Category Archives: Local History

The Fawnbrake dead of the First World War

This is of course the season when each year we remember those who died in last century’s World Wars.

 

 

 

It’s quite a shock to be reminded of those men and their families who  –  had we been living at the time  –  would have been our neighbours and perhaps friends here on Fawnbrake Avenue during the First World War.  We might have seen them leave; we would have witnessed and often shared the distress that the dreaded telegram brought to their families.

History, yes  –  but not that long ago, and still on our doorsteps.

We can understand this more easily these days because of the moving and detailed research conducted in recent years by members of the Herne Hill Society with help from the students of the Charter School North Dulwich and other local volunteers.

The result is an impressive memorial website which now contains over 550 full records of men (and two women) from Herne Hill who served and died in the First World War. The Remembering Herne Hill website captures not just the names but important background details about those who died, bringing them to life in our minds. The website also has an interactive map that lets us view local casualties from individual roads in Herne Hill and neighbouring streets.

 

The research, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund is largely complete. It establishes that there were at least seven of our then neighbours on this street alone who lost their lives in this war.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alongside that online catalogue of names and personal details, there is now of course a physical memorial displayed prominently in our station.

A specially commissioned war memorial, carved on Welsh slate by Mark Brooks, was unveiled by Helen Hayes MP at Herne Hill Station on Sunday 10 November 2019. This was the culmination of two years’ intensive research into Herne Hill’s casualties. The memorial stone was financed by Southeastern Railway.

Fawnbrake residents who died in the Great War

A list follows, with links to the more complete descriptions which can be accessed via the map on the memorial website.

12 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Second Lieutenant Harold James Cryer, died 13 October 1917

Harold Cryer was born in Brixton in 1898. The family attended St Saviour’s Church, Herne Hill Road, where Harold became a choir boy.
He was killed on 13 October 1917, at the age of just 19, piloting his Sopwith Camel single-seat fighter at an airfield in England. (Accidents were common.)
His funeral service was held at St Saviour’s on 18 October 1917 and he was buried at West Norwood Cemetery on the same day (his address being recorded as 12 Fawnbrake Avenue, although the CWGC website gives his parents’ address as 24 Ferndene Road Herne Hill). Harold’s brother Leonard survived the war, married Clarice Brett in 1922 and died in 1961.
Full details about Lieutenant Cryer at https://tinyurl.com/y5ou35kh

20 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Private James MacGregor, died 13 February 1916

James MacGregor was born on 3 February 1896, the second son of Frank MacGregor from Kinfauns, Perthshire, and Mary MacGregor from Wallacetown, Ayrshire. The first family home was at 57 Lowden Road. On 29 March 1896 he was baptised at Camberwell Presbyterian Church.
By the time of the 1901 Census the MacGregors had moved to 20 Fawnbrake Avenue. On 8 August 1905 James entered Jessop Road School, going on to study at Alleyn’s in Dulwich.
James MacGregor joined the 20th Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). They landed in France in November 1915 and were transferred to 19th Brigade, 33rd Division.
Private MacGregor was killed in action near Cambrin on 13 February 1916 and is buried at Cambrin Churchyard Cemetery, about 24 kilometres north of Arras and eight kilometres east of Bethune.
Full details about Private MacGregor at https://tinyurl.com/y45rf36c

40 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Lance Corporal Sidney Giles, died 1 July 1916

Sidney Giles lived at 40 Fawnbrake Avenue, the youngest of the five children of Herbert and Martha Giles.
Sidney was a Lance Corporal in the 14th Battalion (London Scottish) of the London Regiment. He fought in the war from January 1916 and was killed in action on the first day of Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, aged just 22.
Having no known grave, he is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, and his name is also on the St Paul’s Memorial Screen in Herne Hill.
Full details about Lance Corporal Giles at https://tinyurl.com/yxwadqz5

90 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Lieutenant Reginald Dell, died 8 May 1918

Reginald Dell was born in Wells, Somerset in 1887. At some point he became a resident of Herne Hill. He married Hilda Margaret Fox in Wells in early 1918, but he was killed in May of the same year, serving in the Machine Gun Corps.
His military records cite his address as 90 Fawnbrake Avenue.
The 20th Battalion of the Machine Gun Corps was formed in March 1918 and fought at the Battle of St. Quentin and suffered heavy casualties at the Battle of Rosieres. In April the troops were withdrawn while they waited for new drafts. However, by this time, Reginald had clearly suffered fatal wounds and died on 8 May. He is buried in the Communal Cemetery of Avesnes-Sur-Helpe.
Full details about Lieutenant Dell at https://tinyurl.com/y2cxyano

