Welwyn Garden's Home Guard

Three German refugees

By Robert Gill

WGC Home Guard
Eugene Strauss

The photo shows a Home Guard company in Welwyn Garden City taken around 1944. Included in the picture are three German Jewish Refugees who came to Welwyn Garden City to escape Nazi Germany and became members of the Home Guard. During the daytime, they were employed as machine tool and instrument makers, a vital requirement in the war effort.

At the time of the photo, the three had not yet been allowed to apply for British citizenship and of course had extra reasons to want to fight any Nazi paratroopers who might land in the area.  

As “Friendly Aliens of Enemy Nationality”, they still had curfew restrictions even though they were members of a British quasi -army unit.

The three are Ernest Ostwald, Frederick Gottschalk (back row, tenth from the left) and Eugene Strauss (back row, fourth from the right).

Ernest died some years ago, but Frederick and Eugene are still with us; Frederick (now 91) is still living in Welwyn Garden City whilst Eugene is now in Canada.

Eugene was a machinist at Brookside Engineering on Bridge Road East during the war but before that he was a waiter (the only male waiter at the age of 16) at the Cherry Tree which today is now Waitrose supermarket.


After the war, Frederick opened a jewellers in the town in 1947 and is still going today, that shop is Godshaws which today is owned and run by Frederick’s son, Stephen Godshaw. Eugene emigrated to Canada.

This page was added on 09/07/2014.

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