They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning.
We will remember them
Extract from ‘For the Fallen’ (1914) by Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)
Ken Barker was one of a line of distinguished Post Office Directors to command the Postal and Courier Services TA. However, his tour was far from the norm as he headed the Group in both the Royal Engineers and the Royal Logistic Corps. At the time Ken was Director and General Manager Royal Mail South Wales and South West. This included responsibility for the operation of one ninth of Royal Mail – plus the added difficulty of severe industrial relations issues in a couple of his areas. Ken did not shy away from the task of taking the Group from the comfort and support of Mill Hill and its postal empathy to the unknown that was Grantham, and being part of a very large TA organisation. At the same time he had to downsize the Group, from four to three Regiments and take manning from 75 officers and 750 soldiers to 55 and around 550 – and improve military skills! So the change of Corps and size were not exactly popular with anyone in the Group. The fact that we became a recognised strength at Grantham was due entirely to Ken’s supportive leadership, his planning, inspiration, professionalism, determination and his tact and diplomacy.
In his early days in the TA Ken was definitely a “Folkestone Fusilier”, spending most of his annual camps there. He was always the centre of any fun, good times, good humour or prank. Yet, he never missed a morning parade and developed a strong desire to make the TA a place where soldiers learned, became better people and had such a good time that they wanted to come back for more the next year. His command of 61 PC Sqn RE (V) and 5 PC Regt RE (V) saw him make a sound start to these changes. His tour as Commander consolidated such changes and spread the ethos throughout 1 PC Group). So, he retired from the TA in November 1993 having thoroughly enjoyed the experience and definitely giving more than he received. The MoD was indeed fortunate to have had the advice and guidance from this acknowledged expert in postal technology and mechanisation. He gave freely of his time and expertise to plan the changes needed to bring the Mill Hill Depot into the world of postal automation. A Lancastrian who joined the Post Office after leaving grammar school Ken’s career progressed through postal operations grades and he became Manchester’s youngest ever Assistant Head Postmaster in 1973 (at the age of 34). After two stints as an Operations Controller, in Eastern Postal Region and later with North East Postal Board, split by a spell as Head Postmaster Sheffield Ken returned to Manchester as the District Head Postmaster (one of the UK’s big five offices). With the 1992 reorganisation Ken was promoted to Director and General Manager SWSW and moved to Gloucester. He returned to Manchester for his final appointment as DGM Royal Mail NWNW before retiring finally in 1998.
Ken was born in Wigan in November 1938 and had two hugely successful careers both which involved things of import to him – people and the post. People sought out and valued his company. They benefited from it by enjoying themselves – having a good time – or learning and being better fitted for their jobs. He was a huge character who easily filled a room – and often filled a bar! He was a terrific entertainer with his tales and his singing of anything from light opera to naughty ditties – but without any rude words. “Having a bit tonight” meant “rolly polly” – which was whatever you wanted it to be! He could entertain endlessly – but never boringly. Yet he was a most supportive boss and leader. He would tenaciously pursue a correct and just cause with all his guile and energy. In the toughest days Ken was a man to be working for as he never let his team down, nor would he accept a less than satisfactory solution. He was a distinguished leader and a person who held the highest business ethics. He was also immensely loyal to The Post Office. Ken was a keen follower of sport and in his day a powerful rugby forward. He loved to sail – especially on holiday with Liz and their boys. He enjoyed playing golf and watching rugby – from his local club – Rochdale – to internationals and to league games at his hometown Wigan. He died on 25 May after a long and painful illness, which he bore with courage and his brave good humour. Ken will be sadly missed by many (who admired and respected him), but none more than Liz and their boys to whom our deepest sympathy goes. Thanks to Doug Swanson (April 2014)
Donald James Bartlett ERD TD Jul 1921-27 Jan 2009
After matriculating Donald joined the Post Office in Wimborne, Dorset & when war broke out he joined the Army while his two brothers served their country in the RAF. Donald having good French found himself on Salisbury Plain riding on the top of tanks teaching the free Polish Army to drive & shoot. Graduating from Sandhurst as a lieutenant he was posted to Singaport for several years before returning to England and demobilization. In 1952 he moved from Dorset to Central London where he was an Assistant Postal Controller Cklass 2 & travelled the country marshalling the mail. When the Suez crisis exploded he was off to Cyprus to manage mail for the troops in the Middle East. He relocated to Manchester in 1960 & shortly after that to the West Midlands where he was an Assistant Postal Controller Class 1 &
later Postal Controller. Finally coming back to Surrey and working from Head Office in London. He retired to Highcliffe with his wife Doris of more than 50 years where they enjoyed many happy times together. Doris died only 10 days before Donald in 2009. He thoroughly enjoyed his time with his Army friends & would look forward to his ccouple of weeks each year back in uniform. Of course it could have been the camaraderie in the mess away from home that had most appeal – Mike Bartlett (Don’s son) Don was ever the best of company at any event and in any circumstance. My enduring memory of him is in the old Mess bar at Mill Hill, climbing onto the bar, turning his back to the crowd & performing a back somersault, to land on his feet in their midst! What a glorious & memorable character, who we all remember with deep affection. Thanks to Doug Swanson (June 2014)
Vanessa Bellamy 4 Sep 1958-21 Apr 2011
On 14 December 1978 Vanessa enlisted in the WRAC – and reported for duty at the WRAC Centre, Queen Elizabeth Park Barracks, Guildford on 8 January 1979. she passed out of basic training on 8 February 1979. Then it was on to the Postal and Courier Depot Royal Engineers (PCD RE) at Mill Hill to complete her B3 Postal & Courier training.
After this she worked on SO1 in the Main Sorting Office at Mill Hill. On 28th March 1981, Vanessa married Melvyn, a young Sapper, also employed in the sorting office at Mill Hill. This was the beginning of a very happy family life with Vanessa taking care of all the family administration and keeping melvyn out of trouble. Later that year Vanessa started climbing the promotion ladder and was promoted to Lance Corporal. Their first posting was to Germany in June 1982 to 3 PC Regt RE in Dusseldorf.
On further promotion to Corporal, Vanessa moved into the Postal Inquiry Branch. She was selected to take part in the US exchange program and spent a month in Schweinfurt in Southern Germany working in the USAPO there. In December 1985 the Bellamy’s were posted to Northern Ireland and Vanessa was promoted to Sergeant and given charge of the Forces Post Office in Londonderry where she remained until being posted back to Mill Hill in December 1987. During this tour at Mill Hill Vanessa and Melvyn experienced the greatest day in their lives with the birth of their beautiful daughter, Laura, on 20 September 1995 at the Royal Free Hampstead Hospital. In 1997 it was back to Germany to 98 PC Sqn RLC as a Staff Sergeant, where the family remained until returning to Mill Hill and Vanessa a Warrant Officer, as WOIC Ops in the Defence Courier Service. This was to be Vanessa’a final tour before leaving the Army in July 2003. When she left the Army she was employed as a Civil Servant in the role of Command Accountant (a civilianised officer post), initially at Mill Hill and then in the new BFPO at RAF Northolt. Vanessa during her time at Northolt was instrumental in providing her excellent knowledge on all matters postal in the design and deployment of the new computer accounting system Horizon New Generation. This glamorous, intelligent and affable lady had many admirable talents. One of her proudest achievements was becoming the Women’s Army Bowling Champion in Germany in the singles, doubles and trios; a record she still holds. Vanessa was one terrific organiser, arranging may functions for the Warrant Officers & Sergeant’s Mess. Without doubt the greatest party she arranged was with her long time pal Jean Walker. They produced
the Farewell Ball to mill Hill in the huge marquee on the Officers’ Mess lawn. It was truly a night to remember for the 450 present and past Posties who partied the night away. Her saying of “No problem lets sort it” was well used in this experience.
Vanessa sadly passed away suddenly on the 21st April. It was no surprise that the Crematorium at Knebworth was packed to overflowing with over 200 members of the Postal family who wanted to say farewell to this lovely lady. Standing in the hall,the aisles and the entrance foyer heads were bowed as each remembered Vanessa as the very special person she was. We will all sadly miss her infectious spirit, her vitality, friendship, loyalty and willingness to help everyone without question, and to do with that big bright smile that was ever Vanessa. Our deepest sympathies go to Melvyn and Laura on their enormous loss. Thanks to Roy Walker and to Doug Swanson (Dec 2012)
Laurence Peter Bennett, CBE 28th Jun 1924 – 18th Jan 2009
Laurence Peter Bennett (generally known as Larry) was born in Looe in Cornwall on 28th June 1924, where his father was serving in the Royal Navy. He was very proud of his roots and retained a love of Cornwall throughout his life. He left school at an early age and in 1942 joined the Post Office at Yeovil as a Sorting Clerk and Telegraphist.
His early connection with the Post Office had a great influence on how Larry’s career would later develop. With the Second World War at its height Larry joined the RAF in 1943. He enlisted at Lords Cricket Ground, where he later became a life member of the MCC. Cricket was a life long interest for him. Larry was selected for aircrew training and in 1944 he was granted a Commission in the RAF. He trained as both an air bomber and navigator, but it was as a navigator that he specialised. Larry flew on many hours of operational missions in Wellingtons, and Liberators. It was typical of Larry that he kept in touch with the skipper of his aircraft thoughout the latter’s life and indeed went to visit him in South Africa. Larry married Beryl on 3rd April 1948. It was an uncertain time for RAF Crew and with the arrival of their son, Roland in February 1949, Larry decided on a change of career. In April 1949 he transferred to the Royal Engineers Postal Service. His daughter Sally arrived in 1954 to complete their family. Larry’s career prospered in the Postal Service. He served in Korea, Hong Kong, Christmas Island, Britis Guiana (as it was then), BAOR and of course the UK. During his last posting to BAOR from 1970-73, Beryl stayed behind in England to establish the family home at the Reddings, Mill Hill. Larry’s wide experience of Postal gave him the knowledge and subsequently the impetus to make changes to right the imperfections he saw in career structures and organisation of the Service. On appointment as Director in 1974, he established a close liaison and friendship with the engineer in Cheif and brought Postal much more closely into the family of the Royal Engineers. He was a man of the highest integrity who word was his bond. Larry was appointed CBE on completion of his Directorship. On retirement, Larry was appointed Corps Treasurer. DS writes: Larry was ever a gentle man, a calm and caring person who was genuinely interested in all his officers and soldiers.
He made sure everyone was treated fairly and with respect. He did his very best to guide and help with careers and to ensure that families were very much part of the Postal Service. He knew his officers and men well and remembered much about them when they met. His greeting was invariably accompanied by a smile and warm handshake. He wanted to know about your family and any issues he could help with. He made a dramatic change in the way Postal and Courier was run. It became a competent, professional, caring and supportive organisation under his direction Larry’s wife Beryl died in 1998. He was devastated by her loss. But he did not allow this to interfere with the love and care he continued to lavish on his family. He was the kindest, most loyal and generous of fiends. He is sorely missed by all who had the provilege of knowing him. Thanks to Fred R Berringer and Doug Swanson (December 2013)
John Arthur Bint 4 Feb 1945-25 Jan 2015
John sadly passed away after fighting a serious illness for well over a year. He did so with dignity and great fortitude. Having served with the Guards Division and the Royal Pioneer Corps he joined the Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Services in 1974. Discharged 1992 in the rank of Sergeant. He had almost 40 years association with the Service at various postings and latterly at Inglis Barracks Mill Hill, where on discharge he joined the Guard Defence Force. His working days continued past normal retiring age, as he was employed at the Defence Courier Service in BFPO London at RAF Northolt. A great friend to many he was always supportive of others, when the need arose. A true Gentleman of the Corps, he will be sorely missed by his lovely family, friends and colleagues alike.
THE EMPTY CHAIR Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I am afraid I cannot be there, explain to all those present about the empty chair. Talk to them about good memories to share, Tell them all of the good days that seems only fair Look to the folks from the rank and file that saw The meaning of friendship and true Espirit-de-Corps Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I just cannot make it today, But drink to me at the bar folks and to the times of another day. Hold your pen Mr Secretary, let us set the minutes straight. Mark that Gentleman present, though delayed and sadly late look to the empty chair folks and know the reason why, we formed an Association that those should never die. Now let this be your toast: “Those happier memories are the ones we may treasure most. Through times we served together and the distance did not matter, the member we now honour was truly a “Top Hatter”. Names may be carved on stone in a different faraway field they stand to show a spirit that did not ever yield should we mark him absent? Do so if we dare before you pen that entry, look well to the empty chair Rest in Peace John a true gent. Gone maybe, but never to be forgotten.
Thanks to Lou Lister (Feb 2015)
Major Tom Boyd TD 1931-2014
Tom Boyd, who died on 4 July, had been in poor health confined latterly to a wheelchair. His jolly presence at Royal Mail or military gatherings will be greatly missed.
An Edinburgh man, educated at Broughton High School, with his “Highers” he joined the Civil Service in his home city. His National Service was in the RAF in the UK and he spoke of his pride when on parade in his “best blue”. He transferred to the GPO and after an internal competition was selected for promotion to APC2. His fate, to be posted to HQ in London, he accepted with typical good grace and in due course he was promoted to APC1 in Postal Mechanisation & Buildings Department. There his office was a pleasure to visit filled, as it was, with the aroma of ground coffee and an exotic array of bonsai in pots.
I first met him when he visited Cardiff as our HQ adviser on our MLO project at Penarth Road. On my later move to HQ Tom and his wife Liz were kind to Barbara and me in our Essex house hunting. We became near neighbours, the Boyds in Billericay and ourselves in Rayleigh, Tom and I commuting to Liverpool Street and walking to St. Martins-le- Grand. We were both proud to serve in the REPS and then the REPCC and when I was promoted to Major in 1972 as OC 209 PCCU, Tom, a Captain, became my 2ic. We were a contrasting pair as are all good partnerships. One long, lanky and energetic; the other short, foursquare tending to plumpness and with a relaxed demeanour. Aided by a fine group of senior NCOs (Messrs Hammacott, Mansfield, Rooney and Watson come immediately to mind) and enthusiastic junior NCOs and sappers (Messrs Tiffin, Parkinson and Jones to name a few), we developed into a first class squadron which travelled widely for its annual camps – Mill Hill, Folkestone, Belgium, Denmark, West Germany (several times) and Cyprus- and was warmly welcomed by its regular hosts. A camp in Cyprus with dear old Ron Jackson remains vividly in the memory but the highlights were undoubtedly wherever we went in BAOR if Douglas Swanson was the host.
We would begin our day with a march-cum-run (one of our sappers, Dave Jones nicknamed us the “ Physical Culture & Cleansing Unit “) and put a great deal into our work and play. Our eve of departure was always a carnival with our star performer, Sapper Albert Durkin from Oldham entertaining us with his mix of Lancashire humour and Mario Lanza impersonations. Tom, not a natural athlete, although he been a useful prop forward in his youth, always took part in all activities with a smile and was admired and trusted by the lads as the squadron “Uncle” whose wisdom and patience were at anyone’s disposal who needed advice or help. His little talks on map reading and navigation were popular in which his knowledge and good humour helped those who were most likely to become lost sheep to learn how to find the shepherd or the flock.
In his civil career Tom moved from HQ to regional HQ NEPR in Leeds and then finally became Head Postmaster Harrogate. It was a position he filled with care and pride and, whilst he ensured that Harrogate was never regarded as a “cutting edge“ office, he ran a happy ship. In the community he was liked and respected and served in several positions in the Caledonian Society, including President, well supported by Liz. With Knaresborough nearby, he became an enthusiastic sailor in his dinghy, which brings to mind a tale of Tom in NEPR HQ. If it is an exaggerated one, well “Si non e vero, e ben trovato“. He had bought a rubber wet suit, complete with flippers and facemask and, unwisely, allowed himself to be persuaded to try it on in the office and to waddle down the corridor. There he met the Director, Commander Desmond Wilkey DSC VRD, with whom he had a brief and interesting conversation.
Tom was representative of that rich vein into which the Army tapped profitably for reserve officers: educated men of good character some of whom who had done national service with pride, who had reached responsible positions in civilian life and who enjoyed the change and challenge of serving in the TA. Up and down the land, Head and Assistant Head Postmasters and managers from the national and regional HQs supplied the bulk of the officers and also recruited some of their staff as potential officers, NCOs and Sappers. That era is over but it should not be forgotten nor should Tom Boyd who exemplified its best features of cheerful camaraderie and efficient service.
Tom is survived by Elizabeth (Liz) his loving wife of 60 years and by his son Graham and his daughter Alison.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (October 2014)
Cdr John Briggs VRD 21 Feb 1920 – 22 Oct 2010
John Briggs died on 22 Oct 2010 aged 90. He was born in Exeter on 21 Feb 1920 and was educated at the Whitgift School in Croydon. Entering the Post Office via the Civil Service Clerical Examination he started as a Clerical Officer at the offices of the London Engineering District.
In early 1938 he joined the London Division of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as an Ordinary Signalman. Mobilised in 1939, he served in armed trawlers patrolling the North Sea and thee atlantic in the aircraft carrier HMS Fusion and at the Signal School HMS Mercury. In 1941/42 it is believed that he also sailed on convoys to Russia. Then in early 1943 he was selected for officer training and drafted to HMS King Alfred at Hove for training as a Seaman Officer. Known as Cadet Ratings, trainees endured an intensive course in gunnery, navigation, pilotage and signalling for 3-4 months. Failures were high but John surviced and was promoted Acting Sub Lieutenant in 1943. His seagoing appointments after that time are not precisely known, but it is believed that he served in other aircraft carruers in the Meditteranean and Pacific fleets and ended the war in Australia as a Lieutenant. John was awarded four campaign medals for his war service; they were the 1939/45, Atlantic, Africa & Burma stars. He also received a medal from the Russian Government for his service on conveys.
Returning to the Post office after hostilities John was promoted to Executive Officer in 1948 at the Post Office Savings Bank. Transferring to the London Postal Region (LPR) Operations Division in 1952, he was promoted to Higher Executive Officer in 1956. A further promotion to Senior Executive Officer Systems Analyst followed before appointment as District Postmaster Western District Office (WDO) in 1969. This appointment to WDO was acknowledged as a difficult and demanding post and John was there for 3 years. In 1972 he was again promoted to another vital and important post as Postmaster Controller, Mount Pleasant where he served for 4 years. His final appointment came in 1976 when he was promoted Deputy Director (Operations) LPR.
