Having a good time while the bombs were dropping was a point of honour for many people during the Blitz. At least it made you feel alive. We know that one of my diarist June’s drinking partners was John Crocker, who served with her at Ambulance Station 22 in Danvers Street, Chelsea.
It took me some time to identify John Crocker (it is a reasonably common name), until I remembered that June had left a clue: she wrote that he was a first cousin of “Peggy Edgcumbe’s husband”. June’s friend Piers Edgcumbe, who was killed at Dunkirk, had a sister, Margaret; through some careful deduction and with the help of thepeerage.com I came to John Delamain Crocker (1907–1989), a Sandhurst-educated army major and Somerset farmer.
“Spent morning peeling potatoes with Crocker (in his eye glass and bow tie),” she wrote on 24 April 1941. She mentioned that he had a brother, Leslie.
The photo of Crocker with other LAAS drivers was taken in Paultons Square, Chelsea (the building behind him was the pub The Black Lion, where many of the ambulance crew drank – it is more recently known as The Chelsea Pig). Crocker is, no surprise, wearing a bow tie.
Crocker was then 34. Two years later he married Tatiana Nancy Graubert at the Russian Orthodox Church in Emperor’s Gate, South Kensington and left the ambulance service to enlist as a marine gunner in the Maritime Artillery on the dangerous route across the Atlantic, defending the British ships from German submarines.
His younger brother George Leslie, a major in the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in Italy in 1943. John died in 1989.
(With thanks to @steve_hunnisett for helping me identify the location of the photo.)