Soham Grammarians in Wartime

Extracts from WWII related issues of the Soham Grammarian

see also the 1939-45 Roll of Honour


Once again it has fallen to us to write the editorial, and this time it is in the most extraordinary circumstances that we set about accomplishing this task, for this is our first wartime effort.

When we came back to School at the beginning of the term, we were faced with the task of completing our own air raid shelters. More than a fortnight before the actual beginning of this term the whole of the staff had returned, and they, together with as many members of the Upper School as they could conscript, set about the herculean task of mapping out the trenches. When the rest of the School assembled it was found that there were some eight thousand sand bags to be built up in walls around the trenches. The digging, filling, and building had to be done by members of the School alone, and the County Architect has seen and praised our efforts highly.

according to Wilkes Walton ARP trenches were approximately sited as shown on this 1953 view

Another innovation in the School routine was the introduction at the beginning of the term of hot lunches on the School premises. We must thank the organisers of this fine scheme, and the Education Committee, for their work in launching the scheme. We are sure that both the work and health of the School will vastly profit by them.


At the beginning of the term we had the great pleasure of welcoming our new Headmaster, Mr S Stubbs, MA. He has already shown how keenly he is interested in the welfare of the School, and we sincerely hope that under his guidance the School will achieve even greater success than it has done in the past. By his influence the house part of the School has been opened, and it is hoped to form in it a library and an art room.

.... The influenza epidemic has had rather a bad effect upon school attendance, not only boys, but also masters being affected by it. To make matters even worse the School was, owing to the lack of coal, in danger of being inadequately heated during the coldest of the weather, and it was feared that it would have to close; but the thaw made transport easier and we were able to carry on.

... We should like to offer Mr Riley and Mr Lait our congratulations on their forthcoming marriages, and we wish them both a very happy married life.


The following are in the RAF: JC Rolfe, J Field, H Gilbert, JC Grover, S Pughsley, V Key, SE White, F Driver.

Other OBs in HM Forces are: E Gascoyne, G Pughsley (Fleet Air Arm), E Kerridge, W Armsby, (Navy), I Nicholls (Navy), RJ Porter, J Lavender, A Dewey.

As I Nicholls had joined the Navy, Messrs JW Layton and EA Patterson carried on his work, and after many difficulties arising through depleted assistance, black-out, difficulties of transport, and so on, they arranged for the dinner to be held this year on December 2nd, at the Cutter Inn, Ely. About forty attended, including Messrs Peacock, Ford and Johnson among the staff, and Mr RB Britton, an Old Boy, an ex-secretary of the Club, and ex-master of the School, whose presence was cordially welcomed. Mr JW Layton was in good form as President.

An excellent supper was served, and in spite of war conditions, it was a merry gathering. The atmosphere, perhaps, as Mr Johnson observed later, was more than usually fuliginous, otherwise the general impression was much as in previous years. During the business proceedings after the supper Mr Roger Clark, Junior, was elected President for the ensuing year, and a scheme and an immediate collection were begun for supplying OBs serving in the Forces with cigarettes.

A valuable suggestion was also made by Mr Ford that a booklet outlining the Club's activities should be printed as a souvenir of its twenty-first birthday in 1940.

... Messrs Geo Dann (piano-accordion), DJ Day (mandoline), and SE Banyard (elocution) contributed to the gaiety of the evening.


Thanks to the Headmaster, a library has been started in what was originally form III B. Already a number of books have been added, and we are grateful for several gifts which have been made by the Staff, Parents and Boys. The library will be a very welcome addition to the School.

Under ordinary conditions this would almost conclude the survey of a happy term, but we have something more serious to consider and report - the School's war effort. Our work fortunately has not been greatly disturbed, and we are thankful for our routine of work and games, but we are also playing our part in the national effort.

Our air-raid shelters are constantly being kept in good condition, and our efficiency in all branches of ARP maintained by repeated practice under the guidance of the Headmaster and Staff, who, together with many of the boys are also engaged in ARP after school.

The Scouts continue their collection of waste paper both at the School and in the town, and our old German trench mortar, a relic of the last war, will shortly be taken for scrap metal. In the garden we are "digging for victory" and are aiming at growing enough vegetables to supply the wants of the School dinners.

The School has also greatly increased its contributions to the National War Savings Campaign through our long-established group, which offers an ideal means for everyone to help; moreover, during the coming holidays at least two-thirds of the School will be engaged in the highly important task of gathering in the harvest. We are proud to record in this issue the services of Old Boys in the Forces, and we shall be glad to receive permitted details of others of whom we have not yet heard.

It was with profound sorrow that we heard of our first casualties:
J Field (1927-32) RAF who was reported missing at half-term (a Spitfire pilot)*
HB How (1926-29) who died of wounds in Eastbourne Hospital (after the Dunkirk evacuation).
We are very glad, however, to hear of the safe return of S Pughsley, SE White (BEF France), F Driver (RAF Norway) and others.

*[In fact FREDERICK JAMES FIELD (1927-32) Sergeant 535052, Pilot, Royal Air Force 12 Sqdn Royal Air Force, who died on Friday 7 June 1940, aged 24, the son of Frederick Charles and Meta Field, of Newmarket, Suffolk, was the pilot of a Fairey Battle MkI single-engined bomber of No.12 Sqn, P2162 PH-, on ops to Poix with 2 crew. Took off at 1728hrs from Echemines to attack Panzers. Shot down in flames in the target area. Buried in ST. VALERY-EN-CAUX FRANCO-BRITISH CEMETERY, Seine-Maritime, France: Collective Grave A, 24-26. sources: CWGC, WR Chorley RAF Bomber Command Losses of the Second World War 1939-1940]


SE Banyard, RASC, L/Cpl
AC Norfolk, gazetted to a commission in the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment
WH James, MRCS, LRCP, MB, served at a Base Hospital in France
HS Papworth, AMPC
C Parker, RASC
JT Pinion, BA (Cantab), King's Own Royal Pioneer Corps
E Gascoyne, RAOC (BEF)
AS Gothard, Cadet, Royal Artillery
J Lavender, L/Cpl Cambridgeshire Regiment
P Smith, Royal Corps of Signals
B Martin, Royal Artillery (BEF)
GW Jennings, Suffolk Regiment
K Clark, RAMC Transport
GW Cornell, Royal Artillery (Surveying School)
A Isaacson, Warwickshire Regiment
J Wilson, Intelligence Department (BEF)
J Aworth, Royal Artillery
G Watson and I Thulborn, Essex Regiment
D Wright, Bombardier, Anti-Tank Corps, Adjutant's Secretary
SE White (BEF)
S Butters, Suffolk Regiment
RI McLaren, Suffolk Regiment
A Scott, PF Roythorne, P Cranwell, RASC
Sergeant Major BA Roythorne
LW Rickwood, Cambridgeshire Regiment
Cyril Talbot
RG Coghill, Royal Corps of Signals (Hong Kong)
J Nunn
AR Pettitt

KR Turner and J Johnson, Apprentice Clerks
HL Yeomans; D Fleming, Group Captain
R Caswell; Corporal E Fuller
JC Grover, Corporal PT Instructor
A Peckett; F Watts, RAF Transport Mechanic
E Thorpe: WD Hawkes and CE Rolfe, Sergeant Pilots
P Brown; S Pughsley, Wireless Operator (BEF)
H Badcock (Instrument Maker); F Driver (served in Norway)
H Day; Sergeant R Day; JH Palmer; A Croxford; R Sykes, J Smith (of Littleport); AC Drake; J Lockwood
Sgt.-Pilot AL Bradshaw

Royal Navy
F Burton, LW Bitton, Wireless Operators
A Armsby, F Butcher, Signallers
EA Palmer, J Nicholls, E Kerridge, Fleet Air Arm
G Pughsley

GWF Sadler; E Smith; W Conney; D Flunder; H Burton, B.Stubbins, H Cook.


This term of varied weather has been marked by many events of general and historical interest. The beginning witnessed the introduction of the new House system, and in the middle we were honoured by a visit of that renowned violinist, Albert Sammons [accompanied by Gerald Moore].

We have been entertained by a Ministry of Information film show, and a talk by an Old Boy who is a Sergeant-Pilot in the RAF, and perhaps the most important event this term, from the point of view of many, has been the first Speech Day since we welcomed our new Headmaster, Mr Stubbs.

We had a very happy afternoon despite the usual crowded conditions in the Assembly Hall, and a full report of the proceedings has been printed. There was no Shakespeare Play this year, but it is hoped to make this a regular Summer performance on the lawn. The Dean of Ely distributed the prizes, and gave us a very inspiring address.

The old House system had long been considered imperfect, and so a new scheme was evolved. Cambridgeshire and the Isle of Ely were each divided into two Houses geographically, and these Houses were given the existing names which had some connection with the district.

Thus the Soham House was called Ridley because that famous Bishop was once vicar of Soham, and the other Cambridgeshire House commemorates Sir Thomas Chicheley, lord of the manor of Soham and the surrounding lands at the time of the School's foundation at the end of the XVII century.

In the Isle of Ely, the Ely House was named after Hereward the Wake, and the North Isle House after Cromwell, who had many associations with that part.

This new system appears to be a great improvement on the old, for the house matches this term have been the most fiercely contested for years, and a strong sense of duty and local patriotism has been roused among boys from each division.

... Fortunately we have but rarely been interrupted by enemy action this term, and we have had no casualties at all since the Nazis began their murderous and wanton air-attacks on our civilian population. However, we have not allowed this period of inaction to interfere with our efficiency and preparedness. Our National Savings Group has steadily expanded, the membership having risen by 40 per cent and the total saved is 32 higher than it was last term. We are now producing in the School gardens all the vegetables needed for the dinners, and in this way are furthering the "Dig-for-victory" campaign.

The School Rugger team has done very well indeed considering the number of newcomers, and now that these are gaining in experience, the win against Culford may very well be the herald of a series of victories. Throughout all the games there has been a marked keenness, and that typically English characteristic, the ability to take a beating cheerfully, and that other English attitude of "Never say die," have shown themselves more than once.


On Wednesday, October 23rd, we were given a film show in the Art Room by kind permission of Mr CH Warren, Films Officer of the Ministry of Information in this region.

The Headmaster said he had hoped to have with him a speaker from the Ministry, but that this had unfortunately proved impossible. In welcoming the operator, he mentioned that Mr Chipperfield had triumphed over numerous difficulties that day to visit us. He hoped that we should enjoy the show, and finally told us of the films we were to see.

The first was called "New Britain." This showed us the new Britain we were building before the war--the new airy factories, schools, bridges, railways, welfare centres and so on erected in the happier days of peace - and which will be our task for the future.

Next came a film of great interest at the present moment, "Coastal Defence." This dealt with the triple lines which would have to be pierced by the enemy before he could conquer England. First of all we were shown the Navy, which has over and over again demonstrated its control of the seas, then came the Air Force, whose machines have already done such magnificent work, and finally, the Army with its seasoned troops, who proved their worth in Flanders.

Thirdly came "Albert's Savings" by Stanley Holloway, which was of especial interest to members of our National Savings group. When Albert, after learning that he must " lend to defend the right to be free," pawned some family treasures to buy a national savings certificate, he almost got a tanning, but father, realising Albert's wisdom quickly forgave him.

"Dangerous Comment" was the title of the next film. This depicted how through a few careless words a whole squadron of planes and their crews might have been lost. The film also illustrated the utter thoughtlessness of some people.

"The King's Men" completed this very entertaining and delightful performance. His Majesty was shown among the fine young men who defend us to-day in the various forces. He was shown inspecting those gallant Canadians who have voluntarily left their homes to come and defend the mother country, and reviewing those valiant "lords of the air." Finally, to the tune of Rule Britannia, we saw him on board battleships of the Grand Fleet.

The standard of photography and the technique of these films were exceptionally high. Some of the " shots," such as the attack on a convoy, were made under actual war conditions, and this gave them an additional thrill.

At the conclusion the Headmaster thanked the Films Officer who had arranged the show, and Mr Chipperfield, the operator, on behalf of the boys, who warmly applauded.


On Monday morning, November 18th, we had the great pleasure of listening to a talk on "Bombing Berlin," by a Sergeant-Pilot of the RAF. Introducing him, the Headmaster said that our visitor was an Old Boy of the school who had kindly consented, after some persuasion, to give an account of his experiences on the many trips he had made over enemy territory.

