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Jan 13

Geoffrey Pamerel De Pass (boarder)

OTs who served in the 1st World War

De Pass may seem to be an unusual surname but the De Pass tribe were extensive, often wealthy and spread across many countries.  (The Ancestry website lists more than 20,000 references to people named De Pass!) However, thanks to Geoffrey’s unusual second name it is possible to distinguish his life from another Geoffrey, Geoffrey Robert, born around the same time, also the son of a stockbroker living in London, who was probably a cousin.  Geoffrey Pamerel was the younger of two sons from a well-to-do branch of the family, also stockbrokers, living in Buckinghamshire. He was born on 1stNovember 1896 in Chesham, son of Edward and Lizzie. In 1901, his father was absent on census day but the family were living at Blenheim Villa, Hughenden. Geoffrey entered LWGS in 1908, stayed for two years and then transferred to High Wycombe Grammar School. In 1911 he was living with his family at St Anne’s, the Marsh, High Wycombe. He initially joined the 9th (Reserve) Battalion of the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry, transferred to the 5th and served in France from 20thApril 1916, commissioned as a 2ndLieutenant and later promoted to Lieutenant. He was wounded on 3rdSeptember 1916.  On 1stSeptember 1917 he was transferred to the 36thBattalion Training Reserve which explains why, in the autumn of 1917, he was free to marry Audrey A Phypers at Brighton. After the war, on the basis of later evidence, he became an accountant. Where he worked and for whom is not clear though at some point between the wars he joined the Swiss company Nestlé and moved to Vevey in Switzerland. On 29thSeptember 1939, rather mysteriously, he was staying at the Green Man Hotel, St John’s Street, Ashbourne in Derbyshire with his wife Audrey, his profession given as chartered accountant. A few weeks later on 27thNovember he travelled with Audrey and their daughter, three-year-old Sheila, from Southampton arriving in New York on 5thDecember.  The ship’s manifest states that his residence was Vevey, Vaud, along with three other British families from La Tour de Pelz, a mile or so away.  Judging from the occupations of the other heads of family it seems that the firm had decided as a result of the outbreak of war to move to a safer haven in the USA, a theory borne out by the fact that when on 27thApril 1942 Geoffrey enlisted in the United States Army his employer was given as ‘Inredecolne (Nestles)’. Nestlé realised at the start of WW2 that its isolated position within Europe in neutral Switzerland necessitated opening branches in other continents. It is therefore most likely that Geoffrey and the other families were part of the advance guard of this new policy. Geoffrey’s 1942 registration document describes him at that time as 5ft 7 ½ ins, 170 lbs, with hazel eyes, black hair and a scar over his right eye. The family were living at 349 South Beach Avenue, Old Greenwich, Connecticut. After WW2, he crossed the Atlantic at least three times between the USA and Europe, recorded as a passenger in 1947, 1951 and 1952. In 1947 he sailed with a new wife, Tillie, a US citizen ten years his junior, and with Sheila, now 18, from New York to Southampton ‘in transit to Switzerland’. It is not known what happened to his first wife but it seems probable that Geoffrey and his new family were moving back to the Nestlé HQ, though not permanently as in 1951 he flew alone to the UK with Pan American Airways, his US residence now recorded as 44 Northern Street, Stamford, Conn. returning in 1952 by ship accompanied by Tillie. 

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