Mr Hutchings, now aged 95 years, was recently awarded the Legion D'Honneur for his wartime
activities. The Legion D'Honneur is awarded by the French authorities and is the highest French
order of merit for military and civil merits and was established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte.
The following is a brief background statement of events leading to the granting of this honour.
Reginald had a very active wartime experience. As a member of the Royal Marine Commandos
he took part in combined operations, spending time in the protection of the North Atlantic convoys
and was also involved in the commando raid on Dieppe in August 1942.
On the morning of 6th June 1944 (D-Day) Reginald landed on Gold beach, Normandy.
His unit was carried ashore in 14 landing craft, only one of which survived that day.
Of the unit itself, about half were casualties on the first day.
It was for this heroic, traumatic experience that Reginald was awarded the Legion D'Honneur.
( although he had to wait to recieve this award until he was 94 years old !! )
Reginald then spent time fighting in Northern Europe until VE Day.
And then, as if this wasn't enough, he was shipped off to New Guinea, in the Pacific,
in preparation for an invasion of Japan! Fortunately, the atomic bomb ended the war
and Reginald was de-mobbed and returned to civilian life.
A charmed life indeed !
Initially Reginald commenced his Banking Career with Martins Bank and spent 17 years
as a clerical "back room" man until 1969 when Martins was bought by Barclays. He then
spent a further 18 years with Barclays up to his retirement.
An exceptional and eventful life to be proud of, and an honour well deserved.
In correspondence with Reginald with regard to mentioning him on our website,
he self-effacingly thanked us for our interest in his war record and said "it's comforting to know
that there is someone out there who cares about how our precious way of life - our every day of life -
was preserved so that we could live and breathe in the air of freedom"
We all care Reginald, and are indebted to you - each and every one of us.
Also recently received the Legion D'Honneur
Here, in his own words, are recollections of his career in Banking and his wartime exploits
Present day with Wife Jean
"Strangely my ﬁrst connection with Barclays Bank was not good. It was back in 1939 and war was in the ofﬁng and the big ﬁve banks (Barclays, Westminster, Midland, National Provincial and LLoyds) plus all the smaller banks including Martins evacuated their Clearing Departments to Trentham Gardens in Staffordshire.
Both my two sisters and brother worked for Martins Bank and they were evacuated too. At the time I was working as an ofﬁce boy with a ﬁrm of printers/engineers and remained in Chadwell Heath with my parents. Apparently whilst working in Trentham gardens my eldest sister became friendly with a Barclays staff manager and asked him if he could ﬁnd a position for me but unfortunately my education was not up to Barclays standard.
It was during the blitz of 1940 that my father, who was an engineer by trade, obtained employment as a civilian instructor with the Air Ministry at a Royal Air Force Station Creden Hill in Herefordshire, leaving just myself and my mother to face the blitz at Chadwell Heath. However, around October 1940 my father suggested I give up my job in London and with my mother join him in Hereford. Sorry to be a bit long winded but I felt I had to explain the reason I was in Hereford which was to have quite an important bearing on my life. It was whilst I was in living in Hereford I found employment with the Air Ministry Works Directorate as a store keeper on an aerodrome being built at Madley and thereby hangs a tale: In January 1942 I was called up to serve with the 1st Battalion Kings Shropshire Light Infantry. Now, my father who served as a Lieutenant Quarter Master in the First World War in an Infantry Battalion advised me the cushiest number in an Infantry Battalion was in the Quarter Masters Stores. After serving in the KSLI for a few months a notice came around if we wanted to follow our civilian employment to apply forthwith. Bearing in mind my Father's advice I applied for a position in the QM's stores. Surprise surprise a few weeks later I was summoned to sit an exam at Royal Army Ordnance Corps depot at Hilsea Barracks Portsmouth. Apparently I was successful and consequently I was transferred to the RAOC. I was then posted to No 3 Command Ammunition Depot at Corsham, Wiltshire as a class 3 Ammunition Storeman. Now, the crux of all this information is that had I not become a Storeman with the Air Ministry I would not have been transferred out of the KSLI who suffered heavy casualties in the battle of Anzio, Southern Italy.
However back to reality; after serving a few months at Corsham I was transferred to 27th Ammunition Sub Depot situated near the village of Shefford in Bedfordshire. I remained there for a year and whilst there a sat further exams and eventually became a Storeman class one, which entitled me to a pay rise, much better than the two shillings a day which was the basic pay for a private soldier. It was whilst I was at Shefford we had a group of soldiers from the Canadian Royal Army Ordnance Corps to learn how to handle and store live Ammunition. And I was put in charge of them which was quite interesting as they would chat quite a bit as to what they got up to back home. Most of them were lumberjacks - incredibly strong and could lift a 7.2 shell, which weighed a hundredweight, on and off a lorry with ease. Now, this 27 ASD had ammunition dumps all over the place in Bedfordshire, even on the roadside on the main road into Bedford. Another area was on Lord Whitbread's estate which was a vast estate and the Manor House became an Ofﬁcers Mess.