The Sergeant-Pilot started by telling us that the RAF was divided into four groups - the Bomber Command, the Fighter Command, the Coastal Command, and the Training Command. He himself was in the Bomber Command, and was in a squadron of Hampdens. He said that the raids were planned by the Air Ministry, but the type of planes and bombs to be used were decided by the Bomber Command itself.

Orders for the raid were passed on to some group, and the air crews were picked by the Wing Commanders. The crews were informed the morning before the raid, and the pilot tested the engines and the wireless operator tested his wireless. In the afternoon they went to the Intelligence Officer, who told them how best to attack the targets and the nature of the defences, and so on. The targets were protected by either light or heavy anti-aircraft guns, the former not being very dangerous, while the latter were strong enough to blow the plane to pieces. They were also told of the weather conditions, cloud conditions, and freezing level - which was very important. He also told them of the aerodromes which would probably be lit up, and on which they could practise machine-gunning.

They took off before dark and left England by a planned route. Then they made for the coast, from whence they headed straight to Berlin. On arrival at Berlin, the "Flak" became very intense, as batteries of guns were mounted on all roads and railways. The target might be approached from several directions, and after cruising around for a quarter of an hour, they located it by means of the lakes around Berlin. Then came the most difficult part of the journey. The navigator went down into the bombing turret and guided the pilot over the target, the pilot keeping the plane flying at the same speed and height. As the target came into the bomb-sight, the navigator dropped a stick of bombs, and after cruising around to see what damage they had caused, they headed back for the coast, looking for suitable targets to machine-gun to "let off steam."

Coming back across the North Sea, the wireless operator made contact with a certain station, and gave particulars of his plane. At the coast he was challenged by searchlights, and dropped Very light recognition signals. The wireless operator then received a bearing from his aerodrome, and the pilot headed for his destination, hoping that it would eventually turn up. After landing they had to go to the Intelligence Officer and report on the damage they had probably caused, without "shooting the line," which is RAF slang for telling wild yarns. And so ended a risky task which was regarded as just "a job of work" by the crew.

He then gave a brief description of the various types of wireless and instruments used in night flying. He then volunteered to answer any questions, and was promptly bombarded by a barrage, which I am sure upset him more than Berlin's barrage of "Flak" did. However, he took it all in good part, and cheerfully answered all the questions, which varied from aeronautics to chewing gum, although he was rather taken aback when asked by a diminutive second former, " What would you do if there were an air raid on when you returned, and you ran out of petrol ?"

At the conclusion the Headmaster thanked him for his most interesting talk, and wished him and his gallant service the best of luck. He said he was sure that we had enjoyed this graphic but modest description, and judging from the tumultuous applause, we certainly had. (Passed by the Censor).

[Can anyone recall who the speaker was? Perhaps a clue in in the Old Boy's News - "We were delighted to see this term, Corporal A Isaacson, who was in the last Brigade to leave Dunkirk, Sergeant Pilot WD Hawkes, Eric Palmer of the Fleet Air Arm."]. Dick Hawkes was to die serving with No.207 Squadron over Hilversum on the way to attack Duisburg on 13 May 1943. Aged 26, he was the son of Charles Peter and Ethel May Hawkes, of Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire and was at SGS from 1928 to 1931 - see In Memoriam and A Bent Sixpence. The editor's late father was shot down and evaded on the same squadron in June 1944.]


P Smith; A Smith; SW Lockwood, Royal Corps of Signallers.
HS Papworth, AMPC
ME Pettit; K Cole, RAPC
E Covey, Sapper, RE
B Murfitt, Sgt.-Major RAMC
SW Woods, Suffolk Regt
J Badcock, RAOC
P Cranwell, Cpl; AH Scott, RASC
G Cornell, Royal Artillery
J Smith, Royal Artillery
L Jefferson
Ray Carter
P Pledger, RASC

N Spreckley (Wireless)
D Uffindell, L.A/C
V Key, Sgt
J Brown, Flight-Sgt

Fleet Air Arm
Eric Palmer

BC Covill
C Eyet, (Wireless)
EA Smith (Signaller)

In Memoriam
EJ Andrews, Sgt Pilot


Perhaps the most important event this term has been the formation of a School squadron of the ATC. Immediately this scheme was announced, the Headmaster suggested that the School should form a unit, and enquiries were made among local boys with the result that in less than a fortnight we had over 100 members.

The Headmaster, Mr Crouch and Mr Copland have volunteered to take commissions in the RAFVR and we have already begun lectures, and feel we are making very good progress. All the boys are exceptionally keen as is shown by the fact that some of them have to cycle many miles every Thursday, while others arrive home hours later than the accustomed time, when they have attended lectures. However, even this does not daunt their spirits in the least.


We think that many Soham Grammarians, past and present, will be interested in the following extracts from letters written recently by 2nd Lieutenant SE Banyard, who is on Active Service with the RASC, in the Middle East, and by Harold Dew, a Cambridge University graduate like Banyard, and now teaching in Vancouver [not included].

After describing his first Christmas Day at sea, which was celebrated with the traditional turkeys and plum pudding, 2nd Lieutenant Banyard, sailing on a troopship with 1,600 others, part of a large convoy "well protected by some formidable units of the Senior Service", writes as follows on the 4th January, 1941:

"We have not yet reached port, but in a few hours we shall see land. It has now become beautifully hot - topees are insisted on, and great canvas sheets shade all the open decks, and as I write, at about 6 p.m., sweat is still oozing from me. All day we have seen strange fish about - dolphins, porpoises, flying fish and occasionally, the fin of a shark, gliding ominously through the smooth surface of the water. There is hardly a ripple today. I sat reading in a deck-chair all the afternoon. Round about they were playing quoits and deck tennis; only our escorting battleships (of many interesting varieties) reminded me of the purpose of it all; still that made no odds. I feel I'm gaining in experience daily; it's all most satisfactory and stimulating.

As soon as parades are over I get into shorts, since slacks are so far the only official dress. Each evening we run a quinine parade to forestall any possibility of malaria.

The night was an inspiration - the tropical moon, curiously upside-down, and shapes of our sister-ships in the convoy (mostly smaller sisters) creeping silently but confidently by our side with not a light to be seen. We went to our cabins, lay naked in the beds in the cooling breeze from the fan, and then read awhile before feeling tired enough for sleep.

In port, January 5th.
When we woke this morning the dim outline of land could be seen through the haze. Some hours later the whole convoy one by one filed into the harbour, which is now just about crowded to capacity. None of us will land, but we shall have to stay until each ship has rewatered. That and the dumping of mails seem to be the only reasons for calling here, but it is unlikely we shall get away for a few days. After three weeks at sea it is fascinating to see land again.

Today's biggest interest has been the behaviour of natives in their canoes, paddling round the ship for hours on end. Some have bananas to sell, but their purchase is forbidden owing to the danger of their being infected. Consequently we have had hose-pipe piquets on duty to keep them off with a well-directed squirt. Others dive for pennies. You throw them within 15 feet of their canoes, they roll into the water and retrieve the coin almost at once. They come up shouting "Aw Key," put it in their mouth, and clamber back into the canoe with considerable agility. Two things there are I would like to know. Do [they] shave; if so, how? And why are the soles of their feet and the palms of their hands almost white?

At sea again, 8th January. This is the fourth week. What we want is a long walk on land; our feet are getting soft through wearing canvas shoes all day. I began a 24-hour period of duty as ship's orderly officer today, and I'm writing during an interval between rounds. It's hot enough in the open, but down in the bowels of the ship it's little Hell twice over. I sit now with a thin pair of shorts only ; the fan is doing its best, but ... however we shall endure English winters after this I can't imagine.

Yesterday (Jan. 11th), we crossed the Line, and we are now in the Southern Hemisphere. We made our best of the opportunity. Father Neptune, Mrs Neptune and his court were all present, and those of us who had not crossed the Line before were "tried" and sentenced to be shaved by the dastardly barber.

They had a large pail of flour-water for the lather, and a tremendous paste-brush and ply-wood razor. We were lathered from top to bottom, scraped a bit, and then hosed with sea-water. After the official ceremony we victims turned on the rest and hosed the court and all the spectators. For the next hour there was complete and delicious chaos. By the end of the afternoon there was not a single officer left un-hosed. Finally, after having a bath and washing the congealed flour out of my hair, I received my certificate from Father Neptune, and we heard more good news on the radio from the Eastern Front. So altogether we felt on top of the world.

This morning we had a voluntary service conducted by the Captain. Eighty of our company attended, and other units were all represented. A simple service, yet a remarkable experience in mid-ocean, singing hymns to a limitless expanse of water under the ever-vigilant watch of a grey battleship.

I put on another band-concert on Wednesday, and am now rehearsing turns for Boat Show No. 3. This is going to be more of a recital. I have found a RAF violinist and we spend happy mornings making our own arrangements of tunes. I practise daily.


During the snowy weather at the beginning of term, as an alternative to our usual Wednesday games, we were fortunate enough to see another series of films by arrangement with the Ministry of Information Films Officer, and we were pleased to welcome the operator who visited us last term.

The first film was called 'Britain at Bay.' In it we were given glimpses of our defences against invasion and our power of retaliation on the continent when our army reaches its peak of efficiency. It told the well-known story of the fall of Holland, Belgium and France and of resistance made there until our own forces were unable to hold out any longer. This film was illustrative of the peacefulness of the countryside and of our preparedness to meet any move on the part of Hitler's enormous forces. It was made even more interesting by Mr JB Priestley, who gave the commentary in his deliberate and impressive manner.

'Tomorrow is Theirs' showed the interior of an evacuated school where difficulties were being overcome by the pupils themselves ; they had decorated their own dormitories and classrooms, cooked their own food, and were quite independent of a large domestic staff. Despite their practical work, theoretical education was not neglected, and their work was interrupted only at the approach of actual danger, when they went into the school shelters.

The next film 'Wings of Youth' was the greatest attraction, possibly because of its connection with the newly formed Air Training Corps. The beginning went back for a moment to the Great War, when the RCAF produced many of our Air Aces. They still have this object in view, and their work is already taking effect in the present Air Force. The training is of a very high standard, and the future pilot is obliged to pass severe medical and intelligence tests. Here it would have been extremely interesting to see greater details of the nerve tests which have to be undergone, and some reactions to them. After the stringent training and discipline, the pilot makes his first solo flight and progresses until he gains his coveted wings, and becomes a fully fledged member of the RAF.

A film illustrating the use that our war-savings are being put to came next 'The Owner Goes Aboard.' Mr Smith, one of our multitude of tax-payers, and indirectly a part owner of our war-materials, was eager to discover how his money was being spent. Mr Smith went purposefully aboard a warship, and was introduced to the captain, who showed him over it, and with whose consent he wrote his name on an anti-aircraft shell, costing approximately one pound. Subsequently it scored a direct hit on an enemy aircraft, and Mr Smith had the satisfaction of knowing that his pound had destroyed twenty-five thousand pounds worth of German material!

The show ended on a warning note. 'All Hands' told the story of how a waitress, having overheard some vital information, repeated it and caused the death of an acquaintance and the loss of a cruiser with all hands. This reminded us graphically of the truth of the motto 'Careless Talk Costs Lives,' which although too often disregarded, is very, very true.

At the conclusion the Headmaster warmly thanked Mr. Chipperfield, the operator, on behalf of the boys, who showed their keen enjoyment and appreciation by their loud applause.


At this time when our glorious Army of the Nile is attacking victoriously all over the deserts of Africa, when our Navies are sweeping the seas free from the enemy and our Air Force purging the foe from the skies, all of us, no doubt, admire their courage and initiative and we read and listen with wonder of their great successes. Daring and courageous, fighting against odds yet always victorious, they are upholding the finest traditions of their nation.

And behind those men is at home another army, an army of munition-workers and ship-builders and others, who are producing all the necessary equipment for the forces, working ceaselessly night and day, regardless of air-raids, to keep the men 'out there' well supplied.

But there are some of us, who are doing none of this magnificent work, either those who are too young or too old or have other occupations and would still like to help to win the war. The answer to that query is 'Save money.'

For money is urgently wanted by the Government for the vital needs of the forces. This money the Government wants to borrow from you. It is one of the finest ways of helping to win. Every National Savings Certificate you buy and so lend fifteen shillings to the Government, you strike a blow for victory. For to save is to fight and as the Prime Minister said: "We shall fight on the beaches, on the plains and in the woods, we shall fight until all good men now under Nazi tyranny are free!"

