As Remembrance Sunday 70 years on from the end of the Second World War approaches this week, it is perhaps worth reflecting on some of the local people who lost their lives during the conflict. I did a similar piece last year in relation to WW1 combatant deaths, but for WW2, I wanted to focus more on those who lost their lives on the ‘Home Front.’
One of the main differences compared with the WW1 is the number of women who died in the conflict. While there were deaths in WW1 – such as those I have covered in the blog in relation to the Gotha bombing of Sydenham Road and the Zeppelin attack on Hither Green – they were a very small minority. The extent of aerial attacks by both German and Allied sides in WW2 changed this, as did the changing role of women in the armed forces. A memorial in Whitehall commemorates both the changes in roles of women during the War and their deaths.
Albion Way Shelter
At about 4 pm on 11 September 1940, a brick street shelter suffered a direct hit, as a German bomber discharged his remaining bombs as he returned to Germany. Unsurprisingly there were a large number of casualties, with 41 dying inside the shelter and nearby. Those who died included
- William Abbott (56) a shop assistant of 8 Murillo Road;
- Marjorie Wickens of 7 Taunton Road (19), who was an air raid warden; and
- Elizabeth Grant of 19 Brightfield Road (19)
All three were buried and commemorated at Hither Green Cemetery.
Deptford Central Methodist Hall
The Central Hall was also hit on 11 September 1940, probably in the same raid as Albion Way, 50 were buried in the rubble whilst sheltering in the basement. There were 26 deaths – including
- Phoebe Turner of 60 Harvard Road (45); and
- Lillian Allum of 47 Effingham Road (40).
There were at least seven who died in the bombing on Lee Park on 17 September in 1940 – which would have been roughly to the left of the picture below, towards the Lee High Road end of the street. The church was Christ Church which was bombed at around the same time and has been covered in the blog before. Those who died were:
- Emily Collins (62) of 35;
- Ethel (66) & George Crawford (70) of 31a;
- Ethel Pollard (39), daughter of the Crawfords also of 31a;
- Maud (30) & Samuel (32) Nuttal at 31 Lee Park; along with
- Emma Jane Green (98) from 40 Dacre Park who was visiting 35 Lee Park and died of her injuries later in the year. Emma seems to have been the oldest recorded civilian casualty of the German air raids on Britain in the Second World War (see comment from Clive Gowlett below)
George Loader of 34 Boone Street died aged 85 in the Blitz on 21 September 1940. This probably became one of the sites for prefab bungalows after the war.
Sandhurst Road School
A large bomb was dropped during the day of 20 January 1943 killing 45 children and teachers, the casualties included:
- Anne & Judith Biddle, 5 year old twins from 22 Muirkirk Road;
- Pauline and Eunice Davies – Sisters of 9 and 7 from 57 Killearn Road;
- Dennis and Ronald Barnard 10 and 9 from 120 Further Green Road;
- Mary Jukes (38) from 3a Newstead Road; and
- Harriet Langdon (40) from 65 Manor Park
There is a poignant memorial to those who died in Hither Green Cemetery – there is more on this bombing in a specific post written for the 75th anniversary of the attack.
Hither Green Railway Station
There was a V-1 attack on the station on 29 July 1944 – the day after the Lewisham High Street V-1 explosion, which was covered on the blog a year or so ago. There were four deaths including a mother and daughter from Walworth, Emily (25) and Jean (1) Champion, Violet Kyle of 11 Morley Road, who died in the Miller Hospital in Greenwich, and William Pontin (38) of Weybridge.
There was considerable damage to Blackheath Village on 8 March following a V-2 rocket hitting the Methodist chapel in what is now called Blackheath Grove – there will be a specific post on this in a few weeks, 134 were injured and there were five deaths including Daisy Denny, Alice Drain and Eve Taylor who all lived in and around Blackheath, and Eve Leibe lived a little further away in St Mildred’s Road.
Unless linked otherwise, the source for all the casualty information is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.