Tag Archives: 1945

A Romance of Evacuation

From the Norwood News – Friday 24 August 1945

A ROMANCE OF EVACUATION

Bridegroom 75, and Bride 77

LATEST tenants at Mitcham’s hut town at Wide Way, are a 77-years-old bride and her 75- years-old bridegroom. The wedding at Mitcham Parish Church of these two old-age pensioners was notable for several reasons. First, the bride arrived with no-one to give her away, and then it was found that the bridegroom had been equally forgetful — he had not brought a best man.

The quandary of Mrs. Flora Sarah Farr, Rodney-road, Mitcham, and Mr. Hadyn Douglas Sanders, Bruce-road, was solved by Mr. A. E. Champion, who in nearly fifty years as parish clerk has attended thousands of weddings and has unriddled many such knotty problems.

He not only became best man but persuaded Mr. Joseph Stevens, gallery keeper, who happened to be in the vicinity, to give the bride away. All four members of the bridal party who assembled before the vicar, the Rev. G. S. Lubbock, were over seventy years of age.

The ceremony over, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sought a wedding luncheon at several local hotels. but it being Sunday they were unsuccessful, and so they went to their new hut home, where the bride opened a tin of corn beef.

EVACUATION ROMANCE.

The romance of Mr. and Mrs. Sanders began when a party of Mitcham old people were evacuated during the flying bomb raids to a country mansion at Great Barrington, Oxfordshire. Their first meeting was last summer, when they packed into cars at the Mitcham Citizens’ Advice Bureau for their journey into the country. During their nine months stay at the mansion Mr. and Mrs. Sanders sat next to each other at meals, and took walks in the country lanes together. When they returned to Mitcham they decided they would like to continue the companionship and arranged to get married. Both were so anxious to keep the wedding quiet that they did not tell their families the date on which it was to take place. “We were sure that it would leak out and that there would be someone we knew at church who would be able to act as witnesses. But no-one turned up and we had to rely on the good offices of Mr. Champion,” said Mr. Sanders.

Mr. Sanders lost his home in an early blitz, when his wife, son and daughter were killed. As a bombed-out person he qualified for a hut. Both he and his wife like their new home. Mr. Sanders managed to save enough furniture from the ruin of his old home to make the hut comfortable. Its walls are hung with pictures of his family, of whom he is very proud. Among them are portraits of his mother, Grace Armitage, who achieved fame as an actress in the latter part of the last century. His sister, Grace Noble, following in her mother’s footsteps, also became an actress and won renown in Australia.

Mr. Sanders’ father was an opera singer and appeared at Covent Garden, but his early death brought hardships to the family who had chosen Tooting as their headquarters. His mother continued her career and sang at a Manchester theatre on the night her son, Haydn, was born — to help bring up her family of four boys. As soon as he was old enough Haydn went out to work in the shoe trade.

“If there had been enough money for training I should probably have followed in my father’s steps and, become a singer,” said Mr. Sanders, “But as it was I spent a life-time in the shoe trade, starting at a Tooting shop and working in many parts of the country. Now, with Mrs. Sanders, I am going to enjoy a well-earned rest, free from bombs,” he said.

Notes

The original news article had the spelling Saunders instead of Sanders, which is the spelling used by the Commonwealth War Grave Commission (CWGC) website and records on Ancestry.

Mr Sander’s wife, son and daughter died during the Blitz, on 11th October, 1940, at 29 Bruce Road. Below are links to the CWGC casualty records:

His wife, Minnie Sanders, aged 69. His son, Reginald Frederick Sanders, aged 44, an A.R.P. Stretcher Bearer. His daughter Ella Marjory Dunn, aged 31, wife of Charles Dunn.

Flora Sanders died later that year. Her death is registered in the last quarter of the year, in registration district Surrey Mid Eastern, Volume 2a, Page 268.

Haydn Douglas Sanders died the following year, on 11th November 1946. His address was 35 Wide Way.

Kenneth Robert Marsh, RAF

Kenneth Robert Marsh was born 27th May 1925.

He joined the RAF towards the end of WWII and was trained as a tail gunner for Lancaster bombers. The war ended and he did not use his skills. Born in Mitcham, he lived in Ravensbury Court, Ravensbury Grove since the 1950s and died in 2016 aged 89. He is shown in the photo below in the second row back and second from right.

