By Jill Pearce

Pictured Left is the cap badge for the Derbyshire Yeomanry with whom Doug Bruton served)


 It's often amazing what just one photograph can reveal. I was recently sent a photograph by a lady named Jill Pearce (nee Bruton) showing a wartime picture of her father, Doug Bruton, dating back to 1939. This was just as the second world war had started and a young Doug Bruton, aged just 16 years, had volunteered with the local fire brigade at Devonshire Road in Tottenham. He was too young to serve in any critical incidents so he acted as a messenger boy which was a vital means of communications in those difficult times.

Clearly a young Doug was determined to contribute to the war effort in any way that he could but it was later in the war that he was to join up and bravely face some of the most dangerous ordeals and bloodiest battles that he could ever have imagined.



Douglas Bruton pictured top row - Fifth from Left


Douglas Bruton was born in Hackney in the early spring of 1923. The family, comprising his parents Reginald and Bertha Bruton, along with a young Doug and older brother Roy and younger brother Kenneth, was later to move to Tottenham and lived in Courtman Road which was just off Tottenham Roundway and very close to Devonshire Road. We understand that Doug had lived in Tottenham from soon after his birth until about the mid 1950s.  

There follows some notes written by his daughter, Jill Pearce (nee Bruton), that provide some more background to her family and her late father's wartime service.


 NOTES: I thought that you might be interested in this. It is a photo of the Fire Brigade division based at Devonshire Road School at the beginning of WW2.  My father Doug Bruton 5th in from the left, top row and my grandfather Tom Scott 6th in from the left, top row met there and through their friendship, my father met my mother - Tom’s eldest daughter,  and the rest is history. My father was too young to join up at the beginning of the war but subsequently joined up and drove a tank in North Africa and Italy. Both families all lived in Tottenham, around the White Hart Lane area.



 I know that my father went to Risley Road school at one point. He left school when he was 14 and did a Pitman’s course and then, in 1939, joined the Fire Brigade as a boy messenger. His family lived in Courtman Road for a very long time and his brother married and went to Waltheof Gardens where he lived for about 60 years.

My generation of the family moved away from Tottenham but in the first half of the 20th century, there were many Bruton's and even more Scott's and Hartley's (my grandmother’s maiden name). My grandmother was one of 12 children and most of them settled in the White Hart Lane area.

 When my father was old enough, he joined up. They wanted him to go into a Guards Regiment as he was 6ft tall but for some unknown reason, he joined the Derbyshire Yeomanry and started off as a motorcycle messenger then graduated to tanks. His war took him to North Africa where he fought at El Alamein and then into Italy where he was at Monte Cassino. This was a tragic battle for many and he lost some of his best friends there. 

In 1942, the 2nd Derbyshire Yeomanry fought in North Africa at the Battle of Alam el Halfa and the Second Battle of El Alamein (as part of the 7th Armoured Division). Returning to the United Kingdom in late 1943.




The 1st Derbyshire then moved to Italy with the 6th Armoured Division, where it saw heavy fighting during May 1944, including action at the Battle of Monte Cassino. Through July and August, it fought in the advance to Florence, and in April 1945 saw action at the Argenta Gap and Fossa Cembalina
Afterwards his unit worked their way up through Yugoslavia into Western Europe and then home. Many years after the war, he wrote an account of his life as a soldier during the war - in keeping with many, he had not discussed the many painful memories when he returned, and he noted that when he got back, the conductor on the bus from Turnpike Lane wouldn’t take any money from him for the fare.

I am not sure if I mentioned it before but my father refused promotions because he wanted to get back home as soon as possible and the rumour was that NCOs and junior commissioned officers would need to stay in Europe for longer. He was however very favoured by the man who had been his Lieutenant at Monte Cassino and was awarded the MC in that battle. He ended the war as Lt Col Patrick (Paddy) Radford and they stayed in contact until my father’s death. We still have a painting of the Battle of Monte Cassino sent by him to my father. Patrick Radford was to become Deputy Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire and was awarded the CBE.





Doug Bruton married Sylvia Scott, the daughter of his early Fire Brigade comrade, in 1952 and they were to have 2 daughters.

After my parents got married, they saved up and bought a house in Edmonton. In the mid 1970s they moved to Chingford and both lived in the same house until their deaths in 1996 for my father and my mother in 2017. 

My father, after he left the army, did a brief stint at WHSmith on one of the London stations, but then went to work for Pearl Assurance where he worked in their offices on ’the boundary’ between Tottenham and Edmonton and then moved to their office at Chingford Mount.  He also worked for the same company for more than 40 years.  I think that this is rarely seen nowadays!
My Mum worked at Kolok Manufacturing in Tariff Road off of Brantwood Road for more than 40 years, until its closure in the 1980s - she had started work there in 1940. Their premises in Tariff Road, Tottenham were opposite JAP Motors.

Sadly Doug Bruton died at the Whipps Cross Hospital, Leytonstone in April 1996 at the age of 73 years.

Jill Pearce

Article prepared by Alan Swain - December 2021 from notes and photographs provided by Jill Pearce.