On the Trail of Kenneth Clifford Howard
A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about the notebooks belonging to Kenneth Clifford Howard - notebooks that now reside within one of Josef's files at the National Archives. There is no evidence that the notebooks belonged to Josef, nor that they should have been placed within his file. One of the notebooks mentions Karl Theodore Drücke and it is far more likely that they were originally placed within his file. Indeed, file KV 2/1701 - one of Drücke's files - has a number of reports and letters that mention the notebooks and Kenneth Clifford Howard. That Security Service file is likely the one belonging to Lt. Col. William Edward Hinchley Cooke who often testified at the trials of would-be spies. My guess would be the notebooks slipped out of Drücke's file and were then erroneously placed within Josef's file - a simple clerical/filing error that is an annoyance and contributes to confusion!
Anyhow... I am always chipping away at some of these lingering mysteries. One of the police reports notes:
I have to report that on Sunday, 1st June 1941, a communication was received from the Chief Constable, City Police Headquarters, Leicester, enclosing a diary dated 1936 and an address book. These apparently belong to Kenneth C. Howard, sometime of 17, Evelyn Road, Sparkhill, and contain a number of German references, also two addresses in Birmingham.
Beyond that, there is no information on the "communication" - was it a letter? Or simply an envelope containing the diary and address book?
Another report by the Metropolitan Police notes that:
Enquiries have revealed that a family named Howard lived at 128 (not
120) Durham Road, Bromley, Kent, from 2.5.1931 until 17.6.1936. The
rated occupier was Frank Howard, who lived there with his wife, Flora,
nee Mitchell, and son Kenneth Clifford.
Frank Howard was a blouse merchant and had a business under the style of 'Flora Mitchell' at 21, East Street, Bromley, where his wife assisted in dressmaking. I was informed that towards the end of his stay at 128 Durham Road, Howard was in some financial difficulty and took employment as a salesman with "Hoovers". Enquiries of Messrs., Hoovers Ltd. Westway, Perivale, fail to show that Howard was ever so employed.
On leaving Bromley, Frank Howard gave as his intended address, 17, Evelyn Road, Spark Hill, Birmingham - the address which appears in the notebook mentioned above. No member of the family is known to have returned to London.
The police report also noted that Kenneth Clifford Howard was born on 4 June 1921 at 3, Leigham Court Road, Streatham. This is all very specific information - a birth date, the name of his parents, his mother's maiden name and their very specific occupation. They mystery is... why is this family so hard to track? Admittedly, Frank and Flora/Florence are quite common names but... it's a bit of a mystery.
So, I'm going to lay out some information and see where it leads us... starting with the 1939 National Registration. Some of the records remain closed for individuals born less than 100 years ago, unless one can provide proof of death. Kenneth was born in 1921, so his record should magically open in 2021... unless one can provide proof of death. I got a bit hopeful when I read this except... one needs to provide the actual death registration/certificate, which we don't have because Kenneth just died in 2014, and there is no registration number available. So this is a dead end at this point. But let's see if we can track Frank & Flora.
I began with "Flora" Howard as "Flora" was the name used in the police report. There are 17 occurrences of that name in the 1939 National Registration, which is a siftable number!
Option F1 01 - Burnley, Lancashire
The first national registration is for a Frank (1898) and Flora Howard (1890) living in Burnley, Lancashire. They are cotton weavers which sounds like it might be a fit for their occupations as blouse merchants (see the above police report). They also have a young man living with them (presumably their son), Harry, born 15 June 1923. There is no mention of Kenneth Clifford Howard, nor is there a closed record. It is possible that Kenneth was working away from home - he was 18 years old after all - or that he joined the Armed Forces. This seems to be a most promising option.
|1939 National Registration - Burnley, Lancashire - Flora Howard|
Option F1 02 - Chepping Wycome, Buckinghamshire
We also have a George T. (1890) and Flora L. Howard (1894) living in Chepping Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. George is a veneer expert and Marqueterie Cutter. (I had to look that up - using wood veneer to create fancy patterns on tables and furniture.) Flora's occupation is unpaid domestic duties (housewife). They have no children living with them, and no closed records.
Option F1 03 - Hereford, Herefordshire
We have a Timothy (1876) and a Flora L. Howard (1874). They have a young man, Arthur T. Howard (1903) living with them. Timothy is a builder and contractor while Flora is unpaid domestic duties
Option F1 04 - Chactonbury, Sussex
A Flora Howard (1880) is widowed and living with a Reuben and Margaret Butcher.
