Miss Eden’s Album

Miss Eden’s Album – the story of Florence Neville Eden

This album is on extended loan to me by Peter Wiseman who was given it by a neighbour in Beckenham.

Florence worked as a VAD nurse from August 1915 to July 1947.

She left a neighbour a bulging album which covers the detail of her voluntary work in great detail with photos, letters, citations, certificates, poems, invitations and lots of press articles about local and national events relating to her dedication as a nurse/orderly.

The album has brown leather covers and gold edged leaves. It is 9.5” long by 8” deep. Originally it was likely to have been 1.25” thick but it now closer to 2.5”

Because of constant use and the vast contents someone (perhaps Florence?) has bound the spine with 3.5” wide bandage.

Belgian soldier’s funeral 01

Belgian soldier’s funeral 02

A couple of pictures from the album

I have photographed the exterior and most of the album’s contents.

To me, she comes across as a lady with a comfortable background who developed a passion for service to others.

With Pat Manning with whom I worked when she was compiling her book “Less We Forget – Beckenham & the Great War”, we traced Miss Eden’s life from her birth in 1889 in Charlton, moving to Bromley in 1891, thence to Lambeth in 1901, and Staines in 1911.

Miss Eden came to Beckenham in August 1915 to join Kent VAD 86 in Christ Church in Beckenham before transferring in April 1916 to Kent VAD168 in Bromley where she worked until 1925. When WWII began, she joined the Beckenham Mobile First Aid Unit for the duration of the war and later.

Cliff Watkins

WW1 – Memorial Graves & Headstones in Beckenham Cemetery


On 4th August 1914 Britain declared war on Germany. The war ended after 4 years, 3 months and 7 days, on 11th November 1919

The Beckenham War Memorial was unveiled on 30th July 1921. It lists the names of 711 who died.

Additionally, there were many other memorials in stone, ceramics, metal, timber, metal and other materials in Beckenham’s churches, churchyards, schools , sports clubs and some businesses.

In November 1999, Paul Rason’s superbly illustrated account of all the WW1 war memorials in Beckenham was published by Bromley Council. Paul’s account identified the names of 1044 fallen. However this figure included the duplication of many of names on the Beckenham War Memorial.

In Beckenham Cemetery in Elmers End the names of 130 fallen may be found. Please see the table here.

The first two columns tell the reader if the names are recognised on the Comonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) plot either on the Screen Wall (30) or on individual Head Stones (34).

The third column gives the names of a further 66 names in graves in other parts of the cemetery.

The fourth column advises that 24 of those buried in the cemetery are identified on the Beckenham War Memorial.

51 further graves are shown in columns five and six: 6 had been discovered several years ago by local man, Peter Wiseman and the remaining 45 Ellen Barbet with help in cutting back undergrowth and cleaning by her late husband Ron.

On December 4th, 2013 Ellen wrote: “We explored the area which we had not been able to access before, nearest to the cemetery railings and the tram platform. The whole area is deep in fallen leaves just now, covering the ground. We made slow progress, feeling our way as we went, because it was difficult to detect bits of gravestones and kerbs and we could easily have twisted an ankle.”

I accompanied Helen on several occasions on her mid-winter searches. Torrential rain had left the paths through the cemetery with quite treacherous mud or flooding, similar to the images of soldier in muddy trenches that many people visualise when they think of the First World War.

Cliff Watkins

1914 – 18 World War Casualties

1914 – 18 World War Casualties’ buried and/or commemorated in BECKENHAM CEMETERY.

Names from CWGC, Beckenham War Memorial, Beckenham Journal, Peter Wiseman & Ellen Barbet
Information as at March 16th, 2014 CWGC GRAVES only
List of 130 names provided by CWGC on 13.9.2013

