Soham Grammarians - CW (Bill) Allen 35

5 Nov 2007: Bill's daughter Dr Deidre Holes writes:

Charles William (Bill) Allen born 23/5/1925, died 3/2/2007

When Bill died a faded newspaper cutting was found in his wallet entitled ‘Brush Scholarships 1943 Awards’ describing an 18 year old William serving an apprenticeship with the company being awarded 75 per annum for 4 years, 1 to be spent at the works in Loughborough and 3 in gaining a degree at any British University.

He passed the Higher School Certificate in English, History, Art & Geography at Soham Grammar School, which were considered suitable wartime qualifications to read Electrical Engineering at Queen Mary College, London University! The college had been evacuated to Kings College, Cambridge for the duration of the war, so he was able to study close to home in Soham.

Education was always very important to Bill.


from the 1935 School photo

from the 1937 School photo

His degree was interrupted by National Service with the Royal Engineers, but he managed a weekend’s leave in September 1947 to marry Hilda, whom he had met at university.

Bill was the oldest of five children born to Dorothy and John Allen in Soham and is survived by his sister Barbara and brothers Terry and Richard (youngest brother Clive died in 1988).

He had two children, Deidre and Gerald, and the arrival of his six grandchildren was a major highlight in his life. His wife Hilda died in 1985 and his sparkle was forever dimmed after that, though he did have a second round of happiness with his partner Joyce, until she died in May 2006.

Bill was a keen sportsman and led a full and active life up until the last few months of his life. He was proud to be Captain of Leek Golf Club during its Centenary Year and then later to be President, and was equally delighted when Hilda took up the game and later became Ladies Captain.

One of his greatest sporting moments as a teenager was scoring the goal that enabled Soham Town Football Club to beat Cambridge United, but even better was the fact that 40 years later when he and Gerald went for a beer at the Soham Town FC bar, there was someone there who not only remembered him but also remembered that he had scored that goal!! Another high spot was when he gained his scuba diving qualification in Thailand in his seventies!


photo source Deidre Holes

In his 82nd year he said ‘Well I have done so much I never dreamed of being able to do and been to places I’d never heard of as a child, so what more could I want?’ Bill enjoyed travelling both for holidays and on business and after retirement spent a memorable couple of summers managing a caravan site in Northern France where he was able to indulge his love of French food & wine and get his French back up to scratch!

Bill had a great sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye, which remained with him even through his last frustrating and painful days. Towards the end he had to have an MRI scan and was having help to answer the necessary medical questionnaire, however when the attractive young nurse asked, ‘Do you have any allergies?’ quick as a flash he came back with, ‘Only blondes!’ That sums him up!


In 2005 Bill wrote:

By accident found myself on the SGS website and found it interesting. I believe the entry "Allen, Charles" refers to me as it follows "Allen, Terry" who is my brother. My full name is Charles William (Bill) Allen, 35 to 42. Head Boy 41-42, Army service then University. I recognise many of the names you list from those years but must spend more time exploring the site. Let me know if I can help with any information from those days. Best wishes to you and all old boys, Bill Allen.

(and later) I remember Wilkes Walton and met him at the SGS dinner a few years ago. He had a cricket score book from those years and was pleased to show me that I had scored 43 against Newmarket in '42 - my highest ever score for the school.

I spent nearly two hours on the website last night and had a wonderful though nostalgic time. I recognised so many on the photos but I can't recall many names. I am only in touch with Frank Key apart from my brother Terry. One memory was of Johnnie Norman when he came to the school after returning from his flying training in America. He was pleased to tell us that he had travelled on the Chattanooga Choochoo, a name well known at the time because of Glen Miller and his music. So many stories crowded back into my memory it would take ages to recall them all.

Thanks for giving me the chance to relive so much of my time there from the filling of sandbags during what should have been our summer holiday, to recalling that three of us passed the Higher School Certificate in the Summer of 1942. Having lost our Maths and Physics teachers I opted for an Arts Higher but it took a lot of explaining when a year later I asked the local council for a loan so that I could go to University to do an Engineering Degree. Enough waffling for tonight. Best wishes.


see also:
- pre-war athletics


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page last updated 12 Nov 2007