Soham Grammarians - Arnold Watson Tomalin MBE

A Barford resident of more than 50 years, Arnold died on Wednesday 2nd August aged 89 in Woodside Nursing Home, Norwich. He had been unwell for some time. Sadly missed by his wife Ann and his two sons. His funeral will be at mid-day on 23rd August at the Earlham Road Crematorium, 193 Earlham Road, Norwich NR2 3RG.   Family flowers only please, but donations, if desired, for Barford Church, cheques made payable direct to Barford Parish Church Assuring its Future, may be sent c/o R J Bartram and Son, 42 Fairland Street, Wymondham, NR18 0JS. Arnold was for many years prominent in the Old Boys Association, chairing the Annual Dinners.  A Service of Thanksgiving for his life is planned for October. Via Mrs Ann Tomalin and the Eastern Daily Press August 5, 2017.

The Service of Thanksgiving referred to above will be at St Botolph's Church, Barford, Norwich at 3pm on Sunday 29th October 2017.

In loving memory of

Arnold Watson Tomalin MBE

9th July 1928 - 2nd August 2017

Wednesday 23rd August 2017 at 12.00 noon

Earlham Crematorium

Entrance Music: Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring
Our Prayers including The Lord's Prayer
Hymn: The Lord's My Shepherd; Tune Crimond
The Tributes, including:

ARNOLD TOMALIN 9th July 1928 - 2nd August 2017: by Ann Tomalin

As most of us know by the time Arnold had passed away, it was difficult to recognise in him the busy, clever and interesting man we had known for so many years. We can only thank and appreciate the kindness and care of those who looked after him in those last few months with such skill and understanding.

Although born in Hornsey within sight of Alexandra Palace, Arnold spent most of his life in East Anglia. Fate and the outbreak of war in 1939 meant that the whole family, father, mother and three sons, evacuated themselves to the Ely area where they had relatives. Arnold at the age of eleven was fortunate to be awarded a place at Soham Grammar School, where his friend Peter remembers him starting late in the autumn term.

He had an excellent school career academically, played rugby and in icy winters learned Fen skating. He left school in 1947 with Higher Certificates mainly in the sciences, before being conscripted into the RAF. As a Radio Mechanic he amassed various engineering skills which he was able to employ until into his 80ís and also developed an enthusiasm for Amateur Radio which continued for 50 years.
At home he was a keen gardener and do-it-yourselfer for both his parents and his family and could turn his hand to both wood and metal.

After the RAF he became a scientific civil servant working at the Food Research Labs in Cambridge and later in Norwich at Colney.

Arnold and I met in 1951 when I also went to work at LTRS. I remember thinking what a nice man he was on a purely friendly basis, long before we became any closer.

We married in 1955 after I had worked for a spell in central London and we lived in Histon where our two sons Peter and John were born. In 1964 the Food Research Laboratory relocated to Norwich and we were one of the first families to move with it. Many of his former colleagues remained friends until the end.

Our new home in Barford was part of the equally new Group ofparishes and we soon became active in the Group ourselves being variously members of the PCC and Churchwarden (which was Annís work), and also doing many of the practical tasks which abound and where volunteers are so necessary.

Arnold was always a good friend to know! While he had his health and strength he was willing to help when needed.

Sadly we have lost the lovely man I have known for 66 years but he will always be in our hearts along with so many happy memories of a long, happy and productive life.

Thank you for coming, Ann

Music: The Lark Ascending Vaughan Williams
Scripture Reading: Revelation, Chapter 21: verses 1-4
The Commendation The Committal The Blessing
Exit Music: Jesu, Joy Of Manís Desiring

The family would like to thank you all for your attendance and support here today.
The cards and messages of sympathy have been of great comfort and are greatly appreciated.
All are invited to join them at Park Farm Hotel, Hethersett NR9 3DL for refreshments, following the service.
Donations in memory of Arnold are for St Botolph's Parish Church, Barford.
RJ Bartram & Son Funeral Service 42 Fairland Street, Wymondham, NR18 OJS.

The Shape of Things to Come
AW Tomalin (1939-1946), from the last Soham Grammarian, 1972

"One September day in 1945 the deputy head boy was summoned to the headmaster's study (new headmaster, new deputy head boy!). There sat E.A. and on the desk in front of him a set of sparking plugs, knife in the pen tray, carbon in the out tray. No-one needs reminding that the new H.M. had written a book on Practical Physics.

In those days the front hall was used as an overflow dining room - one table even under the stairs. The conversation was brief - 'Boys eating on the table under the stairs cannot see; here is a pound, do something about it before tomorrow.'

With the benefit of hindsight I can see why the next twenty-five years at SGS were so good."

He is on the 1946 School Photo.

Valete 1946: AW Tomalin. Prefect. Vice-Captain of the School. School Certificate 1944. Higher School Certificate 1946. Games Committee. Vice-Captain 1st XV Rugby. School Athletics Team.

At the 1947 Speech Day Arnold  was awarded:
- A Higher School Certificate Prize
- The Biology Prize
- Headmaster's Merit Prize (shared with RF Watts).
Arnold (L) presenting an SG tie to
honorary SG Mike Rouse

Soham Grammarian Autumn 1946

AW Tomalin, who was last year's Vice-Captain of the School, left us at the beginning of term. He has contributed this article on his life as an RAF recruit.

