WALTER DRAX, the father of South Dorset MP Richard Drax and the former High Sheriff of Dorset, has died at the age of 89.

Henry Walter Plunkett-Ernle-Erle-Drax, also known as Wol, passed away on July 4. His family have owned Charborough Park north of Wareham for many centuries.

The youngest of five children and the only son of Admiral the Hon. Sir Reginald and Lady Plunkett-Ernle-Erle- Drax, Mr Drax was born at Charborough in 1928. He spent his early childhood with his parents, first in Bermuda where his father was Commander-in-Chief at the America and West Indies Station, and then at Devonport, Plymouth where again his father was Commander-in-Chief.

"He then attended West Hill prep school in Titchfield, Fareham. When war broke out in 1939 the school was evacuated to Atlantic House, Polzeath in Cornwall," said Richard Drax.

From 1941-45 Mr Drax was a cadet at the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth and served on HMS Hotspur on anti submarine patrol off France. He then went on training cruiser HMS Frobisher for a three month cruise around Britain.

In 1946 he joined the battleship HMS Anson as midshipman in Sydney, Australia, which included a two week holiday on a sheep station in the Blue Mountains on the Murrumbidgee River.

"In November of that year he went to Tokyo in the Anson, and then Kure in Japan and saw the remains of Hiroshima where the first of two atom bombs, the second on Nagasaki, was dropped on the orders of the US president Harry Truman in 1945 to force Japan to surrender and end the Second World War," said Richard.

Between 1947- 49 Mr Drax attended a sub-lieutenants' course where he learnt to fly in Tiger Moth biplanes and went solo after only five hours dual flying. He acquired an 'A' licence to fly and volunteered for the Fleet Air Arm before switching to the regular service.

During the 1950s Mr Drax served on the frigate HMS Burghead Bay in the West Indies, served three months in the Reserve Fleet at Chatham and was the First Lieutenant of the minesweeper HMS Rattlesnake. He was the Navigating Officer of the battle class destroyer Cadiz with Commander John Bush DSC in the 5th Destroyer Squadron. He also served on the cruiser HMS Sheffield and the frigate HMS Hound during the cod war with Iceland. He was the Navigating Officer on HMS Virago in the Joint Warfare Squadron based at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and was the Flag Lieutenant to Vice Admiral Sir Edward Evans-Lombe in Oslo, Norway.

In 1957 Mr Drax married Pamela Weeks, daughter of Lord Weeks, chairman of Vickers Armstrong, and they had sons Richard, Jeremy, Charles, Mark and Edward.

He then served on HMS Scorpion and HMS Bulwark, and was a member of the Joint Services Exercise Planning Team for Commanders-in-Chief Committee West of Suez at the headquarters in Wilton, Wiltshire.

"In 1968 he retired from the Royal Navy to run Charborough estate after the death of his father the year before," said Richard.

Mr Drax was a member of the South Dorset Hunt from 1965-75 and was director of the Outward Bound School in Devon from 1970 until it closed five years later. He was also on the board of visitors at Guys Marsh, Shaftesbury from 1969-88.

He was a governor at Canford School for 27 years from 1971 until 1998 and was accepted an honorary member of the Old Canfordian Society three years earlier. He was also a governor at Milton Abbey School for 33 years from 1968-2001.

In 1971 Mr Drax became a magistrate and joined the Juvenile Panel of the Wareham bench two years later. In 1982 he became deputy chairman and chairman in 1991 of Wareham Magistrates and also became a member of the Magistrates Court Committee. When the Wareham, Shaftesbury, Wimborne and Blandford Magistrates amalgamated he was elected deputy chairman of the Central Dorset Division in 1994, and retired four years later.

Mr Drax was a committee member of the Country Landowner's Association as well as its representative on a county council sub-committee. He was also a trustee of the Talbot Village Trust for 38 years from 1970-2008.

In 1976 he was elected an underwriting member of Lloyd's of London, until 1994.

In 1983 Mr Drax was appointed Deputy Lieutenant of the county and five years later became the High Sheriff of Dorset.

During the 1980s he was involved with the Bath and West Show. In 1991 he was made President of the Dorset Macmillan Cancer Care Appeal.

For many years he was involved with Morden Football Club, as Vice President, then President from 1977-94 when he was made an Honorary Life Vice President. He was also President of Morden Youth Club.

For 49 years Mr Drax was also churchwarden of Almer Church, from 1967-2016.

"At least two generations of my family have known and admired Walter Drax; my late mother as a fellow magistrate and my late father and myself in various spheres, including land ownership in Dorset, and in my case also as a fellow school governor of Milton Abbey School," said friend and colleague Sir Philip Williams.

"As a magistrate he combined rectitude with a real sense of being a justice rather than a law enforcer, preferring to decide cases on a practical basis rather than deal with too many abstractions, never losing sight of how outcomes would affect all the individuals and communities concerned. He was also concerned for the future of the countryside, in particular the young people who live and work there. I am proud to have known him."

Mr Drax leaves his wife Pamela, five sons and 11 grandchildren. There will be a private cremation and later there will be a memorial service at Milton Abbey School on October 26 at 11.30am.