CH and the Armed Services

Anything that doesn't fit anywhere else, but that's still CH related.

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Martin
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CH and the Armed Services

Post by Martin » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:00 am

Here’s another suggested topic. For those readers who knew CH about a half century ago, World War 2 featured prominently in the memories both pupils and teachers. So connections between CH teachers and the Armed Services may be of interest. To kick off, here are some such connections and associated points.

Rev Lawrence Whitfield, an Australian assistant chaplain and junior housemaster of Ba B had a varied career. He was a keen member of a pacifist organisation before WW2 and finally concluded it was totally insincere with its only purpose to indoctrinate young idealists with left wing propaganda. So he reacted violently against these ideas, moving through 180 degrees in his beliefs, and therefore volunteered to be a chaplain in an Australian commando unit, with which he saw service during the WW2 in New Guinea. Some time after leaving CH he went to Rome, both literally and theologically, moving to live in the Eternal City and then becoming a RC priest.

Arthur Rider (Mid A, teacher of French, second master) ended the WW2 as a Lt Col, with a very responsible position, in charge of all military transport in northern France, and finally he commanded the OTC/CCF. He was probably the highest ranking officer who later became a teacher at CH.

Cecil “Bill” Kirby (TD, OB, and eccentric biology master, whose first degree was in pre-clinical medicine) finally became a Major in the Royal Signals during WW2 and later at CH commanded the Signals Section of the OTC/CCF. One of his main wartime responsibilities was to test new equipment both its technical aspects and resilience under severe field conditions.

HLO Flecker (classicist and head master during WW2) had been a staff officer during WW1. ACW Edwards who, on retiring as a teacher was appointed CH Librarian, was also commissioned during that war.

Kit Aitken lost a leg in action during WW2 and returned to be a housemaster and coach various rugby teams.

Eric Littlefield (Ba A, hall warden and teacher of German) was a Squadron Leader in RAF Intelligence, involved in interrogating German prisoners in WW2 and after the war was a heavy smoker. He explained that war stresses resulted in some unfortunate habits, as possibly an explanation (partial?) of his smoking. Finally he commanded the CCF Air Section, always wearing dress uniform, even for routine parades.

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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by LongGone » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:05 pm

Richard Fry's wartime record has been mentioned several times. He was in one of the Airborne regiments and won the MC. http://www.paradata.org.uk/people/richard-n-fry
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Fitzsadou » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:47 pm

The topic of the Armed Services is interesting, but what about also including Hertford staff, Old Blues and experiences from the Combined Cadet Force (CCF)? Here are some thoughts along those lines.
Thinking of Old Blues and the services, I recall that Michael Griffiths (Barnes A) was best officer cadet of his year at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst and so won the RMA sword of honour. I suspect this has not happened before or since to an Old Blue.
On a different note here’s an anecdote about a frequent contributor to this Forum, who after leaving school had a most distinguished career in the services. He was at CH a few years after Griffiths and had an unusual CCF related experience while at CH, after winning an award from the RAF to complete a flight training course which would lead to a solo flight. All went very well until the last test, which was the solo flight. He had to land at a base where the airfield was a grass field, with the runway a mown strip in the middle. This strip was of an appropriate width for a Tiger Moth (or was it a Gypsy Moth?) Unfortunately while approaching to land our fledgling pilot saw a tractor gently moving along the runway, pulling a mower. He therefore unhappily circled several times trying to engage the attention of the tractor driver, who continued steadily along his path. So (because of a low fuel situation?) this new pilot decided he had to land, did so and then swerved to avoid a collision. However the aircraft tipped over. No-one was hurt and he was fully exonerated, being awarded his wings, since the mishap was no fault of his and everything else was fine.
Robert Rae, was a housemaster in Coleridge, who taught maths and finally became second master. His national service was in the RAF in India, where he attained the rank of Flight Sergeant while on active service. However after being demobbed he was commissioned and for a while succeeded Littlefield as OC the CCF Air Section.
Mr Jenkins obtained a DSO, gained during his national service in the Army, during the Malayan pre-independence insurgency. He never would talk about the reason for this decoration. I think he was in a Scottish regiment and wanted any son of his to serve with that regiment too. So he (jokingly?) said that when his wife went into labour he would put her on the first train for Scotland, so that his child could be born over the border and therefore be eligible for his old regiment. (Or was the Scottish regiment story from Mr D Hutchings?)
AH Buck (Coleridge B, classical teacher and an Old Blue) taught at CH during and after the war. He was short, in the local Home Guard and had a great sense of humour. During a wartime General Inspection of the CCF, there was a joint turn-out with the Home Guard. An Inspecting Officer, presumably with poor eyesight, stopped in front of Buckie and said, “And what do you intend to do when you leave school, my boy?” Without any hesitation, Buckie answered, “Engine driver, Sir”.
David Chaundy, junior housemaster of Barnes A and a teacher of physics did his national service in the Navy and suggested that if there was a CH Navy Section of the CCF he would participate. He put his national service to good use and during it obtained an external degree in physics from the University of London.

