Jimmy Southall was one of the three exceptional young officers of 6 Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment who joined the 3rd Hussars in 1945 in Palestine, where the 3rd had assumed the Armoured Reconnaissance role in 6 Airborne Division.
After serving as a troop leader in ‘C’ Squadron and as Assistant Adjutant, Jimmy was Regimental Signals Officer during the last months in Palestine, including the evacuation when the Regiment covered the withdrawal to Egypt.
In July 1948, Jimmy moved to Lubeck with the Regiment and later became Technical Adjutant. In 1952, he moved to FVRDE at Chobham.
In 1953, Jimmy Southall and Prue Kitching of Great Ayton were marred by the Archbishop of York. In 1954 Jimmy retired to help run the Kitching family’s Metal Window Company, eventually becoming its managing director.
A former High Sheriff of Cleveland and a Deputy Lieutenant for Cleveland and North Yorkshire, Jimmy’s civilian life reflected the qualities of integrity, thoroughness and humanity that he had promised as a young officer.
The Daily Telegraph obituary recorded his 30 years on the bench, including its chairmanship and membership of committees of the Magistrate’s Association. ‘As chairman of the Teeside Bench from 1986 to 1989, Jimmy Southall knew the faces and names of all the 300 magistrates and 100 court staff for whom he was responsible. Among them, he earned the reputation of one who invariably stood up for the underdog, especially against state authority.
‘Southall was forthright in his views, expressing them without fear or favour. To a line of beaters on a shoot – shooting was one of his main recreations – he once said ‘If you step out of line you will be shot’. If he believed a thing to be wrong, he never hesitated to say so.’ (Daily Telegraph.)
A staunch churchman, he was appointed as a lay selector for the ordained Ministry in 1959. ‘By 1966 so few candidates for ordination whom Southall considered suitable were coming forward that he resigned from the panel.’ (Daily Telegraph.)
Jimmy kept in touch with his old friends and with the Regiment, whenever it was in Catterick. A visit to the QRH mess in 1996 gave him particular pleasure.
His charitable work included raising sufficient money to fund two centres for Alzheimer sufferers and for hospital equipment.
Jimmy faced his last year with courage, realism and dignity, and continued to visit the Alzheimer centres to the end. Many had to stand at his funeral. Our sympathy goes out to Prue, her four sons and their families.