Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Some of Henry Montgomery Martin’s 1918 Photographs of Croydon

Aerial view of Croydon, 1918
A series of photographs that HCAT has copies of - not the originals - gives a great visual glimpse of Croydon / Beddington aerodrome during the war and occasionally leisure activities in Croydon itself. As we have progressed through the project, we've found some information that assist with some context for those photographs. the photographs belonged to and were probably taken Herbert Montgomery Martin, who appears to have been one of the ground crew based at Croydon / Beddington during the war.
Croydon Tank Day, 16 March 1918
In Croydon, as elsewhere in Britain,  Flag Days organised by the authorities and volunteers raised money for various war efforts. These days at first raised money for charities then sold 'War Loans' or 'Victory loans' to people to invest in the government and sometimes to buy specific weapons. On 4 March 1918, Croydon held a 'Business Week' in aid of buying a tank with a 'Tank Day' on 16 March, at which a Tank sat by the Town Hall and there were parades and marches by local scout groups, military and charitable organisations. (There will be another post about a tragic aviation accident recorded on that day at Croydon. . .). 

Waddon Camp
In the time Martin was there, No. 40 Training Squadron was based at Croydon / Beddington Aerodrome. As it was a training school there were many accidents. The Officers’ Mess was at the eighteenth-century Beddington House.Church halls were also commissioned to put up the ground workers alongside the tents of the Waddon camp alongside Croydon / Beddington aerodrome. 

Leisure pursuits included Sports Days, which included fancy dress and silly games. There are some photographs of huts belonging to the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), which were set up near where troops were stationed at home and abroad to provide non-alcoholic drink, food and entertainment as well as writing materials. 

40 Training Squadron RAF Sports, 21 August 1918

Croydon YMCA
Despite the long war, Armistice was unexpected in November 1918.  Fighting finished in Europe at 11am on 11 November. Croydon Maroons went off signalling not an air attack but peace on 11 November. Scouts paraded and aeroplanes flew overhead, which seem to be captured in Martin's photograph. 

Two-seat Camel with Baker and unknown, 11 November 1918, Croydon
Moore, H. Keatley (1920), Croydon and the Great War. The Official History of the War Work of the Borough and its Citizens from 1914 to 1919, Croydon: Public Library

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