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What did they do in the war?

I only remember one master alluding to his wartime experience, when successfully distracted from teaching us Latin. It was Wilbur Bloomfield, and his anecdote was more about his distaste for smoking than about what he'd done in the war. The only time he'd smoked, he revealed, was when he was in Burma and a lighted cigarette end was the only effective remedy to rid the skin of ticks. 'Waste of fags', said P Helliwell when I told him the story. But other than that, one could only imagine what our teachers had been up to from 1939-45. I fancied I could see H Milton in a beret and stripey T-shirt, cycling through the lanes of Normandy, leader of a resistance group, granades disguised as onions on the handlebars of his bike. Basher Braithwaite would've defeated Wehrmacht Panzer attacks with only his bare fists. Bill Midgeley might have built mock spitfires of wood to fool Luftwaffe aerial reconnaissance. And Stoker? Chemical weapons for sure. Checking the 1940 panorama, it's clear that a good number of staff evaded the call-up. Bang goes my Stoker theory, and my Bill Midgeley one. The reason I raise this, is that the other day, whilst exploring this site, I came across a minute, taken at some boring meeting or the other, by my old French teacher FS Catley. I decided to Google him and see what came up. This did:
"Returning from a mission to Nuremberg in Germany on 28 August 1943, 77 Squadron RAF Halifax Bomber JD371 KN-O was attacked by a German fighter and caught fire. Four men managed to parachute before the crash, one of them did not survive. The plane was moving straight onto the village but the pilot, with complete disregard for his own life and those of the other three crewmen remaining on board, managed to divert the aircraft which crashed into a meadow. The 3 crewmen who parachuted to safety (FS Catley, and Sgts Beard and Palmer) subsequently managed to return to England via the Comet Line. Those who died (PO Brannigan, FSs Humphries, Rogers and Silver (RCAF), Sgt Templeton) are buried in the Commonwealth War Grave at Heverlee, Belgium". The Comet Line has a Wikipedia entry and, as it turns out, was a resistance movement enterprise to return allied soldiers and airmen to the UK.
I wonder if this is the same FS Catley who taught us French? I have a bit of feeling that it probably was. If Bill Catley visits KBGS.com and reads this, he can maybe tell us.
Does anyone else have insights into the wartime exploits of KBGS staff?

Re: What did they do in the war?

Albert Braithwaite must have been by far the easiest to sidetrack from his subject (apparently mathematics) which he purported to teach my undistinguished group in Lower 6th. If only he were alive today, he would certainly warm to your suggestion about his potential exploits, Allan. As it was, he recounted such fanciful anecdotes, ranging across topics far and wide, that almost all of them were quickly ascribed, even by 16 year-olds, to the land of make-believe and forgotten.

I do recall one particular war-time tale, however, when Albert and colleagues found themselves responsible for guarding a number of POWs. These being a nuisance and drain on resources, Albert volunteered to "take them round the back" and shoot the lot of them!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958 - 65

Current location (optional) Dudley, West Midlands

Re: What did they do in the war?

Allan, Spike Rannard and Fred ("Mick" as Spike calls him) Catley were close friends. Spike, I'm sure, would be able to throw some light on your bomber crew story, and possibly also on other aspects of this fascinating can of worms you have thought to open.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1951-58

Current location (optional) Keswick, Cumbria

Re: What did they do in the war?

Hardly "in the war", but certainly a consequence of it:
DP Stannard (57-60 pictured between Vincent Firman and Fearnside 1960 Panora) told us of his experience as part of the British guard at Spandau Prison which at that time "housed" only Rudolf Hess, Hitler's Deputy, who flew to Scotland in 1941 to negotiate peace with the UK. For this offer he was imprisoned until his suicide in 1987.
Stannard told us of how Hess would walk around the exercise yard monitored by a "squaddy" in an observation tower. I think he thought his imprisonment was past its purpose as he described an occasion where Hess broke away from his escort and hurled sods of earth and abuse at the "snotty-nosed private" in the tower.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1952-60

Current location (optional) Nirvana

Re: What did they do in the war?

If you look at the 1946 Panorama you will see that most of the masters there are late middle age . To Us at school at the time they all seemed damned old and I notice there was a flood of retirements in the 50's which would appear to back me up on this .The masters eligible for call up would have all been conscripted by the time I arrived at the school as those on the panorama show only one or two changes from 1943 . Frank Wellock I can remember had just got out of the services at the end of the war .The only reference I heard of war service was that Nev. Hind had won the MC in WW1
There may be an explanation for this in that anyone born around 1900 would ,with luck, be too young for the first war and maybe too old for the initial conscription in the second.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 43-46

Current location (optional) Tasmania

Re: What did they do in the war?

