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History man Mark’s pilgrimage to the grave of his WWI ancestor killed on the first day of the Battle of Amiens

Who’s been making the news round your way this week?

09 August, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Mark Aston at the grave: ‘Second Lieutenant E H Struebig. MM. 10th Bn. London Regiment. 8th August 1918. Age 24. A devoted son, beloved brother and faithful friend. Till we meet’

An Islington historian visited the grave of his ancestor in France on the day he died in action 100 years ago. Mark Aston, local history manager at Islington Council, took a trip to the northern France town of Amiens this week to visit the gravestone of Edwin Harold Struebig, his paternal grandmother’s cousin from Highbury, who died at the Battle of Amiens.

“I wanted to pay my respects so I went on a bit of a personal pilgrimage to do that,” says Mark. “He was killed on the first day of the Battle of Amiens. It was very moving. I had a lump in my throat when I entered the cemetery and when I found his gravestone I felt quite emotional. I am usually quite stoic about servicemen during the war but when it is personal, I can’t help but feel moved by the whole thing.”

Prime minister Theresa May and Prince William were also in at Amiens on Wednesday for commemorations at the cathedral marking the centenary of the Battle of Amiens, a turning point in the First World War, where forces from Australia, Canada and France also fought.

Edwin Struebig was 24 when he was killed in action on August 8, 1918. He had lived Spencer Street, Clerkenwell, Battledean Road and Florence Street in Islington, and worked for the Post Office locally before joining up with the army in 1915.

“Knowing the family background was touching,” says Mark. “He was of German ancestry – my twice great-grandfather came over from Prussia to Clerkenwell. During the First World War there was a lot of anti-German feeling. There were riots and looting in Islington. Yet Edwin won a military medal, was reassigned for officer training and became second lieutenant.”

The gravestone of Edwin Struebig is in a cemetery just outside of Amiens where 2,100 servicemen are buried, more than 600 of whom are unidentified.

“I have been working on gathering research on the First World War in Islington over the commemorative period 1914-18 so I have been planning for a long time to go along and pay respects,” says Mark. “But I have also been filling in the gaps of what Islington had been doing on the Western Front and beyond.”

Part of Edwin’s story will be told in an exhibition coming to Islington Museum in October.

Mark would like to get in touch with any members of the Struebig family: “I haven’t got a picture of Edwin and it would be good to put a face to the story of him and his German ancestry,” he says.

Brewing up for barista training

Calling all coffee lovers! You could become a coffee connoisseur with barista training at a coffee shop on Holloway Road for people aged 16-25. The training is provided by Launchpad Ldn which offers free projects for young people in the borough, with the chance to learn about speciality coffee and receive an internationally recognised qualification. After training, graduates can go on to the graduate programme which includes invitations to coffee events, refresher days to practice new skills and further support with job search. The training is at Vagabond, 105 Holloway Road, N7 8LT, and runs from August 20 to 24, 10am-4pm. Free lunch and travel is provided during training, which also includes a handbook andreading materials.
• For more information call Darshika on 07852 354302 or email
• For more information about Launchpad go to:

Red Shoes and circus tricks

Women acrobats and dancers from Upswing adapt The Red Shoes for a public display

An all female cast of acrobats, circus performers, gymnasts and dancers transformed the Square Mile’s Guildhall Yard last week. The performers from contemporary circus company Upswing, based in Tower Hamlets, soared through the skies in an adaption of The Red Shoes by Hans Christian Andersen. Vicki Amedume, creative director of Upswing, said: “A conversation that is happening in circus at the moment is that to be a woman in the circus you have to train really hard, be really focused and be really determined.”
• For more information about Upswing go to:


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