John Montagu Alfred Ray (34-44C)
Jim, as he was universally known, came to West Buckland in 1935 to Courtenay House, and after an outstanding school career left in 1944 as Head Prefect and captain of both Rugby and Cricket. He was also a leader in the band section of the CCF. Later he was the proud recipient of the Fortescue Medal.
He left school in 1944 and joined the Indian Army. He attended the Indian Army OCTU course at Dehra Dun, and having become fluent in Urdu, was commissioned into the 19th Hyderabad Rifles – later the Kumaon Regiment. His serious commitment to a career in the Indian Army was cut short when, at Indian Independence in 1947, young British officers were eased out of the Indian Regiments – a very severe blow to Jim. He worked for a year on a tea plantation in Assam, and then by chance was offered a job in a company that ran paddle steamers on the Bramahputra River. He was proud when Michael Palin in his book “Himalaya” included a photograph of his boat. He stayed there for seven years.
He returned to England, with his first wife and child, but found it hard to settle into civilian life and in 1957 he joined the RAF Regiment. He served in Northern Ireland, Gibraltar and Aden. During the 1977 strikes in the London Fire Service, the armed services had to take over, and Jim who was stationed in central London, had to take over seven fire stations and was very highly commended. He retired from the RAF in 1981, and joined an ex-service security unit at the Scottish Office in Whitehall. His remit included 10 Downing Street, and he got to know both Harold Wilson and Margaret Thatcher.
Soon after retiring from this, Jim and his wife took an apartment in Mojacar in southern Spain, and tragically, fate again was to play a part in Jim’s life. After a holiday, they were driving back to Mojacar when they were involved in a traffic accident and his wife was killed. After this appalling blow, Jim returned to England and found accommodation in Norwich where he had friends from his days in India. Always a fit man, Jim, after some time, joined the local Rambling Club and here he met Diana, another keen walker. Diana provided the warmth, affection and stability, which fate had seemed to deny Jim in his earlier years.
David Rooney (34-42)