Newsletter of Old Boys & Friends of 70
London BB Company
As far as we know this Newsletter is a first!
Over 1500 boys have now passed though the
London Boys’ Brigade Company and in
that time many lasting friendships and
memories have been formed.
Whilst from time to time we have had
reunions and will continue to do so, many of
you felt that a more frequent means of
communicating would be welcomed.
So our plan is to publish two newsletters each
year… however whether or not we are able to
sustain this will be very much dependent on
Old Boys letting us have their news and
Welcome to our First Edition
Welcome to our First EditionWelcome to our First Edition
Welcome to our First Edition
After the excitement of the Centenary, the current
session has perhaps been a bit of an anti climax.
Numbers for the junior section have held up well
compared to recent years with up to 16 boys being
present. The juniors, only yesterday [14
March], won
the battalion five aside competition.
The Company and senior numbers have varied over the
session… but on average we have about 15 boys down
each week - unfortunately not always the same ones!
At the end of March the boys will be travelling to Tring
for yet another attempt to reach the final of a national
So please put pen to paper or emails to servers
and let us have your news!
You will see from our first edition that just
little snippets of memories or news make for
an interesting read for old friends and
acquaintances. Pictures too, always make good
copy. We are particularly interested to hear
We are particularly interested to hear We are particularly interested to hear
We are particularly interested to hear
from OB’s who were in the company from the
from OB’s who were in the company from the from OB’s who were in the company from the
from OB’s who were in the company from the
1980’s onwards.
1980’s onwards.1980’s onwards.
1980’s onwards.
Please send your contributions to:
Alan Rance
26 Chiltern Crescent
Oxon, OX10 0PG
Some of you may have wondered why you didn't get our
BB week letter. Firstly, we hoped to see
many of you at
the service in December which we did, and secondly
thanks to the boys own efforts we have sufficient funds
to keep us going this session. So in these straightened
times it didn't feel right to approach you. We also knew
that this Newsletter was going out to you.
As some of you are aware, work commitments make it
difficult for myself to always be present and this year
illness and injury have affected the other two officers so
we are running on a shoestring. Any assistance would be
greatly appreciated.
Chris Buss
Chris BussChris Buss
Chris Buss
, Captain
APRIL 2009
It was one Sunday afternoon in 1941 that I was literally
escorted [much against my will!] to Tooting Junction
Baptist Church. Here I was greeted by Les Wright
anxious to get this 14-year-old boy to join the BB. His
approach worked and in a weak moment I agreed to
What I didn’t appreciate at the time was what this step
would lead to. It was the start of a new phase in my life,
finding not only new friends but also a step toward
finding Jesus Christ as my Saviour and my Lord.
I remember my first Drill parade. Staff Sergeant Percy
Sore was made up to Warrant Officer; Sergeants Arthur
Bowbeer and Gordon Ferriman appointed as Staff
Sergeants and Les
Wright and Ken Collins became Lance
Corporals. To be honest it didn’t make much sense to
me at the time…. however it was a laugh when S/S
Ferriman dropped his cane when saluting!
Roly Clark was the ‘officer in charge’ as, the Captain
Bert Porter was away in the RAF.
During the next 8 months I enjoyed the many BB
activities, including PT, Football, First Aid and Crafts. By
now being in the Boys’ Brigade and especially the 70
London Company was great!
My first company Display was held in May 1942. I
remember the inspecting officer being Douglas Pearson
Smith, the younger son of
‘Founder’. The final of the
Best Drilled Private was staged and W/O Sore drilled the
8 privates, myself being one. Inevitably during the test
many individual drill mistakes we
re made and the squad
was gradually reduced until only one private remained.
Yes it was me and after only 8 months I had become the
Best Drilled Private. What an honour!
Later in the year I spent a few days in camp. Because of
Peter Knight
Peter KnightPeter Knight
Peter Knights
s recalls his early memorie
recalls his early memorie recalls his early memorie
recalls his early memories in the 70th
s in the 70th s in the 70th
s in the 70th
…after only 8 months in the
…after only 8 months in the …after only 8 months in the
…after only 8 months in the
Company I became the Best Drilled
y I became the Best Drilled y I became the Best Drilled
y I became the Best Drilled
Private. What an honour!
Private. What an honour!Private. What an honour!
