A Brief Hash History
Alberto Esteban (Stephen) Ignacio Gispert 1903 – 1942
Known as "G" to his friends, he was born in No 80 Breakspears Road, Brockley, Kent on 31st July 1903, to Arthuro & Remedeos Gispert y de Puiguriguer, a large Catalan Spanish family.
They maintained the house in Breakspears 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.
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. It was probably here Alberto learnt the basics of non-competitive running following paper trails which was a common sport in English schools at that time.
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 Price Waterhouse) who sent him to Kuala Lumpur.
He married Eve in 1937 and his son, Simon, was born in the same year.
In 1938 he had joined the part-time militia, the Federated Malay States Volunteer Reservists, reaching the rank of Captain.
Cecil Lee (one of the other original members of the first hash) described the young Alberto as the 'perfect English Gentleman' was brought up in a household that spoke little English.
Having a fondness for "Hare and Hounds" paper-chase style runs, he gathered together a group of friends, including Ronald "Torch" Bennett, Frederick "Horse" Thompson & Cecil Lee, to form a "non-competitive" running club in Kuala Lumpur that would later become a world-wide legacy.
The 1938 charter:
To promote physical fitness among our members
To get rid of weekend hangovers
To acquire a good thirst and to satisfy it in beer
To persuade the older members that they are not as old as they feel
"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 epitomizes great fun , good fellowship, with solid qualities" - Cecil Lee
The group received its name from the Selangor Club Chambers, which due to the ‘lacklustre food’ served there was commonly referred to as the "Hash House"
The Selangor Club AKA The Hash House circa 1938
Cecil Lee (Left) & Gispert (Right) on a 1938 Trail Reconnoitre with Village Headman
This peaceful pastime was eventually cut short by the Japanese invasion of Malaysia. He was on leave in Australia when the Japanese invaded in December 1941. Although his wife and son had safely returned to England by then, "G" rushed back to Malaya and was seconded to the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders regiment as a Second Lieutenant.
At approximately 4:00 a.m. on 11th February 1942, while in charge of a mortar platoon, Gispert and his men were killed in action against invading Japanese forces on Dairy Farm Road, Singapore. Gispert’s body was never identified, and he is most likely buried in Singapore’s Kranji War Cemetery in one of the graves marked “All Unknown Soldiers.” His name is engraved on a memorial stone at Kranji Cemetery, along with the names of others killed during the invasion.
‘Torch’ Bennett, re-established the Hash after the war.
It wasn't until 1962 that the second Hash group was formed in Singapore. The Singapore H3 was slowly followed by others until by the time Mother Hash (Kuala Lumpur) had reached her 1500th postwar run in 1973, there were 35 "known" Hashes around the world.
1969 saw Commando Forces H3 formed, the 1st in the UK, by Colonel Ray Thornton (ex-JM of Singapore Hash) it flourished in the early 1970s but due to postings it petered out.
In 1971 Westcombe Park H3 (oldest monthly Hash) was founded.
In 1974 Bicester Hash was founded (oldest Weekly UK Hash) by Colonel Ray Thornton, he later formed Donnington H3, then Looe & Liskeard Hash, all of which survive today as they became more predominantly civilian.
1975 saw Surry H3 came in to existence & in 1976 London H3 was formed.
In 1977 90 Hashes were known in 35 Countries.
Herts Hash House Harriers was founded on the 10th of June 1985 by John Sandland. Making Herts Hash an offspring of the Muscat Hash House Harriers (1975), which makes H4 Grandchild of Brunei Hash (1963), Great Grandchild of Singapore (1962), Great Great Grandchild of Kuala Lumpur Hash (1938).
In March 1990 the First U.K. Full Moon Hash (first European Full Moon Hash) came in to existence, formed by Martin "Vertigo" Pooley, Alan "Smartarse" Drew & Rob "Pisshead" Long, it's Monthly Hashes have always been & still are supported by Herts Hashers.
Herts Hash has even managed to spawn the Hare & Hounds Hash (H5) in 1991, but like a dysfunctional teenager who has supposed to have left home to go to Bedfordshire, they still regularly turn up to run on our doorstep.
Herts Hash House Harriers went under the Title of "North Herts" in early Hash directories to distinguish ourselves from the South Herts Hash, but as "North" was never used amongst ourselves, or by other Hashes & since we have always covered all of our county it has since been dropped!
Herts completed 1,000 weekly Runs on 7th February 2004.
The numbers of Hashes world wide slowly increased into the hundreds by the eighties and there are now probably well over five thousand active Hashes all over the world.
Herts staged their 1234 Weekend in 2008, which with 165 participants was the largest attended event in the UK that year!
By the start of the 21st Century, some Hash Kennels have fold, most remain going through thick or thin & there are plenty of new ones in all types of guises.
Somewhere along the line your story fits in!
All of which brings all of us together to celebrate his life, that was cut short, but has given us this Hash camaraderie, a legacy that is far greater than any epitaph.
Gispert Memorial Run 11th Feb 2017