107 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Rifleman Herbert Walter Irons, died 12 February 1917

Herbert Walter Irons was born in Camberwell 1884 to William, a clerk, and Louisa. He was the eldest of their four children. The family lived at various addresses in Peckham but at some point they moved to 107 Fawnbrake Avenue.
Herbert enlisted as a rifleman with the London Regiment, 1/21st Country of London (First Surrey Rifles) but contracted nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys) whilst on active service in Belgium and he died on 12 February 1917 at the age of 33 years old. He is buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, in the West Flanders region.
Full details about Rifleman Irons at https://tinyurl.com/y6kwwntq

114 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Driver Harry Cruse died 27 October 1918

Harry Leonard Cruse was born in Camberwell in April 1896. In 1901 the Cruse family was living at 90 Denmark Road, Camberwell but by 1911 the family had moved to 114 Fawnbrake Avenue. Harry, an only child, was a pupil at Alleyn’s School, which he left in 1912.
During the war Harry Cruse served in the Honourable Artillery Company as a driver. His unit saw active service at Aden and in the Sinai and Palestine Campaign from 1915 onwards.
Harry contracted malaria and died on 27 October 1918. He is remembered at the Damascus Memorial in Syria.
Full details about Driver Harry Cruse at https://tinyurl.com/y4owvh5n

129 Fawnbrake Avenue ~ Private Thomas Evans, died 16 September 1916

He was 30 years old when he was called up on 10 December 1915, joining the 23rd (County of London) Battalion of The London Regiment.
The second son and youngest child of Thomas (a King’s Messenger) and Ellen Augusta Evans, he and his older brother and two older sisters were all born near Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. An Architect’s Assistant, he married Eleanor Barber at St Leonard’s, Streatham, on 27 May 1916 and was listed as living at his parents’ house, 129 Fawnbrake Avenue. But with his battalion he was soon posted to France, and was killed in action on 16 September 1916 – one of many thousands killed in the heavy fighting during the Battles of the Somme in Summer/Autumn 1916.
His grave lies in the Warlencourt British Cemetery, near Bapaume in Northern France (Pas de Calais).
Private Thomas Evans’s details have not yet been entered on the database.

Two hundred life-size silhouettes of First World War soldiers and 75 poppy wreaths by the Witney artist Dan Barton stand at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to mark Remembrance Day
Photo by Geraint Lewis, for The Times

Discover the lost mansions of Denmark Hill this Saturday

Lambeth Heritage Festival continues and on Saturday 19 September at 19:00 we can Zoom in for a new talk about Denmark Hill.

Denmark Hill c.1906

Many from London’s well-to-do merchant class began to leave town at the end of the 18th century and make their home in what were then the rural outskirts.

Denmark Hill was an especially favoured location. In this talk and virtual walk, Ian McInnes (Chair of the Dulwich Society) and Laurence Marsh (Fawnbrake neighbour and Vice-chair of the Herne Hill Society) look at the houses, now long gone, that were built on the Lambeth (i.e. north) side of the road – and the varied stories of some of their residents over 150 years.

This Herne Hill Society online-only event is hosted by Lambeth Archives.

So to sign in, follow this link:

Lambeth Heritage Festival 2020: week 3

to the relevant section of the Lambeth Heritage Festival website and scroll down to the Denmark Hill event. Then you can click on the book here link on the web page.

You will receive an email by return and, before the event, an email invitation with a web link to join the talk by Zoom. There is no charge.

Local History talks continue

The highly committed and creative team at Lambeth Archives have more lock-down talks to offer : their repertoire is not exhausted yet.

The July and August programme (above)  includes a talk about life in Lambeth during the War, a virtual history walk from Vauxhall to Camberwell, an account of the bitterly contested campaign of the 1880s  to create those free libraries in Lambeth  that we now all take for granted, and a look at the growth of the borough’s southern suburbs.

Log in details for talks will be sent out two days ahead.

Although they have not run out of topics to talk about, they are slightly changing the way they deliver them. After next week’s talk, Home Front, Lambeth in World War II, the programme will become fortnightly and will always be on a Thursday evening at 6.45 pm.