So let us all save, and, however long the struggle may last, we shall win.
HARRY SINGER, IIIB [Competitors were limited to 250 words].
[Harry was one of the children rescued from Czechoslovakia by Sir Nicholas Winton on the Kindertransport. Wilkes Walton believes he lodged with Mr Crouch]


W Fleet, RAPC
HV Talbot, RAPC
E Johnson (Capt)
D Palmer
A Gothard (Cpl)

L Markwell (Transport).
L Cornwell (of Isleham).
JB Norman.
AI Isaacson, transferred from Royal Warwicks.
A Isaacson.
HA Trett
A Peckett, L.A/C.
LJ Audus, PhD, Pilot Officer.
K Johnson
JAC Ball, A/C.2 Pilot under training

A Brown.

We are glad to hear that A Armsby who was on HMS Southampton is safe.

We were very sorry to hear of the serious accident to Duncan Wright in Scotland, and hope he is better.

N Spreckley (A/C) and LA Bradshaw (LA/C) paid us a visit this term. We were delighted to see them, and later on, H Papworth, now in the RAPC.

We are very glad that Eric Palmer, who was torpedoed, is safe and sound.

In Memoriam: K Clarke (of Isleham)


Sporting activities have been numerous this term, and fortunately, they have been little impeded by the weather. Although it was cold and windy at the beginning, especially in Sports Day, the weather has steadily improved, and at the moment, we are enjoying the mixed blessings of a heat wave. The transport problem under wartime conditions, is difficult, but we have succeeded, by various expedients, in fulfilling all our fixtures, and in this respect we have been more fortunate than some of our opponents.

... Interest in our Air Training Corps has not waned at all, but increased if anything, and now that the number of parades has grown, and we are receiving regular instruction from active members of the RAF, even more enthusiasm has been aroused. Already much of the dull preliminary work is but a memory, and we have reached the stage at which our lectures, although possibly more difficult, are more appealing to the average boy.

We are glad to hear that the following are well again:

Bombardier Duncan Wright after a very serious accident in Scotland
Kenneth Drake after a strenuous time in a recent raid
Dr WH James after developing pneumonia during services in a Yorkshire blitz

A Gordon of the Mercantile Marine, Sgt Pilot AL Bradshaw and S Pughsley of the RAF spent a happy day with us this term. F Driver of the RAF called on us in early June. We were delighted to see him.


CE Cavey (Sapper), RE
AD Martin, (RA)
R Martin, (RA)
GW Joyce, (Signals)
J Smith (of Kennett)

GM Jarman L.A/C.(BW Africa)
W Payton, (Pilot Officer)
ES Osborn, L.A/C
RF Griggs
F Harding
DP Fordham
JW Layton, A/C
J Brown (Warrant Officer)
C Seekings

G Watts, Petty Officer

In Memoriam
Victor Key RAF


In spite of war-time conditions, we have had a very peaceful and happy term; a phenomenon which, it is hoped, boys will have properly appreciated, by making it a term of hard work.

Before the term began we lost Mr Riley, who was called up for military service, and we should like to wish him every success in his new 'career.' We were glad to see him for a few hours on the first day of term and later sent him a present to say 'au revoir.'

His place has been temporarily filled by Miss Goodison, to whom we extend our warmest greetings and hopes that she will enjoy her stay with us. We also say good-bye to Miss Franklin with much regret. She came to us a year ago to take Mr Lait's Mathematics temporarily, and we thank her for her work with us and wish her every happiness in her new post.

... The School Dinner scheme has been continued and expanded with great success - the third year of the War has even brought increased rations ! - and the War Savings group has maintained its excellent record.

... Finally, I should like to draw the reader's attention to the fact that, this year, as a war time measure of economy, only a single space has been left between the lines in the magazine. Obviously, this fact may make the reading of the magazine a little more difficult and less pleasing, but it is a necessary measure of war time economy in the use of paper.

JWJ Leggett is taking a short course at Emmanuel College, Cambridge, to qualify for a commission as pilot in the R.A.F.
We were delighted to have visits this term from: P/O A Isaacson, RSM.
EJ Gascoyne, DG Ashby, S Woods, L/A/C Isaacson, L/Cpl JHP Fox


19th June, 1941.
As you see, I've landed in the New World and I am not at all disappointed. Our trip across the Atlantic was uneventful except for the two days of complete misery at the beginning, and the close proximity of the Bismarck later on ... Nothing more happened to us, however, and we docked after a week at sea, and that night, saw a lighted city for the first time in two years.

The next morning we disembarked and boarded a troop train. We were astounded by the welcome we got from the Canadian Air Force Boys, who had even brought out their band for us. The food at their camp made us realise we were definitely out of the war zone. It was strange and very pleasant to be able to eat any quantity of sugar, meat, butter, etc., and to buy oranges, cigarettes and chocolate in unlimited quantities once again.

We remained in our first place a week, and during that time had our finger prints taken, were issued with summer uniform, and in general were prepared for crossing over into the States. Late passes for midnight or 2 a.m. were issued every night, so that you can imagine we had a very enjoyable week. One evening, three of us hitch-hiked into Niagara. ...

To all intents and purposes we ourselves are in the US army. We wear their uniform, have the same discipline, and even do their drill, which is an imitation of ours. The discipline is very strict, much more strict than RAF discipline at the Initial Training Wings. I'm all for keeping rooms absolutely clean, and keeping lockers tidy, but I think it is stretching things a bit when you have to fold the corners of your bed at exactly 45, and do other similar geometrical feats with your clothes.

The good features of the place, however, more than make up for all this. We have a swimming pool, hard tennis courts, and a field for playing soft-ball. There is a good canteen, the food is excellent and our rooms are very comfortable. Above all, we fly, and for this alone I'd willingly put up with all the discipline. We are not allowed out of camp at all except week-ends, and then we get from Saturday noon until 7 p.m. Sunday.

For the most part the country is very flat and marshy. Quite a bit is cultivated and you find orange groves, pineapple and peaches growing. Farther north towards Georgia you get tobacco, cotton, pea-nuts and pecans as well.

The day is divided up into flying, ground subjects and PT. One week we fly and do PT in the morning, and do ground subjects in the afternoon, and change round the next week. It's best to fly in the morning because until noon the air is very calm. In the afternoons thunderstorms quickly build up, and they are real thunderstorms. You may be flying in a more or less clear sky, and within ten minutes the situation begins to get serious. It's the rainy season now, and if you get caught in any of the storms it's almost impossible to land.

I've done 4 hours of dual so far, and am beginning to master various stalls, spins and turns, and have made several take-offs and landings. My instructor is a great character, and although he talks with a very pronounced southern drawl, he manages to make himself understood. Next week he expects me to 'solo,' an event, which, if successful will mean my being thrown fully dressed into the "pool."

For ground subjects we do navigation, meteorology, theory of flight and engines. Most of the navigation and met. we did at the ITW, but the other subjects are very interesting, especially engines. Theory of flight is spoilt by the fact that they cut out most of the interesting maths., and try to explain everything in everyday language, an impossible task with any scientific subject. For PT we swim or play tennis under the guidance of a very good coach. The pool is a great blessing in this heat and I spend most of my spare time in it. The temperature doesn't get really high yet, about 80-88, but it is a moist heat, which is the most unbearable of all.

We stay here for ten weeks, then go to Basic Flying School for another ten. From there we go to an advanced FS for yet another ten weeks. Then, if things turn out as I hope, we go for a Wings Parade.

That, I think, gives some idea of what this place is like and what we're doing. I haven't mentioned the mosquitoes and rattle-snakes, but you can take it from me we've got plenty. (Passed by Censor).


(Including recent promotions)

(Including recent promotions)
JHP Fox (L/Cpl), RAOC
P Cranwell (Capt), RAOC
W Cranwell (Royal Artillery)
P Hooper (Middle East)
A Gothard (2nd Lieut RA)
I Thulborn (2nd Lieut.)
M Waddelow (Royal Artillery)
ME Pettitt, RAPC
GW Joyce (Tank Corps)
F Walker (Cpl), (Reconnaissance)
EJ Gascoyne, RSM
SE Banyard (Major)
JT Pinion (2nd Lieut) RE
B Huckle (2nd Lieut) RA

A Armsby (Petty Officer)

HA Trett, A/C
AI Isaacson, Pilot Officer (transferred from Infantry)
A Isaacson L/A/C
J Count (apprentice)
K Holt
DV Day, A/C1
E Fuller, Sgt
ER Fitch, Clerk

Reported missing (believed killed):
W Payton, Pilot Officer
AL Bradshaw, Sgt Pilot

Prisoner of War:
CE Rolfe
A (Tony) Hill


This term we regret to announce the departure of Mr Riley, who has left us temporarily to join the Army. Mr Riley has been Scout Master for nearly ten years, and, under his guidance, the troup [sic] has flourished as never before. We sincerely wish him luck in his new occupation, and hope that he will soon return.

Since his departure, Mr Riley has sent us a letter which we are printing below;

" Dear Chaps,

You will be pleased, I have no doubt, to hear that your erstwhile tyrant is being properly put through the mill; his old bones and sinews being tortured with P.T.; while he spends his days on the barrack square forgetting which foot is his left, and trying to cope with an elusive rifle which will creep all round his neck and which weighs at least two tons. His evenings are spent "spitting and polishing." The war will be over when Hitler knows how well I can do the slow march and when he sees the beauteous polish on my spare boots. However, I shall have done with infantry training in another fortnight, and shall begin training as a wireless operator with a view to a job inside a tank, or with an Artillery Regiment or some thing of the sort. In the Signals we never know what kind of a unit one will be posted to.

So much for myself. I hope you are all carrying on under Tommy's supervision, and keep the flag flying till I come home again.

Carry on with the Morse; you will all be Signallers yourselves some day. Best wishes to you all from your S.M. who would have liked to stay with you, but like many others has, begging your pardon, a more important job in hand.

Yours sincerely,


We are extremely proud of our new possession. Our Hawker Hector aircraft is an extremely interesting and valuable acquisition, although, so far, the ATC has strictly maintained its sole right to the 'plane.


On Wednesday, January 28th a selection of Ministry of Information films was given in the School, instead of the customary Wednesday afternoon games. Most of them dealt with some aspect of the Royal Air Force, much to the delight of the junior members of the audience and members of the school ATC.

The first film was entitled "Into the Blue," and depicted the training of RAF recruits. We were shown how they are brought to the peak of condition by means of physical training, boxing, swimming, and strenuous exercises. Men were shown in various stages of their courses, such as having lessons in the Morse Code, navigation lectures, and, at the end of the course, the careful fitting of parachutes. We were taken with the pupil on his first flight, witnessed his first solo landing, and watched him at work on bombing and gunnery practice.

Next, we had an American film which was called "Bomber." This was an account of the manufacture of a bombing aeroplane, recognised by air-minded members of the audience as a Martin Marauder. We were taken inside an American aircraft factory and shown the manufacture of some of the twenty-five thousand parts that go to make one of these giant aircraft. The film gave such scenes as the riveting of various pieces, the fixing of the engine and cockpit-covers, and the new aircraft in flight.

We were then shown a film dealing with the National Salvage Campaign, called "It All Depends on You." As might be imagined, it was sponsored by the Ministry of Supply. The film took the form of a tour through an ordinary household to find what waste can be collected for salvage. This, a subject that would probably be rather dry for younger boys, was brightened up by some very clever trick photography. The sight of pieces of paper and boxes putting themselves into a sack evoked considerable laughter. We were shown that really quite a large amount of waste paper, bones, and metal can be found in an ordinary household. If every one of the ten million households in Great Britain collected its full share of waste, we should gain some ten thousand tons of bones for glue, and about twice as much paper and cardboard for re-pulping and making into bullet-wads and many other instruments of war.

After this came a film with an often-heard title "The Pilot is Safe." This dealt, from beginning to end, with the story of an RAF pilot who baled out over the Channel, and with the varied machinery which goes into action in order to rescue him. The parachute was sighted by coastguards and spotters, who informed the nearest rescue boat station. A patrol of rescue launches was then sent out in the direction reported by the coastguard. Meanwhile the pilot was floating in his rubber dinghy and was soon sighted by Lysanders which were sent out to look for him. The pilot was rescued and the film ended in the RAF station with the news-reader announcing, "two of our 'planes failed to return, but the pilot of one is known to be safe."

Lastly we saw a film called "Four Corners," with Leslie Howard in it. We saw the meeting of three soldiers of the Empire in Trafalgar Square - one from Canada, one from Australia, and one from New Zealand. Leslie Howard took them to the top of St. Paul's Cathedral and pointed out places of significance and deep historical interest to the men of the Dominions. As he recalled the famous men of the Mother Country who had gone out to the lands of the Empire, they realised how very closely related we all are, and that they had not come to fight because they were told to volunteer, but rather because they just could not help themselves when our common inheritance, background, faith and ideals were threatened.

