Henry Wagner's life story. Part two



Henry Wagner's life story. Part two


Hand written by Henry, Part 2 picks up his story, post war teaching at a grammar school near Wokingham, married, two children and having just bought their house. He continues to cover his life in great detail through into retirement, the last entry is August 2004.


Spatial Coverage




154 hand written pages with photographs


This content is available under a CC BY-NC 4.0 International license (Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0). It has been published ‘as is’ and may contain inaccuracies or culturally inappropriate references that do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Lincoln or the International Bomber Command Centre. For more information, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ and https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/legal.





[3 black and white photographs pasted on lined paper]
[Boy toddler in dungarees on drive in front of house]
[Young boy standing on scooter on drive in front of house]
[Young boy in check shirt and shorts standing on drive next to model of a dog on stand with RSPCA label]
[page break]
Helen, meanwhile, was growing up into a lovely little girl.
[3 black and white photographs pasted on lined paper]
[2 similar photographs of a young girl wearing ballet dress standing in a ballet pose in garden in front of house]
[Girl toddler standing next to a stool holding a ball]
[page break]
[Black and white photograph of a young girl with a bow in her hair holding a telephone receiver]
On the next page are some of Philip’s early sayings. The first identifiable sound was: “Noyum, Nenio, noyum”. He was sitting on a blanket on the back lawn minding his own business, when Helen started teasing him by taking away his toys. I said: “Don’t annoy him, Helen, and he repeated it as best he could.
[page break]
[page break]
Bee-bee-bow – Please may I leave the table?
Bim-bim – I want to get where you are sitting, so move out of the way.
Gobby – Pardon! Sipsies – crisps
Ha-ha – hat. Noyum - Don’t annoy him
Foffy – coffee
{Tea-oh, Nerio – Calls indicating a meal about to be served.
{Din-din, Nerio
Sarson – Sandy (Rawlings)
Bawbim – pudding.
Diddy lie – Pretty light.
Yay-gay – Richard (Tucker)
Laddy – Gladys (Tucker)
M[?]ore – milk
Gicky – biscuit
Far – bus
More-more – no more.
Lullub – Philip
Gangle – bicycle
Wottime? – what’s the time?
Forty cock – 4 o’clock
Shum-shum – television
Teddy-bear nick-nick

1964, and I was still at The Forest Grammar School, Winnersh, near Wokingham. I was standing at my classroom window one day, looking out over the playing-fields through a steady downpour of rain, a dismal picture. And I thought to myself:” In another 25 years, I’ll still be standing at this same window looking out at those same playing fields. I ought to get away. It is no good just moving to another part of the country – in another few years I’ll be back in a similar rut.” So I looked in the Foreign Appointments section of the Times Educational Supplement and found a likely-looking job advertised for Uganda. I put the matter to Joan and she was immediately
[page break]

enthusiastic. So I applied. Several months went by and there was no response. I got in touch with our Ministry of Overseas Development, and they suggested I get in touch with The Education Department of the Government of Kenya and see what they had to offer. Very promptly they came up with the offer of a post at the Delamere Girls High School in Nairobi, teaching French to “A” level, with Latin, subject to satisfactory medical and dental reports. The contract would be for 24 - 27 months, renewable, and the salary was well in excess of what I was getting in England. Being still hard up, the latter was a great inducement. All the formalities completed, I accepted. The Ministry of Overseas Development suggested that, in view of the fact that there was no Irish representation in Kenya, I should apply to be a naturalised British citizen, and this I did. Mt brother Richard, being in the estate-agency business, undertook to let our house to the Army and keep an eye on it for us. So in April 1965 we set off. The journey was by Comet IV from Heathrow to Rome to Benina (North Africa) to Kampala (Uganda) to Nairobi. Philip made a scene getting onto the aircraft at Heathrow, screaming and shouting that it was too big, so I tucked him under my arm and carried him up the steps. And Helen was sick all over my suit between Kampala and Nairobi. We landed in the blazing heat about 11a.m. next morning, and were met by Miss Hills, the headmistress of Delamere Girls High School. The school was in the buildings of the old European hospital, fine spacious buildings round a large lawn, on a pleasant site not far from the centre of Nairobi. There were some 300 girls, mostly European and Asian, with just a few Africans; when I left, though, five years later, there were only 3 European girls, as by then most European families had gone from Kenya or were having their children educated in England.

At first, we were lodged at a hotel, the Devon Hotel, which was comfortable and luxurious, while housing was being sorted out. We were offered a place which turned out to be a wood and corrugated-iron bungalow, run down and dirty, and even I could see that living there was just not on, so we refused it. To be fair, I

[page break]


must say that housing was scarce in Kenya. The next thing we were offered was a bungalow at Kahawa, an ex British Army base. The houses, (see below), were modern and pleasant; the only disadvantage was that this base was some fifteen miles out of Nairobi, all on its own and not near anywhere. It was all right for me but not good for Joan, stuck out there all on her own. But there seemed to be nowhere else, so we took it.


While at the Devon Hotel, I bought a car for £300- a very fine Austin Westminster, leather upholstery, walnut facia, overdrive. You needed a big car out there because of the distances involved. The possessions that we had crated up in England arrived, we acquired a servant by the name of Wilson, and settled in, but it was not a happy time. Joan was miserably homesick, and the prospect of two years away from England got her into a very depressed state - she needed people and friends around her, and there, there was nowhere to go, nothing to do and nobody to talk to. I used to leave for school in the morning at 7 o’clock, deliver Helen to her primary school on the outskirts of Nairobi, and pick her up on the way home at 4 o’clock. Twice a week we went to a drive-in cinema, and in those early days that was about the limit of our entertainment. Philip was too young to go to school, so he stayed at home with Joan. At week-ends, we would

[page break]


go down into Nairobi for shopping, or go out to the light aeroplane club at Wilson Airport, or watch the air-liners landing and taking off at Embakasi, or go to the animal orphanage. This latter was attached to the Nairobi National Park, a game reserve. Any animals that were found abandoned or injured were brought there to be reared or treated and then released.

Here we are on one such visit.

And below is my class on the front steps of the school.


[page break]


I had, of course, brought my golf clubs with me, and made enquiries among the staff to see if anyone played golf. It transpired that the Deputy Head, Dorothy Noad, did, and she invited me to have a game with her at Ngong. She said: “Shall we play level?”, and I thought: “if that’s all right with you, it’s all right with me,” expecting an easy game. After four holes, I was four down. It turned out that in her time, she had played for Kenya. Moral - never underestimate the opposition. We went back to her house. The long garden ran down to a stream with the forest beyond. The bottom section was wired round to keep the animals way from the vegetables. When we got back to the house, she said: “The dog isn’t here - we must have shut him in the vegetable garden. Would you go down and let him out, or the leopards will get him?” I didn’t fancy the idea a lot, and when I got back to the house the dog was there.

She put me in touch with a member of Kiambu Golf Club, about ten miles out of Nairobi, and he agreed to put me up for membership. I had to be introduced socially to the members of the committee (and buy them drinks), so that they could vet me, and of course, as you will readily acknowledge, there were no possible grounds for refusal, so I was in. I soon acquired my own caddy, James Nolungu (centre below), and used to pay him 25 pence a round for his services.


[page break]


James was a good golfer in his own right. The year I left Kenya, he was the top African in the Kenya Open Championship. He used to borrow my clubs whenever he played in matches and competitions, and although he only lived in a mud hut out in the bush, I knew that the clubs were quite safe with him and that they would come back cleaned and ready for use.

Once, coming back in after a match against another club, one of the opponents said: “Did you see that leopardess and her cubs in the long grass down by the thirteenth tee?”

After a month or so out at Kahawa, we heard of a flat vacant in Nairobi, so I applied for it and got it. We moved down and settled in, and it was much better for Joan; although still homesick, she was much happier - there were other people around, and she could walk into town. Also, it was only a mile from my school. Before leaving England, I had given her driving lessons; she took the test in Nairobi, and passed, so we brought her a small car, a Simca Aronde, which made her more independent. She was coming out of the hairdressers in the Panatric Hotel one day when she saw a woman of about her own age standing on the steps. “Hello,” Joan said, “you look a bit lost. Shall we have a coffee?” This was Rosemary Mathews, who had recently arrived in the country. They struck up an immediate friendship, which has lasted even till now. Brian Mathews was employed by the Ministry of Works, on electrical contracts, and was also a golfer, and all four of us got on very well together. So at last Joan had a friend. We often visited each other’s flats, went out to the Airport on Sunday mornings and afterwards for a drink, and out for evening meals, and sometimes out to Lake Naivasha for Sunday lunch. Through Rosemary, Joan became involved with the Parish Supper at the Cathedral, so now she had an interest as well.

Our first Christmas out there, we all went down to Tsavo Inn, 160 miles down the Mombasa Road, all eight of us in my car (the Mathews’ had their two children, Caroline and Andy, with them. Caroline was about Helen’s age, so she had a friend as well.)

[page break]


We took all the presents, and spent the four or five days there in or around the swimming-pool.

In the school holidays, we nearly always went away somewhere. Once to Naro Muro River Lodge, near Mount Kenya, log cabins in lovely surroundings at the edge of the river. Frequently to Twiga Lodge, 20 miles south of Mombasa, a journey of 320 miles. The road out of Nairobi was tar for 20 miles, then tar again for the 20 miles into Mombasa. The remaining 260 miles was murram – hard-packed red soil, which used to develop wrinkles in it, corrugations, which meant slow going. French and German cars, with hard springing, used to ride over the top of these corrugations, but my Westminster was soft-sprung for English roads, and took a hammering. We used to leave early in the morning for the drive to Mombasa, stop at Hunters Lodge 100 miles down the road for breakfast, at the Park Inn at Voi for lunch, and then on to Mombasa, across Likoni Ferry, and then the last 20 miles to Twiga (which means 'giraffe' incidentally in Swahili.) The lodge consisted of mud-walled thatched cottages (bandas), under the coconut palms on the edge of the Indian Ocean, and were self-catering. Each banda had the Swahili name for an African animal or fruit, and on one occasion there was a bit of a rumpus between the manager and some German tourists – they had inadvertently been put in a banda with the Swahili name for a coconut, which is Nazi. The beauty of a holiday at Twiga was that there was nothing to do but laze on the beach, walk along miles of silver sand, or wallow in the warm sea. In the latter case, you could look up from the sea, see when the bar was open, and go straight in as you were for a cold beer. It was all very free and easy. About 1/4 mile from the shore, there was a coral reef; the water in the lagoon was never more than ten feet deep, but beyond the reef the bottom fell away sharply, and sharks came in that far, but you were quite safe in the lagoon. Later, I acquired a small collapsible sailing-dinghy, which I used to take down to Twiga on the roof of the car, and very much enjoyed pottering about in the lagoon. In Kenya, it gets dark every evening at 6.45, quite suddenly, and evenings were spent sitting on logs round a camp-fire drinking beer and chatting with other

[page break]


residents. Four beers were produced in Kenya – Tusker, City, White Cap and Pilsner, but by far the best of these was Tusker. It was all bottled, rather light in colour, like lager, and I didn't think much of it at first sight, but it was quite strong, and four pints at a session was quite enough.

I used to play golf quite a lot at Kiambu, often going for nine holes after school, and playing also at week-ends. Being a reasonable performer, I was always asked to play in matches against other clubs, so gained experience of quite a few other courses, and on one occasion played against an English touring team. My handicap came down to 12. It was lovely turf to play off out there – thick broad-bladed grass which formed a sort of a mat, and you could whisk the ball away off it a treat. Driving has always been the best part of my game, and chipping the worst, and James once observed to me : “I am very happy for your drive, but your chipping is no good.” Joan usually came over to Kiambu with me and sat on the verandah [sic] while I was playing. I often played with Stan Lamond, lecturer in engineering at Nairobi University, Hughie Macintyre, who was later murdered by burglars, and Alec Whiston, who was manager of a coffee estate at Kiambu. I sometimes dropped Joan off at Alec's to talk with Marjorie, his wife, while we played golf. One day, Alec asked if I would like to see round his coffee-estate. Out in the open, on long low racks, the coffee-beans were set to dry. The first rack held AA beans, top quality – the Germans took most of those, Alec said. On the second rack were AB beans, then BA beans, the BB beans, and on the last rack were all the bits and pieces, cracked, chipped and sometimes mouldy. “What do you do with these, Alec?” I asked, “chuck them away?” “Chuck them away!!” he said, “no, they go for making instant coffee.” “Right,” I said, “I've got the picture.” Dreadful stuff, instant coffee is, and I never drink it willingly. I read somewhere that if you run out of gravy powder, instant coffee granules are an acceptable alternative. There were people in Kenya, the home of the world's best coffee, who always drank instant.

[page break]

There were many places to go in and around Nairobi – the Rift Valley, Fourteen Falls, Bushwhackers Safari Camp, Tsavo Tsofaris Camp, Treetops Hotel, and Limuru, and the crater of Ngorongoro, and extinct volcano, Lake Magadi – many such come to mind. I have several hundred slides of these places and the game in the reserves, but I wish I had taken ordinary photos now. There is one lovely one of an African elephant fairly close up, with Mount Kilimanjaro in the background, free for once of its cloud-cover, with the snow clearly visible on top. Also a close-up of an ostrich’s head with a beady eye and very severe expression, which I always said reminded me of Joan’s face when I said I would be playing golf again on Sunday.

I used to conduct the School Certificate in oral French at Limuru Girl’s School. A woman was appointed to do it; but she didn’t want to go so far out of Nairobi on a motor-scooter, so I offered to go. When I got out of the car in front of the school, I met the Headmistress, and said: “I suppose the girls were surprised to see a man arriving, “and she said: “Yes, they were. They are all upstairs now brushing their hair.” The daughter of the president of Kiambu Golf Club was at that school. One evening, I was talking to him in the bar, and he said she was very worried about the oral exam. I said; “Well as it happens, I am conducting that exam there, “- followed by a slow wink – “and I think you’ll find she will be all right.” And as it turned out, she was.

I attended a careers conference in Nairobi, chaired by Tom Mboya, the Vice-President, a well-educated man who could be relied upon to uphold the prestige of his country at any gathering. He was asked: “Does it worry you when you see Europeans driving round in Mercedes?” “No,” he said, “but it does worry me when I see Africans driving round in Mercedes.” The President was, of course, Jomo Kenyatta, much maligned by the British in the days of Mau Mau, but once that unpleasant ness was over and Kenya became independent, he turned out to be a very wise and capable statesman. Other newly independent African states plunged headlong into independence, cast aside all European influence and assistance, put incapable Africans into every post of

[page break]


importance, and quickly became turbulent, corrupt and chaotic, and headed rapidly towards economic disaster. Not so with Kenyatta; he retained all that he needed in the way of advice, expertise and experience, and produced the most peaceful and prosperous of all the African states.

And so time moved on until we were nearing the end of our 27-month contract. Joan had settled down quite happily, and although looking forward to returning to England, was beginning to think of coming back again for another spell. Sometimes she wanted to, sometimes she didn’t, and I remember Rosemary saying to her one evening: “Well, what are you doing today, going for good or coming back?” The advantage of coming back was that not only was the pay much better than in England but at the end of each contract you got a gratuity of 25% of all you had earned to date; one contract gave you a considerable boost, but it was a second one on top of that that put you on easy street, so I hoped she would plump for coming back. In the end, she decided that, yes, we would give it another go, so I applied for and got a further contract. We would leave in mid-August 1967 and come back in mid-December. Meanwhile, Helen had finished her primary education at Muthaiga and was enrolled at Kenya High School, a top-class girl’s boarding-school in lovely surroundings. So our possessions and the car went into store and we took the overnight train to Mombasa.

[Two photographs of the train]

[page break]


At Mombasa we went on board the S.S. Kenya. This made two stops, one at Beira, in Mozambique, and the other at Palma in the Canary Islands, and the voyage lasted about three weeks.

[photograph of ship]

The boat docked at Tilbury. Richard was waiting there for us, by appointment, and drove us back to Woodley.

In early December, we set off back to Kenya. It was bitterly cold and just starting to snow when we left Heathrow by East African Airways VC10 and flaming hot when we arrived next morning at Nairobi, having made one stop at Entebbe in Uganda. Bill and Barbara Woodhouse were waiting for us at the airport, and drove us to their house where we stayed for a few days while getting organised. While I was on leave, the Headmistress, Joan Hills, had retired and her place was taken by Jean Macdonald, who had her own house in Nairobi, and I was appointed Deputy Head and allocated the Head Teacher’s house in the school grounds, quiet, pleasant and airy, and we soon settled down and made ourselves comfortable there.

