b. 13/06/1910 Edmonton, London. d. 03/01/1987 Forest Hill, London.
DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 02/03/1945 London.
Albert Edward Heming (1910-1987) was born on the 13th June 1910 at 6 Ranelagh Road, Wood Green, near Edmonton, Middlesex. He was one of eight children of William Henry and Annie Elizabeth Heming (nee Amos), with his father being a sergeant major in the East Yorkshire Regiment and his mother was a seamstress. His father served in the Boer War and the First World War. He never recovered from his wounds suffered in the Great War and died in 1919.
After attending school in Forest Hill, SE London, he entered the building trade. Having married Mary Lacey on 23rd September 1930 in Catford, when he was working as a baker’s roundsman, the couple went on to have six children. Heming then undertook a variety of different jobs such as mosaic tiler, carpenter and milkman. He joined the Civil Defence Rescue Service in 1939 on the outbreak of WWII.
In March 1945, just two months before the end of the war in Europe, London was still under serious threat of air attack. One of those dealing with the damage was Heming, who was now Section Leader in Bermondsey, South East London. On 2nd March 1945, a V2 rockets fell and several people were trapped in the wreckage of a Roman Catholic Church and adjacent buildings in Bermondsey.
Heming, on hearing a faint call for help, took an axe and a saw and crawled between the joists and beams, making his way through the rubble to the trapped man. He removed the debris and broke away the furniture around the victim until it was found that he was pinned down by a main timber beam which was fixed to the floor. Any movement of the beam would have brought about a complete collapse with fatal results for both men. Gas was also leaking into the building. Despite being told of the risk of continuing was too great, Heming slowly and carefully removed the debris from beneath the man until, after three hours, he was released. The rescued man, Father Arbuthnott, later presented Heming with a silver crucifix.
Heming’s GC was announced on 17th July 1945, and he remained close friends with Father Arbuthnott for the rest of his life. He was presented with his GC by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on 16th October 1945. Father Arthuthnott met Ted outside after the investiture and posed for a press photograph. In 1959, Heming was the surprise guest on “This Is Your Life” about Father Arbuthnott. Despite Heming’s poor health following his exposure to the gas, he returned to work, and worked for the Ministry of Works, before starting his own toy manufacturing business. Towards the end of his career, he worked in the photographic department of the Imperial War Museum. He retired in 1975, and he struggled for money and almost had to sell his George Cross to make ends meet. He was present at the opening of the VC and GC Gallery at the Imperial War Museum, which was opened by Godfrey Place VC.
Heming died in Forest Hill, London on 3rd January 1987, aged 76. His ashes were interred in St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, Cudham, Kent, following a cremation at Honor Oak Crematorium, Camberwell. His medals were held by the Heming family, until they were stolen in a house burglary in February 2018. They have yet to be recovered.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: STOLEN FROM A HOUSE IN FEBRUARY 2018.
BURIAL PLACE: ST PETER AND ST PAUL CHURCHYARD, CUDHAM, KENT
ASHES INTERRED (CREMATED AT BRENCHLEY GARDENS CREMATORIUM, HONOR OAK.)
Kevin Brazier – Image of Heming GC headstone in St Peter and St Paul Churchyard, Cudham.