Killed in the Line of Duty…………….
The following extremely detailed research into the life of AFS Fireman Frank James Endean has been carried out by researcher Fiona Smith.
A quiet and unassuming man who was dedicated to his family, a family that was robbed of such a kind and generous man. Sadly the Endean family are another family torn apart by the events of that fateful night of 20th April 1941.
Frank James Endean was born on 6 December 1904 in Bromley, Kent, the second oldest of four children, born to Frank James Endean senior and his wife Rose Taylor. Frank junior had two brothers, one older and one younger, and a younger sister. His father, Frank James Endean senior was born on 13 September 1880 in Bermondsey, Southwark in London and his mother, Rose Taylor was born on 10 October 1879. Rose had been born some distance away in Matlock in Derbyshire. The Taylor family later moved to Bromley and it was here that young Rose would have met Frank senior. The marriage of Frank’s parents Frank James Endean and Rose Taylor was registered in Bromley in 1902.
The 1901 census shows Frank Endean senior, aged 20 as a porter employed by a cloth merchant, living with his labourer father Henry Endean, mother Louisa Endean, and younger brother at 222 Lynton Road, Bermondsey. The couple had four children, Henry Charles Endean born in Camberwell in 1903, Frank James Endean born in Bromley in 1904, Rose Lilian Endean born in Bromley in 1908 and Leonard Arthur Endean, was born in Bromley in 1913. Leonard’s death record in 1980, it shows that his date of birth was 18 January 1913. Leonard and Frank must have been close growing up because Frank was later to be the ‘best man’ at his younger brother Leonard’s wedding.
The 1911 Census shows Frank James Endean aged 6 living at ‘Devon’, Salisbury Road, Bromley, Kent with his father Frank James Endean aged 30, a woolen warehouseman, mother Rose Endean aged 32 and siblings Henry Charles Endean aged 7 and Rose Lilian Endean aged 2. The census records that Frank’s parents had been married for 8 years and had had 3 children, all of whom survived. The family’s home had 5 rooms. (Note: the street number of the family’s house has been scored out on the census document, so their home is recorded by the name of the house alone.)
The 1920’s saw a lot of change across the Country, which included single women gaining the right to vote in a General Election. Married women had previously secured the right to vote much earlier in 1918, thanks to the suffragette movement. The returning men from war came home to a totally different Country to the one they left behind. Frank was one the lucky ones, although he never went to war, he managed to secure a good job, unlike many of the soldiers who returned from war. The years between the two World Wars were particularly difficult for men, employment opportunities were few and far between. The Country was going through a deep depression and money and opportunities were scarce for many families. Frank had fortunately secured himself a respectable and decent job as a pattern department assistant by the time the 1921 Census was taken.
The 1921 Census shows Frank James Endean aged 16 years 6 months, a pattern department assistant employed by Dormeuil Freres, cloth merchant at 10, New Burlington St, London, at the time the family home was 40, Salisbury Road, in Bromley. Living at home with Frank was his father Frank James Endean senior, a warehouseman employed by J Cooper & Son, cloth merchants, 5 & 6, Savile Row, London, Frank’s mother, Rose Endean, his older brother Henry Charles Endean, a warehouseman also employed by Dormeuil Freres, at 10, New Burlington St, London, his sister Rose Lilian Endean, a full-time schoolgirl, and his younger brother Leonard Arthur Endean, a full-time schoolboy. The family’s home had 5 rooms.
At the opposite end of the spectrum to the depression of the 1920’s and 1930’s was the opulence and extravagance of the fashion industry. At the time, the largest and chicest cities of Europe were battling amongst themselves for dominance of what was becoming a massive and growing industry. Cities like London, Paris and Milan were competing with each other to offer their elite customers a touch of class sophistication and elegance and the Dormeuil Company were at the forefront of this. Dormeuil Freres was established in the 1840’s by Englishman Jules Dormeuil who began by importing English quality fabrics into France. By 1862 its headquarters were established at 4 rue Vivienne in Paris and the first shop outside France was located at 10 New Burlington Street in London, the store in which Frank and his brother Henry worked in. During its 170 years of history, Dormeuil have been producing the finest fabrics on the planet, blending timeless British elegance with a touch of French chic. With an undoubtable reputation, Dormeuil is the choice of kings, presidents, Hollywood stars and connoisseurs from all over the world. So although Frank and Henry were based in the Warehouse of this great organisation, they would have felt part of a whole different world whilst handling the extravagant garments that were created in the Dormeuil Warehouse.
