Arthur Deamer, who now lives in Ger-y-Llan, attended the party at Buckingham Palace last Thursday, in the presence of the Duchess of Cornwall, Camilla Parker Bowles, to celebrate 150 years of Barnardo’s, a charity which aims to transform the lives of vulnerable children.
Speaking to the Cambrian News this week, Arthur described how he is testament to the work of the charity after he defied the odds to go from child orphan to playing a major part in defeating the Nazis in the Second World War.
“My mother lost two husbands in the First World War,” he said, recalling how he became an orphan. “She had a daughter from her first husband and a daughter from her second husband, and then went a bit haywire and had me and three other kids. My sister from my mother’s second husband and I were deserted.”
After being found abandoned, Arthur was taken into the care of Surrey County Council and found to have rickets, a disorder caused by malnutrition which results in soft bones, forcing him to wear calipers on both of his legs for the first nine years of his life.
At the age of eight, Arthur was moved to an orphanage workhouse in Chelmsford, a place he described as “dreadful”.
“It was a dreadful place but we didn’t know any different,” he recalls. “Discipline was thrashed into us and we were taught not to be burdens on society.”
But in 1937, at the age of 14, Arthur was sent to Goldings, a training school housed in a stately mansion near Hertford and run by the Dr Barnardo’s Homes charity.
Arthur, who attends a Goldings reunion every year, said: “It was like heaven on earth — it was a fantastic place. Goldings was a trade school where boys learned a trade such as carpentry, metal work, or engineering. Boys were given a choice and I learned sheet metal work.”
At the start of the Second World War, when Arthur was 16, a selection team from De Havilland, a company which made war aircraft, visited Goldings and selected four of the most skilled boys to join their workforce, one of which was Arthur.
After working at De Havilland for a year, during which time Barnardo’s continued to support Arthur financially, the factory was hit by four bombs from a German bomber, killing 21 workers and injuring 70. Fortunately, Arthur escaped uninjured.
Following his dice with death, the government mysteriously ordered Arthur to work at the British Tabulating Company for an unspecified reason.
Arthur soon discovered he would be working on one of the most important endeavours in defeating Nazi Germany — deciphering the Enigma code.
Arthur was tasked with hand-crafting and fitting all the metal components of dozens of ‘Bombe’ Enigma code deciphering machines which were successful in deciphering the code and ultimately turning the tide of the war.
Ahead of the party, when asked how he feels about it Arthur said: “I’m not an emotional bloke but I am glad they recognise the great work that Dr Barnardo did. I am looking forward to it.”
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