After reading the articles on the 1939 Register in your December 2015 issue, I want to tell you about my very positive experience of using the Register. Unlocking one household on it has confirmed two stories concerning my great aunt, Freda Wakeford.
I knew that Freda was an accountant in the 1920s and ’30s in London – among very few women accountants. Although I had contacted several accountancy bodies they could not find a record of her qualification. The 1939 Register told me that Freda was employed as an “Incorporated Accountant”.
This meant that she was probably a member of the Society of Incorporated Accountants, the records of which are now held by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). I had contacted the ICAEW before with no luck, but the term “Incorporated” made all the difference.
The ICAEW confirmed that she was a member of the Society of Incorporated Accountants from 1931 until 1939 and worked for Rouse and Co in Lincoln’s Inn. She passed her intermediate exams in 1928 and her finals in May 1930 at the age of 22. The documentation I received showed that 331 students took the final exam, and Freda was one of 143 candidates to pass, including very few women.
I knew that Freda was friends with a prominent Jewish man linked to Marks and Spencer. No one in the family knew his name or how he was connected. I was surprised to see a Joseph L Cohen, Economist to Marks and Spencer, in the same household. Now I had a name and his role at the store.
Joseph, I discovered, worked for the British Army Recruiting Office in New York during the First World War, where he helped to organize the Jewish Legion. He was the British representative at the International Labour Office in Geneva, was very active in assisting Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany and was founder and Secretary of the Council for German Jews. He was killed in an air raid on London in November 1940 a few months after Freda had emigrated to Canada. The 1939 Register helped me fill in a few gaps and was £ 6.95 well spent! Deborah Jacques, by email Editor replies: Many thanks for your letter Deborah. The 1939 Register certainly has revealed a lot about your Aunt Freda and much more besides, opening up a whole new avenue for your research. Good luck with your future investigations.
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The 1939 Register showing Deborah’s great aunt, Freda Wakeford