Never Forgotten

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The Summerstown182 Walk is always a joy, but some really do go down as very special occasions, to be savoured in the memory. Such was the Walk of 28th February 2015 which was attended by three families with Summerstown182 connections. There were a large group of relatives of the family of Albert Clarke with his Corner Pin associations. That was mad enough, but it was on Franche Court Road that things got particularly hectic. On this street, two houses were of particular significance. Not only that, but it happened to be the anniversary of the death of Samuel Ambrose Tickner so I called for a minute’s silence as we placed a poppy tribute outside his front door at No7. He is just a few doors away from Gallipoli casualty, Phillip Chapman, visited on that day by his Great Nephew, Colin. A little further up the road outside No45, I told what little I knew about the young man who had once lived there and is on our war memorial, Arthur George Clarke. That’s him holding the dog in the old black and white photograph above. It was a privilege to have three members of his family there that day to hear it. His nieces, Helene and Margaret and his great-niece Becky. You can tell from the look on their faces what it meant to them. Helene knew that the family were great friends of the Pickworths, their neighbours at No43. She was able to point us in the direction of some information about Lieutenant Arthur Pickworth, another of the Summerstown182 and the only commissioned officer among them. However, its all gone a bit quiet on Arthur George and the centenary of his death this year seemed like a good time to get Chris Burge on the case.

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In the list he kept in the St Mary’s parish magazine of those who had joined up, Reverend Robinson indicated in 1915 that Arthur George Clarke was in something called ‘25th London Regiment Cyclists’. I ride past his house every morning so I feel an affinity. He was 18 when he was killed in the Battle of High Wood on 15th September 1916. One of the most notorious of all the Somme battles. His death is reported in the November 1916 issue as follows. ‘The chaplain of the division in which A G Clarke was has written most sympathetically to his people, saying that he was killed on September 15th in the great battle of High Wood. This was a great victory for us. It was only brought about by the fearless determination of men like him. He was very brave and calm. I can only thank you all for giving us so brave a comrade.’ The chaplain would have only known him for a week and to have written such words indicates something of the measure of the young man from Franche Court Road. His ‘people’ should indeed be proud of him.

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Arthur’s Dad, David Arthur Clarke from Paddington married Joan McArthur from Strontian, Argyllshire at the old St Mary’s Church, Summerstown on 1st August 1892. Census records show her as Johanna but the family have a theory about that. She apparently had a very thick Scottish accent and pronounced every syllable precisely. They speculate that when questioned by the census filler-in, she might have said ‘Jo-an’ and then breathed ‘ah’ which was heard and noted down as Jo-ann-ah. A very special link to her only son may be ‘The Strontian War Memorial’, a granite obelisk high above the road, overlooking Loch Sunart, Ardnamurchan. On it are 36 names of men who lost their lives in the First World War, one of which is a Private Arthur G Clarke of a London regiment. A local historian considers that many of the names did not live locally but had some connection with the area. Given Joan’s Scottish roots were nearby, I think there is a very good chance he is our man, high on the hill above the Loch. If anyone is up there, please visit. For the time being I’ve taken the liberty of posting a couple of photos taken by Martin Briscoe who I hope won’t mind me using them when he reads this.

