War Hero Teachers - a vanished breed

#41
Don't joke about the Army running schools - I went to Queen Victoria School, in Dunblane. I turned up in 1976, just three years after the last RAEC Headmaster left, and the first civilian one started.... loads of ex-forces around.

The school at the time was run by a Commandant, Brig (Retd) HHM Marston MC TD, who had won the MC at Cassino with the Gurkhas, been Brigade Major of 16 Para Bde, and commanded the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers in Borneo. His obituary is http://www.londonscottishregt.org/pdf/lsrgazzette_autumn04.pdf, on page 84. We were in awe of the guy.

The school RSM was Jack Deeley - WW2 and Korea with the Royal Scots.

The PE teacher was "Tinarse" Reid - bomb-aimer in Bomber Command, apparently with a lump of shrapnel still in him; the Chemistry teacher was Robin Scott, a navigator with Bomber Command IIRC. The woodwork teacher was Jack Finlay, Desert and Italian campaign. The school Pipe-Major was John Mackenzie, NW Europe with the Argylls.

My first primary teacher was Hugh Brown - 23 SAS in the 1960s; I can't remember the Adjutant, sorry Admin Officer, but he was a Cdo Gnr of some sort. The previous French teacher Mr Malkowski was a Pole who had allegedly done time in Colditz; the previous Art Teacher (Vic LeMaistre?) another Italian campaign veteran.

Ironically, my first CSM in the TA went on to QVS as its RSM - another Gentleman, this time from Scots Guards.

The ones I remember were all Gentlemen, in the truest sense - nothing to prove to anyone, no-one they had to impress. I don't remember any of them talking much about their experiences. They were exactly the guys you would want looking after your kids.
 

JINGO

War Hero
Book Reviewer
#42
I was taught English Lit by a quiet gentleman with a pronounced limp, he had the kind of prescence that demanded respect and would brook no nonsense. I never realised he had done his time till i left school and explained i was joining the Cavalry. He then revealed that he had been a troop leader at Alamein but had given it up as a bad deal having no faith in the 2 pounders ability to knock out Africa Korps tanks and transfered to the Sigs.
I used to sit and talk for hours with my mates Dad Roy in my local on a Saturday afternoon he had hit the beach on D Day with the 4/7th Dragoon Guards, he had many a story but was so modest they had to be coaxed from him gently with beer. I will never forget the pleasure of hearing a total Walt being cut dead by Roy. The walt had been loudly explaining where the Paras had got it wrong at Arnhem. Roy just quietly cleared his throat and said "Well when i was at Nijmagen...." He didnt really have to add any more. What a Gent not many left of his ilk.
 
#43
Top thread this btw, just been talking to a mate who was at school with us, who then went into the R.A, reminded me of our Geography teacher, who had been at Monte Cassino.

I suppose round that time, the schools must have been full of guys who had fought in WW2, and the shops, yet i took little notice, wonder how much oral history was lost, as no one asked them anything.

Not war stories but just on the general time
 
#44
I went to a minor public schol in Somerset 'til aged 16 and quite a number were ex forces. The Headmaster was ex RN and a bit of a knob but the one that impressed me was the quitest and most unassuming Maths teacher. He hardly ever spoke a word but one day while i was clearing leaves in his beloved garden as a punishment he opened up a bit. Turns out the bloke was a hurricane pilot in WWII and had fought in the Battle of Britain, I believe with great distinction.

He mentioned being split away from his squadron and shot down over Kent, having to bail out very low and not being sure if his chute would have time to open before he piled in - in a masterful piece of understatement he described the experience as "rather alarming"

Nails - I salute you sir.
 
#45
At my prep school there was Cmndr Wallace a man of great common sense who used to make a wedge of ten year olds think before engaging mouth also Mr Bellamy who taught maths and was ex RA he also featured in a radio 4 programme called'Mr B'
At my Grammar School the D & T blokes were ex navy and ex RAF, the general science bloke was an ex tankie on Crocodiles (flamethrower tanks) and had helped burn down some of the hut at Belsen,he was one of our CCF school officers as was a chap called Eric Dominy who was captured at Dunkirk but later went on to write a series of books on self defence, and finally the CO of our CCf unit was an ancient old idiot who seemed to have dropped into Arnhem at age 19 and won some sort of MM.
As has been said if you'd realised what they'd done.
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#46
This chap wiki Nick Alkemedewas a great friend of my useless stepdad and made his living selling wrought iron work for fireplaces. He came in once for a cuppa and saw me reading a book about the RAF in WW2. I explained my grandad was RCAF and lost in 1945 over Holland.
He told me to look up this chap Alkemede (He was uncle Nick to us). I did and he smiled and pointed out himself in the book. Totally in awe of him!
 
