Saturday, 6 January 2018
Eric Knowles - Resting in Peace
Yesterday, January 5th 2018, we said farewell to Eric Knowles. The funeral took place in the Holy Trinity Church at Tattershall, a short walk from where Eric and wife Ivy had retired to in Coningsby, Lincolnshire.
My travelling companion for the day was John Abbott, a former denizen of the Newham Wargames Club and, as I found out during our six hours on the road, responsible for painting a rather large amount of figures for Eric for the famous Madasahatta campaign. I have known John for almost as long as Chris, Neil, Dave and a host of others from the late 70s and early 80s and we crossed swords over the gaming table on a number of occasions - primarily fighting ancients using WRG 6th edition (of which John was an avid fan).
I must confess that I have never driven further north than Norwich so this was going to be an adventure and no mistake. I should point out that I am a non Sat Nav driver and prefer to navigate by that rather old fashioned method of using a map. I was however very fortunate in that John is far more technologically inclined than I am and so we made use of an app on his phone for the trickiest final part of the journey.
John is very talkative and quite forthright in his opinions and I value his insight immensely. We shared many memories of the club and Eric and the impact him and Ivy had on our respective lives. It was all to the good and for me anyway, almost a cathartic experience. They say that true friends can be apart for years and when they do eventually meet up it is like no time has passed at all. It was certainly the case with John!
We arrived at Tattershall a good hour and a half before the service was due to start so opted to have something to eat beforehand. John very generously purchased a very nice lunch (there seemed to be no shortage of rather charming looking inns in the area - no doubt the close proximity to an air base may have something to do with it!) and we continued with our respective reminiscing of Eric and the old Newham days. We arrived at the house of Eric’s daughter, Alex, in time to meet with Bill (his son and a former gamer from the Newham days) and the rest of Eric and Ivy’s close family. Alex’s house reminded me of the old haunt in Seven Kings where we had so many Wednesday evening games as it is a homely jumble of Knick-knacks, pictures, strange ornaments and endless cups and mugs of tea. The kind of welcoming place you immediately feel at home in, unpretentious and without ceremony. I had not seen Alec for some thirty years or so but she was just as I remembered her from the old days.
The funeral was in three parts. Firstly there was a service at the Holy Trinity Church which was simple yet moving. There was no fuss or flam and paradiddle - although the organist dropped a few notes (I could imagine Eric having a good chuckle at that - his sense of humour could best be described as irreverent....) - but their were a number of very appropriate touches. As a long serving guide to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Eric was accorded a guard of honour by the fellow volunteers and received a fitting eulogy from Squadron Leader Ian Smith from his days when he commanded the Battle Of Britain Memorial Flight. ‘Smithy’ (as he is known) was able to describe many things about Eric and his life as well a number of amusing anecdotes of his time as a guide in the BBMF. He cheerfully acknowledged the fact that EVERYONE knew was really in charge....I also learned about some of Eric’s war service in the Far East which served as a poignant reminder of not only the debt we owe those of his generation but also of the cost they themselves bore.
The second part of the service was at Boston crematorium and this was originally intended to be for family only. Bill extended the signal honour to both John and I of insisting that we came along as being old and longtime family friends. It was a touching gesture and one that we both appreciated. The service and commital was brief - I should mention that the music we entered by was ‘A modern Major General’ as Eric was a great fan of Gilbert and Sullivan which seemed hugely appropriate. It certainly raised a smile.
After the commital we headed off to a local hostelry for the wake.
The whole thing went well and in truth it really was a celebration of Eric’s life - it was not noticeably sad and everyone had an amusing anecdote or two to tell. His was a full life and I, like many others I know, consider ourselves fortunate to have been even a small part of it.
It was a long day and a tiring one but both John and I were honoured and proud to have been a part of Eric’s send off.
Our grateful thanks to Bill and the family for allowing us to be a part of the day and my personal thanks to John for his technical ability with an IPhone Sat Nav!