All of the Obituaries that we are aware of for 2018 are listed below. A complete record of Obituaries dating back to 2005 is available - please contact the Old Pangbournian team if you would like to read any from previous years.
The Old Pangbournian Record of Obituaries and Death Notices from 1917 to 2016 - compiled, collated, edited and researched by Robin Knight (56-61) - can be downloaded here.
- T. Hickman (56-60)
- A.R. Gleadow (52-54)
- R.J. Fidler (44-48)
- R.D. Small
- C.J. Stevenson (52-56)
- P. Broke-Smith (54-59)
Stuart (Toby) Hickman (56-60) died at Lincoln County Hospital on 25th April 2018. He was 75 years old. During his time at Pangbourne he was in Macquarie, before leaving the Nautical College to join Union Castle Line – mv Kenilworth with Peter Fleming (56-60) – during the seaman’s strike in London in August 1960.
Two years later he came ashore and joined the British South Africa Police in Southern Rhodesia in 1962 and remained in the BSAP until Zimbabwean independence in 1980. Forced into retirement, he returned to the UK in 1982 and made a third career for himself in the security industry until he retired in the early 2000s. His last post was as Security Adviser to the Corps of Commissionaires.
In recent years he was dogged by ill-health which restricted his mobility. “This getting older business is not much fun,” he observed in 2015.
Lt. Cdr. Andrew Gleadow RN (52-54) died on 22nd October 2017 after a painful illness bravely borne – he was ten days short of his 79th birthday. He leaves a widow Marion. His friend Peter King wrote the following obituary in Fly Navy, the journal of the Fleet Air Arm Officers’ Association:
“Andrew left Pangbourne and joined the Royal Navy as a 16-year old ‘Dart Entry’ in 1955 and joined St. Vincent House. He specialized in Engineering and moved on to the Navy’s Engineering College at Manadon in the late-1950s. In those days steam was the source of all power in the RN and to gain his charge certificate, he joined a BAY class sloop in Hong Kong. After his boiler bricks fell down when the ship hit the jetty rather hard, it is believed that Andrew decided that Air Engineering was a safer (and probably cleaner) option. So after selection for Maintenance Test Pilot Training, it was necessary for him to complete an operational tour on the aircraft on which he would be mainly employed. He was appointed to RNAS Lossiemouth for the Naval Air Strike School in 1963.
Successful completion of Operational Flying Training on the Buccaneer, led to an appointment to 800 NAS (Naval Air Squadron) in HMS Eagle, then deployed in the Far East. 800 NAS won the coveted Australia Shield in 1965 for ‘Achievement of the Highest Operational Readiness and for the development of the aircraft’s Ground Attack System.’ Andrew and I were crewed up in NAS 800 and we were to fly together for the next few months, ending with a spectacular ditching in the South China Sea when XN958 was recovering to Eagle after the ship and Air Group were scrambled from the depths of an AMP in Singapore for the first Beira Patrol (off Mozambqiue, following Rhodesia’s unliateral declaration of independence in 1965). Several sets of golf clubs and a load of aircrew baggage entered the water with this aircraft which did nothing for our popularity within the Squadron! Andrew went on to enjoy a very successful appointment at Lossiemouth as the Station Maintenance Test Pilot. After the CVA-01 decision sent the fixed wing Fleet Air Arm into near-terminal decline, he took early retirement.
Securing his Civil Pilot’s Licences, he joined several other ‘refugees’ from Lossiemouth and spent many happy years flying for Peregrine Air Services out of Inverness Airport. Settling in Nairn with his new wife Marion, they raised three children and maintained a legendary level of hospitality. When Andrew’s time with Peregrine was over, the family moved south to Chawton and he enjoyed a very successful career with Air Claims, an aviation underwriting company, until he retired in 2005 to tend his very productive garden. The word ‘enjoy’ is, appropriately, repeated many times in this story of Andrew’s life.”
[The same issue, Vol 45 No. 1, of Fly Navy also carries the reprint of an article by Andrew Gleadow, Flight Deck Yarns, first published in Marine Quarterly in 2015]
Commander Robert James Fidler (44-48) MBE RN died peacefully on January 20th, 2018, aged 87. A funeral service took place at Wessex Vale Crematorium, West End, Southampton on February 7th.
Cdr Fidler sent his son Simon to the College. He writes: “Cdr Robert (Bob) Fidler MBE [40-44] died on 20th January 2018, aged 87. He entered Dartmouth on leaving the College, and his early naval career was mainly ship based (HMS Kenya, Gurkha and Eagle) before switching to shore postings starting in Bahrain in 1969 before returning to the UK, where the remainder of his RN career was spent in the Portsmouth area (HM Dockyard, HMS Collingwood, Whale Island and Excellent). He received an MBE in 1980.
“He left the Royal Navy in 1981 and subsequently joined the Royal Oman Navy, as Chief Staff Officer Logistics. He retired to West Meon in 1988, where he and his wife Day became very involved in the local community, and in particular in supporting the fundraising efforts for the RNLI. Following Day’s death in 2000, Bob remained an active figure in the area (still umpiring hockey for a few years), until latterly when he unfortunately was diagnosed with dementia.”
Simon (77-82 also ex Macquarie) now lives in the same village, Ashley Green, Bucks as does one of Bob’s OP classmates Courtney Edenborough (45-48), who remembers Bob as not being the most conforming of cadets, which came to no surprise to the Fidler family.
OP Society President Richard Shuttleworth (57-62) adds: “I joined HMS Gurkha in 1963 in Plymouth where Bob was the Supply Officer, and the ship had recently been commissioned before going round the UK and off to the Gulf based at HMS Jufair. Our Captain, a Commander and failed submariner, was a fiery tempered Irishman especially after a few glasses of John Jamieson, his tipple of choice. He bullied his officers, but Bob, who had little time for him, stood up to him. The rather unpopular man would come in to the Wardroom uninvited, which is not acceptable in the RN, and Cdr Fidler used to ask him politely who had invited him.
Lt Cdr Fidler, as we knew him, was a very competent Supply Officer and was always extremely kind to the two Midshipmen. He was friendly and amusing. In those days the RN had a tradition of drinking which is not so acceptable now and Bob could certainly hold his drink. I recall that once we visited Diego Suarez in Madagascar where the French Foreign Legion had been sent from Algeria to build an airfield as they were not welcome in mainland France. The rather thuggish officers attempted to get your father and the rest of us drunk in their Mess. On the way back to the ship one of their cars crashed and I remember having a glass or two with him on board seemingly completely sober wondering where everyone else was.
I was in Oman from 1976 and was delighted when Bob arrived there looking fit and slimmer but still the jolly person he always was. In later years we met occasionally at Pangbourne and he had changed very little. Suffice it to say that he was a popular person everywhere he went being quietly irreverent and non-conformist - as was the OP style in those days.”
Colin Stevenson (52-56), who died in December 2017, was at Pangbourne between 1952 and 1954 and “was an active participant in all College activities,” writes Ben Brundell (53-56). “A keen cricketer, he was an aggressive fast bowler, a strong swimmer and a more than average student. He had a good voice and was a member of choir for a long time and his height made him outstanding on the parade ground.
He joined P&O when he left the NCP and moved steadily up the ranks. In 1967 he decided to make a career change and he emigrated to Australia and joined the Australian National Line, eventually reaching the rank of Captain. He married his wife Nancy during that time and they had two children, Mark and Alexandra.
Returning to England in 1978, he left the sea and ran firstly a B&B in Somerset and then a hotel in Devon. Looking for further challenges he went to University, achieving first a Bachelor’s degree, then a Master’s and eventually a Doctorate in Maritime Business and Law. He lectured at Southampton Institute and later was appointed Dean at the Institute’s Athens Campus. He undertook several consultancy roles and ended his career as a Professor at the Centre for Maritime Studies at the University of Trinidad and Tobago, where he was highly respected as he had been throughout his life.
On retirement, he returned to his home in Lee on Solent with his wife Nancy and was never happier than when either watching or talking about cricket, for which he had a life-long passion. An impressive career, a strong family man and a good friend.”
Peter Broke-Smith (54-59) died of cancer on January 3, 2018. He was 76 and after time in the Merchant Navy with Port Line became a shipbroker in the City of London. His lifelong friend Timothy Rayment (54-58) writes:
“I took my seat in Devitt House in September 1954 and sat next to Peter Broke-Smith (54-58). We remained close friends until his sad death in January. After Port Jackson we both went up to Macquarie Division leaving in July 1958 when we both entered the Merchant Navy in Port Line. I came ashore in 1961 but Peter continued with a short period with Tate & Lyle and then the Royal Fleet Auxiliary.
After about ten years at sea, in 1968 Peter joined Eggar Forrester, a shipbroking firm in London on the Baltic Exchange where I was working too. Thereafter he joined RB Hunt & Partners where he relocated to Tokyo, working closely with Nakamura, a Japanese company. On his return to London he set up Thornton Chartering, a very successful shipbroking firm. Thereafter he operated for a number of years as PBS Shipping, working closely with a number of Russian Shipping companies prior to establishing Anglo Georgian Shipping a pioneering partnership with the Georgian Shipping Company to assist that country to rebuild its merchant shipping fleet after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Peter was a devoted father and proud grandfather and after retiring from shipbroking enjoyed living in the south of Portugal. On the eve of his 70th birthday he was diagnosed with cancer. He battled the disease for six and a half years battling and was taken from us on 3 January. I saw him briefly the day before he passed away and we shook hands to say goodbye, 63 years after our first meeting in Devitt House. We were Best Man to each other at our weddings and godfathers to each other’s children. A long, enduring friendship importantly nurtured by our time at the Nautical College Pangbourne.”
A Celebration of Peter’s life will be held in West London on Thursday 22nd March at 1p.m. at The Hillgate, 24 Hillgate Street, Notting Hill, London, W8 7SR. Should you wish to attend, please inform his son Tim via PBS@bonobo.co.uk
- V.V.W. Fretwell (19-21)
- Martin Brooke-Taylor (45-49)
- William Percy Adams (39-42)
- R.G. Covington (40-43)
- David Kent (39-43)
- Bryan Matheson (34-36)
- Keith Hiscock (68-73)
- Cyril Boxwell Williams (17-19)
- T.A. Bennett (41-45)
- Alan Willson (54-57)
- Philip Shard (70-75)
- David Hart (49-52)
- Tim Prettejohn (55-59)
- Cliff Bragg (46-49)
- J.S. Shillingford (48-52)
- Margaret Points
- D.W.D. Pitt (46-50)
- Alastair Macleod (35-39)
- G.S.B. Moore (47-50)
- Ross Bacon (59-62)
- John Gregson GC (37-40)
Recently, a researcher digging into the history of Shanghai Rugby Football Club in the1920s and 1930s, compiled the following account of the life of Victor Vause Winser Fretwell (19-21). A distant relative of Victor Fretwell’s, Louise Pether, in Australia kindly sent us the article which is copyrighted to Simon Drakeford. Victor Fretwell died in 1975 in Australia as recorded in The OP Record 1917 – 2016.
“In common with many men from his generation, Victor Vause Winser Fretwell (19-21) led an extraordinary life. A life which, as far as possible, is discussed below. There are gaps in its timeline and many unanswered questions but what follows is yet another remarkable story involving a Shanghai rugby player from the 1920s and 1930s.
Fretwell was born to parents William and Flora on 5 April 1904 in Flemington, Victoria, Australia, in what is now a suburb of Melbourne where the world famous Melbourne Cup horse race is run.
In the records, we next find Victor in England on New Year’s Day 1922 aged seventeen (having left the NCP at the end of 1921 – Editor), starting his training as a member of His Majesty’s Royal Naval Reserve. He spent his first months on board HMS Argus before transferring to HMS Venomous, a Modified W-class destroyer, in May 1922. At this time, he is noted as being ‘a good seaman for his age.’ UK RN lists track his time in the Navy until he was removed from the list on 15 April 1926, still holding the rank of Midshipman. Perhaps his lack of progress was a spur to find new pastures. He joined a company in England, most likely the Asiatic Petroleum Company, as a clerk which gave him an opportunity for adventure. Later that year, on 6 November 1926, he boarded the Japanese ship Fushimi Maru at London Docks headed for Shanghai on a trip scheduled to take 40 days.
He would have been in Shanghai for no more than two weeks when he took the field in his first, of more than eighty appearances playing rugby in Shanghai, on 1 January 1927 playing for the ‘Whites’ against the ‘Colours’. He occasionally turned out for his company team Asiatic Petroleum Company in corporate matches but never quite reached the heights of playing for the interport team playing in several ‘possibles’ teams in interport trials. He was a regular member of the SVC Machine Gunners team (who later changed their name to the Armoured Car Company). His last game in Shanghai was played on 3 March 1934 against a U.S. Fourth Marines rugby team.
Aside from his sporting exploits, there is no further information about Fretwell until a ship’s manifest shows him travelling 3rd class to Melbourne from Southampton, UK on board the Esperance Bay on 14 March 1931. At this time he listed his occupation as Merchant. The rugby records showed that he played no rugby in Shanghai from 20 December 1930 until 31 October 1931. His first furlough (a long holiday, often lasting a year after a period of working, in this case four years) had proven fruitful. While in Australia, his engagement was announced to Miss Phyllis Mary ‘Mollie’ Langford (born 18 Sep 1908, died 2006), the only daughter of Commander G. F. Langford of the Royal Australian Navy and Martha Alice Langford. Fretwell left Australia in June 1931 to return to Shanghai.
