During both World Wars some of the masters at the school were conscripted into the armed forces. To replace them many boys’ schools recruited women to take the places of the men who had joined up. During World War 2 the new women teachers were as follows: Miss Dilys Elizabeth Quick1 (Geography and Geology), Mrs Nellie Maylott (Geography & Geology), Mrs D.L.Hayward (French & Commercial Subjects), Mrs Marianne Roberts (Science & Mathematics), and, in Botany & Zoology, a twenty-seven year-old Miss Katherine Davies whose lessons were very popular! Miss Davies was at the school from January 1942 until March 1945.
Past student Lyndon Harries, (ABGS 1941-47) was one of the pupils who benefited from Katherine Davies’s teaching, Following her death in 2012, Lyndon was moved to write the following account about his teacher.
Recollecting Katie who taught at ABGS during the war
Several years ago Dai Owen, the Aberdare Grammar School Old Boys network king, rang me to ask if my wife and I would like to join him in a lunch with Katie, the wartime Biology teacher at the old school.
During the war years female teachers filled in for the men who were on active service. Katie and Miss Quick (Geography) made a lasting impression on that wartime generation of pupils of whom I was one. Both these young ladies were not only excellent teachers but shapely young women who brought a new dimension to the staff and raised testosterone levels in both men and boys!
When I was in Form 6, I can remember Katie stayed after school on a Friday to help teach us the basics of ballroom dancing. I don’t doubt that she contributed to my subsequent competence in the waltz and the foxtrot.
Many of us of that generation in retrospect found those wartime years quite a magical time. Katie and Miss Quick became a memorable part of it.
So it is with much sadness I report the passing of Katie with whom in her latest years I renewed a friendship.
As alumni of University College, Cardiff we met once at a past students’ dinner. We sat next to each other on the top table. Katie served a term as President of the Cardiff Past Students Association and I was there as a past President of the Students’ Union. We spent most of that evening reminiscing about the good old days at Aberdare!
Many years passed by until I received that call from Dai Owen. It was a great pleasure to renew our friendship though by this time Katie was ninety. We met several times afterwards and I was invited to her 94th birthday party where I had the pleasure of meeting her two talented daughters Eryl and Elizabeth (a doctor and lawyer respectively), clearly chips off the old block!
They have helped me record this obituary of a remarkable and unforgettable lady.
Katherine Howe was born in Pontypridd on 19th June, 1915. She was educated at Pontypridd Girls’ Grammar School and the University College, Cardiff, (1933-38), where she graduated with honours in Zoology and gained her teaching diploma.
After qualifying as a teacher she was initially appointed to temporary posts at Porth, Hawthorne and Narberth before taking up her post at Aberdare Boys’ County School. Afterwards she taught briefly in Swansea and then as an exchange teacher in Oklahoma in 1949/50. The adventure whetted her appetite for more travel and she ended up in the Gold Coast in Africa in 1951 where she met her husband, Allan, who was then a District Commissioner. They returned home to Cardiff where they had two daughters, one in 1954 and the other in 1956. They lived and worked in Cardiff for the rest of their lives where Katie taught in Howells School for over 15 years.
Katie’s very fruitful life came to an end on 8th September, 2012.
We salute her passing.
Lyndon Harries, September 2013