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Remembered Today:

One-Legged Divers


IPT
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Whilst looking into a soldier called Myer Cohen, I looked up the CWGC address in Hampstead and found that the actor Sydney Keith had lived there.

 

Never having heard of the fellow, I looked him up and found that he was basically a Broomfield avatar waiting to happen. He was born in New York in 1901, as Abraham Lincoln Garcia, and died in Brighton in 1981.

 

s-l225.jpg

 

What's this got to do with the Great War, you may ask?  Well, nothing at all so far.

 

Keith played a character called "Sam Scram" in the 1943 film "It's That Man Again". He was Tommy Handley's Chicago gangster bodyguard -

 

"Boss, boss, sump'n terrible's happened. I had the whole set-up working sumpin' wonderful. It was a honey. You was in hook, line and sinker. It was a lalla. Gee! I'd done a marvellous job for you, boss, and then.... "

 

MV5BZTU3NWJjM2YtYWQ5NS00Njc1LTk4ZWYtMDcz

 

If you like that sort of thing;

 

 

 

And so to the Great War connection? No, not quite. Patience, old friends.

 

This led me to the following passage from "Funny Way to be a Hero";

 

diver.jpg

 

Intrigued by the concept of a one-legged diver, I investigated further and found that the were once quite the thing (there was no television, remember). When they weren't flinging themselves off piers, they were jumping off boats, occasionally into flames and occasionally on a bicycle.

 

The most famous of these men was Professor Gadsby (many of these men were apparently professors but academia was clearly not the life for them). He was also known as Frank Gadsby, F.C. Gadsby and Peggy Gadsby.

 

There is a statue of him in Southport.

 

5970963827_b3ec73745c_b.jpg

 

No doubt you will have gathered that Gadsby lost his leg in the Great War. However, you have gathered incorrectly my impetuous friends. Gadsby was born with one leg.

 

There was another celebrated plunging uniped, however, His name was Norman Garner. As far as I can see, he was 1805/ 200274 Pte Norman Garner, King's Liverpool.

 

First name(s)  Norman

Last name  Garner

Service number  1805

Rank  Bugler

Badge number  38070

Enlistment date  25-Feb-1914

Discharge date  21-Feb-1917

Regiment/unit  5th K.L.R.

Cause of discharge  W. 392 (xvi)

Whether served overseas  Yes

Badge date of issue  24-Mar-1917

Record set  Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920

 

Norman was reported as "badly wounded" on 8/8/1916. His son, George, says that he was wounded by shrapnel and lay in a shell hole for two nights before a German soldier carried him to the British lines, his leg was gangrenous and had to be amputated immediately. 

 

I don't know which of the one-legged divers was the inspiration for ITMA. It may have been Garner, Gadsby or another of the "Professors" who plied their trade at New Brighton, Southport and other piers.

 

The moral of the story, of course, is that you shouldn't google CWGC addresses. It always leads to trouble.

Edited by IPT
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29 minutes ago, IPT said:

Whilst looking into a soldier called Myer Cohen, I looked up the CWGC address in Hampstead and found that the actor Sydney Keith had lived there.

 

Never having heard of the fellow, I looked him up and found that he was basically a Broomfield avatar waiting to happen. He was born in New York in 1901, as Abraham Lincoln Garcia, and died in Brighton in 1981.

 

s-l225.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like Arthur "Where's me Washboard?" Atkinson. 

 

Thank you for your kind thought.

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1 minute ago, Steven Broomfield said:

 

Looks like Arthur "Where's me Washboard?" Atkinson. 

 

Thank you for your kind thought.

 

How queer!

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Here's Gadsby.  I note that the statue which is based on him, has a right leg only. Also, Garner had a stump which Gadsby didn't.

 

Possibly, the statue is not based on a photograph. On the off-chance that it is, then it could be Pte Garner.

 

e9374a7ae14af85fb67ff6f5634351fb.jpg

 

 

I'll save one of you reprobates the trouble;

 

 

 

 

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Pykett1.jpg

 

There are service papers for Bernard Arthur Pykett. Born 1888 and enlisted 1903.

 

Pykett3.jpg

Edited by IPT
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Pykett4.jpg

 

In 1913, Pykett was awarded a testimonial on vellum by the Royal Humane Society for rescuing a 9 year old boy from the River Trent.

 

He wasn't averse to a bit of insubordinate language to a superior officer, and was given 2 years with hard labour in November 1914.

 

In 1920, he was assaulting a tram conductor with his crutch.

Edited by IPT
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9 hours ago, IPT said:

Pykett1.jpg

 

 

 

 

They got married?

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Going back a few posts to Tommy Handley, it seems that he served in the RNAS, as an A.C. 2 in a kite balloon section.  He had an elder brother, known locally as Jack but probably John, and I have wondered if he is the officer referred to by Helen McCarthy in her 'Citizen Soldiers', a study of the social fabric of 6th King's and Liverpool Scottish.  Any views?

 

Daggers

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The brother was John Handley, born c1890. On the 1911 census, they are living at 26 Brentwood Avenue, Aigburth. Both brothers were clerks.

 

I've no idea if it's him, but the only John Handley, Liverpool Regiment, that apparently had no middle name was 2445/240720

 

First name(s) J.

Last name Handley

Service number 240720

Rank Rifleman

Badge number 419510

Enlistment date 14-Sep-1914

Discharge date 29-Apr-1918

Regiment/unit 6th. K. L. R.

Cause of discharge W. 392 (xvi) Bi.

Badge date of issue 04-Jul-1918

Record set Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920

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