Retiring in 1978, he became joint Secretary of the Post Office Orphans Benevolent Institution, a post he held for 17 years. He remained a trustee of the Institution until his death.
In 1949 John rejoined the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve in the Postal branch and was promoted Lt Cdr. He followed the usual pattern of training at Mill Hill and seagoing appointment. Promoted Cdr RNR in 1972, he was Senior Branch Officer RNR (Postal Branch) until 1975. His sea-going knowledge and postal management experience was much valued by all members of the Branch. He was awarded the Volunteer Reserve Decoration -the RNVR Officers Decoration, having already received the RNVR Ratings Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. Very few RNVR/RNR personnel have both medalk and decoration.
Apart from the Post Office and Naval Reserve, John was a devoted family man, he and Beryl had a son and daughter, Peter & Stella. Beryle pre-deceased John in 2009. John regularly attended the Defence Postal & Courier Officers’ Association annual reunion dinners. John was modest about his many achievements; he was good company and truly merited the term – A GOOD SHIPMATE- WE SHALL MISS HIM
Thanks to Stella Briggs (his daughter) and Doug Swanson (Apr 2014)
WO2 Tony Brown
Dear Izzy First of all thank you for the lovely letter you sent me. I know that your granddad would be so very proud to have a granddaughter who could write such a nice letter. I hope you don’t mind that I am typing this letter on the computer, as I find it easier than writing, because I don’t have to keep correcting my mistakes, I just delete them. Besides which my writing isn’t as nice as yours. Although I live in Liverpool with Geraldine, I am not much of a football fan. Geraldine (Gerry) likes Everton but most of my friends like Liverpool, I prefer Rugby union, oh and ice cream!
As your mum has told you, I was a friend of your granddad, Tony and although we knew each other for a long time, we didn’t spend a lot of time together, because in the army people get sent to lots of different places.
I first met Tony Brown in April 1970, in a place called Southwood Camp, Cove. Near Farnborough in Hampshire. It was where I was doing my training to be a soldier. Tony was with another friend called Richard McKenzie. Richard used to call Tony, “Blue”, I don’t know why. After my training I was sent to Mill Hill in London to be an Army Post man. Tony and Richard were on the same Postal Training Course as me. We were all very young then and like typical boys, we were terrible show offs. I remember only little bits of those times, but I do remember your granddad was involved in a very bad, road traffic accident, while he was driving an Army truck. I think he might have fallen asleep while driving because it was late at night. He was quite badly injured and was left with a big scar on his forehead, shaped like a horse shoe.
Tony went off to work with the Parachute Regiment in the mid 70’s and while he was there he did parachute training and became a paratrooper. He was quite rightfully proud of that achievement; he was promoted to Corporal while he was with them, which proves that he was a very good soldier. Your granddad was always very fit and was a very good hockey player. One thing that always made me laugh, was, that he was a paratrooper but was afraid of heights! How crazy is that?
Tony Brown was different to other mates I met in the Army. He was a good listener and he was kind to people. He was someone I could be totally honest with and I think he was always honest with me.
I saw Tony, on and off over the next 8 years. We were not close friends then, and we were all of an age, where most young men get married and start a family. I was sent to a place called “Herford” in Germany in 1979 and Tony was sent there too. I was very happy that Tony and I were working together; we became good friends and had some great times. I remember your mum being a gorgeous little girl (like you I bet), with her lovely sister Deborah. Alexander (Buster) was born later. Your granddad was very proud of his little family and loved them all very much.
We were together in Herford when the Beatle John Lennon was murdered in New York. He was your granddads and my favourite Beatle and we were very upset on hearing of his death. So upset that we went out and got very drunk (naughty).
After about two years in Herford, Tony got sent to Zimbabwe in Africa and I got sent to Gibraltar. In 1983 Tony and I both ended up, back in Mill Hill again, with Richard. It was a nice time, where Tony and I went running together 2 or 3 times a week. We used to go fishing too and we both had dogs, which we used to walk every day. My dog was called Peri and your granddads dog was called Rags. Tony looked after me in Mill Hill because he was already a Sergeant and I had only just been promoted to Sergeant. So Tony was able to show me around the Sergeants Mess and how to behave. I think he did a good job of keeping me out of trouble.
We used to go to Sergeants Mess Parties together with your grandma and had lovely times. I remember one Christmas Party, when we all sat at the same table with other friends. It was the best party I ever went to. I sang a song called “The Laughing Policeman” and every one thought it was funny…..I think! The Chef had created a beautiful globe of the planet Earth made out of sugar, it was a masterpiece. Your granddad tried to lift it, to put it on our table and it broke into a thousand pieces. The Chef did not think that was funny!
In 1984 Tony and I went on a trip to Denmark with other soldiers to take part in a marching and shooting competition. It was great fun and we had loads of laughs. During the march which was about 20 miles, your granddad told us a joke that took almost half an hour to tell. It was such a bad joke that we told Tony if he tried to tell another joke, we would throw him in the river! He didn’t tell one after that. We had a spare day off in Copenhagen, where we were invited to go on an Island cruise in an old Torpedo boat, by our Danish Hosts. Tony, me and some others of our party went, along with Danish and German soldiers. In typical soldier fashion, we drank lots of beer and told jokes. We visited lots of Danish Islands and on one of the Islands, in a bar, one of the German Officers, who was also a Paratrooper, invited your granddad to a drinking competition. Stating that German Para’s were cleverer than British Para’s! Your granddad was a very proud man and so, accepted the challenge. So the German Officer told Tony the rules:
You must sit under the table and your pint of beer must be on top of the table.
I will thump the table three times. You must not move until the 3rd thump. On the third thump, you must get out from under the table sit on your chair then drink your beer. Do you understand?
Tony, said, “Of course I understand”! You go first! So the German got under the table, Tony thumped the table 3 times and on the 3rd thump, the German casually got up, sat on his chair and leisurely drank his pint. Tony was amused and said that took you over a minute, I can beat that easily. So the German bought Tony a pint and sent Tony to sit under the Table. The German then thumped the table once, then after about 30 seconds he thumped the table again. Tony was like an Olympic sprinter under the table, waiting for the start, but the 3rd thump never came, the German drank Tony’s beer then left! Poor Tony, he knew he had been well and truly “had” but had a good laugh about it as did the rest of us.
It will be hard for you to understand, how we found things like that so funny, but when you experience things like that with good friends, it is what makes life’s memories so good. On the last day we were in Denmark, Tony was very worried, because he had been promised an early flight home, so that he could go on holiday with your grandma. The flight had not been arranged as promised and it was the first time I ever saw your granddad angry. He didn’t want to let your grandma down. Anyway they sorted the flight out for him, eventually, and Tony left to go on his holiday, to Corfu, I think.
After Denmark, I enjoyed your granddad and Grandma’s company on lots of occasions, until finally the Army sent us off in different directions again. I went to Germany and then in May 1988 I was sent to the Falkland Islands. Life is very complicated and I was very unhappy with my life at that time. Your granddad helped me a lot, he wrote to me very frequently, while I was in the Falklands and I was grateful to have such a good friend who cared about me. That’s what good friends do, they support each other.
Your Granddad was the best friend I had while I was in the Army. He was genuine and never asked or expected anything. He cared about other people and other peoples feelings. He had an abundance of qualities that are often hard to find in a person and I miss him very much. Your granddad was a very intelligent man who used to have very strong principals. Like all of us, he let those principals slip from time to time and could be a bit of a hypocrite. I used to enjoy pointing out his little errors of judgement or remind him of his little “U” turns in life but in a friendly way. He was a bit of a pessimist, if his beloved football team “The Canaries” were playing, he seemed to go into a mood of fatalism, even if they were winning, instead of celebrating, he would bemoan the inevitable collapse. He could laugh though, wow what a laugh he had, to the point that I would not tell him a joke when other people were around, because his raucous laugh would embarrass me.
After I finished my job in the Falklands, I was sent to Cyprus, Your granddad had been in Northern Ireland during that time. I arrived in Cyprus in November 1988. I will never forget the horror of learning that your poor granddad was a passenger on the British Midlands flight 92. I found out on the morning of the 9th January 1989. First I was told that your granddad had been killed in the crash then a couple of hours later I was told that he had minor injuries. Unfortunately communications were not as good then as now.
As you know, your granddad was very badly injured in the accident. I was able to visit Tony a few times at Stoke Mandeville Spinal Injuries Hospital. It was very difficult to visit a man who was so physically fit and healthy, to be reduced to the damaged man I saw. Your granddad told me all the horrors of the accident, he told me about the man who sat beside him that died (Mr Hastings) and of the lady that sat the other side of him (Beverly) who was relatively uninjured. I always hoped and prayed that Tony would get better and be able to walk again but his injuries were far too severe.
He went home to his lovely family in Dereham, where I visited infrequently. Life for your grandma must have been awful because Tony needed 24 hour a day help. I noticed on my visits that your grandma, mum and Deborah were constantly being called to attend to their dad. I felt terribly sorry for your granddad but I felt equally sorry for your grandma and her children.
Your granddad and my friend Tony Brown died on 2nd January 1999 aged 46 years. His funeral, in Dereham was on the 8th January 1999 exactly 10 years to the day after that awful crash. His life had become unbearable and I feel sure that he hated the affect that was having on the people he loved most in the world. His family.
Tony Brown was a very loved and popular man. I have never heard a bad word said against him. I hope you can understand how loved he was and I can assure you, that if he was alive, he would have been so proud to have such beautiful grand children. I hope this letter helps you to know a little bit more about your lovely granddad. I really wish he could be here for you.
Lots of love Tony Brown’s and your friend. (Thanks to Jim Andrews, Aug 2013)
Hon Col JHB Cantley 1929-2013
Joseph Henry Boon Cantley, who died on 17 December in his 85th year, was our first Honorary Colonel. He served in the old RE (PS) when it was part of the Army Emergency Reserve and was called up for the Suez Campaign in 1956. Presssure of work meant that he retired early with the rank of Honorary Major in the 1960’s. I inherited his confortable size 12 boots.
Joe came from a distinguished family, one relative being a famour judge, Sir Jospeh Cantley, who presided over notable trials and disaster inquiries. His father was in the Customs & Excise Service and his mother was, I believe, a member of the Plymouth Brethren. He was educated at Manchester Frammar School and Clare College, Cambridge & when called up for his National Service with the RAF, won the sword of honour as the outstanding cadet of his intake. His height, reach & strength which had made him an excellent oarsman (he was in the Goldie crew of 1948, no mean feat because the Blue Boat of that year is regarded as one of the best ever) also meant he was unsuitable for air crew duties.
Joe joined the GPO as an APCII in the North West region where he met Colonel Jack Ashworth’s father, a Royal Mail inspector, and Lt Col Bill Morton, then one of the youngest AHPmrs. On promotion to APCI he moved tio Postal HQ at St Martins-le-Grand, to the Postal & Mechanisation Department where his Director was Reg Bonnett, a Commander of the RNR Postal Branch and later a rare honorary Captain. It was in that role that I first met Joe, when he visited Wales & Border Counties Region to advise us on the Planning of a new HPO/MLO for Cardiff; my boss at the time was Ken Thomas, later a Brevet Colonel in the RE(PS) and my senior colleague, Lance Noble, later our Colonel. I seem to remember that we fitted in a few jars after our discussions.
One training weekend at Mill Hill, Rolph James set Pat Jackson & me to prepare & write up the case for the RE(PCC) as we had become, to have the dignity of our first Honorary Colonel. Joe was the obvious choice and accepted the appointment with delight, serving us well for many years until handing over to Bill Cockburn.
During the 3 day week in the early 1970’s when I worked for Joe in Personnel in St Alphage House on London Wall, as a Principal to his Assistant Secretary, late in the day, when he was sure that no calls would come form “High Command” up the road in St Martins-le-Grand, or worse, an enquiry from the Howland Street “Bunker”, we would blow out the canles, hope the lift was working from our 17th floor offices and descent to the terrace level to sink several pints in ‘The Plough’ with relish & impressive speed.
I will miss my old friend very much but draw comfort from the contented years he spent in retirement, happily married to Janet, who hand he held as he died peacefully at home –John Mackay
Col Joe Cantley sat me down at the BFPO in Munster, when I was a Lance Corporal and encouraged me to apply for a Commission in the Royal Engineers, the following year I was a Lieutenant. Life changing moment; forever grateful – Wayne Parrot
Thanks to Doug Swanson (June 2014)
Captain Alexander Carnie 5 August 1939 – 19 April 2016
It was a great shock to hear of Alex Carnie’s sudden death in April this year. He and his wife Yvonne, after many missed opportunities previously, were celebrating with a visit to the REA PCS Branch annual get together in Sheffield just two weekends prior where he appeared in robust health fully enjoying meeting old friends from his Army career.
Alex joined as a Sapper in 1957 and completed his 22 years Regular Army service at the end of 1979 retiring as a Warrant Officer Class 1. A successful career serving in many countries with many familiar names. I recall he spoke fondly of his time with 19 Brigade in Colchester where he enjoyed travel to Nairobi Kenya, El Adem in Libya, Canada, Kenya again, Aden and Swaziland. Serving with such personalities as Peter Prince and Rolph James. It was here his football skills came to note not only playing for his unit but also the popular local Tiptree Jam team. Stardom indeed, but as Alex said it came to a sticky end!
He started his military travels in Malvern and Chatham before becoming a Postal & Courier Operator. As he progressed steadily through the ranks he saw service in Montpellier France and a tour of duty in BAOR. Back at the Depot Mill Hill Alex was a stalwart member of the famous Mill Hill football team winning many plaudits in the London District competitions. In addition he was an enthusiastic golfer that later brought him into contact with many military people of note including SACEUR General Alexander M Haig (the clue is in the names) when serving in Belgium.
Posted to Hong Kong in 1970 with visits to Singapore along the way he served with Peter Wescott and Graham Hillier. Subsequently back to the Depot and a six month unaccompanied trip to Belize in 1975 which was the result of losing the debate on why other Warrant Officers had not done their turn at the time. Inevitably, immediately upon his return to UK on the move again to SHAPE in Mons Belgium with such well known personalities as, Don London and Laurie Watkins, Ivor Siddall and again Rolph James during his tour of duty. Anyone serving with Rolph James invariably became involved with Rugby and Alex ran a very successful SHAPE sevens competition.
On demob he was commissioned as Captain Permanent Staff Administartive Officer with 71 Engineer Regiment in Glasgow completing 25 years with the Territorial Army and earning, much to his delight, yet another pension and a few golf tournaments on the way!
Alex Carnie will be missed by his wife and family, many friends and colleagues. He would have been 77 years young in August.
Thank you to Barry Linden (Dec 2016)
Thank you to Cleft Stick (Summer 2002)
Major (PEO) J R (Bob) Connelly BEM
It is with deep regret and much sadness that we report the death of Major Bob Connelly, who passed away on Christmas Eve, aged 73. Originally from Stirling, Bob (who was known as Jack to his family and friends outside the military) moved to Greenford as a young boy when his father had to relocate jobs within the company for whom he worked -the Carron Iron Foundry, which was the largest producer of post office letter boxes.
Bob joined the Army in 1946 and enlisted into the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, his father’s Regiment. He was compulsorily transferred to the Royal Engineers (Postal and Courier Services) whilst serving in Palestine in 1948.
Bob was married in 1951 to Rita whom he had met in Greenford before joining the Army. They travelled to many places together and had tours in Dusseldorf, Berlin, Malta and finally Mill Hill from 1978-83. Bob also had an unaccompanied tour of duty in the Honduras in1963/64. He achieved the prestige post of RSM at HPD RE prior to commissioning.
During the celebrations and activities to mark the centenary of PCS at Mill Hill in 1982, Bob and Rita were presented to HM The Queen. Bob was MTO during this time at Mill Hill and finished his regular service there.
On leaving the Army Bob was successful in securing an RO appointment in Stirling and following his final retirement moved to Glenrothes, Fife in 1990.
During his career, Bob made many friends and won great respect for his professionalism and dedication. He was a popular man with a keen intellect, dry sense of humour and a trademark beaming smile which used to light up his face.
Bob and Rita celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary last November. Rita has the support of their three children, Kevin, Lorraine and Michael, along with six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
The funeral was at Kirkcaldy Crematorium on Saturday 5 January 2002. Lt Col (Retd) Graham Meacher MBE attended to represent the Postal and Courier Services.
Thank you to Cleft Stick (Summer 2002)
Major John Corrigan MBE 17 January 1919 – 15 August 2016
John Corrigan was a truly unique individual, soldier and entertainer. He became a legend in his own lifetime after serving almost 7 years as Regimental Sergeant Major at The Home Postal Depot RE at Gunsite Camp – mostly under command of Lt Col Tubby Reading. His experience of early life in the hard pre-war times in Glasgow taught him much about life and instilled in him a clear ambition to progress and to ensure fairness and integrity wherever he had influence. Of course he was a great character and storyteller and ever the best and most amusing company. Once met and shared time with he was not to be forgotten. His amazing energy and stamina meant he could remain upright and last longer than most in any Service Mess that he graced with his company.
John volunteered to serve his country as a Territorial Army soldier and was sworn in in 1939 aged 20. He served with 78 Field Regiment Royal Artillery attending twice weekly training in army discipline in how to use a cannon. He completed 2 weeks war training in North Wales. John was enlisted for war service on 1st September 1939. His Regiment moved to Norfolk, training to deal with an anticipated invasion of Marham by German paratroopers. This came to a head when the Germans fought to invade England in September 1940. John was active as a Gun Sergeant in this action.
He later fought in The Western Desert, Egypt and North Africa including Tunisia and during this time he was hospitalised and put onto an ambulance train from Benghazi to Egypt. After surgery he was still a Gunner but was engaged in less strenuous work (i.e. classified clerical work). In 1944 he was posted and transferred from The Gunners to The Corps of Royal Engineers (in charge of despatching bags of mail arriving from the UK). He was released from the Army on 5th June 1945 and joined the Ivor Novella team appearing in The Dancing Years shows. He must have learned a great deal from this time that enhanced his presence in later years.