Option F1 05 - Norwich, Norfolk
A Flora Howard (1881), single, who is a boarding housekeeper, living with individuals who seem unrelated. There are two closed records.
|1939 National Registration - Norwich, Norfolk - Flora Howard|
Option F1 06 - Liverpool, Lancashire
We have a George (1898) and Flora M (1898) Howard living in Liverpool. George is a dock labourer. There are two (presumed) children listed - William (1929) and Flora (1939), as well as three closed records.
|1939 National Registration - Liverpool, Lancashire - Flora Howard|
Option F1 07 - Brighton, Sussex
One Flora Marketis-Howard (1884), single and living on her own. She is a florists manageress.
Option F1 08 - Bury, Lancashire.
A Flora Clayton (1911) is listed, but her name has been stroked out and replaced with Howard. She was living with her (presumed) parents. Her occupation is "Makes up (paper)". Odd occupation but the father sells wholesale meat, the mother is a charlady (office) and the younger sister works in "production. Process worker. Textile. Bleachers".
Option F1 09 - Bromley, Kent
Got a bit excited at seeing this since Kenneth and his family lived in Bromley in the mid 1930s. Ernest A. (1891) and Flora M. Howard (1890) living on their own (no children or closed records). Ernest is a gardener domestic servant and Flora is unpaid domestic duties. The street name is Ravensbourne Road.
|1939 National Registration - Bromley, Kent - Flora Howard|
Option F1 10 - Hove, Sussex
A Flora G. Howard (1889), married and living with a closed record. Her occupation is unpaid domestic duties. The record is at the bottom of the page and the top of the next one has a new household.
Option F1 11 - Woolwich, London
Stephen (1872) and Flora Howard (1877) living with one Mabel N. Howard (married) and a closed record. Stephen is a fitter and Flora is unpaid domestic duties.
Option F1 12 - Brownhills, Staffordshire
William (1866) and Flora/Florence Howdle (1894) living on their own. William is a retired farmer and Florence is unpaid domestic duties. The age difference is striking. The marital status of both is "M" - married. Of note is that Ancestry has indexed this record as "Howard" and it is quite clearly Howdle.
Option F1 13 - Liverpool, Lancashire
This is the same as Option 6 and simply indexed twice due to the two Flora's in the household.
Option F1 14 - Waltham Holy Cross, Essex
Sidney B. Howard (1899) and Flora P. Howard (1895), married and living with two closed records and three (presumed) children: twins Peggy (Howard) Bass (1920) and Joan (Howard) Tredett (1920) and Clifford S. Howard (1923). Sydney is a Nursery Hand (food production) and Flora is unpaid domestic duties. Clifford is a grocers assistant.
|1939 National Registration - Waltham Holy Cross, Essex - Flora Howard|
Option F1 15 - Downham Market, Norfolk
Florrie/Flora Howard (1889) married and living with one (presumed) child and two closed records. Flora is unpaid domestic duties. She is individual #2 in the household and at the top of the form. The bottom of the previous page has half a dozen closed records so it is impossible to tell who individual #1 would be.
Option F1 16 - Lambeth, London
Edward C. (1902) and Flora C. Howard (1902) married and living with two closed records and one Thomas S. Taylor. Edward is a Fruit and Greengrocers Porter (Heavy work).
Option F1 17 - Rochdale, Lancashire
Wright (1893) and Flora Howard (1893). Wright is a Departmental ?amel. Flora's occupation is unpaid domestic duties. No children and no closed records.
|1939 National Registration - Rochdale, Lancashire - Flora Howard|
Florence & Frank Howard
I then searched for Florence Howard and... this is a bit of a beast... 730 occurrences of Florence Howard in the 1939 National Registration. If I filter for spouses named "Frank", that whittles it down to seven occurrences.
