AFS Fireman Cecil Farley

Killed in the Line of Duty………….

The following extremely detailed research into the life of AFS Fireman Cecil Farley has been carried out by researcher Fiona Smith.

Cecil’s story was the most complex of all the 34 firefighters stories to research, as each layer was unpeeled it revealed behind it layer after layer and this story has taken more time than any other firefighter to research purely because of it’s complexity. This was such a difficult story to unravel with plenty of plot twists along the way and a story that certainly sent us down many different rabbit holes, but Cecil was a man that it was a privilege and a pleasure to get to know and an honour to write his tribute. Thank you to Nicole Farley and the Farley family for all the photographs shown here and for allowing us to tell the full story.

Here is Cecil’s story………..

Cecil Farley’s parents were Henry James Knollys Farley (sometimes recorded as Henry Knollys Farley, or Henry James Farley) who was born in London and Margaret Nicoll Forbes who had been born in Scotland. However, by the time the 1891 census was taken, Margaret, her parents, and her siblings had all moved to London.

Cecil’s parents were married in Southwark in London on 22 July 1894. Henry Knollys Farley, a foreman at a drysalters and bachelor aged 35, of 51, Newcomen St, Southwark and Margaret Nicoll Forbes, a spinster aged 24 of 25, Newcomen St, Southwark were married at St Saviour, Southwark on 22 July 1894. The groom’s father was soap maker’s agent Henry Knollys Farley, and the bride’s father was blacksmith Alexander Forbes. The witnesses to the marriage were Fred and Fanny Drewett. 

Henry Knollys farley Marriage

((Source London England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1936) 

Newcomen Street in Southwark is one of those addresses that until you google it, you have no idea that it has a connection with an iconic piece of British Architecture and History.

Curious-Southwark-9-1024x759

The Kings Arms Pub in Newcomen Street has the wonderful coat of arms, pictured above, outside the pub and unless you know the details you would just think that it was just part of the original design when the pub was built, how wrong could you be. The coat of arms is one of the only surviving items from the original Southern Gateway of the old London Bridge. The coat of arms are from the gate built at the southern end of the old London Bridge and date from around 1728. The gate was demolished around 1760 and apparently the coat of arms were rescued and mounted on the pub. Maybe a future visit to The Kings Arms is the order of the day.

Three years before her marriage Margaret Nicoll Forbes had an illegitimate daughter, also named Margaret Nicoll Forbes, whose birth was registered in Croydon in 2Q 1891. We don’t know whether Henry James Knollys Farley was the father, but in her later court evidence (recorded below) Margaret senior states that she had known Henry for four years before their 1894 marriage so it does seem possible that Margaret junior may have been his. However Margaret junior does not seem to have ever lived with her mother and Henry, and was instead raised by her maternal grandparents, which suggests that maybe she was not Henry’s child. 

Henry, like many of our ancestors at the time, was liberal with the truth about his age when he got married, he was actually aged 42, not 35, when he married Margaret Nicoll Forbes. As well as shaving seven years off his age when he married Margaret Nicoll Forbes, Henry Knollys Farley fibbed about something else. He was already actually married with 11 children! Henry James Knollys Farley, whose occupation was recorded as clerk, had married Emma Mason at St John the Evangelist Walworth, Southwark on 7 August 1876.

Farley mason marriage

(Source London England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1936)

The 1891 English Census shows Henry J K Farley, a decorator’s warehouseman aged 38, living at 107 Oakfield Road, Penge with his wife Emma aged 35 and their nine children – Daisy, Violet, Harold, Llewellyn, Grace, Albert, Harry, Ethel, Doris whose ages ranged from 1-13 years. In the years following the 1891 Census Henry and Emma had two more children, May Knollys Farley (born 7 May 1891), and Frances Vernon Knollys Farley (born 4 May 1893), who were both baptised on 21 May 1893 at St Antony, Nunhead, Southwark, as the children of warehouseman Henry James Farley and Emma Farley of 129 Linden Grove. (Source London England Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1920).

