5th July 1918 – 28th July 1988
Douglas was born to his parents, Lawson and Sarah Ann (her preferred name) on Friday, 5th July 1918 and was baptised on 28th July 1918 at Kingswinford Methodist Church. At that time they were living at 49, Lower Potter Street, Brierley Hill. This road no longer shows on current maps as the area has been completely re-developed, although there is still a road called Little Potter Street.
As far as I know, Douglas ( always known as Doug) had a normal childhood and when he was 4, his brother Norman, was born. According to Norman’s baptism certificate, they were then living at the Bulls Head Inn, Bull Street, Brierley Hill. Unfortunately, this pub closed its doors in 2015.
One of Doug’s keen interests was in The Boy Scouts, an interest he continued long after he left school, later becoming a scout leader while in the Midlands and a cub leader (Akela) when he moved to Kent. In fact it was through scouting that he met my mother (Josephine Mullett) , introduced to him by his good friend, Jim Compson.
In July 1939, Doug enlisted in the Army, two months before WWII started. At that time, Doug’s war record says that he was a milk roundsman. He had an active war being attached to a Heavy Anti Aircraft battery.
He was deployed to France in November 1939 and was evacuated, along with 338,000 others, at Dunkirk. He remembered being in the water for 8 hours before being rescued. In 1941, he was part of the force that was stationed in Iceland. In July 1944, he went to France, ending up in Germany at the end of the war. He had picked up German and French languages and did some interpreting. He was finally discharged in 1946.
Of course, time didn’t stand still for Doug during the war and he married his fiancee, Josephine, on 31st July 1943 at Dudley Parish Church, St Thomas & St Lukes (the Top Church as it was known).
When Doug returned from the war he applied for and won a place at Alsager College to become a teacher, starting in February 1947. The subjects he was trained in, other than the ‘Principles and Practice of Education’ were, Health Education, English Usage, General Science and English Literature.
His first posting, in 1948, was to Tividale County Secondary School where he taught General Science and Gardening. From references written at the time, he was ‘undoubtedly a distinct success’, ‘popular with the staff and children, and at all times courteous and obliging’. One of his keen interests was in running the school boxing club.
He left Tividale School in 1952 to take up a teaching role at Napier Road School, Gillingham in Kent.
Obviously, to take up this new post, the house in Oakham Road had to be sold and another one bought closer to his the new school. This was to be 7, Arthur Road, Rainham in Kent which was about 3 miles from the school in Gillingham. The name of the house was “Oaklands”. As we didn’t have a car at that time, I can only assume that Dad either used a bus or got lifts from other teachers to get to school.
Although Doug had not had extensive training for his subjects, English and Science, he was a natural teacher and his pupils got good results in their national exams. One of his successful projects was the implementation of the Nuffield science programme. He eventually became the head of science department. He took an active part in school sports activities, as well as out of school ones, field trips, holidays and visits, such as going to see the Harlem Globetrotters.
In 1965, we were living at 21A Durham Road, Wigmore, Kent. In Cambridge Road, a road running parallel to Durham Road, a murder took place. The victim was a widow, Mrs Florence Lewis. As there were very few clues as to who committed the murder, everyone in the area was fingerprinted, presumably for elimination. My friends and I believed we knew who the murderer was, a local lad who was in the army, and the murder is still unsolved to this day.