Woolwich & Districts
Kid That Stayed Behind.
was not evacuated during the war and was in Plumstead right
through. Not much happened until September 7th 1940. This was
a Saturday, if my memory serves me correctly, and I was visiting
my Grandparents with my mother. My Grandparents lived in Villas
Road which was very near to Woolwich Arsenal.
large air raid started that day and we heard and saw large numbers
of enemy bombers coming towards London and obviously following
the river. Woolwich Arsenal was virtually opposite to the Royal
group of docks and both were presumably a target. We heard many
bombs being dropped and could hear the sounds of aerial combat
above. The thing I remember particularly, was the sound of shell
splinters or shrapnel hitting the road outside. There was no
air raid shelter in the house and we simply stood in the hallway
alongside the staircase. My cousin Freddy, who was in the navy,
was also there. (He was shortly afterwards killed at sea).
Boswell and eldest son during WW1. Charles Boswell was my
grandfather, a qualified wheelwright and coach builder,
in charge of Royal Artillery workshops, training apprentices
at Woolwich Artillery Barracks.
had several relatives (Uncles) working in the Arsenal and one
of these came home sometime during the afternoon saying that
the conditions in the Arsenal were chaotic and very frightening,
with people sheltering under railway trucks etc.
5pm there was a lull in the raids and my mother said we should
hurry home to our house, which was at that time in Ingledew
Road. My most vivid memory of that day is the red glow in the
sky from the fires that had started in the Arsenal and the Docks.
night was the start of the London blitz. Later on, the Council
constructed an Anderson air raid shelter in our back garden
and we spent that night and many others there during the winter
were closed during this time but some attempt was made to give
us some sort of lessons in the school staff room, for those
of us children who were not evacuated, but this soon petered
time during the daytime, sometime during September it must have
been, my mother and my brother and me were in our shelter when
we heard sounds of an aerial dog fight going on above us. Suddenly,
it sounded as if something was going to land on us. It turned
out that a German 109 fighter had been shot down and had landed
on an Anderson shelter in Robert Street. I believe that the
occupants were killed. The Red cross, I think it was, charged
everyone a penny (*) to go though the house and view the wreckage
on top of the shelter.
the blitz, I recall many premises being bombed throughout Plumstead,
and I particularly remember Tower House in Heavitree Road. I
believe this had been a Doctors residence . Such properties
were invariably left empty and open, despite the possibility
that to go in them could be dangerous. This however, did not
deter us boys from investigating where we found huge numbers
of stamps (mainly British Victorian). Evidently, the occupier
had been an avid stamp collector. We investigated many such
bombed buildings with varying degrees of interesting finds.
and Ken Boswell with parents (dad in RAF uniform). Ingledew
property I particularly remember was Bulgin’s the Butchers
shop, on the corner of Glyndon and Southport Roads . We heard
about it through the grapevine the very next morning and investigated
straightaway. We found the emergency services on site going
through the debris. Nobody was injured in this bombing and in
fact Mr. Bulgin carried on his business in another shop on the
Every morning after a night raid we would comb the streets looking
for shrapnel, and I amassed a fair collection of shell splinters
which I kept in a shoe box.
Dodd had a spent bullet that he told me he found on his window
of the boys and girls that I remember at Earl Rise School during
the war years were: Richard and Tommy Dodd, twins Kenneth and
Ronald Clark. Robin Shreeve, John Pennell, Derek Doye, Denis
Bassett (later mixed up with villains, and his body was fished
out of the channel), Bill Wakeman, Jack Pearce and Jim Pearce
(my cousins), Stanley Colgate, Peter Dominy and Melvin Daws.
girls I remember (these were mixed classes), were Doreen Wall,
Doreen Duggan, Sheila Bartlett, Jean and Pam Rolfe and Audrey
Conway Road where I spent some time during these topsy turvy
years, were, Denis Cherry. Bill Long, Bill Green, the Meekums
brothers, Derek Gale and Derek Driver. Head Master was Cyril
Bull who was a J.P.
was often collected at such plane crash scenes. It was a means
of raising funds for such things as the Spitfire Fund to help
towards the costs of production etc.