Thursday, 8 February 2018

Last month, I saw the only existing film of my grandmother - this week, it's my father's turn!

Earlier this week, my brother sent me a YouTube link to some mute Pathé News rushes of King Olav of Norway's state visit to Scotland in 1962. When the King lays a wreath at the  Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle...

...the Royal Norwegian Air Force officer who carries and hands him the wreath is Lt. Col. Olai Julius Grønmark (above, right). As far as I'm aware, these are the only existing moving pictures of the Old Man (as we've always called him). Presumably the Old Man was accompanying the king because he was the Air Attaché at the Norwegian Embassy in London at the time, and therefore the representative of the Chief of the Air Force. My father first appears at 4'34", and disappears at 5'16", having just smoothed his hair down in what, for me, is a poignantly characteristic gesture:
I assumed that my father would have ended up on the cutting-room floor - but he made it through to the finished report on the visit, here

I wrote about my father on this blog almost eight years ago (I may have been doing this for too long!), here.

I wrote about seeing my grandmother in the 1954 war film, Shetlandsgjengen, last month, here

I'll end with a small selection of photographs of my father. Here he is, once more accompanying his Monarch:
Here he is at Bardufosswith Air Station just after the war, with Bimbo, the dog he inherited from the local German commander when he took charge of the base:
Not sure where or when this next one was taken - from the fact that my mother is out of uniform, and that my father has evidently beefed up since the Bardufoss photo above, a few years after the end of the war: 
Presumably not leading a sing-song:
About to fly a jet fighter in the 1950s, just to prove to the men under his command that he could still cut the mustard - the experience was, apparently, terrifying:
At ease, chatting with his colleague, Ole Olsen:


  1. Wonderful photos.
    Another gallant Norwegian RAF pilot,not as exalted as a Lot.Col. was Roald Dahl who at 6ft.6in.also had to be shoe horned into his machine - Hurricanes mostly.
    Enormously brave.

  2. Hi Scott,

    I've been following your blog for some time.
    It’s often amusing, always interesting though I don’t share your political views as I’ve always been a wishy-washy liberal.

    Anyway, I felt I should contact you.

    Your piece about your father provided an opportunity.
    Watching the video about King Olaf’s visit to Scotland, which contained pictures of school children welcoming him to Edinburgh, it struck me that my wife could have been in the crowd.

    Sure enough, she confirmed that she was there in the crowd outside Holyrood Palace.

    I must admit I don’t recognise your mother in the picture, but I remember her green Mini and her kindness in giving us lifts in it presumably to West Barnes Lane.

    Also of course I remember your Basset Hound but not its name.

    I first found about your blog when googling Richard Stoate, who I met by chance on a train from Waterloo some time in the 1980s.
    When I moved to Merton Park a few years later, our neighbour told me that as a teenage girl at Pelham Road School she had a crush on him.


    1. Hi Tim,

      Lovely to hear from you!

      Oh, the misery of sports at West Barnes Lane for us non-sporty types - unlike the KCS playing fields, it meant people like you and me couldn't stroll a few hundred yards to our homes to recover afterwards. I once wimped out after spending a wet night in a tent at WBL on some Duke of Edinburgh scheme nonsense and phoned my mother from a call box around 5.30. Never have I felt so relieved to see a car as when the little green Mini puttered into view and we all piled in!

      Gussie was the name of the noble hound.

      As you probably know by now, Richard died over 20 years ago, in his sleep - Sudden Death Syndrome, i.e. he just died, and nobody knows why. We fell out towards the end of our time together at university: I got the sense that he wanted to reinvent himself - he seemed to deliberately lose touch with most of his friends from that period. Apart from me, the only KCS or Cambridge colleague to attend his memorial service was Stewart Holton, to whom he'd apparently remained close. I hadn't thought of him as much of a babe magnet at school - but he certainly made up for lost time at university.

      If you have a minute, I'd be interested to hear how life has treated you - you can either post a comment (I won't publish it on the blog), or email me

      I'll end by apologising for once borrowing a piece of homework from you and then selfishly holding onto it for weeks, despite the fact that you needed it back. Believe it or not, it's one of those past sins that torment me in the wee small hours!

  3. You're showing off - homework.....