26th August 1924 - 3rd January 2008
Bill Marshall at a Remembrance Day Parade
William Charles Marshall, Bill to all of us who knew him, passed away aged 83 on 3rd January 2008 after putting up a fight against his illness which many younger men would not have been capable of.
Bill served in the Second World War and after training in this country saw service in India as a Wireless Operator after a journey which took his ship across the Atlantic avoiding German U Boats, through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea. Later, he was part of the largest invasion force of British and Empire troops against the Japanese (known as operation Zipper) landing in south west Malaya and advancing on Singapore, where the ceasefire was eventually signed ending the war.
After the war Bill returned to Takeley and worked at Canfield Nurseries for 34 years until 1981. There cannot have been much that Bill did not know about the commercial growing of tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and mushrooms.
Bill was one of the first members to join Takeley Local History Society when it formed in 1998. His tireless work in writing about the Takeley he lived and worked in for his whole life has ensured that he has left something behind for us all. Bill wrote or co-wrote 11 of our books and was to a very large extent responsible for the manufacture and sale of them as well. He always delighted in reporting the numbers sold and he saw the total exceed 1500. I believe Bill’s first experience of writing books was when he decided, shortly after the society was formed, to discover all he could about those on Takeley War Memorial. This task was completed in 2004 when a bound copy of the book was presented to the church for permanent display.
Bill ran his garden and greenhouses as a very successful smallholding producing a wide variety of plants, flowers and vegetables which he sold to many local customers.
A couple of years ago it was suggested to Bill that the Parish Newsletter could benefit from a gardening column and without any fuss Bill became a regular columnist. I’m sure everyone who read those articles now knows the importance of water conservation and composting whether they personally grow anything or not.
Bill was laid to rest with his wife Nora in Little Canfield churchyard. The British Legion, in which he played an active role, formed a colour party and the church was full to overflowing with family and friends. It was a fitting tribute to a man who had spent his life in our community. Everyone who knew Bill will miss him.