The following note was written by Jack in 2005.
Born 25.6.1925 in Portsmouth where my Father, Geoffrey Coleridge Boles, was an officer in the Royal Navy attached to HMS Vernon, the School of Gunnery. He left the Navy in about 1928 and we moved to near Hampton Court, and he commuted to work in central London.
He hated commuting and we soon moved to a small thatched house near Crediton in mid Devon, not far from where my father had been brought up at Rackenford.. He rejoined the Navy in 1938, at the time of the Munich crisis, but was invalided out in 1943 soon after my Mother Hilda (nee Crofton) died.
After a boarding prep school, West Downs, in Winchester and then at Winchester College, I joined the army in 1943 and in November 1944 was commissioned in the Rifle Brigade. A motorcycle accident prevented me from joining a battalion in Northern Europe. Then in May 1945, just as the European war was ending, I went by troopship to Egypt to join the 7th Battalion The Rifle Brigade. I stayed in Egypt until my release from the army in September 1946.
While there I applied to join the Colonial Service intending to serve in Palestine. This involved spending a year at Cambridge (Clare College), followed by six months at the London School of Economics and the School of Oriental and African studies. I started to study Arabic and Hebrew but was told in November that Britain was surrendering its mandate; there were therefore no jobs in Palestine. I was then offered a post in North Borneo, now called Sabah in the Federation of Malaysia, where I arrived in February 1948. Learning Malay, the lingua franca, and its Arabic script, and passing exams in Law were necessary qualifications and my first job was assistant private secretary to the Governor Edward Twining. About the end of 1948 I was sent to the East Coast near the Philippines to run a sub-district consisting of scores of islands and a fairly impenetrable mainland. And then followed postings to other districts and at times to the Secretariat in Jesselton until I retired in 1964 after N Borneo had become independent as part of Malaysia.
In 1953 I married Amey Benita Wormald. She quickly learned to speak fluent Malay, and we had four children in North Borneo (followed by a fifth in 1965) and we were happy in all the places and jobs we were sent to. For two or three years Benita had to teach the children through the PNEU. This was very successful.
Job hunting, when back home and unemployed with 4 children, in 1964 was not too depressing and I was lucky to be taken on by the National Trust as Assistant Secretary. Ten years later I became Director-General. This was a stretching job but always exciting and sometimes turbulent. After doing it for more than 8 years, I retired in 1983, having been made a knight, to my home in East Devon to live a very different life as a countryman on a small and barely viable farm of 300 acres.
In February 1969 Benita had died after a long struggle with cancer. Nicholas was 3 and Catherine, the eldest of the 5 children, was 13. Anne Hermione Waldegrave and I married in Wells Cathedral in February 1971 and have lived happily ever since.
In 1965 Benita and I had bought a house in Henham, Essex and were happy there. But it was a very long way from my widower Father in Devon and from the childrens’ schools, and Anne and I moved to the Old Rectory in Englefield near Reading which belonged to a near cousin of mine, William Benyon. We lived there from 1972 until we moved back to my home in East Devon in September 1983. There we farmed with a farm manager who had been born in the farmhouse; mainly sheep and cereals. We had time to do a lot of voluntary things in Devon and especially in our village of Talaton, to become Deputy Lieutenants, and for me to enjoy a year as High Sheriff of Devon. This way of life lasted until 2000 when I needed heart bypasses. I decided that farming was a young man’s life and so I gave a farm tenancy to the farm manager, and was left with little bits of woodland, an old cider apple orchard and the house and large garden to look after. At the time of writing at the beginning of 2005, I am still Churchwarden, a beekeeper, busy gardener and involved a bit with the National Trust, and the Devonshire Association, and am Chairman of a small pheasant shoot. This keeps me busy enough and so do the 11 grandchildren my 4 married children have produced, together with 3 more children from my adopted daughter Melanie who came into our life when Deborah was at Durham University in the late 1970s. She has a distinguished legal career as a Queen’s Counsel.