So it seems that Henry and Emma had had at least 11 children by 1893. The 11 February 1895 edition of the London Evening Standard reported, under the heading ‘Lambeth’, that Henry Knollys Farley, ‘described as a canvasser’ of Clarendon St, Stockwell, was charged on remand ‘with neglecting to maintain his wife and family whereby they had become chargeable to the parish of Camberwell’. The charge related to Henry’s legal wife Emma. The article reported that Henry Knollys Farley and Emma had seven children. While Henry was first arrested upon a warrant taken out by the parish authorities relating to his neglecting to maintain Emma and their children, the arresting police officer ‘made some inquiries which resulted in the prisoner being charged with bigamy’. He was charged with intermarrying with Margaret Nicoll Forbes on July 22 1894, his wife Emma Farley, being then and now alive. The article reported that Margaret Nicoll Forbes first knew Henry was married ‘last August when his wife came to her’. The article concludes that ‘the prisoner was committed for trial’.

Screenshot 2022-10-13 at 16.53.52

(The London Evening Standard Dated 11 February 1895)

On 25 February 1895 Henry Knollys Farley was convicted of bigamy at the Old Bailey, and sentenced to one day’s imprisonment. The original transcript of the court proceedings is listed below:

278. HENRY KNOLLYS FARLEY (40) , Feloniously marrying Margaret Nicoll Forbes, his wife being alive.

ELIZA MILLEN . I am a widow, and live at 158, Blackfriars Road—I was present on August 7th, 1876, at St. John’s Church, Walworth, when the prisoner was married to Emma Mason—my husband and I signed the register as witnesses—I knew them for about seven years, and then lost sight of them, but I saw his wife ten years back.

MARGARET NICOLL FORBES . I live at 7, Clarendon Street, Stockwell—I went through the ceremony of marriage with the prisoner on July 27th—I had known him four years—I understood he had been married—I met his wife about eighteen months ago, both before and after my marriage.

Cross-examined by the prisoner. The banns had been put up at Batter-sea—the wedding was fixed for Sunday morning, and when the time came you refused to go to church.

By the COURT. I did not know he was married when I married him—I had no money—I am not the prosecutrix.

BENJAMIN MORGAN (Police Sergeant P). I took the prisoner on February 1st on another charge—he said, “Very good”—I produce the certificate of the two marriages—his wife is in Court now—I have not seen the children—the police are prosecuting him.

Prisoner’s defence. I went through the second ceremony not for my own sake, but simply for her sake, who loved me not wisely, but too well.

GUILTY .— One Day’s Imprisonment.

(Source for above – London England Proceedings of the Old Bailey and Ordinary’s Accounts Index 1674-1913)

The England & Wales Civil Divorce Records 1858-1918 were searched and no records of Henry James Knollys Farley and Emma Mason divorcing after their court case were found. We also searched marriage records and found no record of Henry and Margaret ever legally marrying after their bigamous marriage.

The death of Henry’s wife Emma Farley, maiden name Mason, aged 57 was registered in Camberwell in 3Q 1913.

Three years after the couple were bigamously married, Cecil Farley was born. Cecil Farley was born on 1 June 1897 and he was baptised on 4 July 1897 at Tooting Graveney, Wandsworth. His parents were recorded as Henry James Farley and Margaret Nicoll Farley of 28 Longley Road, and his father’s occupation was recorded as traveler. Now for a time we believed that Cecil was the only child born to his parents Henry and Margaret Farley, but we were mistaken! The family informed me that Cecil did in fact have a sister, Auntie Elsie who was slightly older than Cecil, so why couldn’t we find her??

Cecil Farley Baptism

(Source London England Church of England Births and Baptisms 1813-1920)

longley road

(Longley Road as it looks today ©Google)

Dorothy Elsie Farley was actually born in Mile End Old Town, London in 3Q 1895, her mother’s maiden name was incorrectly recorded as FORLEES and not FORBES and this was why we struggled to initially find her. (Source England and Wales Births 1837-2006 via FindMyPast). We were  also unable to find a baptism record for Dorothy that fitted with this birth. It would appear that her mother’s maiden name was either misheard at the time or miss recorded, but either way we were unlikely to find her. What didn’t help and compounded our misery when trying to find any suitable siblings for Cecil was the fact that Dorothy was ‘missing’ from the 1901 census, which also led us to believe that Cecil had no siblings. 

