Sunday, October 30, 2011

Coventry - 14th November 1940 - Poem by Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams
Ken Williams
This is a recent poem written by Sarah Williams - daughter of Deputy head Ken Williams. Sarah says -

" Its a true story. Dad was born in Coventry and they lived in Paxton Road. My Gran used to tell us about the blitz. Granny, in the poem, was actually my Great-grandmother who died not many months later."

Wyre Farm Camp School, as the school was originally known, was an evacuation camp for Coventry boys during the war. More on the school during the war years here -

Coventry - 14th November 1940

Paxton Road, Coventry
What happened in Paxton Road?
A bomb fell, 
terrifying the families 
in the shelter
at the end of the long garden.

They didn’t want to be there,
on account of
Alf Green’s feet,
which smelt,
long warm wafts of old cheese.

Caught between the two evils,
the Luftwaffe
and Alf’s socks,
they suffered 
all through that long night.

And next morning the mess,
a kerbstone
on the bed,
a hole in the roof.
Granny did not speak for a long time after.

Perhaps she feared more nights,
sitting, listening
to the planes
and longing for some fresh air.

Sarah Williams

Sarah says " I always felt that Gran's story reflected something about the way those awful nights must have felt - an unimaginably powerful force trying to annihilate you and yet the immediate preoccupation might be the smell, or hunger or something you forgot to do before you left the house

 Dad and an incredibly long line of his family came form Coventry/Warwick/Leamington. We lived in Bulkington for a while and Coventry was the place for shops, swimming and Quaker Meetings."

Sarah says "Perhaps other ex-pupils from the school might have some stories about the experience of their families during the blitz" These can be put on the facebook page or sent by e mail to this site 

Extracts from the Coventry Evening Telegraph article Forty Years On Supplement November 1980

Operation 'Moonlight Sonata' was the code name for the destruction of the City of Coventry.

"Anthony Cave Brown alleged in his book "Bodyguard of Lies", that Churchill knew 48 hours before the raid, that Coventry was about to be blitzed but no official warning was sent to the city. To have done so, said Mr cave, would have been to have revealed one of the biggest secrets of the war, that British Scientists had succeeded in cracking the top secret German Code, Enigma! The author claims that Coventry was sacrificed in order to preserve that secret. In the video below, Pete Waterman looks at the evidence for this claim....

" At about 1am on November 14th, Coventry housewife, Bobby Bright, was in a bus halted in a traffic jam at the city's Spencer Road, Warwick Road junction. From her lower deck seat she saw the reason for the jam - a column of slow-moving anti-aircraft guns making their way into Coventry. A sixth sense told her that 'something was up'! Two days earlier a divisional air raid warden in Coventry told his men he had received Home Office notification that 'Jerry is going to ring the city of Coventry with fire and blitz the centre with High explosives." No official warning was sent to the city." Coventry Evening Telegraph.

"It was a clear, frosty, moonlit night. the British press were unaware of the German's sophisticated guidance system and made much of the so called 'Hunter's Moon' 7.06 the bombers reached the first of three VHF beams directed from stations near Calais - part of an intersecting beam system." "Just after 7pm, the air raid sirens were sounded in Coventry, at 7.17 the bombers crossed the second intersecting radio beam. By 7.24 the third beam was crossed - 30 enemy aircraft were over Broadgate - a thousand incendiaries whistled down on Coventry."

" The streets of Coventry were as close as anyone could ever get to having a first hand view of hell!"

"Mr Pfleger realised to his horror that the hospital was right in the centre of a square marked with flares and spent an anxious night on a corridor floor."

"However callous it may seem, children in general had a great time during the blitz - shrapnel collecting, exaggerating the family death toll and watching for Germans behind every bush. We played great hide and seek games in bombed out buildings, cat walking the rafters and fanning the embers to keep the flames going."

"Just at the moment the German's dropped a land mine, my father, who was a fire watcher, held me up above the shelter to see the land mine floating down on a parachute. then we both got down below the ground for this was going to be a big bang!"

