The Message Bank
where all messages are saved for posterity



Tom Canning
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all Pelicans and White Fathers
December 23rd 2012

Robbie Dempsey
I have just been to Google and typed [ how much is 250 dinars in pounds] I don't think you would get a coffee anywhere for that ! Please read the following from Petit Echo - and best wishes to all -
November 26th 2012

Peter Prof McMurray
Hi All Fascinating note from Nimmo about WF with the Free French. You are not alone in not knowing. I knew about Jap nursing his brother in North Africa and others escaping on trains etc. but actually being there for Liberation escaped me. There again the more I see and read the more that I think I must have dazed through those days on automatic pilot.

Had a very pleasant surprise the other day. I discovered Eddy Creaney living in Melbourne. It turns out that he has been there since 1961 so we must have been neighbours for many years. Sadly the lad was led astray and became a St Kilda supporter however I am delighted to report that at least one member of his family saw the light and backs Collingwood.
November 24th 2012

Gerry Lenaghan
Having read recent notes on Gerry Wynne prompted me to click on the link and read his obituary. It brought back memories of Fr Wynne introducing me to French but his comments on my reports, which I have recently uncovered, were not always favourable. We were taught a way of remembering the list of verbs conjugated with etre – EV’N MAD TRAMPS - with each letter representing a verb taking etre in the Perfect tense. Maybe you were too? In the 30 years I have taught French to thousands of children I have used this same list taught to me by Fr Wynne. There are many other such lists but no-one I have spoken to had ever heard of this one!

I have recently been doing a little supply teaching at Battle Abbey School in Sussex – my 13 year old daughter in Year 9, Amelia, goes there! I had the misfortune of covering one of Amelia’s Science lessons. Once they were seated in the lab I announced that I would write instructions on the board. A few moments later, a voice, melodious and with varying intonation, wafted across the classroom. “Da…aad!” “Be quiet, Amelia!” I snapped gruffly with an underlying meaning of – and don’t call me Dad in the classroom! “Dad,” she snapped back. “Why are you writing on the Smart Board with a board writer?” I cursed silently as my hand froze. Making light of the blunder, I wrote their instructions on the adjoining White Board and, once they were set to work, tried frantically to wipe away the evidence from the Smart Board but to no avail! I confessed my sins to the lab technician and together with the aid of a clever aerosol we managed to clean it. That was a week ago. Yesterday, I was teaching there again. Taking Year 10 in the English Room and about to write on the board I hesitated, just to double check that it was the correct board. I explained to the children the reason for my hesitation and told them of my earlier blunder. “Yes, Sir. We know. Amelia put it on Facebook!” Feel free to delete my wittering on, Paul. Just thought this might raise a smile!
November 23rd 2012

Bill Nimmo-Scott
I have recently read Antony Beevor's book D-Day: The Battle for Normandy. Have any other Pelicans read it? I was totally surprised to learn that White Fathers under Pere Houchot were appointed as chaplains to the Free French Army under General Compte Philippe de Hautcloque a.k.a. 'Leclerc' and one, Lieutenant Michard, was a Squadron Commander in an armoured regiment known as the Deuxieme DB and was in the column that liberated Paris. I gather that he did not join in full in the celebrations which followed! How was it that this bit of WF folklore passed us by (at least it did me)?
November 9th 2012

Patrick Gibbons
n my last mail I forgot to mention that a fellow Pelican is looking into the possibilities of helping Fr Sorgho in Mali by providing appropriate medicines. Patrick
November 7th 2012

Patrick Gibbons - Pelican Treasurer
hanks to the genorousity of members I have to-day sent a cheque for £510.00 to Fr David Cullen - an early Christmas present . A special thanks to those Pelicans who have been making regular payments into our Account. The total soon mounts up !!

If you wish to make small regular payments into our Account, the details are as follows: Nationwide Building Society Account Name; The Pelicans Sort Code: 070093 Bank Account: 33333334 Account Number: 0772 / 702703557 We now have £9.51 left in the bank and I will send more money to Africa when the funds are available. Please remember ALL the money is sent to the Missions - there are no hidden charges !!! Yours Aye, Patrick
November 6th 2012

Paul West
One of our visitors tells me that he is having problems with posting messages. The system seems to be working perfectly okay at this end, so I wonder if others are having similar problems. Please let me know asap so that I can query the matter with Bravenet (our Message Board providers).
November 3rd 2012

Paul West
Many thanks to Mike Gallagher, Robbie Dempsey and Pat Gritton (again) for help with placing faces / places.. On GALLERY Page 89, 7th photo, Pat is not sure about Maurice Pearce and Pat Bellew. What do you think about this?
November 2nd 2012

Paul West
Many thanks to Michael Gallagher and Robbie Dempsey for identifying more faces on GALLERY Pages 39, 40 & 60. This means that when the QUICK SEARCH facility is operated it will be able to come up with several more suggestions. Looking forward to some more additions / amendments.
November 2nd 2012

Just a reminder that 49 years ago today was the Fire at St Columba’s - see Histories Section Page 14 and Gallery page 267.

Best Wishes to all who were there that morning
November 1st 2012

Paul West
Pat Gritton has been a great help with identifying many 'faces' from his time at The Priory. See GALLERY PAGES, 19, 38, 39, and 40. These additions / amendments have been made — so, ready when YOU are!
October 28th 2012

Paul West
Do you agree with what Gerry Lenaghan wrote regarding GALLERY Page 397? If not, you may wish to let him know. (See CONTACTS section for his details).
October 25th 2012

Paul West
Please check your details in the CONTACTS section. John Morton and Peter Finn have recently done their best to identify various out-of-date entries but we still need your help to confirm your own contact information AS WELL AS THOSE OF PEOPLE WITH WHOM YOU ARE IN TOUCH.
September 20th 2012

Patrick (Paddy) Byrne
Please remember in your prayers my dear cousin Patrick Southall who died on Tuesday after a long bravely fought battle with cancer. Many of you will remember him from his days at St.Columba’s and the Priory (1954 - 1958)
September 12th 2012

Follow this link for Peter Jennings' account of recent events in Galashiels, complete with photo, on the Independent Catholic News site. There are reports on the BW celebrations too.
September 7th 2012

Chris Benton
Following the Centenary Masses at Bishops Waltham and Galashiels, I was asked if another reunion at St Boswells was planned. I am happy to arrange for St Columba's to be opened for a couple of hours if sufficient number of Pelicans will attend. I am thinking a weekend in April May or June 2013., though it doesn't necessarily have to be these months. Please let me know if you are interested and which weekend of which month you prefer. Chris Benton
September 6th 2012

Peter Prof McMurray   
Hi All
More wild weather so my good old Wiltipolls say enough of this pregnancy stuff and pop out a few beautiful lambs. I am reading "Dancing with the Devil" by Christopher Geraghty an ex priest also from St Columba's albeit Sydney rather than Newtown St Boswells.

As I read on I realised that it is 60 years almost to the day since my life was changed for ever. I boarded a dirty SMT bus in Sutton Coldfield and chugged off North. A lonely soul getting further and further from civilisation as I knew it. We stopped at a weirdly named place called Chorley and picked up a gaggle of excited schoolboys - Tich Taylor, Tony bleasdale etc. Then chugged on into the night over Shap Fell to a place even Caesar could not reach.

My oh My! A half built college out in the wilderness.

Come Easter we were forbidden to take visitors above the ground floor as the first floor corridor presented a grand vista of buckets catching the rain.

As I see the disintegration of the church around me and read the detail of the clerical rejection of Vatican 2 I realise how lucky I was to experience the company of great men such as Fathers Andy Murphy, Geddes Gerry, Patrick Duffy, "Jap" Monaghan, Fitzgerald et al.

Such was not the case in many other places. I believe that I have laid my ghosts to rest and can thank Paul West for this site as being the place that helped me finally wrap up the last few issues. May your God be with you Best Wishes one and all. Any contact via my site is welcome.
July 7th 2012

Tom Canning
Last Sunday the 1st of July was a special day for our parish of Holy Name Oakley. To the day it was 50 years since we celebrated the ordination of Father John Lynch. To our surprise Father John was home from America where he has been for many years. I have spoken with Fr John on a number of occasions about his time at Broomehall and the Pelicans and that there are many photos of him in his younger days. As Father does not have a computer so on Sunday I gave him a small album with many of the photos on the web site for which he thanks all the contributors and he said it would bring back lots of memories.
June 16th 2012

Peter Finn
Fr Frits van VIijmen has since sent us some very interesting photographs of 'sHeerneberg. If anybody has pictures of St Andrews, Holland Villas or Monteviot, Paul would be very pleased to borrow them for the website.
June 14th 2012

Paul West
The following email was sent to me by: F. van Vlijmen (email : I'd be grateful if someone else would deal with it.

