Allan George Ramsay Lunn
On the Occasion of his 100th Birthday
In his Own Words
Allan George Ramsay Lunn was born on 16th April 1921 in Newcastle-on-Tyne, the second child of George Ramsay and Beatrice MacCoy Lunn who were married in 1914. George Ramsay was born into the Lunn family which was formed when George Lunn of Newcastle married Charlotte Reeves of Hexham in 1887.
George Lunn was born in 1860 and when he married at age 27 he was already a well-established businessman owning two merchant ships. He sold these ships at the outbreak of World War I and devoted the rest of his life to civic affairs in the course of which he served as Lord Mayor of Newcastle for the whole of World War I. In 1919 His Majesty King George V honored him with a knighthood.
Sir George Lunn had been educated at the Newcastle Royal Grammar School, founded in 1545 and granted a Royal charter by Queen Elizabeth I in 1601. Allan, like his grandfather and father before him, graduated from the Newcastle Royal Grammar School. He attributes his nine years there to his later success in life as well as his early love of music, especially the cello which he played then and to this day.
Sir George and Lady Lunn had nine children, four boys and five girls. Allan's father, George Ramsay Lunn, was the eldest of the boys. For his service in World War I, having already been educated at the Newcastle Royal Grammar School, George Ramsay was sent to be an officer in the King's African Rifles in British East Africa. Following the war George Ramsay returned to Newcastle and became active in the coal trade. This provided Allan his first experience of going to sea when he and his best friend were sent aboard a Danish merchant ship to Copenhagen at the age of 13. Following a week in Copenhagen, the boys were taken to two ports in Finland in the Baltic Sea to pick up a shipload of timber and bring it back to Britain in Cardiff from which they were returned to Newcastle by train. This six week expedition to sea was the first of Allan’s many voyages.
Allan’s father, during his military service in Africa and like his father before him, had gone down with malaria on two occasions. This affected his health to the point that he died at the early age of 49 as Allan was leaving the Royal Grammar School. Because Allan had to support his mother and sister he was not able to continue to the University but had to continue at home, studying for a London University external degree while earning a modest salary from full time employment. He was fortunate in landing a job with the British subsidiary of the Procter & Gamble company which had established its UK head office in Newcastle. Allan worked for Procter & Gamble in positions of increasing responsibility for the next 45 years.
At the outbreak of World War II, Allan joined the Royal Navy as a Seaman posted to the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious which was then sent to the Indian Ocean for one year based in Mombasa. On returning to Britain, he was transferred to officer training at the Royal Navy’s land base HMS King Alfred in Hove, and subsequently to the Royal Naval College Greenwich on the Thames where he qualified in navigation. Following his qualification he was sent to the United States to be the navigating officer of the frigate HMS Bligh then under construction as a destroyer escort in the Bethlehem Steel yard in Hingham, Massachusetts.
Allan spent the remainder of World War II as Navigating Officer aboard HMS Bligh engaged in anti U-boat operations in the North Atlantic from its base in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Part of this service included active participation in the preparation for and then in the D-Day landings in 1944. The French referred to this as THE LIBERATION and some 60 years later commenced honoring those who had taken part and still survived as Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor into which Allan was enrolled in 2015.
Allan rejoined Proctor and Gamble in 1946. During those post war years the business climate in Europe was being transformed by the Marshall Plan and, in particular, business activities in Germany were flourishing. This was a market in which P & G was not active and it took the unusual step of appointing a small team of six experts to examine the feasibility of getting into the German market. Allan was chosen as the representative for finance and legal activities and, following the positive recommendation of the team, he was transferred with his wife and family from Newcastle to Frankfurt to head the finance and legal divisions of the new German company for the next 17 years. Then, although Allan had expressed a marked preference for continuing to live in Germany, P&G transferred him and his family to the head office in Cincinnati where he was given additional responsibility as supervisor for all financial and legal operations of the four P & G companies comprising the new Latin America Division (Mexico, Venezuela, Peru, and Puerto Rico) until his retirement in 1985.
In Allan’s earliest education at the Newcastle Royal Grammar School, he commenced taking cello lessons and entered on a career in music which has extended to the present day. He became principal cellist of orchestras such as the Newcastle Baroque Concert, the Northumberland Orchestra, and a Bach orchestra in Frankfurt. He frequently played as a member of well-established chamber groups In Newcastle, Frankfurt, and Cincinnati, so it was almost a natural development that, following retirement, he would enter the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music at age 64 for further cello and orchestra studies. Leaving the Conservatory, Allan crossed the bridge over the Ohio River with his cello and finished up playing cello for 16 years in the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra until his eyesight failed him and he had to resign at the age of 90.