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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Temporary housing for the Government in Great War London

As Britain mobilised for Total War, the Government took over dozens of properties across London and built a host of new temporary buildings in parks and gardens. We have seen how these buildings blighted the view of St James’s Park, but the spread of Government offices was much much more widespread than that.

During the war, the shape of the UK’s civil service shifted dramatically. While the number of civil servants did not increase an enormous amount (a 22% increase from 229,500 to 281,000), the number of female civil servants did increase substantially (by around 400%, to fill a 30% decline in male civil servants) and some departments grew enormously – many growing from nothing to a great size.

DM 18 5 1916 hotel

De Keyser’s Hotel being taken over “for war purposes” (Daily Mirror, 18 May 1916)

Among just five of the new departments there were 23,000 civil servants, of whom 63% were women (theses excludes the 14,000 employees of the regional national service offices in the table below):

Men Women Total
Ministry of Munitions

6756

9925

16,681

Ministry of Information

124

236

360

Ministry of National   Service (HQ)

298

770

1068

Ministry of National   Service (regions)

5065

9041

14,106

War Trade Dept

289

601

890

Ministry of Food

1053

3086

4,139

The Admiralty and War Office were the key existing war departments, while the Inland Revenue demonstrates the shift from a largely-male workforce to one that was evenly split between men and women:

Men Women August 1914 total Men Women Early 1918 total
Admiralty

1632

698

2330

4063

4101

8164

War Office

1445

156

1601

4932

9665

14597

Inland Revenue

9030

250

9280

4618

4549

9167

In February 1917, an MP raised in the Commons the question of accommodation at the Hotel Cecil, complaining that the Constitutional Club – which had already lost its own rooms at Northumberland Avenue – was now being squeezed out of the Hotel by the expansion of the Air Ministry.  The Ministry occupied 570 ordinary rooms and 9 of the larger rooms (halls, etc) in the Hotel.

Questioned further the First Commissioner for Works (Sir Alfred Mond) promised to publish a list of all the properties in London that had been lent to, commandeered by or rented by the Government. That list is set out below. It reflects the vast growth in the work and workforce of certain departments, of which the Admiralty and War Office are the obvious examples, alongside the new departments such as the Air Ministry and the Ministry of Munitions. There were also bodies dealing with separation allowances, national service, war pensions and the blockade of Germany.

The types of buildings used varies enormously, from huts on the roofs of existing Government offices – or in open spaces in central London (like St James’s Park and Regent’s Park) – to rooms in museums and galleries (including the British Museum), to the National Liberal Club and the Strand Hotel. A number of additional buildings were then needed across London to house the furniture and other items removed from the buildings commandeered by the Government.

Controversy over the displacement of other organisations continued, including the take-over of buildings on Kingsway by the Air Ministry’s Aircraft Production Department, requiring 122 firms to move. At the same time the War Casualties department moved from Kingsway to Finsbury Court and displaced a number City firms.

As with the temporary huts (more of which were built even after the war to house the Ministry of Pensions!), there were complaints about the continued occupation of hotels. Asked in February 1919 how many hotels had been vacated since the Armistice, Mr John Pratt from the Treasury said that:

Fifteen hotels are still retained as Government offices in the Metropolitan area. No hotels have been restored for public use since the 11th November, 1918, but the Hotel Victoria has been vacated by the Government staff which has occupied it, and arrangements are proceeding as speedily as possible for its reinstatement as a hotel. Carter’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, is to be vacated immediately. The Hotel Cecil will be vacated within two or three months, and the Grand Hotel a little later.

Sir Alfred Mond expanded on this, with a list of the fifteen hotels and who had occupied them. Further updates were given by Winston Churchill in June and Mond in November 1919:

Hotel. Occupied by 1919 updates
Carter’s   Hotel War   Office. Released   at the end of March 1919
De   Keyser’s Hotel War   Office. June 1919:   “arrangements are under consideration for the early evacuation of this   hotel”November 1919: purchased by a private firm and will be used as   offices when Government vacate.
Grand   Hotel Ministry   of Munitions. Feb 1919:   to be vacated in a few months.
Hotel   Metropole Ministry   of Munitions. Still in   use Nov 1919
Hotel   Cecil Air   Ministry. June 1919:   “will be vacated by the end of June, evacuation commencing at once.”
Covent   Garden Hotel Air   Ministry. Vacated in April, 1919.
Horrex’s   Hotel Ministry   of Labour. Still in   use November 1919, still required for Ministry of Labour Appointments Branch
Howard   Hotel Ministry   of Labour. Still in   use November 1919
St.   Ermin’s Hotel Ministry   of Labour. Still in   use November 1919
Holborn   Viaduct Hotel Board of   Trade—Coal Controller. Still in use   November 1919
Hotel York Board of   Trade—Timber Controller and Canadian Red Cross. Still in   use November 1919
Windsor   Hotel Ministry   of National Service and Reconstruction. Still in   use November 1919
Salisbury   Hotel War   Savings Committee. Still in   use November 1919
Belgrave   Mansions Hotel American   Army Headquarters. June 1919:   “Release by the American Expeditionary Force is under consideration.”
Goring   Hotel American   Army Headquarters. Already   vacated by June 1919