Recalled by The Army in December 1946 he was posted to The Middle East and stationed in Port Said and served 3 years in Egypt and Benghazi. He met and married Joyce here and returned to London. He was posted as Depot Sergeant Major of The Home Postal Depot RE at Gunsight Camp, London and appointed Regimental Sergeant Major here in February 1954 and remained there for a record 6 and a half years.
He was commissioned in to the Corps of Royal Engineers in October 1960 and served as a Postal and Administration Officer in Germany at various locations, Cyprus and SHAPE Paris among others until 1972. Apart from doing his basic job John inevitably involved himself with his unit football team, getting to know and influence the careers of many young soldiers – and keeping them out of trouble.
On discharge from the Army in 1973 he returned to the family home in England and civilian life. He kept in touch with many veteran organisations notably our own Life Associate Members of our Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess (LAM), named in memory of his great pal, Neil Lamb, who was the Mess Manager for many years.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Dec 2016)
Carl Cox enlisted in the Army 1981 and was discharged 2005 in the rank of Sergeant. His Service with the Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Service saw him in Germany, Hong Kong, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and the United Kingdom. Cox completed tours in the Balkans, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Falkland Islands, Norway and the USA. Carl was born in Chesterfield, Were he lived with his parents to Until 17 years old. He would attend his local football club watching the home games with his father, a team and a sport he loved and continued to love throughout his life. He became fond of a glass or two of Black label, perhaps if he had turned to Carlsberg his team would of done better, which was pointed out to him on more than one occasion At the age of 17 years he decided to join the Army and enlisted to join the Royal Engineers Postal Service, where he undoubtedly became a Postal legend. His interest in sport was always upper most in his life as a young soldier, particularly football; he would support his unit in various sporting activities, which often led to celebrations afterwards whether on the winning or losing team. Carl met and married Josie during a posting in Hong Kong; two children were born from this marriage Christine born 1988 at Mill Hill and Thomas born 1997 in Northern Ireland. Carl was always a good friend to many whilst he served and will be remembered as a trusted friend and a gentleman by more than several people. “A Legend in his Life Time”. Rest in Peace, after what must have been a heart wrenching ordeal at Cheltenham hospital for you and your beloved family. Gone but never to be forgotten. Thanks to Tony Gallagher (Aug 2016)
WO1 (RSM) Bob Davidson RE PCS
Bob enlisted at Edinburgh in March 1959, into the Royal Engineers until his discharge in May 1982
As well as tours in the UK at South Cerney and Mill Hill, his service also took him to the Maldives, Tripoli, Brunei, Cyprus and of course BAOR. It is whilst serving in Tripoli between July 61 and July 64 that he met his wife Wendy.
I first met Bob upon taking up the appointment as Chief Clerk of 3 PC Regt and it was during this time in Dusseldorf that we became good friends to extend into civilian life whereby we both ended up working for the same company. Unfortunately contact was broken when I moved to Germany and Bob changed address also.
I have fond memories of the Dusseldorf parties! His “mad dog” Red” the Red Setter and the “homebrew” parties in Hants. Bob was a true gent,.a good listener,.a loving father and grandfather.and ALWAYS! .a game for a laugh!!
Bob was diagnosed in 2008 with Renal Cancer which resulted him having a kidney removed! This was followed in 2009 by his Adrenal Gland being removed. Everything was going well until Jan 2012 when treatment was required to his lung! The hammer blow came in April 2012 when his beloved wife Wendy tragically died leaving him totally devastated and heartbroken! Bob lost his will to live on the 25th November 2012.
He is sadly missed by daughter Fian, sons Duncan and Gary daughter in-law Rachel, grandchildren David, Alexandria, Jake, Daniel, Samantha, Max, Siän, Ben, Holly, Matthew and Amy
R.I.P my friend……..”There is no Death! only a change of Worlds”
Thanks to Robert Meen (September 2013)
Sgt Legs (David) Diamond
Legs (David) Diamond enlisted in the Army 26 March 1962 and was discharged 9 April 1984 in the rank of Sergeant. His Service with the Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Service saw him in Aden, Germany, Northern Ireland, the Far East and the United Kingdom.
Legs was born in Dunfermline, Fife and moved with his parents to Sussex at the age of 5 years old. However at the age of 16 years he returned to Fife to live with his Grandmother, to whom he was very close. He trained as a traditional upholsterer, something he was very skilled at.
At the age of 20 years he decided to join the Army and enlisted to join the Royal Engineers Postal Service, where he undoubtedly became a Postal legend. His interest in Sport was always upper most in his life as a young soldier, particularly at Soccer & Cricket. He represented Home Postal and Courier Communications Depot Royal Engineers at soccer in 1968 with Pete Askew, Harry Symes and Roger Brown among others.
He met and married Edna, a member of the Women’s Royal Army Corps, at Mill Hill London in the same year. Edna is a Fife girl, who had joined the Army to serve in the Royal Military Police, but due to a childhood injury this was not possible and she was posted to Mill Hill. The rest is history.
Legs was always a good friend to many whilst he served and will be remembered as a “Father Figure” by more than several people. Yes a “Legend in his Life Time”. Rest in Peace, after what must have been an ordeal in the Dundee hospital. Gone but never to be forgotten.
Thank you to Lou Lister (Oct 2010)
Major Charles Dickson
Charlie Dickson served the Postal & Courier Service for 45 years. He joined as a Sapper and worked his way through the ranks, was commissioned and in retirement from regular service worked at Mill Hill as a Retired Officer. His career took him right around the world where he represented the Service with distinction and integrity. He was a punctilious, meticulous and articulate individual who lived and worked by the highest standards. He knew most of the rules of service life and these, and the Postal & Courier Regulations and Compendiums, were his ways of working in all situations. Yet Charlie was no dull person, he had the most delightful sense of humour, was good and amusing company and a person whi it was always a pleasure to share time, or work with. I suspect few people have ever heard him referred to as Charles because he was always ‘Charlie’.
He enlised in the Army in 1945 and served right around the world. His exotic places include Christmas Island, Australia and Cyprus. Of course he spent a good deal of his service in Germany and Belgium. Charlie’s ‘Germany’ was not the normal one. He was in Oldenburg and Frankfurt – where he met and married Peggy – she was working for the Foreign Office at the time. Two tours in Berlin and then most places around what became BAOR, including a tour in the Headquarters. It was after being WOi/c the Berlin Troop that he was commissioned in 1966. He retired whilst stationed in SHAP in 1979 and then took up his job as a Retired Officer back at Mill Hill. For 10 years he managed the PRI fund which, as a result became very healthy indeed.
charlieCharlie did several things with great distinction. One was running the sorting office at Mill Hill. He understood a ‘clear despatch’ and invariably achieved one. But he also made certain tht the office was immaculate, the floor polished, and with all fittings clear and all equipment and trolleys neatly lined up. He was a consummate and professional Military Postal Officer.
His ginger hair and moustache gave him a fierce look – until he smiled. My first meeting with him in 1962, as a newly arrived officer, asking him as CQMS for a second web belt and a second pair of gainters. “It is the one of each you are entitled to and that’s what you have. thank you Sir and good day!” And that was that! Since that first meeting we were posted to the same unti several times and enjoyed many happy days at work, many memorable social events as well as a good many successes. We attednded may functions on our own and with our ladies. Charlie and Peggy were ever great fun and fine company. Charlie loved to chat and reminisce about the past and how things had changed in him time.
The regrets and respects of the Association have been passed to Peggy and her daughter Fiona and son James. A donation was made to the Army Benevolent fund in Charlie’s memory.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (December 2013)
Cdr Perc John Dodd
Percy John Dodd, always known as John, was born in Chepstow in 1927. His father was a railwayman and John inherited his virtues of service, orderliness and pride in the company. He joined the Post Office in Cardiff as a boy messenger and rose through internal exams to become a P&TO and then moved to the Telephone side on promotion to Sales Representative in Midlands Region, where he honed his inherent people and presentational skills.
He was then successful in the stiff competition to become an APC II, a member of the elite Travelling Staff, posted to Northern Ireland and then North West Region. Only a few senior managers from Britain have served in the former; including the writer. On Friday evenings, when the small team gathered on Converys, as he mounted the stairs, he was famous for his reply to “What are you drinking Sorr?”. “Something similar!”.
John was promoted to Assistant Head Postmaster Southend where he put down deep roots. He gained his first independent command as Head Postmaster Basildon and was later promoted to Head Postmaster Crewe. At his own request, John then returned to work in Postal HQ and then Eastern Region HQ acquiring specialist knowledge of postal supplies and buildings. Whilst in HQ he became one of the “Clerks in Waiting”, as the overnight duty officers were known, and much enjoyed the Victorian ambience of the duty suite, overlooking Postman’s Park and St Botolph’s Church, but at the same time being ready to deal with a telephone call at any hour from 1800 to 0800 which could be from a Minister, the PO Chairman himself or some emergency.
He compared such stints to being on the bridge in the Royal Navy in which he had performed his National Service and which he joined on demob as a reservist. He often spent his annual service at sea and volunteered for extra service, attending courses on seamanship and command courses at the Naval Staff College. He thus developed into an experienced, educated naval officer, subscribing for many years to the “Naval Review”, copies of which he passed to me, so I would be ready for RN liaison duties if ever required for an amphibious task force. It was a natural progression for such a capable officer in both naval and postal matters to rise to the head of the Royal Naval Reserve Postal Branch as its Commander; he was awarded the Reserve Decoration.
In retirement John put himself about unstintingly: a natural leader, he chaired the Shoebury Garrison Mess, the local Royal Naval Association, the SSAFA and the Post Office Veterans branches as well as the Westcliff Ex-Services club. In these positions he earned widespread respect for his firm but kindly chairmanship, dignity, sense of humour, patience and knowledge.
John was always well-tailored and immaculate in his dress, whether in mufti or in uniform; his shoes were brightly polished and his choice of tie reflected the occasion. He wrote in an old-fashioned, clear, bold hand in black ink. I would say that he regretted that he had just missed active service in the Second World War but was of that generation which was deeply if not uncritically patriotic with a strong sense of duty, comradeship and community. With his prodigious memory he could summon up the dates, initials and outline careers of most of the senior management and comrades-in-arms of his era. The cognoscenti would describe him as a “walking stud book” and you had to beware when he promised, “to cut a long story short” because that could be the prelude to a lengthy if always entertaining anecdote.
“Ich hatt’ einen kameraden, einen bessern findst du nicht”
Thanks to Col John Mackay & Doug Swanson (Apr 2014)
Major John Dunkeld MBE 1923-2009
Major John Dunkeld died peacefully on the 13th March 2009 after a short illness. John had a long and interesting career in the Army. He was born in the Leicestershire town of Lutterworth and was one of seven children. His father was a First World War soldier who was badly gassed and retired from the army to become the owner of the Hinde Hotel in Lutterworth. John’s father died when he was 9 years old and his mother sent three of the boys to the Duke of Yorks Royal Military School at Dover. One of his brothers – Malcolm – eventually become head boy and was later commissioned by General Montgomery in Palestine. Malcolm joined the Parachute Regiment and died as a captain aged 23 while fighting in Sicily. After leaving the Duke of York’s John joined the Queen’s Regiment and – on the outbreak of the Second World War – was training infantry soldiers in the UK ready for battle. No longer enjoying this role he volunteered to join the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment and was immediately posted to India to counter the Japanese invasion. That he proved himself a fine fighting soldier became apparent when at 22 he became the youngest Regimental Sergeant Major in the British Army. John participated in various famous battles in Burma.
Following the war he was posted to Malaya where he courted and later married Kathleen Jones, a serving WRAC. With a young family, John decided to leave the army and seek a career in civilian life. However, he missed the army so much that after only 9 months he re-enlisted into the 1st Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment with the rank of Private. A visiting General to the battalion recognised John and immediately recommended him to the position of Sergeant Major. John later became the RSM of the Battalion.
His qualities of leadership were further recognised when he was commissioned in 1962 and, shortly afterwards, his connection with the Infantry ended when he was transferred as a Captain to the Royal Engineers. Under the contingency of the Cold War John had various overseas postings, including Germany and Northern Ireland. His final posting as an active soldier was as Adjutant to the Royal Engineers Postal Courier Depot at Mill Hill, where he retired as a Major in 1978 after 40 years of soldiering.
John loved his time at the Postal Depot where he encouraged adventure training and military exercises so that the unit would be known for its fine soldiers. John had a gift as a trainer of men: if he recognised the right qualities in a young person, they would receive his unqualified support and help in advancing their career.
John received the MBE in the Queens Honours List in 1977 and eventually took up a post as a retired officer on the staff of the Army Apprentice College at Beachley Barracks from 1979 to 1989.
After the death of his first wife, John remarried and had 26 years of happy life with his new wife Pauline Page. John leaves three children and four grandchildren. He was a fine sportsman and played for the pre-war England schoolboy football team. John attributed his long and healthy life to taking an hour’s nap each day, having regular exercise and avoiding doctors.
Thanks to Malcolm Dunkeld (John’s son) (November 2013) and also to Doug Swanson & John Jackett for sending the Obituary
Lt Col Paul Forrester TD
Ireland, loke Scotland, has always been a fertile recruiting ground for the British Army. Paul Forrester was one of a notable group of Irishmen who spent part of their regular and/or territorial service with the RE(PS). Others include the great Paddy Manson, Willie Morrison, Billy Mulligan and Sydney Crawford.
Paul, who died on 13 October 14, was a Belfast man who spent more than half his life in England where he and his loving wife, Margaret, raised a family in Chelmsford and then as grandparents and great grandparents, lived in Bletchley for many years. He had joined the GPO as a youth and, when I first met him in Belfast in 1968, he was an experienced if frustrated PHG in the HPO. Noting the spark in him I encouraged him to do two things; to apply for the internal APC 2 competition and to give up smoking. He did the first successfully and his promotion took him to London to Postal Mechanisation & Buildings Department. The second took longer but he succeeded in kicking the habit.
In Postal HQ his intelligence allied to his practical knowledge of sorting operations made him a valued member of the team and he prospered. Having served in the royal Signals Territorial Army he transferred to us and was commissioned as a 2Lt and early on was marked as an officer of promise
In due course, and after a period of study at Danbury College, which added education depth to his native intelligence, he was promoted to Head Postmaster Milton Keynes in Eastern Postal Region. This was a difficult office where several of the Trade Union officials were transferees from London and like to exercise their power not often in the interests of customers or staff. Paul handled several crises with a cool head, clear strategy and determination and won his spurs.
He was promoted to District Postmaster West Central District Office in London, the Region in which he spent the rest of his career, later managing the demanding South east District office and, eventually, to his own delight and his family’s great pride, becoming the Director of the Region. In each of his roles he displayed his characteristic calmness, resolve, relish for the job and an ability to talk sympathetically and sensibly to all ranks. These qualities also showed in his TA career and he earned several promotions finishing his service as a Lt Col and being awarded the Territorial Decoration with three bars signifying over 30 years of service.
Paul was essentially a quiet, thoughtful man with a deep work ethic whilst underneath la a strong will and a humorous, very sociable side. He always supported our formal occasions and was a keen attender at our annual dinners and lunches and at the RELICS club lunches started and organised by Douglas Swanson. In his retirement he enjoyed walking, golf, wine and travel and reading and above all he was Paterfamilias of the Forrester clan. We have great memories of great weekend at the Swan in Lavenham with Paul and Margaret and the dodd’s and the Folwys; and of other weekends with the Clintons and the Barkers as well as parties in Chelmsford and Bletchley. Paul was a generous host and Margaret, who could sing like and as well as Ruby Murray, a warm hostess. In his final months Paul was courageous and remained lear headed, planning and making all the necessary arrangements with great help from Paul Junior and Maria; he will be deeply missed by his family and greatly mourned by his friends – John Mackay
Thanks Doug Swanson (November 2014)
Captain Jim Furley-Smith ERD
Jim was born in South Norwood on 25 May 1922. During his education at Dulwich College he became known as the “brains” of their Scouting movement and this played a major part in his life. Just like so many of his generation Jim found his life shaped by the Second World War. He first saw action with the Royal Signals in North Africa and then later in the Italian campaign he had his first significant dice with death when he was severely wounded by an exploding shell on 17 July 1944
It was almost two years later that he was able to start work again on 1 July 1946 as a Clerical Officer in the Staff Section of South London Telephone Area. So, the War had cost him six years of his intended Career. He later transferred to the Broadcasting Branch at Post Office Headquarters as part of the secretariat for the 1949 Broadcasting Commission.
In 1949 he was appointed as an Assistant Postal Controller Class 2. He was soon to find an incredible twist in his life. The Korean War had led to the introduction of compulsory follow up refresher training for ex-servicemen. As a result the Reserve Forces had to expand to cater for these annual camps – and this included the Army Postal Service. It was a tradition that Post Office staff manned this branch; and a request had gone out for APC2s to volunteer to be officers in the Emergency reserve. On return from a holiday in August 1951 Jim was informed by the duty APC1 that he expected to have Jim’s application for a Commission in the Army Postal Reserve on his desk immediately. Despite having been invalided out of the Army Jim now found himself as a War Pensioner, drawing a War Pension, and drawing Army pay again!
He worked happily and effectively in the Training Division at Post Office Headquarters until he retired in May 1982 and had been promoted to APC1 in 1968. In 1970 he was involved in that enormous training program to get all Post Office staff ready for the decimalisation of the country’s currency.
Throughout his career Jim was involved with the Scouting movement encouring many young men to be better citizens and to learn many useful lifelong skills. He was also an active member of the local Putney Presbyterian Church and served as an Elder and Session clerk. It was through his Church activities that he met his wife Jean who he married in September 1957. The Marriage was blessed with two children – Elizabeth and Russell. In retirement he was a lay preacher in the United Reform church, serving twice as an interim moderator.