#47
I had two at my school the Head, Mr Gristwwod was a Nav on Lancs. I had an interview without tea and biscuits with him once. I had forced some kid into a drainage ditch on cross country and bombarded him with mud and cowsh1t. When I told him it was because he was taking the pish out of poppies and I thought he should have a little taste of trench life, I got punished with the removal of my prefects badge from Friday night to Monday morning. Thanks sir.
The other was the Deputy Head, Bobby Judge, an ex RN PO. He sailed on escorts on the Arctic convoys. A tiny man, he had 6 foot+ yobs in tears outside his office as they awaited his punishment. I spent most Friday afternoons in his office helping him with admin as we both hated RE.
The jobs lasted about ten minutes and the rest of the time was spent listening to his stories. I even stayed on at school after I finished my O Levels so I could sit and listen to him. Balls the size of a house and definitely nails!!!
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#48
ugly said:
This chap wiki Nick Alkemedewas a great friend of my useless stepdad and made his living selling wrought iron work for fireplaces. He came in once for a cuppa and saw me reading a book about the RAF in WW2. I explained my grandad was RCAF and lost in 1945 over Holland.
He told me to look up this chap Alkemede (He was uncle Nick to us). I did and he smiled and pointed out himself in the book. Totally in awe of him!
I remember reading that story years ago. All I could think was bloody hell!!
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
#49
I know what you mean, such a nice man!
 
#50
I remember Nick Alkemede was the subject of one of the Victor cover stories. I think it was his grandson who was on that Bombers program where they took a bunch of 19ish year olds and trained them as a bomber crew.
 
#51
War hero teachers are not entierly extinct:

http://www.oratory.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=intro.index

I remember two characters from my school days - the Chaplain who had stayed with the wounded as a Padre at Arnhem (and featured in soldier magazine a few years back) and the second master ex KRRC, 8th Army who didn't have much time for the Boers as a result on an incident whilst in hospital in South Africa recovering from wounds. Both sadly died in the last couple of years.
 
#52
Bailey said:
War hero teachers are not entierly extinct:

http://www.oratory.co.uk/index.cfm?fuseaction=intro.index

I remember two characters from my school days - the Chaplain who had stayed with the wounded as a Padre at Arnhem (and featured in soldier magazine a few years back) and the second master ex KRRC, 8th Army who didn't have much time for the Boers as a result on an incident whilst in hospital in South Africa recovering from wounds. Both sadly died in the last couple of years.
That is impressive, Googled him, EX RM won MC during the falklands.

Doffed cap, sir
 

oldbaldy

LE
Moderator
#53
Rev David Cooper, 2 Para in the Falklands, did a stint at Eton College when he retired from the Army, bet they had some interesting RE lessons.
 
#54
From wiki, clicky.

Clive Dytor M.C. M.A. is headmaster of The Oratory School, Woodcote, near Reading, Berkshire, England. A former Church of England clergyman who converted to Roman Catholicism (like Cardinal Newman who founded the school), he is an MA of both Oxford (theology) and Cambridge (oriental studies) Universities. Clive attended Christ College, Brecon, where he was both a Prefect and a member of the Ist XV. He served with distinction in the Falklands War, being decorated with the Military Cross for gallantry in action during the Battle of Two Sisters. On the night of 11th/12th June 1982, 45 Commando Royal Marines launched a silent night attack against strongly held enemy positions on the craggy hill feature of Two Sisters, ten kilometres to the west of Port Stanley on the island of East Falkland. Initially, in getting onto Two Sisters undetected, achieving brilliant surprise; however when discovered by the enemy a fierce fight ensued. At the height of the fighting Lieutenant Dytor and his troop came under a hail of enemy fire. In an act of inspiring leadership, he fought his troop forward and personally led the assault on a strong enemy machine gun position. His was the culminating feat of a highly successful action.

