Fedor George Bunge

Photographs

These two photographs of Fedor were kindly supplied by one of his relatives; the one on the left is presumed to have been taken before the war, whilst the other shows him in the uniform of the Royal Artillery.

Name on Plaque

F. G. BUNGE

Connection with Effingham

He was not native to Effingham. Nor were his parents, but by 1947 they were living in Effingham.

Genealogy

His family origins lay in the Netherlands. The ancestry of his grandfather Fedor Christian Bunge has been traced in this RootsWeb WorldConnect project. Fedor Christian was born in 1850 and in 1876 he married, in Amsterdam, to Wilhelmine Jacoba Johanna Van Heukelom. The year before, he and his older brother Ernst Alexander had formed a company in Amsterdam, as reported in the Nieuwe Amsterdamsche Courant on June 2nd 1875 (Issue 13812, Page 1). The approximate translation from the Dutch is as follows:

Deed, on the 31st May 1875, in front of the Notary J. H. RICHARD and witnesses in Amsterdam passed between ERNST ALEXANDER Bunge, Commission agent, and Fedor CHRISTIAN Bunge, without occupation, both living in Amsterdam, to form a COMPANY driving trade in general, both for its own account and as a commission for any other company, to be located in Amsterdam and driven under the firm of A. & F. Bunge, to be signed by both partners but only for matters relating to their trade and not requiring or ensuring guarantees of commitments beyond the scope of this Company.

There are also some documents in Dutch on the internet intimating that Fedor Christian had business interests in rubber plantations in Sumatra, then part of the Dutch East Indies.

He and Wilhelmine produced three children, the first being Julius Henri Otto Bunge, the future father of Fedor George.

Julius was born in Amsterdam on May 19th 1877. He evidently trained as an engineer at the (then) Polytechnic School of Delft (today, the Delft University of Technology), since records of the Delft Students’ Hockey and Bandy Club state that he was that club’s secretary in 1898.

In 1902 Julius made his first journey to America, but it is not yet known what his purpose was on this occasion. His engineering creativity became evident soon afterwards, when a new patent application for “Improvements in Turbine Engines”, dated May 31st 1905, was registered in his name at the London Patent Office and published in the engineering journal Page’s Weekly on June 16th of that year [Volume 40, No. 6, Page 1324].

His future wife was Lilian Margaret (née) Tosh, the daughter of Edmund George Tosh and Sarah Ann (née Logan) who had married in 1874 [GRO Ref: Cockermouth 10b 969, 1874 (Q2)].

Edmund was a son of the Scottish engineer and metallurgist George Tosh (1813-1900), who became Locomotive Superintendent of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway besides making important technical contributions to locomotive engineering. Edmund likewise had a distinguished technical career. Born in 1847, he studied chemistry at Glasgow and then gained a PhD in Germany. After a period working as an analytical chemist in Whitehaven he moved to Ulverston and became manager there of the North Lonsdale Iron and Steel works, a position he held for 23 years. He was highly active in many ways within his community.

Lilian was born on December 5th 1882 and registered in the following quarter [GRO Ref: Ulverston 8e 808, 1883 (Q1)]; she was baptised at Ulverston, Lancashire in February 1883 [IGI: Batch C019788]. In 1889 the family was living at a property “Flan How” but by 1891 were at “Lund Hall”, when Lilian was aged 8:

1891 Census
Lund Hall, Ulverston, Lancashire : PRO Ref: RG12 Piece 3476 Folio 29 Page 30

Edmund G. Tosh : head : mar : 43 : manager of iron works : Whitehaven, Cumberland
Sarah A. Tosh : wife : mar : 40 : — : Maryport, Cumberland
Isabel Tosh : dau : unm : 14 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire
Walter G. Tosh : son : unm : 11 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire
Marian C. Tosh : dau : unm : 9 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire
Lilian M. Tosh : dau : unm : 8 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire
Hugh M. Tosh : son : unm : 6 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire

Edmund died aged “51” at his home, “The Lund”, on April 22nd 1899 [GRO Ref: Ulverston 8e 552, 1899 (Q2)]. His obituary was published on April 27th in The Whitehaven News and gives an extensive account of his remarkable life, his esteem among the locals and his impressive funeral; it can be viewed or downloaded (as pdf) here.