In March 1920, Mond announced that “Six hotels (of which three have been taken on lease and one is in course of vacation) and 348 other buildings are still occupied by Departments set up during the War.” The Metropole was also due to be vacated by Easter.

Temporary War Buildings in London, Board of Trade, Whitehall Gardens, Whitehall. © IWM (Q 28727)

Temporary War Buildings in London, Board of Trade, Whitehall Gardens, Whitehall. © IWM (Q 28727)

Temporary buildings constructed for or occupied by Government departments at the end of 1916

Temporary Buildings erected or contracted for HM Office of Works to be used as Government Offices in the London District during the period 1st January to 31st December, 1916…

  • Admiralty: Buildings on Roof; new rooms in Domes
  • Foreign Office: Buildings on Roof; extension for passport office
  • Horse Guards: Alterations and extra accommodations for General Headquarters
  • Horse Guards Parade: Admiralty extension
  • Stationery Office: building, south front, Princes Street, SW
  • Chelsea HospitalL Building for staff of Pensions Deptarment
  • Regent’s Park: extension building for Army Sorting Office; building for War Office Post Office Parcels Censor;
  • Post Office Savings Bank Department: building in Quadrangle
  • Adelphi Gardens: building of Ministry of Munitions
  • Montagu House: extensions for Ministry of Munitions and Ministry of Labour
  • Embankment Gardnes: building for director-general of Military Railways
  • St James’s Park: War Office effects branch; Admiralty transport building; War Trade Intelligence Department building
  • Lancaster House: Foreign Trade Department building in garden
  • Pocock Street: Stationery office warehouse
  • 10 Downing Street: building in garden
  • Home Office: permit office
  • Kew: office for headquarters of Unemployment Insurance
  • Strand House, WC: building on roof for Army Postal Censors
  • Custom House building on quay
  • Board of Trade: building on roof for Queensland Government Offices

Note: Kew building suitable for use after war; some constructed in parks will also be suitable for use after the war.

Temporary War Buildings in London. Tank Association and extensive Leave Huts, Horse Guards Parade. (c)IWM 28708

Temporary War Buildings in London. Tank Association and extensive Leave Huts, Horse Guards Parade. (c)IWM 28708

Temporary War Buildings in London, Ministry of Labour, Whitehall Bungalows. (c)IWM  Q28724

Temporary War Buildings in London, Ministry of Labour, Whitehall Bungalows. (c)IWM Q28724

Premised hired or requisitioned by or on behalf of H.M. Office of Works, etc., in the same area and period and for the same purpose. [n.b. does not include properties taken over for purely military purposes]

Admiralty:

  • 62-66 Charing Cross (rooms in)
  • City and Guilds Engineering College, Exhibition Road (portion of)
  • Trafalgar Buildings, 1 Charing Cross (rooms in)
  • 26 Cockspur Street (rooms on 3rd floor; whole of 2nd floor)
  • 47 Victoria Street (rooms on 1st floor)
  • Whitehall House, Charing Cross (rooms on 3rd and 5th floors)
  • Greener House, Haymarket (rooms from basement up to 3rd floor)
  • Dewar House, Haymarket (rooms on 1st and 3rd floors)
  • 29 Spring Gardens
  • 31 Spring Gardens
  • Union Club, Trafalgar Square (3 rooms on top floor)

Ministry of Munitions:

  • LGO Co’s premises, Albany Street, NW (3 rooms)
  • 16 John Street, Adelphi
  • 54 New Bond Street (2 rooms)
  • 117 Piccadilly
  • 118 Piccadilly (2 floors)
  • Bacteriological Laboratory, Point Pleasant, Wandsworth
  • Red Lion Restaurant, 9 Princes Street (upper part)
  • 8 York Buildings, Adelphi
  • 31 Great St Helens, EC (3 rooms, 2nd floor)
  • Grand Hotel
  • Hotel Metropole
  • Hotel Victoria
  • Constitutional Club
  • SPCK premises, Northumberland Avenue
  • 8 Princes Street Westminster (rooms on 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors)
  • 26 Abingdon Street (rooms in)
  • Caxton House, Tothill Street (rooms on ground floor)
  • Avenue House, Northumberland Avenue
  • Chiswick Laboratory
  • St Ermin’s Hotel (4 floors west wing)
  • National Club, 1 Whitehall Gardens
  • 2 Whitehall Court (flats 44 and 46)

Board of Agriculture, Home Grown Timber Committee

  • 4 The Sanctuary, SW
  • 2 and 3 The Sanctuary (rooms on 3rd floor)
  • 54 Victoria Street, SW, including Canadian Forestry Battalion on 1st floor
  • 18 Marshalsea Road, SE
  • Old Smithy, Stewarts Lane, SE

Wheat Commission

  • Trafalgar House, Waterloo Place, SW (part of)

Stationery Office

  • Imperial House, Kingsway (portion of ground floor)
  • 1 Underwood Street, EC (basement)
  • 18 & 20 Shepherdess Walk, EC (3 floors)

Board of Trade, Allies Supplies Commission

  • Canada House, Kingsway (7th floor)
  • Empire House, Kingsway (2nd & 3rd floors)
  • All offices in occupation of private firms in Canada, India and Empire Houses, Kingsway, WC (eight firms)
  • India House, Kingsway (1st floor & portion of 2nd floor)
  • Board of Trade
  • 19 Berkeley Street, W
  • 9 Bridge Street (rooms in)
  • Central House, Kingsway (4th floor)
  • 38 & 39 Parliament Street (1st floor)
  • Portland House, 73 Basinghall Street (rooms in)
  • 2 Thurloe Place, SW
  • Wakefield House, Cheapside

Local Government Board. Military Service (Civil Liabilities) Committee

  • Imperial House, Kingsway (1st & 2nd floors, 3rd floor West, 5th floor West, and one other room on 3rd floor)
  • (Local Commissioners appointed by the Committee for the various boroughs were accommodated mostly in Town Halls or Municipal Buildings, &c, free of rent, or in Government Buildings where rooms were available.)

Inland Revenue, Tax Office

  • Gloucester Mansions, Charing Cross Road, WC (1st floor East and 2nd floor East)
  • 86 Bow Road (ground & 2nd floors)
  • 300 Mare Street, Hackney (1 room)
  • 93 Great Eastern Street, EC (1st & 2nd floors)
  • 214 Bishopsgate, EC (1st floor)
  • 33/37 Hare Street, Woolwich (1st & 2nd floors)
  • Temple Chambers, EC (3rd floor)
  • Salisbury House, Finsbury Circus (rooms in)
  • 62 Altenburg Gardens, SW
  • New Hibernian Chambers, London Bridge, SE (rooms in)
  • 1 Peckham Road, Camberwell
  • 13 Victoria Street (rooms in)
  • Diamond House, Hatton Garden (rooms in)
  • 23 Kingsland High Street, Dalston (2nd floor)
  • 99 Uxbridge Road, Ealing
  • 25 Euston Road (rooms in)
  • 287 Lewisham High Road
  • 139A Finchley Road (1st floor)
  • 1/4 Paternoster Row, EC
  • 178 and 180 Romford Road, Stratford, E
  • Phoenix House, King William Street, EC (3rd, 4th & 5th floors)
  • 1 Dorncliffe Road, Fulham, SW
  • 24 William Street, Woolwich (1st floor)
  • 8 Finsbury Square, EC (1st floor)
  • 36 and 38 Mortimer Street, W (2nd floor)
  • 32 West Kensington Gardens

Customs and Excise

  • 158 High Street, Harlesden (ground floor)
  • 72 Romford Road, Stratford
  • Central Hall, Southall (1 room)
  • 45 Kings Road, Chelsea (1st floor)

Air Ministry

  • Hotel Cecil (except portion occupied by Director General of Military Railways)

Air Board

  • 19 Carlton House Terrace

War Office

  • Queen’s House, Kingsway, WC (4th floor)
  • 9 Victoria Street, SW (rooms in)
  • Strand House, Portugal Street, WC
  • Gilbey Hall, Agricultural Hall, Islington, N
  • Carter’s Hotel, 14 & 15 Albemarle Street, W
  • De Keyser’s Hotel, Victoria Embankment, EC
  • 69/71 Haymarket, SW
  • National Liberal Club, SW
  • 38/39 Parliament Street, SW (ground floor)
  • Whitehall Court, SW: flats 51, 105, 106, 107 and 111
  • 33/38 Baker Street, W (ground floor & basement)
  • Marylebone Town Hall
  • 8 Bedford Square
  • Caxton House, Tothill Street, SW (portions of)
  • Institution of Electrical Engineers, Savoy Hill, WC (1st floor, except library; room in basement)
  • 6 & 7 George Street, Hanover Square, W (2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th floors)
  • 78 Lancaster Gate, W
  • 53 Parliament Street, SW (rooms in)
  • Hotel Cecil, WC (portions of)
  • 201/203 Great Portland Street
  • National Gallery of British Art, Millbank [Tate Gallery]
  • Board of Education Art Buildings, South Kensington

Blockade Ministry

  • 5 Waterloo Place
  • 6 Waterloo Place

War Risks Insurance Department

  • Imrie House, King William Street, EC (rooms 3 & 4, lower ground floor)

War Trade Department

  • Morden House, Dartmouth Street, SW (2nd & 3rd floors)
  • Queen Anne’s Gate Building, SW
  • 1 Central Buildings, SW (library, small hut, and conference hall)
  • 13 Victoria Street, SW (rooms on 1st floor)
  • 27/29 Tothill Street, SW (rooms in)

Office of Works (required to deal with the expansion of Supplies to Munition Factories, War Department, etc, and for storage of furniture, etc, from Hotels and Clubs, etc, commandeered)

  • 7 Grove Road, Balham, SW
  • Warehouse at corner of Suirries Street and Florida Street, NE
  • Bottling Store, Essex Place, Chiswick, W
  • Warehouse in Guildford Street, SE
  • Hertford Street Garage, W (1st floor)
  • 2 Lambeth Palace Road, SE
  • 4 Lambeth Palace Road, SE
  • 137 St Pancras Road, NE
  • Norwich Street, Fetter Lane (part of)
  • 86 North Side, Wandsworth Common, SW

Prisoners of War Bureau

  • British Museum, sub-basement of Extension Building

War Office, Medical Research Committee (Statistical Department)

  • British Museum, sub-ground floor
  • Purchase of Timber (Office of Works)
  • Winchester House, Old Broad Street

National Debt Office

  • 1 Moorgate Street and 3/4 Lothbury (portion of)
  • 32/33 London Wall

National Insurance Audit Department

  • British Columbia House, Regent Street SW (rooms in)

Belgian Colonial Office disturbed from their Offices in India House by Allies Supplies Commission

  • British Columbia House, Regent Street SW (rooms in)

Foreign Trade Dept

  • Lancaster House (upper floors)
  • 70 Lombard Street, EC

Defence of the Realm Losses Commission

  • Spencer House, St James’s Place, SW

Food Controller

  • Grosvenor House, Upper Grosvenor Street, W

Propaganda Dept

  • 8 Buckingham Gate, SW

War Savings Committee (now occupied by Statutory Committee on War Pensions)

  • 18 Abingdon Street, SW
  • 19 Abingdon Street, SW

War Saving Committee

  • Salisbury Hotel, Salisbury Square

Treasury

  • Danes Inn House, Strand, WC (1 room)

National Service Department

  • St Ermin’s Hotel (except portion taken for Priority Department, Ministry of Munitions)

Labour Ministry and Ministry of Munitions

  • Montagu House, Whitehall
  • Labour Ministry, Employment Department
  • Strancolor House, Martlett Court, WC
  • Victoria and Albert Museum, North Court

Sources:

Hansard

Parliamentary papers: 1917 Cd 8499, and 1918(76)

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Posted by on 31 January 2014 in Places

 

The Two Trains of Destiny

In her book, Untold Tales of War-time London, Hallie Eustace Miles described the scene as soldiers arrived on leave and left again for the front at Victoria station in early 1915.

Her descriptions provide a vivid picture of the station’s daily use as a point of transit for soldiers travelling to and from the front (as we heard from F.H. Keeling, who travelled there early one morning in early 1916). Here are Miles’s descriptions in full, which had the title The Two Trains of Destiny in her book, with some photos and a few comments from me at the end.

March 5th [1915]

I must now describe two very different wonderful experiences I have just had. Every day there is a train from Victoria which takes soldiers who have been home on leave back to – somewhere – to join a Boat that will take them to France and the cruel trenches. Shortly after, another train comes in, bringing soldiers and officers home from the trenches. Well, I determined I would go to Victoria and meet both trains, and see for myself the moving scenes that people can hardly speak of for their pathos. And I really can scarcely find words in which to describe what I saw.

Back to the trenches after Christmas: soldiers leaving Victoria for the front after a brief stay at home Illustrated War News, 5/1/1916

Back to the trenches after Christmas: soldiers leaving Victoria for the front after a brief stay at home
Illustrated War News, 5/1/1916

The “Good-bye” Train

It was a perfect day of brilliant sunshine. When I got to Victoria Station, the train was waiting in the “siding” which is always kept for these goings and comings. Even the train looked to me different to any other train that I have ever seen before. It seemed to me like a train of Destiny waiting there for its sacred burden of brave men who might never again return to “Blighty”. It reminded me of the Allegory of the “Black Ship” which used to fetch people and take them out to sea when their “day” had come to start on their last voyage.

‘At first the platform was empty, only the train with “steam up,” waiting. And then there began to arrive the Tommies, and the Officers, and the Mothers, Wives, Sisters and Sweethearts. A magic piece of paper admitted them on to the platform. I was at the barrier. The men looked very brave, but their faces were very set. Some of them hardly dared to look at the brave women walking by their side. But I knew what they were each feeling, I went through a bit of it on that very platform, when Eustace went to America. The luggage was so different to other luggage too; it was chiefly those long bolsters they take all their things in. Some of the Tommies had bunches of flowers to take out with them. Soon the platform was crowded with this wonderful army of men and women who were fighting back the tears so bravely, and each helping the other by their own courage. Then came the moment when the first dreaded whistle sounded; it seemed more like a “trumpet call” than the whistle of an ordinary engine. The very air become suddenly charged with intensest feeling. We all held our breaths; perhect silence reigned, for we knew the “good-byes” were being said; we knew that for some the last kiss was being given. Then there was a banging of doors, and the last whistle sounded. The train slowly moved off, as if it could not bear to go, and the platform was left with only women, a few fathers, and some very depressed doggies. I never saw such as sight as it was when the khaki arms were waving out of the windows to those dear ones who were left standing on the platform as long as the train was in sight.

And then the sad procession passed out again; some of the women looked years older since they had last gone through the wonderful gate that kept opening and shutting to admit the brave procession through. I kept on thinking “Which will come back again through that gate?” Of course there were tears, but on the whole very few really gave way. Some looked terribly lonely, and one thought of the empty homes to which they were going back.

Soldiers back on leave, at a London station (probably Waterloo) in 1915.

Soldiers back on leave, at a London station (probably Waterloo) in 1915.

March 6th

The “Blighty” Train

I must now describe the second train which brought the Tommies and Oficers home on furlough to the same platform as the train that, alas! took them out again to the awful trenches. It was a very intense time, waiting for the wonderful train to come in with its heroic burden. Not the least interesting part was the sight of the happy, expectant faces of those who had come to meet their dear ones; such a contrast to the faces I had just seen go through the gate, after seeing their brave men off. How we all watched for the signal to drop! At last it did, and again the train seemed more than a train, as it slowly slipped into the siding. In one instant the doors all flew open, and strange objects poured out. They seemed almost to resemble Arctic explorers, or Esquimaux, than ordinary soldiers. Most of them had on sheepskin coats, strange fur caps and woollen helmets; and their khaki was black; some were in rags, and oh! the mud on their boots and legs. The colour of their faces was strange too, so weather-worn and weather-beaten. But the saddest part of all was the stern gravity of their expressions, as if the “veil” had been lifted and they had seen things they could never speak of and never forget. They carried the weirdest parcels and bags, full of souvenirs. Some of the “Tommies” had bunches of flowers tied to their rifles, given to them, I suppose, by the French girls. There were some beautiful cares waiting for some of the officers, with beautiful wives inside too! I was so sorry for those who had no one to meet the. They all looked dreadfully tired. It was the most wonderful and thrilling crowd I have ever seen. It made one realise what the War means more than anything else has ever done. When it was all over, I felt as if I have been to Church; as if I had been at a Sacrament. I did so long for someone to start cheering the War-worn heroes; it was all so horribly English and silent. One woman waved her baby to the Tommies! This gave a little life to the solemn scene. I went up to some of them and said “Welcome Home.” One thing I noticed was that the men who came home looked nearly as sad as those who went back. I suppose it was that the shadow of the “going back” was already over them. It was only three days for most of them.

