Sir Ronald Hugh Grierson (1921-2014) was a German-born British businessman, government advisor, and British Army officer. In 1939 he went up to Balliol College, Oxford, although this was short-lived, due to the outbreak of the Secord World War. After serving with the Black Watch, he became attached to the Special Air Service, where he trained as a parachutist, seeing action in North Africa, Italy, France, the Low Countries, Germany and Norway. He was mentioned in dispatches and briefly captured in 1945: he was subsequently promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the SAS. Post-war, in business, he was Managing Director of the investment bank S.G. Warburg from 1948 to 1985, and Vice-Chairman of General Electric Company (GEC) from 1968 to 1996. He was a member of the Arts Council and a trustee of the Royal Academy and the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. He promoted initiatives for international dialogue, including the European Studies Foundation at Oxford University. He was knighted in 1990.
'Before the First World War, the people of Cornwall saw very little aviation activity, but there was one notable flight. In 1913, Gustav Hamel flew his Blériot type plane over Mount’s Bay, Land’s End and St Ives. Since the outbreak of the First World War, Britain was dependent on the import of food and raw materials. By 1917, Germany’s policy of unrestricted warfare against shipping found in British waters resulted in many ships being sunk, with the loss of thousands of lives. The huge damage to shipping caused by German submarines at that time was unsustainable.
It was recognised that U-boats were easier to spot from the air than from the sea, and a number of anti-submarine Royal Naval air stations were established around the coast of Britain to counter the menace. It became apparent that Cornwall’s position bordering the Atlantic, English Channel and the Western Approaches was of strategic importance and an airbase was built at Predannack, near Mullion on the western side of the Lizard peninsula. Mullion was commissioned in 1917 and a number of airships were stationed there. They carried bombs, guns and depth charges, working in conjunction with the Royal Navy. They escorted convoys from the Isles of Scilly to Plymouth and they did indeed sink some enemy submarines.
Later, in 1917, aeroplanes were also stationed at Mullion. Like the airships, they patrolled both the north and south coasts of Cornwall and also carried bombs and guns, and worked in cooperation wit the Royal Navy – communicating by radio. That year, sea-planes and flying boats were also stationed at Newlyn and on the island of Tresco on the Scilly Isles, to assist the anti-submarine programme. These aircraft must have been a remarkable sight for the people of Cornwall who witnessed them during the war, and Wallis included airships and aeroplanes in his paintings of ships and fishing boats.' (see R. Jones, Alfred Wallis Artist and Mariner, London, 2018, pp. 173-174).