One morning I was detailed to go to one dump just outside the village. The dump was in the woods just on the fringe of the village and whilst there I had a man approach me. He informed me he knew the woods well but as a civilian he was banned from entering them. Apparently there were Chestnut trees there and he said if I collected the chestnuts he would buy them off me. Sadly an hour later a messenger from the orderly room back at the camp handed me a telegram informing me my brother had been killed in a ﬂying accident. My brother was a ﬂight sergeant pilot. I was given compassionate leave to attend the funeral. So my supplying chestnuts and making a fortune did not materialise. After the funeral I returned to my unit (27 ASD) to learn I had been posted to another unit which was the 43rd Port Ammunition Detatchment. It was a small unit comprised of ﬁfteen or sixteen men including the commander who had the rank of Lieutenant We were posted to a depot at Donnington in Staffordshire for military training. I would add in the Ordnance Corp every few months we would do a fortnights military training. We would do riﬂe drill and then go to the riﬂe range and let off a few bullets from a sten gun or our Lee Enﬁeld Riﬂe After about a fortnights military training I was transferred to 36 Port Ammunition Detachment and posted to Longniddry in Scotland. There we participated in an exercise named Roundabout. I cannot remember much about it except it was practice of storing ammunition under enemy ﬁre. Although we did not know it it was in fact practice for the D-Day landings.
I think I left Longniddry in April 1944 and came back south where the unit was posted to Billingshurst where we were under canvas in a farmers ﬁeld. We were not there long before we were on the move again this time to Sevenoaks. Had quite an enjoyable time there as the swimming pool was nearby our billet and I think we went most days, also it was quite hot and I did get a bit of sun burn, but once again we were not there long before we were on the move again, this time to Waterlooville where things became more serious in as much as our billet was in a concentration camp and once in there you were not allowed out. This was all a part of the build up to the invasion of France and D-Day as we now know it - but then we had not a clue what was going on. It was a bit strange in the camp. Firstly there were Americans there. Then the ofﬁcers who usually had their own mess but in this instance had to mess with the us other ranks. After a few days we were on the move again but in this instance D-day was under way. Our unit was split into pairs and allocated to ammunition supply ships. Also on board would be a section of men from the Royal Engineers who would unload the cargo, Mainly our duty was to ensure the ammunition was handled correctly. For instance if the driving band of a shell was damaged, when ﬁred it could fall short of its target and explode amongst our own soldiers. On our boat we had a mixed load of shells and if a call came that a ﬁve point ﬁve shell was urgently needed then we would inform the sappers (men of the Royal Engineers) which ones to unload. We had an uneventful crossing of the Channel in convoy except our boat was so old it could not keep up with the rest so about every couple of hours we would have a destroyer pleading with us to keep up.
However, we arrived off the Normandy beaches on D-Day plus one but we had to wait to unload. The reason for this was a quite a number of block ships were being sunk to create an artiﬁcial harbour The beach I landed on was Sword Beach which was on the extreme ﬂank of the invasion force and in range of the German Gun at Le Havre ,although I think it was so far away their aim was not very good and it did little damage. However it was not long before we unloaded our cargo on to the waiting ducks (amphibian vehicles but once ashore became lorries) and I came ashore with the sappers in a duck. They dropped me off, once ashore and I set off towards the beach to ﬁnd the rest of my unit. Now, this is when I realised this was the real thing as on my journey I passed a ﬁeld hospital to witness dead bodies wrapped in blankets awaiting burial. I then carried on my search and came to a crossroads where a notice told me I was entering a forward area and this was backed up by an infantry man in a foxhole manning a Bren Gun.
