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  Your webmaster reports that Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65) will receive award...

Roy Hodgson and Donna Fraser

According to the Your Croydon website, next week the council will award civic honours to a pair of prominent Croydon sportspeople, including Roy Hodgson (JRGS 1958-65), the current manager of Crystal Palace football club. The other recipient is four-time Olympian Donna Fraser who, like Roy, grew up in Croydon.
   In addition to receiving the highest award the council can give, Donna and Roy also will be granted Freedom of the Borough at a special council meeting on Monday, 3 December.
   Roy was born in Croydon and, in a career spanning more than 40 years, managed football teams for Switzerland, Inter Milan, Copenhagen, Fulham, Liverpool and England. He was nominated by councillor Tony Newman, leader of Croydon Council, for his contribution to Croydon and football both at home and abroad.
   Donna grew up in Thornton Heath and was a pupil at Winterbourne Junior Girls School, St Mary’s Catholic High School and Croydon College. She raced for the Croydon Harriers Athletics Club until her retirement in 2009. Donna has competed at four Olympic Games and won Gold at the 1991 European Junior Championship in Greece. Donna’s success as an athlete, as well as an ambassador for many organisations and communities, led to her nomination from Councillor Newman.
Image
©2018 | Your Croydon | All rights reserved.

Mel Lambert, Burbank, CA, USA, November 2018 Email

 

 Roger Adcock (JRGS 1963-68) finds a link to Reginald Tomsett (JRCS 1932-36)...

The recent post from Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) regarding his rich and varied career made interesting reading and forms an unexpected connection with a former pupil who, in 1942, bravely served in the most extraordinary raid on the German U-boat pens. Duncan calling Lord Newborough "an arrogant tosser" made me smile, so I thought I'd look up who he was, and discovered Michael Wynn, 7th Baron Newborough (1917-1988). On further investigation via Wikipedia, I learned that Wynn served as a Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve from 1941 to 1946 and played a decisive role during the St. Nazaire Raid in 1942 - aka Operation Chariot - while commanding a motor torpedo boat. Captured by the Germans after his boat had to be abandoned, Wynn was sent to Colditz following an escape attempt; he was eventually repatriated after feigning illness. He won a Distinguished Service Cross for his actions commanding MTB 74, which was towed behind HMS Campbeltown to St Nazaire and subsequently torpedoed the secondary target of dock gates.
   By coincidence, this event triggered a memory of some research I did several years ago about the close to 70 JRGS students who died in World War Two, and listed in "Pro Patria" from the 1947 School Magazine shown below left; click on thumbnail to view a larger version. I wrote a news item on the subject back in February 2003.

JRGS Pro Patria - 1947

JRGS War Memorial

   If you cast your eye down the ranks of RAF lads who served and died, you'll come to the entry for "R Tomsett 1932-36 Commando." Reginald Maurice Tomsett (JRCS 1932-36) was in No 2 Commando and was killed on Saturday, 23 March, 1942, aboard Motor Launch 192, having disembarked HMS Campbeltown as part of the dock assault force. I believe Reginald died aboard ML 192, since the crew and those aboard were all killed before reaching the target on the first-wave assault. A member of 11th (First Battalion Queen's Westminsters) Battalion Kings Royal Rifle Corps, he is buried in CWGC Escoublac-la-Baule, which is 13 km west of St Nazaire, and remembered on The Commando website and here.
   Croydon created a book entitled "Croydon and The Second World War" on ancestry.co.uk, which requires a sign-on. This site records Reginald as a corporal in No 2 Commando, and born in Finchley, North London, on 10th Sept, 1920. He lived at 68 Shirley Way in Shirley, Croydon and, as we know, attended John Ruskin School. He served in Norway with special service troops and on St Nazaire Raid.
   Shown above right is an image of the Memorial Plaque that used to hang on the school hall's west wall at the Upper Shirley Road school site, to the left of the school organ, and which currently can be seen on display in the foyer of the JR Sixth Form College. [More]
   Finally, here is the main page in the Croydon Roll of Honour that mentions Reginald, and a close-up that entry. Click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.

