Taffy Edwards 56B

Miles Furnival Edwards, 56B

On the official list of 56B entrants, he was listed as ‘23487030 Edwards M m A F’, but to all who knew him back in those early days, he was simply ‘Taffy’.  For those who have been reading this magazine over the years, he was only recently featured with a small cameo appearance in OBAN 46.  The reason for that mention was that he had been ‘discovered’ by another 56Ber, Len Keetley, living in the same town of Malvern, Worcestershire.  As described then by Len, Taffy lived by himself in a council flat; “very much a loner, rather on the scruffy side, definitely eccentric, but very gentle with it”.  His friends testify to his always wearing a smile and never a frown.  For many years in Malvern, Taffy would be accompanied by one of a succession of small Jack Russell dogs, but the last one died around three months ago and was never replaced.  They were pretty well known around most of the town’s pubs with remembered with great affection.   

As far as can be ascertained, Taffy had had a hard time settling into civilian life when he left the Army around 1980.  Len recalls that he did manage to find work on one of the local industrial estates, for a firm making electrical and electronic components.  Unfortunately, the firm went into administration very early in 2010, so that was probably Taffy’s last employment.  He had started his Arborfield trade career as an electrician, before re-training as a Tels Tech later in life.

When I featured Taffy in that previous OBAN, I had the benefit of an accompanying photograph, kindly taken by Len in Malvern, where the two of them occasionally used to meet up over a pint at ‘The Bakery Inn’.  Looking back at my large collection of 56B photographs, the only one I can find that shows a much younger Taffy as I remember him, has him sat, on the left, alongside Ian Walker (who has since changed his name to Griffiths) – I think they may have both been in ‘D’ Company at the time – but could stand corrected.  I am grateful to Len Keetley for sending me another fairly recent photograph of Taffy, taken around 2009.

As far as I know, Taffy may well have been recruited into the AOBA back in 1959; those were the days when I think a one-off payment of a quid would enroll you for life membership – whether you wanted it or not!  However, he was definitely not an active member and seems to have ‘fallen off the radar’ many years ago.  Well, Taffy won’t make it back onto the radar any more – but will be fondly remembered by many of his old 56B family.  The day that he went innocently into the ‘laddies’ toilet in St Mary’s Butts, Reading, will always stay in my memory.  That part of old Reading has long since given way to one of those vast shopping malls, but on the opposite side of the road still stands ‘The Allied Arms’, the first watering hole when one got off the big red bus from Arborfield.  Then it would be a pie and a pint, while watching ‘Six-five Special’ on the old black and white television – yeah, fond memories indeed.

On Friday 21st July this year, Taffy left his local watering hole ‘The Cross Keys’, and collapsed on his way home.  He had recently been suffering from septicemia and finding it increasingly difficult to get around.  Sadly, he left no known relatives behind and no funeral arrangements have been notified.

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Len Keetley and Pete Gripton, 56B – July 2012