The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Ad Notem, In Memoriam.

Posted by Exile on June 26, 2012

At 8,33 on Sunday evening, June 24, 2012 a very dear and old friend passed away. Another victim of the filthy disease we all know as cancer. Ken had fought bravely against it for over two years, first as Leukemia, later as a cancerous infection of his nervous system and, finally, a tumour in his brain for which nothing could be done. I, and many others like me, have become the poorer for his passing. My thoughts go to his family and to his wife, Lynn, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting and yet know, that she must be devastated far beyond what I now feel.

Ken was a big lad. Taller and broader than I and strong as an ox. We all knew him as "Horse", mainly because of his stature and strength. If something heavy needed moving, you turned to him first. The man could move mountains if asked to do so. His character was equally as strong. I never heard him whine or moan once, no matter how adverse the situation and although we did hear him complain once or twice it was always justified and never without good reason. Usually, the big man would take it all with a smile and just get on with the task at hand. 

I went off to find some piece of poetry that might take the sting out of writing this but realised that Ken probably wouldn’t have appreciated that particular gesture. He knew a few good rugby songs and could rattle off the odd limerick, but poetry? No. So I found this quotation concerning the nature of horses and thought that it may suffice.

Where in all the world is nobility found without conceit?
Where is there friendship without envy?
Where is beauty without vanity?
Here one finds gracefulness coupled with power,
and strength tempered with gentleness.
A constant servant, yet no slave.
A fighter, ever without hostility.
Our history was written on his back.
We are his heirs.
But he is his own heritage. The Horse.    

H. H. Eisenbart
in Eisenbart and Buhrer:
The Kingdom of the Horse

Let’s look at this.

Nobility without conceit. One could never have called Ken conceited. He rarely spoke of himself unless asked but always concerned himself with the welfare of his friends and colleagues. If anything is to be said, then let it be that therein lies the nobility in the man. He cared. And that is noble indeed.

Friendship without envy. Always. If anything good happened to you, Ken would be the first to offer congratulations. It was always "Well done, good for you." It could have been his motto.

Beauty without vanity. I don’t think any one of us would describe Ken as having been beautiful at any point, but nor was he vain. In fact that was the beauty in him. His character did not support vanity. Pride in himself maybe, but vanity was never on the field.

Gracefulness coupled with power, strength tempered with gentleness. Ken was never going to be graceful. Just as a bull dancing ballet is never going to be graceful. And yet he graced us all by simply being among us and lending himself to whatever we were involved in or occupied with. Equally, all the strength and power of this man was never used in a violent way. Ken used his size to keep the peace. That solid glare and the calm yet demanding inference of intervention was usually enough to stop anything untoward happening in his presence. Ken would not tolerate bullying. Truly, the gentle giant. Even when involved in our mischief, he was always the one to see to it, that no matter what the jibe or jape, no-one actually got hurt.

A constant servant, yet no slave. Constant in that he was reliable. Ask the man for help, you would be sure of getting it. And yet, like most horses, you could lead him to water, but you couldn’t make him drink. (Leading him to beer would be another proposition entirely, but I’m sure you catch the drift of this.)

A fighter, ever without hostility. Truer words never spoken. Ken fought like a demon against the disease which finally claimed his life and he did so without bitterness. I never heard him use the word hate in its true context and a fairer and less hostile man never walked this earth.

Our history was written on his back. Yep. He carried a few of us on those enormous shoulders at one time or another. Both physically and mentally.

We are his heirs. Yes we are. What he gave to us will remain with us until we meet with him again.

He is his own heritage. Indeed he is. There will never be another like him and we shall speak of him for many years to come and be proud to say that we knew him. This world is a sadder place for his passing but he will always be there, in our hearts and minds, as long as we draw breath.

His most simple testimony must be, that there are few people in this world that can say that they had over a hundred people that would call them friend. We who knew him, soldiered with him and held him dear will sorely miss him. It was my, our, pleasure and an absolute honour to have known you and to have served with you those many years ago.

Rest in peace Ken, you old Horse. You earned it.

14 Responses to “Ad Notem, In Memoriam.”

  1. kypros said

    Truly a remarkable human being, may he rest in peace, my sincere condolences to his family and friends.