The Mother Country is part of the inheritance of all of them and these soldiers had sacrificed a great deal in order to fight for the common cause - to destroy the Nazi tyranny.


We were delighted to see the Old Boy [John Norman] who wrote to us from America and congratulate him on his progress in the RAF. Now a Sergeant Pilot, he is well known to the Upper School, as he left but a little over two years ago. At School, he was one of the foremost in athletics, and was therefore very popular. Consequently, he was cordially welcomed on his return, especially by the ATC, who were delighted at the opportunity of receiving first-hand information concerning the new scheme for training pilots as civilians in USA.

From his ITW he, and about one hundred others, were the first to participate in this scheme. After embarkation leave, the party was issued with civilian clothes and sent aboard a large liner, unfortunately in the hold owing to lack of room elsewhere. The passage was uninteresting with the exception of the usual attacks of seasickness, and the usual storm.

They arrived to see for the first time since the outbreak of hostilities, an illuminated city. Their destination was in Florida, which was reached via Toronto; a week's delay ensued owing to passports, during which the speaker and two friends seized their chance to hitch-hike some hundred miles to Niagara Falls. During the journey to Arcadia, it was interesting to note the apparently amazing development of the maize, in the difference between a crop at Detroit, and at Chattanooga, near which the celebrated Choo' Choo' operates.

At the Primary Flying School there was an unrestricted abundance of almost every food imaginable served by negroes. They trained in P17s, a biplane not unlike our Tiger Moth, but with a more powerful radial engine. With some difficulty, owing mainly to lack of confidence, the first solo was accomplished, and precision flying, approaches, and spot landings were attempted.

BT.13s, low-wing monoplanes of 450 h.p. were used at the Basic Flying School. They were not very powerful but tricky to fly especially at stalling speed, at which it was apt to flip over on to its back, unexpectedly.

Reveille was at 4.30 a.m., and, with only one and a half hour's break, they worked until 6.00 p.m. They had one flying hour a day, during which formation, and night flying were mostly practised, the rest of the time being filled in with ground work and American foot drill, a close imitation of our own.

After another 70 hours' flying, raising the total to 130, the bomber pilots were moved to one station and the fighters to another, where they trained in a 'plane similar to the Harvard, and easy to fly. The discipline was somewhat relaxed, and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves. There was a cinema attached to the field; the films seen are only now reaching England. The main work was instrument flying, involving aerobatics and work concerning radio beams. Preceding this, were courses in the Link Trainer and combat flying. The latter was excellent training, in fact the best they had then encountered. A gunnery course provided a welcome interlude, the skill of the individual varying daily, as, at this stage, luck played an important part.

After the Wings Parade, at which the US Army Air Corps and RAF "wings" were presented by the post commander, only a peaceful return journey remained.

We are very grateful for the instructive and descriptive talk and the charmingly modest way in which it was delivered. EW Cox, Upper V
(Passed by Censor).

Flight Sergeant 1208527 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
27 Sqdn Royal Air Force
who died on Monday 17 May 1943. Age 23.
Son of Arthur and Marjorie A Norman, of Haddenham, Cambridgeshire.
MAYNAMATI WAR CEMETERY, Bangladesh: Grave 4. A. 15.]


OnWednesday, 4th March, a very informative lecture was given to the School by Lieutenant-Colonel WH Newson, from the Headquarters of the Royal Armoured Corps.

In his introductory remarks the Colonel said he was anxious to find out whether any boy would like to choose this branch of the Army when he was called up to fight for his country, and when he started on the subject of tanks our interests were immediately aroused. It was pointed out that the RAC needed good men to man the tanks, as much depends on skilful handling, and a slip on the part of one tank might throw all the others out. Tank fighting is individual, just as much as the tactics of an RAF fighter are.

When discussing the tank's main features, the lecturer took as a typical example the Covenanter. This is an eighteen-ton cruiser tank, very heavily armed, and carries a crew of four. The speed of this vehicle is thirty-five miles per hour, and this is quite a good speed considering its weight. The armament consists of a two-pounder gun and a Besa light machine gun, both co-axially mounted in the turret. The turret is power-driven and can be traversed quickly or slowly right round. This is a great advantage compared with the Italian tank, whose turret will traverse only ten degrees each side. Traversing the turret enables the gunner seated in it to fire his guns in any direction, no matter which way the tank is travelling.

The tank is covered with artificial 'eyes' or periscopes; thus the occupants are able to observe their surroundings without exposing themselves. The gunner has a crosswired telescope for aiming his guns.

Every tank contains a radio which is capable of transmitting and receiving. In the Covenanter it is the job of the loader to adjust the radio, and as his name suggests, he loads the guns. The range for speech is fifteen miles, but a good radio technician could reach a greater distance.

A tank may have its tracks damaged, but even then it is a formidable object. Besides its guns, each man carries a revolver and six Mills' 36 hand grenades, and and also there is a Thompson sub-machine and a Bren gun for anti-aircraft action.

Most of the British tanks are comparatively new, the Matilda being the oldest. This tank is heavier than the Covenanter and because of the heavy armour plating, speed has had to be sacrificed. The Valentine is another good tank, but is lighter and has a crew of three only. These are used for attacking posts which are not too heavily armed.

Another tank mentioned by the Colonel was the Churchill, but as the Germans have not yet come up against it, not much information was available; apparently, however, it is a very formidable weapon.

The next subject was the two types of armoured formations - the armoured division which is highly mobile, and comparable to the old cavalry division in modern form, and the Army Tank Brigade which is used to attack stronger positions and composed almost entirely of RAC units and equipped with the heavier and more powerful tanks. The lecturer mentioned the intricate organisation required and the vital part played by the RAF squadron which is attached.

To conclude, we were invited to ask about any points. Many tank enthusiasts fired questions and they were thoroughly enlightened on the subject. This delightful afternoon ended only too quickly, and when Colonel Newson left the platform he was heartily applauded, the Headmaster having expressed our thanks to him.
(Passed by Censor). W JOHNSON, Upper V


B Williams
J Boyce RAMC
L-Cpl S Edwards

F Butcher (Minesweeper)
AC Davis, Stoker (Minesweeper)

K Pope (Airgunner)
E Thorpe
O Mackender (Fighter Pilot)
J Hughes
V Lee (Pilot's Course)
D Fordham (Pilot's Course)
C Brown (Pilot's Course)
K Holt (Observer's Course, Canada)
Sgt HL Yeomans


... Before closing I would like to point out that the magazine has been reduced to sixteen pages through paper restrictions. The usual illustrations have had to be omitted this time , but we hope to continue them in future issues.


Hearty congratulations to Sub Lieut BC Covill RNVR who was awarded the British Empire Medal for "great and calculated courage" while in charge of the AA defences of a 6,000 ton collier. He swam back twice to the sinking ship to rescue comrades. He was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Medal for lifesaving and has now received his commission.


(Including recent promotions)

JC Grover (Sgt Parachute Instructor)
HO Porter, Lieut
R Liles (Suffolks)
WA Sharpe (Signals)
E Smith (RASC)
W Britton
R Morton (Signals)
R Porter (India)
H Gipson (Royal Artillery)

OW Fletcher, A/C2
G Sadler L.A/C
J Hughes (Pilot in training)
JWJ Leggett (Pilot in training)
JH Peacock (ITW Pilot in training)
B Atkin (Pilot in training)
MG Mewes, AA Gunner
A Peckett, Cp.
R Routledge (Radio-location)
EH Reader, A/C2
R Pamment
AW Gothard
H Veal, A/C2
V Lee, A/C2
D Touch (Pilot)
R Johnson, PT Instructor
LW Seal, Sgt Pilot (training in USA)
A Isaacson (training in USA)

RAF (Deferred Service)
AJ Cornell
RG Coulson
K Gandy
Eric Smith
GE Dann
D Gutteridge
RJ Turner
DG Palmer
K Turner
EG Fretwell
JE Luddington

BC Covill, Sub.-Lieut., BEM., RNVR
T White
HE Cook, Telegraphist
AJ Bartle, "Y" Scheme

Reported killed in action, previously reported missing: AL Bradshaw, Sgt Pilot
Reported Missing: Capt CF Tabeart BA Cantab (Malaya), R Carter (Cambs Regt., Malaya), Major LW Seekings (Cambs Regt., Malaya), Pte LT Partridge (Malaya)
Died of wounds: Keith A Johnson (Air Gunner)
Prisoner of War: RG Cogbill (Signals, Hong Kong)


On May 18th, we were pleased to receive a visit from the Rev D Callum, of the Missions to Seamen. His talk on the work of the "Flying Angel," both spiritual and practical, was interesting and illuminating.

We were told first of the crew of a coasting steamer who had shot down their first enemy raider, and our visitor then recounted the story of the oil-tanker "San Demetrio," which was set on fire during the attack on the "Jervis Bay" convoy. The crew had taken to the boats, one of which spotted the ship again after three or four days. The fire was put out, and the ship brought back to port, though the task had appeared superhuman.

Finally, the Rev Callum quoted a few words from "Seaman Frank's" now famous postscript.

Our guest sat down to a burst of applause, which by its cordiality showed how the audience had appreciated the talk.


This has been a term of rather more than ordinary interest- a fact which combined with the lack of paper, has produced several headaches in connection with publication. Our readers will have noticed that the "Contents" have vanished to make room for more essential material. Next term will bring another change, for our stock of pre-war paper has at last given out, and we shall therefore have to adopt a thinner war-time brand. There is one bright spot, however; the illustrations have made a welcome and unexpected re-appearance and, we hope, are going to stay with us.

Nevertheless, we are very cramped for space, and many usual contri- butions that we would like to see, and which we miss very much, cannot be included. We can but hope - and work for the day when we can use as much paper as we like and, what is more, I believe that this term has seen the beginning of the series of events which will bring that day - the Day of Victory.

It is a great credit to the Headmaster and the school in general that so many activities should flourish during the fourth year of total war - and not only flourish but increase. All the out-of-school activities are making good progress: the ATC, Scouts, National Savings Group, Dramatic Society, Chess Club, School Dinner Scheme, Library, House Plays, Sport, and the newly-formed Music Club, are only part of the list. Collections for good causes have been particularly successful - especially on Poppy Day and for the Overseas Tobacco League.

An interesting sidelight on the latter is provided by a postcard (one of many) received from an unknown soldier who is abroad. He thanked the school for the cigarettes and shaving soap sent to him, and then went on to say that he knew Soham Grammar School very well, and that his last game of cricket had been played on the school field! There has also been a successful collection of books and magazines for the Merchant Navy.

The important events of the term were Speech Day and the visit of Benjamin Britten, while at the end of last term thirty entrants sat for the School Certificate and three for the Higher School Certificate - and they all passed ! This is a school record, and all concerned deserve the highest praise. The work of the Staff, especially, was highly spoken of by the Headmaster in his report on Speech Day, when the Lord Bishop of Ely gave away the prizes and certificates.



... The end of the third year of war has seen the fruition of many of the schemes and ideas of reorganisation introduced during this period, and consequently the year has been an important one for us. In the varied and changing difficulties of the times, we have indeed been fortunate in retaining all the necessities to continue and further all that is best in our education freedom from interruptions, the services of a loyal and experienced Staff and, by planning and economical use, we have enjoyed a sufficiency of materials.

I think we have a right therefore to demand a high standard in assessing the results, and I am pleased to say we have not been disappointed. In truth, this year has been an outstanding one. Again I have to report that there are more boys in the School than ever before and our accommodation is taxed to the utmost. More candidates than ever before also sat for examinations. There were three candidates for the Cambridge Higher Certificate, thirty for the Cambridge School Certificate and two for the Isle of Ely Intermediate Scholarships and - a rare and fortuitous occurrence - every boy was successful! To appreciate this in its proper perspective, it should be realised that every boy in the Upper V Form takes the Certificate examination whatever our estimate of his chances, and that Staff and boys take the fullest part in out of school activities and the many branches of wartime duties.

I do want to stress that this result is in no way due to "cramming" - in fact, the still more important side of true education has been emphasised more than ever during the past year. It is rather the very pleasing result of liberal education and sound instruction.

The Staff is to be congratulated very heartily on these successes. In addition to normal school work, each member cheerfully plays his part in many duties, wartime and otherwise, in School and out of School, from wartime crops to aircraft recognition, from hotel management to clothing coupons, from rest centres to air navigation.

