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NAME: Philip Ward

DATE: 01 March 2009

CONNECTION WITH QE: Inmate 1935-1944

Thank you, Vic, for telling the truth about 'Dotheboys Hall' on your personal website.  I think I am probably the oldest person to join this Web community so far, but the place obviously had not changed in the decade between my suffering and yours.

I always thought that the Head, 'Ernie' Jenkins, must have had remarkable biceps, from all the floggings he dispensed.  I was in Leicester House, and was fortunate in that my Housemaster, Mr. Normanton (Chemistry) was one of the few who clearly disliked caning.  He did it, but reluctantly, and fairly gently.

I loved your description of 'Frosty' Winter's teaching method.  That is exactly as I remember it.  During the war, we had a lot of elderly 'retread' teachers who replaced the younger ones who were in the forces.  One of them was 'Frosty's' wife, known as 'Snowball'.  She taught Physics and Maths - in a much more forceful manner than her husband taught History.
One of the wartime duties of the senior boys was fire-watching, which entailed staying overnight.  The occasional air-raids were no problem, but "Ernie's" taste in music was.  The school owned a very powerful PA system, used for making announcements at sporting events.  It was stored in the Masters' Common Room at the west end of the upper floor, where 'Ernie' resided when he was fire-watching.  He owned a comprehensive collection of Wagner records, which he played incessantly, all night, at full throttle.  I vividly remember trying to sleep at the extreme opposite end of that floor and feeling the building structure shuddering to the strains of The Flying Dutchman!

We also had an Air Training Corps squadron, which must have been the worst in the country.  It was officered by three masters, 'Flight Lieutenant' "Belch" Strugnel, 'Flying Officer' Harrison and 'Flying Officer' "Poker" Pearce, none of whom had the slightest interest in aviation.  Our main activity consisted of thinly disguised maths lessons, usually posted as 'navigation'.  Meanwhile every other ATC squadron was flying gliders or playing with real aeroplanes.  Another memory is of Founder's Day before the war.  After the traditional roll-call in the grounds of the old school, we were marched into the school, where its features were pointed out to us and our attention was gleefully drawn to the whipping-post, no doubt to show us how lucky we were.

Six months after leaving QEGS I was in the Army (Infantry) and marvelling at the fairness, reasonablness and lack of brutality of military discipline, compared to my experiences at school.  I hated every minute spent in the stifling, snobbish, class-ridden atmosphere of QEGS.  Reading the comments of contemporary students, I get the impression that a good deal of the old attitudes survive, although they do seem to have given up teaching good English.


1st reply

NAME: Nigel Wood  Nigel Wood

DATE: 06 April 2009


Fascinating reminiscences, Philip, and a most interesting photo.  In his book, Jenkins gives this description:
"[... A] not over-intrepid airman [...] had let all his bombs go at once as he turned for home. [...] One had gone through the centre of the refectory roof and made a hole in the concrete under the wood floor as it burst.  The blast had forced out the walls and brought the whole roof down with a crash, making a huge crack down the wall of the adjacent corridor alongside the Hall. Another bomb had hit the bottom of the wall of the north-east wing at an angle and blown it in, bringing down the whole end-wall, and the side walls for some distance in [...] This meant that the ends and about one third of the flooring and side walls of the Craft room and of the Chemistry laboratory were non-existent, and the roof projected, holding well together over the rubble (and void) below."
I skip to Jenkins's description of the rescue of bits and pieces from the remains of the refectory:
"A small Sixth Former named Greenfield did some quietly courageous crawling under heavy and delicately poised blocks of concrete, and, with others helping him, recovered a certain amount of crockery and napery, and the damaged portrait of my predecessor [...]"
What different times we live in.  Imagine the conversation in 1941 if Greenfield had not been so lucky and a concrete block had toppled:
Parent of Greenfield: "Rather a poor show this, Headmaster".
Jenkins: "But he did rescue the napery.
Parent: "Yes, you're right of course.  He died in a noble cause.  How selfish of me to complain."
Jenkins: "I thought you'd come round to seeing it like that.  And as a Sixth Former he really was rather small."
Parent: "Quite so Headmaster."
Anyone feel like extending this conversation?
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