I quickly retreated to the beaches and started a search for the rest of my unit which I soon found. I have forgotten to mention, apart from my battle order kit I also was in charge of a small cooker which I handed over to our cook although I don't think he used it for a while and we just relied on our compo rations. The compo ration was a box containing enough food for, I believe, fourteen men for one day, It also contained a tin containing cigarettes. Unfortunately the dockers who loaded the the landing craft with the compo boxes knew exactly where the cigarettes were and pinched the lot. Considering these were intended for the troops ﬁghting the Germans the dockers were not the most popular persons with the troops. However back to the beachhead. We were still being shelled by the German Artillery a little more heavily so we retired to some foxholes which had been dug earlier by our troops and spent the night in them. I had one close encounter with the shelling in as much a hole had been dug in a middle of a ﬁeld to be used as a latrine, and unfortunately when I needed to use it the German artillery had got it in their range, one of the fastest visits to a loo I have ever made. It is seventy four years ago all this happened so obviously my memory of what took place is a bit hazy and maybe some items may not be in chronically order. I think after that ﬁrst night and in the morning we were allocated merchant ships to board and supervise the unloading. The ships were built in America and constructed in some method which enabled them to churn out these vessels at a rapid rate and were called Empire boats because the name of the boat was preceded with the word Empire. We would stay aboard the boat until it was unloaded. On one occasion a landing craft came alongside to be loaded and taken ashore. A Royal Marine Lieutenant was in charge of the craft and when he saw me aboard the ship he called up to me and invited me aboard his craft to share a tot of Rum with him which was very enjoyable. I did mention earlier the Block Ships which were sunk to form a harbour off of Sword Beach. One of these ships was a very old French Battleship, a massive built boat, built around 1910. However, it had it uses as we used to board it to sleep. I managed to scrounge a hammock off a British warship, I had never slept in a hammock before but was surprised to ﬁnd how comfortable and warm it was. However, that did not last long as we commandeered a house which was still habitable. It was whilst we were there that I somehow cut my hand which turned sceptic, so I ended up in the ﬁeld hospital for a couple of days then I was shipped back to the main ﬁeld hospital just outside Bayeux where I remained for a week or so before rejoining my unit. By this time the Germans had retreated and were defeated at the Falaise Gap and Paris fell a few days later. Our unit then took up residence in an old Manor House on the fringes of Caen and we were engaged in collecting up live ammunition left behind in ﬁelds by our advancing army. I stayed in Caen for about a year before moving on to Antwerp for another year shipping ammunition back to the U.K. It was whilst I was at Antwerp I was detailed to escort a load of German Teller Mines back to the UK. I never discovered why they were required back in the UK. By the way, I had now been promoted to a Lance Corporal. I had a nice trip back to the UK, the sea was very calm and we arrived at the port of Newport where we off-loaded the mines onto a civilian Lorry, and then escorted them to an Ammunition Sub Depot in Bedfordshire where I stayed the night. The following day I went home as I had a week's privilege leave due to me. On my return to Antwerp I was promoted to Sergeant and posted to 301 Enemy Ammunition Depot Control Unit in Germany but I was sent to a Naval Shore Establishment namely H.M.S. Rupert where I had quite an enjoyable time, mostly horse riding and . drinking my daily rum ration in the Chiefs and Petty Ofﬁcers Mess. I did sign on for another six months and was ﬁnally demobbed in April 1947 having served ﬁve and a half years in the Army.
It was a bit daunting, my ﬁrst few weeks in civvy street, in as much all my pre war friends were married and raising families. I did think about joining the Mounted Division of the Metropolitan Police, although you had to do two years on the beat before being accepted for the mounted division. I discussed this with my Uncle who was the Manager at the Tothill Street Branch of Martins Bank, he did not think much of the police idea and said he would introduce me to Staff Department at Head Ofﬁce at 68 Lombard Street and arrange an interview. I had the interview, sat a small exam, and I was accepted and became a member of Martins Bank.
I started life in the bank in the Clearing Department at 68 Lombard Street, then moved on to Holloway Road Branch for twelve years mainly as chief cashier. Then ﬁfteen years at Africa House Kingsway ﬁrstly as chief cashier then chief foreign clerk. It was while I was at Kingsway in 1969 that we were taken over by Barclays Bank. In 1975 I was transferred to Kingsland Branch on the Foreign Desk and I remained there until I retired In 1982"
Mrs. Marie Evelyn Karstadt
Pensioner Mrs. Marie Evelyn Karstadt was one of more than a 1000 people recognized in the 2020 Queen's New Year Honours List. Marie, (more generally known as Evelyn), was awarded a British Empire Medal for her volunteering work and for services to the community in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham, an area she has lived in all her life. Last year Evelyn was also recognized by the mayor of London as part of an online gallery highlighting incredible women in the city.
Friends of Barking Hospital had little stands selling books and Evelyn’s husband was a volunteer there for many years. After he died in 1997 Evelyn struggled as she felt so lost without him. Following a suggestion by her doctor Evelyn decided she would take up volunteering at Barking Hospital, following on where her husband had left off.
Evelyn helped run the tea bar for 16 years before taking the Silver Surfer computer course at Barking library. She realized she wanted to stay and became one of their first ever volunteers. For seven years she helped people use the computers, particularly students who needed assistance with job applications.
Some of Evelyn’s best memories are of volunteering during the London Olympic Games. She was also a member of a choir which put on events across the borough during the Molten Festival.
And as if this wasn’t enough in 2018 Evelyn was awarded Freeman of the borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Evelyn said she didn’t believe it when she received the letter late in 2020, telling her she had received the BEM, and of course she had to keep the news secret pending the official announcement.
So, Evelyn has had an active life dedicated to serving the local community, culminating in the richly deserved BEM award which has been granted by our Queen.