But whatever uniform he puts on when he takes off academic gown, whatever the badge he wears, he remains devoted to his job - the education of boys. I do appreciate very highly their work and their loyal service. Incidentally, surely the war has killed for ever the old taunt at school-masters - "Those who can, do: those who can't, teach." I am very pleased to welcome the Rev TV Hurdle as a temporary member of the Staff. When it was found impossible to obtain a Physicist and Mathematician in view of the acute shortage, we were fortunate to secure his able and well qualified services. A first class honours graduate in Natural Sciences of St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, he is doing this work in addition to his duties as Curate in the Parish of Soham.

News of Old Boys is now naturally mainly concerned with service in the Forces, and it has been a great pleasure to see so many at School during the year and to receive news from all over the world. Many others in varied fields of activity have been to see us and their successes are a constant source of encouragement to the work of the School. We send our best wishes at this time to all Old Boys and to the two members of the Staff who are away on war service. As far as is known at present, eight Old Boys have given their lives on active service, four are reported missing and three are prisoners of war.

... Activities in the life of the School have been well maintained and in some respects further expanded. Games and Athletics have reached a very satisfactory standard, and although most inter-School matches have had to be abandoned for the duration of the war owing to lack of travel facilities, the more local ones are continued.

Local troops have also provided worthy opposition and the House Matches have been very keenly fought out. In the Lent Term, however, Rugger suffered a complete eclipse owing to the severe weather, and we were forcibly reminded of an 18th century description of this part of Cambridgeshire which I happened to read at the time - "A black swamp producing nothing but stunted willow trees, the fen-eagle, and the ague." However, the indoor Clubs and Societies profited correspondingly and all continue to flourish, while the new Library with over 1,200 volumes is now completely classified and catalogued and well supplied with newspapers and periodicals.

The School Dinners have passed well beyond the 'scheme' stage of three years ago and play an integral part in the general life. Almost every boy now has a well cooked and well served meal each day.

I will not repeat the important physical and social implications of this School function which I mentioned last year, but tell you a little story, with a moral. It did not happen here, indeed it is probably apocryphal. A boy told his form-master that he wanted leave off games for a few weeks and to have the School dinner. The master said the first was impossible without a medical certificate, but the latter could probably be arranged and asked the reason for the request. "Well, you see, Sir", was the reply, "Mother wants me to be 7st 12lbs before the end of the month or she won't get the extra clothing coupons for me!"

Despite increasing numbers throughout the year, the School garden with record crops, and in addition to its use in Rural Science work, provided practically all the necessary vegetables and fruit for jam.

The School Air Training Corps has had a busy and most successful year. In the main it has been one of real hard work in the subjects of the ITW syllabus, and keenness has been maintained absolutely. The examination results have been outstanding, no fewer than 41 Proficiency Certificates having been obtained. The Squadron has also held Sports, Football Matches, Ceremonial Parades, Social Evenings, Proficiency Sports tests, and now has the care of a Hawker Hector aircraft in the School grounds. The year's events were brought to an end by an instructive fortnight in Camp at the 'parent' aerodrome in weekly periods for each Flight, and most cadets have now had their first flying experience. Twenty-nine members have been accepted by the RAF and two by the Royal Navy, but not all have yet been called up for service.

... For the Summer Shakespeare Play, this year "The Taming of the Shrew," we were again favoured with excellent weather for the two evening performances, very ably produced by Mr Crouch in the ideal setting of the School Lawn. The cast was confined to boys of the School, who gave a very successful and enjoyable entertainment to the many parents and friends who were able to come. A collection for the RAF Benevolent Fund amounted to twelve guineas.

All our other activities have been continued with keenness - the Scouts and their Camps, Salvage, Harvest work in the holidays by most boys, collections for good causes, help in local events, the School Magazine, and I must also mention the work and interest of the Medical Officer and Employment Officer. The Savings Group under Mr Hunt has almost doubled its last year's record result. It now numbers 120 members who saved just under 1,000 in the year.


Early this term senior boys heard interesting nteresting talk on the "Y" scheme by Captain T Slator, CB, RN, of the Cambridge Recruiting Centre. Introduced by the Headmaster as an old friend of his who had had long service and a wide experience of naval education, Captain Slator expressed his pleasure in coming to speak and congratulated the School on its educational and ATC record.

He explained that only boys who are likely to make good officers are chosen under the scheme. Candidates who apply to the Recruiting Centre have first to pass a preliminary medical examination before being interviewed by the Selection Board. A good standard of physical fitness is required, while mathematics and English should be up to School Certificate requirements.

Candidates (who must be at least 17 years of age) then go to a preliminary training school; after ten weeks of this, sea cadets go to sea for three months. Then, on the recommendation of his officers, a cadet goes to training courses and should gain his full commission within about six months - unless he is under 20 years of age, in which case he will then have to wait.

Candidates of the Fleet Air Arm follow a similar procedure, except that their training takes place at an aerodrome under RAF control. Royal Marines may gain their commissions immediately they complete the course, without having to wait until they are twenty.

The speaker went on to describe life in the Navy, the high standards of its traditions and, to conclude, gave a summary of the qualities required in its recruits.

We are very grateful to Captain Slator for his talk, and for so kindly offering to answer any enquiries, which could be sent to him through the Headmaster.

We were very pleased to see Mr Riley at school this term. He seemed very cheerful and fit.


A brilliant concert under the auspices of the "Council for Encouragement of Music and the Arts" was given by very distinguished performers in the Assembly Hall of Friday afternoon, October 16th. The Headmaster, in his warmly welcoming speech, remarked that Mr Benjamin Britten, the pianist and famous composer, was once a pupil at Gresham's, Holt, his previous school ... [Peter Pears and Miss Florence Hooton also performed.]


Petty Officer Geoffrey Watts was in the famous Malta Convoy.
We are very sorry to hear that Colin Eyet (Royal Navy) has been dangerously ill with a fractured pelvis.
EA Palmer's first ship was torpedoed by the Germans and his second was bombed and sunk by the Japanese! He is now a Sub Lieut, RNVR
LS Seal has been promoted from Sgt Pilot to Pilot Officer. Congratulations.
L/AC Ernest R Fitch has gained the Air Council's Prize for attaining highest awards in passing out of his training test.

We were delighted to see the following Old Boys at school this term: ESJ Smith, DG Taylor, AJ Cornell, J Cotton, FA Barton, IW Jarman, AJ Jugg, WC Allen, GJ Vail, RD Harding, ER Fitch, AE Eden, JHP Fox, F Hockley, LR Stimpson, CJ Webster, Sgt Pilot JB Norman, L/AF GW Pughsley.


Our readers will probably have already noticed yet another decrease in the size of the magazine; we now have only twelve pages instead of the sixteen of last term and the fabulous number of the pre-war days of peace and plenty. We would point out, however, that the abolition of double spacing permits the actual amount of type to be only a little less in quantity than in the magazines of two or three years ago. Another change is in the war-time brand of paper now being used, for our old stock was used up last term.

From the reports which are given elsewhere, it will be obvious that the past term has been by no means dull. School routine has remained uninterrupted, out-ofschool activities have continued - the ATC and Scouts have greeted the better weather with beaming faces - we have had several lectures, and an expedition which set out to explore Ely Gas Works returned safely despite grave misgivings at the outset.

One Wednesday afternoon (March 10th) was a day to remember, for we had both a Ministry of Information film show and a talk by a Sergeant of an Airborne Division, complete with equipment; the latter was a nine days wonder, especially for the junior members of the school.

Transport difficulties have again prevented Rugby fixtures, although the ATC have played several successful football matches. House matches have been played off, several cross-countries have been held, and two afternoons have been given over to Standard Sports. A sudden enthusiasm for running and jumping has accompanied the recent good weather, and everyone is training for next term's School Sports and the Inter-Schools Sports at March - the schoolboy's dream ....


On Wednesday, 10th March, we saw a series of short films presented by the Ministry of Information.

The first film, one of the 'March of Time' series, was called "The Men of Norway." It showed how the gallant Norwegians, under King Haakon and General Crown Prince Olaf, are carrying on their fight against the Axis, both openly in this country, and secretly in their own land. The Norwegian Navy, fighting for the Allies, contains over 50 ships, including several ex-American destroyers; the Merchant Navy, of 700 ships, boasts a total tonnage of 3,000,000. Up to one hundred young Norwegians a month arrive in this country, and many go on to the great training centre in Canada - " Little Norway." We saw how young patriots in Norway itself are fighting on in all kinds of different ways, from radioing instructions for Allied bombers to sprinkling paraffin on dried codfish bound for Germany.

Next we saw a film record of the famous Malta Convoy. It presented unforgetable pictures of the bomb-shattered George Cross island, of the terrific anti-aircraft barrages put up by our ships, of tubby little merchantmen disappearing into mountains of water and smoke and miraculously appearing again minutes later, and of German bombers diving to their doom in the Mediterranean. It is actions like these which make our nation so conscious and proud of the "never fail" tradition of the Navy.

Lastly we saw "Common Cause," a film of a somewhat different type. It took the form of conversations between two pairs of men - an American and a Chinaman fighting the Japanese, and a British Sea Captain and a Russian Harbourmaster.

The American believes that he and the British are different, simply because they do some things differently; the Chinaman, in his own whimsical way, proves that he is wrong - two nations may have different accents, different skins, different ways of eating and playing games, but they can both bring down enemy planes, they can both fight for their cause - for the other chap's cause if they agree with it. We are all in this together, the Chinese and the Americans, the Russians and the British, all, in fact, of the freedom-loving peoples. The Russian is horrified at the brutal bombing of British towns; the Briton is equally horrified at the methods of the German invaders; both are out for peace and freedom from such bestiality; both - and all the Allied Nations - must remain united when peace comes, so as to ensure freedom from want and fear for the coming generations.

Our thanks are due to Mr McCormick for a really interesting programme and also the pleasing manner in which he presented it. GP BROWN, VIB


On Wednesday, January 27th, the School was very pleased to receive a visit from Major Hawkins of the 10th Royal Hussars, a regiment which has taken a great part in the Libyan Campaigns.

In introducing Major Hawkins, the Headmaster said that last year we had a talk on tanks from Colonel Newson; this talk, however, was to tell us how these tanks had been used. The Major started his talk by telling us of the first Italian offensive which was checked by General Wavell and led to our advance into Libya; towns which we captured were pointed out to us on a large sketch map.

The next Axis advance - when they had been reinforced by the "Afrika Korps" - took them well into Egypt, and Major Hawkins told us of the great and gallant siege of Tobruk. General Wavell was now replaced by General Auchinleck; it was clear to the latter that we must soon advance to relieve Tobruk, and we accordingly went forward in November, 1941, advancing beyond Benghazi. In this advance many battles took place; Major Hawkins explained how his men took part in the battle and how they lived all day in their tanks; he also gave some very amusing instances of actions by individuals in his company.

A few months later, Rommel advanced again, this time until he was within 40 miles of Alexandria itself, but a well-organized retreat by the British forces prevented any unnecessary waste of life.

We lost many tanks in these engagements owing to the weakness in the armament of our tanks and the stronger armament of the German. At this stage we were shown models of the German Marks III and IV tanks, and British Cruiser and Churchill tanks, showing their comparative armament. All these losses taught us a lesson; our tanks were strengthened, in October, 1942, we advanced. The speaker did not take part in this advance, but he was able to tell us more about the military side of it than we read in the papers.

A captured Italian rifle was also shown to the boys, and then many interesting questions were asked, and were answered most obligingly. We were delighted with these vivid descriptions, and felt very grateful indeed to Major Hawkins.
G ALPS, Upper V

Two or three weeks after giving us a lecture on "The Libyan Campaign," Major Hawkins, of the 10th Royal Hussars, presented another extremely interesting talk, this time on "Airborne Troops." He brought a Sergeant of the Airborne Division along with him and we were very interested in the parachutist's equipment which the latter showed us. We should like to thank Major Hawkins and the Headmaster for arranging the visit, and express our warmest thanks and good wishes to the lecturer.


We were delighted to see the following at school this term : T White (Navy), A Isaacson RAF), AI Isaacson, GW Jennings, J Hughes (RAF), E Fitch (RAF) , JF Miller-Mead (Merchant Navy), DJ Heffer, EG Fretwell (RAF), PG Norman, AE Eden, EG Miller, RD Harding, JHP Fox.


