Station Officer Richard William Sinstadt

Killed in the Line of Duty……………

For many families, becoming a Fireman is in their blood! Some families have a history and connection to the ‘Fire Brigade Family’ and for them it’s their passage of rite.

It’s easy to see how firefighting runs in families, once one person gets the fever, it’s infectious and that can lead to multi generations of the same family becoming members of ‘The Fire Brigade Family’, and in the case of the Sinstadt family that was very much the case. Station Officer Richard William Sinstadt’s brother, Albert John Sinstadt and their father, Richard John Sinstadt were all Firemen, it was in their blood and they all became members of ‘The Fire Brigade Family.’

Richard William Sinstadt was born on 4th August 1894 in Deptford in London, the oldest child born to parents Richard John Sinstadt and Sarah Smedmoor. Richard was baptised in the parish of St. Margaret in Westminster on 21st October 1894 and his parents were recorded as Richard John Sinstadt and Sarah Anne Sinstadt.

Richard William Sinstadt Baptism

Prior to the birth of their first child, Richard William Sinstadt’s parents were married at the Church of St James, Bermondsey, London on 12th September 1893.  

Richard John Sinstadt Marriage

(Marriage Entry for Richard John Sinstadt and Sarah Anne Smedmore)

Richard John Sinstadt Marriage 2

((Marriage Banns Entry for Richard John Sinstadt and Sarah Anne Smedmore)

At the time of their marriage Richard John Sinstadt was a fireman aged 27 living at St Saviour’s Shooter’s Hill, and Sarah Ann Smedmor was aged 20 and living at 43 Frean St, Bermondsey. The father of Richard John Sinstadt was recorded as Bootmaker Benedict Sinstadt, and the bride’s father was recorded as Oil Miller Thomas James Smedmor. Note: The spelling of Sarah Ann’s surname is inconsistent. Her birth was registered in 1Q 1873 as Sarah Ann Smedmar, while when the banns for her marriage were read in her groom’s parish of Christ Church, Plumstead, Greenwich, her surname was recorded as Smeedmore.  

Prior to their wedding, the 1891 English Census shows Richard’s father, Richard J Sinstadt, aged 24 as a fireman in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade at Gomm Road Fire Brigade Station in Rotherhithe. 

Richard John Sinstadt 1891 Census

(1891 Census Record for Richard John Sinstadt)

Although we follow the family lines back for the firefighters commemorated here, I don’t normally record the details going back any further than the parents of the firefighters concerned, but in this case there was a very interesting story to tell.

The 1861 English census records Richard John Sinstadt’s father Benedict as a naturalized British subject who had been born in Russia, however the 1871 and subsequent English censuses record him as having been born in Dusseldorf, Germany. 

Benedict Sinstadt 1881 Census

(1881 Census Record for Benedict Sinstadt)

An article in the 10 February 1903 edition of the London Daily Telegraph and Courier refers to a dinner held for employees of Folkestone Council, amongst whom was ‘Benedict Sinstadt, one of two local survivors of the German Legion stationed several years ago at Shorncliffe Camp.’ (Source British Library Board) We have confirmed that this Benedict Sinstadt is definitely Richard John Sinstadt’s father. The Swiss and German Legions had formed garrisons at Shorncliffe and Dover when England was at war with Russia in the Crimea. 

Benedict Newspaper 1

Benedict Newspaper 2

It would appear that the sense of ‘serving’ and ‘doing one’s bit’ was firmly entrenched in the Sinstadt family DNA.

The 1901 English Census shows Richard W Sinstadt aged 6, living at Fire Station (Quarters), Lindsell Street, Greenwich, London with his father Richard J Sinstadt, aged 34, a fireman, Metropolitan Fire Brigade, his mother Sarah A Sinstadt aged 28, and his sister Lilian A Sinstadt aged 5. Richard’s father is recorded as having been born in Folkestone, Kent, his mother Sarah in Rotherhithe, London and his sister Lilian in Catford, Kent. The 1901 census records Richard’s brother Charles Sinstadt, aged 2, with his maternal grandparents, Thomas and Ann Smedmor at their home at 578, Rotherhithe Street, Rotherhithe. The 1901 census records ten other Metropolitan Fire Brigade members, nine Firemen and one coachman and their families living at the same Lindsell Street Fire Station quarters address, as the Sinstadt family.  

The Lindsell Fire station in Greenwich remained open until 1961 before it was demolished to make way for a newer and more modern station.

Richard William Sinstadt 1901 Census

(1901 Census Record for Richard William Sinstadt)

The 1911 English Census shows Richard William Sinstadt aged 16, employed as a porter in a grocery shop, living at 32 Battersea Park Road, London with his father Richard John Sinstadt, a London Fire Brigade fireman aged 44, mother Sarah Ann Sinstadt aged 38, and siblings Charles Frederick Sinstadt aged 12, Rose Annie Sinstadt aged 9, Henry Albert Sinstadt aged 7, all of whom were schoolchildren, and Albert John Sinstadt aged 1. The family’s home had three rooms.  The census records that Richard’s parents had been married for 17 years and had had 8 children, 6 of whom had survived.

Richard William Sinstadt 1911 Census

(1911 Census for Richard William Sinstadt)

Richard William Sinstadt and Lilian Alice Brown were married on 26 September 1917 at St Mary the Virgin, Walthamstow, Essex.  The groom’s residence was recorded as Poplar and the bride’s residence was recorded as 20, South Grove. The groom’s father was recorded as Richard John Sinstadt whose occupation was recorded as Fireman while the bride’s father was Francis Brown.

