18 July 2019

Kenneth Clifford Howard - Birth & Death

We interrupt the regularly scheduled blog posts on the wartime Jewish emigration business in Berlin to bring you an update on the search for Kenneth Clifford Howard... This gentleman's notebook and diary from the mid-1930s ended up in the National Archives at Kew. The two notebooks probably started off in Karl Theodore Drücke's file and then somehow got erroneously placed in Josef Jakobs' file. I've written a number of blog posts about Kenneth and his notebooks, two key ones are...
Kenneth has proved to be inordinately hard to track through the genealogy sites. Part of the problem lies in the fact that "Howard" is a very common surname. The other problem is that sometimes his birth year is given as 1921 (e.g. the police report on the notebooks) and sometimes I've found a very promising individual in an ancestry tree but the year of birth is given as 1924. It's hard to track someone when the data keeps changing!

Birth Registration of Kenneth Clifford Howard

A few weeks back, I decided to go back to the start and ordered Kenneth's birth registration. It came last week and gives us some cold, hard facts, which confirm what was given in the police reports.
1921 Birth Registration for Kenneth Clifford Howard (GRO)
1921 Birth Registration for Kenneth Clifford Howard (GRO)
Kenneth Clifford Howard was born 4 June 1921 at 3 Leigham Court Road, the son of Frank Howard and Florence (formerly Mitchell) Howard. Frank was a blouse merchant of 37 Weston Street, Upper Norwood. At first the Westow Street address looked like a "34" to me but the directories have the address as "37". There's isn't much to run with on the birth registration, but it does give us a few tidbits of information.

Let's start with the addresses. Kenneth was born at 3 Leigham Court Road, just across the street from the Streatham Tube Station. Today, the area has a series of small shops: Kennedy's Fish & Chip shop is 5 Leigham Court Road and the realtor in the red building is 1 Leigham Court Road and appears to span a couple of shop fronts. So 3 Leigham Court Road would probably have been in the area occupied by the double windowed shop front just behind the traffic light. I had a poke round the Streatham directories... and in 1921 (and each year on either side), the resident was "Mrs. Brockelhurst (Winton Lodge)". Perhaps she was a relative or maybe a midwife. The current building at 1-3 Leigham Court Road doesn't look like an original 1920s (or earlier) building to me...
Streatham - 3 Leigham Court Road  Location of birth of Kenneth Clifford Howard
Streatham - 3 Leigham Court Road
Location of birth of Kenneth Clifford Howard
As for 37 Westow Street in Upper Norwood, this is just down the street from the Crystal Palace. Today, 35 Westow Street appears to be a charity shop 9 (the blue store front at left). The right hand storefront is 41-43. So, 37 Westow Street is now an empty lot.
37 Westow Street (empty lot), Crystal Palace - residence of Frank Howard in 1921
37 Westow Street (empty lot), Crystal Palace - residence of Frank Howard in 1921


Beyond that, the birth registration doesn't tell us a lot more than what we already knew from the police investigation into Kenneth's notebooks. Frank Howard was a blouse merchant and his wife was "Florence formerly Mitchell". This is rather odd phrasing... and may indicate that his wife had previously been married and that her maiden name was not Mitchell, but a married name.

Kenneth's death registration, however, is much more forthcoming and provides several intriguing bits of new information.

Death Registration of Kenneth Clifford Howard
According to the death registration...
Kenneth Clifford Howard passed away on 29 June 2014 at Royal Bournemouth Hospital in Bournemouth. Cause of death was septicaemia due to a urinary tract infection. He also suffered from vascular dementia, ischaemic heart disease and a malignant melanoma.
Kenneth was born on 4 June 1921 in Streatham, Lambeth. [The death registration extract provided by the GRO does not provide the names of parents.]
Kenneth was a retired dental laboratory technician and husband of Doris Rhoda Howard (a retired nanny). Their usual address was 43 Sandbanks Road, Poole, Dorset.
The informant was Lorna Christine Howard, daughter who lived in Roehampton, London [I'm not giving her address here].
The death was registered on 2 July 2014 in Bournemouth.
Right off the bat, I am excited at the confirmation that Kenneth's wife was Doris Rhoda May. This confirms some information I've found from a family tree on Ancestry... more on that later.

