Like many communities the 70th did not escape the loss of some of
it's members in the Great War and the photograph of the Company
Colours in this issue records those who gave their lives in that
Regarding the website, only small scale changes have been made
over the past six months and this seem likely to remain the case as
we have exhausted the material digitised during the Centenary
project in 2008. We have also probably gathered most of what is in
individual OB's hands as well, but if you do possess something of
interest, or feel we have missed an angle, then please get in touch.
That’s all I think. I
hope to see many of you at the Reunion; numbers
are building well…
2 Chris#
Newsletter of Old Boys & Friends of 70
London BB Company
October 2014
In this Edition
In this EditionIn this Edition
In this Edition
I am writing this with a heart still heavy following the passing of Avis Rance in June. Avis
was a special person, who will be missed by many ex. members of the 70
and the 7
It is good that Alan has felt able to write about her in this edition.
As these things happen, this has almost turned into an 'Old Girls' :) edition with memories
from Daphne Knights, Hazel Wilson on growing up in the Bowbeer family -
a charming piece
that will be appreciated by all who knew her parents and Moreen Sore describing a recent
bugle and drum led Church Parade. It has been left to Les Wright to address the balance
somewhat via the second part of his recollections, this time with him recalling 'memorable
and amusing incidents during my time as a BB Officer'. Many thanks to them all.
A f
inal reminder…
The 2014 Reunion is on Saturday October 11
at Longley Rd Halls from 2–5pm.
(full details in Reflections ed. 11.)
I was demobbed from the army in March 1948: time to
start to earn a living!
I had always wanted to be an accountant. I also wanted
to become a BB Officer. I had lined up a job to study as
an accountant but it was obvious that the amount of
study required would not fit with BB work. I therefore
decided to work in BB and leave my working career in the
Lord’s hands. The Lord progressed both matters!
My first appointment with BB was to join the 9th Mid
Surrey Company to assist Mr Ray Swepson who
unfortunately then became very unwell and sadly after a
couple of years the Company was closed down. At this
time my wife and I were worshipping at Morden Baptist
Church and I soon became an officer in the 7th Mid Surrey
I had never been to a BB Camp as a boy but was soon
made Quartermaster. Harold Barrett and I were detailed
to ensure that the camp’s luggage was safely lo
aded onto
the ferry. This we achieved, only to discover that the
gangplank had been raised and we were left watching the
ferry, complete with luggage and fellow campers, sailing
into the distance towards the Isle of Wight! We boarded
the next ferry and by the time we arrived on the I-O-W,
all the baggage had been loaded onto the truck and
delivered to the campsite. Imagine our sheepish faces
when we walked onto camp.
I became captain and the company progressed with some
staff changes which saw Ron Webb and Ray Holder as
Band Officer and Bugle instructor respectively. The band
flourished and each year we won the Battalion Band
Competition which enabled us to enter the All London
Competition for the Devonshire Cup. The season 1957-
1958 proved to be the highlight of my service.
We, the staff, were intending to offer an item for the
1958 annual BB Display at The Royal Albert Hall. So one
Saturday we held a lengthy Officer’s meeting to plan the
year ahead. We had also agreed to pursue the possibility
of holding a two week camp in Guernsey. For the Albert
Hall item we decided to envisage a sailor’s life on a ship
in Nelson’s time. This was to include ‘dancing the
hornpipe’, ‘scrubbing the decks’ ‘fighting an enemy ship’
and ‘firing three cannons’. For the latter, my research
involved visiting Greenwich Naval Museum to discover the
gun-drill and pattern of the cannons which I built. The
canons were wired up by an electrical company and not
only were the bangs very loud when set off, they also
filled the arena with acrid smoke.
This item finished with
invaders being engaged in hand to hand fighting and
being repelled. My wife took on the task of persuading
and then teaching the sailor’s Hornpipe Dance. The item
was accepted to be performed on Friday evening and
Saturday afternoon and evening. Ron Webb looked very
smart dressed in naval uniform.
Page 2
Les Wright
Les Wright Les Wright
Les Wright -
my time as a BB Officer
time as a BB Officer time as a BB Officer
time as a BB Officer
The annual All London Band Competition came around
and as usual we were one of the competing bands hopeful
to be in the final at The Royal Albert Hall on the same
Saturday. Much to our delight the 7th Mid-Surrey and the
1st Ruislip would be the finalists. Much to everyone’s
surprise we won the Devonshire Cup, so now had to play
at the evening performance too, in addition to the naval
piece. What a day! But guess what? We were unable to
retain the cup; we lost our Battalion Competition in 1959.
Our camp preparation was going well and we were to
take over the site belonging to the National Boys Clubs.
Around two weeks before our trip to Guernsey, Jack
Mayhew (Farnham) was informed that the site was not
available. Panic ensued! A call was made to 2nd Guernsey
BB Coy and arrangements made to meet with Jack and
myself. We arrived at 6am Saturday morning having
travelled on the overnight ferry. At 10am we were
ushered in to meet with The State Secretary, Mr Luff. He
was visibly relieved to discover that our visit was
scheduled for two weeks time as he was under the
impression that our party had ALL arrived overnight.
