BAREFOOT, Herbert John Leslie

1887 - 1958

Born at Dulwich, Surrey on 15 May 1887, only child of Sidney John Barefoot, timber merchant, and his wife Ellen Ann Mary née Towers, who married at Islington in 1884. In 1891 living at 20 Thornsett Road, Penge, Surrey with his parents, 30 year old Sidney and 30 year old Ellen, but by 1901 they had moved to 13 Wexford Road, Battersea. Known as Leslie Barefoot he was educated as Dulwich College 1900-1905 and then trained as an architect. He married at Croydon, Surrey in 1913, Amy Gladys Goddard (1887-1991) and served in the ranks during the First World War with Royal Army Medical Corps in Egyptian Expeditionary Force (1916-1919) and was mentioned in dispatches. He continued his practice as an architect moving to Ipswich in 1920 with his family and during the inter-war period designed buildings throughout East Anglia and was the architect of the small central pedestrian shopping streets in the centre of Ipswich known as Thoroughfare and The Walk, the latter of which is the site of his blue plaque. A member and exhibitor at the Ipswich Fine Art Club 1928-1933, exhibiting a watercolour in 1927 'New House, Park Road, Ipswich' and a model of the same house. President of the Suffolk Association of Architects 1936-1938 and of the East Anglian Society of Architects in 1938. Re-joining the army in 1939 in the Royal Engineers he volunteered to form a new unit to deal with unexploded bombs. In 1940 he was awarded the George Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry for actions not involving direct enemy action, 'for most conspicuous gallantry in carrying out hazardous work in a very brave manner.' He was the first Army officer to receive the award and is commemorated by a plaque in Westminster Abbey together with the other recipients. He was promoted major in 1941 and returned to his architectural practice after the war. He died on 23 December 1958, aged 71 and his medals are currently on display at the Imperial War Museum in London