43-45 Sandbanks Road, Poole - address of Kenneth Clifford Poole in 2014
43-45 Sandbanks Road, Poole - address of Kenneth Clifford Poole in 2014
I've done a quick search for the daughter and drawn a complete blank. Can't find a birth, nor anything else online. Her address in 2014 was social housing (retirement housing), so it may be that she has/had a low web profile. I also haven't been able to find an obituary for Kenneth which suggests that perhaps finances were an issue. The residential address for Kenneth and Doris--43 Sandbanks Road, Poole--is a bit odd...

On Google Streetview, one can see a nice semi-detached with house number 45 next to the front door (the red circled number on the right). On the left hand side of the house is the number 43, which would seem to suggest that the entrance is down the path to the left of the building. It might be that the semi-detached has two flats, one of which is accessed from the pathway.

As for Kenneth, his occupation had been "dental laboratory technician", which seems like a pretty good career/job. He also lived to a ripe old age, dying less than month after his 93rd birthday. It would also appear that he lived at home despite the fact that he had dementia. His wife, Doris, likely cared for him at home until he was admitted to hospital.

Now we get to the interesting bit... I've found a family tree on Ancestry which seems to align with Kenneth and Doris, and which provides some interesting information.

Ancestry Family Tree
According to the tree on Ancestry Doris Rhoda May (born 1920 in St. Austell, Cornwall) and Kenneth Clifford Howard were married in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia back then) on 29 March 1954. Well... that would explain why Kenneth is so hard to trace in England! And if his daughter was born abroad... that might explain a few things as well. Surprisingly (or perhaps not), Doris passed away on 5 July 2014 in Bournemouth - this is a scant week after Kenneth's death.

The other interesting piece of information from the Ancestry tree is a passenger list record from 1948. The ship HMT Empire Test arrived in Liverpool on 30 September 1948 having picked up passengers in Port Said (Egypt), Tobruk (Libya), Malta and Gibraltar. One of the passengers on the ship's manifest was a Kenneth C. Howard. His entry has a line drawn through it which would seem to indicate that he did not make the journey. His entry indicates hat he was to have boarded at Malta in Second Class. His intended address in the UK was 14 Groveland Road, Wallasey. His occupation was Sergeant, British Army. His country of permanent residence (usually having been there more than 12 months) was Palestine. His future country of permanent residence was England. Kenneth's age is smudged and the person who posted the passenger list on the tree used that age to calculate the birth year as being 1924 and connected it to the Kenneth C. Howard born in Lambeth in 1924.

HMT Empire Test (From British Armed Forces site)
HMT Empire Test (From British Armed Forces site)
That passenger list includes several other individuals whose names were stricken off the list, all of them seamen. Most of the passengers were housewives. Which initially made wonder if Kenneth and the seamen had been placed on a military transport except... HMT Empire Test WAS a military transport!

If this is our Kenneth... it would certainly be an intriguing bit of information. Born in 1921, one would certainly expect him to have served in the military during the Second World War (he would have been 18 years old at the outbreak of the war). I now begin to think that his British Army record might be useful, particularly if he was still serving in the military when he got married in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia in 1954. I haven't been able to find any record of the marriage in the overseas BMD records, although apparently the Rhodesian records are scanty at best.

The next step would seem to be to request the 1939 National Register be unlocked, although it turns out that costs £, so I may wait on that for a bit. I have sent a message to the individual who posted the family tree on Ancestry asking her for more information on Kenneth and his career in the military. I've offered the birth and death registrations in return (horse trading at its best!).

In the meantime... I did a search on 14 Groveland Road, Wallasey and discovered a probate record for one William Howard living at that address when he passed in 1954. The relevant death record (died first quarter of 1954 in Wallasey) would appear to be a William born in 1890. Perhaps an uncle of Sgt. Kenneth C. Howard? William died with an estate valued at just over £9600 pounds and it was administered by James John McLaren and John Ashford Simpson shipping clerks.

