Lee & Hither Green at War

Over the years there have been a lot of posts on the impact of both World War 1 and World War 2 on both the urban envionment and on the resdeints of Lee and Hither Green. This page seeks to bring those posts together as WordPress isn’t great about navigating through themes.

World War One

The First Day of the Somme – the story told through one local regiment and four young men who died on 1 July 1916

Too young to go to war, but old enough to be executed – the depressing story of Herbert Burden who was allowed to enlist despite being too young but then executed for desertion.

(Probably) World War 1’s oldest soldier – the odd story of Alfred Figes

Zeppelin attack on Hither Green there were 15 lives lost in Glenview Road (now Nightingale Grove) on a foggy night in 1917, the story was also retold by Henry Williamson who also wrote Tarka the Otter, who lived in Brockley.

Sydenham Road Dairy bombing  during 1918 there were some aircraft attacks including one that killed 13 in Sydenham, but also saw bombs dropped on Hither Green.

Remembering the World War 1 Dead – looking at the lives and deaths of some of those local men who died in World War One, the first through streets, the second through some of the public war memorials.

World War Two

In the main these were posts about what happened on the home front and are in five groups

  • V-1 & V-2 attacks
  • The Blitz
  • The Home Front & prepations for war
  • Churches lost during the war
  • Other posts – those that don’t fit into the other categories …

V-1 and V-2 Attacks the resulting reconstruction

The Blitz 

The First Night of the Blitz – the Blitz had been expected for a year before the first bombs hit London in September 1940, the story of the first night from a Lewisham perspective.

Incendiary Attacks on 8 December 1940 – dozens of incendiaries were dropped on Lee and the Corbett Estate

Post Christmas Raids – the worst bombing raids on Lee on the nights of 27 December and 29 December 1940

The Home Front & Preparations for War

This was a series of posts thatwere written around the anniversary of war breaking out and included

  • Evacuation – looking in partiucalr at schools on Brownhill Road
  • Shelters – both induvidual household ones and public ones, such as the one below at Merchant Taylors almshouses
  • Rationing of food and other items, along with allotments and digging for victory
  • Air Raid Precautions (ARP) service including wardens and blackouts

Churches Lost in the World War Two

Several churches were lost during the war, a few were rebuilt, but most weren’t

Other Posts Relating to World War 2

Springbank Road – the V-1 attack plus several other bombings on the street 

The Bombing of Sandhurst Road School  attacked in the daytime in January 1943, it saw one of the worst losses of life in a single attack in Lewisham, the funeral for which is pictured below.

Woodlands Street – hit at the same time as Sandhurst Road School, the damage is still visible on some of the houses – part of a history of the street

Ardmere Road – the second part of a two post on the history of the street, looks at it from the perspective of rationing, the Nightingale Grove V-1 (see above) and the post war reconstruction.

Taunton Road – the story of a Lee street through two World Wars

Hedgley Street School – a school that was partly destroyed during the war, but has gone through two incarnations since – it is now Trinity School

VE Day Parties – including those on Taunton Road, Brightfield Road and Further Green Road as well as the Royal Family in Lewisham & national celebrations

Hilly Fields Prefabs – bungalows that were around the edge of  Hillyfields plus those on Blackheath

Excalibur Estate – this was one of the largest concentrations of prefab bungalows (pictured above)

The Red Cross Grand Prix Cycle Race – the first cycle stage race in Britain was planned to start in Catford in June 1944, as V-1s started to rain down on SE London it ended up being moved to Farnborough.

Leahurst Road murder – a killing that had its roots in traumas from the World War 1

Out of the Shelter – an early post that was art of a group that looked at the literary heritage of Lewisham – based around David Lodge’s semi-autobiographical novel

Picture Credits

  • The picture of the funeral of most of those who died at Sandhurst Road School is from the Illustrated London News, 6 February 1943
  • The photograph of the devastated area around Hither Green Station that is part of the Imperial War Museum collection (produced here on a Creative Commons)
  • The postcard of the original Church of the Good Shepherd was from eBay in September 2016
  • The photogrpah of the shelter in the grounds of Merchant Taylor’s Almshouses are from the collection of Lewisham Archives – it is used with their permission and remains their copyright;