"The early hours brought some respite with an easing off in the intensity of the bombing. finally the drone of the bombers ceased, to be replaced with the sequence of dive bombing planes."

"Each plane carried two bombs, which on release, made a screaming noise on the way down. This continued until 7 am, and for breath-holding suspense, was the worse part of the 12 hour blitz."

"The awful feeling of helplessness, the sickening sound of the Jerries diving down to drop more, the sound of slates and glass shattering."

"And next morning - how terribly tired and stiff. We were and how black with soot and rubbish. Doors off, windows gone and all the food spoiled."

"Pretty well all the big shops in town were burned fact the town is not there anymore. A lot of people are still buried in the shelters underneath."

"It is so pitiful - people are going from one place to another like lost sheep."

"The sortie was a prelude to 41 raids over the next two years, the last of which was a harmless incendiary attack which took
place on Aug 3rd 1942"

"By dawn 56 tons of incendiaries; 342 tons of high explosives and 127 mines had been dropped."

" Gly Edwards had just left the Gaumont Theatre - it proved to be a terrifying spot to be. All hell let loose within seconds; the continuous deafening sound of exploding bombs; the bursting of water and gas mains, buildings collapsing and fires raging in every direction. There was the horrible sickly feeling of holding tight your guts as bomb blasts tried to suck out your inners, the tearing and bleeding of hands as helpers scraped away at fallen debris in an effort to free the unfortunate house owners."

This contribution is from Keith Ison - It hung in his family home from the war years. Thanks' Keith

Basket Ball (1966-9)and Cross CountryTeam 1981

Keith Ison 
Basketball Team 1969 — with Keith Ison, Adrian Phillis, Ian Willacy, Steve Hudson, Bill Mc Menamin, Steve Harkin, Ray Evitts, Steve Barber, Steve Worral, Kevin Carolan and Roger Anable.

Keith Ison 
Basketball team 1966- 67

Not sure of all the names, please feel free to tag the ones i missed — with Keith Ison, Frank Biasco, Steve Spud Taylor, Keith Pountney, Steve Barber, Steve Hudson and Roger Annable.

John Brown 
X country Winners Blount House 1981 — with Adrian Mulhall, Peter Niceley, Dean Waton, Gavin Mulhall, Warren Niceley, Tovey, Aubery Wood?, Harris, Harrison, Riochard Hull, Rob Grant, George Bell, Patric Jones, Rob Wood, Alan Brown and Adrian Steane.

Dean Revell - New Photos

Dean Revell has sent two new photos from his recent visit.


The 'new' swimming pool.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Old school Ties!

Thanks again to John Andrew Steane

The Dudley and Blount House ties (Just need the Mortimer tie now).

Ralph Aldhous These were the new style ties. The older ones were cotton with narrow stripes.

Paul Norman posted one of the older type ties with narrow stripes-

And from Charles Joyce - The Mortimer Ties

the Athletics T shirt in Blount Colour.

The school badge

Paul Rees
Just been ironing Daniels school uniform for tomorrow. Posed a question tho' why did I hate school uniform so much? Okay, Dan does not have to wear a cap which I think we all hated but he looks soo smart in his colours that I am immensely proud. Did my family feel the same? The costs today are maybe less I suppose.

Sarah Williams Was it because at school the uniform identified you with a group and you would rather have been seen as an individual?

Paul Rees How astute Sarah! Quite possibly so.

Ralph Aldhous I would have been happy as Larry at CCBS but for one thing: I wasn't a team player. I wasn't proud of the uniform, I wasn't interested in team sports and I didn't care who won at Rugby. I spent the whole five years refusing to be anyone but me. I knew none of this at the time, and tended to accept the criticism from the staff which was that I was an idle, insolent little waster.