The 1901 census (see below) shows a Dorothy E Farley aged 5 as a ‘visitor’ in the home of Francis J White aged 39 and Hannah S White aged 36, at 1 Salvadore, Wandsworth, Tooting Graveney, At the time of the 1901 census Cecil Farley was aged 4 and living with his parents at 11 Salvadore.  Despite the house numbering system it seems that the two houses were actually next door but one to each other. So although she was ‘missing’ from the Farley household in 1901, she was living just a few doors away, but why? The answer became a lot clearer when we found her in the 1911 census.

LNDRG13_470_471-0075 (1)

(1901 Census)

The 1911 census shows Dorothy Elsie Farley aged 15 as a clerk in the chocolate manufacturing industry living at 1 Keatches Cottage, Salvador, Tooting, London with Francis Joseph White, aged 49, a general labourer in the building industry, and Hannah Susan White aged 44. Dorothy Elsie Farley is recorded as ‘adopted child’. The census records that the couple had been married for 25 years and had had no children born to the marriage. The family’s home had 3 rooms.

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So now we have an explanation of why she was apparently living with neighbours in 1901 and why we  initially struggled to find any record of her.

The 1921 census shows ‘boarder’ Dorothy Elsie Farley aged 25 years 11 months, a wages clerk employed by James Pascall Ltd, Confectioners, of Furzedown Works, Mitcham Lane, Streatham, living at 24 Loubet St, Tooting with Francis Joseph White aged 59 years 11 months, a painter employed by Messrs Robinson & Barrie Builders of 1A Renmuir St, Tooting, his wife Hannah Susan White aged 54 years 7 months doing home duties, and Harriet Ivy Kenyon aged 12 years 6 months who was a full time schoolgirl. Harriet is recorded as ‘adopted’ and her father is recorded as dead. Their home had 4 rooms. It is interesting however that Francis and Hannah White adopted two children, Dorothy and Harriet, from families who lived nearby.

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(1921 Census)

GBC_1921_RG15_02382_0070 (1)

(1921 Address)

Further research revealed that Dorothy Elsie Farley, a spinster aged 30 of 4 Avarn Road and Percy Montague Yonge, a clerk aged 41 of 7 Chatsworth Road, West Norwood were married on 15 August 1925 at the parish church of Tooting, London.  The bride’s father was Henry John Farley, designer (dec) and the groom’s father was Frederick Percy Yonge, clerk (dec). Witnesses to the marriage were C Farley, our Cecil and (initial difficult to read) Yonge.  (Source London England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1938).

31280_199334-00238

The 1939 Register shows married woman Dorothy Elsie Yonge (born 24 July 1895) doing unpaid domestic duties living at 57 Gayfere Road, Epsom with married man Percy Montague Yonge (born 28 December 1883) a civil servant clerk, and ARP Ministry of Transport.

tna_r39_1413_1413f_017

(1939 Register)

Sadly The death of Dorothy Elsie Younge aged 85 was registered in Barnet in 4Q 1980. So although we only have a glimpse into Dorothy’s life, we at least know that her and Cecil were close, given the fact that he was a witness at her wedding.

Continuing with Cecil’s story…………

The 1901 Census shows Cecil Farley aged 4 living at 11 Salvador, Tooting Graveney with his father John Farley, a broker’s assistant aged 40, and mother Margaret Farley aged 31. It’s worth noting that ‘John’ Farley [alias Henry Knollys Farley] was actually aged 49 by now!  Note: ‘Salvador’ is now known as Salvador Passage. Not long after the 1901 census, it appears that Cecil’s parents, Henry James Knollys Farley and Margaret Nicoll Farley, had parted company, since his mother married someone else in 1907. Like every aspect of this story even the areas that Cecil and his family lived are fascinating places and areas to study in their own right. Salvador Passage was named after Joseph Salvador who was descended from Portuguese Sephardic Jews who had escaped persecution from his own Country during the Portuguese Inquisition and built his family home on the banks of the Thames. If you look at a map of Tooting today, you will find a small alleyway or Passage, named Salvador. It is found just off the Mitcham Road, but sadly the name of the passageway is all that is left to remind us that once this area was part of the Salvador Estate where the country home of Joseph Salvador once stood.