NameDate of DeathCWGC
Ref. Nos.
Source 1
Source 2Source 3Photos
1ACKERMAN A E1918 Nov 03W5EB
2ACUTT H1917 Apr 18Y3EBPhoto
4ASTON A M1918 Oct 30Y3EBPhoto
5ATKINS C D1918 Feb 09SWEB
6BARBER S1915 Nov 19SW
7BARBER W E1916 Nov 09W5EB
8BARKER W E1919 Mar 02P6EB
10BASON J J1916 Mar 27WHEB
11BEADLE S A1917 Aug 19T6EBE Photo
12BERKELEY M H F1918 Jan 01V4
14BOWMAN T F1920 Mar 26P7
15BRIGGS C A1914 Sep 30U2
16BROWN H W1917 Jan 23Y3EBPhoto
18BUSSEY F1917 Aug 15R4
19BUZZARD W1916 Nov 05SW
20CAMPBELL C D M1918 Mar 09S1
21CANNON L R1917 Aug 18W5BWMEB
22CARLTON R S1917 May 30S5
23CARNE P H R1917 Feb 08SW
25CLARK L G1920 Jan 27SW
26CLARKE W1915 Feb 04WH
27COLLINS C W1916 Sep 14SW
28COLLIS W E1916 Jul 07WH
29COPELAND P1918 Nov 13T6
30CROMBIE R1916 Jan 23WH
31DAVIS W C H1918 Apr 24W4EBPhoto
32DAVISON H E1915 Feb 06WH
33DONOGHUE E1915 Nov 28WH
34DRUCE P W J1918 Oct 10SW
35DRYE G R1916 May 23WH
36EASTON G C1918 Oct 09WHEBPhoto
38EDWARDS P W1919 Feb 24SW
39ELLINOR W A1918 Apr 16Y3BWMPWL ?EBPhoto
40ELRICK D1918 Oct 30WH
41EMBLETON F W1920 Mar 22WH
42EVANS G A1916 Apr 07WH
43FAULKNER G H1919 Feb 18U2EBE Photo
44FILBEY W G1915 Feb 08WHEBPhoto
45FOWLER G S1919 Apr 04SW
46FRY F L1918 Oct 16SW
47GADD H H1919 Nov 24WH
48GERKINS F R P1918 Oct 12SW
49GORDON W1918 Oct 13SW
50GRAHAM H1918 Oct 19Q5
51GRAHAME F G1918 May 21V3
52GRIFFEE F A1915 Aprr 05WH
54HANNAH A M1915 Mar 16WH
55HARRISON C H1918 Jan 26SW
56HENDERSON C H1919 Apr 12R6EB
57HIBBERD D C W1920 Apr 28T7
58HIGGS E SFeb 15 1918R2BWM
59HUDSON E T1917 Jun 25WH
60HUMPAGE W J1918 Sep 30WH
61INGLIS T B1915 Nov 29SW
62IVE H F1918 Jul 06SW
63JAMES E G1919 Mar 16Y3EBPhoto
64JOHNSON C M1918 Nov 04WHEBPhoto
65JONES A E1918 Nov 21SW
66KEELER N J1920 Feb 07W5BWMEBPhoto
67KNELL (Town) E J1916 Aug 29SWEBPhoto
68LARBY G W H1918 Oct 22WHBWM
69LEWIS J A C1918 Jun 04M3
70LOBB H T G1920 Sep 11Y3EBPhoto
71MACK F G1917 Feb 08S2
72MAXTED C L1919 Feb 25SW
73McKAY C H1918 Nov 01V6BWMEB
74MEARS F P1919 Feb 22S7BWM
75MERRETT J S1918 Jun 24T6EB
76MOIR H1915 Feb 05WH
77MORGAN W T1915 Apr 08WH
78MORRISON J A1914 Nov 27WH
79MURRAY J A1915 Oct 11WH
80MURRAY J G1915 Feb 04SW
81OBEE G H1917 May 11W1BWMEB
82PEARSON E A1918 Nov 06V3EB
83PIGGOTT G W P1917 Dec 28SW
84PLAYFAIR V H1917 Feb 26M3BWM
85PREECE B A1918 Dec 10WH
89ROBB J1918 Dec 13M3
90ROCHE W H1915 Feb 19L2
91ROUTEN H1919 Jan 28WHBWMEBPhoto
92RUSBRIDGE F C1918 Nov 11WH
93SALMON F C1919 May 01T7EB
94SCOTT W T P1915 Apr 14SW
95SHAND W1919 Feb 11j3
96SHARP F R G1918 Dec 01V3EB
97SLADE J C1918 Oct 23SWEBPhoto
98SLADE W1919 Feb 07W5
99SMITH A1920 Nov 01K2BWMEB
100SMITH F G1917 Dec 05Y3
101SMITH H T H1916 Feb 29SW
102SOUTH H1919 Dec 11S7
103SQUIRELL P H1918 Dec 31Y3BWMEBPhoto
104STANFORD E1915 Feb 15W5EBPhoto
105STAY W S1918 Sep 18WH
106STREET A S1918 Jul 01W4EB
107STRIKE E1915 Feb 12WH
108STRINGER A H1919 Dec 08T7EBE Photo
109STUART K1917 Jun 13T5
110TAYLOR F J W1918 Dec 04W4EB
111TAYLOR M H1919 Feb 28V6
112THRIFT A R1917 Apr 25V3BWMEB
113THURSTON A G1918 Oct 10WH
114TOUGH A1914 Dec 06WH
115TUCKER L E1918 Apr 09W5EB
116TURNER H1915 Feb 16W4
117VARTANIAN O1915 Apr 08SW
118VENTON W G1916 Feb 21SW
119WALKER C1918 Oct 14W5
120WALKER G E1914 Dec 09W4
121WALLER H1916 Dec 10W5
122WALSH W E1919 Jan 29S7BWM
123WEBB A E1916 Jul 30SWBWM
124WESTCOTT W E1918 Apr 28S2BWM
125WESTON S V1919 Feb 18S7
126WHITE G W1918 Feb 23SWBWM
127WILLIS T1919 Apr 14SW
129WINZER R J1915 Dec 07WH
130WOODRUFF G N C1918 Dec 02Y2PWLEBPhoto
Column Names totals646624645
DEBUCQUOY A1915 Jul 06W5EBPhoto
PWMalso noted MORPHEW F,
an Australian who died in 1916
and a Survivor, EVANS WJC (VC)