Paul Rees I was a bit like that except for X country. I had been told I could not do it because of asthma but sneaked out one day and really loved it. No side effects either. Rugby was a total myth to me but I did my best on Standards Day. I was in Blount and we hardly ever won if I remember correctly. I think Mortimer were always champs? Then I discovered team sports and felt better. Maybe its because I was given the choice later in life, not a compulsion??? Mr Parker, when I left, told me I would never make anything of myself. I returned 3 years later, a Corporal in the Army, in uniform. He said that he had told me that to encourage me to do better!!!! Yeah right!!!

Ralph Aldhous I didn't mind cross-country. At least it got you out, but I cheated when I could and walked on standards day which drove Tank into a fury because it wrecked the house average. I wasn't taking some kind of principled stance and didn't really know why I did it at the time. Years later I was a regular gym goer and ran regularly until I had a knee injury a few years ago. I never did get Rugby though.

Sports Certificates - Jon Andrew Steane c 1979 / 80

Jon Andrew Steane - 

House Name Plates - Blount and Dudley

Jon Andrew Steane I "RESCUED" the name plates from the Blount and Dudley dorms when I visited the school in 1987, they had seen better days back then, but you can just make out the names even now. The Mortimer plate had already gone, wonder if it just rotted away, or was "RESCUED" by some other kind soul.

Dave Kent Kinda ironic as Mortimer was the 1st house to go in those final years! I hope all is well with you & yours Jonny you liberator!'

Thursday, October 27, 2011

This and That - Songs and Choruses March 1967

John Tearse
Stephen Tearse 1964
This programme from March 1967 was contributed by John Tearse who was at the school in the early to mid 60's and is from his younger brother's collection - Stephen Tearse, who sadly was killed no long after leaving school in a scooter accident. Many will remember Stephen as a cheerful, friendly and popular lad. Nice then that Stephen is remembered on this blog through his brother.

This is a programme for a musical show called This and That, consisting of  Songs, Choruses and Drama at the school on the 11th and 12th of March 1967. Stephen and many others of all years were in this show.

Mr Morris - Headteacher 1953 - 1960

Reginald Morris - headteacher 1953-1960
Mr Reginald Morris was head teacher at the City of Coventry School from January 1953 to November 1960.

Thanks to John Tearse for this cutting
Mr Morris was a pupil of King Henry V111 grammar school in Coventry and attended Dudley Training college. Before college, however, he was an unqualified teacher in Coventry 1928 - 30. On leaving Dudley College, he joined the staff of Frederick Bird Boys School in Coventry as a qualified teacher. He joined the City of Coventry Boarding School for boys (then still known as Wyre Farm Camp School) in 1940, becoming a senior Assistant in 1944 and headmaster in 1953 on retirement of Mr B. Martin. Mr Lowe was Mr Morris's deputy head, followed by Mr Lambley in the late 1950's.

Mr Morris was a keen sportsman. At one time he played Rugby Football for Coventry and Cricket for Coventry and North Warwickshire Club. He also had captained the cricket club at Cleobury Mortimer.

Sadly, Mr Morris collapse during a performance at the school's annual dramatic production, a one and half hour operetta called "The Great Bell of Burley" by Dr Armstrong Gibbs. About 200 parents of the boys traveled to the school at the weekend to see it.

Mr Morris is the tall figure centre back


This obituary is from The Boarder (School magazine) Issue 4 1961

After a second attack of coronary thrombosis, Mr R T Morris, headmaster of the City of Coventry Boarding School, died at the age of 52 years on 29th November 1960.

Mr Morris came to Cleobury Mortimer with the first party of boys from Frederick Bird school in June 1940.

He was a very keen sportsman and coached the school's cricket teams for many years. He, himself, had played cricket for Coventry and North Warwickshire and Rugby Football for Coventry and North Warwickshire. After coming to Cleobury Mortimer he captained the local cricket team for several seasons.

He was appointed Headmaster in 1953 but before this he was a House Master, and countless will remember his firm but just discipline and his pride in the good name of  'Earlsdon'. During the period of his headship, the school changed considerably. the most important events were the purchase of Wyre Farm Camp by Coventry LEA and the acknowledgement of the school as a fully recognised secondary boarding school with a flourishing GCE stream.

