The Probus Club of St Annes-on-the-Sea
Ernest was born in Manchester and developed an early interest in music, in particular playing the piano and singing. By the time he was 16 he was playing the organ at Manchester Cathedral under the watchful eyes (and ears) of the official cathedral organist.
When World War II started in 1939 he joined up at once and went with the British Expeditionary Force to France as a driver in the Royal Army Service Corps. As he was later to humbly describe it he “came back to England via Dunkirk.” He then trained to be an officer and by 1945 he had risen to the rank of major and seen action in Burma against the Japanese.
On his return to the UK he trained to be a school teacher and that prompted another long spell overseas – as a teacher attached to the then far-flung British Army. He was by that time married and his family went with him to Libya in 1954 and this was followed by time in Cyprus, Singapore and Germany. Wherever he went he almost immediately became the local organist and choirmaster and he was particularly proud of holding those positions at Singapore Cathedral for a couple of years in the late 1950s.
Having retired and settled in the Fylde (where he still involved himself in choirs) he joined Probus in 1992 by which time he was 72 and then for 20 years he attended our meetings fairly regularly. He gave us a talk “My Life and Music” in 1966 and two years later followed this with “The First Arakan Campaign”, recalling some of his wartime experiences in Burma. He had several times acted as chairman of our meetings right up to 2009, when I invited him to do so when we were entertained by a local men’s chorus.
He subsequently became too ill to even attend each Thursday and he spent his last few years in a local care home. He was 94 when he died.
GFH - July 2014
|This picture, taken at the Christmas Lunch 2001 at the Chadwick, shows on the left of the table: 'Bo' Allsopp (d), Keith Barlow and Bill Hodson (d) and on the right: Ernest Nield (d) and Eric Jones. Wives are usually seated opposite. (d) = deceased.|