Hampstead’s War Heroes: first and second World Wars

 

Most of the people who fought in the two World Wars were not professional soldiers but were called up from ordinary lives and jobs to fight to protect our way of life and that of our friends. Many died or were wounded, and even those who returned home found that life was never the same again – war changes people. We remember their courage in serving our community each year on November 11th – the day that the first World War came to an end.

Whilst most of those who died were buried on the battlefields where they fell, many soldiers were wounded and sent back to Britain for treatment, and some of them died from their wounds. The ABG contains graves of eight such soldiers – six from the first war and two from the second. Through examining their lives we learn something of the impact that war has had on ordinary members of the community in Hampstead, which may lead in turn to reflecting on how the lives of children today have changed or on the differences between courage and aggression.

Some First World War heroes

Geoffrey Craig ROSE (aged 18)

Born 1897, Hampstead. Elder son of Charles Edward Rose, and possible relative of Dr Henry Cooper Rose, resident of Hampstead for 40 years (barrister and physician)

Resident in 1901 at 27 Aberdare Gardens; after 1911 at 23 Daleham Gardens

Joined up Aug 1914 through Inns of Court Officer Training Corps. Posted to 3rd battalion, Seaforth Highlanders (a training unit), becoming 2nd Lieutenant attached to 1st battalion Gordon Highlanders.

Wounded in action at Messines Ridge, Flanders, Dec 1914. Died Feb 1915, at St Georges, Hanover Square (wounds). ABG grave G96

Francis Gabriel ELLERTON (aged 19)

Born 1896, Hampstead. One of 13 children of Alfred Ellerton, chartered accountant

Resident: in 1901/ 1911 at 28 Parliament Hill

Joined Royal Engineers – London Signal Section Training Centre, becoming Corporal (Service number 70380). Served in Home theatre

Died April 1915, at Aylesbury, Bucks (an accident while on active service). ABG grave H32

George HARVEST (aged 52)

Born 1865, Islington. One of nine children of Daniel Harvest, spice merchant

In 1881 boarder at Highgate School. Married about 1898; in 1901/ 1911 was a spice/ colonial produce merchant

Resident from about 1900 to about 1918 at Hampstead Hill Gardens. Also had a house in Hove, Sussex

Joined 2nd London Regiment as territorial volunteer; served in France from Jan 1917. Became Major, 5th Battalion (London Rifles); unit disbanded Jan 1918 through losses

Died Oct 1918, at Steyning, Sussex (cause not yet known). Left wife and two children (ages 11, 17). ABG grave G51

John Richard Smyth McCLURE (age 26)

Born 1892 in South Africa. Son of Revd Dr John J McClure, a Northern Irish minister in Cape Town

Educated in S Africa (BSc). Served with Transvaal Light Horse in South/ South West Africa. Came to England 1915

Joined Royal Engineers (Gazetted Temp 2nd Lieut. 17/10/1915). Served with BEF in France, becoming Acting Captain, 250th Tunnelling Company (Gazetted 14 Nov 1917). (This company was involved in the mining of Messines Ridge in June 1917.) Wounded twice, mentioned in dispatches

Died Oct 1918 in Hampstead (died on active service). ABG grave I20

Anthony Blyton BEESLEY (aged 18)

Born on New Year’s day 1900. Second son of Clarence Beesley, surgeon, of Exmouth

Educated at Epsom College

Joined RNAS 16/12/1917 as Probationary Flying Officer, posted to 120 Squadron at Cramlington near Newcastle on its formation (1/1/1918). (Eventually equipped with DH9s, the squadron was intended to reinforce daylight bombing forces in France but never saw operational service.) Gazetted Temp 2nd Lieutenant, RAF on 28/09/1918. Served in France. Awarded British War and Victory medals (sold at Christie’s in 2000 for £69)

Died Dec 1918 at the VAD hospital, Huntingdon (septic pneumonia following influenza). ABG grave I21

Angus H CAMPBELL (aged 44)

Born 1875, Alness, Ross, Scotland. Son of a crofter/ cattleman

In 1891 was a farm worker in Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, and in 1901 was a gamekeeper supporting his widowed mother and younger siblings in Lochbroom, Ross

By 1911 he had become a police constable with the Metropolitan Police, living in Police Section House, Westminster (single, age 35)

He joined the Royal Engineers, becoming Lieutenant. No information yet found about his war service; awarded the Military Cross (for gallantry during active operations against the enemy)

Died of wounds Mar 1919 in Llanelly, Carmarthenshire. ABG grave H97

Some Second World War heroes

Peter Francis Napier LOMAX (age 19)

Born 1921. Son of Maj-Gen Cyril Ernest Napier Lomax (who served in both world wars, latterly as brigade commander N Africa, Middle East, Burma)

Grandson of Lady Towle, whose husband’s family lived in 1901/1911 at 52 Fitzjohn’s Avenue

Joined RAF in April 1939 on short service commission (Service number 41853). Became Pilot Officer in Oct 1939; posted to 229 Squadron at RAF Digby, Lincolnshire on its formation (the same month). Flew Bristol Blenheim fighters to protect shipping and patrol the east coast (Guy Gibson was based there at the same time)

Died 24 Feb 1940 at Spilsby, Lincolnshire – his aircraft crashed in poor visibility on night operations

Cremated, and ashes buried in his step-grandfather’s family grave (Towle) – ABG grave A74/75. Also commemorated in the roll of honour at Winkfield, Berks, his grandmother’s country home

Charles James PIPER (age 44)

Born 1896, Hampstead. Son of Maurice Piper, stone mason

Resident in 1901 at Campden Buildings, Holly Bush Vale; in 1911 in Gardnor Road. Married in 1922

Joined Royal Artillery, becoming Lance Bombardier (Service number 866341)

No information yet about war service; awarded the Military Medal for bravery

Died in June 1941 at Hampstead (cause not yet known). ABG grave O80

Left wife and three children (ages 9, 15 and 18), then living in Hampstead at South End Close

 

These, of course, are not Hampstead’s only heroes from the two World Wars. War memorials in the town give the names of many more local men and women who died and are buried elsewhere. See the Hampstead Borough memorial at North End opposite the Whitestone pond, and others related to particular communities – for example, outside Hampstead Parish Church; at St Stephens Church Pond Street; Emmanuel Church West End Lane, at the old Town Hall in Haverstock Hill, and at some schools and blocks of flats (eg New Buildings off Flask Walk).

People at home also had to make sacrifices, suffering from air raids, rationing and evacuation. The book “Hampstead at War (1939 – 1945)” (Camden History Society, 1977) shows how Hampstead was affected by bombing during the second World War (1230 air raid alerts, 572 incidents, 204 deaths and 930 injuries), even although it had no military targets.

Further resources

The Library of Congress has a good photo of a WW1 battlefield at http://www.flickr.com/photos/library_of_congress/3005522855/sizes/s/in/photostream/

Burgh House, Hampstead has an exhibition of the History of Hampstead; this includes war time information and an aerial photo of where bombs were dropped in Hampstead and the surrounding area (from the “Hampstead at War” book – see above), as well as photos of war damaged houses.

WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. Chris Dell, a Hampstead resident, contributed his memories of living through the Blitz at http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/60/a3816560.shtml .

For general background images of war, see Pathe Newsreels at http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/AnnaLovewell/World-War-1  and http://www.britishpathe.com/workspaces/ackie16/World-War-2 .

And for a 2009 story about finding family members lost since the first World War, see http://www.channel4.com/programmes/wwi-finding-the-lost-battalions

 

This page was last updated on April 30th, 2012.

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