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Thread: Bedser Twins in the RAF

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    Default Bedser Twins in the RAF

    Reading about the death of Sir Alec Bedser I noticed that he and his twin brother Eric joined the RAF at the outbreak of hostilities in WW2. They finished the war with the ranks of Warrant Officer and Flight Sergeant but indications were that they were not aircrew.

    Can anyone tell me more about their RAF career.

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    The Scotsman says this about their war service:

    "Posted to the investigation branch of Royal Air Force security, the brothers went to France, were evacuated from Dunkirk and, from 1943, saw service in North Africa, Italy and Austria. After the war the twins helped investigate war crimes committed by Italians against allied airmen, and were demobilised just in time for the start of the 1946 cricket season."

    Nothing comes up for Bedser in Flight and only his CBE (1982) and knighthood (1996, 1997) notices appear in the Gazette - the week after Paul McCartney's.
    Last edited by dfuller52; 8th April 2010 at 12:40. Reason: add'tl info
    David

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    That was most interesting David, thank you.

    Norman

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    Thanks for this information. A bit late but I could not visit the site until just now. I like the report that when Eric played his first test against Australia and his mother was told that he took 7 wickets she replied " well isn't that what they are paying him to do ".

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    Default Bedser twins

    A nice story, but it must be about Alec, since Eric never played for England.

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    Quote Originally Posted by David Gunby View Post
    A nice story, but it must be about Alec, since Eric never played for England.
    Thanks again David. I would have lost money betting that they both played for England.

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    Yes, both men served in the ranks of the RAF Police during WWII......

    Sadly on the 4th April 2010, Sir Alec Bedser, the former Surrey and England cricketer passed away at the age of ninety-one. Vied with Sydney Barnes and Maurice Tate as the greatest fast-medium bowler of all time his supreme triumph came in 1953, when his 39 wickets at 17.48 apiece in five test matches enabled England to reclaim the Ashes for the first time since the Bodyline series of 1932-33. The other nine bowlers used by England that summer managed only 52 wickets between them. Alec Victor Bedser was born at Reading on the 4th July 1918, ten minutes after his identical twin Eric Arthur Bedser. The boys were brought up Horsell Common, and then at Knaphill, Surrey. The twins’ father earned his living as a bricklayer. In his spare time he enjoyed cricket at Woodham Hall, and at soccer turned out for Woking in the Isthmian League. The twins grew up with a cautious attitude to life which allowed no scope for frills or frivolity. From the age of five they walked a mile each way to Maybury Junior School. Later, at Monument Hill Central School, they impressed with their industry, and even when separated from each other made the same mistakes in their work. Both of them were good enough soccer players to be chosen first for Woking Boys and then for Surrey Boys; they shared a dream of playing for Arsenal. Cricket, however, remained their first love. They were fortunate to come to the notice of the Reverend R T Jourdain, the cricket-mad vicar of All Saints Woodham, where they sang in the choir. Jourdain organised matches in which the twins shone. At the age of fourteen they began work as clerks in a solicitor’s office in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, which left them with little spare time: even on Saturdays they were not free until after noon. Luck came their way when Alan Peach, a former Surrey all-rounder, opened a cricket school at Woking. The twins devoted every moment to the school, earning their places with long stints of bowling. As teenagers, both Bedsers bowled fast-medium. Deciding, however, that some variation was required in the fraternal armoury, they tossed a coin to decide which twin should take up another mode of attack. Alec won, and thenceforward Eric concentrated on off-breaks. Alan Peach recommended the Bedsers to the Oval, and in April 1938 they abandoned the law firm to join the Surrey ground staff. In the summer their wages were £2 a week plus minimal match fees; in the winter they were paid £1 per week as a retainer. There was a rigid hierarchy: young players were not encouraged to initiate conversation, or even to enter the senior professionals’ dressing room. Yet within weeks the twins were playing with Jack Hobbs in a charity match, and in June 1939 they made their Surrey debuts in a match against Oxford University at the Oval. Alec, however, failed to take a first-class wicket before the Second World War. At the outbreak of hostilities the twins joined the RAF as policemen and were soon sent over to France. They had a narrow escape when strafed by a German fighter on the Belgian border in May 1940 and for a time they were stranded in France, before making their way to Dunkirk and eventually back home. Later the Bedsers served in Algiers, Tunis and Naples. At Caserta they visited the grave of the great Yorkshire spin bowler Hedley Verity, who had been killed in action in 1943, and helped to arrange a headstone. By that time Alec was a flight sergeant, having refused promotion to warrant officer because it would have meant separation from Eric. At the end of hostilities the twins left the RAF and resumed their cricketing careers. When county cricket resumed in 1946, Alec immediately made his mark, and after only seven championship games was selected for the first Test against India. His greater success never affected his closeness to Eric, who genuinely rejoiced in his triumphs. Though the twins might exchange sharp remarks on the field and were unsparingly critical of each other’s golf shots, the bond between them was indissoluble. As though anxious to emphasise that they were sprung from the same egg, they invariably wore the same clothes, revelling in the resulting confusion. They lived together in the house at Woking which they had helped their father to build in 1953, and even shared a bank account. Alec Bedser continued to play for Surrey until 1960, frequently captaining the side in Peter May’s absence. He played a vital part in Surrey’s run of seven consecutive championships from 1952 to 1958, particularly in 1957, when he temporarily recovered full fitness. He served on the England board of selectors from 1961 to 1985, and as chairman from 1968 to 1981. Alec Bedser was appointed OBE in 1964, CBE in 1982, and in 1997 became the only England bowler ever to be knighted. He was President of Surrey in 1987-88. Eric died in 2006. Neither of the Bedser twins married.

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