Obituaries: 1940-1949 Leavers

John R D (Denis) Gildea (1938-42)

Denis Gildea, at St Paul’s School from 1938-1942, died in July 2018 aged 94. He played a key role in negotiating Britain’s trade treaties after the Second World War.

Denis was born in Worthing, West Sussex, the only son of Rudolf, a rubber planter, and his wife, Rosalind (nee Jepson). With his father working in the Far East, his parents lived mostly apart, and in 1934 his mother took him to Barcelona and Mahon, where he was educated in Spanish schools. Returning to the UK in 1935, he attended Colet Court and then St Paul’s school during the periods of wartime evacuation.

Having won a £50 exhibition to Worcester College Oxford to read Greats, he joined the Royal Navy in the Second World War, escorting convoys across the Atlantic as a sub-lieutenant. His mother died of cancer during the war and his father, captured by the Japanese, died in Changi internment camp in Singapore in 1945.

Demobbed, he turned his back on Classics and took a degree in the then pioneering combination of philosophy, politics and economics at Worcester College, Oxford under Asa Briggs. He spent his holidays with a Belgian family to add French to his Spanish, as his sense of the importance of internationalism to world peace grew. In retirement he even added Russian to his range of modern languages!

As a senior civil servant in the Board of Trade he took part in negotiations to integrate Europe into the Marshall Plan through the Organisation for European Economic Cooperation. He also helped to develop the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and to construct the Efta free trade area, and worked with Edward Heath and George Brown in the 1960s to bring Britain into the European Economic Community. Later, under Margaret Thatcher’s second government, he was tasked with privatising British Airways.

In his 2002 memoirs, he wrote that when he retired from the civil service in 1983: “I thought our generation ... had done better than our fathers in creating a better world after the war. Indeed we should look back on the 30 or so years after the war as a sort of golden age.”

In his later years he suffered from Alzheimer’s but was not beyond calling Brexit “a rather silly idea”.

He is survived by five children, 17 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Written by: Edward Gildea, son


Stephen King (1937-42), 1923-2018

Stephen King was born on 11 September 1923, the younger son of Ernest William King, a solicitor, and his Scottish wife, Janet Patterson Struthers. The family lived in Bedford Park, West London, and both Stephen and his elder brother Alan (born in 1922) started their education first at a PNEU school in Richmond and then at Gunnersbury Prep School in Chiswick. Here Stephen formed a liking for maths, greatly encouraged by one of the masters, Mr. E.A.W. Rogers, who also taught him to play chess; in 1933, he won not only the Junior Chess prize but also the Junior Gym Cup.

The family fell upon hard times during the 1930’s so when in 1937 Stephen won a Junior Foundation Scholarship to St. Paul’s School, it was a relief for his parents: the school fees of £45 per annum were cancelled. Gunnersbury School too had reason to give thanks: they were awarded a half day holiday to celebrate the award. It was just about that time too that, for financial reasons, Stephen was sent to live with his grandmother at 53 Talgarth Road, West Kensington, from where he could walk to St Paul’s School at the end of the road.

Stephen started life at St. Paul’s in the Autumn Term 1937 in the Remove, where all the boys were foundation scholars and where they were taught Latin, Greek, French, Maths, a modicum of science, art and general studies. Stephen wrote:

“Maths was still my great love as much as a schoolboy can love schoolwork and this was encouraged by a splendid maths teacher, Mr. F.G. Bird, though I was quite happy with all my teachers; I suppose encouragement, not threats, was the way they dealt with us and expected and got interest if not always understanding in what they were trying to teach us”.

By 1938, and certainly by the Munich crisis, he and his brother Alan were living at home again but not for long. In the autumn of 1939 the School evacuated to the Mansion at Easthampstead Park in Berkshire, a few miles from Bracknell and this meant that in term time all the boys had to be billeted in private homes nearby.

