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Evacuee children in Sussex on 17th March 1941, Daily Mail, by Frank Rust

Alan Sparrow introduces this month’s image

Frank Rust, who worked for Associated Newspapers for 50 years and whose work has recently been added to the Fleet Streets Finest collection, was born in 1904 in Whitechapel among the streets that link the Whitechapel Murders of Jack the Ripper and the home of the Kray Twins. Likewise, the slums of East London were home to Frank. 

In 1918, aged 14, Rust became a photographic apprentice and went on to work on such Associated titles as the Daily Mail, the Sunday Dispatch, and the Weekend Mail magazine. As a staff photographer he was expected to produce a picture for all occasions and to illustrate all news stories thrown at him by the picture editor.

These jobbing photographers were not the stars of the show but were an essential part of the make-up of a daily newspaper, a role that is more likely today to be filled by alternative sources such as news picture agencies, picture libraries and even reader-generated content. In today’s newspapers, staff photographers are exceedingly rare.

Among Rust’s wide-ranging photo assignments we find photos of television pioneer John Logie Baird in the 1920s, early bi-planes in the 1930s and bomb-damaged London during the Blitz. 

But he was also an innovator, helping to develop the “Wonder Rapid Sequence Camera” which took 20 photos a second, and inventing a quick developing process which was used in the Daily Mail “photo car” – a converted van which housed a mobile darkroom.

September 1st, 1939, saw the beginning of operation Pied Piper, when 1.5 million people were relocated around the UK and some were sent abroad, including to the USA. Evacuations did not stop with Pied Piper, and future evacuations led to an estimated 3 million people being relocated. 

In this picture from 1941 children are being evacuated from Sussex to escape German bombs. Mother and the baby of the family say goodbye as the daughter joins schoolmates on a train bound for Yorkshire. Many evacuees did not return until June 1945, and the scheme officially ended in March of 1946. 

Frank Rust's interests were wider than newspapers and included a local church – he was churchwarden of St Paul’s, Dock Street, in Poplar, East London. In the 1960s this church was the base for operations for Father Joe who was known as the “prostitutes’ padre”. He campaigned on behalf of East Enders living in slum conditions, including prostitutes, and among those assisting in this campaign was churchwarden Rust, who brought his newspaper skills to the aid of the church to create images that supported and raised awareness of Father Joe’s campaign. 

Frank Rust retired in 1968 and died in 1991.


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