Thurso Street

Thurso 1Thurso3 The death of each of these men was a tragedy but if there is one location where a more intense level of grief was suffered than any other, it must surely be at the north end of Thurso Street. This road runs south off Smallwood Road, not far from the school and the houses at this junction are the same as they would have been in 1914. Its a short walk from Tooting Broadway and close to St George’s Hospital in an area once known as Fairlight, which a hundred years ago was a place of great deprivation. The school was at one stage a Sunday soup kitchen for poor local children. Now I’ve noticed estate agents call it the Tooting Triangle and houses cost close to half a million pounds. Its a road that had great sadness visited upon it. At Number 8 lived Winifred Seager, a widow and her seven children. She was to lose three sons in the war, one in successive years between 1915 and 1917. Just two doors away at Number 12 was the Tibbenham home. Two brothers from this household of nine children were also to perish. A little further along at Number 2, two Mace brothers would be killed and if that wasn’t quite enough, on the other side of the street, Private Charles Jeffries at Number 13 also died of his injuries in the war. Other streets like Hazelhurst and Maskell Road were harder hit, but the effect of the concentrated carnage in this particular corner is hard to comprehend. Private Albert Henry Seager of the East Surrey Regiment died on 20th November 1915 and is buried in nearby Streatham Cemetery. He worked as a printer’s assistant and was 22 years old. Able Seaman Ernest John Seager, aged 24 was drowned on HMS Shark in the Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916. Lance Corporal Edward Seager of the Royal Fusiliers was killed in the Battle of Arras in the attack at Monchy-le-Preux on 10th April 1917. He was 28 years old and worked as a clerk at the Stock Exchange. We have only been able to find records of two of the Tibbenhams. Sergeant Spencer Tibbenham aged 28, serving in the Australian infantry was killed on 30th May 1917 at Ballieul. Exactly six months later Private Eric George Tibbenham of the East Surrey Regiment was killed on 30th November 1917 in the battle of Cambrai. His Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) record suggests he was 20, the census indicates he was only 17. A third person with this name, ‘H Tibbenham’ is on the War Memorial but we have been so far unable to find out who this is. Spencer Tibbenham was a draper in 1911, his brother of course was still at school. We have also been unable to locate a CWGC record for the two Maces. The St Mary’s church parish magazine tells us that Arthur James Mullinger Mace of the Welsh Horse Yeomanry died in hospital on 1st October 1918 aged 26. He is buried locally and we will try to find out where. In the 1911 census the Maces were living at 2 Thurso Street with their step-family, the Smiths. Thirteen people in a tiny two-up, two-down house. We also have no details of his younger brother William Henry Mullinger Mace. At Number 13, Charles William Jeffries of the Royal Engineers died on 13th November 1917. His final resting place is also in Streatham Cemetery. Nine young men on one small stretch of road, Thurso Street, London SW17. There is a very tall chimney-stack close to the end of the road, something to do with the hospital. Whenever I look at it now, it appears to stand to me as a memorial to the Summerstown 182 of Thurso Street.

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