Clements K – 1940

BB Gazette Vol.49 No.4 – The Boys’ Brigade Cross for Heroism has been awarded to Corporal Kenneth Frederick Clements, aged eighteen, of the 76th London Company, for outstanding bravery and disregard for his own safety in attempting to rescue his aunt from a bombed and burning house on the night of September 11th-12th. This is the first B.B. award for heroism made for an action performed in the circumstances of war.

In company with his mother, grandmother, aunt and a male cousin of twenty-six, Corporal Clements was in the kitchen of his grandmother’s house in Forest Hill, London. It was a night of heavy bombing, a number of high explosive and incendiary bombs falling in the neighbourhood. About 1 a.m. an oil bomb struck the house, which was partly demolished and immediately enveloped in flames from the burning oil.

At the time his aunt was in an upstairs bedroom fetching a blanket. After getting his mother and grandmother out of the wrecked kitchen into the back garden, Corporal Clements, clad only in trousers, shirt and socks, at once re-entered the kitchen with the purpose of helping his aunt. Finding the stairs a mass of flames and the fire rapidly spreading he was forced back into the garden.

Accompanied by his cousin, he immediately climbed on to a lean-to at the back of the house, and leaving his cousin there, despite the fact that the floorboards of the room were on fire, he re-entered the house a second time through a broken upstairs window. Dashing through the burning passage to the front bedroom he found the room partly demolished and in flames. He reached his aunt only to find her dead. Realising that she was beyond his help he then left the house by the way he had entered, not long before the floor crashed down. Corporal Clements was only slightly injured as a result of his efforts.

Boys Brigade Cross for Heroism

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This account has been complied using records held in The Boys’ Brigade Archive Collection, local and national newspaper archives and other sources. If there are any omissions or errors we sincerely apologise, and request that you come forward with this information, so that this can be corrected.