A letter from Ken McGill [Heath 1938–1944]

Dear Jon

Many thanks for the correspondence and data on Heath Old Boys — much appreciated.

I joined the august body of Heathens in 1938 as did my elder brother, Doug McGill, in 1937 before he joined H.M.S. Conway to be turned out as a young midshipman, suitably equipped to help win the war.

I was recommended by the Rev. D.J.D. Smith to be trained in the Fleet Air Arm as a pilot and, frankly, I think he knew what he was letting me in for!! If nobody knows, he flew in the Royal Flying corps with Cyril Hirst who was the C.O. of the Huddersfield Air Cadet Corps in which I was a member whilst at Heath. I did the best I could to kill myself trying to land aircraft aboard H.M.S. Vengeance but, happily, survived, unlike Derek Nutter whose name appears on the gates of Heath in Free School Lane — sadly, one of many.

I recall all the listed masters of my era, including Harry Birchall who went to war early during the war and was a wonderfully rugby coach — so much so that I had a trial for Yorkshire school boys after joining the Royal Navy along with a friend called Richard Blakely of Huddersfield.

The name of Geoffrey Wells comes to the fore as the winner of the Victor Ludorum at Heath before becoming a Radio Officer in the Merchant Service. I do not know whether he survived the war but he was our ‘star’ player and sportsman during my time.

There seemed to be many Stocks, Lumbs at Heath, including later, a Horrocks-Taylor who was cousin to Geffrey Horrocks-Taylor with whom I played much of my golf after we co-opted him into the Huddersfield Amateurs after leaving Repton School after I had been converted to the game of ‘soccer’ which I had played at my Prep. school. I should have stayed with rugby as a wingman for Kings House at Heath. I skippered the Huddersfield Amateur Football Club in 1954 and 1955 — a club which was formed from mill people in Huddersfield in 1904.

I did venture back into Calderdale when I lived at The Howroyde at Barkisland where I brought up my three daughters which was the perfect scenario of so doing.

Thank you again for the Newsletter and good luck with HOBA in which members appear to be thinning out far too quickly!!

Kind regards and good luck.
Ken McGill

PS I am more than convinced that the Rev. D.J.D. Smith knew what he was doing when he recommended me for flying training in the F.A.A. We all had enormous affection for the man who wielded a powerful cane.