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Robert Thomas Allen (L & BH, 1938)

Robert (Bob) Allen, son of Maj. Gerald Allen (Xt, 1908), died on the 2nd May 2016, aged 92. Patrick Guy Allen FCA (JS & Xt, 1938)

Patrick (Pat) Allen died in April 2015, aged 94. On leaving College, Pat saw active service during WW2 and afterwards followed a career in finance within the commercial sector, working for Automotive Products Ltd for thirty years. Pat had much of the explorer about him; an insatiable love of nature and wildlife took him to Africa on a number of occasions. He kept a sizeable collection of cine film and still photographs of his exploits which meant a great deal to him. For very many years he remained a loyal and passionate Freemason, hardly ever missing a meeting of his Lodge and rising to a senior position within the organisation. Pat’s other great love was golf. He held the record as having the longest continuous membership at Lilley Brook Golf Club. Truly a gentleman of the old school: stoic, reserved, always courteous, hardly ever seen without a tie. Pat was blessed with an iron self-discipline and sense of always doing ‘the right thing’. He was never without a dry, witty remark, accompanied by a whimsical smile that emanated from a sharp mind proffering a sagacious perspective, particularly upon matters political. Pat was one of those people of whom it may be truly said: it was an honour to have known him. Murray Crickton Bell Anderson (Ch, 1937)

Murray Anderson, brother of the late Lindsay Anderson (Ch, 1941), died on the 22nd March 2016, aged 96. He was a member of the Shooting VIII in 1936 and 1937 and the 1937 XV. The 1936 Cheltonian reported that he averaged 58 in all College matches and got the top College score of 63 in the Ashburton at Bisley. The 1937 Cheltonian reported that: “The great feature of the afternoon was a ‘possible’ at 500 yards by Anderson. This is the first possible scored by a member of College for at least 4 years either in practice or during a match.” The 1937 Cheltonian 1st XV reported that he was: “a good scrummager who fitted well into the front row, a really hard worker in an inconspicuous way and a competent tackler.” On leaving College, Murray gained entrance to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment in 1939. However, he was frustrated with being on a UK-based operation, and got seconded to the RAF to train as a pilot. Murray then volunteered for the lonely and dangerous world of flying unarmed Spitfires on long-range, photographic, reconnaissance sorties. He flew his first operation over Europe on the 28th May 1941, photographing four enemy airfields. He then moved to Cornwall where he flew numerous sorties monitoring the movements of Germany’s capital ships based in Brest. In November 1941, he made one of his longest sorties when he flew to Chemnitz in Saxony. Navigating with his magnetic compass, a stopwatch, annotated map and, as he described it, “your nous”, he photographed key targets. He was told: “Don’t pee in the cockpit …. It causes condensation on the canopy, freezes, and you will not be able to see out!” After five hours in the cramped and intensely cold cockpit, he landed. Following a brief detachment to Gibraltar to photograph the Spanish and Algerian coasts, Murray was returning to Britain when he ran out of fuel 90 miles from the South Coast. He managed to stretch the aircraft’s glide and land in a field. On another occasion, the engine of his Spitfire failed and he ditched in the sea. 1.

Over Hamburg, he was hit by anti-aircraft fire at 28,000 feet but he continued to photograph his target before managing to bring his damaged Spitfire back to an airfield in England. On another occasion, he was chased by enemy fighters but evaded them and brought back his photographs. In September 1942, he was awarded the DFC for: “his excellent work, courage and devotion to duty.” In November 1942, as a Special Operations Executive, he joined a new unit to support Operation Torch. Flying from Maison Blanche in Algeria, he took photographs of Tunis, Bizerta and other targets in Tunisia. During this period with No 4 Photographic Reconnaissance Unit, he was sometimes given tasks by the USAAF. After three months of intense flying he was awarded a second DFC and the US Air Medal. After returning from North Africa, he was an instructor for a short time before going on to another photographic reconnaissance squadron. He took photographs of fields in France to be used by the Special Duties Squadrons dropping Special Operations Executive (SOE) agents. He met an old College friend, Hugh Verity (H, 1936), flying on one of these “moonlight” squadrons who persuaded him to volunteer. On October 27th 1943, he flew his 131st reconnaissance sortie and then joined No 161 Squadron to fly Lysanders into torch lit fields, dropping agents and returning with others. His long-range navigation skills were a great help to him, but now he had to perfect them at night and at low level. He flew his first special duties sortie in February 1944, and in the build up to the D-Day landings he was one of the busiest pilots in the squadron. Once he picked up a pilot who had force landed near Caen. Later he landed near Angers to bring back four agents: one had a 55ft map showing the details of all the enemy defences on the Cotentin Peninsula and also a great deal of information on the secret weapon sites. Murray had an irrepressible nature, great energy and courage and enjoyed life but he had a disdain for desk-bound higher authorities who rarely flew on operations. He was once told to fly a very long-range sortie to the region of Lyon, which would have resulted in his being over enemy territory in daylight. He had a onesided “discussion” with his station commander, who decided they should part company and Murray was posted to a fighter-bomber squadron. Within weeks he was flying Mustangs of No 65 Squadron from a basic airstrip in Normandy, and dive-bombing bridges. Over the next three months his squadron followed the advancing Allied armies and then flew 70 close support operations. He was finally rested and returned to a ground appointment. Inevitably, this did not suit him, and within weeks he was flying RAF Dakotas in India. Murray left the RAF after the war as a Flight Lieutenant, and returned to India, where he had been born, to begin a long civilian flying career, which took in the period of Indian Partition, taking supplies into remote areas of Assam and Burma. In 1952, he began a five-year period carrying pilgrims to and from Mecca for the annual pilgrimage. He later operated out of Aden before flying a United Nations’ Dakota from Rawalpindi. This was followed by three years in the Persian Gulf, but his great passion was India and he returned to fly for Air Nepal. He left India in 1967 and for the next 12 years flew the Hawker Siddeley HS 748 from Lympne airport near Hythe in Kent, where he bought the house in which he lived until his death. He flew with Dan Air until 1979 when he reached the obligatory retirement age of 60, at which point he joined Skyways Air Freight, operating from Lydd airport. The company went into liquidation within a year and Murray’s 40-year career was over after 22,000 flying hours. In retirement, he made beautiful life-size replica church brasses using linoleum, intricately decorated. Many are displayed on the walls of stately homes and castles in Kent, including Lympne Castle. He wrote a fascinating and amusing autobiography, Saint Praftu (2009).

Profile for Cheltenham College

Floreat 2017 - Obituary Supplement  

Floreat 2017 - Obituary Supplement