Denton a village in South Norfolk, England

Reginald Jonathan Gunton died July 29th 2008 aged 87 years

From the Parish News – September 2008

St. Mary's Church was filled to capacity with many local people who were the family and friends of Reggie Gunton at his funeral on Tuesday 12th August. The Rev. Barry Cramp officiated at the service, and spoke of Reggie's enthusiasm as a sportsman and gardener, but primarily as a family man.

Born at Abbey Farm Cottages, Alburgh, Reggie was one of a family of six children, Maudie, Kathy, Alice, Bob and Freddie will be well remembered locally, but only Kathy survives him today. His education was completely at Alburgh School; on leaving which his love of gardening was fostered when he found work at Alburgh Rectory, and later at Denton Lodge. At this time in 1938 he was encouraged by a friend to join the Territorial Army; consequently when the 2nd World War broke out he was called up to serve with the 4th Battalion of the Royal Norfolk Regiment.

The Regiment, with many of the local lads, was sent to Singapore in 1941, which was invaded shortly after by the Japanese, when he and many of the battalion were captured. Reg was one of those who were sent to the notorious "Burma Road" prison camps where the captives were forced to work long hours in intolerable conditions constructing a railway for the Japanese. The terrible hardships faced by these men were depicted in the famous film "Bridge on the River Kwai". Hundreds of prisoners were to die in the conditions; Reg survived the ordeal, but as a result of his suffering weighed only six stones when he was repatriated after the war with Japan had ended in 1945. He, with many of his fellow sufferers, was sent to a recuperation centre at Ely to help them recover. In later years they formed the Far East Prisoners of War Association (FEPOW) whose meetings and reunions Reg regularly attended; some of which were held at the Royal Albert Hall.

On returning to Norfolk he found the family had moved to a cottage (now demolished) close to the North side of Denton Village Hall, and while living here became acquainted with Muriel Battell, known to us all as "Bubbles", daughter of Harry Battell who kept the shop, and sister to Alfred and Joan (Jarvis). They married in 1950 at St. Mary's Church, and lived for a while at Chapel Corner Cottage before moving to Globe House in 1955. Reg found employment at Clay's printing works where he worked as maintenance engineer until his retirement forty years later. Living at Globe House with Bubbles and their children, Shirley and Christopher, his family interest came to the fore. He spent much time developing the house and garden, which with his sporting interest in mind included a bowling and putting green. His prowess as a sportsman became widely acclaimed: he was an enthusiastic captain of the Denton cricket team (where Bubbles played her part as scorer), a keen tennis player and he also played football for Bungay. His sporting ambitions were also passed on to the family: Shirley played tennis for Norfolk and made sports education her career, Chris captained Alburgh football team, and grand-daughter Debbie played hockey for England under 16's. Living next door to the Denton Village Hall, it is not surprising that this became his great interest, he was Chairman of the Village Hall Committee for 30 years, during which time he was to oversee the Hall develop into the magnificent community centre of the village as we see it today.

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