- By Noel Mullins
William Donald Aelian "Bill" King died recently at the magnificent age of 102 at his home, Oranmore Castle, in County Galway, Ireland. He was a highly decorated submarine commander, a world renowned sailor, boxer, athlete, organic farmer, writer, and family man.
Also, he was a lifelong follower of both the Galway Blazers and Lady Molly Cusack Smith’s Bermingham & North Galway Foxhounds, with his late wife, the author Anita Leslie, whom he met in Lebanon during the war in 1940. Anita was a daughter of Sir John Randolph Leslie and Marjorie Ide, a daughter of General Henry Clay Ide, a former American Ambassador to Spain and Governor of the Philippines. Anita had been previously married to the well known Russian cavalry officer Colonel Paul Rodzianko who was appointed chief instructor of the Irish Army Equitation School in 1928. She wrote seventeen books, including Lady Randolph Churchill, The story of Jenny Jerome, the life of Sir Winston Churchill’s mother, and Sir Francis Chichester, the biography of the famous round the world yachtsman.
Bill held the distinction of being the only submarine commander to command a British submarine on the first and last days of World War II, such were the perils of such a dangerous command. He was also the last surviving submarine commander of the British Navy from the last war.