Lieutenant-Colonel Cedric J. Odling, TD
Commanding Officer, 140 (5th London) Field Regiment RA
Cedric Jameson Odling was born in 1895 in New South Wales, Australia, the son of Herbert and Maud Odling. Herbert Odling was a marble merchant, working at the time of Cedric’s birth in Australia for a business started in 1870 by his father, Anselm Odling.
Lt Col Cedric Odling in 1936 by the London society photographer Norman Parkinson
Cedric Odling returned to England with his parents and lived in Brighton. He was educated at Winchester College between 1909 and 1913 (in the same year as Major Nevill Christopherson). He was in the school’s shooting team in 1912 and 1913.
During the Great War, Cedric Odling joined the Royal Artillery in 1916 as 2nd Lieutenant. He served with the 2nd Wessex Howitzer Brigade and by 1918 had been promoted to acting Captain and Adjutant.
Following the Great War, Odling remained in the Territorial Royal Artillery, and in 1934 became a Lieutenant-Colonel. In 1938, he commanded the 92nd (London Division) TA Field Regiment, a year later as the TA expanded under emergency powers 92 Regiment spawned the new 140 Regiment, which Oldling commanded.
Anselm Odling & Sons
At the end of the Great War, the Odling family’s stone importing business expanded considerably. By 1926 there were depots at London, Hull, Liverpool, Glasgow, Plymouth and Bristol. In 1937 an additional depot was established in Dublin. Anselm Odling & Sons became the largest employer in the worked marble industry in Carrara, Italy and, after the death of his father Herbert in 1937, Cedric Odling became chairman of the company.
Obituary of Herbert Odling, October 1937
Anslem Odling’s Exhibition at Olympia April 1924
In 1945 Cedric Odling resumed his chairmanship. In 1958 the lease at the Liverpool Depot expired, and all plant and operations were moved to Hull. By the mid-1960’s, by then aged about 65 years, Cedric Odling expressed a wish to retire. He had no immediate family to hand over to, but passed control to a cousin and the board of directors. During this time, the UK saw a large rise in cremation, coupled with increased competition from the emerging markets of India and China. All these factors had made it increasingly difficult to run the firm in its current guise. After Cedric Odling’s retirement, Anselm Odling & Sons was incorporated as Odlings Ltd and in 1967 the Bristol and Hull depots were sold to Bridgwater Bros Holdings Ltd., based in Surrey.
To this day, Odlings Ltd continue to manufacture and import memorials to the Monumental trade from its site in Hull. The staff, almost entirely from Hull, have specialist skills in design and artwork. Although Odlings Ltd is no longer in the control of the Odling family, it has maintained its ethos as a family company. Currently the Managing Director of Odlings is Duncan Reynolds, who is a grandson of Walter Bridgwater (founder of Bridgwaters).
‘Downhill Only’ Club
Odling was a bachelor and had a passion for fine wines, cars and ski-ing. In 1925, was a founder member of the ‘Downhill Only‘ ski club based in Wengen, and was remembered for driving across Europe in the pre-war days in a Rolls Royce or in his early model Bentley.
1930s Badge of the Downhill Only Club
Lt Col. Cedric Odling became President of the Downhill Only Club from 1945 until 1948, and remained an active member of the DHO until the 1970’s. He made several contributions to the DHO journal including an illustrated story about a winter journey in his Bentley motor car from England to Germany with his friend Bill Perschke.
Winter Olympics 1936
Odling had been invited to participate in the Arrangements Committee for the 1936 Winter Olympics which were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria, Germany.
Adolf Hitler at the 1936 Winter Olympics
Cedric Odling’s Bentley enroute to Bavaria 1936, at Gasthaus Bruckhausl, Muncher Strasse, Kufstein
The ‘Odling Cup‘ awarded annually by the DHO Club for a downhill speed trial competition exists to this day in his memory.
Cassel, Injury & Captivity, May 1940
Lt. Col. Odling was injured while fighting in one of the Regiment’s northerly gun troop positions at Mont des Recollets, Cassel on 28th May 1940.
Odling was captured at Cassel on 30th May and spent the years 1940-1943 as a POW in Oflag IX. On 1st November 1943, at the age of 48 years and as a result of his injuries, he was repatriated to England via Sweden under the Red Cross scheme (see ‘Officers of the Regiment in Captivity‘ section of this website).