Private. What an honour!
my limited holiday time allowance I could only go
with the advance party. I remember that we camped
at Chinnor with tents amongst the trees in an apple
orchard. We camped with members of the 37
, a
chance to meet more boys some becoming long time
When I left camp on the Sunday, one of the local lads
loaned me a cycle to ride to the local railway station
at Prices Risborough. Here I left the cycle and
boarded the train to Paddington only to be met by
my good friend Les Wright.
September saw the start of the new season and my
first promotion to Lance Corporal and also Squad
NCO. In those days squad leaders were required to
visit all absent members. The reasons for absence
were many and varied including one for an in
growing toenail!
Another memory is of Les Wright and myself
attending a 6-week course in London to enable us to
be PT instructors. I recall a photograph of the course
members and staff with bodies looking a little
different than they do now!
Continued on the next page
Continued on the next page Continued on the next page
Continued on the next page
Peter Knight
Peter KnightPeter Knight
Peter Knights
s recalls his early memories in the
recalls his early memories in the recalls his early memories in the
recalls his early memories in the
Will Webb, a former BB man, was brought in as
Acting Captain. Together with Les Wright leading
the Drill Aspects and myself the PT Aspects, the
company continued to develop during this
challenging time of world war. The start up of the
revived band, [both bugle and fife] got me even
more involved.
It was at the end of the 1944/45 session that I was
discharged from the company ranks but spent
time as an instructor until I was called up into H M
My years in the company are so well remembered
and I still recall those who so greatly influenced
my life. I give thanks to my God in particular for
Les Wright, Ken Mars
h, Ken Collins, Les Mayo, Ron
Webb, Len Stacey, Reg Lansdale, Frank Thompson
and Billy Styles, boys with whom I shared so many
hours of friendship together….making my early
years in the 70th so very memorable.
Peter Knights
Peter KnightsPeter Knights
Peter Knights
Captain 1961 to 1980
The regular company visits to the 1
Company were always enjoyed and again more new
friends were made. I remember us taking part in
their annual display and on the Sunday a Church
Parade around the streets of Farnham.
On some of these occasions I recollect Les and I
meeting up with 2 young ATC ladies, an extra
curricular activity I think you call it today!
Nearly every Saturday it was football played on
Tooting Bec Common against other BB companies.
The most formidable opposition was undoubtedly
the 88
with their star footballer Jimmy Hill [who
on to play for Fulham]. As a defender I enjoyed
many a tackle with him but not always winning!
In those days the team players had to carry the goal
posts to the pitch and set them up. Alas with no
goal nets, it meant that an over enthusiastic goal
scorer had a long way to run to collect the ball.
I remember my mum used to play the piano for PT
and also at times for Bible Class. She would even
stand in for me if my street fire watching duty [a
wartime responsibility] clashed with my company
activities. What a Mum
Page 3
Company Facts
Company Facts Company Facts
Company Facts
Since the formation of the70th London Company in 1908
Since the formation of the70th London Company in 1908Since the formation of the70th London Company in 1908
Since the formation of the70th London Company in 1908
there have been:
there have been:there have been:
there have been:
6 Captains
6 Captains6 Captains
6 Captains
11 Chaplains
11 Chaplains11 Chaplains
11 Chaplains
34 Lieutenants
34 Lieutenants34 Lieutenants
34 Lieutenants
Dave Richardson [1953 to 1957]
Dave Richardson [1953 to 1957]Dave Richardson [1953 to 1957]
Dave Richardson [1953 to 1957]
Odd the things remembered vividly...at a Camp in
Charmouth, Dorset members of our tent set out excitedly
and nervously on what was our first 'midnight walk'...
After stumbling across a few fields in the 'country dark' we
came to a road at the bottom of a hill and soon spotted a
flashing light coming down the hill towards us... It was
immediately assumed that the Officers must have
discovered we were missing and summoned the local
police! (Oh, what illusions of grandeur...). We waited at the
side of the road as the flashing light drew nearer and sure
enough on seeing us it slowed down and stopped. We
approached it sheepishly only to hear 'chips anyone?'
coming from a mobile Fish and Chip van!
What I cannot recall is whether we bought anything but I
suspect, in our relief, that we did.
Doug Mills [1959 to 1964]
Doug Mills [1959 to 1964]Doug Mills [1959 to 1964]
Doug Mills [1959 to 1964]
Monday night was band practice at Franciscan Road Infants
School and I finally mastered the bugle under Dave
Golder’s instruction. I was proud to be one of the 2 lead
buglers when the 70
won the annual Band Competition.
