Category Archives: World War I Armistice Centenary

Herne Hill’s Great War: Dan Hill

A major event for our diaries: next Wednesday, 13 February, 7:45 – 9:15pm

Dan Hill is a full-time military historian who works as a battlefield guide across Europe and a historical consultant and researcher for some of the UK’s leading military charities, broadcasters and commemorative organisations.

British solders in a trench at the Somme, 1916 

In this illustrated talk, the final event in the Herne Hill Society’s “Remembering Herne Hill 1914-18” research project, Dan looks in detail at just six of Herne Hill’s war casualties, each of whom took part in one of the six key battles of the war.

Free, all welcome, no tickets required

United Church Hall, junction of Red Post Hill and Herne Hill, London SE24 9PW

Remembering Herne Hill 1914 – 18: Public Meeting, 12 December

The Herne Hill Society is hosting an important event on the evening of Wednesday 12 December to update residents on the progress of the Remembering Herne Hill 1914–18 Project, and introducing the newly published memoirs – Grace’s Story – of a young Herne Hill lady who lived through that war and in the difficult years that followed.

Please note that the venue for this event will be the Herne Hill Baptist Church in Half Moon Lane, which is the large red brick building only five minutes’ walk from the station, just a little way beyond The Half Moon pub. No tickets are required. Timings are 7:45 – 9:15pm

Meanwhile the memorial website (see earlier post below) is live. Volunteer researchers have unearthed and filed information about over 370 casualties on the database, with hundreds more still to add. The Society has also created two online maps to indicate where our First World War casualties lived, and also where they are buried or remembered today.

Fawnbrake casualties: Lieutenant Reginald Dell

Reginald Dell is one of at least four Fawnbrake Avenue residents – more may be discovered as the research continues – who were killed during World War I. His military records cite his address as 90 Fawnbrake Avenue.

Reginald Dell was born in Wells, Somerset in 1887. But at some subsequent point he became a resident of Herne Hill. He married Hilda Fox in Wells in early 1918. Tragically, however, he was killed in May of the same year.

Hilda remained at this address for the next 9 years, when she moved to Deepdene Road.

Reginald fought in what was known as the Spring Offensive of 1918. 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 5 May. He is buried in the cemetery of Avesnes-sur-Helpe  with the inscription “Here is some corner of a foreign field that is forever England”.

[Extract from the World War I records being assembled by the Remembering Herne Hill 1914 – 1918 Project]

Avesnes-sur-Helpe Cemetery

Grace’s Story

This is the latest publication by the Herne Hill Society.

In this charming, very readable, expertly edited and generously produced book, Grace MacFarquhar, née Lucas (1906-2001), describes her life in Herne Hill and the surrounding area during and shortly after the First World War. Grace was an intelligent and imaginative child, the eldest of five children. Her 80-page account, written many decades later, has an exceptionally vivid quality.

Grace’s Story – published in December 2018 by the Herne Hill Society

Grace’s father Fred was killed in France in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. How the family dealt with this blow, everyday life in London, escapes to the countryside while London was under attack from the air, Grace’s thwarted hopes of going to art college – these and many other events are described with compassion and humour.

This memoir offers a rare insight into the life of a London family 100 years ago. It will be available at the Society’s  next event on Wednesday 12 December (see our next post), or can be bought from Herne Hill Books or online through the Herne Hill Society website.

Remembering Herne Hill 1914-18 : Fawnbrake Avenue residents

The outstanding Herne Hill memorial website  was formally made publicly available just this weekend.

It is a volunteer-led project telling the story of those from Herne Hill who served and died in the First World War, as well as other residents who suffered.

There is no traditional memorial to all Herne Hill’s World War I dead.

The database, which currently contains about 350 records (though more names are emerging all the time), has been compiled and edited by the Herne Hill Society with help from the students of the Charter School, North Dulwich, and other local people.

The 100th anniversary of the Armistice was commemorated at a short, well-attended and moving Armistice 2018 ceremony at Herne Hill Station on Sunday morning. Our local Councillors were present.

Colin Wight (HHS), Cllr Becca Thackray, Cllr Jim Dickson, David Statham (MD, SE Trains) 

This project is Heritage Lottery funded, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players.

The website can be searched in many ways, including by name and by actual street. This has revealed at least five soldiers from our own street who were killed.

Fawnbrake residents killed in World War I

Lieutenant Reginald Dell

90 Fawnbrake Avenue

Rifleman Herbert Walter Irons

107 Fawnbrake Avenue

Driver Harry Leonard Cruse

114 Fawnbrake Avenue

Lieutenant Fred Philip Hirst

6 Fawnbrake Avenue

Private Thomas Evans

129 Fawnbrake Avenue

Another name, just researched and not yet  entered on the dataset, is Private Thomas Evans.

Thomas Evans was 30 years old when he was called up on 10 December 1915, showing his occupation as Architect’s Assistant. 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 in the village of Cark-in-Cartmel near Morecambe Bay in Lancashire. [1911 Census] 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, Herne Hill. With his battalion he was posted to France, but 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).

More names may emerge as research continues, of course.

Armistice Centenary at Herne Hill, Sunday 11 November

There will only ever be one Centenary of the First World War Armistice.

On Sunday 11 November 2018 — exactly 100 years after the guns fell silent and the slaughter stopped — local people and visitors are invited to come together at 10:45 am for a brief commemoration at Herne Hill’s popular Sunday market.

In consensus with communities throughout the British Isles and overseas, Herne Hill will mark this unique and significant anniversary with a minute’s silence at 11:00 am at Herne Hill station.

Online Memorial to Herne Hill’s Fallen

Many British towns and villages have a civic war memorial where the names of the men who never returned are inscribed. But there is no civic war memorial in Herne Hill — although there are several church-based and small community memorials. Until recently, in fact, the true scale of our community’s losses in the First World War was not known.

One of the WWI memorial boards in St Paul’s Church. But the number of dead is much higher.(Courtesy of St Paul’s Church)

Accordingly, the Herne Hill Society, in partnership with The Charter School North Dulwich and local volunteers, has been working on a Heritage Lottery-funded project to identify all Herne Hill’s First World War casualties.

Coinciding with the Armistice Centenary, this significant online memorial will be launched on 11 November. The names, with many other details, are being recorded on a major new website. After the public launch, this database will allow searches by street address, name, age of death, place of death, regiment etc.

Volunteers have already unearthed and recorded the lives and deaths of 350 servicemen and civilians who came from or had strong family links to Herne Hill. But new research suggests there may be very many more — the figure may even be as high as 700.

WWI Information Panels

In another token of the Armistice Centenary, and with the kind support of Southeastern Railway who operate Herne Hill station, information panels have been installed in the ticket hall of Herne Hill Station.

WWI Memorial Boards at Herne Hill Station, marking the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice.

There will also be similar panels at The Charter School North Dulwich and the Carnegie Library in Herne Hill Road.