From the White Lodge to the Western Desert

Filey, History   /   Tags: , ,

He was the privately educated ‘resident director’ of the White Lodge Hotel at Filey. Grandson of a Baronet, son of a wealthy silk manufacturer, recently married and father of a young son. Sadly, Peter Mowat Hall’s life, like countless others, would be destroyed by the Second World War.

Peter was the grandson of Sir John G. Mowat and son of Norman and Dorothy Hall, of ‘Woodleigh’, Bryan Road, Edgerton, Huddersfield. Such was the wealth in Edgerton, it has been described as ‘the Belgravia of Huddersfield‘. Neighbours of the Hall’s were the Martin family, after whom Filey’s Martin’s Ravine is named. The Martin’s, one of Yorkshire richest families, owned the now demolished Ravine Villa and financed the completion of The Crescent in the late 1880s/early 1890s.

Woodleigh, the Huddersfield home of the Hall family. A fascinating history of the Edgerton area can be purchased via the Huddersfield Civic Society

Peter Mowat Hall was educated at Malvern College between 1927 and 1930. He was described by the school magazine The Malverian as:

‘A Yorkshireman by birth, who might have appeared at first to strangers as shy and unforthcoming, but behind this apparent diffidence there was a real strength of character and a keen almost anxious enthusiasm: to his intimates he gave a simple, loyal and disinterested friendship. As a leading member of the School Football team for two years, particularly of the 1930 team with its brilliantly successful record, he was given a prominence which never in the least affected his natural modesty.’

He left the school aged seventeen and embarked on a successful business career in the north. He married Marigold Watson of Newmillerdam, Wakefield, at Filey St. Oswald’s Church on 18 December 1937.  The wedding attracted a lot of interest in Yorkshire’s newspapers, with several commenting on the bride’s beautiful brown velvet dress.

Peter was listed as being the ‘resident director’ of the White Lodge Hotel. The couple had a son who was born on 6 November 1941. It was reported that Peter hoped that his son would follow in his footsteps and attend Malvern School. However, by the time of his son’s birth, Peter was serving with 196 Battery, 65 Light A.A. Regiment, Royal Artillery in the Western Desert.

The twenty-eight year old was a second lieutenant and its appears that his Battery was giving anti-aircraft cover during Operation Crusader. An assault on German and Italian positions on the Egyptian-Libyan border in November and December 1941, with the ultimate aim of reliving the besieged garrison at Tobruk.

While the latter was a complete success, on 27 December, the German Field Marshall Erwin Rommel, the famed ‘Desert Fox’, launched a three-day tank battle at El Haseia which inflicted heavy damage on the British 22nd Armoured Brigade, it forced the leading echelons of the Eighth Army to withdraw or consolidate their positions.

Peter Mowat Hall was killed in action on 29 December 1941. Whether this was in connection with the action around El Haseia we are not sure. However, Peter is buried at the beautifully tended Cairo’s Heliopolis War Cemetery.

Cairo’s Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery www.twgpp.org


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