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Aug 2006 Journal

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More on refugee children in North Cornwall during the war

I read Trude Silman's article 'A school which no longer exists' (June) with great interest. I remember Kingsley School at Tintagel, but cannot recall whether I knew at the time that there were five refugee girls boarding at the school. I knew about the ladies who were known as the Principals. One of them was Susan Stebbing, Professor of Logic at Cambridge and a formidable intellectual.

I went to the grammar school at nearby Camelford, but spent much of my holidays at Tintagel in a caravan belonging to the Jago family - Tom and Violet and their sons Tom and Geoffrey, with both of whom I am in regular touch. (Tom had a girlfriend called Renate Fuerstenthal at Kingsley School. Does Trude Silman remember her?) These good people received my sister Hannah and myself as full members of the family. To be sure, many Kinder were not treated at all well by their hosts but I sometimes think that not enough acknowledgement is made of the efforts of many non-Jewish families like the Jagos, who were substitute parents in every sense. I left in late 1941 for the St Mark's Road hostel while I worked in the Hammersmith Hospital laboratories until 1943, but my sister stayed with the Jagos for two more years.

My sister and I were also taken to the Singers for Pesach. Charles and Dorothea Singer lived in a house called Kilmarth on the south coast of Cornwall. Their children were Andrew and Nancy but I have lost touch with them. The house was subsequently acquired by Daphne du Maurier, who based her novel The House on the Strand on it. Professor Singer, a surgeon, became discouraged from practising medicine by his horrifying experiences in the field hospitals of World War I. He became Professor of the History of Science at University College London and is best known as the co-author of the monumental History of Technology. Dorothea Waley Singer and her monster hearing aid was exactly as described by Trude Silman. Dorothea, too, was a distinguished historian of science, the author of the definitive biography of Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake in 1500. She was secretary to the Cornwall refugee committee and did much good work putting Jewish authorities in Germany in touch with potential hosts in Cornwall.

I also remember being taught Jewish studies by correspondence course from the St John's Wood synagogue. In this way, I got to know rather more about the prophets Hosea and Amos than I thought I needed to know, but it got me a credit in School Certificate. The member of staff concerned was a Miss Marjorie Moos and I am surprised that they have no record of her at the synagogue.
Harry Grenville

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