Family - Kaulback Connection - Bill Kaulback

Photo of Bill Kaulback in uniform

Roy James Alfred (Bill) Kaulback
(11 May 1911 – 27 Jun 1996)

Click www.queensroyalsurreys.org.uk/colonels_and_co/commanding_officers/queens_west_surrey/060.html for his obituary on the website of The Queen's Royal Surrey Regiment or here for a local copy.

Click the titles for his very detailed obituaries in The Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Rutland & Stamford Mercury and the Old Rugbeian Society Bulletin.

Click here for his entry in the Rugby School Who's Who edition of 1989.

Click here for the elegaic valediction spoken at his funeral service by his youngest son Roy.

Click here for his biographical details as summarised from his family history The Kaulbacks.

For an account of his active service 1942-1945, compiled from his diaries by his mother Alice Kaulback and reproduced from The Kaulbacks, click the following pages.

pp 33, 34-35, 36.

(Further to the account on p35 of Bill's decoration with the DSO for his gallantry and leadership at the Battle of Müssendorf, click here for the field dispatch commending his actions that day, signed by Field Marshall Montgomery himself.)

And for a fascinating retrospective dialogue between Bill and his brother Ron also reproduced from The Kaulbacks, click here.

Arma Virumque Cano

Tempora mutantur et nos illis, as I recall with customary inexactitude – the aphorism comes in various different forms anyway, and its basic tenor is that times change and us with them. Ron was relaxed about this and once the Second War was over he moved to South West Ireland with his family and 'went native' in that he embraced the people, the culture and the way of life. (He also took Irish nationality1.) I don't blame him – were I not dependent on the UK NHS for very expensive medication that keeps me alive and kicking I would love to live over there too, amidst beautiful scenery, lovely people, and an unhurried pace of life.

Bill was quite different. He remained very active in the high-powered neo-imperial Middle Eastern petroleum milieu2 for a good few years after the war before semi-retiring to the ultra-smart Sloane Square district of London, and then finally moving to a quiet corner of Stamford in Lincolnshire. He completed The Kaulbacks in mid 1976, though our autographed copy is dated early 1979. One of these days I'd like to make the entire book accessible via this website, as it is a distillation of his very considerable intellect, coupled with (as I remarked earlier) a justifiable pride of ancestry.

A reflection of this was the (von) Kaulbach coat of arms that was displayed in his London townhouse3 and later on in the main hall of his Stamford mansion.

Drawing of the Kaulback coat of arms

It also adorned, in embossed form, the front cover of The Kaulbacks and, in more detail, was printed on p 3 of the text within, where he remarks

"That the family was ennobled early may be deduced from our chivalry: 'Gules a Fesse wavy between three Escutcheons argent', the simplicity of which indicates that it was probably granted us sometime in the 12th or 13th centuries, though not surprisingly, in view of the recurrent wars and burnings, no written record of this has so far come to light.

The lack of quarterings also shows that the von Kaulbachs did not intermarry with great houses and we can deduce from this that they resisted the temptation to be drawn into the mediaeval Power Game which caused the ruin and eclipse of so many families."

For those such as myself to whom heraldry is a magnum mysterium (well, I may be just a page or two ahead in the textbook), the heraldic image as a whole is most properly called an achievement or a blazon, and in this particular case, which actually quite generic, it comprises the following elements:

  • The central shield, called an escutcheon (from Latin scutum = shield)
  • Subordinate shields (in this case three in number) also called escutcheons
  • A horizontal band called a fess or fesse (in this case wavy) (from Latin fascia = band)
  • A helmet, called a helm or casque, surmounting the escutcheon
  • A loop of twisted fabric called a wreath or torse, surmounting the helm
  • A real or mythological heraldic beast or head (in this case a peacock carrying a horseshoe), called a crest, surmounting the wreath
  • A swirling representation of a knight's surcoat torn or hacked in battle, called a mantling (in this case mantled or, doubled vert, I think)
  • An elaborately curling scroll beneath the escutcheon, bearing a motto usually in Norman French or mediaeval Latin (in this case, FRAPPE FORT = STRIKE HARD, particularly appropriate to Bill as an Indian Army amateur boxing champion and professional soldier)

The seven principal colours, or tinctures, used are standardised as or = gold, argent = silver, (jointly known as metals), azure = blue, gules = red, purpure = purple, sable = black and vert = green.

(For further discussion of heraldic basics, please see the Heraldic Footprint section, in which the Waddell arms are semiotically deconstructed in an attempt to clarify the early back-history of the family.)

Bill had evidently commissioned this oil painting of the Kaulbach arms a good many years ago and by now it is much darkened by age and exposure, quite unsuitable for a decent photographic reproduction, and so I'm currently trying to obtain a fresh copy from a German website. The whole procedure is like trying to steal a secret blueprint of the latest vergeltungswaffe, but I live in hope.

Alternatively, one can commission a fresh representation4, in digital format, from a website such as http://www.fleurdelis.com/coatofarms.htm which also provides an excellent alphabetic compendium of heraldic features such as peacocks and horseshoes for example!

Either way, I look forward to displaying a bright new copy for Kaulbacks everywhere to admire and make use of.

1: His wife Audrey, though as Irish as the Irish themselves, resident in Ireland to her dying day, resolutely retained her British nationality – and her total attachment to the Monarchy. So, coming across a large enamelled plaque of the Royal Coat of Arms somewhere or another, it seemed a really good idea to attach it over the front door of the newly rebuilt house after the Great Fire. She was always so wonderfully enthusiastic about everything she did … but after a day or two had passed, there was a muffled phone call … The Lads weren't happy about it … the implication was obvious, and so down it came.
2: Kaulback family tradition asserts that Bill was a (the) Project Manager for the construction of (one of) the (three) oil terminal(s) built on Kharg Island, off the Iranian coast, from 1956 onwards. He certainly was strongly involved with the Anglo Iranian Oil Co / BP, and gained quite a tough reputation in a very hard-nosed industry, but the details are impossible to ascertain or verify just from the internet.
3: Located at 69 Cadogan Gardens SW3 2RB (not to be confused with the property at E18 1LY!), Bill ran it as a select private hotel, The Fenja, named for his wife who was the true châtelaine behind the scenes. Indeed a condition of its subsequent sale in 1986 was that the hotel should continue under this name, but at some later date it was rebranded as The London Outpost. The internet ratings declined some years ago (<2013) and it has quite possibly closed since then.
4: One must remember, however, that much of the printed design for a given coat of arms is more the artist's preference or the style of a particular herald, and not a part of any particular blazon. The wreath, the mantling and the banners for names and mottoes, for example, are not an official element of the blazon of arms (though in Scotland any alteration to the motto must be officially reregistered). The helm, likewise, is not a part of the official blazon. Some historians regard the design of the helm as representative of a certain century or social status, but there are differences of opinion on this matter.