Papers of Felix Henry Gale

Scope and Content

The content consists of Felix Henry Gale's diary (1940), his poetry and memoirs of war service in the Far East during the Second World War (1939-1945) and a book of poetry and memoirs written by his mother Mona Emily Gale. Further content includes material documenting a journey (pilgrimage) Felix made to Mandalay, Burma, in 1997 and ten audio cassette tapes of Felix's poetry.

Administrative / Biographical History

Felix Henry Gale (1921-2014), born in the southern village of Port Erin, Isle of Man, the eldest son of William (c.1894-1924), a master mariner from Port Erin and Mona Emily née Kewley (c.1896-1977) from Castletown. His brothers were William (1923-2010), a postman and Norman Kewley Gale (1924-2011), the custodian of Castle Rushen, the medieval castle situated in the southern town of Castletown. Felix's father died in 1924, drowning while sailing with Coast Lines Limited.

In 1939 at the age of 17 whilst Felix was preparing for further study in mathematics and science Britain declared war on Germany (Second World War 1939-1945) and he decided to enlist. He signed up with the Merchant Navy and in January 1940 joined the SS Achilles of the Blue Funnel as a cabin boy. He kept a diary for 1940, documenting his travels in Gibraltar, the Suez, Penang, Singapore, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Japan and South Africa.

After the Merchant Navy Gale entered the army joining the Royal Mechanical Engineers as an auto electrician. He also served with a Light Aid Detachment (LAD) unit which was attached to the 130th Field Regiment, Royal Artillery. In 1942 Gale moved to India (acquiring a tattoo of the Legs of Man in Darjeeling), where he joined the 14th Indian Division, then later the 36th Division and engaged in the Burma Campaign (January 1942-July 1945). Gale saw action in the Arakan Campaign (1942-1943) before his final engagement in the North Burma Campaign (1944-1945). Felix Gale received the decoration the Burma Star and the 1939-1945 Service Medal. The ‘Fourteenth Army’ is often called the ‘Forgotten Army’ because its operations in the Burma Campaign were overlooked by the contemporary press and because their activities were more obscure than their European counterparts.

Gale returned to the Isle of Man after the war and got a job as a mechanic at Island Garages at the Shore Road site, Port Erin. In 1949 he married Sylvia Kathleen Christian (1930-2014), daughter of Reginald (c.1899-1938), station master at the southern village of Port St Mary and ‘Daisy’ (Annie) née Cubbon (1902-1993). After leaving Island Garages, the couple went on to manage the Glen Wyllin campsite, Kirk Michael, from 1981 to 1987. They participated greatly in the Port Erin community with Felix being a member of the social club Rushen Round Table, the Royal British Legion and the Rushen and Western Mann Rotary Club.

Encouraged by his good friend, Major Geoffrey Crellin (1914-1998), Member of the House of Keys (MHK) and Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), Felix started to write about his life experiences in the form of poetry. His poetry ranges from Port Erin in the past, family experiences and his wartime experiences to the Isle of Man’s future. Major Crellin also recited much of Gale’s poetry and was recorded on audio cassette tapes. Felix’s mother too had been a keen poet in her younger days, penning more than one hundred pages of her recollections (life in Castletown at the turn of the century, the First World War etc) only to discard much of it later in life. In 2014 Felix died at the age of 92. The funeral was held in the Port Erin Methodist Church, followed by a cremation at Douglas Crematorium.

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Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from MS 11554'S deposit file and a newspaper cutting from the deposit.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), February 2016.

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage includes Felix Gale's eulogy delivered at his funeral (reference number: MS 14068), greeting cards to Felix and Sylvia Gale (reference number: MS 13721) and photographs of Felix and family (reference number: PG/14689/1 - PG/14689/6).