Wedding bells were a long time in ringing. Fretwell remained a bachelor in Shanghai for the next nine years! Eventually, on 21 April 1940 he was married by Dean Trivett at the Holy Trinity Cathedral in Shanghai to the very patient Mollie Langford! She wore ‘a trained dress of white satin brocaded taffeta, made with a full tunic, square shoulders and long sleeves’. Victor’s best man was George Samuel Dunkley, a fellow rugby player and captain of the Shanghai team from 1926 to 1928. William ‘Billy’ Neil who played rugby for Shanghai from 1923 to 1937, acted as one of the ushers. The married couple honeymooned in South Africa.
Australian newspapers announced their first child’s birth, a daughter, on 21 August 1941 at Carinya Private Hospital, Chatswood, Sydney. Victor was still in Shanghai, a precarious place to be at that time, but at least he had less to fret about with mother and child in the relative safety of Australia. In December 1941 the Japanese invaded the international settlement of Shanghai. If Fretwell had been there he would have been stuck in Shanghai, eventually imprisoned, far away from his wife and new baby daughter, a fate experienced by many of his teammates in the following years. However it appears that he had left Shanghai before it was invaded. The London Gazette shows that he was commissioned on the Emergency List as a Second Lieutenant in the British Army on 21 September 1941.
Fretwell’s war time activity can be gleaned from a Special Operations Executive (SOE) file held in the National Archives in Kew, London. It offers tantalising glimpses of what appears to have been a remarkable and dangerous five years. One telegram in the file from 1945 sketches the military career of Fretwell. It refers to his time as a naval reserve cadet in the 1920s at Pangbourne, UK. It then states ‘With 204 mission. 14 months movement control CHITTAGONG [now in Bangladesh]. 11 months CHUNG KING [present day Chongqing] and speaks MADARIN (sic).’
Another document shows that he arrived in Kunming 14 July 1944 and was still there at the year’s end. His code name was BB227. Another document refers to being appointed to ‘Force 136’ with effect from 1 November 1944. Another undated document states that Fretwell ‘was second in command at KUNMING office until recently.’ It appears that this appointment lasted until 28 February 1946. The September 1946 London Gazette announced that Fretwell had relinquished his commission on 26 April 1946 and was granted the rank of Honorary Major.
These few oblique references suggest a fascinating story that, in the absence of other information can only be guessed at. Although relatively unknown, both Force 136 and Mission 204 have been the subject of numerous books. Force 136 was the cover name for a branch of the British World War Two organisation, the SOE. The organisation was established to encourage and supply resistance movements in enemy-occupied territory, and occasionally mount clandestine sabotage operations. It operated in the regions of the South-East Asian Theatre of World War II which were occupied by Japan from 1941 to 1945. The SOE was not tasked to operate inside China after 1943. However, one group, Mission 204, also known as Tulip Force, attempted to provide assistance to the Chinese Nationalist Army. Given the information above, and Fretwell’s long experience in China and his Mandarin speaking ability, it is likely that he was involved in these specific theatres.
An article published in a recent magazine marking the 70th anniversary of VJ day written by a Force 136 operative named John Stanfield, also a Captain, gives an insight into what life was like at this time. John wrote:
‘I did not enjoy Delhi. The town was hot and dirty and the work was boring. Luckily I had a friend in the Personnel Postings Office and she, knowing that I could speak Chinese, put my name forward to SOE; and as luck would have it, they happened to be looking for signals officers to serve in China. So very soon afterwards, I found myself posted (with the rank of captain) to M.E.9, a ‘school for spies’ in Northern India, [note: there is a reference to ME94 in Fretwell’s file] where agents and wireless operators of many nationalities were trained for secret work. In the weeks that followed I was given the code name BB669 [Fretwell’s code was BB227] and made ready to take up the job of ‘second in command’ of Force 136 China Signals.
At M.E.9 I learnt about ciphers and codes and how to use the various types of radio sets supplied to our agents behind enemy lines… The training was soon over and in the spring of 1944 I was despatched to China by air over the Himalayas to Kunming. Kunming was lovely when I arrived, and I can still picture the city and its beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Our Force 136 office was 13 miles along the lake at Shi Shan under the Western Hills. There were about 15 British and Chinese signalmen living in an old house there. We worked to India and up to Chunking, relaying messages from our agents. This was a comfortable post, but it didn’t last long as I was soon ordered to move to our forward base in Kweilin (Guilin).’
Whatever Fretwell’s involvement, the sparse information available shows that he was a key protagonist in these relatively unknown theatres of war in South East Asia.
After the war, on 2 July 1946, another child, Ian William Langford Fretwell, was born in the Tonga Private Hospital, Roseville, Sydney. This would suggest that Fretwell was reunited with his wife in September 1945. A document in the PRO file dated 9 July 1945 suggests that Fretwall had been authorised a period of leave on completion of some urgent duties. At the time of the birth, Fretwell was noted as being in North China in Tsingtao (now called Qingdao). Another son followed two years later, this time born in China in Swatow [now called Shantou in South China] on 25 June 1948. (I assume that this was Alan Vause Fretwell who appeared on the 1972 electoral register living with his mother, see below.)
The next record for Fretwell shows him leaving London by boat bound for Freemantle, Australia on 9 June 1949, arriving on 5 July. The record indicates that China was still his place of permanent residence. The next glimpse of his life is in 1959 when, sadly, Victor and Phyllis filed for divorce. Thereafter the Australian electoral records document where they lived. In 1963 Victor is listed as living near Sydney at 6 Stafford Street, Double Bay, Warringah. His occupation was recorded as Secretary. Just after this, in 1965, Fretwell helped compile a catalogue for a Chinese Ceramics exhibition in August-September 1965 at the Art Gallery of New South Wales indicating that he had acquired an expert knowledge in this field. Four pieces from his collection were later auctioned at Sotheby’s in Melbourne in November 2006 realizing more than AUD13,000.
In 1968, Victor moved locally to Mosman Street, still a Secretary. In 1972, aged 68, he was living in Narrabeen, north of Sydney with no occupation listed, presumably retired. Also living at this house was a Dorothy ‘Dotty’ Violet Fretwell, I assume his second wife. Five years later Dorothy is still living at the address but there is no record of Victor being on the electoral records. Presumably by this time he had died. The last available electoral record in 1980 shows Dorothy was still living at the house.
As for his ex-wife Phyllis, in 1943 and 1949 she is listed as having home duties, living at 35 Dudley Avenue, Bradfield, Roseville in the suburbs of Sydney. Victor was not listed at this address or any other suggesting he was not in Australia. By 1954 she has moved locally to 18 Canberra Crescent, Bradfield, Lindfield and was still there in 1958 and 1963. In 1968, her son Ian William Langford, now aged 21 or 22 and of voting age is also listed as living at the residence. In 1972 mother and eldest son have been joined on the register by Alan Vause Fretwell, now aged 23 or 24. By 1977 both sons had moved out and in the last available electoral register in 1980, Phyliss was still living at Canberra Crescent.”
Martin Brooke-Taylor (45-49) died in March, 2006.
Recently, a reader contacted us to alert OPs to a lengthy tribute to Martin published by his local paper the Buxton Advertiser soon after his death. It may be read by via this link.
W.P.C. Adams (39-42; Hesperus) died in Vero Beach, Florida, USA on October 18th, 2017 as we were informed by his daughter Alison Kishbaugh. He was 92. He left a wife Margaret, three sons and a daughter. He spent much of his life in real estate development in the United States and had a lifelong love of sailing.
“My father spoke a lot about Pangbourne and his time there,” Mrs. Kishbaugh wrote. “He often said that when he went to Greenwich (after the NCP) he was ahead of others because of what he’d learnt it at Pangbourne. He had many fond memories of the College and was proud to have attended before the War started.”
Richard Guy Covington (40-43), a retired Commander RN, died on 10th August 2016. We learned of the news from an item in Navy News.
During his Naval career he served in HMS Bermuda 1945-46, HMS Kenya 1947, HMS Nigeria (1948-50) HMS Excellent 1951 and in HMS Kent, Tenby, Phoenicia, Vigilant, Carron, Rampura and Tyne at other times.
He was promoted Commander in June, 1962. He was still on the Navy List in Autumn 1971 but on the next Navy List, in 1973, was shown as retired.
After his service in the RN, Covington became Managing Director of a company in Hove called Technic.
David Kent (39-43) passed away peacefully in New Zealand on the 2nd October, 2017, as we were informed by his widow Margaret. Mrs. Kent wrote: “He had been failing in health for quite some time and needed rest, but he leaves a huge gap. He was in his 92nd. year so had done marvellously well.
Before entering Pangbourne, David had been educated at Durlston Court Prep School ( then in Swanage) and having been a boarder since he was seven, settled down quickly to life at the College, where he took part in many activities. These included sailing, which he only recently gave up, fencing, .22 target shooting, cross-country running as well as being Editor of the Log which he shared with fellow student and long time friend, Tim Hatton (39-43). He loved his time at the Nautical College and always appreciated the values and the skills imparted which stood him in good stead for the rest of his life.
His intention had been to follow his brother, Barrie Kent (36-39) into the Royal Navy, but in his last year decided he really wanted to study engineering – which he did at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, graduating two years later. He then joined the Royal Navy for National Service, after which he joined a firm of Consulting Engineers – Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners – as a young engineer
He was promptly sent up to Pitlochry, in Perthshire to work on the Tummel-Garry Hydro electric scheme. During this time, he became an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and some years later, a Member. Whilst in Scotland he had an unfortunate ski-ing accident, the day after his engagement to me, which robbed him of his left eye, but his positive attitude to life never let it hinder him in any way.
His main interest was hydraulics and so he left Gibb & Partners and spent the next three years as a Lecturer in Fluid Mechanics at Imperial College, University of London before joining the family firm of George Kent, Luton, in 1954. In 1965 he was appointed MD of the Manchester operation of Kents, so the family moved up there, living in Cheshire for the next five years.
David’s next move was out to New Zealand to head the Kent company there and the family had 15 happy years living in Auckland before returning to the U.K. for his last five years. During that time, David studied to become a Lay Reader in the Anglican Church and as well as this work, had been a willing volunteer in many organizations.
We returned to NZ in 1999 – to Christchurch this time – and have a son, who is also an Engineer, living in Vancouver and a daughter who is a Veterinary Surgeon in Christchurch. There are also six grandchildren.”
Bryan Matheson (34-36) who died on September 21, 2017, aged 97 was an actor, playwright and theatre manager who spent the final 27 years of his life in Denville Hall, the home for retired actors in Northwood, London. Someone who worked with many of the leading performers and directors of his era, he referred to his fellow thespians as providers of “the champagne of life” although a good win at Kempton Park races might also have pleased him. With a natural shyness, he tended to keep people at arm’s length, perhaps due to the rejection he suffered at times in his career and to the loss of his family during the Second World War. He never married. A relative by marriage, Colonel Tim Hall, gave the Tribute at his cremation. In part, he said:
“His education at the Nautical College, Pangbourne cannot have been easy in those days but he looked back without complaint, appreciating the self-reliance it brought and some friendships that lasted. Any dreams he had of following his father into the Merchant Navy were scuppered by poor eyesight. Instead, he took to the boards aged 16, appearing for the first time as a professional as a pirate in Robinson Crusoe at the King’s Theatre, Hammersmith at £4 a week. Later he trained at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and then began a hugely varied career in the world of entertainment which was a testament to his versatility, his nerve, his self-belief in himself as an actor and his easy charm.”
Rejected for service in the RNVR in World War 11 on medical grounds, he joined ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association) and in 1941 travelled to the Middle East with “the first straight play company to be sent there, playing to great acclaim in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Jordan, often in the open desert.” After the war, he found the going tough and for a time worked on the management and publicity side of the theatre in Bristol. In the 1970s he returned to full-time acting and began a long stint in lesser roles in film and in television series including Poirot, Tales of the Unexpected, Brookside, Casualty, Midsommer Murders and finally, aged 88, in After You’ve Gone. He also wrote several unpublished plays together with many published feature articles for journals and magazines and short stories for BBC Radio 4 as well as the occasional voice over and advertisement.
“For myself,” ended Col. Hall, “I recall a gentle, dignified and most courageous person, not easily given to complaint – a man of humour with a gently chuckling laugh, of easy charm, a prodigious if occasionally wicked raconteur and conversationalist, a generous supporter of a wide variety of charities, and a proud, determined man keen to get the most out of life regardless of the physical challenges…above all, modest about his achievements.”
Lionel Stephens adds: “I knew Bryan for at least 30 years. He had an enduring charm and a strange affection for the College which is remarkable because in those early days it was certainly a tough school. Once, he invited Pat and myself to see him in a play at Basingstoke, in a very minor part in the role of a butler. I was unable to make contact with him for a year or two in Denville Hall and wrote asking if he was still alive. The result was a phone call from Bryan, apparently holding my letter in his hand. It was the last time we were to talk.”
Keith Russell Hiscock (68-73) died suddenly at the age of 62 in Hastings, New Zealand on 26th April 2017. His sister Carol May writes:
“Keith left Pangbourne College in 1973, having represented the school in rowing in the 1st V111, rugby in the 1st XV, and gymnastics, particularly cutlassing.
