Saturday, 30 April 2011


Last night, at a party to celebrate the wedding of Will and Kate, I heard for the first time the story that Anthony Farrar-Hockley, the charismatic general and hero of the battle of the Imjin River which took place sixty years ago this month, had lived for a while in Lympstone and had joined the sea scout troop here. The Lympstone scouts were a plucky bunch who went summer camping from aboard their whaler and the story I heard was how the fourteen year old Anthony Farrar-Hockley turned up for one of these expeditions carrying his golf clubs and his typewriter and needed to be persuaded that these were inappropriate items to stow aboard.

He was going to Exeter School and when he was fifteen, at the outbreak of war, he ran away and lied about his age to sign up as a Gloster. His trespass was discovered and he was returned to (I suppose) Lympstone, Exeter School and the scouts. In 1942 he enlisted again.

I met General Farrar-Hockley in the Army of the Rhine and, in so far as a junior officer can converse with a general, had conversation with him. I dined at the same table. I wish I had known then of his Lympstone scouting and his boyhood connection to the Estuary.

It's a thought worth recording, however, that TFH cut some at least of his teeth arms teeth on the waters of the Exe.


  1. Small world... My father was in the Gloucesters at Imjin River, and was one of the veterans interviewed recently. See Private Morris 'Brassy' Coombes recalls Imjin River battle.

  2. It certainly is a small world. On Easter Sunday I was drinking with Colonel George Truell of this pish who was with the guns at Imjin and is the last of the officers who survived it.

    1. I am trying to contact George Truell. Any chance you can help?

  3. Brilliant. BTW - why my dad and I have different surnames is down to family drama. My mother and father divorced when I was a baby. Existential weirdness: they got together probably because he was a war hero; and split up because he undoubtedly had what would now be called PTSD. I'm currently composing a weblog post - I have a copy of Andrew Salmon's To the Last Round - but the personal associations make it quite difficult.