New Cross Boys
According to McDonald, 'perhaps the largest of London's 1950s teenage gangs, the New Cross Boys... roamed from Canal Bridge to Deptford, causing mayhem at Millwall Football Ground, youth clubs, cinemas and dance halls. The only noted puncher among them was Freddie 'Ginger' Simmonds, who gave a creditable performance in a stand up fist fight with future gangster Eddie Richardson. This occurred on a snow-filled pavement outside the Trocadero cinema at Elephant and Castle, after a snow ball fight got out of hand... In a clash with rivals from Peckham's Goose Green, over 200 teenage youths fought running battles over a period of three days in 1956'.
In another of his books, Elephant Boys, McDonald mentions a fight involving the New Cross Boys in the New Cross House pub.
Deptford Red Hands
He also mentions 'An earlier Deptford gang, the Red Hands, so named for the red armband that identified members, came unstuck in 1926 when one of their team was stabbed to death after attacking a rival Rotherhithe Boy. William Shillibeer, aged fourteen, was convicted of the manslaughter of thirteen-year old Albert Hannah'.
This case was discussed in Parliament after the trial in March 1927, with Frederick Pethick-Lawrence MP asking 'the Home Secretary whether his attention has been drawn to the remarks made by Mr. Justice Acton in the trial of William Arthur Edward Shillibeer, of Rotherhithe, at the Central Criminal Court, for murder, to the effect that it was quite clear that he was in the first instance wantonly and gratuitously insulted and provoked by a gang of boys gathered together for such purposes, and afterwards assailed by a number of those boys, who gave every indication of an intention to act together in attacking and doing violence upon him'.