Dear Ian, 

I am on the Committee of 'The Wilhelmshaven Association (TWA)', which is for ex-pupils from Prince Rupert School (PRS), Wilhelmshaven, and since you visited our site and left a message on our Guest page, perhaps you read my article about the history of PRS. 

Mr Smitherman is dear to my heart as I was in the first batch of pupils who arrived the first full term in September 1947, though there were 70 pupils, boys and girls, all aged 14 and over who spent the month of July 1947, to test the procedures put in place for our arrival in September. John S. H. Smitherman was an excellent Headmaster well respected by staff and pupils alike whilst the Headmaster of PRS.

On leaving PRS in 1951, he was again the founding headmaster of Woolverstone Hall. It apparently was during his time in Suffolk that he took over the command of the Territorials and he was awarded the OBE for his services. He thought that he had seen the last of Nissen huts when he left PRS, as that was what we used as classroom right up to about the end of 1950, but he found he had them in Woolverstone Hall as well.

 In 1959 he went overseas again to become the Headmaster of St George's, the Army Secondary School in Hong Kong. In 1965 he joined the British Council and served as Principal of colleges in East Pakistan and Libya. In 1971 returned to the UK, and after helping his brother for a short while he opened up a small tutorial establishment of his own  in Godalming, which he ran until ill health forced his to retire, about two years before sadly died on 7 March 1984. 

I have in the past spoken to one ex-pupil from my time at PRS (1947-50) who went on the Woolverstone Hall, having also been a pupil of Mr Smitherman while he was at PRS. I also know from others that they were always welcome at Mr Smitherman's home if ever in the area, as he always showed a keen interest in any of his ex-pupils. Your mentioning several ex-pupils at Woolverstone Hall having been at PRS, intrigues me. What period of time do you refer to, as I am not sure if Woolverstone hall is still in existence? My wondering when is because PRS eventually in 972 moved from the site in Wilhelmshaven to Rinteln, where it is even today operating as Prince Rupert School, so I wonder are you mentioning people from the school at Wilhelmshaven or Rinteln, as both have school associations.

I am still in touch with three of the teachers who were on Mr Smitherman's staff while I was at PRS, and all the teachers used to meet up for teachers reunions for many years in Lancashire, after leaving PRS. I still see three teachers usually about once a year, though two are now aged about 86-7, and one has just reached age 90. Did you know Mr Smitherman, or do you just know his name as the founding Headmaster of Woolverstone Hall? It is lovely to see the name of my old Headmaster being remembered from Woolverstone Hall. Please feel free to contact me if you have any information on any ex-pupils from Prince Rupert School at Wilhelmshaven from 1947-1972, as we run a very successful Association, which we call 'The Wilhelmshaven Association (TWA)', to differentiate with those who attended PRS at Rinteln.

If you are still in contact with any of them, they may appreciate learning about the school association, which publish three Newsletters per year and hold bi-annual reunions, with many local mini-reunions being hosted by members in various areas of the UK during the year. I will happily act as a point of contact for any such ex-pupils. We do have a good relationship with the School at Rinteln, as you might imagine. It was good of you to leave your message on our Guestbook, and I hope that my reply shows that we appreciate your leaving a message about Mr Smitherman.


Joe Kinson

Prince Rupert School in Rinteln