Category Archives: WW2

Home Guard Photos to Identify Part 1

There are some group photos on Merton Memories of the Mitcham Home Guard during WW2. Most of the men are not named. Individual photos are shown below. If you can identify someone, please leave a comment with the number that is shown under the photo.

 

Photo Reference Mit_War_6.4

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02 Identified as Cyril KEATING. He was born in 1900 and ran away to join the Navy in the 1914-18 war.

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19 Identified as George William CEILEY. Fought in the First World War, was prisoner of war for the last six months 1918. Awarded the silver oak leaf. His son was also in the Home Guard but volunteered for the Navy on his 18th birthday in September 1942 just before this picture was taken.

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53 Identified as Fred WILKINSON

Methodist Church Upper Green East

The Methodist church at Upper Green East (south side), was destroyed by bombing in September 1940. It was not rebuilt.

1933 OS map shows the Methodist Church

A British Pathe newsreel, without commentary, is believed to show the bomb damage to the church. Shops and buildings across the road can be seen damaged by the blast as well.

1954 OS map shows the vacant plot where the church once was. It was later developed as Langdale Parade

The church was rebuilt on Cricket Green.

Framfield Road

Framfield Road is off the west side of Streatham Road opposite The Driftway. It leads into St James’s Road. The reason for the name is unknown, however next to it is Uckfield Grove, and the town of Uckfield in Sussex has a town of Framfield two miles to the east of it.

Possibly built around 1928 as in that year mortgages were provided by the Mitcham Urban District Council, under the Small Dwellings Acquisitions Act, for houses valued at £625 each.

As approached from the Streatham Road end, the houses on the left are arranged in blocks of six, numbered odd from 1 to 107. On the right side the houses are numbered even from 2 to 88. Extra houses were built on plots near the St James’s Road end that had garages. A number of houses have since been divided into flats.

The Royal Mail website says that there three postcodes in use in this road, namely CR4 2AL, 2AU and 2AW.


News Items

From the Manchester Evening News – Monday 11th January 1943, via the British Newspaper Archive

Home Guard Fell in River At Night

While two Home Guards were patrolling on the Thames quayside at Wandsworth, one of them, William Edward Field (41), of Framfield Road, Mitcham, fell into the river in the darkness and was drowned.

At the Battersea inquest to-day the Coroner (Mr. Hervey Wyatt) recorded a verdict of accidental death. He said that Field’s companion, Ernest William Horsman, who climbed down a wire and made two unsuccessful rescue attempts, had every reason to congratulate himself on his fine effort to help his friend.

According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission entry for W.E. FIELD, he was in the 52nd County of London (Wandsworth Gas Co.) Battalion of the Home Guard. He was the son of Edward and Daisy Field, of Mitcham and husband of Elsie Catherine Field, of Mitcham. Although his grave is in the London Road Cemetery, it is not in the ‘War Graves’ section that has the graves of the local Home Guard that died in 1941. It is in plot 9, which is near the Victoria Road entrance.

Edward Pullen gets MBE in 1961 but missed DCM in 1916

Air Raid shelters in 1948

Mitcham Borough Council minutes, volume 15, 1948-49, page 95 :-

The Borough Engineer submitted the following report: –

December 3, 1948.

To the Chairman and Members of the General Purposes Committee.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Air Raid Shelters.

In accordance with the instructions of the Committee I give below a list of shelters which have not yet been demolished :—

  • Morden Road (Deer Park Gardens).
  • Commonside West.
  • Commonside East.
  • Manor Road.
  • Rowan Road.
  • Figges Marsh S.
  • Figges Marsh N.
  • Manship Road.
  • Moffatt Gardens.
  • Cranmer Road.
  • Fair Green.
  • Carshalton Road.

Home Office sanction to the making safe of the shelters has just been received and negotiations are proceeding with the contractors, Messrs. J. Sullivan, Ltd., whose tender (in the sum of £603 15s.) was forwarded, in July, to the Home Office for approval.

Personal note: I remember in the mid 1960s the air raid shelters at the southern end of Figges Marsh and on the north side of Cranmer Road near the junction with Carshalton Road.

Anti-tank blocks near Willow Lane bridge

According to the Defence of Britain Archive, these blocks by the side of the tram tracks were revealed when undergrowth was cleared in 2000, presumably part of the tramlink construction. There are seven blocks, or cubes, on the south side of the track, on the eastern side of the Willow Lane bridge, i.e. the hump back road bridge nearest to the industrial estate.

photo taken 29th August 2018

1944 : Bath Road Condemned but still Inhabited

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 24th November, 1944

BATH ROAD CONDEMNED BUT STILL INHABITED

When Will The Huts Come?

The Job is Urgent in Mitcham

Deplorable Conditions

Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve, K.C., is Lord Woolton’s Chief of Staff in connection with the repair of bombed houses in the London area. Recently he paid a visit to the Town Hall.

Where he ought to have gone was Bath-road, Mitcham.

A member of our editorial staff – most appropriately, perhaps a young woman member – has been there, and her description of what she saw may be a spur to Sir Malcolm, the Mitcham Council, and all concerned.

