A school trip BFES style

I’m currently cataloguing the records of the BFES/SCEA, an organisation established after the Second World War to provide education to the children of British Forces’ personnel stationed in Germany and around the world. The collection is full of teachers’ recollections of their time abroad. Whilst listing these papers I came across a letter from a teacher recalling one particular excursion in 1968 that made me smile. So in his own words, here is his story….

“I was deputy head at Colonge School from Sept 66-March 68. The number on the roll had dropped dramatically when the RAF left – I was being over-paid! I was interviewed and appointed to Bielefeld School and moved at the end of the Easter term. I left behind my wife and young family living in a very large house.

During my first term at Bielefeld School the Head told me he would like the fourth year classes to visit the city of Köln and the British Forces Broadcasting Station. He wondered if my wife could accommodate 28 children, their teacher, the MSO bus driver and me (her husband) for one night! I wonder how many BFES/SCEA teachers have asked their wives the same question! My long-suffering, wonderful wife agreed and so it happened.

We set off from Bielefeld School at 8am and arrived in Köln in time for lunch. After lunch we drove to BFBS just a few miles down the road. The children had a most interesting tour of the station and met ‘Uncle Bill’ – the children’s favourite. We all joined him for ‘Children’s Hour’. Some lucky pupils were allowed to read out requests live on air!

'Uncle Bill' at the BFBS

A lucky child with ‘Uncle Bill’ at the BFBS, 1968 (temp ref: BFE/79)

The next morning 7am breakfast. My wife fed everyone – a sack of 80 fresh German rolls, bananas, cereals and a choice of milk, tea or coffee to drink! I think she heaved a sigh of relief when we left. We toured the city, sightseeing, visited the cathedral and finally arrived back in Bielefeld late afternoon. What an adventure – what fun!

A week after we left, our next door neighbour saw my wife and asked ‘Is it true you have had a bus-load of school children staying in your house?’ She then said ‘We never heard nor saw them!’”

The school party

The school party, 1968 (temp ref BFE/79)

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15 Responses to A school trip BFES style

  1. Bram Nash says:

    I have possession of the first school logbook of Monchengladbach School, beginning 23.06.1947 with Frank Buckley as Head. It makes interesting reading and may be of use to your research.
    Best wishes, Bram Nash.

  2. Becky says:

    We would be very interested in receiving the log book – we don’t have anything else from that school. If you would like to contact the archives at arch.enquiries@ioe.ac.uk or give me a ring on 020 7612 6983 I would love to find out more.

  3. BRUCE FORD says:


  4. steven kyffin says:

    i was a pupil at BFES Cologne from 1965 ish til 1967, maybe even 1964 and then again from april 69 until april 70…

    any chance of any names… contacts


  5. Becky says:

    Hi Steven

    I’ve had a look at the catalogue and I’m afraid there isn’t much else about the school. Just a copy of the staff Vs students football game in 1967. Have you tried the website of the BFES/SCE Association? If not it’s well worth a look: http://www.bfes-sce-association.org/

  6. Mike Hawkes says:

    Hi I was a boarder at the school during 1951-53 and remember a couple of names (Melvyn Mobbs & Johnny Johnson Jnr Michael & Sarah Jennings) does anyone remember me or have any other names?

  7. Steve Green says:

    Dear Becky

    I am preparing to write a history of Windsor Boys School, Hamm (and probably the Girls School which was nearby). I was a pupil there 66-69. Can I arrange a time to see the BFES records?

    Steve Green

  8. Becky says:

    I’ve replied to Steve by email but if anyone else is interested in finding out more about the BFES Association archive (or would like to visit the archives) have a look at our webpages http://www.ioe.ac.uk/services/300.html. There is a lot of useful information there and we can help with more specific questions if you email us at arch.enquiries@ioe.ac.uk

  9. Michael Jennings says:

    Hello Mike Hawkes (the name rings a bell but no face)I was at the school 51-53 but I don’t remember a Sarah Jennings. My father was stationed in Holland at RAF Zeelst/Eindhoven. I remember being identified as having German Measles the day we were due to go home for the Easter holidays (Prob 52)and spending the Holidays in the Hospital at Wupertal. Also remember the chocolate cake & cream trotted out for birthdays.

  10. George Craig says:

    My name is George Craig and I was a pupil at BFES Bielefeld in 1957 and 1958. After that we moved to Hilden near Düsseldorf where I continued at BFES until 1959. We moved to benghazi , Libya after that. I as wondering if anybody has any photographs and memorabilia of these schools. It would be nice to relive those old memories of my schooldays.

  11. Nick says:

    I was at the Koln School. My father was head there (left in summer 66, as far as I recall). Nick Elliott-Kemp. Also previously in Hannover, Verden Aller, etc

    • Hi Nick

      It’s always lovely to hear from former staff and students. Our work on the collection continues – particularly now that a number of schools have recently closed. We are currently piecing together the histories of the schools in Germany so hopefully we should have full list available soon. If anyone has any information on when schools opened or closed, their locations – or any other information – we would love to hear from you!

  12. Nige says:

    I was a pupil at Windsor Boys School Hamm, 1971 to 1974 (Sandringham House) and we too went to the BFBS station and met with ‘Uncle Bill’. My parents had often asked for a record to be played for me and my brother, just a quick way of keeping in touch as snail mail was just that in those days. The tour included a visit to the soundproof room…a strange and eerie place and an experience never forgotten. Happy days.

  13. David Sergi says:

    I can’t believe that I found a site dedicated to my old school in Cologne. I was one of the American kids that went there. I’d love to connect with any one who was there from 197-1969.

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