Here’s a recent comment from an Old Boy, from my ‘About’ page, in response to a thread about St Joseph’s College, Ipswich.  I think he makes some interesting points.  I decided our exchange deserved its own blog status, so here it is.


Hi Pat,
I was at St Joe’s for many years. I remember them , Bros Cecil, James, Hugh, Damien, Owen, Gerard, Soloman, Denis Robert, Gregory, Benet, Cuthman, Peter, Terrence and others. They seemed all to have some sort of attitude or psychological problem or were perverts. Having spoken to others over the years about this it does seem that all the Del a Salle Schools and Catholic Schools were all the same. I am quite sure all the stories are pretty much true. The film Catholic Boys captures it pretty well. I’m in contact with a number of people from the 60s and early 70s from St Joe’s, I think some have tried to give details to the police. Interestingly and rather oddly one of the number listed above is still around and his partner (female) works for the police in relation to child abuse. Talk about poacher turned game-keeper! He waxes lyrical now about abuse saying ‘it only takes good men to do nothing etc etc’. He knew what was going on when he was at St Joe’s and did nothing. The pious hypocrite.


Great to hear from you and thank you for making some truly excellent observations. As you say, the film Catholic Boys captures the tone of St J’s very well. Although I think it was actually worse in my time there in the 1960s.

As you say, hypocrisy is the thing that bothers us. Thus, I once looked up Brother James on the web. At first I thought it was a truly monstrous De La Salle headmaster named Brother James currently doing a long prison stretch for his crimes. But he turned out to be a different De La Salle Brother. The Brother James from St J’s has died and was described in his obituary as a shy and timid character. This is far from the truth and whoever wrote that obituary must have known it. I witnessed him explode with demented rage and violence when he attacked a classmate and his psychotic behavior still preys on my mind to this day. But despite his reputation for violence and rage, he was also a great maths teacher who knew how to reach kids like me who were hopeless at the subject.

Similarly, Brother Solomon who – confirmed by the tragic poetry of one his victims at Beulah Hill – abused many children. Yet I know I owe my deep love of classical music to him. He, too, is dead.

And I think their excellence as teachers combined with their perversions sets up confusion and cognitive dissonance in many pupils who thus try and block it from their minds, and that’s how so many Brothers have largely got away their crimes.

I do believe St J’s and the Order itself both owe Survivors a collective apology. It’s no good putting the blame on individual Brothers – there are just too many of them to use the ‘one rotten apple’ defence. It’s the College and the Order itself that is clearly responsible. Thus Brother Solomon was suddenly transferred from Birkfield because of abuse (and given a glowing tribute by Brother James in the school magazine), then sacked from Beulah Hill and returned – in the 1980s – to Birkfield as a lay teacher. Once again he was dismissed following allegations of abuse – but he should never have been reinstated.

One thing I find offensive is the caption on the school gates of St J’s today: “In the Lasallian tradition”. Although the College today seems to have distanced itself from the Brothers per se, nevertheless the uniforms, the motto, the history, the traditions, and the legacy are still proudly confirmed in those words. According to the College’s website, the caption pertains – with some dexterous semantics – to St Jean Baptise de La Salle, but significantly not to the Order of Brothers he founded. Whatever the intention, in practice, “In the Lasallian tradition” means the promise of an excellent Christian education but also that it has not disassociated itself from the De La Salle Brothers. So for many old boys up to relatively recent times those words stand for something terrible and dark. Only an acknowledgement of this really makes that caption acceptable in today’s world.

Thus I don’t agree with one famous St J’s old boy, who told me recently how different the school is today: it’s unisex, the Brothers have gone, and it’s properly run etc. I’m sure he is right but I took the subtext of his comments to be that the past is the past and everyone really needs to forget about it and move on. But in my opinion, closure is not possible until the successors to the Brothers have acknowledged what happened or until justice is done.

So I wish our fellow old boys well in pursuing the Brothers responsible for harming them before they are too old and infirm to be charged. I have a St. J’s old boy police detective contact who specializes in investigating crimes of this nature and it’s possible he might be able to help or point your contacts in the right direction. If that’s any help, do ask them to write to me and I’ll put them in touch with him.


  1. I was at Oakhill, from 65 to 68. I now we were shipped to the DS school in Malta by 69 as my brother was rebellious. I cannot recall being abused but recall Dennis Roberts, who I thought was Head Master, taking me back to school alone from Colchester Zoo. He took photos of me on a bridge. I still have that photo. I may have been ‘protected’ as my late Uncle was a Bishop in the Catholic Church.