He emigrated to New Zealand in 1977 with his first wife, Susie, a New Zealander, and son Daniel and became financial controller for a New Zealand branch of an Australian Company specialising in agriculture and livestock. He lived initially in Wanganui and subsequently in Auckland before retiring to Hastings, shortly before his demise.
Outside his corporate responsibilities, he enjoyed a very active life in New Zealand pursuing his interests in outdoor activities with his love for gardening, fishing and general husbandry on at least two smallholdings.
His funeral was attended by family relatives in New Zealand with his younger sister, Susan a resident in Auckland, and also his elder sister Carol who travelled from the UK. Keith’s parents were not able to attend, his mother being to ill to travel and his father had just returned to the UK having spent some time earlier in April in his new home in Hastings.
In addition to the eulogy of his life read by Carol and Susan, his fellow OPs Rob Hole, Tim Quinlan (68-73) and Mike Wray sent a message of condolence and fond memories.
Keith leaves three sons – Daniel by his first marriage, and Matthew and James by his second marriage to Louise, all of whom still live New Zealand.”
Recently we received the following email message from Phil Williams in Australia:
“In this the centenary year I thought that it may be of interest to you that my uncle Cyril Williams (17-19) was the number two cadet when the College first opened.
My uncle was the youngest of four brothers. His three older siblings went to Highgate School.
He entered the Merchant Navy and, after some years at sea, spent most of his life in New Zealand. He spent some time at New Plymouth where he was a harbour pilot and, during the Second World War, he lived at Rawene on Hokianga Harbour in the far north of the country where he ran a ferry service.
Subsequently he owned a shoe shop there and from the mid-1950s moved to Whangarei on the east coast of New Zealand where he worked as a ship’s chandler. He died circa 1980.”
[Ed Note: CB Williams was "lost" for many years. Notice of his death has never appeared in a Pangbourne publication until now]
Thomas Anthony Bennett (41-45) was born in Holbeach on 29th July 1927 and died 1st August 2017 aged 90.
His son John Bennett writes:
“My father was at the Pangbourne from 1941-45 and then went into the Merchant Navy with the New Zealand Shipping Company. Whilst in Auckland, New Zealand he met Jocelyn Macky and after a short courtship, they were married in January 1954 and after the honeymoon Jocelyn travelled by herself from Wellington to Southampton on MV Ruahine to set up her new home in England. In January this Year (2017), they celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary and have four children.
On his first voyage as an Apprentice (outward bound for Pearl Harbour, Hawaii), his ship, Papanui collided in dense fog in Gravesend Bay, New York Bay, with the US steamer James Caldwell on 14th July 1945. He served on Papanui as 4th officer and progressed to 1st Mate (Chief Officer) in 1953 on MV Nottingham. He obtained his Master’s Ticket in 1954 and then resigned at his own request on 8th April 1956 to be with his family and to join his father in the flour milling and corn merchant trade.
His serving vessels were: Orari 1946 / Papanui 1948-1950 / Rangitata 1950 / Hertford 1950 / Gloucester 1951-1952 / Devon 1952 / Rakaia 1952 / Nottingham 1952-1953 / Kent 1953 / Dorset 1953-1954 / Orari 1955.
“My father was immensely proud of his time in the Merchant Navy and we both enjoyed attending the Conway-Worcester-Pangbourne event in June 2015 on the Cutty Sark, in Greenwich. Dad was a very proud man and always taught us to respect and help others but at the same time not to take life too seriously”.
Alan Willson (54-57) died at the age of 74 in September, 2015. He lived in Devon and is survived by his wife and a step daughter. His brother Colin writes:
“On leaving Pangbourne, Alan joined the Army Intelligence Regiment. He saw active service during the 60′s and 70′s in Cyprus and Borneo. Later, he became a senior member of the Intelligence Team in Northern Ireland. He was required to spend extended periods of time there, without a break, at the height of the Troubles, to provide a continuity of information for other British units as they arrived and ended their tours of duty. He was awarded an MBE for his active service. After leaving the Army, he became a popular and respected member of staff at St Loye’s College, Exeter, with responsibilities for security. It was then that he married another member of the staff. In his later life he suffered from serious illness and disability which forced him into early retirement.”
Philip Shard (70-75) died in hospital on May 31, 2017 after being struck by lightning May 27 while playing a round of golf at the Fynn Valley Golf Club near Ipswich, Suffolk. Fellow players and paramedics tried desperately to resuscitate him after he collapsed on the course and his heart stopped beating. He was rushed by road ambulance to the critical care unit at Ipswich Hospital but could not be saved.
Phil, an IT consultant aged 60, had only recently joined Fynn Valley GC. He was a married father-of-two and had four grandchildren. In a statement his family said: “Philip was a kind and loving gentleman, husband, father, grandpa and friend who will be sorely missed by all.”
According to a report on the Daily Mail Online, his daughter Elizabeth Griggs added: “Dad was very loud, made an impression on everyone he met and made friends easily. He had a joke for everyone. He would help anyone who was in need, and always had time to see his family, especially his grandchildren whom he adored. He always enjoyed doing artistic projects, whether it be designing his garden, or sitting patiently with the grandchildren to draw and do crafts.
Simon Brock (70-74) adds:
“Philip and Iwere great friends since our days at Pangbourne, though more so since leaving the College. At Pangbourne, we were at opposite ends of the long drive, he at Illawarra and myself at Harbinger in the main building, so our paths didn’t cross very often, although I do recall sharing some classes with him. He was, and remained all his life, extremely outgoing and sporty, excelling equally on the rugby field or on the river in an eight. He reckoned he held the school record for the assault course, which would never be beaten, as soon afterwards it was turned into an all-weather hockey pitch! Another of my dear chums from Pangbourne, Michael Duck, also of Illawarra, recalls rowing with Phil towards the end of our time there. I certainly remember as a member of the Sailing Top, prior to our move from the river to the Theale gravel pit, that great attention had to be exercised in keeping clear of the eights, or be barked at from the towpath by Peter Politzer, the much feared Housemaster of Illawarra and gifted rowing coach.
Philip and I often reflected on our times at Pangbourne, and I know for sure that he was very happy there, and particularly enjoyed his time at Illawarra. He would often amuse me with stories of the pranks that he had got up to at Illawarra, sometimes coming into radar range of Peter Politzer and being suitably admonished, however he had the greatest of respect for the man and attributed much of his happiness there to the fair and consistent way in which he ran that division.
Some years after leaving Pangbourne, our paths crossed again in London, and we saw each other quite often. Philip was by this time working in the security printing business, having trained with Parker Knoll in order to bring his skills up to the standard required by his father for entry into the family furniture business. Philip was very accomplished, and went on to become a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Furniture Makers and a Freeman of the City of London. He later went to live in Malta whilst doing work in Libya. It was on his return to England that he became involved in security printing, at which time we became reacquainted.
Soon after this I went off to live and work in Paris for about three years, and then in the mid-1980s to Hong Kong, but we always kept in touch. When in 1985 Philip told me he was to marry his lovely girlfriend Lesley, he afforded me the honour of asking me to be his Best Man. On 23rd. May 1985, Philip and Lesley married; they had just celebrated their wedding anniversary on a golfing holiday to Ireland, and returned a few days before he was so tragically struck down on the golf course.
When I returned from my first tour of Hong Kong in 1988, girlfriend in tow, I asked Phil to be my Best Man, and an excellent Best Man he was. My Mother was none too pleased with my choice of bride but Philip managed, in his inimitable way, to charm everyone, and had Mother on side in short order. He was one of life’s natural extroverts, always at ease with anyone, no matter from what walk of life they came. He had an incredible memory for jokes and a terrific sense of humour, and would have us in stitches as he ruthlessly recounted one story after another.
Philip always took his business activities very seriously. He had a sharp mind and a dedicated work ethic and he succeeded at whatever he set his mind to. He was just as dedicated to his playtime, and loved playing squash, golf, skiing, tennis and even windsurfing. More recently, he played a lot of golf with Lesley once she took the game up a couple of years ago so I suppose it should be noted that he died whilst enjoying one of his favourite sports. He lived life to the full, and left an impression on everyone he met; a gregarious man, full of charm, wit and a very naval sense of humour.
Over the past 40 odd years, our lives had their ups and downs, but for me Philip was always a firm and solid friend. Although he had his share of difficult times, he always managed to look on the bright side, to be positive and to lift the mood. He turned his hand to many things over a long and interesting career, from his father’s furniture business to security printing, financial investing, telecoms, car importer, advertising, TV production, smartphone apps and his most recent occupation as Managing Director of an IT consultancy which he nurtured over the past 10 years and which saw him traveling extensively. An entrepreneur and a wonderful family man, he was married to Lesley for 32 years and was the father of Emma and Elizabeth, grandfather to Eloise, Florence, Francis and Claudia, and father-in-law to Matt and Chris.
I attended Philip’s funeral on 13th June 2017 to say a final farewell. It was held at the Seven Hills Crematorium in Nacton, Ipswich. Such was the popularity of this man that the room was packed, with well-wishers having to stand along the aisle by the windows and out into the foyer. Everyone loved Philip, and he’ll be missed by us all.”
Captain David Hart (49-52) died in New Zealand on June 20, 2017 at his home with his family. He was 82. His funeral was held on June 26 in St. John’s Church, Beach Street, Waikouaiti near Dunedin followed by a private cremation.
David joined Port Line in April, 1952 and obtained his Second Mate’s Ticket in 1955. The same year he was appointed Junior 3rd Officer. In 1960 he obtained his Master’s Ticket. He was appointed to command in March, 1967 and became Assistant Marine Superintendent, Port Line, in London in September 1967. He resumed command of m.v. Port Lyttleton on the inception of the Blue Star Port Line Management Company in 1968 and later commanded m.v. Port Adelaide.
In June, 1970 he became Assistant Marine Superintendent Blue Star Port Line [Management Company] first in Wellington then Auckland, New Zealand. In 1975 he joined the Shipping Corporation of New Zealand as South Island Manager of the Container Services Division based in Port Otago. Later he became Manager of Port Otago.
Richard Givan (57-60) writes: “I sailed with David twice in the early 1960s, and, reflecting some of the of the tributes that have been posted, he was an extremely competent deck officer, eventually Master, was unflappable and was always available for advice – a thorough gentleman.”
Lionel Stephens adds: “David Hart was one of three brothers who attended the Nautical College. His twin brother John Hart (49-52) also went into the Port Line before joining Cunard. An older brother Frank Hart (48-50) became the Deputy Harbour Master in Melbourne, Australia. An unusual family who all went to sea.”
Tim Prettejohn (55-59) died at Cairns Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia in February 3, 2017 following a stroke and a major brain haemorrhage.
Tim’s sister-in-law Alix Prettejohn writes: “Tim was born in 1941 and grew up, almost on the Equator, on his father’s farm on the foothills of Mt. Kenya. The farm abounded in wildlife in those days and though lion were no longer a threat, his father’s cattle often fell prey to leopard and hyena. Buffalo flattened the wheat crops and it was not unusual for a few curious elephant to wander in from the surrounding forest too.
I first met Tim when he was only 16 – at home for the summer holidays – from his school in England, The Nautical College, Pangbourne. On leaving school, and returning to Kenya, he took a diploma at the Egerton Agricultural College and then got his first job.
It was the 1960’s when the ‘Winds of Change’ were sweeping across Africa and Kenya was about to become independent. The Prettejohn farm, and all the neighbouring farms, were sold and divided into small plots to be distributed amongst hundreds of the local Africans. Tim became the Settlement Officer, in charge of working out who got what, what they would grow, where their water came from and legally giving title to their new little farm. The Prettejohn family house servant, called Nyamu, assumed that as he had worked for the “Bwana” for many years he was bound to get the plot on which stood the beautiful two-storey stone house – and held it against Tim for the rest of his life when that didn’t happen.
In 1960, Tim followed his parents and late brother Richard, to the Eastern Cape of South Africa where they all started farming again. Tim was a popular and enthusiastic supporter of anything that was going in the local village – be it Round Table, Tennis, Livestock Shows, and Cricket. The local farmers gave him the nickname of “Kol-Manzi”, as his distinctive walk – with his head thrust forward – reminded them of a grey heron fishing in the shallows of a river. The cricketers were even less polite and called him “Sluice Gate” as he stood so far away from his bat that the ball passed straight through the gap and he was often clean bowled. In those days Tim had an insatiable thirst and had a nickname of his own for his son and three young nephews. “KiliFA!!!” (meaning wheelbarrow in the local African language) would be the shout when he needed another beer, and the young would jump to attention to do his bidding.
After battling against the notoriously inhospitable Eastern Cape weather, Tim gave up the farming struggle and moved to the university city of Grahamstown where his aging parents now lived. With his own experience of dairy farming, he worked for the local Cattle Breeders Insemination Co-op, travelling around the many dairy farms, advising the farmers on breeding, and training their stockmen in artificial insemination.
By then he had become disenchanted with South African politics and – encouraged by his late uncle, Hugh Prettejohn – took his whole family to Australia in 1996, settling in the Palm Cove/Kewarra area of Queensland. Here he started a business to manufacture, sell and apply specialised paints used in coating the roofs of industrial and commercial buildings, together with tiled residential properties. This gave him the ability to control quality from the initial materials to the finished product on the clients’ premises.