Croydon Roll of Honour - Reginald Thomsett

Croydon Roll of Honour - Reginald Thomsett

   I am scheduled for a St Nazaire visit next year - God willing! - and will visit Reginald Tomsett's grave. I have no connection other than the fact that he was in the school intake a year ahead of my father, Brian Adcock (JRCS 1932-37) who, like so many JRCS boys, went on to serve in the RAF during WW2. I am sure that my father would have known of Reginald.
   It is interesting how that story loops back to Duncan Smith working on a estate in Wales!

Roger Adcock, Oxted, Surrey, November 2018 Email.

Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) adds: I did know about Lord Newborough being a hero; it was well-known locally. I was told that he had a steel plate in his head after being injured during the war. During peacetime, he nearly cut off us own leg whilst using a chainsaw on his estate, and then drove himself to a hospital to have it sewn back on again! A tough guy, alright.
   However, to his farm staff, he was absolutely awful. He farmed vast areas of North Wales and I was told afterwards that in just two years 120 of his staff left as they couldn't stand his arrogance and brutish manner. I lasted seven months! When he first picked me up from Wrexham railway station to drive the hour back to his estate, he told me that I had to call him "M'Lord and doff my cap every time he saw me!" I said "No" to that one and that this was the 20th Century and not the 14th. I don't think that went down well!
   I worked on one of Lord Newborough's highland farms near Corwen in North Wales. There was just me and the manager, a lovely gentle Scottish guy, very experienced in farming. We look after 1,200 sheep and 150 cattle on a 2,000 acre farm. Newborough would occasionally drive around in his Landrover, with his foreman, to check things out. Previous to one of his visits the manager and I had got stuck in mud whilst driving through a gateway from one field to another. We did eventually get out after a struggle.
   Lord Newborough turns up for his usual visit and we advised him that he shouldn't try to drive through this gateway as he would get stuck. "Nonsense" was his reply, "I've got a Landrover." And off he shot. Lunchtime came and we were home, having been up since 3 in the morning with lambing, and having our food when there was a knock on our door. Opening it we discovered a very flustered, sweaty, red-faced foreman saying: "Come immediately and bring your tractor and rope as Lord Newborough has got stuck in the mud at that gateway!" We said: "We'll be there after we've had our lunch". The foreman replied: "But you have to come immediately." We said: "No, sorry, we told Lord Newborough not to try and drive through there and it's his own fault. We'll be there when we've finished!"
   When we'd arrived he was very cross, but we stayed calm. He'd "bottomed" the Landrover and dug himself well in. Those two fields were on a very steep slope and Newborough told me to drive around the field to get to the other field and pull him UPHILL to get him out! I said it would be better to pull him DOWNHILL - it would be a lot safer and easier. (We didn't have a safety cab or roll bars on this tractor, and it would be dangerous to do what he suggested). He got cross and said that I should do as he told me. So, around I went, hitched up the rope and began to try and pull out his grounded Landrover. I gently took up the strain on the rope and immediately the front of this small tractor lifted up under the strain and threatened to come right over and flatten me.
   I stopped and jumped off. The foreman was told to do it instead as I was "incompetent," according to Newborough. So he jumped on but came off very quickly with an ashen face when the same thing happened to him. Too dangerous. Later, a huge tractor was brought up from the lowland farm and eventually the Landrover was extracted.
   There are other horror, inhumane stories about this man, but I'll save those until another time, perhaps.
   I just remembered that my uncle, Max Heinrich Eggert was a pupil at Ruskin in the Twenties. He was born in 1908, so would have been at Ruskin between 1920 and 1926, I would think. He was an engineer. His son, Max Augustine Eggert, went to John Newnham School but left to attend the sixth form at John Ruskin around 1963 to 1964, I believe. He then went on to study theology at King's College, London; psychology at Birkbeck College, London; his MA at the University of Westminster and finally, clinical hypnosis at Sheffield University. He was the author of over 20 books on management, served as a chief psychologist at Transcareer in Australia and was an Anglican priest. He lived at Bondi Beach in Sydney for many years and then retired to a small farm 80 miles from there. Sadly, he was killed in May 2016 when he was gored by a bull he'd raised from a calf.

