YEOMANS, Walter Edward
Died 18 February 1945, aged 60
Not listed in the Book of Remembrance
Walter was born in Camberwell on 31 March 1884, the second of at least five children born to "Carman" Henry Yeomans and Susannah (née Wright).
In Q3 1906, and registered in Camberwell, he married Amelia Mary Ann Kemp. The 1911 Census records the couple - and their first child. 3 year old Amelia - living at 1 Vilette Place Camberwell. 27 year old Walter is listed as a "Warehouseman in a Provision Merchant's" and 26 year old Amelia as a "Factory Hand in a Mineral Water Works".
The September 1939 Register records the 55 year old parents living at 13 Waite Street, Peckham. Walter is listed as a "Despatch Clerk" and Amelia with the conventional "Unpaid Domestic Duties". There is one currently closed record at the address, doubtless their second (and last) child, Violet, who had been born in Camberwell Q1 1924 and thus now 15. (Their first child, Amelia, had married Joseph Monger in Camberwell Q3 1930.)
On 14 February 1945, Walter was injured by the blast from a German V-2 rocket that fell at the junction of Waite Street and Trafalgar Avenue (the latter being B215 that runs into the A2 Old Kent Road in South Bermondsey). Britons had got used to the V-1 flying bombs or "doodlebugs" that could be tracked as they crossed the coast and, when their distinctive pulsejet engines cut out, gave a few seconds' warning of falling to the ground where they exploded on impact - see the article about Cyril Allsopp
. However, the V-2 (an abbreviation of Vergeltungswaffe 2 or "Retribution Weapon 2") was the first ballistic rocket weapon. Having reached a height of some 60 miles, it fell towards its somewhat random target at supersonic speed - arriving and exploding with no warning.
A just-launched V2 rocket with others in preparation from their elusively mobile launchers
Photograph with thanks to ww2today.com
Almost all the 1,400 V-2s aimed at the UK fell on the London area. The Germans also directed V-2s elsewhere against the Allies: over 1,600 fell on Antwerp alone; France (76 V-2s) and the Netherlands (19 V2s) were also targeted.
The aerial photograph above is the scene of a March 1945 V2 rocket attack at Earlham Grove, Forest Gate. Fifteen people were killed, five seriously injured and sixty-eight slightly injured. Four houses were destroyed, three partly destroyed, one hundred and three badly damaged and four hundred and twenty-six slightly damaged.
The consequences of the V-2 that fell on Peckham on 14 February 1945 are described in the Camberwell ARP records:
"A LRR [long range rocket] penetrated a 3 storey houses at the SW angle of Trafalgar Av with Waite Street, forming a crater at ground level about 40 feet across by 10 foot deep. Blast caused the complete demolishing of 12 4 storey 'neo Greek' type of terrace houses of poor construction erected about 90 years previously. Damage beyond repair to about 25 similar properties adjoining the crater and damage calling for first aid repairs to properties within a radius of about 200 yards of the crater. Rescue operations were concerned with the release of 10 trapped casualties which were found by dogs. Initial casualties were 13 killed, 28 seriously injured to Kings Guys St Olav's and Dulwich. 60 slight injuries to first aid post or nearby hospitals. Search proceeding for 10 missing or trapped persons."
As noted above, Walter was one of those injured. He was taken to Horton Emergency Hospital, one of Epsom's "cluster" of mental hospitals that, as for WW1, had been taken over for dealing with wartime casualties, but died there four days later, on 18 February 1945 and aged 60. (If Amelia and Violet were injured in the same attack, they recovered.)
Roger Morgan © 2018
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