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07 April, 2011

Leslie Lilly (Photo: John Munro)
Leslie Lilly (Photo: John Munro)
Diesel engine development engineer for D-Day landing craft

Our friend and colleague Leslie Lilly, who died in Worthing aged 100 on 8 March, was a development engineer at Ricardo & Co in Lancing for 51 years. He joined the company in 1928 as a trainee. The company was involved in breakthrough technology in military and aviation engines.

Les contributed to fundamental diesel engine research on the E44 and E65 single cylinder engines, and milestone technical projects such as the development of the diesel 2-stroke sleeve engines, and the Paxman V8 medium speed Comet III chamber engines which were used in the World War II D-Day landing craft.

Leslie Lily holding The Diesel Engine Handbook (Photo: John Munro)
Leslie Lily holding The Diesel Engine Handbook (Photo: John Munro)
His most noteworthy later achievement was the updating and editing in 1983 of the Diesel Engine Reference Book, published by Butterworths, which remains a standard international work.

Les is remembered by a colleague in the foreword of the second edition: “I found myself working with a man of wisdom and a quite unmalicious humour, of determined energy, and above all an integrity that enabled him to assemble and earn the trust of an impressive cast of contributors from the UK, Europe and America.”

Born at Blackheath, London, in 1911, he moved with his parents to Worthing to avoid the bombs of the First World War. A month before the outbreak of the Second World War, he married Mary Lansdowne at St Mary’s, Shoreham. They lived at Upper Beeding, where they looked after three evacuees for a while. Their first child, Ann, was born in 1940, followed by Jane and Richard.

He committed much of his free time to supporting Moral Re-Armament (MRA, now renamed Initiatives of Change), an international movement that addressed major moral, social and political problems, resolving employment and labour-management conflicts, as well as contributing, through its international centre in Caux, Switzerland, to reconciliation between Germany and France after World War II.

One of Worthing’s quintessential English gentlemen, Les reached his 100th birthday on 9 January, with a party at the Hollywynd retirement home where he had lived for 14 years. He died peacefully two months later. He had loved the piano, and sang in the choir at St Mary’s, Sompting, where he was buried alongside his wife Mary. His daughter Ann described him as “our brave crusader”.

John Munro and David Young

 

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