John Heslop (SH 40-45) recalls some of his contemporaries:

“I rather like the Old St. Beghians’ Bulletin, which I see has reverted to the original format, and I am particularly intrigued by the list of “leavers”, some of whom I have lost track of, but it makes very interesting reading.

Looking at 1945, the year I left, I know that J.B. Chapman came from the North East as did W.M. Coulson, who, I think, came from Rothbury. Then going on to J.H.C. Jones, he was the son of old Mr. Jones, who came out of retirement from teaching at Oundle to teach at St. Bees whilst Herr Ofner was incarcerated in the Isle of Man for a couple of years. Then we go on to Bill Oliphant, with whom I joined the Navy on the same day, but regrettably, about three days later we went our separate ways and I haven’t seen him since; although I did resume contact in the Navy with D.M. Thomson when I was in Plymouth and also with Brian Crossley-Smith in Plymouth and earlier at HMS King Alfred. Going on to George Stobbart, I believe he came from North Shields but have had no contact with him, although his cousin ‘an ex-Sedbergh boy’ stayed with us one year, here in Victoria. Finally, John Wallace (Yokle), with whom I last had contact in the early or mid-1950s, when a whole lot of us visited his house on Old Boys’ Day and stayed until a rather late hour!

Looking at the 1944 leavers, high up in the list is J.D. Cowburn, with whom I had a collision of heads in my very first game of rugger on ‘roadside’, resulting in my being knocked out. I was therefore somewhat reluctant to play for quite some time. Following him I recall J.H. (Black) Jackson, who was head of our Baby Day Room in School House in 1940 and who was a fantastic fullback, never missing a tackle. Further down, I see Tom Priestly, who was the only member of the school who took a place kick at rugger soccer-style, and was an absolute dead shot from anywhere within the 25, even from the touch line. Next up is T.D. (Dan) Robinson, with whom I was also at Seascale, and whose sister was one of my cousin’s best friends at Calder Girls. Then lower down, we had A. de S. Wilson (Nowt), who had the unique distinction of being granted a higher school certificate in two main subjects and one subsidiary, which nobody had ever come across before.

Going to the 1943 leavers, the one I knew best was Bob Bodenham, whose father was our dentist, and for a short while after his father retired he became my dentist, before he moved down to the midlands. Further down we have Hughie Derdle, who sometimes played scrum half and sometimes wing forward, but who was a fantastic dribbler of the rugger ball, probably accounted for by the fact that in the school holidays he played soccer for Spennymoor United. Following him I see we have J.D. Hewitson, who distinguished himself by being the very first Bevan boy to go down the pits during the war, which must have been a rather traumatic experience. Finally, with distinction, at the bottom of the 43 leavers, H.G. Vincent, who was full back for that famous rugger team in 1941/42, which carried all before it except for Stonyhurst. Vincent was not only young enough to play in the Colts, but also young enough to play in the Under 15 team, but he never did either because he was far too busy playing full back for the First XV.

Going back a little further to the 1942 leavers, H.C. Armstrong was also a member of that famous rugger team of 1941/42, being also eligible for the Colts.
I remember his distinguishing himself by kicking a penalty goal from the half way line against Sedbergh, the only time we beat them during my period at school. Following him was R.J. (Butch) Berry, a wing forward, the other being Joe Noble, and I remember him as a particularly tough player whom even the club sides came to respect.

I am also saddened by the numbers in the obituary column, starting with David Hodgson, whom I knew well, both of us playing on the same cricket and rugger teams (incidently with Bill Tucker, who died a few years ago) and G.B. Jones, who was scrum half on the famous rugger team, also as a Colt; then Arthur Limon, whom I knew quite well, but who was on Foundation South, and John Peel, whom I knew very well, and spoke to on our 2000 visit to the school when we were all there. I suppose this is inevitable and we will ourselves ultimately appear in a similar list, but it is always difficult to take when you see so many good people have gone off to ‘the happy hunting grounds’.”

The St. Beghian Society,    St. Bees School,    St. Bees,    Cumbria,    CA27 0DS.
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