From a young age he looked and acted like an amiable, eccentric and somewhat elderly professor. He was a quiet but determined character with a dry wit and a kindly nature. His annual camps with the Army were often spent travelling on recces of Forces Post Offices. He was always his own man but used to enjoy comming to the Annual Association Dinner at Simpsons.
Jim had a reputation as a great encourager of people with may people saying what a constant source of encouragement he was and how his home was a second home and a safe haven for a number of different generations. Increasingly his health problems caused him to curtail his activities but he ever had time to give to his own family and grandchildren. He died peacefully on 27 August after a long illness and is survived by his wife Jean.
Thanks to Jim’s daughter Dr Liz Edwards & Doug Swanson (April 2014)
Sgt John Grant
John who joined the Corps in September 1960 and served with the Postal & Courier Services all over the world until his discharge March 1983. He died on 13 May 1989 at the age of 46 in St Thomas`s hospital London due to kidney failure.
John`s funeral was held at the Parish Church and Cemetery in Tranent, Scotland.
Lt Col Meacher and a number of RE`s attended along with Family and Friends.
John had a very Scottish send off with a Lone Piper playing Laments at the graveside. He will be remembered by many people and in the later years although suffering constant pain through his illness he always had a smile and a kind word for everyone.
He will probably be dealing with the Airmail up there and looking down on us smiling.
RIP. Your loving sister Margaret.
Thank you to Margaret Grant (April 2004)
WOI Dixie Green
Dixie Green died after a short illness, following kidney & liver failure, on the island of Malta where he had lived since discharge in the mid 1990s.
He had served as Cheif Clerk in Northern Ireland (22 PC Sqn RE) and latterly as WO1 in charge at BFPO Munster in 13 PC Squadron 1 Postal & Courier Regiment Royal Engineers and finally I guess he wore the Royal Logistics Corps cap badge.
A technician of the highest calibre, he was always willing to pass on knowledge to his subordinates and peers alike.
A larger than life postal character, he will be remembered by most for his hospitality and culinary skills “in the field”.
If anyone has a photograph we could add to this message, or any anecdote(s), please feel free to do so.
His brother Stan writes: In Memory of WO1 Alick (Dixie) Green RE, joined as a Junior Soldier Dover 1965 played in their Band
served Germany-Malta-Mill Hill-NI Lisborn-Hong Kong-Gibraltar-Germany. Died in Malta 18-2-05 aged 56 after a short illness.
Leaves loving wife Maria and two sons Kristian and Emanuel….. Kindly remember him in your prayers….. May he rest in peace
Thank you to Lou Lister and Stan Green (April 2004)
WO2 Jack Griffiths RE
Jack died suddenly at his Droitwich home on 8th May 2012, aged 67 years. A celebration of his life took place at St Nicholas Church at Droitwich on Monday 21st May. It was attended by many friends and family, also the Standard Bearer from REA Branch, Malvern.
After leaving school, he joined the GWR as a railway fireman, out of Didcot and Swindon. He took great interest over the years in pointing out old track beds, removed bridges, blocked up tunnels and loved investigating old station sites, many found deep in undergrowth. Old and polished railway memorabilia at York and Beamish were visited.
Jack enlisted at Grays, Essex in September 1963. Amongst his training party were fellow posties, Brian Felks, Ray Gaffey, Billy Appleyard and Mick Clark. Before taking up the Postie trade, they all completed their 18 weeks RE training at Southwood camp Cove to become B3 Combat Engineers. January 1964 PTS photo remembered names include Ray Gaffey, Brian Felks, Bill Noden and Joan Thurston. Brian was fortunate enough to enjoy the Griffiths family hospitality when Jack was kind enough to invite him home for a weekend. He was not the last to experience Jack’s kindness.
Arriving in Hannover, he was the courier up to Kiel and Wilhelmshaven school for a few months. He was employed in many clerical positions, at DPCC MOD UK and also in HQ BAOR (twice), culminating as Chief Clerk at 8 CPCCD RE in Dusseldorf, where he completed his 15 years service in the rank of WO2 and should he have chosen to continue his military service, was a strong candidate to achieve a commission.
It was at Rheindahlen Garrison Church during his first HQ BAOR tour in 1967, that he married Maureen Greig, their son Scott was born in Malta in 1969.
Returning to The Big House in the early seventies, now under Joe Holmes and Dennis Streatfield, football became a major office interest, with Jim Brokenbrow and Chris Goodwin also in the Directorate, Dennis Sweeney and “Hoppy” Hopwood downstairs in the FPO and numerous players including Fred Toker within WRS over the road, The Rheindahlen Rejects took to playing on F pitch, usually on a Sunday morning.
Naturally his football interests extended to the local Bundes league teams, particularly `Gladbach, if they were away, then maybe Cologne and of course Dusseldorf was just down the road. The reverse applied from 1976 when Jack was stationed there. Two cars usually sufficed for Postie supporters for away matches, the riverside walk across to The Rhine Stadium was very enjoyable.
On his return to civilian life, Jack was employed within the UK motor industry, joining Cummins diesel engines sales and service, firstly at Stockton near their home in Yarm, then in the early nineties at Birmingham as Area Manager. Starting in the parts department, within weeks he was promoted to Parts Manager and with a huge Case Plant Machinery Depot nearby, won employee of the year and travelled to the parent company in USA. Taking advantage of an invitation to visit Cornwall for Easter of 1980, which coincided with John and Marjorie Jackett returning home to UK for Johns` last 12 months service, 33 successive Easter visits followed. Firstly with Maureen and Scott – Easter Sunday morning soccer on the beach alongside rock pool investigations, then a full-english became the norm. Later with Cath, they very much enjoyed several bracing Cornish Easters, comparing that to the sunshine of Greece or Turkey, with German Christmas markets thrown into their leisure pot. Finally releasing the motorcycle era for the comfort of family cars, lately upgrading to a people carrier, Centre Parcs was an enjoyed family occasion in UK.
It was in company with John that several army reunions were to be enjoyed, firstly with the LAM at Mill Hill and then with the formation of the REA Postal branch, at various venues, through until Newcastle in 2011. In June of 2009 they revisited old haunts in Dusseldorf and Rheindahlen, greatly changed on the military side, from 35/40 years previously.
It was in Droitwich in April 1995 that he married Catherine Wilson, taking on board her sons Lee, Simon and Adam. Scott married Jane in 2003, adding two grandsons, before they moved away to Australia. In October 2009 Jack and Cath visited Jane and the boys.
Taking early retirement aged 60 in 2004, with job cuts looming, daily walkies with Harry occupied him for a year as he took stock, Family History became a hobby, leading to unseen family photos from Australian cousins and beyond.
Jack joined the nearby Worcester probation service in Dec 2005, as a team leader and supported the efforts of BBC gardener Monty Don with providing placements for young offenders, as shown on BBC 2.
Thank you to John Jackett May 2012
Ssgt Arthur Grundy
THE EMPTY CHAIR
Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I am afraid I cannot be there,
Explain to all those present about the empty chair.
Talk to them about good memories to share,
Tell them all of the good days that seems only fair.
Look to the folks from the rank and file that saw,
The meaning of friendship and true Espirit-de-Corps.
Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I just cannot make it today,
But drink to me at the bar folks and to the times of another day.
Hold your pen Mr Secretary, let us set the minutes straight.
Mark that Artisan present, though delayed and sadly late.
Look to the empty chair folks and know the reason why,
We formed an Association that those should never die.
Yes drink at the bar tonight folks, but let this be your toast:
“Those happier memories are the ones we may treasure most.
Through times we spent apart, the distance did not matter,
The member we now honour was truly a “Top Hatter”.
Names may be carved on stone in a different faraway field,
They stand to show a spirit that did not ever yield.
Should we mark him absent? Do so if we dare,
Before you pen that entry, look well to the empty chair.
Gone maybe, but never to be forgotten – Rest in Peace Arthur.
Thank you to Lou Lister (Sept 2010)
Major George LE Hale JP 1927-2013
George Hale, who died on 26th April 2013, joined the Royal Engineers in 1945 as a sapper and progressed through the ranks over the next 22 years to retire in the rank of Major, having served most of his time (if not all) in the postal division of the Corps.
He saw service in the Middle East, France (SHAPE) and Germany and also in the Christmas Islands. I met him at SHAPE in 1951 when he was sent over to set up the postal services for the British Forces there. I was serving on the staff of the British Element and got to know him well over the following 2-3 years and later became his brother-in-law which drew us closer still.
George often reminisced of his service days at Mill Hill and other places and to the end was an avid reader of the ‘Cleft Stick’ magazine which I would regularly see at his home
Following his retirement from the Service in 1967, he joined Barclays Bank in London and worked there for the next 20 years until taking his final retirement from employment in 1987.
During this time he became a Justice of the Peace, serving as a Magistrate in the London area, where, I believe, he remained a firm disciplinarian and would not tolerate any nonsense. He was also an active member of the Freemasons and eventually celebrated his Grandmastership which my wife and I attended with much pleasure and interest. He also supported other organisations and was a keen supporter of the local Harrow Football Club.
It follows that sport was a great interest of his, he was quite a skilled bowler on the cricket field, he was also very good on the dart board which no doubt earned him many a free pint in the local. Fishing was also a great passion of his at which he spent many happy, relaxing hours by the river or on the lake of a local dam in West Wales, where he eventually retired to in 1989 with his wife Inez, who was of Welsh descent. Sadly she passed away in 2007.
George was also a quiet family man, with a son David who has had a long career in the Civil Service, initially with the Charity Commission and latterly in the Cabinet Office, about which George felt very proud and often spoke to me about it. His grandson Gwilym has embarked on university studies, currently preparing for his graduation from the University of Hull, before going on to do his Masters at Imperial College London, again a great source of pride.
Unfortunately George suffered from dementia over the past few years and the development of his illness gradually rendered meaningful conversation difficult, to the point where he could no longer take care of himself. He entered a Nursing Home in his native Gloucestershire in January and died there peacefully on 26th April 2013.
Thank you to Alfred Borrett, WO1 RASC via Doug Swanson (July 2013)
Colonel Peter and Margaret Wescott represented the Officers’ Association at George’s Memorial Service. Peter and I have similar memories of George from 1962 when he showed a warm and friendly attitude to we new officers and was ever sympathetic to our lack of knowledge. A kindly, helpful and caring officer, who earned the respect and gratitude of we new boys.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (July 2013)
Colonel Mike Hawley TD 1935-2013
Mike was born in Aldershot where his father was a serving Officer. His father was taken prisoner during the war and Mike did not see him until he was 9 years old. During that time he lived with his mother in Nottingham. When Mike was 11 he gained scholarship to Thomas Hardye Grammar School in Dorchester. He remained there until reaching the age of 18 when he was called up for National Service with the RAOC and posted to Donnington – where he met Ruth in the Garrison Church of Holy Trinity in 1956. On the 9th September 1961 they were married at St Giles Garrison Church Shrewsbury.In his ealy working life Dick lived in Llay and joined the Post Office working all over the UK in the Post Office Investigation Department – the POID. As he used to tell foldks “Older than Pinkertons – and even more successful”.
On a three year Industrial Exchange with the Regular Army he commanded the Courier Wing of The Postal & courier Depot RE. In this job he travelled the world experiencing many interesting events as he carried Diplomatic mails to strange and unusual places including china, Washington DC and The Falkland Islands. He was the courier on the last direct transport plane to The Falklands which had to refuel in mid air. He also commanded the TA Contingent in the parade when the Royal Engineers were granted the Freedom of The London Borough of Barnet in 1982.
In 1992 Mike was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. He was advised that he could have about 19 years of reasonably active life. He found out all he could about the disease and eventually became a Trustee of the National Motor Neurone Disease Association and spent two four year spells as a Trustee followed by a further two years. Mike threw himself into the task and was instrumental in reorganising the various groups throughout the country and put the National finances on a sound footing. The Post Office gave him use of an office at Southend for 6 months for his work with MND.
Mike Hawley was one of the quiet men of our service who, task oriented by nature, could be relied upon to complete a job well. A tidy, courteous, conscientious man, he was slim, dark and neat in appearance. When I left the Army in 1963 and joined the GPO as an APC2 in the Wales & Border Counties Region, I inherited his desk and Postal Branch Directives, a formidable document written by our equally formidable Controller, Frank Guenier, a former Lt Col in our service. He issued amendments and supplements to this document regularly and it was the Travelling staff bible, in essence a guide of how to plan, inspect and improve a postal service. These, however, came out in such profusion that some wag (was it Lance Noble?) nicknames him Grank “Gestetner” after the photocopier company of that name.
Anyway, a junior APC had to keep his Directives current and Mike’s were immaculate. In three colours, red, blue and green, he faithfully recorded date of issue, amendment and action taken. Each new APC had to spend a week travelling with the Controller. Frank Guenier inquired of me whether my Directives were up to date and I assured him they were. He asked whose they had been and when I told him they had been Mike’s, he stared at me and said he expected me to keep them to that high standard. I hastily assured him I would try and do so. He, with unexpected humour, observed that if I do so I wouldn’t have much time for anything else.
Mike was an APC2 in both Wales and POHQ, later and AHPmr in Chelmsford under Jon Mottershaw (a Major with us) and eventually HPmr Southend for a short time, before taking early retirement and being seconded to the RE (PCC). In recognition of his long, loyal and efficient service he was raised to brevet rank as a Colonel, only the fourth and last in our post war era to achieve that distinction after Freddie Ash, Ken Thomas and Dennis Whittal.
A final tale about Mike: when we met at Mess Dinners, I would show him the dreadful effect of Coca Cola, his regular tipple, by dropping a penny piece in his glass. Despite this evidence ad my repeated warnings about its long term impact, he stuck resolutely to his cokes and never touched alcohol – even toasting Her Majesty at dinners with water! I have never drunk coke.
Thank you to Doug Swanson & Col John Mackay (July 2013)
Major Graham Hillier BEM 5 May 1923 – 18 March 2015
Graham Hillier was an immensely proud man. Proud of his military record and proud of his Welsh heritage. And he had every right to be so. On D-Day he landed on Gold Beach as the battle for Normandy opened. He later fought in the second battle for Arnhem and ended the war in Germany where he remained until 1948. The South Wales Borderers (24th Regiment of Foot) was full of loyal and hard Welshmen and none more so than the Second Battalion where Graham served.
After transferring to The Royal Engineers Postal Service Graham returned to Germany and served with 8 Command Postal Depot RE based in the Pogenpol factory in Herford where he earned the BEM. In 1950 he married Charlotte who he met in Germany and was to be his life long companion and partner.
In 1962 he was commissioned in the Postal Service and so began his career as an officer in the service. He had a predeliction for serving in Germany especially in Hannover and Herford, but also commanded units in Malta, Cyprus, Hong Kong, Rheindahlen and Iserlohn with a spell at Mill Hill. He was especially pleased to command 4 Guards Brigade Postal Unit RE where he set down his marker as our very smartest officer in uniform or civilian clothes where he was easily matched by the ever impecably dressed and splendidly coiffered Charlotte. And always trailing behind them was a little mobile ball of fluff – their one, of four, small white fluffy dogs. One was actually called Fluffy and one should know the latest was called Douglas (or Duggie as Charlotte would say).
In the 1960s several of us commanded Brigade Postal Units in Germany as part of 1st British Corps and had a significant feeling of pride in our roles within our own Brigade. Mostly we were in Infantry or Armoured Brigades with only one Guards Brigade leading to a feeling of superiority for Graham. He was a true and reliable cohort as we tried to cope with our Postal leader in Corps Headquarters whose bureaucratic efforts to control us were frustrated by not being in command of us all. They were happy times full of sound and reliable comradeship.
In those days we gathered frequently during the year for weekend sporting events or conferences and dinners. These gathering gave Graham and Charlotte the chance to show their elegant civilian clothes. They were ever magnificent and generous hosts – their home as immaculate as they were. It was always a pleasure to be in their company and with Graham at work in barracks or on field exercises. Yes, he maintained his standard of turnout in the field and living a bit rough.
In retirement they moved to an apartment in Berlin and Graham found employment in the British Embassy there, finally retiring in 1989. There they became part of the British group of expats whilst enjoying the sophisticated German life style that was Charlottes birthright. Graham stayed in touch with the military through his golf and reunions back in London. It was always good to see them.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Dec 2016)
Colonel Joe Holmes (1918-2001)
Colonel Joe Holmes, a Cumbrian who joined the Post Office on leaving school aged 14 and saw war service as a soldier and officer in the Royal Army Service Corps before returning to his peacetime job at Penrith Post Office. In the meantime he served in England, France, Belgium, Germany and North Africa and was one of the few survivors when his ship – HMS Strathallen – was sunk on route to North Africa. His early hobby of fell climbing surely ingrained in him that toughness and sense of fairness that pervaded all he did and which many were lucky enough to experience. There was no better supporter of a fair and just cause or case.
Joseph William Holmes was born on 5 February 1918 and at the age of 14 he started his postal career as a telegram boy at the Post Office in Penrith. He progressed via Postal and Telegraph Officer to Overseer (Manager) and in April 1940, despite being in a reserved occupation, he joined the Army in the RASC and served with Motor Transport Units and Petroleum Depots. He made rapid progress through the ranks becoming a CQMS in December 1942. It was on his way to take up his CQMS appointment in North Africa that his ship was torpedoed and sunk in the Mediterranean by an U boat on 12 December 1942. In 1943 Joe was selected to attend OCTU and was commissioned in the RASC on 14 February 1944. On discharge in 1946 he returned to his Post Office job in Penrith.
In October 1950 Joe rejoined the Army as a Short Service Officer in the Royal Engineers Postal Service. It was whilst serving in the HQ BAOR Directorate in July 1954 that he met Hedi who worked in Engineer Branch there. The HQ in those days was in Bad Oeynhausen. They moved with the HQ to the purpose build town and Headquarters building in Rheindahlen in February 1955. The romance flourished and Joe and Hedi were married on 8 November 1957 at Chelsea Registry Office. Their best man was Col “Tubby” Reading and their wedding breakfast was held in our Officers Mess in Cadogan Gardens with the lunch at Simpson’s in The Strand.