Over the years Tim was a proud member of the Prettejohn family and gave freely of his love, compassion and support to various members in times of need – especially to his aging parents in their final years in Grahamstown. Having known Tim for all my adult life, I shall miss him desperately, as will my three sons who have known him all their lives – almost as a second father. I think my most abiding memory will be Tim’s laughter. He could enliven a room just with his presence, and his – often loud and raucous – laughter. Nothing much got him down, he never took himself very seriously and he found humour in most situations.
‘Hamba Gahle’ Little Bro.”
Cliff Bragg (46-49) who died in Johannesburg, South Africa on May 13th, 2017 aged 85, was for many years the OP Society Rep in Port Elizabeth. He is survived by his wife Beryl, his son Philip and his two daughters Caroline Bragg and Nicola Contival. At Cliff’s request a wake was held at the Sundowner Pub & Grill in the suburb of Randburg – “a very convivial occasion of which Cliff would definitely have approved” in the words of Shaun Maynard (60-64), the OP Rep in Johannesburg, who attended the memorial service held on May 19th at Doves Chapel, Randburg.
Shaun writes: “Cliff was at the NCP until 1949 when he joined Union Castle. He stayed with the line for all his seagoing career, gaining command around 1963-65. After coming ashore, he became Union Castle’s marine superintendent in Durban. Throughout his mercantile career he enjoyed a professional reputation second to none.
When Lionel Stephens visited South Africa in the 1990s, he, myself, CB and his brother-in-law Ian Simpson (45-49) held a special OP dinner at the Port Elizabeth airport hotel one Sunday evening. A very happy occasion ensued. CB’s friendship with Ian had begun at the Nautical College and was to last a lifetime. They took all their Board of Trade certificate exams together despite working for different companies, married sisters and lived close to each other in Port Elizabeth. Though obviously saddened by Cliff’s death, Ian was in good form at the wake. He joined Shell Tankers after the NCP, rising to Chief Officer. Later he worked for South African Railways and Harbours as a pilot and served in SW Africa (Namibia), Cape Town and Port Elizabeth – a career he says that he thoroughly enjoyed.
I first met Cliff in August, 1974 shortly after arriving in South Africa after my overland drive from London while I was searching for a job. It was a remarkable occasion. I had booked a one-way steering class passage on Union Castle’s Edinburgh Castle from Durban to Cape Town in the hope of finding employment there. The first person I met on board was CB followed soon after by another OP Ken Anderson (19-20). What fun we had on that three-day trip! Captain Reggie Kelso (Old Conway) giving me free run on the vessel, which allowed me access to the bridge 24 hours a day. Noon day cocktails on the bridge allowed one to meet an interesting array of people, including Ian Smith, then PM of Rhodesia who was taking a break from the ardours of office. In the photo below Ken Anderson (l), Shaun Maynard (c), Cliff Bragg (r).
Cliff was very much a people person, loved a party and was widely read with a deep general knowledge. In retirement, he gained a name for himself by writing many and varied letters and articles for the local newspaper in Port Elizabeth under the pseudonym of ‘The Cap.’”
On Saturday July 29 Cliff’s son Philip scattered his father’s ashes in the ocean off Port Elizabeth – an event that was covered in the Port Elizabeth Herald newspaper.
Tom Woolley (60-65) writes:
“I wish to advise that my Mother’s younger brother Captain John S Shillingford RN died 18th January aged 82. His Memorial Service, following a private cremation, was held at St Thomas’ Church, Wells, Somerset on Friday 17th January.
John was a staunchly loyal OP, as was my father Jim (WJ) Woolley (35-39). He loved playing cricket and squash (and presented the Shillingford Cup for squash to the College). He served in HMS Appollo during the Korean war, and many other Pussery appointments including HMS Ships Whitby and Bulwark. He was also Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse’s Secretary when the latter was Flag Officer Submarines and again as Commander In Chief Fleet during Operation Corporate and the retaking of the Falklands.
On retiring from the RN, John became an executive administrator at Wells Cathedral. He leaves behind Daphne whom, he met and married whilst servicing in Singapore, and Sarah and David.”
Margaret Points (1927 – 2017)
Margaret Points, the wife of the former Headmaster Peter Points, died on 23rd January, 2017 aged 89 following a stroke. Her funeral was held on 21stFebruary at Holy Trinity Church, Wonston, close to her retirement home in Sutton Scotney, Hampshire. Robin Paterson and John Fisher represented the OP Society and there was a large turnout of one-time College colleagues including Peter Politizer, Ian Busby, Jim McBroom, Peter Laverack, Diana Seidl and Don Somner.
The Tribute, on which this obituary is based, was given by the Rev. John Spriggs, a teacher at Pangbourne for 23 years and Chaplain at the College 1994-97.
“Gracious, kind, sensitive, loyal – a woman in her own right” is how John Spriggs summed up Margaret. “My overriding memory,” he said “is of someone who was really interested in other people. She was sympathetic and caring and got on with everyone while being a bit of a rebel at heart.”
Margaret Points was born into a Lancashire family, the daughter of an architect who moved around the country with his job. After attending nine schools, she went to St. Martin’s College of Design and Fashion in London foreshadowing a lifetime interest and involvement in design, theatre and the arts. In 1953 she married Peter and later had two children, Simon and Joanna.
Arriving at the newly-named Pangbourne College with her husband and young family in 1969, Margaret quickly became “very much more than a headmaster’s wife.” Soon she was taking part in numerous school activities including teaching an art class, singing in the newly-formed Pangbourne Choral Society, designing stage sets for school drama productions, cooking meals in short order for the many unexpected guests who visited Devitt House.
In particular, she proved a huge asset in the transformation of the College into a much wider, more sensitive and inclusive school. In John Spriggs’ words: “Her charm and resilience were essential assets in an ever-changing cast of characters and situations… Entertaining preparatory school headmasters and wives was her smooth and effective way of marketing the new ‘enterprise’. She was a key player.”
Wearing a hat on all occasions and always looking correct, he added, were other typical characteristics. “Margaret had an inquiring style. She was always quick to spot pupils or inexperienced staff who felt lost or isolated. Many were the occasions when she propped up others and gave them encouragement.”
In 1988 the Points retired to Wilmington in East Sussex. Here, at Lilac Cottage, Margaret’s love of gardening, love of dogs and abiding interest in the welfare of her five grandchildren had full play. The couple moved to Sutton Manor in Sutton Scotney in 2013.
A poem called ‘Afterglow’ written by Helen Lowrie Marshall and read at the funeral by granddaughter Sophie Daniel, aptly summed up Margaret to all who knew her. It goes: “I’d like the memory of me to be a happy one. I’d like to leave an afterglow of smiles when life is done. I’d like to leave an echo whispering softly down the ways of happy times and laughing times and bright summer days. I’d like the tears of those who grieve to dry before the sun of happy memories that I leave when life is done.”
Alastair Macleod (35-39) died on 13th December, 2016 aged 95. His daughter Jenny McGeachy writes:
“Born in 1921, my father was Captain of Hockey at the NCP before going into the Army in World War 11 in the Seaforth Highlanders. He remained in the Army for about 10 years after the war, reaching the rank of Major, before leaving to run his own nursery garden business near West Byfleet in Surrey, selling rhododendrums, azaleas and camelias.”
George Stevenson Brown MOORE (47-50) passed away peacefully at home on 10th February 2017.
Eldest son of Captain Quentin Moore, a River Clyde Pilot and Mrs Catherine Moore, George was born in Gourock on 21st August, 1933. George arrived at the Nautical College (Macquarie Division) in 1947 and excelled not only in his studies but also in sports and music. A member of the College swimming team, he obtained Colours in the 1st XV in Rugby and was captain of the shooting team. George was also a keen boxer and hockey player while at school as well as an accomplished piano player, a skill he retained to the last.
Having briefly entertained joining the New Zealand Shipping Company, George went into the Royal Mail Line while continuing his Merchant Navy training at the King Edward VII Nautical School. He reached the position of 3rd Officer by 1955 when he was also a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserves. During this period he became a qualified deep sea diver.
George’s passion for playing sport, severely restricted by his naval duties, ultimately won the day and he left the MN in 1955. He then joined the automotive industry with Joseph Lucas working his way up through the organisation to become Area Manager based in Bristol. In 1970 he left to start his own business, Severn Electrodiesel, based in Cirencester.
Meanwhile George was indulging in his love of rugby eventually achieving the distinction of prop forward for Gloucester RFC 1st XV. After retiring from the sport he was a keen coach of various youth teams in and around the Gloucestershire area. He also excelled at golf achieving a low handicap of 3 and was an enthusiastic and regular member of a number of golf clubs in the south west and latterly in West Sussex. In was in this sport that George maintained his links to the College as a regular attendee at OP Golfing Society events.
George met Helen Clifford from Southampton while serving in the Merchant Navy and they married in 1955. George and Helen celebrated over 60 wonderful years of marriage proudly producing five daughters. Sadly George could not recover from Helen’s death in February, 2016. By this time George and Helen were living with their eldest daughter Caroline in Bognor Regis. Caroline has continued to take care of George during some difficult final months, a period George undertook with great bravery and resilience.
George’s funeral service will be held at Worthing Crematorium, West Sussex on Friday 3rd March 2017 at 1.40pm and afterwards at The Fox Inn in Felpham Village. Family flowers only. For donations to Marie Curie Nursing Care please send cheque payable to Darren Miles Funeral Services, 107 Felpham Road, Bognor Regis, PO22 7PW. (T) 01243 828210
All OP’s who remember George are most welcome.
E.R. (Ross) Bacon (59-62) died on 27th December, 2016, aged 71. A news report in the Grimsby Telegraph stated in part:
“The continued success of one of Grimsby’s best known engineering firms will be the lasting monument to a widely respected local businessmen. Edwin Ross Bacon, know as Ross, sadly died in the Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, aged 71, after a period of failing health. His family home in Scartho has many sympathy cards in tribute to the engineering giant who secured the future of the 117-year-old family business as it transitioned, from its central role in the heyday of Grimsby’s fishing industry, to modern day engineering company. His determination and astute business sense ensured its survival and the livelihoods of many of its workers, while most other fishing firms went to the wall.
Ross, son of Arthur Edwin Bacon, ran E. Bacon & Co Ltd (now Bacon’s Engineering) on Hutton Road for more than 40 years after first serving in The Merchant Navy. He was the fourth generation of the family to run the business, which in the 1940s had more than 40 trawlers in its mid water fishing fleet, a number of which had been requisitioned by the nation during the Second World War as minesweepers. The Bacon’s organisation also provided engineering, carpentry, plumbing, blacksmith and trawler victualling services on Grimsby Docks for many decades.
Born in Sheffield to Edwin and Josephine Ross Bacon in 1945, Ross came to Grimsby after World War Two with his mother to rejoin his father, after he had finished war time service in the Royal Navy. Ross initially attended St James’ School on Bargate, and later went on to study at Pangbourne Naval College, in Berkshire, which he often said was “the making of him” and was a wonderful introduction to the maritime world. He then joined the Merchant Navy in 1962, at the age of 17, which at that point was at the zenith of its domination of global shipping, progressing to the rank of Third Navigating Officer whilst he worked for Port Line, part of the renowned Cunard Group.
A dramatic life-threatening experience came in 1967 when his ship, the Port Invercargill, was caught up in the Suez Canal just as the Israelis and Egyptians waged The 6 Day War and he and his crew were stuck at anchor in Great Bitter Lake for three months along with a number of other trapped merchant ships. During the period of fighting Israeli jets used the merchant ships as cover as they swooped on opposition lines strafing fire over the ships at their enemy who were also returning defensive fire at the planes. His crew came to the rescue of many stricken Egyptian soldiers as they attempted to cross back into Egypt, offering food, medical assistance and transportation across the lake.
In 1969 his father Edwin invited him to return to Grimsby to take over the running of the fishing business element of Bacon’s as the Trawler Manager, an offer too good to refuse. By this time, the company’s Lindsey Trawler fleet constituted seven ships including the Lucerne, Lepanto, Lemberg, Lofoten, Longset, Lavinia and Loveden, all names within a company tradition of seven letters, beginning with “L”, along with the Tom Grant. However from the mid Seventies and into the Eighties he had the unenviable task of steering the family business through its contraction into a engineering business as they fought for survival in the rapidly changing industrial landscape on the Humber.
As a representative of the British Fishing Federation he had frequent visits to Whitehall to state the fishing industry’s case in the face of foreign competition and new EEC fishing ground rules. In April 1976, the Grimsby Telegraph reported how two of the Bacon’s fleet were to be laid up. Ross blamed the Government’s attitude to the fishing industry and said: “It seems that as well as letting the distant water fleet die they are prepared to let the near water fleet go under as well.” The Loveden had landed 155 kits the day before and grossed £4,600; but with £2,000 for fuel, labour of £500 and the crew’s share of the catch it left £600 which Mr Bacon said was unfair. Ross said: “We are operating against heavily-subsidised foreign competition which is raping our North Sea.”
Into his late 50s he was also a director and active member of the Grimsby Conservative Club at Bargate. His son David, who serves in the Royal Navy and will continue to represent his father’s wishes on the Board of Bacon’s said: “He was a fantastic father and absolute family man, I could not have asked for more from him over the years. He was as honest and genuine as the day is long; you simply could not find a man of higher integrity.”
