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Heroic Acts of London Passenger Transport Board Staff Overseas

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From a Forest Gate bus driver saving American Airmen in the sea, to a Baker Street station office messenger escaping a prisoner of war camp and living in caves. Here are some of the heroic acts undertaken by LPTB staff during World War II.

Photograph of LPTB bus drivers drafted in to the Royal Air Force in France. March 1940. LT000030/078 Pennyfare_006_00003

Bombardier A. G. Littleton, bus driver at Forest Gate, saves U.S airmen as they crashed into a rocky part of the North African sea in 1943 with "total disregard for personal safety".

Article reporting on Bombardier Littleton’s heroic actions in rescuing four American airmen whose aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean. 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_056_00002

High tension cable leading hand Stoker C. G. Butler rescued troops from torpedoed French and Norwegian ships, destroyed German batteries in Trondheim, shelled tanks in Syria, and fought in the Battle of Java, Indonesia. These were "only parts... of the stoker's adventures, most of which were spent on H.M.S Isis”.

Article highlighting key events involving Stoker Butler, a leading hand in LPTB’s High-Tension Cable section at Lillie Bridge Depot. December 1942. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_039_00003

Corporal J. E. Hatch fought off a Schutzstaffel patrol in April 1945, resulting in an allied surprise assault on the enemy. Unfortunately, he died as a result of his injuries in this effort.

Article describing the battlefield heroics of a deceased Permanent Way lengthman. July 1946. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_082_00002

In a “game” of hide-and-seek that lasted months, LPTB Anti-Aircraft Gunner George Payne and a group of allied soldiers climbed into the hills and hid in caves to avoid German capture after escaping from a prisoner of war camp. George and the allied soldiers spent 2 months hiding in a cave. With a "Jerry" hot on their tail, the men would move on to another hiding spot. They were joined at one point by a German deserter who also served as their porter.

Article describes Gunner George Payne’s experiences hiding in caves from the Germans after escaping prisoner of war camp. September 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_060_00003

Acton Works fitter, Flying Officer S. F. Merritt took over a damaged plane, diverting it behind allied lines after the wounded pilot and crew had bailed out. Merritt later bailed out before letting the plane fall to earth - he was awarded a Distinguished Flying Cross.

Action of Flying Officer S.F. Merritt in taking over a damaged plane and diverting it behind allied lines. 1945. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_068_00004

Sergeant John Gridley, an Underground lengthman who fought with a Company of the Wiltshires. He was awarded the Military Medal for courageous action fighting in Italy, including Anzio, which resulted in wounding and the loss of some of his comrades.

Article on Sergeant John Gridley, an Underground lengthman, and his brave exploits fighting in Italy. June 1945. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_069_00003

Five LPTB employees were on board the ship H.M.S Jervis Bay as it came under fire from a German heavy cruiser. Three of the men were among the 65 survivors: F. Billing, bus conductor at Nunhead Garage; F. H. Gibbs, bus conductor at Hornchurch Garage; and H. L. Bonney, electrical fitter's assistant at Ealing Common Works.

Article describing the courageous action taken by men on the H.M.S. Jervis Bay in the Atlantic. February 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_017_00003

Despite being wounded in enemy bombing, trolleybus driver at Walthamstow Depot, Sergeant C.T. Ward remained in command of his military unit, refusing to leave his post. Ward received a “nasty flesh wound” and left to get the wound dressed following a direct order from the Battery Commander. For this bravery he was awarded a Military Medal.

Article describing a staff member's Military Medal award. 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_018_00002

Acting Wing Commander R.C. Alabaster, a clerk in the LTPB Solicitor's Office, was the first member of staff to receive the Distinguished Flying Cross (with bar), a gallantry medal ranked just below the Victoria Cross. In 1943, Alabaster's bomber was hit by a German fighter plane over Cologne. With an engine on fire he succeeded in hitting his target and returned to safety.