  2. Can I suggest that when Bros are named the approx dates of their time at the school is mentioned. There seems to be at least two Elwin’s some distance apart also two James and at least two Michael’s

    • Good point, Paul. They usually are – hence the Brother Elwin I and another old boy recalls we both date to the 1960s when we’re writing about him. Similarly another old boy who was in a musical group formed by his Elwin at another DLS school I’m pretty certain he dates his account. It’s somewhere in these blogs. I think there was only one Brother James at St J’s as far as I’m aware. I sometimes mention Brother James Carragher, a convicted paedophile, who was a a de la salle headmaster at another school, but I always make that extremely clear. I don’t recall ever mentioning or knowing a Brother Michael.

      • The Bro James I knew was at Oak Hill in about 55 and later went to Birkfield. He taught me in 58. He was dark haired thin and always wore round brown framed specs

      • Yep – he’s definitely the one who taught me from 1960 onwards. I believe he went to Beulah Hill later in the 60s – think there’s a description of him there somewhere on this site. Pity about his abusive character because he was a damn good maths teacher – he had to be to get maths into my head.

      • Hello Pat, I have a favour to ask of you. In February of this year I posted a comment about Bro. Elwin Gerard’s time at St. Peter’s DSL school in Southbourne in the 60’s. I’ve since realised that my contribution did not serve the blog in the way I originally intended. Would you please be so kind as to remove it for me. I would be most grateful.

        I have come to realise that the abuse problems so rampant in Ipswich and other DLS schools was (is?) so much more prevalent than anything that happened (to my knowledge) at St. Peter’s. No-one commented on my letter since then, and I don’t think removing it would cause any confusion in the reading of subsequent contributions.

        Keep up the good work. I believe many silent sufferers will have been helped by the knowledge that these crimes are being laid bare. Please reply, if possible, to this email address to let me know you received this.


        Chris Crilly Havelock QC. ____________ Chris Crilly 514-602-8060

      • No problem, Chris. Not least because – rather confusingly – there seem to be two Brother Elwins. One I and another survivor distinctly remember from the 1960s. And then one in the early 1950s which you’ll doubtless have seen
        referred to in the La Sallian Tradition.

        I haven’t got the time – or possibly the expertise – to really sift through the various comments to figure which is which. And to determine where your St Peter’s Bro Elwin fits in. So good idea to delete your comment to be on the safe side.

        I’ve tried a search for it using all the obvious search words and it’s not coming up, probably because it’s in the comments section. So if you could let me know the name of my post, that should help me track it down.

        Many thanks


  3. Dear Pat, I was at St Josephs College from 1951 to 56 and I did see Br Elwin Thrash a day boy and we were in the village we called it, he broke the first stick and had a thicker one in his gown and carried on till he had given 8 strokes and the boy Vincent stood up and was told to bend over again as he thought the last stroke was not good enough, the boy was screaming. You did mention Br Michael was he the bro when I was there as he did give the cane but he did look after me as I had nightmares as my Dad passed away when I was 9. He used to hold me till I woke up, I also remember Bro Ralph Augustine and he was a short man and was really vicious when giving the cane, I was really shattered to read about things that happened there and honestly never drempt Br Elwin was like that. I was in contact with John Porter and he was Bro Anthony and he died some time ago. Hope you are keeping safe in this Virus Regards Patrick (Atkinson )

    • Thanks for your recollections, Patrick. So many brothers who were violent abusers also seem to be sexual abusers, like Brother Elwin. Brother James, in my era, is a good example. There’s a clear link between the two forms of abuse. I didn’t know Brother Michael but it’s so good to know that he showed you such genuine compassion and care. I was really moved to read that. I wish there had been more like him. I’ve just added up the seven Brothers I can remember from my era in the 60s. Only three were good guys (Brothers Paul, Leonard and another one whose name I forget. He’d been a missionary in Thailand). The other four were abusers, written about by other old boys on this blog as well as myself. That’s a worrying percentage and suggests – like your own account – that the De La Salle Brothers still have much to answer for.

