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NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 17 August 2013


Many of you who were at the school in the 1950s and early '60s will already have heard of the death, on 28th July, of Rex 'Winkie' Wingfield, who taught Latin and Ancient Greek there from 1949-62. I've already expressed my fond memories of Winkie both in the caption to the photo of him in the 'museum' and on my personal site. He has also been the subject of a fair bit of the reminiscing about former masters to be found on this site and I hope that news of his passing will prompt more of your recollections. I'm glad he made it to the age of 88 and I hope his 51 years of life after leaving QE were happy and fulfilling ones.

RESTRICTED THREAD: please make RM Wingfield the main subject of your reply.


NAME: Ian Sadler  Ian Sadler

DATE: 17 August 2013


I was very sorry to hear of Rex's death. I still find it odd that he was only 15 years older than me. In my experience Rex was not a brilliant teacher but very fair-minded and down to earth and I liked him a lot. Having been on the science side I dropped Latin after the 5th form but took it again in the seventh as an O-level pass was then an entrance requirement for Oxbridge (in the end I went to London!). Rex took this class and I still remember the look of incredulity on his face when I said that I had attempted the unseen translation passage instead of those from the set books we were supposed to have studied. He was even more surprised when I passed. A great chap, who would come and help when you were really struggling.


NAME: Stephen Giles  Stephen Giles

DATE: 18 August 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: inmate 1957-64

Very sad to learn that Rex has died. I remember him as being more supportive and far less irritatingly pompous than were most of the masters were during our time at QE. Never short of a joke, he once suggested after noting my poor mark in a Latin exam, that I had not been able to turn the pages (of my crib sheets) over fast enough!!


NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 19 August 2013


For me, it's a sort of sad surprise: sad because I, too, felt that Winkie was a good egg, and a surprise because I thought he'd died years ago. He viewed us - or so he led us to believe - as unwilling learners with no natural interest in Latin, who would much rather be doing other things than learning it, but it had been decreed that we should have Latin lessons and he was paid to try and teach it to us. Our attitude to Latin, he implied, could reasonably be compared to that of squaddies to daily boot-polishing. And yet I remember him getting infectiously enthusiastic about Virgil's Aeniad in the supplementary Latin classes (those that Ian mentioned [reply 1], but in a different year). I think the cynicism was somewhat of a front, but it enabled him to be entertaining in a unique way.


NAME: Nick Dean  Nick Dean Nick Dean gallery

DATE: 19 August 2013


Wingfield was before my time, but a former school captain to whom he taught Latin tells me that he had several bullet wounds across his stomach inflicted by a machine gun during the Second World War. In turn, this wartime reference reminded me that, among the more interesting contents of the prefects' common room in my time [see 120/18], were minutes of meetings dating back at least to the 1930s. These inclued some from the late 30s in the instantly recognisable hand of E N H Shearly and one from 1940 which recorded, in a very incidental manner, that the meeting had been interrupted by Mr Winter bearing the news that Germany had invaded Belgium and Holland. I wonder if these documents, which even then covered some 30-40 years, still exist?


NAME: Martyn Day  Martyn DayThen & Now

DATE: 20 August 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1956-63

I remember 'Winkie' Wingfield with affection - and yes, he did have bullet wounds. As he writes in his wartime memoirs The Only Way Out, the only way you get out of the infantry is on a stretcher or six feet under - and I guess the scars he once showed us were his ticket back to Blighty:
Simultaneous with the last round of the Bren burst, I felt a searing pan start at my left hip, flash across and numb my right thigh. There was a shout to my left and the dull burst of a '36' grenade. Then I knew. "Christ! I've been hit!" I panicked. I'd been hit internally, so I should be bleeding from the mouth. I coughed into my hand. It was dry. Thank God! I felt better.

From THE ONLY WAY OUT by R.M WINGFIELD (7th Armoured Div, Queen's Royal Regt.)

We are the children of a remarkable generation who struggled through the depression of the 1930s, fought and won a war against fascism and helped build the welfare state that has educated us and kept us healthy since. It is a privilege to have been taught by them as well.