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David Clarke’s father had been a messenger at the Bank of England and he himself also had a job there as a porter. They were first at 10 Turtle Road in Earlsfield and started raising their family at 7 Alice Terrace. I’d never heard of this address, but a quick google indicated it was off Garratt Lane and in 1902, No2 was the premises of a company called E Wall who built the underground sanitary conveniences at Tooting Broadway. I was always a big fan of those facilities, so that’s very good to know. Their first child Jessie was born in 1894, followed two years later by Mary. Arthur George was born on 1st December 1897. A fourth child Hilda May Clarke arrived in 1904, possibly in time to be baptised in the new church. In 1901 they were at 45 Franche Court Road and would have a connection there for over 30 years. They were still on the electoral roll at No45 in 1933, though it seems between 1902 and 1904 they may have shuffled a few houses along to No35. By 1911, Arthur was 13 and still at school. His two older sisters were working, 16 year old Jessie as a pianoforte teacher and Mary now 15 was a dressmaker’s apprentice. Nine years later Mary Clarke married Edward Warner on 3rd April 1920 and the family have this stunning wedding day photograph. Joan and David are at the back on the left, Hilda is fourth along. Jessie is on the left at the front beside the bride. In 1935, the couple were living with younger sister Hilda at 25 Gateside Road in Tooting. Edward Warner died in 1979. Mary had two children, one of whom Peter is the father of Becky. Hilda also had two children, Helene and Margaret, the sisters pictured outside the house on the Walk. Jessie Christina Clarke never married and died in Sutton in 1987.

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Arthur George Clarke was killed at a place called High Wood on the Somme, on 15th September 1916. He was serving at that point with 19th London Regiment with whom he had been with for less than a week. It would appear from the documentation Chris has been able to find, that he joined the Army Cyclist Corps in the spring of 1915 at Putney Bridge. The ‘25th (County of London) Cyclists, The London Regiment’, were based at Fulham House, Putney Bridge, once the home of Thomas Cromwell no less. Some of the buildings still exist as part of a modern TA centre and it appears there is a hall with a war memorial. A visit to see if Arthur is included is on the agenda. The 25th Cyclists battalion was formed in 1908 with the intention that they would be used as mobile home defence troops. Its hard to imagine a bicycle being much use amidst the mud and the barbed wire of the western front. Their primary role there was reconnaissance and carrying messages. They were armed as infantry and could provide mobile firepower if required. In his research, Chris Burge came across a website which appears to originate from the 25th London (Cyclist) Old Comrades’ Association established in 1932. Thanks to his representations, they agreed to add Arthur George Clarke and some other names to their list: http://www.25thlondon.com/agc.htm

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Arthur was seventeen and now part of 47th Division. It would appear that he first went abroad on 14th February 1916 and was fortunate to miss the combat at Loos. The War Diary of 14th February mentions three ‘ORs’ being added to the fighting strength at a place called Hurionville. On the day he joined, 2nd Lt Hubert Granville Carpenter from Ealing was killed whilst on patrol – he is buried in St Omer. Throughout the spring while preparations for the offensive on the Somme was starting, the cyclists trained, laid cables and boarded trenches in the area around Lens. Quite a few days are marked as ‘nothing to report’ and on one day there is a lecture given on ‘field sketching’. As casualties mounted on the frontline, it was clear that the cyclists would be needed for other duties. It was now September 1916 and another major attack was being planned on the prized German high-ground defensive at High Wood. This area had already seem much fighting that summer and, The History of the 47th (London) Division puts it thus, ‘As for the wood, it was a wood only in name, ragged stumps sticking out of churned up earth, poisoned with the  fumes of high explosives, the whole a mass of corruption’. On 9th September Arthur George Clarke was transfered to the 19th London Regiment. On the morning of 15th September they moved into an offensive position at 3am. Arthur Clarke and his comrades was preceeded by four ineffectual tanks, on this date making their first appearance in a battle. One of them became entangled in a tree stump and its rusted hulk remained there for about fifty years. These were followed by the 17th and 18th Battalion. At 7am the 19th went into action. By 11am the wood was reported ‘clear of the enemy’. The War Diary records 10 officers and 66 men killed that day, another seven died of their wounds. 230 were wounded or missing. There were appalling casualties at High Wood in these days, an estimated 4,500 in the 47th Division. The London Irish Rifles, the Post Office Rifles, the Civil Service Rifles and the Stepney and Poplar Rifles all paid a heavy price. These were territorials, ordinary pen-pushing men and office boys thrust into the heat of a deadly battle, the like of which they must never have imagined they would have to face. Major-General Charles Barter, commanding the 47th Division, was very promptly dismissed for ‘wastage of men’. He was later knighted.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
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Among so many Londoners who died at High Wood were Arthur Clarke and George Collyer. Their graves are almost as close to each other as were their homes, Franche Court Road and Headworth Road, separated by the width of Garratt Lane. When we visited the Cemetery last year we noted that both graves had flowers in bloom, George Collyer a burst of michaelmas daisies, Arthur Clarke a pale yellow rose. They are in the ‘Extension’ part of the London Cemetery at Longueval, directly facing the Wood itself. Their presence here suggests they were among the wave of 47 men who died taking the wood. All from the 47th Division, they were initially buried in a large shell hole between 18-21st September. This is the third largest cemetery on the Somme with 3,873 First World War burials, 3,114 of them unidentified.