Ross married Sally in 1976 after they first met in The Ship Inn, Barnoldby le Beck, and they were happily married for over 40 years. Sally lovingly recalled that her husband had been nicknamed The Black Prince on the Grimsby Fish Docks on account of his jet black hair and said he had always been “her rock” throughout their long marriage. She said he was always hard working and had got up at 5am for many years to go to the Grimsby Fish Market where he would auction fish before starting at Bacon’s each day. She said that he had gained a great deal of pleasure from his auctioneering days, sparring with the Town’s fish merchants.
This role along with his position at Bacon’s made him a well know face and highly respected man on the Grimsby Docks. Son David said: “It was an absolute credit to him that he was ultimately able to hand over Bacon’s in a brilliant position to progress and prosper in the future after some very turbulent times which forced many other historic companies to fold.” He added: “He was a hugely sociable man and really enjoyed his visits to the pubs around Scartho and the Tea Gardens at Waltham; he had a really amazing group of close friends who meant the world to him.” Over the years he had also been an avid gardener and took great pleasure from his fish pond. David said: “We sadly lost him after a couple of years of failing health, but the shock of his very sudden departure has left us all numb. He will be greatly missed by his family and many, many others.”
[Ross Bacon on the right with partners]
Ross Bacon’s lifelong friend Peter Middleton (57-61) gave one of the Tributes at the funeral at St. Giles Church, Scartho on 6th January. He added:
“It was with great pride that last Friday I wore Ross’s OP tie, which he himself always wore with great pride, when, along with his son David, I was privileged and honoured to give a Tribute to my dear friend at his funeral. In that Tribute I expanded on what appeared in the obituary in the local paper and, of course, reminisced about our friendship which lasted over 65 years. Ross was laid to rest in our village churchyard in Scartho. It was this church in a which both Ross and I were married, and where our children were baptised. It was Ross, who incidentally, in 1973 introduced me to my wife. Ross and I lived on the outskirts of Grimsby, about 400 yards apart, so naturally up until the end, saw a lot of one another and socialised with our mutual friends. Every Thursday night we, with other friends, would meet in that bastion of male chauvinism…the male-only Scartho Bowling club.”
John Gregson GC (37-40), who has died aged 92, won the George Cross for saving the life of a shipmate during a torpedo attack in the Mediterranean in 1942. An obituary in the Daily Telegraph stated in part:
“In August 1942 Gregson was serving as an apprentice on the Deucalion, a merchant vessel of 7,500 tons. The ship was one of a convoy of 14 that left Gibraltar on August 10 with the object of breaking through to the beleaguered island fortress of Malta with much-needed food and fuel supplies. From mid-1940 the island had been subjected to heavy bombing raids and close surveillance by the German and Italian air and naval forces. Several earlier attempts to get through had proved very costly in lives and ships.
Code-named Operation Pedestal, the plan was to make a dash for Malta through the straits of Sicily, escorted by a task force that included two battleships and three aircraft carriers. At midday on August 11 the main body of the convoy bore the brunt of the first attack by aircraft of the German Fliegerkorps II, based in Sicily, and of the Italian Regia Aeronautica. An hour later, Eagle, one of the carriers, was hit by four torpedoes 70 nautical miles south of Cape Salinas in Majorca. She sank in four minutes together with all her onboard aircraft.
The following day, shortly after 1pm, about 50 miles south-east of Sardinia, a squadron of JU88s penetrated the escort’s anti-aircraft screen and attacked the merchantmen. TheDeucalion received a direct hit but was only partly disabled and her speed was reduced to eight knots. She was ordered to leave the convoy and try to reach Malta keeping to the shallow coastal waters, under the escort of one destroyer, Bramham. That evening, two Luftwaffe sorties found them off the coast of Tunisia. The first attack on the freighter resulted in three near misses. The second came from two Heinkel torpedo bombers which cut their engines to avoid alerting the AA gunners and glided in from the landward side.
The Deucalion was hit on the starboard quarter; one of the holds which was full of aviation fuel burst into flames and the order was given to abandon ship. Lifeboats were being lowered and the blaze was spreading rapidly when one of the AA gunners was found pinned down under a raft. Gregson helped to get the gunner free but the man had sustained severe injuries and when it proved impossible to get him into a boat or on to a raft there was no alternative but to drop him overboard. John Gregson dived into the sea after him but, in the darkness, he could not find a life boat so he towed him a distance of about 600 yards to a ship which picked them up. The citation stated: “But for Apprentice Gregson’s gallant action, undertaken with complete disregard of his own safety, the injured man would have had little chance of survival.” Gregson was invested with the Albert Medal by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on March 30 1943.
John Sedgwick Gregson, the son of an architect, was born in Bombay on January 4 1924. He was educated in Britain and attended the Nautical College, Pangbourne in Berkshire. Leaving Pangbourne in 1940, at the age of 16, he joined the Merchant Navy and began an apprenticeship with the Blue Funnel Line in the general cargo trade two years later. After serving in the Malta convoys, in 1943 Gregson signed on with the Brocklebank Line and received his Second Mate’s Certificate. In 1946 he qualified for his First Mate’s Certificate with Common Brothers of Newcastle and, three years later, his Master’s Certificate when he switched to the Oregon Line.
Gregson went to New Zealand in 1952 and served for eight years as mate, then master, in coastal shipping with the Shell Oil Company of New Zealand. In 1961 he joined the Bay of Plenty Harbour Board in Tauranga as a pilot. He became navigating officer with the Union Steamship Company in 1977.
In retirement, Gregson lived at Mount Maunganui overlooking the Bay of Plenty. In 1971, when the Albert Medal was revoked by Royal Warrant, Gregson elected to keep the original medal he received from the King, rather than exchange it for the George Cross. Among his other medals, he also held the Lloyds War Medal for Bravery in Saving Life at Sea. This medal was instituted by Lloyds of London in 1940 to be awarded to officers and men of the Merchant Navy and fishing fleets for exceptional gallantry at sea in wartime. John Gregson married, in 1954, Mary Joan Reading in Wellington, New Zealand. She predeceased him. He is survived by two sons.”
- E.A.C. Paul (47-49)
- James Ferris (99-03)
- Mrs June Mitchell
- M.H.H. Evans (54-58)
- R.G. Covington (40-43)
- Dutton-Forshaw, R.C. (41-44)
- Liz Hudson
- Larry Klein (55-58)
- R.G.E. Llewelyn (78-80)
- W.G.C. Raynor (58-61)
- N.R.M (Bob) Lee (48-51)
- M.B.B. Constant (51-55)
- C.O.A. Bindloss (52-57)
- The O.P. Record is published
- Robin St. Clair-Ford (54-58)
- James S. Tuke (52-56)
- Rodney Giesler (45-48)
- Ian D. St.G Lindsey (45-49)
- Guy Standing (61-66)
- Richard Shirley (64-67)
- Lynn Connell (53-55)
- C.M. Felton (23-26)
- Stuart Le Blanc Smith (33-37)
- M.G. MacDowel (46-49)
- Derek Ford (36-40)
- R.P.H. Johnson (46-50)
- P.M. Butterfield (46-49)
Eric Alan Cuningham Paul (47-49) died in a care home in Romsey, Hampshire on 21st October, 2016, aged 84. His funeral was held in Romsey Abbey on November 4th. His son Justin writes:
“Alan Paul was born in Uganda in 1932, where his father and mother were colonial settlers with a cotton plantation and where he acquired a lifelong grasp of Swahili. Following the break-up of the family and his father’s death in 1947, he arrived at the Nautical College after a sea voyage to England on the Durban Castle – perhaps the start of his lifelong love of the sea. At the NCP he spent happy times mucking about in rowing boats and making friends. To the end of his life, he retained an affection for the College.
From Pangbourne, he completed a Master Mariner’s course at Warsash on the River Hamble. In 1950, at the age of 17, he entered the ranks of the Merchant Navy as a cadet by joining the Union Castle Line running out of Southampton. During the 1950s and 1960s the line operated a fleet of 15 ships, many of which made the weekly and later monthly run between Southampton and Cape Town. Each ship could carry up to 600 First and Tourist Class passengers along with a freight of cargo and mail. His adventures were recounted at many a dinner party and family get-together. We implored him to write an account of his time at sea but he was never one for sentimental scribbling. Instead, he preferred to keep immaculate car mileage notes between fill-ups and exacting household records.
It was aboard the Edinburgh Castle in 1964 that he met his future bride. Mum had joined the ship to look after passenger’s children as a “chilly ho” or children’s hostess. It took him just three weeks to propose. The knot was tied in April, 1965 in Hove and the newly marrieds settled close to port and bought a house in Ampfield. Father continued to spend time at sea but the young couple longed to be together. With the arrival of a daughter in 1967, and having risen to the position of Chief Officer on the Southampton Castle, he jumped ship and landed a job with IBM in October, 1968.
Dad’s ‘ship shape and Bristol fashion’ manner was something of great pride to him, so no wonder IBM offered him a job. Initially, he managed the ‘Sit Facilities Space Planning’ team at Hursley Park ensuring that everyone had the exact amount of office and lab space to operate within. At home, we all tested him … brother Nick by running through a sheet glass patio window, sister Louise with her teenage angst, and me writing off my own car … twice. He remained fairly good humoured throughout all our endeavours!
Family holidays were never dull, and the countless annual trips hurtling down the auto-routes of France to gites and sandy beaches on the south and west coasts in a trusty Volvo saloon – trying in vain to beat the Porsches en route to the next toll; sweating as customs officials peered at us as we drove through the “Nothing to Declare” lane with leaky cubitainors of wine – make for fond memories.
Dad retired at the sprightly age of 60 in May, 1993 after 25 years with IBM and started to enjoy the pleasures of golf. In October, 2002 he and Mum moved to Romsey. From here they shared many happy trips abroad and aboard. Indeed, I don’t think there are many cruise ships around the globe that did not host them on one of their voyages of discovery. Their last trip, to Lisbon, was two years ago just as Pa was starting to feel the discomfort of some back issues. It came as a shock when, following a trip up to Cheshire for Christmas, he was admitted to hospital in January, 2015. Four months later he was discharged to the Marie Louise Nursing Home in Romsey. I think he, and the family, knew that this was to be his final voyage. A full life and a loved one.”
James Ferris (99-03), who lived in the USA, is reported to have died with his wife in a car crash in Seattle, in Washington State in the United States, in the autumn of 2016. He left two young children aged five and three who have returned to the UK to their grandparents. At present we have no further details.
We have been informed by Lady Farrar-Hockley of the death of Mrs. June Mitchell who was Deputy Matron at the College in the 1970s and 1980s.
OPs who were at Pangbourne in that era might like to pay their respects at June’s funeral on Monday October 31 (3pm) at the Old Vicarage in Moulsford, near Wallingford.
M.H.H. Evans OBE, DL (54-58), known throughout his life to one and all as Jumbo, died peacefully in hospital in Manchester on 4th September, 2016 aged 76. At a Service of Thanksgiving at St. Mary’s Collegiate Church in Stafford at the end of September, before a packed congregation of more than 400, Major General Paul Stevenson of the Royal Marines gave one of the Tributes. In part, he said:
“Jumbo went to Pangbourne on an RM scholarship and became Chief of the College. In 1958 he joined the Royal Marines and we met on the steps of the Infantry Training Centre Royal Marines Lympstone. From Day One in the Corps he was a cerebral officer who ploughed his own furrow. Yet although life was tightly controlled during our military training – no cars for many weeks – Jumbo, ever resourceful, had a large smart Rover car kept covertly at a garage in Exton.
Postings as a young officer followed to Malta and Aden and then to 43 Commando as mortar officer where he thrived. In 1964 his nautical past caught up with him and he was appointed to command the RM detachment in HMS Tartar, a Tribal Class frigate about to be despatched to the West Indies. Jumbo had got married to Sue that August and the military drafting officer had a perverse habit of always sending newly married officers to sea, perhaps to test their commitment to married life. Nothing daunted, Sue got herself to the WI station.
Following a subsequent tour at the Commando Training Centre (CTC) at Lympstone, Jumbo was posted to the Far East for an old-fashioned life of overseas peacetime soldiering in Malaya in the style of the former British Empire. This was followed by a sobering year or more at the Army Staff College at Camberley. He was next posted to the General Staff branch of the Royal Marines in the Ministry of Defence (MoD), then to Northern Ireland as operations officer in 42 Commando and back to Lympstone to the CTC to train the next generation of young officers. Here he again demonstrated his out-of-the-ordinary style of leadership which was appreciated by many…
Some would say that Jumbo was unworldly, but he was tough and his administration and his staff were always of the highest calibre, witness his OBE after a further tour in the MoD. His cerebral side came to the fore again when he did an MA diploma course in War Studies at King’s College, University of London in 1985 – one of the first RM officers to take on such a project. By now promoted to Colonel, his last appointment in the RM was as commanding officer of the RM barracks at Eastney where, yet again, he was held in high esteem by his General.”
Perceiving an opening for capable administrators in the National Health Service, Jumbo retired from the Royal Marines in 1989 and moved to Staffordshire where he became General Manager of the Staffordshire Family Practitioners Committee and later Chairman of Walsall NHS Authority.
Major General Stevenson concluded: “Jumbo was an excellent administrator – thorough, careful, thoughtful, innovative, concise, and steady in a crisis. Physically, he belied his nickname and was a keen games player to a high standard, playing rugby, hockey and cricket and being a competitive downhill skier in the RM. With gun and rod he was the scourge of coverts and rivers in England and Scotland. For all of us, and particularly for Sue and his children Jonathan and Louise, how sad it is that Jumbo jumped ship from the battlecruiser of life rather too early.”