Before going on leave, we had arranged with the Woodhouses to go to Bushwhackers Safari Camp. This was a journey of 150 miles down the Mombasa Road to Kibwezi, turn off there, and proceed for some 20 miles out into the bush. It was completely off the beaten track, right out in the wilds, and consisted of huts of split

[page break]


bamboo on concrete bases, forming a wide semicircle fronting onto the Athi River (which contained crocodiles.) One day, we were talking to the woman who ran the camp, and she said: “Did you see that lion that came down to drink by your banda[?] this morning?” You could see out plainly through the gaps between the flimsy bamboo slats, so I was pleased to have been spared that sight, and even more pleased not to have been outside at the time. There was no food provided – it was self-catering, so everything had to be brought, even beer, as there was no shop. In the evenings, we used to sit on logs round a campfire in the middle of the semicircle, and there were lions roaring and elephants trumpeting off in the bush. All the food had to be put away in meat-safes, otherwise the bush-babies would have the lot. Toilet facilities took the form of “long-drops” – deep holes covered by wooden seats. It was said that during the inter-tribal feuding of the Mau-mau days, many a victim found his last resting-place at the bottom of a long-drop. The beauty of Bushwhackers was that it was completely isolated and relaxing – there was nowhere to go and nothing to do except laze in the sunshine, read, drink beer and talk. With all the animals about, there was no temptation to wander far.
[two colour photographs of their son]

[page break]


[three colour photographs – one of their house] Our house in the school grounds.

During this second contract, Helen was at Kenya High School, and came home every other week-end in term-time. Philip was at Westlands Primary School, about three miles away from where we lived, and had to be taken back and forth by car, which was a bit of a chore.

School began at 8 o’clock and finished at 4, and almost all the girls stayed for dinner. The position as head of the catering side became vacant, and Joan took it on, and a very successful job she made of it.

[page break]


[photograph of a class of school children]

[two photographs of his children]

[page break]


Being deputy head, my teaching timetable was considerably reduced, as there was a lot of organisational and office work to do. The school had a lovely Olympic-size swimming-pool (which we often used at week-ends and in holiday time), and the senior girls would often ask if I could spare the time to go out and supervise their swimming.

Miss Macdonald went on leave for one term, and I found myself in the position of Acting Head, in charge of the whole school. It so happened that the European heads of all the other schools in Nairobi were also on leave at that time, and the Ministry of Education availed themselves of this opportunity to get rid of them all and put Africans in their place. Of course, everybody knew this would happen eventually, and that was accepted, but the change-over was carried out in a most shifty and underhand way. Being Head, I was present at the Governors’ meeting, and similar meetings and processes were going on simultaneously all over Nairobi, as I found out later. All the African governors had been primed to find fault with the way that the schools were being administered, and accusations were made that were patently untrue; the European heads were discredited and would be replaced, as would other Europeans when their contracts expired, never mind whether or not there were Africans capable of filling the posts. So the next day a Mrs. Maina arrived and had to be shown the ropes.

We continued to go down to the coast for our holidays. Here is a photo of the Matthews family. The picture gives a good idea of a banda – no glass in the windows. [photograph]

[page break]


We went away once for a week-end at Treetops, near Nyeri, about 50 miles up-country. Cars were left in Nyeri, and we were taken in a Land Rover to about ¼ mile from the hotel; we walked the last few hundred yards, accompanied by a man with a rifle. Helen was at school, and children of Philip’s age were not accepted so we left him with Annette Bedford, one of our teachers. The hotel is in a game reserve, built on stilts as you can see, and overlooking a water-hole where the animals came to drink, and which was floodlit. Ample supplied of salt were scattered round to encourage them. The building was very luxurious inside and the food was excellent. Princess Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were staying there when she received news of the death of King George V1.


One Christmas, we spent a few days at the Tea Hotel in Kericho, up near Lake Victoria, with the Matthews. This was on the Brooke Bond tea estates, and once again was very luxurious. The food over the Christmas period was beyond all dreams of gluttony.

[page break]

Christmas Eve DINNER – Tea Hotel, Kericho

[page break]

Christmas Eve
1. Langouster Cocktail
2. Consomme Sherry
3. Fillet of Tilapia Veronique
4. Molo Lamb Chops, Mint Sauce
5. Roast Duckling as in Nanes
6. Spring Carrots, Garden Peas, Roast Potatoes
7. Foie Gras Maison
8. Peaches Flambees
9. Cheese and Biscuits

[page break]


Christmas Day DINNER – Tea Hotel, Kericho

[page break]

Christmas Day
1. SmokedSalmon
2. Consomme Julienne
3. Oeufs Muelemeester
4. Turkey de Noel Farcie, Cranberry Sauce
5. Baked York Ham Au Champagne
6. Christmas Pudding Flambee
7. Mince Pie & Cream Chantilly
8. Anchovy Straws
9. Cheese and Biscuits
10. Fresh Fruit and Nuts

[page break]

Boxing Day Buffet SUPPER – Tea Hotel, Kericho

[page break]

Buffet Supper

[underlined FISH [/underlined]
Smoked Salmon, Smoked Eel, Fish in Aspic, King Fish Mayonnaise, Prawn Sauce Verte, Langouste a la Parisienne, Caviar, Pickled Herrings

[underlined] POULTRY [/underlined]
Turkey in Aspic, Roast Ducklings, Capons Fedora

[underlined] MEAT [/underlined]
Suckling Pig, Roast Leg of Pork, York Ham Fume, Roast Beef with Horse-Raddish Sauce, Lamb Chops, Roast Leg of Veal Flamande, Ox Tongue in Gelatine, Charcuteries


[underlined] SWEETS [/unlined]
Apple Pie, Mince Pies, Fruit Salad, Cream Caramel, Assorted Jellies, Fresh Fruit, Rum Charlotte Russe, Sherry Chantilly

Assorted Cheese and Biscuits


Hot Onion Soup served on departure at 2 a.m.

[page break]


[colour photograph] Tea Hotel, Kericho. [/colour photograph]
Towards the end of our stay in Kenya, Joan’s mother and father came out for a month, the first time they had ever travelled by air. We met them at the airport. Two days later, after they had got acclimatised, we went down to Mombasa for a fortnight, and then later went up to Naro Moru River Lodge, with the Matthews and their two children, Caroline and Andy. During the stay there, some of us went on a safari up Mount Kenya – all the Matthews family, Helen and myself – the trip would have been too arduous for Philip – at his age he would just not have had the strength. Equipped with all the necessary gear and bearers, we were taken by Land Rover up through the forest to the 10,000 foot level, to the tree-line up the slope towards the 16,000 foot level, where there was a tented camp called Mackinder’s Camp, who first set up his base there to explore the mountain (Sir Halford Mackinder.) The climbing was very steep and hard going, over ground that was frequently marshy, and oxygen-starvation sapped the energy. It was dispiriting going, too, as the phenomenon of false crests was always with us. You see one crest ahead, and think: “When I’m over that, it will be easier.” But no – there is another one ahead, and another after that, and so on. You will see what I mean by the diagram.

[page break]

[diagram] Line of sight.
At one point, crossing a deep ravine, there was a narrow footbridge, at the entrance to which there was a notice that said “Elephants have right of way on this bridge.”

So we were pretty worn out when we reached the camp, and the bearers set about making a fire and preparing a meal of sorts. The tents were small two-man jobs, and we slept in sleeping bags on the ground, fully clothed as it was bitterly cold, so there was not much sleep to be had. We left at mid-day the next day for the journey down, and
[photograph of Mount Kenya]

[page break]


arrived very weary back at Naro Moru River Lodge after dark, for a hot both and a good meal.

The time approached for us to leave Kenya, and I handed in my resignation. Several reasons militated against a return. My position as Deputy Head was by no means secure; Europeans were being replaced with all speed by Africans, and the secretary informed me that Mrs. Maine had already applied to the Ministry for an African to fill this post, and on my return from leave I might well have found myself sent to El Wak or Mandera, right out in the wilds in the Northern Frontier District, the haunt of bandits and baddies of all sorts. Helen was in her School Certificate year, and would soon be leaving school, and she would not have got a job of any sort. Philip was at the end of primary school, and whilst the education at primary schools was still very good, it was fast declining in secondary schools, due to over-hasty Africanisation, and we did not think he would get a fair crack of the whip. When I went to Nairobi, the ratios of pupils were about equally divided between Europeans, Asians and Africans; when I left there were only three European girls left. I used to stand at the top of the steps every morning as the girls were being delivered by car. One day, a car stopped and I was beckoned down to have a word with the driver. This was a big beefy man, one Superintendent Oswald, who had been head of the police force; he had been replaced by a figurehead African, but he was still the man who did all the work. “Here”, he said, “is this right what I hear?” “Well, it all depends,” I said, “what do you hear?” “Why”, he said, “about the whole bloody place going down the nick.” I said: “Yes, between you and me, that is a fact.” “Right”, he said, “thanks very much. She’s going to school back in England then.” Mrs. Maine asked me later if I would consider withdrawing my resignation. I said I knew she was wanting to Africanise my post, but she said: “I have looked everywhere, but I cannot find anyone capable.” “Too bad,” I thought, “we’re going anyway.”

[page break]


(One day, the secretary came to see me over some administrative matter, when I was tucked away in some secluded corner of the school with a very attractive sixth-form pupil, an Italian girl named Marisa Conti – doing a French lesson, of course. “My word”, said the secretary, “you’ve got it all right, haven’t you?”)

Be that as it may, preparations were set afoot to leave State House Road Girls’ High School. One had the choice of returning to England by air or by sea, and we thought the sea trip would be a more enjoyable experience. However, at that time, the Suez Canal was closed, and no passenger ships called at Mombasa – it was too much out of the way for shipping to and from India and the Far East. I kept in touch with the Ministry, though, and eventually they came up with a sea-passage which we were happy to accept.

[photograph] State House Road Girls’ High School. [/photograph]

[page break]

Mr. Lusk, Mr. Lee, Mr. Martin Mrs. Howard, Mrs. Jacobs, Miss Milton Mrs. Martin, Mrs. Davis, Mrs. Kamau
Miss Ahluwalia, Miss Bailey, Mrs. Wanjui, Mrs. Were, Miss Gulamali, Miss Mistry, Miss Nduati
Miss Laboso Miss Horwill, Miss Brooks Miss Bedford, Mrs. Morris, Mrs. Wharton, Mts. Quirighetti, Miss Sood, Mrs. Thompson, Mrs. Mitchell Mrs. Gadhok, Mrs. Image, Mrs. Harthoorn, Miss Baker-Beall,
Miss Dacdonald, Mr. Wagner, Mrs. McCullagh, Miss Rooke, Mrs. Kothari, Mr. F[missing letters]



Grace Muchura, Edna Habwe, Joyce Unman, Linda Green, Linda Rickards Jane Ojal, Cheryl Preston, Janet Bradley, Jacqueline Shaw, Carole Austin Judith Habwe, Miss Macdonald. Mr. Wagner

[page break]



[italics] The Pool. [/italics]


A typical African village.

So all our possessions were crated up and dispatched, the car was sold, and we took the night train to Mombasa. Thence by taxi to Kilindini Harbour and embarked on the M.V. Bawean. This was a Dutch merchant ship of 9525 tons. There was a general cargo below decks

[page break]

and live animals in cages on the top decks destined for Hamburg Zoo. There was provision for 12 passengers in good accommodation, and the food was excellent - the captain (Captain Zeper) said they always preferred passengers aboard, as the food had to be of a higher standard. There was only one passenger in addition to us, a Mr. Wandby. When we went on board, I asked the captain what parts of the ship were out of bounds, and he said: “Nowhere. But you must have permission to go down into the engine room.” All day, we lounged about on deck or in the passenger-lounge, and in the evenings Captain Zeper and the First Officer would join us for chat and beer drinking. The ship headed south from Mombasa, and only made one stop on the voyage (at Beira.) Then it went round past Capetown, out into the Atlantic, past the Canary Islands, across the Bay of Biscay, up the Channel, and in to Antwerp. We were supposed to get off at Antwerp, but the captain said we could stay on till Rotterdam if we wished, so we took up his offer. He radioed on ahead to book hotel accomodation [sic] for us, and we stayed a few days there, as it was tulip-time. We went by taxi from Rotterdam to the Hook of Holland, came across by boat to Harwich, and thence by train back to Reading. Home again.



[page break]



TO: Wagner C/O
M. V. Bawean
Kilindini Harbour


Kwaherini ya Knonana


Farewell telegram from Brian and Rosemary Mathews - “Goodbye and good luck.”

From early May until early September I had no work, and used the time for getting the house and garden in order again, playing golf, and generally having an easy time. I had a job to go back to in September, which was in fact the old one that I had before I went to Kenya.

The present incumbent was due to move on, and Keith Fletcher, knowing I needed a job, recommended to the Headmaster that I should be invited to fill the vacancy. The Headmaster agreed, provided that I would stay for two years (so as to give some degree of continuity.) I was really wanting a Head of Department post, because of the higher

[page break]


salary, but this would give me time to settle down and look around. So I resumed golfing with Bob Lightfoot and the others, and it was almost as if I had never been away.

There was one sad note that summer, though. Shortly before we left Kenya, John wrote to say that Richard was seriously ill with cancer of the throat. He was still active when we got home, still golfing, but he had had an operation and the prognosis was bad. It was not long before he went into the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading, and died soon afterwards. We had always been the best of friends, with never a cross word, mainly I suppose because of the golf and the similarity in our ages, and I missed him a lot. We sold his flat, car, furniture, golf-clubs etc., and shared the money between John, Brian and myself, and were thus able to pay off the mortgage on the house. Everybody has something to contribute, to a greater or less degree, and when anyone goes there must be a sense of loss. But, in the words of a hymn, “Death itself cannot unbind their happy brotherhood.”


The family outside the back door of the house.

Brian and Rosemary, on one of their leaves from Kenya, came to stay with us for week. The next photo was taken in the garden of a favourite pub, The Bottle and Glass at

[page break]


Binfield Heath, near Henley.


Seeing Brian’s photo again, I am reminded of an incident that occurred when we were playing at Ruiru Golf Club. We were the first ones round in the afternoon. By sheer bad luck (of course), I had lost the first hole, and Brian therefore took the honour on the second tee. He had just taken his stance when I said: “Hold on, Brian. How about this?”, and indicated a python stretched out in front of the tee, or about the front 8 ft of it, the rest trailing back into the bushes. It was about a foot thick. “Oh,” he said, “I don’t like the look of that - I don’t think we’ll play this hole.” “I’m prepared to play it,” I said. “It’s your honour, either take your shot or concede the hole.” He was inclined to consider this attitude sporting, and in fact said so. So I said: “All right, then. You take your swing, and I’ll tell you if the b…… moves.” He had just got to the top of the backswing when I said again: “Hold it.” The python raised its head and looked at us, then slowly turned and tracked of into the bushes. By this time, Brian’s equilibrium was so disturbed that I did not have much trouble with him for the rest of the round. The whole episode comes under the heading of Gamesmanship - rattle your opponent if you get half a chance. Special local rules were in operation at many clubs entitling players to obtain relief when their ball

[page break]


lay in the vicinity of wild life such as rhinos, hippos and lines of soldier ants, but pythons were not mentioned in the local rules at Ruiru.

I applied for a good many jobs after returning from Kenya, and had several unsuccessful interviews. I applied for one at the Hereward School at March, and was called for interview. Joan came along for the ride. There were only two of us to be interviewed, the other one being a weedy-looking character, and I thought: “That’s it then, I’ve got the job.”, but things turned out otherwise - he did. I was preparing to leave when the representative from County Hall said: “There is another similar post at Wisbech, and we thought that as you have taught at a girls’ school, this one would suit you. If you like to go over there this afternoon, I think you would be certain to get the job.” So we came over to Wisbech, had lunch in town, and then the interview took place while Joan went out and had a look round Wisbech. I accepted the post, and when Joan came back I asked her what she thought of Wisbech. She said: “Think it’s a nice little place.” So it was arranged that I should start that September (1972), giving us three months to sell our house and buy one up here.

We put our house in Woodley on the market, and it seemed we could expect £12,000, but it was a buyer’s market at the time, and there were lots of other houses for sale. Time was going on; we travelled up toWisbech, looked around, and settled on 42 Bowthorpe Road. In order to clinch the deal, we had to take out a bridging loan; thankfully, we did not have to keep it for long, as they cost a lot of money. Our house was soon sold, to an airline pilot. He said: “We’ve looked at a good few houses, but what decided us in favour of yours was the fact that the house and garden have been so well looked after.”

In August, then, after a holiday in Camborne, we made the move to Wisbech. Helen did not come with us.

[page break]


[page break]

While we were still living in Woodley, Helen had attended a secretarial college and then she got a job in Reading. She made the acquaintance of one Christopher Sandall, and they formed an attachment. Before
that, however, she announced that she wanted to leave home “to do her own thing” as she put it, and went to live in one dingy room down in Reading. Joan was very much hurt at this - why would she want to go away from a pleasant comfortable home where everything was provided and where she was very much cared for? What had we done wrong that she would want to get away from us? I know Joan was very upset to think that our daughter had so little love for us. But there it was - she went. Before we left Woodley, however, she had at least moved to a bright and pleasant room in a better part of Reading.

And the move to Wisbech brings me, I think, to the end of the downwind leg of the circuit - a long and eventful one, but a smooth passage with everything in order and under control. Now it was time to start the base leg, to set ourselves up, in fact, for the final approach. It was our intention to make this our last move and to remain here until retirement at least, and probably thereafter. I had only ever applied for jobs in small towns and in pleasant parts of the country - I would have been miserable in a large town or city, like a fish out of water; I must have the open spaces available.