      • Hi, I still wonder if Bro Elwin Gerard was the same headmaster we had when I first went there in 1951 and I know before that he was at Oakhill and when they first opened Birkfield he was the head then , I did hear he had left at sometime but was he the same Bro Elwin that returned. The Bro Michael (Hogie) was the name we sometimes used, Left St Josephs not long after I left in 1956 as he wanted to leave the order so they sent him to Malta as they had a school there in Selima as I went to Church in Selima, after a year there he returned and left the Order and went to be the Maths teacher at Millfield College, eventually he got married and he used to write to me, I live in Norfolk and one day he and his wife caught the bus from Glastonbury to see me and my sister who I was looking after as she had MS and Cancer, his name was Patrick McArdle, we chatted for some time and to me he was really a good guy so the brother Michael must have been someone else, I now think he had left because of this going on, I did tell you he used to hold me when I had nightmares He told me he had Heart troubles and they could not do anything for him and he died in 1996, I still have many letters from him and the Matron then was a Mrs Ryland and her Husband was the Chef, they were both really nice people, You also mentioned about Father Jolly, well when I was there it was Father Clare and he was deaf and confessions were done on the Altar and he used the say What What as he couldn`t hear us so none of us had anything naughty to tell him, I also remember there was a Jollys Field was that something to do with him, Hope you don`t mind my recalling things, I am now 80 and have had open heart surgery and have now had four heart attacks but still going strong, Regards Patrick

      • Hi, Patrick. I’m beginning to wonder if there were two Brother Elwins. There is one referred to in the mid 1960s in this post on my site THE SHOCKING TRUTH ABOUT ST JOSEPH’S (MY OLD SCHOOL). It’s shocking reading – so you may want to pass on it – but I’m not sure if it is the same Brother Elwin you are referring to who seems to have been at the school an astonishing length of time. I think this Brother Elwin from the 1960s had great musical talent as another old boy in another post refers to his musical role. I started there in 1960 and I recall a Brother Elwin (with gold rimmed specs) who was then replaced as head by another. I’d guess Jollys Field is coincidence because Jolly came from a farming family in Woodbridge/Kesgrave. It sounds like your era in the 1950s, although the teachers were violent, was relatively better/safer than the 1960s. Some Catholic writers claim Vatican Two was responsible for a drop in moral standards in teachers in the 1960s, although I don’t find that convincing. Good to hear you’re going strong! Take care Patrick

      • I left Oak Hill in 1956 and Bro Elwin was head of Birkfield then. He left about 58 and was followed by Bro Alan Maurice ‘BAM’ I never remember either being over fond of the cane. I believe Elwin went to Southsea and Bro Ralph Sherwin went with him

  4. Teachers were still cutting bamboo for canes in my day (the early 60s), I thought I was letting my imagination run away with me, so thanks for the confirmation, Paul. I see there’s a lot on Kevin Tracey (I originally wrote Spacey!) i must study later. I have a feeling that was the famous story that my mother commented on at the time. The gist of her comments about Tracey were ‘What a silly man. Fancy falling for a boy like that. He should have been stronger.’ It was somehow the boy’s fault – she saw him as a male Lolita/seducer of weak adults. I wish her attitude was unique, but I fear it was not, certainly not in those days. When I complained to the cops about similar SJC abusers, their response to me was, ‘Just keep away from them. Find someone your own age to play with, sonny.’

  5. I was a border at Birkfield, Ipswich from 1962 to 1969. I never saw or heard of any sexually inappropriate behaviour from any of the Monks and thus I simply do not believe the allegations mentioned in this blog. Having said that: Brother James (a good Maths teach it has to be said and certainly a better teacher then the retired Lt Cdr by whom he was replaced) was someone who would not have been able to hold down a job in the private or for that matter public sectors for he was always on the verge of losing his temper. When he was not doing so he was saintly. I recall once his racing across the grass in front of the 55(?) wing to chastise some boy.

    I came to this blog by accident because of my loathing for Elwin Gerard. He a man who was musically illiterate yet sacked the Choir Master (dear Mr Tether) and appointed himself in Tether’s stead. He was jealous of my musical precociousness (the school did not then have any form of music department – I studied privately in town – for which at least I am most grateful) yet musically when he should have encouraged and facilitated he sought my humiliation. On a broader issue his failure at the time of the April 1968 near-riot at Gold Rood to even attempt to mediate and address our grievances showed he was a paper tiger. He was not the last boss I have had who when the going became tough hid away. Then there was the white-elephant which is the Chapel. What a waste of money and at a time when the school was short of necessaries. Can it really be coincidence that on the arrival (in 1964) of Elwin Gerard the following activities ceased – Scouting, Table Tennis, The annual School Play, the French Society – there must be other example I have now forgotten.

