A. S. Gispert 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 year.


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 fields.
1923 - In Sarawak, there was even a 'harrier' paper chase on horseback .
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 Highlanders.

‘G’ in his military uniform


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."