Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Procedure for reporting deaths of members and AOBA Remembrance Scrolls can be found on the right side of this page

John Cassells


Sorrow’s Crown of Sorrows

Is remembering happier times.

John Cassells. D.O.B. 27th September, 1934. - Deceased.13th March, 2016.

John Cassells, along with his twin, George, began his army career by enlisting as craft apprentice into the Army Apprentices School (AAS) Arborfield on the 9th September 1949.

John did not have an easy start in life, in that his father, George Wilfred, a pre-war regular soldier, was lost during the Monte Cassino offensive in Italy.

This resulted in him and George, at age nine, becoming boarders at the Duke of York’s Royal Military Academy, Dover. There they remained until moving to Arborfield at age 15.

My most abiding memory of John is that he was a very good athlete, particularly at cross country running. He and I were members of the school cross country team, and I recall that in the three years in competition with him, I never ever beat him in a race. In later years whenever we met at reunions he would always gently pull my leg about those events.

In September 1952, John joined REME and won early promotion to Cpl and was on course to a promising career. By the mid-fifties John and his   brother George had been posted to Cyprus, where sadly, for the second time in his young life, fate once again intervened.

In 1956, at age 21, his twin brother George was killed in a shooting incident in Cyprus. John was devastated, resulting in a compassionate discharge from the Corps and he returned to live in Henley-on Thames.

As a skilled craftsman John pursued a career in toolmaking and engineering with various local companies, including a time when he worked on the development of Concorde.

Canny with his cash, he purchased a newly built bungalow in 1958 and lived there continuously until shortly prior to his demise. He did not own a car until he was in his thirties, and would cycle to work in Maidenhead, White Waltham and other venues.

John continued to participate in many sporting activities throughout his life, although his primary interest was rugby union. In 1956 he joined the Henley Rugby Club, playing for the first team until he was in his forties, notching up over a hundred appearances at this level. His sons, George and Christopher and grandsons Peter, Ollie and Michael were to follow in his footsteps at the club.

He remained a keen runner and earned many medals from runs all over the country including the London marathon, with his chosen charity being the Alzheimer’s Society.

As this was not enough for any man, he was also a member of the Long Distance Walker’s Association.

The get the measure of the man, on one notable occasion, he walked from Henley to Chester to join up with the Henley Rugby Club touring party on the afternoon of a match, changing into his kit, playing the full game, and then walking onto Newcastle to visit relatives. During one reunion I asked him how much did it cost for accommodation during these long walks. “Nothing” was his reply “I just roll up in a ground sheet and sleep under the nearest hedge”

After many years in engineering, John became a postman in the Henley office. These final years of his working life were perhaps his happiest. He enjoyed meeting people and making new friends, particularly on the Stoke Row round, where he was adopted as a member of the community and invited to many local events.

Towards the end of his life John suffered worsening Alzheimer’s disease but, with the help of medication and close support of his family, was able to continue to live at home almost to the last.

As his memory failed his chats became more repetitive, but he coped with some memory failure by calling all the girls and ladies he chatted to “Cinderella” something which many of them remember fondly.

John will be sadly missed by his sons George, Christopher, Ian, Robert, his surviving sister Patricia and all their families; and further by many, many people in the Henley area and beyond out into the military family.

He served King, Queen and Country throughout his early years,

And learned of life, its highs and lows among his youthful peers,

And as time passed, a bond grew strong which time could not erase,

It was to last throughout his life, defying memory’s haze.

And even though the years may pass and memories can fade,

Those early days will still abide, life long, deeply engraved,

And at the end, his epitaph, with pride will just read thus:



Notifying Deaths of Ex Arborfield Boys and requests for an AOBA Remembrance Scroll

Reporting Deaths

In the event of an ex Arborfield Old Boys death it would be most helpful if members could report as much of the following information to the Bereavement Officer or to any AOBA Committee member: The full name of the deceased, his intake number and date of death. Also the full name and address of the next of kin (n-o-k) of the deceased. Normally who ever reports the death is a friend or is known to the family and it is better that they negotiate on our behalf, with the n-o-k or family, not myself or committee members to obtain all the necessary information.

Note: After some drumhead services a few members mentioned that some deaths were not read out and no crosses were planted for them. Majority of the names mentioned were found to be from the previous year and were recorded, a small number were not. The reason why we miss some is because we have not been informed or we have insufficient information to record the death. Members are reminded to report deaths as and when they are aware of them. If you know of an ex Arborfield boy who has passed away and is not listed in the AOBA Roll of Honour (Can be seen on the AOBA Website) then please let me have their details.

A request for an AOBA Remembrance Scroll

I would like to remind members that I do not automatically send out a Remembrance Scroll when I’m notified of a death.  I only send them when requested by whoever has made contact with the family of the deceased and only then when the n-o-k has confirmed that they would like to receive one.  Remembrance Scrolls can be requested in the memory of the deceased for both AOBA members and non members. The minimum information required, before a scroll is sent, is listed in sub paragraphs a. & b. below:

a. Full name of the deceased, his intake number and date of death.

b. The n-o-k or family member’s full name, ensuring that we have their first name, and the address to where the scroll should be sent.

c. If a member of the AOBA his membership number, if available.

When it has been confirmed that the n-o-k of the deceased has requested a Remembrance Scroll, I will only send one if I have all the detail as listed in sub paragraphs a. & b. above. I will not send a scroll until I’m in receipt of all this detail. As you can imagine, if we get any of this detail wrong, it could cause extra grief to the bereaved.

You can contact me through the completion of the short webform found here