Both King boys were billeted on Mr. & Mrs. F. G Keys at 1, New Houses, Easthampstead; Mr. Keyes was chauffeur to Lord Downshire, (“Lordy” to Mr. Keys), the owner of Easthampstead Park. “Mrs. Keys came from Forfar and was most adept at making the wartime rations eke out and treated me and my brother like her own two sons Freddy, a year or so older than me and Richard, younger; there was also the cocker spaniel Betty; her two daughters were away, Jean a nurse and the eldest, Elizabeth, I think possibly in the forces.”

By this time Stephen was in the Lower Eighth Form studying classics, despite his preference for maths. Later he admitted that what he would really have liked to have done was physics; he was undoubtedly a polymath. He had done nearly as well at the end of his time in the Remove in Classics as in Maths and his parents thought a classical education was the better; Mr. Bird would have preferred him to have ‘gone mathematical’. Boys who had gone into the Lower Eighth to study Classics did not bother to sit the School Certificate Exam as the aim was to take the Higher School Certificate while in the Upper Eighth. This he did successfully in July 1941 in Classics with a subsidiary subject of English Literature.

During the school holidays both boys cycled home to London, a journey of about 25 miles, returning the same way to Easthampstead at the beginning of term. Stephen wrote that “I well remember watching the vapour trails of the aircraft during the Battle of Britain though of course we had no idea of the importance of what we were watching.”

As soon as he reached the age of 17, Stephen joined the Local Defence Volunteers (later renamed the Home Guard). This gave him a cash subsistence allowance, as he was paid for night duty, so he had some regular income, the first since his pocket money allowance of 1d per school-day at Gunnersbury! He had existed until then by using Christmas and birthday presents from uncles and his grandmother.

In December 1941, he went to Cambridge to take the scholarship exam at Magdalene College; everyone in his form, then the Upper Eighth, went to take the exams at a College either in Oxford or Cambridge. Those who preferred a particular College opted for that one but otherwise they took the advice of their schoolmasters, at that time (for Stephen) they were George Ewart Bean, who taught Greek, and Leslie Matthews, teacher of Latin. The object was for no one to compete against a form mate. Stephen was fortunate to be awarded an open Exhibition in Classics at Magdalene College.

He then had to decide as to whether he should go up straight away, with the possibility that he would be called up for military service before he had taken any exam as part of a degree (Classics was not a subject which gave automatic exemption), or whether he should postpone the whole thing until the war was over. As usual, finance, or the lack of it, made the decision. Some of his form mates decided to go up and got exemption but Stephen, ever a forward-planner, worked out that his age group would be called up before the end of the summer term, thus ensuring that he would avoid the end of term ordinary school exams. He wrote:

“I just made it as I was called up on the 2nd July 1942. This was just as well as I had scamped a proper reading of the set books and had I been entered for a second go at the Higher School Certificate in the hope of gaining a distinction, I should almost certainly not even got a pass.”

Written by: Margaret King, widow


Robin (Mac) Macdonald (1943-48), 1929-2018

Robin died in April 2018 aged 88.

He was born in Dulwich, the brother of three older sisters, and went first to Dulwich College Prep School and then on to St Paul’s in the early 1940s, evacuated away from the war to boarding accommodation in Crowthorne in Berkshire.

In that part of Berkshire every highway and byway was lined at 25 yards with small, open corrugated iron roofed huts, stuffed with ammunition and boxed armaments, all initially ready for the defence against the German invasion and subsequently for the invasion of Europe by the Canadian army, which was heavily located around Crowthorne for the Newhaven/Dieppe raid.

The huts existed for the investigative delight of Mac and some others among the several hundred student Paulines, who cycled the daily three or four miles, in all weathers, for schooling, to the Victorian mansion Easthampstead, then back, and then onward again to games grounds borrowed from adjacent Wellington College for rugby and cricket.

