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Dahl was named after the polar explorer Roald Amundsen , a national hero in Norway at the time. He spoke Norwegian at home with his parents and sisters, Astri, Alfhild, and Else.
Dahl and his sisters were christened at the Norwegian Church, Cardiff , where their parents worshipped. In , when Dahl was three years old, his seven-year-old sister, Astri, died from appendicitis. Weeks later, his father died of pneumonia at the age of 57 while on a fishing trip in the Antarctic.
Dahl first attended The Cathedral School, Llandaff. At the age of eight, he and four of his friends one named Thwaites were caned by the headmaster after putting a dead mouse in a jar of gobstoppers at the local sweet shop, [ 5 ] which was owned by a "mean and loathsome" old woman called Mrs Pratchett. Thereafter, he transferred to a boarding school in England: He was very homesick and wrote to his mother every week, but never revealed to her his unhappiness, being under the pressure of school censorship.
Only after her death in did he find out that she had saved every single one of his letters, in small bundles held together with green tape. From , he attended Repton School in Derbyshire, where, according to Boy: Tales of Childhood , a friend named Michael was viciously caned by headmaster Geoffrey Fisher , the man who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury and went on to crown the Queen in The headmaster concerned was in fact J.
This caused Dahl to "have doubts about religion and even about God". During his years at Repton, Cadbury , the chocolate company, would occasionally send boxes of new chocolates to the school to be tested by the pupils. Dahl apparently used to dream of inventing a new chocolate bar that would win the praise of Mr. Cadbury himself, and this proved the inspiration for him to write his third book for children, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and include references to chocolate in other books for children.
His childhood and first job selling kerosene in Midsomer Norton and surrounding villages in Somerset , south West England are subjects in Boy: Along with the only two other Shell employees in the entire territory, he lived in luxury in the Shell House outside Dar-es-Salaam, with a cook and personal servants. While out on assignments supplying oil to customers across Tanganyika, he encountered black mambas and lions, amongst other wildlife.
With seven hours and 40 minutes experience in a De Havilland Tiger Moth , he flew solo; [ 24 ] Dahl enjoyed watching the wildlife of Kenya during his flights.
He was promoted to Leading Aircraftman on 24 August He was assigned to No. Dahl was surprised to find that he would not receive any specialised training in aerial combat, or in flying Gladiators. On the final leg, he could not find the airstrip and, running low on fuel and with night approaching, he was forced to attempt a landing in the desert.
The undercarriage hit a boulder and the aircraft crashed, fracturing his skull, smashing his nose, and temporarily blinding him.
Later, he wrote about the crash for his first published work. Dahl was rescued and taken to a first-aid post in Mersa Matruh, where he regained consciousness, but not his sight, and was then taken by train to the Royal Navy hospital in Alexandria. There he fell in and out of love with a nurse, Mary Welland. In February , Dahl was discharged from hospital and passed fully fit for flying duties. By this time, 80 Squadron had been transferred to the Greek campaign and based at Eleusina , near Athens.
The squadron was now equipped with Hawker Hurricanes. Dahl flew a replacement Hurricane across the Mediterranean Sea in April , after seven hours flying Hurricanes. Dahl saw his first aerial combat on 15 April , while flying alone over the city of Chalcis.
He attacked six Junkers Jus that were bombing ships and shot one down. On 16 April in another air battle, he shot down another Ju Of 12 Hurricanes involved, five were shot down and four of their pilots killed, including Pattle.
Greek observers on the ground counted 22 German aircraft downed, but because of the confusion of the aerial engagement, none of the pilots knew which plane they had shot down. Dahl described it as "an endless blur of enemy fighters whizzing towards me from every side". His squadron was reassembled in Haifa. From there, Dahl flew sorties every day for a period of four weeks, shooting down a Vichy French Air Force Potez 63 on 8 June and another Ju on 15 June, but he then began to get severe headaches that caused him to black out.
He was invalided home to Britain. Dahl began writing in , after he was transferred to Washington, D. Forester had asked Dahl to write down some RAF anecdotes so that he could shape them into a story. After Forester read what Dahl had given him, he decided to publish the story exactly as Dahl had written it.
The original title of the article was "A Piece of Cake" but the title was changed to sound more dramatic, despite the fact that he was not actually shot down. Dahl was promoted to Flight Lieutenant in August During the war, Dahl supplied intelligence from Washington to Stephenson and his organisation known as British Security Coordination , which was part of MI6. Stephenson promptly sent him back to Washington—with a promotion to Wing Commander.
Owing to his accident in having left him with excruciating headaches while flying, in August he was invalided out of the RAF. He left the service with the substantive rank of Squadron Leader. Their marriage lasted for 30 years and they had five children: Olivia, Tessa , Theo, Ophelia and Lucy. On 5 December , four-month-old Theo Dahl was severely injured when his baby carriage was struck by a taxicab in New York City.
For a time, he suffered from hydrocephalus , and as a result, his father became involved in the development of what became known as the " Wade-Dahl-Till " or WDT valve, a device to alleviate the condition. In November , Olivia Dahl died of measles encephalitis at age seven. Dahl subsequently became a proponent of immunisation [ 42 ] and dedicated his book The BFG to his daughter.
In , wife Patricia Neal suffered three burst cerebral aneurysms while pregnant with their fifth child, Lucy; Dahl took control of her rehabilitation and she eventually relearned to talk and walk, and even returned to her acting career, [ 44 ] an episode in their lives which was dramatised in the film The Patricia Neal Story , in which the couple were played by Glenda Jackson and Dirk Bogarde. Dahl and Crosland had previously been in a relationship. In , Dahl was quoted as saying: Could have been pro-Arab or pro-Jew.
There was no consistent line. Roald Dahl died on 23 November , at the age of 74 of a blood disease, myelodysplastic syndrome , in Oxford , [ 49 ] and was buried in the cemetery at St. According to his granddaughter, the family gave him a "sort of Viking funeral ". He was buried with his snooker cues, some very good burgundy , chocolates, HB pencils and a power saw. There have also been calls from the public for a permanent statue of him to be erected in the city.
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