During the 1930’s, young Frank was to meet the love of his life, Daisy Brookes and the young couple were married in Sevenoaks in Kent in 1934 at St. Margaret’s Church, Halstead. The Sevenoaks Chronicle and Kentish Advertiser, dated 24 August 1934, featured an article about Frank and Daisy’s wedding mentioning that it took place the previous Saturday, which would have been Saturday 18 August 1934. These wedding announcements of the time carry so much wonderful detail and give us a little glimpse of what it would have been like on the young couple’s big day. We can read about all the details of what everyone was wearing, the flower bouquets, even the jewellery they were wearing, where the reception was held and even what the blushing bride wore to go away with, such a wealth of detailed information. The piece de resistance of course is the wonderfully detailed presents list, which of course for a family historian gives you a very detailed extended tree, plus of course we know that Frank must have still been working at Dormeuil Freres because the newspaper item mentions a canteen of cutlery gifted to the couple by Dormeuil Freres ‘the bridegroom’s employers’.
The 24 August 1934 edition of the Bromley and West Kent Mercury also included a photograph of Frank and his new wife Daisy (below), with a caption noting that Frank ‘is well known at Bromley Common’ and ‘is a member of Waldonian Tennis Club’. Although it’s not the clearest of pictures, it’s nice to see a picture of the young married couple on their happy day. Fate was to cruelly rob the young married couple of their future just a few years later.
A separate item in the same edition of the Bromley and West Kent Mercury carried a report of the wedding almost identical to the one in the Sevenoaks Chronicle above except for a mention that Frank’s best man was his brother Henry C Endean.
Frank and Daisy had only one child, Graham F Endean, who sadly died in infancy. The birth of Graham F Endean was registered in Sevenoaks in 2Q 1935 and sadly the death of new born baby Graham F Endean aged 0 was registered in the same quarter.
The 14 January 1938 edition of the Bromley and West Kent Mercury carried an item reporting the marriage, on the previous Saturday, at St Luke’s church, Bromley Common, of Frank’s youngest brother Leonard Arthur Endean to Doris Helen Buss. The item mentions that the reception was held at the Endean family home at 40 Salisbury Road, and that Frank acted as his brother’s best man at the wedding which took place on Saturday 8 January 1938. Another wonderful newspaper report packed with so much detail.
With the threat of war imminent the British Government Frank signed up with the newly formed Auxiliary Fire Service instead (AFS). Prior to the start of WW2 the Government recognised the fact that the threat of War was imminent and that they were poorly prepared for a second World War. The Government acted swiftly with the Fire Brigade Act of July 1938 which demanded the recruitment of an auxiliary fire service as part of the country’s Civil Defence Force. As the nation’s capital, London was a natural prime target. Dockland warehouses packed with highly combustible oils, grain and timber were clearly a risk and the narrow maze of streets would provide an easy path for the fire. It was obvious that a large number of firefighters would be needed to prevent London becoming little more than a smoking ruin.
The answer was to expand the regular Fire Brigade by forming an Auxiliary Fire Service. By 1939 about 28, 000 men and women had joined the AFS and regular firefighters, who had been trained as instructors, put the new recruits through 60 hours intensive training. Originally recruits were unpaid volunteers, but eventually the men were paid £3 per week, women received £2 per week, with youths under 18 and messengers earning £1 per week. At first recruits endured poor accommodation, inadequate conditions and were dubbed “£3-a-week war dodgers” by the public who thought they were choosing an easy life. After many recruits left to join the war effort, the Government passed a statutory order preventing full time members resigning. Once the Blitz started, attitudes towards the volunteers quickly changed and they received the recognition they deserved.
The British Government also acted swiftly by organising a head count of the whole civilian population, which culminated in the 1939 Register. The Register was the pre-requisite for the issuing of National Identity Cards and the information recorded the full names, addresses, dates of birth, occupations of individuals and additional information such as somebody serving in the armed forces, or an ARP Warden, or somebody serving in the Auxiliary Fire Services (AFS). The 1939 Register shows Frank J Endean, correspondence clerk, woollen merchants, and AFS Beckenham (PT presumably denoting part time) Serial No 190, living at 34 Aviemore Way, Beckenham, Kent with Daisy E Endean, born 15 August 1906, doing unpaid domestic duties. A later note was added to the Register showing a new surname of Platt for Daisy, dated of 26.3.1946. It also gives his AFS Serial Number as No.190 at Beckenham. He was attached to the Stanhope Grove Fire Station.
