Tipperary-born Larry Slattery was the first prisoner of World War II, shot down the day after war was declared. He was rescued from the sea by a German merchantman and treated for severe head injuries, before joining his crewmate George Booth who had a broken ankle in the naval hospital at Wesermunde. There, they were interviewed by German and United States radio commentators. Declining an offer to work for the German Ministry of Propaganda, Larry was imprisoned in various locations before being transferred to the infamous Stalag Luft III Prisoner of War camp in May 1942.
A gifted violinist, he obtained his own instrument through the Red Cross which also sent musical instruments to enable the formation of a camp orchestra. This was duly founded by Frank Hunt, and eventually the orchestra numbered 70 members with Larry as the leader. Larry often played in the barracks at night and saved the sanity of a good many prisoners of war.
After the war, Larry served with the occupying forces in Germany and later joined the Civil Service and was the Leader of the Civil Service Orchestra. He didn’t want to be a professional musician but was sometimes called up by one of the major orchestras if they were short of a violinist. He was also the prime mover in establishing the Royal Air Forces ex-Prisoner of War Association.
Larry enjoyed coaching children’s chamber groups, so, when he died prematurely in the 1970s members of the RAFs’ ex-PoW Association were keen to commemorate his life in some way. Cal Younger was another founder member of the Association, and as he ran several charitable trusts it was agreed that he would establish a new charitable trust to carry on Larry’s work with talented young musicians.
Frank Hunt was one of the original trustees. He worked for BP for a time then taught violin at St Paul’s Choir among others. His wife is Jean Anderson who was a professor of piano at the Royal Academy of Music. Their son is the oboist Gordon Hunt, who is now a trustee, Squadron Leader Robert Ankerson, a Gulf War PoW, Ian Shepherd the son of PoW Geoff Shepherd, and Helen Younger granddaughter of PoW Cal Younger, who also administrates the trust.
Our Fund makes grants to assist many talented young people wishing to follow a career in music, but whose financial circumstances may not make this possible without additional support.