Boxing made the boys incredibly fit and well tutored by boxing coach and champion Irishman Begley, and the chemistry master, Bow Langham – the war office military Army, Navy and Air Force declined boxing matches with the school, saying that it was not good for military morale to always be beaten by schoolboys – we compromised by offering some of our second string boxers, alas with no losing effect. Mac boxed on.

One of the trophies among Mac’s wartime acquisitions was a Luger pistol. It had a fault in that it did not automatically recock when fired, and in that state seemingly was just a symbolic deactivated pistol. This saved the day for Mac when he was hauled in front of the High Man having been reported by a groundsman for allegedly shooting not at, but through the wooden Cricket Pavilion. The High Man, Oakshott, the quintessential academic, knew a bit about firearms it turned out, and on examination said it was “inert” and handed it back to Mac ….unpunished, but saying “don’t go showing it abound”.

So began Mac’s involvement, aged 14, and lifelong interest and support for pistol shooting, and in 1947 the establishment of shooting as a sports activity at St Paul’s.

Added to that there followed many Bisley National and International competitions, with a raft of trophies, and establishing the activity as a sport for paraplegics. And finally for the future, ultra safe, with no bullets: Laser Shooting.

Additionally he was a busy supporter of G Club in the school, often volunteering for the sports he was not particularly good at …. for the sheer fun of being involved.

Leaving school, National Service saw Sergeant Mac in the Military Police, serving in N. Ireland and London among other places. On one occasion visiting an “out of bounds” establishment in occupied Germany, he met up with three uniformed national service Old Pauline soldiers sitting in a back room. Without missing a beat on recognising them, he closed the door on the police detail he was leading, pointed to a back door and bellowed “OUT! You lot. On the double!”

With their whit spats, truncheons and helmets, a sight not to be messed with!

The miscreants scrambled out while he opened the door behind him he had closed, and explained, as the sergeant in charge, that he did not want his fellow Military Policemen clearing up some imagined mess in their “paddy waggons” or black Marias. Indicating the out of bounds law breakers he had thrown out were not worth corralling.

One of the three “out of bounds” soldiers was a school friend, Patrick Bashford, who ruefully laughed off the incident 30 years or so later at a school lunch, where Patrick was then working as a teacher …. of the guitar.

As a wartime evacuee to Crowthorne, Mac lived with 25 or so others at Assistant High Man A B Cook’s Barracane House, and as with most of the very different students, Cook seemed to collect into his house, they stayed in contact long after leaving St Paul’s, using Mac’s invented wartime prefix “Boss” Cook in an affectionate manner, when referring to him. Get-togethers were at Miss and A B Cook’s house in Barnet, decades later. Some, having become conventional captains of industry, academia or medicine, were often startled by Mac’s use of the title instead of the more ordinary deferential “sir”, or even his name, Alan, who, in turn, was not perturbed by the perceived lack of convention.

In an unusual way, Mac’s “Boss” Cook, at Barracane, was a distant, informal surrogate father and a big influence for Mac and many others of us who lived there. Particularly those who seemed to attract trouble, if only by being different and subsequently in need of advice.

At school, and in his later life, Mac was a non-conformist and individualist. Both well recorded Pauline attributes, and markers for the life he enjoyed.

Written by: Seamus Flannery (1942-47), friend and Madeline Macdonald, widow


Richard (Dick) Wilson (1939-43), 1926-2018

WILSON, Richard "Dick", Mallinckrodt Professor of Physics Emeritus at Harvard University, died on May 19, 2018, in Needham, Massachusetts. Dick will be remembered for his scientific work, student mentorship, principled humanitarian and environmental stands, and interdisciplinary connections across the globe. Dick was also a railway enthusiast, Morris dancer, concertina player, world traveler and hiker.