bwm=Beckenham War Memorial
pwl=Peter Wiseman list
eb=Ellen Barbet List
wh=white headstone

Beckenham at War

Beckenham at War. 

Beckenham has never been found wanting in time of war” wrote Nancy Tonkin in 1993.


Chapter One – 1740 to 1914

In 1793 Beckenham residents formed an Armed Association available to help defend the country against an invasion by Napoleon’s forces. Fortunately Britain’s superior Navy saw to it that this did not occur. But earlier in the 18th Century there were two examples of our naval superiority involving Beckenham men.

The first was Commodore Anson’s voyage of 1740-44 which involved sailing round the world, plundering Spanish Latin America, facing the wrath of the Chinese and returning with the richest ever prize of bullion that required 34 fully loaded waggons to carry the treasure across London.

Anson’s second in command was Lieutenant Piercy Brett.  Promoted to a captain, Brett was back in action in 1745 in the English Channel. After a day long battle, Brett forced Bonnie Prince Charlie’s supplies and money ship, the Elizabeth, to return to France, forcv dashing the dream of The Young Pretender of raising a Scottish army.

Subsequently, Brett lived in the Clock House (now the site of The Studio and Spa) in Beckenham while he worked as Admiral of the Blue in the Admiralty in London.  He died in 1781 and there is a large memorial to him inside St George’s Church.

In the second half of the 19th Century, military cadets were commonplace in Beckenham.. The East India Company’s Military Training College was situated in nearby Addiscombe and its trainees were encouraged to visit the town by Frederick Chalmers, the Rector of Beckenham from 1851 to 1873 who had many successful years with the Indian Army.  His sister-in-law was the evangelist and author Catherine Marsh

In 1860, Catherine Marsh’s published her book “English Hearts and English Hands” she wrote:

“Early in the year 1853, a large number of Railway excavators, amounting at length to nearly three thousand, were gathered from different parts of the kingdom, to work in the grounds of the Crystal Palace ……. Nearly two hundred lodged in the village of Beckenham”

Also in Beckenham was Joseph Paxton who designed and oversaw the building of the Crystal Palace and grounds – his ‘Palace for the People’. He lived ‘on the job’ in a spacious mansion called Rockhills in the northern tip of Beckenham adjacent to the site of the Crystal Palace building overlooking the hills of Kent and Surrey. Paxton lived in Rockhills from 1853 until his death in 1865.

