Tag Archives: 1931

Lance Sergeant Victor John Cullum

Photo courtesy of Margaret Purnell

Born in the first quarter of 1908.

He married Florence Harwood in 1931. In 1939 they lived in 29 Franklin Crescent, Mitcham.

His daughter Margaret Purnell said :

My dad served with the RA 1939-1946. He managed to escape with others from Singapore during the Japanese invasion of Malaya in 1942.

He was a Mitcham man from 1931 to 1973.

The British Army Casualty Lists 1939-1945 show a Lance Sergeant V. J. Cullum, Royal Artillery, service number 2040217, captured 15th February 1942. This is from The National Archives, reference WO 361/2058, POWs Far East Master Roll 1942-1943 (ABC).

His wife received the standard letter saying that he may have been captured, or is missing:

His daughter said that he wasn’t captured …

… although the army thought that was the case at the time.

Extract from my dad’s diary

’14th Feb 1942: – managed to leave the docks on HMS Penang, a small coastal boat. Under heavy gunfire for 2 hours for a long distance out. In the meantime, Singapore Docks were blazing furiously. They were pushed into Hold by Officers, sitting on drums of Kerosene. “Going to be unlucky if hit”. Got stuck on sandbank 2 hours out. Captain orders “Take to Lifeboats”. Our boat was holed by shell splinters, took all our time to keep afloat. Commandeered a Chinese Junk – “Penang” signaled to come back, had slid off bank. Mechanics had to take over engines. I volunteered with Rattue for Bofors gun duties; was glad to get out of Hold…………………….

They eventually docked & camped at Colombo March 10th 1942. Most of them were ill with various ailments. Back in the UK, my mum received a letter

“V.J.Cullum missing dated March 15, presumed dead” and telling her to get her papers in order. She received a telegram from my dad at the same time saying that he was safe….

The telegram he sent his wife:

In the Battle of Singapore, Britain surrendered on 15th February 1942.

Stoker Alfred George Smith

He was born 9th January 1910, and was baptised on 6th March at the Mitcham parish church. In the 1911 census he is shown as living with his parents William John and Martha Ann Smith, both aged 44, at 8 Belgrave Road.

He married 6th June 1931 to Alice Louisa Ferridge at the parish church in Church Road. He was 21, a bricklayer. She was also 21 years old. They both lived at 6 Seaton Road.

Marriage Banns

The 1939 Register shows them living at 20 Dalton Avenue.

He served as a stoker on the H.M.S. Tetcott from December 1941. This was a Type 2 frigate escort ship in Mediterranean. It was anchored outside Malta when Malta was badly bombed.

Sources:
Birth : Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Surrey Church of England Parish Registers
Marriage Banns : Surrey History Centre; Woking, Surrey, England; Reference Number: 3477/4
1939 Register : The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1373F

Lance Corporal George Philpott

from the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th October, 1944, page 1:

Lance-Corporal George Philpott, Riverside Drive, London Road, Mitcham, a tailor’s cutter and trimmer at Gieve’s, Piccadilly, before the war, now wields a blacksmith’s hammer at Suez, and has Egyptian strikers, whose only language is Arabic, at his anvil.

In peace-time he was a keen motor and polo cyclist, and hoped to get a job as despatch rider when he joined the Army, but they sent him to Longmore to train as a blacksmith. Later, he worked at Wilmot, Newport and London. While working at the Albert and King George V docks London, he claims to have had a wonderful time, because he was so near home, and able to visit his father and brothers frequently.

Of his job Lance-Corporal Philpott says: ”It’s interesting work, and I quite like a change, but I shall go back to my own trade after the war. Only, maybe, If I get absent-minded, I might begin to cut clothes with a hammer and chisel.

DANGER AT THE DOCKS

“We came to the Middle East in May, 1942,” he said,” and I was posted straight to Suez, where we are now. When the push was on a detachment of us went to Mersa Matruh and Tobruk, to work on the docks there. We repaired cranes and installations destroyed by the Germans before they left. There were air attacks when we were at Tobruk and at Benghazi. Most of the troops were quartered outside the town, but we got the full benefit, because we had to stay right on the docks, and whenever a ship came in, the attacks were redoubled.”

Lance-Corporal Philpott is in charge of the blacksmith’s shop for his present Company, and has Egyptian strikers at his anvils. Language is something of a difficulty but he has picked up enough Arabic to make himself understood, and he can give measurements in Arabic. Work is hard and the climate difficult, being very hot, indeed, in summer; but pressure is less than it was when the Allies were invading Sicily. Then the Company worked long hours, and nobody got any off-day during the week.

