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London Passenger Transport Board Staff Overseas

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In 1939, London’s public transport authority, the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB), had over 86,000 members of staff on its payroll. By October, 7,121 had enlisted into the armed forces, and by the end of the war, 22,580 employees had been called up for service.

An officer and soldiers from the 84th (London Transport) Anti-Aircraft Regiment take part in firing practice. 18 August 1939. Image courtesy of London Transport Museum 1998/51204

The 84th (London Transport) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment, part of the Royal Artillery, was formed in October 1938 following Hitler’s violation of the Munich Agreement made between Germany, France and Britain. The new regiment was composed of four batteries recruited from LTPB staff and for this reason ‘London Transport’ was included in its title. Its motto was ‘Strong for Service’, a phrase coined during the advertising of the creation of the LPTB in 1933.

Officers and men of the 84th (London Transport) Anti-Aircraft Regiment on parade at Stonebridge Park depot after call-up. 5 August 1939. Image courtesy of London Transport Museum 1998/35730

One London Transport Anti-Aircraft battery landed in Norway in 1940, where some of LPTB’s bus drivers saw action in Andalsnes. The regiment suffered one casualty, Sergeant H. E. A. Truss, a bus conductor from Catford, who was fatally crushed when mounting a gun during battle.

Photograph of LPTB bus drivers drafted into the London Transport Anti-Aircraft Regiment. July 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_010_00003

After a stint at home, the regiment saw action in Italy and North Africa, where they fought in Libya and were the most advanced unit in the desert campaign. Joseph Fitzpatrick, ticket clerk at Hammersmith, writes a letter to staff magazine 'Pennyfare' discussing his wartime experiences and hardships navigating the rocky Libyan terrain.

Article reporting on fighting taking place in the desert campaign. Includes account by LPTB employee Joseph Fitzpatrick on the exploits of an anti-aircraft battery in Egypt and Libya. May 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_032_00003

The men were considered “seasoned desert rats” with a strong, fighting reputation. It was reported that some of the regiment’s batteries were employed in every port and landing used to bring goods ashore.

Account from officer reporting on the progress of the fighting and good morale amongst the men. September 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_036_00002

Within the regiment morale of the troops was high, with a real sense of camaraderie. One gunner wrote to LTPB’s staff magazine Pennyfare stating, “Not a man in the Battery wishes himself out”. The London Anti-Aircraft regiment was in high spirits and the officers were happy to be involved in routine tasks such as digging. Concerts were held in the evenings to boost morale and the men were fed well.

Letter from a Gunner describing joining the 84th (London Transport) Anti-Aircraft Regiment. 1939. Archive ref num: LT000030/018 Pennyfare_Oct_1939_00002

Staff account revealing what life was like as a troop in one of the London Transport Anti-Aircraft batteries. The LPTB employee arrived at camp just in time to help the battery pack up and move in the middle of the night. December 1939. Archive ref num: LT000030/018 Pennyfare_Dec_1939_00003

Whilst some troops fought battles shoulder to shoulder with comrades, others held roles that were carried out in solitary conditions. In a letter written to Pennyfare in 1944, Conductor at Sutton Garage J. M. Nevin uses his own resources and initiative to navigate torn, twisted shipwrecks as a diver in the navy.

Article about Conductor J. M. Nevin inspects remains of lost ships in the Mediterranean. 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00002

Members of staff drafted into the Army Catering Corps made sure troops were fed, sending hot cakes to hungry soldiers and overseeing civilians prepare food for soldiers at allied leave hotels. One conductor from New Cross was tasked with feeding up to 7,000 soldiers of various ethnicity where different diets had to be considered. Sergeant A.G. Ireland, was responsible for overseeing civilians prepare food for all 24 allied leave hotels in Blankenberghe, Belgium.

Article on bus conductor Lieutenant Sharpe who was faced with supplying food for soldiers of various races including Kaffirs, Ceylonese and Arabs. Also, Sergeant Ireland, who supervised cooking by civilians in leave hotels. October 1945. Archive ref num: LT000030/78 Pennyfare_073_00003

Photograph of three LPTB bus drivers in France. March 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_006_00003

Letter from Leading Aircraftman E.H. Walker, former conductor at Mortlake Garage telling of his arrival in France. He gives thanks for socks sent by LPTB’s Warco fund and is excited for concert parties. April 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_007_00003

Article on LPTB bus conductor Arthur Massey of Chalk Farm seeking word on fellow colleagues as he disembarks on foreign service. April 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_031_00005

Staff were stationed across the globe building railroads in North Africa, fighting in tanks and planes, and driving supply lorries across the rocky desert terrain - their civil skills coming into good use to support the war effort. No matter where staff were stationed, teamwork was of the upmost importance and it wasn’t uncommon that staff would be posted to the same units.

