A curious tale of three journalists


Former Press Association 'Royal Reporter' Tom Corby, MVO, reads extracts from 'I Wish I Could Remember The Name' the unpublished autobiography of the late Gil Saunders, MBE, who had two spells in the Essex Chronicle newsroom. 

Chelmsford-born (Jan 1919) KEGS-educated, Gil spent five years before the war with the Chronicle returning to work after demob until 1949.

He rose to become news editor before being lured by the call of the wild, joining The Star, one of three London evening papers, Sunday Express in Glasgow,and the Press Association. 

Gil shares the joys of working for poorly paid, under-staffed 'local rag' and yet one of the most successful of its kind in the country - even without a single typewriter!

 He writes affectionately of the pre-war years of hot metal production and hand-written copy (stories) and covering the most mundane of events, peppered with a few well-earned scoops.

In this the first of two videos.

Tom Corby tells of Gil's early beginnings as a reporter in the mid-40s based in the paper's cramped offices in Chelmsford High Street, latterly Jessops the camera shop and sadly now a betting shop.

 Tom's father in law AJ 'Paddy' Travers worked briefly alongside Gil in the Chronicle High Street newsroom after the war before both left for national news. 

Tom, having started his career on the Southend Standard knew many of Gil's contemporaries as the world of local journalism is small,and, he often worked in Chelmsford knowing the hacks from the Essex Chronicle and its rival Essex Weekly News.

Despite never crossing paths on the street of shame, Tom, shared similar experiences, serving an apprenticeship on the Southend Standard, which at the time was the country's second biggest weekly seller - and both were with the Press Association. 

Tom married another local reporter who worked on his patch, Kathleen Travers - whose Irish father had also paid his dues at the Essex Chronicle and Press Association - and latterly both were to serve together in the Essex Chronicle newsroom when the paper was based at Westway.

Gil finally waved a fond farewell to the street of shame and left for Africa getting a press job with the fledgling government of Ghana, previously colonial Gold Coas.
After 11 years he himself made news when he was dismissed in 
1961 by the government while press attaché at its London embassy — "the last white official serving with its diplomatic service abroad" ran the national press headlines.
Maybe his African adventures will be the subject of a third dip into 'Gil's entralling autobiography. 

[This recording was made at Tom's Essex home before Gil's death in December 2013]

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