Ronald Dennis Glyndwr Hoggins
Aberdare Boys’ County School, 1935-39
Dennis Hoggins was born in Aberdare on 14 November 1922, the son of Ronald Victor Hoggins1 and his wife Marion, née Jevon. The family lived at Temedale, 40 Broniestyn Terrace in Trecynon. He had a sister Christine and a younger brother Bryan.2
His elementary school was undertaken at the nearby Park School, and from there he entered the Boys’ County School in September 1935. One of his great strengths was his prowess in athletics, particularly as a middle distance runner. In his second Sports Day he makes numerous appearances asa competitor in numerous events, as seen in the programme for that day3. Dennis, six-feet tall in his senior years, made a great impression in the half-mile events of the School Sports, and at the age of 15 was runner-up for the Victor Ludorum medal. He also ran in Inter-School Relay Races both at home events, and away. For example, he can be seen in the 1939 winning team at Barry Boys’ County School in the Sports Section of this website.4 In the same year he won the W.M. Llewellyn Challenge Cup,5 which bears his name for that year.
In his final year at school, in the fifth form, he won the School Victor Ludorum medal, and in the same year in the Glamorgan Secondary Schools Amateur Athletic meeting at Bridgend, he set the half-mile record time of 2min 10s, a record that stood for that meeting for many years. However, in the Monmouthshire versus Glamorgan Athletic meeting, he beat his own half-mile record by 0.6s. And finally, he brought honour to the school by winning the half-mile in the Junior Welsh Championships in Neath, again beating his own record, winning in 2min 7.6s. Later that year, a sports writer in the Western Mail wrote that: “Hoggins was the most promising product of the year.”
In spite of his grueling athletic schedule, Dennis managed a very creditable CWB School Certificate—although none of his father’s subjects featured on his certificate! On leaving school in 1939 he joined the Powell Duffryn Associated Collieries to take a course for officials and managers at Tower Colliery Hirwaun, under Gilbert Barling. In the spring of 1940, he decided to join the Local Defence Volunteers, also known as the Home Guard. However, when he reached the age of 18, in November that year, he applied to join HM Forces and by the following month he had been assigned to the RAF Volunteer Reserve, His athletic interests continued in the Air Force, and he found himself as captain of his athletics team in several inter-wing competitions. He was sent to Rhodesia to gain his wings, and once again found himself as a competitor, on one occasion running for the Rhodesian RAF against the Rhodesian Army. He returned from Rhodesia in September 1942 at the age of 19 years.
Tragically it was just two months after returning home from Rhodesia, that Dennis met his death as a result of a mid-air collision during a training session in cloudy conditions. His death occurred on 25 November 1942 just eleven days after his twentieth birthday. The location of the accident was at Great Cressingham which is in the Wayland district of Norfolk, 5 miles distant from RAF Watton. Details are somewhat unclear but it is believed he was a member of No.17 Advanced Flying Unit, at Watton and may have been flying a Miles Master II trainer. It is thought that his co-pilot Sergeant Pilot Norman Hibbert also died in the crash. Norman was also 20-years-old and was an ex-pupil of Stretford Grammar School, Trafford, Greater Manchester. The pilot of the other aircraft landed safely after the incident.
Dennis’s body was brought home to Aberdare for burial. His
funeral was a large one with a large number of representatives of the military,
the boys and masters of the school, the colliery, Home Guard, ATC and neighbours. Links
transcripts of the obituary and of the funeral can be found below.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to the staff in the reference section at Aberdare Library for helping with access to the Aberdare Leader archive, and to Andrew Hoggins for supplying the photographs.
CR, November 2014.