No one can doubt that a major contribution to these changes was the tremendous drive and enthusiasm of Mr Morris. a man of strong personality, he was passionately interested in his school and fiercely proud of its reputation. He expected the best from the boys and staff and was not satisfied with less.

Whatever the future of the school, whatever its successes and improvements; a great debt will be owed to the man who made this possible - RTM.
Also taken from the same magazine -
"Mr Len Smith, on behalf of the visitors (at the 21st Birthday of the school) then informed everyone that he looked forward to beating the school X1 in the afternoon's Cricket match and spoke of the RT Morris Memorial Cup, a new trophy to be presented to the boy who put up the best performance in a match against old boys."

And from the Editorial - " Since the publication of the last issue of the Boarder, the school has suffered the loss of its headmaster, Mr RT Morris. in the autumn term, at a performance of the school play, Mr Morris collapsed and three days later died in Kidderminster General Hospital of coronary thrombosis. His death came as a shock to all; the school had rested on his broad shoulders; the boys had come to regard him as a father figure deserving respect and reverence.."
John Albert Clarke (who was there 1947 - 48 with his brother Allan in Radford House) recalls the school in the 40's when Mr Morris was there -

The dorms were all named after Coventry districts.  The headmaster was Mr Martin. The teachers included Mr Lambly, Mr Langley, Mr Morris (Deputy Head), Frankie Jones, Ivor Jones, Daddie Hatfield, Mr John Lowe, Mr Davies, Mr Simson. We were there because dad and mum split up, but we loved it during the hols when the kids came for holiday. We got to wait on them and no lessons.  Some of the lads I remember - Norman Hartly, Tiggy Bold, & the character of all time - Toastie Davies. Wow - happy days,? or were they ???? Why was he so remembered -  he put a live shell under the line where the cleobury flyer was due to pass. None of you would remember that train -  would you !??

In 1953 Mr Morris became headmaster, on the retirement of Mr Martin, with Mr John Lowe as Deputy Head.

Michael Billings, who was there 1955-1958 recalls -
Mr John Lowe - deputy head

I was in Radford and then Dudley. Teachers at the school at the time were Mr Lowe, Mr Morris, Mr Lambley (House Master of Radford), Mr Tinsella, Mr Thorne, Mr Francis (First teacher), Mr Ridley(2nd teacher), Mr Stirland, Mr Clarke(3rd teacher) and Geoff Oxendale (House Master of Dudley) ...
At the time i was at school these were the only two females we came in contact with other than the maids in the dining hall, the seamstress, matron and sister and the bursars secretary. It was worth joining the dance class to be able to dance and chat with the girls...

Mr Ridley used to have dance lessons in the hall and Vera Jacks used to attend along with the seamstress' daughter.

Mr Morris was the headmaster and Mr Lowe was the deputy head when i was there. When Mr Lowe retired Mr Lambley became deputy head.I have all my school reports from 1955-1958.

Trev Teasdel Mr John Lowe (who deputy head during this period) became headteacher at Willenhall Wood Junior school, which is the school I was at until 1962. Mr Lambley replaced him.

Rosemary Webb Rehill  I remember Derek and Daphne Lambly well. They lived next door to us in the bungalow on the main driveway. They had a son but then they moved on. The Williams moved in after that when Ken became deputy.

Peter Lee  I was in Radford house when I first went there in 1954. you forgot Tinsolow the PE teacher -  the little ex comando. 

David Partridge My first Head, Mr Morris, died in my first term, November 1960. Mr Lambley became acting head 'till the following September when Mr Rowlands came.

Peter Lee  Do you remember the Major and his Rolls shooting brake. I was in Gosford house before I left in 1957 .

Michael Billings Peter, I remember the Major and his Rolls shooting brake and his secretary Dilys.The Rolls would be worth a small fortune today.

George Forrester Does anyone remember a Mr. Shannon? About 1958-60 time. He used to stand in the middle of the dorm and read scarey stories at bedtime. I remember him as being a bit scarey himself!

Photos of the school pre-60's