Option F2 01 - Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland
Frank (1898) Howard and Florence Howard (1902), married and living with two (presumed) children and three closed records. Frank is a meat packer and Florence is unpaid domestic duties. They have a Frank Jr and Florence Jr living with them.
|1939 National Registration - Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland - Florence Howard|
Option F2 02 - Lees, Lancashire
Frank (1897) and Florence (1898) Howard, married and living with their son (Frank Jr) and two closed records. Frank Sr is a general labourer and Florence is unpaid domestic duties.
|1939 National Registration - Lees, Lancashire - Florence Howard|
Option F2 03 - Bradford and Melksham, Wiltshire
Frank (1897) and Florence Howard (1897), married with no children or closed records. Frank is a Police Constable and Florence is unpaid domestic duties. They are living at 2 Police Quarters.
|1939 National Registration - Bradford and Melksham, Wiltshire - Florence Howard|
Option F2 04 - East Barnet, Hertfordshire
Frank C. (1905) and Florence M. Howard (1906), married and living with two (presumed) children and two closed records. Frank is a decorator (building) and Florence is unpaid domestic duties.
|1939 National Registration - East Barnet, Hertfordshire - Florence Howard|
Option F2 05 - Worthing, Sussex
Frank (1870) and Florence E. Howard (1887), married with no children or closed records. Frank is a Member of Stock Exchange.
|1939 National Register - Worthing, Sussex - Florence Howard|
Option F2 06 - Leicester, Leicestershire
Frank (1870) and Florence Howard (1886), married and living with one closed record. Frank is an "area manager, medical appliance" and Flora is unpaid domestic duties. This one piqued my interest for two reasons: (1) Kenneth's notebooks were sent to the Leicestershire Police and (2) Frank may have stepped away from being a blouse merchant, and while his occupation has nothing to do with "Hoover" or vaccums... area manager for medical appliances is always a possibility. The closed record is also intriguing - it could be Kenneth Clifford Howard.
|1939 National Register - Leicester, Leicestershire - Florence Howard|
Option F2 07 - March, Cambridgeshire
Frank C. (1902) and Florence E. Howard (1900), married and living with one (presumed) son and three closed records. Frank is a grocer shopkeeper and Florence is unpaid domestic duties.
|1939 National Registration - March, Cambridgeshire - Florence Howard|
Caveats & Confusion
This is by no means an exhaustive list. It does not, for example, include individuals whose middle name might have been Florence and which might have been abbreviated in the registration. I came across one instance already... so our Frank and Flora might not be any of the above. I do, however, think Option F1 01 - Burnley, Lancashire is interesting... as is Option F2 06 - Leicester, Leicestershire.
Part of my renewed interest in Kenneth Clifford Howard and his notebooks was also sparked by finding a family tree on Ancestry which purports to be him and his wife. While it does not list his parents, and has him born in March 1924, it has the death registration from 2014. This is intriguing because the 2014 death index clearly states that Kenneth Clifford Howard was born in 1921. It is all a bit confusing. There is, however, a Kenneth C. Howard whose birth was registered in the first quarter of 1924 in Lambeth. Although the mother's maiden name was Milnes, while the police said Flora's maiden name was Mitchell. Sooo... this particular family tree needs to be taken with a grain of salt.
I also had a poke through the marriage registration indices... for a Frank Howard and Florence/Flora Mitchell... there is one for 1931 which seems odd, given that Kenneth Clifford Howard was born in 1921. Unless, of course, he was illegitimate... Again, if Florence was the mother's middle name, it becomes a challenge to track them...
I also recently came a cross a RootsChat forum post from 2015 which was looking for information on the inhabitants of 17 Evelyn Road, Sparkhill, Birmingham (from 1932-1937) and 128 Durham Road, Bromley Kent (from 1936-1938). The writer noted: "I have a sneaking suspicion the family may be Howard, in which case the mother would be Mary E. Howard and the father would be Charles Howard." Just to add a bit more mud to the already muddy waters! A quick look at the 1939 National Register index shows a lot of Charles & Mary Howards...
Another part of my renewed interest in Kenneth arose from reading David Tremain's book - The Beautiful Spy - The Life and Crimes of Vera Eriksen. Tremain dedicated a whole chapter to a meticulous examination of Kenneth's address book and diary. Tremain also searched for Frank/Francis Howard living in Bromley in 1933 and 1937 and found no such person at Durham Road or anywhere in the Bromley area. This contradicts the police report above... Another few items of note: Vera Eriksen lived at 12 Durham Avenue, Bromley, Kent briefly in 1938... AND... Kenneth's diary had a note about Karl Theodore Drücke, Vera's fellow spy... Is there a the connection between Kenneth and these two German agents?? Good question...
I finally decided to bite the bullet and ordered the 2014 death registration for Kenneth Clifford Howard... hoping it actually has some accurate information and that the death informant knew the full names of the parents. With the death registration... I can also request the opening of Kenneth's closed 1939 National Registration entry... stay tuned...