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Gerald Norman Totterdell

Served with Essex County Constabulary from Jan 3, 1939 and died on Dec 17, 1942.

Police Constable Gerald Norman Totterdell was killed on Thursday, 17th December 1942, along with his brother, Leading Telegraphist Ronald Gordon Totterdell, when a German U-boat torpedoed and sunk their 1,350 ton destroyer, H.M.S. Firedrake, in the north Atlantic.

Gerald was an Ordinary Seaman, number C/JX 374499. He was 23 years old, having been born at Rayleigh on 25th March 1920. His father was the well-respected HQ-based Police Superintendent George Henry Rookwood Totterdell, husband of Gertrude Lucy Totterdell of Neu Court, Springfield. He was a former Boys Brigade Staff Sergeant in Chelmsford.

Gerald joined Essex County Constabulary on 3rd January 1939, having previously been employed as a clerk with Essex County Council at Chelmsford. After his initial period at Headquarters he was posted to Clacton from 25th March 1939 where he served in the CID. He was called up for service by the Royal Navy from 24th August 1942, less than six months before his death, and was trained at Shotley and Chatham. His brother, Ronald, had recently passed his Petty Officer exams, having been in the navy since soon after leaving Trinity Road School when aged 16.

After training he had served on the ill-fated H.M.S. Cornwall and had spent three years in China, during which time the war broke out. A near fatal illness had forced his return to England to recuperate and once home he met Gerald and the two obtained the necessary special permit to enable them to sail together. Both brothers are commemorated on the Springfield War Memorial, while Gerald is also remembered on panel 58,1 of the Chatham Naval Memorial in Kent.

The deaths of Gerald and Ronald Totterdell was not the first wartime tragedy that the family had suffered. In August 1940 Mrs. Totterdell's sister-in-law and niece had been killed when a German aircraft bombed their home in Gainsborough Crescent, Springfield.

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