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
The general election of 1945 was the first since 1935. It was held on 5th July 1945 but the results weren’t declared until 26th July to allow time for the overseas forces’ votes to be counted. The popularity of Winston Churchill was so great (he had an 83% approval rating) that it was expected to be a landslide victory for the Conservative Party.
However voters were suspicious of the Conservative pre-war record, domestic and foreign. They were largely blamed for the policy of appeasement which had allowed Hitler to grow in power unchecked. Many remembered the return of soldiers after The Great War when they had been promised ‘Homes fit for heroes’ which had failed to materialise and the mass unemployment of 1930s.
The Labour Party under Clement Atlee were seen as supporters of The Beveridge Report which advocated a ‘cradle to grave’ welfare state and which had proved hugely popular with the public when it was published in 1942.
The policies of the Conservative Party which prioritised security were out of step with the public whose top priority was housing. With the end of the war Labour were seen as the party best able to rebuild the country. There was a degree of scare mongering form the Conservatives at the consequences of a Labour victory. Mr Bartle Bull claimed that a Socialist victory would mean throwing away everything they had fought so hard for. At a meeting in Oakwood School a man objected to the candidacy of Beverley Baxter on the grounds he was Canadian. Alderman Pinching said that this was a good thing as Mr Baxter could represent the views of the Empire. ‘If we don’t think in terms of Empire it is God help Old England’, he declared. Labour candidate Ernest Davies said that the main issues of the election were resettlement and reconstruction. The Labour party were accused of disloyalty in forcing an election before the war with Japan was won.
At a meeting in Hazelwood Lane Captain Malandine, the Liberal candidate was asked about sending refugees back to their own countries:
The main issue was housing. At a meeting at Southbury Road School Mr Bartle Bull was questioned by an ex- sergeant major who had lost a leg during the war. When he had first been demobbed he had been unable to find work. When he did he lost money having to go before medical boards. he had to attend 15 and was allowed only 9/- for the loss of a days work. His rent had increased from 15/- before the war to 32/6. There were some strange questions for the candidates:
There were three candidates in each of the local constituencies as follows:
Evan Durbin (Labour) *
Squadron Leader Geoffrey Sparrow (Conservative)
JA Ward (Independent)
Bartle Brennan Bull (Conservative)
John Danny (Liberal)
Ernest Davies (Labour) *
Southgate (then part of Wood Green constituency):
Beverley Baxter (Conservative)*
Captain Edwin T Malandine (Liberal)
Councillor WA Vant (Socialist)
There was a suggestion that the war hero Charles Coward would stand as a candidate in Edmonton but nothing came of this.
The result of the election was a victory for Labour. Labour won in both Edmonton and Enfield. Local people also won seats in other areas. Percy Daines of Chase Green Avenue won for Labour in East Ham North.
Mrs Mabel Ridealgh, a prominent member of the Enfield Highway Co-operative Society won for Co-op and Labour in Ilford North. The results were first reported in the late news section of the paper.
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.
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.
At the outbreak of the Second World War there were plans to evacuate children from Edmonton to safer areas but it wasn’t considered necessary for the children of Enfield and Southgate as these areas were deemed to be ‘safe’. Later in the war it was agreed that children to the east of the Southbury Loop railway line would be eligible for evacuation.
Although much of the present day Borough of Enfield was considered a reasonably safe area there was considerable bomb damage. Even ‘minor bombing’ as described by the ARP Log Book could result in broken windows and injuries from flying glass.
According to the commonwealth War graves Commission there were 389 people killed in the borough. The breakdown for the three areas is:
Southgate 118 fatalities, 267 seriously injured. The number slightly injured isn’t known
As well as the deaths and injuries there was extensive damage to property. This was compounded by the shortage of supplies with which to carry out repairs. Many bomb sites remained untouched for years after the war ended. The ‘Bombie’ in Grove Road New Southgate was one such site that was only redeveloped in 2014 being turned into to a park.
In total 433 houses were destroyed in Edmonton, 347 in Enfield and 256 in Southgate.
The image on the right shows the aftermath of bombing during the Second World War somewhere in the present day Borough of Enfield. Unfortunately there is nothing on the photos to say exactly where. It shows men climbing over the wreckage, There doesn’t seem to be any equipment other than their bare hands. Does anyone know where this is? Any ideas would be appreciated.
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.
Over the last two years volunteers and staff at the Enfield Archive have been working to produce a list of those who died in the First World War. This has involved many hours searching through newspapers, school records and the Commonwealth War Graves website and matching names to addresses.
If there is anyone we have missed we would love to hear about it so that their names can be included. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org Tel: 0208 379 2724 or write to us at Enfield Local Studies Library and Archive, 1st Floor Thomas Hardy House, 39 London Road, Enfield EN2 6DS. Or just pop in and tell us and you can see what else we hold about the impact of both World Wars in Enfield. We are open 9.30 – 5pm Monday to Friday. The photos are of a few of the local men who laid down their lives during the First World War.
Also added to the website (see link above) is the film of the dramatized re-telling of the shooting down of the Cuffley Airship which was brought down by William Leefe Robinson in 1916.