Memories of War

I’ve been chatting with a chap called Raymond Gallagher who at first was telling me about his father who lived in Trinity Hospital when he retired (and was telling me that the reason why the old buildings are still uninhabited is due to Health and Saftey regulations clashing with listed building regulations, a ridiculous state of affairs – these buildings were lived in for centuries, were they really that dangerous?) but as our conversation wore on Raymond revealed that, as a child, he lived through WWII in Christchurch Way.

I don’t have any old pics of Christchurch Way, but he would have known these pictures, that Dave sent me, of Pelton Road – this block was lost in the war.

He told me that he’s included in a website that I didn’t know about – but which fans of Wartime Greenwich /Traf Road/Christchurch Way / general East Greenwich might find as interesting as I did.

It’s a project from the University of Greenwich called Memories of War which, if you put ‘Greenwich’ into the search engine, you’ll get an array of interviews and memories, one page of which includes those of Raymond.

It’s an ongoing project and they’re still welcoming memories. Over Christmas I was talking with my parents about the war, they were both very small but have vivid (and in Dad’s case eyewatering – his older brother was somewhat cavalier in his attitudes to live ammo he’d collected as schrapnel) memories.

I susggested they wrote them down – there is a shrinking number of people who have recollection of the war. Their tales of deckchairs in Anderson shelters, being refused refuge in someone else’s shelter when they were far from home and being forced to crouch behind a motorcycle sidecar as the Messerschmitt flew over so close that Dad could see the expression on the pilot’s face, gathering grisly remains of fallen German (and British) pilots, collecting all the bullets from a fallen machine gun, emptying out the powder into a catering custard tin and throwing matches at it – basically the responses of small children to a concept they didn’t understand – fascinated me.

Their reply was ‘oh, there are so many stories knocking around; everyone’s got one, they’re all similar, why would people be interested in ours?’

Because they aren’t ‘the same.’ Everyone has something to give and if their particular story isn’t told, it is lost to the world. I’m working on my parents – there are people who want to hear these tales and as the years pass it becomes more and more alien to those of us who have no experience of war. Personally, I think there’s room for memories of other times too – the 1950s and 60s are beginning to retreat in the collective mind these days too.

I always love to hear people’s stories and I know that it is of immense use to historians such as Stephen from Blitzwalkers. Don’t automatically assume that we will have heard this stuff already. Do contribute.

the attachments to this post:

Pelton2 Dave low
Pelton2 Dave low

Pelton1 Dave low
Pelton1 Dave low

14 Comments to “Memories of War”

  1. Rich says:

    Not sure how common they still are in Greenwich, but in re-shaping our lawn on Ashburnham Place, I found the tip of the iron from a shelter. I ran out of energy but I’m sure if I dug deep enough I’d find a full shelter…

  2. Valoma says:

    Up until quite recently there was in perfect working order an Anderson shelter in Trinity Grove .

  3. daveh48 says:

    Just for info the terrace shown in the photos actually survived the war (I can remember them) and were demolished in the late 50′s – early 60′s.

    The houses opposite these were bombed as were the houses which ran down Christchurch Way from the Royal Standard. In fact most of the area behind Pelton Rd to Derwent St, including Kossuth St was destroyed or badly damaged.

    When my father was on leave he would joke about how dangerous it was visiting my mother in Pelton Rd.

  4. Old China says:

    Great stuff, very much “my bag”. Memories of War looks like it’ll be taking up many lunch times in the weeks ahead. Love the gents magnificent whiskers in the “Share your memories” pic!

  5. bats says:

    I am I correct in thinking an old war hand grenade was washed up in Greenwich last week?

  6. daveh48 says:

    bats….. I heard about this yesterday. I believe it was by Greenwich Pier sometime over the weekend but that’s all I know.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Ohhh my Grandma can remember WW1 as well as WW2 must get her to contribute, sadly not about Greenwich though.

  8. Dave says:


    You are mis-informed.

    Trinity hospital is alive and well,and has been for about 18 months, it was closed for 18months for re-furbishment and now has 12 modern flats.

    I speak as a resident of the new build on the Woolwich Rd site

  9. That’s great news, Dave. So both the modern build and the old building are in use, then? Fantastic. Thanks! What’s it’ like living there?

  10. Matthew says:

    The old photos of Pelton Road are really interesting. Unless I have got it wrong you small single storey brick building at the right of the 2nd photo is still there with the windows bricked up…

    I am really glad your back Phantom as I missed you during the Christmas period.

  11. Ha ha – I missed me too!

  12. daveh48 says:

    Sorry Matthew but I think you’ll find that went too. The plot was used as block of garages until a couple of years ago then they to have been replaced by three new house’s.

    Next to them is a small defunct car park and the old social club which I dare say will end up being the sight of yet more housing – seems the be the fate of any spare land these days in Greenwich.

  13. Dave says:


    Trinity Hospital is a nice location live in.

    If you choose to ignore some of the petty rules and regulations you can get along just fine

  14. Neil says:

    By coincidence I stumbled on this image of an ARP warden’s shelter at the Royal Standard today: I’ve walked past that door countless times, and had no idea that’s what it was. There are other images in that Flickr ‘set’ that show it from better angles, but that one shows the context best.