I AM AN A.C. 2

To-day I saw in the papers that one and a half million men are still left in the forces. We all know that the services are short-handed by this estimate, but, from my own experiences, I would say that the R.A.F. is overcrowded. This impression is gained while one is at a Recruit Centre, or more especially, a Reception Centre. It is the large number of men passing through a reception centre, such as Padgate, which leads to the idea that the R.A.F. is crowded.

The never-ending queueing that dominates one's first fourteen days in the R.A.F. is something that civilians simply do not experience. To the recruit of the last six months, the mention of "Number One Waiting Room" is enough to invite an outburst in which the words "Twelve hours for Pay Book" may often figure. My own experiences were not so, but I can vouch that it is far from impossible to wait one and a half hours for tea.

From the time of arrival at a Reception Centre, one is anticipating the time when one will be posted to a Recruit Centre for "Square-Bashing." The chances of being posted nearer home form the main topic of conversation until one's fate is known. A large-scale map of Britain is an almost priceless asset.

The importance of regular mail from home has been greatly publicised during the war. The true importance is only realised when one becomes an 'A.C. 2'. We get two mail deliveries a day, mid-day and evening. The first remark anyone makes on entering the billet at these times is "Mail in Yet ?" With thirty men in a billet, there is an almost suicidal rush when the unfortunate "Postman" arrives. To deal with mail in the reverse direction, it is on Sunday afternoons that most letter-writing is done. The usual cry at this time is "Who'll sell some stamps?" the nearest post office being a mile away. As a thousand men use the same N.A.A.F.I., it is almost impossible to get anything there without an hour's wait.

I will give the following facts about life here as opposed to that given by recruiting posters. Breakfast is at a quarter past six in the morning. One has therefore to get up at about twenty minutes to six in order to dress and have a very rough wash. After breakfast (about seven o'clock) there is a stack of cleaning to do before parade and inspection at eight o'clock. The usual brass, a bayonet, and rifle, have all to be dealt with, and then there are still two pairs of boots.

Work starts at a half past eight and continues, with various breaks, until a quarter to twelve, when we parade for dinner. After this we get an hour's break in which to read our mail and clean our boots again. The afternoon session lasts from a half past one until a quarter to five. Tea follows, and we are officially off-duty for the day. I say 'officially' because there are washing, writing, and still more cleaning to be done. This, and the search for food in the N.A.A.F.I., occupy the evening until half past nine, when we must be back in the billet.

Finally, a word on the actual training programme. The popular title "SquareBashing" is rather misleading because there are many lectures in the course, which occupies eight weeks in all. We get drill and lectures mixed up, which makes it less monotonous. Aircraft recognition, weapon training, P.T. and games form a very large part of the course. The grand climax comes with the "Pass Out" parade, when the whole flight goes through all the drill movements on the Parade Ground under the direction of the Squadron Commander.

To us, though, an even greater day will be the one on which we hand back our rifles. No more 'Square Bashing' after that! As I have not reached that stage, I think I must wait before adding more to this account. (Further instalments will be welcomed - Ed.)


Soham Grammarian Autumn 1947

AW Tomalin is now serving with the RAF in Iraq. He is stationed 60 miles from "Old Baghdad" at a camp that was partly demolished at the beginning of the war by a local chieftain with artillery. His journey there was quite eventful, he informs us, as "the wireless equipment decided to strike" during one stage, and on another occasion the aircraft was forced down to a small and lonely staging post in the desert. With a whole year to pass before his demobilisation life in Persia appears to be suiting him tolerably well, except for the fact that the high temperatures both in summer and winter remove all possibilities of his skating and playing rugby.

Soham Grammarian Summer 1949

AW Tomalin is Assistant Experimental Officer in a Cambridge Research Department.

FlyPast magazine

Readers have sent in illustrations of Iraqi Hawker Furies 55 years apart. From Arnold W Tomalin comes a view of a Fury ISS on delivery through RAF Habbaniya in Iraq in 1948. Arnold was a wireless mechanic on the Flying Wing at the time and remembers several Furies spending a day or so at the airfield making use of the air-to-ground firing range - which he describes as "a heap of oil drums way out in the desert". With its bomb racks seemingly obscuring the last Arabic number of its serial and with the date being 1948, this is very likely either 240 or 241, which were delivered in May that year. Of these two the former is known to have been exported to the USA in 1979 becoming N645F, although its current status is unknown.

He was an enthusiastic radio ham G3PTB. In the CAMBEAM April 1965 newsletter he wrote: "As most of you are aware I have recently moved from Histon to Norwich, being given about six months notice of the move. Naturally much of this time was taken up by the search for the new house and consideration was obviously given to amateur radio activities without being unreasonably biased by these factors. One estate agent recognised my RSGB badge and promptly produced only details of properties above the 400 ft. contour with appropriately high prices. No consideration was given to properties with snail gardens - both from the aerial point of view and also the horticultural, as "no space" aerials, while common in the literature, seem rather less common in actual use. Fortunately a suitable QTH and price was found easily and quickly." He joined the Norfolk Amateur Radio Club.

He was awarded the MBE in the 1989 New Year Honours :
Arnold Watson Tomalin, lately Senior Information Officer, Agricultural and Food Research Council.

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last update 3 Oct 2017: 27 Oct 2017