Including Recent Promotions

P/O AC Drake (RAF Regt), JE Atkin (Pilot in training), P/O K Thorpe (Technical), P/O E Fuller, A/C2 ESJ Smith (Flt Mech), AJ Cornell, CR Allen, RG Coulson, MJ Sadler, K Gandy, RJ Bridgeman, EG Fretwell, J Hughes, CV Murfitt, RJ Turner, K Turner, B Whitwood, Flying Officer AI Isaacson, K Fleet (Wireless Operator), Sgt HL Yeomans, P/O K Holt, AJ Thompson (Deferred Service).

R Sykes, RAMC (transferring to commission in tank corps), J Nunn, REME, R Liles (RCS), EG Miller (Rifle Brigade), 2nd Lt AE Drake (Pioneer Corps), LC Caswell OCTU (RA), RS South, P Brown (RAC), 2nd Lt B Heckle, GW Jennings, MR Peacock, A Peacock, G Hatch, Cpl HV Talbot (RAPC), Staff Sgt C Talbot (RAMC)

Petty Officer F Burton, RJ Bent (Electrician), AGW Fuller (Y-Scheme), L Sulman, Petty Officer AC Davis, N Human, F Hockley (Flt Air Arm), J Clift, (Flt Air Arm), R Carter, T White (Naval Officers Training Unit)

Prisoners of War
F Bye (Egypt), Pilot Officer LJ Audus (Java)
Reported missing
JW Layton (RAF)
Donald Palmer (Tank Corps)


Issued by the Polish Government: "No Polish citizen now living outside Polish territory may enter Poland after October 29th, unless he has a special certificate from the nearest Polish Consul."

There was a wailing of sirens, and a screeching of brakes as police-vans drove through the streets of every German town, stopping at certain houses. While this was going on, policemen, army officials, and river police, all armed, were led by Gestapo men to the houses of every Polish citizen.

I will deal with Stettin, a sea-port in the north of Germany, because I experienced it myself.

It was on the eve of October 29th, 1938; my father and brother went to a lecture, leaving my mother, my sister and me at home. Having nothing to occupy myself with, I proceeded to bed, only to be awakened by my mother saying, "Dress yourself!" This naturally required an explanation, which I demanded. In answer she whispered into my ear, "The police are in the house."

On entering our sitting-room, I saw two burly-looking river policemen, each blocking one of the exits leading to the corridor, and a man in mufti who proved to be in charge of the situation. I was horror-stricken when I saw all our cupboards open, and some suitcases standing half-packed on chairs.

My mother was very nervous, which is not to be wondered at, when you have worked fifteen years to build up a home and secure a future for your children, and then with one order to evacuate, your life collapses. She did not do any packing, but told us what to pack.

Just as my father arrived home, easing the situation as master of the house, my brother and some of his companions were halted by two policemen demanding to see their passports. My brother produced his, feeling very confident of himself as a Polish citizen, because before this order was given out, foreigners were treated kindly. On seeing his passport, the policeman laughed, "Ha, ha, you are just the man we are looking for," and without being asked any more questions my brother was brought to the police station, where we afterwards joined him.

Before we were dragged into the police-van already outside, I played my mother's favourite tune on the piano for the last time.

On entering the van, we noticed that all the windows were barred, and mothers with babies in their arms were crying and pleading, which had no effect on the ruthless Germans.

We spent the night in a lecture hall at the police station. In the early hours of the next morning we were marched over to the town prison, where we saw one of our friends, who was incarcerated for some crime he did not commit. From there we were transported to the 'Stettiner Bahnhof,' from where we were sent off into the unknown. The train was heavily guarded, so as to make sure of their victims. Some Gestapo officers who joined us were mocking us, considering the whole episode as a comic affair for them.

After riding the whole afternoon, we arrived at a small village, from where we had to march five miles until we arrived at a small town on the German-Polish border. After being stripped for examination, we were driven on to a bridge which joined the German and Polish part of the town. The night was cold, and the frost was biting into our skins. One woman with a baby would have committed suicide by jumping into the murky river below, had we not prevented her.

But at this village we were not admitted. So we had another rough journey to Bydgosez, where we were admitted to the Polish part of the village. The Germans had thus forced us back into our native country before the Polish Law of October 29th could come into effect.


Fate has been cruel to us this term: we have lost two friends of the school within a week or so of each other; the first was Alderman S Moore JP, Chairman of the School Governors, of whom an appreciation appears elsewhere.

The second was Sgt Pilot JB Norman; 'Johnny' Norman will be long remembered for his prowess in the world of sport when he was here at school, and his record for the Mile at the March Inter-School Sports still stands. We offer our heartfelt sympathy to his parents; we mourn the loss of a man.

We are glad that C Hepher (RAF) who was torpedoed, is safe. [In 2014 his nephew Peter Searle added: The troopship (SS Anselm) was torpedoed on 5th July 1941, 300 miles north of the Azores (see Maritime Disasters of WWII) and for the next 18 months Cyril was stationed in Freetown, West Africa with the RAF.]

We were delighted to see the following at school this term: J Pledger, P/O JWJ Leggett, Midshipman TW White, A Cornell, Sgt 'Bonger' Day, Sgt Pilot A Isaacson, CR Allen, F/O CR Brown, LC Pinion, PF Foreman, JWR Taylor, A Eden, E Eden, I Asplin, GS White, and Mr TL Riley.


On May 26th, the School was very pleased to receive a visit from Major LT Spittle, who continued the series of talks begun by Major Hawkins; this time, however, we were to hear of the North African Campaign. The lecturer's main responsibility was that of tank maintenance. After cruising around at sea for a few days orders were given out to carry out the plan, and on November 9th and 10th they landed with a comparatively light force. At this point the Major stressed the great importance of air cover. He said that without air cover the landings would probably not have been possible, or at least they could not have run in the clockwork manner in which they did.

The country in which they landed was very hilly, and very dangerous if the lorries were not handled by expert drivers. By the next Friday they arrived at Medjez El Bab, which had been captured the day before by our parachutists. The chief job of the force which Major Spittle was in was to hold Medjez El Bab and Beja, as these would have made a very important base for the Germans.

At this point Major Spittle told of some very amusing "swops" which took place between his men and the Arabs, and then gave us graphic descriptions of their work both in and out of action. We could not be told very much of the actual campaign for obvious reasons, but we heard with delight of the rations the men had during the fighting. Apart from unlimited oranges on the spot, one day's ration fora man was kept in a box and consisted of: chocolate, tinned peaches end pineapples, and also tinned fish such as salmon and sardines, eggs, bacon and sausages, and, of course, bully beef and biscuits.

The work of the RASC was wonderful, and a glowing tribute was also paid to the excellent organisation and attention of the RAMC which the lecturer also knew from first-hand knowledge.

After the lecture many interesting questions were asked, which were readily and often entertainingly answered. In closing we would like to thank Major Spittle for his stimulating talk, and also the Headmaster for arranging it.

After his talk on the North African Campaigns (reported fully elsewhere) Major LT Spittle returned later in the term with a selection of armoured cars, scout cars, and 'Jeeps' for us to inspect. We were given an opportunity to try out the cross-country capabilities of these machines and, with the effects produced by smoke-bombs and Verey Lights, a very enjoyable time was had by all.


Including Recent Promotions

J Chapman (RE); CR Lown (RE); GJ Vail (RE); RE Squire; Acting Lt-Col EI Johnson; RSM BF Murfitt, RAMC

Midshipman TW White

CF Hepher, M Norman, I Lancaster, P/O CR Brown, RS Loveland (Mechanic), LR Stimpson, DE Law (Air Crew, Deferred), JE Luddington, Sgt D ('Bonger') Day (Flt Engineer), P/O JWJ Leggett

Reported Missing: Sgt Pilot WD Hawkes, Sgt EH Reader
Killed in Action: Sgt JB Norman (India)


For those who read the Editorial at all a new planet has swum into their ken. The reason for the change in editorship is the departure of GP Brown into the RAF. We wish him luck and are proud that he is the first boy from the School to go into his particular branch - Intelligence. Apart from his fine work in the magazine, his initiative in other channels was perhaps not widely realized, but we owe to him our fine chess team. It is now nearly two years since he formed the Chess Club with three sets of Chess men for the twenty-three members present at the first meeting, six of whom could play. Now, however, the team has won its way into the Final of the BCCA Inter-Schools Tourney, fuller details of which may be found elsewhere in the magazine.

We were grieved to hear this term of the tragic death by a shooting accident of Dick Turner, who was on leave from the RAF before completing his flying training overseas. We grew up with Dick and it is impossible to be in the same form with a boy for nearly six years in the most impressionable part of life without getting to know him ; he was a true friend. We extend our deepest sympathies to the bereaved parents; we mourn with them ...


We were grieved to hear this term of the tragic death by a shooting accident of Dick Turner, who was on leave from the RAF before completing his flying training overseas.

Bandsman J Stimson had to have a leg amputated as a result of an Indian Army football accident, now working in Ely.

Trooper PH Brown (1939/40) rapidly recovering in a North Country hospital from an accident in grenade exercises.

Sgt J Hughes (1933-38) is making good progress after a crash landing on the East Coast after the second big raid on Berlin.

QMS BH Roythorne was commended by the King for bravery.

In Memoriam
Corporal SW Cornwell (RASC) 1929-34. Died of injuries, British North African Forces
Sgt EH Reader (RAF) 1933-38. Now officially reported killed in action.

OLD BOYS IN H.M. FORCES (continued)

Including Recent Promotions

HA Simpson 1934-40. KS Pope 1934-39. EJ Scarborough 1932-37. AJ Thompson 1935-42. DT. Heffer 1935-41. GP Brown 1937-43. Sgt J Hughes (Navigator) 1933-38.

Captain AC Norfolk, India Command, 1929-36. Corporal J Lavender, REME, 1930-35. DW Turner (RTO. Clerk) 1935-40. Trooper Paul Brown, 1939-40. Lieut G Cornell, 1924-29.

Sub-Lieut F Hockley, Fleet Air Arm, 1934-40. BG Stubbins (EA), 1933-38. JW Clift, 1936-41. AE Eden, 1934-41.



Including Recent Promotions.

Flying Officer JWJ Leggett, 1934-41. H Constable, 1936-41 (Air Crew). Corporal H Treat, 1925-32. Corporal G Parr, 1924-30. Sgt-Pilot D Fordham, 1932-37. Sgt-Pilot V Lee, 1935-36. AJ Jugg, 1936-41
(Deferred Service). Eric Lindsell, 1930-35. A/C: R Routledge, 1932-39, DW Boyce, 1937-43. Pilot Officer G Dann, 1933-39. WF Cross, 1937-41. D Leonard, 1934-40. KR Gandy (Sgt) 1935-1940.

Corporal PF Roythorne, 1923-28, RAMC (invalided home from North Africa). Gunner MG Mewes, RA, 1924-28. Major E A Drake, 1927-34. Pte L Steadman (AA), 1933-38.

Lieut J Unwin, 1926-32 (Electrical). A/B R Unwin,1930-34, (RDF) (RNVR). D Nice (Fleet Air Arm), 1935-41.

We were pleased to see at School this term : Pilot Officer G Dann, 1933-39, and Telegraphist H Cook, 1933-38 (R. Navy), who gallantly turned out for a game of Rugger ; AE Eden, 1934-41; A/C GP Brown, 1937-43; Sub-Lieutenant F Hockley, 1934-40 (Fleet Air Arm); Corporal PF Roythorne, 1923-28 (RAMC); A/C LR Stimpson, 1936-41; Lieut J Unwin, 1926-32 (RN); Flying Officer JWJ Leggett, 1934-41.

We apologise to Midshipman Miller-Mead, 1936-41 (Merchant Navy) for getting his rank completely wrong last term.

DG Taylor (Admiralty) who has been very ill on the Gold Coast, has been transferred to South Africa.
The Hills are safe. Tony Hill (1929-35) is in a Stalag and Jack (1928-33) is in England.
Reported Missing: Sub-Lieut Eric A Palmer, RNVR 1931-34


The School deeply appreciates the heroic sacrifice of the railwaymen in their successful but fatal efforts to save a local town from destruction recently, and helped to show its gratitude by making a record collection in aid of the Local Tribute and Relief Fund.

This term a very large number of Old Boys, many of them in the Forces, have visited the School. It is with sorrow that we hear that three more Old Boys are missing.