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The cycling boy from Franche Court Road with three sisters was killed in the act of driving the enemy out of High Wood. He can truly be seen as a hero, leading the charge in what was viewed as a great victory. It’s no wonder his chaplain felt obliged to write a letter to his family. On his grave the personal inscription along the bottom, placed by his father says simply ‘Never Forgotten’. One hundred years later he is remembered by Margaret, Helene, Becky and their families. He is not forgotten on Franche Court Road or St Mary’s church in Summerstown where his name is one of 182 on the war memorial. There is a large memorial to 19th Battalion London Regiment at St.Pancras Church near Euston Station. On it are 1,100 names and two of them should be Arthur George Clarke and George Collyer. I went in last week to try and find them but the area where the memorial is was locked. You can be sure we’ll be back.

Thanks again to Chris Burge for his research on the military career of Arthur George Clarke. We are also indebted to his family and in particular Becky Tanner and Helene Steggals for supporting our Summerstown182 project so wholeheartedly, sharing photos and allowing us to tell his story.

http://www.25thlondon.com/

http://www.mbriscoe.me.uk/page205.html

http://www.ridetothesomme.org.uk/

 

The House Where Sid Lived

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On Saturday Colin Lewis came up from Dorset to visit us and see what all this fuss is about a Blue plaque for his Dad, the twelve year old who is believed to be the youngest soldier to serve in the British Army in the First World War. We met at Clapham Junction and my first sight of Colin was him striding down the hill towards the Shopping Centre. He was head and shoulders above everyone else and with his blue jacket, beaming smile and military bearing he looked like Gary Cooper or John Wayne. We jumped on the No77 to Tooting and as we headed down Garratt Lane, Colin told me some of his Dad’s stories, how he had been swept up in the basket attached to the front of one of the trams which passed their home. Of the regular family get-togethers with various Aunts and Uncles in the house at 53 Defoe Road on a Sunday, playing cards with his Gran and of his Dad’s comment that he could gaze out of his bedroom window and see over the fields to Mitcham. We had heard that Sidney was tall for his age and at six foot three, Colin has clearly inherited his genes. Sid rejoined the army after the armistice and was part of the army of occupation in Austria, he was still only sixteen. In the Second World War he was in the police and worked in bomb disposal. Colin’s Grandfather Edward fought in the Boer War, shortly before Sidney was born. Through his National Service, Colin himself was swept into the Korean War in 1950. What a family.

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When we got to the bend in Garratt Lane and the last section that used to be called Defoe Road, Colin knew where he was, though he hadn’t been in this area for about fifty years. We hopped off  at Tooting Broadway and Derek and Siobhan from ITV Meridian were outside the front door with their cameras, ready to capture the special moment. Then we all sat down in the garden under the huge cherry tree and listened as Colin talked about his Dad. He had been involved in one of the most horrific episodes of the First World War, the Battle at Delville Wood on the Somme in the middle of July 1916. Now assigned to the 106th Machine Gun Company and fighting with South African forces, his father was one of about 700 who remained unscathed out of an initial attacking force of over 3,000 men. The site of this carnage at ‘The Devil’s Wood’ is now the official South African National War Memorial. The wood was completely destroyed but one tree symbolically survived and is preserved to this day, the forest all around it having been replanted.

