July 2023

Club News

June: Chairman, Tony Farrell, welcomed 23 members and guest speaker, Bob Ogley.

Update on Members: We’ve just heard the sad news that Gerry Thompson who was in St. Helier with kidney issues has passed away. Tony Farrell is in the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery having had complications following a spine operation. Cyril Ranasinghe has pelvis problems. Dave Garner is quite unwell and having problems with memory etc. Patricia Mills (Peter’s wife) has had a fall and may have broken her hip.


Classic Car Show 23rd July at PSC in support of Royal Marsden.
– Opportunity to promote Coulsdon and Purley Probus

Westerham Brewery Tour 27th July – contact Terry Ribbens

Probus Quiz 24th Nov: contact: secretary@coulsdonprobus.co.ukT: 01737 554449.

Lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday to chris@moniz.co.uk T: 020 8660 6063.

There is no lunch meeting in August.

Member News to Welfare Sec., Bill Ainsworth T: 020 8660 0399. 
Please email editor@coulsdonprobus.co.uk with articles/news for the Newsletter.


Today: Simon Waterfield: The Tolpuddle Martyrs.
7th September: Peter Stammers ‘What you may not Know About Operation Chastise’.

June Speaker: Bob Ogley — Doodle bugs and Rockets

Our guest speaker for June was well known to us and as always gave us an interesting account of a famous episode in our island history.

Doodlebugs were taken seriously as soon as their existence was confirmed by ground agents and high-altitude photo recognisance. The threat of both V1 and V2 attacks resulted in a raid by 750 Lancasters of which 43 failed to return but it was estimated that the ongoing development of these weapons was delayed by six months.

For the V1s that did get through (V2s could not be stopped due to their supersonic speed), we had three basic defences. First was the observer corps, next RAF Tempest fighters and lastly barrage balloons and antiaircraft fire. Heroically fighters actually nudged some V1s off course when there was no alternative way to bring them down.

Of course there were famous near misses on the ground. In one instance a lady had a foreboding that an attack was heading for her home in Worcester Park and moved her son away from where he was sleeping and the impact of the V1! So Prime Minister John Major went on to leave his own mark in history.

The rocket propelled V2s designed by Wernher von Braun continued to fall on the UK at a rate of twenty per day until 1945. Perhaps one of the most notorious rocket impacts was on the Woolworths store in New Cross, South East London which resulted in probably 160 deaths. On the defensive side the use of the Chislehurst Caves as an air raid shelter no doubt saved a considerable number of lives.

Our thanks go to Bob Ogley who has written a book giving a more expansive account than we have space for here.

‘A name to conjure with’ by Jim Mulvey

In Croydon after WWII they had two technical schools, a school of engineering and a school of building, both in South Norwood.  The engineering school became Stanley Technical and the School of Building and Architecture became Croydon Technical. As with the grammar school children, your parents decided what school they thought would be best for you.  Being so soon after the war with vast areas in London being bomb sites my father choose architecture and building for me. After three years studying all aspects of architecture, including bricklaying, roofing, plumbing systems and cathedral design, I left school to spend the next 45 years in the printing industry, as one does.

My first job was with the Daily Mirror in Fetter Lane, just off Fleet Street.  In the evening I went to the London School of Printing studying photography and airbrush retouching.  In the days when one had night school after you finished your work and before night school, one could earn extra money in the Tape Room.  Tape Rooms were where news came in from all over the world onto ticker-tape machines.  The Tape room manager would tear off an incoming tape, hand it to one of a line of Tape Room boys sitting on long benches with instructions of which department to take the tape to, and the boy would scurry off to deliver it.  

One late afternoon during a quiet period the tape manager decided to take a comfort break.  After a few minutes when the manager had not come back, and knowing that the canteen was nearby, one of the ticker-tape machines started to chatter away. Being on point I glanced around at the other boys who all shrugged.  Using my initiative, I stepped up to the machine and seeing the first words coming through were “Manchester United”, I waited impatiently, tore off the strip and without reading the full tape, galloped down to the sports room where I deposited the tape in their “In Tray”.  At that time in the afternoon the journalists would be finishing off the afternoon sports reports – football results were left until after midnight when all football matches were finished and final scores were known.  The night-time journalists would work their way through the In Tray which by then was full of tapes that had piled up on top of the one I had deposited.  It wasn’t until then that it was realised that my tape should have gone to “hot news”. The next day, 7th February 1958, the Daily Mirror’s early morning editions which went out at 4.00 a.m. were the only papers in Fleet Street not to have the news about the Manchester United plane crash in Munich.

One of my other duties in keeping the largest circulation newspaper in the world afloat was at directors’ board meetings taking tea and biscuits to the board room. A week after the Munich event I duly delivered the tea and biscuits as expected. In those days the owner of the Daily Mirror was Cecil Harmsworth King, nephew of Lord Rothermere owner of the Daily Mail. Directors of the Daily Mirror were Cecil King’s relatives Hugh Cudlipp, Peter Zec and his brother Donald Zec (Fleet Street was a family affair). When I deposited the tea and biscuits Cecil King CEO, who was for those days a giant of a man over 6ft 4in tall, decided to have a patronising chat with the tea boy, asking if I enjoyed working for the Daily Mirror and what department I worked in. After I replied to him, he asked me for my name. When I told him he frowned and turned to one of his directors enquiring if he had heard of a name like that, as I nervously backed out of the room.

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