Pack's remarkable 13-year association with Admiral of the Fleet Sir Charles Lambe was in an honourable tradition stretching back to Nelson and his two Scotts; and his gifts for diplomacy and old-fashioned naval "fixing" stood him in good stead in his second career as the first Director of the Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth.
Born in Malta in 1914, Pack joined the Royal Navy in 1932, in the Supply and Secretariat branch, and spent most of his early years at sea before becoming Captain's secretary at the boys training school HMS Ganges in 1937. During the Second World War, he served at the newly formed electricians' school at Gosport, HMS Collingwood, and on the team which handled the transfer of 50 American ''four-stacker'' destroyers under the Lend-Lease scheme, before joining the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious in the spring of 1943. He saw action in Illustrious in the Mediterranean, the Indian Ocean and the Pacific.
In her, too, he caught the eye of Captain Charles Lambe, a rising star in the Navy. When Lambe was promoted to flag rank in 1945, he chose Pack as his secretary and so began a 12-year professional association between the two men.
Pack retired, with the rank of Captain, in 1958 and in 1965 was appointed Curator of the Victory Museum alongside HMS Victory in Portsmouth Dockyard, then run by the Society for Nautical Research. Funds were very limited, but Pack used his old naval contacts and experience to great effect, raising the museum's profile by securing the interest and support of men of influence such as Lord Mountbatten and the historian Oliver Warner.
In 1972, Pack masterminded probably the most important development in the museum's history when the Victory Collection was transferred to the ownership of the MOD and the Royal Naval Museum was created, with a properly constituted board of trustees and, for the first time, adequate funding. Pack was appointed the first Director and immediately began a programme of expansion which transformed the organisation from a single gallery, dealing with Nelson, the Victory and Trafalgar, into a full-scale museum, covering a wide spectrum of naval history. By the time he retired in 1979, the foundations had been laid for one of Britain's leading maritime institutions.
In retirement, as well as spending more time in his beloved garden on a sheltered slope behind the Portsdown Hills, he also found time to write two books: the definitive history of Navy rum, Nelson's Blood (1982) and The Man Who Burned the White House, a life of Admiral Sir George Cockburn (1987). He was working on a new edition of the former at the time of his death.
Handsome, tall and broad-shouldered, with a mane of white hair, tanned face, and clear smiling eyes, Pack was every inch the naval officer. But he was also kindly, generous with his praise and always displayed a genuine interest in the people around him.
Arthur James Pack, naval officer, museum director: born Malta 1914; Secretary to Admiral Sir Charles Lambe 1944-57; Curator, Victory Museum 1965-72; first Director, Royal Naval Museum, Portsmouth 1972-79; OBE 1979; married 1941 Eloise Skey (four sons, one daughter); died Wickham, Hampshire 5 May 1995.Reuse content