[underlined] BASE LEG. [/underlined]

For the few weeks before starting work at The Queen’s Girls’ School, we set about getting the house in order, having carpets laid, old-fashioned fireplaces taken out, central heating put in, licking the garden into shape, altering the shape of the lawn, laying a patio outside the back window, and generally making everything comfortable ready to start on this new phase of our lives. We knew nobody, but that would come in the fulness of time. The people seemed to be friendly enough in the shops etc, but it was not easy to get to know

[page break]


[Three photographs]

[page break]


then on a closer basis. I enquired in the staff-room at school as to who played golf, and was pointed in the direction of Norman Davis who, as time went on became a very good friend. He was a member at Sutton Bridge, and signed my application form. That was in September 1972, and it only took five months for my membership to be confirmed, whereas at the time of writing (1991) it takes four years or so to get in, such is the demand for membership of a golf club these days. We soon formed a regular Saturday-morning four-ball[?]. Norman was an indifferent performer in those days, not having played for very long, but quickly improved and reached a level about the same as mine.

It was not long before we became acquainted with Tennyson and Shirley Johnson, next-door, and they also soon became good friends. They are both kindly, cheerful and easy to get on with, and always do anything they can to help, far more than just good neighbourliness. You would scour the length and breadth of the country and not find better people to live next door to. I once diffidently offered Tennyson a bottle of home-made wine to go with his Sunday dinner, and in no time at all he was into wine-making himself. He makes considerable amounts now, from his own fruit and vegetables, and it is all of excellent quality – the wine made from his own grapes is the best I have ever tasted, far superior to any commercial product. As is so often the case, the pupil outstripped the master. I have had that happen on the golf course before now, too. As well as being a master-vintner, Tennyson is also a master-gardener; his flow-garden is a beauty to behold in the summer, but he is not so hot on the vegetables.

After making curtains and generally getting the home as she wanted it (she was a great home-maker), Joan got herself a job at a local factory, (Fogartys), machining duvet-covers, pillow-cases and that sort of thing, not particularly because of the money but because of the company. And I set to work at The Queen’s Girls’ School. This was a sort of semi-comprehensive school – it took all the girls in Wisbech from 11 to 13, then the best 20% or so went to the grammar

[page break]


school and the remainder stayed where they were. This meant that the first and second forms were on the whole reasonable to teach, but the third, fourth and fifth years were mostly pretty difficult; they were obviously the ones of lesser intelligence or with little will to work. After having always taught in grammar schools, where nearly everybody wanted to work, this came as a bit of a shock to me, and I found the job tedious and frustrating; I was always as good a teacher as anyone else, given the opportunity, but was never up to much as a warder. It was annoying, too, to see girls who really wanted to get on with their education being actively prevented by their fellow-citizens, and I felt very sorry for them. Partly through the changing social scene, influenced by do-gooders, partly through lack of parental discipline, partly through the lack of necessity to earn a living, discipline in schools has broken down, and without some authoritarian backing, teachers are largely wasting their time. Having said that, I found 90% of the girls pleasant, agreeable, charming, and amenable – it was the other 10% who produced an effect quite out of keeping with their numbers, and who gave the school the rather bad name which it undoubtedly had. The Headmistress was Miss Weller, who made every effort to maintain good disciplinary standards, but there was not a great deal she could do, not having any recourse to positive and effective measures. But you knew where you stood with her – if you gave her a square deal, she gave you one, but heaven help you if you tried to pull the wool over her eyes. Anyway, as I said, the work at The Queen’s Girls’ School came as a shock and a disappointment; after a term there, I said to Joan: “I don’t know if I can take a lot of this.” She said: “If that’s the way you feel about it, we must think of going somewhere else”, quite prepared to give up the home she had just made for us, but gradually I became reconciled to the job – never happy doing it, but I don’t suppose many people really do enjoy their jobs – that’s not what you go to work for, you work to earn enough money to keep alive on. And so life continued on a pretty even plane. We settled down, and made quite a lot of friends, once we had got

[page break]

through the Fenlanders’ seemingly natural reservedness.

Helen and Chris eventually got married and set up their home in Bridport, Dorset. As we saw it, it was not an ideal marriage, as Chris was so immature and irresponsible, and also drank too much; he thought the world owed him a living, and what it would not give him, he took. Joan said to me: “I think she could have done better, don’t you?” (she was an excellent judge of character), and I said: “Yes, but it’s no good saying that to her, it will just make her all the more determined.” Having said all that, I always got on well with Chris – he was the hail-fellow-well-met type and good company, but not the man to take on the responsibilities of a husband and father and provider.

Philip spent the first two years of his secondary education at The Queen’s Boys’ School, then passed the test [deleted letters] to go to the Grammar School. He had always shown himself to be a good pupil and a boy of considerable intellect, and made good use of his place there. He had a talent for acting, and took part in the school plays and those of the local dramatic society. He also took after me in having an interest in matters aeronautical, and joined the Air Training Corps. A year before he was due to take the General Certificate of Education, I noticed in the syllabus [deleted] of [/deleted] that one board was offering an exam in Air Navigation, and enquired if there was anyone in the A.T.C. who could teach it. The C.O. said there was not, but that if I was willing to do so, I would be welcome. So on Monday evenings, I did two hours of instruction there; it was a hard course, and brough back to my mind many of the old skills. When the exam results came out, I was pleased that he passed, and passed in ten other subjects as well, and was set to enter the Sixth Form for the Advanced Level course. I thought that a pass in Air Navigation would be an asset to him in whatever aeronautical career he took up, but hoped that first he would go to university and get a degree.

As long as I knew her, Joan had a stomach that caused her a good deal of trouble through acidity. She could never eat strong foods, and

[page break]


was frequently laid low by bouts of digestive trouble and stomach upsets. She had to go to the doctor fairly often, and the treatment was always the same – antacid tablets and medicine, which worked all right until the next time. Early in 1976, her doctor said it was no use going on like that any longer – she would have to go into hospital and have an operation to find and rectify the cause of the trouble – he thought it was a gastric ulcer, and nobody was particularly worried as this was quite a commonplace operation, and hopefully there would be a better standard of life for her when it was all over. So on a Friday she went over to the hospital in Wisbech, and Shirley next-door went with her. The operation was scheduled for the following Monday. I was not able to see her until the Tuesday, and she told me what the trouble was, as described to her by the surgeon; the bottom third of the stomach had been so corroded by acid over the years that it had to be removed and what was left stitched together, but it all seemed to have gone well. But one afternoon I got a message from the hospital – don’t come across this evening, she has had to go down to the theatre for further surgery. That was when I started to get worried, and Shirley told me later that she said the ominously prophetic remark: “I’ve been with the angels.” However, she seemed to be recovering from this, although not looking well. Helen came up to visit her one Sunday; I wasn’t to tell Joan anything about this projected visit, and when we went into the ward, Joan’s face really lit up, and she called out: “Helen!” Helen cried afterwards, and said: “Doesn’t she look terrible?”, and I said: “That’s far better than she looked a few days ago.” But after that, she started to go downhill, and I was full of foreboding. Eventually, after one visit, the matron called me aside and said: “She’s not going to get better,” and Joan herself said to me: “I don’t think I’ll be coming home.” The matron said it would be a matter of ten days or so; on the way home, I called in to tell Shirley, then had to break the sad news to Philip that we were going to be on our own shortly. I was going to lose the best wife in the world and he was going to lose the best mother. I told Miss Weller at school the

[page break]

[page 167 missing]


“The Gardens of Remembrance”
Peterborough Crematorium
Mowbray Road, Peterborough

This is to Certify that the cremated remains of the late JOAN PATRICIA WAGNER were strewn in the Garden of Remembrance on Friday 23rd July 1976
Cremation Reference No. 24010
All particulars regarding The Book of Remembrance may be obtained from the Crematorium Office.
Crematorium Director and Registrar [/card]

List of Wreaths for the late Joan Patricia Wagner who died on Sunday 18th July 1976 Aged 46 years

With compliments of
W. Bailey & Son
Funeral Directors
49 Lynn Road

[page break]
[list of floral tributes]
For our lovely Joan
Fond Memories Precious Henry, Helen and Philip

Jean, Derek, Susan and Pauline
Rosemary & Brian
Hilda, John & family
Mum and Dad
Joan, Stan & family
John, Evelyn & Sheila
Staff & Pupils Queens Girls School
Babs, Dave & family
Directors & Staff E. Fogerty & Co. Ltd.
Ann, Bob and girls
Ron & Sylvia Sandall
Chris & Helen
Brian & Thelma
Management & Staff and all at the Factory
[/list of floral tributes]

She was beyond the horizon, into the country of the dawn, but still, day by lonely day I hear my Joan in the wind’s soft song, and with the flowers she comes again. Dear love, I miss you so.

[page break]


next morning, and she said I could go across to the hospital any time and sit with Joan, which I did, but by now she was so sedated that I think she only realised dimly that I was there. I phoned Helen, and she said immediately: “I’m coming up”; Jean and Derek from Woodley also came up to be with us. In the early hours of the morning of Sunday 18 July, when we were all asleep, the telephone rang and I knew (we all knew) what the message would be. Our lovely Joan had left us. Why should it be, when there are so many evil and worthless people in the world, the dearest and the best, the most dearly-loved, has to go?
“But some we loved, the loveliest and the best,
That time and fate of all their vintage[?] prest,
Have drunk their cup a round or two before,
And one by one crept silently to rest.”
Omar Khayyam.

Rosemary, on leave from Kenya, came all the way up from the Isle of Wight to see Jean, only to be gold on arrival that she had died just a few hours before.

The funeral took place at Peterborough on the Thursday. Among many others, Miss Weller was there, accompanied by Mrs. Gann, and Steve Shepherd, deputy head, with whom I had always been on good terms – he played golf with us on Saturdays.

[newspaper cutting]
Friday, July 23rd, 1976
Mrs J P Wagner
A funeral service was held yesterday (Thursday) at Peterborough Crematorium for Mrs Joan Patricia Wagner, of 42 Bowthorpe Road, Wisbech.
Mrs Wagner, who was 46, died in the North Cambridgeshire Hospital on Sunday. She had undergone an operation two months ago. Until she had the operation her health had been reasonable and she enjoyed her work at Fogarty and Co. Ltd. Weasenham Lane, Wisbech.
She was an associate member of the Wisbech branch of the Royal Air Force Association and was a member of the social committee.
Mrs Wagner was born in London and moved to Wisbech four years ago from Reading.
She leaves a husband, a son and a daughter. [/newspaper cutting]

[photograph of Joan]

[page break]

There were many letters of sympathy, all showing the high esteem in which our Joan was held by everyone who knew her. I attach some of them here for your consideration.

19 July 1976
61 Landguard Rd
Shanklin I.W.

My dear Henry,
I will now try & say the things I wanted to say to you on Sunday, my inability to do so without dissolving into tears I realised was no good at all. I still feel numb and can not really take it in as yet.

Joan was a marvellous person and a very dear friend, I admired her so much in many ways. Her warmth of personality, sense of humour, her complete straightforward approach to life & being able to call ‘a spade a spade’, a thing so many of us shirk doing. I shall miss her more than its possible to say.

What can I say that can be of comfort? I think to remember all the good & happy things she had been able to enjoy, the happy marriage you had, two super children, the security you gave her, & the lovely home you were able to create together which I know meant so much to her.

She wouldn’t want you to grieve too long Henry & time will be the great healer. Unfortunately the human part of us still keeps crying – why? Why did this have to happen to someone like Joan with everything to live for.

I suppose it was Rosemary, of all Joan’s friends, who knew her best, and was well-qualified to give a true acknowledgment of her character.

[page break]


[picture postcard]

[page break]


17 Naple Road
Sutton Coldfield
West Midlands.


My Dear Henry,

It’s tragic that after all these years we should be writing to offer our sympathy to you, Helen and Phillip in your sad loss. Our memories of you all are happy ones and so many occasions spring to mind making it difficult to accept that Joan is no longer with you.

At such times there are no words that are of help or consolation but it is said that time heals, I hope & pray this is so.

Babs and Dave Read were friends of ours when we lived in Woodley. I pick out one word from their letter, which seems odd at first sight, and that is “naivete”[?]. In these days, it is taken to mean “simple, almost to the point of stupidity,” but I am sure that here it is used in its true and original sense, since it describes Joan so well – “with natural or unaffected simplicity, especially in thought, manners or speech.” There was nothing affected, contrived or pretended about her; she said what she thought, saw through any pretence or sham, saw people for what they were, not what they said they were. What you saw was what she was, and if you didn’t like it, that was up to you. A truth that was less than the whole truth amounted to being a lie.

[page break]

[continuation of letter]

and feel sure that Helen and Phillip will be a great comfort to you in the years ahead.

Although our lives touched for relatively few years, we too loved Joan without perhaps realising it at the time. We shall treasure our memories of her forthrightness, naivete but most of all for her kindness.

What more can be said henry, except that you [underlined] will [/underlined] find the strength to live through your heartbreak, with the childrens[sic] help. They are part of Joan so you haven’t lost her altogether.

Please accept our apologies for not being able to be [/continuation of letter]

[page break]




Dear Henry

I have waited until now to write to you because, hopefully, the bitterness of Joan’s death has abated a little and you have been able to come to terms with the tragic unfairness of the situation.

I find it difficult to tell you how shocked Sylvia and I were to hear about Joan. She was the sort of person of whom there are always far too few in the world and it seems such a stupid waste for her to go in such a way and at this time.

Nothing I can say can help much, I know, but if a

[page break]

deep regard for Joan as a friend we knew for all too short a time and an equally deep regret[?] from Sylvia and I that she is no longer with us can mark her passing and [two indecipherable words] a little this letter will not have been wasted.

Yours very sincerely
Don Sandell[?]

[page break]


Tal: Fleet (02514) 6077.

26 Wood Lane,
GU13 9EA

My Dear Henry,

I cannot convey to you the deep sympathy I feel for you at this time. It is quite impossible to imagine oneself in your situation, but one can get a glimpse, a whiff as it were, and my heart has truly ached for you.

Since my Mother rang me after your visit I have been trying to trace you, since I thought you were staying down here for some time. This evening I called at your old house and was directed to Mrs Yewington(sic?) who told me you had returned. We were intending to offer you a few days – several days if you wished – with us, and the offer remains open. We would love to help in any way we can. (That means [underlined] exactly [/underlined] what it says)

Your last letter rather saddened me; I had been thinking about it over and

[page break]

over again. Retirement is for the aged, the worn out, and despite your present feelings on the matter this is no description of Henry W. Wagner. I do hope that in the not too distant future I shall have the undiluted pleasure of your acknowledgement of this profound truth[?].

Please remember, if you have any unbooked holiday and would like to get away we shall be delighted to have you. We have a nice house and 1/3 acre in a very quiet area (so long as Farnborough Air Show isn’t on – but maybe you would like to come for that?) and I think you would find it restful.

Don’t regard this letter as an additional burden; no reply is needed and if you want to come give us a ring.

With love from us both,

[page break]

Tel Fleet (02514) 6077

26 Wood Lane
Hants GU13 9EA


My dear Henry,

Once more, please do not regard this letter as a burden which must be answered, but I thought that possibly [deleted one word] you might welcome a line or two.

Thank you for your letter. We were pleased to know that we can look forward to seeing you for a few days in due course. I am sure it would do you good to come; not that we dispense therapy for the needy, but a change is as good as a feast,[?] or words to that effect, and if you get bored you can always go out and fight a fire. We put one out last night on our way back from [indecipherable name].

I am sure that the friends who tell you that time will heal are right, but the trouble is, of course, that the time has to be

[page break]

lived through. There is nothing else you can do with it. And that is hard; one doesn’t need much imagination to see that. I know that I would feel exactly as you do. Nothing would seem worthwhile. But its good that you have made up your mind to keep the place running properly for Philip’s sake; boys are so much more in need of the steady reliable background of home than girls are.

It seems a shame now that we never really got to know Joan, just as you don’t really know Antigone[?]. But we certainly liked what we did know and it was clear to us that you were very happy. We felt that she was very happy too, as your wife; she had a calm contentment which was a good advertisement for you both.

But don’t underestimate yourself, Henry. As Antigone[?] could tell you, I have always admired you for your steadfast rock-like qualities (among others). These will help.

Every good wish
Yours Jim.

[page break]


83 Northcourt Aven.

Dear Henry

We have just heard your dreadful news. I don’t need to tell you that all our sympathies go out to you & the children.

When the worst is over & you have time, I hope we shall be hearing from you.

Keith Fletcher

[page break]


We had been married for a little less than twenty-seven years. I can still well remember the words of that popular wedding hymn, which we had at our service:-

O perfect love, all human thought transcending,
Lowly we kneel in prayer before they throne,
That theirs may be the love which knows no ending,
Whom thou for evermore dost join in me.

O perfect life, be thou their full assurance
Of tender charity and steadfast faith,
Of patient hope, and quiet brave endurance,
With childlike trust that fears nor pain nor death.

Grant them the joy that brightens earthy sorrow,
Grant them the peace which calms all earthly strife,
And to life’s day the glorious unknown morrow
That dawns upon eternal love and life.