Cliff Preddy (JRGS 1963-65), who also transferred from John Newnham School for A Levels, adds: Max Augustine shows up in the speech-day documents on The Mill web site as having done A-Levels in 1962, with passes in Geography and Geology. Since I did mine in 1965, he was several years ahead of me.

 

 Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) recalls a varied career after his schooldays...

Since I left John Ruskin Grammar School, my life has had many interesting twists and turns, up and downs, like most of us, I guess. I left in 1963 with five O-Levels and just one year of Zoology, Botany and Chemistry under my belt, although I carried on for a short while as an instructor for the ACF. I found A-Level subjects way over my head and quit after a first year in the sixth form. Two years working with Legal and General Insurance saw me nearly go mad, so at 19 years of age I flew over to Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to stay with my nutty aunt for two years. She had a small beach hotel 25 miles north of the city and a small island, called Sinda, off the coast. I met interesting people at her hotel, working with the World Bank, United Nations or the Food and Agricultural Organisation, in some aspects of agriculture; this inspired me. I always wanted a meaningful and purposeful job in life and this seemed to perfectly fit the bill for me. I eventually wanted to return to Tanzania to work.
   I flew back to the UK in 1967 to study agriculture. First to Croydon Technical College to study O-Level maths and biology at evening classes. My maths teacher at Ruskin was Mr. Smith and he put me off maths. He once he called me to the front of the class, grabbed me by the back of my hair and banged my head against the blackboard saying I was “thick”! Happy days. I passed both O-Levels with Grade A.
   A prerequisite for going to Harper Adams Agricultural College in Shropshire was to have at least two years of farming experience, which I didn’t have. I worked for Lord Newborough in North Wales - an arrogant tosser - and had a BIG falling out with him after he was very aggressive and rude towards my manager, a lovely gentle, knowledgeable man. I didn’t like that, saw red and told him what I thought of his ancestry. For some reason, he sacked me! I worked for MAFF and also a wonderful mixed farm in Kent.
   After two years at Harper Adams Agricultural College, I gained its College Diploma in Agriculture, and was their top student. A few weeks later I took the National Diploma in Agriculture exams at Leeds University and was runner-up for the Queens’ Prize that year. Further studies took me to Wolverhampton Polytechnic for two years, gaining a 2.1 Honours degree in plant pathology. This was a sandwich course, and I worked at the National Institute of Botany in Cambridge for four months. While there, I joined the Cambridge University full-bore rifle club and was awarded a Cambridge Blue for shooting. Finally, I went to Exeter University and gained my Masters, also in plant pathology. I represented this University at rifle shooting and was awarded their Colours. I also submitted a series of 35mm colour slides to The Royal Photographic Society, Bath, in the category “Nature” and they were accepted and I was awarded their Associateship in 1988. [ACF shoots at JRGS]
   Sadly, I didn’t return to Tanzania as it had become too dangerous to live there. I remained in the UK and worked for ICI Ltd. at Jeallot’s Hill in Berkshire 18 months, carrying out greenhouse and fields trials on new pesticides. From there I moved to the German chemical giant, Hoechst, for five years, carrying out field trials in Lincolnshire. Later, I was promoted to their UK product development manager looking after their research programme for seven years with a team of nine scientists. It was incredibly stressful.

