Memories from Wales · 1940's - 1950's

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By Garry Jones (aka Welsh Barbarian)

When you are out of commission for a while it gives a person time to sit and reflect on life as it used to be, so I thought I would drop you a few lines and record some of the famous people I have met during times past. I know there are some that will accuse me of 'name dropping' but without which, my story cannot be told so bear with me and just put it down to me being the Welsh Barbarian.

I once met and spent a pleasant time in the company of Shirley Bassey. We were both young and living in South Wales at the time. Dame Shirley, as she is known now, was just starting out as a singer and was frequenting the various clubs in my home area.

Way back in the year 1946, I was working on my Aunt's farm in Wales and she employed a few German and Italian prisoners of war to help on the land. One day a certain Field Marshal Von Runstedt visited the farm and I was quite taken aback at how quickly the workers dropped tools and stood to attention as he approached. I was just a teenager at the time and was very impressed. He acknowledged the men and then came over to me and chatted for a while. I was later informed that he had been the German Officer commanding the German Forces in France during the second world war.

I joined the Royal Air Force and in 1948 met two members of the Royal Family when they were visiting the base at R.A.F. Chivenor in Devon. (Note: no name dropping this time).

In 1950 I was on a troop ship with a few pals and we had docked in Port Said en route to Kenya and that is where I crossed paths once again with one of the above mentioned Royal, his ship was named the H.M.S. Magpie and was tied up alongside our ship at the time.

1952 and the said Royal and I met up once again, this time in Nairobi. A sad time as the Royal was visiting with the then, Princess Elizabeth. I was on parade to mark their arrival. It was on this tour that the King passed away and overnight the Princess became Queen.

Still in 1952 I was to meet with one of the wealthiest ladies in the world. Her husband had died and she was touring the world in a converted B.29 bomber, the inside of which resembled a 1st class hotel rather than a bomber aircraft. Along with her entourage they were on an African Safari. They say money does not bring happiness but boy! what a way to be miserable!

One day, also in 1952, I was sitting with some pals in Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe, Uganda, when who should walk in but the film star Humphrey Bogart, he was on location filming 'The African Queen'. Having just come off the set and looking pretty rough (those that have seen the film will know what I mean) he was denied entry into the Saloon, collar and tie and all that stuff! Well, I witnessed an explosion of temper from the actor that was quite something, believe me!

On now to 1953 and I once again came face to face with the said Royal but this time in South London. The Royal car was passing down the Old Kent Road and I was standing on the pavement with so many others just waiting to get that 'special camera shot'. I got the shot and it nearly got me put under arrest but the least said about that situation, the better.

THE YEAR 1954/55

My brother instilled in me an interest in boxing from an early age when he and Freddy Mills would meet up and train with each other in my home Town in Wales. Freddie was stationed at R.A.F.St. Athens as a Sgt. P.T.I at the time. My passion for boxing was instrumental in my meeting world famous boxers in later life.

I trained at the Thomas Becket gymnasium in South London, meeting up and sometimes training with Henry Cooper, Terry Downes, Joe Lucy to name a few, all of whom became British Champions.

One day in 1972, whilst in Karoi, Rhodesia, I met up and had a drink with the State Executioner. I must say I found him a very unassuming and pleasant man and we had a very interesting conversation.

Later, whilst living in Natal South Africa, I was to meet up with famous Rugby Players at the Kings Park in Durban. Lucky me! I was the holder of an invite to the President's Box for roughly ten years. That was 'living in style' I assure you. I was also privileged to meet President de Klerk when the Boks played the All Blacks.

Well folks, I guess that is all for now. Oh! one more bit of info. I have. You will never guess - I am actually descended from Welsh Royalty! My wife confirms this through her searchings 'Who do you think you are' on the internet but guess what, I actually have a document confirming her findings, how about that?

All through my Air Force career I have been saluting Officers and the reverse should have been the case ha! ha!
'All Hail to Him of Noble Birth'. Chuckle!

Off now to hitch up my sledge to my Siberian Huskies which I traded for my motor car. On with my Cossack hat and fur coat and out across the Norfolk tundra which is at present covered in snow.

'Mush! mush!

Ed, All the above is factual and there is a story relating to each snippet.

I will relate to you in my next comms. 'THE CASE OF THE AVIATING SANDWICHES=
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Insert by ORAFs
Gary has recently undergone a successful hip replacement and knowing Gary he will be already misbehaving.
We look forward to the next chapter of Garry's memories.

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