NAME: Alan Pyle  Alan Pyle

DATE: 23 August 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1948-1953

I must have been in RMW's first class in 1949 after a year of Latin with Tiger Timpson. A breath of fresh air. A young master only 12 years older than his pupils. Yes, his manner was of the NCO with his squaddies - 4 years after the war had ended. We are all in this together! Caesar's Gallic Wars often segued into accounts of the recent battles in North Africa. I dropped Latin at O level but found the strict discipline of the syntax a good preparation for the data processing and early computer programming at work.


NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 30 August 2013


I too am glad to hear that Winkie Wingfield had a long life to 88 and do remember him also with affection. I cannot really add much to what I have said in previous threads but am interested in hearing the contributions from others. If he retired from QE at 37 years in 1962 what did he do after leaving for the next 51 years? Does anyone know, apart from when Vic visited him one day at his home? [That was only a year after he left - see Thread 12]. I still laugh at the memory of my dropping the 2 half crowns for the school hobbies fee in the inkwell of the desk in his classroom before they were handed over and having a real job to get them out again. Winkie's expression and words over the dilemma is a fond memory. I did do some strange things in those days, as is often also true today.


NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 30 August 2013


I thought he left QE to take up a Classics post in a girls' school, but I can't remember who told me.


NAME: Vic Coughtrey  Vic CoughtreyThen & Now

DATE: 30 August 2013


I've now discovered (by googling) the following announcement:
"WINGFIELD Rex Moore, formerly of Pakenham, passed away peacefully, at Alexander Court, Thetford, on July 28, at the age of 88. Reunited with his beloved wife Ann. Much loved dad, grandad and great grandad, respected teacher and "mate" to so many. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Private cremation but all are welcome to Morning Service, at 10.45 a.m. on Sunday, September 8, at Whiting Street United Reformed Church, Bury St Edmunds, when Rex's life will be remembered. No flowers, but donations, if desired, in aid of Diabetes UK or Great Ormond Street, can be made at the service or sent to Armstrongs Funeral Service, 43 St Andrews Street North, Bury St Edmunds IP33 1TH."
It's taken from the Family Notices website. I copied it to here instead of just linking to it, as entries on their site may have a time limit.

My second discovery was this on the Friends Reunited site.

10th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 03 September 2013


I like you, Nigel [reply 3], was surprised thet Rex (Winkie) hadn't died years ago especially as he was not one of the youngest of the masters in my time at school, apparently joining in 1949 at the age of 24 with an Oxford degree in classics and leaving in 1962 age 37. Thanks, Vic, for the further info about the memorial service. Is there any further news any have of other masters from the 50's and 60's not stated elsewhere on the site?

NOTE FROM VIC: If you have any such news, or just wish to talk about former staff who haven't been mentioned very much on this site, Thread 135 is the place to do it. This thread will remain dedicated to Rex Wingfield.

11th REPLY

NAME: Bruce Garvey

DATE: 10 September 2013


Also sad to hear of Rex 'Winkie' Wingfield's death. Oddly enough I purchased via Abe books his wartime book THe Only Way Out - at the time someone - was it I ? - asked him why there were so many swear words (well in that age "bloody" was a swear word as opposed to today's common parlance of aggravation. His reply was, "well if someone drops a cannonball on your toe - you dont just say Ouch". On second reading it is a profoundly moving book about his experiences. Also where is our 'history guru' Hugh Dent - did he end up as an Oxford Professor?

NOTE FROM VIC: Jas Cowen has started a New Thread about the careers of OEs. Any replies re H.Dent should go there, please.

12th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 16 September 2013


That's a fine photo you have found, Vic, of Winkie at the Bury St Edmunds Grammar School for Girls [see reply 9], considered to have been taken in 1966, not that long after he left QEs. From his central position in the photo he would appear to be the Head. Maybe someone also has a copy of The Elizabethan for the term in 1962 when he left QEs, if there was a short biography. Maybe he stayed at Bury St Edmunds school until his retirement given that the memorial service was in the town. I was hoping to travel there for the service despite the distance away, combining it with a tourist look at that place and others nearby but my car had to be written off and it was a little too late for other arrangements. Maybe some OEs nearer were able to go or even an official representative. Perhaps there will be an obituary in the next Elizabethan for us OEs?