Farming in New Zealand's North Island
I met a lovely New Zealand “kiwi” girl, Judy, while doing the West Highland Way walk in Scotland, in 1988. We lived together for a while in Castleacre, Norfolk before she decided to return to New Zealand. Shortly after she left I was made redundant from Hoechst on the actual day I was going to hand in my notice! I sold up everything and, in early 1989, with just a backpack and money in the bank, I joined Judy in New Zealand. It felt marvellous! We bought a 23-acre lifestyle block in Gisborne on the east coast of North Island, and got married there in 1989. We raised two wonderful boys, Jack and Tim.
   We made sure that everything we grew on our farm would be organic, and quickly became certified as such. We had no idea what would grow there, as this was sheep and cattle country, so we would be “pioneering” in some sense. We wanted to be as self-sufficient as possible, like the BBC TV programme “The Good Life”, and so planted every type of fruit and nut tree we could get our hands on, together with a very large vegetable garden from which we sold our excess produce. We dabbled in organic squash for Japan, but that turned out to be a disaster!
   To be self-sufficient in wine, we planted a small vineyard of chardonnay grapes; this was a great success, winning accolades from top wine writers. We extended the vineyard, but to a size that we could still both manage, eventually producing 12 barrels a year. Our wines won gold and silver medals here in NZ, in London and San Francisco. Prince Charles once wrote to us to ask if he could try some of our wine. He did enjoy it, but sadly no big order followed! The Duchess of Bedford popped into our cellar door on our farm to try our wine. She absolutely loved it, so much so that she took two cases back to England with her. We exported to Belgium too. Our wines could be found in the cellars of the World-famous Huka Lodge and many top New Zealand restaurants.
   However, we weren’t always successful with our vintages every year - we did have a few disasters. A late frost wiped out one vintage; another year German wasps ate our crop two weeks before harvest ; rain rotted another vintage; and the final nail in our coffin was our winemaker stuffing up the best vintage we’d ever had - we literally tipped 3,600 bottles of wine down the drain. At that time a bottle of our wine was selling at $50/wholesale and $75/retail (£25 and £40/bottle), so our loss was immense and we never recovered from that downfall. The following years we decided to go back to producing one barrel of wine a year for just us, which was our original plan. However, instead of wine we tried our hand at making champagne and it was wonderful!
   We also planted 600 olive trees, but lost about one third of them in the first season due to frost. So, being very clever, I put a pile of large river stones around each tree to act as a heat sink. These gave off enough heat during the night to prevent any further frost damage; the trees thrived. Olive trees are a lot of hard work and quite a challenge to keep on top of all the necessary pruning and hand-harvesting, which was very labour intensive. For both the grapes and olives, all our friends, neighbours and relatives came to help us, and we would enjoy wonderful days picking, chatting, laughing and feasting. Fantastic memories.
   My wife and I both had to work off-farm to earn enough money to bring up our two boys and pay all our bills, since the farm just didn’t pay for itself. As a consequence, all the jobs on our farm slowly became overwhelming because they could only be done at weekends. Being a research agronomist I easily found work in nearby Gisborne, a large horticultural area. Judy studied wine-making and became a cider-maker. So, instead of being a “lifestyle” block, it became a “life-sentence” block, and we were not enjoying it as we should have.
   Below are two images from recent years; click on either thumbnail to view a larger version.

Judy (left), winemaker John Thorpe
 and Duncan, at a Wine Festival in Gisborne.
Duncan and Judy Smith, with their sons Jack (left) and Tim.

A Change of Scenery
After 25 years on our farm, Judy and I both decided to sell up and move to Whakatane, beside the Pacific Ocean on the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Her parents and sisters lived there and she wanted to be near them. We were both very sorry to leave the farm but, since both of our sons had moved on and into good careers in Wellington, we felt that the time was right to sell.
   I soon joined a group of volunteers looking after kiwi in the three large reserves that surrounded our small town. It is very rewarding work with a great group of like-minded people. I’ve been asked by them to study kiwi for another Master’s degree, and eventually my PhD; it all depends on funding.
   I’ve been back to the UK many times, mainly to catch up with old friends and relatives. When there I have taken the opportunity of ticking off some of the amazing long-distance walks, including the Great Glen Way, South Downs Way, Coast to Coast Path, Pennine Way, Peddars Way, West Highland Way and, this July/August, I completed the whole of the 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path. That was a very challenging, seven-week hike during the very hot summer experienced in England this year, 2018.
   Whakatane is a wonderful place to live with a great climate, amazing beaches, bush walks, friendly people and relaxed lifestyle. Come and see for yourself one day! Kiaora.

