John Browning went up to Brasenose College Oxford on a History Exhibition in 1940. He volunteered for military service in 1941, was Commissioned in 1942 and served with 4 King’s Shropshire Light Infantry, a lorried infantry battalion in 11 Armoured Division, in Normandy. Recovering from his wounds, he returned to Oxford in 1946 to complete his Honours Degree in History.
He was appointed to the staff of Soham Grammar School in September 1947 and on the departure of Jack Symmons he assumed charge of the History Department: at that time the title Head of Department was rarely used. He undertook the compiling and the writing of the History of Soham Grammar School.
He spent four very happy years at Soham, during which he admits he learned as much as he taught. To those who wondered why he occasionally had to be elsewhere and why he was not as passionate as some about football, the Cambridge Town RUFC 1949-50 team photo below should be informative.
He moved on appointment to the staff of Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury, his old school. William Golding, author of The Lord of the Flies was also on the staff.
In 1955 he became Headmaster of Walliscote Boys’ School in Weston super Mare. From there he was selected and appointed to open a new secondary school in Norwich in 1965. This was the Heartsease School which became comprehensive and carried a total of 1200 boys and girls on roll when he retired in 1982.
Photo: L-R Francis Catala (English & French 1947-1951), John Browning and Peter Taylor (RAT), 1951: Browning
Cambridge Town RUFC 1949-50
back: J Molloy - P Scroggs - K Turner - R Boyles - D Stockdale - J Boe - S Paine - K Spray
middle: R Hones - J Browning (Vice Capt) - R Fyson (Capt) - G Sullivan - W Fyson
front: R Graves - R Jeeps
The late 'Dickie' Jeeps went on to play for England and the British Lions.
[His father father Mr FH Jeeps MC was eventually Chairman of the Governors of SGS. From a Willingham fruit growing family, Dickie was educated at Bedford School. Dickie presented the prizes at our 1970 Lower School Speech Day.]
Soham Grammarian Autumn 1947
Our next task is a very pleasant one, namely to offer a welcome to the three new members of the staff, Mr. Browning, Mr. Catala, and Mr. Saunders. We hope that their stay with us will be long and happy.
Soham Grammarian, Festival issue, Summer 1951
We reluctantly say goodbye to Mr. Browning and Mr. Catala, who leave us this term after having been with us for several years. Mr. Browning has taught History and Mr. Catala English and French, and both of them Swimming. It is due to Mr. Catala that descants are now sung to many of the School hymns and on several occasions he has delighted us with piano recitals. Mr. Browning has lately been engaged in research concerning the history of the school and his findings were exhibited recently during the Festival Week, and will eventually be published in book form. To both we offer our best wishes and hope they will be happy in their new posts.
Soham Grammarian Autumn 1951
Both Mr JB Browning and Mr HFW Catala made suitable farewell speeches at the conclusion of last term, when they were presented with gifts, Mr Browning with a wristlet watch and Mr Catala with an elegant cigarette box.
1972 Prizegiving: Simon Thornhill - John Browning (who presented the prizes and spoke) - Bruce King: source Mrs Armitage
Simon was awarded the Stubbs Cup and Bruce was awarded the Bacon Cup.
John Browning is the author of Golden Days - Memories of a 1920s village lad.
The book may be obtained directly from him, price £8.99 +£1 UK postage:
JB Browning OBE MA
The Orchard House
Google™ map of the Corbridge area
If you have any anecdotes or photos relating to John Browning, please contact the editor
page last updated 8 Nov 16