Finding Private Browning
Val Bott on solving one of the mysteries of the Chiswick V2
The commemoration of the Chiswick V2 was seen by its sponsors, the Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society and the Battlefields Trust, as a way of encouraging people to bring forward their memories and any other information which would ensure that we had a proper record of that event.
Since the unveiling of the memorial on 8 September, a number of people have come forward with eye witness accounts of the devastation and several have described themselves as “ear witnesses” as they heard the enormous explosion which the rocket caused.
These accounts are being assembled for use in the proposed education pack for local schools and will also be placed in the local studies collection at Chiswick Library.
The B&CLHS was fortunate to make contact with the surviving brother of little Rosemary Clarke who was killed, aged 3, in her bedroom at 1 Staveley Road and a picture of her was provided in the commemorative information sheet for the unveiling.
No information was available on the other two victims who according to the 1940s newspaper accounts were Ada Harrison, aged 68, of 3 Staveley Road and Private Frank Browning, who was said to be home on leave and passing by on his way to visit his girlfriend.
The B&CLHS has now been contacted by the cousin of this man, and it is clear why he could not be traced. His name was actually Bernard Hammerton Browning, aged 28, and he was a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. His family lived at Elmwood Road and the story that he was on his way to see his girlfriend was true.
He is buried in Chiswick New Cemetery, near Chiswick Bridge, only a few hundred yards from where he died. The grave is on the right hand side and is identifiable because it is a War Grave and there are not many of these in this cemetery. The History Society is hoping to obtain a copy of his photograph from his family and to place this and a picture of his grave in the local studies collection so that his death is properly recorded.
Now the Society hopes someone will come forward and provide information about Ada Harrison to complete the picture of these three people who lost their lives to the first V2 to hit England.
September 23, 2004