Week 7, 16th-20th November

This week I have finished cataloguing the section of correspondence sent to Hilda Pendlebury, and begun cataloguing correspondence sent to John’s parents (Herbert and Lilian Pendlebury).

Some of letters that I catalogued at the beginning of the week were sent to Hilda after John’s death in 1941. These are evidence of how Hilda, Herbert and John’s friends and colleagues tried ascertain the exact circumstances of John’s death. This included gathering eyewitness reports from local Cretans (which are in the archive).

Photograph of John Pendlebury’s Grave at Souda Bay War Cemetery, Crete. Hilda visited John’s grave during a visit to Crete in 1947. Copyright: British School at Athens.

The letters sent to Hilda after 1941 also show how John was commemorated with an endowment for a school prize, a donation of books to the Villa Ariadne, obituaries, a bust in Heraklion (Crete) and the publication of ‘John Pendlebury in Crete’.

‘John Pendlebury in Crete’ was published in 1948 and includes a summary of what was known from investigations into John’s death in the form of a chapter written by Tom Dunbabin (‘Last Days – May 1941’). Hilda gave a copy of the book to many of John’s friends which prompted letters of reply reminiscing about John.

So many things come back to me as I think of him – his quirks and pranks as assistant secretary of the P.C.D.S. Ye Joyeux Companie of St Pol which he founded – a strange secret society assembled to tell stories, one of which was told by the Grand Seneschale on behalf of the absent Master of the College

(From a letter by Rowe Harding, a friend of John’s at Pembroke College)

I spent the second half of this week (back-in-time a few decades) cataloguing some of John’s childhood letters to his parents. I have been cataloguing letters sent from St George’s School in Broadstairs, Kent, from 1915-1916. The school faced out to the English Channel and John witnessed warships (passing by and once firing at a submarine), air raid sirens and being called to the “dug out” (air raid shelter), and aeroplanes and zeppelins flying overhead. This was all very exciting to a boy of 12 and the games he played with his friends often involved battles, raids on dormitories, and building armoured cars and trains.

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A file of letters from John to his parents (Herbert and Lilian Pendlebury), 1915-1916. Copyright: British School at Athens

Next week I will continue cataloguing John’s letters to his parents.