Former Vice-Consul celebrates 100 years

arthur wainford of bexhill celebrates his 100th birthday
arthur wainford of bexhill celebrates his 100th birthday

THIS week has seen celebration of the 100th birthday of Arthur Wainford, a man whose fascinating career saw him travel the globe representing Queen and country in a variety of demanding roles.

Arthur would not describe himself as having been a James Bond character but at one stage he did carry out duties of a covert nature in Her Majesty’s service, and he has signed the Offical Secrets Act six times.

Arthur was Britain’s Vice-Consul in Tokyo and then in Dubai from the 1960s to early 1970s but during the war he won awards including the Africa Star, Defence Medal, Italian Medal, and 1939-45 Star.

He marked his birthday last Saturday with a party for family and friends at Lennox Lodge in The Highlands where he has lived for six years as a resident, and appreciates the care received from staff, particularly “outstandingly excellent” Katie Tomlins.

He received congratulations from the Queen and also Iain Duncan Smith, Minister for Works and Pensions.

Arthur’s daughter Marion Bunce lives locally in New Park Avenue and Arthur himself came here at the age of 65 and was a first occupant of then new flats at Galley Hill before moving to The Links off College Road.

Arther was born in a village near Hertford and his first job on leaving school was as library assistant. He worked for Hertfordshire police before going into insurance, but when war broke out he was called up in June 1940 and joined the military police. He was posted to the Special Investigation Branch and received a Commendation from “blood and guts” General Patten. Arthur still has his copy of a letter from the famous man authorising him to investigate American activities in Sicily, because army property was going missing, and he then had the difficult task of working undercover amid American soldiers. After the war he worked in Germany in the Control Commission, as Inspector in charge, and left Hanover with wife Muriel when it disbanded after 10 years. He joined the Foreign Office in Finland before returning to Germany to take on a role in the Diplomatic Corps. In the 1960s he went to Turkey to work in the British Embassy, then Tokyo as Vice-Consul, and was the Middle East during the emergence of the United Arab Emirates, based in Dubai.

“I have signed the Official Secrets Act about six times,” he said this week. “Every time I moved I signed it again.”

He spent 30 years living and working abroad, but in January 1972 retired at the age of 60 and settled first near Skegness before moving to Bexhill to be near his daughter. Of being 100 years old he commented: “I never thought I would get there.” He is a former saxophonist of semi-professional level, who played in a number of bands in pre-war years, and it was his love of reading that took him into his early work in libraries.