Salvador-21.11.2013

(Salvador Passage)

Dutch-East-India-Company-HQ-in-Adam

(The Salvador Estate)

Cecil Farley 1901 Census

(1901 Census)

The marriage of Cecil’s mother, Margaret Forbes and Charles Thomas P Bewley was registered in Croydon in 1907. At the time of this marriage Charles was a widower as the death of his wife Lizzie Annie Bewley aged 37 had been registered in Southwark in 1907. 

The 1911 Census shows Cecil Farley aged 13 living at 19 Anchor Buildings, Castle St, Southwark, with his mother Margaret Nicoll Bewley aged 41, step-father blacksmith/engineer Charles Thomas Price Bewley aged 40, and Charles’s children, apprentice decorator James Robert Bewley aged 16, William Rush Bewley aged 13, and Grace Elizabeth Bewley aged 5. The census records that the couple had been married 4 years and had had one child who had not survived.

Note; The child, referred to in the 1911 census, that Charles and Margaret had together, and who had not survived, was Arnold Bewley.  Arnold Bewley was born on 9 September 1908, and baptised on 21 October 1908, at St George the Martyr, Southwark, the son of blacksmith Charles Thomas Price Bewley and Margaret Bewley of 19 Anchor Buildings, Castle St, Southwark. Sadly the death of Arnold Bewley aged 0 was registered in Southwark in 1Q 1909.

Cecil Farley 1911 Census

(1911 Census)

thrale_street_residence

(Thrale Street formerly Castle Street in Southwark)

Whilst at school, Cecil was an extremely good artist and would regularly win books as prizes from his school. He also won several medals as well, pictured below, but the family have been unable to identify exactly where and how they were won. If anyone has any ideas about the origins of the medals then of course, please get in touch.

farley 3

farley 2

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farely 1

During WWI Cecil Farley’s stepfather Charles Thomas Price Bewley was a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Whether Cecil was influenced by his step-father and wanted to follow in his footsteps, or whether he was influenced by what was going on in the world around him, we can’t say for certain, but either way, Cecil decided to enlist and sign up with the Royal Flying Corps. Cecil Farley, Service Number 101911, enlisted in the British Army’s RFC (Royal Flying Corps) on 20 October 1917, and transferred to the Royal Air Force on 1 April 1918 (on 1 April 1918 the Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force). At enlistment Cecil’s occupation was given as carpenter, his age as 20 years 4 months, his height as 5ft 2 ¾ inches, and his chest measurement as 31 inches. His next of kin was given as his mother Mrs Margaret Bewley, 19 Anchor Buildings, Castle St, Southwark. Cecil transferred on a ‘G’ rating to RAF Reserve on 7 February 1919. A note on his enlistment file reads ‘Casualty card destroyed. No entry 8/18/20’.  (NOTE At the time Cecil received his ‘G’ rating that rating meant ‘Airmen released from service after WWI liable for recall whilst on the reserve.  The class was disbanded and all airmen in the class discharged 30 April 1920.’ (Source www.rafweb.org)    

Cecil Farley RAF Record

(Cecil Farley RAF Service Record Page 1)

The second page of Cecil’s service record gives his rank as AC2, his character as VG, his trade classification as ‘rigger’, his degree of trade proficiency as ‘Sat’ (presumably ‘satisfactory’) and the date of effect as 6/2/19. His service record notes that Cecil served in France from 22 January 1918 until 7 January 1919.  He received the War and Victory Medal/s on 21 October 1921. (Source British Royal Air Force Airmen’s Service Records 1912-1939 via FindmyPast) Note: In 1918, when the RAF was formed, the Air Force rank AC2 stood for aircraftman second class.  Source www.raf.fandom.com)

Cecil Farley RAF page 2

(Cecil Farley RAF Service Record Page 2)

Cecil’s service record shows his trade classification as ‘rigger’. Aeroplane riggers were mechanics who specialised in assembling, maintaining and repairing aeroplane structures. The trade Rigger (Aeroplane) was one of the most common trades in the RAF in 1918.’ (Source www.rafmuseumstoryvault.org.uk

In amongst the family possessions was a notebook of Cecil’s from his RAF days that showed that he attended the School of Technical Training Mens RFC, at Coley Park in Reading. The No 1 School of Military Aeronautics was a WW1 training school for the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), based in Reading, England. It was formed in 1915 as an instructors college, but expanded in 1916 into a full RFC training school. In 1917 technical skills were separated and moved to a nearby airfield, Coley Park, as the School of Technical Training. All training at the school was on the ground; ranging from theoretical subjects through to practical training. The following pictures were taken from Cecil’s notebook at the time. These drawings really bring home what it would have been like to be studying Aeroplane structures and these are a real glimpse into what it would have been like studying and dealing with an ongoing war. A truly priceless piece of History.

