Tribute to loving and kind war veteran who opened school in Norfolk

 RAF pilot and teacher, John Arthurson

RAF pilot and teacher, John Arthurson. - Credit: Submitted

Tributes have been paid to a World War Two veteran who opened a school in Norfolk.

Family and friends paid tribute to the RAF pilot and teacher, John Arthurson after he died in the Woodspring Home in Fakenham on Easter Sunday.

Best known in Norfolk for opening The Ethel Tipple School in King's Lynn for children with learning difficulties, he lived with his wife Diana in Gunthorpe. The pair were often seen riding their horses around the area. They were keen badminton and golfers and John played in Fakenham and Cromer.

The family described him as "a very loving, kind, husband, father and grandfather, a dedicated teacher throughout his career with children of all ages and abilities." 

John Arthurson pictured in 1945.

John Arthurson pictured in 1945. - Credit: Submitted

Born in Lancashire on October 2 1922, Mr Arthurson started school in Widnes, before he moved into Cheshire at the age of five when his father was appointed headmaster of a grammar school.

At seventeen, he entered Chester college to train as a teacher. At this time he joined the Liverpool University Air Squadron, volunteering for aircrew he was called into the Royal Air Force in June 1942 to be trained as a navigator.

In the final stages of training, his crew was chosen from three to join a Pathfinder Squadron,  operating with Lancaster aircraft.

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On his very first operational flight, on the night of December 16/17 1943, returning from Berlin, all the crew had to bail out of a Lancaster over Bourn in Lincolnshire when the fog blacked out the airfield and a shortage of fuel left them unable to divert.

John and his crew survived, becoming members of the Caterpillar Club, for people who saved their lives by using a parachute.

John Arthurson's membership card for the Caterpillar Club, for people who saved their lives by using a parachute.

John Arthurson's membership card for the Caterpillar Club, for people who saved their lives by using a parachute. - Credit: Submitted

Mr Arthurson remained in the air force until 1946, amassing some 1,642 hours flight time including ferrying a Wellington bomber to North Africa for use in the Italian campaign and another from Cairo to India.

On his return to “civvy street,” he completed his training at Chester college and started teaching in Cheshire. From there he moved to Winchester and then to a National Children’s Home school in Lancashire as deputy headmaster. 

He gained his diploma in education, spending four years in Germany to the headquarters of the British Army of the Rhine at Rheindahlen, before becoming Head of Queen’s Lower School, a comprehensive middle school.

He came to Norfolk in 1954 to open a school in King's Lynn for children with learning difficulties. Here he met his second wife, Diana, in 1983, who was the headmistress of Holt Special School.

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