It may be interesting to know why he left QE to teach in the girls' grammar school in Bury St Edmunds. What made him do it? Was it a preference to do something different or was it just that the pay and location for a promotion were right at the time? I am intrigued to know also why some lady teachers at QEs are ready to teach boys tather than being at a girl's school. I have not asked any but the Assistant Head I talked to at the last Founders Day said that at least some found it easier to teach girls than boys. I have always enjoyed reading PG Wodehouse's reflections on the subject of the girls' treatment of male Speech Day speakers in his Jeeves and Wooster oeuvre.

There were no comments about Winkie on the Friends Reunited site located by Vic except that one could not remember him but recalled Miss Rose and Miss Hodgson standing next to him. Therefore how good a teacher at the school and how fond any others might be of him we do not know.

NOTE FROM VIC: Old Girls of Bury St Edmund's Girls' Grammar School having any memories of Winkie are very welcome to contribute to this thread.

13th REPLY

NAME: Carol Stagg  Carol Stagg

DATE: 25 September 2013

CONNECTION WITH QE: attended RMW's 2nd school, 1960s

I posted the photo [on Friends Renited - see reply 9] showing Rex Wingfield. It was taken in 1966 at or about the time we took our O levels at Bury St Edmunds Girls Grammar. He never taught me as I did not do Latin but I think he must have been one of the three form tutors - the other two being Miss Rose and Miss Hodgson. He was not head or even if I remember correctly Deputy. Miss Applegate - a woman who looked a bit like Maggie Thatcher was head.

14th REPLY

NAME: James (Jas) Cowen  James & Ayleen Cowen James Cowen galleryThen & Now

DATE: 16 October 2013


Thanks, Carol, for that further info. I am a little surprised that there does not seem to be any detailed obituary in the local Bury St Edmunds press. How long ago did RMW leave the school? Teachers, vicars, charitable and social workers in our area do get quite a write up generally in the local press, especially if a form tutor and a respected teacher and mate to so many. The current OE magazine for our school (The Elizabethan) does have tributes but they concern when he was at our school, tales he told and in respect of his book (The Only Way Out). Does Bury St Edmunds Girls' School have a house magazine and does RMW appear in it, that is if it still exists, which I imagine it probably does?

15th REPLY

NAME: Hugh Hoffman

DATE: 25 August 2016

CONNECTION WITH QE: pupil 1955-60

Anyone else remember the Latin 'poetry' he taught us which for some reason I can still recall (in part): Caesar adsum jam forti Brutus aderat Caesar sic in omnibus Brutus in isat Caesar adsum jam forti Brutus adsum tu Sed Caesar passus sum mor jam Sed Brutus memor tu. Adam Lines has the variant 'Brutus sic intram' - see 75/20.

16th REPLY

NAME: Henry Griffiths

DATE: 07 September 2016

CONNECTION WITH QE: Pupil 1953-1960

Rex Wingfield opened my first ever Latin lesson in 1953 with the words "Nah then, gents all..." I thought this is going to be different, and it was. I was captured by the subject, and by his manner of teaching. He always encouraged and responded to participation, but Stuart Eames and I must have gone too far over the top. In order to discourage "ever enthusiastic, but frequently injudicious" contributions, he eventually devised a unique control system. At the start of each lesson he tagged us with 50 lines. He affected to observe each time we had shown self- restraint and docked 5 lines. At the 25 level, he allowed "a few verbals, on credit", then resumed the docking system. Zero was always reached by the end of the lesson. After a couple of weeks he announced his satisfaction with our "profound character change" and returned life to normal. I had two pleasurable and gainful years in his classes. I remember him with affection as a "gent".

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