Duncan Smith, Whakatane, New Zealand; November 2018 Email

  

 Bob Wane (JRGS 1945-53) reports the sad death of Eric Gibbs (JRGS 1946-51)...

Eric A. Gibbs (JRGS 1946-52)I need to report the death of an alumnus, Eric A. Gibbs (1946-51), in March this year. It was quite unexpected and his illness was quite short. Eric was taken unwell whilst playing an indoor bowls match, a passion of his, and never fully recovered. His wife pre-deceased him by some 10 years.
   Eric was a good friend and, in our younger days, we enjoyed many holidays together in Ilfracombe at the home of his grandparents. He was a member of our GYC (Geriatric Youth Club!) and we always met up once a year to enjoy a week away with other old, long standing, school friend members - a get together that has been going for some 27 years!
   You cannot beat old friendships; they just last and last until we all fade away. We were 10 and are now just six; we have a rule - the last two standing will drink a final toast to absent friends.
   Maybe Eric will be remembered by some of his year. He is pictured left in a photograph of JRGS Football Teams 1949-50, as a member of the Third XI. Click on thumbnail to view a larger version.
Bob Wane, Bedford, Beds, November 2018 Email

 

 Duncan Smith (JRGS 1957-63) unearths a batch of ACF images from Bisley...

I recently located a number of photographs, newspaper clippings and letters from my era at the school and mainly about the Army Cadet Force. At that time, I did a bit of shooting, along with Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65); he was a year below me at school.
   I have divided these into scanned images, cuttings and various correspondence. Click on any thumbnail to view a larger version.

Photographs from ACF shoots at Bisley and Folkestone during Sixties

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championships
5 May 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
Duncan Smith's mother and father
and (right) John "Pop" Martin
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
Duncan Smith's mother and
Tom Shaw | 23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
Captain Les Bishop (right), and
Duncan Smith's father
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
L-to-R: Tom Shaw, Dave Martin,
Horace Hills, Ray Humphries
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
L-to-R: Dave Martin, Les Bishop
Roy Shaw & Duncan Smith's father
23 Oct 1960

Bisley - Nationals Practice
Duncan Smith | 2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Sgt. Dave Martin accepting
Inter-cadet Force medal
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Tom Shaw accepting
Inter-Cadet Force medal
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Cdt. Duncan Smith accepting
Inter-Cadet Force medal
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Cdt. Duncan Smith accepting
Inter-Cadet Force medal
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Field Marshal Lord Wilson presenting
Cdt. Duncan Smith with Inter-Cadet
Force medal | 2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
 Cdt. Duncan Smith accepting Rifle
Brigade Trophy, Best Army Cadet
shot, from Field Marshal Lord Wilson
2 0ct 1060

Bisley National Championships
Cdt. Duncan Smith with Rifle Brigade
Trophy for Best Army Cadet shot
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Ruskin Team (from left) Sgts. Tom
Shaw and Dave Martin holding
Canada Trophy, with Cdt. Duncan
Smith holding Rifle Brigade Trophy
for the Best Army Cadet shot
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
After the presentations, with Colonels
Goad and Power, and (L-to-R) Sgt.
Tom Shaw, CSM Roy Burton. LCpl.
Dave Money and Sgt. Dave Martin
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
L-to-R: Duncan Smith's mother,
Cdt. Duncan Smith, his brother
Malcolm, Sgts. J. Oliver & Tom Shaw
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Colonel Power presenting award to
Duncan Smith. L-to-R: Cpl P Wye,
Sgts. Tom Shaw and A Hawkett
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
L-to-R: Cpl. P Wye, Sgt. Dave
Martin, Cdt. Duncan Smith, Sgts.
A. Hawkett and Tom Shaw
2 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
L-to-R: Sgts. Tom Shaw and Dave
Martin with Cdt. Duncan Smith
2 Oct 1960

