Oscar Gugen

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Oscar Gugen was a founder of the British Sub-Aqua Club.

He was born in 1910 of an Austrian father and French mother. He started as a hotel kitchen hand in Austria, peeling carrots. By the age of 21 he was a hotel director in the south of France.

When World War II started, he joined the French Army. After the Germans broke through into France, he destroyed his papers and reached and boarded the last British destroyer which was evacuating British troops. As he had no papers, he was interned on the Isle of Man, and released at the end of the war.

He became a swimming pool attendant, and then managed an American Army Officers' Club. After those Americans left, he became a partner of Eric Skinner, who was selling jigsaw puzzles.

He imported swimming goggles and swimfins from France, as the Dunlop Rubber company, who had made wartime frogmen's fins, had decided that there would be no market for them in peace time. Soon Oscar was selling 300 pairs of fins a week, mainly to Gamages and to Colin McLeod at Lillywhites.

To form a national diving club, he tried to merge with Harold Penman's Underwater Explorers Club, but the attempt failed over policy matters.

Oscar met Peter Small, who also had used the aqualung, but only briefly. The two got scuba diving training from Trevor Hampton at Warfleet Creek. Oscar had two dives, and Peter finished the five-lesson course. In the evenings they worked out BSAC's constitution. The "Sub-Aqua" in its name was likeliest Oscar's idea, as Penman and Hampton had used "Underwater" in their organizations' titles.

Jack Atkinson, an ex-RAF flight sergeant, joined them as Training Officer; he soon after took Trevor Hampton's diving course.

See British Sub-Aqua Club#History.