Second World War Biographies

Biographies of the members of St Michael’s known to have died in service during the Second World War. Their names do not appear on the war memorial.

Arthur Victor Alfred Bangs
1925 – 27th February 1941, in the sinking of the SS Empire Tiger, aged 15
Panel 46, Tower Hill Memorial

Arthur was the son of Ernest Henry Bangs (1888, Kentish Town – 1926, Hampstead district) and Dorothy Head, who married in Hampstead district in 1918. Ernest was the son of Oliver Bangs (1852, St Pancras) and Emily Elizabeth Dicks (1857, Huntingdonshire), who had married in 1874 in the St Pancras district. Ernest was living with them and his two siblings at 43, Wellesley Road in 1901 but on 28th December 1908 he enlisted into the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex Regiment), giving his occupation as painter’s labourer (his father was a house painter in the 1901 census). He was then 5 ft 6 inches tall, with a fresh complexion, light blue eyes, dark brown hair and two scars on the back and left hand side of his neck. He gave his parents as two of his next of kin, with their address as 96 Carlton Street, Queen’s Crescent, Kentish Town. He also put his younger brother George and his elder brothers Herbert (then serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery), Albert and Alfred. On 6th August 1909 he was sentenced by court martial to 112 days imprisonment for stealing, with 28 days later remitted. He seems to have been discharged in 1909. An Ernest Bangs of the right age joined the Neasden 1 branch of the National Union of Railwaymen trade union in December 1917 as a porter, remaining in it until March 1918.

Ernest was working as a labourer when their first child Oliver Edward Ernest was baptised at St Michael’s on 5th January 1919, with his parents giving their address as 127 Arlington Road. He was followed by another son, George H N (1920, St Pancras). Ernest and Dorothy had moved to 136 Arlington Road by the time of Arthur’s baptism on 15th March 1925 – Ernest was then working as a “Dealer”. Oliver and Arthur were both baptised in St Michael’s and Arthur became one of the parish’s Scouts.

Arthur’s mother Dorothy was widowed in 1926 and later that year she remarried, to Albert William Ardouin (1877, St Anne’s, Soho – 1967, Islington district). He had had also been widowed earlier in 1926, losing his wife Mary Ann Pyne (1879, Southwark – 1926, Pancras district), who he had married in the Pancras district in 1898 and with whom he had had two children. Albert had served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Royal Engineers and London Regiment during World War One.

The Empire Tiger was a steamship launched at Tacoma, Washington, USA in 1919. Arthur was serving as a Deck Boy on board her when she foundered 30 miles south of Iceland, on a trip from Halifax to Glasgow. The ship’s last radio message reported shipping heavy seas and that all her lifeboats had been washed away. Her whole 33-man crew was lost.

Sergeant Edward (‘Ted’) Harvey Brearley Garbutt
1604738, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve, serving in 55 Squadron Royal Air Force,
1924, St Pancras – 25th March 1945, aged 21
Grave VII. D. 1., Cesena War Cemetery, northern Italy

He was the son of James Edward Brearley Garbutt (22 May 1874, St Luke’s – 1947, Hampstead) and his third wife Lilian Mary B Garbutt (nee Jenner; 1891, Petworth, Sussex – 22nd January 1964, Pancras district), who had married in Croydon in 1922 – his middle name Brearley probably descended from a female ancestor (in the registration of his first marriage he hyphenated it with his surname) and Lilian’s middle initial B may represent her taking it too. James had been living with his parents at 28 Sidney Street, Islington in 1881 – his father was a brush maker from Birmingham. He became a publican or licensed victualler and married for the first time in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire in 1895 to Isabella Young. In 1901 he was a widower living with his parents at 5 Upper Charles Street, Clerkenwell. He married his second wife Edith Eleanor Davies in 1902 in Lambeth district and they had a son John Brearley on 4th October that year, also in Lambeth.

James and his second wife seem to have passed through the St Pancras district around 1904 or 1905, as it was there that their second child Marjorie Rosina Brearley was born on 15th January 1905 (she married Robert W Rogers in Islington in 1930 and had three children in Taunton between 1932 and 1939). He may have had family in the area, as there are Brearleys and Garbutts in evidence there at this time. In 1911 they were running the Crown and Anchor Hotel on Hall Quay in Great Yarmouth and it was in that town that their third child Robert L Brearley was born on 4th April 1911 – he married Linda I Rowe in Elham, Kent in 1939 and had one son, Robin R Brearley Garbutt (1940, Elham). James’ mother Louisa (1842, Ireland) had died in 1909 – his father was living at 35 Percival Street, Clerkenwell in 1911, still working as a brush maker, but died the following year.

James joined the Royal Flying Corps on 22nd May 1916 aged 42 and served as a batman. From 4th December 1916 to 20th October 1917 he served in France. On 1st July 1918 he was appointed an Acting Corporal and he transferred to the RAF Reserve on 23rd February 1920. Edith lived at 2 Fulbrook Road, Tufnell Park during World War One.

Edward was the youngest of the pre-war altar servers at St Michael’s and probably enlisted around 1942 at the earliest. His unit, 55 Squadron, fought in North Africa, the invasion of Sicily and the Italian campaign. Edward was reported missing in April 1945 after an air raid in Italy, but his death was only confirmed in time for the August 1945 parish magazine. On 23rd July 1945 a Requiem Mass was held for him.

The November 1945 magazine reported that Garbutt’s best friend and fellow-server Stanley King (previously Master of Ceremonies among the server team) had suggested establishing a memorial fund to Garbutt, but could not be its treasurer as he was stuck in the British occupation force in Germany. It was set up, with the acting MC John Dowling serving as its treasurer. The fund closed on 9th June 1946 and the October 1946 parish magazine reported that “the treasurer had received about £10 in donations and we felt that the most suitable memorial for Ted (who was one of our Servers) would be a really good set of framed Altar cards for the High Altar. Unfortunately we cannot obtain them at the moment (we had hoped to have them for our Festival), and therefore we have decided to re-open the Fund until they are available.” In July 1947 the altar cards for the high altar were commissioned from Mr Harding, paid for by £10 from funds and £5 from donations. They were first used that year, at Michaelmas, and still survive.