There was until recently, a woman priest in our church here in Wisbech, the Reverend Janet Henderson, about forty years old, a lovely person, serene and caring. She had previously been a nurse in a cancer ward before taking up the Ministry. In one of her sermons, on the subject of hope, she said: “We marry in hope.” Not so in our case – we married in certainty, in the certainty that all would be well. And so it turned out. It was not just a happy marriage, it was a joyful one, with never a harsh word, never a lie, never a reproach, never anything that we wished hadn’t been said – they just were not necessary.

Usually, I arrived home from work a few minutes before Joan did. I used to stand at the kitchen window waiting for the kettle to boil to have a cup of tea ready for her, and when she passed the window, my heart would give a leap and I would think:

[page break]

“She’s home. She’s mine for the rest of the day.”

We were not two separate people, we were two parts of the same person, so that when she died she took half of my away with her, but in return she left half of herself here. So she has not gone, she is still here. There is a religious theory known as Pantheism (Greek: theos meaning “God”, as in theology, and pan meaning “throughout”, as in Pan American) and this theory states that God is everywhere and in everything, He is not one being but rather a divine spirit dispersed throughout everything we see. And so it is with Joan; her gentle spirit is still here in everything round me, in the furniture she chose, the pictures she bought, the ornaments that she got because she liked them, the curtains that she made, the colours that she chose. In brief, it is still her home. Helen once asked me if I would ever marry again. I said: “Oh no, I wouldn’t want anybody else after Mummy. It would be like having a Rolls Royce all your life and then going back to driving an old banger like mine. I could never say to her: “All right, Joan, you have been replaced, you’ll have to go.” It just wouldn’t be fair.” And so I still keep the house and garden nice for her, and sometimes when I am working in the garden I wonder what she thinks of it all.

In his short story Llan Chernobyl, Tom Stacey wrote: “Oh yes, there well may be a God of Light, with a calm claim that all will be revealed, given time, given the appropriate circumstances.” But if there is a God of Light, there must also be a God of Darkness – consider all the suffering, cruelty, poverty, disease, injustice and hopelessness that are all around us. These are not the instruments of any God of Light. A God of Darkness who works on weakness, greed, selfishness and vanity. And unhappily there is a rich field for his cultivation among creatures that are animal in form but not in any other particular. It is manifestly invalid to compare them with what we know as animals. Perhaps we might describe them as an offshoot, a contaminated strain of the anthropoid apes, which many of them

[page break]

so closely resemble.
So different from my Joan.
“ (she) leaves a white
Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night”.
Rupert Brooke.

Our happiness was a full circle, a figure traditionally detested by the powers of darkness because it has no obvious point of weakness, and so they try to break it. They succeeded, using the only way they know, but only partly so. There was a break, a loss did occur, but only partly so, because what is left of the two of us is still together inside. It doesn’t pay to be completely happy – it only draws their attention, and they’ll get you one way or another.

“The older I grow,” wrote Pope John XX111 in his Journal of a Soul, “the more clearly I receive the dignity and winning beauty of simplicity in thought, conduct and speech; a desire to simplify all that is complicated and to treat everything with the greatest naturalness and clarity. I must strip my vines of all useless foliage and concentrate on what is truth, justice and charity.”

And from “In Search of Simplicity” by Martin Marty, Professor of Religion at the University of Chicago:-
“All the truly deep people have at the core of their being the genius to be simple or to know how to seek simplicity. The inner and outer aspects of their lives match; there is something transparent about them. They may keep the secret of their existence in a private preserve, but they are so uncluttered by any self-importance within, so unthreatened from without that they have what one philosopher called a “certain availability”; they are ready to be at the disposal of others. Part of genius [underlined] is [/underlined] simplicity, in the sense of oneness of life, of gathered force.”

And so in this way Joan had the genius of simplicity, not studied or cultivated, it was just there, and what more could you ask for?

[page break]


Here are the cards which we sent each other on the occasion of our silver wedding – they just happened to be the same ones. There was no inkling that in less than another two years it would be all over.
[picture of the front of the card]
Her ways were ways of gentleness,
And all her paths were peace.

[page break]


[picture of the front of the card]
“But oh for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still”.

“Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee.”
Isaiah, chapter 93, verse 4

[page break]


So Philip and I were on our own now here. Peter Gregory, head of English at The Queen’s Girls’ School, thinking we might want to get away from the place for a bit, invited us to go and spend a few days with him at Hunmanby, up near Scarborough. After we came back from there, Philip went off to Air Training Corps camp in Germany, and I went down for a few days and stayed with Jean and Derek, and renewed acquaintance with Bob Lightfoot and the old golfing and drinking fraternity. Returning from there, it was back to reality again. The summer holidays finished and we went back to work again. Looking back, I don’t see how I managed to cope with everything – washing, ironing, shopping, cooking, window-cleaning, gardening, as well as keeping up all the usual activities such as golfing, treasurer’s job at the R.A.F. club and many others too numerous to mention. We always had a cooked breakfast and a full cooked evening meal, and a roast dinner on Sundays.

But coming home after a day’s work was not like coming home to Joan again. Although her gentle spirit was still here, I couldn’t see her or hear her or touch her. However, I had friends who helped alleviate the distress – Norman Davis, Steve Shepherd, Dave Shrimpton, and especially Shirley and Tennyson next door. We had met Dave in the evenings when Joan and I used to go over to the R.A.F. club – an ex air-gunner and a man of great integrity, and a good friend still. The teaching, though, was becoming steadily more tedious and frustrating. Standards of discipline were low. With the post-war atmosphere of do-gooding in full swing, no effective disciplinary measures could be taken to ensure the proper atmosphere in which to teach, and I felt that I was largely wasting my time; instead of a profession, it became for me just a way of earning the money to keep alive. At work, I was a sort of zombie, one of the living dead, and I only came alive again when I was out of the place. A teacher labours not for himself alone, but also for those who [word indecipherable due to fold of paper] knowledge. But not all those gathered in the presence of a

[page break]


do seek knowledge. There are those who actively seek to prevent others acquiring knowledge. So it was quite normal for lessons to be destroyed, to be sworn at and generally treated with contempt. Ninety per cent of the girls were pleasant friendly co-operative pupils, but the other ten per cent wreaked havoc far beyond their numbers.

The following spring, Philip had the chance to go on a gliding course with the A.T.C. every week-end, at Swanton Morley, and eventually got round to going solo. He said to me: “Do you think, if I don’t have a birthday present this year, I could go on one of the courses at a proper gliding club, as advertised in The Aeromodeller?” I said: “Never mind about no birthday present, I’ll go as well and we’ll make it part of our summer holiday.” So we went to the Yorkshire Gliding Club at Sutton Bank, near Thirsk, flying mostly Blaniks, two-seaters of course for instructional purposes. We did not get much flying that year, as the weather was not good, but we went back again the next summer, and Philip went solo, but I never got round to it. A friend of Philip’s, Paul Reid from the A.T.C. came with us. Many years later, during the Gulf War, I saw him on television, a Flight-Lieutenant Tornado pilot.

[picture] A Blanik at Sutton Bank – the one that Philip did his first solo on there. [/picture]

[page break]

[photograph] The clubhouse of the Yorkshire Gliding Club, Sutton Bank. [/photograph]

[photograph] Between flights, Philip spent most of his time driving the tractor for glider and cable retrieval. In the background is a Falke motorised glider. [/photograph]

[page break]


[photograph] Preparing a Ka 13 for flight. P. Wagner up. [/photograph]

[photograph] In the summer of 1977, we went down to Bridport to stay with Helen. This photograph was taken at Lulworth Cove. [/photograph]

That same summer, we went over to France with Helen and Chris for a fortnight – one week at a mobile home site south of

[page break]


Brittany and then a further week at Carnac, in Brittany. It was a holiday that we were all intending to go on, with Joan, in 1976, but of course what had to be all changed.

In September 1976, Philip moved on into the Sixth Form at Wisbech Grammar School and embarked on the A-level course, which should have taken two years. He attended an Aircrew Selection Board at Biggin Hill, and passed in every particular but one – a weak right eye, which excluded him from aircrew duties. Naturally disappointed, he went back to school, but near the end of 1977 he expressed a wish not to continue. He had seen an advertisement for work in Air Traffic Control, and would like to apply. I said I would rather he carried on and got his A-levels, but he said: “They aren’t really very important unless you are going on to University. Employers seem to estimate your potential on O-level results and then train you to their requirements. In any case, if I leave it, these vacancies might not exist when I want them. Anyway, my school work hasn’t been up to much since Mummy died.” I could see the sense of all this; so he applied, was accepted, and went. Now, I was on my own here.

The following summer, I went to Sutton Bank on my own, and made good progress with the gliding under the instruction of John Lord. On the Thursday of the week I spent there, he said: “If the weather’s good tomorrow, Henry, we’ll get you off solo.” But the Friday was rainy and overcast, and there was no possibility of any flying, so I packed up early and came home. And that just about ended my gliding career. I did join our nearest club to Wisbech, the Peterborough and Spalding Gliding Club, but it was not really any use to me. They only had one two-seater for instructional purposes, only aerotow launches, and it took all day to get just one flight. I was never going to get anywhere under those conditions, so I gave it up as a bad job. Reluctantly, though – it was an enjoyable and interesting pursuit.

[page break]

Some years previously, I had made the acquaintance, at the R.A.F. club, of John Skinner, who was head of history at Wisbech Grammar School, and we used to meet at the club on Friday evenings for a few drinks to unwind after the week’s labour. He was born and bred at South Molton, in Devon, and always went back there at holiday times. I asked him what he was going to do down there in the summer of 1979, and he said he would spend a lot of the time walking on Exmoor. I said: “Lucky you,” and he said: “Why not come with me, then?” I had nothing else planned, so we fixed it up. In the meantime, we spent quite a few days walking on Peddars Way, in Norfolk, and I found it a pleasant occupation. We used to take sandwiches and a drink, and waterproofs in case of necessity, in a rucksack apiece. Often, we went out from Wisbech at about 5 o’clock in the evening, did some 5 miles along Peddars Way, had sausages and chips or something of the sort in The Ostrich or The Albert Victor at Castle [indecipherable word], left at 10.30, got back to the car at midnight, and arrived home just before 1 a.m. Gradually other walks were found, and we stopped taking sandwiches and had a mid-day or evening meal at a pub at the far end of the walk – The Gin-Trap at Ringstead, The George and Dragon at Newton, The Fox and Pheasant at Great Massingham, and The King William 1V at Sedgeford.

The first three years we went to Exmoor, we stayed at The Froude Arms at East Anstey. John knew Exmoor like the back of his hand, so there was no difficulty with navigation, and he was always able to devise an interesting round walk of twelve miles or so, with an hour off in the middle of the day to have our packed lunch, and a snooze in the sunshine if it was a good day. Many a time, though, we were caught out in heavy rain, and got soaked, there being little shelter on the open moor, but like everything else in life, you have to take the rough with the smooth. After an excellent evening meal, we used to go for a short walk to shake it down and then repair to the bar.

[page break]

[photograph] View of Warren Farm, Exmoor, typical scenery. [/photograph]

John knew Exmoor like the back of his hand, and never needed to consult a map except for route-planning, but he always carried a map and compass just in case of the mist coming down. Over the years, we had many a happy day on Exmoor, and all the old names come back to me – Dunkery Beacon, Hoar Oak Hill, Brendon Common, The Chains, Winsford Hill, Doone Valley, Tarr Steps and Withypool Common, to name just a few.

One year, I said to John that as Dartmoor was not too far away, we could extend our holiday the next year and spend half the time walking Exmoor and half walking Dartmoor. So John took it upon himself to fix up the accomodation[sic] for us, and in a Farmhouse Guide found Town Farm at Bridestowe, near Okehampton, on the N.W. edge of Dartmoor. The next July, on arriving at the village of Bridestowe, I stopped the car and prepared to ask for directions to Town Farm. “Look”, said John, “there’s a sign, Town Farm,” so we drove into the farmyard. Jean Northcott, the farmer’s wife, came out to meet us, and she was a real cracker, about 40 years old. And we soon found her to

[page break]

have a personality to match her looks. She was kindly, thoughtful, welcoming, and always came out into the yard when we got back to know where we had been and how we had got on. She used to come into the lounge and talk to us in the evening. She was a terrific cook, and the meals were better than you would get in a first-class hotel. Enormous quantities too. Being a dairy-farm, porage,[sic] soup and custard were always made with cream. A typical evening meal would be a plate of soup with roll and butter, roast pork with stuffing, mashed potatoes, roast potatoes, Yorkshire pudding, courgettes and carrots, steamed syrup pudding with custard and cream, then possibly strawberries and cream, cheese board, and coffee. And she would keep coming to press extra helpings on us, and to reprimand us for not having eaten everything there was on the table, so that we dreaded the sound of her opening the door and coming into the dining-room. John used to provide a wine-box, so all in all we had some Lucullan meals there. Jean used to make a packed lunch for us to take you with us; one day, I said it was just too much, we couldn’t manage it all, would she cut down the sandwiches by half. She did that – we had half the number of sandwiches, but they were twice as thick.

Dartmoor is a different kettle of fish from Exmoor as far as walking is concerned. It is vast and bleak. There are hardly any tracks or landmarks, and navigation is of necessity by map and compass. It has not the gentle rolling quality of Exmoor. On Exmoor, there is not a great deal of shelter from rain, but on Dartmoor there is none; if you are caught by the rain, that’s it, you just get soaked. It is marshy in places, and if you are walking on a compass course, you just have to keep your line. Due to the harder conditions, whereas we used to do about 15 miles a day on Exmoor, we were reduced to about 12 on Dartmoor. It was more challenging walking, but very enjoyable in a different way. Once again, all the names come back to me – Arms Tor, Widgery Cross, Brat Tor, Kitty Tor, Cawsand

[page break]


Beacon, Tor Marsh, Amicombe Hill, Black Hill, Cut Hill, Great Kneeset, Yes Tor, High Wilkays, Okement Hill, Steeperton Tor and Hangingstone Hill, Great Links Tor, Nun’s Cross and Fox Mire. As the years went by, we gradually got to recognise these various hills by their shape, so that navigation became a good deal easier.

Towards the end of 1980, a notice appeared on the staff-room notice-board at school saying that, due to falling roles in the schools, it was going to be necessary to reduce the number of teachers; if not enough were willing to go voluntarily, some compulsory redundancies would have to be made. Anybody wishing to consider going voluntarily should write for details. This seemed to me like the answer to a prayer. I was weary of being sworn at, sneered at, derided, frustrated, stopped from doing my job properly; it all seemed so pointless, such a waste of good living time. Helen and Philip were no longer my responsibility, the house was paid for, I had nobody to consider but myself. If the terms were anything like reasonable, I would go, and when a reply came to my letter, the terms were more than reasonable. I had originally intended to retire at 62, but now I could retire at 58 and my pension and lump-sum would be what I would get at the compulsory retiring age of 65. I would have to be declared redundant, which in fact I was not, but Miss Weller was very co-operative and wangled matters to my advantage. Two other teachers applied at the same time as me, and their acceptances came through quite quickly, but there was no word about mine, and I began to despair. I said to Peter Gregory: “I don’t know if I can take another four years of this, Peter.” Eventually, in March 1981, an acceptance of my application arrived, and I would be free in the summer. What a relief. With the lump-sum and the pension I would be getting, I would be able to manage, if I was careful, until the old-age pension came my way in another seven years, by spending the interest on the investment of the lump-sum which amounted to half a year’s salary, which at that time was about £12,000 a year. Things worked out better than I expected, though, and I was never obliged to

[page break]


touch the interest.

So in July 1981 I squared everything up in the French department at The Queen’s Girls’ School, shook the dust off my feet, and returned home free to live the rest of my life as I wanted to.

[newspaper article on Henry’s retirement presentation]

[underlined] FINALS. [/underlined]
This is the last leg of the circuit. It starts a long way out, but the destination is in sight. Power is reduced, all instruments checked, no conflicting traffic, the way ahead is clear. It is too early to put the flaps down to reduce to landing speed. The undercarriage is still up – three greens have not yet been called, but the controller is keeping an eye on things.

[card] With Fondest Wishes From The Staff at The Queen’s School For Girls.
July 1981. [/card]

[page break

[pages 91 and 92 missing]


read the paper after breakfast, and from ten o’clock onwards wonder what the hell you are going to do for the rest of the day, apart from watching the television. That way breeds the feeling that life is almost over. There is nothing else left, you are on the scrap-heap and might just as well jack it in. The answer is that you must be doing something positive, it doesn’t much matter what it is. It must be realised that the best part of life is not over, the best part is just beginning. I wish Joan was here to enjoy it with me, though. She deserved more out of life than she got.

