Claude John Carnegie Bamber was born at Milcroft, Horam, Heathfield, Sussex, on 5 December 1915 to Captain Claude Charles Bamber and Dorothy Maude Carnegie Cheales. After his father’s death at Khorat, North West Frontier, in 1919 while they were on a visit, John, his brother, David, and their mother, Dorothy, returned to England and lived with Dorothy’s parents at Horam, Sussex, and then moved with them in 1923 to Rosebarton, Cherry Tree Walk, Rowledge, Farnham, Surrey.
John and David went to a Prep School at Templegrove, and then gained Kitchener Scholarships to Wellington College. John and David played tennis, and went cycling to explore the nearby Alice Holt Forest, where they collected birds’ eggs, butterflies, moths and beetles. They visited local friends, played at Frensham Ponds, and experimented with photography. They also enjoyed woodwork, leatherwork, and gardening. At Rosebarton, they had their own garden, which was solely their responsibility. They also went to eastern Germany to stay with a family whom their father had known as a child. While there, they learned to speak German and learned aspects of forestry.. They also went on long cycle trips along the Rhine. Their visits to Germany were in the late 1930s during the rise of the Nazi Party, and their host, Uberforster Hans de Murays, was a forester and the local Nazi propagandist. They remember being told about National Socialist ideals and seeing German Army motorcycle combinations driving alongside the Rhine. On one of their summer holidays in the late 1930s, John and David cycled across Ireland.
In 1930, John and David each inherited £1,000 from the estate of the Knights. At that time, this was enough to buy a large house (in 1923, Rosebarton had been bought for £400) and it allowed John and David to be more independent.
In July 1933, John went from Wellington to Woolwich Royal Military Academy. He was gazetted to the Royal Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant. In 1938, he was posted with the Royal Artillery to India. Following the outbreak of the Second World War, John’s Regiment (1st Field Regiment Royal Artillery, 4th Indian Division) was recalled from India and was stationed in Cairo, Egypt, where he met Marion Johnston, the daughter of Archdeacon Francis Johnston.
John and Marion were married in the Cairo Cathedral on 18 June 1940, after which his Regiment was sent to the Western Desert, where it was involved in the initial fighting for Tobruk. In January 1941, John and his Regiment were pulled out of Egypt and sent to Eritrea, where he was killed in a fatal accident in the precipitous winding roads of the hills of Eritrea, while serving in the war against the Italians.
Click on the links below to see various photos and documents relating to John: