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1940 - 1949

John Bakewell (1945)

I left King Edward's in 1946 to go to the Thames Nautical Training College HMS Worcester. After two years there, I left with a pretty good certificate in school work thanks to KES! I then joined Shaw Savill and Albion Company as a cadet. I stayed with them for ten years taking various certificates up to Masters. I left as Second Officer to join the Cross channel ships at Holyhead where I stayed until 1991 when I retired as Senior Captain. In all was with our Merchant Navy for 43 years.

Shaw Savills was a great Company to sail with. Just about anything can happen to Deck Officers, but one unusual experience I had was to assist with an appendicitis operation in the Indian Ocean. Fortunately we had a FRCS surgeon with us on the ship (a cargo ship). The Chief Electrician rigged powerful lights in the Dispensary; the Engineers made instruments out of brass; our 2nd Officer assisted the surgeon and I, the 3rd Officer, administered the anaesthetic by putting the liquid into a medicine bottle corked but with a slit in the cork. I had strict instructions from the surgeon to drip the anaesthetic on to a towel covering the victim's nose (the young 5th Engineer). I was told to watch his ears to make sure they stayed a nice red colour and did not become purple!! If they did, I was to ease off. Fortunately all went well and he fully recovered.

Another story was when I was Junior 4th Officer on Shaw Savills ‘Dominion Monarch'. She was a beautiful ship carrying only 1st Class passengers between the UK, Australia and New Zealand. This was my first voyage as a ship's officer and I was just 20 years old. My duty was to keep the Middle Watch (12midnight to 4am) with the 2nd Officer (incidentally a great friend of mine to this day. He is 90 now).

It was about 2am when the Bridge Phone rang. The 2nd Officer answered it and it was the Band Leader saying that he had a lady in his cabin who he had been entertaining, and when she went back to her cabin, her husband would not let her in and threatened to kill her. The 2nd Officer told me to go down and sort it out!!! I called on the husband who told me he would kill her, although I pointed out that murder wasn't the done thing on a British ship!! I went to the Band Leader's cabin and told the lady that I would try and find a cabin for her for the rest of the night.

Now the gentleman to see was the Staff Chief Steward who allocated cabins. This was Mr Brown, who was a gentleman with no vices. He neither drank nor smoked and had nothing to do with the lady passengers. He was known to be a pillar with his local community at home and a leading member of the church. I knocked on Mr Brown's door, switched on the light and walked in. Mr Brown and a topless blonde sat straight up in bed with a look of panic!!! Mr Brown couldn't do enough for me after that!

Just one last story was when I was nearing the end of my seafaring life on Sealink ship ‘St. Columba', a very fine ship. It was about 11am when the phone in my Day Room rang and it was the Chief Engineer telling me they had a fire in the Engine Room. I rushed to the Bridge and as it was blowing storm force winds requested that nearby ships would stand by. I also called Holyhead coastguard who organised a lifeboat and sent firemen out by helicopter.

Our crew actually put out the fire before the shore firemen arrived. It was impossible to start the engines again as there was too much oil sloshing around and much damage had been done. So sent for a tug and eventually made Holyhead about 12 hours later. The passengers were marvellous and well looked after by our Purser.

It was nice to see that our crew were praised in Parliament with a mention in Hansard. (24/1/14)

Alan Young (1945)