The Standard Bank in Stanhope Grove had been commandeered as part of the Governments war effort and used as a temporary AFS Fire Station. The main Beckenham Fire Station was in Bromley Road and there were five additional Sub-Stations each manned by a regular Commanding Officer from the Fire Brigade backed up by AFS Volunteers. The additional Sub-Stations were located at The Standard Bank in Stanhope Grove, The Midland Bank in Leonard Road, The Elmers End Bus Garage, Barclay Perkins Sports Pavilion Wickham Way and Burnham’s Factory in Kangley Bridge Road. In addition to the main station and five Sub-Stations, there were also 36 pumps and trailers located in civilian houses within the Borough. These trailers and pumps would be stored, often by a Taxi Driver or part-time Fireman, ready to be used if the emergency arose, which was almost a nightly occurrence. Beckenham formed part of the Outer London area K, which included Erith, Crayford, Bexley, Chislehurst, Sidcup, Orpington and Petts Wood, Bromley, Beckenham and Penge.
A sense of duty must have been part of the Endean family DNA because Frank’s brother Henry Charles Endean also served in the AFS in World War II. The 1939 Register shows Frank’s brother Henry Charles Endean, born 29 April 1903 as a woollen warehouseman and AFS Volunteer who was based at Brockley Central School, Wallbutton Road, Brockley. Enemy bombing damaged the school in 1940, but thankfully Henry survived the war. Frank’s younger brother Leonard Arthur Endean does not appear to have served in the AFS and the 1939 Register shows Leonard, born 18 January 1913, as a radio service engineer living with his wife Doris at 62, Constance Crescent, Bromley. Frank’s sister Rose Lilian Endean married Walter C Tyrrell in 1938 and the 1939 Register shows Rose, born 26 May 1908, doing unpaid domestic duties and living with her husband Walter, an LPTB (London Passenger Transport Board) bus conductor, at 306 Southborough Lane, Bromley.
Frank tragically died, aged just 36 years, on 20 April 1941, along with 33 of his colleagues at the Old Palace School. Another life taken far too early and another family that had their future so cruelly taken away from them. Frank was buried at Beckenham Cemetery and Crematorium, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, alongside 18 of his fellow Beckenham Firemen. His cause of death as recorded on his death certificate is “due to war operations”.
The newspaper reports and photographs of the Beckenham Firefighters Funeral were kindly sent to me by Frank James Endean’s great niece Audrey Cozens.
Frank is also commemorated on the National Firefighters Memorial and in their Book of Remembrance. His name is also recorded in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour that is held near the entrance to St George’s Chapel, at the west end of Westminster Abbey.’
Frank James Endean aged 36 Fireman Beckenham AFS son of Frank James and Rose Endean of 40 Salisbury Road, Bromley, Kent, husband of Daisy Ellen Endean of 34 Aviemore Way, Beckenham, Kent, 20 April 1941 at Old Palace LCC School. (Source UK World War II Civilian Deaths 1939-1945)
Sadly just three years after the death of his son Frank junior, Frank James Endean senior passed away aged 63 and this was reported in the Bromley & West Kent Mercury dated 3 March 1944.
Five years after Frank’s death, his widow Daisy remarried. The marriage of Daisy E Endean and Arnold S Platt was registered in Bucklow and according to the above-mentioned note in the 1939 Register, the date of the marriage was 26 March 1946.
Here are some memories from Audrey Cozens, the Great Niece of Frank James Endean;
“We have always worn their Remembrance Day poppies with pride in memory of Uncle Frank and his colleagues who bravely gave their lives in defence of our Country in its darkest hours.”
“We were bombed out in Southborough Lane in Bromley when a bomb hit the Crooked Billet Public House, I was dug out of the wreckage an an Air Raid Warden who knew my Nanny in Salisbury Road took me down to her.”
Here are some more family pictures of ‘Uncle Frank’ and the Endean family which have been so generously donated by his Great Niece Audrey.
The Endean Family
Frank and Daisy’s Wedding)
Frank and his brother Lennie
Frank Gardening and Daisy on the right
Frank and sister Rose and brother Lennie)
Below is a photograph of Endean House in Beckenham which was named after Frank James Endean, also shown below is the Beckenham War Memorial and both images have been kindly sent to me by Audrey Cozens the Great Niece of Frank. In memory of the 21 Beckenham Firefighters who lost their lives at the Old Palace School on that fateful night in April 1941, the local authority in the Beckenham area, named a road or flat after every Firefighter that died.
‘Uncle Frank’ was a gentle and loving family man and the Endean family were robbed of a loving son, husband, father, brother and a true gent. We will never forget the sacrifice made by Frank James Endean and his fellow firefighters at the Old Palace School on that fateful night in April 1941. Frank and his fellow colleagues stood up when our Country needed them most and we will always be eternally grateful for their courage, bravery and their ultimate sacrifice to ensure we enjoy the freedom that we have today. Unsung heroes each and every one of them.
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