Many will have fond memories of socialising with Joe. In Rheindahlen he enjoyed the magnificent Officers Club or the Im Fuch’s Bau – for mouth watering grilled chicken – or presiding over a table of his officers in Onkle Gustav’s where he especially enjoyed a dish of muscles accompanied by the tasty German Pils followed by a Paddy whiskey or two. He was ever the excellent host who was also our boss and chief supporter. Being in his company was inevitably a great pleasure. Joe always told you how it was with no frills nor half-truths. He was an officer of some style accompanied by his attractive and ever smart Hedi. He liked to travel in comfort so was to be seen at the wheel of one of his fine cars such as his Daimler or the Jaguar.
Joe was one of the group who endured many years of uncertainty serving on a short service commission, giving their all to the service, but getting no security of tenure nor pension rights in return. On 6 April 1960 his loyalty and value were recognised and he was granted a Regular Commission. His service in the Royal Engineers Postal Service took him to London, Germany, Aden, Egypt and Tripoli. In 1970 he was appointed the first Colonel Commandant at Mill Hill. After this he was Deputy Director in HQ BAOR. His final posting was as Deputy Director in the MoD before retiring in February 1978.
In retirement Joe and Hedi lived in Ilkley and enjoyed nothing better than to lunch in one of Yorkshire’s fine pubs either together or with a group of friends. Joe spent many years in less than the best of health – he had a kidney removed in 1967 and open-heart surgery in 1984 – but neither did he ever grumble nor leave a party early – he certainly had stamina and courage. He enjoyed the horses and most other sports and in his latter years, when he lost his sight, he valued his music – playing his broad selection of CDs. Even when he was blind and restricted in what he could do he never complained – just told you how it was and focused on the good things he could still do. He died suddenly and unexpectedly on 5 March 2001, aged 83. Joe is survived by Hedi and their three sons Michael, Jeffrey and John
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Mar 2002)
L/Cpl Sarah Holmes
Lance Corporal Sarah Holmes was from 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment and was serving on Operation TELIC attached to 3 Logistic Support Regiment. She was working at the Al Udeid airfield when the car in which she was a passenger was involved in a collision with a truck, she was taken by ambulance to hospital and from there back to the UK . Unfortunately Sarah died in the UK on October 14th, from injuries that she sustained in a road traffic accident in Al Udeid, Qatar, on 3 October 2007. Her next of kin were at her bedside. Sarah was from Wantage, Oxfordshire and joined the Army in 1997. She had previously served in Northern Ireland, Iraq, Former Republic of Yugoslavia, Kenya, and Poland.
Lieutenant Colonel Iain McKend Royal Logistic Corps, Commanding Officer of 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment RLC, said: “Just days prior to the end of her operational tour Lance Corporal Sarah Holmes was involved in a serious road traffic accident whilst delivering mail in Doha, Qatar. Normally based in South Cerney, Gloucestershire, she deployed as part of 80 Postal and Courier Squadron RLC to join the Op TELIC 10 UK Logistic Battalion. “I got to know Lance Corporal Holmes well over a number of days in July as she moved down from the airport in Basra, Southern Iraq, to take up her role running the Forces Postal Service in Al Udeid, Qatar, at the mid-point of her Op TELIC tour. An absolute perfectionist, she was very much looking forward to the responsibilities and variety of this element of her operational tour. “An extremely diligent and capable Junior Non Commissioned Officer – as well as a modest but enthusiastic student of English literature she felt at home in the Army and was a popular member of the Postal and Courier community, both in 29 Postal Courier and Movement Regiment RLC and beyond. Entirely professional, this warm-hearted and sensitive young soldier was utterly dedicated to ensuring troops’ mail was delivered as rapidly and effectively as possible in Iraq and Qatar over the last six months just as she had done in previous operational tours in Bosnia, Northern Ireland, Kuwait and Germany earlier in her career. “Her down-to-earth, helpful and friendly presence will be sorely missed in South Cerney as much as by her loving family to whom the sympathies of the entire Regiment are extended at this time.” Justin Henderson, 80 Postal and Courier Squadron, 29 Postal Courier & Movement Regiment RLC : “A dedicated soldier and always trying to better herself, she had a heart of gold and she was great to work with. Above all she was a fantastic friend and I will miss her greatly.”
Thank you to John Jacket (Dec 2016)
Lt Col Howard Hughes (1955-2002)
Howard Hughes , an Ulsterman, raconteur, musician and author was a man who lightened the world and as he would say, was never short of “good crack”. He joined Postal from the Royal Army Education Corps in the early 1980’s. He served in BAOR, Northern Ireland, Hong Kong, the Directorate, The Gulf War and lastly as CO BFPO London. While in the Directorate as the Staff Captain he did much to organise the interviewing of WW2 Postal veterans for the writing of Mailshot the official history of the Service. It was during that time he also became very friendly with the late Terence Cuneo, the artist and arranged for Terence to execute the painting of Post Call – Guards Armoured Division 1944. In a booklet called The Cuneo Connection he wrote of the occasion; “In 1986 I took him [Cuneo] down to Bovington in Dorest to visit the Tank Museum in order to make sketches for the Forces Postal Service’s last commision. This was to show the RE PS in support of the Guards Armoured Division during the advance though the Low Countries in 1944 and Cuneo needed to make working drawings of the vehicles used at the time. He worked hard all that morning but at lunch time I managed to prise him away for a bite to eat. Knowing the area well I decided to take him to the ‘Frampton Arms’, a charming little pub situated beside a railway crossing and which I knew housed dozens of prints of Cuneo’s train paintings. It was a roguish thing to do but I refrained from telling him that his fame had preceded him to this sleepy little corner of rural Dorset. His reaction on seeing them, I guessed, would be worth witnessing. On entering the pub he looked around with interest, his eyes sweeping the walls of pictures. ‘Aren’t they wonderful?’ he said with feeling and then suddenly the penny dropped – ‘My God’, he cried, ‘they’re all mine!’ Needless to say the landlord, a life long Cuneo fan, was quite delighted!” – a story that is so typical of Howard and a small example of his glorious sense of fun.
Early this year (2002) he published his first book, On Laughter-Silvered Wings, a biography of his friend Captain Paddy Kirkwood, a wartime RAF pilot. Just before he passed away he had completed his history of the Gulf War (1990) PCS operations and was raising money to get it published.
His generosity as a person, which he extended to both the Service and his friends, was well illustrated by his involvement in raising money for the Army Benevolent Fund and the starting of the annual Cuneo Memorial Dinner at Mill Hill as a money raising vehicle for that purpose. In June 2001 he was instrumental in organising the national tour of the Queen’s Philatelic Collection as part of the Jubilee celebrations. The display also contained a set of philatelic covers given to the Queen, by the Service, on the occasion of our Centenary in 1982.
Howard Hughes died of a brain haemorrhage on Wednesday 20 November 2002. He was taken ill on Tuesday night and passed away on Wednesday morning (20 Nov). He leaves his wife Angie and their three children, Alex, Rory and Edward. He was much like by all ranks and as some of the tributes on the Postal websites said: “he was a kind and gentle man who touched and influenced the lives of all who knew him and will be greatly missed by all of us who were privileged to know him”.
Read Howard’s recollections of 9/11
Thank you to Simon Fenwick (Dec 2002)
Brigadier Rolph James CBE
Forces Mail & Courier Chief who helped develop hundreds of talented rugby players
It was 50 years ago that Rolph met Charles Burton, the Fleet Street Sports Journalist and founder of Public School Wanderers Rugby Club. A club that started in wartime to give servicemen, on leave, a game of rugby. Under Rolph’s guidance and Presidency the club has become one of those recognised around the world for producing invitation fifteen and seven a side teams to take on the best. The ethos being to team up young potential with well known players and to play open, running, entertaining rugby in the true spirit of the game. Hundreds of well-known players around the world will mourn his passing and recall great games played in amazing spirit. Rolph regularly selected the Major Stanley XVs to play Oxford University before the Varsity match.
Born in Fishguard on Christmas Day in 1930, Rolph Noel Richmond Perry James was educated at the local grammar School before joining the Telephone Manager’s Office. He played rugby at school and later for Swansea. He joined the Territorial Army in the Royal Signals and was in charge of the Swansea Detachment of 53 (Welsh) Division Signal Regiment. In 1960 he transferred to the Regular Army joining the Royal Engineers Postal Service and moving to London. This was panacea for Rolph as he could now focus on his new task whilst playing rugby for US Chatham and the Royal Engineers and keep the Wednesday matches of Public School Wanderers ticking along. He had married Cathleen Dollard from Carmarthen in 1954 and with their two daughters, Deborah and Rachel, set up home in Whetstone.
In a very short time this gregarious and generous officer was the Captain in charge of the British Forces Post Office Sorting Depot at Mill Hill where Army and Royal Air Force mails for overseas were handled. In 1962 the processing of Royal Navy mails for ships at sea and overseas bases was transferred from the Civil Post Office to Mill Hill. This integration of new destinations and the task of tracking all Naval vessels were handled impeccably thanks to Rolph’s exacting standards and excellent management.
Although he became Director of the Defence Postal & Courier Service, his happiest Army days were as Commandant (Colonel) and Commander TA at the Postal & Courier Depot at Mill Hill. Appointed in 1979 he had command of the real estate at Inglis Barracks. If ever a barracks was well used and shared with local charities, then his was better. Each week some well-connected or well-placed visitor would arrive to see the operation and to enjoy a meal in the Officers’ Mess. Rolph knew he would be in Command for the 1982 Centenary of the Service and he set about planning the event and assembling his team to deliver a memorable year for his unit and the community. His edict for the year was to win the Army Cross Country, the Army Athletics, get the Freedom of the London Borough of Barnet for the Royal Engineers and, to top these challenges, to make certain that our Colonel in Chief (Her Majesty the Queen) would spend a wonderful day at the barracks. Sure enough it all happened as planned, with just one extra test for him. The Falklands War! This meant huge extra amounts of post to be sorted and despatched to the South Atlantic for the Task Force. Every edict was delivered, the service worked impeccably, and all involved experienced a truly memorable year.
RNRP was a character of huge strength, never to be defeated, always ready to help, never afraid to ask for help, ever encouraging, always challenging and ever with time for his family and his subordinates. His energy and enthusiasm for the TA saw him encourage many young Post Office executives to join the TA to broaden their characters, to expand their leadership ability and to make lasting friendships with like-minded folks. Thanks to this the TA Postal & Courier Group leadership eventually matched the Royal Mail structure with the Managing Director, the Colonel, and the Commanding Officers of the four Regiments senior managers or directors and so on. The advantages and benefits were enormous and it was frequently quoted as the perfect model of a business supporting the TA.
His military career followed a normal path, except that every promotion saw him grasp at new ideas and opportunities. His irrepressible energy, charisma, organising ability and passion for life saw him expand his influence as well as his many friendships. He served with 19 Brigade and deployed to support the British Force in Zambia, Tanzania and the Congo following UDI in Rhodesia. He left Zambia in 1966 on promotion to major for Middle East Headquarters in Aden where he also organised the airdrops of mail to the ships on the Beira Patrol. A tour back in the MOD, lasting almost 5 years, and he moved SHAPE. Two years later he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel as Controller NATO Courier Services.
With a burgeoning reputation as a commanding personality and an organiser he was given the task of establishing the new Postal & Courier Regiment in 1st British Corps in West Germany. He cleverly chose Hannover as his Headquarters and deployed his innovation skills, his entrepreneurial ability and involved a few chums. No one has ever set up a Regiment that not only ticked all the military, support and ethical demands, but did so at a profit! He saw the Queen’s Silver Jubilee approach and identified a gap in a social need in the 30 plus garrisons of the Corps where he introduced a weekly lottery through his Forces Post Offices with the profits going to the Corps Commander’s Fund and the Regiment’s Fund. For the Royal Event he called in the help of the famous artist Terrence Cuneo, himself a one time Royal Engineer. The “Price of Freedom” painting was the product. Sergeant Thomson of the Scots Guards surrounded by the vehicles, armour and equipment of the Corps on a 5’ x 4’ canvas. Prints were sold and a philatelic souvenir cover produced. The significant profit paid for the painting and contributed to military charities. Before he left Hannover he entered a Partnership Pact with the local German Army Nachschubattalion1 – the first of its kind and a magnificent parade on a freezing March Sunday in Hannover.
Back to Mill Hill in 1978 as deputy before taking Command in 1979. His first project with Terrence Cuneo was repeated several times and the Service now owns the largest private collection of Cuneo paintings in the world, some commercial and, all depicting the history of the Postal & Courier Service. In August 1983 he was appointed Director Defence Postal & Courier Service and retired from the Army in 1986. His network of friends and allies now stretched across all three Services and throughout the rugby world. When the Service came under threat during his watch the Quartermaster General, of the day, had to admit that Rolph had more friends in high places in the MoD than he did himself!
Rolph was as Welsh as Welsh could be and an immensely proud person – proud of his family, his Nationality and his Service. His Grandfather, Daniel James, had been the National Bard who wrote the words to Calon Lan (Pure heart) that is sung before every Welsh National rugby match. So, it was also natural that he would take an interest in the Welsh Societies in London. In his time he was President of the London Pembrokeshire Society, Chairman and Founder of Welsh Exiles (Rugby), Chairman of London Welsh Rugby Football Club and Chairman of Trustees of the Welsh School in London. In later life he was a Committee Member of the Welsh Rugby Union.
In retirement he worked for the Post Office as head of Security and Contingency Planning and became the Postal & Courier member on the NATO Communications Committee. After this he was Chair of De Horsey Champagne Co Ltd, Chair of Brecon Associates and President of SSAFA Middlesex.
Appointed a Freeman of the City of London in 1984 and Livery in the Worshipful Company of Barber-Surgeons, he was awarded the CBE in 1985. He was Colonel Commandant of the Corps of Royal Engineers from 1986-1991. He also served as County President of the Aden Veterans for Gloucestershire and was President of the Worcestershire British Legion and the Area Poppy Organiser, where income increased significantly under his stewardship.
He died on 13 June 2010 and is survived by his wife and two daughters.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (June 2010)
WO2 Alan Johnson
Alan who sadly passed away on 7th February 2010, is fondly remembered along with his good lady Dot, by George andd Monica Madgin. They had a long friendship over many years, both throughout their Service days and latterly in civilian life. The members of the REA PCS pass on their most sincere condolences, to his daughter Kaz & family sadly bereaved.
Thank you to Lou Lister (June 2011)
Ssgt Maggie Johnson (1951-2002)
One that touched many and above all else a life that was, by any measure, well lived.
Although seriously ill with breast cancer in 1997; her determination and commitment for others was undiminished and was aptly demonstrated by her range of charity work, including a special event at her home for Breast cancer: This is in addition to working for her local community choir, performing at parties, weddings and the BBC’s live “perfect day” in support of other charities. Her energy, zeal and enthusiasm were a true example to all around her, and she was without doubt one of life’s extraordinary people.
Maggie joined the TA in 1984, and she was in the first female intake to PCS specialist TA. She became a PCS Branch member in 1998.
Thank you to Post Notes and Lt Col Phillip Whittaker (V).
Captain Joe Kelly 25 Apr 1940 5 Aug 2014
Joe was adopted in Ireland at the age of three by parents William and Josephine (whom he adored) and came over to this country at the age of nine. He received a good grammar school education before joining the post office at the age of 16 and the army at the age of 24. He served with the Royal Engineers for 21 years. He never spoke about Ireland in either critical or sentimental fashion – rather choosing to focus on what Britain, England and later Northampton (where he lived for almost 30 happy years) had given him. He specifically asked for a Union Jack to be draped over his coffin because he was always vocally grateful for the opportunities given to him this side of the water.
He was an innately decent individual, hard working, polite, intelligent, well read and above all honest. He was happy to give over 35 year’s service to the country with the Army, the Territorial Army and later the Ministry of Defence. It should also be noted that he was no saint. Whilst he mellowed considerably in later years, he was a hard drinking, garrulous individual who was at his happiest in the Sergeants Mess or the pub. Typically he would be seen with a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other, and playing cards or dominoes in front of him. A hard working and dutiful parent his family never wanted for anything. People admired and respected him, but above all enjoyed his company. People genuinely liked him and he was universally popular, always happy socialising both with higher echelons of society and absolute rogues.
Joe could be described as a man of impeccable military rectitude, admired and respected by all – with no detractors. During his career he had three significant opportunities to influence the careers of others. The first was as an instructor at the All Arms Junior Leaders’ Regiment, Troon, next as a Permanent Staff Instructor at our Central Volunteer HQ and finally as Regimental Sergeant Major of 1 Postal & Courier Regiment RE in Hannover. Not many soldiers are selected to train Juniors and even fewer become an RSM. Joe helped, advised and guided many young men, new Officers and many Soldiers and Officers in 1 Regiment. Many owed their military and behavioral successes to Joe’s kindly, direct and fatherly advice. Although later commissioned in the TA Joe would surely claim his best appointment was as RSM of 1 Regiment – The Senior Soldier in The Regiment. He was truly an icon in our Postal & Courier world and his name is there writ in large in our history.
A man of huge presence, just lacking slightly in the elevation stakes. A strong character, strong willed with great determination – dominating his mess members, although the shortest man in the room. But ever the kindly and well meant advice and always a glint of fun in his eye. In behaviour he was irreproachable and a splendid example to his subordinates and our officers alike – a brilliant role model. All of us who served with him were mighty happy to do so and justly proud of Joe.
He met and courted Ann in that celebrated North London romance venue – the Mill Hill NAAFI. There followed 44 years of happy marriage and two fine sons, John and Liam. Together with daughters in law they were happy to care for Joe in his final months with a bottle of Scotland’s finest, a glass, a packet of cigarettes and an ashtray beside his bed. Ever true to himself and his family. . The music at the funeral was surely typical of Joe with “Little Old Wine Drinker Me” by Dean Martin and “ Have a Drink On Me” by Lonnie Donegan. Yes, a final smile for all, even after he had passed away.