I joined the Intelligence Corps in 1945 and served in Burma and Malaya - as I had attended the last of the wartime Army Cantonese courses, when I was demobbed in 1948 I decided to read for an Honours Degree in Modern Chinese and duly graduated in 1951. After an unhappy year in a bank I was fortunate enough to be appointed to HM Colonial Administrative Service in early 1953 and joined the Malayan Civil Service in which I served until December 1962 - I had to retire early because of Malayan Independence. Thus I was one of the very last of the Colonial oppressors although looking at the present rulers of the country I don't think our rule was in anyway oppressive! Following this I continued to work in Malaysia in a number of jobs until we returned to England in 1975. I worked in London for some ten years and after retirement we decided to return to Malaysia in 1989 where I continue to reside. As a Chinese scholar I like to visit China as often as possible and since 2005 I have been to Beijing, Guilin, Shanghai (three times) Xián (twice),Chengdu (three times) Suzhou and Hangzhou. However at almost 84 unless I can get one of my daughters to accompany me I doubt if I will go again on my own. This year however I am going to England twice for family events although I am not keen on the long flights. My best wishes to any of my contempoaries still with us! (15/3/11)

A.T. Tolley (1946)

Professor A.T. Tolley started collecting jazz records in 1942 when he was in form 5B. His first publication was an article, 'Why I Like Bix' in the magazine Discography when he was 17 and in the History Sixth. He has recently published a collection of essays on jazz, 'Codas to a Life with Jazz'. Professor Tolley is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has published several books on twentieth century British poetry. He is the President of the Montreal Vintage Music Society. (03/9/13) 

Professor  Emeritus A. Trevor Tolley FRSL, has been awarded a fellowship at the Harry Ransom Centre at The University of Texas at Austin to work on his study of the great British editor, John Lehmann. (20/9/13)

Peter Coates (1947)

After the sad death of my wife Coralie, just a few days after we had celebrated out diamond wedding in September 2010, I married again in 2013 an old friend from the 1950s, who had lived in France for some 25 years. But sadly she too died only a couple of months after our marriage, and I have been a widower again for just over a year. Despite advancing years, I am happy and well, still able to drive, with many good friends and a loving family. I live in a comfortable flat overlooking the sea in Hove, and look back on a good and fulfilling life, having spent 26 years in Unilever's West African business, and nine years in a second career as the bursar of Brighton College, the local and currently very successful independent coeducational school. I have been in retirement since 1990. (24/1/14)

Geoffrey Gardiner (1947)

As I was born on the same date, though naturally different year, as Richard Wagner, the bicentenary celebrations in his birthplace, Leipzig, seemed to present the opportunity to have the birthday party of a lifetime. We saw six operas, attended two concerts and a ballet. We stayed at the best hotel, went to the best restaurants and had the best seats. And of course our guide was Wagner expert and Old Edwardian, Professor John Deathridge. Like me John also spent some time at Camp Hill as well as Edgbaston. He was brilliant. (12/1/14)

On Tuesday, 9 August 2016 I made a sentimental journey from my present home in Swindon to Newnham Bridge in the gorgeous Teme Valley.  It was here that during the August vacations in the war years KES boys, plus some old boys at University, went to do farm work. The school Scout Troup also camped in a field on the farm near the river. My understanding was that the farm at Newnham Court was about 900 acres, huge for the era, and belonged to a KES old boy named Nott or Knott. It was a mixed farm but had no dairy cattle. There were hops, picked by Black Country factory workers on their annual holiday, soft and hard fruit, sugar beet, wheat, a few chickens and sheep. My first visit was for a Scout camp in 1943. My recollection is that Maurice Porter and Dr Walter ('Dicky') Deutschkron looked after us, and the latter taught us songs in some of the six languages he spoke. He must have been very worried as I learned many decades later that his wife and daughter were then in hiding in Berlin. Do look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inge_Deutschkron for details.

In 1944 I spent two weeks on the farm. We were aided by Italian prisoners of war, a very jolly bunch. In 1945 they had been replaced by Germans whose enthusiasm for hard work astounded and impressed us. Britons would surely not work that hard for anyone, friend or enemy. I helped an Austrian prisoner bottle apple juice. Unfortunately I did not start to learn German from two of our wonderful German-Jewish refugees until the next term. The Masters used to patronise the Talbot Hotel, and we sneaked by it to the slightly scruffy Railway Tavern - now vanished after a period as a high class restaurant - to imbibe cider. Our net pay was one halfpenny an hour, but the real reward was having generous farm-workers' rations. I spent one week as a cook and delighted in roasting a ten pound joint of beef and a nine pound joint of pork. Lunch was four thick sandwiches, often full of cheese. There was plenty of milk so we made junket. A novice at that task was told to put some of the pale liquid from the brown bottle (rennet) into a gallon of milk and he put in some of the brown liquid from the pale bottle (vinegar). Almost worked.