On his return to England, Odling remained in the Army as Lt. Colonel and was transferred to G2 of S.H.A.E.F. (Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force) in Grosvenor Square, London from 1944 to 1945.
In 1945, Odling resumed his role as Chairman and Managing Director of the family marble business, Anselm Odling & Sons Ltd and remained active in the Downhill Only Club, including a spell as club President between 1946-48.
Anslem Odling & Sons post war reunion dinner, London, March 1947.
DHO Journal 1947
C.J. Odling (2nd from Left, pointing at document on table) in DHO, Wengen, 1947
Cedric Odling wrote a bittersweet account (with highlights in bold) of his first journey back to Wengen in the club journal in 1947 after the ordeal of his captivity. He wrote:
‘..We had arranged beforehand to stay a day [in Dijon] and find out how the vintages had withstood the Germans, and we had also accepted an invitation from Georges de Vogue to dine at his chateau. We can assure you that the vintages are unsullied by the Kultur which gratuitously burnt the priceless Louis XIV furniture in our friend’s chateau before they left. Georges’ historic old house in Dijon was not damaged, perhaps because it was almost next to the local German Headquarters. We got going by 9 a.m. next morning, as we wanted time to see the wonders of the shops in the Marktgasse in Berne before they closed. We lunched at the first pub in Switzerland and recaptured the indefinable atmosphere of the authentic Gastube. Arriving in Berne by 4 p.m., we parked the car and went off to see the shops and agonise our austerity frustrated spirits. Switzerland ought to be taken over by the United Nations and preserved as a permanent memorial of that way of life we shall never see here again. Giovannini, of Lauterbrunnen, had a heated garage ready for the car, and we reached Wengen in good time for a few quick ones and the lunch we had been looking forward to for seven years. Changeless in a changing world, there were Fritz and Maria Borter looking just the same as when we said good-bye in 1939 ; those two dear friends whose untiring kindness followed me throughout my years of captivity, there they were standing in the hall to greet us for our eighteenth annual ski-holiday at the Palace Hotel, Wengen. We were home again‘.
DHO Journal 1974
In 1974 he made his final contribution to the DHO journal with some reminiscences about the early days of ski-ing in Wengen:
‘..Since the Hon. Editor asked me to write a few lines for the Journal in connection with the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of the Club next February, I have been digging around in the attic to try and find some records and photographs of those days when we formed the D.H.O., and to supplement a memory which in the course of years has ossified.
Conditions for skiing in Wengen in those days were primitive. Our primary task was to co-operate with the Kurverein in opening up gates and fences to permit a continuous run from Scheidegg to Wengen, and to convince the local land-owners that there was need for something more than a luge run.
We laid a firm foundation; we had some arguments with the farmers and with the Kurverein, but these did not go unresolved and our facilities quickly improved as more and more English visitors came to Wengen to ski. My recollection in those days is of G. C. Dobbs and his family, and then of Vivian Caulfeild who started the idea of teaching beginners to ski and to explore the slopes. The Swiss ski-schools were quick to take up these enterprises and to standardise their methods under Christian Rubi. Much has been written of the actual episode which sparked off the formation of the Club, as a humorous support for the team of Downhill racers which was taking on a similar team from Murren entitled the Kandahar. These arrived by train wearing badges and, to maintain the morale of our team, Ken Foster drew a comic figure on small pieces of paper which were pinned to our team’s coats but not surprisingly were not able to assure our victory.
The Club thenceforth set to, to raise an equally decorated team which in a few years would prove themselves winners. Our personal efforts in those first days were always given wholehearted support by Fritz Borter who was at about that time, taking-over the management of the Palace Hotel from his father. I have always been convinced that without this encouragement in those early days, the Club would never have prospered or been enabled to achieve the basic opening up of the ski runs from the top of the W.A.B. railway. Indeed, I am sure that if I were able now to take a run down from Scheidegg I should find it difficult to trace our old landmarks.
It has been a great satisfaction to me as a Founder to see the old names of my friends of those days still appearing in the lists of members, showing that sons and daughters are carrying on the job we started and contributing to the continued success of the Club.’
After retirement, and the creation of Odlings Ltd, Cedric Odling lived in Cuckfield, Sussex for 17 years. He never married.
Lieutenant Colonel Cedric Jameson Odling TD, Commanding Officer 140 (5th London) Field Regiment Royal Artillery, died peacefully in Haywards Heath Hospital in December 1986 at the age of 91 years.