Brian was born at the Maternity Hospital, Oriental Road, Woking, Surrey on October 10, 1938 to Annie Alice Pepperrell (née Noble) and Henry David Pepperrell1.
Brian was born into an unsettled time. So what was happening in the World?
- The Second Sino-Japanese War was ongoing2.
- The Spanish Civil War was ongoing3.
- Neville Chamberlain had flown back to Britain and declared “peace for our time” following the signing of the Munich Agreement4.
- Conrad Samuel JP C.C. was Mayor of Woking and preparations for the impending hostilities were ongoing in Woking as the following film shows, there is no sound but it does give an insight into 1938 rural life. The Mr Quilter mentioned in the film relates to Mr Raymond Quilter of GQ Parachute Company Limited5 where Annie Alice Pepperrell worked in 19396.
Brian passed away in St Margaret’s Hospice, Taunton, Somerset on June 21, 2013. He seemed to hang on until Pam, Ray, Patsy and Phillip could get there to say their goodbyes. Many thanks to the Hospice for the fantastic care they gave to Brian and to the support given to the family.
Brian’s cremation was held at the East Devon Crematorium, Whimple, Devon on Friday July 5, 2013 at 2:30pm. At the end of the Committal the sound of Vulcan bomber XH558 “Spirit of Great Britain” taking off and climbing away was played while the curtains closed.
The Life Ceremony at the East Devon Crematorium
The following paragraphs have been extracted from “The Life Ceremony”, which was based on discussions with Brian’s sister Pam, brother Phillip, brother-in-law Ray and great friend Reverend Desmond Payne-Jeremiah, and read out at his funeral.
Brian began his education at Southville Primary School, Bedfont Lane, Feltham, Middlesex. He took his 11-plus and, after achieving a remarkable 98% in Mathematics, he won a place at Hampton Grammar School. After a promising start he “left at the Headmaster’s Pleasure” at fifteen to join the RAF as an Apprentice Tradesman at RAF Locking7.
After successfully completing his training as a Electronics, Instruments and Radar Technician Brian was posted to 90 Sqn. RAF Honington in Suffolk working on Vulcans, Victors and Valiants and later to Boscombe Down in Wiltshire. His Service Record makes interesting reading with postings all over the world but health issues meant that he eventually left the RAF.
He began working at ICL in Reading and Putney as a Computer Engineer. This was followed some years later with a move to British Airports Authority (BAA) at Heathrow as, initially, a Security Officer on the High Altitude bomb detection facility followed by the role of Traffic Control for the Local Emergency Management Agency (LEMA) which he held until retirement. This provided him with some great stories including the time he was asked to wait with Nelson Mandela until his own personal security guard arrived. The two of them spent over an hour together in a small room and had the opportunity for a good old chat. During this time he was also made a Freeman of the City of London.
Following retirement Brian took the opportunity to approach the volunteer service. He was sent to help at Fairlynch Museum, Budleigh Salterton, Devon where he joined the Local History Group, performing research for people who approached the Museum for help with genealogy questions. He later became a Trustee of Fairlynch Museum and Arts Centre. Fascinated by history, Brian set out to research the origins of one particular photograph unearthed by the Museum.
The little open fishing boat in the picture eventually proved to be the vessel used by the Savident family to make their daring escape from the Channel Islands prior to the German occupation of 1940 during World War Two. Asked to make a formal presentation of his discoveries to the family he was surprised to discover the family member stepping forward to receive it was none other than John Savident – the actor best known as the cheerful butcher Fred Elliott in Coronation Street – who had been born on Guernsey in 1938.
Brian’s other major ‘hobby’ was the Freemasons where he held both London Grand Rank and was the Provincial Grand Supreme Ruler, Order of the Secret Monitor (Province of Devonshire).
“He was certainly a committed and able Freemason,” noted Lt Cdr Angus Hannagan, Deputy Grand Secretary. “It was indeed a big part of his life and he will be missed by the many Orders of Freemasonry8 in which he made a significant contribution.”
- Their first son David Pepperrell (1936) was stillborn and we cannot find a birth or death certificate. The paper trail may not exist but he existed to my parents and to Brian who told me.
- The Second Sino-Japanese War was a military conflict fought primarily between the Republic of China and the Empire of Japan from July 7, 1937, to September 9, 1945. (“Second Sino-Japanese War”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Sino-Japanese_War ; accessed March 3, 2018).
- The Spanish Civil War widely known in Spain simply as The Civil War or The War took place from 1936 to 1939. (“The Spanish Civil War”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_Civil_War : accessed March 3, 2018).
- The Munich Agreement between Germany, the United Kingdom, France and Italy settles the Sudetenland dispute in Germany’s favour.
The agreement was signed in the early hours of 30 September 1938 but dated 29 September. (“The Munich Agreement”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munich_Agreement : accessed March 3, 2018).
After the summit on September 30th, 1938 the British prime minister Neville Chamberlain declared that the Munich agreement meant “peace for our time”. (“Peace for our time”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peace_for_our_time : accessed March 3, 2018).
German occupation of Czechoslovakia (1938-1945) began with the annexation of the Czech Northern and Western borders, known collectively as the Sudetenland, on October 1st, 1938 following the signing of the Munich Agreement. (“German Occupation of Czechoslovakia”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_occupation_of_Czechoslovakia : accessed March 3, 2018).
- In 1932, Raymond Quilter formed a partnership with James Gregory to construct parachutes to their own design. Arthur Dickinson joined them to manage the commercial and financial side of their venture. Initially the business operated from a rented floor of the RFD Company’s factory in Stoke Road, Guildford. In 1934, the firm was incorporated as GQ Parachute Company Ltd. As orders began to come in from the Air Ministry, the firm needed larger premises and moved to Portugal Road, Woking. By 1938, the company had built a two-storey factory on the same road.
(“GQ Parachute Company Ltd”, Exploring Surrey’s Past, http://www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk/themes/subjects/industry/gq_parachute_company/: accessed March 3, 2018).
- Living at 12 Boundary Lane, Woking. Confirmed by entry in the 1939 Register (“1939 Register”, Findmypast, https://search.findmypast.co.uk/record?id=tna%2fr39%2f1929%2f1929e%2f014%2f07 : accessed March 3, 2018).
- RAF Locking was an RAF base just outside Weston-super-Mare in Somerset. It was the home of the RAF’s No.1 Radio School until its relocation in 1999 to RAF Cosford. (“RAF Locking”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RAF_Locking : accessed March 3rd, 2018).
- Masonic Tribute written by Reverend Desmond Payne-Jeremiah. (“Masonic Tribute”, Life Ceremony of Brian Arthur Pepperrell, private document belonging to author and Brian’s family : accessed March 3, 2018).