But  the programme will be put  on hold from mid-August as they switch to preparing for the Lambeth Heritage Festival, which will also be an online programme.

Finally, Jon’s talk of last week, Before and After Windrush, a history of the Black community in Lambeth, is now available to be listened to as a recording at https://www.instagram.com/tv/CB3HgWnn-O-/?hl=en

Local History in Lock-down talk on Thursday – Before & After Windrush

The next Local History in Lock-down talk will be this Thursday 18th June at 6.45 p.m. and will be given by Jon Newman.

Before and After Windrush, a history of the Black community in Lambeth,  looks at the very different experiences of Lambeth’s two Black communities: the well-documented story of the community that came to live in the borough after the voyage of the Windrush in 1948; and the much less understood history of Black people who were living in Lambeth in the 18th and 19th centuries.

The log-in details for the talk are here, or in full:  https://zoom.us/j/91540334790

If required: Meeting ID: 915 4033 4790. Password: 176800

 

Local History in Lock-down – this Thursday’s talk

This week’s Local History in Lock-down talk is on Thursday evening (14th May) at 6.45.

In his talk, Lambeth in Literature, Jon Newman will take a look at the way that the place has been described across the centuries by writers, poets and novelists; everyone from William Blake to Alex Wheatle. So, one half social history, one half Lambeth ‘Goodreads’

We can join the talk using Zoom , with this link .

Meeting ID: 932 0296 4048.

Password: 029446

Is VE Day still relevant?

In remembering and commemorating the end of World War 2 in Europe, some of us may not want to dwell on the sentimental Vera Lynn-type nostalgia. But in May 1945, the UK’s feeling of reprieve and joy, tempered by grief, was profound and almost universal.

And the devastating event itself, the global war, is surely worth a thought and a pause for relief and gratitude for what we have today, by comparison with then.

VE Day newspaper, 8 May 1945, from our family archive

50 million dead

As historians of all shades of opinion have written, it was almost certainly the most catastrophic event in world history. The dead have been estimated at 15 million military personnel, of which up to 2 million were Soviet prisoners of war. An estimated 35 million civilians died, with between 4 and 5 million Jews perishing in concentration camps and an estimated 2 million more in mass murders across Eastern Europe. Afterwards, refugees from the German-occupied territories, the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe numbered many millions. Then there’s the Far East …

Target: London

By comparison with Germany and Russia, Britain suffered less material and human damage on the home front.

All the same, many cities were attacked, some severely.

London, as the principal city, was of course the main target for German bombing. At the height of the Blitz, on 10 May 1941, more than 3,000 Londoners died or were seriously injured. During World War II as a whole, 100,000 London homes were destroyed and over one million houses suffered damage. Over 80,000 Londoners were killed or seriously injured. The landscape of the city was changed for ever.

Bomb hit in Balham. (c) IWM

See the collection of other images on the Imperial War Museum’s site.

By the end, Britain itself had accumulated debts of $20 billion. Germany and much else of Western and Central Europe was in ruins, industry wiped out or exhausted. Much of Eastern Europe fell under the cruel dominance of the Soviet Union and its organs of state security. The human, economic and political aftermath extended over decades.

Local bombs

The Bombsight site shows where bombs dropped in and around Fawnbrake Avenue  during the 1940/41 Blitz. Aerial attacks peaked again nearer the end of the war, especially with the deployment of V1 and V2 rockets, which struck several local sites in summer 1944. The Flying Bombs & Rockets website has useful images and details of severe V1 damage in Carver Road, Guernsey Grove, Stradella Road and other streets.

 

Local History in Lock-down talks – new talks coming up

Lambeth Archive’s programme of  weekly talks continues. The next talk A Place of Public Execution, the story of the gallows on Kennington Common,  will be given by Jon Newman on this Tuesday, 5th May,  at 13.15

Tuesday’s talk

To join the talk we can use this link  https://zoom.us/j/98608284158

Meeting ID: 986 0828 4158. Password: 014223

The Archive have sent apologies to anyone who ended up being blocked from last week’s talk because of the size of the audience. They have now changed their licence and will be able to accommodate audiences in excess of 100 people in future.

The Archive have also recorded some of the talks in the programme. The first of these, Why Parks Matter, given on the 16th April, can now be viewed at  https://www.instagram.com/tv/B_o-vHQnj2U/

Programme for May