Cdr. R.G. Covington RN (40-43) passed away on 10th August, 2016 according to his next of kin Susan Roach. A long-time resident in Devon, he was living in The Rise Care Home in Dawlish at the time.
Research into his RN record shows that Dick Covington entered the Royal Navy as a Midshipman (E) on 1st May, 1944. During World War 11 he served in HMS Bermuda until July, 1945. Subsequently he was promoted to Acting Sub-Lieutenant (E) at the start of 1946. At the end of that year he was made a Lt (E).
In 1948 Covington served in HMS Nigeria and in 1951 he was aboard HMS Excellent. He was promoted to Lt. Cdr (E) in December, 1954. Later postings included a spell at HM Dockyard Devonport in 1958, in HMS Phoenicia in 1961 and a second period at HM Dockyard Devonport 1962-64. He was promoted Commander (E) in June 1962 and retired from the RN about 1971/72.
From the Tribute given by Gerry Pike (Second Master 1994-2014) at Liz Hudson’s funeral on July 29th, 2016 at the Falklands Islands Memorial Chapel:
“Liz was surely the only Headmaster’s Wife who was regularly sawn in half?…On a more serious note, how will we remember Liz here at Pangbourne?
Back in 1988, when he became Headmaster, Huddy famously faced some notable challenges, personal, political and professional. But what was just as true was that, as his wife, consort and soulmate, so did Liz.
Being First Lady is never easy and being First lady at Pangbourne at that time was particularly challenging. The Headmaster’s wife and family lived in an elegant goldfish bowl, Devitt House, right in the heart of the College, so privacy and a separate family life were out.
College life was full of potentially tricky and arcane formalities largely centred on the Parade Ground, the fulcrum of College routine. The Sunday Ceremonial Parades were a particular feature, drawing sundry dignitaries, most conventionally, distinguished naval officers. Liz, just as much as Anthony, had to learn the ropes quickly to graciously entertain and generally hold court.
But there was much more to Liz’s role than that for she adopted a much higher profile in College life generally.
She was mistress of ceremonies in the charm offensive to woo prep school headmasters and to recruit dynamic, personable young staff. Liz and Ant were an indivisible team sharing the vision that Devitt would become the hub of a vibrant life which would socially bond together the whole College community. Hospitality came centrestage as Mrs.Hudson’s soirees, dinners, drinks parties and events launched an exhilarating social round. This was not junketing: it had the strategic aim of bringing everyone here together in a relaxed, happy atmosphere, reinforcing the sense of common purpose and trust and embodying an inclusive, caring ethos.
Of course it had the effect of blurring the boundaries between any personal life and the life of the College. You needed remarkable stamina to work hard and play hard 24/7 but if staff at least had the holidays in which to recover, for the Hudsons it seemed to encompass 365 days of the year. Even when in Cornwall or France, they were never hands-off. “Total Immersion” one colleague called it.
It was a truly dedicated and demanding lifestyle, especially for an unpaid wife who had a family to look after. Indeed, the Hudson Project simply could not have worked without Liz’s unique personality and natural social skills. We all recall her as the moving spirit at Devitt gatherings, her joie de vivre lighting up the room as she fluttered around, making sure everyone mingled. Liz had that rare gift for treating everyone as individuals and she could relate to anyone, irrespective of rank, reputation, lifestyle, or background. This was an accomplishment rather than an act: she was always entertaining company: vivacious, engaging, occasionally irreverent and indiscrete. Not only were her events huge fun but you usually encountered someone interesting, perhaps some notable actor, politician or author. Truly Pangbourne felt a glamorous part of the zeitgeist.
Liz’s prominent public role showcased rather than diluted her character: her essential authenticity most strikingly apparent when welcoming visitors. Whether she was charming royalty, Prime Ministers, millionaires, anxious parents, nervous children or any of the unpredictable succession of people who appeared daily in Devitt Hall, Liz was entirely natural. While Anthony agonised about ticklish matters of manners and etiquette, Liz simply smiled warmly and put everyone at their ease.
Liz’s care for everyone on campus was equally genuine. She knew all staff by name, not just teachers, but those who worked in the kitchens, in the offices, in the houses or on the estate. She chatted amiably to all of them and knew of their families, their issues, their lives. This engendered huge personal loyalty to Liz and some of the support staff, like Sheila and Charlie Conroy, became devoted and life-long friends. Liz was particularly good at looking after College women, softening the brusquely masculine life here. Most memorably, she began to hold stylish Lady Hamilton Nights to ensure that all the partners on campus who could not attend the annual Trafalgar Dinner had their own parallel celebration.
We all knew that Liz was not an extension of Anthony. Though always elegantly decorative, she was the opposite of what would today be called a trophy wife. Yet her outgoing and lively personality wholly complemented Anthony’s and this made them a remarkable duo. She had steel as well as charm. When he was pessimistic and apologetic, she would be positive and forthright, when he temporised, she was quietly decisive. She could also be physically brave: she flew a Tiger Moth on White’s Field when he had an absolute terror of flying. She joined the College Expedition to Greenland in 1990, sharing the experiences and privations of students. Her courage was never more apparent than when she became seriously ill. She refused to let it govern her life, compromise her care for Anthony or her enjoyment of family and friends.
For Liz’s personal values incorporated an instinctive selflessness: she never pulled rank or place: typically when the Queen opened the Falklands Chapel in 2000 Liz resolved a potentially embarassing last-minute mix-up over placing, by quietly giving up her VIP seat without being asked. Liz’s Christian faith was equally unshowy: she never talked, still less pontificated, about duty or morality, she would simply do the right thing.
At a personal level Liz never lost the twinkle in her eye or her delight in surprising or teasing you. A great conversationalist, her stories could be dizzyingly lateral, as she spontaneously mingled three or four separate narratives, apparently assuming all the while that you already knew most of the characters involved. At the conclusion you frequently felt that you had been on a fascinating journey but you weren’t always quite sure where.
Without Liz, Anthony would have been less than half the great Headmaster he was. Of course she gave him her devoted support but it was all the more valuable for being intelligent and not always uncritical support. In private she could say the unsayable and, I suspect, frequently did. Nor would it ever have occurred to her to expect recognition: it was simply part of their unique dynamic.
She it was who would run him a hot bath and rub his back after a particularly bloody Governors’ Meeting. She it was who memorably smuggled him away via Piggeries when the press lay siege to Devitt in pursuit of some scandal, Liz it was who held him close through the dark nights of trial by media. Liz who bolstered his heroic resilience not just to survive the tribulations but to see their mission through at Pangbourne by building this great Chapel.
Looking back, we see Liz’s influence rippling gracefully but decisively through the entire Hudson Era. When I saw her last, she said playfully that, having been born in Bishop Stortford, she had always considered herself something of an Essex Girl at heart. Wherever Liz hailed from originally, she totally embraced Pangbourne and Pangbourne embraced her. So we will remember her here as an inspirational woman, a Pangbournian leader who set a stirring example of humanity, dedication and service.”
Larry Klein (Hesperus; 55-58) died on June 10th, 2016 aged 74. He had an incurable degenerative disease. He is survived by his wife, Martha, who writes:
“After leaving the Merchant Navy Form at Pangbourne, Larry served his apprenticeship with Royal Mail Line. Having passed his Second Mate’s Certificate, he joined the Bowater Steamship Company until we met in 1963. At that time Scandinavian shipping companies allowed officers to take their wives deep sea, but the British did not, so Larry served the remaining time required for his Master’s Certificate with the Norwegian shipping company Jacob Odland of Haugesund which enabled us to travel together.
Having obtained his Master’s Foreign Going Certificate in London in 1967, Larry ‘swallowed the anchor’ and decided to become a social worker. Initially he worked in a Remand Home in London, and was then accepted onto a two-year social work course in Plymouth in 1968. In 1970 he was appointed as a Child Care Officer in Reading. Shortly afterwards, there was a move towards generic social work, and Larry’s title was changed from Child Care Officer to Social Worker.
Larry worked in the Reading Social Services Department from 1970 until 1987, becoming a Senior Social Worker and then an Assistant Divisional Director. From 1987 to 1993 he worked as a Regional Director for Retirement Security, a company which built and ran a number of Very Sheltered Housing developments. Larry was responsible for managing and running two developments: Kennet Court, in Workingham and Emmbrook Court, in Reading. In 1994 he took a new job as a Regional Advisor with the Leonard Cheshire charity which he held until his retirement at the age of 68 in 2010.
When he wasn’t working, Larry enjoyed walking in the British countryside (including Exmoor, Snowdonia, and the Highlands of Scotland), training for and running marathons and half-marathons (he ran two London marathons, the Snowdonia marathon, a marathon in Abingdon and many Reading half-marathons.) He also loved opera and the cinema, and reading both modern fiction (e.g. Julian Barnes, Ian McEwan, Philip Roth, J.M. Coetzee) and non-fiction (in particular, the history of the Second World War, and the history of the railways.) From his forties until shortly before he died, he was very interested in art: attending many painting and sculpture exhibitions. In 1993 we bought a cottage in North Devon and this became a second home from home for us. Larry eventually became a member of and Secretary of the North Molton History Society.”
R.G.E. Llewelyn (78-80) died on 18th May, 2016. He left the College in the V Form to go to Wallingford Upper School. His widow Lucy writes:
“I only knew Rob for the last 11 years of what was to be a tragically short life. He died very suddenly at the age of 51, while working in California. He leaves two children, Lili and Archie, who live in Australia with their mother. After leaving Pangbourne, Rob completed his sixth form at Wallingford School and studied engineering at Middlesex Polytechnic. He moved swiftly from a career in engineering to one in IT, which took him all over the world, including some years spent in Australia.
I met Rob on an internet dating site and we very swiftly fell in love and were married in 2012. He loved travelling and we were fortunate enough to have many wonderful adventures together, some with my two children, to whom he became a much cherished stepfather. Rob also changed career during this time and became involved in sports television production, working regularly on the Tour de France and as a moto rider (he loved his motorbikes) for events including the London Marathon, Tour of Britain and the Tour of California.
He was one of the most intelligent, kind, generous, thoughtful and humorous men I have ever met – truly one of a kind and he is sorely missed by his very many friends and family.”
W.G.C. Raynor (58-61) died of secondary brain tumours on 18th May, 2016, aged 71. A Service of Thanksgiving for his life was held at St. Mary’s church, Battersea in London and was attended by his near-neighbours Richard Shuttleworth (57-62), the President of the OP Society, and Tony Morrow (58-62).
William went from the NCP to Bristol University, graduating with an honours degree in History in 1967. He then moved into journalism and photography, beginning with a job in South Africa on The Argus newspaper in Cape Town and later working for the Aberdeen Evening Express, BBC Scotland and the BBC World Service. As a freelance journalist he wrote for many publications including The Times, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Independent and The Guardian as well as specialist magazines in the United States and the Christian Science Monitor. His photographs were syndicated worldwide by the London picture agency Camera Press.
In tandem to his freelance career he moved into property restoration. In the late-1980s and early-1990s he worked for Kroll Associates, the U.S. corporate investigation company, in cases involving art fraud, asset search, due diligence and takeover bids. Later in the 1990s he spent six years with a London-based management consultancy overseeing urban regeneration projects and foreign and industrial investment ventures. Latterly he combined writing with renovating properties, corporate enquiry investigations, litigation support, photography and research for a website devoted to the life and inventions of Gulielmo Marconi, the pioneer of wireless.
This eclectic career was reflected in William’s character and interests. His “ability to look at the world and extract the essence of the scene, to spot quirky details, was exceptional,” said his daughter Sophie Raynor in a Eulogy at his Service of Thanksgiving. “As a photographer, he seemed to have a nose for the perfectly composed image…One of his greatest passions was doing up houses; he had a rare ability to see the possibilities of space…He was a skilled craftsman of words – professionally, in his journalism, and personally. He took great pleasure in writing poems and stories.” He also took great pride in appearance – he had “meticulous dress-sense and attention to detail, down to the smallest accessories.”
Sophie Raynor added: “Like many very talented people, he neither did what was expected of him (in life) nor took a straightforward career path…To him, integrity was paramount. Principled and perfectionist and unbelievably proud, he was not always an easy man, for himself or those around him.” Notorious for his puns, his Christmas cracker jokes and his fund of good stories, he leaves a wife Sarah, a daughter Sophie and two grand-children. A retrospective exhibition of William’s photography is planned for the future.
Nicholas Robin (Bob) Maywood Lee (48-51) died in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada on March 11, 2015 aged 80 as we were informed in July, 2016 by his widow Fay.
From the NCP Bob Lee joined the Merchant Navy and spent 14 years at sea with interntional and Great Lakes shipping companies. He then joined the Canadian Coastguard in Thunder Bay, Ontario in the mid-1960s and was promoted to progressively more senior posts before taking early retirement in the mid-1980s and moving to Kingston, Jamaica to become Director, Marine Affairs and Surveyor General for the Maritime Authority of Jamaica. In this job he helped to establish the Jamaican International Registry of Shipping.
On returning to Canada he was employed as a consultant at the Department of Environment promoting wider awareness among the shipping industry of marine environmental issues affecting marine life. In parallel he obtained a degree in Economics from St. Mary’s University followed by a year of postgraduate studies in Marine Transportation and Admiralty Law at Dalhousie University.
