With Grateful Thanks To Anna Clark, who kindly supplied this information.
Jimmy James was born on 3rd May, 1917 in Ridgmont, Bedfordshire, near Woburn Abbey, where he has memories of the Duke of Bedford sounding the horn of his Rolls Royce as he passed through the gates of his estate.
Jimmy’s father ran a butcher’s shop and met Jimmy’s mother there, where she worked as a cashier. They married and had Jimmy, Frances and Aubrey. The children attended local schools and, on leaving, Jimmy went to work at a firm of Chartered Accountants in Chesham.
In 1940 Jimmy was called up and posted to the Royal Army Pay Corps in Exeter where he remained for 3 years until posted overseas, which turned out to be Meerut in India. En route Jimmy spent 3 months in Durban. He remained in India for another year and spent some amazing weekends on leave in Kashmir and Delhi.
After discharge Jimmy returned to the Chartered Accountants in Chesham which he found very difficult. Out of the blue a friend, who had worked with him in India, invited him to join an American Company – an oil and chemical refinery business - just opening in Park Lane in London. The Company consisted originally of 28 people and, when Jimmy retired, as Deputy Managing Director, the numbers had increased to over 400. Jimmy travelled all over the world for the company, including North and South America and also India, where he was a guest at Viceregal Lodge, Shimla, the summer residence of the Viceroy of India. It gave Jimmy much pleasure to return to India after the War.
Jimmy started playing tennis at the age of 14 on a local farmer’s grass court. On retirement he met Joan Forda who introduced him to the Forty-Five Club, which he joined in 1976. Subsequently Jimmy became Secretary of the Club. Jimmy actively played tennis deep into his nineties at the Roehampton Club and then took up Croquet there. He used the Club most days and said hello to everyone in the clubhouse, accompanied by his cheerful smile. He was still a regular player of golf and croquet, setting a wonderful example to all in enjoying the games into older age. He still had ambitions of improving his handicap!
Jimmy was a long and loyal supporter of Luton Town, who recognised his long-standing loyalty by awarding him Honorary Life Membership. Jimmy had also been awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Institute of Directors and the Roehampton Club.
It was a pleasure for me to attend Jimmy’s 100 Birthday Party at the Roehampton Club, and to hear him speak, without any notes, about his life. On a further visit he told me that he had just had his driving licence renewed for a further three years!
Jimmy continued to be active and I attended his 102nd Birthday Lunch on the 5th May, 2019. My last contact with him was his annual Christmas card last December.
A truly remarkable gentleman and inspiration to us all.
Jimmy died on 11th March, 2020.