Memorial road

Residents of a Walthamstow street have clubbed together to remember local victims of war

Elmfield Road plaque

The new plaque in Elmfield Road was unveiled last month

Elmfield Road is unique in Walthamstow in that it only has houses on its eastern side, with a lawn running the length of the road on the opposite side.

If you walk along the road you may also notice that there is a block of homes that are clearly different from the others. And if you are really observant you might also wonder why the house numbers jump from 59 to 65.

This missing numbers became a topic of conversation last year when neighbours were walking door-to-door selling raffle tickets for our annual street party, and realised they had missed two houses. On retracing their steps, they realised that there was no 61 or 63.

Most of us knew our road had been bombed during the Second World War by the Luftwaffe, as they cleared out their bomb bays over north-east London, but it was only after the raffle mystery that we realised that the houses that were rebuilt must have been wider than the original houses destroyed by the bombing, thereby solving the mystery of the missing numbers.

Events commemorating 100 years since the ending of the First World War prompted a few of the residents to explore the impact of the war on our road, and I planned a visit to Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Grave near Ypres. As we did our research, not only did we discover that five men left our road and never returned from the First World War, but our investigation also revealed that two residents, Herbert Gray and John Wren, lost their lives when the road was bombed on Sunday 8th December 1940.

Elmfield Road is a great place to live. We have an annual street party on the green and plant wildflowers on the borders of the opposite fence. Last year, we put up a marquee tent and watched the World Cup on television. Not to mention our yearly firework display and various parties when we have the slightest need to celebrate something together!

The discovery of how war had affected the people on our road made us pause and contemplate how lucky we are to live in such a lovely part of Walthamstow, despite conflict and unrest all around us. We felt that the sacrifices and hardship endured by those who lived here before us should be recognised. So, as we discussed how to remember those who lost their lives on Elmfield Road, we came up with the idea of current residents donating towards the commissioning of a memorial plaque.

The idea was embraced, and on a cold winter’s morning last month, a few of us gathered together for the dedication of our memorial plaque exactly 78 years after war came to Elmfield Road and took the lives of two of its residents. We will now forever remember them, as well as all those who left our road to go to war and never returned home.

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