This is a fair point, Mike. If you look at the panoramas from 1958/60/64 - the years I attended - you'll notice that there are indeed masters who would've been too old/young for conscription. But there were also those who would probably been of conscription age. I'm thinking: Joe Watthey; Harry Milton; Wilbur Bloomfield; Tex Mitchell; Spike Rannard; ?Stannard; ?Dawson; ?Robinson; Gilbert Swift: ?Trenouth; Albert Braithwiate and probably others.

Re: What did they do in the war?

Arthur E Watthey b Nottingham 1920 Albert Braithwaite b Keighley1920 Wilbert Bloomfield b Blackburn 1923
What was Tex's first name and Robinson and Stannard ? Were they local?
Cant find birth for Frank W Trenouth, only a marriage in 1943
Gilbert S Swift b Cockermouth 1914
Cant find birth of Leonard M Stockdale, but theres a marriage in Keighley in 1929 to Edith Binns

All above from Ancestry.com

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

Well, Brian, there's a photo of Leonard Stockdale's retirement in (variously) 1961/62/or 65. I think 1962 is most likely. If he were 65 in 1962, that would give him a birthdate of 1897. He'd have been 17 at the start of WW1 and 44 when WW2 started. He's pictured on Part 4 of the 1940 panorama. K Preston/A Braithwaite/ W Midgeley are also still present in 1940.

Re: What did they do in the war?

Still cant find a birth for Stockdale, I looked at earlier dates. This probably means he was born abroad.
He was still working when I took A level Chemi in 1964,and I think when I left school at Christmas 1964. So I think he retired in 1965. What I can do is search WW1 records

Later edit a Leonard Stockdale enlisted 1915 Royal field Artillery, was several times wounded, and was awarded the Military Medal. But he was from Malton , N Yorks. No way of knowing if it was him, but from dates on docs, he would have been born 1895 which is a bit too early as he would have retired at age 70 !

Later edit. Found birth now 1896

Even later edit. Another Leonard Stockdale also born East Ham 1896, enlisted in 1917, Royal Army Servie Corps. Maybe that more likely !

Finally there are a few Kenneth Prestons in the right time scale. Most likely perhaps b Blackburn 1902, married in 1920 in Todmorden

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

I don't know what he did whilst in the forces, but I well remember Gilbert Swift eating lunch ( no, let's get it right - school dinner!) shortly after the end of the war. He was resplendent in his army uniform, Sam Brown belt, hair slicked down. Maybe he had visited to see if he could get his old job back? Anyway, he sat on the stage with the other masters and he looked magnificent. He did get his old job back as we all know, but PE lessons were never the same for us when he came back and Miss Griffiths had to exercise elsewhere!

Re: What did they do in the war?

Fascinating researches, Brian. So Stoker must've retired in 1965 (which is also a date cited on the retirement photo). Denis, you conjure up a fine image of Gilbert in his army uniform. Hope he didn't get sago pudding all over it!

Re: What did they do in the war?

Yes Allan, pity we only have WW1 records on Ancestry.com. WW2 will not be released for a while, they are available only to someone who can prove direct family link to whom they are searching. I dont think there are any others who may have been in WW1

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

It runs in my mind that someone, somewhere, told me that Fred Catley had an illustrious WW2 spent behind enemy lines in France with the Maquis. Can anyone confirm this story and maybe ('appen') expand the story? The obvious person to ask would be Spike!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1945 - 50

Current location (optional) Norfolk

Re: What did they do in the war?

I would put Stoker's retirement as early as 1961. He taught me in the 3rd year (1960-61), and I remember being disappointed (believe it or not!) that he wouldn't be available for O-level in the 4th. As things turned out, I still feel my apprehension to have been justified.

I think Brian M's recollection, of Stoker having worked as late as 1964, may be from when he returned temporarily to cover absence of the unfortunate "Ben Tren", who was incapacitated through an injury (the cause of which I don't remember). Stoker certainly taught me briefly at Oakbank ('64/'65) during Ben's recovery period.

If it's of any help to this thread, I clearly recall a number of staff retirements during, or just before, my early years at the school - including Birch (who returned, mornings only, to teach us maths in 1C), followed by Stockdale, Preston, Milton and possibly others. All of these were credited with having taught at KBGS for 40 years but, of course, we don't know their ages on retirement.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958 - 65

Current location (optional) Dudley, West Midlands

Re: What did they do in the war?