[photograph] La Calobra [/photograph]
[photograph] Torrente de Pareis [/photograph]

[page break]

[photograph] Valdemosa[sic] [/photograph]
[photograph] Mountain express, Soller. [/photograph]
[photograph] no caption [/photograph]

[page break]


[photograph] Valdemosa[sic] [/photograph]
[photograph] Mountain express, Soller. [/photograph]
[photograph] no caption [/photograph]

[page break]



It was in the summer of 1982 that I made the acquaintance of another person who became a very good friend – Gerald Salter. I had been playing golf, and got talking to him in the car par afterwards. The subject of conversation turned to flying, and I found out that not only did he have a private pilot’s licence but that he had done a lot of gliding as well. A friend had asked him if he would like a flight in a glider, so they went over to Crowland, strapped in, and took off. And all the time Gerald was terrified. When they got down, Gerald said to himself: “There’s only one way to deal with this fear – beat it.” (a typical aspect of his character, as I found out later.) So he took lessons, and eventually qualified as a glider pilot, then took the next step and moved on to power. I told him I had done some gliding at the Yorkshire Gliding Club, but gave it up as it was becoming rather expensive – an aerotow launch cost £7.50. He shot a glance at me, and I only realised later that I was complaining about £7.50 a launch and I was leaning up against his Rolls Royce as I did so. He had his own aeroplane, a Piper Cherokee Arrow, at Fenland Airfield, and I went flying with him a few times, and we also played golf now and again. He also introduced me to a gymnasium and health club at Kings Lynn, and we used to go there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. This gymnasium business made quite a difference to my approach to life in retirement. I was perhaps taking things too easily, becoming somewhat lazy, overweight and a bit

[page break]


Apathetic, but that soon changed. I became a lot fitter and more energetic; it proved to be a mental discipline as well as a physical one. Many a cold thin winter’s morning, I have thought that I would rather stay at home in the warm, but then I thought: “No, I will go,” and felt much better afterwards.

To return to Gerald. He was the youngest member of a farm labourer’s large family, puny and put-upon, and did not have much of a time of it at home or at school. He left school at the age of 14 and started work in the fields. Then he started taking farmers’ produce to the shops and selling it on commission. After a while, he thought he might as well do it on his own and keep all the profit, and eventually bought a van for this purpose. He noticed that the old railway yard and sheds in Wisbech were for sale, and got a loan from the bank to buy them. He set up there a warehouse and storage depot which was soon thriving, and he was enabled to extend it by putting up new warehouses. Later, he bought a large plot of agricultural land outside Wisbech and further extended his business. He obviously had very keen business acumen. I said to him once: “I don’t know why you keep on working, Gerald. You could sell your business, retire, and live like a millionaire.” He replied: “I don’t want to boast, Henry, but I am a millionaire – three times over.” His philosophy in life is – don’t let anything ever beat you, not anything.

One summer, Fenland Aero Club made a visit to a flying club in France, at a village called Couhe, near Poitiers, quite a long flight. We spent a weekend there, and had a fine time. It was lovely summer weather, we had lunch under the trees, a barbecue in the hangar in the evening, and enjoyed great hospitality. Being the only one in the club who could speak passable French, I made the speech of thanks to our hosts, and was often called upon to perform the task of interpreter. Much wine was consumed. I flew in the twin-engined aircraft you see in the foreground of this following photo; Gerald’s aircraft is in the background.

[page break]



This flying club as also a gliding club, and I had an hour-long flight in a glider, a Bergfalke, pilot Pierre Chaussebourg,[?] a diminutive bearded Frenchman with a floppy sun-hat.

While at Couhe, I made the acquaintance of Rod Bullen, and shared a room with him. Easy-going, considerate, even-tempered, good-humoured, and eventually he and his wife Betty became good friends.

The return to England was accomplished partly in a thunderstorm and driving rain, and the customs official at Biggin Hill sent us out in the heavy rain to bring in our cases from the aircraft for inspection.

One of the club members told me that the police were setting up a panel of interpreters, and would welcome anyone who could speak a foreign language. I thought this would be interesting, so I applied to join and had an interview. Many times I was called out to interviews at the police-station, sometimes at short notice as unless a suspect is charged within a certain time he has to be released. Quite often, my presence in court was required the following day. The offenders were usually Algerian or Moroccan students from Friday Bridge agricultural camp who had come to England mainly to perfect their English, and the charges were usually shoplifting or causing a breach of the peace. Sometimes, I sat in court

[page break]


waiting for the case I was engaged upon to come up, and watched the procession of offenders, usually the riff-raff, hoi polloi and ragtag and bobtail society, and I meditated upon how the lower orders of society seem utterly incapable of regulating their affairs. They fall foul of the law and become trapped in a legal quicksand – the more they wriggle the deeper they drive themselves in.

One of the regular habitues if the R.A.F. club was one Ernie Sharman, who was something of a bore, as he only had two subjects of conversation. As a nationally known rose-grower, he obviously knew his stuff; apart from that, he had been in the Anglian Regiment – sorry, the Norfolk Regiment – during the war, and most summers went to Holland, to Arnhem, where the Norfolks had fought in the Battle of the Bridges, a particularly fierce and for us disastrous affair, and a group of them used to go back from time to time as guests of the Dutch people, and visit various war cemeteries. I said the rest of my crew were buried at Venray, and he asked me to write down their names. A few weeks later, he was in the club when I went in, and the following conversation ensued:-

“Henry, I’ve got a story to tell you that will make your hair stand on end.”
“Hold on then, Ernie, while I get a drink – it sounds as if I’ll need one.”
“Well, I was sitting at breakfast one morning, and I said to a woman at the same table: “Venray today, isn’t it? are you going?”
She said: “Yes, I want to put a cross on my brother’s grave.”
“Oh, he was in the Norfolks, was he?”
“No, he was in the R.A.F.”
“Oh, I’ve got some Air Force graves to look up at Venray. What was your brother’s name?”
Ernie took out the piece of paper and looked at it.
“Sergeant T. Worthington?”
“Yes, that’s right. Who asked you to look up his grave?”

[page break]


“A man I know in the R.A.F. club at Wisbech, name of Wagner.”
“Henry Wagner?”
“Yes. You know him then?”
“Yes, I used to be engaged to him at one time. Can I have a look at the paper? ----- Yes, that’s his writing all right.”

So she wrote down her address, and I got in touch with her after all those years. Her husband had died two or three years before. I invited her to come and stay here, and she came down a couple of times for a week. We still maintain contact, and exchange cards and presents at Christmas and birthdays.

At Gerald’s instigation, I became involved with a twinning-club at Parson Drove, which is twinned with the village of Herlikofen in the vicinity of Stuttgart, in Germany. We visit each other alternately once every two years, and I have been there three times now, staying as guests of German families. The first time, I stayed with Gerald at Ottnar Maihofer’s, but since then seemed to have settled as a regular with the Pascher family. Ottnar speaks very good English, so there was no problem there, but in the Pascher family only the son and daughter (Wolfgang and Silvia) speak English, and I had to learn some German in case they happened to be out, otherwise it would have been like a gathering of deaf mutes. The first time I visited Herlikofen, a man said to me: “What do you think of Germany now?” Rod Bullen[?] still recalls my answer – “The accomodation[sic] is much better than when I was here last, and the food is a great improvement as well.” There is always a very warm welcome from the whole group, and an excellent programme of entertainment is laid on. Herlikofen is in a beautiful part of Germany, there is so much to see and so many interesting places to go. Parties are laid on every evening, and much liquid refreshment is taken. The atmosphere of kindness, friendship and cordiality has to be experienced to be believed, and of course the same conditions prevail when the Germans come over here. It is my belief that the last war was a black accident of history – there were many events and causes leading up to it.

[page break]

At one of the “get-togethers” at Rod’s house. Dick in the German rig, Rod, and his wife Betty. Betty does not say much but she is good company and very thoughtful. Several times, when the Germans have been here, she has asked us round there for a Sunday or evening meal so as to spare me the necessity of cooking, and to provide company.

On the left is Joseph Schoner, who stays with me. He is a member of the mountain-rescue team in his part of Germany, a good walker, cheerful, a good drinker – one of the hard men. Speaks English well too, which is a great help to me.

[page break]


And here we have the Pascher family, with whom I stay in Germany – Silvia, Theo, Edeltraud, and in the front Manuela. Wolfgang took the photograph. All very kindly and considerate.

One year, Gerald took a party of us flying over at Fenland Aero Club. Reading from left to right – your humble servant, Ottmar and his wife Gisela, Wolfgang, and Gerald. It must have been Theo who took the photograph this time. If you turn back to page 162, you will see Theo in front of my house.
(I have just been reading “Death Certificate” by John Wainwright,

[page break]


and in it I came across this:- “I also have an ex-wife called Julie; her present-day husband is lumbered with the very non-romantic name of Henry.” Thinking back to the war years, I remember that all the rest of my crew were known by their Christian names or derivatives thereof – Wilf, Les, Jack, Eric, Tommy, and Bob, but I was always known as Wag.)

To return to Gerald. We spent a considerable amount of time together – golfing, flying, going to the gym, and many other activities too numerous to mention. I must say that he has always been very generous. There are plenty of people who would say that he can well afford to be, but that does not come into it as far as he is concerned; I am sure he would share even if he was down to his last few pounds. I have been on holiday abroad with him on two occasions; he asked me if I would like to go, but I said: “No, I’m afraid I can’t afford it,” so both times he said he would pay my hotel bill and expenses if I would pay the air fare. Those were offers I could not turn down. So one year we went golfing in Portugal, with Gerald’s son Andrew. Another year, we went to Austria, with Gerald’s youngest son Mark; they were both into skiing, which was not my cup of tea – I’m going downhill fast enough as it is. But it was a great pleasure for me to go walking by myself every day, through the forests and over the mountains, through deep dry snow, with just a flask of rum in my pocket.


[page break]


[three photographs of snow scenes]

[page break


When we went to Portugal, I had £200 stolen from my case at the airport. I got £100 back from the insurance company after a struggle, and Gerald said: “I can’t let you lose £100 – I’ll give you fifty towards it.” And on many an occasion when we have been out for a day’s golfing, he has paid half my expenses. Whenever he has any clothes that he does not want, and this is very frequently, he passes them on to me, and it is years now since I have bought any clothing, saving literally hundreds of pounds. There is no need for him to do any of this, but that is the way he is, and it is all done in a spirit of friendship. He comes up with the occasional surprise gift, such as a framed photograph of a Halifax that he bought at an airshow[sic] because he thought I would like it, and frequently brings round a bottle of whisky or brandy. If ever he is doing anything interesting which he thinks I would enjoy, I get an invitation, and I am always welcome at his house. You don’t come across many friends like this. His marriage was not one of the happiest, and there were frequent arguments and confrontations at home, so that he was often glad to be away from the place. In the period leading up to his eventual divorce, I was able to provide a good deal of the companionship that he needed to ease those troubled times. He added many new dimensions to my life, and if I had never met him I would have missed a lot.

It was through Gerald that I became acquainted with Dick Drawbridge, who also turned out to be a very good friend. Dick is a motor-engineer by profession, and purely on the practical side it is a great advantage to benefit from his advice on my car and speedy assistance in need. But there is far more to it than that. I always enjoy the company and friendship of Dick and Eileen, and the thoughtfulness and consideration. Dick is a golfer as well, and we do not often miss a Saturday afternoon; on Sunday evenings we go to the Railway Bell at Wisbech St. Mary for a few drinks, supper and converse. Dick is a great lover of conversation, discussion and argument, and a great variety of topics comes under notice. A happy description of Dick once came to my mind, and I think it is worth repeating, since it sets the tone of our relationship: “He is a

[page break]

willing explorer down the by-ways and back-doubles of the conversational map.” He loves a logical argument. The matter of the word “argument” came up once, and I said that the true an original meaning was not a bad-tempered slanging-match, as it seems to mean today, The dictionary definition is “a statement or reason offered as proof; a series of reasons; a discussion; a subject of discourse.” As far as logic is concerned, there are several sorts of argument to look out for in a discussion – if any of the following are observed, beware – you are about to have the wool pulled over your eyes:- argumentum ad hominem:- the argument is diverted towards the interests of the man himself (“Of course you think teachers should be paid more; you are a teacher yourself”). Argumentum ad ignorantiam – an argument founded on the ignorance of an opponent (“The right front spring-shackle bolt is badly worn, and it ‘U cost a fair bit to replace.”) Argumentum ad invidiam – appealing to the prejudices of the person concerned (“inter-racial marriages can’t succeed. Would you like your daughter to marry a black man?”) Argumentum ad verecundiam – an appeal to our reverence for some respected authority (“I read it in The Times”, or “Henry says so, so it must be right”.) And lastly, and most pernicious and widespread of all, argumentum ad baculum, the argument by means of the big stick, ranging all the way from its crudest form, “If you don’t agree with me, I shall thump you” to shouting down the other person, constantly interrupting and refusing to let the other man develop his line of reasoning and pouring ridicule on whatever he says. Argumentum ad baculum is in itself a confession of failure, much beloved by the lower orders of the community who have not the intellectual capacity to sustain a discussion and involving the use of foul language. Terrorism and protest demonstrations are in my view a form of argumentum ad baculum.

But I digress. To return to the matter of friendship. I have so many friends, good friends, real friends, and many many more

[page break]


acquaintances. The acquaintances have mostly derived through membership of the R.A.F. Association, the Conservative Club, the golf club, the Aircraft Preservation Society, the Aircrew Association, 51 Squadron Association, and the German and Dutch twinning clubs. Apart from being treasurer of the R.A.F. club, I took on the job of secretary of the local Conservative Club; these two posts take up only two or three hours a week, but if time has been hanging heavily, for instance on a cold and miserable winter’s day, I can always go to one or the other in the evening and I know there will be a kindly welcome there and somebody to talk to. I am on good terms with many at the golf club; I play on Wednesday mornings, and go with Dick on Saturday afternoons when we always manage to get a four-ball with a couple of kindred spirits, and stay on afterwards for a few drinks and a talk. At Dave Shrimpton’s instigation, I joined the Aircrew Association, which meets once a month at Dersingham, [?] in a nice old hotel; these meetings take place at mid-day, and we rarely leave before 3 o’clock. They are a friendly lot there, all old wartime men; much beer is consumed and there is a lot of talk. They are all kindred spirits; no lines are shot, nobody is trying to prove anything – it has all been proved already. Trips are organised to places of interest – Wells Lifeboat Station, Duxford, the R.A.F. museum at Hendon, various arifields, the bombing and gunnery range on the Wash, Elgood’s Brewery. 51 Squadron Association has an annual golf match at Ramsey, past members of the squadron against present members. A year never passes without at least one exchange visit with the German or Dutch twinning-clubs.

And so it all adds up to a pretty busy life – I can’t get into any routine. Things have to be fitted in whenever there is a spare opportunity.

I value very highly the friendship of so many people – Dick, Gerald, Dave, Steve Shepherd, Keith Fletcher, Shirley and Tennyson, Norman Davis and Ann, Barbara Nash, Derek and Jean Hindley, John and Hilda Strutton, Brian and Rosemary Matthews, Bob and Anne Lightfoot, and of course Helen and Bob and family, Philip, and my brother John.

[page break]

One friendship, however, regrettably came to an end. I always got on very well with [deleted] him [/deleted] John Skinner, and we had so many good times together, walking on Peddars Way, Dartmoor, Exmoor, and in the Yorkshire Dales and Brecon Beacons. Other times as well. However, the chance came up for him to retire early, and being very affluent, he took it. He was always a good conversationalist, and talk ranged over a great variety of topics. There was never any clash of personalities. He did have two great defects – he was the most cautious person I ever knew, and would never commit himself to anything definite, and secondly, wealthy though he was, he was very parsimonious with his wealth. These were the results of never having been married, or perhaps the reasons why he never got married. I always drove him wherever we went, door-to-door service, but he was extremely reluctant to make a fair contribution to the cost of running the car. This last may well have been the reason for the ending of this friendship – I asked, but he was not forthcoming, although he would never have ever missed the odd cheque for a few hundred. Anyway, on the way home from Sedbergh in 1990, he informed me that it was all over and done with; I never received the courtesy of an explanation, and had to cancel the holiday I had fixed up for the next February in Majorca. So, no more of this:-
[photograph] Weir Water from above Robber’s Bridge, Exmoor.

[page break]


The reverse of the card reads: “Exmoor National Park, incomparable countryside of superb contrasts, - wild heather moorland, deep wooded combes cradling sparkling rivers, a magnificent coastline of hogs[?]-backed cliffs. A land of the wild red deer, soaring buzzards and the legendary Doones. A place where time runs slowly.”

They were good times, and I am sorry they are over.

With the end of the walking holidays, I turned my mind to what I might replace them with. On Dartmoor with John one day, I saw two adventurous spirits unload hang-gliders from a Land Rover, carry them up to the top of one of the tors, rig them, and launch off. I thought: “That looks interesting. I wouldn’t mind trying it.” And the thought was shelved, since there did not seem any opportunity. But, having broken off with the wretched Skinner, the idea returned. I saw an advertisement for a hang-gliding course at Ashbourne, Derbyshire, in the Peak District, and sent for details.. In view of my age (68), I would have to have a medical certificate, so I went to the doctor. After taking blood-pressure and prodding round with a stethoscope, he asked what I wanted the certificate for. When I told him, he said: “You must be mad.” However, he gave me the certificate, adding to it that he had some reservations about bone-damage. So off I went to Ashbourne in July 1991, but I did not make a lot of progress. There was no ridge, but a number of hills and valleys where a gusty wind swirled, and conditions were really too turbulent for learning. After four days, I came home disappointed and disillusioned. In a magazine, though, I noted that there was a hang-gliding school near Swaffham, and I could go over there on any suitable day. Moreover, it operated on a fairly flat field and the launch was by means of a winch, so it was not so dependent on the weather as Ashbourne was. I lost no time in arranging for a course of instruction. The drill was to phone early in the morning to see if the weather was suitable, and if so get there by 10 o’clock. The proprietors were Tony Webb and his wife Rona, and the chief instructor was John Burrell; the whole operation was conducted with great expertise and professionalism. Rona, about 24,

[page break]


was a hang-glider pilot of very high national standing, and had done one cross-country of some 50 miles from Swaffham to Peterborough.