Farley 1

Farley 2

The 1921 Census shows Cecil Farley aged 24 as an unmarried carpenter employed by Barclay & Perkins Brewers of Park St, Southwark living at 20 Park St with his stepfather Charles P T Bewley aged 51 years 1 month, a married blacksmith employed by Barclay & Perkins Brewers of Park St, Southwark, and mother Margaret N Bewley aged 51 years 3 months, a married woman doing household duties. Also in the household were Cecil’s unmarried step-siblings William R Bewley aged 23 years 6 months, a painter employed by Barclay & Perkins of Park St, Southwark, and Grace Bewley aged 15 years 9 months, a factory hand employed by Richard Allen, underclothing manufacturer, of Basinghall St, City of London. The final member of the household was Margaret Forbes aged 30 years 3 months (born Penge), an unmarried machinist employed by Fredricks Ltd (a laundry business), of Vassal Road, Brixton. The 1921 census records Margaret Forbes as the stepdaughter of Charles P T Bewley, but we are as certain as we can be that she is Cecil Farley’s half-sister. Cecil’s step-father Charles must have played a really important role in Cecil’s early years and it looks like he looked after his family by securing both his son and step son a job where he worked himself. The brewery would have been the largest employer in the immediate area and by the early nineteenth century it was the largest brewery in the world. 

Cecil Farley 1921 Census

(1921 Census)

Cecil Farley 1921 Census Address

(1921 Census Address)

Courage_1937

(Barclay Perkins Brewery, Southwark)

The 1920, 1921 and 1922 Electoral Registers show ‘Cecil Farley Bewley’ at 20 Park St, Southwark with Margaret Bewley, Charles Bewley, and Cecil’s step-brother William Rushton Bewley. (Source London England Electoral Registers 1832-1965)

Sadly the death of Cecil Farley’s mother Margaret N Bewley aged 53 was registered in Southwark in 1923. Margaret was buried at Nunhead Cemetery in Southwark on 16 April 1923.

margaret Bewley Burial copy

(Burial Record for Margaret Bewley)

Margaret’s husband Charles Bewley remarried a year after her death.  The marriage of Charles T P Bewley and Lilian V Dover was registered in Southwark in 2Q 1924.

The 1924 and 1925 Electoral Registers show Cecil Farley Bewley at 20 Park St, Southwark with his step-father Charles Thomas Price Bewley and Lilian Valentine Bewley. (Source London England Electoral Registers 1832-1965)

By 1926 Cecil had dropped his step-father’s surname in the electoral registers. The 1926 Electoral Register shows ‘Cecil Farley’ at 20 Park St, Southwark with his step-father Charles Thomas Price Bewley and Lilian Valentine Bewley. (Source London England Electoral Registers 1832-1965)

Around this time, Cecil was to meet the love of his life, Elsie Gower and the couple were married in 1928.

Cecil Farley, a carpenter aged 31 of 52 Byrne Road, married Elsie Florence May Gower, a mental nurse aged 29 of the same address, on 25 August 1928 at St John the Divine, Balham, Wandsworth, London. The groom’s father was Henry James Farley, civil service (deceased) and the bride’s father was clerk Abraham James Gower (deceased). Cecil’s 1928 marriage record shows his father Henry James Farley as deceased. However, as we have shown below, we don’t think Cecil’s father died until 1932, so why he said ‘deceased’ is unknown.

Henry Knollys farley Marriage

(Source London England Church of England Marriages and Banns 1754-1936)

The death of Henry J K Farley aged 82 was registered in Battersea in 3Q 1932. Henry J K Farley died at St James Hospital, 46 Ouesley Road, Balham, Surrey on 15 August 1932.