Two or three boys who were good swimmers were asked to teach the daughters of some higher status locals to swim in the river. To their embarrassment but no doubt delight they discovered, I was told, that the invention of swimsuits had not arrived in the Teme Valley. Prudery is a modern invention.

Our visit included lunch in a 14th century pub nearby. By good chance one of the interesting locals at the bar had been a worker on the Newnham farm. He had started work there at age 12 in 1947 and spent his working life there. It was great to talk to him. Although his first work on the farm was two years after my last work, we found some names in common and many enjoyable reminiscences. We bemoaned the loss of the fruit trees from the valley sides and enthused over the taste of Purple Pershores, Yellow Pershores and Warwickshire Droopers. (There was a belief that the 'Droopers' got their name from their laxative effect.) I maintained that the Yellow Pershore made the best jam, while another patron of the pub claimed the Purple Pershore was better. A passionate debate ensued.  My first job on the farm had been to pick Beauty of Bath apples which had a short shelf life but the train took them and people quickly to Kidderminster and Birmingham. The train route from Kidderminster to Woofferton must surely have been one of most lovely in England as it ran through the heart of the Wyre Forest. A very sad loss.

The hops, I learned are now picked by machine.

Two of my wartime journeys to Newnham Bridge were done on my 'sit-up-and-beg' one gear BSA bicycle. It was 41 miles of empty roads and I can still remember vividly my feelings of total pleasure at cycling slowly on a hot sunny day along the road through the Teme Valley. For one who was born in the middle of the BSA factory in Armoury Road, claimed to have been the biggest industrial complex in the world, it was heavenly. (19/9/16)

Barrie Cooper (1948)

I had much pleasure in attending the Diamond Jubilee celebration of the Birmingham Old Edwardians Lodge No 7115, on 27th October at the Warwickshire Masonic Temple in Edgbaston, with many Old Edwardian friends. It was a most happy evening and I had the pleasure, as an Honorary member, of proposing a toast to their future. (31/10/11)

Trevor Gatty (1948)

Not much new. Still keeping active at the age of 81. Mostly assisting my wife in her role Executive Director for the North Carolina Society of Plastic Surgeons, who are one of our clients. I do their fairly simple accounts and have become a dab hand at Excel spreadsheets. Also much communication online with our five children and four grandchildren (ages ranging from one to 17 - two of them in London, one in Belfast and one living close to us here in Charlotte, North Carolina). We also have a getaway cottage in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia which keeps us busy at summer weekends but is too cold for winter visits. One grandson, Zachary, born in Belfast in September 2010. (25/10/11)

I had a great time at the Biennial Dinner in October. First Time in 10 years or that I had been able to attend since the dates always clashed with an Annual Conference of Plastic Surgeons that my wife organised. Myrna is now busy with her project on how Shakespeare would have used Twitter and the Internet - Brevity is the Soul of (T)Wit - on www.shakespearesez.com.

 

Also, we both enjoyed the meeting of US and Canadian OEs for which John Claughton came over to New York in August.

Whilst we were in the UK in October we linked up with 'children' (middle aged) and grandchildren from London and Dublin, managed to see some wonderful theatre (Electra, Julius Caesar in London and Loves Labours Lost in Stratford), and enjoyed the comfort of the St Ermin's Hotel in London and an 18th century cottage in the Cotswolds. (2/12/14)

 

A. J. Ireland (1949)

Hope to become a Greatgrandfather in November. (11/8/11)