Leonard Williams

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 28 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5101
  1. Nick Williams

Leonard Williams (“Len”) was born in Plymouth. His father was a customs inspector, and his mother (who lived until she was 102) was a schoolteacher. When Len was 2 years old, the family moved to Weymouth and then again in 1934 to a small house in Hilldowns Avenue, Tipner, later described by Len in his memoirs as “not the most salubrious area, being adjacent to the greyhound racing track and very little else.” He attended the local primary school and was thrilled to be offered a place at PGS on passing the 11 plus. However, his parents were not so keen owing to strained financial circumstances, but apparently a personal visit by the then headmaster, Mr Barton, and the school bursar resulted in a special grant being agreed that allowed him to start in the autumn of 1935.

Len thrived at the school and enjoyed playing football, cricket, and “fives,” as well as doing athletics and gymnastics. He was a gifted pupil and able to stretch his intellectual talent with some excellent teachers, Colonel Willis, Mr Ensor, Mr Thorpe, Mr Bellinger, and Mr Asher are particularly mentioned, along with the headmaster. Mr Stork. He joined the OTC and recalls the cadet quartermaster being a certain James Clavell, who went on to become the famous author and film director best known for King Rat, Shogun, Noble House etc; many of these books were subsequently made into blockbuster movies. Another classmate he recalls as always being larger than life was Alan Bristow, who, after serving in the Fleet Air Arm during the war, founded Bristow Helicopters, one of the largest firms of its type in the …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription