Archive for April, 2019

North West Frontier 1959

Now this was a real boys-own adventure film – and how good it was too. Set in India and filmed in Widescreen and Colour we were transported across India by a train

North West Frontier 1959


North West Frontier  is a suspenseful epic about smuggling a boy prince out of India’s north western province to safety , after his father, the Rajah, is killed in a massive uprising.  English army officer Captain Scott played by Kenneth More  is given last-minute orders to bring the boy out in safety.

Most of the English population of the area fled prior to the uprising and only the Governor ( Wilfred Hyde-White ), his wife ( Ursula Jeans ), the prince’s American governess ( Lauren Bacall ), a Dutch/Indian news reporter ( Herbert Lom ) and a French gun dealer ( I.S. Johar ) remain, all of whom ask for Captain Scott’s assistance in their flight for safety. 

The only means of train transportation left at his disposal is an old steam locomotive – Victoria, the Empress of India. Very much a Star of the Film also

The Little Train comes under fire


The Train and Kenneth More under Fire

Gupta, the engineer of the locomotive has great faith in “his fine lady”, and assures the Captain that Victoria will be suitable for the mission.

When the film was released in the UK, Kenneth More received top billing for his performance as the Captain but on  the USA release, he was second billed to Lauren Bacall.  Lauren Bacall  is excellent as usual and perfectly suited as the head-strong American woman who likes to speak her mind, and who slowly falls in love with the storybook correct Captain Scott.

Lauren Bacall and Ursual Jeans with the young Prince


Lauren Bacall and Ursual Jeans on the train


North West Frontier seems to be a highly under-rated adventure film possibly because  it is rarely seen on television – however that was remedied today on Talking Pictures

Yes this is British Cinema at it`s best, a rousing picture with all the right ingredients, lots of ‘goodies’, a real ‘baddie’, and a dashing hero, with a fiesty female lead in the form of Lauren Bacall.


Kenneth More and I.S. Johar


Kenneth More and I.S. Johar 2


Kenneth More and I.S. Johar 3


Kenneth More is as always top rate, but it is the wonderful  I.S.Johor who steals the show  as the train driver. He is just brilliant.


I S Johar

ABOVE  I.S.Johar

Wilfred Hyde White is well cast as  the British Diplomat, and Herbert Lom as as bad a baddie as you would ever want to see.

Kenneth More chats with Lauren Bacall on the Footplate

ABOBE – Lauren Bacall chats to Kenneth More on the Footplate of Victoria, the Empress of India as the train transports them across India to safety


Herbert Lom - North West Frontier

 Herbert Lom as as bad a baddie as you would ever want to see.

Wilfrid Hyde White

And Wilfrid Hyde White in sparkling form as the Governorplayed in typically English style by him

This is a Film well worth catching up on – it is quite absorbing and when the journey gets under way it is really All Out Action




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Victor Mature in The Robe 1953


This was a big film – and went equally big at the Box Office.   I remember my Father taking us to see it on the huge Cinemascope Screen – with Stereophonic Sound – and it did not disappoint in any way. Tremendous Film.


Richard Burton spoke very highly of Victor Mature calling him a ‘wonderful man’ – and I have to say that he lifted the acting honours with his convincing performance.

He was a very good film actor.  He was also well loved by film producers – the reason for that was that when he was in a film it usually made money and that tends to add a sparkle to the eyes of such people.


Victor Mature in The Robe 2

Victor Mature in The Robe

Victore Mature in The Robe


Victor Mature in The Robe with Richard Burton


The Robe 4


Victor Mature in The Robe

The Robe


The Alfred Newman music from  the film – a record release.


The Robe 3

The Robe 2


Interesting item above which I spotted for sale  – at this time and later, it was possible to buy 8 mm home movies with scenes straight from the film.  I have one of Treasure Island and one of The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men – both from Walt Disney – but I have not got this one.

These were  only  short films of maybe 5 to 10 minutes with selected scenes and with no sound on some of them. I don’t think the two Walt Disney films I have , have any sound.

I think they were distributed by Castle Films

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Rita Hayworth – Gilda


Rita Hayworth in Gilda.

Rita Hayworth 2



Rita Hayworth also made films such as   Only Angels Have Wings and The Strawberry Blonde.

The Lady From Shanghai – for which ex-husband Orson Welles hacked off her flame-red hair then bleached the remnants platinum blonde – was the film  in which she was at her most heartbreakingly beautiful.

Rita Hayworth was one of the USA s most beloved stars. Glamorous and talented, she gaves many wonderful moments on stage and screen and delighted audiences from the time she was a young girl. In her later years, Rita became known for her struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.

She died in 1987

She had been born in New York and died in New York

Separate Tables

I will remember her for being in Separate Tables – from the Terence Rattigan play

Separate Tables 2


Separate Tables 3



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Drum Beat 1954 with Alan Ladd


Drum Beat 3

First I must say that I have acquired the Above picture and film title picture – and now I have posted it here,  I am pretty sure that – looking closely at it – the actual shot is from ‘The Last Wagon’   – and that is  Richard Widmark in the foreground aiming the rifle

Drum Beat was Written and Directed by Delmer Daves

CAST: Alan Ladd (Johnny Mckay), Audrey Dalton (Nancy Meek), Marisa Pavan (Toby), Robert Keith (Bill Satterwhite), Charles Bronson (Captain Jack)

Not long after Shane (1953), Alan Ladd left Paramount, the studio that made him a star, and launched his independent company, Jaguar Productions.

Drum Beat

This was their first film.  Here Alan Ladd plays an Indian fighter recruited by President Grant to find a way to peace with the Modoc.

However the tribe wants peace, but a chief named Captain Jack (Charles Bronson) and his band of renegades are causing problems and despite repeated attempts for a peaceful resolution that does not happen, and consequently we get a very exciting end to the film.



My job is to protect the wagon train. When somebody shoots at my people, I shoot back.”
— Alan Ladd

Alan Ladd and Delmer Daves  shot Drum Beat in Warnercolor and CinemaScope. As with Cinemascope at that time, they avoided close-ups, went for long takes whenever possible, and gave us lots of gorgeous vistas of Sonora, Arizona, and the Coconino National Forest.

Drum Beat 2

Delmer Daves always showed off the landscape in his Westerns,  making each setting an essential element of the film, and none more so than in Drum  Beat – my own view is that in this respect ‘The Last Wagon’ made a couple of years later showed the scenery at least as well.

Drum Beat 4

Charles Bronson makes quite an impression as Captain Jack in his first film under his new name (it had been Buchinsky, which was considered too Russian-sounding at the time).

This is a really good film, and a real treat in widescreen

Drum Beat 5


Alan Ladd ABOVE with Audrey Dalton

Alan Ladd and Delmer Daves reunited for The Badlanders (1958), also available from Warner Archive.

Drum Beat 6

Alan Ladd  with Marisa Pavan who plays an Indian maiden – also keen on Alan  Ladd.

This western is one of Alan Ladd’s best films – he is the peace commissioner turned Indian fighter who finally brings peace in the far west. The film is based on factual events as Modoc boss Captain Jack ignores repeated overtures for peace and leaves the cavalry no choice but to resort to arms to stop the killing and outrages.


Alan Ladd and Charles Bronson, the Indian leader Captain Jack, make fine adversaries and the film has lots of action and beautiful scenery.


A great cast of western favorites are in this film and Alan Ladd even has a moment or two to hold pretty Audrey Dalton in his arms.


Delmer Daves directed this film, which is another in a succession of excellent Delmer Daves Westerns – just think of one of my own favourites just after this ‘The Last Wagon.

Alan Ladd


The Western career of Alan Ladd (1913 – 1964) Alan Ladd was very well known as a Western star, notably of course because of Shane. In fact though, his Western career was relatively limited: he was in 13 Westerns in all.

He had a minor part as a ranch hand (blink and you’ll miss him) in The Light of Western Stars in 1940 and first had a lead part, alongside Robert Preston, in a Western in Whispering Smith in 1948, when he was 35. Then came Branded, not bad, in 1950, and Red Mountain, a Civil War drama, quite a gripper, in 1951. In early 1952 he starred as Jim Bowie in The Iron Mistress before becoming world famous in one of the best-known Westerns of them all, Shane.

After Shane, there was nothing as remarkable. In 1954, Saskatchewan was a Canadian Western, if such a thing exists, and Drum Beat was a kind of remake of Broken Arrow, though not nearly as good.

In the late 50s, we had in 1957 The Big Land, a rather turgid big-budget plodder about Ladd building a frontier town, and his best late Western, Proud Rebel, in 1958, which he made with his son David. There followed a so-so Western heist movie with Ernest Borgnine the same year, The Badlanders, and two late, rather B westerns in 1960, Guns of the Timberland and One Foot in Hell, in which he did not look well at all.

So really Ladd’s Western career lasted little more than a decade from Whispering Smith to The Badlanders, 1948 – 58, with a PS of a couple of B movies at the end of the 50s.

Nevertheless, Ladd was extremely famous: from 1948-1950, in a poll of movie fans organized by the Motion Picture Herald, he ranked number one. He was mobbed by (female) fans at guest appearances on network radio programs such as The Lux Radio Theater and in the 1940s his films grossed almost $55 million, big bucks in those days. His appearances in gangster movies in particular were greatly admired. And as far as Westerns were concerned, Shane put him (rather to his own surprise) right up there with the great cowboy actors.

As Ladd himself would have been the first to admit, he was never really cut out for such roles. Nicknamed ‘Tiny’ in his youth and standing at 5 foot 6 inches, he didn’t have the stature. His good looks were almost feminine rather than rugged and his blond coiffed hairstyle didn’t suit. He looked awkward in Western clothes – they were too obviously costumes. He seemed a gentle man at heart and was fine in Shane romancing Marian, dancing elegantly with the frontier woman and charming her with his good manners, but when it came to fist-fighting in the saloon, he didn’t convince at all.


In Western clothes he looked almost

I have always thought Shane a fine film but fatally flawed by Ladd’s performance. It needed Coop, Peck or Fonda. Someone gutsy yet quietly underplaying. Not that you don’t have sympathy for Alan Ladd. He comes across as a very nice man. Just not right as the lone, tough Western hero.

He was a rather sad person in many ways. Alcohol, depression and insomnia loomed large in his life. His mother was a depressive who had committed suicide by poison. He too may have attempted to kill himself. When he was asked in a 1961 interview, “What would you change about yourself if you could?” he replied brusquely, “Everything.” He died aged only 50 of an acute overdose of “alcohol and three other drugs”.


We’ve already reviewed Shane on this blog and referred to it often (it is a sort of paradigm) and we also discussed The Iron Mistress (only a semi-Western anyway) but in the next few days we’ll look at Ladd’s other Westerns.

Meanwhile, happy trails!



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Pat Boone, Frankie Vaughan and Shakespeare

Well now, in Film terms that seems like an unlikely mix – but a mix it was as I will explain.

I took out an old Audio Tape which I had used a number of years ago to record a Memories Programme from what was then Great Yorkshire Gold.

As the tape was not titled or had any identification I just let it play –


The first song was Frankie Vaughan with The Heart of a Man – that was the song title and the film title too – I can remember my brother and I went to see it at one of the cinemas in St.Albans where we often stayed, to see this film.


The Heart of a Man


This was really a rags-to-riches story, a part with  Frankie Vaughan in mind , although  we also had  Anthony Newley and Anne Heywood.


Tony Britton carries off the role of the upper-class criminal with ease, and there’s good supporting performances from Michael Medwin and Harry Fowler as two of his henchmen.


Frankie’s very next film saw him whisked off to Hollywood to star opposite none other than Marilyn Monroe – in ‘Lets Make Love’ with Yves Montand


Frankie Vaughan with Marilyn


Next on the tape came ‘ Brush up Your Shakespeare’ a song from the film ‘Kiss Me Kate’


Kiss Me Kate



Brush Up Your Shakespeare



and lastly Pat Boone singing ‘I’ll Be Home’ Pat had quite a good film career but the one I remember best was ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth with James Mason and Arlene Dahl.


Journey to the Centre of the Earth


This was a big Cinemascope production.  It took $10 million at the Box Office – so a resounding success.


This is the first and best version of  Journey To the Centre of the Earth has been made several times since this 1959 release.


Pat Boone with Arlene Dahl


Pat Boone with James Mason

The cast is excellent too with  James Mason, Pat Boone (who also sings), Arlene Dahl – all of them in the pictures above.

On a sad note though – and coming up to date – I just read that Pat Boone’s wife of 64 years has died quite recently – in January 2019





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The Pacific Ocean – and Films


By far the largest Ocean in the World – and certainly during the 20th Century it was always looked upon as a far flung paradise full of exotic and beautiful islands – as it is of course. Over the years film-makers have used these location to great effect and we, the film goers have loved it.

Filming The Blue Lagoon 1949  

The Blue Lagoon 1949I have never seen this picture before of the actual filming. The English men seem to prefer decorum as it would be, and dress traditionally in a suit – to be honest so would I


The Blue Lagoon 1949 2


The Blue Lagoon 1949 ABOVE – a dreamy scene on the beach


His Majesty O Keefe

His Majesty O Keefe 1954

South Pacific 1958   Bali Hai

South Pacific 1958

Mutiny on the Bounty 1962


Mutiny on the Bounty 1962

Elvis in Blue Hawaii


Blue Hawaii with Elvis    

A few years ago my wife and myself boarded a Cruise liner across the Pacific Ocean from Sydney to Los Angeles – and we were lucky enough to call at all these locations.  I also remember that when we were touring the Suva area in Fiji the guide asked if anyone had seen the film His Majesty O Keefe – to which I answered Yes I had – a number of times – and he showed us some of those locations.

I did think that Tahiti was perhaps the most beautiful island.

We must bear in mind though that although we see the exteriors done on location many of the inside scenes are done back in the Film Studio – although I believe in the case of His Majesty O Keefe all filming was done in Fiji

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Kathleen Byron – and Jeremy Spenser


Kathleen Byron, who died on January 18 2009 aged 88, was an English actress.

In the British cinema of the Forties, her beauty was faintly disquieting. When Margaret Lockwood played “wicked ladies”, audiences knew where they were. She was a bad lot, and that was it. With Kathleen Byron they never quite knew what to expect. There were hints of schizophrenia in her on-screen personality that left people deeply uneasy.

The film that best reflected this was Black Narcissus (1947), adapted by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger from a novel by Rumer Godden which was set in a convent high in the Himalayas. Kathleen Byron played Sister Ruth. This was a terrific role for her. When she was told she had got the part Michael Powell said ‘make the best of it Kathleen because you will never get a part as good again. She later said that she agreed with him and she didn’t think she had ever had a part anywhere as good again.

“Afterwards I received letters from psychiatrists saying it was a marvellous portrayal of someone on the verge of collapse,” she said later. “And I think it was because I kept in my mind all the time that she was sane.”

Cinema Programme


Above: Avery interesting Cinema Newpaper Advertisement – Surprising to see what choices are made of which films to feature on a Double Bill.

We see Kathleen Byron in ‘Prelude to Fame’ with Guy Rolfe and Jeremy Spenser – who seemed to have a successful career in films and on Television – as a child star – in the early to mid 50s but the sort of fell off the radar. He continued in films up to being nearly 30 years old though – and indeed he made quite a lot of films.

The Prince and the Showgirl


Also we cannot forget that he played alongside Marilyn Monroe and Laurence Olivier in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’

Looking at the picture above – you would have thought that being in such close proximity to Marilyn, he would look a little happier

Now back to Kathleen Byron – Michael Powell was the director who best understood her talents, and he offered her roles that would tap them. The first was a small part in the whimsical A Matter of Life and Death (1946) as an angel whose job is to take down the particulars of recently dead airmen prior to sending them before the heavenly tribunal.

Her third film with Michael Powell was The Small Back Room. The story of a troubled scientist (David Farrar) who hits the bottle under the pressure of wartime research.  Far from being the traditional, subservient “love interest”, her role became the stronger of the two, capable of galvanising Farrar out of his self-absorption. It was not how audiences expected their heroines to behave in 1949.

Powell was one of his actress’s biggest fans. He was captivated by her “luminous eyes” and by her deep voice, “with the hint of mockery in it”. Immodestly, he claimed to recognise in her “an intelligence as cool as my own”. But he couldn’t use her more, because, he said, “the parts were not there; and I’m not in this business to work for women.”

The daughter of a railway clerk who became a Labour mayor of East Ham, Kathleen Elizabeth Byron was born on January 11 1923 and educated at East Ham grammar school. She said she spent her schoolyears “daydreaming of becoming an actress” and obtained a scholarship to the Old Vic. After war service in censorship, she spent some time with the theatre’s company, obtaining her first speaking part in the film The Young Mr Pitt (1942).

In 1943 she married Lieutenant John Bowen, a USAAF pilot, joining him in the States; but her career did not prosper there, and Michael Powell persuaded her to return home.

The late Forties, in which she made the three films with Powell, were the most productive of her career. Afterwards it languished. A second trip to Hollywood in 1953 to play in Young Bess led nowhere.

Her part was overshadowed by Jean Simmons as the young Queen Elizabeth I and by Deborah Kerr as Catherine Parr.

“I went to see John Huston for the role of Lygia in Quo Vadis,” Byron said of her Hollywood years, “I said to him ‘I don’t know how you see me,’ and he replied: ‘We in Hollywood see you as strictly neurotic, Miss Byron.'” She even admitted taking a cynical view of the showbusiness world, saying: “I was no Joan Collins.”

Increasingly, she drifted into second features and supporting parts in bigger pictures. Few were memorable. They ranged from stolid literary adaptations such as Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1951) to such horror pictures as Night of the Eagle (1962) and Craze (1973). When she landed more prestigious roles, they failed to register with audiences. Her Desdemona, for example, was heard rather than seen – on the soundtrack of the dubbed version of a Russian film of 1957.

For a time in the mid-Sixties a car accident, in which she broke her pelvis and some ribs, kept her out of British films. After recovering she was frequently cast in matriarchal roles. She was Robin Hood’s mother in Wolfhead (1969) and the mother of a Polish patriot in From a Far City: Pope John Paul II (1981), both made for television.

Prelude to Fame

There was a cameo role as Lady Waddington in The Elephant Man (1980), the part of Mrs Goddard alongside Gwyneth Paltrow in Emma (1995) and old Mrs Ryan in the Oscar-winning Saving Private Ryan (1998). She found more rewarding work in television, appearing in literary adaptations (Portrait of a Lady and The Golden Bowl) and in long-running soaps such as Emmerdale Farm.

In a series based on the life of King Edward VII, she played Queen Louise of Denmark, mother of Alexandra, the future Queen of England.

Her first marriage was dissolved in 1950. She married, secondly, the radio journalist Alaric Jacob, who predeceased her. A son, a daughter, and a stepdaughter survive her.

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Perce Pearce – Walt Disney’s Trusted Lieutenant


Perce Pearce had worked for Walt Disney for 15 years and had co-directed ‘Snow White’ and ‘Bambi’ and produced ‘Song of the South’ and ‘So Dear To My Heart’ for him.


Perce Pearce


ABOVE – Perce Pearce seems to be looking at notes containing shots of the ‘landing on the island’ sequence in the film with Robert Newton and Bobby Driscoll in the picture he has open.

He looks to be sitting outside when this was taken – and ,as it was filmed in mid August 1949 he could wll have been,  because the temperature was in the 90s when this sequence was done – on or around 12th August 1949


It was indeed no surprise for the very first fully live-action film he made ‘Treasure Island’ – filmed here in England at Denham, that Walt Disney entrusted Perce Pearce with the job of supervising the production of this important film.

My own view is that ‘Treasure Island’ and the next film done here at Denham ‘The Story of Robin Hood and His Merrie Men’   were defining moments for the Walt Disney organisation and their release and success, gave Disney the springboard to a higher level both artistically and financially.

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Captain Flint – A New Home after his film acting in Treasure Island 1950 !!

Captain Flint – A New Home !!

Bobby Driscoll and Capn Flint

Here is Cap’n Flint ABOVE – with Bobby Driscoll in a posed still while they were filming Treasure Island.

Bobby Driscoll looks very well here – and on top of his acting when he played  Jim Hawkins

Robert Newton with Capn Flint in his new home

The parrot Cap’n Flint  who stars with Robert Newton in Treasure Island and Bobby Driscoll  in the RKO-Walt Disney production of ‘Treasure Island’ made at Denham Film Studios in 1949 – released 1950.

He has earned retirement in a Public House The Prospect of Whitby one of London’s only riverside inns.  Here  Robert Newton is handing Cap’n Flint over to Landlord George H. Broadbent and his wife.  I hope Cap’n Flint enjoyed the long retirement he deserved for his famous role in the classic film.

The ‘Prospect’ may have had its fair share of human celebrities but also was home to a celebrity of the feathered variety, a newspaper from 1951 gives the details.

‘Captain Flint, the talented parrot which rides the shoulder of Robert Newton during his portrayal of Long John Silver in ‘Treasure Island,’ has not been relegated to oblivion. When the picture was finished, Captain Flint was retired to a life of luxury in the famous ‘Prospect of Whitby.’





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Ralph Truman – Does anyone out there know anything about this actor ?

Ralph Truman died in Ipswich on 15 October 1977 – and his second wife Mimi also died a few years later in that area.   However there are few details about his second wife or where he lived although I have a feeling it could have been Bungay in Suffolk

If anyone knows any more about this fine actor – or his life – please let us know.

Ralph Truman


Ralph Truman had been a Radio actor from around 1925 with the BBC  and much later got into films. He first came to real prominence when Director Byron Haskin cast him as George Merry – one of the Pirates in the 1950 Walt Disney version of ‘Treasure Island’

He was told to go out there and give Robert Newton a ‘run for his money’ in the acting stakes – and seeing that Robert Newton  would play Long John Silver in a brilliant almost pantomime ‘over the top’ way it was claimed that at times Ralph Truman as George Merry virtually  ‘out-hammed’ him.

Ralph Truman as George Merry

Nevertheless Robert Newton’s portrayal was just what was needed – and it was a brilliant portrayal – that lingers in the memory – and has become a yardstick for actors when taking on any pirate role to this day.


Robert Newton’s performance here was one of the most memorable in screen history.

I have done a post a few weeks ago on the Radio actress and former Mrs Dale star Ellis Powell who was married to Ralph Truman.

She died in 1963 – not very long after she was replaced as Mrs Dale by the BBC.


It would appear that Ralph Truman married again to Maria Vittoria or Mimi as she was known.   They both died in the the Ipswich area – and I have a feeling may have lived around Bungay in Suffolk

Birthday: May 7, 1900

Birthplace: London
British actor Ralph Truman may seldom have played a leading role in films, but on radio he was a well known star. Ralph Truman once estimated that he had appeared in 5000 broadcasts.
He played Maigret on BBC Radio in 1957

His full name was : Ralph du Vergier Truman 1900 -1977

Ralph’s second wife was  Maria “Mimi” Vittoria H Truman (born Cooper).

Maria was born on November 13 1918, in Brentford, Middlesex, England. She died on July 1st 2004 aged 85 see the Announcement below :-

Maria Vittoria Hayes (Mimi), widow of Ralph du Vergier Truman. Peacefully on July 1st at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, aged 85. Requiem Mass at St. Edmunds Catholic Church, Bungay at 12 noon on Thursday, 15th July. Private cremation at St Faith’s followed by a Memorial Service at Metfield Parish Church where all are welcome at 3 p.m. on Friday 16th July.

Ralph married his first wife  Ellis Agnes Estelle Truman (born Powell). She was Ellis Powell – another actress with the BBC over a long period eventually finding fame as Mrs Dale of Mrs Dales Diary.  She died in 1963.

I imagine Ralph met Ellis from their work with the BBC Radio Drama department

Ralph Truman was born in North Finchley. His parents were John William Truman, a surveyor, and Adele Duvergier Tabernacle.

He had four siblings, Beatrice (b.1891), Frances (b.1893), George (b.1895) brother Guy William Truman was born on the 28th May 1896

His brother Guy William Truman was born on the 28th May 1896

Guy was educated privately at St Lawrence College, Ramsgate and Merchant Taylors’ School in Northwood. Almost immediately after matriculating as a law student, he joined the Rifle Brigade in September 1914 and went to France on 24th January 1915. He died in the Northern Central hospital in Leeds on 13th May 1915 from wounds received during the 2nd battle of Ypres.

So Ralph Truman lost his brother in the first war – many families lost loved ones during that terrible conflict – and the sadness and grief for Mother and Father and his brothers is difficult to imagine.




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