Also happy memories of playing in the band at summer
camp near Exmouth and setting off what must have been
one of the first alarms installed in a parked car as we
marched by!
Erryck Prince Onyemache
Erryck Prince OnyemacheErryck Prince Onyemache
Erryck Prince Onyemache [1991 to
[1991 to [1991 to
[1991 to
Winning Esprit-de-Corps at BB Display—Managed to win
this trophy twice and as it was voted for by your peers it
was one of the most valuable things a boy could win….Not
to mention the free trip to camp that accompanied the
trophy which always came in handy. As a 16-year-old in
1990, when it came to prize giving my name was called
and I was told to do a lap as there were so many items to
read out. It put me on a par with the legends of the recent
past like Andrew Johnson, O'Neil Howell, Peter Williams,
Andrew Thomas
/Dean Hewitt Reid who were as medalled in
the modern day as the likes of Paul Parker and Stephen
Ballard were in the late 70's and early 80's… one of my
proudest moments in a BB uniform!
... ‘’to be voted by your peers,
... ‘’to be voted by your peers, ... ‘’to be voted by your peers,
... ‘’to be voted by your peers,
The Esprit
The Esprit The Esprit
The Esprit
- Corps Cup, was one of the
Corps Cup, was one of the Corps Cup, was one of the
Corps Cup, was one of the
most valuable things a boy could win.’’
most valuable things a boy could win.’’most valuable things a boy could win.’’
most valuable things a boy could win.’’
Erryck Onyemache
Erryck OnyemacheErryck Onyemache
Erryck Onyemache
Page 4
Alan Cadney [1956 to1961]
Alan Cadney [1956 to1961]Alan Cadney [1956 to1961]
Alan Cadney [1956 to1961]
It was 1956 and my first camp at Charmouth in Dorset. I
found myself stranded somewhere as I heard the buglers
sounding "Retreat". I made a mad dash to get back to my
mates in line in front of our tent and ran straight across
the parade square in a beeline to my objective. I faintly
heard Rolly Clark roaring "That man there stop running" or
words to that effect but nothing was going to stop me
getting in line with the rest of my squad. When the
ceremony was over my tent commander, who I think was
Alan Bilyard, but I cou
ld well be mistaken, said "Don't ever
do that again!". I was duly chastened and had to withstand
a lot of ribbing for quite a while after. Memories like that
are truly priceless and I am truly grateful to this day for
the time and effort the officers devoted to the boys of the
70th. I've tried to remember the values they instilled in us
in my later life.
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
Not surprisingly my first camp was the best. It was in
1954 on a farm at Capel-Le-Ferne between Dover and
Folkestone, and where my most memorable occasion
occurred. Without the officers' knowledge the farmer had
allowed 15 or 20 of us boys to play in a hay barn. The hay
was in bales and we had stacked these to form two camps
either side of the barn. For a couple of hours, I think, we
had the equivalent of 'Royals & Rebels' in this wonderful
adult/officer free environment, with boys diving all over
the place in and out of the hay with little risk of injury.
Although the hay was everywhere with, it seemed, as
much inside our clot
hes as out, no damage was done, and
the farmer seemed happy that we had had a good time. I
think that it was Bert Porter who eventually found us and
brought the episode to a close!
I Remember When……….
I Remember When……….I Remember When……….
I Remember When……….
Page 5
John Ward [1953 to 1958 ]
John Ward [1953 to 1958 ]John Ward [1953 to 1958 ]
John Ward [1953 to 1958 ]
Memory is a funny thing. My academic studies taught
me that the human brain can be an unreliable
instrument for recording the past. It can compress or
conflate events and time, it usually recalls fragments
or gobbets rather than a steady stream and what is
recalled is often the apparently insignificant rather
than the important.
One of my gobbets comes back to me when I drive
down Beddington Lane, as I frequently do on my way
to my in-laws. Beddington Lane is now a rat run
sandwiched between a supermarket, warehouses and
factory units on one side and a sewage farm and
council tip on the other. It is usually jammed with
traffic, including more than its fair share of skip
lorries and refuse vehicles spilling dirt and debris.
Overhead power lines complete the picture. It is just
about recognisable as the quiet country lane it once
was when I first travelled down it half a century ago,
but only just.