In this photo, he is top left.

Pilot Officer Eric Pile

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th October, 1944.

Younger brother of Pilot Officer Kenneth Laurence Pile D.F.M.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th October, 1944:

Two Mitcham pilot officer brothers of the R.A.F. are in the news this week through the award to one of them of the Distinguished Flying Medal.

He is Pilot Officer Kenneth Laurence Pile, aged 22, eldest son of Mrs E.C. Pile, Eldertree-place, Grove-road, Mitcham, who has completed his full number of “ops”, most of them over Germany.

His brother Eric, who is two years his junior, trained in Southern Rhodesia, and is now in Italy.

Both were educated at Western-road Central School, where their father, the W.A. Pile was school keeper from the opening day until his death. Mr Pile served through the last war.

P.O. Ken Pile continued his education at Wimbledon Technical Institute. He was a Flight Engineer with the R.A.F.V.R., with a rank of Flight Sergeant, when his gallantry was officially recognised by the award. it is not yet known why he was decorated.

Both brothers are keen sportsmen.

Kurt Taussig, a Jewish refugee and the last Spitfire pilot from Czechoslovakia who stayed in the UK after the war, spoke of his good friend Eric Pile, in an interview recorded by the Imperial War Museum (reel no. 11, from 2 minutes 25 seconds to 4 minutes 40 seconds.)

He said that as Eric didn’t have a father, and Kurt had no family himself, the two formed a friendship on this common ground. He said they were ‘like brothers’. Kurt spoke of their time in operations flying Spitfire Vc and IX with 225 Squadron, RAF at Peretola Airfield, Florence, from February 1945 to May 1947, and of reactions to posting and their accommodation at Villa Cora.

In the recording, made in December 2007, Kurt said that Eric was living in Stirling, Scotland and had advertised in a newspaper to meet up with his old comrades from 225 squadron, and Kurt re-established contact with him then.

Kurt Taussig died 19th September 2019, aged 96, and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium, 25th September 2019.

Pilot Officer Kenneth Laurence Pile D.F.M.

P.O. Ken Pile, from Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th October, 1944.

Kenneth Laurence PILE, was born in the last three months of 1922. His father was School Keeper at Western Road School and lived in the School House up to his death in 1939. Ken Pile’s mother then moved to Eldertree Place.

Ken Pile served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (R.A.F.V.R.) and, as Flight Engineer, having flown 23 sorties with 166 Squadron, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal on 15th September 1944.

He died on 11th March 1945 on a training flight with 156 Squadron, when his Lancaster III crashed about one mile from Molesworth airfield in Northamptonshire. All onboard were killed. His remains are buried at the London Road Cemetery, Mitcham.

Source : www.156squadron.com.

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 6th October, 1944:

Two Mitcham pilot officer brothers of the R.A.F. are in the news this week through the award to one of them of the Distinguished Flying Medal.

He is Pilot Officer Kenneth Laurence Pile, aged 22, eldest son of Mrs E.C. Pile, Eldertree-place, Grove-road, Mitcham, who has completed his full number of “ops”, most of them over Germany.

His brother Eric, who is two years his junior, trained in Southern Rhodesia, and is now in Italy.

Both were educated at Western-road Central School, where their father, the W.A. Pile was school keeper from the opening day until his death. Mr Pile served through the last war.

P.O. Ken Pile continued his education at Wimbledon Technical Institute. He was a Flight Engineer with the R.A.F.V.R., with a rank of Flight Sergeant, when his gallantry was officially recognised by the award. it is not yet known why he was decorated.

Both brothers are keen sportsmen.

The DFM award is described in the Britain, Campaign, Gallantry & Long Service Medals & Awards from FindMyPast.com

PILE, Kenneth Laurence.
1456141 Sergeant, No. 166 Sqn.

L.G. 19/9/1944. Sorties 23, Flying hours 150. Flight Engineer. Air2/9276.

This N.C.O. as Flight Engineer has completed 23 sorties against the enemy including the most heavily defended targets in Germany and occupied territory. He has displayed skill of a high degree at his work and has been undeterred by any opposition the enemy has offered. He has proved himself to be a worthy member of a gallant crew and has, when flying with a different
crew, inspired them to the same spirit and devotion to duty and crew discipline as he possesses himself. To the experienced crews with whom he has flown, his mature knowledge has been of the greatest assistance. For his coolness under Fire and high sense of duty, he is recommended for
the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal.