At first, it seemed to me that I was making little progress. When you begin learning, a man runs along each side with a rope attached to the wing-tip, and the instructor has one attached to the nose, so that you never get more than a few feet off the ground. This seems to go on for a long time while you are getting used to the balance of the glider, and the winch is running at slow speed. As time goes on, the ropes are taken off, you find you are at 10ft, 20ft, 50ft, 50ft releasing from the winch. That is when you are really flying, because when you are attached to the winch, the operator still has a considerable influence over what you do. And so it went on – 100ft with right and left turns, 150ft similarly, but all straight flights down the field. Then one day John Burrell said: “I think we’ll have you on circuits today, Henry. Up to 500ft, release, and do one wide circuit. Does the extra height bother you?” “No,” I said, “if I can fly it at 150ft, I can fly it at 500”. So, having made ready, John’s patter on the walkie-talkie to the winch-operator went like this: “The next pilot will be Henry on the light blue glider. He is going to do a high flight and a left-hand circuit. I have him under the bar. All checks are complete. Take up slack.” When the slack is taken up, he says: “Stand by, stand by.” I hoist the glider onto my shoulders, line it up, and say: “All out.” John repeats this, the cable starts to be drawn in, I run half a dozen steps, and start to climb. On a low flight, the cable is attached via a ring on the pilot’s harness to the tow-leg on the glider. “Under the bar” means that the cable passes under the base-bar and thence via the harness to the tow-leg. This has the effect of tilting the nose sharply upwards so that the glider climbs at about 45 [degree symbol]. At the top of the climb, the winch slows, the cable slackens, I quote the release, and then I am on my own. Nobody is going to help me now. There is nothing between me and the ground, and from 500ft that looks a long way down. That day, I did five similar circuits, and thus qualified for a hang-glider pilot’s certificate.

[page break]

The whole business was a challenge, really; if I had chickened out, I could never have looked myself in the face again. At whatever stage you are in this life, once you start to narrow down you are on the run-in. On finals I may be, but not yet ready to call[?] three greens.

I experienced some difficulty with landings, tending to fly right down onto the ground and getting dragged along on my stomach instead of landing on my feet. John said once: “You didn’t flare out again, did you, Henry?” “No”, I said, “I forgot.” He said: “I tell you every time and you’re still not damned well doing it – those aren’t landings, they’re just arrivals. Suppose you forget to release when you’re almost over the top of the winch. That’s going to be nasty, isn’t it? If you suffer from amnesia, tell me now and we’ll call the whole thing off. Come to think of it, there aren’t all that many hang-glider pilots about who suffer from amnesia – they aren’t with us any more.” After that ticking off, I did not forget to flare out in future.

[picture] Around the clubs [/picture] A hang-glider at about 500ft.

[page break


[Photograph] The signaller gives “All out” as Rona climbs away. Pics by James Oxbury.
[Photograph] The moment of truth Rona lifts off behind the tug.

The lower picture shows the “washout” on the trailing-edge of the wingtip. This means that if the main section of the wing is stalled, at least the tips are still flying and the risk of spinning is reduced.

You have to unpack your glider from its long canvas bag at the beginning of each day and rig it, so it behoves you to make a good job of it and check it most thoroughly for defects and incorrect assembly – once you are up there it is too late to do anything about it.

[page break]


In 1990, I went down to stay for a few days with John Trumble and Vilna, and it was a real treat to see both of them again. They live near Truro, in Cornwall, a lovely part of the country, and we had a most enjoyable time.

[photograph] Two old navigational gentlemen, ex-guests of the Third Reich.

[page break]


[photograph of Henry with dog]
Taken the same day, with the dog Rusty, quite a decent sort as dogs go.

And so we come to the present time, January 1992, and who knows how much time there is left. The night-fighters pick off quite a few every year, and a flak-shell might well have your name on it. Whenever my number comes up, though, I shall be able to look back and say to myself: “Oh well, I had a good innings. I’ve enjoyed the lot of it.

Earlier in this narrative, I said there was on particular poem, by Alfred Lord Tennyson, that was particularly dear to me, which sums up my philosophy, and which I would quote to you. So here it is, while I still have the opportunity to write it down: -

[page break]


Crossing the Bar.

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea.

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell
When I embark:

For though from out our bourne of time and place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have crost the bar.

Moreover, I shall be with my Joan again. Oh yes, I’ll see her again alright, my golden girl, my lovely love, the golden girl who was always beside me in sunlight and happiness.

Meanwhile, a few random thoughts to be going on with. Things I particularly dislike:- bad manners (what the Rev. J. G. Wilkie, headmaster of Badingham, called “ungentlemanly behaviour” and which brought down great wrath on the heads of offenders), waste of other people’s time, unpunctuality, discourtesy, noise pollution (which includes so-called “pop” music), foul language (except on the golf course, where it is permissible and understandable), yobs and yuppies, dogs, dreary old jeans and the footwear known as “trainers”, people who talk non-stop about themselves and their own affairs, selling draw-tickets and otherwise persuading people to part with their money, digging out the compost heap,

[page break]

supposedly comic television programmes, which rarely bring a smile to my face, attending committee meetings where so much rubbish is spoken. After reading that lot, you may find it difficult to understand why I find life so enjoyable. Perhaps I should just say, like the Pharisee in the Bible, “Thank God that I am not as other men are.”

Yes, I repeat: “Thank God that I am not as other men are.” I have just been watching part of a programme called “Blind Date”. I hasten to say that I did not turn it on specially – it took me by surprise, and I was too transfixed to turn it off immediately. Such a load of pitiful pathetic drivel I have never before seen or heard. It saddened me to think that the human race has come to this, and I ask myself: “What next?” It was what a tennis-player yclept Mc. Enroe would have called “the pits”, by which I presumed he meant “rubbish.” He was, by the way, a job in his own right. I felt so depressed that I had to go and get a bottle of wine from the store (the 1985 Parsnip), to try to lift my spirits. And talking of spirits, I may well have a rum afterwards. A final point – you asked what this “yclept” means. It means “named”, and is Chaucerian English.

In the winter 1991 edition of Intercom, the journal of the Aircrew Association, I came across this letter:-

[typewritten] I am enquiring on behalf of Mr. David John Mole, of 13 Pentland Grove, Darlington, Co. Durham, DL3 8DA, who is looking for information on his father who flew with 10 Sqn and failed to return on the night of 17/18 December 1944, from a raid on Duisberg. The Aircraft being involved in a multi mid-air collision with aircraft from 51 Squadron, 432 Squadron and 434 Squadron. David was only one week old when he lost his father. Any information at all will be much appreciated by David at the address below.
Aircraft LV818, Crew: Flt.Lt. N.C. Tatum, Pilot: Sgt. K.F. Matthews; Sgt. W.E. Mawson; P.O. W.H. Leese; Sgt. D. Nicholson; F.O. D.J. (Douglas John) Mole; F.O. J.H. Waldron. RAY THOMAS, ACA No. 12715.
“Windsmore”, 45 Black Bourton Road, Carterton, Oxfordshire, OX8 3HJ. [/typewritten]

Thinking that the 51 Squadron aircraft referred to was the one in which I was flying, I wrote to Mr. Mole giving him all the information I knew. It could have happened that other aircraft in the vicinity sheered away violently from one in distress, thus causing a knock-on-effect collision. Ours, even, out of control, may have been the first one to collide. Anyway, as it turned out, the collision referred to was nothing to do

[page break]


with us, as it occurred over Belgium on the way in to the target, whereas we were caught on the way out. However, Mr. Mole was duly grateful for any information on the Duisberg attack. He sent me a copy of the video tape “Night Bombers”, and also details from the Air Ministry report on that operation, as follows:-
[map of route to Duisburg and crash] Route of attack on Duisburg , 18 Dec. 1944
523 aircraft took part, of which 8 were lost. 2,200 tons of high explosive bombs and 487 tons of incendiaries dropped.

[page break]


[underlined] BOMBER COMMAND REPORT OF NIGHT OPERATIONS 17-18 DECEMBER 1944. [/underlined]

[underlined] WEATHER REPORT [/underlined]
Bases – Fit all night
Target – Duisburg will be threatened by continuous cloud until 0300, and even then will clear slowly.

[underlined] PLANS OF ATTACK [/underlined]
Oboe ground-marking, H to 0615.

[underlined] SORTIES. [/underlined]
Number of aircraft despatched 523
Recording attack on primary area 482
Recording attack on alternative area 3
Abortive sorties 38
Aircraft missing 8

[underlined] WEATHER EXPERIENCED [/underlined]
10/10 Strato-cumulus over target and whole route, tops 10-12,000 ft.
7/10 – 10/10 broken medium cloud above this, to 20,500 ft., containing statis and St. Elmo’s fire[?], but with good lanes.

[underlined] NARRATIVE OF ATTACK. [/underlined]
The markers soon disappeared into the cloud and crews had to bomb on their glow or by navigational aids.

[underlined] DAY RECONNAISSANCE [/underlined]
The damage was widespread, the S, SW and E being most severely affected. No concentrated damage was visible. 17 of the 36 industrial plants were damaged, 5 very seriously, and 35 unrated industries and coalmines were hit, 6 being entirely destroyed and 14 seriously damaged. The gas and waterworks by the Heiderich coking plant was the only public utility to be seriously damaged.

[page break]


Transport facilities suffered widespread damage, and the central areas N and S of the inland port were badly affected.

[underlined] ENEMY DEFENCES [/underlined]
The Duisburg force, flying through very bad weather towards dawn, met serious fighter opposition. They were intercepted over the target after the first 10 minutes of their rather prolonged attack, and were effectively attacked on the NW leg out of the Ruhr. At least 5 gruppen of fighters were up against them. (1 gruppe = 30 aircraft.)
[underlined] CASUALTIES [/underlined]
8 out of 523 were lost. Only 2 of these losses were observed; one was caused by fighters over the Ruhr and another by target flak. But 6 other aircraft were wrecked beyond repair; 2 collided and crashed over Charleroi, 2 crashed in Belgium and a third in the battle area. MZ 336 of 77 Squadron, Full Sutton, hit a hangar while landing damaged in cross-wind at Marston. MZ 538 of 425 Squadron, Tholthorpe, crashed after taking off, hit trees and exploded.

[underlined] BOMBER SUPPORT, ETC. [/underlined]
100 Group provided a Mandrel screen to cover the Duisburg attack. 50 intruders were active, mostly at high level. Other aircraft were engaged on signals, patrols and recce flights.

*Map of route to and from Duisburg.

[page break]

[page divider] BASE LEG AND DOWNWIND LEG (but not yet on FINALS) [/page divider]
[page break]

In another copy of Intercom, the following appeared in the Branch News section:-
The Vice-President, Henry Wagner, has gained his Hang Gliding certificate. This is no mean achievement for a veteran of the 1939/45 war, and proves that age is no barrier for determination. Everyone wishes him successful and happy two point landings. [/typewritten]

[certificate for Henry achieving his Elementary Pilot Standard]

[page break]


[Record of Henry’s flying achievements on 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th September 1991]

[page break]

[Record of Henry’s flying achievements on 8th, 19th, 20th and 25th September]

After acquiring the Elementary Pilot’s Certificate, I returned the next August to try for the Club Pilot’s Certificate. The course was very much prolonged due to a bad summer and infrequent suitable flying conditions. There are quite a lot of tasks to be completed for this certificate, and I thought I would never get them done before the onset of winter. However, in the fulness of time, they were all achieved, and I became fully qualified to join a club and fly without further instruction. The day after I finished, I went over again; there were no further tasks to complete, and I was able to

[page break]


fly just for the sheer pleasure of it.

[Typewritten] The BHGA Pilot Rating System instructions [/typewritten]

[page break]


[certificate for Henry achieving Club Pilot Standard]

[two short newspaper/magazine cuttings]

[page break]

[newspaper cutting “Retirement isn’t boring” with a picture of Henry Wagner entitled Henry Wagner works out on the gym equipment, proving that age does not have to be an obstacle to fitness]

[photograph of a group of people sat below a glider] The Lejair team in 1992. Left to right: Martin Woodruffe, Tony Southward, Nigel Read, Tony and Rona Webb, Stefan Ludkin, John Burrell, James Oxbury.

John Burrell took me to Elementary Pilot standard, and under James Oxbury I got my Club Pilot certificate. In both cases, the whole process came under the jurisdiction of Tony and Rona Webb.

[page break]


[photograph] Rona operating the winch. The glider is nearing the top of its climb to 500 feet – maybe another 50 feet to go.

[typewritten] Finally, congratulations to Henry Wagner, member of the Caterpillar Club and ex prisoner of war, in obtaining his competence certificate in hang-gliding. What an achievement! RAY DUNLOP, Hon. Secretary. [/typewritten]

Early in 1994 an old school-friend of mine, Jim Clark, whom I have known since we were both 8 years old, phoned me from Greece where he had been working for some years. He was retiring and coming back to England. His wife was coming home by air and he proposed to drive his car home; it was a good car but right-hand drive, and he would not get much money for it out there. He asked if I would go out there by air and accompany him home. The chance was too good to miss, so I accepted and proceeded accordingly, and it turned out to be a most enjoyable trip, without a single hitch. A day-by-day itinerary follows, and there is a packet of photographs inside the rear cover of this file.

Thursday 5 May. Left Thessaloniki 0930. Stopped at Trikola for lunch. Arrived Kalobaka [?] 3.30 and fixed accomodation[sic] at the Hotel Kefos[?]. Very hot. Visited Meteora. Evening meal on pavement in town, if you could call it a town.
Friday 6 May. Left Kalobaka[?] 0845. Route through mountains. Heavy raid all day, & some thunder. Arrived at the port of Igoumenitsa 1600, and put up at the Hotel Aktaion,[?] overlooking

[page break]


the harbour.

Saturday 7 May. Put the car on board the ship, the El Greco. Departed 1100 for the trip up the Adriatic. Fine warm sunny day, ideal for a cruise and very relaxing.
Sunday 8 May. Boat docked at Ancona (Italy) 1030. Disembarked and drove from Ancona across northern Italy to Bussoleni, a small town near the French border, 280 miles on excellent motorways but featureless.
Monday 9 May. Left Bussoleni 0900. Rain and low cloud prevented us taking the scenic route over the Col Mont-Cenis, and we had to go through the Frejus tunnel under the Alps. We had got rolls, butter and cheese at a supermarket before leaving, and had a roadside lunch. Stopped at Chambery to get French money. On through Macon to Paray-le-Monial and put up at the Grand Hotel de la Basilique.
Tuesday 10 May. Left Paray 0930. Proceeded via Nevers and Orleans to Chartres, where we arrived 1600 and fixed up accomodation[sic]at the Hotel du Boeut[?] Couronne in the centre of the town. Looked around the town and cathedral.
Wednesday 11 May. Left Chartres 0930. Fine and sunny. Stopped at Rouen and looked around for a while, then moved on to Yvetor. Parked car in the square and arranged accomodation[sic] at the Hotel du Havre. Went by car down to the Seine and walked along by the river to Caudebec. Evening meal in town.
Thursday 12 May. Left Yvetor 0930 and did the short journey to Fecamp, where we spent a couple of hours, then went on to Etretar, and passed another 2 hours. On to Le Havre, put the car on the ferry and sailed 1630. Arrived Portsmouth 2130 and drove to Jim’s, where I stayed the night.
Friday 13 May. In the morning, Jim drove me to Milton Keynes, to Helen’s, where I had left my car before flying from Luton to Thessoloniki.[?]

All the time, we shared the driving. It was a new experience for me, driving a right-hand drive automatic transmission car, on the right-hand side of the road.

[page break]


[photograph] First brew-stop after leaving Thessoloniki.[?]
[photograph] Meteora, Greece. Our hotel on the left. 5 May 1994.

[page break]


[two photographs] Lunch-stop, Italy.

[page break]


11 May 1994. Candebec, France. On the bank of the Seine there is a factory which used to make aircraft but now only makes components. In 1928 an Italian airship was reported missing during an exploratory flight over the North Pole, and an aircraft took off from the Seine to look fo survivors. It landed at Bergen then Tromsoe in Norway. After leaving there it was not heard of again. One wing-float was later found, then another, then a petrol-tank. One of the crew was the Arctic Explorer Roald Amundsen. The Italians were rescued by a Norwegian ice-breaker.

[page break]


[photograph of Town Farm, Bridestowe]
Town Farm, Bridestowe, home of Derek and Jean Northcott.

[photograph] The pub opposite, taken from the farm gateway.

[page break]


[photograph] Showing the lack of features and shelter on the Moor. You can see why it is a map-and-compass job.

Arms Tor on the left, Brat Tor and Widgery Cross on the right. My path leads up between them, to miles of featureless moor beyond. The cloud-formation is a line-squall-high wind and vicious driving hissing rain, but fortunately only short-lived.

[page break]


[photograph] Ready for flight, but not yet connected to the winch.
[photograph] Close-up of previous photo.

