Ormond Uren was born in Boulder, Western Australia, the son of a Presbyterian Minister and the family moved frequently as a result. They lived in Victoria, Dinblane in Scotland and Hayle in Cornwall. Ormond Uren’s date of birth has not been recorded but appears to have been in 1919. At the age of 11, he attended Ackworth School (a leading Quaker Boarding School), near Pontefract, Yorks. (from 1930 until 1934) followed by George Watson’s Academy (another private School), Edinburgh from 1934 until 1936. He attended Edinburgh University, with a break for War Service, in 1936-1939 and 1948-1950. He graduated M.A. Honours in French with subsidiary Spanish. He lived in France during 1948-1949 and 1950-1952.
At the age of 18 he had an affair with a Hungarian Countess, spending a year with her on her estate and picking up fluent Hungarian. When war broke out in 1939 he enlisted and was soon commissioned – as a Captain in the Highland Light Infantry. His knowledge of Hungarian brought him to the attention of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) into whose Hungarian Section he was recruited. As with many others at the time, Ormond was interested in the Communist Party where contact with a Soviet Agent (Douglas Springhall) lead him to betray some minor organisational secret. On being found out he was court-martialled (1943), cashiered and sentenced to seven years, penal servitude, but seems to have served only four (among his inmates were Ivor Novello and William Douglas-Home!).
His arrest came four days before an operation in which he was to have been parachuted into Hungary to make contact with the opposition, though he thought the exercise was probably doomed anyway. His arrest, however, placed him on a British Government blacklist which closed off access to what had been set to be a brilliant academic career
By 1949 he went to live with Rose Goldblum in Paris (they had met when she was visiting a friend in Edinburgh), but returned for university terms. They were married in Paris in the same year. He engaged in sundry interpreting jobs in Paris but the blacklist found him and he was summarily deported to England in 1952. Rose, meanwhile, had become qualified as a dentist and moved to London.
His nephew described subsequent teaching jobs as unsatisfying. He taught first at Arnold House Preparatory school from 1952 until 1955, Hackney Free & Parochial School from 1955 until 1958 and was appointed to Hackney Downs School on 1st September, 1958. At Hackney Downs he caused quite a stir tall, dashing and driving a Jaguar XK140 which made him the envy of many a would-be James Bond among the boys and even of the Head of Department ‘Kit’ Corner. Although the details of the termination of his army career had been kept confidential, something of an air of mystery attached to him whilst he was at Hackney Downs and caused much gossip among his charges.
As part of his teaching he would use popular songs by Georges Brassens – some a little risqué – many remembered to this day by his pupils!
He left teaching in August 1964 to take a Linguistics Course at Birkbeck College, London University, where he subsequently became a part-time lecturer in the French language and publishing a paper (with a colleague, Rodney Huddlestone) with his address as The University of Reading in 2002 (entitled “Declarative, interrogative and imperative, in French”). Fluent in four languages (French, Spanish, Russian and Hungarian), and a voracious reader, Ormond continued to practise yoga and to ski into his 80s. He was also a classical guitarist.
His death, at the age of 95, was reported in August 2015.
M. Uren taught French to the 59ers from their first year up to their O Levels.
Several of his pupils have recalled some memories associated with him and these appear on 59ers