Our First Distinguished Service Order: Skill and Bravery in the Air". Feature on the heroic actions of long serving London Transport employee Acting Wing Commander Alabaster. 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00002

The Distinguished Service Medal and British Empire Medal were awarded to LPTB circuit-installer in Signals, Chief Petty Officer R. W. Claridge, for rendering enemy mines harmless. Both Investitures took place at Buckingham Palace.

Article about the award of two medals to LPTB employee Chief P.O. Claridge. January 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00003

John H.S. Turnball, a clerk in the Railway Operating Department, displayed the highest standard of leadership in "Operation Bizerte, North Africa" by taking two soldiers to safety whilst under heavy fire. Turnball was awarded the Military Cross.

Article on the award of a Military Cross to member of staff Captain John H. S. Turnbull. January 1941. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00003

Bus conductor at Watford High Street Garage, Warrant Officer Ledwidge's plane was hit repeatedly when his petrol tank caught on fire. "Flames spread rapidly and he was forces down to sea. But he boarded a dinghy and eight hours later drifted ashore - to fight another day."

Award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to Warrant Officer E. J. Ledwidge. January 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_052_00003

Able Seaman in the Navy and Underground car examiner J. J. E. Stapley received the award for courage during the assault on Anzio, Italy. Able Seaman Stapley was employed at East Ham Depot, having previously worked at Northfield Depot.

Announcement of a Distinguished Service Medal to Underground car examiner. 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_060_00002

Captain Gomm was awarded the Military Cross for showing exceptional leadership fighting at the Anzio Beachead in Italy. In 1944, Captain Gomm, an assistant district superintendent of Country Buses at Reigate, led a platoon on a machine-gun nest where the enemy lost the post. A few days later and following the injury of the company commander, Gomm took the lead and was able to restore confidence in "shaken", "less-experienced" troops. In battle, Gomm sniped three enemy combatants and was awarded the Military Cross for great gallantry and leadership. During battle he was severely injured.

Captain C.C Gomm shows exceptional leadership fighting at the Anzio Beachhead in Italy. 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_060_00002

The Hendon bus driver was awarded a French decoration for moving a lorry stuck on rail tracks into a siding just as a train was approaching, averting a tragedy.

Announcement of the Hendon bus driver’s award of a French decoration for moving a lorry stuck on rail tracks. 1940. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_005_00001

London Transport Building Department painter Sergeant Albert G. Rayner was awarded the Military Medal for his gallantry and courageous leadership in Tunisia. Sergeant Rayner took over a platoon when its commander was killed and secured its objective under heavy fire.

Sergeant Albert G. Rayner awarded Military Medal for his gallantry and courageous leadership in Tunisia. 1943. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_049_00003

Three awards were granted to Driver Theobald from Watford High Street Garage, including the Distinguished Service Medal for "courage, skill and resolution in successful marine patrols" whilst serving on the submarine H.M.S. Triumph. Two awards were presented posthumously to Driver Theobald as the H.M.S. Triumph failed to return home.

Article about Driver R. J. Theobald receiving three awards for gallantry whilst serving at sea. December 1942. Archive ref num: LT00030/078 Pennyfare_039_00003

Sergeant W. H. Cross, from Amersham Garage, was a recipient of the Military Medal for his involvement in air attacks in Malta.

Article honouring award of the Military Medal to Green Line conductor for outstanding bravery and devotion to duty. April 1943. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_043_00003

Battle of Britain hero Sergeant Robert Crombie is included in the Memorial Chapel in Westminster Abbey as a result of his involvement in a mission in which his squadron was tasked with intercepting 70 hostile raiders on their way to England. Sergeant Crombie was a bus conductor at Hanwell Garage and was killed in the battle. Article features letter from Mrs Crombie stating “my husband’s squadron was 12 planes only, the odds were hopeless. His plane was shot down just off France. So the crew had almost done their job.” Mrs Crombie proudly informs staff magazine ‘Pennyfare’ that her husband's name will also feature on a memorial at of Biggin Hill Fighter Station.

Article on the battle exploits of LPTB employee Sergeant Robert Crombie, whose name will be included in the Memorial Chapel in Westminster Abbey. May 1944. Archive ref num: LT000030/078 Pennyfare_056_00002

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