By 1901 Lilian was living in the household of one of her brothers:

1901 Census
No. 59, Lightburne Avenue, Ulverston, Lancashire : PRO Ref: RG13 Piece 4005 Folio 34 Page 21

Edmund Logan Tosh : head : unm : 23 : blast furnace superintendent : Ulverston, Lancashire
Lilian Margaret Tosh : sister : unm : 18 : — : Ulverston, Lancashire
Hugh Maurice Tosh : brother : unm : 16 : apprentice to analytical chemist : Ulverston, Lancashire
Annie Logan : grandmother : widow : 82 : living on own means : Ulverston, Lancashire
and 2 servants

In 1906 she sailed to New York City, evidently for the express purpose of marrying Julius who at that time was living in Buffalo, by Lake Erie in New York State. It is not yet known for how long or by what means they had known each other. On Tuesday September 4th The Buffalo New York Morning Express published this announcement under the heading “Buffalonians registered at the New York Hotels”:

New York, Sept. 2 (Special).—The following Buffalo persons are registered in the hotels here today: [various, including] Marie Antoinette [hotel] — J.H.O. Bunge.

On the same day The New York Morning Express published this notice under the heading “Over the Ocean blue”:

Julius H.O. Bunge left on Friday for New York, where he will meet his sister Mrs. Tegelberg of Holland, and Miss Lilian M. Tosh of England, on their arrival on the steamship Noordam next Monday. They will be the guests of Mrs. Charles B. Sears later in the week.

and, on the same page, yet another notice under the heading “From Miss to Mrs.”:

Invitations have been issued for the marriage of Miss Lillian [sic] M. Tosh of Ulverston, Lancashire, England, to Julius H.O. Bunge of Buffalo, in Trinity Chapel, Delaware Avenue on Saturday morning, September 8th, at 11 o’clock. Mrs. Charles B. Sears will give the wedding breakfast immediately after the ceremony.

Charles Brown Sears was the distinguished and well-known New York lawyer, judge and politician. 

It appears that Julius later returned to Holland with Lilian. A recent article in the Dutch journal Theosofia [Issue 109/2, April 2008] about Petrus Marijn Cochius (1874-1938) records that in 1905 Cochius became the deputy manager of the glass factory in Leerdam, becoming its deputy director five years later. From 1912 he directed it jointly with Julius but “Bunge left five years later” through disagreements he had with Cochius on financial and ideological grounds. A recent account of the reopening of the National Glass Museum at Leerdam notes that it has been newly sited in a former villa by the Linge river there, and that this property was originally “in use as the home of the former finance director of the Glass Factory, J.H.O. Bunge“. The museum had formerly been sited in an adjacent property, the Villa Prana, which had orginally been the home of Cochius.

The former Bunge family villa in Leerdam, now adapted to the National Glass Museum.

The above account suggests that Julius left the glass factory around 1917, but he may have done so in late 1916. The Ellis Island arrival records show that in that year he and Lilian sailed on the “Noordam”, in a first-class cabin, from Rotterdam to New York, arriving there on September 18th.

The “Noordam”.

The ship’s manifest describes Julius as 6’1″ tall with blond hair and blue eyes, and Lilian as 5’9″ tall with brown hair and brown eyes. Their “ethnicities” were both recorded as Dutch, so Lilian must have become a citizen of Holland. Their target address was 879, Deleware [sic] Avenue, Buffalo, NY. Julius had previously entered New York “several times since 1902” and Lilian in 1906. There were no children with them. By this time, however, they had produced four children: Fedor George (born 1907), Walter Alexander (1909), Julius Stephen (1913) and Charlotte Cicely (1915). Their last child John Maurice would not be born until 1921. During this trip in 1916 they must have left the children in Holland. They may have been preparing to settle in America, with the children to follow.

In 1923 Julius contributed his personal reminiscences to “Sanderson of Oundle”, a book produced by Oundle School in Peterborough in tribute to its late headmaster Frederick William Sanderson (1857-1922), who had made the school the country’s finest educational establishment for the teaching of science and engineering. He had died just after giving a lecture to scientists at University College, London, chaired by H.G. Wells who later wrote of Sanderson: “I think him beyond question the greatest man I have ever known with any degree of intimacy”.

