Obituary: Geoffrey Pidgeon
Born 27 May 1926, died 12 August 2021, aged 95
Geoffrey Pidgeon our father, passed away very suddenly while staying with his family on Thursday 12th August 2021. Geoffrey was born in Fulham in 1926 and was an active and very alert 95 year old whose passion in latter years was writing about his experiences working on the transmission and output side of Bletchley Park.
Educated at Caterham School, Geoffrey moved to the Milton Keynes area where his father had been appointed as quartermaster sergeant at SIS / M16 Section VIII at Whaddon as part of the Bletchley Park secret operation. This move was accelerated when the family home not far from the Spitfire base at Kenley was shot up by the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain
Geoffrey was by far the youngest in the department and began by making clandestine radio sets to be dropped to special agents in occupied Europe. His skills were such that he soon graduated to building the specialised wireless receiving vehicles that were provided to the top generals at the front so that the vital code breaker’s Ultra Secret intelligence could be used by the field commanders. These vehicles, built at Whaddon, accompanied Allied leaders such as Montgomery, George Patton, Omar Bradley and Mark Clark on their way to victory in 1945.
With his boss and life long friend, Commander Dennis Smith RN, Geoffrey also fitted short range close contact espionage wireless equipment into special Boston bombers and MTB boats and went on some missions to prove efficacy.
Straight after VE Day, Geoffrey was flown to Calcutta and later Singapore in a dedicated four day flight in a Dakota to set up special equipment thought to be needed for the anticipated invasion of Japan.
When the war ended, Geoffrey joined the family business of builders merchants. He was the fourth generation of a family credited with the invention and development of important products in the field of public health and sanitation.
He grew this business during the 50’s and 60’s and was the pioneer in the UK of plastic plumbing components, now universal, and acrylic baths. He sat on some 14 British Standard Committees on account of his expertise in the field and had much involvement in the metrification of the building industry and its components.
Much later, when the family business was sold, Geoffrey launched a new company selling and distributing advanced European bathroom products around the UK. Specialising in Italian products particularly he made many good friends on his visits to that country. He loved his work so much that he was 82 before he chose to – partially – retire.
It was then that he started to put together information gleaned from his own wartime experiences and those of many others to write his book – The Secret Wireless War – which is universally accepted as the reference book on the transmission of the Ultra Secret intelligence and many of the other vital peripheral aspects of the Bletchley Park Operation.
His regular newsletters on all matters connected to wartime wireless intelligence are sent all over the world and he has many followers in the United States where his book is in the Library of Congress and at West Point, Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He even has readers in Germany and Japan!
In October 2019, Geoffrey received the Legion D’ Honneur at Lancaster House from Her Excellency the French Ambassador and our Minister of Defence as the 6000th British recipient for their contribution to the liberation of France.
Geoffrey leaves three sons and a wide family who will miss him very sorely.
Written by his son, OC John Pidgeon
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Geoffrey founded the Pidgeon Prize for Literature to promote creative and intellectual writing endeavours at Caterham School and in honour of all the Pidgeon family members who attended Caterham School. This prize inspired the annual publication for the Arts and Humanities magazine ‘Cat Among the Pigeons’. You can read an interview with Geoffrey in the next issue to be published in September 2021.
Click the image below to read the latest issue.
Click the image below to read Geoffrey’s Omnia interview about his work with MI6 and memories of Caterham.