In 1953 LSE replaced its original war memorial with a new memorial containing the rolls of honour for both the First World War and the Second World War, writes LSE Archivist Sue Donnelly. Designed by the School architect R C White-Cooper with the names incised on a single piece of oak. Today the memorial remains in the Old Building in the corridor alongside the Old Theatre.
The Second World War panel contains 88 names mainly belonging to former students. During the Second World War the skills and experience of LSE staff were in high demand and many were drafted into government rather than military service.
The School’s first fatality on 4 September 1939 was Henry Lovell Emden (BSc Economics, 1938), one of many airmen lost in bombing raids over northern Europe. He was the first of 30 RAF fatalities from the School community. The final casualty was William Llewellyn Gilbert of the Royal Artillery who died in Java on 26 November 1945, several months after the end of the war, caught up in the Indonesian National Revolution.
The youngest casualty was Ian McBride, who was only 19 when he died of dysentery in North Africa in September 1941. His death is recorded on the Alexandria War Memorial. He is also remarkable for starting his Commerce degree at the youthful age of 16 years and 8 months old. Lord Stamp, who died in an air raid on 16 April 1941, was the oldest casualty and left the biggest gap in the school. An external student who studied for his BSc and his doctorate while working for the Inland Revenue, he joined the Court of Governors in 1925 and became Chairman in 1935.
Ethne Dobson was the sole women’s service casualty. She passed the Social Science Certificate in 1939 and before the war was active in the Girl Guides, particularly the Sea Rangers. In 1939 she was one of the first WREN officers appointed and became Officer in Charge of Wrens in Scotland. She was killed in a flying accident on 7 July 1941 and buried in Dunfermline.
1944 saw the highest number of LSE deaths at 31, with many killed in the advance through Italy and across Europe after the D Day landings. However LSE staff and students were found in most of the theatres of war. Joseph Garbanati died in Crete during the German invasion. Eight casualties fell in the North African campaigns and others were buried in Chittagong (now Bangladesh), Ceylon, India and Burma.
The dates of death are not always known. Charles Skepper, an SOE agent captured in France in 1944 was presumed to have died after 1 April 1944. Flight Lieutenant Harold Milford was shot down over France in 1942 and as a prisoner of war in Stalag Luft III he participated in a mass escape on 25 March 1944. Only three of the 76 escapees were successful and Milford was among those re-captured and shot between April and June 1944. The escape attempt was the inspiration for the film The Great Escape.
Among the service men are seven civilian deaths – four men and three women. Joan Nathan, Kathleen Dawe and Sheila Peacock were killed during air raids on Hendon, Paddington Station and Eaton Square. Two former students died making their way home. The Sri Lankan B K P Dias was lost at sea in 1941 when the M V Staffordshire was bombed off the coast of Scotland sailing from Liverpool to Rangoon. The following year Alexis du Plessis died returning to South Africa when the SS Ceramic was sunk in the mid Atlantic. Alfred Sykes a railway administrator and former President of the Students’ Union died during the evacuation of Singapore in February 1942. Stefan Tarnowski, a PhD candidate, was killed by an air raid in his home city of Warsaw. William Freethy who died in an air raid in October 1940 had served in the First World War, and was a volunteer in the Home Guard.
Sadly one name remains untraced – that of R Godfrey whose story remains untold.
Contributed by Sue Donnelly (LSE Archivist)
LSE and wartime