Sunday, 6 December 2015

Bromley Kent First World War postmen

In November Lucy Allen Bromley archivist gave an excellent presentation of the painstaking research by Suzanne North at Bromley Archives and Local Studies. The research has traced all but one of the 26 men of the Bromley Post Office commemorated on the memorial Board to those who lost their lives in World War 1.
The remaining post man is John Head who has eluded efforts to locate his origins or military service or place of burial if identifiable.
Suzanne's research is a large volume which is available at Bromley Archives and Local Studies and a touring exhibition has spent part of this year in branch libraries in the borough.
The story of the postal service in Bromley has interested me for some time and my blog about Bromley Postmasters preceded Suzanne's research into the later generation of postal workers.
By 1914 The Royal Mail was the largest employer in the world and was the biggest enterprise in the United Kingdom the local Bromley Postal District was geographically very large and included 17 sub post offices with many collection and deliveries each day. It was therefore perfectly feasible to write in the forenoon and arrange a meeting in the evening  with complete confidence the letter would be delivered.
Also of note was the inclusion of Swanley Junction in the Bromley Postal District; the railway junction had only three houses and eventually a sub Post Office but was a railway source of mail for the town and District.
The Postal Workers in 1914 enlisted in large numbers nationally and the Royal Mail staff provided a high relative proportion of the response to the call to enlist. In 1916 a roll of honour for Bromley Postal District recorded 84 names; at the end of hostilities 26 names were recorded on the two memorials to the fallen. The first memorial o was replaced by the 1920 memorial which hung in the Bromley Post Office in East Street until the building closed in 2007 and the memorial is nowadays displayed in the Sorting Office in Sherman Road.
Swanley Junction is mentioned as the home of Frederick Thomas Holmes who died on 7 November 1918 and is commemorated on the Cairo War memorial.
For anyone with postal worker family history the talk exhibition and volume held at Bromley Archives and Library service will be invaluable and Suzanne North's year and a half research has been invaluable.