Bombs dropped in the ward of: South Camberwell
Total number of bombs dropped from 7th October 1940 to 6th June 1941 in South Camberwell:
- High Explosive Bomb
Number of bombs dropped during the week of 7th October 1940 to 14th of October:
No bombs were registered in this area
Number of bombs dropped during the first 24h of the Blitz:
No bombs were registered in this area
Memories in South Camberwell
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Contributed originally by BBC LONDON CSV ACTION DESK (BBC WW2 People's War)
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This story was submitted to the People's War site by a volunteer CSV/BBC London on behalf of Audrey Waters and has been added to the site with her permission. Audrey Waters fully understands the site's terms and conditions
My sister and I were in the Odeon Cinema at Goose Green, East Dulwich when the siren went. Half the cinema emptied, including my sister and I because we wanted to get back home to our mother because she was on her own. While running up East Dulwich Grove, the warden was shouting from the brick air raid shelter for us to come inside. We said no, because we wanted to get home to our mother. As we ran, we heard the noise of an airplane and looked back and there was this plane diving straight at us. We threw ourselves over a coping into a garden to get out of the way. We heard the sound of a machine gun, and then the airplane swooped back up again and flew off. When we got up and saw the pavement where we were running, there were bullets all over the pavement. The street was deserted apart from us because they were all in the air raid shelter so the pilot was obviously shooting at us, two young girls running home.
Two years later I was working at a factory in Streatham Hill, South East London, in the “Radium Room” illuminating compass and gun dials for the war effort. The girls working there were aged between 16 and 20, some of whom were pregnant. We used to sing all the time to alleviate boredom. We worked behind half inch glass panels about 12”x10” and wore white overalls, head scarves, gauze masks and rubber aprons. The radium was like a cream in a dish and we worked with a pen to illuminate the dials. On leaving the Radium Room we had to scrub our hands to try to get the radium off. We had to put our hands under a ultra-violet lamp to check if they were clear of radium (which they never were) On one occasion I decided to put my mask under the ultra-violet lamp and low and behold there was a very large area of radium right where my mouth would have been. So I decided then and there I would not wear a mask anymore, I would take a chance. At might, in the blackout, I used to be lit up like a Christmas tree, with all the fluorescence over my hairline, neck, throat and hands.
Several years later I started to be very ill. My doctors could not find what was wrong with me and this went on for 20 years. I did not have any power in my muscles. I could open a draw but could not close it — I could not lift anything. Eventually after seeking a private doctor’s opinion I went into hospital and had an operation to remove a growth from my throat. Had I not had the operation at that time it would have been a very different story and I would not be here now. I often wonder if this could have been caused by my working with radium as I did hear from one of the other girls who worked with me there, that the girls were all taken away to the country as they we so very ill
Contributed originally by Maggivee (BBC WW2 People's War)
Studies in Transport
I was born in Dulwich, South London in October 1941. My father was disabled but ran a Haulage business based in Bermondsey, near to the Surrey Docks. My brother, Charles, was born in 1944, during the summer of the flying bombs and was commonly known as ‘the little Doodle-bug’. This is one of the accounts of my early childhood that I wrote a few years ago.
A child born in wartime is different from other children. The strains and stresses of being at war are the norm. Practices and prejudices were part of my formation and may never be totally erased. Comments like, 'When the war ends …' or the sarcastic, 'Don’t you know there’s a war on?' are meaningless. The concept of the end of the war has as much sense as that of the end of time, for life in wartime is the total experience. And it was all totally meaningless to me for I was born in wartime.
Hitler invading Poland, Churchill, the Battle of Britain and the V2 bombings are the war that is recorded in history books. Anne Frank used a diary to escape from her horrific life as a prisoner in a couple of overcrowded rooms, dreading the sound of a knock on the door, and longing for the taste of the fresh air and the breeze in her face. My war was normality, a life full of misconceptions. It was the arrival of peace that was extraordinary.
Which ones were Birds?
The earliest memory I have of war was of the air being full of flying things. They appeared to be the same size but were not quite identical. Some were aeroplanes; others were birds. I recall noticing that the wings on the birds moved and the aeroplanes were further away and noting the difference. At that time I did not realise that the Spitfires and Hurricanes were actually a lot bigger than the birds but that the distance made them appear to be the same size. Daddy explained to me that a man could ride in one and they were very big when you got close to them, so big they would fill the garden. Thus was my first discovery of the scientific world. Planes are far larger today and we rarely gaze at them; certainly no child could mistake one for a blackbird.
Daddy and Uncle Winter-next-door used to have aircraft spotting sessions from our garden. Daddy would tilt back in his rocking chair, binoculars to his eyes watching a ‘dog-fight’ overhead. ‘We’ve got one of theirs; have a look’, he would say, passing them to his friend while the wives tried in vain to get them into the comparative safety of the house. In June 1943 we spent a week on a farm in Kent, where my parents lay in bed counting the bombers going past the window on their way to London.
The Wrong Train, and nearly the Last One!
