A. S. Gispert
Alberto Esteban Ignacio Gispert, hash name "G", (his surname
is pronounced with a GEE), was born on the 31st July 1903 to
Arthuro and Remedeos Gispert y de Puiguriguer. He was born
at 80 Breakspear Road, Brockley, Kent (actually on the
corner of Harefield Road!) which is now part of the London
Borough of Lewisham but previously the Metropolitan Borough
of Deptford. The family were Catalan Spanish and maintained
the house in Breakspear Road and at least one other in
Barcelona. They moved to Brockley sometime in late 1891 or
1892. Alberto was the youngest of seven children, the third
to be born in the UK.
The young Alberto, although described in later life by Cecil
Lee (one of the other original members of the first hash) as
the 'perfect English Gentleman' was brought up in a
household that spoke little English. His mother, Remedeos,
spoke no English at all so the household language was
Spanish. Alberto was sent to the local Roman Catholic
school, St Joseph's Academy in Blackheath. Here Alberto
learnt the basics of non-competitive running following paper
trails which was a common sport in English schools at that
time and was known as the 'paper chase'. The participants
were from the many amateur athletic clubs called "harriers",
which had grown up throughout the United Kingdom. With the
arrival of other sports as cricket and rugby, the paper
chase became less popular.
Following his schooling Gispert joined H S Baker & Co and
became a Chartered Accountant in 1928 and applied for an
overseas posting with Evatt & Co (later to become
PriceWaterhouseCoopers) who sent him to Kuala Lumpur. He
married Eve in 1937 and his son, Simon, was born in the same
The British in Malaya had developed an extensive government
organization to administer the colonies or protectorates.
These civil servants along with the British citizens in
other occupations and businesses, produced large local
expatriate communities where organized forms of the paper
chase, or Harrier clubs (now known as 'hashing') was
revitalised in the 1920's and slowly grew in popularity.
These timelines seem to known in some record or other:
1913 - 'Harrier' clubs were formed around the Ipoh tin
1923 - In Sarawak, there was even a 'harrier' paper chase on
1927 - A Harriers was formed in Kuala Lumpur with men and
women runners. It ended in 1932.
1932 - A club was started in Johore Bahru.
1934/35 - A club was started in Malacca. "G" Gispert ran in
the Malacca Harriers, and Horse Thompson, one of the
founding joint masters of the first HHH in Kuala Lumpur in
1938, ran with the Johore Bahru Harriers.
Sometime before 1938 - An informal Harriers group led by
Gispert with friends were running about the old KL.
"G" - a description: " no pretensions to athletic prowess,
being short, rather rotund, and a bon viveur, great sense of
fun, and humour, but underneath noble instincts ... he
epitomises great fun , good fellowship, with solid
qualities" - Cecil Lee
In 1938 - "G" became Capt Gispert, OC of the Selangor
Batallion of the Federated Malay States Volunteers. In 1941
- prior to going on leave to Australia with his family, "G"
took over as manager of Evatt & Co in KL. In 1942 ( January)
- at the end of his leave , he returned to Malaya as the
Japanese advanced down the Malay peninsula to Singapore.
Gispert was made a 2nd Lieutenant of the Argyll & Sutherland
‘G’ in his military
HOW OUR HEROIC FOUNDER WAS KILLED.
The most detailed account of this
unfortunate event is found in the book "Singapore Burning"
by Colin Smith, Penguin 2005. He has kindly given his
permission to use material from his book which is summarized
in the following. We are happy to note that Colin Smith is
an occasional hasher.
I quote, with some additions in brackets:
"…………Bukit Timah was not a tidy battlefield. Ahead of
Tomforce, and behind the hilltop position Tsuji (a Japanese
Officer) was on, about 200 of Stewart's cut-off Argylls had
fragmented into a dozen or so small parties.
After they had delayed the Japanese armour long enough for
Major MacDonald to set up the anti-tank guns, Stewart had
retired about 100 yards into the rubber to the east of the
road. He had intended to lie low there, silent and not
giving away their positions by firing at shadows, until
first light, when they would ambush the infantry
reinforcements which would surely follow up the T95's. (T95
is a medium tank).
But by 4am, (February 11th 1942), (a considerable force of)
the Japanese (from track junction 751179), whose
English-speaking mimics with their 'Is anyone there?' had
largely failed to lure the Argylls out of cover, were
already beginning to send large patrols into the rubber,
(having moved up the track some 200yards).
One of these came within 10 yards of Stewart's battalion HQ
and killed four men, including his
mortar officer Lieutenant Albert Gispert
an accountant from Kuala Lumpur and a transfer to the
Argylls from the Federated Malay States Volunteer Force.
Gispert, who had Spanish antecedents, was popular and
athletic and left a lasting legacy.
More than 75 years after his
death the Hash House Harriers cross-country running club he
founded in Malaya has branches all over the world."