Harrow County Staff

Colonel Bigham

Click here for an article about Colonel Bigham's early teaching career in Scotland

1. - In July 1969, Lt.-Col. W. M. Bigham, O.B.E., B.SC., M.I.Biol., Officer Commanding the School Cadet Force, retired from this post after 22 years service.  This tribute was especially written by former Headmaster, Dr. A. R. Simpson:

As Co-Author in 1947 of our Cadet force, I am the more especially glad to pay deep tribute to Lieutenant-Colonel W. M. Bigham, O.B.E., for his singularly devoted and wonderfully sustained services, of almost a quarter of a century's duration, both to our scholastic and to our national life.

I believe Colonel Bigham's record to be unparalleled anywhere, whether measured by length of time and consistency or by quality of effort.  I also believe that this harnessing of our young men to so very much that is so vital in our British tradition, peculiarly physical, peculiarly technical,  and peculiarly spiritual as it is - - and for the second time within our own half-century - - imparted and imparts to the school its distinctiveness, its robustness of character, and its uniqueness of individuality.  I further believe that had such concepts and such men as Colonel Bigham existed universally in our school system, our British democracy and its adolescent way of life would today be infinitely the better, the purer and the more selflessly dedicated for them.

Conclusively and on a higher plane I believe the timely yet untimely emergence of the Combined Cadet Force and Colonel Bigham, against indeed the many contradictory factors in the time, the place, and the action of their happening, each with its adverse complexity of the improbable, so specially familiar to myself, to have been both paradox and providence.  Why such a conjunction?  Why then?  Why there?  Whence and to what being and purpose?  For it is to my mind in such spectacular manifestation that providence is best seen to exist - - in the reversal emergence of the opposite unlikely, the improbable, and the seemingly impossible.  This is the context in which I would very deliberately place the Colonel's great work and achievements.

From Gaytonian 1969

2. - From "Cadet" 1968

A native of Galloway, Scotland, the Colonel was educated at Dumfries Academy and Whitehill Grammar School. He gained an Honours degree in Physics and Chemistry at Glasgow University, and in 1933 returned to teach at his old school in Glasgow. After seven years there, he became a lecturer in Glasgow for the Ministry of Home Security.

He volunteered for War Service in the R.A.F. in 1941, and, after training at Uxbridge and R.A.F. Fighter Command, Stanmore, went overseas in September of the same year as a member of a small Enemy Air Intelligence team. He served in Libya, Italy, France and Germany, most of his work being carried out in "no man’s land," and on German and Italian airfields. His specialised knowledge of aircraft led to a liaison with the L. R. D. G (Long Range Desert Group) whose main task also lay between the allied and enemy lines, and in raiding enemy airfields at night. During 1942, he participated in the "diving episode" in the Eastern Mediterranean, in an effort to obtain vital information on enemy radar equipment from a German Heinkel shot down in the sea. One experience which the Colonel will never forget was his escape, under cover of darkness with another officer colleague, from Tobruk, after it had been more or less captured by German forces. His service in France and Germany was with the American 12th Army Group, where he trained American personnel in his specialist work. On returning to the U.K. from Nuremburg, Colonel Bigham continued his work on enemy guided missiles, and was "first on the scene" of many flying bombs and rocket incidents in the Harrow, Kenton and Stanmore areas.

P. R. Bowen in Cadet, 1968

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