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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by J.R. » Sun Feb 03, 2013 1:14 pm

Who remembers R.S.M Cook(e?), who had a lot to do with the CCF being in charge of the armoury, (his love, pride and joy) ?

I know he saw active service but I can't for the life of me, remember the details, though I do remember one tale regarding the un-reliability of the original sten gun.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Avon » Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:25 pm

Fitzsadou wrote: On a different note here’s an anecdote about a frequent contributor to this Forum, who after leaving school had a most distinguished career in the services. He was at CH a few years after Griffiths and had an unusual CCF related experience while at CH, after winning an award from the RAF to complete a flight training course which would lead to a solo flight. All went very well until the last test, which was the solo flight. He had to land at a base where the airfield was a grass field, with the runway a mown strip in the middle. This strip was of an appropriate width for a Tiger Moth (or was it a Gypsy Moth?) Unfortunately while approaching to land our fledgling pilot saw a tractor gently moving along the runway, pulling a mower. He therefore unhappily circled several times trying to engage the attention of the tractor driver, who continued steadily along his path. So (because of a low fuel situation?) this new pilot decided he had to land, did so and then swerved to avoid a collision. However the aircraft tipped over. No-one was hurt and he was fully exonerated, being awarded his wings, since the mishap was no fault of his and everything else was fine .
I've heard that story several times over the years, but not a version in which flying wings were awarded after first solo and whilst on a schoolboy's flying scholarship.

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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:29 pm

Martin wrote:
Rev Lawrence Whitfield, an Australian assistant chaplain and junior housemaster of Ba B had a varied career. He was a keen member of a pacifist organisation before WW2 and finally concluded it was totally insincere with its only purpose to indoctrinate young idealists with left wing propaganda. So he reacted violently against these ideas, moving through 180 degrees in his beliefs, and therefore volunteered to be a chaplain in an Australian commando unit, with which he saw service during the WW2 in New Guinea. Some time after leaving CH he went to Rome, both literally and theologically, moving to live in the Eternal City and then becoming a RC priest.
Do you mean Lloyd Whitfeld, junior housemaster of Maine A? He certainly converted and became a monk under the name of Father Gilbert. (Ampleforth?)
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:34 pm

J.R. wrote:Who remembers R.S.M Cook(e?), who had a lot to do with the CCF being in charge of the armoury, (his love, pride and joy) ?

I know he saw active service but I can't for the life of me, remember the details, though I do remember one tale regarding the un-reliability of the original sten gun.
Sure I remember him. Nice man, though a bit of a figure of fun because of his rather comical voice, which used to ascend to a high pitch. He succeeded Sagger-Magger Carter in 1956 or thereabouts. But I don't know whether or where he saw active service.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by michael scuffil » Sun Feb 03, 2013 6:37 pm

Messrs Massen and Dean were both in the CCF Air Section, but whether they saw active service in the RAF I don't know. Juliet née Massen reads this forum: perhaps she can enlighten us?
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by J.R. » Mon Feb 04, 2013 11:28 am

michael scuffil wrote:
J.R. wrote:Who remembers R.S.M Cook(e?), who had a lot to do with the CCF being in charge of the armoury, (his love, pride and joy) ?

I know he saw active service but I can't for the life of me, remember the details, though I do remember one tale regarding the un-reliability of the original sten gun.
Sure I remember him. Nice man, though a bit of a figure of fun because of his rather comical voice, which used to ascend to a high pitch. He succeeded Sagger-Magger Carter in 1956 or thereabouts. But I don't know whether or where he saw active service.

I didn't like to say it in my previous post, but he was known to one and all in the CCF as 'Squeaky' Cook, for that very reason.

He taught me the quick way to strip and re-assemble a sten gun in around a minute, and enjoyed telling the story that when they were first issued without the modified lockable bolt, personnel would jump out the back of a lorry with a loaded sten, the butt would hit the floor, releasing the bolt and spraying a magazine full of rounds into the air, or anyone in the way.

His view of the weapon was, that it was useless in an attacking manouvre, but was absolutely brilliant in room clearance due to it's inaccuracy, by it's speed of fire when fired through a window or an open door. This led me to believe he was probably a 'Red Devil.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by postwarblue » Mon Feb 04, 2013 2:56 pm

Basher Jenkins was in the Royal Marines, NOT the army, and won his decoration at Lake Comacchio. It was all in his Daily Telegraph obit [http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituar ... nkins.html ] - which was the first I knew of it; as a CCF officer he wore an RNVR Wavy Navy sub lieutenant's stripe and an 'RN Commando' shoulder flash; I had no idea of his war service.