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The house on Garratt Lane has been Gillian’s home for 35 years. For a while it was converted to flats but even though its back in its full original glory, it seemed small, though maybe that was just Colin seeming to fill it. He certainly knew his way around and the sight of the little brick extension at the back that was once the outside toilet made him recall the chopped-up sheets of The Daily Mirror that were used to do the honours with. His Grandfather who worked at what is now Springfield Hospital died in 1949 and his Grandmother moved into a nursing home in Belmont not long after. Colin has fond memories of shocking his wife-to-be, Rosemary when he smuggled his Gran a bottle of gin. ‘Thanks, son’ she said as she gratefully tucked it into her cavernous handbag. Sidney himself passed way on 12th April 1969 at the age of 66. After cremation, his ashes were spread in the gardens attached to Eastbourne Crematorium.

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We then went round the corner to Broadwater Primary School and were warmly welcomed at the School Fair where I was allowed to make a short speech informing people about the Plaque Unveiling. There was a look of incredulity on one woman’s face when I told her that for the last two years I’ve been doing a Guided Walk past her house on Pevensey Road. The school has changed names over the years, it was initially Fountain Road School, surrounded by fields and reached by a path in Sid’s time. A pupil there was Horatio Nelson Smith, from Hazelhurst Road, the second youngest of the Summerstown182 who died aged sixteen on the Somme in September 1916, probably around the time Sidney got home. After a fraught session struggling with school register details on microfilm in the London Metropolitan Archives, Sheila and I recently found that Sidney had first gone to school on September 16th 1907 at nearby ‘Broadwater Road School’ the building of which is now the Al Risalah nursery on Gatton Road. The name of his younger brother Edgar also popped up.

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Who knows where else he went, but Colin thinks he may have finished off his education at Battersea Grammar. It may have been from there that he disappeared in the summer of 1915 to sign up with the East Surrey Regiment and join the war effort. Via a look at Gatton Road, we sat down for a drink in The Selkirk, one of so many businesses and individuals that supported our ‘Quid For Sid’ fundraising campaign. On our way to the bus-stop we stopped at the historic Harrington’s Pie and Mash Shop, which has been doing business here for 108 years. Sid would have been five when it opened and was attending the school in the next road. Sadly there was no time to sample their delights and it was a shame that we weren’t able to say more hellos but Colin needed to get back to Clapham Junction to jump the 530pm train. We made it with about a minute to spare but hopefully Colin had a chance to kick back and peruse the poem written about his Dad by John Byrne from Pevensey Road.

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We are all intruiged by how a twelve year old could just run off and disappear, even in the crazy days of one hundred years ago when war fever and a sense of excitement gripped so much of the country. How could that happen? Apparently his Mother Fanny knew he was in the army but not that he was in danger. Certainly he would have had an extensive training period and surely one so young wouldn’t get anywhere near the front line. An older brother William was already serving in the East Surreys and it would appear that he was only fifteen when he joined up. ‘Uncle Will’ survived the war and eventually emigrated to California. Colin has strong family connections in the US and Sid’s brother-in-law, Frank, now in his mid-nineties lives in San Diego and gets all the news about the Tooting Plaque and loves hearing about it. It was only when word filtered back from a neighbour that Sidney was on the Somme that it was time for Fanny to find a birth certificate to prove his age and get him sent home, though having promoted him to Lance Sergeant and trained him to use a machine gun, it was probably done with a certain amount of reluctance.

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Colin’s pride in his father is so evident and like so many of us, his only regret is not asking more questions about it while he had the opportunity. When his Dad mentioned his Somme experience, it was taken with a pinch of salt – surely he was too young? It was only after his Grandmother died that Colin came across the battered and crumbling copy of The Daily Mirror, now preserved in the Imperial War Museum. He then got on with his life until about four years ago when he saw it reproduced in a feature about ‘Boy Soldiers’ in The Sunday People. He contacted the historian and author Richard Van Emden and the Imperial War Museum. They had heard rumours about a ‘Private S Lewis’ for some time but had never been able to verify exactly who he was. Now they were able to say that he was the youngest soldier serving in the British Army the First World War that they know about. The story received worldwide attention and we were fascinated to hear Tooting get a mention and discover that he had lived in our community.