Ben Tren was knocked down by a car on one of the continental school trips he organised.
Talking of Ben, I think he had quite an interesting war, part of which was spent undercover in occupied Holland. His job was to radio home to tell the RAF which direction tank convoys were heading so the Brylcream boys could give them a good seeing to. One of the unfortunate tank crew was a chap called Harald Haupt who, after being taken prisoner, settled in Crosshills and opened a camera shop there.

Re: What did they do in the war?

Brian , I am sure I had no one else for A Level Chemmi except Stoker.
Ben Trens accident was I think in 1963 (I had been on 1962 trip), temporarily they got a guy called Jim Bamber in who was a lecturer in Bradford.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?


Probably the best person to go to for information about Gilbert Swift is his granddaughter, Kate Metcalfe, who is the Bookings and Events Secretary at Keighley RUFC, Skipton Road, Utley, Keighley, West Yorkshire, BD20 6DT; email: k8-metcalfe@yahoo.co.uk

Doug

Re: What did they do in the war?

Brian - I am sure we had Ben Tren for A level chemistry in our last A level year - I can remember Bamber trying to explain electron quantum levels to me as part of atomic chemistry in the lower 6th but I'm sure Ben took over again in '64/'65. I can't remember Stoker coming back at all. Time does however dull the memory - quite frighteningly when trying to remember details of this nature!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958 - 1965

Current location (optional) Embsay Nr Skipton

Re: What did they do in the war?

In the 'photographs'' section of the website there is a reference to Stockdale's retirement in either 1961, 1962 or 1965. There is also a 'List of Masters 1961-1962' in which 'Ben' is stated as being Head of Chemistry, but there is no mention of Stockdale.

Ben was hit by a car in Namur, at the start of one of him many European escapades, so 'Stoker' could have returned on a short-term 'supply' basis as temporary cover.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1959-66

Current location (optional) Shoreham-by-Sea

Re: What did they do in the war?

In the 'photographs'' section of the website there is a reference to Stockdale's retirement in either 1961, 1962 or 1965. There is also a 'List of Masters 1961-1962' in which 'Ben' is stated as being Head of Chemistry, but there is no mention of Stockdale. As he does not appear in the List, it would appear that he must have retired at the end of the summer term in 1961.

Check the other people on the photograph of his retirement to see if anyone can place the date correctly, but I'd still go for 1961.

Ben was hit by a car in Namur, at the start of one of him many European escapades, so 'Stoker' could have returned on a short-term 'supply' basis as temporary cover.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1959-66

Current location (optional) Shoreham-by-Sea

Re: What did they do in the war?

Well it may be he came back, but I only remember Ben Tren for Gen Sci in first year, (not later for Chemistry) Then we had Hardcastle in second year then Stoker, who had me caned by Joe in Dec 1960 (3S2, before we became 3X at Easter) ! He said I was only the third boy he had had caned. Bastard ! I deserved it though.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

No sign of Stoker on the 1964 panorama. If he returned to temp in 1965, that might account for Brian's recollection. All depends when Ben's accident occurred? My mental files and folders, where these memories are stored, were sadly erased when I rebooted after a recent virus.

Re: What did they do in the war?

No back up? Shame on you, Allan.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds

Re: What did they do in the war?

What were you caned for,Brian? Maybe a new thread: Fings wot we was caned for?

Re: What did they do in the war?


Well, at least you got that last bit right, Brian - about deserving the cane!

Joking aside, recent contributions to this thread do seem to confirm my recollections of the chemistry teaching arrangements. My contention is that Stockdale retired in summer 1961, was replaced as Head of Chemistry (and Science) by Trenouth and that we (4X) were taught '61-'62 by a Welsh man, Jenkins, inevitably nicknamed "Taffy".

Jim Bamber (who drove in every day from Giggleswick) was no temporary secondment; in fact, he taught us to A-level before obtaining a post at Bradford University, suited to his more advanced academic leanings. We then had "Ben" in 3rd Year 6th(probably after your leaving KBGS), with Stoker as temporary cover during Ben's recovery from accident. This all seems to fit well with Brian Shuttleworth's reminiscences, too.

Things were much more straightforward in physics, having Sam Riley continuously for five years. That largely determined my choice of degree course!

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958 - 65

Current location (optional) Dudley, West Midlands

Re: What did they do in the war?

