Arthur George James
(Known as George)
George is centre left
Born - 1915
Taken prisoner in Java
Japan - Hiroshima 17
Fukuoka photo (above)
George is left centre and Chenery is right centre
Chenery was George’s best man.
13th November 2003
Born in Knightsbridge, London in 1915, George James settled in Norfolk in 1950 when he became Headmaster of Hunstanton Primary School. He took part in rescues during the Great Floods of 1953 and was devastated to lose seven of his pupils in the flood.
In 1955 he moved to Gorleston as Headmaster of the newly built Herman Junior School. Soon afterwards through his inspiration and the hard work of parents and the sponsorship of local business a swimming pool was built – one of the first such initiatives in England – and every pupil was actively encouraged to learn to swim before going to secondary school.
Mr James always remembered the wonderful spirit of community this project had created amongst all who were involved but most of all the parents of the children themselves. Mr James was also one of the first Headmasters to take junior school children on trips abroad.
Mr James was one of the old fashioned Headmasters. It was once said of him that “ he does not believe in educational gimmicks. He is the last person to preside over chaos and call it progressive education.”
Each year he heard every child read and he knew all their names. He marked their books and his green ink was treasured in the children’s exercise books as it was usually accompanied by encouragement and perhaps a star. Herman School was well known throughout the borough for its amateur dramatics and football, cricket and netball teams. Every Saturday morning Mr James was present either to referee or umpire a school match or support one of the teams.
In 1970 , George James became Headmaster of Cliff Park Junior School in Gorleston, which subsequently became a middle school. He took particular pride in the formation of a well supported and very successful school orchestra and choir and energetically promoted the pupils’ participation in the sports and athletic teams. He continued at Cliff Park until his retirement in 1977.
Mr James was Chairman of the Yarmouth Schools’ Football Association continuously for 16 years until 1975 during which time he was also manager of Gt. Yarmouth Under 14 and Under 15 football teams and subsequently managed Norfolk Under 15 football team. He was an active sportsman himself and before the war played football for Woking and Kingstonian. George also played cricket for Gorleston and Lowestoft for many years.
George James was a keen bridge player and, partnered by his wife Mollie, played competitive bridge, in the Norwich leagues as well as being a member of both Yarmouth and Lowestoft Bridge Clubs. With a friend from the Lowestoft Club, he won the Norfolk Championship pairs in 1974.
Like so many of his generation, the Second World War proved to be a traumatic and defining period in George James’s life. Within 24 of war being declared, he had joined the Royal Artillery. He was soon commissioned and became a troop commander and was twice mentioned in dispatches for gallantry and distinguished conduct. In 1941, he was taken prisoner by the Japanese, survived a horrific sea voyage to Japan where he was held in the POW camp called Hiroshima 17 for nearly 4 years - learning Japanese in the process. The dropping of the Atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, both of which were visible from George’s prison camp, undoubtedly saved his life as the prisoners had already been ordered to dig their own graves. His mother was told in 1941 that her son was missing presumed dead. This was tragic news because she had lost her husband, George’s father, also in the Royal Artillery at Ypres in 1917. She had no further news of George until 3 months after the end of the war in December 1945 when he was already almost back in England on a hospital ship.
George enjoyed a very active retirement. He took up fly fishing, was a keen gardener, held a season ticket at Norwich City, regularly attended Probus and the Retired Teachers Association and needed little persuasion to have a game of bridge whenever the opportunity presented itself. In 1983 he decided to enter the Sunday Express Investment Trust Competition and out of more than 35,000 entries George’s share portfolio was the winner and George was presented with his prize at the Ritz in London. He and his wife greatly enjoyed travelling abroad and in 1992 they visited Singapore 51 years after George’s previous and less relaxing stay in that country !
During his retirement, Mr James loved nothing better than to meet old pupils in the street and hear about their different successes and achievements.
George James was a remarkable man who devoted the whole of his adult life to the service of others.
And we that are left grow old with the years
Remembering the heartache, the pain and the tears
Hoping and praying that never again
Man will sink to such sorrow and shame
The price that was paid we will always remember
Every day, every month, not just in November.
We Shall Remember Them