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None of this would be happening without the goodwill and blessing of the current resident at what used to be 53 Defoe Road, now 934 Garratt Lane. What a great sport she has been. Gillian has lived there 35 years and is thrilled to know so much about the previous long-term occupants of her home. When I first contacted her, via a speculative letter through the door, I never imagined I would find someone who would embrace everything in such a wholehearted and supportive manner. It has made everything that has followed an absolute delight. Incredibly she told me that she had adopted a cat who had made his home beneath the campervan in her back garden some years before and by the most amazing coinicidence, she named him Sidney. Very sadly the feline Sid passed away soon after we’d got in touch. Yesterday she showed us a small lead soldier that she had discovered in the back garden. Colin will be back on 24th September to unveil his father’s plaque and is hopefully bringing about twenty members of the Lewis family along with him. There is already a lot of interest building and as we try to plan a most memorable day, if anyone has any ideas or would like to help in some way, we would be very pleased to hear from them.

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Many thanks to Chris, Marion and Sheila for genealogical background on the Lewis family and John Brown of The Streatham Society for help identifying ’53 Defoe Road’. The Plaque is currently being cast and we hope to pick it up sometime next month.  It will be unveiled by Colin Lewis on Saturday 24th September. A short ceremony will be followed by a First World War themed guided walk via Streatham Cemetery and light refreshments in St Mary’s Church, Summerstown.

Mayor of London

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summerstown 182 (2)Back in 2013, ‘The Sunday School Three’ were the main focus on the agenda. They were three of the 182 names on the main First World War memorial in St Mary’s church, who had also been commemorated on their own marble tablet. I’d written a little story about them and we planned to try and get some funding to clean it up as it was still suffering the after-effects of 20 years under a pile of compost in the vicarage garden. On Remembrance Sunday 2013, our MP, Sadiq Khan had been invited to attend the service at St Mary’s. Ever the opportunist, Reverend Roger Ryan urged me to go over and persuade him to become a patron of the planned ‘Sunday School Three’ restoration project. Little did the vicar know, but I had 179 other names on my mind. Sadiq and I went outside the church and his enthusiasm and positive response to what I had to say bowled me over. He immediately understood the concept of how matching the names on the memorial with the houses where the soldiers and sailors had once lived, connected ‘yesterday and today’ and had the potential to engage schools and the wider community. The concept of the Summerstown182 was born that morning and having Sadiq’s support and backing fired us with an energy that in two and a half years has not dimmed in the slightest. He’s been so generous since then, offering words of wisdom, letters of support, retweeting messages, attending and participating in our commemorations and ceremonies. So many of the relatives of the people involved in the Hazelhurst Road V2 bomb told me how much it meant to have him there last year doing a reading. More recently he has taken time out of his London Mayor campaign to back our efforts to put up a plaque for the Tooting boy soldier, Sidney Lewis.

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A most unexpected moment and one of the proudest days of my life was when our project was given a Tooting Community Hero Award at the Houses of Parliament last year. We were in exalted company that night, so many local individuals and organisations doing great things – regeneration projects, encouraging small business, setting up foodbanks and running local networks. It was a humbling moment to be singled out. From then on we knew that we were doing good work and people were paying attention. In the midst of all this we’ve had a General Election, closely followed by the mayoral campaign but he has always had time for us. Sadiq’s message of inclusivity matches our own vision to push this project to as many people as possible, especially those who may have no connection or family involvement in the First World War. It is about togetherness and community, loving where you live and understanding how every man woman and child rallied around at a time of great adversity. Anyway, we take great pride in his achievement and it was a wonderful day for Tooting when very early last Saturday morning, Sadiq was elected Mayor of London with the biggest personal mandate in British political history. He’s ‘one of us’ and in an era of extremes and widening gaps, where many people feel excluded, that means so much.

