On Monday 21st September the Archive will be holding an Open Day. This is the second open day held as part of the Enfield at War Project. The first one back in January was a great success and we hope this one will be too. We will have on display the WW1 books of remembrance and you will be able to see our new interactive kiosks in action.
The interactive kiosks will have pictures and test illustrating what was happening in The Borough of Enfield during both World Wars. On them you will also be able to listen to the reminiscences people who lived in Enfield during World War Two and watch a filmed retelling of the shooting down of the Cuffley airship in 1916
As part of the project we have been producing war related walks around the Borough of Enfield. The latest one has just been published. This is for Edmonton in the Second World War. You will be able to pick up one of these and the others at the open day. There will be one more walk to come for the Enfield area which is due soon.
We would also like to hear from anyone who has personal memories of the Second World War as we are collecting oral histories for the project
Towards the end of the Second World War more and more reports appeared in the local newspapers about local men (I haven’t found any women yet) being awarded medals for acts of bravery. This is a very random selection taken from the Tottenham and Edmonton Weekly Herald and the Enfield Gazette.
Flight Lieutenant Albert George Willers from Upper Edmonton was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC). One of the actions he was cited for was in August 1944 when he attacked a train near Abbeville and his plane was damaged by anti-aircraft fire. Despite this he managed to fly his aircraft home with great skill and executed a masterly landing.
Colour Sergeant Major SA Brown, Royal Engineers was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for devotion to duty whilst serving in Madagascar. The son of Mrs Dearing of Harman Road, Enfield he was a civil servant before the war and volunteered at the outbreak of hostilities.
Wing Commander Adrian Warburton, DSO and Bar, DFC and two Bars was the most decorated reconnaissance flyer in the RAF. He was reported missing presumed killed in April 1944. He was the only son of Commander Geoffrey Warburton and Mrs M Warburton of Park Avenue, Enfield.
Pilot Officer RG Morgan of Colne Road, Winchmore Hill was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM). He was a former member of the Edmonton Air training Corps. He was an air gunner in a Halifax bomber.
Lieutenant Cyril Henry Bottell of Enfield was awarded the Military Cross (MC) for services in North West Europe. The citation was for an attack on a German Command post in Antwerp. Lieutenant Bottell led his men with great courage, leaping across a two foot wide parapet hurling grenades before him to gain entry. He was severely wounded in the stomach but continued to lead his platoon and then covered the withdrawal being the last but one person to leave the building.
Captain Ronald RD Wigley son of the late Mr TR Wigley and Mrs Wigley of Park Crescent, Enfield was awarded the Military Cross. He joined the army in 1940 and served from Alamein to Sicily. He was educated at Enfield Grammar School.
Flight Lieutenant Beadman, eldest son of Mr and Mrs H Beadman, partner in the firm of Henry Beadman and Son, Baker Street, Enfield was awarded a bar to his DFC for conspicuous gallantry while leading two squadrons of Mosquitos in a daylight raid on Germany. He was an experienced flyer before the war and joined the RAF at the outbreak of hostilities. He was one of five brothers who all served in the forces. A younger brother Sergeant Pilot EAB Beadman was killed in action in June 1941.
Sergeant Tommy Rose of Lea Road, Enfield, son of Mr FS Rose of Bridgenhall, Russell Road was awarded the Military Medal for his service with General Montgomery. He was educated at Lavender Road School.
Bombardier JC Pines of Enfield was awarded the British Empire Medal in recognition of his two and a half years’ service on the Dover cross-Channel guns. The Dover guns played an important part in the attacks on Calais and Boulogne. He attended Chesterfield Road School. Before the war he was a commercial artist.
Flight Lieutenant Dennis Hewitt Pruden from Winchmore Hill was awarded the DFC. The citation records that this officer has set a fine example of courage and devotion to duty.
Sapper Frank Robert Wheeler of Enfield was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for services on the Italian Front. He was commended for operating his ‘dozer’ in order to repair a vital road while being shelled.
Flying Officer Tony Whitehead of Monastery Gardens, Enfield was awarded the DFC. He was educated at St Ignatius College and was an active member of the Riverside Football Club with his brother Lieutenant Bernard Whitehead who served with the Chindits under General Wingate. A younger brother, Cyril was at Dunkirk and then served in Germany.
Captain Arthur Desmond Andrews of Enfield was awarded the MC for services in North West Europe. His coolness and devotion to duty undoubtedly saved the infantry from heavy losses and enabled them to fight their way through the cordon of enemy that surrounded them.
These are just a few of the local men who were awarded medals during the Second World War.
Conscription for women was introduced in December 1941. All unmarried women aged between 19 and 30 (later extended to 43) were required to register for war work. Women could join the services: The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the Women’s Royal Naval Service (WRNS) or the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). Although women could not serve in combat roles joining the services meant that women could learn a trade such as mechanics which would never have been open to them in peacetime. Women flew planes and staffed anti-aircraft guns amongst other tasks. Winston Churchill’s daughter Mary served in the 469 Heavy (Mixed) Anti-Aircraft Battery at Chase Side, Enfield.