    Elwin Gerard in particular was someone who should never have been appointed Head Master of a secondary school for when any boy attained the age of puberty he lost interest in them. He treated the Upper Sixth as if they were no different from the eleven year olds which in my view is abuse albeit of a non-sexual nature and thus abandoning the Sixth form we looked out for ourselves. By way of example: the prefects (who had all powers to prefect removed) had been alotted a room at Gold Rood – a room comprising if my memory is correct a broken chair, one bare table and one electric light without shade hanging from the ceiling. No one, thus, ever ventured there.

    It is not of course entirely his fault: the Brothers of the De La Salle Order being unable to secure much by way of new vocations had to deal with what they had and (I suppose) because Elwin Gerard could keep order he albeit it having himself left school at fourteen was given the position having previously made a success of being a prep school headmaster. How different then from the previous Head Master Brother Leo who took the Third Year Six for Introductory Philosophy. Elwin Gerard never taught anything presumably because he couldn’t.

    • The proprietor of this blog having kindly published my above and not altogether in agreement with the tenor of this blog comment and I having had the opportunity to re-read the various comments on this and other threads thought that I might trusting not to try his patience too much make a few further comments which I trust might be of general interest:

      1. My own late little brother who left some lengthy autobiographical writings and who attended both Oak Hill and Birkfield as a border does not once mention violence or sexual behaviour by the monks although when as a nine-year-old he broke his collar bone whilst skating during the long winter of ’63 and doing so where he was not supposed to skate he was in mortal fear of their anger: For twenty four hours yet in great pain he failed to seek medical help for his injury and his injury only came to light when some other boy went to the monks. My parents should have sued the order in Tort for negligence but they came from a generation where any person in a position of authority was seen as beyond criticism. My brother does write that once in an Ipswich cinema a stranger (male) attempted to touch him-up. I am certain that had my brother been aware of inappropriate monk behaviour he would have written of it.

      2. I refer to Brother Kevin who first taught me some French (the language, I mean). Once aged eleven or twelve I managed to overturn a desk on to my right foot exacerbating a previous injury to my middle toe. I am not sure why i did not attend sick-bay but he assisted me in his room in the 55 wing (which I do not recall as having any visual access to the dormitories – it being across the corridor). He having patched my foot and far from cross with me as he might have been for my foolishness lent me his right bedroom slipper, my own right shoe now being too small given the bandaging to my foot. He asked that I return the slipper in due course. I never did yet I do not know why i did not do so.

      3. In the Sixth form I sat next to a boy whom I will not name but with whom I became friends and who joined the school following his expulsion from another local school. He did not and would not give the reason for the expulsion. We all of course assumed what that reason must have been. Is this not to the credit of the La Salles?

      4. The school was very violent, yet most violence was boy on boy and it was other boys – bigger, older – that terrified me (as an eleven year old) far more than the monks. Whether it was any different from other schools I cannot say.

      5. In my year there were two boys loathed and detested by the remainder of us – they should have been expelled. Both were predatory homosexuals – and I do not for one second believe that propensity was caused by the monks. As a result they were on the receiving end of boy violence. A third boy who I also much disliked was I learnt much later of the same persuasion.

      6. In the media, Headmasters can do no wrong yet in the early 1970s a couple of the Dailies (the Mail and Express, I think) ran articles criticising Elwin Gerard. He, of course, doubled-down and having the support of the order ignored the criticism. I forget what it was that had incensed the press. Haircuts?

      7. A year younger than me was a boy by the name of George Phillips. He was likable, slightly overweight and had just passed eleven O’levels and as such was a shoe-in for Oxbridge and probably also Head Boy. One day at the beginning of term Elwin Gerard passing him ordered Phillips to get a haircut – not that his hair was in any sense long. Phillips refused and on the spot Phillips was expelled. I appreciate that a head master can not allow his authority to be treated lightly but this was stupidity on the part of Elwin Gerard – especially as Phillips was his star pupil. Happily for him Phillips had the support of his parents who he explained to me were increasingly concerned about Elwin Gerard’s running of the school. St Joseph’s loss would have been the gain of some Six-form academy.

      8. One day Elwin Gerard came into class somewhat speechless and informed us that he had just interviewed the mother of a boy named Masters and that the said mother had then accused Elwin Gerard of sexually assaulting her. None of us boys believed such an obviously insane accusation.