Dick was born in Putney, London, the youngest of four boys to Percy, a civil servant, and Dorothy (née Kingston), a teacher. All four went to Colet Court and became Foundation Scholars at St Paul’s. They all joined Scout Troop I (13th Hammersmith). He, his brother Geoffrey, and two other boys from Troop I, Bill and Dick Stock, bicycled to Crowthorne on August 31, 1939, the day before the official school evacuation. They were billeted at Alderbrook, where the billiard room became the dormitory for eight boys. Dick had been described as "you silly Mugwump" by Chris Heath, Scoutmaster, at the troop’s summer camp in August 1939 at Launceston, and to avoid confusion among three Richards Dick became known by the nickname Wump.

In 1943 Dick was awarded an Open Entrance Scholarship to Christ Church College, Oxford. In his first year he read Mathematics with Theodore Chaundy as his tutor. He then switched to Physics and earned his BA in 1945 and his DPhil and MA in 1949. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for post-doctoral work in the U.S. at Rochester University and then at Stanford University with Wolfgang "Pief" Panofsky. While at Stanford, Dick met Andrée Désirée DuMond, marrying her in January 1952 after a brief courtship. In 1952, they moved to Oxford University for Dick's research lecturer position, and in 1955 to Cambridge, Massachusetts, for Dick's faculty position at Harvard.

Dick specialized in experimental particle physics, studying the nature of the smallest particles that constitute matter, as they collide at very high velocities. Dick led the upgrade of Harvard's proton cyclotron to 160 MeV in order to study nucleon-nucleon interactions. With Harvard and MIT colleagues, Dick designed, constructed, and used the Cambridge Electron Accelerator (CEA) 6 GeV synchrotron, which, from 1962 on, further probed nucleonic structure. Dick was involved in constructing and using the new Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, frequently "commuting" there from Harvard, to maintain close contact with students and research. At Fermilab, Dick continued the study of nucleonic structure with high-energy muon beams. When Harvard's cyclotron became obsolete for particle research, Dick helped adapt it for the treatment of cancerous tumors. He also studied electron-positron interactions with the CLEO collaboration at the Cornell Electron Storage Ring (CESR). Finally, Dick joined a research group using the intense polarized beam of the new Continuous Electron Beam Accelerator Facility (CEBAF) in Virginia.

Dick went often to the USSR and Russia, believing that direct cultural and scientific contact was essential to prevent war. After the exile of dissident Soviet physicists, Dick boycotted USSR conferences, and was an early and visible supporter of Andrei Sakharov. Dick studied nuclear power safety and environmental carcinogens, such as asbestos. He visited Chernobyl after the nuclear accident, taking a PBS film crew with him. He studied arsenic in drinking water, and was especially proud of starting a program to provide safe arsenic-free water from a village-well in Bangladesh. See more in the obituary in The Guardian of 3 June 2018 at:

Dick authoured 935 scholarly papers and eight books, including, finally, a memoir Physics Is Fun: Memoirs of a Life in Physics (2011).

Dick remained devoted to Andrée. They lived in Newton, MA for over 50 years, where Andrée created an extraordinary garden retreat. They loved hiking and climbing mountains, often with their children. Dick loved to sing, recalling countless traditional British folk and music hall songs, and often accompanying himself on the concertina. His Harvard Physics Laboratory photo showed him dancing the Fools Jig with the Headington Quarry Morris Men in Oxford. Dick is survived by his brother Geoffrey, his sisters-in-law Alison Wilson and Adèle Panofsky, and by his six children and their partners, A. Christopher (Rita McMahon), Michael (Lisa Greenleaf), Nicholas (Carol Anne Freeman), Elaine (Brad Farnsworth), André A. (Mary Frances Bond), Peter (Julie Whitmore); and three grandchildren, Benjamin Farnsworth, Irene Farnsworth (Matt Solimano) and Tyrone Whitmore-Wilson. He was predeceased by his wife Andrée Désirée, and his brothers Arthur and Laurence. He is fondly remembered by devoted caregiver Mrs. Bethune Labeach, extended family, and his many students, colleagues, and friends.