Thanks to Liam Kelly & Doug Swanson (October 2014)
Captain George Kehoe 14 Feb 1946 – 17 Nov 2015
George Kehoe was a well-known and respected member of the service whose strength of character and great sense of fun endeared him to all who knew him – friends, family and colleagues alike. At work George was highly professional and had a positive ‘can do’ attitude’. Another of George’s hallmarks was his pride in being smartly dressed and he was always well turned out, whether wearing uniform or otherwise. George made the most of what life had to offer and left this world aged just 69 on 17th November 2015. He suffered a severe heart attack and died very soon afterwards. It was a huge shock to wife Dorothy and daughter Sam to lose George so unexpectedly and so quickly. Our deepest sympathies were conveyed to them both and the Corps was well-represented at George’s funeral, which took place at Perth Crematorium on 27th November 2015.
George was born in Kirkcaldy, Fife on St Valentine’s Day 1946. Shortly after his birth the Kehoe family moved to Perth where his parents John and Mary had another son, John junior, who though now deceased lived a happy and fulfilled life in Canada. On leaving school George trained in engineering, but seeking adventure and desiring more from life he joined the Army. Following Basic and Combat Engineer training at Southwood Camp in Cove, Farnborough, he joined the Postal and Courier trade and was posted to Mill Hill. It was here he met the girl who would become his wife of 43 years, Dorothy Gaut, then serving with the Women’s Royal Army Corps.
George and Dorothy were married in Edgware, London on 2nd December 1972 and there began the joint adventure of Forces’ life. George was posted to Medicine Hat in Canada, which enabled him to visit his brother John. On completion of his posting in Canada, George was sent to Germany, where he completed three tours of duty at different locations with BAOR. He then returned to Mill Hill for a time, which was followed by a tour in Episkopi, Cyprus. George and Dorothy were next posted back to Germany before returning home to the UK as RSM 2 PC Regt RE in South Cerney, having successfully attended No23 RSM’s Course at Chatham (with two other Posties – Stuart Cambridge and Lou Lister).
George was then commissioned and posted to Northern Ireland as Second-in-Command 22 PC Sqn RE where he and Dorothy lived in MQs in Aldergrove, whilst their daughter Sam trained for her nursing career on the mainland. George also completed several unaccompanied tours during his career, including Northern Ireland at the height of the troubles and the Falkland Islands during the mine-clearance and rebuilding phase.
On leaving the Army in 2000, George trained in the financial sector and in recent years he supported Sam in the establishment of her nursing agency. He had dabbled in other work after retiring from the Royal Engineers, but it was in working with his daughter he was so happy. He did all the paperwork and administration, which allowed Sam to focus on the nursing side.
George was a competent and experienced sailor and enjoyed spending time afloat in many places, including the Baltic, where he inspired daughter Sam to come on board and share his passion for the sea. George always kept himself fit and loved hillwalking; well into retirement he was still active with the Abernethy and Perth rambling groups.
George’s distinguished conduct and career saw him rise through the ranks from sapper to captain and no matter what company he was in – from rags to royalty – Captain George Kehoe was respectful, dignified and a true gentleman. He disliked profane language and would not hesitate in bringing to book those who used it, especially in the company of ladies. George will be remembered as a man of great integrity, charm, humour and humility. He was someone with high personal standards who was always willing to help and mentor others. He has left a gap in many lives and will be sorely missed by all who loved and knew him.
Thanks to Graham Meacher, George’s wife Dorothy and daughter Sam (Dec 2015)
WO2 Harry Kirk
Harry joined the Postal & Courier Service on 10th May 1949 and served until 10th November 1971. Sadly he passed away on 27th February 2008 and his funeral was held in Hull on the 6th March 2008. It was well attended by all his family, friends, ex WRAC, ex RE comrades and standard bearers from the area. Harry served in Korea, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Tripoli, Bahrain, Germany and UK.
He was well known as a kind generous gentleman and is sadly missed by all, especially his loving wife Mavis and his family which he thought the world of.
Thank you to Margaret Grant on behalf of Mrs Mavis Kirk (Dec 2009)
WO1 Richard (Dick) Legg 26 Mar 1947-5 June 2015
Many people have known Richard as Dick or Dickie throughout his army career but I have always known him as Richard, but he is the one and the same person however we knew him.
Richard was born in Streatham south London on 26th March 1947. He joined the army on 7th June 1968 and after his basic training he went to Mill Hill to commence his trade training as a Postal and courier Operator. In 1969 he was posted to the Persian Gulf serving in both Bahrain and Sharjah. He then went onto 104 where he served alongside the late Ivor Siddall and the late Reg Foulkes. While he was on 104 he took part in many exercises in Greece; Norway; Cyprus; Sardinia and Italy. After 104 he was posted to Dortmund in 1974, and gained promotion to Cpl. He then moved to Lubbecke in 1976 as the sqn Chief clerk.
In 1977 Richard was posted to MOD London where he was working for Director PCS as driver/clk. When he was promoted to Sgt in 1979 when he was posted to Goose Bay for a year. I have heard Richard tell many tales about Goose Bay and hitching a ride home in a Hercules with the RAF just to go home for a weekend!!
After Goose Bay he went to 3PC Regt in Dusseldorf in 1980 where he had varied duties from working in the sorting office and ending up working with the Chief Clerk Bob Meen as his Docs Clerk in the orderly room. It was here in Dusseldorf that Richard and I met and he would “watch” (or letch as he would say) me playing hockey from his room. We married in 1982.
In Jan 1983 Richard was promoted to SSGT and posted to Iserlohn and served under Eddie Lyons. Richard also went out on several exercises whilst at Iserlohn and often came home a little smelly and also brought some of the “boys” home for a freshen up.
From Iserlohn he was posted back to UK to Mill Hill and was WOII on SO4 and then posted to Lisburn NI where he again served with Ivor Siddall and Chris Connaughton. After NI he went onto SHAPE as WOI and then finally back to Mill Hill in charge of the Training wing. It was from here that Richard was discharged in December 1990 and he started his second career in the Civil Service. He worked at the Passport Office for 20 years when he retired due to ill health after a heart attack in 2010. He made a good recovery and was a house husband for 5 years until ill health struck again, this time with lung cancer. He underwent treatment and was doing very well but unfortunately he passed away very suddenly on 5th June 2015.
Richard lived a full eventful life and will be deeply missed by myself and many others.
Thanks to Jean Legg (May 2016)
Captain Darrel Lloyd
Darrel died on 13 November 2009, aged 82, after a long fight with cancer of the esophagus. The news of his demise came to us via that wonderful route of old comrades phoning and writing to other old comrades until someone thought it should be mentioned in these pages. This would have delighted Darrel because he loved people and was a hugely popular member of the Postal & Courier Service in the 1950’s – 1970’s.
He joined us at the Depot in Knightsbridge in 1951 after service with the RAF. He was posted overseas almost immediately to Korea where he quickly gained some very useful military experience as well as rapidly improving his ability in his new trade. Perhaps as a thank you for this he was given a three year tour in Naples next. As ever in those days he returned to the Depot and served as WOi/c the Sorting Office, WOi/c Postal Inquiry Branch, worked in the Accounts Branch and for a short spell was MTO. In Germany he was with 8 CPD RE. He even did a short spell in mid 1968 as OC 16 Parachute Brigade Postal Unit covering the gap whilst John Francis took P Company and completed his parachute training.
Darrel had progressed steadily through the ranks and despite a very slight speech impediment he was a wonderful communicator and an amusing story teller. But most folks will remember him with a giant warm and friendly smile on his face and either a glass of beer in one hand and his metal stemmed pipe in the other whilst he sand in the Sergeants’ or Officers’ mess barsm, or at other times sitting at the piano leading the entertainment in whichever mess he as a member. A terrific chap to have in your company for a truly jolly evening.
When he left the Service Darrel was a successful insurance agent and moved to Haverfordwest in Wales, where he died. His funeral was attended by his son, daughter and grandchildren along with members of the Korean War Veterans Association plus (Ex-WO1) Gordon and Jull Pulley
Thank you to Don Bramley and Doug Swanson for sending it to the Website (Dec 2012)
Major Norman Lockwood 1 May 1932-26 October 2014
Norman was born in Nottingham and spent his early days there before moving to the Isle of Wight in 1939. He was called up for National Service in 1950 and joined the Royal Engineers Postal and Courier Service. This was the start of a 32 year career as a soldier and an officer in that trade whilst learning and imparting many skills and much knowledge to others.
By nature he was absolutely straight, with a clear view of what was right – and what was not! This had a huge influence on his career and his dealing with others. He was a most personable individual with exceptional military bearing, a penetrating stare and an easy to appear smile. In a trade where trust was essential Norman thrived and progressed through the ranks in good time. No one could laugh more easily than Norman, nor could create fun like him – even, or especially, when things were tough. A clear and articulate dpeaker he mixed well with all ranks and created an air of authority and confidence about himself. He instructed in his trade and on the drill square both for soldiers and new direct entry officers. Many remember his guidance with gratitude.
He was appointed as Regimental Sergeant Major (the senior soldier in the Service) at the Postal & Courier Depot under Col Jack Bridge, a wartime Typhoon pilot in the RAF. They made an outstanding pairing creating a most professional open and fair environment where the jobs were well done and the Services had a reliable and robust mail and courier service. All involved had their days filled with work, sport, training and plenty of good competitive fun and socialising.
Just after he was commissioned Norman (now a Lieutenant) was appointed gardens member on the Officers’ Mess Committee. He was working away on the garden one day when, in response to a comment “Changed days then?”, Norman replied “Yes four weeks ago I would have sent a couple of soldiers to do this, but now it is my job”. Good humour and pleased to be in his new environment.
He and Margaret were married in 1953 and were blessed with a son and a daughter, Alan & Carole. They travelled together to Norman’s various postings notably Cherry Tree Camp Colchester, Mill Hill, The Postal & Courier Directorate (where Norman was the clerk in Personal), Germany, British Guyana, SHAPE and Bulford. As a keen sailor Norman was more than delighted to take part in our 1982 Centenary sailing event on British Prince on the leg to Alexandria.
When Norman retired from the Army in 1982 he and Margaret moved to their favourite place – The Isle of Wight. This enabled Norman to sail to his hearts content and play bowls when on shore (a bit like Admiral Lord Nelson). He became Harbour Master in Bembridge, possibly the role he had been planning all his life. He also became President of the Isle of Wight Bowling club, so he was certainly well embedded in the community. His life was shattered in 2004 when Margaret died. He was fortunate to have a very close bond with his son Alan and his partner, Michelle. Norman lent heavily on their support, moved to a more appropriate dwelling on the Island and did his very best to get on with his life. He returned to his military past when we last saw him at The Royal Engineers Association (Postal & Courier Branch) reunion in Swindon
When Norman was diagnosed just a few months ago Alan and Michelle were again on hand to give him all their support. They crossed to the island many times from their home in Southampton. Norman was indeed fortunate to have unrelenting family help, affection and help. Just as those many folks in our Service and on The Isle of Wight were fortunate and glad to know Norman Lockwood.
A TRUE GENTLEMAN AND EXCEPTIONAL SOLDIER
Thanks to Doug Swanson & Eddie Lyons (Nov 2014)
WO2 Alf Manship
Alf passed away on the 1st Day of December 2001 after a long Illness. Jane, his wife writes…
Bravely born, he is at last at peace with our son and brother Sapper Alfie Manship who died whilst on duty with the Royal Engineers in Germany at the age of 20 yrs in 1992.
Alf Joined the Royal Engineers 1963, when the old Nissan Huts were still in play, we spent many a happy time at the Railroad Watering Hole. Alf served until 1987, giving a total of 25 years to the Postal and Courier Service, serving I may add, under both Col. Westcot, and Major Lockwood in Gibraltar and in Bulford, and Dusseldorf 3 PC Regt RE, he did his Medal Stint in Ireland, and after 22 years also obtained his LS&GC.
When Alf became Sergeant, in the year of 1969, he was the youngest sergeant in the Postal Service Global.
He had many friends and was a well respected soldier, and Major, was a friend of his also. The saddest part of it all, is Alf delivered Alf Junior, when I decided to deliver before the ambulance arrived, now the same child he delivered and who passed on before him, was I am sure there to greet his Dad, when he took his first breath on the other side.
He leaves a son PC1042 Kevin Alfred Manship, and daughter Kerrie-Dawn Manship.
Thank you to Jan Milligan (Mar 2002)
Major Bert Minchen
I met Bert whilst he was serving in the TA and on camp. He was already known to me as he had been Head Postmaster Darlington after my Father. He was surely one of the most cheerful and friendly people one could meet. An engaging man, with a sackful of amusing and entertaining tales from his long life in the Post Office, in the TA and in retirement. Bert was at the Grand Ball to say farewell to Mill Hill, complete with his family and still seeming tall and commanding, although seated in a wheelchair. Never short of something to say, but never saying anything that was not worth listening to, he had a grand evening back at the old barracks.
Lt Col Tony Lane writes of him:
Memories of Bert are of post war days in Midland Region Postal Branch; serving in the reserve of the Royal Engineers Postal Service; and finally in the Royal Mail Group Fellowship. But, predominantly, they are from 1948 when he was a valued member of the Postal Branch cricket team where he was its star batsman going in at No 3.
For the rest, I rarely saw him on my spells of army reserve service, although I believe he did a usefully long spell with them but, latterly, I always enjoyed meeting him at Fellowship meetings when we often fell to discussing our ’48 cricketing exploits. He was among the friendliest of PO colleagues and, over six decades, certainly the most enduring.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (Apr 2014)
Lt Col William Morton TD 27 April 1928 – 19 June 2016
Bill Morton was one of the Post Office’s mails experts who joined our TA to lend quality and expertise to the military mail system. He was indeed some character with his huge personality, his warm and firm handshake and a smile on his face that seemed to stretch from ear to ear. Generous almost to a fault, he was ever welcome in any company and would soon have all their sides splitting with gales of laughter. Yes, he was a great comedian – even friends with the group who appeared on the TV show “The Comedians” – like Les Dawson.
Born in St Helens he spent most of his working life in the North West or The Midlands. He was Head Postmaster Blackpool, then onto Preston in the same role. Times as Postal Controller in The South West and then The Midlands Region HQs led nicely to being Head Postmaster Birmingham. It was here at Royal Mail Street, Birmingham that Bill created his fiefdom of style, professionalism, success, control and managerial grip underpinned by a significant dollop of fun. He was immensely proud of his realm and made every effort to keep the office well positioned in the various National performance league tables. This was no easy task given the scale of the operation in Birmingham.
Bill joined the TA in the early 1960s and served in many units finishing up in the Group Headquarters. He was a most enthusiastic officer, reveling in his various roles in the TA and thoroughly enjoying his spells in the Army whether at Mill Hill or overseas. His contribution was recognised when he and his wife, Joan, were invited to the Centenary Royal Garden Party at Mill Hill in 1982 and were presented to Her Majesty. He was ever the centre of fun in the Mess. Telling funny story after funny story and holding his audience speIbound. I once asked him why he was continually playing the Mess fruit machine. Bill explained that he always tried to spend all his TA pay in the Mess either over the bar or into the fruit machine, just underlining the previous comment about his generosity.
A visit to his office in Birmingham left one in no doubt about his standards of style and performance. His magnificent office was only the start before viewing the scale of the operation and the lucky few dining in his private dining room. One evening at dinner he assured me that there were seven different styles of potato on the menu. This was less than his munificence with wines. An enthusiastic and kind entertainer, Bill make certain his guests were well treated and left feeling very good about their experience. His generosity stretched to supplying the officers in Training Wing at Mill Hill with comfortable chairs for their offices.
He was not only generous with visible things; he would also give his time to help one with their work. I personally benefitted from this during my short induction course when on my exchange as Head Postmaster Aldershot. He always said that he had all the time one could wish if ever one needed advice or help.
Barry Linden reports that on one particular occasion during Unit training in Cyprus he hosted Bill in one of the smarter establishments in Larnaca. On Rennie admiring a painting in the dining room Bill upped from the table and after much discussion with the manager presented the artwork to her in appreciation. Later we discovered he had also paid the bill! Yet another example of his sense of fun and generosity. On visits to himself and Joan in Blackpool, he was always hospitable despite his health not being 100 percent. His humour to the fore he remained positive in his outlook. A lovely man to have as a friend and colleague.
On his final camp in 1983/4 he joined my Regiment in Hannover expecting to spend the two weeks living in the Hannover Officers’ Mess. It came as quite a shock to him to be told he was immediately joining my HQ on exercise. Poor Bill had not even brought his beret, but luckily he did have his combat kit. It was quite early in the year and cool at night. After four days and nights in the field we returned to Hannover and Bill was housed in the Officers’ Mess. He was then able to see the funny side of his experience of going to war with 1 Regiment. He was soon the centre of fun in the Mess and really enjoyed his final camp in the TA. He had certainly earned his few days in Hannover.
As his wife, Joan, said to me “Bill is a hard man to miss”. A sentiment that many will share. Wherever he went he contributed in some way and did so in a good old North Country way – by ensuring that all had a darned good laugh and enjoyed their time in his company. He was ever the very best of company and a great ambassador for Royal Mail and our Territorial Army. Cheers, Bill!!
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Dec 2016)
Lt Col John Ashley Owens 1920-2009
Born on 22nd Dec 1920 at Litchfield, Staffs, his Father had recently been demobbed from the Army having fought in the First World War and was a Counter Clerk for the Post Office. Following junior school he studied at The Wirral Grammar School where he excelled in all forms of sport. He was the First XV at Rugby as well as in the school cricket team and he enjoyed tennis.
When he left school aged 16 he passed the Civil Service exam, which enabled him to join the Post Office as a Counter Clerk. In 1942 he joined the RAF and was trained as a rear gunner in Wellingtons, supporting the Eighth Army in their successful capaign to expel Rommel from North Africa, A tail end charley, John had the great fortune not to be sent on missions over Europe, where life expectancy was slim. Towards the end of the war he was posted to South Africa to train as a Pilot, but the end of the war brought his training to an end. There would not be the need for so many pilots in peacetime. With the cessation of hostilities he returned to his job in the Post Office
In 1949 he went into hospital for 3 days for a minor operation and it was there that he met his future wife Doreen. She was a nurse working on the ward. They became friends and their friendship blossomed and they were married on 1 Dec 1951 at Barnston Church in Cheshire. By this time John had tired of the Post Office and rejoined the Army in August 1950 as a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers Postal Service. The Korean War was on and there was close liaison betwen the Post Office and the BFPOs, so John’s experience in the Post Office was very useful.