The 1937 Electoral Register shows Henry’s widow ‘Emily Margaret’ Farley still living at 8 Byrne Road, Balham.  (Source London England Electoral Registers 1832-1965). As noted below, in 1937 Cecil Farley and his wife Elsie Florence May Farley were also living in Byrne Road, Balham, but at No 52. The 1929-1937 Electoral Registers show Cecil and Elsie Farley living at 52 Byrne Road, Balham, Wandsworth. (Source London England Electoral Registers 1832-1965)

The young couple only had the one child, Raymond Farley who was born in Wandsworth in 1936.

With the threat of another World War imminent, the British Government 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 British Government also took the decision to make all men over the age of eighteen undertake basic military training. Certain roles were deemed essential and were therefore not part of the army reserve call up, so conscious of ‘doing his bit’ Cecil 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.

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The 1939 Register shows Cecil Farley (born 1 June 1897), a married carpenter and joiner, at Glebe Way District Fire Station, Beckenham, Kent. He is also recorded as AFS Beckenham. Cecil was one of 26 people recorded in the Register as AFS Beckenham at Glebe Way District Fire Station, two of whom were women. Sadly of those counted here with Cecil, four of his friends and colleagues were also to die alongside him just two years later at the Old Palace School.

Cecil Farley 1939 Register

(Cecil Farley 1939 Register)

The 1939 Register shows Cecil’s wife Elsie F M Farley (born 6 March 1899) as a married woman doing unpaid domestic duties, at 5 Linden Leas, Beckenham, Kent, living with Raymond Farley (born 17 May 1936) ‘under school age’, and Florence A Hartrup (born 12 October 1876), a widow of private means. Florence A Hartrup was Elsie’s mother. She had remarried when Elsie was a child, after the death of Elsie’s father.

Elsie farley 1939

(Elsie Farley 1939 Register)

Sadly for Cecil and his family, Cecil’s contribution to the war effort was cut dramatically short when he was tragically killed at the Old Palace School in East London on 20th April 1941, along with 33 of his fellow colleagues.

IMG-1309

(The Guarding of the Coffins)

Cecil Farley was buried with his fellow Beckenham Firefighters at Beckenham Cemetery on the 25th April 1941. Nineteen of the Twenty-One Beckenham Firemen were buried in a mass grave, at the Beckenham Cemetery, after a memorial service at the parish church of St. George by Canon Boyd and a solemn procession through the town. The grave was dug entirely by their comrades and was softened by masses of daffodils. The 19 coffins were placed in St. George’s church on the Wednesday before the service and guarded by Firemen. The 19 coffins were borne from the church to the hearses by 114 bearers from the Beckenham AFS. As they left they passed between the lines of The Guard of Honour lining the path to the lychgate. The silence and peace was deeply affecting, all the traffic through the town had been stopped. The bearing of the coffins to the hearses seemed endless. As the Chopin Funeral March was played, the procession of hearses, firemen, service personnel, 19 cars with the families of the deceased and two fire appliances loaded with a mass of flowers, left on its journey to the Beckenham Cemetery. It took half an hour for the procession to pass any point on the route to the Cemetery. After the coffins had been placed in the grave, posies and bunches of flowers were dropped in and there were 350 wreaths. A plaque at the graveside read;

“We remember proudly the deeds of these bravemen, martyrs in the cause of liberty”.

The pictures below are taken from the Funeral Cortege for the 19 Beckenham Firemen.

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Scan_20211121 (7)

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After Cecil was killed at the Old Palace School his widow did not remarry and the death of Cecil’s widow Elsie F M Farley aged 58 was registered in Bromley in 3Q 1957.

One of the most complex and detailed pieces of research that we have undertaken and this only forms part of the story. Cecil was an extremely intelligent man as shown by his attendance of the RAF Training School. A man with a real sense of duty for not only did he serve in WW1, he volunteered again to serve with the AFS in WW2, a man who understood what it meant to serve King and Country. A man who was willing to sacrifice his own needs and put the needs of his Country ‘first.’ We should never ever forget what these brave men and women sacrificed in the defence of our Country in its darkest hours. I hope that by telling Cecil’s story that we help to keep his memory alive and he will always be remembered.

With special thanks to Nicole Farley and her family for wanting “to be true to the facts”, which allowed me to tell the full story of Cecil’s life and that of his extended family.

My Family History website can be found here:

https://chiddicksfamilytree.com

All My Blogs For Family Tree Magazine in one Handy Place

Copyright © 2022 Paul Chiddicks | All rights reserved

 

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