From the Commonwealth War Grave Commission

Flying Officer (Flight Engineer)
PILE, KENNETH LAURENCE

Service Number 183091

Died 11/03/1945

Aged 22

156 Sqdn.
Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve

D F M

Son of William Alfred and Ellen Charlotte Pile, of Mitcham.

1945 : Kempat Ltd fined for overcharging for bras

From the Mitcham News & Mercury, 19th January 1945, page 1.

£3,435 in Fines
for Overcharging
for Brassieres

Fines amounting to £3,435 were imposed at Mitcham Court, on Monday, when Kempat, Ltd., James’s Estate, Western-road, Mitcham, a firm manufacturing women’s underclothes, and three directors of the firm, were summonsed for overcharging on 15 sales of brassieres involving a sum of £14 5s. 5 1/2d. The case, which opened last week, and involved 47 summonses, took over five hours to hear.

Describing the case as “flagrant,” the Chairman of the Bench (Ald. S.L. Gaston) said the Bench accepted the firm’s plea of guilty, and the firm would be fined £200 on each of the 15 summonses. The Bench found the case against the three directors proved, and Mr Vivian Fitch-Kemp, managing director, All Saints-road, Sutton, would be fined £20 on each of the 15 summonses against him; Major Walter Maxwell Henderson-Scott, Burley Beacon, Burley, Hampshire, £10 on each of nine summonses; and Mrs Ruby Olive Knobel, Gibsons Hill, Norbury, £5 on each of nine summonses. Fifty guineas costs were given against the firm.

At the opening hearing last week it was stated that the proceedings were brought by the Board of Trade under an order limiting profits to 7.5 per cent, on the manufacturers’ costs of production. It was alleged that the firm’s accounts at one time showed a profit of 63 per cent.

Major Henderson-Scott told the Bench that he was a qualified mining engineer, and director of a group of companies engaged in mining industries, which in 1939 acquired shares in Kempat, Ltd.. He had no technical knowledge of the brassiere trade, and took no part in the costing of the company’s goods. When in March, 1944, he saw the accounts for the year ending November, 1943, he had no idea that the firm was overcharging. He did not realise that the figure 34.6 per cent had any bearing on the margin of profut allowed on utility goods. He held no shares in the company apart from his qualifying shares as a director.

Questioned by prosecuting counsel, he said he had been director of companies for about 22 years. He had looked after his own part of the business, and denied that he had any intention of “screwing money out of the public.”

Mrs Knobel, who, it was stated at the previous hearing, had become director simply for the convenience of signing cheques, told the Bench she was no longer a director since Mr Fitch-Kemp’s return. During her directorship she continued to receive her salary of £5 15s., but had nothing extra. She had sent the production figures to Mr Fitch-Kemp nat intervals, but had not understood the costings, nor could she read a balance sheet. The turn-over figures from 1940 to 1942 had dropped from £37,000 to £24,000. Asked for the figures for 1943, she admitted they had risen to £29,000. She was accustomed to send the bank balance to Mr Fitch-Kemp.

The Chairman asked if Mrs Knobel hadhad prepared a monthly financial statement; had she not some knowledge of figures and of balance sheets. “There is evidence of some knowldge of figures. There is little use of her pleading ignorance when she is in a position to prepare statements of this kind,” he said.

Mrs Knobel said she knew the prices the company was charging and that retailers added a percentage, but she insisted that she did not know the firm was overcharging.

At this point defending counsel submitted that proof of the regulations should be before the court. The prosecuting counsel replying that the suggestion was “fantastic,” said that in five years of this kind of work he had never met the point before. The documents were produced.

For the defence it was said that although much had been said about culpable and gross neglect, there was no suggestion of fraud. The firm had carried on under difficulties. When Mr Fitch-Kemp went into the R.A.F. managing directors were difficult to get, and were not as plentiful as gooseberries on bushes. If the company had had the proper staff, they would have made the discovery that the costs were wrong.

Adjusted for inflation, £3,435 in 1945 is equivalent to £150,000 in 2019.

Hengelo Gardens

Hengelo Gardens plaque clip from Merton Memories photo reference Mit_Streets_D_LEW_35-1

This plaque was unveiled when the road was opened.