[page break]


[photograph] Just airborne
[photograph] Turning in for landing. Feet down from prone position, weight shifted to the left to initiate the turn.

[page break]

No. 41 JUNE 1995

[A report on activities in East Anglia]

[Short newspaper cutting on a talk given by Henry Wagner]
From the local paper August 1995

[underlined] 1995 [/underlined]

Several holidays this year, keeping up with old acquaintances. A week with John Trumble in Cornwall, a few days with Jim Clark in the Lake District, with Brian and Rosemary Matthews on the Isle of Wight, a long week-end with Steve Shepherd in Norfolk, and of course the usual week on Dartmoor with Derek and Jean Northcott. All very much enjoyed. A good hang-gliding year; on reasonable days we were getting up to a thousand feet on the winch.

Browsing in Wisbech library, I came across a new book, The Iron Cage, * which dealt with the treatment of prisoners in camps overrun by the Russians. They were very reluctant to let us go, talking about transfer to another camp and systematic exchange of prisoners. The days went by and nothing happened. I said to John: “I don’t like the look of this, I think we ought to go before the Russians clamp down too tightly.” So we went,
*Author – Nigel Cawthorne; publisher Fourth Estate Limited.

[page break]


along with about 40 others. After walking about 8 miles westwards, we met a convoy of American lorries, heading for our camp to evacuate prisoners. Two of them loaded up with us lot, the rest went on, but they returned empty – the Russians refused them permission to enter the camp. The book contains the note: “Meanwhile, Stalag 3A at Luckenwalde in Germany had been ‘liberated’ by the Red Army. Many men, fearing their fate in Soviet hands, ran off. The Soviet POW’s were issued with rifles and told to follow the tanks. The same invitation was given to other nationalities, according to former POW Sergeant H. Wagner of the British [underlined] army. [/underlined] [inserted] But he does not think any accepted. [/inserted] The camp continued under Soviet administration, but when nothing happened for a day or so, prisoners ignored their instructions to stay put and slipped out of the camp. A large number made their way westwards. Eventually some bumped into American troops who organised transport back to England on Dakotas.

Others who escaped from Luckenwalde got to the Elbe at Magdeburg before they found their way blocked. They were rounded up by the Soviets and marched back deeper into Soviet-held territory.”

A month after the end of the war, the Russians still held 11,218 unrepatriated R.A.F. prisoners.

Inside the military, the missing men still had to be dealt with. Bureauratically, they were still on active service. Somehow, they had to be written off. The British, with their traditions of secrecy and their long experience of foreign war, found this easy. Written off they were. As soon as enough time elapsed to make it legally possible, each man was declared “permanently lost”, and therefore officially dead. So, for fear of offending the Russians by insisting on the return of British prisoners, many men just exchanged their German captors for Russian ones, and never came home. We made a wise move to get out while the going was good – five hundred R.A.F. aircrew prisoners from Luckenwalde never made it.

[underlined] 1996 [/underlined]
Not a great deal to report this year. No foreign holidays. The usual visit to Dartmoor in August – two days golfing with Derek and the rest of the time walking on the Moor. I gave up my jobs as secretary of the Conservative Club and treasurer of the RAF club, so that left more time

[page break]


for leisure activities and life has not been so hectic. Philip came up in September for hang-gliding, but the weather was almost flat calm and he did not get very far with it – he must have been very disappointed. However, he came again in October and made rapid progress, eventually qualifying for his Elementary Pilot’s Certificate. He has already booked for next April to do his Club Pilot’s Certificate, and will then embark on a hill-flying course down south. I think he is fairly well hooked on the sport now. I myself have continued flying throughout the season. Otherwise, life has pursued its even tenor – still golfing regularly and going to the gym twice a week. Went with Helen and family to the Air Tattoo at Fairford, and with Dick and Tennyson to East Kirkby airfield to see the Lancaster run up. The annual visit to David and Susan Stewart’s in London for Burns Night celebration. A peaceful year but a good one, and I have no complaints.

[underlined] 1997 [/underlined]

Philip and Heather’s baby arrived on 18 January, a boy, so the family name has not yet died out. Name – Christopher.

[photographer of Christopher]

[page break]


A passing observation, from my extensive reading:-
“We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”
Tennyson: “Ulysses.”

“Mai sou sont[?] les neiges d’antar?” Villon.
(But where are the snows of yesteryear.)

Philip came here in April; the weather that time was kind to us with respect to hang-gliding, and he obtained his Club Pilot’s certificate. On one occasion, I had just launched and Philip was standing by, next to go. Two Irishmen who were also learning watched me go, and one said to the other: “Begod, when yuh see dat, it makes yuh realise dere’s hope for all of us yet.”

Instructors can at times be outspoken, and once when Philip made a poor arrival on the ground, James’s comment summed it up in four words: “Good flight, crap landing.”

So when Philip finished his course, I bought him his own glider and harness – a Hiway Vision, which he took home with him in order to get an endorsement for hill-flying on his certificate.

I have not done so much flying this year because the weather has been mostly unsuitable – May was wet, in June and July the wind was either too strong or non-existent, and in August I was away. I had the usual two weeks in Devon, one with Northcotts on Dartmoor and one on Exmoor with J. Skinner. The car gave a lot of trouble with the cooling system; I had to keep stopping to fill the radiator because of a cracked cylinder head, and I was lucky in fact to get it home. Still, it owed me nothing – I had had it for nine years and I knew its useful life was over.

In September, pain developed in both hands and wrists, and the doctor

[page break]


diagnosed arthritis. Various tablets were prescribed, none of which did any good at all. The pain was extreme with even the slightest movement – I dreaded getting up in the morning. Almost all activity had to stop. I could no longer drive the car, play golf, go to the gym, do any gardening or housework or cooking – I existed on sandwiches, pork pies, crisps, cakes and biscuits. And with all this I became so dispirited and defeated that I didn’t even want to try any more. When Helen heard the state of affairs, she came up for a couple of days and between us we gave the house a good cleaning – I could manage this now because the doctor had started me on steroids, and the improvement was noticeable. But it was Helen’s visit which set me on my feet – it made me feel that I wasn’t alone, and that things were under control again. I had to pay to have the garden done, though, and the realisation came to me that I must sell this house and get somewhere smaller – a bungalow with a small garden, that I can look after myself. I suppose you could say that the base leg of the circuit is completed and that I am turning onto finals. I have had a few tentative swings with a golf club, but it is painful and I do not think I will be playing golf any more. Moving house is a daunting prospect though. All the decisions and arrangements have to be made by me alone, and so many bits of my old life will have to be disposed of because I won’t have room for them any more – things that are not saleable but which are precious to me.

[underlined] 1998 [/underlined]
Change of plan. I have decided not to move after all. The prospect of selling up, moving to another house and settling in has put me off the idea. Having been on steroids for four months now, I find I am able to do everything I was able to do before (except play golf), albeit with some pain sometimes, but if it gets no worse, I can accept that. I have dug and planted the vegetable garden, I can get the ladder up to clean the windows, in fact, do pretty well any heavy work, provided it is not done too suddenly.

Since I do not play golf twice a week, I have found

[page break]

other pursuits. Philip gave me a chess computer for Christmas and Helen a chess book. I play a game on the computer most days, and made enough progress to join the local chess club. This meets on Monday evenings at the R.A.F. Club, and the other members, although good players, extended a kindly and considerate welcome. I always get beaten, of course, but I am making the games last longer. Most Wednesday afternoons, I do a turn of duty supervising in the Wisbech Museum, which is a very peaceful[?] occupation – I take my chess computer along. And other things turn up from time to time, such as this occasion at Dave Shrimpton’s old squadron, followed by lunch – a good day out.

Most weeks, I have a day’s walking with J Skinner, and can still manage 15 miles in a day.

In May the Parson Drove twinning club went to Herlikofen in Germany for the visit that takes place every 4 years, and very enjoyable it always is. Being now chairman of our group, I had to do the speeches; I wrote them out in English and got Tennyson (next door) to translate them into German for me, then I learned them off by heart. They went down very well with the Germans.

[front of menu card for Officers’ Mess, Royal Air Force Honington]

[page break]

[luncheon memu]

[page break]


[photograph] In the Town Hall at Schwabisch Gmund, the nearest town to Herlikofen. After the speeches. The burgermeister on my left, Dick Drawbridge on my right.

[page break]


[photograph of Henry and his grandson] Philip’s little lad, Christopher, eleven months old. First Christmas.

[page break]


[two photographs of Christopher]

[page break]

I started playing golf again in the spring of 1998, in response to pressure from Dick. The arthritis was receding, but all the same I was surprised to be able to play at all. I took my clubs with me to Dartmoor in the summer, but was not able to give Derek much of a game. Things continued to improve, though, and in October I won the Larrington Trophy at the golf club. Norman Davis was vice-captain in 1998, and I played in “his” competition. At the dinner in the evening, he presented me with an etching, as a measure of appreciation of our long-standing golfing friendship, and this now hangs in my hall.

[two photographs]

[page break]


In September, I went on holiday with David and Susan Stewart. They had taken a house for a few weeks in Wales, between Narberth and Haverfordwest. It was a lovely old farmhouse, beautifully appointed, room to sleep 8, and miles from anywhere. They are both keen fishers, and their intention was to fish as often as possible. The house looked down over a narrow field to the river at the bottom, but they used to go elsewhere as well. Sometimes I went with them, but more often went off in the car in a different direction each time, for a day’s walking. We had a grand time. It was a long way to drive, though – 300 miles from Wisbech.

It was in this year too that I reluctantly decided to give up hang-gliding. It was a deplorable summer for the sport – the wind was too strong, or it was too gusty, or there was no wind at all, or it was raining, or I was away, so I did not get into the air at all. Having missed a whole year and being now 75, I was not prepared to start again. It was great while it lasted and I enjoyed beating the challenge.

[underlined] 1999 [/underlined]
Jim Clark sent me an article from the Daily Telegraph about a sulphur-based dietary supplement which had proved effective in alleviating pain in the joints of horses and dogs, and which a few hardy spirits had experimented with to see if it could do anything for arthritis, and found that it had wonderful results. I obtained some. Seeing the result from monthly blood tests, the doctor gradually reduced my intake of steroids, and at the beginning of this year I was pleased to come off them entirely.

Early in February, I went down to London to spend Burns Night and a few days with David and Susan Stewart. This seems to be an annual fixture.

Towards the end of the month, I went with John Skinner to Majorca for a fortnight. It was a Saga holiday, a lovely hotel, organisation impeccable, and it couldn’t be faulted in any respect.

In March, I stayed with Brian and Rosemary Matthews at Shanklin, Isle of Wight. Rosemary gave me photocopies of three letters she had kept from

[page break]


way back, when we had just left Kenya.

[air letter] [indecipherable word] strange to say they didn’t seem anxious to take it before the goods were in. I expect you are getting ready for Caroline and Andy to join you in July, the time simply flies doesn’t it.

We are going to Wiltshire on Thursday to have lunch with Mrs Christy [inserted] was [/inserted] S.H.R. school secretary she is here for a few weeks before starting another job. The weather has been simply lovely since we have been at home one day of stormy weather that’s all at times it has been hotter than Nairobi. No more now – till the next time. Love to you both. Joan[?]

Sender’s name and address: J. P. Wagner
29 Ravensbourne Drive
Woodley, Berkshire.
[/air letter]

[page break]

Souvenir of a visit to Ken Wallis’s autogiro museum, May 1999, with the Fenland Aircraft Preservation Society. Ken entertained us for 2 hours, explaining all his work and operations. He gave us a kindly welcome, and is a man of great enterprise, expertise and charm.

In June 1999 I went for 5 days walking on the Pennine Way. Dick, Gerald and I went by minibus from Peterborough to Crowden, near Manchester. The minibus was Dick’s idea; he would not be walking, but would drive each day to our next overnight stopping-place with the heavy luggage, and we would carry in rucksacks what we needed on the walk. There were 12 of us walking – 4 English, 4 Americans and 4 Germans. Overnight accomodations[sic] had been booked well in advance by Bryan Hargreaves. The weather was marvellous, the scenery wonderful, and we had a grand time, although the going was tough at times. Dick did a terrific job with the bus, picking up people who couldn’t go much further, waiting for us where the way crossed roads, locating B & B’s where arrangements had been made, going to a lot of trouble – in fact, without him the expedition would have been a total disaster. I was the only one of the 12 to cover the complete distance. Here is our itinerary. –

[page break]

[postcard to Henry from Ken Waller]

[page break]

246 1/

[underlined] PENNINE WAY WALK [/underlinded]

The Pennine Way provides some of the roughest walking to be found in Britain, but in good weather it is within the capacity of anyone able to undertake 12-15 miles / 19-24 km of hill-walking a day, sometimes across boggy ground or through expanses of heather and moor grass. In rain, mist or high winds it can prove arduous and even exhausting for the hardiest walkers. It varies from single-file track crossing pastures (where it is least defined) to an extended quagmire several feet wide on the peaty moorland – Great Shunner Fell, for instance.

Wear strong boots and adequate windproof clothing. Carry spare woollens and waterproofs. Even in summer it can be cold on a mountain top.

If you have a map and compass and know how to use them, bring them. Also energy-giving food – chocolate, glucose, energy bars.

The moors and fells are vast and should be treated with respect. Even in summer, bad weather may delay your progress. Normal walking speed is 3 m.p.h./4.8 kph, but to this should be added 1 hour for every 1,500ft/457m of ascent. Bearing in mind that the frequent changes in direction and level of the path make straight-line map-reading unrealistic, an allowance of about 25% should be added to get a truer idea of the distances involved.

Clouds often form quickly on mountain tops, so be sure of your compass bearing before landmarks are hidden by mist. Weather conditions can change rapidly.

At all times there should be at least 3 people together in case of accidents or getting lost.

The Dark Peak Map
[underlined] DAY ONE. CROWDEN TO STANDEDGE [/underlined] 10 miles/16km.
[underlined] Crowden head N/NW, turning left to the crossing of Crowden Great Brook. Pass through the gate after a short distance along the

[page break]

247 2/

track bear north along the line marking the western boundary of a firing-range. The footpath rises gradually towards the cliffs on the skyline, and when the edge of the moor is reached bear right and continue along the crest of the outcrop. From Laddow Rocks continue in a northerly direction contouring round above Crowden Great Brook, then N.E. over Dun Hill to the source of the Brook on Black Hill. From here, Holme Moss BBC radio/TV transmitter can be seen to the S.E. with flashing white lights.

To reach Black Hill, we will have crossed Soldier’s Lump, a vast peat moss, windswept and lifeless, and as far as I remember it, lacking in any landmarks, cut up by cloughs (deep channels in the peat), and the going is tough.

[underlined] Black Hill to Standedge. (5 miles/8km) [/underlined]
(Black Peak District map) From Black Hill, continue N.W. over Wessenden Head Moor to the road-crossing near the 20th milestone on the Greenfield-Holmfirth road A635. A causeway leads[?] N from the A635 for ¼ mile/400m across White Moss and Black Moss, keeping roughly on the watershed between the Saddleworth and Wessenden valleys along a boundary line marked by piles of peat in places. The route runs along the bank of the westernmost reservoir to a minor road or track north of Round Hill, and this is followed to route A52 in Standedge Cutting.

Evening meal and overnight accomodation[sic] is booked at Glebe Farm.

Standedge to Windy Hill (4 miles/6.4 km) [/underlined]
A rough track leads away from Standedge Cutting and soon gives way to a footpath following the escarpment and crosses by the heads[?] of 2 streams draining SW, past height 1455ft on Cottleshaw[?] Moor to the Huddersfield Road A640. Cross the road and follow along a long wall northerly then westerly round the N side of White Hill, then N to the Halifax Road A672 near Windy Hill television reflector station.

[page break]

248 3/

[underlined] Windy Hill to Blackstone Edge (2 miles/3.2km) [/underlined]
The boundary now follows the watershed from which streams descend on one side into Lancashire and the other into Yorkshire. Mile after mile of black peat and tussocky grass stretch around, vast and uninhabited. From Windy Hill continue over rough ground along the top of Blackstone Edge as far as the Roman road. There is a single-span footbridge over the M62. On reaching Broadhead Drain, cross it and follow it N to a fence and a gate, then left to some quarries and the White House Inn on the A55.
[underlined] White House to Stoodley Pike (5 miles/8km) [/underlined]
Climb the road beyond the White House Inn and go through the gates on the left at the summit, along the western embankment of Blackstone Edge Reservoir and the watershed by the Regulation Drain, then by [underlined] Light Hazzles [/underlined] and the farthest point of Warland Reservoir. On reaching the Warland Drain past the farthest reservoir, turn E to a parish boundary and continue along that line NE to a wall which is followed to Stoodley Pike, an obelisk commemorating the battle of Waterloo. It is visible from a long way off.

Arrange to meet Dick at nearest road for transport to Hebden Bridge.

