OB Geoffrey Giles has been in touch with pictures and memories of Mr. Pettoello and Mr. Coward from a picnic tea at Bradbury Rings, in June 1963.

Mr. Pettoello (L) and Mr. Coward
Mr. Pettoello

He writes:

Tu 11    All the Latin set went out to Badbury Rings with Mr. Pettoello & Mr. Coward for picnic tea, i.e. Cyder & Fruit Salad, with white wine. Afterwards went to see “Caesar & Cicero” at Bryanston School.

The play at Bryanston was performed in their outdoor amphitheatre. Petters was a rather strict disciplinarian, and I had him for 6 years of Latin. This was the first time we’d experienced him as a very jovial, off-duty teacher, and so was regarded as a great occasion. I’m sure he provided the wine, which was seen as quite daring. Would teachers do this nowadays? I do hope it would still be seen as acceptable sociability training!

I think Mr. Coward may have been new that year, and I have only a vague memory of him.

In the last few months I’ve also enjoyed a vigorous correspondence with the three friends who attended last years OBs’ annual dinner with me, sharing information about some of our teachers, and doing a bit of research. It turns out that Mr. Pettoello served with an SOE political intelligence unit in Italy during World War Two, of which we knew nothing when we were at school. We’ve found mentions of distinguished service by other teachers as well, and it would be fascinating to know more about their war activities.

Does anyone know of other wartime stories involving their former teachers?

12 thoughts on ““Petters”

  1. Slight correction – ‘all the Latin set’ couldn’t have gone as I was one of them and definitely not on that trip. I think I had a couple of weeks off sick in the summer term of 1963 so that might explain why! But thanks for the memory, Geoffrey, Petters was a great teacher and later a good friend – the last time i saw him in I think 1970 he gave me a lift home from the central library on the back of his notorious lambretta (?)

  2. So good to see that image of Mr Pettoello. I remember him from the fifties. He took us boys on a trip to The Old Vic to see Macbeth, our Shakespeare play for O level that year. He was completely different out of the classroom and chatted to us easily and freely. Excellent teacher, but I did fail latin – my fault not his.

    • Did you have a brother Frank, if so he was in my class in the later ’50’s.
      Do let me know if I am right. I seem to remember you lived in Kinson. Maybe he could contact me and I am in contact with a couple of others. Name is Ian King.

      • Yes Ian, I remember you well and I do indeed have a brother Frank. He is alive and well and living in Ringwood in an area called Avon Castle. I can also recollect your elder brother whose name escapes me for a moment. Am I right there? I am sure Frank would like to contact you but these replies do not give any personal details. If you let me have your email address or telephone number I’ll see he gets it. Good to hear from you and nice to know we haven’t all lost our marbles yet.

      • Hi Jim
        Well this is a turn-up as I have recently re-established contact with a few other classmates. My older brother is Stuart who lives in Ferndown and I also have an older brother Norman but probably he was in the 6th form when you were at the school. My email address is king_i@talktalk.net and would love to hear from Frank and catch up with him as well as yourself. Thanks for answering my post. Maybe we can find a few more old Bs from our years. Who said track n trace doesn’t work? Cheers.

      • Stuart, of course. He was in the year above me. I didn’t know Norman. I have passed your email on to Frank. Best wishes to you and your family.

  3. “Petters” was indeed strict in school but after leaving I met him several times at Bournemouth Symphony concerts and he was always friendly and chatty even though my Latin “O” level mark was, let us say, very low ! He was very knowledgeable, especially about French and Italian music.

  4. I did a little online research and found that he died, rather shockingly, aged 52 on 18th October 1974 while still teaching at BSB. There must be an obit. in the relevant Bournemouthian. Perhaps someone has access?
    The same research shows that he left the Leys School at 18 in 1940 and graduated from St Johns, Cambridge in 1944. Not impossible to have fitted SOE service into that schedule but I wonder where the story came from?

    • My understanding is that he died unexpectadly in hospital under an operation. He was close to my father and a frequent visitor to the house. I didnt know of the SOE connection but it tallies with our understanding that he was parachuted into Italy at some stage of the war.

  5. Further to John D’s query re Pettoello’s military experience, there is an obituary in The Leys Fortnightly ( No 1542 p.131 – 1975) which mentions it. Moreover the St Johns College biographical librarian states that: it was not unusual for students to be awarded their degree at around the time they should have graduated were it not for them serving in the war, and then coming back to finish their studies after the war despite their already having their BA. Pettoello did the latter in 1947.
    The college Biographical Database also makes reference to his service in the Army Political Intelligence.
    In due course I hope to establish more exact details of his service.

    • A response to Hugh Walker’s recent item about ‘Petters’.

      Thanks Hugh for that bit of digging. I can’t resist quoting from the The Leys Fortnightly that you cite. In a beautifully concise memorial, one of his contemporaries at school writes:

      Was it his southern nature or his charming unworldliness that made him so consistently unpunctual for classes? He would appear at the door, wringing his hands in dismay or smiting his brow with the flat of his hand in a characteristic gesture of despair. He gave us a lot of unwitting amusement and we loved him for it.

      Although I knew him only as my schoolmaster, there was something in that which made me smile in recognition.

      You won’t remember me, Hugh. I was two (or three?) years your junior. But we overlapped at SDC where I briefly met up with you.

      With the insight available only to the son of a teacher at the school, some of us would dearly like to hear from you anything that might cast some light on Jasper. Having spent a career in teaching, I have thankfully never met anyone else remotely like him. It beggars belief that such an anachronism could have survived into the 60s. Or did I miss something?

      John Dinham

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