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championship
Cdt. Duncan Smith | 7 May 1961

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championships
A team collects yet another trophy!
L-to-R: Cdt. Duncan Smith, Sgts. Ray
 Humphries, Dave Martin and
Tom Shaw | 7 May 1961

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championships
A Team with another trophy!
L-to-R: Cdt. Duncan Smith, Sgts.
Ray Humphries, Dave Martin and
Tom Shaw | 7 May 1961

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championships
Cdt. Duncan Smith receiving
Champion at Arms Shield
for best shot | 7 May 1961

Bisley - Surrey ACF Championships

L-to-R: Sgt. Dave Martin, Cdt.
Duncan Smith and Sgt. Tom Shaw,
with their shooting trophies
7 May 1961

Presentation to Cdt. Duncan Smith
of Old Contemptibles Cup for best
overall shot in competition, with
runner-up Sgt. Dave Martin
to his right | 7 May 1962

Cdt. Duncan Smith's shooting
trophies won between October
1960 and September 1961

Practice shoot | 1961

ACF A Team at Folkestone shoot
L-to-R: Muckleston, A. Carnell,
Duncan Smith and Tom Shaw
1962

Folkestone shoot
L-to-R: Muckleston, Duncan Smith,
Ray O'Leary, unknown, unknown
and Richard Elford | 1962

Folkestone shoot | 1962

Folkestone shoot Prize-giving
L-to-R: LCpl. Duncan Smith
and Sgt. Tom Shaw | 1962

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet Meeting
CSM Duncan Smith. winning
Trophies | 2 May 1964

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet Meeting
Back row: Sgts. D. Smith, Ian
Macdonald & G. Strelczuk, with Major
Ron Nebel, John Martin (coach),
Col. Goad, Cdt. Nick Williams, Cdt. Chris Hunneyball & Capt. Hunneyball.
Middle row: unknown, unknown, Cdt.
Fishenden (JRGS) and unknown.
Front row: unknown, Cdt. Baker (JRGS), Cdt. Willis (Shirley Sec) and unknown
2 May 1964

Prize-giving at John Ruskin 1963
L-to-R: B. Lee, P. Thomas, N. Hunt,
A. Booker, Duncan Smith

CSM Duncan Smith on Signals Course
with Honourable Artillery Company

L-to-R: Cdt. Duncan Smith, plus Sgts.
Dave Martin and Tom Shaw with their
trophies for shooting

Newspaper cuttings about successful ACF shoots at Bisley during Sixties

18 May 1962

Bisley - National Championships
Tom, Dave and Me| 2. Oct 1960

Bisley - National Championships
Times and County Mail | 14 Oct 1960

Bisley - National Championships
Times and County Mail | 14 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
14 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Times newspaper | 3 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
 Telegraph & Morning Post | 3 Oct 1960

Bisley National Championships
Results | 2 Oct 1960

Presentation of Old
Contemptibles Cup | 7 May 1962

Presentation of Old
Contemptibles Cup | 7 Apr 1962

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet
Meeting results
The Telegraph | 5 May 1962.

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet
Meeting results
The Times | 2May 1964

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet Meeting
2 May 1964

Nationals Results - 1965

 Nationals Results - 1965
Times Herald

Nationals Results - 1965

Nationals Results - 1965

7 May 1962

12 May 1961

12 May 1961

Surrey ACF Championship
results in Daily Telegraph article
8 May 1961

Surrey ACF Championship
results in The Times article
7 May 1961

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet
Meeting report in Daily Telegraph
2 May 1964

Bisley - Surrey County Cadet
Meeting report in Times Herald
2 May 1964

Letters and other correspondence about ACF shoots at Bisley during Sixties

Response from The War Office HQ
regarding Nationals results 1960
12 Oct 1960

Letter to confirm Cdt.. Duncan
Smith's medal for small-bore shooting medal | 9 Nov 1961

