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Wednesday, 6 February, 2002, 03:34 GMT
King George VI's death: Your memories
Some of our users who remember the day
The death of King George VI half a century years ago is seared into the memories of many people. Here, BBC News Online users recall the day. Where available, photographs show them then and/or now.


I remember being out on the playground of our primary school when we were told to assemble for an announcement. We were told the King was dead, and that we were to be sent home early. We all cheered and were promptly spoken to quite sternly and told it was not a time to be celebrating. My mother had to go out to buy my dad a black tie and material to make an armband. She searched all over town as everyone was doing the same thing. I was eight years old at the time and lived in Loughton, Essex.
Barbara Bonner, US

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I was four years old in February 1952 and at home with my mother. About mid-morning, my grandmother called round to break the sad news. I can remember the shock on my mother's face, and both of them sobbing. We didn't have television, so the only pictures of the funeral were black and white in the newspaper, we took the Daily Chronicle if I remember rightly. We children were not allowed to go out and play in the street as it was disrespectful.
Ros Thorne, England

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I remember the day that King George VI died. I was serving at RAF St. Eval in Cornwall at the time. The reason I remember it so well is that it was the day that one of my senior aircraftmen died. He had been in a minor traffic accident in Malta while on a service trip. He had reported to the medical centre in the morning and had been sent back to duty. As he was still obviously ill, I sent him back to his billet to rest. He died within a few hours. Both facts, the death of a 56-year-old king and the unnecessary death of a 19-year-old stick in my memory. I was in the Guard of Honour at the parade for the King and in charge of the escort for the coffin for the airman in Newquay station. Seems like yesterday yet it is a long time ago!
Peter W. Pearce, US/UK

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I was five years old. Radio programs were cancelled and replaced by sombre music. As a small child who didn't know the King personally, the reason for the sombre music was not clear, so instead I played children's gramophone records to brighten the day!
Chris O'Hanlon, Finland (Was UK until October 2001)

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I was 10 years old and had been sent to the local shop by my mother to buy a loaf of bread. I overheard the shopkeeper tell another customer that the King had died. On returning home and telling my mother the sad news she responded by slapping me on the face in shock saying: "How dare you tell such an awful lie."
Irene Crosthwaite, Scotland

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I was a typical English schoolboy, age "seven and three quarters" and dozing in bed at home in Chingford. My mother came in and I supposed it was to get me up for school. She held up a paper, a tabloid, maybe the Daily Graphic or Daily Sketch. "The King is dead," she said. She seemed very serious, so I supposed it was important. I felt some sense of significance but not much. Just a feeling of wonder at what would happen now. What happened was that radio became very boring for a while. No "Housewive's Choice" or "Worker's Playtime" or "Dick Barton, Special Agent", but I can hear now, in my memory, the solemn music and know that I felt it was proper that it be so if someone important had died.
Barrie Martindale, Canada/UK

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In 1952 I worked for Odhams Press in London, the editorial for John Bull magazine was written about a month ahead of the published date, the periodical had started distribution carrying a very concerned appeal to His Majesty to suspend his planned trip to Africa, when an announcement came from the Palace that the King had passed on. This caused a panic in the editorial offices, because not only did it destroy the illusion that the magazine kept up-to-date, it also left the magazine open to accusations of bad taste if all the issues could not be recovered.
Leon Kay, Canada

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I was on National Service in the Royal Signals, Catterick, Yorkshire. I was a sergeant instructor on a training course for radio mechanics. The final course test was for the trainee mechanics to repair a defective radio. In preparation for the test we would put about eight defective pieces into the circuits of 15 radios. The trainees had a fixed time of two hours to identify the defects in their radio and make the necessary repairs. The proof of success was to tune into a BBC station. On the morning of the King's death nobody knew that BBC transmissions were suspended. So after three hours with no radios working, exasperated trainees and instructors went for lunch and then slowly realised what had happened.
Edward Jones, Brazil

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I lived in Orkney at the time and was just a child. I remember coming home from school and my Mum was sitting at the kitchen table crying. I'd never seen her cry before and I asked what was wrong. All she said was, "A good man died today."
Evelyn Hlabse, USA

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I was in bed with whooping cough at the time and my mother noticed the flag on the fire station opposite was at half-mast. Putting on the radio to find out what was going on there was only the obligatory sombre music until a news bulletin came round. The funeral was on my sixth birthday.
John, Jersey

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I was a small boy in Linthorpe Junior school in Middlesbrough when we were told that the headmaster, Mr Starling, was about to make an important announcement over the intercom to the whole school. He informed us that the King had passed peacefully away in his sleep. It was indeed a surprise an we weren't quite sure what to make of it. I went bouncing home at lunchtime to tell my mother, who hadn't yet heard.
Michael Bharier, US

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I was in the Australian Army as a National Service Trainee in 1952 and recall with sadness the death of the King. One memory is that of how strange it seemed to be singing "God Save the Queen" and watching as the National Flag was lowered to half-staff.
William Smith, Canada

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I was a small kid in class at school. The head teacher came in and interrupted the lesson. She whispered with our teacher and then she announced: "The King is dead" in a hushed reverent voice. I remember that the utterance had great severity and import and meant absolutely nothing to me!
Bernie Edwards, UK