After Palace was opened by Queen Victoria in June 1954, Paxton rewarded the navvies by recruiting them into the Army Works Corps to build roads for troops in the Crimea.  Catherine had to be dissuaded by Florence Nightingale from going with them.


A year later, Hedley Vicars, who like Rev. Chalmers, had also served in India, was killed in the Crimea in March 1855, a memorial table was placed in St George’s Church.


During the war in Natal, South Africa in the first half of 1989 the British army’s success had ended the independent Zulu nation. Among the contingent of 122 men of the Warwickshire Regiment at Rorke’s Drift who fought off attacks by a force over 3,000 warriors seeking to protect their homeland from the British invaders, was Beckenham’s 24 year old Col/Sgt Frank Bourne who received the DSM, the highest award after the VC.

Subsequently Bourne was posted to India and missed the next conflict in Africa, the first Boer War (1880-1881) when’s the defeat of the British enabled the South African Republic to keep its sovereignty.

The Second War (1899–1902) was a much longer struggle between Britain and  the Boer Republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State. John Norwood, born in Pembury Lodge, Copers Cope Road, Beckenham in 1876 was a 2nd Lt. in the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales) when he was awarded  the VC during the siege of Ladysmith in 1899. Norwood was educated at the Abbey School, Beckenham. Founded by a curate of the parish church in 1866 in rooms over Leven’s bakers shop in the High Street, it moved to purpose built premises erected on a gravel pit site of 16 acres in Brackley Road, Beckenham in 1872. (see appendix #1 for graduates from the Abbey School).

Put in command of the British forces in December 1899 was Frederick Roberts who, like Hedley Vicars, had also began his military career at the East India Company’s military college in Addiscombe in 1850s.

Initially the Boers had been victorious and within 4 months from the start of the conflict Britain found it necessary to deploy almost the whole of the regular British army in Africa, bringing in troops from her colonies. By the end of the war in May 1902 all British military reserves had been depleted. Victory was won only by using a scorched earth policy and the creation of concentration camps. At the end of the war, Lord Roberts advised the British government that it would be near impossible for Britain to defend its homeland and the colonies without a regular force of conscripted troops. His advice was ignored.

John Norwood, born in Pembury Lodge, Copers Cope Road, Beckenham in 1876 was a 2nd Lt. in the 5th Dragoon Guards (Princess Charlotte of Wales) when he was awarded  the VC during the siege of Ladysmith in 1899. Norwood was educated at the Abbey School, Beckenham. Founded by a curate of the parish church in 1866 in rooms over Leven’s bakers shop in the High Street, it moved to purpose built premises erected on a gravel pit site of 16 acres in Brackley Road, Beckenham in 1872. (see appendix #1 for graduates from the Abbey School).

To fill the void in Britain during the Boer War, voluntary (i.e. supplementary auxilary) forces were established.  For example in Beckenham in 1900 a volunteer rifle corps detachment of the Royal West Regiment was established in Elm Cottage in Beckenham High Street. (see appendix #2).

The lessons of the Boer War were not acted upon until 1908 when Haldane, appointed Secretary State for War in 1906, saw the implementation of his Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907. This created the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) a regular army to be sent anywhere in the Colonies and most significantly (but secretly) in Europe. The BEF was supported by the Special Reserve which also comprised regular soldiers and replaced the Militia which had existed since 1857.

Haldane’s Act also created the Territorial Force (TF) which became the volunteer reserve component of the British Army until 1920 concerned mainly with home defence. The men had full time jobs but gave up their free time for thorough training as soldiers, attending summer camps. The administration of the Territorial Force was on a County basis.

A year later in 1909, the War Office issued a ‘Scheme for the Organisation of Voluntary Aid in England and Wales’ which recognized the need for adequate medical backup to support the Territorial Force if war was declared. The organisation was on the same county basis

The organisation of what were called Voluntary Aid Detachments (VADs) was on the same County basis as for the TF volunteer soldiers. By the summer of 1914 there were over 2,500 Voluntary Aid Detachments in Britain. Of the 74,000 VAD personnel in 1914, two-thirds were women and girls. The training and management of the VADs was entrusted to the British Red Cross. (See chapter on VADs).