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Letter found behind fireplace written by former Oxford Mail man
OUR search for a 1940s airman this week has had surprising consequences, and brought the hunt a little closer to home than expected.
In Wednesday’s Oxford Mail , we reported how a letter from a Bert Badcock to his parents had been discovered behind a fireplace in Jericho during a redevelopment.
It lay hidden in the house untouched for 65 years and house owners Lucy Properties were desperate to return it to its rightful owner.
The Oxford Mail has since been inundated with calls.
And it seems Mr Badcock worked for the Oxford Mail and sister paper The Oxford Times from the age of 14 until his retirement in 1989.
Reader Ed Trafford said: “I worked with a Bert Badcock when he worked as a Linotype operator at the Oxford Mail when it was based in New Inn Hall Street.
He was the lino operator and then he was in charge of the copy desk in later yearsBob Redman
“He was still there when it moved to Osney Mead, so he must have been there over 40 years. He was a really nice guy. He had two daughters, Wendy and Jacqueline.”
The letter, dated August 1947, was sent from Malaya, where Mr Badcock was serving with the Royal Air Force.
It seems he would have taken time off his career for military service.
Bob Redman, 79, from Kennington, said: “I can’t tell you if it was the same Bert, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. He was the lino operator and then he was in charge of the copy desk in later years.”
David Townsend, from Kidlington, said: “I was a schoolmate of his at St Philip and St James Primary School. He was living in Juxon Street.”
And 70-year-old Elizabeth Leach said she and her brother George were evacuated to stay with the Badcocks during the Second World War.
She said: “I kept in touch with his sister Audrey.”
Various former members of staff at the Oxford Mail offices in Osney Mead also said they had known Bert.
The paper was based in New Inn Hall Street before moving to the industrial estate off Botley Road in 1972. Linotype operators worked typesetting machines for the newspapers up until the 1970s.
Former colleague Dennis Sumner said: “I retired in 1988 and I believe he retired a couple of years after me.
“I ran the social club for the Oxford Mail and then he took over as secretary-chairman, he was very well-known.”
Mr Badcock passed away at the St Michael Sobell House in 1999, at the age of 71.
- Do you know Bert’s family? Call us on 01865 425411.