For most of John’s career in the Army he and Doreen were stationed in Germany, their daughter Jill being born in Hanover in 1957 and Diane in Rheindahlen in 1959. They spent 2 years in Cyprus between 1960 and 1962, returning to 8 Command Postal Depot beside Dusseldorf Airpiort where John was the Officer Commanding. In 1964 they returned to England and John started work at the Ministry of Defence as part of the senior management of the Royal Engineers Postal Service. In 1973 he retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, a clear showing that he was a man of consummate skill in his chosen field. Those who served with him thought him firm but very fair. He had a good relationship with his men and was respect by all those who knew him.
After leaving the army the family moved to Manchester and John went back to the Post Office. In 1984 John retired from the Post Office and they moved to a 300 year old Cottage on an ancient roman road; Sweet Meadow Cottage Granderson near Hereford. They lived there til 1997 when they decided to move to Oakham in Rutland to be closer to John’s sister Jull who lives in Whissendline and also to be near to a Town Centre.
John was a consummate family man. He was a very attentive son-in-law from 1979 to 1986 spending most weekends looking after Doreen’s father Herbert. He was also very kind to Doreen’s mother who sadly died in 1956.
Thanks to Marc Oxley & Doug Swanson (Apr 2014)
WO1 Eric Parry BEM
Eric Parry passed away on 29th March 2004 in hospital at St Asaph N.Wales. He joined Postal as a Long Range Courier from the RHA. His funeral was held on Friday 2nd April 2004. As his wife Margaret is confined to a wheelchair she has now had to move into a Residential home. Eric`s funeral was a sad occasion especially for Margaret and his 2 sons. He will be missed by his many friends and ex comrades he served with. He was a smart, kind, gentle man and had a heart of gold.
Thank you to Margaret Grant (April 2004)
Major Kenneth George Patient 19 June 1922-13 April 2008
Ken was commissioned into the Service in 1963 at the age of 40. This middle aged ofgficer had no problem in settling into his new career amongst a group of younger fellows. He soon became the fatherly adviser and councillor to his new colleagues offering well needed and, mostly well received, advice and support in varying degrees. He did have the significant benefits of wartime service in the RAF as well as extensive experience in the British and Overseas Postal Services.
He was born in Bredfield in Suffolk where he grew up alongside his two brothers and sister. In his early days he developed a passion for bee-keeping and was to return to it in retirement. After leaving school he joined the Post Office in Woodbridge starting a postal career that would take him all over the world in almost every type of postal organisation of the day.
During the Second World War Ken served in the Royal Air Force, mainly in India and Burma. On demobilisation he returned to the Post Office in Woodbridge and later gained a position with the East African Posts and Telecommunications Administration; first in Kenya and later in Uganda. It was whilst Ken was working in Kampala that he met Betty who was working there for the Treasury. Romance blossomed, they fell in love and were married on 22 June 1957. Their first home together was in Kampala and then Mombasa where Ken was the last of the European Postmasters. It was whilst working here that Ken met Maj Terry Blackman who suggested that Ken may consider joining the Royal Engineers Postal Service.
So it was that Ken did join the Service in 1963 serving first at Mill Hill and later with Betty and their family of Christopher and Jane, in Hong Kong and Germany. An unaccompanied tour took Ken to malta before his final posting in SHAPE, Belgium. He was a most dependable officer who could be trusted to get things done with little fuss. To serve with Ken was always interesting as he had so much experience to call on to help taking decisions. He also knew the correct way to do thins and to get things done.
By the time Ken retired Betty had already established their home in Bournmouth. A happy retirement was to follow with the added blessings of four grandchildren. Ken was again able to devote himself to his beloved bees. He started off his hives with a Queen Bee sent from New Zealand who he named Harriet. His hives thrived and Ken could be described as a devoted and successful bee-keeper. However in 2005 he developed a back problem and was forced to retire from the apiary world. In 2007 he suffered a slight stroke and his health declined. Further co,plications led to a stay in hospital where he passed away on 13 April 2008
The sympathies of the Association have been conveyed to Betty, Christopher and Jane and a donation made to cancer Research in his memory. The Association was represented at Ken’s funeral on 28th April by Col Doug & Val Swanson, Col Dennis and Gloria Whittall and Maj Norman Lockwood.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (December 2013)
WO1 John Peters
ohn Peters passed away on 14th May 2001 at Kings Mill Hospital, Mansfield. He joined the Army in 1964 and was enlisted into the Blackwatch, prior to becoming a Postal & Courier Operator. He had also served in the Royal Military Police
Prior to his retirement from the Army, his final appointment was the RSM of PCD RE from 1984-87
He will be remembered by many people as being an exceptional RSM, colleague and friend as well as being an outstanding athlete and all round sportsman.
Thank you to Post Notes
Corporal Kevin Pharoah
Kevin who joined the Corps in June 1979 and served with the Postal & Courier Services until his discharge in October 1993, died on 30th September 2001 at the age of 49.
Kevin’s funeral has held at Saltwell Crematorium in Gateshead with over 100 of his colleagues with many ‘Posties’ in attendence. Brian Harris arranged with the local British Legion for a Union Flag to be drapped over the coffin along with a wreath from the legion.
The Last Post was played and Kevin was given a sending off as a soldier should.
Thank you to The Posthorn – issue 9 (Mar 2002)
Lt Col John Richard Platt – 25 January 1938 – 18 June 2012
In his ealy working life Dick lived in Llay and joined the Post Office working all over the UK in the Post Office Investigation Department – the POID. As he used to tell foldks “Older than Pinkertons – and even more successful”.
In his National Service days he served in Cyprus with the Gunners in 1956/57 during the emergency there. He volunteered for a short service commission in the Royal Engineers Postal Service in 1967 and after a few months training at Mill Hill moved to Herford in Germany to serve with 4 Div Postal & Courier Unit as second in Command. On to Gibraltar to command his own unit before returning to Germany on promotion as second in command of the new 1 Postal & Courier Regiment Royal Engineers with 1st British Corps under Rolph James. Three yuears later it was on to the Army Headquarters in Germany as P2 (Postal Operations) in our Directorate there. Posted on promotion again he returned to Mill Hill to be part of Rolph James’ team for our Centenary and in charge of the Courier Wing. His final tour was a Commanding Officer of 3 Postal & Courier Regiment RE in Dusseldorf. IUn 1986 he decided to return home and settle back into civilian and family life.
Dick was an individual belessed of a huge intellect and a very sharp wit. At work he was enormously competent, able to address the most challenging of problems and deliver sensible, economic and workable solutions. folks either liked Dick and got on with him or had suffered his sharp humour and felt otherwise. He was ever good company ready to debate any topic at length over a glass of something, and ever able to insert humour to the discourse. His capability was recognised by his rapid promotion in the Service and the important roles assigned to him. He was a true military postal and courier connoisseur. he was not given to boasting – only in retirement that he usually finished both the Times and Telegraph cryptic crosswords before 10am!
In retirement Dick and Sheila settled in Welshpool where Dick was able to indulge himself in his several hobbies of choice. First and foremost were their three, now grown up children, Fiona, Sid & Fraser, but headed by their three granddaughters on who Dick doted and loved to spoil.
Dick Platt the chef, the woodworker and the gardener is not one that his old Army colleagues would recognise. But that was Dick in his retirement. Guests from far and wide were welcomed to his dinner table as he delighted in feeding them in his own inimitable style – truly exceptional cooking together with a dose of warmth and friendship that only Dick knew how to bestow. His carpentry extended to making useful items for the grandchildren and he enjoyed spending good days in his lovely garden.
It was my good fortune to serve with Dick in 4 Division, in HQ BAOR and back at our Postal & Courier Depot for our Centenary. So we shared many successes, many tought times, many frustrations and many challenges, but ever had time for fun and a glass of something to quench our thirsts. Time to laugh and debate and to pull each others legs. Happy days and excellent company.
Dick suffered a brain tumiour in May and died in hospital just a few weeks later on 18 June. Our deepest sympathies have been passed to Sheila and the rest of Dicks family.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Dec 2012)
WO1 (RSM) Gordon Pulley
Gordon sadly passed away on 29 December 2011 aged 78. Gordon enlisted in the Service on 5 February1951 and served at the Depot in Knightsbridge. He married Jill Reece, who was one of the first ladies to join the post war Postal trade. They had two children, Christopher and Tanya, and four grandchildren.
He served in BAOR, British Honduras, Kenya, Cyprus and Gibraltar. He was the RSM in Dusseldorf for four years. Many will remember Gordon with his cheery grin, his immaculate turn out and his shinny boots (later shoes) ever at ten to two. He was a kindly man who helped many of his peers and juniors as well as several young officers to get on with Army life. And to move forward in their military careers.
In retirement he and Jill lived in Haverfordwest. It was here in his last 4/5 years when he again proved his kindness to others when he and Jill gave much of their time to looking after Major George Hale who also lived there. I am certain that George was mighty grateful to have an old comrade like Gordon living so close and so willing to keep an eye on him in his advancing years.
Jean and I were able to attend Gordon’s funeral in Haverfordwest on 11th January 2012
Thank you to Don Bramley Feb 2012
Major Ivor Siddall 14 November 1936 – 13 October 2015
Ivor was a gentleman, first and foremost in what he did and how he did it. He had a wickedly dry sense of humour.
Over the years, I got to know what type of man he was and I am proud to have known him. As a father he would always put his daughter first; the bond he shared with Morag was very special, they were not just family but also friends and I know that he was very, very proud of what she had achieved in life.
As an Officer his troops were his priority he was a soldiers Officer; he was firm but fair and he was respected for that. I had the good fortune to have known Ivor for the past 15 years. We met one Saturday, I remember it was a Saturday because Ivor had not long returned from Bisley and Wales were playing England in the Five Nations, as it was then. The first thing he said to me, as he sat cleaning his gun was So who you supporting? I had to think fast with a name like Ivor Morgan Siddall, Wales would be a good bet, but no I stuck to my guns – so to speak, and said England of course, there was no reply he just continued to clean his gun. It must have been two weeks later when I met him again, the first thing he said was Good choice as he handed me a glass of wine. I suppose that was the start of our friendship.
He enjoyed life, enjoyed wine and enjoyed shooting, he would pack his car early on a Saturday morning, drive down to Bisley and spend the day with his friends doing something he loved. Ivor was a generous man, always willing to help if he could, never shirking his responsibility as a friend. He would always give his opinion it was not always what you wanted to hear but he said it as he saw it.
The stories and memories about Ivor will live with us forever. When we remember him he would not want us to be sad, but remember him with love in our hearts and a smile on our face and raise a glass to him now and again.
He was a Father, a Gentleman, and an Officer and personally he was my friend and I will miss him. Rest in peace, Major Siddall Sir.
Thank you to James Keohane Ivor son in law, and Morag husband (Dec 2016)
WO1 (RSM) Fred Simpson RE
WO1 Frederick (Fred) Simpson died 28th Jan 1987 only three years after coming out of the army. He served 22 years in RE (PCS). He served in Rheindaheln, Northern Ireland, Batus, Cyprus and Mill Hill every now and again. He leaves a widow Phyllis who was also in the WRAC (Postal) from 1961 to 1963.
Thank you to Phyllis Simpson (Dec 2003)
Percey Tayler OBE, VRD 26 Jan 1922-31 Jan 2014
Percy would often joke that he had lived all of his life off the State! He was only two yers old when his father died and his mother was awarded a War Widow’s Pension to help to raise him. On leaving school he worked for the Post Office before enlisting into the Royal Navy in 1941.
During Service in the Royal Navy he saw action in the battles of the mediterranean, the Atlantic and the Arctic convoys and was serving on HMS Birmingham when it liberated Copenhagen. On cessation of hostilities he signed on for a further two years service during which he was engaged in mine clearance in the English Channel between France, Belgium & Holland. It was while working in Belgium that he met his first wife, Jeanne and with whom he had a son, Alan & a daughter, Michele.
On return to civvy street he entered the Civil Service and was employed in the War Pensions Department in Wolverhampton managing an artificial limb fitting centre – a job he often spoke of as being the most satisfying he had ever had.
He was transferred to the Ministry of National Insurance in the south of England so he could be nearer his wife and son who were living in London. He remained working in local offices in London & the South east for the rest of his areer in what became the Department for Works & Pensons.
Although his service in the Royal Navy had ended, he continued service in the royal Naval Reserve attending annual training until retiring as commander in June 1977. He maintained a lifelong interest in the royal Navy attending reunions and gatherings whenever possible.
From his school days Percy had a love of sports and he tried his hand at most of them although his main love was football representing both the Royal Navy and Civil Service teams at national level and continuedto paly into his forties! He became increasingly involved with the administration of the game both in the Civil Service and with the Sussex FA & the Sussex Youth FA where he was made a life Vice President. Percy’s other great love was gardeining & he won numerous medals for displays of roses and sweet peas. Percy’s first marriage ended in divorce and he later married Beryl whom he had first met while working in Redhill, Surrey. They established a home in Arundel to be near Beryl’s widowed mother and quickly became part of the friendly and locol community.
Percy who was already a member of Rotary, became an active member of the Royal British Legion and for a period was President of both clubs. He became a well known figure in the town of Arundel. Percy was a very socialble individual and loved to be in good company. He always had a fund of jokes & stories to tell & delighted in hearing the latest from his friends. He was very fond of his family taking regular holidays with his three step brothers & their families & playing with his children and grand children. Although his later years were blighted by ill health he, in true fashion, tried to adjust and make the best of the situation retaining his cheerful disposition.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (June 2014)
WO1 (RSM) Ernie Tomlin RE (1942-2003)
Ernie was born on 5 Mar 1942 just outside of Cwmbran, Gwent and at the age of two years the family moved to London, hence the reason for Ernie’s dialect (Half cockney). On completion of his schooldays he was employed with the General Post Office as counter clerk for two years prior to his joining the army in 1960.
Ernie’s first posting on completion of basic military and trade training was with 370 PURE, BFPO 151 (Adelaide, S Australia) which is where I first met him, and from then until his discharge in 1982 he served in Singapore, Belize, Cyprus, Malta, Bahrain, Germany and Mill Hill but not necessarily in that order. He completed his service in 1982 and was discharged in Munster, Germany in the rank of WO1 (RSM).
Ernie was not really built for sporting activities but one at which he did excel was cricket. He was awarded his army cap on several occasions and whilst at Mill Hill he played for the local village team. On one occasion he claimed ten wickets for nine runs!!! No mean achievement by any standards.
Ernie’s other loves include photography, travel, gardening – especially roses and painting. He was an accomplished artist and for a time he made a living from it. I can just picture him on the south bank of the River Seine in Paris!!!
He took his discharge in Germany and for a while worked in the furniture removal business (Forces furniture etc back to the UK). He then went to work in the travel agency business. After his divorce for the second time he returned to England and was again employed in the travel business in the South of England before moving back to his roots in Cwmbran. It didn’t take him long to settle in and was soon known as E. T. for obvious reasons.
His health deteriorated in his last years suffering from diabetes, cancer and other ailments but he bore them without complaint and was very grateful for the support given to him by his carers in his last few months.
Ernie was reconciled with his families before he passed on and met his grandchildren and he will be sorely missed by all concerned.
I was pleased to have served with Ernie in many different places and was pleased to have been his friend, as I am sure were many others.
Rest in peace Ernie and no doubt we will meet again upstairs. God Bless.
Thank you to Pat Elliott (May 2003)
Lt Col Laurie Watkins (1937-2002)
Laurie Watkins was the sporting postman and soldier who lived for the moment and was invariably the centre of any fun. Always ready to party and have a good time, Laurie was such a positive and inspirational personality that whatever he said seemed to make people feel better. He loved his sport, playing centre half in the famous Postal Depot football team of the early sixties. His main sporting love was cricket and he kept wicket for many years for many cricket teams including BAOR and Rheindahlen Garrison – which he captained. He even joined the MCC. Eventually golf, shared with Julie, became his only active sport. But he also had a serious side and he led the way in the Postal Service by going to the Army Staff College and establishing a reputation for his postal colleagues as serious and widely employable military officers.
Laurence Edwin Watkins was born on 23 November 1937 in Winchester. Leaving school aged 16 he joined the Post Office Savings Bank in London. In 1955, when he was called up for his National Service, he joined the Royal Artillery, was commissioned and served most of his two years in Malta. When he returned to the Savings Bank life seemed to have played a poor trick on him. He was bored and frustrated having had such an enjoyable time in the Army. An advert in the Post Office Circular in 1959 asking for volunteers to join the Royal Engineers Postal Service was his salvation. Laurie was delighted to volunteer. Once back in uniform he stepped forward again – this time to try parachute selection. He passed and took command of 16 Parachute Brigade Postal Unit RE in 1961, based at Mill Hill, but travelling to Aldershot on a regular basis to parachute and to work with the Brigade.
At this time several groups of young managers from the Post Office joined the Royal Engineers Postal Service as officers. Most had no military experience so Laurie was tasked with turning them into officers in a very short time. These disparate, and sometimes desperate, young men were taught the rudiments of military life from behaviour to leadership and from drill to just wearing a uniform correctly. Fun, comradeship and a huge desire to do well for this terrific character that cared that no one was ever embarrassed in this new and strange environment underpinned the long days. Even the awful bits seemed okay and Laurie entertained at work, at play and in the mess. He especially enjoyed trying to get all to join him in his favourite mess trick of doing a dive forward roll over the upright piano and landing on the very hard floor! He certainly inspired us all and earned our deep and lasting gratitude.
