Sunday, 26 September 2021

Peter Pinches - September 21, 1920 to December 11, 2015

PETER WILLIAM PINCHES was born on September, 21, 1920 to William Thomas Pinches and Margaret Emily Pinches at

PETER WILLIAM PINCHES was born on September, 21, 1920 to William Thomas Pinches and Margaret Emily Pinches at Marlow Riding Stables.

An only child, he grew up in Marlow and went to Sir William Borlase Grammar School. He left school at 14 to work as an apprentice to his grandfather, Tommy Morris, in his butcher’s shop.

When Tommy died, Peter was called back to finish school where he eventually left at 16 to work in his parents’ livery stables.

A hard-working and gifted horseman, he looked after the running of the business and gave riding lessons.

The stables were quite a centre of social activity in the Thirties and many famous people visited, including Vivienne Leigh and Boris Karloff.



Peter actually taught King Zog of Greece to ride. He stunt-doubled frequently in Alexander Korda’s films and, in particular, once for James Mason in the 1930 film I Met A Murderer, where he fell off a galloping horse on his grandfather’s farm at Booker, now the aerodrome. He was paid £5.

In 1940 Peter joined the army as a lorry driver for the Royal Corps of Signals.

He saw action in nine countries, starting with North Africa, as an Eighth Army Desert Rat. He drove across thousands of miles of desert from Libya to Egypt and back many times in a Bedford QL lorry that was restricted to an achingly slow 30mph.

A gregarious and popular soldier, Peter was affectionately nicknamed “Ginger” due to his distinctive red hair.

He was at the Battle of El Alamein in 1942 when the Eighth Army defeated the Afrika Corps and pushed them out of Africa.

Driver Pinches then landed in Italy, where he later caught malaria and was hospitalised.

After his convalescence he was lucky enough to be reunited with his original company and then returned to Blighty before the D-Day invasion, landing on Gold Beach a few days after June 6, 1944. He drove through Falaise in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany and was actually at home on leave when Germany surrendered in May 1945.

Peter had an incredible recall for his time in the army 70 years ago.

His film-making son Richard interviewed him for a personal documentary film in 2011 to record this for the family.

Peter had married his childhood sweetheart, Helen White, a farmer’s daughter from Marlow, in 1944 and later that year they were blessed with their first child, William, the first of five.

Peter’s father had bought a 50-acre farm in 1952 when the Fawley Court Estate was auctioned in lots.

This was to become Meadows Farm where Peter, Helen and family moved in 1964 to look after his father’s beef herd.

Prophetically, Peter used to drive past this land often as a young man and thought how wonderful it would be to go rabbiting and shoot there.

A hard working husband-and-wife team, the couple loved their new home and were soon blessed with their fifth and final child, Richard.

Peter no longer rode horses but was a keen shooter and when not shooting on his own estate, he would work for Lord Hambleden on his weekend shoots as “loader” or a “picker-up” with two trained Labrador dogs.

He loaded shotguns for the likes of Jackie Stewart, Ian Fleming, Prince Michael of Kent and Princess Anne.

A 120-acre arable farm between Marsh Lock and Shiplake was added to the estate and his partnership in his son’s plant hire business became an added business venture.

He finally retired from farming at the age of 74 but his good farmer friend Don Dawes rented the land as grazing for his own herd. Peter was a modest, hard working man with a great love of the countryside and a passion for old films, especially cowboy films.

He was never happier than when trimming his hedges, splitting logs and having big bonfires.

His soulmate Helen sadly died in 2006 but Peter’s family rallied to support him in the dark times afterwards.

Peter had a stroke on Christmas Day 2014. He partly recovered and returned home but his mobility was greatly affected and this was his biggest frustration after being so active all his life.

He had been hedging and splitting logs in the week of his stroke — at the age of 94.

He was always cheerful and jolly despite his deteriorating condition and would often sing the old songs he used to sing in his lorry all those years ago to keep himself company.

Peter’s health eventually declined and he died on December 11 in his own home with his family.

He leaves five children, William, James, Annette, Judy and Richard plus seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

The church service will be at Holy Trinity Church, Henley, at 10am on Wednesday, December 23 followed by the Caversham Crematorium at 12.15pm. No flowers but please donate to the Marie Curie nurses at www.memorygiving.com/peterpinches



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