Veteran entertainer Max Bygraves, who had links to RAF Hornchurch, dies
Britain’s much loved entertainer Max Bygraves who was one of the personalities based at Hornchurch during the war, died last Friday.
Max died at his daughter’s home in Australia aged 89, after losing his batttle against Alzheimer’s disease.
Max, who enjoyed a successful career as a singer, comedian and actor was a Spitfire fitter with 611 City of Liverpool Squadron serving at Hornchurch in 1941 and 1942.
He also met his wife, Blossom, who was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) while they were both stationed at Hornchurch.
The pair got married in 1942 in Romford.
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Speaking to the Recorder in July 2003, Max said: “Hornchurch was memorable because I met my wife and I was comfortable because it was one of the few stationns I served at when I had sheets on my bed as well as a roof over my head.
“During out courting there were few occasions when I was out late and had to crawl over people’s back gardens with a pair of bolt cutters to cut my way back to the base.”
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Born in 1922, in Rotherhithe in South-East London, Max first discovered his love of singing when he was 14 when he was a chorister,
He left school to become a copy boy at an advertisign agency in the West End and during the night he started working in pubs and doing comedy impressions to earn some extra cash.
But his first taste of success came when he joined the airforce.
He formed part of a concert party where he toured air raid shelters in London during the Blitz and found success performing jokes and songs to keep people’s spirits up.
He first achieved national fame on radio when he joined the cast of Educating Archie in the 50s.
Max was also famous for his many catchphrases, which included “I wanna tell you a story” and “Good idea, son”.
He also found success in the charts with his Singalongamax albums and was popular in Australia. Hong Kong and America.
Max also made appearances in films including Tom Brown’s Schooldays and Charley Moon.