Remembered by: Christine Moon-Willems
Date added: 15 Jul 2012
Cyril, born in the small village of Beckington in Somerset, never forgot his roots or the wise counsel of his parents. He would often quote his Mother’s mantra ‘earn a pound and save a shilling’ and inherited their strong work ethic. As was normal in the 1920’s he was expected to help with all the work involved in bringing up a large family such as his. Seeking jobs locally when a teenager he became known as reliable and hard working.
Cyril was 17 at the outbreak of World War Two and was soon called up for National Service. After basic training in the Royal Air Force, he was assigned to the Military Police. His first posting was to RAF Nancekuke at Portreath in Cornwall. Living in basic accommodation Cyril was soon befriended by locals who offered pasties and hot-water baths.
As the War progressed, Cyril was sent to Liverpool, put on a troop ship with thousands of other men, and began an epic voyage that was to end several months later in Egypt by way of the South Atlantic and Indian Oceans. His time in the Middle East affirmed his character as a confident, competent, popular man and left him with many fascinating memories that he never tired of talking about.
His Police dog that he trusted more than any man he had ever met; his local friend who owned Arab horses that Cyril regularly rode; the Italian prisoners of war who were so grateful to him for his fitness and body-building lessons that they knitted him a woollen sweater made from unpicked Italian Army socks, as well as giving him a pair of Italian Army officer’s jodhpurs.
While some of his comrades suffered from the heat and remained at base camp, Cyril was off playing sport and having fun. Cyril was captured by Bedouin on one occasion, but made good his escape and trekked across the Palestinian Desert until finding an Allied patrol and eventually re-joining his unit.
In 1948 Cyril married Beryl in a union that was to last 64 years until his demise in 2012. With the three children (Christine, Lindsey and Roger) in tow, Cyril’s spirited independence saw them driving across Europe to holiday in Spain, Italy or Southern France when other families were going to Bognor.
Rapidly building a reputation as a skilled and trustworthy worker who could turn his hand to new projects with ease, he was headhunted by British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) where his building skills could be utilised. His broad knowledge of building techniques lead him to become a member of the Institute of Clerks of Works.
Cyril’s non-discriminatory attitude was quickly recognised by BOAC who asked him to move to Kingston, Jamaica, to be the BOAC Clerk of Works for the construction of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, which was being built to join the airline’s portfolio of Caribbean Hotels. The job took the best part of four years, after which Cyril returned to London Heathrow and worked on airport infrastructure until his retirement on 28th February 1982 – precisely 30 years to the day before his demise in 2012.
An inveterate global traveller, Cyril and his family used his access to concessional travel with BOAC (later British Airways) to visit the far corners of our planet, preferring to travel around the country rather than just go to a city or a resort. He has circumnavigated the United States and Australia, mostly using bus travel, sometimes overnight to save on Hotel costs.
Cyril had a large extended family in Western Australia, not only from his brother who had emigrated before World War Two, but also from best friends Cyril and Beryl Root who emigrated in the 1960’s.
Cyril was kind, thoughtful and dedicated to his wife and children. He cared about those who gave him care and helped more people more times than he would remember.
We will miss him, but salute a life well-lived, full of purpose and lots of laughs.