Travelling by train was also interesting. Trains were cold, always late and filled with soldiers. Carriage after carriage of khaki figures, greeted with groans as we struggled from the gloomy platform into a smoke-filled carriage, with my baby bother Charles on Mummy’s hip and me clutching at her skirt. As no information was published about where the trains were going (just in case we were Nazi spies), we tended to end up in the wrong place and have to complete a triangle to arrive safely. For all of my childhood and beyond, I had a terror of being on the wrong train and it was not until comparatively recently that I came to accept that they were inevitably comfortable, warm, and reliable. Sixty years later, we have returned to the indifferent service, but commuters have replaced the troops, and delays are now caused by lack of staff or the notorious ‘leaves on the line’.
Mummy hated the crowded trains and trams; indeed, her dislike of crowds could have lead to her downfall. In August 1939, the summer before she married, she decided to enjoy a holiday in the South of France with two friends. Storm clouds were looming over Europe and concern was raised of the safety of these young ladies going abroad at such a time. Daddy, being an adventurer, urged her to go, but the uncle of one of the group, Barbara, who worked for the Foreign Office, was more cautious. Eventually a pact was struck. If Barbara received a telegram from him concerning a family wedding, she was to return immediately. The telegram arrived on 25th August and Barbara, keeping her word, left immediately. Mummy and her other friend stayed on. They waited for a couple of days so, as she put it, they could travel on a train with spare seats and a lavatory! She arrived in England on 29th August. Five days later, we were at war.
FH Wilson Transport: the Depot
Our family business, which was owned by Uncle Fred and Daddy, was a small haulage company near Surrey Docks. Every Friday, Mummy had the task of collecting the wages for the staff and taking them to the depot. This involved taking a 78 bus from Dulwich Library, over Tower Bridge to the Westminster Bank in Mincing Lane. There she would collect the wages (who would notice a young woman with a shopping bag or even dream that she was carrying large sums of money?) and make the second bus journey to Bermondsey. This was sometimes an arduous trip with roads closed after bombing or delays caused by Tower Bridge being raised.
One Friday was different: a call from Daddy brought serious news. There was an unexploded bomb down the road from the depot. The whole area was cordoned off. But, there were drivers to be paid, for their families needed to be fed. Carefully, he gave instructions, ‘ … and when you get to the barrier across the road, duck under when nobody is looking. The whole area is flattened. Walk across it until you get to the arches.’ Mummy set out. Bermondsey was almost unrecognisable but she found the barrier and got through it without being challenged. Steadily she walked across the barren waste. ‘It was dead silent,’ she recalled. ‘All I could hear were my footsteps and then I recognised another sound with them. I could hear my heart beating.’ She arrived in the office triumphantly to be greeted by her loving Spouse with a cheerful, ‘It went off a few minutes ago!’
The depot was an adventurous place. I visited it a few times with Daddy. We drove down to East Dulwich, past Goose Green (sadly, the geese had gone long ago), through down Nunhead
Lane, (no nuns either), over the humped backed bridge to cross the Surrey Canal to Silwood Street, a row of arches under the Bermondsey railway line and close to the Surrey Docks. It was a dreary journey at first but then became exciting as I saw the stacks of cranes, like grey lace against the sky, and the huge timber storehouses, piled high with creamy wood. We parked outside one of the arches. I waited for an interminable time while Daddy eased himself painfully from the car to greet Mr Gurdler, his most senior driver. They stood for a moment beside the small door cut out of the large ones while Daddy fiddled with the keys and then they disappeared. Mr Gurdler appeared briefly to pick up the half-pint of milk that stood outside. Then, at last, the great green doors swung open, revealing six lorries neatly parked and the smell of oil and rubber. We drove through the arch like kings and parked the car at the side by the slip of an office where Daddy, still clad in his tweed coat and brown hat for warmth, got on with his work and his secretary let me play with her typewriter. Lorries drove in and out while trains rumbled overhead making Daddy’s inkbottles clink together and the room shake every few minutes.
When Hitler finally capitulated, there was rejoicing at the depot as the news came through on the wireless. Come to the pub!’ shouted Daddy’s staff. ‘No, I want to be with my wife’. And so he drove home.
VE Day and an unforgettable tram journey
Two events heralded the end of the war for me. First, we no longer had to draw the blind over the skylight in the bathroom before I had my bath. A daily ritual had gone forever. ‘We don’t need to now,’ said Mummy. I remained puzzled by this sudden change from normality for some time. Secondly, there were celebrations in St James’ Park. The fountains, which had not played since 1939, were turned on again and lit with different colours. One was orange and spurted sideways because it wasn’t working properly. Writing this after the exuberance of the Millennium celebrations, that seems so small. For the war-weary Londoners who had suffered power-cuts, blackout and even had dimmers on their torches, it was a joy to see a bit of brightness and a sign that life was beginning to return to normal. For me, brought up with darkness equating safety, and only seeing empty fountain basins, it was sheer fairyland. Mummy took me, braving the crowds she hated at Daddy’s insistence. ‘She will remember it’ he assured her. And I did.
We went out into the dark summer night and she carried me along with the shuffling crowd around the lake. The chestnut fencing sagged as we lurched forward, feasting on the colour and light. Uncle and Auntie Winter-next-door were there too but we did not see them, in spite of my frequent demands. Then it was home on the tram to the big bedroom and Daddy sitting up in bed to welcome us, with my baby brother asleep in the crook of his arm.
And the hands on the little green clock on the mantelpiece pointed to Midnight.
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