General Foster letter
regarding Bisley - Surrey County Cadet Meeting| 2 May 1964

 

1960 National full-bore rifle shooting championships at Bisley.
Cadet 100 results

1961 National full-bore rifle shooting championships at Bisley.
Cadet 100 results

1963. National full-bore rifle shooting championships at Bisley.
Cadet 100 results

1963 National full-bore rifle shooting championships at Bisley
Cadet 100 results

1963 (continued) National full-bore rifle shooting championships at Bisley. Cadet 100 results

I hope The Alumni enjoy looking at these images, cuttings and letters, and can maybe put names to those I couldn't remember. Happy days! I did buy a new rifle from Fulton's gun shop at Bisley, and had it sent over to New Zealand when I immigrated here in 1989. I did use it a bit but, as I'd bought a farm way out in the wop wops - a New Zealand expression for an out-of-the way place or backcountry - it was such a long way to the rifle range from there that I hardly got a chance to use it.
   I came over to the UK between June and September this year to walk the whole 630 miles of the South West Coastal Path - it was very HOT, and a rugged walk; great though! I was delighted to stay with Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) for a while in Croydon, before I took off to stay with Tom Shaw (JRGS 1956-1962) in Clevedon, Somerset, before I began the walk. It was so good to catch up with them both again.

Duncan Smith, Whakatane, New Zealand; November 2018 Email

Doug Ford (JRGS 1966-72) adds: These images are all a little before my time at the school, but I note that most of the cap badges worn are of the Queen’s Royal Regiment (Queen’s Surreys). In 1966 the four regiments of the Home Counties Brigade were amalgamated into the Queen’s Regiment, and so the emblem changed. More
   ISTR Capt. Les Bishop - seen above in one of the pictures with Duncan Smith's father - ran the Royal Yeomanry ACF unit, based at the Territorial Army/TA's barracks on Mitcham Road. The radios pictured above are WS 31 sets, operating in the (low) VHF band, shared back then with the 405-line television system.
   In my time, we often assisted the local TA (RCT) unit at Sydenham Road barracks with their communication needs. During an exercise on Salisbury Plain, I got thrown out the back of a Landrover, suffering head injuries, and spent a week in the military hospital at Tidworth garrison. That experience didn’t curb my enthusiasm, and I attended a number of training courses at Royal Signals’ bases in Catterick, Hounslow and Blandford.

Roger Hall (JRGS 1959-66) adds: What a fascinating set of photos, etc. And, gosh, just how good a shot Duncan Smith must have been.
   Ah, the WS31 set! I too was a radio operator and got involved with the Honourable Artillery Company/HAC. The first time - I would have been about 15 - I was sitting in the back of a Champ providing communications for a very posh regular army major who was umpiring an HAC exercise, and his not-so-posh regular army driver. We came in range of the mortar unit, which must have thought it great fun as they lobbed smoke mortars at us. We were bracketed with the Posh Major saying: "I say, this isn’t on; send them a message to stop firing at us." Before I could do so, the driver said ‘F*** this’, engaged four-wheel drive, left the track and, at full speed shot, over the nearest hill.
   More happy memories. I did a few exercises with the HAC, who were mainly ex-Guards officers working in the City of London. They had a shooting lodge at Bisley and in the morning would come into breakfast wearing silk dressing gowns. Rather than use the three-ton trucks, a small convoy of expensive cars would set off to wherever we were going for training.
   Once, we had a weapons training weekend that involved throwing live hand grenades. It was the only time my mum was hesitant about me doing something, when I gave her a waiver to sign absolving the army of any responsibility in the event of my getting killed or maimed! I wasn’t!
   I learnt to shoot in the cadets at Ruskin and it became my main activity when I was in my early Twenties and still living in Croydon. I used to shoot .22 at a range in Sydenham Road and, if we were short of numbers, "play" at full bore at Bisley. But I was nowhere near Duncan’s standard.
   I used to keep my rifle in a flimsy locked wardrobe in a semi-derelict flat in Islington that I shared with Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66)!
   I did a club instructors course for prone position .22 shooting. It was interesting in that there were several regular army people attending the course, as the army realised that they weren’t winning any open competitions at Bisley; civilian shooting techniques had overtaken them.
   Happy memories, including the fact that the ACF used to give us a .303 rifle minus its bolt at the end of term for us to take to the summer camp. I can remember the extremely startled look that a policeman on point duty (remember those days?) gave me as I cycled past him in Central Croydon with the rifle across my back.
   I think that George Strelczuk (JRGS 1958-66), then a corporal, was the armourer. How times have changed.
   I have really enjoyed looking at all the pictures and articles, thanks so much to our webmaster for putting them together.

