This week a package arrived at the School containing some invaluable archives dating back more than 110 years. They were the possessions of John Cundall (1891-1962), who was in East from 1901 to 1908. Oddly, Cundall died over half a century ago, so they cannot have been from the winding up of his estate. More strangely, there was no accompanying letter with the package so we do not know where they came from .
There were some items which we have not got in the archives. These include a Sergeant’s stripes and badges from the Officer Training Corp, a school cap and colours cap, a handwritten note from his headmaster, George Allen, congratulating him on his exam results, the earliest known copy of the rules and membership of the OC Society, four Call Over books, and remarkably preserved cricket and football fixture cards.
As for Cundall himself, we know something. He joined the Royal Navy in July 1909 and served in the First World War as Paymaster-Lieutenant on HMS Ajax, on which he fought at the Battle of Jutland. Cundall was described in naval reports as “hardworking, physically fit and keen on sport”. In 1917 he married Beatrice and they had one child, Rodney John Rowley Cundall, who also went on to join the navy.
Cundall was still in service, acting as secretary to the Commander-in-Chief Mediterranean, when the Second World War started. Transferred to HMS Royal Oak, he was one of the 407 survivors out of a crew of 1240 men when the ship was torpedoed off Scapa Flow on October 14, 1939. It was Cundall’s 48th birthday.
At the end of the war he was Supply Officer to the Home Fleet and was promoted to flag rank in 1946, was made CBE, and retired the following year. In his retirement Rear-Admiral Cundall interested himself in local government and was a member of Havant and Waterlooville Urban Council, being Chairman in 1952-53. He was, among numerous other activities, treasurer of the Trafalgar Services Club, and Portsmouth Old People’s Homes. He was also a keen amateur actor.