Ronald Emery, Old Boy (1927-33) and Master (l945-49), Squadron Leader RAF, passed away peacefully on 31 January 1997 after a month in hospital. He was happy and cheerful as ever to the end, but time and the legacy of a WW2 injury had finally taken its toll of his mighty rugger frame.
Ron, youngest of six, moved from Cambridgeshire to High Wycombe in time to attend Spring Gardens School and the Royal Grammar School. From RGS he won a place at Culharn College (1933-35) to study physical education & sport, and went on to teach at Mill End Road School. Here he met Enid, known to all as Paddy, his wife to be, War was declared in September 1939 and Ron volunteered for the aircrew duties in the RAF. Trained as a pilot in Scotland. He was sent as a flying instructor to South Africa, where he was selected and played for the Transvaal Rugby Union XV.
After two years abroad Ron joined No 100 Lancaster squadron in England. In a flying raid over Germany in March 1944, the plane was hit by flak, and set on fire. After giving the order to 'bale out' Ron was the last to jump. By now Ron was severely burned on arms and legs, and due to the difficulties of controlling his parachute, he only just survived the rough landing. The other crew members did not survive. Ron spent the rest of the year in hospital in Stalag 3, a POW Camp in Silesia, Poland, receiving skin grafting treatment. Later in January 1945 as the Russian Army advanced west he, and other POWs, were force-marched in freezing weather to the Baltic area, and then to the Danish border, notoriously known as ‘The Long March’. The war ended shortly, and Ron spent the next six months in a UK hospital continuing treatment for his burns. He had lost six stones in weight. With Paddy's care he built himself up, and in 1945 came to join us at RGS as Gym & Games Master.
Now in peacetime Ron and Sidney Hands revived the RGS Wycombiensian RUFC, and many Old Boys will remember those times with great affection. Always the athlete he was a fast bowler for High Wycombe Cricket Club, helping on one memorable day to dismiss a MCC XI before lunch.
Ron was instrumental in guiding a young Ted Woodward towards Wasps and England fame. Many others of us also benefited from his kindly ways in being encouraged to take up sports, be they rugby, cricket, athletics or boxing.
After four years at RGS Ron joined the family in the construction business, in which profession he stayed for the rest of his career. It was fitting at his funeral in Putney that in attendance were so many of those he had encouraged and nurtured in earlier days, including Neil Harris, Ted Woodward, Ron Syrett and Freddie Hawkings.
Ron was famous for his 'laugh and subsequent chuckle' and his friendly admonition "get cracking". I can hear him now, and so would I bet, can a lot of those "up there”! An exemplary master in school, a staunch friend to ex-pupils, a modest man we are proud to have known.