      9. The regrettable arrival of girls at the school also produced a Nun and this nun seemed to spend inordinate amounts of time in the physics Lab with a monk – Cecil?. Were they? We thought so. On the arrival of the first batch of four girls it was only a day or so before one of the four girls found her way predictably down to one of the lodges which of course was out of bounds for females. The boys who slept there were of course blamed. I blame firstly the La Salle’s for their stupidity and secondly the girl – not the boys, the La Salle’s blaming the boys for the free actions of the strong and empowered girl.

      10. I refer again to Brother James; he was my first form master. It is said elsewhere here that the monks did not care for black people. I beg to disagree: I will never forget (to cut a long story short) how in consecutive weeks I parted with my entire pocket money at James’ suggestion and encouragement (doubtless following yet another blue testimonial) for the black babies. One can never ask for change when giving charity and being shamed by James (in front of the entire class) for meanness was something I wished to avoid. In the third week when again encouraged to give reparations to the Africans I sat on my hands and have since that time avoided all forms of charitable giving. My parents did not pay my pocket money just so that it could be given away!

      11. On the subject of money a perusal of the appropriate school magazine will reveal Elwin Gerard (at speech day) berating parents for not yet having purchased his new school uniform and where he implies that all parents are rolling in money as if money grows on trees. I think that revealing as to the true attitude of the (unpaid of course) La Salle monks. Catholicism frequently looks much like Marxism – an ideology of envy. My parents and especially my mother went without for the sake of what passed for my education whilst wrecking the family’s finances.

      12. In one of his nightly exhortations – we were then about fifteen years of age – to us standing on and around the Birkfield staircase we were informed as usual that although we were irredeemably bad and hell bound that had we any complaint or information of which the head master should be aware it was our duty to report the matter to him. Some days later I led a deputation of boys to Elwin Gerard as some matter I now long forget was I felt of sufficient importance that it needed to be reported. They always shoot the messenger do they not and on explaining myself to Elwin Gerard I was irate-ably dismissed and informed to stop causing trouble. The hypocrite!

      Men are leaving the teaching profession in droves as boys are feminised. Is not the attack on the :La Salle brothers whatever their failings just thinly disguised Misandry?

      • Thanks for the latest, Opus.

        You have such great and detailed memories, I hope you won’t mind me putting your comment in its own blog post:

        I believe in full transparency, something I was personally denied as a kid by the Catholic system. So fire away without risk of censorship.

        Everyone’s experience is different and, just as I have no doubt your recollections are true, I think you might assume that the recollections of others, including myself, are also true. Many of us haven’t met since school days yet our recollections dovetail with each other. And what would we possibly gain by lying or exaggerating? You only have to look at the number of De La Salle Brothers who have faced the courts for abuse to see it’s most unlikely we are fantasising or guilty of misandry. Brothers like Solomon (who you’d have missed) were so notorious there are endless accounts of him as an abuser, including when he returned as a lay teacher after your time. Thanks to Solomon I have a deep love of classical music, but – as a day boy – I luckily escaped his predations.

        Like you, I have positive memories of Brother James as a maths teacher. I was so thick where maths were concerned, but he knew how to get through to dense kids like me. I admired his zeal, too, as you describe below. I think I saw him as a kind of role model, even a father figure. But there was another darker side to him, not just his well-known psychotic anger. This darker side also needs recording – particularly for those of us who experienced it.

        So many survivors suppress their truth and could be discouraged to come forward by scepticism such as in your posts. I hope not. Only by acknowledging the truth does it set us free.

        I notice from your previous post and this one that you’re personally very critical of Brother Elwin. I wish i could remember him better – rimless square glasses, looked like an intellectual, rather aloof? It feels like you were personally ‘burned’ by him, just as other old boys were burned by other brothers.

        Because nothing awful happened to you or people you knew, doesn’t mean it couldn’t possibly happen to others. Predators often go for kids who are vulnerable in some way. That may be why you escaped and others didn’t.

        I think this site and others like it are a valuable catharsis for survivors. I know this to be true from their responses to me in private e-mails. Most of the brothers are now dead or infirm, but the terrible damage they caused lives on in the survivors and this site provides a useful outlet for our anger, pain and grief.

        Judging by recent private correspondence with old boys, I suspect there is much worse to come from other survivors.

        At school many of us were forced to keep our mouths shut about what was really going, I certainly was. This site is a way for us all to speak out to ensure the DLS Brothers’ past crimes are well known.

        However, I realise there’s also a positive and human side to many of them who, like you, I admired and this is worth noting too. So do please carry on with your critique.

