was as a leader that he excelled. He loved his soldiers and he relished commanding them. He could not wait to take over 3 PARA and it is much to the loss of the Battalion that he was not allowed to make his mark on them.
David Limb was a great friend. He was utterly loyal and great fun to be with. He had so many talents and was hugely gifted. He kept himself frantically busy with his various hobbies such as flying and freefall parachuting. Nobody else could have coped with his hectic lifestyle.
David leaves behind his widow, Amanda, whom he married in 1994. and their young daughter, Alice. He was a devoted husband and father, and our thoughts and prayers must go to them, and his parents, Roy and Olive, and his brothers Robert and Andrew, and his sister Helen.
David was one of the most able and gifted officers of his generation. His flair, sense of fun and bouncy approach to life will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him. We have all lost a great friend. The Army and the Regiment have lost an outstanding officer. JGL
Above article appeared in The Yearbook of the Parachute Regiment and Airborne Forces 2000
Simon Weston writes:
One detail I remember is that Dave won an Army Scholarship to Sandhurst whilst in the fifth form. These were very well sought after and valuable awards gained in fierce competition with candidates from across the country.
When one thinks of David, the mind conjures a full on guy, a 100 percenter. He never did anything without giving it his best shot and this was sometimes quite tiring for those trying to stay up with him. He was ambitious, but he never let this affect the way he behaved towards others. I will always remember his kindness and consideration; nothing was ever too much trouble. I stayed with him at weekends whilst a boarder at school, shared a plastic sheet to sleep under whilst on C.C.F. exercise and later collapsed in his rooms at Oxford, when the Pimms at the boathouses was too strong and the distance back to my own place too great. Dave was always willing to help and share and it was this that made him a true friend. A week or so before his death he called me at home. This was probably the first time Id heard from him in five years. He was travelling up the M6 to a meeting prior to taking over his command and wondered, subject to his timetable, whether he could pop across to Shropshire to see Angela and me.
Having ascertained that he was due in Yorkshire that evening and Kent early the following morning and that the detour would add at least 100 miles to his trip, I suggested we should meet another time, but it didnt seem to matter to him
Whilst at Oxford, he led a similarly full life. I vividly recall dinner parties held in his rooms, for which he did the catering. How he managed to cook three and five course menus on not much more then a camping stove I shall never know, but the thought still brings a smile to my face!
Martin Baker writes:
A real life action man who led a very active life - immersing himself in everything he decided was worth doing. A real enthusiast and an inspiration to those around him. He was fully involved in the full range of school activities and hard working and able enough to gain a place at Christ Church College, Oxford. He was keen enough to play any sport that was available, playing rugby in the year teams early in his time at the School and playing 1st. Xl hockey in 1977 and 1978 (winning full colours). He was more keen on active and challenging sports such as mountaineering and the activities of the Army section of the C.C.F. He was willing and personally motivated to take on responsibility which saw him in the full range of positions including School Sub-Prefect, Prefect, C.S.M. of the Army section and House Captain of Hendersons.
I met David on our first day at Haberdashers in 1971 and will never forget his infectious grin, boundless enthusiasm, drive and ambition. He was an asset to everything he was involved in and his death is a huge loss to all who knew him. I attended his funeral at R.M.A. Sandhurst and the occasion was a fitting tribute to David and reflected his huge achievements and the impact of his personality on everyone who met him.