Local Heroes

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.

Colour Sergeant Major SA Brown
Colour Sergeant Major SA Brown

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.

Wing Commander Adrian Warburton
Wing Commander Adrian Warburton

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.

Flight Lieutenant Beadman
Flight Lieutenant Beadman

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.

Sergeant Tommy Rose
Sergeant Tommy Rose

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.

Bombardier JC Pines
Bombardier JC Pines

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.

Bomb Damage during Second World War

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.

Bombing and censorship

The start of the V1 bombing campaign was severe blow to morale. At first the government censored any reference  to the ‘flying bombs’. On16th June Herbert Morrison announced that London was under attach by pilotless planes. The scale of the destruction was hushed up in order to maintain morale and prevent the Germans from knowing how effective the campaign was. There were strict rules about reporting bombing incidents. There was to be no mention of the name of the road until  three months after the incident. Photos of bombed streets had to show an intact building. All identifying signs had to be removed.

Queen Anne's Place showing censor's marks 1944
Queen Anne’s Place showing censor’s marks 1944

Chesterfield Road School was hit by V2 in June 1944. Below is the ARP report:

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.25             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage ‘Fly’ Ordnance Road/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.40             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Damage to school/Chesterfield Road.

Date: 27.6.44                          Message Time: 12.58             Incident Time: 12.07

Particulars:     Further details: – Part of school collapsed (some trapped).

Remarks:        Extensive damage at Bradley Road/Preston Road. Casualties: 3 serious.

 One of the fatalities was a teacher from the school. The Log Book from the school was found in the rubble after the air raid.

Chesterfield Road School
Chesterfield Road School

Chestefield Road School Log Book found in the rubble after the air raid

Carpenter Gardens was another place to be hit by a V2. ARP report:

Date: 7.7.44                            Message Time: 01.09,01.39,02.17Incident Time: 01.05, 01.09,                                           Particulars:     Report ‘Fly’ Highfield Road.

 Big incident. Fire Highfield Road/Carpenter Gardens. 765131. Details to                          follow.

 Many casualties-Some trapped. Mutual assistance in operation. School  damaged and food shops. Rescue 50 reports. Gas main on fire. Rescue operations still proceeding. Homeless accommodated in rest centre.

Remarks:        Killed: 8; Seriously Injured: 10; Slightly injured: 14; Missing: Unknown.

The report makes grim reading.

Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2
Wakefield Road, Southgate. Trying to repair the damage caused by a V2