Peter John Coomber CBE- funeral to be held at the Church of King Charles the Martyr, Falmouth on Tuesday 20th November 2018 at 11.30am.
No flowers but donations can be made to British Red Cross:
Peter John Coomber CBE, former Chief Executive of the London Borough of Ealing, and Vice President of Ealing Choral Society, died peacefully at home on 18th October 2018, aged 99.
Husband to Joyce (d.1997), brother to Mary, Father to Ann, Timothy, Jane, Robert and Caroline, grandfather and great grandfather.
Peter became a prisoner of war in 1940 and educational activity, including music, was encouraged and aided by the International Red Cross. Within a few months of his captivity both an orchestra and a choir had been formed in his prisoner of war camp, giving performances in what had once been the Archbishop of Salzburg’s Chapel.
Eventually there were orchestras in several camps and Peter was able to play trumpet in a symphony orchestra. He also sang in choirs. One of their conductors was Richard Wood, a personal friend of Benjamin Britten, who wrote The Ballad of Little Musgrave and Lady Barnard and dedicated it to the musicians. Peter took part in the first ever performance in POW camp Oflag VII-B in Eichstaett, Bavaria.
Thanks to the Red Cross, Peter was also able to pass several exams which were invaluable for his later career in local government.
The British Red Cross food parcels played a vital role in helping keep prisoners alive. The Red Cross also sent out next of kin parcels from families, educational book parcels and even activity parcels containing sports equipment. These parcels greatly improved prisoners’ quality of life during the war.
Peter’s eldest, Ann Coomber, remembers that the tins of condensed milk were the item in the food parcels that Peter told us about: “Bashing the condaggers" was the phrase used by the men to describe how they approached this delicacy!