Article on LPTB bus conductor Arthur Massey of Chalk Farm seeking word on fellow colleagues as he disembarks on foreign service. April 1942. November 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_038_00001

Article honouring Sergeant Woodman who freed a 25-pounder gun from its blazing timbers during the Battle El Alamein. A booking clerk at Hounslow Central, Woodman was later killed in action. May 1943 Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_044_00003

Article relays account featured in the Daily Express that Corporal Pickford, a District Line guard, was pinned down by machine gun fire whilst attending to wounded comrades. He was rescued by the British as he crawled under a smoke-screen. April 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_055_00003

Report from a Hanwell Garage staff member on active service. As a homage to the LPTB, E.C. Fowler painted the bullseye REQUEST sign on half-track vehicles in Normandy. October 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_061_00003

Account of three chance meetings in three years of the same pair of brothers of different regiments. These chance meetings took place in Tobruk, Alexandria and Salerno. February 1945. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_065_00005

Article discussing the team work of three LTPB bus drivers who dropped food, ammunition and petrol to comrades whilst being bombarded with bullets. November 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_062_00003

Letter discussing role reversal of LPTB staff as they find their hierarchy reversed in the 84th London Transport Anti-Aircraft regiment. October 1939. Archive ref num: LT000030/018 Pennyfare_Oct_1939_00002

The 'Roll of Honour' was a regular feature in staff magazine 'Pennyfare'. It informed readers of LPTB staff killed, wounded, taken prisoners of war, or reported missing whilst serving overseas.

Roll of honour announcing the death of staff member E.I. Dullam is reportedly the first London Passenger Transport Board staff member to lose his life in the war, while aboard the H.M.S. Courageous. October 1939. Archive ref num: LT000030/018 Pennyfare_Oct_1939_00002

The April 1943 edition of the staff magazine honours 37 LPTB staff killed, wounded, taken prisoners of war, or reported missing whilst serving overseas. Includes photographs of trolleybus conductor Corporal R. T. Cable, killed in action in North Africa, and circuit installer Sergeant C. F. Myhill, killed whilst working as an observer and air gunner.

Roll of Honour. April 1943. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_043_00003

The January 1944 edition of the staff magazine honours 28 LPTB employees killed, taken prisoners of war, or reported missing believed killed whilst serving overseas. Includes photograph of C. L. W. Davies, Royal Fusiliers, booking clerk at Stockwell, who died September 1943 in the Central Mediterranean.

Roll of Honour. January 1944. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00003

The January 1940 edition of the staff magazine honours two LPTB employees missing, presumed drowned, from H.M.S. Exmouth on 23 January 1940.

Roll of Honour. January 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_007_00003

The July 1940 edition of the staff magazine confirms details of 17 LPTB employees killed, missing and missing believed prisoner whilst serving overseas between January-June 1940.

Roll of Honour. July 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_010_0000

The August 1940 edition of the staff magazine honours 30 LPTB employees killed, missing or drowned whilst serving overseas between March-July 1940. Includes photographs of D. Stephens, C. Stephens and H. E. A. Truss.

Roll of Honour. August 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_011_00003

The October 1941 edition of the staff magazine honours nine LPTB staff killed or taken prisoners of war whilst serving overseas. The article includes photographs of the late Private W. H. Browning, formerly a clerk in the Department of the Chief Engineer and the late Petty Officer S. G. Watts, a conductor at West Green Garage.

Roll of Honour. October 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_025_00003

Two members of staff were reported killed or missing while on duty; Sergeant Air Gunner A. N. Page, a bus conductor at Holloway Depot, and Able Seaman R. W. Briggs, bus conductor at Upton Park Garage.

Article reporting on the status of two LPTB employees. Includes photographs. March 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_030_00003

The March 1940 edition of the staff magazine honours the deaths of three LPTB employees serving overseas between December 1939-February 1940. These deaths include an accidental drowning and a case of pneumonia.

Roll of Honour. March 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_006_00003

By the end of the war, 699 serving members of staff had been killed in action or had died on active service and 582 were reported as having been made prisoner of war. Of these, 413 were known to have been liberated by the end of 1945, and 126 had resumed duty with the company by 1946.

Article about a former clerk in Permanent Way Engineering, Rifleman Lyme was captured and sent to Stalag XXA. There he studied French and German and later passed Royal Society of Arts exams in both subjects. October 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_061_00003

Article describing Second Lieutenant Brewster’s experiences at the Stalag XXI D Prison of War camp in Posen, Poland, where he was sent in reprisal along with 76 others. June 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_021_00002

Story of Corporal Moxey, who was repatriated and married the woman who nursed him. February 1945. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_065_00004

Article reporting on the number of employees taken as prisoners of war held in Germany, Italy, Greece and not yet identified camps. Half are employed on the Underground, 21 porters, 17 labourers, 57 busmen, and 30 of other grades. October 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_025_00003

Article about a former ticket clerk at Wood Green, Gunner Wright, who was reported as having died in a Japanese Prisoner of War Camp. Two years later his parents received with joy a card from him, showing him to be alive. February 1945. Archive ref num: LT00030/078 Pennyfare_065_00005

Article about Driver V. N. Drew and Lance Corporal J. S. Coleman’s escape from prison camps in Italy. December 1943. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_051_00003

Article reporting Sergeant Ian J. S. Philip, a draughtsman in the Civil Engineer's department, is alive following an announcement on German radio naming him a prisoner of war in Greece. He was captured on 12th March 1942, his 23rd birthday. May 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_032_00003

Article reporting the escape of bus conductor Sergeant H. V. Britton from a prisoner of war camp. He saw his capture reported in a previous edition of staff magazine 'Pennyfare'. May 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_032_00003

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