      • Sorry, did I read that correctly, “boys are feminised”? What bollocks. You clearly have limited understanding and insight in to theories of child development and attachment; or, indeed the damaging affects of exposure to childhood trauma (i.e. physical punishment, sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.). Indeed, your 12 -14 paragraphs only serves to evidence a distorted internal working model. You don’t think any child was sexually abused by the Brothers because in reality you can’t see beyond your nose, possibly as a consequence of exposure to misogynistic traditions and / or trauma that you likely suffered as a child … by an adult(s). You are a classic case of because “I didn’t see it, it cannot be true’ brigade. Do you believe in a ‘flat earth’ theory of the world too?

  6. I went to St jos from 1953 to 61 as a day boy so knew nothing of the boarders problems. I recall Bro James, he with the small round glasses, he used to fly in rages for no reason. Whilst he was in that state he would lash out at anyone who upset him. Bro Ives James was another, I remember him calling a boy out to the front whilst he was writing on the board. He spun round and hit the boy on the face so hard that he staggered back and fell over.
    Bro Solomon, he just looked evil, short fat and with a air of evil about him.There were whispers that we heard about him such as pulling boys pyjama trousers down as a supposed joke but nothing concrete. He used to say that he had to cane small boys harder then big boys. He was still there when I left. I had to go back to the school in the early 1980s and was really surprised to see him there as a lay teacher as the brothers had always held up anyone who left the order as damned and beyond help.

  7. Hi,
    Please can you provide a name or contact of someone willing to help me, during the years of 1981 through to around 1984 a PE Teacher by the name of Andrew Rutherford at SJC repeatedly abused boys by making them do excercises naked and would stand and inspect us after showers for “cleanliness”. He would make us bend over naked and give us the slipper, as well as make us do naked “Star” jumps.

    I have a minimum of 2 other people willing to make statment to this effect. Should you ever visit Ipswich I am living here and would be happy to give you a first hand account. Please note however that concerning the DLS Brothers that on only one occasion did I ever witness, first hand, physical abuse by Brother Francis Tyson on Giles Churchill when he hit him several times with a cane noth in the face and on the arm as well as several other instances of violence and abuse. I also witnessed another teacher, first hand, Mr Twist (Chemistry Teacher) hit several children including myself with a ruler and a physics teacher (Mrs or MIss Warren) pull hair and hit people physically or with objects, and also on one occasion Mr A Rutherford lifting me up by my hair and kicking me in front of the class because I had my buttons undone.

    I’d really relish the opportunity to meet any of the above named teachers on a one to one (or they can bring their friends) basis in order to perhaps explain and highlight my issues. I’d really , really relish the chance. Trust me.

    • Hi, Peter,

      I’m so sorry to hear what happened to you and your classmates. The Suffolk police are definitely the people to contact. As you have corroborating witnesses, that is going to help, too.

      I checked with a police detective friend of mine and he says that is definitely the thing to do. I’m sure they will take it very seriously. He tells me that

      “they will have some form of Child Protection /Safeguarding Unit (probably based at Martlesham Heath). They should really be his first port of call as all crimes should be reported locally at first.”

      I’ve got an email address and name for what may be the same police unit if you’d prefer to make an initial approach online. Just drop me a line and I’ll pass it onto you.

      In the past, such abuse was so commonplace, it wasn’t seen as the very serious, damaging crime it is. And the Catholic Church hasn’t helped because – even today – they seem, on certain occasions, to claim that their priests are subject to canon law first or are above the law. For instance, in 2005, Marcial Maciel, a serial sex abuser and founder of the Legion of Christ was – in view of his advanced age – ordered by the Vatican

      “to conduct a reserved life of prayer and penance, renouncing every public ministry.”

      Whereas, of course, he should have been reported to the police for his crimes and banged up for the remaining years of his life.

      Fortunately, in the UK and in the Suffolk area, the Catholic set-up seems refreshingly different these days. In the East Anglia Diocese, they have a “safeguarding co-ordinator” to look into instances of abuse. It’s part of their remit that they automatically pass on any and every allegation to the police. That’s got to be a big improvement on the past. When I was a kid at Catholic primary and started talking about the foul things that were going on, the nun headmistress grabbed me by the throat, started squeezing it, and told me to never speak on the subject ever again.