In late 1923 Lilian, with her two oldest sons Fedor George and Walter Alexander, sailed in cabin class on the “Orbita” from New York to Southampton, arriving there on October 2nd. All three were recorded  on the manifest [PRO Ref: BT26 Piece 752 Item 52] as citizens of Holland. Fedor George was described as a student. Their target address was Greenford Hill in Greenford, Middlesex. Their “country of future permanent residence” was entered as England. Julius and the other children may have preceded them, or perhaps followed later.

In 1929 Fedor’s brother Julius Stephen emigrated to Canada, returning only briefly to England in 1933. In 1935 he married Bethia Hopkins Lewis in the same church as where his father had married, in Buffalo, New York. He settled in Cornwall, Ontario and raised four children.

In 1930 Fedor George was granted British Nationality. The National Archives catalogue lists a closed Home Office document relating to “Nationality and Naturalisation: Bunge, Fedor George, from the Netherlands. Resident in Ealing. Certificate 19179 issued 19 December 1930” [PRO Ref: HO 144/14106].

Julius was apparently a versatile engineer with interests and capabilities spanning engine design, shipping, civil construction and much else. By the 1930s he was particularly interested in projects involving the Thames. He contributed a technical essay to an influential book “No Boats on the River” [Publ. Methuen & Co., 1932] written by Alan Patrick Herbert, M.P., advocating the creation of a Thames Water Bus Service. This aroused much public and political interest as can be seen in this Commons Sitting dealing with the London Passenger Transport Bill recorded in Hansard on February 13th 1933 [Vol. 274. cc.659-66]. One plan being considered was to provide a fleet of 50 vessels, with capacities ranging up to 200 passengers each, charging under a penny a mile and travelling up to 17 m.p.h.

However, it soon became clear that the tidal flow of the Thames was an obstacle to providing such a service, whereupon Julius turned his mind to a project of much greater ambition – to dam the Thames. The matter is well summarised in this extract from the book “Men of Steel, the History of Richard Thomas and his Family” by David Wainwright [Publ. Quiller Press, 1986]:

The argument for some form of barrage was carried forward by sometime MP, humorist and boatman A P (later Sir Alan) Herbert, who in 1929 coined the word ‘waterbus’ and in 1932 wrote a book, No Boats on the River, to draw attention to the fact that London’s broadest and most accessible highway was under-used while the streets of the capital were becoming ever more and more congested with road traffic. In 1934 a public inquiry on which the London County Council, the Port of London Authority, and the London Passenger Transport Board were represented came to the conclusion that increased use of the rover for transport was impracticable because of the tidal flow. There were enough interested parties who were not prepared to let this be the end of the matter. A mechanical engineer with an office overlooking the Thames, J H O Bunge, began a campaign for a Thames Barrage by means of which the tidal flow could be controlled and regulated down stream. The Thames Barrage Association was formed following a meeting of the London Society in October 1934. It attracted eminent sponsors who agreed to be Vice-Presidents, among them Lord Desborough, Sir Edwin Lutyens, Sir Giles Gilbert Scott and A P Herbert. The President was Sir Louis Dane, who in his 37 years as Lieutenant-Governor of the Punjab had provided dams and barrages across many of the rivers of that Indian province for the purpose of irrigation. The Chairman of the Executive Committee from the outset was Lionel Beaumont-Thomas. He had a particular affection for the Thames, not least because in London he lived upon it, on board his yacht.

In 1935 the prestigious journal Nature published an abstract titled “A Thames Barrage” which began:

With the arrestive title of “Dam the Thames”, a brochure has been issued by the Thames Barrage Association advocating the scheme put forward a short time back in a paper read before the London Society by Mr. J.H.O. Bunge, who is honorary secretary of the Association since formed to promote the impounding of a large section of the Thames estuary. The original proposal is modified in respect of the position of the proposed barrage, which it is now suggested should be located at Woolwich. The cost of the scheme is estimated at about £4 millions sterling …

The abstract continued by urging that an inquiry be held. On June 23rd 1937 The Post’s Representative (London) published an article reporting that the Port of London Authority had decided to hold such an inquiry and that:

At the present time, it is argued, the Thames below Teddington is not a river; it is an estuary in which the water flows up and down, twice reversed every twenty-four hours by the tides. The [Thames Barrage] association believes that this is not good for London, and that the sweep of a tide twice a day through the city and riverside boroughs is not a good thing for public health and for commerce. Mr. J.H.O. Bunge, the honorary secretary, says that his organisations’s argument for a tideless Thames is the only one which would bring the Thames “up to date”, according to modern standards … Both sides, the P.L.A. and the Barrage Association, are now arming themselves for the inquiry in the light of research and technical considerations.

In 1938 British Pathé broadcast a film – “Damming the Thames” – about the barrage proposal and, in particular, the model which Julius had by then constructed. Below is a still from the film, showing him at the point when he is first introduced. A little later he is seen briefly again, at the left of the viewing frame, demonstrating adjustments to the model.

Julius Henri Otto Bunge in the British Pathé film of 1938.

The film is fascinating – click the green button to watch it on the British Pathé library.

The barrage at Woolwich was, of course never built, as the War soon ensued with its own priorities.

Electoral Registers show that by 1940 Julius and Lilian were living in Effingham at “Fore Down”, a house in Beech Avenue. The property is remembered by descendants as having been undistinguished architecturally and somewhat modelled on Julius’s old home in Leerdam. The house was later replaced by a property named “Kyodondo” and then, in 2001, by another named “Laureldene”.

Fore Down, “after 18 years’s use” by the family – late 1950s.

In the war, Julius’ son Fedor George served in the 52nd Anti-Tank Regiment of the Royal Artillery. We do not yet know the details of his service, other than that he attained the rank of Captain and died aged 32 on May 28th 1940, just as the Dunkirk debacle was unfolding.

Administration of his estate was granted on November 12th 1941, the abstract reading as follows:

BUNGE Fedor George of 20 Bina Gardens London S.W.5 died 28 May 1940 on war service. Administration Llandudno [Registry] 12 November [1941] to Julius Henri Otto Bunge mechanical engineer and Lilian Margaret Bunge (wife of the said Julius Henri Otto Bunge). Effects £1978 4s 3d.

In 1943 his sister Charlotte Cicely married Jack Park [GRO Ref: Kensington 1a 138, 1943 (Q2)]; in 1946 his brother Walter Alexander married Hyacinth E.P. Kemp [GRO Ref: Kensington 1a 243, 1946 (Q2)], and his other brother John Maurice married Frances J. Stephens [GRO Ref: Kensington 5c 2755, 1946 (Q3)]. Hyacinth reputedly disliked her name, and Walter and she were known familiarly as “Pooh” and “Hussy”.

Meanwhile, Julius had not given up on his Thames barrage ambition; in 1944 he wrote a book “The Tideless Thames in Future London” [Publ. Frederick Muller].

Julius and Lilian must also have visited America in this period, because there is a record of them arriving back in England on December 26th 1947. They had sailed, in cabin class, on the “Nieuw Amsterdam” from New York to Southampton. The manifest [PRO Ref: BT26 Piece 1231 Item 68] describes Julius as an engineer aged “70” and Lilian as a housewife aged “65”. Their address in England was entered as “Fore Down”, Ettingham [sic], Surrey.

Julius died aged “81” on April 9th 1959 [GRO Ref: Surrey S.W. 5g 772, 1959 (Q2)] and was buried in the Effingham parish burial ground. Lilian died on March 10th 1974 in Scotland. She had been living there with her daughter Charlotte Cicely, next door to her son Walter Alexander. Her remains were interred with Julius in Effingham.

Military Records

1. Service Record – not yet available

2. Commonwealth War Graves Commission Record

Name
Rank
Regiment
Age
Date of Death
Service No.
Additional info.
Grave/Memorial Ref.
Cemetery

BUNGE, FEDOR GEORGE
Captain
Royal Artillery, 52 Anti-Tank Regt.
32
28/05/1940
67402
Son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H.O. Bunge, of Effingham, Surrey.
B. 5.
BUS HOUSE CEMETERY [in Ypres, Flanders]