A Master Mariner, member of the Marine Accident Investigators International Forum and a Freeman of the City of London, Bob held numerous positions in retirement in Nova Scotia including being a longtime member of the Board of the Scotia Festival of Music. At auctions “he could not resist a ship’s portrait or ship model or any marine artefact” according to his widow. Robin (as he was known in England) fondly recalled his time at Pangbourne and attended Founders’ Day on several occasions despite living in Canada. He visited England and Scotland frequently in his later years; some of his ashes were scattered in the family plot in West Sussex.
Michael Constant (51-55) died on 25th April, 2016 according to his widow Pip. His NCP contemporary Jonathan Firth (54-58) wrote:
“Mike was a friend and old shipmate. What follows is based on an account given by another old shipmate and great friend of his, John Butt, who was cruise director on the QE2 for many years. Combined, the two had 90 years’ sea service and a 60-year friendship.
‘Mike was Drum Major and I was in the HMS Worcester Band that, together with HMS Conway’s Band, all played and marched for the St. Paul’s cathedral annual Seafarers Service in 1955. Mike joined Cunard in 1956 as a Junior Assistant Purser. Through the years he progressed to Purser and Cruise Director. He sailed on most Cunard liners and was known for his hard work and honesty. During his time as Cruise Director he worked with many stars including Count Basie, Joe Loss, Ray Ellington, Barbara Streisand, Ray Martin and Bill Cosbie.
When airlines took over the transatlantic route, cruising became the vogue again and pursers were the obvious choice to run the inside of the ship. Many of his colleagues were OPs, OWs and Ocs. He became Hotel Manager on QE2 until his retirement. That was a memorable occasion including speeches from the Managing Director and Captain. After a superb luncheon he disembarked with the crew spontaneously lining the deck and dock as his limousine took him away to the sound of ‘Three Cheers’ – a fitting mark of their respect and affection for him.’
Jonathan Firth added: “I managed three hours of reminiscence with Mike just one week before he bravely died from cancer. He leaves a son Ben, and his widow Pippa. The couple had attended our Pursers’ Reunion in Liverpool on the 175th anniversary of Cunard. Fifty of us were present including John Butt, his dear friend. Another Cunard Pursers Reunion will take place at the Dolphin Hotel, Southampton this September.”
Christopher Bindloss (52-57) died suddenly on 27th May, 2016, aged 77. This obituary is based on material provided by his son Tom. Two of his brothers, Nicholas (56-60) and Jock (61-65), also attended the Nautical College. Nicholas died in 1990
Born in London in 1939 the son of a Royal Navy officer, Christopher went to RMA Sandhurst from the NCP having failed an eyesight test for the RN. He was commissioned into the 13/18th Royal Hussars in 1959 and served 12 years as a cavalry officer in the regular army and a further 20 years in the Territorial Army. He saw active service during the communist insurgency in Malaya and carried out border patrols with a tank troop along the Iron Curtain in West Germany.
Having married in 1965, Christopher decided to leave the Army in 1971 when he became a father for the second time. Moving to North Essex, he obtained a job at Rank Xerox, working in its London offices in the government affairs division and commuting for the next 25 years. Here he developed an enthusiasm for technology which never left him. Alongside his career in industry he joined the Territorial Army, eventually being promoted to Major and taking part in NATO exercises in Germany as a watch keeper in HQ 2nd Armoured Division.
Christopher’s first wife Susan died in 1994 when he was 54. He remarried in 1998 and for the next 17 years had a happy relationship with Carol, his extended family of three step children and seven step grandchildren and a very wide circle of friends. At home his hobbies included skiing (he had a free ski pass in the French Alps given only to those aged 75 or over), gardening, bridge, bee-keeping and classical music. His enduring love of opera began in 1955 when his godfather invited him to the Glyndebourne festival.
He always had a strong Christian faith and was a church warden for many years. In the words of a close friend Clive Beckett: “Christopher had an engaging personality, great warmth and was an excellent host. He was always so constant…a man with a huge mop of hair and pleasant, tall commanding presence and a bright smile.” Added son Tom: “He had a good life, and he was a good man, and for that we are thankful.”
As part of its contribution to the 2016-17 College centenary and exhibition, the OP Society has sponsored the publication of a 271-page book containing OP obituaries and death notices issued in various forms and places between 1921 and 2016.
Collected and edited by Robin Knight (56-61), the book consists of 1,250 entries, 150 black-and-white head-and-shoulder images and 150,000 words. A total of 25 copies have been designed and produced by Gilmour Print and are intended for limited distribution.
It is estimated that 1,500-2,000 OPs have died since the school was founded. Many, unfortunately, are listed on the OP data base as “lost.” Until now, no comprehensive record of OP lives or careers has existed in an easily-accessible form.
In a Foreword to the book Robin Knight writes: “A centenary is a time for looking back as well as forward…It is the hope of the OP Society that in honouring the memory of the great majority of OPs who have died since 1917, future generations of Pangbournians will be inspired to emulate them and make the most of the unique opportunity they are given in life by the distinctive education Pangbourne College continues to offer.”
The book (ISBN 978-0-9568770-2-4) will be on display at the centenary exhibition 100 Years of Pangbourne which will open at the College from October, 2016. A copy has also been placed in the College Library in the OP section. Another is in the British Library.
Robin St. Clair-Ford (54-58) died in Edinburgh on 12th May, 2016. A funeral service was held at St. Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in the Scottish capital on 3rd June, 2016. Robin was the 9th holder of a baronetcy created in 1793. He succeeded to the title on the death of his brother Colin (52-56) in December, 2012.
At Pangbourne Lionel Stephens recalls Robin as “a cheerful chap, quite small, who seemed to enjoy his time at the College.” Following the NCP he went to RMA Sandhurst and was commissioned into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry in December, 1961. He was promoted to Lieutenant In June, 1963 and Captain in December 1967. Robin joined the Light Infantry In July, 1968 and resigned in 1971. He saw active service in Malaysia and South Arabia with 1 KOYLI and was awarded the General Service Medal 1962 with clasps BORNEO, MALAY PENINSULA and SOUTH ARABIA.
“Following his Army career,” writes his widow Lady St. Clair-Ford, “Robin worked briefly for Ashton Containers in Bristol which took him to Scotland. Here he ran a china seconds shop in Edinburgh for a time which became a very popular (but unprofitable!) meeting place for his many friends. In 1982, after the birth of his first son, he became the Director of Scotland’s Gardens Scheme – a post he held until his retirement in 2006. He married Alison in 1980 and she and his two sons, Sam and Peter, survive him.”
James Samuel Tuke (52-56) died on 25th December, 2015 after a ten year battle with mesothelioma as we were informed by his widow Sheila. He lived ner Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. He was aged 76. After the NCP he joined the Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia) Police and in 1963, the year before Zambian independence, was listed as an Assistant Inspector. We have no further details.
Rodney Giesler (45-48) died in April, 2016. His son Phil wrote:
“My father was a cadet at the College between 1945 and 1948. He was a keen fencer and was a member of the College team for two years, winning his colours. He intended joining the Royal Navy, but when a routine eye test put paid to a seafaring career, he changed course. He spent his National Service as a radio mechanic in the Royal Signals, and in his off-duty hours was assured an easy berth by maintaining the personal radios of his senior officers. He also applied his new skills in building a television set allowing the family to watch The Queen’s coronation.
His consuming ambition was to enter the film industry, and this was achieved when he joined the National Coal Board Film Unit. Since his working hours were spent with a movie camera, lying in a pool of water in a narrow coal seam for £10 a week, there was not a lot of competition for the job, and he quickly progressed to becoming a writer/director. And it paid off.
In 1958 he was appointed as writer/director to the resident film unit of the Kuwait Oil Company. Over four years he acquired considerable knowledge of the technicalities of oil production, and this combined with a basic command of Arabic ensured him a steady stream of work in the Arabian Gulf States. At the same time he built up an international production company, and over a period of 40 years produced big budget documentary and commercial films for large industrial clients in all parts of the world. A number of his films won awards at major film festivals.
On retirement he became an interviewer for the Oral History Department of the Imperial War Museum, the Royal Aeronautical Society, The Brooklands Trust, and the National Film & Television Archive. In all he recorded over five hundred interviews. He was also a keen aviation enthusiast, and family legend has it that he was about to qualify for his pilot’s licence when he met his future wife. The dilemma was acute,…. but he never became a pilot.
Although he did not choose to send his own sons to Pangbourne, he looked back on his time at the College with affection and appreciation of the sound start he had in life. He married Pam Wyard in 1960, and is survived by two sons and five grandchildren.”
Ian Donald St George Lindsay (45-49) died at home at Buderim, Queensland. Australia on March 27th, 2016 aged 84. He is the only Pangbournian to date to play in a representative schoolboy side at Lord’s. In 1949 he represented the Southern Schools vs The Rest. A fast bowler, he opened the bowling in both innings but only bowled 10 overs in the match, taking 0-35 and not batting. Future England players in the Southern Schools’ side included Colin Cowdrey and Mickey Stewart as well as Dennis Silk and Robin Marler.
His son Ryan wrote: “Ian was born on December 3rd 1931 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada to Donald St George Lindsay (father) and Enid Ursula Lindsay (mother). He was schooled at the Nautical College, Pangbourne in Berkshire. Following graduation he joined the Royal Armoured Corps for his National Service and completed basic training at Catterick in Durham. Ian then signed up for the Royal Military Police and completed training at Inkerman Barracks in Woking, Surrey before being posted to Tel el Kebir in the Suez Canal zone in Egypt and then to Fayid, on the Great Bitter Lakes. In 1952 he returned to Britain to be demobbed on 24th February.
In August, 1952 Ian flew to Kenya and joined the Kenya Police. He saw active service during the Mau Mau Emergency and married Joy Theresa Lindsay (nee Parker) on 27th August, 1955. He left the police service in 1959 and transferred to the Provincial Administration, serving as a District Assistant and then as a District Officer.
In 1963 Ian left Kenya, as it became independent, with his wife and three children for Australia. He joined the Royal Australian Air Force and served for a period just shy of 22 years, reaching the rank of Wing Commander.
Ian had four children - Corinne Usula Mary Lindsay; Donald St George Lindsay; Ryan St George Lindsay; and Angelique Elizabeth Lindsay (deceased). He is survived by his wife Joy, his three eldest children, seven grand children, two great grand children and his faithful and constant companion Hugo (whippet).
Ian was cremated at his request, without ceremony on April 1st 2016. There will be small memorial service at St Marks Anglican Church Buderim on the 20th April 2016.”
Lionel Stephens wrote: ” I am sorry to hear about Ian. He was a fanatical believer in the old NCP and at the time of transition he said that the College should be closed, rather than become a normal school. He had a remarkable career, which he wrote about in the Pangbourne Made Me series. He also insisted on producing, at his own expense, stories from the OP Magazine, with a second article ‘For King and Country’. He was probably the best cricketer in NCP’s history and was invited to become a professional. His best friend was Robin Arnott (47-50), a spinner, and it was Ian who told me that Robin had died. 2013. I met him several times at the College with his wife Joy. He last visited in 2004. Both he and Joy had had rotten health recently, but I had had a cheerful message from him in the last year.”
Robin Knight (56-61) added: “Ian, a man of strong views and forthright opinions, self-published two books, in 2001 and 2007, that captured his essence. One, Havin’ One’s Say has been reprinted twice since 2001 and covers 34 years of his life during which editors at various Australian newspapers must have quaked at the arrival of another missive from the Lindsey pen or from his alter ego Ginty D’Aldiss. This book contains a selection of 196 such contributions, ranging far and wide on every subject under the sun including behaviour, cricket, Africa, government, terrorism, race, traffic and political correctness. The tone of these letters is often whimsical or ironic. For lighter relief, Ian tapped into his childhood with Up De Rum Shop in 2007. Ostensibly consisting of ‘sub-teen memories,’ it contains a series of short stories about everyday life in the West Indies in the 1930s and 1940s.
Guy Standing (61-66) died on 6th March, 2016 “after a long battle with cancer” according to a death notice in The Daily Telegraph on 16th March which went out of its way to praise the treatment Guy had received at the Hammersmith Hospital in London. We have no other details and would be grateful for any further information.
Richard William de la Cour Shirley (64-67) passed away on October 5, 2015 at the age of 66 “due to complications from ALS” according to his wife June.
He had made his home in Canada since 1973 working as a mechanical engineer and “talked often of his wonderful days at Pangbourne!” He was very proud of his two sons and loved the sport of motor racing, attending the Indianapolis 500 religiously every year.
Lynn Connell (53-55) died on 10th February, 2016 after a long illness. He was born in 1939 just before the outbreak of World War 11 and “spent the war years with his mother and grandparents in Essex – a county he retained fond memories of throughout his life,” wrote his daughter Penny Connell. Lynn was sent away to a boarding prep school at the age of six. In 1953, aged 14, he arrived at the Nautical College.
Leaving the NCP at the age of barely 17, he did his National Service in the RAF and spent time deciphering aerial pictures taken over eastern Germany. On demobilisation, he chose to study law and was admitted to the bar in 1967, joining Ashurst Morris. From 1972-75 he worked for Ralli International. He then joined the Bowater Corporation 1976-81, beginning his specialisation in corporate law which he found “exciting, challenging and fulfilling.” He married a New Zealander in 1963, eventually had three children and continued to live in Essex.