We were delighted to see the following at school this term: Duncan Wright, P Foreman, LC Pinion, JW Leggett, RJ Bridgeman, D Boyce, A Thompson, HZ Geier, A Talbot, HB Walton, WC Allen, EJ Bond, L Stimson, EJ Wright, DS Ward, IW Jarman, Ivan Lancaster and Philip Lovering.

We hear that EJ Bond, Royal Marines, was among the first to land a tank on the Normandy coast in the second front invasion in June of this year.
Sgt Pilot HVH Lee is now serving in India.

OLD BOYS IN H.M. FORCES (continued)

Including Recent Promotions

Sgt Pilot I Lancaster, Sgt D Heffer, A/Sgt SE Osborn (BNAF), A/C2 NJ Sneesby, L.A/C HA Human, A/C2 MJ Sadler, L.A/C GWF Sadler, A/C1 D Leonard, A/C2 L Pinion, A/C2 P Bedford, A/C2 E Cox, A/C2 D Boyce, A/C2 EJ Wright, A/C2 DS Ward, ME Ward (Airgunner), IW Jarman (Deferred Service), HB Walton (RAF University Course). L.A/C E Smith.

Capt JB Huckle (RA), 2nd Lt JW Boyce (PC), Cadet-Lt P Smith (India), Capt JT Pinion (RE), 2nd Lt LC Caswell (SE Asia), Sgn JH Willis (RCS), Cfm R Audus (REME)

Sub-Lt T White, Sub-Lt Colin Eyet, RNVR, N Human (Radiology), Mne EJ Bond, Mne N Chamberlain.

Reported Missing: Sgt K Gandy RAF, Sgt Pilot K Turner RAF.
Prisoner of War: Staff Sgt Duncan Wright, Glider Pilot Regt [in fact Staff-Sjt Wright was
killed 6 June 1944].

[ Official Report on Incident at Soham Station ]


Once more the festive season is at hand, and we wish all our readers a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, full of prospects for a speedy end to the war, which has affected so many and retarded so much. However we are keenly looking forward to 1945, for at least, our school is being enlarged, and some fine new prefabricated huts are in the process of being erected on the lawn ...


... arrangements have been completed for a new block of pre-fabricated buildings to be started in the very near future. Meanwhile, the School has been reorganised for a two-form entry, additional Staff have been appointed, and every inch of space is being utilised to the best advantage to cope with the greatly increased number of boys. Indeed, I sometimes wonder where we do put them. We are rather cramped and uncomfortable at the moment for example, the long-suffering Staff found themselves at the beginning of the term housed in a converted bathroom and a stockroom! But the Staff and boys alike have met all the difficulties and calls made on them with admirable equanimity and helpful co-operation, and the excellent service of the Staff has earned the commendation of the Governors. We all have the satisfaction of knowing that when the buildings become available, the School will completely meet the needs of the district it serves in providing a Grammar School education for all who have the ability and aptitude.

... We have been delighted to see so many Old Boys during the year and to read welcome letters of their doings both near and far. Many are in the Forces, and as far as is known at present 14 have given their lives for their country, 8 are reported missing and 6 are prisoners of war. We offer our deep sympathy to their parents and families ...To all Old Boys and members of the Staff away on duty we send our warmest greetings and good wishes and assure them we are always glad to have their news. There is nothing we like better than such Common Room talk as "I see Smith minor's a Major and Smith major's a miner."

Before I leave the Old Boys, I wish to record our gratitude to Mr and Mrs Arthur Norman and family of Haddenham, who have very kindly founded a Trust Fund to provide prizes annually for the Cross Country Race in memory of their son, Sgt-Pilot John Norman, killed on active service last year. John consistently won this race when he was at School and was a fine all-round athlete and sportsman. His life and example we remember with pride, and we express our thanks for the gracious tribute to the School he loved so much.

In the school life we have continued happily all the usual activities which play such an important part in the education, development and welfare of the boys. The games continue at a satisfactory standard in all branches, considering the many war-time difficulties and distractions, and the curtailment of travel for inter-School matches. Indeed, the standard of Athletics proved to be the highest for many years, for from the Inter-Schools Meeting at March the team returned with the Junior Shield and three records, and finished second in the complete aggregate. A pleasing sidelight is that this meeting took place at a time we shall long remember, and without the enthusiasm of Staff and boys our attendance would not have been possible.

... Clubs and Societies have benefited by the new arrangement which gives additional time for their activities on wet half-holidays, and the Scout Troop with increased numbers has enjoyed many meetings and a summer camp. Dramatics, if not attaining the standard of our Summer Plays on the lawn, are kept very much alive in the short Christmas House Plays which are now a well-established and popular feature; the War Savings Group has brought its wartime total to over 14,000; harvest work was done by practically every boy in the School; collections for good causes have been made most generously; the School Magazine is adequate though slim, and now has to be confined almost entirely to records of activities; and the Library, though robbed temporarily of its fine room, is used extensively. It is almost impossible to enumerate all our activities, but I must give a special word of praise to the garden, kitchen and secretarial staff for their production of over 200 dinners daily (not to mention cwts. of jam) with present inadequate facilities.

After speaking of ATC activities reported elsewhere in this issue, the Headmaster said : "My report of the year's work would be incomplete without reference to events which we hope will remain unique in the School's history. I must necessarily be discreet, but in any case you will need few reminders, and just tribute to great heroism has already been paid. The School is proud to have played its part in helping to meet the situation. The full report of the work done as Rest Centre and Administrative Centre under the Regional Commissioner remains a private document, but I am permitted to tell you that most appreciative letters have been received from the various authorities, and pleasing comments from so many who were here at that time.

If smoothness and efficiency were the keynotes of our service, they were inspired by the unstinted efforts for long hours of my Staff and helpers, the willing co-operation and unfailing courtesy of all officials of every service, and not least the fine morale of the people. I wish to thank all who served so well for their tireless and cheerful enthusiasm, and all those in high office who came or wrote to express their interest and sympathy. May the inspiring experience of comradeship and Christian fellowship remain with us whenever we think, with gratitude, about our providential deliverance."


We had an informative and somewhat animated lecture from Major Hutton, of the Durham Light Infantry, on September 27th, after his recent return from Burma. He said that he had fought in Arakan for several months, when the main aim of the British was to recapture Akyab, which has a very fine harbour.

When he first went to India, he was stationed in Bombay for seven months, and then he was moved to Chittagong, where he remained for a week. Finally, he and his company were moved to Arakan, where they took up positions near the coast. Although the Japanese positions were close to the English strong-points, nobody ever saw a Jap except by night. Our men lived in individual fox-holes, and supplies were brought to them by mules, of which there were thirty-five to a battalion. Food was, on the whole, good, but one was apt to catch many diseases such as malaria, which he frankly described as "death warmed up," and as a protection against which all soldiers were supplied with gloves and anti-mosquito ointment. There were also many scorpions, and centipedes up to a foot long, which moved in four directions simultaneously ! Major Hutton's explanation of this was so realistic that the audience rocked with laughter.

There is always, of course, a serious side to any war, and he did not forget to tell us about it. The Japanese concrete positions were called "sugars" and were almost impregnable and Japs in them were very stubborn fighters, and caused us heavy casualties, though the 14th Army proved more than a match for them. In fact, according to Major Hutton's estimate, which should be fairly accurate, one English soldier is equivalent to three Japs and one Gurkha is equal to seven Japs. No Jap ever wants to be taken prisoner, for this is the greatest disgrace which he can possibly have. He prefers to die in battle, for this is the greatest honour he can possibly attain. He would rather commit hara-kiri than be taken prisoner, for he thinks that if he dies in battle, he will go to a sort of Valhalla.

The audience was then asked to submit any enquiries to Major Hutton, who would be pleased to answer them. After a few moments, sure enough, several boys wanted to ask questions, which ranged from "Do Japs live on a handful of rice?" to "Why can't you fire the jungle?" After quite a number of questions had been answered, the Headmaster told us a moving story about one of his friends, who, as aide-de-camp to General Wingate, perished in the same air crash as that truly great and efficient soldier. He thanked Major Hutton for coming to give such an informative and entertaining lecture.

F/O PA Fyson (1928-30) has been awarded the DFC for "courage, skill and devotion to duty".


ATC activities this term have been confined to the school flight as the other has now closed down.

Towards the end of term we were delighted to see Mr Riley, who was on a week's leave from the Rhine front.
Captain D Flunder awarded the MC.
Staff Sgt SE White REME awarded the BEM in the New Year's Honours List.
F/O PA Fyson (1928-30) has been awarded the DFC for "courage, skill and devotion to duty".


Including Recent Promotions

RV Hubbard, Sgt NJ Sneesby, RJ Day (Radio-Location), AR Palmer, Warrant Officer D Day, Flt/Sgt Glider Pilot I Lancaster. P/O AJ Thompson.

Major AC Norfolk (India), Private WJ Mitchell, Signals (SEAC), L/Cpl GJ Vail, RA Rynsaard, 2nd Lieut P Smith (Burma), SG Lee, Lieut LC Caswell, RA, Burma, LS Hitch, K Leonard, LI Murfitt (Irish Guards), Sgt GW Jennings.

PD Smith, WJ Bucklar, RM Ibbott, L Bitton, H Cook

Reported Missing: EG Fretwell RAF [but see Spring 1946]
Prisoner of War: Sgt Glider Pilot RW Liles


Several issues back you read a short account of the war in North Africa as it appeared to me. Since then I have tasted the peace-time atmosphere of Egypt, and after that the stark realities of war in Italy, not forgetting the Mediterranean cruises in between the two.

After spending about nine months of comparative rest we once again started our wanderings, about last Christmas. As our padre aptly put it in his Christmas morning sermon - "We were almost under the same conditions as Joseph and Mary in their flight to Egypt." From Christmas to the New Year we were enjoying an uneventful Mediterranean cruise, only to be deposited on the sands of Egypt at the end of it. Here we fought against tropical heat and also sand, which was not comparable to the seaside variety. I well remember one night in particular, which we spent chasing our kit (all that we could collect) after the tents had been either flattened or torn to shreds by wind or sand. Our faces were lashed by the sand as if by a cat-o'nine-tails. When dawn broke everything was in chaos and after unearthing the cook-house and eating breakfast (which was half sand) we spent the rest of the day salvaging.

Nevertheless, Egypt has its bright spots and among them are Cairo and Alexandria. Unfortunately, I was not able to visit the latter, but from what I have heard about it, it is an even better place than Cairo. I think AJ Glover will confirm this.

However, we were soon on the move again, and this time we came back to the front line in Italy, where the weather was very wintry. Although we had come back to winter for the first time in over twelve months, it felt move homely to see around you all the earth and vegetation enshrouded in a blanket of snow. Of course, it was not to view the scenic beauties that we came here, but to free another country from the Nazi menace. As soon as we had accustomed ourselves to the very wintry weather, the Cassino push began. it was not a very speedy advance at first, for we had the strong mountain defences to overcome, but when we did get going we swept right up to Rome in a matter of a few days.

Rome is a great city adorned with unsurpassed beauties of architecture such as St Peter's and the Pantheon, the inscriptions on which are in Latin, and reminded me of the hours I spent slaving at my Virgil.

Just as beautiful a city as Rome is Florence, though it needed much effort to cover those last few miles from Lake Trasimeno to the city itself. Unfortunately, however, as fighting soon began again, I could not indulge any of my passion for Florentine architecture. L/Cpl AE SMITH


Probably few people can imagine the type of country and the conditions under which the war on the Burma Front is being fought. This closely wooded and mountainous terrain, intersected and broken only by winding rivers and nalas, is perhaps the most difficult battleground in the world. Apart from its geographical difficulties, climatic conditions make it a breeding ground for the dreaded mosquito, and diseases which are almost unknown in Northern Europe are rife in many areas.

It was into this type of country that our forces moved during those early days of 1941-42, when the threat of an invasion of India was almost a reality. Unaccustomed to the heat of the tropics, the habits of the inhabitants, and the acrid dampness of the jungle, they worked, established themselves, and drove off the repeated intrusions of the Jap.

In the past two years jungle warfare has become a distinct art in itself, and no longer are the dense, humid forests looked upon as an enemy. No longer is long-range penetration a myth, and no longer are the control and operation of a powerful striking force, far from its base, a practical impossibility.

Tough, battle-seasoned troops probe their way forward. Supplied from the air and supported by a superior airforce, they push on down dusty hill tracks, through rivers and up the tortuous jungle-covered slopes of the predominating hill features. Super-human feats are performed in every day's march, and few can realise the physical and mental strain which results from this strange, ghostly war of hide-and-seek amongst the masses of bamboo and jungle creepers which form the battleground for these men. As the troops move forward into battle, carrying on their backs everything that they possess, they are lost from view in the choking dust of the mountain road; the blue haze begins to rise in the surrounding valleys, and one is conscious of the impending fate of the Jap - cowering in his foxholes, awaiting his final annihilation or surrender.


