Hal was born in 1912 in Ewshott and was baptised Harold Edgar early in 1913. His father applied to the Army in 1923 to allow Hal to attend the Duke of York's Royal Military School in Dover, a boarding school with reduced fees for sons and daughters of service personnel.

Hal on motorbike in 1930 The photo shows Hal in 1930.

A picture of life at the school has been provided by David Billing, who went there in 1958: " When I started there we all wore battledress all the time, and if you were under 5’2” you wore short trousers. At the beginning of each term we had to get used to wearing the very rough shirts again and when it rained we all smelt of wet dogs. I was a bugler and used to blow reveille at about 6.30 and then “come to the cook house door” 30 minutes later. At the beginning, when term started, many of the boys missed home terribly and some sobbed away right up to half term.

The photo on the right shows Hal with two other ex-Dukies at Felixstowe in 1935

Nana and Hal visited me at the Dukies on what was called Grand Day. We trooped the colour. They came for 2 successive years when my folks were in Hong Kong. One year Hal brought his new wife and daughter. They took me out for tea and it was very, very nice. But I have no recollection of Hal saying anything about being an old boy which is really weird. I would have thought that he would have pointed out places where he slept, etc. The old boys were called old comrades and they would have gatherings on Grand Day where he could have met up with men from his era".

Hal & friends in the Mourne Mountains 1937
Hal is at the right in the photo of army mates in the Mourne Mountains - perhaps tracking down the Cooleys! Hal in Egypt

Very little is known of Hal's career. He began as a boy bandsman and eventually became the Quartermaster at Colchester barracks. In between he served with the Northampton Regiment and was with the 5th British Infantry Division in France in 1940, with the invasion of Madagascar in 1942 and also in India, North Persia, the Middle East and Sicilian and Italian campaigns. The full story is probably told in "A History of the 58th 1939-1945 2nd Battalion Northamptonshire Regiment" printed by Gale and Polden in 1947 but even a second hand paperback copy of this book now costs over £80 .....

Hal and Ursula in about 1941

In 1940 Hal married Ursula from the Shetland Isles, who was described by Mick Billing as "shy and fetching". The photo shows them in 1941, when Hal would have been on leave. The marriage ended in divorce.

Hal in the kitchen at Pond Hall

His second marriage was to Connie Black who had a daughter from her first marriage. Hal and Connie divorced in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Hal is said to have been devoted to his mother and he was also something of a loner. Even while married he used to call in to Pond Hall nearly every day on his way home from work and do some gardening or other jobs that needed doing. Sometimes he only went into the kitchen for a cup of tea and a chat with his mother after attending to the chores but quite often he would join her and Hettie for a baked potato supper. He also fetched the shopping for them most Saturdays - though Het's 1965 diary often notes that he was late doing so!

Hettie's daughter-in-law, Jean, remembers arriving at Pond Hall early one evening after a long journey; "we crept into the kitchen and had to keep quiet while Grandma and Hal listened to the Archers while eating their supper. This was a routine that had never to be interrupted". She also recalled "once when Hal was washing and I was drying, I removed a cup to dry and was taken to task for removing his prop!". She found both Hal and Charles unnerving as well as undeniably handsome.

Tom Leeks has Hal's photo album "but a lot of it is pictures of the girls he met when he was touring with the (army) band". Which tells its own story, perhaps!

Hal died of lung cancer in 1976.