Chalmers R. A. - The OldWinburnians

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R.A. Chalmers

Full Names

Rank /Unit  

Years at Q.E.G.S.

Robert Allan Arthur Chalmers

Warrant Officer Class ii.
Royal Canadian Air Force
Serving in 108 Sqdn. R.A.F.



Date  / Place of Birth

Date  / Place of Death

Age at Death


Sunday 12th  July 1942


Robert  Chalmers,  was a boarder at school and thus, in School House.  In the senior school he was sometimes referred to as "Bull", perhaps due to his look and stance.
In the summer of 1936 he was in the Boxing Competition but lost in the first round - Weight 7st - 7st. 7lbs.  However, in the 1938 Competition, he  fought and won at ' Weight 15', the heaviest weight.
In 1937, Bob was out midway through the Tennis Tournament but he did well at Swimming and gained  his colours. He was in the team which was matched against Poole G.S. There were only two events, a relay race of six laps of 45 yards and an 80 yards race. Bob was in both the relay and the 80 yds race which he won.  In the Swimming Sports he won the Senior Breast Stroke.
He again won the Senior Breast Stroke in 1938 and came econd in the 160 yards race (upstream and then down). Earlier in the year, he won at 'Weight  15' (1 off max) in the Boxing Tournament. On 3rd November Speech Day he was awarded a prize for Art.
Bob was in the School Play, "Six Men of Dorset" in the Spring of 1939, when he played the part of a farmer. That term, he was also in the Rugby XV  (Photo in No 80 -P8/9)
In 1939, Bob lost at the heaviest weight in the Boxing Final. Later in 1939, he played at Right Half in the Soccer XI . The School Magazine recorded that, " Although handicapped by a lack of speed, his play improved steadily as the season progressed.  He developed into a strong, hard working half who will be a decided asset to the side when he has learned to distribute the ball accurately."   (Photo in No. 82-P9)
The 1940 School Play,"Bees on the Boat Deck"  (J.B.Priestley) ,gave Bob another opportunity to display his acting skill. The review in the School Magazine read, " .. And R.A.Chalmers as Lord Cottingley , [gave] almost a star performance, but, luckily for the rest of us, always in the picture.  Here was a boy who got right under the skin of the character he was impersonating,  in spite of the cigar.  This latter was a concession, first to Chalmers (he seemed to like cigars) and secondly to the conventional stage idea of a Lord. But Chalmers didn't need either to carry conviction. There will be few who forget his tremendous final exit.   He seemed to shatter the world."
However, by the Autumn he was at No. 1,Manning Depot, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, in Toronto and, in the summer of 1941 he was on operational duties in the
Middle East, as a Sergeant  Pilot. [108 Squadron reformed at Kabrit on the west side and south end of the Great Bitter Lake  on the Suez Canal. 1st August 1941, flying Wellington bombers.  From November 1941, it was being progressively re-equipped with  Liberators ].
Bob was the pilot of a Wellington bomber and it is understood that the aircraft had been on night operations but crashed on returning to his base after a successful attack. Four of the crew survived but Robert lost his life. He lies in  the Heliopolis War Cemetery, Egypt.  This is some 6 miles north-east of the centre of Cairo.
The Winburnian'  No. 90 - Autumn Term 1942,  recorded the following tribute :-,
"  Those who saw  the performance of R.A.Chalmers in "Bees on the Boat Deck"  will not readily forget it.  He  had given a taste of his quality in the School's previous production "The Six Men of Dorset",  but, in the Priestley play, he was brilliant.  It may be truly said that he staggered everybody. He understood with such ready intuition, the type of character he was portraying,  and he portrayed it with such amazing brilliance and effortless power that all who saw him realised that under that quiet unassuming exterior lay something deeper.
His later life proved that,  and all who remember him, mourn the heroic memory  of one who always gave his best when the cause appealed to his imagination and sympathy,  in big things as in small. "      Mr. L. H. Mottram.  

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