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Heroic Acts of London Passenger Transport Board Staff Overseas

Object Type: Folder
In Folder: WWII Showcase

Date of Document

Bus conductor at Watford High Street Garage, Warrant Officer Ledwidge's plane was hit repeatedly when his petrol tank caught on fire. "Flames spread rapidly and he was forces down to sea. But he boarded a dinghy and eight hours later drifted ashore - to fight another day."

Bombardier A. G. Littleton, bus driver at Forest Gate, saves U.S airmen as they crashed into a rocky part of the North African sea in 1943 with "total disregard for personal safety".

Five LPTB employees were on board the ship H.M.S Jervis Bay as it came under fire from a German heavy cruiser. Three of the men were among the 65 survivors: F. Billing, bus conductor at Nunhead Garage; F. H. Gibbs, bus conductor at Hornchurch Garage; and H. L. Bonney, electrical fitter's assistant at Ealing Common Works.

John H.S. Turnball, a clerk in the Railway Operating Department, displayed the highest standard of leadership in "Operation Bizerte, North Africa" by taking two soldiers to safety whilst under heavy fire. Turnball was awarded the Military Cross.

Corporal J. E. Hatch fought off a Schutzstaffel patrol in April 1945, resulting in an allied surprise assault on the enemy. Unfortunately, he died as a result of his injuries in this effort.

Captain Gomm was awarded the Military Cross for showing exceptional leadership fighting at the Anzio Beachead in Italy. In 1944, Captain Gomm, an assistant district superintendent of Country Buses at Reigate, led a platoon on a machine-gun nest where the enemy lost the post. A few days later and following the injury of the company commander, Gomm took the lead and was able to restore confidence in "shaken", "less-experienced" troops. In battle, Gomm sniped three enemy combatants and was awarded the Military Cross for great gallantry and leadership. During battle he was severely injured.

Heroic Acts of London Passenger Transport Staff Overseas

The Hendon bus driver was awarded a French decoration for moving a lorry stuck on rail tracks into a siding just as a train was approaching, averting a tragedy.

The Distinguished Service Medal and British Empire Medal were awarded to LPTB circuit-installer in Signals, Chief Petty Officer R. W. Claridge, for rendering enemy mines harmless. Both Investitures took place at Buckingham Palace.

Despite being wounded in enemy bombing, trolleybus driver at Walthamstow Depot, Sergeant C.T. Ward remained in command of his military unit, refusing to leave his post. Ward received a “nasty flesh wound” and left to get the wound dressed following a direct order from the Battery Commander. For this bravery he was awarded a Military Medal.

In a “game” of hide-and-seek that lasted months, LPTB Anti-Aircraft Gunner George Payne and a group of allied soldiers climbed into the hills and hid in caves to avoid German capture after escaping from a prisoner of war camp. George and the allied soldiers spent 2 months hiding in a cave. With a "Jerry" hot on their tail, the men would move on to another hiding spot. They were joined at one point by a German deserter who also served as their porter.

From a Forest Gate bus driver saving American Airmen in the sea, to a Baker Street station office messenger escaping a prisoner of war camp and living in caves. Here are some of the heroic acts undertaken by LPTB staff during World War II.

High tension cable leading hand Stoker C. G. Butler rescued troops from torpedoed French and Norwegian ships, destroyed German batteries in Trondheim, shelled tanks in Syria, and fought in the Battle of Java, Indonesia. These were "only parts... of the stoker's adventures, most of which were spent on H.M.S Isis”.

Acton Works fitter, Flying Officer S. F. Merritt took over a damaged plane, diverting it behind allied lines after the wounded pilot and crew had bailed out. Merritt later bailed out before letting the plane fall to earth - he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Acting Wing Commander R.C. Alabaster, a clerk in the LTPB Solicitor's Office, was the first member of staff to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (with bar), a gallantry medal ranked just below the Victoria Cross. In 1943, Alabaster's bomber was hit by a German fighter plane over Cologne. With an engine on fire he succeeded in hitting his target and returned to safety.

Sergeant W. H. Cross, from Amersham Garage, was a recipient of the Military Medal for his involvement in air attacks in Malta.

Three awards were granted to Driver Theobald from Watford High Street Garage, including the Distinguished Service Medal for "courage, skill and resolution in successful marine patrols" whilst serving on the submarine H.M.S. Triumph. Two awards were presented posthumously to Driver Theobald as the H.M.S. Triumph failed to return home.

Able Seaman in the Navy and Underground car examiner J. J. E. Stapley received the award for courage during the assault on Anzio, Italy. Able Seaman Stapley was employed at East Ham Depot, having previously worked at Northfield Depot.

Sergeant John Gridley, an Underground lengthman who fought with a Company of the Wiltshires. He was awarded the Military Medal for courageous action fighting in Italy, including Anzio, which resulted in wounding and the loss of some of his comrades.

London Transport Building Department painter Sergeant Albert G. Rayner was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry and courageous leadership in Tunisia. Sergeant Rayner took over a platoon when its commander was killed and secured its objective under heavy fire.

Battle of Britain hero Sergeant Robert Crombie is included in the Memorial Chapel in Westminster Abbey as a result of his involvement in a mission in which his squadron was tasked with intercepting 70 hostile raiders on their way to England. Sergeant Crombie was a bus conductor at Hanwell Garage and was killed in the battle. Article features letter from Mrs Crombie stating “my husband’s squadron was 12 planes only, the odds were hopeless. His plane was shot down just off France. So the crew had almost done their job.” Mrs Crombie proudly informs staff magazine ‘Pennyfare’ that her husband's name will also feature on a memorial at of Biggin Hill Fighter Station.

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