The ban on married women working as teachers and nurses was lifted as they were essential to replace the number of men who had gone into the armed forces.
They could also work in industry or farming. By December 1943 one in three factory workers were women making munitions, planes, ships and other items essential to the war effort.
In Enfield women took over many postal deliveries. They helped run the British Restaurants and information centres. Women worked in increasing numbers in all the local factories, such as the Royal Small Arms, Ripaults, Belling, The Metal Box and many others.
Women also volunteered as fire watchers and joined the Women’s Voluntary Service (WVS) which helped with billeting evacuated children, providing food and clothing for bombed out families and providing emergency rest centres.
The Women’s Land Army was set up in June 1939. At its peak in 1943 there were over 80,000 Land Girls. Land Girls were employed at Forty Hall, Oakwood Park (see below)and other farms in the area.
As part of the Enfield at War Project we have been producing war walks for Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate. The Enfield Town First World War Heritage Trail is already available and now the next one has just come back from the printer. The Palmers Green to New Southgate WWII Heritage Trail is an easy walk that takes between 1½ and 2½ hours. It starts at Princes Avenue the site of the highest number of deaths in a single incident in World War Two and takes you through Palmers Green to Broomfield Park, Waterfall Road, Arnos Park, Bowes road ending up at the Grove Road Open Space in New Southgate. The leaflets are available from Enfield Local Studies Library & Archive, First Floor Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, EN2 6DS and will be distributed to all Enfield libraries. The map can also be downloaded from the Enfield Council website: http://www.enfield.gov.uk/info/1062/local_studies/3813/second_world_war_palmers_green_heritage_walk . WWII walks for Enfield and Edmonton will be available soon.
The bombing during the Second World War created an acute shortage of housing. Some people were so desperate they squatted in empty houses. The local councils of Edmonton, Enfield and Southgate discussed various solutions to the problems.
‘Prefabs’ were erected around the area as a temporary solution. Many of these lasted a lot longer than the expected 10 years. In Edmonton 34 ‘Portal’ type prefabs were built on part of the King George’s Playing Fields facing Delhi Road. The ‘Portal’ prefab had indoor bathrooms and toilets. Some prefabs had toilets in a separate shared block and no bathrooms.
All three councils embarked on extensive permanent house building programmes. The first new permanent post war houses were built in Southgate in Barrowell Green (opened July 1946),
in Enfield in Addison Road (opened in October 1946)
and in Edmonton in Cuckoo Hall Lane (1948).
People were also encouraged to move out to the new towns being built to the north of London in Harlow and Stevenage. In 1948 there was an exhibition in Edmonton Town Hall about Harlow New Town to encourage people to move there. The publicity promised ‘New Towns for Old’. According to the council Edmonton had a housing waiting list of over 5000 and a shortage of land available for development. The solution was to move to Harlow which would be a’ new town complete in itself’ with no need to commute into London as there would be plenty of jobs in the town.
Since we acquired new scanners staff and volunteers at Enfield Local Studies Archive have been digitising old negatives. Some of them we had already taken prints from but others haven’t been seen since they were taken. Thanks to advances in technology the quality of the images we are creating is much higher than previously. The most recent photos scanned from the old negatives show the terrible devastation of the bombing during the Second World War. Even those incidents described as ‘minor bombing’ in the ARP log books such as the one in Connop Road on 21st Match 1944 caused a huge crater and destroyed houses as well as causing injury to residents.
On 14th April 1944 bombs fell on Aldermans Hill and Broomfield Avenue. 40 houses and 25 shops with flats above were damaged. 3 people were killed and 1 seriously injured.
The Mapleton Road bomb was a V2 (described in the ARP reports as a ‘long range rocket’. It caused extensive damage to electricity and phone cables. People were trapped in the wreckage of their houses. Search dogs had to be deployed.
The last V2 to fall in the area landed on the sewage farm in Montague Road, Edmonton. One person was killed. Eleven days later the war in Europe was over.
Enfield Local Studies volunteers have been scanning more glass negatives taken during the Second World War. Some of these we already had copies of but with a new, more advanced scanner we are able to create much better quality copies.
During the Second World War people were asked to raise money to help buy planes, tanks, ships and for China. There was a War Weapons Week, Wings for Victory, Salute the Soldier, Tanks Week. There were parades and services to promote these initiatives. All three areas purchased Spitfires. During Wings for Victory Week Southgate raised enough money to buy a Stirling bomber. Southgate also purchased HMS Farndale, Edmonton HMS Isis and also adopted HMS Punjab. They were urged to ‘Dig for Victory’, ‘Make do and Mend’ and beat the ‘Squander Bug’. They were encouraged to cultivate allotments or turn their gardens over to growing vegetables in an effort to beat food shortages.