Richard William Sinstadt Marriage

The 1921 English Census shows Richard William Sinstadt, aged 26 years 10 months, (born New Cross, London), as a Fireman with London Fire Brigade, whose place of work was Fire Station, Willow Walk, Kentish Town, London NW5, living with his wife Lilian Alice Sinstadt aged 32 years 9 months (born Kingsland, London). The couple’s address is shown as Willow Walk Fire Station, where their home had 2 rooms, however the total number of individuals at their address is recorded as 30. It therefore looks as though a number of families were living at Willow Walk Fire Station at the time of the census. 


(1921 Census Record for Richard William Sinstadt)


(1921 Census Address for Richard William Sinstadt)

The 1920-1923 Electoral Registers show Richard William Sinstadt at Willow Walk Fire Station, St Pancras, London and by 1923 Richard’s wife Lilian Alice Sinstadt is also listed at the Fire Station address.

Richard William Sinstadt 1921 Electoral

(The 1920-1923 Electoral Registers )

Richard William Sinstadt 1922 Electoral

(The 1920-1923 Electoral Registers )

The birth of Richard and Lilian’s only child, their son Richard A Sinstadt, was registered in Pancras in 1Q 1922.   

The 1927-1931 Electoral Registers show Richard William Sinstadt and Lilian Alice Sinstadt at 186 Baron Road, Dagenham.  

Richard William Sinstadt 1931 Electoral

(The 1927-1931 Electoral Registers)

The 1939 Register shows Richard W Sinstadt (born 4 August 1894) as a married Sub Officer London Fire Brigade with the Auxiliary Fire Service at Ricardo St Schools, Poplar. He was the first of 33 people listed at the address, all of whom are recorded as members of the Auxiliary Fire Service. However Richard is the only one whose occupation is recorded as an officer of the Fire Brigade, while the other 32 people have civilian occupations. This means Richard was the only full-time fireman. Of the 33 people listed, 3 were members of the Women’s Auxiliary Fire Service. 3 of the 33 records were redacted. The Fire Brigade Museum hold service records for Richard, but due to the new museum redevelopment, these records are part of their archive collection which is held in deep storage and has not been digitised. we will add these records once they become available.

Richard William Sinstadt 1939 Register

(1939 Register for Richard William Sinstadt)

The Ricardo St School was being used as a fire sub-station during the Blitz.  It received a direct hit from a high explosive bomb on 1 November 1940.  Two women and ten firemen were buried in the rubble. Five later died of their injuries. 

The 1939 Register shows Richard William Sinstadt’s wife Lilian A Sinstadt (born 16 September 1889) as a housewife living at 74, Beccles Drive, Barking, Essex.  This was the home of Richard’s widowed mother Sarah A Sinstadt (born 29 January 1873).  The details of a third member of the household were redacted. We suspect that this may be Richard and Sarah’s son Richard who would have been aged 17. 

Lilian A Sinstadt

(1939 Register for Lilian A Sinstadt)

Richard William Sinstadt, aged 46, Station Officer, London Fire Brigade. Husband of Lilian Alice Sinstadt, of 74 Beccles Drive, Barking, Essex.  Died at Old Palace LCC School.  Death date 20 April 1941. (Source UK World War II Civilian Deaths 1939-1945)

Richard William Sinstadt CWD

(Civilian War Deaths Record for Richard William Sinstadt)

Below is the gravestone of Richard William Sinstadt which is in Rippleside Cemetery, Barking.  His wife Lilian, and son Richard Albert Sinstadt, are buried in the same plot.

Richard William Sinstadt Grave

Sinstadt Grave 1

(Gravestone for the Sinstadt Family Grave, Rippleside, Barking)

Richard and Lilian’s only child, Richard A Sinstadt, born 28th December 1921 in Kentish Town, died on 17 February 1943 at Hill of Tormal, Nr Edzell, Angus. At the time of his death he was an A/Leading Airman on the Royal Navy’s HMS Condor.  (Source British Armed Forces and Overseas Deaths and Burials, National Archives) We believe Hill of Tormal is a recording error. Hill of Tormal does not exist. The official Scottish death record below shows that the place of death was actually Formal Hill, Lethnot, near Edzell.    

Richard A Sinstadt Overseas

Richard a Sinstadt Overseas 2

Richard A Sinstadt Overseas 3

Richard Albert Sinstadt RNVR ALA FX 88469, single, died aged 21 at 11.15am on 17 February 1943 at Formal Hill, Lethnot.  His parents were Richard W Sinstadt, station officer (deceased) and Lilian Alice Sinstadt. Cause of death was multiple injuries and burns as a result of aircraft crash due to war operations. (Source National Records of Scotland)  NOTE Three records appear on each Scottish death records page. On the same page as Richard Albert Sinstadt’s death record, the deaths of two other men who had been in the same aircraft were also recorded.


(Richard Albert Sinstadt Death Record)

Sinstadt Grave 2

Leading Airman Richard Albert Sinstadt is buried with his parents in Rippleside Cemetery, Barking. 

Another family struck down by the cruel hand of fate, a father and son, both taken so young and both serving their Country, one as a Firefighter and one as an Airman. How Lilian coped with losing firstly her husband and then so quickly after, her only son, we will never know.

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