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News > Alumni News > Member's Musings > War hero remembered - Jack Griffiths - Part Two

War hero remembered - Jack Griffiths - Part Two

Memories of Jack's final days submitted by his last Head of House, Max Langfield (1973)
An RAF Distinguished Flying Cross Medal
An RAF Distinguished Flying Cross Medal

September 1972… School had just started a new academic year.

The 1st XV squad had turned up a couple of weeks earlier during the summer holidays to start training with Big A (some of us had grown as much of a beard as we could in the eight weeks holiday and thought we looked cool with our longish hair - just before our return to school). I was aware that Jack Griffiths was in hospital and, as Head of House, I decided to visit him. Typically, he gave nothing away about his state of health, rather choosing to 'advise' me of the need for a shave and hair cut before term started.

I never saw him again.

One morning before 8:30am, there was a knock on the prefects' room door and an annoyed shout from inside commanded the visitor to enter. Embarrassingly, our visitor was 'TAP', Mr Tom Pickard indeed. College masters never had cause to visit the prefects' room so this was unprecedented. He called me out and, in a quiet measured voice with tears in his eyes, told me that my housemaster, Jack Griffiths, had just died.

I cannot remember much about the rest of the day. At lunch, housemasters would sit at the end of the table and the head of house would sit adjacent. I distinctly remember how empty I felt on those first few days sitting next to his unoccupied chair.

 I had quite a lot of contact with JG; RAF flight sergeant, A level chemistry, 1st XV captain and the very last Arduous Training at Otterburn Camp in the Cheviots before it was decided to re-categorise it to Adventurous Training. It had been a lot more arduous than the organisers had predicted so in the interests of what would now be Health and Safety it was downgraded. Along with Chris Stafford, Ian Sinclair and others, we endured a tough time that Easter in the snow and although nothing was ever said directly to us, Jack's admiration of the stoic nature of the cadets was commented on at a parents' evening.

 Driving the school mini bus with obvious assertiveness to RAF Woodvale for Chipmunk flights, or a rugby tour to Belmont Abbey, Hereford - Jack would often say “Move over George, you could get a bus through that gap!”

As John Meredith said previously “Boy, am I keeping you awake?”  was one of his favourite comments.

There was a story (I do hope that it is true) that some of the Upper VIth chemistry class had taken bottles of milk from Jack's front step one morning and replaced them with bottles of Guinness. While his wife was not too impressed, there was a wry smirk of appreciation from Jack himself.

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