HENGELO
GARDENS

30th August 1952

This plaque was unveiled by the Burgomaster of Hengelo as a token of the friendship between the people of Mitcham and Hengelo in The Netherlands

The road was named after the town of Hengelo, in the Netherlands. In 1945 an Anglo-Netherlands Sports Scheme was started between Mitcham and Hengelo, see news article below.

2019 Open Street Map of Hengelo Gardens

In 1955, a square in Hengelo had been renamed Mitchamplein. It is now a car park.

It is not known when the plaque was removed.


News Articles about Hengelo and Mitcham

Norwood News – Friday 29 June 1945

Mitcham Adopts Hengelo

Anglo-Netherlands Sports Scheme

A representative body of Mitcham sportsmen held an inaugural meeting last week in the staff canteen of Messrs. Stewart and Gray, Paisley Works, Mitcham, in connection with the Anglo – Netherlands Sports Scheme. The Mayor of Mitcham (Ald. A H. Bailey), who presided, spoke of his great friendship for the Dutch people, and how pleased he felt with the idea of the Anglo-Netherlands Sports Scheme, and it gave him much pleasure to accept the presidency of the Mitcham section.

After an address by Mr. Yapp, who convened the meeting, it was unanimously agreed that Mitcham should adopt the scheme and link up with Hengelo, in Holland, Hengelo being on a par with Mitcham in size, population and industries. Everyone at the meeting felt that Mitcham was about to enter into an era of great sporting events, and that the happy associations made between the people and their brave Dutch Allies during the war would be continued and improved through the activities of this sports scheme.

The following officers and committee were unanimously elected: President, the Mayor of Mitcham ; chairman, Mr. A. R. Hillen; general hon. secretary, Mr. J. W. Yapp ; treasurer, Mr. J. Beverige ; Finance Committee, the chairman. general hon. secretary and treasurer, with Messrs. J. Forsyth and J. Simper ; General Purposes Committee, Messrs. S. Mackinnon, R. Murphy, W. Wilder, P. W. Collard, Thos. Sibley. A. Lacey, E. Willard. C. Smith, Thos. Bicknell, E. Chambers, C. Runcieman, W. Wilson, Flying Officer Judd, and the hon. secretary. The committee agreed to co-opt other local sportsmen. Anyone interested should write to the general secretary, Mr. J. W. Yapp, 60 Streatham-road, Mitcham, Surrey. Sportswomen are particularly invited.

West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 23 August 1945

The link-up of Mitcham with Hengelo, Holland, for sport and social purposes has been completed by the Netherlanders’ hearty acceptance and reciprocation of the scheme. For the present, transport is the difficulty, but it is hoped to send two Mitcham football teams over before the end of the year. At Hengelo there are plenty of football-minded enthusiasts, and two teams awaiting International contests between the goal-posts The local papers there are co-operating in forewarding this happy way of fraternisation

West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 30 September 1948

VISITORS FROM HOLLAND

Glorious week-end weather greatly enhanced the cheerfulness of the Mayor of Mitcham’s informal welcome to the Burgomaster of Hengelo, Holland, and his party of 60 sports players to spend a week in Mitcham.

It is the return visit of the Mitcham pilgrimage to Hengelo in 1946. On Saturday morning the sights of London were toured. including the Houses of Parliament. In the afternoon the visitors saw the first of Mitcham’s football and the last cricket match of the season on the elm-bordered Green now tinged wIth russet tints of autumn. The evening was filled with a gala at Mitcham Baths attended by several ex-Olympic competitors. Sunday brought another London tour and korfball.

The formal civic welcome to the guests (put up in Mitcham homes) was at the Town Hall on Monday evening. Thereafter a full programme till the young Netherlanders return next Saturday.

West Sussex Gazette – Thursday 09 December 1948

As others see us. A journalist who came to Mitcham with the friendship pilgrims from Hengelo, Holland, afterwards wrote in his home paper that Mitcham was “a simple factory town without many attractions”! The other Dutch reporter visitor discovered that our ” pubs ” close early, and that cafes, known in the Netherlands, do not exist here. Moreover, at our public-houses, “strangely enough,” he wrote, you have to stand, and the beer is bad; and, what is more, very expensive”!

1945 : Memories of 40 years in signal boxes at Mitcham Junction

From the Mitcham Advertiser, Thursday 11th October, 1945, page 1.

