Paul Evans

PAUL EVANS, who has died after a long illness aged 69, was Donald Campbell's radio officer and the last man ever to speak with the world land and water speed record holder before he was killed on Coniston Water.

A corporal in the Royal Signals, he had been an instructor in Morse code and radio at Catterick Garrison.

Paul was "Base" in that famous exchange – "Tango to base… Tango to base…" – which proved to be Campbell's last words.

Known affectionately as "the Corporal", Paul is best known for his role as radio and communications man in Campbell's Bluebird team, but in addition to that, his was a full and colourful life.

Born in Worcester in 1941, the son of an army major with ideas of his son attending Sandhurst, the 15-year old Paul rebelled and took himself off to Germany where he joined the Royal Signals as a private.

He fought in Aden, was made up to corporal and was seriously injured in a mortar attack.

North Yorkshire then became a temporary home when he was repatriated and sent to Catterick Garrison to recuperate.

While nursing severe phosphorous burns there, he became an instructor in Morse code and radio, and was so accomplished that he was chosen at the age of 25 to manage all radio communications for Donald Campbell's 1966/67 assault on the world water speed record on Coniston Water.

After numerous delays and aborted attempts, on January 4, 1967, Campbell achieved a speed of over 300mph, but Bluebird K7 flipped into the air and he was killed.

Three years later, Paul married, and leaving the Army became a buyer for a major engine manufacturer, and competed successfully on motorcycles, loved to sail and was a cub scout leader.

Diagnosed with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder), Paul – his chosen charity is the British Lung Foundation – had hoped, nevertheless, to have been present when the restored Bluebird K7 takes to the water later this year following a six-year rebuild.