" SUBJECT : A BIT OF A DISAPPOINTMENT. Dear webmaster, Today wasn't the first time for me to go through your picture gallery: 's-Heerenberg, Monteviot, St. Boswell's, the Priory. Wonderful to see the old places where, at some time, I - ordained at Galashiels in 1956 - lived, studied and did many other things Yet I often feel a little disappointed. Seeing the old pictures gives me some nostalgic feelings. And then I wonder: Why is Palace Court not part of your picture gallery? Where is St Andrews? Where Holland Villas? Fr. Howell was superior at St Andrews, so was Fr. Heyes for a short time; and John Donoghue studied there. Or is "The Pelicans" pehaps limited in outlook? If so, a pity, as far as I am concerned. This is just to share with you some of my feelings. I was in the UK: Monteviot 1955-1956; London 1956-1957; St. Andrews 1957-1960. Kind regards, God bless. F.v.V. "
June 6th 2012

Chris Benton
Re Centenary Mass at Galashiels (Sun 26th Aug 2012) Fr George Smith has organised a coach from Rutherglen. Following lunch at Quins the coach will travel to St Boswells arriving there around 2pm -2.30pm. and take in a visit to St Columba's. The building is now owned by Tweed Horizons but Brian McGowan has agred to open up for us for a couple of hours including the chapel. Although this is not intended as a 'full' Pelican reunion it is a great opportunity to meet old friends for a couple of hours.
May 28th 2012

Peter Finn
Tom Canning asks what is happening in Scotland to celebrate the WF centenary, and no doubt others are asking the same question. The Centenary of the Arrival of the WFs in Britain will be celebrated at the church of Our Lady & St Andrew, Galashiels, on Sunday 26 August 2012. Solemn Sung Mass will be at 11am and will be followed by lunch in Quins Restaurant. An announcement will appear soon on the website.
May 26th 2012

Peter Prof McMurray
Hi All Have a great time at the reunion I am afraid I shall be there in spirit (Scotch of course) only. Just had A typical day : solved a knotty problem sending pdfs with overlays y email from a multi-value database then out to battle nature. Wild winds and rain last night first destroyed a temporary electric fence then persuaded my sheep (Wiltipolls) to swap places with my neighbours Angus cattle. Unfortunately he had a blessed Highland Bull in with them, you know the B...s brown with horns the width of a ute, The angus's I can handle but even on a 500cc 4 wheel drive ATV I chickened out at an annoyed bull jammed in between gum trees challenging all comers. Cést la vie! there is more grass on my neighbour's paddock so maybe they will go home tonight. Getting my more intelligent sheep to come back will involve bribery. I shall be rattling a bucket of sheep pellets as I cruise around on the ATV that should get the greedy devils.
May 25th 2012

Tom Canning
Hello all I also will not be able to attend BW so I thought I would ask if anyone is planning a reunion here in Scotland? There is not much activity on the reunion front here in Scotland, or if there is I have missed the lot. Hope to here from you soon. On an other note Fr Vanspandonk was postulant master when I was at BH can anyone tell me when and where he died I cant find him in the obituaries. Good night and God Bless to all. Regards Tom
May 8th 2012

Unfortunately I will be unable to attend the Reunion in Bishops Waltham but I send my best wishes to everyone who will be there.
May 8th 2012

Michael Goodstadt
I would love to be able to attend the WF’s UK centenary celebrations. Unfortunately, I must be content with asking you to convey my warmest best wishes to all those attending the festivities. I would love to hear from any of my former classmates.
April 23rd 2012

Paul West
A pity that Mike had to point that out. I was just hoping that he had joined the ranks of those of us who make much bigger mistakes than that on an hourly basis. We shall miss you at the BW event, Mike, but we understand that relatives must come first . . .
April 23rd 2012