FIFTY YEARS ON RAILWAY

Golden Wedding Memories of Old Mitcham

Fifty years on the Southern Railway, and forty of them spent in signal boxes at and about Mitcham Junction, is the record of Mr. Arthur G. Funnell, of 32a, Mitcham Garden Village.

Yesterday (Wednesday) he and Mrs. Funnell celebrated their golden wedding.
Mr. Funnell reminded “The Advertiser” reporter that he signalled Queen Victoria’s funeral train through Mitcham Junction on its way from Gosport to Victoria. He also signalled the only royal train that ever was on the branch Croydon-Whnbledon line. It had on board the late King Edward (then Prince of Wales) and no less a person than the Kaiser of Germany. They had been to a review of troops on Wimbledon Common and were on their way to the Crystal Palace. The late Mr. W. Martin was stationmaster at Old Mitcham at that time.

“There was a big crowd of people all along the embankment of Mitcham Common when Queen Victoria’s train went through.” Mr. Funnell said, “and not a few to see Kaiser Bill go by.”

Mr. Funnell served under seven stationmasters at Mitcham Junction. “We had plenty of celebrated people round us in those days.” he sold. “The golf course on the Common, then in its prime, attracted everybody who was anybody in London. Including five Prime Ministers, Mr. Asquith, Mr. Balfour, Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald and Mr. Winston Churchill, who, however, came before he rose to that high rank. Sir Harry Mallaby-Deeley was as good a player as any of them, and better than most. It was said.”

All sorts of queer things happened at Mitcham Junction, or thereabouts, during Mr. Funnell’s reign as signalman. A big barrel of red powder belonging to a local paint firm rolled off the platform one day in front or a non-stop train, which smashed it literally to dust. The engine, the driver and fireman, most of the passengers, a good length of the train and half the station were painted red and for half an hour a red mist hung about over a wide area, like a sunset reluctant to come to an end.

Mr. Funnell’s initiative led to the capture of several wrongdoers. From his lighthouse early one morning he saw several men being chased across the railway and the Common. He promptly telephoned the station staff, who bagged one.

On another occasion, going off night duty, he saw two sacks partly hidden near the station. He informed the police. Officers dressed as porters got into the brake van when the first train rolled into the Junction, and were not surprised to see two men soon follow them with the sacks. But the men were surprised when the “porters” grabbed them.

Mr. and Mrs. Funnell’s own home in Love Lane was broken into. They lived in it for forty years, till they were bombed out. The garden there was one of the sights of the village, for Mr. Funnell is a good gardener, with a passion for flowers. He has cultivated an allotment on the railway embankment at Mitcham Junction for over fifty years. The housebreaker in Love Lane was captured by Mr. Funnell himself, after a chase into Western Road. He happened to reach home as the intruder was leaving, with two watches and other articles.

“I began my railway life on the old London, Brighton and South Coast Railway,” Mr. Funnell said. He was born at Littlehampton and is now 74. Mrs. Funnell. who is 75, is a native of Mitcham. She was born in Church Road, and remembers the village when it was mainly a vast garden, glowing in the Summertime with all the colours of the rainbow.

Like all good Mitchamers, the whole family are interested in cricket. Mr. Funnell played regularly in the railway men’s team. His younger son, Bombardier George Funnell, is an excellent bat in the Mitcham first eleven. Mrs. Funnell still helps with the teas in the pavilion.

Lance-Corporal Arthur Ernest Funnell, of the Military Police, is their other son, and a married daughter lives at Worthing.

After being bombed from Love Lane, Mr. and Mrs. Funnell were bombed from the Garden Village for a time. The Garden Villagers were naturally among the first to congratulate them on their golden wedding day.

“We were married at Mitcham Parish Church by the late Canon Wilson.” said Mrs. Funnell.“ on the same day that Tom Richardson, the great fast bowler, was married at Beddington. In fact, we used the same carriage.”

Mr. Funnell retired from the railway eleven years ago. He looks back on his past at the Junction as the most colourful patch in his history. They were happy and pleasant days to him. When “The Advertiser” reporter left the house Mrs Funnell was making the golden wedding cake.

“Sometimes I still fancy I can hear old George Sawyer calling out the names of the stations.” said Mr. Funnell. George had a voice like Stentor himself. The late Sir Cato Worsfold declared that at The Hall Place, a mile away, he could hear George calling so plainly that every word was distinct.