Bob Down was married to Kathleen Ainsworth (1892 - 1982). She was quite a few years older and he remarried after her death. He dictated his reminiscences during his second marriage. After his death his widow, Georgina, passed the tapes and some other memorabilia to my father. They are of particular interest in connection with his missionary work in Madagascar before and during the Second World War. I have digitised them and can supply them in .mp3 format on disk.There were 11 tapes in all and the originals have been deposited with the School of Oriental Studies ("SOAS") at London University which has collections relating to missionary work.
You can listen to the first side of the first tape here. It may be slow to open and will depend on the audio playing software on your computer.
I will give here a brief resume of his life as gleaned from the tapes.
He was born in 1907 and grew up in Exeter. He left school at a young age and had some sort of office job in London.
It seems to have been then that he first had the idea of becoming a missionary. He then had a job in Bath where he
took an active part in the life of the Congregational church. It was in Bath that he met Kathleen ('Kay') Ainsworth, whom he married in 1928.
He then pursued his ambition of becoming a missionary by gaining admission
to a theological college in Bristol where he was for some years. At the end of this he was ordained as a missionary and he
and Kay went to Madagascar in about 1936. During the war Madagascar was ruled by Vichy France and was invaded and taken over
by the British and South Africans. He became involved in this and ended up by becoming an army chaplain and leaving the mission.
As an army chaplain he moved to East Africa and then, with an East African regiment, to Burma where he was involved in the final
stages of the Burma campaign. The demobilisation took some time so he was in India before returning to England. Kay had returned
to England, presumably when he went to Burma.
He then had a further posting with the army in Wiltshire before becoming a minister at the Congregational Church in Moreton-in-the-Marsh in 1947. The next move was in 1950 to Salisbury and then in the late 1950s to London where he was a minister in Earlsfield, Wandsworth.. In London he became involved in teaching at a higher educational college. Initially I think he taught English and languages but later psychology. The college became involved in giving courses to members of the Armed Forces before returning to civilian life. This took him regularly to Germany and Cyprus and he has also given detailed descriptions of visits to Singapore and Hong Kong. He continued with the teaching after retiring from the ministry in Wandsworth and moving to Hindhead in Surrey, although he remained actively involved in various churches in that area. He ends with his retirement from the teaching when Kay had cataract operations necessitating him staying at home.
Please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like a disk
4th Dec 2015
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