Brigadier James Rucker died peacefully on 13th July 2010 after a rare illness borne with great courage.
In the summer of 1973, Major General Howard Dobson, Colonel of the Regiment, wrote to introduce the next Commanding Officer. There was, at that time, no QOH officer selected for promotion or qualified for command so an import was necessary.
General Pat wrote of his great pleasure in having identified and selected a highly suitable officer, namely James Rucker of 5 Innis DG, a talented, capable and charming officer who together with his wife Caroline would, he felt, fit perfectly into the ways, style and culture of QOH. How prophetic and perceptive he was.
James was born in May 1936 in Kent and his father was a well known figure in the City being a partner in the family firm of commodity brokers. In 1940 the family moved to Ashmore in Dorset where James grew up loving life, sport and the countryside.
After Charterhouse, James was first commissioned in 1955 and spent his two years’ National Service with the 12th Lancers in BAOR. After this, he spent a further two years in the City with the family firm but found it not to his liking and in 1959 rejoined the army.
By then, however, 12th Lancers had amalgamated and 9/12th Lancers were oversubscribed. He, therefore, accepted a regular commission in the Skins with whom he was to serve in BAOR, UK, Libya and Cyprus.
He always played a very active role in his new regiment, displaying talent for command and sporting prowess. He was a good cricketer and hockey player. He also rode and played polo. During this period he was a student at the Army Staff College, later serving in the MOD. He finished his time with 5 Innis DG as Second in Command.
In 1963, whilst an instructor at the RAC D&M School, he married Caroline and they had three children; Sara, Rupert and Jeremy. James and Caroline joined QOH in Hohne in 1974 and immediately showed their enthusiasm, warmth and ability. They soon became familiar with all aspects of regimental life and James made good judgements as to its future.
He took his battle group to Suffield in Canada where QOH gave a very good account of themselves as an armoured manoeuvre and firepower organisation. He then brought the regiment back to UK, with squadrons in Lulworth, Bovington and Warminster.
Apart from the support of all forms of armoured and tactical training, the regiment helped manage Open Days including tank battles for the general public and the design and implementation of the first physical security scheme for the RAC Centre. At this time James travelled extensively, played sports, entertained and hunted.
James and Caroline made excellent hosts. On one occasion, marking the visit of The Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Caroline allocated her two guest rooms, one for the Mayor and his wife and the other for General Pat and Bar. The Ruckers remained totally unruffled when, on entering the house, the Lady Mayoress said “Oh I don’t share a room with him. He’s my brother” A quick reshuffle resulted. Only the children were inconvenienced!
James also, as the regimental highlight of 1975, hosted a Royal visit to the Regiment by Queen Elizabeth, Colonel in Chief. For once, albeit briefly, he had his whole regiment together again and an excellent display was put on in Bovington Camp. The Queen Mother appreciated her Commanding Officer but not so one of her corgis, which rumour had it, nipped his ankles during a visit he made to Clarence House.
In 1976, James took QOH back to Detmold before handing over a well-trained and highly spirited, BAOR-based, Chieftain-equipped regiment.
His next posting was as a DS at Staff College Camberley, then on to be Colonel GS to DRAC. He was next promoted to Brigadier and appointed CRAC in Bielefeld in command of corps reconnaissance. The appointment was also as BRAC 1 (BR) Corps with many responsibilities for all RAC regiments in BAOR.
In 1984 he attended RCDS (the future Generals’ course) and the family were able to return to the family home in Ashmore. A year later however, James was head hunted from the army by NAAFI to be its Managing Director and he remained there for a eight years.
On joining what then was a very large and complex business, he had much to absorb before setting his own stamp on the organisation. This he did whilst keeping the respect of employees and fellow directors, many of whom had over thirty years experience within the company. They liked him for his high intelligence, ease of command and above all else his personality.
James, frequently accompanied by Caroline, travelled world wide to visit his NAAFI outposts and became very widely experienced with the work being undertaken by all three services.
During this time he became Colonel of the Regiment, a position he held until amalgamation in 1993. Every time he visited, his enjoyment of life, sense of fun and tolerance were always evident and he enjoyed great success with officer recruiting. It was also at this time that son Rupert joined QOH as an officer, something that both James and Rupert greatly enjoyed.
In short, he was a man of great integrity and his loyalty was total. Warm, sincere and generous, he always found time to help others and his wise counsel was frequently sought.
He will be greatly missed by his very wide circle of friends.