ARMY SERVICE 1944 – 1948
After several months of training in the U.K, Bernard was sent with his Army Intelligence unit to the Far East, where he remained until early 1948. His duties involved monitoring coded radio broadcasts from our “allies”, Mao-Tse Tsung’s Chinese, and the Russians. He was transferred frequently, travelling by train. In 1988, forty years after Bernard left the Far East, he and I were able to retrace his earlier travels. We visited the following places where Bernard had been stationed: the hill station of Murree , also Abbottabad, in Pakistan; Darjeeling, Calcutta and Bangalore in India; Colombo and Galle in Sri Lanka; Hong Kong; Singapore, I was struck by how much he had learnt about each place, and how much detail he remembered.
Of all his stations, Bernard had fondest memories of Bangalore, where he got to know the city and the environs well, making some very good sketches of buildings that attracted him
During the communal riots of 1947, Bernard and some of his companions, threatened by the mobs, escaped for safety to the roof of Howrah Railway Station, Calcutta (Kolkata), where they spent a terrifying thirtyeight hours before being rescued by Indian soldiers.
Bernard spoke fondly of Hong Kong, because by the time he was there, the war was over and there was opportunity for recreation, which included, for Bernard, writing, producing and acting in radio and stage plays. He got to know several local inhabitants, both British and Chinese. When in Singapore, he was entertained by his cousins : his father’s brother, who had married a Chinese lady, was harbour master of Singapore at the time. Bernard had met this exotic family when they visited his parents in the late 1930’s.
During his stay in Hong Kong, Bernard contracted toxoplasmosis, a rare and often fatal disease, transmitted by the scratch of a cat. This was the first of the many unusual illnesses that Bernard was subjected to : some years later, my mother told Bernard that he was “snag-prone”. Bernard was extremely ill for some days, causing his parents great anxiety , at a time when communications were imperfect. During his years in the army, Bernard made good friends, many of whom he kept in touch with after the war.
Returning to England in 1948, Bernard was demobilised, fitted out with civilian clothes, and given a train ticket to Manchester. From the station, he took a bus to Davyhulme, where his father was waiting at the bus stop. I asked Bernard what happened at the meeting, when the father had not seen his son for nearly four anxious years. “Dad shook my hand ,and said ’ I am glad to see you, son’ ”. Bernard’s father died suddenly, aged 61, the following year, leaving Bernard with an abiding if unjustified sense of guilt , because he felt that he had not seen enough of his father – Bernard was away at University when his father died.
UNIVERSITY 1948 - 1952In his last year at Stretford Grammar School, Bernard won a State Scholarship to university, which he was able to take up in 1948, enrolling at The University of Manchester, for a double honours degree in Geography and Geology. Bernard enjoyed his years at university, especially the field trips, of which there must have been several. Certainly, when, many years later, I travelled in UK with Bernard, he was impressively familiar with a remarkable range of locations in the British Isles. Bernard stayed in “digs”, remaining friendly with his landlady for some time afterwards. He also played hockey and lacrosse, being then athletic and nimble.
On leaving the University of Manchester, Bernard was faced with a career choice. His geology background opened up some possibilities, including an offer to work for Shell Oil. But this involved being parachuted into remote parts of Borneo, an unappealing prospect for Bernard. He than applied to , and was accepted by, the Colonial Education Service. He was allocated to Tanganyika (now Tanzania), and told to spend a further year at University
Bernard spent the academic year 1951/1952 at London University, where he completed a Diploma in Education, at the Institute of Education and the School of African Studies. He and a few chums rented , at a very low (“rent-controlled”) rent, a top storey flat in Hans Crescent, just behind Harrod’s in Knightsbridge. Bernard cycled to University and all over London. He obviously had a hugely enjoyable year; the courses were not too demanding, and he wasted no time in discovering the interesting places and pleasant diversions that London offered. He often went to plays and concerts and opera, always going early to get the cheap seats.
During this year in London, Bernard, at age 26, contracted whooping cough, which is “normal” in young children, but which can be serious in adults. Convalescing in St.George’s Hospital, at Hyde Park Corner, he was well enough for his friends to take him to the steps, and hold him up so that he could watch the funeral procession of King George VI, in February 1952.
While at the Institute of Education, Bernard had what proved to be a momentous meeting, with Ken Parkinson, who had been friendly with me at Christ’s College , Cambridge. Learning that Bernard was going to Tanganyika, Ken insisted that Bernard meet me, knowing that I was already there. Ken must have recommended me enthusiastically, because Bernard arrived in Tanganyika determined to meet me.