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   Ellis Hughes


Ellis Hughes

House: Nicholson
Year: 1952-1955

I had previously lived with my parents in Tanganyika and Uganda, going to Kongwa School. Subsequently father worked for Magadi Soda and hence my entry to the Prince of Wales School. I was pretty uneducated and 'PF' thought 2D would be a good kick off. He was right too but I must say that the calibre of teaching was such that I progressed well (for me) from a long way back academically. I completed 4A with a good School Cert and then spent a term in 5 Eng sorting out my future. By that time, family was at Kilembe Mines in western Uganda and I got the smell of dynamite in my nostrils after a trip undergound. PF was good enough to get me later entry into the Camborne School of Mines but I would have to fill in two and a half years. (In the article on PF, there is mention of his fast walk. With the black cape or whatever it is called he looked like the avenging angel come to visit. I never, not ever, saw anyone try to put one over him or even argue; frightening chap really until one knew him better, and by then usually too late.)

Left PoW on 31 March 1955 and voluntarily into Kenya Regiment that day as a very raw recruit. Out of the Regiment in Sept 1956 and then a year at Kilembe working underground before entering Camborne School of Mines, Cornwall to train as a mining engineer. Subsequently worked in metal mining Cornwall, Tasmania and then Far North Queensland. Am now out of the industry, we have a plant production nursery, which is interesting, and a different experience. I think that about seven ex-Nicholson guys of my era live in the Brisbane general area.

I have had little contact with ex-PoW blokes except a few locally. I was a bit of an outsider at school being a 'pongo'. Have mixed memories about the place, I did find some aspects difficult, probably wasn't assertive enough and hadn't come up through the primary school system. Some of the Afrikaans guys loved to have a verbal shot at us rooineks, usually about the Boer War; pity really. Never mind, we all grow up and level out.

Someone has remarked on Mike Saville's handwriting. I was a disciple and am sure my asset of a clear legible hand was worth a lot in various exams and reports; he was also a very inspiring teacher of English literature!

I was a bit reluctant at sport and needed some pushing but enjoyed what I did. I remember the cricket nets behind Nicholson where a few of us would while away a Sunday afternoon with tattered old gear. Sundays in house were a drag but the poor bike could be given yet another overhaul.

Food, well I still dislike jelly and avocado pears, which were sometimes dished out on cold wet weekend afternoons. Bread was good; on a Sunday it was the thing to make up a big toast and marmalade sandwich, which was stored in ones bedside locker for later consumption. Also remember guys putting a slice of toast in a bowl and then having their porridge poured over it - not for me, but I do still carefully pour milk around the edge until the porridge floats as a lump and then sink it with sugar, no stirring!

I guess a few will also remember the mid-morning break brought down from Nicholson/Rhodes to a place behind the gym, a big aluminium mug of milk and a huge sandwich filled with home made cottage cheese, wonderful stuff.

Entertainment - well I still find it remarkable that in the midst of the Emergency we could cycle to town and go to the bioscope! A bloke called Crease (I think) was the expert at making crystal sets in Nicholson and would supply a set plus earphones and the length of wire to chuck over the dorm roof for a modest bob.

I haven't been back to East Africa. It was certainly a high time in my life and I have excellent memories which are no doubt warped with time and the effect of rosy glasses. I have preferred to keep them that way.

(Updated - 6th April 2005)

If anyone wishes to contact Ellis, please e-mail webmaster@oldcambrians.com to obtain his contact details