That's my Tiger Moth, if you don't mind. Pongo Littlefield put me up for a Flying Scholarship (the first for CH) which paid for thirty hours on a Tiger Moth leading to a Private Pilot's Licence (which, afterwards, I couldn't afford to keep up). The 'wings', which I still have, were twofold - a PPL badge and a Flying Scholarship badge.

First solo was after 9 hours dual and the crash was at Bembridge on the eventual solo cross-country at the end of the course. I couldn't pile on enough power to clear the tractor directly without maybe catching my wheels, so banked, but as I was almost on the stall, clipped by port lower mainplane and groundlooped. The flying club very decently interceded with the RAF for a little more time so I could repeat the exercise, this time without mishap. Their Chief Flying Instructor went down to retrieve their aircraft and after flying it back to Fairoak discovered there was a clean break in the main spar. While I was at Fairoak another learner landed in a tree and another on a cow so it was a guinea a minute. I suppose I paid out the club by breaking their aeroplane and the RAF by joining the Navy. And Pongo by marching my flight into the back of the next one through inattention when I paraded to receive my FS badge. The whole thing was good-oh while it lasted but the club was a bit resistant to the CCF cadets playing Frankie Lane 78s at full chat in the bar.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Fitzsadou » Fri Feb 08, 2013 8:39 pm

Thanks to postwarblue for correcting misinformation on Basher Jenks and for the reference to his obit. It's fascinating reading. So the Scottish regiment story should be associated with Hutch. The detailed account of the Tiger Moth and the tractor was equally enthralling. Let's hope there will be lots more of such excellent material.

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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by postwarblue » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:39 pm

Some OBs who went into the Services about my time, roughly in order of leaving although I may have got some out of step:


John Steel - RN, captain
Jeremy Read - RN, captain
- Gregory - RN commissioned from lower deck
Ian Pirnie - RN weapons engineer, involved in Polaris, became rear admiral
Peter Hedges - RN, able seaman
Tom Walcot - army
Rob Wilkins - RN
David Price - RN, lost as lieutenant in HMAS Voyager collision with HMAS Melbourne
Nicky Perrett - RN, commissioned from lower deck
Robin Tillard - army
David Kruger - army
Paul Madge - RN, helicopter pilot, Queen's Commendation for some very hairy flying
David Bawtree - RN ordnance engineer, became rear admiral as Flag Officer Portsmouth
John Morgan - RAF navigator, squadron leader or maybe higher
Garry Johnson - army, general
Mike Coggins - RN clearance diver (was ace swimer at school), MBE for defuzing booby traps in Hong Kong
J St J Grey - Royal Marines, lieutenant general (I think)
Mike Sant - RN, helicopter pilot, retired as captain

My apologies to anyone left out, mis-spelled or libelled. Leaves out of account National Service.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Katharine » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:54 pm

A few years after you,postwarblue, was my brother Peter Hills, Prep A & Th B. He left in 1961 and went to the RAF, having also had a Flying Scholarship. His reflexes weren't fast enough for more flying training and he became an Electrical Engineer, I think! He eventually retired as the RAF's longest serving Squadron Leader.
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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Foureyes » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:53 pm

Adding to postwarblue's list:
Mike Ford. Army R Signals. Major
? Gillespie. LaB. Army RA (I think)
Alex Matthews. Army. Royal Engineers. Brigadier.
Patrick Stone. Army. Royal Anglian. Major-General.
John Sutherell, Army. Queen's (?). Major-General
? Earl, Also La B. RN
Derek Skinner. Yorks & Lancs.
David Cornwall, Green Howards.
? Childs. Royal Marines.
David Miller. Army. Royal Signals. Colonel
M Jarrett. R Signals.Lt Col
John Newman. R Signals. Lt Col
Ray Bell, also R Signals
& many, many others.

Incidentally:
By "JStJGrey lieutenant-general", do you mean Sir Michael Grey, who was a lieutenant-general, but Army (Parachute Regiment)?

'Basher Jenkins' It is correct to say that he was in the Royal Marines in the war. After the war he left the RM and went to University, then to C.H.. According to his autobiography (of which I have a signed copy) when he began to serve with the Housie CCF he had to obtain a commission in the RNVR in order to ensure that he would be called up into the RM Commandos in the event of another war. I don't quite understand the technicalities of that, but that's what he says and is why he wore RNVR badges of rank with the Housie CCF. A very nice man who spent many years on the staff at RMA Sandhurst.

David

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Re: CH and the Armed Services

Post by Fitzsadou » Mon Feb 11, 2013 8:40 am

Here are another couple to add to the list. Perhaps someone knows how their careers and lives continued after the 1970s.

David Price-Thomas (La A, aka David Price), Lt Col in the RAMC and opthalmologist
Peter L. Knight (Ba A), Fleet Air Arm helicopter pilot

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