(July 2008) Lieutenant Colonel Colin Frith OBE

Colin and Tina Frith lived in Burdrop from 1972 until they moved to Somerset in 2000 where Colin died on 30th April 2008.

Colin Frith was born in Plymouth in July 1926 into an army family, for both his father and grandfather served in the Somerset Light Infantry. He spent much of his early life in the care of his grandparents at Uphill Manor near Weston-super-Mare while his father, accompanied by his mother, served with his regiment in India. After attending Marlborough College, Colin immediately joined the army and after carrying out his training in Bangalore, was commissioned into his father’s regiment when he was posted as a sniping instructor at the School of Infantry in Hythe, Kent. Here at a party given by Anne Stephens, at that time a senior WAAF officer and later to become Dame Anne as head of the WRAP, he met Dame Anne’s niece Tina Phillips and they were married in 1951.

Colin saw active service in Malaya where he was mentioned in dispatches and after attending the Staff College in 1957 was appointed as Brigade Major in Northern Ireland. In 1961 he was posted as Company Commander with the newly amalgamated Somerset and Cornwall Light Infantry in Osnabrook in Germany. After serving in Gibraltar and Tobruk and with more staff training in the UK he was appointed successively to Military Operations branch at the War Office, as an instructor at Sandhurst and as Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion. This included winter warfare training in Canada and Norway and was followed, after more regimental amalgamations, by a posting to Ballykinlar in Northern Ireland at the outbreak of “The Troubles” and he was soon patrolling the streets of Belfast. At the end of this tour of duty he was posted to the War Office when he was appointed OBE and after two years, decided to retire from the army, thus ending 97 years of continuous service by three generations of Frith, his father being Brigadier Sir Eric Frith.

Colin accepted appointment as Bursar at Magdalen College School in Oxford when he and Tina with their family, Sue, Anne, and Mark moved to Barn Close in Burdrop. He served as bursar for 14 years and on retirement from this, threw himself, with Tina, into village and charitable activities. At different times he was Chairman of the Village Hall Committee, Clerk to the Parish Council, Treasurer of Holy Trinity Church, Treasurer of the newly formed Wykeham Benefice, a founding committee member and volunteer at the Fielding Day Centre, a founder member and tenor in the Benefice Choir. In most of the local activities Colin and Tina were to be found taking a leading part. He also acted as a visitor for the Soldiers, Sailors and Air Force Association (SSAFA) for 25 years.

Colin will be remembered by many in Sibford for his willingness to help wherever he could with humour, adaptability and resourcefulness, attributes described by his headmaster at Magdalen College School and which never left him. In the army he distinguished himself with his efficiency and military expertise and these followed him into civilian life. He spent much time and energy helping Tina’s mother, Susannah Phillips and her aunt, Dame Anne Stephens, both of whom lived in the village and his aunt Marjorie at Uphill Manor for many years up to and her estate after her death. He rarely missed finishing the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle and as a young man excelled in cricket as a wicket-keeper and batsman, playing whenever possible for his regiment, also at rugby for, amongst others, the Ashford Rugby Football Club when in Kent. He had an outstanding command of the English language, writing and speaking impeccably with a speedy answer to everything and much enjoying a pun. He was rarely faulted with quotations from Shakespeare, Gilbert and Sullivan and Flanders and Swann. He, Tina and the family have been greatly missed since they left the village but will always be lovingly remembered by their many friends.

They have expressed great gratitude and wish to give their thanks to all those in the village who have sent messages of sympathy and support.