Buses Without Routes

By kind permission of John King, Author

Early in October four Omnibus Companies were formed at Grove Park, each consisting of 75 buses, half the personnel being London General Omnibus Company drivers. Most of the buses were LGOC ‘B’ types which were yet to be seen in service in Grove Park, since normal bus services had not hitherto traversed its streets. There was, however, no accommodation for the buses in the former Workhouse and they were in consequence parked in the open on the only suitable wide and long street in the area — Grove Park Road. With the ever-growing number ot new recruits, the accommodation at the Workhouse proved to be inadequate and men were consequently put under canvas in Grove Park Road. The camp quickly became known as Pennington Camp after the captain of that name who in 1914 was in charge of mobilisation at Grove Park. Grove Park Road was similarly known as Pennington Way or Avenue.

By October it was known how members of the parish of St Augustine’s had reacted to the appeal for men in the forces. Thirty-seven men had joined up. The agony of some mothers was heightened when more than one son responded to Kitchener’s appeal. Thus Horace King who only four years earlier had received a Sunday School prize, found himself on HMS Implacable while Leonard joined the Post Office Rifles — they lived at Sydenham Cottages. Phil Burroughs went to HMS Yarmouth while Jack became a Rough Rider with the Royal Engineers — they lived in the flats opposite the Workhouse. The two Fletcher brothers both joined the 20th Battery of the County of London. The two Spence brothers whose family lived at The Gables in Baring Road where Edith Nesbit had lived in the 1890s, joined the 13th Middlesex and 1st Battalion of the Honourable Artillery Company respectively, while the two Hadlow brothers from Chinbrook Road joined the same battalion in the Royal Fusiliers. One of the vicar’s sons, Brooke Luffman, became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment. The list of those who had joined up and their regiments was subsequently published in the parish magazine. The ASC was not included in the list. The reasons were probably two-fold. Immediate front-line action was unlikely and so there was no emotional appeal. Even more pertinent was the social status of the ASC — it was not felt appropriate to many of the young men in Grove Park. No list was published for St Mildred’s but before the end of the year it was learnt that one of the parishioners, Private Sidney Godley of 25 Butterfield Street, had been awarded the VC for conspicuous bravery. According to his sergeant, Sidney “stuck to his gun” when the order was given to retreat and was credited “with mowing down some dozens of Germans”. After receiving fourteen wounds in his back from a shell, he was captured by the Germans. The January 1915 magazine recorded that there were between 100 and 200 men from the parish in the services.

Back to Grove Park in the First World War


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