I'm not 100% convinced that Sgt Kenneth C. Howard from the passenger list is our Kenneth... so will see what comes from my request for more information from the family tree informant.

Frank Howard - Directories
I had noted in my last blog on Kenneth C. Howard that David Tremain, in his book on Vera Eriksen, had tried, and failed, to find confirmation of the Howard family addresss in Bromley in the mid 1930s. I've done some digging through the individual directories on Ancestry and think I've found Frank Howard. In some years, their residence fell within the catchment area for the Beckenham directory, not the Bromley directory. Directories are not published every year and it's a bit hit 'n' miss as to which years are available for each borough, and how the borough's are grouped in each directory. Here's what we have so far...

1919 directory for Streatham & Norwood - the resident at 3 Leigham Court Road (where Kenneth was born) is Mrs. Brockelhurst (Winton Lodge).
1919 Streatham Directory - 3 Leigham Court Road - resident is Mrs. Brockelhurst
1919 Streatham Directory - 3 Leigham Court Road - resident is Mrs. Brockelhurst
1920 directory for Streatham & Norwood - the resident at 37 Westow Street is "Isobel's (R.T. Oldaker, proprietor), blouse specialist". This is the year before Kenneth was born and the year before Frank Howard was a resident at 37 Westow Street. Makes me wonder if Frank perhaps took over the business from Oldaker... If we look in the section of the directory where residents are arranged alphabetically, there is no Frank Howard listed.
1920 Streatham Directory - 37 Westow Street - occupied by "Isobel's" (likely a business name) - proprietor is R.T. Oldaker, blouse specialist
1920 Streatham Directory - 37 Westow Street - occupied by "Isobel's"
(likely a business name) - proprietor is R.T. Oldaker, blouse specialist
1922 directory from Streatham, Norwood & Norbury - Frank Howard, blouse specialist, is resident at 37 Westow Street, N. The section arranged by street addresses also has 37 Westow Street being occupied by Frank Howard.
1922 Streatham directory - residents - Frank Howard, blouse specialist at Westow Street
1922 Streatham directory - residents - Frank Howard, blouse specialist
at Westow Street
1926-1927 directory for Streatham, Norwood and Norbury - resident of 37 Westow Street is "Howard, Frank, costmr". This would seem to suggest that Frank Howard was now a costermonger, selling his wares from a hand/horse drawn cart. It would perhaps be a drop in career status?
1926-1927 Streatham Directory - 37 Westow Street - has Frank Howard but in this case he is a Costermonger, which seems a bit of a career drop.
1926-1927 Streatham Directory - 37 Westow Street - has Frank Howard
but in this case he is a Costermonger, which seems a bit of a career drop.
1933 directory for Beckenham, Shortlands, Penge and Anerley - Frank Howard is resident at 128 Durham Road, Bromley. This was a bit of a lucky strike as some of the directories are divided into sections by boroughs which means having to page through them individually hunting through each one. I haven't done this, content with this discovery (for now).
1933 Beckenham directory - Frank Howard living at 128 Durham Road in Bromley
1933 Beckenham directory - Frank Howard living at 128 Durham Road in Bromley
Summary
The birth and death registrations for Kenneth Clifford Howard have provided some important information, a few promising leads and a few more questions. Possible avenues of research are now:
  1. tracing information through the Ancestry family tree - I've reached out to the person who posted the tree in the hope that they might have some information
  2. British Army records - if the passenger list entry is our Kenneth, then this might be a promising goldmine of information (£30)
  3. Probate for William Howard of Wallasey - if the passenger list entry is our Kenneth, then this William Howard could be a relative and Kenneth might be listed in the will (£10)
  4. Request that Kenneth's entry for the 1939 National Registration be unlocked (£25)
The second and third avenues are conditional... "if the passenger list entry is our Kenneth" - and hinge on what I can glean from the individual who posted the family tree on Ancestry. Stay tuned...

P.S.

This was to have been a "short" and "quick" blog post to give me time while I dig through German articles on Jürgen Ziebell but... it quickly took on a life of its own requiring more research!

Sources
Ancestry - genealogy records
GRO - birth and death registration for Kenneth Clifford Howard
Troop ships page on British Armed Forces site

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