Mike Byrne
You would have thought that as an ex-headteacher I would have used Paul's excellent preview system before posting my message! Of course I meant "good" not "food". The shame of it.........this is the man who has a red pencil hot wired into his brain for spelling corrections!!!!! Anyway.....(is that grammatically correct?) Have a GOOD re-union.
April 20th 2012

Mike Byrne
Dear Pelicans, My apologies as I will be unable to join you in Bishop's Waltham this year. I will be on holiday in Transylvania. Any cheap comments about Michael going to visit his relatives will be treated with the contempt they so rightly deserve! Have a food re-union. Mike Byrne
April 3rd 2012

Patrick Gibbons
I have just received my Centenary edition of the WF magazine "Young Africa."I enjoyed the articles and reminiscences but was disappointed to see no mention of The Pelicans -- perhaps former students are not of any interest to the Society.
March 29th 2012

Peter Finn
Having dutifully turned to the Reminiscences section as suggested by Paul in his latest news bulletin, I notice that Mike Mearns is asking about Bunny McGrath of 'Mrs Dale's Diary.' Bunny is still an active lady especially atending to her horses. She will be one of the readers at the centenary Mass on the 26/27 May.
March 24th 2012

Gerry Lenaghan
I am flattered, Robbie, that you read my reminisence. It raised my spirits after a tough day. I chuckled to myself at your comment about the dirty stable. My daughter has an Irish Sports Pony, Jasper, and guess who cleans out the stable every day!!
March 15th 2012

Paul West
I thought that you might like to see the following before I file it in an appropriate setting :

" 5th August 1944 Three of the White Father army chaplains were recent visitors to Heston. Father Paul Haskew came home on leave after eleven years spent in West Africa, nine of them in Navrongo Vicariate, and two years with native troops. His place in West Africa has been taken by Father Joseph Haigh, while Father Haskew has left again, this time for the Far East. Father Lawrence Smith and Father Thomas Mc Grail also came to stay at Heston, before leaving to take up appointments with the forces abroad. The most recent arrival was Father Harry Moreton, who has just come from Uganda."

This was sent to me by Andy Rampling, a parishoner at Heston. He came across the article when doing some research at nearby Hounslow library. (Thanks Andy)
February 22nd 2012

Patrick Gibbons - Pelican Treasurer
I have to-day sent a cheque for £1020.00 to Fr David Cullen through the generousity of Olivia O'Dolan, Save the Hungry Group in Bispham and individual Pelicans who have sent me cheques and made anonymous donations to our bank account, Our sincere thanks to you all. I have recently received a letter of thanks from David following our last donation. He is as busy as ever and is now the only WF left in Zambia!! He has unlimited calls on the money we send him and uses it to help the everyday needs of his parishioners. I now have £4.50 left in our account and will send more money to Africa when our coffers are a bit more robust. !! I look forward to seeing many of you the BW celebrations. Yours Aye, Patrick
February 9th 2012

Peter Prof McMurray
Hi All I have just seen Fr Strain''s "spooky"note about the February 1964 visit to Vickers Weybridge. It gets spookier, I was a progress chaser for Marshall's of Cambridge working on the VC10s stationed in Weybridge at that time. Absolutely fantastic job unlike Vickers employees I covered everything from the blunt end to the sharp end and needed a car to get around the near 500 "shops". The Cathedral and the Abbey could each take 4 VC10s fully assembled that is 120' wings and 40'high tails watching them take off in the middle of the works was great. Scared the daylights out of the train drivers on the embankment as 40 tons of thrust would blow them out of the engine if they did not stop. Summer has arrived in spurts this year last week we had a major wind storm so I am now salvaging a 30 metre high 1.5 metre diameter Blackwood. Beautiful timber it did have 25 acres available but chose to land on my new fence best wishes all
February 3rd 2012

Patrick Gibbons - Pelican Treasurer
I have received a letter from Fr John Slinger in Nairobi thanking us for our donation. He tells me that he has received news that a new appointment awaits him this year. He is to join a missionary project in Almeira, southern Spain, dealing with Muslim immigrants from Africa. He says it will be a challenge but one he finds attractive. He has been assured, however, that the door to Africa is not closed for the future. I will be in touch to advise you of future donation to Africa. Yours Aye, Patrick
January 16th 2012