Obituary: Arthur Rees
Thursday 21 May 1998
Born in the mid-Wales village of Llangadog, Rees did not learn to speak English until he was seven. A very Welsh Welshman, he attended his country's greatest rugby academy, Llandovery College, where he learned his rugby skills alongside Viv Jenkins and Cliff Jones, two players who were later to join him in victory over the All Blacks.
Rees made the 1st XV at the college at 14 and then went up to St Catherine's College, Cambridge, where he earned two rugby Blues, in 1933 and 1934.
His greatest moment in rugby came on 21 December 1935, when he led the Welsh pack into battle against New Zealand. By the end, two of his former Cambridge colleagues, Jones and Wilf Wooller, had played key roles and his old school pal Jenkins had contributed two conversions to a famous 13-12 victory.
Jenkins said of Rees:
Arthur was a marvellous leader of men, he got the best out of them and they would follow him anywhere - though one once said `it is a pity about the places he takes us to!'
Cliff Jones had been junior to both of us at Llandovery but he was with us both in the Welsh side in 1935 when we beat the All Blacks. I remember thinking how we had started.
Arthur was leading the pack that day and had given strict instructions to his fellow forwards that when he gave the word they should all hit an opponent. Early in the game one of the New Zealander forwards said something to Glyn Prosser, a
blacksmith from Neath, and he shouted, "Now Mr Rees, now Mr Rees?" To his delight, Arthur, or Mr Rees as he was called by his pack, quickly gave the go-ahead to hatch the dressing room plan and the Welsh forwards all got stuck into the New Zealanders.
I was best man at Arthur's wedding and he was best man at mine and we had some great fun over the years. He had a marvellous sense of humour and was always putting himself down in a humorous way.
A man of great humour, Rees was a good leader and his all-round qualities served him in good stead as a pilot during the Second World War; he ended the war as an Acting Wing Commander.
He had begun a career in the Metropolitan Police Force in 1935, and resumed service with the Met after the war, climbing the ranks over the next 11 years before taking over as Chief Constable of Denbighshire in 1957.
He spent six years in his native Wales before moving back to England to take over as Chief Constable of Staffordshire. He held that post between 1964-67 before assuming the new title of Chief Constable of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent between 1968 and his retirement in 1977.
As well as playing for Cambridge University, the RAF, the Metropolitan Police, Surrey and the Barbarians, Rees was also a stalwart of London Welsh and Crawshay's Welsh RFC, where he served as Chairman 1960-92 and President from 1992.
Arthur Morgan Rees, police officer and rugby player: born Llangadog, Carmarthenshire 20 November 1912; Chief Constable for Denbighshire 1957- 64, for Staffordshire 1964-77; OBE 1963, CBE 1974; QPM 1970; married 1943 Dorothy Webb (died 1988; one daughter); died 13 May 1998.
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