    Thank you Kypros. Anyone coming here to read this will read your comment.

  2. Jim said

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend. My condolences.

    Thanks Jim. It’s appreciated.

  3. Martin said

    I knew Ken many years ago as a fellow soldier in Germany and he was a great character and whose sense of humour was legendary within the regiment. I was deeply saddened to hear of his recent passing as will all the ex Bunde Wallahs out there. Condolances to all and many many thanks for everything Ken. God Bless and Certa Ceto.

    Indeed. Thanks.

  4. Bob Hildreth said

    Outstanding Keith and it took me a few attempts to read it all the way through. Thanks for saying what I would liked to have said myself

    You’re welcome Bob.

  5. sara said

    both myself and my husband steve knew ken at 4bde in osnabruck,the parties we used to have and brilliant times in the mess.Ken will be sorely missed by all who had to good fortune to call him a friend God Bless Ken RIP

  6. Keith, nobody could ever come up with a more exact description of the Big Yin, a truly excellent piece of literature. A truly unforgettable man who will be sorely missed by all who had the great pleasure of knowing him. Rest in Peace Big Fella, God Bless and utmost condolences to Lynne and the family.

    Thanks Archie. We’re all hurting. At the moment over two hundred people have been here to read this. Touching us all. I’m sure. True testimony to a lovely man. I had no idea that so many knew him. I may have to write to Lynn about this. There is no doubt, he was loved by many.

  7. Dave Yates said

    Just my Army Bud…..but memories will not fade…………god damm HUGE MEMORIES………Nice 1 Keath, you did him proud.

    I hope so Dave.

  8. Very moving Keith, RIP Ken. My thoughts are with you all.

  9. Buck Rodgers said

    well said Keith, i have been lost for words for a couple of days, I think you have represented all of us who knew Ken…thank you!…

    I’ve been pretty much lost too Buck. It was indeed written for all of us. The least I could do. Thanks.

  10. Les Stimson said

    I had the honour of working with Ken in Catterick, a Big Man. All who knew him will miss Him. God Bless Ken.

  11. John laverick said

    I lived in the same room as Ken for a year in Lubbecke, Germany. At that particular time we were the best of friends. We did everything together and he told me everything about him. Sadly as we were posted to different units and the normal passing of time, we lost touch. However nothing can take away from me the good times and laughs we had together during my service with him. One little ditty sort of summed Ken up. Ken and I were constantly on some sort of diet, we decided that we would do the Slim Fast diet which involved drinking shakes for breakfast, lunch and then a normal healthy dinner. Ken decided that we should go one further for maximum weight loss and drink a shake instead of the dinner. We did this wheeze from Sunday until Friday His fortitude in sticking with this diet all week was testament to his strength of character, mine too, although I had no say in the matter. Ken was in charge and you did what he required of you. Anyway without fail he would wake up on Saturday morning and say “John I think it’s down town for the pizza eating contest today” Off we would pop into the local pizzaria, and commence the eating contest, he even used to count us down with his watch!! Ken managed to eat four family sized pizzas every Saturday and I sadly only ever managed three. Sunday morning it was back on the shakes again.

    In your poem you associate Ken as being like a horse, well if he was he would have being a stonking great Clydesdale and no mistake.

    Good night mate see you in the morning.

    John Laverick

    Well, that certainly sounds like the Ken we all knew and loved! He never did things by halves. I seem to recall the dieting going on for a while at Bünde, but it never really caught on.. Thanks for this. It made me smile.

  12. jean miller said

    Lovely words to describe a lovely person, he will be sorely missed.

    Indeed he will. Thanks Jean.

  13. m1n0r said

    Very well said Keith.

    I didn’t know Ken well but from what I saw, you’ve written what many would be proud to agree with.

    RIP Ken

  14. Gary ( reg) Mason said

    Well done Keith, Not many could have found such Fitting words for such a Big hearted man.
    As many have said, he will be sorely missed by all.
    It was One of life’s pleasures to have been his friend.
    I will probably remember Ken best as a sumo Wrestler.
    I will get in Touch with Elli and let her know too.


    Thanks Reg, and nice to see you showing up here. I trust you are well? Spotted your Facebook invite and updated your status.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: