The war memorial at St Hilda's church in Crofton Park
On November 11 each year we remember those who died in war. War memorials containing the names of those who died on active service became a common sight across Europe after WW1. Within a generation, the names of those who died in WW2 were added.
Locally, there are war memorials at
St Andrew’s church, naming 95 servicemen
St Hilda’s, 140 men and 1 woman
St Saviour’s, 84 military dead
St Mary Magdalene, with 13 names, and
Brockley School (now Prendergast), 28 .
Sadly, the details behind many of the names have been forgotten, but research by groups and individuals is beginning to fill in the gaps.
Some researchers are looking at the military records, giving the ranks and units of many of the names. Some are tracing the war graves in Brockley and Ladywell cemetery.
We are looking into the addresses of people in Crofton Park. This has enabled us to place several of the casualties, including (so far) 33 local servicemen, who were not included on any of the local memorials.
One of the saddest stories we have uncovered is that of the Martin family. The 1911 census shows William and Amy Martin living at 194 Adelaide Road (now Avenue) with their five sons: Herbert, Frank, Leonard, Alan and Wilfred, and two daughters: Ella and Amy.
In June 1915, the family received news that Herbert, the eldest, a lance-corporal in the Territorials, had been ‘killed during the capture of German trenches in France’, at the age of 29. Then in May 1918, Alan, a corporal in the Royal Engineers, aged 22, died of ‘wounds received in action’. Less than a month later their youngest, Wilfred, was ‘killed in action’ aged 19.
In one way, the Martin brothers fulfill our expectation of the war dead, in that they were killed, or died of wounds received, ‘in action’, but this was not always the case: Stanley Gale, another soldier whose family lived in Adelaide Road, was recorded as having ‘died from exposure while on duty in the Gallipoli Peninsula’ in December 1915, aged 22.
Another misconception is that the deaths ended with the war in 1918 but many died of wounds years afterwards. In March 1921, ex-private A. S. Burgneay aged 24, second son of Councillor George Burgneay, of Blythe Hill, ‘who had served overseas, and returned to his work on the S.E. Railway, succumbed to gas poisoning contracted while on active service’.
Ex-bombardier Edward Neville, of Lowther Hill, who had been awarded the Military Medal for consistent bravery on the Western Front in January 1918, died nine years later, ‘in his fortieth year, from the effects of wounds received during the war’.
If you can help with information of any local casualties of the Great War or WW2, please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add the details to our list.