War Hero Teachers - a vanished breed

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Cuddles, Oct 12, 2007.

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  1. Over on the Poppies thread, I was struck by somebody's reminiscences of their teacher who had served in a distinguished role in WW2. I immediately thought of several of my own teachers who were also bona fide war heroes...

    Deputy Head - Dougie Saint AFC. He flew PRU Spitfires over Germany. no guns, stripped of armour, massive cojones.

    Geoff English (I think, because it might have been Sammy Stock) - Battle of Britain pilot with DFM. If he got edgy in class, he started to reflexively check his six o'clock!

    Cec Parker - RN Commando who ran the war games club for us. Remember him picking up an airfix dead figure off the table once and musing that there wasn't really any need to have them, "as dead bodies sort of merge into the ground and you don't really notice them..."

    Now those sorts of life experiences are unlikely to be cropping up on teacher's CVs in the near future.
  2. Luggy Cooper, old and fat and very silly french master, until we found out he had been a 25 year old RSM in Gds Armoured.
  3. Even if they did pop up on a teachers CV i doubt the schools would want them. God forbid they may actually encourage any little Timmy's into following in their footsteps and trying to emulate someone that they could reasonably respect.

    It would be much better for them to Gob off in class at the 22 year old post - grad who has all the life experience (Not including travelling to the far east to smoke pot) of a shoe box and an opinion of the armed forces being equivelent to Dr Shipman.

    Electronics Teacher - Royal Signals Sgt
    History Teacher - Full Screw in the RGJ
  4. Bizzarley, one of our old French teachers, Twek, big fat bloke with stutter and limp, subsequently found out he's been a para at Arnhem
  5. I had a physics/ careers master who had been a WW2 Commando, never found out anytrhing about what he did but I would dearly love to know. As mad as a goose but a great bloke, well respected by all.
  6. I must be getting old, having mentioned one Maths teacher in the Poppy thread;
    I’ve just remembered another maths master was known as “Mr Colonel Francis”. I think he died a couple of years ago and the Old Boys mag did an obituary or sorts. I have to see if I can find it.
  7. My old English teacher was a fella called Mr Brick, never mentioned the war at all until he found out I was in the ACF, then the floodgates opened, turned out he was an officer with the Gurkhas in the Far East and ended up with the Chindits. Good man.
  8. old_fat_and_hairy

    old_fat_and_hairy LE Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I had a history teacher named Colcott who had been a naivigator with 617 (Dambuster) Sqn RAF and a Geography teacher who had been Paddy Mayne's driver/operator. Good teachers and oh so easy to distract!
  9. My P.E teacher too had been a commando, leatherbarrow his name, mad as a box of frogs, once chased a lad around gym wanting to show him a stranglehold, at the age of 11 we were just a bit scared of him.

    Woodwork teacher had been a P.O.W in Japan, resigned when the first chinense lad joined the school, as he couldnt look at his face without being sick, sad that, was a good bloke.
  10. Auld-Yin

    Auld-Yin LE Reviewer Book Reviewer Reviews Editor

    I had 2 teachers in my School who admitted to having seen service. My English teacher who had served in WW1 (we think as a Gunner) and History teacher who had been a tank driver in WW2. Both were very willing to talk about the war in general, but never in detail. WW1 teach was very anti war and said all should be done to prevent it. WW2 teach was a bit more philosophical in that he accepted that wars happen. Used to be a great way not to do any lessons by asking them about their experiences!!!!

    Both were excellent teachers BTW.
  11. Mr Cornish - a lovely man, taught history at Vernon Holme to me 1970-1973! Royal Navy Submariner. Oodles of 'boys own' tales for us in dorm before lights out - we loved it when he was on duty. Had the end of his finger missing - chopped off when someone dropped a torpedeo on it whilst loading the tube! Flat dent in skull - caused by having his hammock strings cut whilst in Boy service and landing on his swede on the steel deck!!

    Mr 'Smoothy' Wright - another history teacher, and my house master. Despite being a Public School master, he was a rabid socialist (of the 'gin and tonic' variety), but was proud of his war service in the Baltic as an Able Seaman. The Bursar, too, was a Navy man; LtCdr Woodruffe - plenty of gongs worn on Armistice Day.

    I suppose the end of the war was only 25 years ago then, a bit like the Falklands is to us now........ no wonder I feel old etc etc
  12. Hempstead Biology teacher. Not exactly a war hero but had been a surgeon in the army and had worked with the red cross during the 1960's in the congo. a brilliant teacher who knew what it was like to get shot at.

    and Riery a drunken scots loon who was permanently having boys play practical jokes on him. found out later he had been a rear gunner in a halifax during the height of the bombing of berlin.
    I regret taking the piss now.
  13. Most of the teachers at my school post WWII [mid 40's to mid 50's] were either vets from that war or even WW1. They seldom if ever spoke about their experiences of warfare and on reflection were probably just happy to have survived. Very good academic motivators. The two exceptions I remember were the metalwork teacher who was formerly a blacksmith in HM Dockyard and built like a prop forward on steroids who caned pupils
    with a very heavy hand and one of the English teachers, an academic with a double-barreled name and a snobbish attitude to boot.
  14. Didn't teach me personally but was my neighbour and an English teacher at the local Grammar school. He was an NCO pilot with the RAF during WW2 and flew night fighters from the East Yorkshire coast. Would never talk to me about his experiences and it was only after he died that his wife told me he didn't like talking about it due to an incident involving him being shot down by a german night fighter and him having to bail out. Apparently his radar operator/gunner didn't manage to bail out in time and he felt awful guilt for the rest of his life that he'd made it and the other chap hadn't. He was a sound fella and was Patrick Moore's slimmer doppleganger.
  15. Worked with a small mild mannered chap, who was very precise in everything he did. Chatting one time and asked him if he had any service in. WOPAG on Wellingtons until the pilot flew over Jersey on the way back from a raid. A shell hit the wing and they flew the rest of the way home with this guy watching the fabric peeling off the wing.

    Six months later he was released from nervous affliction hospital, and told that his fear of flying was understandable. So they sent him on an FAC course and he ended up in Burma guiding Hurri Bombers onto Jap positions. He said that sometimes he was bringing them in as close as 25yards away.

    We never talked about it again - must have caught him on a good day.