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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Born 20th March 1920 in Poplar in the East End of London. Bill was the younger of twin brother, Henry. The family had generations of sea captains in sail and steam, hence the connection with shipping in the East India Docks. The family moved to Brighton, Kemp Town in 1925 and Bill and Henry attended Brighton College Prep School, then located in fine sea front houses in Lewes Crescent overlooking the sea. In 1934 they progressed to the College, in Hampden A housed in the former “Tin Huts” formerly army housing.

From the beginning, Bill and his brother were natural games players. Bill kept wicket for Sussex Prep Schools in 1932. At the College he was in both the 1st X1 Cricket and the Rugby XV from 1937-1939. He also won the Junior and Senior Fives Cups. He was made head of House in 1939.

In October 1939 he went to King’s College, London to train for Ordination by which time King’s had been evacuated to Bristol. As a theological student he was exempt from Military service, but after only a few weeks at Kings, he obtained permission to waive his exemption and joined the Army. After initial training in the Cheshire Regt, Bill was commissioned aged 20 into the Gordon Highlanders and joined the Regiment in the 51st Highland Division stationed in the North of Scotland. His Regiment sailed for India in January 1943 where it joined the 2nd British Division, which had survived the evacuation from Dunkirk.

Once in India, it was only a short time before the Japanese invaded Singapore and later Burma. The climax was the Battle of Kohima in 1944, now classified as the Battle of all Battles. Bill was the sole survivor of ten men in the regimental HQ following a dawn air raid by the Japanese. There were at least five old Brightonians in the 2nd Division and they all survived.

Later, having withdrawn from India, the 2nd Division was redeployed to occupy Malaya after the Japanese surrender and was present at the formal surrender of Japanese officers in Singapore, which involved the surrender of their Samurai swords. Bill was finally demobbed in 1946, 6 years and 1 day after having joined up.

In 1946 he went up to Wadham College, Oxford to read History. He was awarded his Cricket Blue in 1947-1948. In the late 1940s Bill occasionally kept wicket for Sussex.

Following Oxford, he prepared for ordination at Westcott House, Cambridge and was ordained in Southwell Minster, Nottinghamshire in 1950. He served as a curate in Nottingham from 1950-1953.

In 1953 he married Sylvia Bazeley and between 1954 and 1959 they had three children Jane, Andrew and James.

From 1954-1957 he joined the Navy as a Naval Chaplain serving in Malta and UK. He kept wicket for the Navy and was awarded his Naval Cap.

After leaving the Navy, from 1957 – 1965 his first parish was Esher in Surrey in the gift of Wadham College. During his years at Esher, he managed to squeeze in some more cricket playing for Esher Cricket Club, the MCC, the Free Foresters and after his move to London, he also captained the London Diocese cricket team. He exchanged his parish with the Rector of the Church of the Holy Family in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for a year. Whilst there he and his family had a three month break and travelled extensively up the US east coast and into Canada.

On their return to the UK in 1965, Bill was appointed Vicar of St, Stephen’s Rochester Row, Westminster where he served for 18 years. This included an exchange for five months with the Archdeacon of Cape Town in South Africa. He retired from the church in 1983.

At various times Bill managed to do a good deal of sailing with friends, in the process surviving some hairy moments, including being dismasted in a storm in the Bay of Biscay and doing 100miles under bare poles during a major gale in the channel.

In 1985 he married Sally Thompson and after a period in Surrey, he and Sally moved to The Cotswolds. He took great enjoyment and pride from his two families and managed to indulge his passion for fly-fishing and fly tying into his 80s. In 2010, aged 90, he celebrated 60 years in Holy Orders.

Bill died on 26th May 2015 aged 95.

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