      I think we all have to speak up whenever an opportunity arises. One day soon I must write to St J’s and tell them they really need to express some regret or acknowledgement of their school’s dark past as they still say they are in “The Lasallian Tradition”, which means something awful for a lot of us old boys. An acknowledgement, at least, might give some of us some closure.

      Good luck, Peter.

      Best wishes


      • Almost forgot about Mr Rutherford. He was known to ‘verify’ that students were showering naked – I never witnessed it myself but he made us all uneasy. It got to the point where some of us found ways of avoiding PE/Games when he was on duty (admittedly I avoided because I didn’t like playing ‘skins’ and had health problems limiting what I could do). I do remember him saying that those who refuse to play in skins have to play naked, as a form of intimidation. I never realised he’d actually done that.

        Maybe they mellowed a bit but I have positive memories of Brother Francis and Mrs Warren – I was in the top set so perhaps I didn’t see everything that happened, although I remember hearing a couple of stories about Mrs Warren’s temper with the lower set. Then again I did spend a lot of my classes looking in from the hallway – I was the type of student old style teachers hate – a poorly behaved high achiever.

        Another bully was Chemistry teacher Mr Kearney, he was total authoritarian and would threaten students, he was one of two teachers I refused to work with (the other was Mr Andrews) and after a few confrontations either self excluded or went to the library during their classes.

        I do remember Spanish teacher Brother Peter labelling me a ‘likeable rogue’ and that label sticking during my time at SJC, he was one DLS that I’ve only heard positive things about (the other being Brother David Hennessy, who was very distant but seemingly harmless), however going by what I’ve read I’m waiting for that to change.

  8. I was a victim (perhaps the victim) of the “shy and timid” Brother James psychotic behaviour. In 1957 a group of us were sitting in one of the classrooms when he came in and walked up to me and accused me of whistling in the classroom. I replied that it was not me and that in any case I could not whistle. Without warning he removed my glasses and struck me forcibly across the face with his clenched fist, five or six times. He then replaced my glasses, felt my pulse and said “You’ll live. Get out”. Nearly sixty years later I still have the occasional flashback about the above. Even if I had been guilty as charged the punishment was out of all proportion to the offence. Some years ago I mentioned the above to a retired teacher who told me that, even in the 1950s, such punishment was illegal. I doubt whether my parents would have done anything about it though as they shared the prevailing opinion that all the Brothers were saints

    • Thanks for your recollections of Brother James. I was shocked and saddened by them. What you described is even worse than the terrible violence I witnessed when Brother James beat my class mate, Damien “Day-Day” Moss, in an insane rage. James not only had psychotic episodes like these, but was also a coward who could only pick on young boys rather than adults. Hence the description in his obituary as a “shy and timid” man. The De La Salle Brothers have a clear and current responsibility to acknowledge these crimes and collectively apologise to their past victims. The fact that they haven’t speaks volumes about the true nature of their organisation and “The Lasallian Tradition”. As you say, parents would have upheld the Brothers in their criminal behaviour. In fact, my recollection is that it was the whole Catholic congregation – notably the Knights of Saint Columba, made up of Catholic pillars of society,such as lawyers and lay teachers – who supported the Brothers, so they could no wrong in the eyes of the faithful. Those very same Knights of Saint Columba who closely surrounded the coffin at Catholic Jimmy Savile’s funeral and which – curiously – despite the clear photographic evidence of their presence, have never been mentioned in the national media.

      • Hi Pat
        I came across your site recently and sent Damian an e-mail with some comments and a link to your site. You may like to see his reply:

        “In the time it took me to read this email and the accompanying links I was immediately transported back to that dark place masquerading as an educational institution.
        I have an uncomfortable feeling that I was that thirteen year boy described so graphically by Pat Mills.His description of Brother James was so chillingly accurate that it revived memories long forgotten. He and I fought a running battle over a two year period mostly involving my determination to flout school rules and his equally determined passion to uphold the rule of law. It culminated with the pair of us grappling on the ground for some article of clothing- if my memory serves me correctly, I think it was my beloved beatle boots with the two inch cuban heels! Soon after this incident I was deemed unmanageable and shipped off to Beulah Hill to continue my ordeal at the thankfully metaphorical hands of the De La Salle Order.
        Brother James in all honesty was a figure of tragic pity. He was inadequate, unloved, deeply frustrated and a raging sado-masochist. Apart from that, he was you’re standard issue christian brother.
        Brother Solomon, however, was a completely different incarnation of evil. He was a person of unmitigated perversion. After arriving at Beulah from De La Salle rehab camp he was appointed Head of Boarders in 1964. He was immediately placed in a position where he could continue his abuse of young, vulnerable, sensitive boys in his care/charge. His profile was that of a classic paedophile. He was able to carefully select his victims and groom them over a period of time to gain their trust and confidence before subjecting them to his unspeakable depravity. He was known among other things as the ‘ bugger meister’. He had a malevolent, brooding presence, and was the essence of pure evil. His track record was littered with scores of damaged individuals who just happened to be young , impressionable, and manipulable at the wrong time in their lives.
        Thankfully, by the time I arrived at Beulah Hill I was too old and rebellious to be groomed for anything other than immediate expulsion!! He left a frightening legacy of destroyed youthful minds and bodies. Sometimes we need to remember lest we forget such depravity.”

