From: Ted Perkins
Some years ago I contacted the Peckham Society while searching for WWII memorials in the Peckham area and, despite your help, nothing was found. The following account stems from that contact and may be of interest to your supporters. It highlights the importance of maintaining community relations.
The Perkins family grew up in Peckham in the early 1930s and on 21 October 1944 my brother Arthur lost his life while driving a tank somewhere near Hertogenbosch in Holland. A couple of years ago I started to enquire if there were any WWII memorials in the Peckham area devoted to the fallen in WWII and it was then that I became aware of the Peckham Society. I made contact with you and you circulated my request for information but could find nothing locally.
Strangely, and this is where the story really starts, a few weeks later the Society received an enquiry from a church organisation in Bermondsey which had been asked by a gentleman in Holland if they could help him locate, or find anything about, a Perkins family from Peckham as he was trying to find relations of the crew of a Cromwell tank that had been destroyed in his village of Geffen in 1944 – what a co-incidence!
Needless to say, the Society promptly put Ruud Verhagen of Geffen in touch with me at Crowborough in East Sussex and I was able to provide him with a lot of our family wartime history.
Ruud Verhagen works for the local museum and was working on a project to record all that had happened in Geffen during the war and to restore the local war memorial. He feels that the local schoolchildren should know all about the things that happened where they live and he often gives lectures in nearby schools.
I too have benefitted from his research as I now know that my brother was the driver of a Cromwell tank and that he had four other crew members plus their names and ages. I also now know exactly where the action took place as he has sent to me a graphic description of the events that day provided by Mijnheer Kees van der Rijt who was 18 years old in 1944. The project is now complete and we have been invited to attend the commemoration service and unveiling of the memorial in Geffen on 20 October and then to view the completed exhibition. It should also be possible for us to visit the war graves cemetery in Uden just a few kilometres away.
Thank you Peckham Society for showing how important emails can be in linking us all together.