After a few telephone calls he gave us the good news
that Fort Field, a former Army Camp Site would be
available for us to use in two weeks time. Thank you
So, two weeks later we all arrived in Guernsey and were
conveyed to Fort Field. There were many Nissen Huts,
inside which were beds, mattresses and blankets. There
was a large dining hall complete with a Wall’s ice cream
fridge! We had use of a large sports area with goal posts.
Such luxury.
n uniform
over to Solihull track where Derek bec
ame Warwickshire
880yds Champion. He excused himself from the award
ceremony to enable us to dash back to Birchfield where
the team won all of their respective races. Another busy
day for a BB officer – and the boys of course.
I had much interest in drill, especially when a squad
would change from 2 ranks into 4. Sadly, in my opinion, 3
ranks became the norm. In the back pages of the BB drill
book there was a section entitled ‘Ceremonial Drill’. This
was meant for large groups of boys carrying out special
movements similar to those undertaken in the Trooping
of the Colour Ceremony! Not being shy of a challenge, I
proposed that the four Sutton Coldfield Companies should
attempt this!! Sir Alfred Owen, benefactor to many
youth groups in the Borough, agreed to take the salute.
Sutton Coldfield football Club allowed us the use of their
pitch on which to perform. The ceremony had many
facets but the crowning event was marching past in
review order. To do this the companies were formed in
one straight line (in 3’s). On the command to advance in
review order, the line would ‘slow-march’ and then
proceed to the end of the parade area, keeping the line
as straight as possible. T
hen, being turned about, would
carry out the same movement, but this time in quick-
march time. It was a most memorable occasion. I had
never before seen BB companies attempt this although
the drill book suggested otherwise.
One last incident I recall was during a PT item when I was
wearing a lovely white jumper knitted by my Mother-in-
Law. Appearing in the arena I was aware of laughter and
sniggering. I had failed to notice that I had put it on
inside out and Mrs Evans had not been meticulous when it
came to sewing in the loose ends.
I was a Company Officer for 39 years and continued as a
Battalion Officer for a further 10 years before retiring at
the age of 70. The chronological order of my service is as
The 9th Mid Surrey, 7th Mid Surrey, 3rd Hornsey, 4th
Sutton Coldfield, 23rd Mid Surrey and 3rd Cheam Sutton.
My last comment: I had chosen to work in the BB instead
of becoming an accountant, but during the last 13 years
of my employment I was an internal auditor. The Lord
was certainly very gracious to me.
Les Wright
We paraded on Sunday morning, the band leading us to
the church where 2nd Guernsey Coy belonged. The
middle Saturday was when the Battle of the Flowers was
to be held. We combined with the band of the 1st
Guernsey Coy and were asked to lead the parade of the
floral floats. On a later evening we combined to beat
retreat in St Peter Port. A most memorable camp
preceded by a wonderful company session. 1958 has
many times been reflected upon.
Introducing the First Aid item ‘naturally’ in a Display was
always difficult to achieve, but one year I managed it
during the vaulting horse item at our annual display. We
were on the last vault, with the horse lengthways and a
boy sat upon it - forming a piggy back. In turn, each
member of the team leapt over the apparatus and ran
out of the arena. Tony Rowland was the last to vault with
a great leap, an impressive landing and a loud yell “my
leg, my leg”! Chaos ensued as people stood to their feet
with concern. I calmly called out “bring on the first aid
squad”. A number of people were not best pleased - not
least Tony’s girlfriend.
In 1961 my employers asked me to move to Birmingham
to rescue a business in which they had heavily invested. I
was told by the locals that I would soon be run out of
Birmingham but I remained for 11 years –
they did not! On
the afternoon of my second day, I presented myself to
the secretary of the BB Birmingham Battalion. Effectively
I said “here I am, where am I needed?” It transpired that
Mr Charlie Baker was forming a company at Sutton
Coldfield Baptist Church, which was also a desirable
residential area. Mr Baker and I agreed that I should join
his staff. With regard to the search for an affordable
home so that my family could soon join me in the
Midlands, my employers were very generous and enabled
me to purchase a house in Walmley, a lovely village close
to Sutton Coldfield.
After three years Mr Baker had to stand down for work
reasons and I took his place as Captain of 4th Sutton
Coldfield BB Coy. Over the years the Coy took part in
many competitions. We were good at table-tennis,
excellent at athletics particularly in the senior events.
One Saturday especially stands out in my memory.
The Battalion sports meeting was being held at the
Birchfield Harriers track with the heats in the morning
and finals in the afternoon. We had a strong team: Ian
Insley - 100 and 220 yds, Neil Insley - 440 yds and my son
Derek 880yds and the mile. A fourth boy joined them for
the relays. Meanwhile, Derek had also been entered into
the Warwickshire Championship on the same day. His
race was to be run at 1pm. We made a speedy journey
Page 3
Les Wright continued…