“My Army experience has been interesting,” he says. “I have seen things I shall never forget. I do not regret my Army service for a moment.”

BROTHER THERE, TOO.

His brother, Frank, is also in the Middle East. He too was a keen motorcyclist, and was more fortunate than his brother, for he became a despatch rider. Their younger brother, Ronald is a member of Mitcham Army Cadet Corps.

KEEN CYCLIST

L-Cpl Philpott, a member of Tooting Cycling Club, was one of the club’s top scorers. He played in their bicycle Polo team and holds several medallions awarded for his part when the club won competitions. His brother, like his father, is a keen racing cyclist, and won several prizes on the road; he held the 25-mile record of the Tooting Cycling Club in 1931, his time being 1 hour 3 minutes 53 seconds.

The 1939 Register shows the occupants of 62 Riverside Drive:

James I Philpott, born 19/02/1881, Newsagent’s Warehouseman
Florence A Philpott, born 28/02/1884, housewife
George Philpott, born 31/01/1910, Uniform – Tailor’s Trimmer
Esther F Philpott, born 28/07/1911, Packer – Confectionery
Grace Philpott, born 17/06/1912, Packer – Confectionery
Gladys Philpott, born 13/07/1915, Chain Store Supervisor

Source: The National Archives; Kew, London, England; 1939 Register; Reference: RG 101/1372H

A relative on the Facebook group Mitcham History wrote “As he and his brother Frank volunteered for service, they both thought that their skills in civilain life would be put to use. Instead they were both posted to North Africa. George was trained as a blacksmith, somewhat different to a military tailor! He was posted to the London Docks to repair cranes, then was shipped out with them.”

Eveline Tea Rooms

Tea rooms that was at 172 London Road, Mitcham, a terrace which was originally named Eveline Villas.

1953 view from Streatham Road looking towards the Swan pub on the left and next to it on the right awning with ‘TEAS’ and ‘refreshments’ written on it

1952

1931 ad

1926 ad

From the Surrey Mirror of 21st July, 1939, thanks for contributions to a garden party include Miss. L. Froude, Eveline Tea Rooms, Mitcham. In the 1939 Register at 172 London Road shows Louisa FROUDE, born 30 Sep 1886, single, shopkeeper.

News Articles
1957 : Human skull found in Eveline Tea Rooms Coal Shed

Council depot, Church Road

Council depot that had its main entrance on Church Road, east of Church Place. Shown on this OS map of 1953 as Corporation Depot, this site is now the housing estate of Morland Close.

1953 OS map

Parts of the north wall along Love Lane remain, and an entrance, now bricked up, can be seen at the junction with Edmund Road.

Photo taken April 2016

New Articles
Norwood News – Friday 06 March 1931

FIRE AT COUNCIL DEPOT.

Mitcham Fire Brigade were called on Tuesday morning to an outbreak at the Council’s depot in Church-road. When they arrived with their appliances, they found the surveyor’s motorcar was ablaze. It transpired that an explosion, caused by a petrol leak in the carburettor, had started the fire. The brigade quickly extinguished it, and saved Mr. Riley Schofield his car, only the fabric being damaged.


Maps are reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland.

1931 : the last agricultural worker in Mitcham

Charles William Blackburn, the last agricultural labourer left in Mitcham, died, aged eighty-nine. For over fifty years he worked at Sherwood Farm, on the edge of Mitcham Common. The farm is now covered with streets of new houses.

Source: Illustrated Police News – Thursday 15 October 1931 from the British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)

Grove Cottage 183 Commonside East

House, also known as Grove Cottage, on Commonside East, west of the corner with Cedars Avenue. Now demolished. Site to corner has a block of flats.

According to the London Gazette (Publication date : 15 December 1931
Issue : 33780 Page : 8077 ), the land was registered in December 1931 with H.M. Land Registry by Ellen Dorothy Bird of 1, Camomile Road, Mitcham,

The 1867 private residents directory has a Misses Ewer living at Grove Cottage, Mitcham Common.

There are three photos of this cottage, taken in 1978, on the Collage website:

alt='Image courtesy of Collage - The London Picture Library - http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk'


1978 Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Library – http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

alt='Image courtesy of Collage - The London Picture Library - http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk'

1978 Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Library – http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

alt='Image courtesy of Collage - The London Picture Library - http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk'


1978 Image courtesy of Collage – The London Picture Library – http://collage.cityoflondon.gov.uk

183 and 185 Commonside East

183 and 185 Commonside East