Former head who took part in Berlin airlift dies

John Flanagan
John Flanagan

A FORMER headteacher, who participated in the Berlin airlift after the Second World War, has died aged 85.

John Flanagan, who was once head of Silverdale School in Perth Road, St Leonards, in the 1970s and 1980s, passed away last Friday (January 10) at St Michael’s Hospice due to cancer.

When he was 18 he did his stint of national service, taking part in the Berlin airlift in 1948, carrying supplies to people in West Berlin. During the postwar occupation of Germany, the Soviet Union blocked the western Allies’ railway, road, and canal access to the sectors of Berlin under Allied control. In response, the western Allies organised the airlift.

Mr Flanagan, of King Edward Avenue, gained four A-levels and qualified as a teacher at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham. He took up a teaching position in Aylesham, Kent as well as a deputy headship in Cosham, Hampshire.

Mr Flanagan was appointed the first headteacher of Blessed Margaret Clitherow RC Primary School in Stevenage, Hertfordshire in 1965.

After eight years he moved to 1066 Country and became head of Silverdale School until he retired in July 1988.

His son Mick said: “During this period hundreds of pupils at Silverdale received a well-rounded education provided by John and his dedicated staff, many of whom were friends as well as colleagues. John had a long and happy retirement, enjoying holidays abroad with his wife Jo, travelling to see his son Timothy in Africa and spending time with his three grandsons.”