Stoodley Pike to Colden (5 miles/8km) [/underlined]
From Stoodley Pike a path runs E, past a spring after 200yds, and then reaches a stile in a wall. Turn left at the stile and follow the wall down to a track, then follow this northerly round the east and north sides of Edge End Moor, eventually descending to the A46 Burnley-Halifax road, the canal, river and railway. Turn E along the road for a few yards and then left under a railway bridge by a path that zig-zags up the steep hillside. Looking back, when you stop for a rest, as you will surely do, you will see Stoodley Pike 2 miles away. The slope levels out at about 1050ft and the Long Causeway is crossed. This road is one of the main traffic routes between Lancashire and Yorkshire. The crowded life of the narrow valleys is now left behind and vast stretches of moorland lie beyond. The path soon drops steeply into the valley of Colden Water near New Delight, crosses the stream by an old pack-horse bridge, then

[page break]

249 4/

climbing again to Colden and a spur of Heptonstall Moor.

[underlined] Colden to Withens Height (6 miles / 9.6km) [/underlined]
From Colden the Pennine Way bears NW round[?] height 1284ft / 398m on Heptonstall Moor, then northerly across the outflows from Lower Gorple and Widdop Reservoirs to the Hebden road, (a turn to the right on this road and a ½-mile walk will bring you to the Pack Horse Inn. If this does not take your fancy, forget it). On the Hebden road, turn E through an iron gate on the track to the Walshaw Dean Reservoirs. Cross the dam at the head of the first reservoir, then turn left beside the stone-built drain. At the crossing of Black Clough, follow the track NE to Withens Height and Withens Farm.

[underlined] Withens Height to Ponden (3 miles / 5km.) [/underlined]
From Withens, take the track heading down to Master Stones, which then becomes a lane, but after ¼-mile turn left (north) along a footpath to Buckley and Ponden Reservoir. Take the track along the S side of the reservoir, which becomes a footpath beyond Ponden Hall, to Whitestone, then a lane again to the road.

Ponden to Clowling. (4 miles / 6.4km) [/underlined]
From the Colne-Haworth road cross up Dean Fields to the higher road then bear westerly round Crag Bottom, taking the first track on the right up onto Oakworth Moor. Follow a broken wall NW over Old Bess and Bare Hill on Keighley Moor, to near height 1455ft / 443m and a parish boundary. From this point descent northerly over Ickornshaw Moor to reach a footpath, which bears westerly towards Lumb and then N to the Keighley-Colne road A6068 in Cowling village.

[underlined] Cowling to [deleted] Thornton [/deleted] [inserted] Lothersdale [/inserted] (5 miles / 8.2km) [/underlined]
Take the path beside the Black Bull Hotel car park, descend to the village street, pass behind some buildings to the school and follow the minor road to the village of Middleton. Beyond Gill Bridge near Middleton is a confusing jumble of lanes and footpaths. Turn left along the lane beside the northern bank of the stream at Gill Bridge to the ruins of an old mill, then turn right through a stile and by a path uphill passing Stubbing

[page break]
250 5/

and High Windmill farms to reach Cowling Hill Lane. Follow the road opposite steeply downhill, and at the second sharp corner enter the fields and cross the Surgill Beck, pass Woodhead Farm and then descend steeply to Lothersdale.

[underlined] DAY 5 LOTHERSDALE TO GARGRAVE *8miles / 13km)
Lothersdale to Thornton (3½ miles) [/undelined]
Near the Hare and Hounds will be found a Countryside Commission map and a Pennine Way signpost, which points through a farmyard to a lane. At the end of the lane the route follows field paths to Kirk Sykes and Hewitts farms. The way now to be followed to Pinkaw Beacon is difficult at the beginning. Pass through a gate at Kirk Sykes and follow a boundary wall for a short way to a stile, then head W to Pinkaw Beacon. From the trig station on the summit descend SW along a track in the heather on a line marked by cairns to an old quarry road which leads NW to 3 lane ends on Elslack Moor. Follow the Elslack road for ½ miles, then head NW by Thornton Wood and Brown House to Thornton in Craven.

[underlined] Thornton to Gargrave (4 miles / 6.4 km) [/underlined]
From the village green on the A56 take the shaded Cam Lane northwards, which degenerates into a track to Langber[?] Farm, but bear right on a footpath leading to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. The towpath is followed for s short distance. Keep to the towpath, passing on the left the village of East Marton, where an old double-decker bridge carries the A59 over the canal. Leave the canal bank ¼ - mile beyond Williamston Bridge by a footpath which soon comes back to the lane again. Follow it easterly for anoth ¼ - mile, then take the field paths, past Great Meadow Plantation in an almost straight line NE to Scaleber and the railway cutting near Gargrave. Cross the bridge and take the footpath bearing right, emerging near the church by the River Aire.

[page break]


The girl in the centre of this photograph was the landlady of the pub where we stayed on our arrival up north, on Sunday afternoon. She locked us in while she went off to bank the taking, with instructions to help ourselves to drinks and keep a note of what we had. Dick ran the bar, and we let in other members of our party as they arrived. When the landlady got back again, she checked that all was well and left us to it, so we had a very convivial afternoon.

[group photograph taken outside the Peels Arms]

I was the oldest one on the walk, and the only one who did the full distance from start to finish. Our overnight accomodation[sic] was always down in a valley, so the first part of the walk each day involved a climb up onto the tops. As the photograph overleaf shows, every picture tells a story. I did not suffer as much as I appear to be doing though. It rained on our journey up north, and on the way home at the end of the week, but thankfully it was fine and dry all the time we were walking.

[page break


[photograph of Henry and other walkers]

In August, I went for the annual visit to the West Country. I received the usual kindly welcome from Jean and Derek Northcott. Played golf with Derek one day at Hardwick, walked Dartmoor the rest of the week. Moved on to South Molton for the Exmoor week with John Skinner. Good walking and good weather both weeks.

Towards the end of August, my brother John came to stay for a week, as he did last year. Philip came for the last 3 days, and John went with him when the week was over, back down south. Shortly afterwards, I myself went down south. I was on my way to Pembrokeshire, to stay with David and Susan Stewart at Penyralt, the farmhouse that they rent for September (the same as last year.) I stayed one night with John so that I could attend the Woodley Hill Grammar School reunion. One of the ex-pupils provided me with the following print-outs which he obtained from the computer network, details of my old R.A.F. wartime bomber crew. The weather was not very good for the Pembrokeshire walking holiday, but I made the best of what there was, and the coastal scenery was magnificent.

When I arrived back home, Philip informed me that his marriage had collapsed. It came as a shock to him, as he did not know anything was amiss – Heather said she did not love him any longer, and that he had agreed to move out, which he subsequently did to a flat in Bracknell. Personally, I would have stayed put in my own home.

[page break]


In November, through the good offices of Gerald’s Denise,[?] I went with Gerald to R.A.F. Cranwell, the R.A.F. College which is the equivalent of the Army’s Sandhurst. We were given a conducted tour of the magnificent College buildings, the, as guests of Rory Underwood, had a beer and lunch in the mess. Rory Underwood is a Flight Commander and flying instructor on twin-engined Dominies. He took us out to his flight and showed us over his aircraft. For a number of years he played wing three-quarter in the England Rugby team, and his brother Tony also played in the England team at the same time.

Rory gave me the autograph slip below.

[autograph] Henry – Best wishes Rory Underwood [/autograph]

And that’s about all for 1999. I spent Christmas, as usual, with Helen and family; I love being there with them – it is always such a happy time, I saw in the New Year with Dick and Eileen at the Rising Sun. And so we go into the year 2000.

In February 2000 I went on the annual end-of-winter holiday with John Skinner to Portugal. We staged in a fairly small hotel almost in the centre of Albufeira, and it turned out to be the best ever in terms of food, atmosphere and general comfort. We went on several excursions, one of them to Cape St. Vincent in the far south-west. The weather was good all the time. The visit of the Germans to Wisbech took place

[page break]


in June. My friend Josef Schoner did not come; his son was getting married at the time, so I had nobody staying with me, but I went on all the arranged excursions and activities, including a very interesting day out at Warwick Castle. In August, the usual visit to Dartmoor and Exmoor took place. Philip came with me this time, just for the Dartmoor week, and this type of walking was a new experience for him. We received a kindly welcome from Jean and Derek, and I am sure Philip enjoyed our time there. He left for home at the end of the week, and I went on for the customary week on Exmoor with John Skinner, staying with Ron Strutton at South Molton.

In September, I spent 2 weeks in Pembrokeshire with David and Susan Stewart, at the farmhouse at Penyralt, and Susan’s parents were there also for part of the time. On the days that David and Susan were fishing, I went walking on the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, fairly rugged walking with many ups and downs.

At the end of the year, I relinquished my position as Chairman of the Fenland Friendship Club with Germany, as there were younger and more enterprising people willing to take over, and anyway I never wanted the job in the first place.

The year closed with the usual happy gathering at Helen’s over Christmas.

[underlined] 2001 [/underlined]
After soldiering on through the winter, I went with John on our annual visit to the warmth of the Mediterranean. We went to southern Spain this year, to Malaga. The hotel was not so good this time – not very spacious, difficult to find a comfortable place to sit in the evening, and too far out from the nearest town. In all other respects it was a good holiday, though, as they all are with Saga. The most interesting excursion was a trip to Gibraltar.

In June I went on a private visit to Germany, with Bryan and Daphne Hargreaves. They came down here from Doncaster by car, stayed overnight, and we left early next morning. We travelled in the car – Dover – ferry – on through France into Germany, and I stayed with

[page break]

the Schoners at Herlikofen. Every day we went out walking, always accompanied by various young German people, and had a great time. We always had our mid-day meal at a gasthaus, and had many interesting visits in lovely surroundings. The welcome from these people really has to be experienced to be understood. Bob and Maxine Cray also came over, from America. Here are a few photographs that give the general flavour of the occasion.

[two colour photographs of groups of people]

[page break]


[two colour photographs]

[page break]


[aerial view photograph of a town/village]

[colour photograph of a group of people, including Henry]

[page break]


[colour photograph of a group of people sitting around an outdoor table]

[colour photograph of a parade]

The Dartmoor – Exmoor walking holiday did not take place this year. It was the year of the foot-and-mouth epidemic, and the moors were closed, as indeed were all the footpaths in this part of the country, so we did not get much walking.

A memorable holiday took place in September. The Americans who are part of the twinning association with Germany organised a visit to America

[page break]


for any English and German people who would like to go. In the event, there were 3 English, 4 American and 7 Germans. As always, the friendliness and welcome is terrific – no trouble is too much, and the organisation was superb. I do not think I have ever enjoyed a holiday so much. Colonel Moses was in the American Air Force in Germany, and that is how the whole business started. He still retains connections with the U.S. Air Force. Colonel Moses (Larry) lives in a big house and there were 9 accomodated[sic] there, and 5 with his friends Bob and Maxine Cray. Bryan and Daphe Hargreaves and I stayed with the Crays. I drove up to the Hargreaves at Doncaster, and the next day Bryan’s brother Neil drove us to Manchester Airport. We flew with Air Transat over Iceland and Greenland, round the north of Hudson Bay, to Vancouver, where we disembarked and were met by the Americans and later by the Germans, and next day drove down over the border into the States near Seattle, where we would be staying, on the Pacific coast. After 5 days the whole group set off on a 5-day safari, moving on each day to fresh fields and pastures new. One of the best was to Mount St. Helens, a volcano which exploded in 1990 with disastrous results, causing almost imaginable devastation over a wide area because of lava, ash and mud and wind-velocities in excess of 470 m.p.h., blowing down huge trees in its path. After returning, we spent several more days before returning to where we were staying, and then came home from Vancouver Airport to Manchester. Most of the photographs in the accompanying packet say on the back where they were taken. They are only a representative selection – I have many more.

[page break]
[three cuttings regarding Henry’s walking achievements]

[underlined] 2002 [/underlined]
Country-walking resumed this year, when the footpaths were re-opened after the foot-and-mouth epidemic – The usual weekly walk with Mr. Skinner over in Norfolk – usually a round trip of some 12 miles, with a pub at the far end for lunch and a couple of pints.

In February, we went for our annual holiday to the Mediterranean as an escape from the winter to a warmer clime. We went from Gatwick to Cyprus and had a most enjoyable time in a good hotel, as always it is with Saga.

In May, I went down to the Isle of Wight to stay with Brian and Rosemary Matthews for a few days, a pleasant and friendly time. It is always nice to see old friends again after a few years.

In June there was the visit to Germany, to Herlikofen, which takes place every 4 years. I stayed, as I always do, with Josef and Karin Schoner, and the welcome was as great as ever. Bryan and Daphne Hargreaves were there as well, and one day we sent with Josef for a day down in Austria.

[group photograph]

[page break]

[three holiday photographs]

[page break]

In July I went for my annual trip to the Moors. At Dartmoor, I stayed as usual with Derek and Jean Northcott. One day’s golf with Derek at Hurdwick, the rest of the time walking on my own on the Moor. Lost 2½ days because of bad weather, but the rest of the time was good. From there, I went to South Molton, on Exmoor, met John Skinner, and had a good week’s walking, apart from 2 days lost because of rain. After leaving there, I went along eastwards to Bishops Waltham, near Southampton, where Philip lives as he works at the new Air Traffic Control Centre at Swanwick. I stayed 3 days with him, then, on the way home I spent 2 days at Yvonne Dolphins. Home again after 3 weeks away, and found the garden badly in need of attention. 1,080 miles travelled by car.

In October, I spent 3 days with Jim Clark and Antigone at Fleet, the first time I had seen him for a good many years. We first became acquainted when we were both 11 years old, at Henley Grammar School, in 1934.

[underlined] 2003 [/underlined]
[underlined] January. [/underlined] Went down to Reading for the 25th wedding anniversary of John’s daughter Celia. I was going to stay with John, but he was in hospital and could not be there, so Jean Hindley let me stay there, and Derek drove me over to Celia’s and cam back for me later. John was in hospital on and off throughout the year, with arteritis, and died in December.
[underlined] February. [/underlined] Did not go away with John Skinner for our annual holiday in the Med. We booked to go to Turkey, but this was cancelled by Saga as there were not enough takers, and it was too late to find anything else.
[underlined] March [/underlined] I was 80 on the 24th. At Dick’s instigation and with Helen and Philip’s approval, I decided on a party for family and friends, paid for by Helen and Philip. Held at The Locomotive in a private room at no charge. Food by the Rising Sun. 20 or so people there, and we all had a good time, a wonderful way of celebrating. Most of the organising done by Helen.
[underlined] August [/underlined] To Northcott’s, as usual, for the week’s walking on Dartmoor, then up to South Molton for the week on Exmoor with John Skinner. On the way home, stopped for lunch at Annette Bedford’s in Castle Cary, then on to Bishop’s Waltham for a few days at Philip’s, and on the way back to Wisbech

[page break]

spent two days with Yvonne Dolphin.
[underlined] September [/underlined] Drove up to Bryan Hargreaves’ and went with him and Daphne to York where we met up with Larry and Lynn Moses and Bob and Maxine Cray and a few of the people from Germany. Spent a few days there, browsing around York and walking on Hadrian’s Wall.
[underlined] November [/underlined] David and Susan Stewart came here and we went over to the ex-airfield at East Kirkby for a special day, when a good lunch was provided and we were allowed into the Lancaster to visit all parts of it and take photographs. To Thursford with Dick and Eileen for the special Christmas show.
[underlined] December. [/underlined] Christmas, as usual, at Helen’s.

[underlined] 2004 [/underlined]
[underlined] February [/underlined] The annual Mediterranean holiday was at La Marga[?] in Spain, with J. Skinner. It was not a success. There was nowhere much to go, nothing to do, everywhere closed up, and the weather was bitterly cold.
[underlined] April [/underlined] With Dick and Eileen to Minorca, and this was a good holiday. Lovely hotel on the waterfront, good excursions and good company, lovely weather.
[underlined] May [/underlined] Bought a new car, a Toyota Celica, in lovely condition, very fast, very sporty and a treat to drive. Dick was a great help in this transaction with advice and practical support.

[page break]
[underlined] June [/underlined] The Germans were here for the twinning – club visit, and I had Sepp and Karin staying here. It all went well and we had a very enjoyable time. Bryan and Daphne Hargreaves came down as well, and Shirley kindly put them up. All the time fully occupied with days out, parties and barbecues.
[underlined] July. [/underlined] Drove down and spent a few days with Philip.
[underlined] August.[/underlined] The usual fortnight on Dartmoor and Exmoor. Stayed with Philip on the way back, and with Yvonne Dolphin at Abingdon.

[page break]

[colour postcard of Vilsalpsee]

[two colour photographs]

[page break]

[colour postcard of Hohenzollern Castle]

[colour photographs of Brian and Rosemary, Isle of Wight]

[page break]

[centred] For Helen and Philip [/centred]
“Death is nothing at all –
I have only slipped away into the next room.
Call me by my old familiar name,
Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other, that we are still.
Put no difference into your tone,
Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together.
Play, smile, think of me, pray for me.
Let my name be ever the household word that it always was.
Let it be spoken without effect, without the ghost of a shadow upon it.
Life means all that it ever meant.
It is the same as it ever war; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
What is death but a negligible accident?
Why should I be out of mind because I am out of sight?
I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near, just around the corner ….. All is well.”
Henry Scott Holland



Henry Wagner, “Henry Wagner's life story. Part two ,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed June 23, 2024, https://ibccdigitalarchive.lincoln.ac.uk/omeka/collections/document/30736.

Item Relations

This item has no relations.