Ian Macdonald (JRGS 1958-65) adds: Thanks, Duncan. These images are fascinating and brought back many memories of Bisley and other ranges, with Ray O’Leary, Ron Mucklestone and Nick Williams.

John Brigden (JRGS 1959-64) adds: I can relate to Roger Hall's comments regarding taking rifles home. Several of us rushed up the stairs of a 130 bus as if we were "going over the top," as observed by a most concerned conductor! After having to carry it for a couple of weeks across a misty, rainy Dartmoor, I realised I should have left it on the upper deck.
   I was never anything like the skilled shot as shown in the pictures but, like most cadets at Ruskin, was introduced to shooting real bullets on the range set up in the cycle sheds underneath the science labs. We only fired .22s, but it was quite exciting at the time. At the targets end of this range was a door - off to the side quite a distance - that allowed entry to the staff-room kitchen. A steel sheet was dragged across this doorway when the range was in use, to ensure that even a "wildly errant shot" could not enter the room on other side. A few weeks later a teacher pointed out to me a neat little hole in the door about a quarter inch in diameter and said "Make sure you pull it all the way over, please."
   I also shot at Bisley but not in any competition. We had a special weapons class taught by a regular soldier; Regimental Quarter Master Sergeant Major Register, I think. He taught the theory and operation of a number of weapons, including hand grenades and machine guns. We didn't get to throw live grenades, but he did manage to scrounge up a large amount of out of date - according to him - ammunition for Bren and Sterling machine guns that we spent a pleasant Sunday at Bisley disposing of. Don't think I've shot at anything since.

Grant Harrison (JRGS 1959-66) adds: I too remember weekends at Bisley with the Honourable Artillery Company/HAC. In the evenings in the "Dorms," some of the older chaps would tell yarns about their exploits in WW2. I also remember firing off a lot of ammunition, and using a Sten gun for the first and only time. (How old were we?)
   On one occasion we did throw live hand grenades. We had to clean all the wax off them and set with five- or seven-second fuses. It was an early Easter with snow on the ground. Our hands were frozen as we stood in the bombing bays trying to remember to throw the grenade and not the pin. I remember peering over the top to see where it went and being sharply pulled down just before it went off!
   A few of the grenades did not explode. One of the HAC would go out, reset it somehow and come running back just before the explosion! Happy days.

Duncan Smith adds: In this left-hand image from prize giving at the March 1963 JRGS Speech Day, my prize was for O-Level woodwork, of all things! B. Lee (left) got his for General Science; N. Hunt for Technical Drawing and A. Booker for Metalwork. Not very academic were we then?
   Mind you, I did go on later to study and got two diplomas in agricultural and farm management; then an Honours degree in plant pathology and then a Masters in plant pathology. So I was a very late developer!
   I'm now hoping to go to Massey University here in New Zealand next year to do a PhD in Ecology and Conservation, working on kiwi - the flightless bird not the fruit! That will be a challenge at 73 years of age! But it's all good fun and you have to keep the old brain going.
   I spend a bit of time here in Whakatane where I help to monitor and look after about 350 kiwi in the three reserves that surround our lovely town, as can be seen in the image shown right. Click on the thumbnail to view a larger version.

 

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