When I visited Bath-road I asked the people there if they would prefer to live in the Baths Hall, which the Housing Committee, on the suggestion of the Housing Manager (Miss B. Thrupp) recommended should be turned into a hostel.

Their “No” was unanimous.

They do not want a glorified shelter life.

Many were under the impression that they could not remain there during the day, and said that night shelter alone was no use to them. I understand that the people were to be allowed to remain there if they wished.

Now, owing to lack of support, it seems unlikely that the hall will be opened as a hostel, though at the time of writing the committee’s decision is not public.

What are the conditions in Bath-road?

All the houses there are condemned. And rightly so. For even in its best days Bath-road was never a health resort. Now it is utterly desolate.

Like War Derelict Area.

It is like a deserted battlefield, grey, derelict, and very quiet; an apparently uninhabited place. There was no sign of life as I entered it. Ruined houses, most of them open to wind and rain lay on either side. Here and there attempts had been made to board up doors and windows, but most gaped open to disclose broken walls and piled-up rubble. Yet amid the ruins of these houses I estimate that over sixty men, women and children are living in conditions that can be best described as mediaeval. Often the only way of telling if a house is occupied is by a thin column of smoke that rises from the ruins.

I had thought the place deserted, and then I counted nine columns of smoke.

It came as rather a shock to know that behind these grey, silent walls so many families were living. Few have any lighting apart from lamps and candles.

Drains have been blocked by rubble, so that there is no proper sanitation.

There is not one room in the road that is wind- and water-proof. These conditions have existed since July.

Suddenly, at the far end of the road, a child appeared. She went to the door of a broken house, and as she called a woman appeared and sold her potatoes. It was Mrs Gibbs. She told me she lived there with her daughter. She showed me a room lighted by a fire and a little light from a boarded window. The walls were wet and laths showed in the ceiling.

Children’s Voices

“We sleep in an Anderson, but about 3 a.m. are usually so cold that we get up and come into the house,” she said.

“A lot of people live in the houses opposite,” she told me. I knocked on the loose door of one of them, and as there was no answer, walked into a narrow, damp passage. The stairs were broken, the front room a mass of rubble and broken rafters, but from the back of the house came children’s voices.

There, living in one room, with only the barest furniture, was Mrs Smith and her four children. Last week her husband went overseas. He is very unhappy about his family, especially as his wife is expecting another child in February. At present they sleep in the Tube.

“I want a place near so that my sister can look after me when the baby is born. I cannot go on much longer in these conditions and feel sure that if the Council officials could see what conditions are like here they would do something about it,” she said. She said she was one of the first on the list for huts.

The Universal Question

“When do the huts arrive?” she asked, a question I was asked by every family to whom I spoke. I was unable to give an encouragng reply, for only the day before the Borough Surveyor (Mr Riley Schofield) had said that it was unlikely that any huts would be available in Mitcham before Christmas!

Next door to Mrs Smith live Mrs Clark and her son, the latter home on sick leave from the Merchant Navy. Next to them is her son, Charles Clark. He, with his wife and five children, all sleep in an Anderson and live in a small draughty room. He, too, asked, “When do the huts arrive?” And with reason, for his wife is expecting another child.

Later, as I passed an apparently derelict house, a woman in a red coat appeared from a broken doorway. “Do you want to see us?” she asked, and going in, I found her 72-year old mother, Mrs Rachel Smith, having tea by candlelight. The room was dark, for all the windows were boarded up and furniture salvaged from other rooms was stacked round the walls. The front room was piled with rubble, the stairs were unsafe. The habited room is probably unsafe. “I cannot sleep here, for there is no bed, and so I go down the Tube. We cannot lock the room, and one night things were stoeln. I have lived here all my married life, and my thirteen children were born here,” she said.

Her daughter, Mrs Penfold, is expecting her husband, who is serving overseas, home at Christmas. “I have no home to offer him. What shall I do?” she asked.

Further down the road lives Mr Honey with six others, two of them are sick, in a tiny kitchen. They sleep in Andersons in what used to be their garden.

People living in similar conditions in Chapel-road and Century-road. They know that hundreds are in like plight, though I doubt if any borough can show a worse area than Bath-road. The people there seemed glad that someone, even if only a newspaper reporter, was taking an interest in them, though many of them showed disappointment when they found that it was “only a reporter” and not “someone from the Council.”

Several families said they felt that more would have been done if members of the Council had seen conditions for themselves.

When Mrs Smith learnt that Sir Malcolm Trustram Eve had been down to the Town Hall she said : “I wish he had come down here, then he would have known how badly we need those huts.”

Auxiliary Fire Service graves in London Road Cemetery

London Road Cemetery, Mitcham, CR4 3LA (Google map).

In the Commonwealth War Graves section, plot 14, of this cemetery there are three gravestones for Auxiliary Firemen who died at the Surrey Theatre, on 10th May 1941.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) website doesn’t include the details of these graves in their list of the war graves at this cemetery, because, as commented below, they are not classed as full war graves. The three gravestones in plot 14 are shown below, the sequence being from left to right as viewed from the path, which leads from the entrance in Victoria Road.

E. G. Pepper, aged 32

E.F. Robinson, aged 35

C.A. Elliman, aged 37

A pdf plan of the the layout of this cemetery is available from Merton council’s website.