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EPISKOPI HASH HOUSE HARRIERS CYPRUS

(One Of The Last Gentlemen Only Hashes in The World)

 Peter Hogg  26th October 1947 to 3rd November 2019

 On Pres' 5th May 2008 to 27th September 2009

Peter Hogg - A Hash Tribute

It was a pleasure to hear from Russell about Peter’s earlier life and military career, my job today is to talk briefly about a more recent passion; the Episkopi Hash House Harriers. As we heard earlier, Peter served as both the Treasurer and Chair of the Army Benevolent Fund for many years and this actually mirrored his service to the Episkopi Hash House Harriers which he joined in 2003.  He was Hash Cash in 2007 and took up the role of On Pres  the following year. After a yachting trip with his good friend  Jack Blocki in 2005, Peter introduced Hash Sailing trips in 2006, 7 and 8 which were a great success in all regards, other than his futile attempts to teach Laurie how to navigate.

The piper could not have chosen a more appropriate melody to lead us in to the cemetery today as Peter was a ‘Scottish Soldier’ through and through. His beloved regiment the Kings Own Scottish Borderers featured in many of his addresses to the Hash. Peter was less than pleased when in March 2006, the Borderers were amalgamated with the Highland Fusiliers, the Black Watch and the 2 other Highland Regiments to form the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The Hash were treated to numerous bouts of disdain from Hoggy over that administrative masterpiece from Whitehall.

As On Pres, Peter cast aside the comedic role adopted by some of his predecessors, opting instead for his unique military “Tales of Derring Do”, these were entertaining narratives drawn from his extensive knowledge of military history and his long years of service around the world.  His tales often featured in the starring role, not Peter himself but the infamous and now legendary  “Wullie the Heid”. His escapades kept us all enthralled. 

Peter regularly made the trip to London for the annual Remembrance Day service and could often be seen in the parade passing the Cenotaph pushing the wheelchair of one of Britain’s much decorated veterans.  Just last year he sought me out to tell me that he was paired with Sir Willie Purves, former Chairman of the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, whom I knew from my years in HK. Peter told me the fascinating story of how at the age of 19,  Willie Purves became the only national serviceman ever to earn the DSO, fighting with the Borderers in Korea. For me this typified Peter as it highlighted not only his interest in and knowledge of military history, but his ability to tell a compelling story at either an individual or a national level. It was only 5 weeks ago that Peter regaled us all on the Hash with amusing tales of ‘Nobby Nae Nose’ without notes or even much preparation. He was always a consummate, compelling, entertaining performer who did not suffer fools, or hecklers,  gladly. Someone suggested that the storm this morning was Peter’s last Crit!

Not many Hashers know this, but it was Peter who devised and introduced the ‘League Tables’ which we used to use in the Hash.  These were performance statistics  which were then translated into tables rather like the football league. It is interesting therefore to note that in recent years Peter refused to read out the stats, claiming that “nobody is interested in that rubbish”! It therefore gives me perverse pleasure to announce that in his time with us, Hoggy completed 755 runs and 95 Hares, for a highly respectable ratio of 7.9. His last Hash was on Tuesday 29th October, just 5 days before his passing.

We Hashers like to think that Peter is now running that great Hash trail in the sky, where the runs are never shite, the beer is always cold and there are once again, 5 Scottish regiments, lead of course by the Kings Own Borderers.

I’m going to finish now with a few appropriate lines from Robert Burns,

 

An honest man here lies at rest

As e'er God with his image blest.

The friend of man, the friend of truth;

The friend of Age, and guide of Youth:

Few hearts like his with virtue warm'd,

Few heads with knowledge so inform'd:

If there's another world, he lives in bliss;

If there is none, he made the best of this.

 

On On Peter.

 

JACK

Whilst fully appreciating the exploits of Jack was to say the least a customary phenomenon at every EH3 Chop; here is a timely reminder of some.

 

Flight Lieutenant Jacek (Jack) Blocki was one of only 65 pilots of Bomber Command to complete two Operational Tours during the Second World War.  He was awarded the Virtuti Militari, Poland’s highest military award, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross.

 

Jack escaped from Poland and the advancing German forces to the UK in 1939, enlisted in the Royal Air Force and trained to become a Bomber Command pilot.  By 1941 aged 20, in the rank of sergeant, he was a senior pilot in 305 Polish Bomber Squadron flying Wellington Mk11’s, well into his first tour of operations and was nicknamed ‘Lucky Jack’.  On his 11th operational mission to Saarbrucken in the German Ruhr, Jack’s Wellington ‘S’ for Sugar was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire including the loss of one of its two engines.  With 33 holes in the fuselage, nonexistent wing flaps, only one engine and with wounded crew Jack brought ‘S’ for Sugar home to RAF Lindholme.  In 1942 he completed his first Operational Tour, was promoted Flight Sergeant, awarded the Virtuti Militari and rested as a flying instructor.  During his first 1,000 hours of flying he clocked up 600 at night.

