London Borough of Enfield

London Borough of Enfield London Borough of Enfield logo

A to Z of services

Famous Five’s heroism the pride of Enfield

Published Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Special commemorative paving stones recognising the heroism of five soldiers from Enfield who won Victoria Crosses during World War One will be installed to mark the centenary of the conflict.

World War I

Following an announcement earlier this year by the Department for Communities and Local Government revealing that commemorative paving slabs would be presented to the home towns of World War One heroes in time for 2014, Enfield Council began a search for its own brave band of brothers – and came up with the names of five Enfield servicemen who were awarded the Victoria Cross – the nation’s highest award for gallantry.

Captain Alastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid, from New Southgate, Lance-Corporal John Alexander Christie, from Edmonton, Sergeant Frederick Charles Booth, from Enfield, Second Lieutenant Alfred Herring, from Palmers Green and Private Robert Ryder from Enfield all displayed extraordinary heroism under fire to win Victoria Crosses and will be commemorated on the special paving slabs.

But Enfield Council is also keen to hear from residents who may know of other Victoria Cross recipients from the borough who should also be honoured and wants them to get in touch ahead of next year’s centenary.

Enfield Council’s Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure, Youth and Localism, Cllr Bambos Charalambous said: “Enfield was home to some of the bravest of the brave during World War One, and I am delighted that we will be able to recognise their heroism and establish a lasting memorial to their actions during World War One.

“We’re almost positive we have managed to track down all of our Victoria Cross recipients, but if residents find any more, we’d be grateful if they could get in touch so we can include them in our commemorations.”

To let the Council know about Victoria Cross recipients contact John Clark at Enfield Museum Service on 020 8379 2724 or email Museum

Details of individual Victoria Cross recipients:

Alastair Malcolm Cluny McReady-Diarmid:
Born: 2 March 1888, New Southgate
Died: 1 December 1917, France
Date of Gazette: 15 March, 1918

On 30 November/1 December 1917 at the Moeuvres Sector, France, when the enemy penetrated into our position, and the situation was extremely critical, Captain McReady-Diarmid led his company through a heavy barrage and immediately engaged the enemy and drove them back at least 300 yards, causing numerous casualties and taking 27 prisoners.

The following day the enemy again attacked and drove back another company which had lost all its officers. The captain called for volunteers, and leading the attack, again drove them back. It was entirely due to his marvellous throwing of bombs that the ground was regained, but he was eventually killed by a bomb. He is commemorated on the Cambrai Memorial to the Missing and his Victoria Cross is displayed at the National Army Museum, Chelsea.

Born Arthur Malcolm Drew, son of Herbert L. Drew and Fanny A. Drew (nee McReady) in New Southgate, he spent the majority of his life in Middlesex, first at 1 Hermitage Road, Tottenham and then at 71 Goldsmith Avenue, Acton, where he lived with his parents and siblings until marriage.

As a boy he attended Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School for Boys in Barnet, Hertfordshire. When he married Hilda aged 27 in 1915, he set up home in Dursley, Gloucestershire. In April 1927 his daughter Alizon wore his Victoria Cross when the Prince of Wales opened the White Rock Pavilion, Hastings. She spoke to the Prince briefly about how she was proud of her father.

John Alexander Christie:
Born: 14 May, 1895, Edmonton
Died: 10 September, 1967, Cheshire
Date of Gazette: 17 February, 1918

On 21/22 of December 1917 at Fejja, Palestine, after a position had been captured, the enemy immediately made counter-attacks up the communication trenches.

Lance-Corporal Christie, seeing what was happening, took a supply of bombs and went along about 50 yards in the open along the communication trench and bombed the enemy. He continued to do this in spite of heavy opposition until a block had been established. On his way back he bombed more of the enemy who were moving up the trench. His prompt action cleared a difficult position at a most difficult time and saved many lives.

Son of Margaret and John, he was born and lived at 52 Warwick road, Upper Edmonton and by age 15 was living at 35 Fairbridge Road, Holloway. On 12th December 1909 he started as a Railway Clerk at Euston Station. He was a shareholder in Great Western Railway. After the war he became a commercial traveller and then went into the catering and wine business.

He drove food-aid wagons in London during the General Strike of 1926 and attended the Victoria Cross dinner in the Royal Gallery at the House of Lords on 9 November 1929.

Frederick Charles Booth:
Born: 6 March, 1890, Upper Holloway
Died: 14 September, 1960, Brighton
Date of Gazette: 8 June, 1917

On 12 February, 1917 at Johannesbruck, near Songea, East Africa, during an attack in thick bush on the enemy position and under very heavy rifle fire, Sergeant Booth went forward alone and brought in a man who was dangerously wounded. Later he rallied native troops who were badly disorganised and brought them to the firing line. On many previous occasions this NCO had set a splendid example of pluck, and endurance.

Born to Thomas Charles Booth and Lydia Jane Booth, Frederick began his life at 27 Lascotts Road, Wood Green. By the 1901 census, when he was 11 years old, the family lived at 38 Wellington Road, Enfield, where Frederick attended Enfield Grammar School and Cheltenham College. The electoral register shows that by 1920 he lived at 39a Mercers Road, Holloway.

Alfred Cecil Herring:
Born: 16 October, 1888, Tottenham
Died: 10 August, 1966, Weybridge
Date of Gazette: 7 June 1918

On 23/24 March 1918 at Montagne Bridge, France, the enemy had gained a position on the south bank of the canal and Second Lieutenant Herring’s post was surrounded, but he immediately counter-attacked and recaptured the position, together with 20 prisoners and six machine guns.

During the night the post was continually attacked, but all attacks were beaten off, largely due to the fact that Lieutenant Herring was frequently visiting his men and cheering them up. It was owing to his bravery and handling of his troops that the enemy advance was held up for 11 hours at a very critical period.

Alfred Herring lived at many Enfield addresses in his lifetime. He began his life at 53, The Avenues, Tottenham and by age 23 he had moved to 143 Fox Lane, Palmers Green.

It was at this address that he was called up to the army. At age 35 he moved to number 96 Fox Lane and by the next year he had moved again to The Fairway, Old Park Ridings, Winchmore Hill, and moved to number 114 two years later.

In 1935, age 45, he moved to Windsmill, Windmill Hill, Enfield and stayed there until 1949, when he moved, age 60, to 44 Malvern Road.

He later received the rank of Major and was a Chartered Accountant by profession. In 2006 a new pub in the Wetherspoons chain in Green Lanes, Palmers Green was named after him (The Alfred Herring). His Victoria Cross is displayed at the Royal Logistic Corps Museum.

Robert Edward Ryder:
Born: 17 December, 1895, Harefield, Middlesex
Died: 1 December, 1978, Hucknall, Northampton
Date of Gazette: 16 November, 1916

On the 26 September 1916 at Thiepval, France, Private Ryder’s company was held up by heavy rifle fire and all his officers had become casualties. For want of leadership the attack was flagging when Private Ryder, realising the situation and without a moment’s thought for his own safety dashed, absolutely alone, at the enemy trench and by skilful handling of his Lewis gun succeeded in clearing the trench.

This very gallant act inspired his comrades, made the subsequent advance possible and turned what could have been failure into success.

Fourth son of Charles and Jane Ryder, Robert lived at The Old Workhouse, Brakspear road, Harefield, Middlesex. He married Rose Frearson in 1936 and He attended a reception at Buckingham Palace in July 1968 with 180 other holders of the Victoria Cross.

At this time he lived at 4 Albuhera Close, Enfield with his wife. His Victoria Cross is displayed in the Lord Ashcroft VC Gallery in the Imperial War Museum.

More articles in the news archive.