Victoria station, after the arrival of the leave train © IWM (Q 30511)

Victoria station, after the arrival of the leave train
© IWM (Q 30511)

Miles’s descriptions capture a snapshot of leave arrivals and departures, fairly early in the war. The three days granted in 1914-15 gradually increased until most soldiers at the front could expect a ten-day block of home leave at least once a year by 1918. During 1915, free buffets for soldiers were opened at the major London stations – as we shall see in a forthcoming blog post.

Source: Hallie Eustace Miles, Untold Tales of War-time London: a personal diary (1930).

 
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Posted by on 16 January 2014 in Ordinary Londoners, Places

 

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Victoria Cross, the London connection

The Victoria Cross is the UK’s highest award for gallantry, established in 1856 and awarded 1356 times since then. The decoration has a special London link, with every one being made by New Bond Street jewellers Hancock and Co.

The Victoria Cross (VC) was awarded 628 times during the First World War, almost half of all the awards made since 1856. One of the 627 men who earned it, Noel Chavasse, was awarded the medal twice  during the war; all earned it for acts of extreme gallantry in the face of the enemy. Another nine earned it in Russia and Waziristan in the next three years.

Victoria Cross, British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to Jack Cornwell from East Ham (c)IWM Until 1918, Naval VCs had blue ribbons

Victoria Cross, British War Medal and Victory Medal awarded to Jack Cornwell from East Ham (c)IWM
Until 1918, Naval VCs had blue ribbons

Hancock and Co have been the makers of the VC since it was created. The medals are said to be made from the metal of Chinese guns captured from the Russians in the Crimean War (the first conflict for which the medal was awarded).  According to research by John Glanfield, it seems that the metal used for the medals changed in December 1914, but the medals made during the rest of the war were all made from the same ingot. You can visit Hancocks (as they are now called) in Burlington Arcade.

In 1916, the Illustrated War News carried a series of photos of the production of the medal. They described how the ingot of bronze was sent by the War Office to the jewellers each time a medal or medals were to be made (the metal is still kept securely by the MOD today). “No dies are used; each Cross is produced separately. A wax model was made for the first, from which the pattern was cast. From it moulds are made in special sand, and smoothed with plumbago. The bronze is melted at about 2000 degrees Fahrenheit. Then the case has to be filed, drilled, and chased.”

The making of a VC 1 - The arrival of the ingot; 2 - the ingot; 3 - casting; 4 - filing  (Illustrated War News, ?? 1917)

The making of a VC 1 – The arrival of the ingot; 2 – the ingot; 3 – casting; 4 – filing
(Illustrated War News, 12.1.1916)

Once the blank medal was complete, it was sent to the War Office for inspection. It was then returned to Hancock and Co for the name, rank and date to be engraved.

Engraving the name, rank and date on the back of a VC (Illustrated War News, ?? 1916)

Engraving the name, rank and date on the back of a VC
(Illustrated War News, 12.1.1916)

Part of the current UK Government’s Great War commemoration plan is to lay a paving stone in honour of every British Victoria Cross winner. According to their list (on the government website), eighty of those who earned the Victoria Cross had London connections, including those in the bits of Essex and Kent that are now in London.

Those eighty include two Londoners that we have met before: Noel Mellish, the gallant curate from Deptford, and George Jarratt, whose wife was presented with his medal by the King in 1917. The investiture, like many others for the VC and other medals, was held at Buckingham Palace.

Gertrude and Joyce Jarratt receiving George's medal from King (Illustrated London news, 28.7.17)

Gertrude and Joyce Jarratt receiving George’s medal from King George V (Illustrated London news, 28.7.17)

Another London winner was Edward Dwyer from Fulham. He earned the VC at Hill 60 in May 1915, when he helped wounded comrades and then dispersed a German attack with hand grenades. He was killed in action at Guillemont in 1916. Remarkably there is an audio recording online of him (here) talking about the campaign in 1914, and singing. There is also a British Pathe video (here) of a parade held in his honour, probably in London.

Private Train of the London Scottish earned his VC in 1917 in Palestine, when he rushed an enemy machine gun team that was holding up his unit.

Sgt CW Train being awarded his VC by the King © IWM (Q 9222)

Sgt CW Train being awarded his VC by the King
© IWM (Q 9222)

The Victoria Cross was the most prestigious gallantry medal awarded to soldiers, sailors and airmen of the British Empire in the Great War. The Imperial capital, London, had a special connection with the medal, which was produced and often presented in the city.

 
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Posted by on 4 January 2014 in Uncategorized