I do not remember a Jenkins at all , and only a few odd lessons with Bamber.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

Well Brian, I can't see that happening.

I've just dug-out my old copies of 'The Keighlian' and have found the following comment:

‘At the end of this term we say farewell to Mr Stockdale who is leaving us to go into retirement after over forty years at the School.’' We wish him a long and happy retirement.’

and that is from the ‘Summer 1961’ edition of the magazine. He was also ‘Housemaster of Longsdon House’, of which you, Brian, were also a member and 'House Secretary (as I seem to remember).

‘Ben’ succeeded him and as Head of Science and was injured, in Namur, at Easter 1965, whilst leading the ‘Bavaria, Easter 1965’ trip.

Unless I have missed it, there are no comments about 'Stoker' returning to KBGS time after he retired.


Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1959-66

Current location (optional) Shoreham-by-Sea

Re: What did they do in the war?

Yes he was House master and I was House secretary, but I wasnt that till the 6th form, which I started in Sep 1963. I was also secretary of the School Scientific Society. But I still do not remember having anyone for Chemistry A Level other than Stockdale and maybe a few lessons with Bamber, and I took that just after we moved to Oakbank at Easter 1964. I left at Christmas that year as I had 5 unconditional uni offers from following year. That Jenkins is mystery to me !

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

I remember Taffy Jenkins, but only as far as O levels, Bamber and Ben after that in the 6th form.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958 - 65

Current location (optional) Embsay nr Skipton

Re: What did they do in the war?

Gilbert Swift was called up just before 1943 as my brother Peter told me he was the rugby master when he first started in 1941 . He wasn't there in 1943 and neither was Frank Wellock ,he had been conscripted before I went to the Grammar School and I remember when he came out of the forces in 1945 and Gilbert Swift too .

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 43-46

Current location (optional) Tasmania

Re: What did they do in the war?

Yes, Mike - I imagined that the two of them would have been called up. I fancied Gilbert might've been an early entrant to the military service, but that Frank might've been later given his relative youth at the time. Wonder what they did?

Re: What did they do in the war?

It would be good to know, but whilst WW1 stuff is on line WW2 will not be available for a good while yet, unless you are a direct descendant.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

A google search led me to a reference on ancestry.com of an AE Watthey being a prisoner of war in Poland. No way of knowing if this was Joe Watthey.

Re: What did they do in the war?

I’ve just stumbled across this post (only 5 years late!).
I can fill in some of my late father’s wartime information in the interest of setting the record straight.
Frank Trenouth (known as Ben Tren at KBGS) enlisted during the first months of WW2, leaving his job as Science master at the Manor school in York.
Initially he worked on radar, specifically on the radar control of heavy guns. On one occasion he was sent to Newcastle to connect the guns of Ark Royal (which was on Tyneside for a refit) to the shore based radar. Stepping off the train in Newcastle station, he was handed a mug of tea by a pretty young WRVS volunteer who he subsequently married.
In 1942 he was seconded to SRDE (Signals Research and Development Executive) in Christchurch on the south coast where his expertise in electronics & foreign languages (he was fluent in Dutch, German, French & Italian) led to him working on captured enemy communications equipment. He was subsequently sent to occupied Holland, firstly to make observations about the German ‘Wurtzburg’ radar installations & then subsequently to track a German scientist called Dr Bluther who was attempting to build a ‘Plutonium Bomb’. On one occasion, after showing a little too much interest in a Phillips factory in Eindhoven, he was arrested by the Gestapo & interrogated by them. Fortunately he managed to pass himself off as a native Dutch worker & was released.
Following D-Day, he followed closely behind the front line checking German communications centres as well as investigating the elusive Dr Bluther & his atomic research. He took the surrender of the huge Hilversum radio station & transmitting tower from the Nazis.
By the time he was demobbed, he was an acting Major & many years later told me one of his regrets was having to destroy about a dozen Enigma machines from a cupboard in his office just prior to his return to civilian life.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1960-1967

Current location (optional) Skipton

Re: What did they do in the war?

Very interesting John. Thanks for that. I still credit 'Ben' with having got me interested in Chemistry in which I eventually got a degree and worked in the industry till I retired in 2012 (even though Stoker had me caned by Watthey). I owe him many thanks.

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 58-64

Current location (optional) Wirral

Re: What did they do in the war?

Who? Stoker, Watthey or Ben Tren?

Years at KBGS e.g. 1958-1964 (optional) 1958-65

Current location (optional) Leeds