Written by: Geoffrey Wilson, brother, and Elaine Farnsworth, daughter


John Anthony Fernandez (1937-41), 1923-2017

Tony Fernandez was born in London in October 1923 to his parents Dr. Thomas Fernandez and Eleanor Christian Lilian Fernandez (nee Mayo).

He grew up at the family home in Chiswick, London and went to St. Paul’s school in 1937. He was evacuated to Crowthorne in 1939 when the war started, where the school was allocated some of Wellington College’s schoolrooms and grounds. He finished his school there in 1941. He stayed at one of the teachers' houses during his time at Crowthorne, called Mr. R.E.D. Brown. He remembered going by bicycle at the beginning and end of the term from Chiswick to Crowthorne, a distance of 35 miles. On one occasion he remembered being “chased” by a V1 flying bomb on his bicycle.

He attended Trinity College, Cambridge from 1941 – 1942, studying engineering and economics, but left Cambridge university before completing his degree, as so many others did during the Second World War. He joined the Admiralty where he used his engineering background to work on the gunnery control systems of large capital ships like HMS Rodney. His father died in 1945 and Tony decided to stay in London with his Mother rather than go back to Cambridge, so he went to University College of London to finish his engineering degree. He went on to complete a masters degree in structural concrete engineering in 1949.

Tony and June met in 1946 at Honeybourne, a harvest camp for students set up after the war when labour was in short supply to harvest the crops. The camps were mainly in former army camps and the students were housed and fed in exchange for their work. Fortunately, they were both students at London University and both lived in West London, so they were able to see each other regularly after leaving Honeybourne. They married in 1949 – a marriage which lasted 68 years. They had three children – Patricia, Paul and Theresa.

From 1949 until 1952 Tony worked for Richard Costain. One of his projects was helping to build the landing stage at Battersea for the Festival of Britain in 1951.

Then he got a job with the Colonial Office as chief engineer in Port of Spain, Trinidad in charge of works and hydraulics. At that time Trinidad was a British colony.

He returned to the UK in 1954 when he joined Alcan. He worked in their UK office until 1959 when he moved to Portugal as manager of their Lisbon office. Then he was transferred to Oporto where he opened an office in 1961. Alcan wanted to send Tony to Mozambique after his assignment in Portugal, but he decided to return to England.

He joined Monsanto in 1963, the chemical engineering company, and worked for a subsidiary called Jablo, makers of laminated plastics including polystyrene, an excellent insulating material. He left Jablo to set up his own company called Lowkay Engineering and took out a patent for his invention of using polystyrene shuttering for single span bridges.

Tony loved playing tennis all his life. As a young man he joined the local tennis club in Chiswick and Queen's Club and then became a member of Hurlingham in 1956. His love of tennis continued in Portugal both in Estoril and Oporto. In 1963 Tony and June made a clean sweep of the tennis trophies in the Oporto British Cricket & Lawn Tennis Club. When Tony retired he and June moved to the south of France to a small village called Hyeres near Toulon. He discovered the International Veterans' Circuit and played in tournaments in England, Spain, France, Italy and Germany. In April 2000 Tony won the men's 75+ singles title at Alassio. In 2003 he was invited to play for the Great Britain Veteran's Team at the tournament in Turkey. Then on 15th August 2004 at the British Veterans Tournament in Aorangi Park, Wimbledon, he won the Men's 80 plus Doubles title with Bob Caruana. This was the year when he achieved his highest world ranking of 24 for his age group.

When Tony and June returned to England in 2004, they bought a flat in Kingston where they have lived since then. Hurlingham was a major part of his life during these years. He played tennis and latterly took up bowls. He enjoyed watching the cricket and also went to the French conversation group.

Tony is survived by his wife June, and by his three children Patricia, Paul and Theresa. He has five grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He remained active right up until the end, continuing to drive his car. He was at home up until the last evening when he had a heart attack and was admitted to Kingston hospital where he sadly passed away. He will be missed enormously by all who knew him but especially by his loving family.


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