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   John Cowan


John Cowan

House: Grigg/Hawke
Years: 1937-1940

I am now so old that I doubt if there is anyone still around who remembers me, let alone knows me.

I started at the Prince of Wales School in 1937, as a day boy in Grigg House. In 1938 I became a boarder in Hawke House, and I left the school in December 1940 to join the Army.

I was fifteen when sent to the Prince of Wales School. During the week I lived in a corrugated iron shack in the garden of my aunt's house at Loresho, and walked to school each day. My father was developing a golf course (still in existence as Sigona Golf Club), a couple of miles beyond Kikuyu station, and at weekends I would return to my parents, usually getting a lift for part of the way. However, on Monday mornings I had to be at school by 8am and the only way I could do this was to walk. I was woken at 4am with a cup of tea and a couple of slices of bread and butter, and thus fortified set off accompanied by a house servant carrying a hurricane lamp. The distance by road was about twelve miles, but we walked through the bust until we reached Kabete station where we parted. Apart from being alarmed sometimes by hyenas close by, these early morning walks were uneventful. I told no one about them. Eventually my parents moved to Kakamega and I became a boarder at the school, the longest period of uninterpted schooling I had. I enjoyed it and was lucky to have two excellent teachers: Messrs Johnson for English and History, and Stokes for Maths. I salute them both. I also recall breaking the school record for the half mile, but that was after I became a boarder.

Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, the Prince of Wales School was converted to a hospital, and reopened after a few months, initially for the top form only, at Sparks Hotel at Naivasha (now Lake Naivasha Country Club). I took the School Certificate examination under an acacia tree in the beautiful garden by the lakeside. Many months later the results were handed to me as I sat on the turret of my armoured car, somewhere in the Eritrean desert. The effort of study forgotten, they seemed strangely irrelevant.

Now living in London.

(Registered 12th March 2004, and updated 10th April 2005)

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