 

Early 1943 Jack was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer, converted to the American B24 Liberator bomber and commenced his second Operational Tour with 1586 Special Duty Flight based at Brindisi, Italy. The role of 1586 was highly classified; it primarily involved the parachuting of agents and materiel into German occupied Europe, including Poland.  Practically all operations were at night, requiring precision low level flying through the Alps to the Baltic in the North and Balkan Mountains in the South. 

 

By April 1944 Jack had completed a further 300 operational flying hours and near the end of his second tour when he was selected to participate in ‘Operation Butterfly’; the extraction of Polish government members from Poland  Jack, as second pilot and navigator, flew in a DC3 Dakota having had only one day’s familiarisation with the aircraft, from Bari in Italy to grass landing strip near Krakow, Poland.  The landing strip was ‘no man’s land’ between the retreating Germans and advancing Soviets.  On landing in the dark, Jack bundled the officials onboard grabbed a handful of Polish grass and with tracer illuminating the sky he assisted the Dakota captain with a particularly ‘hairy’ take off.  This was the final operation of his second Operational Tour. 

On return to the UK Jack, now a Flight Lieutenant, along with the Dakota captain Flight Lieutenant Jim O’Donovan was summoned to Headquarters Bomber Command to meet their passengers.  In the company of the British Foreign Minister they were introduced to the Polish Government in London.  Jim O’Donovan was awarded the Virtuti Militari, Jack having been previously awarded the medal was offered any posting of his choice.  Knowing he was to be rested having completed his second Operational Tour Jack asked for the Ferry Command Service based in Canada.  He spent the remaining few months of WW2 ferrying aircraft from Canada to the UK.

 

During his first Operational Tour Jack met, fell in love with the only lady in his life Hilda.  They married between Operational Tours and their son, Michael, was born in 1945.

 

In 1947 Jack was granted a permanent commission in the rank of Flight Lieutenant and appointed Flight Commander of eight Anson aircraft at RAF Topcliffe, followed by command of 23 Group VIP Communication Flight at RAF Swinderby.  In the early 50’s the RAF decided no aircrew over the age of 30 would fly in operational bomber squadrons, thereby at the age of 32 Jack decided to apply for ground specialisation and qualified as a high intensity Air Traffic Controller.   Postings to Singapore and Malaya followed, returning to the UK in 1957.  In 1968 and during the height of the Communist regime in Poland, Jack was informed of his elderly mother’s terminal illness.  Accompanied by Hilda, he set off for Poland in their ‘Devonette’ campervan with the Union Flag flying from the wing mirror!

 

1970 saw Jack at RAF Ouston and the beginning of his love of offshore sailing.  Attending night school at South Shields Marin Collage he qualified as Yacht Master, albeit with little practical experience, and a seed was sown.  Jack’s final posting was to RAF Nicosia where in 1974 having obtained a loan against his impending service terminal gratuity he purchased a brand new 32 foot Bermudian sloop, named her Smoo-Cher after his boxer dog and planned to sail her from Plymouth to Larnaca.  Having obtained his total annual leave of six weeks, Jack with Hilda as crew set off on the 22nd of February and having experienced Force 10 gales in the Bay of Biscay, stops at Gibraltar, Sicily and Greece they entered Larnaca Marina on the 10th of April. 

 

In July 1974 Jack was stationed at RAF Nicosia with Hilda in married quarters when the Cyprus coup took place quickly followed by the Turkish invasion.  Between strafing Turkish jets and Greek artillery Jack and Hilda took cover under their solid oak dining room table.  Hilda was evacuated to the UK, Jack to RAF Akrotiri and with much concern; Smoo-Cher remained in Larnaca Marina.  A lift was hitched on a helicopter and Smoo-Cher was sailed to the safety of Akrotiri Mole.  Jack then wore the Blue Beret of the United Nations for a nine month unaccompanied tour whilst Hilda was in a Brize Norton married quarter. 

Hilda returned to Cyprus and on Christmas Eve 1976 Jack retired from the RAF, set about building their house in Erimi and sail the Mediterranean.

 

1976 also saw Jack join the Episkopi Hash House Harriers with which he completed a phenomenal one thousand five hundred and eighty five runs with one hundred and twenty two hares.  We will never see the likes again.  

                     

Bomber Pilot, Ocean Yachtsman and Episkopi Hash House Harrier, Jack died on the 12th of September 2010, aged 88 years.  Of the 125,000 who served with the Command during WW2 only 65 pilots completed two Operational Tours – Jack was one of them.  He was awarded the Virtuti Militari.  On completion of each of his Operational Tours both of his aircraft crews were lost whilst flying with other pilots.  The Bomber Command Memorial was very dear to Jack. Those who attended his funeral donated £812 with a further £90 donated by Hashers directly to the website http://www.justgiving.com/Espiskopi-Hash-House-Harriers .

 

On On Jack