Historical records matching Philip de Havilland Hall
About Philip de Havilland Hall
Philip de Havilland Hall
My father, Philip de Havilland Hall, was born on 28/08/1885 in the family home at 10, Queen Anne St, W1 London.. His father, Francis was then a specialist ENT surgeon at Westminster Hospital and his mother Amy Margaret (nee Smith). Philip was the third child , two older sisters, Marguerite( Rita)),and Agnes, a younger brother, Norman, the baby was called Juliet. He was a small rather sickly baby, the story was that when he was three years old he could stand on his nurse’s hand. Soon after his birth, they moved to 47, Wimpole St, a tall narrow Regency terrace house. The ground floor was taken up with the surgery and waiting room and the children lived on the third floor and were supposed to tiptoe in silence when leaving the house. Philip became a noisy little boy who was a trial to his father and was sent to his Aunt Pat Caesar (Martha) in Hatfield about 40 km north of London, supposedly for his health. He was very happy there and always thought of Aunt Pat’s son, also a Pat, as his brother.
At seven, he was packed off to prep school, in Dover; two years later his brother, Norman joined him. He eventually went to Tonbridge School, a London Guilds School, also in Kent. He told me that he did no work at school in spite of his father offering to send him to Cambridge if he had good results. In the event he went to Glasgow University, where he was lucky as there was an excellent engineering department. He sang in the choir at Glasgow cathedral and also played the organ. He made any number of friends some of whom I remember meeting.
After graduating he left Glasgow and worked on the railways at Hull, where he joined the Territorial Army, played golf and cricket.
When the first world war broke out he was immediately called up and went to France. He talked very little about that war; he never spoke to my brother and me of how he won the MC and bar and the DSO and bar. However he told as a joke how he managed to arrest about 20 German soldiers by himself with only a pistol. His cousin, Charles Patrick Caesar, only remaining son of Aunt Pat, was killed on the Somme and his brother, Norman, died of his wounds at Salonika round about the same time. Philip built several bridges in France during that war; he used to tell of the one which was constructed of unseasoned willow and it was growing when the troops recaptured north France in 1918. Philip was promoted a Lieutenant-Colonel and so left the army as a substantive Major.
After the war, he was offered a chance to invest his gratuity in a search for oil in the Mid East, his father advised him against it. However, he did go to work for what eventually became British Petroleum, B.P. and was one of the chief engineers there. Maddening though! He married my mother in July 1925, having been engaged since 1920. I was born in 1927 and my brother on 2/02/1931. He lived with my mother in Swansea for the first year of their marriage; then they bought a cottage “ Broome Cottage” in Coombe Lane between Kingston and Wimbledon. In 1935, after my grandmother’s death we moved into her house, 8,Crescent Rd., Kingston Hill and it wasn’t sold until early 1959, when my parents moved to Eastbourne. When John, my brother, and I left home, the house became too big for my parents.
During the twenties and thirties, my father was still a member of the Territorial Army and so soon after the Munich Crisis, he was called up again! Until he came back from France before the Dunkirk evacuation, he was the commander of an Anti-Aircraft unit, but on his return reverted to being a Sapper. He was successively the CO for S.W.England , the CO of the South Coast and the CO of all Southern England; he was based in Bristol and then in Oxford while I went to school in Berks and John on Dartmoor. My mother lived in Wells, Somerset and we spent our holidays there. My father left the army in early 1945 and went back to B.P.; I believe they asked for him to lead a delegation of oil engineers to Germany to probe out their discoveries in synthetic oil. By this time he was a Brigadier and retired as a full Colonel.
He went on working for B.P. until he turned 70 which was unusual retiring in 1955. In January 1957, he paid his only visit to Africa to Rhodesia where we were living. He enjoyed his holiday but did not like the heat, the mosquitoes and the damp, it was a very wet season so he never came back although my mother eventually came to live with us until she died. They lived in a flat just off the front at Eastbourne, opposite the Devonshire Club, where he enjoyed the company; he was still a director of several firms and only gave up work shortly before his death in May 1972. My mother came out to Rhodesia in 1962, she was badly crippled with arthritis and osteoporosis, finding it difficult to walk and the English climate very hard. She eventually was killed by a fall in May 1964 and is buried in Banket where we then lived. After my mother died, he was lucky enough to persuade the “ widow” of an old friend to live with him and they enjoyed a good relationship until his death. They never married for tax purposes. My brother and I appreciated her very much, she was a great friend until her death in 1980.
It is difficult for me to talk or write about my father ; her was good to my brother and myself per haps a bit too tolerant of our faults though he always pointed out when we were wrong. I happily married a man who got on with him and they respected each other