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The King's death was the first world event that had an impact on me that I was aware of. At six years of age, I had just learned to sing God Save The King, which was then part of every day at school. Suddenly learning to learn to sing God Save the Queen, and to understand what had happened was a big deal for a youngster.
David Hardisty, Canada

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I was six years old and at school in Coventry when the teacher told us that the King had died. We lived in a prefab nearby and I remember racing home, bursting to tell Mum and Dad this momentous news. "The King's dead!" I shouted, as I rushed in through the door. Dad was sitting by the radio, twiddling the knobs, realising now why he couldn't tune in to any station as they had all closed down. He looked utterly shocked. I think everyone was. It was so unexpected.
Janet Lott, UK

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I was in class in South Road School when Mr Beale who was a most feared and hated teacher in our eyes, opened the classroom door and was weeping to announce that the king had died. I could not take in how something like that could make the iron man weep. I was only 11 myself.
Sheila Pinniger, Australia

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In the middle of an English class when I was age 14, at Dunbar Grammar School, Scotland, French teacher Miss Morrison (normally as hard as nails) burst into the classroom in tears and blubbered "The King is dead, the King is dead". After she calmed down we all stood up for a minute's silence then sang "God Save the Queen". We then resumed the English lesson.
Doug Smith, Canada

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I was at school in Greenock, when classes were suddenly suspended, and we were all sent home. Having even part of a day off school would normally have been cause for celebration, but on this day the solemn mood was obvious even to a seven year old. King George was profoundly respected as the monarch who had stood fast during the recently-ended war.
Campbell Kelly, Canada

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I was a seven year old school boy in Crosby near Liverpool when I heard of the King's death. I thought it was a major tragedy. On my way home from school I stopped nearly everybody I passed in the street to inform them of this awful event. It was a two-mile walk home so I informed a lot of people who must have already known.
Paul Watts, Denmark

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I was in the Lower Fifth, at Middlesbrough High School, coming up to my 15th birthday - that very morning we had wished one of our form-mates "Happy Birthday". The news was announced, just before (or perhaps just after) the mid-morning break by our headmaster, WW Fletcher, a very dignified man who had served in the Navy during WW I. I remember how very shocked we all were. How could the King die? It didn't seem possible. At lunchtime we went out into the town where the newspaper sellers shouted the news. It was a grey, miserable day. Later, on the day of the funeral, I saw television for the first time: in the window of an electrical goods shop.
Keith Gordon, France

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In February 1952, I had been in Greece only a few weeks as part of a US Air Force team to help usher the then Royal Hellenic Air Force into the jet age. On this particular morning, I had travelled from central Athens to Ellenikon Airport on an American Mission bus. At the airport while waiting to return to Athens, our Scottish driver stood and announced that he had just heard on the radio that King George VI had died. I recall the sombre mood that prevailed as we made our way back into the city.
Gene Armstrong, US

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I was at school in Liverpool, St. Edward's College - we were at a music lesson, when a member of staff burst in to say that the King was dead. We said prayers for him at once. I remember a real sense of grief that has never quite gone away. I still pray for those who keep us together as a country.
Father Paul M Addison OSM, Jamaica

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I was in the RAF when King George VI died. I remember it well since I was asked to play the Last Post on the trumpet on the parade ground at RAF Compton Bassett. It was cold, I split my top lip but was able to continue to the end of the piece.
Frank, USA

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I was in my last year at school. Crossing the sports field from one building to another, I noticed that the flag on the cricket pavilion was at half-mast. I asked a master why, and he told me that King George had died, and that we were all to be sent home. From then onwards until the funeral, I think, there was little on the radio except solemn music and news bulletins. I cannot recall anything at all being on TV, which had just reached our part of the country.
John Griffith, UK

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I recall the death of King George VI vividly. I was at Marling School, Stroud, Gloucestershire. The whole school was called to the hall (in the morning I think). When everyone was settled the headmaster of the day JM Eagles came on to the stage and told us that His Majesty had died. I was 15 at the time.
Geoffrey Chandler, Canada

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I was still at primary school when King George VI died. The thing I most remember was the fact that it seemed so sudden. Of course, looking back, this was at a time when people didn't know too much about the Royal Family and it was obviously kept a secret - the fact that he had lung cancer. Nowadays we would have known all the details long before it happened.
Liz Williams, Canada

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I was a 13-year-old schoolgirl in north London on that fateful day. We were at morning recess, about 10:30am when our teachers told us to go the assembly hall. Our headmistress looked very solemn as she told us that His Majesty had died. We said some prayers. Then we were told to go home for the day. It was a very sad journey home on the bus, as people were discussing the news in hushed tones.
Margaret Beardon, Canada

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I was nine and along with other cubs in a parade of uniformed youth organisations, stood around a flag pole and listened to speeches. It was in sunny South Africa near the dockyard in Simons Town. We were sad but more pleased to be getting a new young Queen who travelled in aeroplanes.
Brodnax Moore, France

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The death of King George VI is one of my earliest memories as it happened the day before my fifth birthday. We lived in an upstairs flat in New Cross and I can remember my mother rushing to the door as she heard our downstairs neighbour running up our stairs, sobbing and trying to tell us that the King had died.
Avril Milne, Canada


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