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A Headache from Start to Finish
by Kevin Herridge

This article is re-produced with the kind permission of Kevin Herridge. He first wrote this article for the Berkshire Family Historical Society. Kevin is now enjoying the warmer climate of New Orleans, USA. The article is some 19 pages long in a word document so I have broken it down into easier segments:

Part One

My father, Albert Vivian HERRIDGE, was born on January 14th, 1920 at 18 South Molton Road, Canning Town, in East London. He was the seventh son of John and Violet Mary and attended Beckton Road Infants and Boys School then Ashburton School. He left school at 14 and worked for Carter Patterson’s (Carriers). At 15 he took a temporary job as a delivery boy for a stationers and printers firm in Barking Road, Canning Town. When he was 16 he took a job at Tate and Lyle, the sugar refiners, in Silvertown. After the Second World War he worked at Briggs Engineering and then did twenty-eight years at Ford Motor Company in Dagenham, Essex.

He told me he had an uncle Fred and an aunt Lou who lived in Plashet Grove Road, near Plaistow Station. They had three children – Louise, Alfred (Alfred W. T., birth West Ham 4a 119, Sept. qtr 1910) and Nellie. That was about the extent of his knowledge of his family on his Dad’s side.

On January 20th, 1940 he registered for military service and joined the 24th Medium and Heavy Artillery Regiment at Blackdown, Hampshire. His army number was 972519. He was posted to Active Regt. 20/21 Medium Battery, 5th Medium Regt. Royal Artillery in July, 1940. They assembled in Sherwood Forrest, Nottinghamshire and from there went to Brigg in Lincolnshire. He left there in August, 1940 to take over a coastal defence battery in Ramsgate, Kent. He then moved to Manston Aerodrome then to Four Elms near Edenbridge. He then took over anti tank-guns at Middleton-on-Sea near Bognor Regis. His company were billeted in two houses, one belonging to music hall star Bud FLANNAGAN and the other to George ALLISON, the pre-war manager of Arsenal Football Club. From there he went to Tarporley in Cheshire and was then drafted to North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Austria and Greece.

    His family were bombed-out during the war and the survivors moved out to Pitsea, Essex and then to 23 Frimley Gardens, Hornchurch, Essex. My mother’s family (BECKMAN) also left Canning Town because of the bombing and moved to 43 Frimley Gardens. Mum, and Dad’s sister Alma, became good friends and Dad met Mum when he came home on leave. They married on March 27th, 1948 at St. Andrews Church, Hornchurch, the witnesses being Alexander BECKMAN (my grandfather), Dad’s brother Reginald Kenneth HERRIDGE and Kathleen WILD. Dad’s occupation was given as ‘labourer’ and Mum’s as ‘maid.’

    They spent the first two and a half years of married life with Mum’s parents. I was born on February 12th, 1949 in Oldchurch Hospital, Romford, Essex and baptized on March 27th, 1949 at St. Andrews Church. My Godparents were Reginald HERRIDGE, Walter EWER and Mary DEACON. My sister, Sharon Lynn was born on April 3rd, 1955 at home at 91, Dunedin Road, Rainham, Essex.

    When I registered the HERRIDGE ‘One Name Society’ with the Guild of One Name Studies in 1988 I never dreamt how much time and effort this hobby would consume. I had already made enquiries to other ‘GOONS’ members Rod GENT and Fred FILBY as both surnames featured in the Norfolk branch of my family history. I found them both extremely helpful as they both gave good advice and sent me information on my ancestors and their families. In way of thanks to them, I forwarded any information I came across on their family names. The point I would like to make here is that every family historian should, where possible, contact a ‘One Name Society’ for their surname to make preliminary enquiries. I had made considerable progress before contacting Rod and Fred and experienced many tremendous thrills in my early years of research. I still remember vividly in 1982 when I found my first GENT entry in the 1881 Census for Limehouse in East London. I let out a loud “whoop” in the Tower Hamlets Record Office that brought the Archivist dashing over to see what all the fuss was about. It was a thrill experienced by many genealogists.

    I research every surname of direct ancestors and often go off at a tangent on families that marry into those not directly related. This often proves interesting and far from being a waste of time. Distant relatives often turn up in Wills, as witnesses at marriages or they could be the reason one’s ancestors moved to another village, town, county or another country.

    My interest in family history started in 1981 when I watched a series of programmes introduced by Gordon HONEYCOMBE, the ITN newsreader, on how he had traced his family history. The series was accompanied by a book written by Don STEEL, entitled “Discovering Your Family History,” which I ordered immediately. The programme and the book emphasized the importance of not just making a family tree but making a “history” – putting the meat on the bones! I was off! I followed the guidelines laid down in the book and as all my family were born in East London, I joined the East of London Family History Society. I was living on the Isle of Wight at the time and noticed a display in a shop window one day whilst walking through Ryde advertising the Isle of Wight Family History Society so I joined that as well. I had no Isle of Wight ancestry that I knew of but reasoned the members would have the same general interests and ideas and I had no idea when I would be able to get up to London to make an ELFHS meeting.

    As soon as I started on my new hobby I became “stuck”. On my first trip to St. Catherine’s House I followed the rule of the book and searched through several years and spelling variations looking for my grandfather John HERRIDGE’s birth registration. Dad had told me his father was killed in the Blitz in 1940 aged 60. I searched from 1870 to 1890. As East Londoners tend to drop the letter ‘H’ from the beginning of words I tried ERRIDGE, HERRIDGE, HERIDGE, HERIGE, HERAGE, HARRIDGE, etc. No luck! Dad had never met his grandparents as he said they had all died before he was born and never knew their names. From my grandparents’ marriage certificate I discovered my great grandfather was also named John.

    I returned to the Isle of Wight thoroughly dejected. What should I do now? Give up? No! The bug had bitten me. I had the family historian’s disease…I thirsted for more knowledge. It was becoming an obsession. At this point I dropped the HERRIDGE research and decided to try my other ancestral family names. I collected what information I could from my Mum and her brother Alex. I interviewed their father on his life and have five hours of those conversations. Unfortunately, my grandmother Elizabeth “Lizzie” BECKMAN (nee SHELDRAKE), died just before I got interested in genealogy. I could do no more until my next trip to London. Stuck again! At this point I discovered the International Genealogical Index at the local Records Office. I had never heard of any other HERRIDGEs apart from my own family. Dad was one of twelve children. His two eldest brothers died very young and one of his sisters was killed in 1940 with her father. So apart from these remaining uncles, aunt, cousins and sister, my knowledge of HERRIDGEs was non-existent. Surely there must be others?

Part Two


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