In 1981 the family moved to New Zealand and Lynn joined the prominent Auckland law firm of Russell McVeagh & Partners. The following year he was diagnosed with cancer, “had major surgery and was given a grim prognosis. He then had a larangectomy; it took six months for a voice box to be put in so he could communicate. However, he continued to work and mastered his new voice box very quickly. He was extremely brave and showed no sign of feeling sorry for himself. He just carried on.”
In New Zealand Lynn was one of only three people specializing in work as a legal adviser to pension funds, trust and other institutional investors. A tribute after his death from the legal profession in New Zealand stated: ‘Lynn Connell was a man of high character and integrity, a man of principle who always displayed a high professional level of both specialist and general legal expertise. Mr Connell combined his wide-ranging legal qualifications in a unique and specialist manner in conjunction with his exceptional knowledge and skill of professional investment management…He was a man of wide interests with a remarkable knowledge and expertise in so many areas. All of this was combined with a wonderful and very likeable sense of humour. Mr Connell ushered in a much higher level of specialist legal expertise to the New Zealand investment management profession, the effects of which are still evident throughout the industry today.’
Once Lynn retired, he worked at the NZ College of Law, moderating several subjects until his death. His daughter added: “Dad made yearly visits to the UK to keep in touch with friends. In 2011 he got severe pneumonia and nearly died on one of these visits but, after four weeks on life support, he rallied sufficiently to be medivaced back to NZ. He was extremely independent to the last, not allowing any fuss and insisting on doing it all himself, including organising his own ambulance for his final visit to hospital after another bout of pneumonia.
In his last two years he was hardly able to use his voice and communicated in writing – a huge frustration for him. Yet he was stoic and never complained all through his severe health problems and the many setbacks and operations over the years. In the process, he became one of the two longest-surviving larangectomy patients in the world, and counselled many new patients having the procedure. He never admitted he was sick. In his younger years he was a keen sailor and hockey player. In later times reading and gardening occupied him. Dad was the go-to man in the family, and enjoyed nothing more than resolving any crisis that came to hand.”
LCS wrote: “Lynn attended the OP reunion in Auckland in 1992 and appears in the photo (below; back left). There was no doubt about his devotion to the College as he visited Pangbourne every couple of years. We remained in contact despite his illness and last Christmas I had an email as usual to which I replied. I liked and admired Lynn tremendously.”
Old Pangbournian war deaths in the Second World War were thought to have totalled 177. Now that figure has risen to 178 following a communication from the son of an OP who had lost contact with the OP Society in the mid-1930s — Colin Felton (23-26).
In February, 2016 Colin’s son Simon got in touch with the College and the OP Society to pass on news of his late father. In a message he wrote: “After my father left Pangbourne in 1926 and following a short career as a Purser with the Orient Company, he “disappeared” with the Army in India and you had no record of him at all.
[Colin Felton as a Cadet Captain with his sister in 1924-25]
We have been trying to fill in some of the gaps and have found out a little more about his walk out of Burma to Assam, where he was picked up by the roadside and taken to an American Women’s Mission Hospital in Gauhati where he died of malaria and exhaustion in 1942. I was then two years old and living with my mother in Rawlalpindi. He is commemorated on one of the columns of the Taukkyan War Graves Cemetery outside Rangoon and in the last few years we have travelled to both places to trace his last days, attending the Remembrance Day Service at the latter in November, 2014.”
We then asked Simon Felton to write an obituary of his father which is reproduced below:
COLIN MARK FELTON 1908 – 1942
“Colin Mark Felton was born in Ealing in 1908 and attended the Nautical College, Pangbourne between 1923 and 1926. He became C.C.C. of College in December, 1925. He was an accomplished sportsman, playing rugby and cricket and being Captain of both Boxing and Fencing and winning championships in both. He represented the College in the Amateur Sabre Championships of England and at the Royal Tournament Olympia in 1926. He was an active member of the Debating, Dramatic, Orchestra, Meteorological and Geographical Societies.
On leaving Pangbourne he became an Assistant Purser with the Orient Company but by mid-1930 he had left the sea and joined the regular Army and the East Surrey Regiment. This may have been because he was found to be colour-blind and unable to continue in his chosen career. When later he played billiards he said that although he couldn’t see the colours, the balls all seemed to be a different shape!
In 1931 he was posted to India and remained there serving with the Scottish Regiment, the Dorsetshire Regiment and finally the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. He was seconded and serving as a Sub-Conductor in the Indian Army Corps of Clerks in Rangoon when the Allied retreat from Burma began in 1942. When the airfield at Mytkiyana was bombed the refugees of all backgrounds and races, soldiers and civilians, had to walk out over the most northern passes between Burma and Assam in appalling monsoon conditions, very many dying on the way.
My father was picked up by the trackside but died soon after in a Mission Hospital in Gauhati of malaria and exhaustion. In addition to the regular War Medals he was awarded the North West Frontier Medal 1936-1937 and the Burma Star. Having no known grave, he is commemorated in the Taukkayan War Cemetery outside Rangoon. In 1939, in Rawalpindi, he married May Payn and had one son. They were subsequently evacuated to the U.K. on the requisitioned troopship s.s. Mauretania.”
From The Log in 1926:
Felton C.M. 3rd Macquarie; C.C. December 1924; C.C.C. Fawkes House July 1925; C.C.C. of College, December 1925; Colours: 1st XV 1925, 2nd Cricket 1925-6; Captain of Boxing, 1926, Middle-weight Championship 1923, Heavyweight, 1924-5-6; Captain of Fencing 1926, Foil and Sabre Championships 1926; Represented the College in the Amateur Sabre Championship of England, 1926 and at the Royal Tournament, Olympia, 1926; R.L.S.S. Bronze Medallion: Prizes for proficiency and for Merit, 1926; Wireless Watchers’ Certificate; Societies: Debating, Dramatic, Orchestra, Metereorological, Geographical (Vice President).
Stuart Le Blanc Smith (33-37) died on 13th January, 2016. Born on 31st December, 1919, at he time of his death one of the oldest OPs. For much of his life he farmed in Norfolk. His daughter Krista Hanratty, writes:
“My father regaled us with many tales from his Pangbourne days. Early morning runs before breakfast followed by a cold shower seem to have remained uppermost in his memory. I can’t think why. At some point around 1934/5 he suffered from double pneumonia (some connection there, perhaps?) and he maintains that the school band played a solemn march on the parade ground as he navigated perilously close to the shore of eternity.
We have many photographs of him looking very pucker in his uniform. After Pangbourne he joined P & O, but that didn’t last too long because of the outbreak of World War Two, when he transferred to the RN Reserves. Many more photographs. Whilst going through dusty trunks in his attic in recent weeks, the family unearthed his striped Pangbourne blazer in mint condition.
The sea ran through his veins as strongly as the red stuff. He was born and spent his early years in East Portlemouth, across the estuary from Salcombe. His first solo voyage was paddling a bath tub across the estuary – and back – aged 5. We have the photos to prove it. In more advanced years, sometime during his eighties, he even built an 8ft clinker pram dinghy with lug rig in his barn in Norfolk, steaming the wood himself and sourcing everything through his own initiative. He christened her Frolic and she made her maiden voyage on his pond. I still sail her out of St Anthony in Meneage on The Lizard, where I spend frequent holidays. She’s a rotten sail, only pointing up to about 45°, but very pretty and in a stiff breeze is worth launching. So an ancient mariner has joined many more. I wish the College continued success.”
Michael MacDowel (46-49) died in January, 2016. An obituary published on the website of the British Racing Drivers Club stated:
“With great sadness we have to report that Michael MacDowel passed away yesterday at the age of 83 after a prolonged illness. In recent years, Michael will be known to many BRDC Members as one of the Directors who devoted a great deal of his time in helping to steer the Club through the choppy waters of the early 1990s and, having completed his full term of nine years as a Director from 1992 to 2001, continued to serve the Club as a trustee of the Benevolent Fund on which his conscientiously thorough reports were a feature of every AGM until 2014.
Michael was elected to the BRDC in 1955 after finishing 10th overall and first in the 1100cc class of the last Dundrod Tourist Trophy, then a round of the World Sports Car Championship. Michael had been invited by his good friend Ivor Bueb to share one of the factory Manx-tailed Cooper-Climax T39s but their success was overshadowed by the fatal accident to fellow Cooper driver Jim Mayers early in the race.
Ivor the Driver’s invitation had come on the back of Michael’s club racing successes in a 1172 side valve Ford-engined Lotus Mk IX and he switched to Cooper for the 1956 season, with good results including a win at Oulton Park and a notable fifth overall and second in the 1100cc class at Goodwood on Whit Monday behind Colin Chapman, Mike Hawthorn, Jack Brabham and Cliff Allison.
After 1956 Michael raced only intermittently but the following year gave him a couple of races in a factory F2 Cooper-Climax T43 with Jack Brabham as his team mate. In the F2 Prix de Paris at Montlhery Michael finished second to Jack but ahead of the T43s of Tony Marsh and Ivor Bueb while three weeks later he found himself in the French Grand Prix on the daunting Rouen Les Essarts road circuit. The little F2 Cooper was outclassed by the F1 cars but it was always a source of quiet pride to the unassuming Michael that he had shared a grid with the great Juan Manuel Fangio. After Jack, in a 1.9 litre T43, had tangled with Horace Gould’s Maserati 250F, Michael was called in to hand over his car after 17 laps, Jack continuing with it to finish seventh, too far behind to be officially classified.
After National Service, Michael joined the Jaguar Competitions Department under ‘Lofty’ England in 1959 with responsibility for Customer Liaison, a role for which he was ideally suited. In 1961 the E-type was launched and Michael became heavily involved with the competition development of both the standard car and the evolution of the prototype Lightweight of John Coombs who must have been impressed because by 1963 Michael had left Jaguar to become General Manager of Coombs of Guildford at a much greater salary! In due course he became, and served for many years as a director of the company.
From 1957 Michael raced only sporadically but he remained as quick as the regular race drivers on test days. One of his last races was in the Coombs Ferrari 250GTO in the 1963 Whitsun Trophy at Goodwood when he finished second to Ferrari factory driver Michael Parkes. Over the next 15 years Michael became one of the most successful competitors in the British Hillclimb Championship in a variety of ameliorated proprietary chassis from circuit racing. In 1973 and 1974 he won the title, on the second occasion with an almost perfect score of nine wins from the 10 rounds in his 5-litre Brabham-Repco BT36X.
A couple of years later Michael worked with Tyrrell F1 designer Derek Gardner to create the Coogar, based on the ex-Larry Perkins European F3 Championship-winning Formula 3 Ralt RT1 but with a 3.3 litre Cosworth DFV engine installed. At the end of the 1970s Michael quietly retired from front-line active participation but retained his involvement in the sport as a member of the RACMSA Motor Sports Council and Chairman of its Speed Events Committee for which no one could have been better qualified.
The BRDC extends its profound condolences to Michael’s family. A service of thanksgiving for Michael’s life will be held at 14:00 on Thursday 11 February 2016 at St Michael and all Angels Church, Bishops Cleeve, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL52 8BA after a private cremation service. A gathering will follow at the Bugatti Owners Club Clubhouse at Prescott Hillclimb – GL52 9RD approximately three miles from the church. If any Members would like to attend please contact Lisa Benamore for further information on 01327 850 922. Michael’s family have requested no floral tributes be sent and would prefer donations in lieu to the Benevolent Fund.”
D.R. Ford (36-40), a Lt Cdr MBE, DSC, RN, died in mid-December, 2015, aged 92. A full page obituary in the Guernsey Press stated in part:
“With the death of Lt. Commander Derek Ford, Guernsey has lost a man who fought with distinction during the Second World War, and who was involved in the development of Commodore Shipping in Guernsey. Described as a ‘thorough gentleman,’ he was greatly liked and admired by his business associates and many friends. Those who knew him best said that Derek was ‘compassionate and kind’ both in his service in the Royal Navy and in commercial life later – qualities which never left him.”
Derek Ford came from Northumbria. After the NCP he joined the RN as a navigator and had an adventurous and dangerous war being sunk in the South China Sea when serving on HMS Repulse, being awarded the DSC for the part he played in the sinking of a German U-boat, saving the lives of an RAF crew that had ditched way out in the Atlantic, and rescuing survivors of a hard-fought sea battle off the French coast involving HMS Charybdis and HMS Limbourne. On D-Day he was serving on HMS Glasgow supporting American troops landing on Omaha beach. At the end of the war, while on HMS Wensleydale near Alderney in the Channel Islands, he came under direct fire from German troops still in occupation of the island.
After the war Derek remained in the RN until 1959, serving on ten ships and rising to the rank of Lt. Cdr. He then moved to Guernsey and began a long involvement with commercial merchant shipping by joining a new company which operated passenger vessels between the Channel Islands and St. Malo. Later he played a senior role in Commodore Shipping as the company developed passenger and freight services between the Channel Islands and the UK, eventually becoming a main board director – a position he held until his retirement at the end of 1986. He remained a non-executive director of Commodore until 1997.
The Guernsey Press obituary concluded: “During his long life Derek remained steadfast in his Christian faith…He maintained the high traditions of the Royal Navy …His family and friends have spoken of Derek with admiration and respect for what he achieved. He will be remembered by all who knew him as dependable, kind and possessing a thirst for maintaining the qualities of life which are essential to the well-being of this world.”