GREENSLADE, John Leonard. Corporal (362353)
Royal Air Force
Died 25 October 1940, aged 34
The Greenslade family grave in Epsom Cemetery
Photographs by Roger Morgan © 2018
Not listed in the Book of Remembrance
John was born on 24 August 1906, the fifth and last child of Frederick George Greenslade and Frances Maria (née Charles). The parents' Q3 1894 marriage was registered in the Greenwich District, but they set up home in the Coulsdon area where Frederick worked at the London County Asylum at Cane Hill - gaining a "Certificate of Proficiency in Mental Nursing" in 1897.
The couple's first child, Winifred Eleanor, was born in Merstham Q1 1895. The next two, Freda Elizabeth and Charles Wells, were born in Woodmansterne in, respectively, Q3 1896 and on 1 July 1898 - doubtless at the family's home of 1 Maybank Villas, Woodmansterne, where they were recorded in the 1901 Census.
It seems that Frederick then moved to Horton Hospital, one of Epsom's new "cluster" of mental hospitals. There is a record of son Charles attending Ewell Infants School in May 1905 when the family were living at Chessington Road, West Ewell. The couple's fourth and fifth children were both born in West Ewell - Frederick William in Q2 1905 and John Leonard on 24 August 1906. Both were baptised in St Mary's Ewell on, respectively, 9 July 1905 and 10 March 1907. The 1911 Census recorded the family living at "Stoke", 8 Upper Court Road, Epsom - although, on Census night, Frederick senior (a "Night attendant on Male Lunatics") was recorded at work, being the "Chief Night Watch".
During WW1 (as again in WW2), Horton Hospital was taken over for dealing with wartime casualties. Frederick seems to have achieved some prominence there because he was mentioned by name in the Epsom Herald's report on 23 July 1915 regarding the burial in Epsom Cemetery of Private Edward Adams Riley (9331) of the Northumberland Fusiliers.
In 1925/26, the family (less John - see below) moved from Upper Court Road to "Fredonia" (later 125?) East Street, Epsom. In July 1930, John's older brother, Charles (now an "Omnibus Conductor" died in Farnborough Hospital, Kent, aged 32, His body was brought back to Epsom for burial in Plot K.688 of Epsom Cemetery on 23 July 1930. He was followed to that grave on 26 March 1932 by his father, Frederick, who had died aged 66 four days earlier in Epsom's Cottage Hospital. The Cemetery records describe him as a "Clerk Steward". (The widowed Frances Maria died aged 91 in Q4 1960, registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District.)
To return to John Leonard Greenslade, the main subject of this article, he entered the Royal Air Force between January 1921 and July 1922 as a Boy Entrant with the service number 362353. He was part of the RAF Apprentice Scheme, being in the 5th Entry to the No 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton, Buckinghamshire. John completed his first period of RAF service by 1930 and returned to live with his family in Epsom. From 1933 at the latest, however, he was resident in Horton Mental Hospital - having followed in his father's footsteps to become a member of staff there.
In Q3 1935 and registered in the local Surrey Mid Eastern District, the 29 year old John married 24 year old Alexina Florence Richards. The newly-weds took up residence with the bride's parents, Robert and Florence Emily Richards, at 16 Holdenby Road, Lewisham, where their only child, Barbara D Greenslade, was born on 9 March 1936. The family of three then returned to the Borough, recorded in the September 1939 Register living at 11 Oakhurst Road, West Ewell, with 33 year old John listed as a "Male Nurse" and 29 year old Alexina with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties".
Very shortly after the September 1939 Register was taken, John returned to the RAF, either from Reserve or as a volunteer, and was posted to RAF Montrose, Angus in Scotland. This base, virtually unchanged since WW1, had re-opened on 1 January 1936 as the No. 8 Flying Training School. This was part of the Government's plan, in the face of a growing threat from Germany, to train more military pilots for an expanded RAF.
On 25 October 1940, three German Junkers Ju 88 aircraft dropped 24 bombs on RAF Montrose. John was among the five killed in the attack, which also injured 18 others, and destroyed two hangars and the officers' mess. John's remains were returned for interment in the family grave, K.688, in Epsom Cemetery on 1 November 1940.
Although John is not listed in the Borough's Book of Remembrance, he is commemorated on Horton Hospital's 1939-1945 Roll of Honour
in Horton Chapel.
The widowed Alexina never remarried and, in 2002, died in Hertfordshire aged 92.
Brian Bouchard, © January 2016
Updated by Roger Morgan 2108
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