Laurie’s life changed forever on New Years Eve 1962 – he met Julie at a party and that was him! They married in October the next year and lived happily together ever after. Not that being married calmed him, it just meant he could include Julie in the fun and had a safe base for parties and to entertain his pals. He decided to get serious about his Army career and go to Staff College. No postal officer had done this before so he had to canvass a recommendation from his bosses and then devote himself to many months of very tough study. He passed the exam and went to Staff College in 1970 – to experience more hard work and learning! His first job after Staff College was in the High Commission in Kuala Lumpur and he did a second in Headquarters Northern Army Group some three years later. He also served in Postal and Courier Units – with Second Division in Osnabruck, 8 Command Postal and Courier Depot in Dusseldorf and was the CO of the Unit at SHAPE.
In 1980 Laurie decided to leave the Army and settle in the UK so he could live with Julie in their own house. He took a job near Heathrow working for Purolator, the Canadian Courier Company, as their UK Operations Director. A couple of years later, after gaining promotion to Managing Director Europe, fate worked against him when the company was taken over. He left and considered offers to work with several blue chip companies. But Laurie decided to take a braver step and in 1989 set up his own company – HBT Consultants Ltd. He soon established himself and was recognised as an international postal expert, travelling the world working with many postal administrations and big-name firms.
In February 1999 Laurie first became ill with a large growth on his leg. He had to face up to the very real prospect of losing the leg. Fortunately a surgeon was able to remove the growth. In all this awful time he remained positive, having fun times and working around the world. When he lost all his hair he quipped that he had a modern hairstyle – for the first time in his life. But cancer was in his body and even the radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatments could not help. Eventually the Marsden Hospital admitted what Laurie never could nor would – that he could not be cured. Julie had him brought home on 21 February 2002 to nurse him for whatever time he had left. He was so pleased and comforted to be home with Julie – but the next day his life ran out. Julie and their children Alastair and Lisa survive Laurie.
Thank you to Doug Swanson (Mar 2002)
Sgt Johnny Wheeler
Johnny sadly passed away on Monday 8 July 2013 after a long battle against cancer. He will be remembered by many, there were in excess of 100 messages of condolence on Facebook and many on the Guestbook of this Website. A man of integrity, he did not have a “bad bone” in his body, super guy, & one of the best are just a sample of the kind words written.
Johnny was a stalwart of the Defence Postal & Courier Services from 1970 until 1992. His “last” posting included active service during the 1st Gulf War.
His latter days were spent in a hospice in Bristol, where he had been staying with his much loved sister Carol.
A PCS presence at his funeral included his very good friend Simon Hazel, along with Chris & Liz Clark, Bev Woods, Sharon (Nee Hurst) and her husband Paul & Mark Burton. Chris Clark had spent coffee and bacon butty time with Johnny during his final days. Unfortunately his good buddies John McGovern and Ron (Scouse) Fulton could not make the funeral; however their thoughts were with him that is for sure.
Johnny became a grandfather the Thursday before his passing away and we are certain he was as “proud as punch”.
Father Grandfather Husband Brother Soldier & Friend
Gone but not forgotten
Thanks to Lou Lister (July 2013)
Lt Col H R H White ERD TD
Harold White was called up for military service in the Royal Corps of Signals early in 1940 and served in a Special wireless Group in the 8th Army campaign in the North Africa desert until he was invalided home to the UK in late 1943 and discharged in 1944 ‘totally unfit for military service’, after hospitalisation in Egypt and the UK.
He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 7 July 1952 in the REPS Emergency Reserve of Officers and with follow-on Territorial service, totalled 24 years volunteer service. He was retired on age grounds in 1976.
Known in the postal service (GPO) and by British Rail as ‘H.R.H.’, he commenced his postal career of 44 years as a temporary sorting clerk and telegraphist at the Crown salaried sub-office of Northwood, Middlesex on 10 February 1936. He progressed to Overseer at Harrow and Wembley Joint Head Office after his return from WW2 Army service. He was appointed an Assistant Inspector of Postal Services in the Post Office Headquarters in London in 1949. He had a notable career in mails service as an Inspector of Postal Services then assistant Postal Controller Class 1 in Home Counties Region, Chief Superintendent London Postal Region, Manager Transport Controller Mails and Transport Deputy Director (Operations) LPR, and finally Director South East Postal Region. His Directorship was extended beyond normal retirement age until October 1980 and was followed by an 18 month consultancy appointment by Post Office Headquarters on National Mails Transport.
At PO HQ he became an expert on the British Rail network, particularly in London, which was not only of great value in maximising the possibilities for speeding letters and parcels, but also in regular liaison meetings with British Rail and in the annual negotiations with them on the contract the Post Office then had. Harold was an energetic and dynamic manager commanding respect and admiration for his knowledge and experience of postal services in and around the metropolis. He was a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Transport and he held a Fleet Operators licence.
Harold was born in Wembley in his grandfather’s nursery and was brought up at Harrow in his father’s nursery. He had a lifelong interest in horticulture, particularly in his and his wife’s one acre garden in Chiddingfold, Surrey, where they resided for 48 years. They ran a really mature local Horticultural Society for 33 years and were prominent in their church and local community. Harold served in both London and Guildford Dioceses of the Church of England. He was a boy soloist with a good voice and in 1933 was Choirboy of the Year in London. He was a successful exhibitor at the London Postal Region and in Surrey horticultural shows, becoming a judge and lecturer in five counties, serving on the committee of the Surrey Guild of Judges and on the judge’s panel of the Royal Horticultural Society. Harold also researched local history and wrote books on Chiddingfold, organised local history tours and recorded on DVDs.
After the death of his wife Margaret in 2005 – they were together for 69 years- Harold moved in 2008 near to his widowed daughter Susan in Sandbach, Cheshire and nearer to his grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. He continued judging and lecturing there, and his training of younger judges into his nineties.
He died on 31 August 2011 and is buried, with his wife, in the 4 ¼ acres of Chiddingfold churchyard, which he tended from 1960 to 2007, and kept the ancient records dating from 1562 of the Parish Church. He was a churchwarden for 18 years.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (Apr 2014)
Lt Col Jonathan Whittaker TD
Jonathan joined the Territorial Army in 1976 in the Postal and Courier Service, Royal Engineers. In 1988 he retired due to ill health re-joining in November 1989 serving at BFPO Mill Hill and Northolt until he retired as Lieutenant Colonel in November 2010. He worked for several organisations before the BFPO. He was an active member of very many varied organisations. Jonathan was very professional, dedicated, gregarious, generous, humorous and courageous.
He was a professional and dedicated manager applying an endearing approach of openness, fairness and honesty. He never turned anyone away and his advice was always well received. He could be ruthless, but always fair. Once he had to lay off half of the workforce. Then he laid himself off. His dedication was exemplified at Mill Hill where Jonathan took on extra-curricular work in the Officers’ Mess and at Christmas he would regularly go to the sorting office and assist the late/night shift with mail sortation and preparation.
Jonathan was very gregarious and enjoyed helping people and organising events. It was through this helpful attitude he met Maggie. Years ago he organised a friends leaving party in the Playboy Club, London. On the night, his friend bought along two extra guests. One was Maggie and a lifelong romance blossomed.
His greatest gift was his generosity. Jonathan was a member of the Officers Mess, ‘Thursday evening out Club’. Once, Jonathan took a nap after some wine and a meal. The officers, leaving him asleep, paid the bill, left the table and hid close by. The waitress, fully briefed, woke Jonathan presented him with the bill requesting payment. Without hesitation, he produced a credit card. The Officers reappeared in fits of laughter. Similarly when Doug asked for a volunteer to organise the Association Annual lunch Jonathan stepped up.
Jonathan had a wonderful sense of humour and great courage. During 2012 and 2013 he and his best friend, Dick Norriss, had put on weight. They had a wager to ascertain who would put on the least weight over the coming Christmas festivities. Dick put on one kilo. Jonathan claimed the wager having lost 4.9 kilos. His leg had been amputated! Such was his courage he always smiled and never saw himself as disabled and was soon walking and cycling again as much as he could.
Jonathan was the epitome of the Officer and Gentleman. He was proud to serve in the Postal and Courier Service. He was even prouder when he was awarded the Fancourt Shield last year. He loved the army and he loved his family. He had many friends and he will be greatly missed. Jonathan passed away suddenly and unexpectedly at home during the evening of Tuesday 9th February 2016. A very well attended service in celebration of his life was held at The Parish Church of St Alphege, Solihull on 26 February 2016, his sixty sixth birthday. He is survived by Maggie.
Thanks to the contributions for this piece from Maggie, Jonathan, Steve Roberts,Tom Carey and Doug Swanson.
Major Alexander Buchanan Wilson 17 April 1937-22 February 2008
Alex Wilson was a well known and respected member of the service whose strength of character and sense of fun made him popular in all situations. At work, highly professional with a ‘lets do it now attitude’ to his determination to get the most from his off duty hours he was ever the best of company. He left this world in much that manner, having suffered a severe heart attack he died very soon afterwards. So it was a hugh shock to Marion and their family to loose Alex so unexpectedly and so quickly. Our deepest sympathies were converyed to them.
Alex joined the Army in November 1960. He had applied for the royal Engineers but was told, on attestation, that he had not scored well enough and would have to join the Royal Tank Regiment. However on arriving at Oswestry and being asked why he wanted to join the RTR he said he did not! This was when he found out that he had scored confortably in the zone to be a Sapper. So, we almost did not get him! But he then went to the RE Training Regiment at Cove. In his years as a soldier Alex served in Paris, Brussels, Herford, Dusseldorf, Malta, Cyprus, Aden, Belize and Berlin. With each posting he gained rank as well as stature and presence. By 1978 when he went to Berlin as WOi/c the Postal & Courier Troop, he was an impressive and imposing military figure backed up by a very good brain and wide knowledge of his trade
This was a critical time for alex and Marion, as the next step in his career should have been a commission – but he was not sure. Luckily the Chief of Staff in Berlin convinced him to go for it. And so it was that in 1980 we gained this large, gentle Scot at Mill Hill as an officer. He had a spendid tour there during the Centenary Celebrations and the Royal Visit. He had a final overseas tour in Cyprus before returning to Mill Hill for his final posting before he retired in November 1990.
It was ever a pleasure to be in Alex’s company and to work with him. When given a task he would make absolutely certain it was completed as specified. He was known the world over for his whistling – sometimes in drink. Those in the know always eyed the light on the wall in the far corner of the mill Hill mess bar with affection. It was Alex’s light. After a reasonable time of consumption he just loved (even insisted) to get all in the bar onto bar stools and link arms over the light as a toast was drunk. Happy days shared witha happy and competent officer who certainly knew how to have fun. He and Marion were always great supporters of their messes and a very popular couple they were.
On retirement they returned to Scotland and lived in West Kilbride when Alex worked in Greenock. Later they moved south to Great Yarmouth and lived happily until Alex eventually passed awy. Marion tells me that she is going to sell her house and move back to her family home in Lanarkshire to live with her sister. We wish her success and peace in this venture.
Thanks to Doug Swanson (December 2013)
WO II (SSM) Jim Wlison
It is with great sadness that we announce the sudden death of (WO2) Jim Wilson on Sunday 23rd March 2003. His funeral was held on Thursday 27th March 2003. Our thoughts are with his family and wife Avril.
Major Eric Worthington
Major (Retd) Eric Worthington passed away in early March 2005. Major Worthington was the DADPCC Land Forces Gulf in the late sixties. He left the army and went to live in Shropshire where he was involved with the horsey people and became a showing judge. Eric was one of the judges at last years Olympia International Horse Show in London – one of Britain’s top equestrian events famous for its Christmas flavour. He has judged at all the top shows and the Horse of the Year Show. A Memorial Service will be held on Monday 18 April at 1430hrs at Hanmer Church, Whitchurch, Shropshire.
Bob Mckeever writes: I only knew him for a short time that was when I returned to the depot from Aden 1966, I was taking over one of the sections (SO2).at the end of a shift the Maj, Sgt Quinn and I fancied a drink, well at the end of a late shift and middle of the week both messes were shut and what did the Maj do? he went to the officers mess and brought over the night tray was left out for them??? The three of us had a good drink.he was a good man/officer I was late getting back to my quarter.
Tom Compson writes: I drove him around when he was OC in Aden in 1967 before he left to go to Bahrein He was a good officer and many a time I had to collect him and Capt Disney from a bar on Malla Straight. He also had a program called Carosel he presented on forces radio out there.
Thank you to Jim Steer and Bob Williams(April 2004)
L/Cpl Micky Robbins
Wreath Laying On L/Cpl Micky Robbins Grave On 1st Aug 2013
25 Years After The Mill Hill Bomb
In Loving Memory Of Lance Corporal Michael Frank Joseph Robbins
Killed On 1st Aug 1988 Aged 23
Micky No Finer Son
This World Could Hold
A Happy Smile A Heart Of Gold
Memories of Her Dad,
Photos sent in by Rachel Vickery
L/Cpl Neville Stokes 24 February 1967 – 06 March 2017
Neville enlisted into Junior Leaders in 1983, 1 & 3 Trg Regt 1984 – 85 then as a Postie he served at Mill Hill 1985-87 and 3 PCDRE 87 – 92, he was discharged that year having served for 9 years. ” He was always in trouble yet managed to hide his true genius well. After leaving, gained a 1st Class Honours Degree at Leicester University. Then obtained a Post-Graduate Cerificate in Education (PGCE). Neville served as a Police Officer in Southampton, in the fine Hampshire Constabulary.
WO1 Peter Holman
From the Association:-
Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I am afraid I cannot be there,
Explain to all those present about the empty chair.
Talk to them about good memories to share,
Tell them all of the good days that seems only fair
Look to the folks from the rank and file that saw
The meaning of friendship and true Espirit-de-Corps
Mark me absent Mr Chairman, I just cannot make it today,
But drink to me at the bar folks and to the times of another day.
Hold your pen Mr Secretary, let us set the minutes straight.
Mark that Member present, though delayed and sadly late.
Look to the empty chair folks and know the reason why,
We formed an Association that those should never die.
Now let this be your toast:
“Those happier memories are the ones we may treasure most.
Through times we served together and the distance did not matter,
The member we now honour was truly a “Top Hatter”.
Names may be carved on stone in a different faraway field,
They stand to show a spirit that did not ever yield
Should we mark him absent? Do so if we dare
Before you pen that entry, look well to the empty chair
Rest in Peace Peter
Gone maybe, but never to be forgotten
Captain James Richard Jowett ‘Jim’
30th December 1949 – 9th June 2017
Jim sadly passed away on the 9th June 2017 after a very short illness. He had a major stroke and was admitted to hospital, unfortunately, a few days later, while in the hospital, he suffered a seizure, from which he did not recover. A huge shock to his wife Fiona, son Lee, daughter Jamie Louise, and, close friends and associates.
Jim’s funeral was held at Taunton Crematorium on Friday 30th June 2017 and was extremely well attended by family, friends, several Corps members, work colleagues and members of the Somerset and Dorset football fraternity.
Jim was born in Kingston Upon Hull to Jack and Irene; he had three brothers, Michael, Raymond and Graham. Despite numerous hospital visits with an ulcer, Jim managed to follow one of his great loves, Cricket. Another love was Hull HR Rugby League team, of which he was latterly, a season ticket holder, much to the annoyance of his brothers, who supported Hull FC. Jim was also an avid follower of Liverpool FC and was a first class Football referee, a pastime he continued every weekend until his death.
At the grand age of 23, Jim joined the Army in 1973, after basic training he moved to Mill Hill to complete his RE PCS trade training. It was while at Mill Hill, Jim met WRAC PCS Pte Fiona Blatchford, that same year he was posted to Dusseldorf, where he worked in the orderly room as a L/Cpl, a few months later, Fiona was also posted to Dusseldorf, this is where Brigitte and I first met them both, Fiona was on my section in the sorting office.
Jim and Fiona married in Exeter in 1975, and were posted to Cyprus from 1977-79; another promotion to Cpl and, their son Lee was born in 1979.
It was then back to Mill Hill and HQ DCS in St Giles Court, I was there already as CC DDef PCS and was able to continue our friendship. Jim was then posted to Berlin on promotion to Sgt, a posting he absolutely loved, but it was cut short when he was offered a loan service appointment with RBAF in Brunei, specifically to assist in setting up their new Postal Service. Jim was promoted to S/Sgt for this tour. The family had many wonderful holidays, courtesy of the Sultan of Brunei. As an aside, many years later, when I joined the Queen’s Messenger Service, one of my new colleagues, ex RAF Sqn Ldr Peter Hearn, was with Jim in Brunei, and related many a tale about him over a pint or two.
Initially, the posting was for two years and three months, but it was extended by one year, then, in 1987, it was promotion to WO2 and posting to Hanover as SSM, their daughter Jamie Louise was born that year.
It was then onto PCS Branch HQ BAOR Rheindahlen, as the Chief Clerk, taking over from yours truly. Shortly after this posting, it was promotion to WO1 and Jim took up the very prestigious appointment of RSM at Mill Hill, an appointment he was, quite rightly, extremely proud of. One of the highlights of his tour was meeting Princess Diana, on her official visit to the sorting office. I again served with Jim; I was the Adjutant with Jim’s office next door. I heard many a tale from Sgt’s mess dinner nights, one, when the PMC, Mark Atwell, put a high chair in Jim’s place before he entered the room.
Jim was then commissioned and posted to Gibraltar, cut short to only eight months, and then off to Cyprus as the 2 i/c. Going back to Cyprus pleased the family no end, and they thoroughly enjoyed their tour.
Jim then had another posting to Rheindahlen, this was to be his last appointment, as he retired in 1997, having completed nearly 25 years of loyal service.
Upon retirement, Jim settled in Cannington Somerset, and became a regional manager for Herbert Retail Company, a job that kept him travelling all over the South of England. He kept up his love of Football by refereeing at least three games every weekend, and also finding time to be the Chairman of both the Keyline Taunton Sunday League and the Perry St and District football Leagues.
Throughout Jim’s 67 years, he met some lovely people across all walks of life and made excellent friends across the world. For Jim, life was always about giving to others, as long as the family and people around him were happy, he was happy, it was always “what can I do for you” not “what can you do for me”.
My wife and I personally knew Jim for 42 years and he will be sorely missed.
RIP Captain James Richard Jowett Loving Husband Father Best Friend and Colleague.
Thanks to Stuart Cambridge