Auxiliary Fireman Cecil Farley was born on 1 June 1897 in Tooting, the son of Henry James Knollys Farley (b.1859) and Margaret Nicoll Farley née Forbes (1870-1923). His parents were married on 2 July 1894 at St Saviour's Church, Southwark on 22 July 1894 but this was a felonious marriage as his father's first wife, Emma Farley née Mason (1856-1913) with whom he had ten children, was still alive at the time. On 25 February 1895 his father appeared ay the Central Criminal Court, Old Bailey on a charge of bigamy. His father was found guilty and sentenced to one day's imprisonment.
He was baptised on 4 July 1897 at Tooting Graveney, Wandsworth and the baptismal register shows the family were living at 28 Longley Road with his father's occupation recorded as a traveller. His father died and in 1907 his mother remarried to a Charles Thomas Price Bewley (1870-1942), a Journeyman Blacksmith, and the 1911 census shows them living with his three other children at 19 Anchor Buildings, Castle Street, Southwark.
On 20 October 1917 he joined the Royal Air Force, service number 101911 and the 1918 absent voters register shows his home address still to be at 19 Anchor Buildings holding the rank of 2nd Air Mechanic. His stepfather was also shown on this register as a Sergeant in the Royal Army Medical Corps. He was transferred to the RAF Reserve on 7 February 1919. From 1920 to 1925 electoral registers show he is living with his mother and stepfather using the name of Cecil Farley Bewley at 20 Park Street, Stoney Street, Southwark. His mother died in April 1923 and in 1924 his stepfather was remarried for a third time to a Lilian Valentine Dover (1893-1994).
On 25 August 1928 he married Elsie Florence May Gower (1899-1957), at the Church of St John the Divine, Balham, where the marriage register shows him as a carpenter and his wife as mental nurse. The register records their addresses as 52 Byrne Road, Balham, SW12, and they were still listed there on the 1937 electoral register. The 1939 England and Wales Register shows him attached to the District Fire Station at Glebe Way, West Wickham, Kent and his normal occupation was listed a Carpenter and Joiner. Their home address was at 5 Linden Leas, West Wickham.
He died, aged 43 years, on 20 April 1941 when a German parachute mine landed on Auxiliary Fire Service Sub Station 24U, which was housed in Old Palace LCC School, St. Leonards Street, Poplar. He was buried at Beckenham Cemetery and Crematorium, Elmers End Road, Beckenham, BR3 4TD. Probate records confirm that his body was not recovered until 21 April 1941 and that administration of his estate was granted to his widow on 18 July 1941 with his effects totalling £1,338-16s-5d.
He is also commemorated on the Firefighters Memorial and in their Book of Remembrance. His name is also recorded in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour that is held near the entrance to St George's Chapel, at the west end of Westminster Abbey.
Credit for this entry to: Alan Patient of www.plaquesoflondon.co.uk and Andrew Behan.