Tom Towndrow was the second of the seven sons of Austin Octavia Towndrow of Barnes.

Educated at East Sheen county school he worked in the town clerk's department of Barnes Borough Council until the beginning of World War II.

An outstanding and enthusiastic member of the Mortlake Sea Scouts, one of the first sea scout groups in the country, by 1940 he was the group's senior scout leader.

He had been very active in the refitting and skippering of the group's ex-naval pinnace Minotaur and when the admiralty called on all available small craft owners to help with the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk, he took the 45ft boat down the Thames and across the Channel to the beaches.

He recalled having to restrain a crew member from engaging a German fighter plane with his rifle and thereby inviting massive retribution.

Following several cross-channel trips to bring back troops, Mr Towndrow and the Minotaur were taken into naval service, as part of the east coast patrol.

Commissioned into the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) he enjoyed a variety of postings, including acting as secretary to the captain of the French battleship Paris in Plymouth, before being appointed as a Royal Navy liaison officer on a Free French submarine, La Sultane, based at Oran, North Africa.

He always maintained the submarine's drinking water tank was filled with red wine.

Clandestine landings of agents in occupied France was hazardous work and La Sultane experienced a number of enemy attacks requiring submerging to dangerous depths. For his service in the French Navy, Mr Towndrow was awarded the Croix de Guerre.

After the war he returned to local council work. In 1948 he married Vi Lindley and with his stepson Michael set up home at Bexley in Kent.

The next few years were hectic as daughters Sue and Tricia arrived, he qualified as a solicitor and ran the local sea scout troop.

He went on to hold local government appointments in Maidenhead, Windsor and finally Frome where he became town clerk.

In retirement he served as a local government ombudsman.

Following Vi's death in 1975 he moved to Lymington in Hampshire.

Thomas Austin Towndrow, Croix de Guerre, solicitor, was born on October 6, 1914. He died on September 4, aged 91.