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He knows the streets we pass along on our Summerstown182 Walks, we’ve collaborated with the boys from his old school, Ernest Bevin College and and later this month we’ll be passing through the arches of the Henry Prince Estate where he was raised, on our ‘Historic Earlsfield’ Walk, part of this year’s  Wandsworth Heritage Festival. We thank him for his continued support and for the eleven years he has served as our MP and wish him much success in his new job.

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The enclave of homely little streets between Garratt Lane and Garratt Green have an old-world charm and tranquility. Sure, like all the other roads around here these days, there’s plenty of banging, ripping-out and extending upwards, but as soon as you enter Huntspill Street you leave the crazy world of Garratt Lane behind and feel at peace. It does a sharp right and wraps itself around Bellew and Squarey Street like a protective arm, sheltering these roads from the bustling world outside. Even today with house prices out of most folk’s reach, it still appears to have a good mixture of young families and long-term residents. There may not be candles in the windows yet, but it has a special cosy character which leaves visitors and passers-by with a warm comfortable feeling. This close knit connection is summed up in the story of George Buckley and his family, a combination of census, birth, wedding, death and electoral data paints a portrait of a family with strong connections to Summerstown and St. Mary’s Church. George’s father Edwin had died by 1904 and his mother Marian passed away at the end of 1914. Yet rather than moving apart, the ties between the various siblings and in-laws show how families supported each other and remained in close proximity in a way that is much less common today. The addresses mentioned are almost just a few doors from each other and you can imagine people in and out of each others houses and inter-connected lives. Many of them remained in in the area until the end of their days, into the 1970s and beyond. This world has been so vividly brought to life through the extraordinary research skills of Chris Burge.

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George Anthony Buckley served in the 12th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade and was killed on 6th June 1916. He was a 21 year old storekeeper from 17 Bellew Street who had joined up in Wimbledon on 15th June 1915. From this street and neighbouring Huntspill Street, five soldiers came from one extended family; George, his two brothers and two brothers-in-law. Older brother Charles from 13 Huntspill Street joined six months later and the youngest one, Edwin, a year later, four months after George’s death. His brothers-in-law Frederick Hall and James Hurrell also served. Edwin, James Hurrell and George all gave their address as 17 Bellew Street. Quite a road, because directly opposite is No18, dubbed the ‘Unlucky House’ on our Walks. Here in successive years, three members of the Summerstown182 from different families were killed in the First World War; Henry Ollive, Ernest Haywood and Henry Geater.

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Edwin Buckley, a joiner from Matlock, Derbyshire married Marian Buckley from Thame, Oxfordshire in 1885 and by 1891 they were living at 7 Franche Court Road. They shared this house with the family of Sunday School Three member, William Mace who was born there in December 1892. Fast forward ten years and the Buckleys were at 77 Summerstown with six children, three girls and three boys. George was seven with two older sisters, Elizabeth and Rose and one older brother, Charles. The two youngest were Marian and Edwin. In December 1904 Edwin Senior died aged 42 and may well have had his funeral service conducted in the new St Mary’s Church. By 1911, Elizabeth Buckley had married James Hurrell and was living with the rest of the family at 17 Bellew Street. In a perfect encapsulation of Summerstown life, two of the household worked at the laundry and one at the box factory. Rose Buckley was a laundry packer and Charles worked in the wash house. Seventeen year old George worked in a factory. Also at 17 Bellew Street were the Hurrell family, James was a laundry engineer and Elizabeth who had a small daughter was also employed there. Four laundry jobs in one household, Mrs Creeke would have liked that. They went on to have five other children, one of whom born in December 1915 was prophetically named George, six months before his uncle was killed.

