Obituary – Walter Chisholm Batten (C2 1937-42)

Walter was one of the last surviving OMs to have attended the College during World War II. He had vivid memories of travelling by train from the family home in Taunton to the old Marlborough High Level Station via Savernake and of sharing the College facilities with the City of London School, whose pupils had been evacuated during the Blitz. He recalled having his lessons in the morning with sports in the afternoon and vice versa for the City of London boys. He also remembered the boys flicking butter at the ceiling in the old dining hall – perhaps the reason why the Norwood Hall has such tall ceilings! He loved his time at the College and particularly enjoyed playing the organ in the College chapel.

After the war, he completed his medical training at the Royal London and qualified as a GP, practising in Sussex. His love of Avebury, Silbury Hill, West Kennet Long Barrow and the numerous Iron Age hill forts dotted around Wiltshire eventually brought him back to the area and, in particular, Burbage, where he practised for the best part of 30 years. He was very much an ‘old school’ type of GP, in that he would visit patients at all times of the night and would never leave home without his medical bag (even on holiday)! The strict rules on retirement for NHS doctors back then meant that he was forced to retire in 1993 aged 70 – never has Burbage Village hall been so busy than at his retirement party – there was even overspill into the car park! Despite his ‘retirement’, he continued to do locums in the local area right up until his late 80s.  He also volunteered at the Merchant House in Marlborough and also at the Wiltshire Museum in Devizes, where he was a regular until well into his 90s.

He was always very proud of his association with the College, so much so that he sent two of his sons to follow in his footsteps. He would also make every effort to attend OM Club Day until his failing health prevented him from attending. He died peacefully in Marlborough on 17th December 2020 at the ripe old age of 97 – a life very well lived.

Roddy Chisholm Batten (LI 1986-91)