This term, the longest in the school year, with its fine weather, usually proves the most interesting, and following custom, we have not been disappointed, for the past three months have been crowded with exciting events, which reached their peak on the day when the victory of the Allied Forces in Europe was proclaimed.

Unfortunately, we are saying several sad "good-byes" this term, first and foremost to the Headmaster. We heartily congratulate him on his new appointment as Headmaster of the Perse School, Cambridge, but we have, at least, the consolation that he will not be too far away from us. We cordially wish both the Headmaster and Mrs Stubbs much happiness in their new and wider activities.

We also bid goodbye to Miss DM Godfrey, who so kindly came to teach French until Mr Riley's release from the Forces, to Miss ME Lawson, to Mr CC Copland, who has done such admirable work as Woodwork Master during the past few years, to Miss M Gimbert, the Head's Secretary, and to Mrs Crick, the School Caretaker, who has been with us for the past 19 years.


It is good when leaving one sphere of activity for another to be able to do so with regret. This, I feel, is a measure of the happiness and satisfaction one has found in one's work, and my term of office at Soham Grammar Grammar School is no exception to this rule. In a School whose history goes back to the end of the seventeenth century, six years is a very brief span - one generation of schoolboys - but the years 1939-45 have been among the most momentous in British history, and their impact on every institution and every individual has had a meaning and importance as decisive as many a far longer period of time. When I spoke to you about these things at our VE Day Service of Thanksgiving, I did not know that this would be my last term with you, and so perhaps I may add here a more personal note to the end of this chapter in the School's history.

After speaking of the great events of the struggle we shall never forget, I recalled some of the things we in Soham shall always remember - building trench shelters, the air raids, the three particular war incidents which shattered some of our glass, the School as a Rest Centre, the troops of many nationalities we had around us, the Old Boys in uniform, the casualty lists which happily were not as long as we at one time feared, the days of ordinary school work after noisy nights awake, searchlights, the days when trains arrived late because of incidents on the line, the travel difficulties, the shortages, the thrills of excitement and pride, the D-Day broadcast in the dinner hour, the ATC parades and inspections, German bombers over the camp airfield as our bombers took off, VE-Day and the hundreds of small incidents vivid to each one of us. But we have happily been free from major disturbances and the great difficulties of evacuation and fortunate compared with many schools, and although these years have been "battledress" ones for some of our activities, we can safely claim not only a period of maintained standards but also one of great progress.

Thanks to the devotion of the older members of the Staff, of whom we await the return from war service of Mr Riley and Mr Lait, and the service of the more recent and temporary members, our work has gone on with marked success - in particular in the increased number of boys entering Universities and also at the Higher School Certificate level, for in one year we had a 100% success from unpicked candidates.

Numbers have increased to a double stream entry, the House system has been revised, improvements in curriculum have been made, guidance in choice of careers has helped many boys, standard Athletics helped to achieve a record year at the March Sports, plays, matches, clubs and societies, excellent lectures and CEMA concerts have been continued in spite of all difficulties, School dinners have increased to two hundred daily, the Library, new Art room, and extended Handicraft room now give us good accommodation for these subjects, the ATC with a hundred certificates of Proficiency and about fifteen full Advanced Training Certificates to its credit, has given preliminary training to over a hundred members of HM forces, and now we have a new block of buildings almost ready with kitchen, dining room and classrooms to give us a fine start to the new chapter in our history which will open next year.

But more important than all these things, you have been privileged in this time to be in a society working in an atmosphere of liberal education which aims at sound scholarship and a Christian moral way of life. Consciously or unconsciously, in work or play, by precept or by example, you have had the opportunity of receiving far more than the knowledge you came to seek. If you have played your part - and everyone has his contribution to make to this society - you have learned how to begin to build your life on a sure foundation. By your training in good manners (for "manners makyth man"), in discipline which later becomes self-discipline, in moral ideals, you develop a sense of personal responsibility and initiative for service to the community, and so make your character and your claim to true citizenship of our country.

All these things are yours to take from the life of a good school, but you must never forget the great truth that you can only take out in the same measure as you put in - by your whole-hearted contribution to every side of school life. Always give of your best in full measure, avoid "the nicely calculated less or more," and you will be rewarded abundantly. Seek the eternal values in life, strive always to recognise the first-rate, learn to think for yourselves, and you will find, as many Old Boys have done, that there is more than a grain of truth in the definition of education as "what you have left when you have forgotten all you were taught."

Since coming to Soham I have had the happiest relationships and co-operation with the Governors, LEA officers, staff, parents, boys and School servants, and I would like to express to all my appreciation of the many kindnesses, consideration and support I have received and to thank you for so many kindly expressions of regret and good wishes on the occasion of my leaving. My own personal regrets are tempered by the thought that I shall be near enough for our friendship to remain. To all boys, past and present, I wish every happiness and good fortune, and offer my sincere good wishes for the success and prosperity of the School which it has been my privilege to lead during these eventful years.

We were pleased to see F Bye on leave. He was captured at Tobruk (1942), was in Italian and then German prison camps, and was liberated by the Russians in April, 1945.
We were pleased, too, to see P/O CE Rolfe (RAF) and Sgt Glider Pilot RW Liles, both of whom had been on a "death-march" from a German prison Camp.


Including Recent Promotions

IW Howlett, Plt Sgt SG Lee, Glider Pilot Regt, RG Nicholas, GSC, Sgt SW Woods, RE (Army), J Nunn (Army, Burma), EW Smith, R Cobbin, Pte AJ Jugg, T/120146 Cpl Smith EG, D Platoon, 799 Coy, RASC, Air despatches, SEAC

P Bye, Wtr, DS Nice, Pilot in Fleet Air Arm, R Manning, EM5. Midshipman MP Lee (Merchant Navy, Navigation College), J Plumb (Royal Marines), ER Reynolds, AB

Squadron Leader D Touch, W/O J Hughes, P/O HA Simpson, Sg. Pilot JH Peacock, A/C2 Gordon Wright, F/O GN Jarman, P/O AJ Thompson, A/C2 DW Boyce, A/C2 AR Palmer, W/O GE Dann, Sgt GEB Parr, Sgt-Gunner F Bailey.

In Memoriam
Lce Bombardier WJ Steggles RA, kia
K Fuller RAF reported missing, presumed killed (in Italy)


Our first and most important duty is to extend a cordial welcome to Mr E Armitage, MA, BSc (Cantab), who, after a period of war service, has come from Bradfield College to be our new Headmaster in succession to Mr S Stubbs, MA (Cantab), who left us last term. We also welcome the return of Mr Riley and the new members of the staff - Mrs Kennett, Miss McKenzie and Mr Twiselton, as well as our new Secretary, Miss Jones, and Mr Seymour, the new Caretaker. We are sorry to announce that Mr CW Crouch, who for so many years has taught Music and Art here, is leaving to join the staff of the Perse School. We offer him cordially our very best wishes for the future.


It is well, seeing that the tempo of our lives gets even faster, occasionally to find time to look back and to look forward. It is probably only when taking over a new job that one is able to achieve the detached viewpoint that is so necessary in forming a balanced judgment. Later one gets so caught up with the machinery of the day to day business that there is little time for pause and reflection.

Let me therefore put on record, lest I never again have the opportunity, that on coming to Soham Grammar School I found a school with a heart that was beating soundly. Perhaps there was, and which of us is free from this charge?, a little war-time weariness but it arose out of a war-work that had been nobly discharged. Perhaps we need a coat of paint in most places - so does almost everywhere else. Perhaps ... but let me turn to the much more important positive side, about which there is no 'perhaps.'

The examination record of the School is good. Numbers have increased until there is now a double stream of forms taking parallel courses from entry up to the School Certificate. Most boys now take the excellent school dinners provided by the ably-run canteen. The library and the new Art room contribute both to the pleasing appearance of the school and to its efficiency. The new buildings are (dare I say it ?) about to be brought into use and will give us room that has been badly needed for too long. Most of this has been achieved during the very trying conditions under which the whole nation has laboured during the stress of war. Practically every Soham Grammarian who has passed through the school within the memory of any of the masters has been actively engaged in one of the arms of the Services. On all this the School can look back with pride.

And what of the future? As a nation we have just emerged victorious from the greatest struggle for survival in the history of the world and it is but natural that now the actual battle is over and won we should long for relaxation, if only to prepare ourselves for the future ahead. But this respite is for the moment denied us for it is vital that our nation should keep abreast of world progress and maintain the place that has been so hardly won.

So it is with our small community at Soham Grammar School. Many new developments are afoot in the educational world and, though we may all feel the reaction from six years of war, we must strain ourselves still further to maintain the traditions of the School and the rights of the nation for which many of our Old Boys have paid the supreme sacrifice. That this struggle should not have been in vain depends upon us and on our united effort to play an important part in the reshaping of the world. Therefore, it is only with hard work in sight and the necessary determination to see it through that Soham Grammar School enters upon a new chapter in its history under a new Headmaster who firmly believes that the School will readily bear this responsibility.

At a time when most other schools are vainly crying out for accommodation much of ours is ready with new opportunities for both masters and boys. Therefore let us strive to preserve and even improve on our record of high academic attainment so that to have been to Soham Grammar School is in itself a recommendation as well as something we can allude to with pride.

Further, let us realise there is more to school life than passing examinations, important as these are. Learning how to live is, in the long run, more important than either French or Physics. To know how to use one's leisure, to have good manners, and to be able to speak correctly at all times and whatever the company in which we find ourselves - all these are important. All these it is the business of a school to teach and, equally, the duty of every boy to learn. They are not subjects in the sense that they can be found in the time-table but they are just as important. Very often they form a basis of judgment as to character and suitability for a responsible job that is better than the best examination record.

Finally, a word to the Old Boys. I know that it is only human to feel that a new Headmaster breaks the continuity of their link with the school. Such a feeling often causes Old Boys to postpone a visit to the school which they might otherwise make, but I would remind them that there are many masters still with us who wilt remember them and that they will find the Headmaster no less pleased to see them.


F/Lt John Leggett is in the Middle East.

We are delighted to hear that the following prisoners of war are back in England:
CF Tabeart (Singapore), LJ Audus (Java), JR Cogbill (Hong Kong).

We were delighted to see the following this term : J Bucklar, AJ Thompson, SJ Lee, J Brown, BN Webster, RJ Bridgeman, DJ Day, I Lancaster, AF McJannet, J Plumb, K Leonard, T Allen, E Fordham, J Roe, H Kon, C Fleet, D Fuller, D Heffer.


Cadet IW Howlett (Suffolks), PL Fisk, GSC. BN Webster, GSC. 2nd Lt B Murfitt. Major JT Pinion. 2nd Lt WK Reed, RAPC

P/O D Heffer, SJ Ball, A/C2 AF McJannet, A/C2 KEJ Sykes.

O/S MAW Whetstone, CPO E Kerridge, O/S E Reynolds, P Sykes, DR Darby, WCross.

Reported Missing: Sub Lieut F Hockley RNVR 1934-40
Died on Active Service: Pte AJ Jugg 1936-41



L/Sgt GJ Vail, RE. Sgt Major GS White, RA (India). Sgt R Rynsard, Parachute Regiment. Pte ID Brown

A/C2 JC Roe RAF. W/O HS Yeomans. A/C2 EW Fordham. A/C2 D Thorby

In Memoriam
Sgt EG Fretwell RAFVR (now officially reported killed in August 1944, on a food-dropping mission to Warsaw)

Flt Lt EH Fuller, Mention in Despatches for meritorious services
Sqn Ldr AK Holt, DFC for bravery during bombing raids on Germany

Major AC Norfolk is at HQ Military Government , Hanover Region BAOR
Major K Cole is in Hongkong

We were delighted to see at School this term: AJ Cornell, PF Foreman, DR Darby, WJ Bucklar, AR Palmer, JC Roe, PL Fisk


Victory Thanksgiving Service, June 6 1946

With thanks to: Wilkes Walton for the loan of all the above issues of the Soham Grammarian, apart from Spring 1941 on loan from Peter Nicholls.

page last updated 5 Feb 14

Talk on Soham Grammar School at War at the 2010 Soham Grammarians' Dinner

see also Alan Diver's wartime recollections