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George’s Medal Index Card shows that he went to France on 20th October 1915, his first taste of front line service pitting him straight into the foul mess of waterlogged trenches, rain and mud. Some of George Anthony Buckley’s service papers have survived. They are very faint and hard to read in places, but we can glean many nuggets of information from them. Its clear that both his parents had died prior to the war as he gives his brother Charles as his next-of-kin and some of the forms are in fact completed and signed by his elder married sister Elizabeth, who likely acted as a surrogate head of family around this time. It all sounds a bit like Peaky Blinders. Having said that she took one of the forms not to Reverend John Robinson at St Mary’s but to a local Police Inspector, so maybe not. George Buckley’s ‘soldiers effects’ entry confirms the names of all of his siblings.

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The 12th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade had been formed at Winchester in September 1914. On 22 July 1915 they landed at Boulogne and whilst not involved in the main Battle of Loos itself, they were embroiled in costly subsidiary attacks from 25th September onward. One of these at a place called Moulin de Pietre resulted in 313 casualties. George would appear to have been part of a large draft of reinforcements, when on 28th October, 106 men arrived at the front, to a sector near Lille. His Battalion’s positions up to the end of the year can be traced from the relevant war diary and trench maps. His documents show that he had scabies and was out of the line for a few days in early December 1915, no doubt caused by lice and the general filth, mud and unsanitary conditions of the trenches. George injured an ankle in early February 1916 and was out of action for the best part of three months.

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He returned to his battalion on 30th May 1916. They were now just to the east of Ypres in front of the small village of Potijze. Literally in a direct line east of the Menin Gate which is noted in the left hand column of the war diary by ‘E Menin gate’. George was killed just a few days later in an incident which is vividly described in the war diaries. The 12th (Service) Battalion Rifle Brigade were fighting with the 3rd Canadian Division when they came in the line of a fierce attack on 6th June. The Germans had taken a number of trenches in the previous few days and were on the offensive. On 6th there was intense shelling and a number of trench attacks were repelled. At about 315 pm one of two mines exploded under a 12th Rifle Brigade trench at Gully Farm. Lieutenant Messenger and 22 men were buried alive, 12 of these were later rescued. At the end of the day 75 casualties were accounted for including 24 dead. One of these was George Anthony Buckley. The graves of six of these Riflemen killed on 6th June are in a line at Potijze Burial Ground Cemetery in front of the Memorial Cross. The cemetery is one of four in the grounds of a Chateau which was destroyed in the fighting and never rebuilt. Potijze was within the Allied lines during practically the whole of the First Word War and although subject to incessant shell fire, Potijze Chateau contained an Advanced Dressing Station.

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Elizabeth and James Hurrell continued to live at 17 Bellew Street until her death in December 1970. One family’s connection with one house for almost six decades. George’s other older sister Rose married Frederick Hall in 1913 and had two daughters. A year later Marian Buckley died. Meanwhile in 1915 Charles Buckley married Edith Luckie from Coverton Road in Tooting. Whether the former Miss Luckie knew she was moving oppposite the ‘Unlucky House’ on Bellew Street is very doubtful. Sadly Charles died in 1921 leaving her with two small daughters. George had two younger siblings, Marian and Edwin. Marian married Alfred Hawkes in 1919 and Edwin wed Rose Hillman on Christmas Day 1920. Edwin and Rose lived in Squarey Street before moving to Morden. Marian’s husband was the brother of Alfred Hawkes, another of the Summerstown182 from Maskell Road, killed on 25th April 1918. She would appear to have lived on at 20 Huntspill Street until 1972. In the parish magazine of June 1956 there is notification of the baptism of an Alan Michael Hawkes at that address. He’s hopefully still around and if so, he should be proud that he has two Great Uncles in the Summerstown182.

As with many of the Somme stories written in the past few months, they are based on a phenomenal amount of research work done by Chris Burge. Look out for his website on the Mitcham War Memorial and keep an eye out for some developments relating to this coming very soon.