On completing his service with the Royal Marines, he trained for the priesthood of the Church of England at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, and became Chaplain of Tonbridge School. He converted to the Roman Catholic faith and as a layman became a housemaster at St Edward's School, Oxford, prior to his current appointment.

He is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses Conference.
 
#55
I recently got interested in some of my teachers military past after I read a retirment notice for a teacher who had been in the Falklands on HMS Coventry.

We have 2 teachers I have rumbled so far:
A maths teacher who was in HAC when he used to live in London.
A PE teacher who's unit I havn't found yet but who has been to Cypres during the hight of it's troubles.
 
#56
4(T) said:
...Most interesting was the groundsman,
I'd forgotten about our grounds staff!..... Nobby Nutting - a prince amongst men and, sadly, as mad as a fish! He was a Buff at the outbreak of WW2 and got caught by Jerry on the way to Dunkirk, poor sod, spent the whole war behind lots of Kraut barbed wire in, I think, Poland. As the Red army got closer, the Krauts marched their prisoners back in a westerly direction. He walked for hundreds of miles... bloody amazing. I did a holiday job working at the school on the grounds-staff and Nobby was brilliant company! As was: The school tractor driver, 'Northern Eddy' another ex-PoW. He'd been captured at Tobruk. Ex-Grenadier Guards. Again, slightly bonkers but, also again, lovely company and very kind, he put the fact that he still had teeth (all of Nobby's had gone - scurvy in captivity) down to eating salt! He was put to work in a salt-mine by our European chums.

They must both have answered the great Roll Call in the sky by now. It was a privelege to have known men like this. Modest, accepting, and with memories of things our generation couldn't begin to even imagine. How apt to be writing on this thread in the run up to Remembrancetide!
 
#57
With hindsight a lot of my teachers appeared to pinko leftie hypocrites as they were teaching in a private school. One teacher I really respected was my English teacher Mr Griffin who (as I recall) told us that he had been present at the liberation of Belsen.

I'm sure we had other teachers who had seen service but kept schtum - Mr Waters (Mathmatics) had a pronounced limp having been shot by a cadet with a No8 whilst he was a CCF Officer. And our CCF detachment had a brilliant ex Irish Guards RSM who's name eludes me.
 
#58
jack-daniels said:
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.
Whilst not a teacher, the "floodgates" comment reminded me of the father of a friend of mine. My father & I went to buy a Christmas tree from him one year. I think I was on leave from Dartmouth at the time and he started talking about his time in the Far East with the Navy. His daughter was stunned because he had never talked about it to the family.

I think talking to "one of your own" is very different from talking with one's family. The old boys know that you are on the same wavelength whereas nearest & dearest are not always so when it comes to Service in HM Forces
 
#59
When I started school in 1953 every male teacher was ex-military. Teaching had not been a reserved occupation in WWII, and so a huge number of old retired teachers went back into the classrooms to do their bit. At the end of the war they had to be replaced, and with the new Education Act of 1944 taking effect (making secondary education available and compulsory for all to 15) a huge number of teachers was needed. My primary school teacher, and my father were two of them. I still have a large photo at home taken of those being trained to teach at Burderop Park near Swindon in 1947. Every single man is wearing a greatcoat. Throughout my education there were so many men that had served in the war. Few of them ever said anything.

Two spring to mind though.

Frank Taylor - primary school teacher who swopped over to secondary maths in 1973. I had the pleasure and privilige of working alongside him in the earlier years of my career. He had been a navigator on Wellingtons. He did the 30 missions and survived, volunteered for a furthur 30, and survived, then volunteered for more and did another six. Not many did that many and came through it.

Albert "Eddie" Maloney - secondary headteacher and a joy to work for. I worked for him in the last three years of his career before he retired in 1983. He had been a Halifax bomber pilot. He had never let on anything to anyone, then came out with a lot while taking an assembly on 11th November 1982. What a man. He was the last teacher I worked with who had seen active service in WWII.

Since then of course, with wars being smaller and less frequent (?), and with the demise of National Service, far fewer teachers have had military experience. The last one I worked with left about three years ago, he had been a Royal Marine officer, qualified sniper, who had been behind the enemy lines during the Falklands, operating as an artillery spotter.

Good men, all of them.
 
#60
the issue is no only with teachers, its with most elder people

An 65 year old when i was a kid almost certainly had fought , a 65 year old now wouldn't even of done national service.
 

New Posts

Latest Threads

Top