The event that for some reason sticks in my mind
took place in Beddington Lane during the early
summer of 1958. I was being transported by car to
my first cricket match for Seveno, the Old Boys team.
My companions were Dave Packman and Vinny Price;
the car driver was Percy Sore. Percy was what might
be called an enthusiastic car owner and driver. I don’t
think speed limits were something he held in great
regard. And back in those days car journeys were, for
us teenagers, much more of a rarity than they are
today. For us, he was driving his elderly Vauxhall at
what seemed like breakneck
speed, seat belts were
unknown and we were clinging to our seats and each
other. Percy was in his usual ebullient mood humming
away to himself when to our horror he suddenly took
both hands off the wheel, stood up and threw back the
sunroof. Our driver then calmly sat down and
his humming, apparently totally unmoved by
the gibbering passengers cowering in the rear. We
arrived at our home ground in Beddington Park both
shaken and stirred. I can recall nothing about the game
but the journey was talked about for months
Why do I remember this comparatively insignificant
event so clearly now? No doubt it made an impression
on me at the time but so do many things when you are
an eighteen-year-old. Is it because I am the only
survivor of that journey, Percy and my two companions
having sadly passed on? Could it be that all three in
their very different ways were strong personalities and
for a few years were close to me? I can’t answer those
questions. I do know that on a rare quiet day in
Beddington Lane when there is a gleam of sunshine
memories of that journey come flooding back to me.
Memory is a funny thing.
Alan Rance [1954 to 1959]
Alan Rance [1954 to 1959]Alan Rance [1954 to 1959]
Alan Rance [1954 to 1959]
It was the usual all important drill inspection on Friday
evening. I was being inspected by my ‘father in law to
be’ and officer Rolly Clark. I had grown to over 6 foot
tall at the time, Rolly barely making over 5 foot. So that
Rolly could check that the button on the top of my pill
box was in the required pristine white condition, Rolly
made me stoop right down to view the aforementioned!
Memory is a funny thing……
Memory is a funny thing……Memory is a funny thing……
Memory is a funny thing……
John Ward
John WardJohn Ward
John Ward
I Remember When........continued
I Remember When........continuedI Remember When........continued
I Remember When........continued
Where Are They Now?
Where Are They Now?Where Are They Now?
Where Are They Now?
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
Alan Verrills [1954 to 1959]
I am a mechanical engineer in semi-retirement. Full retirement, from the offshore industry, came
in 1995 but the semi bit happened shortly afterwards and has continued ever since. Whilst I still
make the occasional field trip I work mostly at home in my study, a garden shed really,
communicating through email with the outside world.
We, Geraldine and I, live in Ashtead in Surrey. We moved to here in 1995 after having lived in
Worcester Park, Surrey, for 27 years. Previously we lived close to Tooting Bec common where we
moved after marrying in 1964. We have a son and a daughter, with
2 grandaughters and 4
grandsons. Having been a keen footballer I now watch the grandsons whenever I can. I also like to
swim, usually with the grandchildren, but it doesn't happen as much as I would like. We are
fortunate to live within a couple of minutes walk of Ashtead common which, as an ancient oak
woodland, is an SSSI and a place where we often walk.
I have always been good friends with my brother Bob who lives in Cheam and who was also in the
70th., and I see him most weeks for a couple of hours when we put the world to rights.
“Spadger" Smith [1946 to 1952]
“Spadger" Smith [1946 to 1952]“Spadger" Smith [1946 to 1952]
“Spadger" Smith [1946 to 1952]
I now live in Cumbria. After retiring in 1995 Marilyn and I decided that we wanted to settle in an
area where we could pursue our hobbies of climbing, walking and cycling. After many Board
Meetings’ and holidays in different parts of we decided that the country of Cumbria should be our
choice…. everything so to speak on our doorstep. Fortunately are at present, we still are able to
enjoy our hobbies and surroundings.
Where OB’s Currently Live
Where OB’s Currently LiveWhere OB’s Currently Live
Where OB’s Currently Live
A database of names and addresses of
OB’s has been produced. There are over
200 names listed at the moment. From
a look at where OB’s are living it would
appear that a majority of them have not
moved too
too too
too far away from Tooting. The
only ‘Old Boy’ known to reside outside
the UK is John Pizey, now living in New
However our database is far from
complete and we would urge everyone
to let Dave Richardson know their latest
contact details
Page 6
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