        Says it all. There can be no excuses.

        Rob Buckley

      • Thanks for sending this, Rob. Damian sums it up so well. Do pass on my warmest regards to him.

        I was aware of and personally inspired by his rebellious nature. Anyone who wore two inch cuban heels at St. Joseph’s, with its ultra-strict dress code, was definitely a rebel! Most of us were too scared and intimidated by these violent, cruel, black-clad fanatics to stand up to them. This was certainly the case for me – my defiance had already been partly knocked out of me at my Catholic primary school, St. Mary’s. Another old boy from St. Mary’s recently reminded me how I regularly challenged the status quo there. Then the nun headmistress – a Mother Theresa lookalike – got me by the throat and squeezed it as she warned me not to repeat my ‘wicked lies’ about the predatory paedophile priests who were endemic in our Catholic community. I really though she was going to kill me. So I had learnt – like so many other Catholic boys – to be silent about injustice by the time I got to St J’s.
        But I recall, as if it were yesterday, Damian’s passive resistance to Brother James (the teacher who was my role model for Judge Dredd). As James entered the classroom, Damian very slowly looked up from rummaging in the depths of his desk and gave James a subtle, but unmistakeable knowing look of disdain. In fact, he may not even have bothered to look up, it could have just been his sullen but eloquent body language that incited James’s subsequent psychotic episode. Even from my desk, some distance away, the message Damian’s back was sending out was clear and James got it. ‘Psychotic episode’ is the only phrase to describe the demented and unwarranted beating that ensued and which still angers and upsets me today, perhaps because I feel we should all of us, as a class, intervened en masse, protected our class mate and stopped that maniac.
        I’ve discussed it with another old boy and he’s described James having similar outbursts of uncontrollable rage. The fact that the De La Salle order have not acknowledged and expressed regret for the crimes of James and Solomon is a black mark against them which will not go away until they do. I shall certainly be writing about James and Solomon again and drawing their well-documented crimes to people’s attention. So much for St Joseph’s current regime’s proud claim that they are “in the Lasallian Tradition”. Damian’s courage needs applauding. It’s St. Joseph’s old boys like him we need to remember with pride today – “a rebel who fought Judge Dredd”. He is a fine example to us all.

  9. Hi Pat,
    I went to DeLaSalle schools in Dublin in the 70’s and 80’s and experienced my share of the Lasallian tradition. I had a strong attachment to 2000 ad when I was at school and I think that was to some extent because of its anti authoritarian stories. I would like to just say thanks for how your comic made me feel better about feeling powerless.

    A Hill

  10. Hi Pat, I attended SJC, Birkfield from 1969 to 1974. Although I did not directly experience any serious abuse at the hands of the DLS Brothers, I am aware of people who may have. I imagine many of the possible suspects may be long deceased. However if I or anyone I know can assist with current investigations please feel free to contact me. Btw, very impressed with your subsequent career. Yours truly, Andrew Yelo

    • Hello Andrew, I seem to recall we were in the same form before I left for the States in 1974.
      Best wishes from China,
      Faraz Maani

      • I was at SJC from 53 to 61. Starting at age 7 1/2 I never saw or heard of any sexual abuse but some of the Bros were a bit fond of the cane. Bros Solomon Keven and Michael being the main ones. However they seem to employ some religious bigots the main one being Kevin Tracey, who taught Spanish and geography in 57- 59. He would cut bamboo from behind the 55 block and frequently cane the whole class for not learning well enough. He seemed to pick on Chris Prior the most. He spent large part of any lesson telling us how religious the boys of our age were in Spain. When he left SJC he abducted a boy from his next employment and ran away with him for best part of a year. Look on Google under Kevin Tracey

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